Nature communications

Visualizing the replication of respiratory syncytial virus in cells and in living mice.

PMID 25277263


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most important cause of severe lower-respiratory tract disease in calves and young children, yet no human vaccine nor efficient curative treatments are available. Here we describe a recombinant human RSV reverse genetics system in which the red fluorescent protein (mCherry) or the firefly luciferase (Luc) genes are inserted into the RSV genome. Expression of mCherry and Luc are correlated with infection rate, allowing the monitoring of RSV multiplication in cell culture. Replication of the Luc-encoding virus in living mice can be visualized by bioluminescent imaging, bioluminescence being detected in the snout and lungs of infected mice after nasal inoculation. We propose that these recombinant viruses are convenient and valuable tools for screening of compounds active against RSV, and can be used as an extremely sensitive readout for studying effects of antiviral therapeutics in living mice.