B. Denes, DS Gridley, N. Fodor, Z. Takatsy, TM Timiryasova, I. Fodor. "Attenuation of a vaccine strain of vaccinia virus via inactivation of interferon viroceptor." J. Gene Med. 8.1 (2006): 814-823. ( 7/2006 - 6/2007 )
Background. Interferons (IFN) play an important role in host antiviral responses, but viruses, including vaccinia viruses (VV), employ mechanisms to disrupt IFN activities, and these viral mechanisms are often associated with their virulence. Here, we explore an attenuation strategy with a vaccine strain of VV lacking a virus-encoded IFN-γ receptor homolog (viroceptor). Methods. To facilitate the monitoring of virus properties, first we constructed a Lister vaccine strain derivative VV-RG expressing optical reporters. Further, we constructed a VV-RG derivative, VV-RG8, which lacks the IFN-gammaR viroceptor (B8R gene product). Replication, immunological and pathogenic properties of the constructed strains were compared. Results. Viruses did not show significant differences in humoral and cellular immune responses of immune-competent mice. Replication of constructed viruses was efficient both in vitro and in vivo, but showed marked difference in kinetics of propagation. In cultured CV-1 epithelial cells, the VV-RG8 retained the propagation potential of the parental virus, while in the C6 glial cells, significant delay was observed in the kinetics of the VV-RG8 replication cycle compared to VV-RG. The pathogenesis of the viruses was tested by survival assay and biodistribution in nude mice. High dose inoculation of nude mice with VV-RG8 caused less pronounced virus dissemination, improved weight gain, and increased survival rate, as compared with the VV-RG strain. Conclusions. The replication-competent virus VV-RG8 carrying mutation at B8R gene is less pathogenic for mice than the parental vaccine virus. We anticipate that step-wise inactivation of VV vaccine genes involved in evasion of host immune response may provide an alternative approach for generation hyper-attenuated replication-competent vaccines.