The PI capsid region of Theiler's virus controls replication in mouse glial cell cultures

H O'Shea, J Crang, P Tonks, A A Nash, J K Fazakerley

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The GDVII strain of Theiler's virus is virulent. The DA strain is avirulent and can persist and initiate lesions of inflammatory demyelination in the CNS of susceptible strains of mice. Other, resistant strains of mice clear the infection. Replication of the GDVII and DA strains of Theiler's virus and their genetic recombinants R2, R3 and R4 were compared in mixed glial cell cultures derived from the mouse CNS. Differences were observed in the early rate of viral production. These mapped to the P1 capsid region of the viral genome. Viruses with GDVII P1 sequences produced virus and spread more rapidly than viruses with DA P1 sequences. GDVII virus infected greater numbers of cells than DA virus. Both strains of virus rapidly replicated at least to the level of translation in astrocytes (GFAP+), macrophage/microglial cells (F4/80+), oligodendrocytes (O4+) and bipotential precursor (A2B5+) cells. Early in infection many A2B5+ and GFAP+ cells were infected and destroyed. In contrast, O4+ cells were relatively resistant to cell-death. The cultures survived and produced virus over 14 days of study, at which time all 4 cell-type were present in the culture but <1% of all the cells, the majority of which were O4+, expressed viral protein. Most of these infected O4+ cells retained a healthy morphology with extensive sheets of cytoplasm, suggesting that Theiler's virus infection of mature oligodendrocytes was non-destructive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1521-35
Number of pages15
JournalArchives of Virology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Animals
  • Capsid
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Macrophages
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Neuroglia
  • Oligodendroglia
  • Theilovirus
  • Virus Replication


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