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Emerg Infect Dis. 2002 Dec;8(12):1379-84.

Induction of inflammation by West Nile virus capsid through the caspase-9 apoptotic pathway.

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University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104, USA.

Erratum in

  • Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Mar;9(3):406..


West Nile virus (WNV) is a member of the Flaviviridae family of vector-borne pathogens. Clinical signs of WNV infection include neurologic symptoms, limb weakness, and encephalitis, which can result in paralysis or death. We report that the WNV-capsid by itself induces rapid nuclear condensation and cell death in tissue culture. Apoptosis is induced through the mitochondrial pathway resulting in caspase-9 activation and downstream caspase-3 activation. Capsid gene delivery into the striatum of mouse brain or interskeletal muscle resulted in cell death and inflammation, likely through capsid-induced apoptosis in vivo. These studies demonstrate that the capsid protein of WNV may be responsible for aspects of viral pathogenesis through induction of the apoptotic cascade.

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