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J Virol. 2006 Jul;80(13):6430-40.

Reverse genetic generation of recombinant Zaire Ebola viruses containing disrupted IRF-3 inhibitory domains results in attenuated virus growth in vitro and higher levels of IRF-3 activation without inhibiting viral transcription or replication.

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  • 1Special Pathogens Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, MS G-14, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


The VP35 protein of Zaire Ebola virus is an essential component of the viral RNA polymerase complex and also functions to antagonize the cellular type I interferon (IFN) response by blocking activation of the transcription factor IRF-3. We previously mapped the IRF-3 inhibitory domain within the C terminus of VP35. In the present study, we show that mutations that disrupt the IRF-3 inhibitory function of VP35 do not disrupt viral transcription/replication, suggesting that the two functions of VP35 are separable. Second, using reverse genetics, we successfully recovered recombinant Ebola viruses containing mutations within the IRF-3 inhibitory domain. Importantly, we show that the recombinant viruses were attenuated for growth in cell culture and that they activated IRF-3 and IRF-3-inducible gene expression at levels higher than that for Ebola virus containing wild-type VP35. In the context of Ebola virus pathogenesis, VP35 may function to limit early IFN-beta production and other antiviral signals generated from cells at the primary site of infection, thereby slowing down the host's ability to curb virus replication and induce adaptive immunity.

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