Hantaviruses belong to the family characterized by tri-segmented RNA genomes. Depending on the hantavirus species, infection can lead to hantavirus cardiopulmonary or haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. studies suggest that pathogenic hantaviruses evade induction of innate antiviral responses, and this ability might determine the virulence in humans. Since reverse genetic systems are not available, reassortment is currently the only way to culture defined hantavirus variants. Here, we demonstrate for the first time the generation of a reassortant between a pathogenic Old World and a non-pathogenic New World hantavirus . The reassortant contained the glycoprotein coding M-segment derived from the pathogenic Puumala virus (PUUV) and the other genomic segments coding for the nucleocapsid protein and RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase from Prospect Hill virus (PHV), which is taken as non-pathogenic in humans. Exchange of the M-segment was confirmed by sequencing and virus neutralization test with PUUV-specific sera. Functional analysis of the reassortant and parental viruses revealed characteristic growth kinetics and innate immune responses as determined by expression analyses for lambda interferon and MxA, and by interferon-stimulated response element reporter gene studies. Consistent with previous studies with other pathogenic hantaviruses, PUUV elicited reduced innate responses if compared with PHV. In all these functional assays the reassortant revealed PHV-like phenotypes. Thus, neither the PUUV M-segment nor entry via specific M-segment directed pathways modulated the virus type-specific innate responses. Moreover, the data imply that this approach might be an option for production of attenuated viruses that could be used as vaccines against pathogenic hantaviruses.


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vol. , part 9, pp. 2351 - 2359

Primers used for genotyping, sequencing and quantitative PCR analysis [PDF](83 KB)

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