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J Virol. 2000 Oct;74(19):9317-21.

Recombinant respiratory syncytial virus that does not express the NS1 or M2-2 protein is highly attenuated and immunogenic in chimpanzees.

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Respiratory Viruses Section, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, USA.


Mutant recombinant respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV) which cannot express the NS1 and M2-2 proteins, designated rA2DeltaNS1 and rA2DeltaM2-2, respectively, were evaluated as live-attenuated RSV vaccines. The rA2DeltaNS1 virus contains a large deletion that should have the advantageous property of genetic stability during replication in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, rA2DeltaNS1 replicated approximately 10-fold less well than wild-type recombinant RSV (rA2), while rA2DeltaM2-2 had delayed growth kinetics but reached a final titer similar to that of rA2. Each virus was administered to the respiratory tracts of RSV-seronegative chimpanzees to assess replication, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy. The rA2DeltaNS1 and rA2DeltaM2-2 viruses were 2,200- to 55,000-fold restricted in replication in the upper and lower respiratory tracts but induced a level of RSV-neutralizing antibody in serum that was only slightly reduced compared to the level induced by wild-type RSV. The replication of wild-type RSV in immunized chimpanzees after challenge was reduced more than 10,000-fold at each site. Importantly, rA2DeltaNS1 and rA2DeltaM2-2 were 10-fold more restricted in replication in the upper respiratory tract than was the cpts248/404 virus, a vaccine candidate that retained mild reactogenicity in the upper respiratory tracts of 1-month-old infants. Thus, either rA2DeltaNS1 or rA2DeltaM2-2 might be appropriately attenuated for this age group, which is the major target population for an RSV vaccine. In addition, these results show that neither NS1 nor M2-2 is essential for RSV replication in vivo, although each is important for efficient replication.

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