Enhanced neurovirulence of tick-borne orbiviruses resulting from genetic modulation.
Nuttall PA., Jacobs SC., Jones LD., Carey D., Moss SR.
The genome of orbiviruses (Reoviridae family) comprises 10 segments of double-stranded RNA. The fourth largest segment of the tick-borne Kemerovo (KEM) group orbiviruses is the genetic determinant of neurovirulence in experimentally infected mice, and segment 6 determines serotype. Reassortant viruses derived from a cross between two KEM-related viruses, Great Island (GI) and Wexford (WEX), that had the heterotypic gene combination W4G6 (segment 4 of WEX virus and segment 6 from GI virus) were nonpathogenic in mice. This apparent genetic modulation of neurovirulence may have resulted from steric interaction between the two outer capsid proteins of nonpathogenic reassortants. Further data are consistent with this hypothesis. Reassortants generated from additional KEM group viruses showed various degrees of enhanced neurovirulence in terms of their PFU/LD50 (ratio of infectivity in cell culture and in mice) and ASTmax (the average survival time at the highest virus dilution resulting in 100% mortality). Some reassortants were more pathogenic than either of their parental viruses. The results indicate that the gene determining neurovirulence dictates ASTmax, and the PFU/LD50 is a measure of the interaction between the products of the gene determining neurovirulence and that determining serotype. The nonpathogenic phenotype of a low passage isolate (St. Abb's 84-34 virus), derived from a single tick, generated neurovirulent reassortants. This result indicates that genetic modulation of KEM group viruses may occur in nature.