1887

Abstract

Virulence of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) is mainly determined by the amino acid sequence of the fusion (F0) protein cleavage site. Full-length NDV cDNA clone pNDFL was used to generate infectious NDV with defined mutations in the F0 cleavage site (RRQRR↓, RQR↓F, RRQR↓F, RQRR↓F and RQR↓F). All the mutants were viable and the mutations were maintained after virus propagation in embryonated eggs. The mutants showed single-cell infections on chicken embryo fibroblasts, which suggested that they were non-virulent. However, virulence tests in 1-day-old chickens resulted in an intracerebral pathogenicity index (ICPI) between 0 and 1·3. Moreover, virulent virus was isolated from chickens that had died in the virulence tests. Subsequent sequence analysis showed that the mutants RRQRR↓ RRQR↓F, RQRR↓F and RQR↓F gave rise to the appearance of revertants containing the virulent cleavage site RRQ(K/R)R↓F and an ICPI of 1·4 or higher. This indicated that reversion to virulence was caused by alteration of the amino acid sequence of the F0 cleavage site from a non-virulent to a virulent type. Furthermore, the ICPI of the revertants was higher than that of cDNA-derived strain NDFLtag, which has the same cleavage site, RRQRR↓F (ICPI=1·3). NDFLtag, which was isolated from dead chickens after intracerebral inoculation of NDFLtag, also showed an increase in the ICPI from 1·3 to 1·5. This study proves that reversion to virulence occurs within non-virulent NDV populations and that the virulence may increase after one passage in chicken brain.

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2003-02-01
2020-01-21
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