Genetic basis of the neurovirulence of pseudorabies virus

B. Lomniczi, S. Watanabe, T. Ben-Porat, A. S. Kaplan

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Lomniczi et al. (J. Virol. 49:970-979, 1984) have shown previously that two attenuated vaccine strains of pseudorabies virus have a similar deletion in the short unique (U(s) region of the genome. The region which is deleted normally codes for several translationally competent mRNAs. As expected, these mRNAs are not formed in the cells infected with the vaccine strains. The function specified by these mRNAs is thus not necessary for growth in cell culture. Using intracerebral inoculation of 1-day-old chicks as a test system, we have attempted to determine whether a gene within the region that is missing from the attenuated strains specifies functions that are required for the expression of virulence. An analysis of recombinants between the Bartha vaccine strain and a virulent pseudorabies virus strain (having or lacking a thymidine kinase gene [TK+ or TK-]) revealed the following. (i) None of the recombinant plaque isolates that were either TK- or which had a deletion in the U(s) was virulent. (ii) Not all recombinant plaque isolates which were both TK+ and had an intact U(s) were virulent. These results indicate that both thymidine kinase activity and an intact U(s) were of the Bartha strain DNA and a restriction fragment spanning the region of the genome that was missing from the Bartha strain resulted in the isolation of virions to which an intact U(s) had been restored. These virions were not virulent but had an improved ability to replicate in the brains of chicks compared with that of the parental nonrescued Bartha strain. Our results show that genes in the U(s) region, which are missing from the Bartha strain, were necessary for virulence but that this strain was also defective in other genes required for the expression of virulence. Thus, the virulence of pseudorabies virus, as measured by intracerebral inoculation into chicks, appears to be controlled multigenically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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