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

Deletion of M2 gene open reading frames 1 and 2 of human metapneumovirus: effects on RNA synthesis, attenuation, and immunogenicity.

The M2 gene of human metapneumovirus (HMPV) contains two overlapping open reading frames (ORFs), M2-1 and M2-2. The expression of separate M2-1 and M2-2 proteins from these ORFs was confirmed, and recombinant HMPVs were recovered in which expression of M2-1 and M2-2 was ablated individually or together [rdeltaM2-1, rdeltaM2-2, and rdeltaM2(1+2)]. Each M2 mutant virus directed efficient multicycle growth in Vero cells. The ability to recover HMPV lacking M2-1 contrasts with human respiratory syncytial virus, for which M2-1 is an essential transcription factor. Expression of the downstream HMPV M2-2 ORF was not reduced when translation of the upstream M2-1 ORF was silenced, indicating that it is initiated separately. The rdeltaM2-2 mutants exhibited a two- to fivefold increase in the accumulation of mRNA, normalized to the genome template, suggesting that M2-2 has a role in regulating RNA synthesis. Replication and immunogenicity were tested in hamsters. Animals infected intranasally with rdeltaM2-1 or rdeltaM2(1+2) did not have recoverable virus in the lungs or nasal turbinates on days 3 or 5 postinfection and did not develop HMPV-neutralizing serum antibodies or resistance to HMPV challenge. Thus, M2-1 appears to be essential for significant virus replication in vivo. In animals infected with rdeltaM2-2, virus was recovered from only 1 of 12 animals and only in the nasal turbinates on a single day. However, all of the animals developed a high titer of HMPV-neutralizing serum antibodies and were highly protected against challenge with wild-type HMPV. The HMPV rdeltaM2-2 virus is a promising and highly attenuated HMPV vaccine candidate.[1]


  1. Deletion of M2 gene open reading frames 1 and 2 of human metapneumovirus: effects on RNA synthesis, attenuation, and immunogenicity. Buchholz, U.J., Biacchesi, S., Pham, Q.N., Tran, K.C., Yang, L., Luongo, C.L., Skiadopoulos, M.H., Murphy, B.R., Collins, P.L. J. Virol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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