The isolation and sequence comparison of avirulent and neurovirulent strains of polio virus, alpha virus, herpes virus, immunodeficiency virus, and other viruses have identified genetic changes that are required to cause disease in the nervous system. The molecular mechanisms by which these genetic changes result in neurovirulence are unknown. An avirulent laboratory strain of the Alphavirus Sindbis kills most cultured cell lines not by lethal parasitism, but by inducing apoptosis or programmed cell death. Transfection of cultured cells with the human bcl-2 oncogene can block Sindbis virus- induced apoptosis, resulting in a persistent viral infection resembling that observed in brains of immunodeficient mice. We investigated the possibility that neurovirulent strains of Sindbis virus could overcome the protective effects of bcl-2-a potential mechanism to explain the ability of these strains to cause fatal disease. Strains of Sindbis virus that were lethal for 2- to 4-week-old mice induced apoptotic death in cultured cells despite the presence of bcl-2. Using recombinant viruses, we show that a single amino acid change in the E2 glycoprotein of Sindbis virus confers both neurovirulence and the ability to kill cells expressing bcl-2.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - May 24 1994|
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