The French neurotropic vaccine strain of yellow fever virus accumulates mutations slowly during passage in cell culture

Michael R. Holbrook, Li Li, Miguel T. Suderman, Heiman Wang, Alan Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


This study of the yellow fever French neurotropic vaccine strain from the Institut Pasteur (FNV-IP) demonstrates that this viral genome is not as stable as that of the 17D-204 vaccine virus. FNV-IP was plaque-purified three times and then passaged eight times in Vero cells. Viral populations from the second and eighth passage post purification were sequenced and compared to the published sequences of FNV-IP. The passage-2 viral population had 31 nucleotide and nine amino acid changes compared to the parental virus while the passage-8 virus had six additional nucleotide changes encoding a single amino acid substitution. The plaque-purified virus also had two sequence deletions in the 3'-noncoding region. The plaque purification resulted in selection of a passage-2 virus that had a mouse LD50 of 20 pfu/ml, 67-fold greater than parental FNV-IP which had an LD50 of 0.3 pfu/ml. Subsequent passage in Vero cells resulted in a passage-8 virus which had increased neurovirulence with an LD50 of 3.2 pfu/ml. The only amino acid difference between the passage-2 and passage-8 viruses was at amino acid 638 of NS5 which lies within domain V of the RNA-dependent-RNA polymerase. Overall, these data indicate that FNV-IP virus has an inherently less stable genome than 17D vaccine virus and a variable viral population. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2000



  • Attenuation
  • Flavivirus
  • FNV
  • Yellow fever

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Molecular Biology
  • Virology

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