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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2011 Jun;11(6):665-74. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2010.0179. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

Chimeric tick-borne encephalitis/dengue virus is attenuated in Ixodes scapularis ticks and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


In an effort to derive an efficacious live attenuated vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis, we generated a chimeric virus bearing the structural protein genes of a Far Eastern subtype of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) on the genetic background of recombinant dengue 4 (DEN4) virus. Introduction of attenuating mutations into the TBEV envelope protein gene, as well as the DEN4 NS5 protein gene and 3' noncoding region in the chimeric genome, results in decreased neurovirulence and neuroinvasiveness in mice, and restricted replication in mouse brain. Since TBEV and DEN4 viruses are transmitted in nature by ticks and mosquitoes, respectively, it was of interest to investigate the infectivity of the chimeric virus for both arthropod vectors. Therefore, parental and chimeric viruses were tested for growth in mosquito and tick cells and for oral infection in vivo. Although all chimeric viruses demonstrated moderate levels of replication in C6/36 mosquito cells, they were unable to replicate in ISE6 tick cells. Further, the chimeric viruses were unable to infect or replicate in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and Ixodes scapularis tick larvae. The poor infectivity for both potential vectors reinforces the safety of chimeric virus-based vaccine candidates for the environment and for use in humans.

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