We examined a variety of strains of Sindbis virus for the genetic changes responsible for differences in neurovirulence in mice. SV1A (a low passage of the AR339 strain of Sindbis virus), a neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV), and two laboratory strains of Sindbis virus (HRSP and Toto1101) were examined. NSV causes severe encephalomyelitis with hind-limb paralysis and high mortality after intracerebral inoculation in weanling mice. In contrast, SV1A causes only mild, nonfatal disease in weanling mice; however, in suckling mice, SV1A causes a fatal encephalomyelitis after either intracerebral or subcutaneous inoculation. The two laboratory strains used have a greatly reduced neurovirulence for suckling mice and are avirulent for weanling mice. The nucleotide sequences and encoded amino acid sequences of the structural glycoproteins of these four strains were compared. Hybrid genomes were constructed by replacing restriction fragments in a full-length cDNA clone of Sindbis virus, from which infectious RNA can be transcribed in vitro, with fragments from cDNA clones of the various strains. These recombinant viruses allowed us to test the importance of each amino acid difference between the various strains for neurovirulence in weanling and suckling mice. Glycoproteins E2 and E1 were of paramount importance for neurovirulence in adult mice. Recombinant viruses containing the nonstructural protein region and the capsid protein region from an avirulent strain and the E1 and E2 glycoprotein regions from NSV were virulent, although they were less virulent than NSV. Furthermore, changes in either E2 (His-55 in NSV to Gln in SV1A) or E1 (Ala-72 in NSV to Val in SV1A and Asp-313 in NSV to Gly in SV1A) reduced virulence. For virulence in suckling mice, we found that a number of changes in E2 and E1 can lead to decreased virulence and that in fact, a gradient of virulence exists.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science