Replication of Ljungan virus in cell culture: the genomic 5'-end, infectious cDNA clones and host cell response to viral infections

Virus Research
Jens-Ola EkströmA Michael Lindberg


Ljungan virus (LV) is a picornavirus recently isolated from bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus). The previously uncharacterised 5'-end sequence of the LV genome was determined. Infectious cDNA clones were constructed of the wild type LV prototype strain 87-012 and of the cytolytically replicating cell culture adapted variant 87-012G. Virus generated from cDNA clones showed identical growth characteristics as uncloned virus stocks. Cell culture adapted LV, 87-012G, showed a clear cytopathic effect (CPE) at 3-4 days post-infection (p.i.). Virus titers, determined by plaque titration, increased however only within the first 18h p.i. Replication of LV (+) strand RNA was determined by real-time PCR and corresponded in time with increasing titers. In contrast, the amounts of the replication intermediate, the (-) strand, continued to increase until the cells showed CPE. This indicates separate controlling mechanisms for replication of LV (+) and (-) genome strands. Replication was also monitored by immunofluorescence (IF) staining. IF staining of both prototype 87-012 and the CPE causing 87-012G showed groups of 5-25 infected cells at 48h p.i., suggesting a, for picornaviruses, not previously described direct cell-to-cell transmission.


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