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Virus Res. 1994 Oct;34(1):49-61.

Fine mechanisms of ectromelia virus thymidine kinase-negative mutants avirulence.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, NPO Vector, Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Region, Russia.


Three independently selected spontaneous thymidine kinase-negative mutants (TK-phenotype) and a recombinant with Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase gene (LacZ+ phenotype) inserted in the viral thymidine kinase gene (tk) were derived from a plaque-cloned isolate of K-1 ectromelia virus strain (TK+ phenotype). Dramatically decreased virulence of TK- variants was observed for all routes of mouse inoculation. The kinetics of TK+ and TK- variants in various target organs indicated a significant decrease of production and dissemination of TK- mutants and recombinant in the organs of mice. In the spleen and liver of intranasally or intracerebrally infected mice TK- virus was not detected during the entire period of observation. Analysis of organs homogenates of mice intranasally infected by a mixture of recombinant with TK-LacZ+ phenotype and parental isolate with TK+LacZ- phenotype on the monolayers of TK- cells indicated that only white plaques (LacZ-) with the TK+ phenotype appeared from liver and spleen homogenates. Thus, the mouse acts as a live filter much more efficiently than any other selective systems. Ultrastructural studies showed that viral damage in animals infected by TK- variants was far less than that observed in mice, infected with wild type of ectromelia virus and pathological lessions were slight and reversible. Replication of ectromelia virus TK- variants was blocked at the viroplasma stage in cells with a high level of differentiation in contrast to TK+ variants. Most likely, such restriction of target cells assortment is the general reason of reduced virulence in the case of tk-gene inactivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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