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J Virol. 2012 Jan;86(1):420-6. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02327-10. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

A recombinant chimeric La Crosse virus expressing the surface glycoproteins of Jamestown Canyon virus is immunogenic and protective against challenge with either parental virus in mice or monkeys.

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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


La Crosse virus (LACV) and Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV), family Bunyaviridae, are mosquito-borne viruses that are endemic in North America and recognized as etiologic agents of encephalitis in humans. Both viruses belong to the California encephalitis virus serogroup, which causes 70 to 100 cases of encephalitis a year. As a first step in creating live attenuated viral vaccine candidates for this serogroup, we have generated a recombinant LACV expressing the attachment/fusion glycoproteins of JCV. The JCV/LACV chimeric virus contains full-length S and L segments derived from LACV. For the M segment, the open reading frame (ORF) of LACV is replaced with that derived from JCV and is flanked by the untranslated regions of LACV. The resulting chimeric virus retained the same robust growth kinetics in tissue culture as observed for either parent virus, and the virus remains highly infectious and immunogenic in mice. Although both LACV and JCV are highly neurovirulent in 21 day-old mice, with 50% lethal dose (LD₅₀) values of 0.1 and 0.5 log₁₀ PFU, respectively, chimeric JCV/LACV is highly attenuated and does not cause disease even after intracerebral inoculation of 10³ PFU. Parenteral vaccination of mice with 10¹ or 10³ PFU of JCV/LACV protected against lethal challenge with LACV, JCV, and Tahyna virus (TAHV). The chimeric virus was infectious and immunogenic in rhesus monkeys and induced neutralizing antibodies to JCV, LACV, and TAHV. When vaccinated monkeys were challenged with JCV, they were protected against the development of viremia. Generation of highly attenuated yet immunogenic chimeric bunyaviruses could be an efficient general method for development of vaccines effective against these pathogenic viruses.

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