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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Oct;86(19):7601-5.

A genetically engineered cell line that produces empty capsids of B19 (human) parvovirus.

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  • 1Cell Biology Section, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


B19 parvovirus is pathogenic in humans, causing the common childhood exanthem fifth disease and bone-marrow failure, both acute (transient aplastic crisis of hemolysis) and chronic (pure erythrocyte aplasia in immunodeficiency). The virus is tropic for a human red cell progenitor cell, and failure to culture B19 in a cell line has limited its clinical study. We cotransfected the right half of the cloned B19 genome and a minigene derived from the human dihydrofolate reductase gene (DHFR) into dhfr--Chinese hamster ovary cells and screened selected clones by RNA analysis; after amplification in methotrexate, clones were tested for capsid protein expression. A cell line, designated 3-11-5, stably expressed nearly full-length transcripts for the two capsid proteins. These cells produced the major and minor structural protein species in natural proportions that self-assembled into virion capsids. Capsids from 3-11-5 cells could be separated from virions by sucrose gradient sedimentation and had the density on cesium chloride isopycnic sedimentation of empty parvovirus capsids. Capsid protein was present in both nuclei and cytoplasm on immunofluorescence study but fractionated with the cytosol on purification. Empty capsid production was equal to or greater than virion production by infected bone-marrow cells, 1000-2000 capsids per cell, but cell growth was not diminished by capsid production. This cell line will be useful in developing practical assays for B19 parvovirus antibody and a vaccine for the virus, as well as potentially serving as a packaging cell line for gene therapy.

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