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J Virol. 2012 Mar;86(6):3027-37. doi: 10.1128/JVI.06517-11. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Wild-type measles virus with the hemagglutinin protein of the edmonston vaccine strain retains wild-type tropism in macaques.

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Department of Infection Biology, Division of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan.


A major difference between vaccine and wild-type strains of measles virus (MV) in vitro is the wider cell specificity of vaccine strains, resulting from the receptor usage of the hemagglutinin (H) protein. Wild-type H proteins recognize the signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM) (CD150), which is expressed on certain cells of the immune system, whereas vaccine H proteins recognize CD46, which is ubiquitously expressed on all nucleated human and monkey cells, in addition to SLAM. To examine the effect of the H protein on the tropism and attenuation of MV, we generated enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-expressing recombinant wild-type MV strains bearing the Edmonston vaccine H protein (MV-EdH) and compared them to EGFP-expressing wild-type MV strains. In vitro, MV-EdH replicated in SLAM(+) as well as CD46(+) cells, including primary cell cultures from cynomolgus monkey tissues, whereas the wild-type MV replicated only in SLAM(+) cells. However, in macaques, both wild-type MV and MV-EdH strains infected lymphoid and respiratory organs, and widespread infection of MV-EdH was not observed. Flow cytometric analysis indicated that SLAM(+) lymphocyte cells were infected preferentially with both strains. Interestingly, EGFP expression of MV-EdH in tissues and lymphocytes was significantly weaker than that of the wild-type MV. Taken together, these results indicate that the CD46-binding activity of the vaccine H protein is important for determining the cell specificity of MV in vitro but not the tropism in vivo. They also suggest that the vaccine H protein attenuates MV growth in vivo.

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