Molecular analysis of Sindbis virus pathogenesis in neonatal mice by using virus recombinants constructed in vitro

J. M. Polo, N. L. Davis, C. M. Rice, H. V. Huang, R. E. Johnston

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Genetic loci affecting Sindbis virus pathogenesis in neonatal mice have been examined by using a full-length cDNA clone of the virus (Toto1101). The full-length cDNA is linked to a bacteriophage SP6 promoter to facilitate the synthesis of infectious RNA transcripts in vitro. Virus derived from Toto1101 showed reduced virulence (attenuation) in neonatal mice. Replacement of the E1 glycoprotein and 6K genes of Toto1101 with cloned E1 and 6K genes derived from a virulent Sindbis virus strain, AR339 (SB), resulted in a new construct, TR2000, that gave rise to virulent virus. Sequence determinations for the entire substituted regions of TR2000, Toto1101, and related virulent and attenuated strains identified three coding differences in E1 between Toto1101 and TR2000. These differences, individually or in combination, may be responsible for the attenuated phenotype. Previous studies in this laboratory identified another attenuating mutation at amino acid position 114 of the E2 glycoprotein (N.L. Davis, F.J. Fuller, W.G. Dougherty, R.A. Olmsted, and R.E. Johnston, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 83:6771-6775, 1986). Substitution of Arg-114 in the mutant SB-RL for Ser-114 of SB appears to confer three distinguishing phenotypes: attenuation in neonatal mice, increased sensitivity to specific E2 monoclonal antibodies, and accelerated penetration of BHK cells. Replacement of TR2000 sequences containing the codon for amino acid 114 of E2 with corresponding fragments from cDNA clones of SB or SB-RL produced two strains of Sindbis virus (TR2100 and TR2200) which were isogenic except for the E2 114 codon (Ser and Arg, respectively). The three diagnostic phenotypes cosegregated according to the origin of the codon for amino acid 114 of E2, confirming the dramatic effect of this single amino acid substitution on these three phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2124-2133
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988


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