1887

Abstract

Major virulence determinants of (SFV) lie within the non-structural genes that form the replicase complex proteins. Gene exchange between virulent and avirulent viruses has shown that the nsP3 gene, which has essential 5′ conserved domains and a non-essential hypervariable 3′ domain, is one of the virulence determinants. This protein plays a role in subgenomic 26S and negative-strand RNA synthesis and is thought to function with nsP1 to anchor replication complexes to cell membrane structures. Studies to date have focused on analysing the effect of mutational changes spread over the whole gene on virulence of the virus. The virulent SFV4 virus, derived from an infectious clone, was utilized to analyse the effect on virulence of large deletions in the hypervariable domain of nsP3. Two viruses with different in-frame deletions that spanned this domain showed reduced rates of RNA synthesis and multiplication in cell culture. In adult BALB/c mice, these viruses were avirulent after intramuscular and intraperitoneal inoculation, and brains sampled from infected mice showed minimal or no evidence of pathology. These deleted viruses had greatly reduced virulence when administered by the intranasal route and brains from infected mice showed lesions that were much less severe than those seen in SFV4 infection. Mice surviving infection with the deleted viruses resisted challenge with the virulent L10 strain, indicating induction of protective immunity. This work establishes that deletions in the nsP3 hypervariable domain attenuate virulence after peripheral inoculation and also reduce virulence after intranasal inoculation.

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2006-04-01
2019-11-22
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