Chimeric rabies viruses for trans-species comparison of lyssavirus glycoprotein extodomain functions in virus replication and pathogenesis

Genz, Berit GND; Nolden, Tobias GND; Negatsch, Alexandra GND; Teifke, Jens Peter GND; Conzelmann, K.-K.; Finke, Stefan GND

The glycoprotein G of lyssaviruses is the major determinant of virus pathogenicity and serves as a target for immunological responses to virus infections. However, assessment of the exact contribution of lyssavirus G proteins to observed differences in the pathogenicity of lyssavirus species is challenging, since the direct comparison of natural lyssaviruses does not allow specific ascription to individual virus proteins or domains. Here we describe the generation and characterization of recombinant rabies viruses (RABV) that express chimeric G proteins comprising of a RABV cytoplasma domain fused to transmembrane and ectodomain G sequences of a virulent RABV (challenge virus standard; CVS-11) or two European bat lyssaviruses (EBLV-1 and EBLV-2). These "envelope-switched" recombinant viruses were recovered from cDNAs. Similar growth kinetics and protein expression in neuroblastoma cell cultures and successful targeting of primary neurons showed that the chimeric G proteins were able to replace the authentic G protein in a RABV based virus vector. Inoculation of six week old CD-1 mice by the intracranial (i. c.) route of infection further demonstrated that all recombinant viruses were able to spread in the brain and to induce disease. The "envelope-switched" RABV therefore represent an important tool to further investigate the influence of lyssavirus ectodomains on virus tropism, and pathogenicity.

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Genz, Berit / Nolden, Tobias / Negatsch, Alexandra / et al: Chimeric rabies viruses for trans-species comparison of lyssavirus glycoprotein extodomain functions in virus replication and pathogenesis. 2012.

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