Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Mutations in the CVB3 Genome Affecting Disease Phenotype PLOS ONE, 2015


The 5’ non-translated region (NTR) is an important molecular determinant that controls replication and virulence of coxsackievirus B (CVB)3. Previous studies have reported many nucleotide (nt) sequence differences in the Nancy strain of the virus, including changes in the 5’ NTR with varying degrees of disease severity. In our studies of CVB3-induced myocarditis, we sought to generate an infectious clone of the virus for routine in vivo experimentation. By determining the viral nt sequence, we identified three new nt substitutions in the clone that differed from the parental virus strain: C97U in the 5’ NTR; a silent mutation, A4327G, in non-structural protein 2C; and C5088U (resulting in P1449L amino acid change) in non-structural protein 3A of the virus leading us to evaluate the role of these changes in the virulence properties of the virus. We noted that the disease-inducing ability of the infectious clone-derived virus in three mouse strains was restricted to pancreatitis alone, and the incidence and severity of myocarditis were significantly reduced. We then reversed the mutations by creating three new clones, representing 1) U97C; 2) G4327A and U5088C; and 3) their combination together in the third clone. The viral titers obtained from all the clones were comparable, but the virions derived from the third clone induced myocarditis comparable to that induced by wild type virus; however, the pancreatitis-inducing ability remained unaltered, suggesting that the mutations described above selectively influence myocarditogenicity. Because the accumulation of mutations during passages is a continuous process in RNA viruses, it is possible that CVB3 viruses containing such altered nts may evolve naturally, thus favoring their survival in the environment.