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J Virol. Aug 1993; 67(8): 4630–4638.
PMCID: PMC237848

A mutation in the RNA polymerase of poliovirus type 1 contributes to attenuation in mice.


The attenuated Sabin strain of poliovirus type 1 (PV-1) differs from the neurovirulent PV-1 Mahoney strain by 55 nucleotide mutations. Only one of these mutations (A-480-->G, in the 5' noncoding (5' NC) region of the genome, is well characterized, and it confers a strong attenuating effect. We attempted to identify genetic attenuation determinants in the 3'-terminal part of the Sabin 1 genome including the 3D polymerase (3Dpol) gene and the 3' NC region. Previous studies suggested that some of the 11 mutations in this region of the Sabin 1 genome, and in particular a mutation in the polymerase gene (U-6203-->C, Tyr-73-->His), are involved to some extent in the attenuation of PV-1. We analyzed the attenuating effect in the mouse model by using the mouse-adapted PV-1/PV-2 chimeric strain v510 (a Mahoney strain carrying nine amino acids of the VP1 capsid protein from the Lansing strain of PV-2). Mutagenesis of locus 6203 was performed on the original v510 (U-6203-->C) and also on a hybrid v510/Sabin 1 (C-6203-->U) carrying the downstream 1,840 nucleotides of the Sabin 1 genome including the 3Dpol and 3' NC regions. Statistical analysis of disease incidence and time to disease onset in numerous mice inoculated with these strains strongly suggested that nucleotide C-6203 is involved in the attenuation of the Sabin 1 strain. Results also suggested that, among the mutations located in the 3Dpol and 3' NC regions, nucleotide C-6203 may be the principal or the only one to be involved in attenuation in this mouse model. We also found that the effect of C-6203 was weaker than that of nucleotide G-480; the two nucleotides acted independently and may have a cumulative effect on attenuation. The U-6203-->C substitution also appeared to contribute to the thermosensitivity of the Sabin 1 strain.

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