The attenuated Towne strain of human cytomegalovirus may revert to both endothelial cell tropism and leuko- (neutrophil- and monocyte-) tropism in vitro

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Abstract

The Towne strain of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), originally recovered from the urine of a congenitally infected newborn, was attenuated through 125 passages in human embryonic lung fibroblast cell cultures. Although reliable markers of attenuation were not identified, the virus was shown to be attenuated by inoculation of both healthy human volunteers and immunocompromised patients. More recently, Towne (like other laboratory-adapted strains) was shown not to have two biological properties typical of recent clinical isolates: endothelial cell tropism and polymorpho-nuclear leukocyte tropism. These markers of attenuation are lost by all clinical isolates on extensive propagation in cell cultures and are apparently associated with one another. Here, we show that Towne may reacquire both endothelial cell tropism and leuko- (polymorphonuclear- and monocyte-) tropism on adaptation to growth in endothelial cell cultures. However, reversion to endothelial cell tropism is dissociated from reversion to leukotropism, since the latter was reacquired 10-20 passages later. Thus, these two biological properties, which were considered to be encoded by the same viral gene(s), appear to be distinct. Both restriction fragment length polymorphism and Southern blot analysis demonstrated the identity of the attenuated and endothelial cell tropic variants of Towne, thus suggesting that only minor variations (mutations) of the viral genome may be responsible for loss or reacquisition of the two biological properties. Viral genes involved in endothelial cell tropism and leukotropism remain to be identified. However, reversion of attenuated strains to pathogenicity in vivo cannot be excluded a priori.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1993-2000
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Virology
Volume83
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology

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