Amino acid changes in the envelope glycoproteins of Sindbis virus have been linked to neurovirulence; however, the molecular mechanisms by which these amino acid changes alter neurovirulence are not known. Recombinant- virus studies have mapped an important determinant of neurovirulence in adult mice to a single amino acid change, glutamine to histidine, at position 55 of the E2 glycoprotein (P. C. Tucker, E. G. Strauss, R. J. Kuhn, J. H. Strauss, and D. E. Griffin, J. Virol. 67:4605-4610, 1993). To investigate how histidine confers neurovirulence, we examined the various stages of the virus life cycle in neural (N18) and nonneural (BHK) cells. In BHK cells, recombinant viruses 633 (E255Q) and TE (E255H) replicated similarly. In contrast, in N18 neuroblastoma cells, TE established infection more efficiently, replicated faster, and achieved higher rates of virus release than did 633. Viral structural protein synthesis was similar in 633- and TE- infected BHK cells, while in N18 cells, structural protein synthesis was detected only in TE-infected cells at 6 h and remained higher for at least 16 h postinfection. Vital RNA synthesis was initiated more rapidly and was up to fivefold greater in TE- versus 633-infected N18 cells. Taken together with other data demonstrating minimal effects on virus binding and entry (P. C. Tucker, S. H. Lee, N. Bui, D. Martinie, and D. E. Griffin, J. Virol. 71:6106- 6112, 1997), these data suggest that E2 position 55 plays an important role at early stages of infection of neural cells, thereby facilitating neurovirulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science