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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Theiler's viruses with mutations in loop I of VP1 lead to altered tropism and pathogenesis.

Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis viruses are picornaviruses that can infect the central nervous system. The DA strain produces an acute polioencephalomyelitis followed by a chronic demyelinating disease in its natural host, the mouse. The ability of DA virus to induce a demyelinating disease renders this virus infection a model for human demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Here we describe the generation and characterization of DA virus mutants that contain specific mutations in the viral capsid protein VP1 at sites believed to be important contact regions for the cellular receptor(s). A mutant virus with a threonine-to-aspartate (T81D) substitution in VP1 loop I adjacent to the putative virus receptor binding site exhibited a large-plaque phenotype but had a slower replication cycle in vitro. When this mutant virus was injected into susceptible mice, an altered tropism was seen during the acute stage of the disease and the chronic demyelinating disease was not produced. A virus with a threonine-to-valine substitution (T81V) did not cause any changes in the pattern or extent of disease seen in mice, whereas a virus with a tryptophan substitution at this position (T81W) produced a similar acute disease but was attenuated for the development of the chronic disease. A change in amino acids in a hydrophobic patch located in the wall of the pit, VP1 position 91, to a hydrophilic threonine (V91T) resulted in a profound attenuation of the acute and chronic disease without persistence of virus. This report illustrates the importance of the loop I of VP1 and a site in the wall of the pit in pathogenesis and that amino acid substitutions at these sites result in altered virus-host interactions.[1]


  1. Theiler's viruses with mutations in loop I of VP1 lead to altered tropism and pathogenesis. McCright, I.J., Tsunoda, I., Whitby, F.G., Fujinami, R.S. J. Virol. (1999) [Pubmed]
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