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J Virol Methods. 2002 May;103(1):89-99.

Enhanced detection of Theiler's virus RNA copy equivalents in the mouse central nervous system by real-time RT-PCR.

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Department of Neurology, Evanston Hospital, 2650 Ridge Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201, USA.


Infection of mice by low-neurovirulence Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV), such as BeAn and DA viruses, provides a relevant experimental animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS). As a step toward determining the kinetics of a persistent central nervous system (CNS) infection that leads to chronic demyelination, we adapted a rapid, accurate and highly specific real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for detection and quantitation of BeAn virus RNA copy equivalents in mouse tissues. The assay enabled detection of as few as 20-30 copies of BeAn virus RNA per microg of total RNA from infected mouse tissues and results for spinal cord revealed the same high levels of BeAn RNA as detected by Northern hybridization during the first 4 months of the persistent infection, but also was able to detect virus RNA copies as late as 1 year post-infection. Real-time RT-PCR analysis of BeAn virus RNA copy equivalents in different parts of the CNS, analyses not possible by Northern hybridization, revealed the following cline of virus persistence: spinal cord>brainstem/cerebellum>cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)>cerebral hemispheres. Systemic organs, including heart, intestine and mesenteric lymph nodes of infected mice, showed no evidence of viral persistence at 4 months post-infection.

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