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Virology. 2004 Dec 5;330(1):304-12.

An attenuated West Nile prototype virus is highly immunogenic and protects against the deadly NY99 strain: a candidate for live WN vaccine development.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


In a short time, West Nile virus has developed into a nationwide health and veterinary problem. The high virulence of the circulating virus and related lineage 1 WN strains hinders development of an attenuated live vaccine. We describe an attenuated WN isolate, WN1415, which is a molecularly cloned descendant of the WN prototype B956 strain. The parent virus belongs to lineage 2, members of which have not been associated with epidemic or epizootic outbreaks. A set of non-conservative mutations, mostly in non-structural protein genes, distinguishes the WN1415 isolate from the parent B956 prototype strain. Immunization with WN1415 (55-550,000 pfu) established a potent immunity, which protected the majority of mice against lethal challenge with WN NY99. The attenuated nature of the isolate and its excellent growth characteristics combined with the availability of a highly stable infectious clone make the isolate an attractive candidate for live WN vaccine development.

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