Virus research

Generation and characterization of a Cowpox virus mutant lacking host range factor CP77.

PMID 22705200


Cowpox virus (CPXV) host range factor CP77 was identified to be required for virus replication in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, but the underlying molecular mechanism by which CP77 modulates host range has remained unclear. Therefore, a CPXVΔCP77 deletion mutant was constructed by applying bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) technology. Integrity of BAC-derived viral DNA was confirmed by whole genome sequencing. In vitro growth characteristics of CPXV wild type (WT), BAC-derived vCPXV WT and vCPXVΔCP77 were virtually indistinguishable in HEK293T cells, whereas in CHO-K1 cells replication of virus lacking CP77 was unambiguously attenuated. This block of viral replication was confirmed by lack of late viral protein expression. The replication defect of various Orthopoxviruses lacking CP77 in CHO cells could be restored by recombinant expression of CP77. Thus, for the first time, the described CP77-dependent host range effect in CHO cells was shown in the background of CPXV as well as Camelpox virus. To further characterize the mutant virus, cells of several different species were comparably infected with vCPXV WT and vCPXVΔCP77, respectively. Interestingly, except for CHO-K1 cells, vCPXV WT and vCPXVΔCP77 showed no significant difference in terms of morphology of cytopathic effects, expression of a late transcribed virus-encoded green fluorescent protein and virus reproduction, even in other hamster-derived cells. Additionally, in ovo inoculation with either virus revealed the same red-pock phenotype on chicken egg chorioallantoic membranes. Since the data presented indicate a CP77-dependent host range effect only for CHO cells, we conclude that the protein might mediate additional functions not identified yet. The vCPXVΔCP77 deletion mutant generated can now be applied as a useful tool to investigate the function of the putative host range protein CP77.