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J Virol. 2010 Apr;84(7):3280-6. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02052-09. Epub 2009 Dec 23.

Vesicular stomatitis virus genomic RNA persists in vivo in the absence of viral replication.

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Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, 310 Cedar St., LH 315, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Our previous studies using intranasal inoculation of mice with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vaccine vectors showed persistence of vector genomic RNA (gRNA) for at least 60 days in lymph nodes in the absence of detectable infectious virus. Here we show high-level concentration of virus and gRNA in lymph nodes after intramuscular inoculation of mice with attenuated or single-cycle VSV vectors as well as long-term persistence of gRNA in the lymph nodes. To determine if the persistence of gRNA was due to ongoing viral replication, we developed a tagged-primer approach that was critical for detection of VSV mRNA specifically. Our results show that VSV gRNA persists long-term in the lymph nodes while VSV mRNA is present only transiently. Because VSV transcription is required for replication, our results indicate that persistence of gRNA does not result from continuing viral replication. We also performed macrophage depletion studies that are consistent with initial trapping of VSV gRNA largely in lymph node macrophages and subsequent persistence elsewhere in the lymph node.

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