Rift Valley fever (RVF) is endemic to Africa, and the mosquito-borne disease is characterized by "abortion storms" in ruminants and by hemorrhagic fever, encephalitis, and blindness in humans. Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV; family Bunyaviridae, genus Phlebovirus) has a tripartite negative-stranded RNA genome (L, M, and S segments). A live-attenuated vaccine for RVF, the MP-12 vaccine, is conditionally licensed for veterinary use in the United States. MP-12 is fully attenuated by the combination of the partially attenuated L, M, and S segments. Temperature sensitivity (ts) limits viral replication at a restrictive temperature and may be involved with viral attenuation. In this study, we aimed to characterize the ts mutations for MP-12. The MP-12 vaccine showed restricted replication at 38°C and replication shutoff(100-fold or greater reduction in virus titer compared to that at 37°C) at 39°C in Vero and MRC-5 cells. Using rZH501 reassortants with either the MP-12 L, M, or S segment, we found that all three segments encode a temperature-sensitive phenotype. However, the ts phenotype of the S segment was weaker than that of theMor L segment. We identified Gn-Y259H, Gc-R1182G, L-V172A, and L-M1244I as major ts mutations for MP-12. The ts mutations in the L segment decreased viral RNA synthesis, while those in theMsegment delayed progeny production from infected cells. We also found that a lack of NSs and/or 78kD/NSm protein expression minimally affected the ts phenotype. Our study revealed that MP-12 is a unique vaccine carrying ts mutations in the L, M, and S segments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas