1887

Abstract

Codon pair bias deoptimization (CPBD) has been successfully used to attenuate several RNA viruses. CPBD involves recoding a viral protein-coding sequence to maximize the number of codon pairs that are statistically underrepresented in the host, which presumably slows protein translation and, hence, causes virus attenuation. However, since recoding preserves the amino acid composition and codon bias, attenuated and parental viruses are antigenically identical. To determine if Marek’s disease virus (MDV), a highly oncogenic herpesvirus of the chicken with a large double-stranded DNA genome, can be attenuated by CPBD of its major oncogene meq, we recoded the gene to minimize (meq-D), maximize (meq-O), or preserve (meq-R) the level of codon pairs that are overrepresented in the chicken protein-coding sequences. Unexpectedly, mutants carrying recoded genes produced comparable or increased levels of Meq in the context of viral infection in cultured cells. In addition, parental virus and mutant viruses carrying recoded meq genes replicated with comparable kinetics in vitro and in vivo, and were equally virulent in susceptible chickens. In summary, CPBD of meq failed to produce any quantifiable attenuation of MDV and confirms differences in the complexity of applying CPBD to large DNA viruses versus RNA viruses.

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2018-08-16
2019-10-21
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