Natural resistance to flaviviruses in mice is controlled by a single genetic locus, FIv, on chromosome 5. Although the mechanism of this resistance is not fully understood, it is believed to operate at the level of virus replication rather than the immune response. It has been hypothesized that enhanced production of viral defective interfering (DI) particles is responsible for a substantial reduction in the titres of infectious virus in resistant mice. However, this has never been established at the molecular level since such particles have not been isolated and characterized. We have studied the products of virus replication in the brains of flavivirus-susceptible C3H/HeJ (Flv(s)) and -resistant congenic C3H/RV (Flv(r)) mice after an intracerebral challenge (i.c.) with Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus and have found no evidence for the accumulation of truncated viral RNA in the brains of resistant mice. All three major viral RNA species, the replicative intermediate (RI), replicative form (RF) and virion RNA (vRNA) together with a subgenomic RNA species of 0.6 kb, which has not been previously described, were present in the brains of both mouse strains. However, the viral RF and RI RNA forms preferentially accumulated in the brains of resistant mice. Thus, we confirm that the resistance allele Flv(r) interferes with discrete steps in flavivirus replication, although the precise mechanism remains to be determined.


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