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J Virol. 1991 May;65(5):2736-8.

Direct entry of rabies virus into the central nervous system without prior local replication.

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  • 1Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4268.


Rabies virus pathogenesis was studied in a mouse model by inoculation of the masseter muscle. At different intervals, the masseter muscle, trigeminal ganglia, and brain were analyzed for virus-specific RNA with a polymerase chain reaction assay, which revealed that as early as 18 h postinfection (p.i.), virus-specific RNA was present in the trigeminal ganglia, and at 24 h p.i., viral RNA was identified in the brain stem. Analysis of the masseter muscle demonstrated virus at 1 h p.i. but no virus-specific RNA between 6 and 30 h p.i., indicating that virus invaded the nerve ending directly, without prior replication in the muscle. At 36 h p.i., viral RNA was detected again in the masseter muscle. Selective amplification of plus- and minus-strand RNA isolated from the masseter muscle at 96 h p.i. revealed that the majority of the rabies virus-specific RNA was in the positive sense, suggesting virus replication in muscle tissue during late stages of infection.

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