Virulence of La Crosse virus is under polygenic control

R. S. Janssen, N. Nathanson, M. J. Endres, F. Gonzalez-Scarano

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40 Scopus citations


To identify which RNA segments of the California serogroup bunyaviruses determine virulence, we prepared reassortant viruses by coinfecting BHK-21 cells with two wild-type parents, La Crosse/original and Tahyna 181-57 virus, which differed about 30,000-fold in virulence. The progeny clones were screened by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to ascertain the phenotype of the M and S RNA segments, and RNA-RNA hybridization was used to determine the genotype of selected clones. Two of three clones of each of the six possible reassortant genotypes were characterized quantitatively for neuroinvasiveness by determining the PFU/50% lethal dose (LD50) ratio after subcutaneous injection into suckling mice. The reassortants fell into two groups. (i) Six of seven reassortants with a La Crosse M RNA segment were virulent as the parent La Crosse virus about (1 PFU/LD50); the one exception was strikingly different (about 1,000 PFU/LD50) and probably represents a spontaneous mutant. (ii) The seven reassortants with a Tahyna M RNA segment were about 10-fold more virulent than the parent Tahyna virus (median 1,600PFU/LD50 for reassortants and 16,000 PFU/LD50 for Tahyna virus). A comparative pathogenesis study in suckling mice of one reassortant virus and the parent Tahyna virus confirmed the greater neuroinvasiveness of the reassortant virus. From these data it was concluded that the M RNA segment was the major determinant of virulence, but that the other two gene segments could modulate the virulence of a nonneuroinvasive California serogroup virus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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