The pathogenesis of the California serogroup bunyaviruses includes both extraneural and intraneural replicative phases that can be separated experimentally. The present study dissects the viral genetic determinants of extraneural replication. We have previously described two attenuated reassortant clones of California serogroup bunyaviruses which exhibit reduced neuroinvasiveness after subcutaneous inoculation into suckling mice. Clone B1-1a bears an attenuated middle RNA segment (neuroinvasiveness phenotype ναν), and clone B.5 bears an attenuated large RNA segment (neuroinvasiveness phenotype ανν). We prepared reassortant viruses between these two strains and found that the two attenuated gene segments acted independently and additively, since reassortants bearing two attenuated RNA segments were more attenuated than the parental clones. Reassortants bearing no attenuated RNA segments were much more neuroinvasive than either parental clone, indicating that a neuroinvasive strain can be derived from two attenuated clones. Pathogenesis studies demonstrated that after injection of 103 PFU, the attenuated reassortant clones did not replicate in peripheral tissue, failed to reach the brain, and did not cause disease. At a dose of 106 PFU, attenuated clones failed to replicate to a significant level in peripheral tissue and produced only a minimal passive plasma viremia during the first 24 h but nevertheless reached high titers in the brain and killed mice. Because of this result, we investigated the possibility that neuroinvasion occurs via retrograde axonal transport, by determining whether sciatic nerve sectioning could protect against virus infection after hind leg footpad inoculation. We found that nerve sectioning had no effect on lethality, ruling out this mode of entry and suggesting that passive viremia is likely to be sufficient for invasion of the central nervous system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science