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Virus Res. 1997 Nov;52(1):43-50.

Mapping of the mutations present in the genome of the Rift Valley fever virus attenuated MP12 strain and their putative role in attenuation.

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Institut Pasteur, Laboratoire des Bunyavirid├ęs, Paris, France.


The MP12 attenuated strain of Rift Valley fever virus was obtained by 12 serial passages of a virulent isolate ZH548 in the presence of 5-fluorouracil (Caplen et al., 1985. Mutagen-directed attenuation of Rift Valley fever virus as a method for vaccine development. J. Gen. Virol., 66, 2271-2277). The comparison of the M segment of the two strains has already been reported by Takehara et al. (Takehara et al., 1989. Identification of mutations in the M RNA of a candidate vaccine strain of Rift Valley fever virus. Virology 169, 452-457). We have completed the comparison and found that altogether a total of nine, 12 and four nucleotides were changed in the L, M and S segments of the two strains, respectively. Three mutations induced amino acid changes in the L protein but none of them was located in the recognized motifs conserved among RNA dependent polymerases. In the S segment, a single change modified an amino acid in the NSs protein and in the M segment, seven of the mutations resulted in amino acid changes in each of the four encoded G1, G2, 14 kDa and 78 kDa proteins. Characterization of the MP12 virus indicated that determinants for attenuation were present in each segment and that they were introduced progressively during the 12 passages in the presence of the mutagen (Saluzzo and Smith, 1990. Use of reassortant viruses to map attenuating and temperature-sensitive mutations of the Rift Valley fever virus MP-12 vaccine. Vaccine 8, 369-375). Passages 4 and 7-9 were found to be essential for introduction of temperature-sensitive lesions and attenuation. In an attempt to correlate some of the mutations with the attenuated or temperature-sensitive phenotypes, we determined by sequencing the passage level at which the different mutations appeared. This work should help to address the question of the role of the viral gene products in Rift Valley fever pathogenesis.

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