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Virology. 2006 Jun 5;349(2):245-53. Epub 2006 Apr 19.

A single amino acid substitution in the central portion of the West Nile virus NS4B protein confers a highly attenuated phenotype in mice.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, TX 77555-0609, USA.


West Nile virus (WNV) NS4B is a small hydrophobic nonstructural protein that is hypothesized to participate both in viral replication and evasion of host innate immune defenses. The protein has four cysteine residues (residues 102, 120, 227, and 237). Since cysteines are often critical for the function of proteins, each of the four cysteine residues found in WNV NS4B was mutated to serine by site-directed mutagenesis. While three of these substitutions had little effect on replication or mouse virulence phenotypes, the C102S mutation was associated with a temperature-sensitive phenotype at 41 degrees C as well as attenuation of the neuroinvasive and neurovirulence phenotypes in mice.

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