© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. West Nile virus (WNV) strains may differ significantly in neuroinvasiveness in vertebrate hosts. In contrast to genetic lineage 1 WNVs, molecular determinants of pathogenic lineage 2 strains have not been experimentally confirmed so far. A full-length infectious clone of a neurovirulent WNV lineage 2 strain (578/10; Central Europe) was generated and amino acid substitutions that have been shown to attenuate lineage 1 WNVs were introduced into the nonstructural proteins (NS1 (P250L), NS2A (A30P), NS3 (P249H) NS4B (P38G, C102S, E249G)). The mouse neuroinvasive phenotype of each mutant virus was examined following intraperitoneal inoculation of C57BL/6 mice. Only the NS1-P250L mutation was associated with a significant attenuation of virulence in mice compared to the wild-type. Multiplication kinetics in cell culture revealed significantly lower infectious virus titres for the NS1 mutant compared to the wild-type, as well as significantly lower amounts of positive and negative stranded RNA.
Szentpáli-Gavallér, K., Lim, S. M., Dencső, L., Bányai, K., Koraka, P., Osterhaus, A. D. M. E., … Bálint. (2016). In Vitro and in Vivo evaluation of mutations in the NS region of Lineage 2 West Nile virus associated with Neuroinvasiveness in a Mammalian model. Viruses, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.3390/V8020049