A Polyuridine Insertion in the 3' Untranslated Region of Classical Swine Fever Virus Activates Immunity and Reduces Viral Virulence in Piglets.

Wang, Miaomiao; Liniger, Matthias; Muñoz-González, Sara; Bohórquez, José Alejandro; Hinojosa, Yoandry; Gerber, Markus; López-Soria, Sergio; Rosell, Rosa; Ruggli, Nicolas; Ganges, Llilianne (2020). A Polyuridine Insertion in the 3' Untranslated Region of Classical Swine Fever Virus Activates Immunity and Reduces Viral Virulence in Piglets. Journal of virology, 94(2) American Society for Microbiology 10.1128/JVI.01214-19

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Low-virulence classical swine fever virus (CSFV) strains make CSF eradication particularly difficult. Few data are available on the molecular determinants of CSFV virulence. The aim of the present study was to assess a possible role for CSFV virulence of a unique, uninterrupted 36-uridine (poly-U) sequence found in the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of the low-virulence CSFV isolate Pinar de Rio (PdR). To this end, a pair of cDNA-derived viruses based on the PdR backbone were generated, one carrying the long poly-U insertion in the 3' UTR (vPdR-36U) and the other harboring the standard 5 uridines at this position (vPdR-5U). Two groups of 20 5-day-old piglets were infected with vPdR-36U and vPdR-5U. Ten contact piglets were added to each group. Disease progression, virus replication, and immune responses were monitored for 5 weeks. The vPdR-5U virus was significantly more virulent than the vPdR-36U virus, with more severe disease, higher mortality, and significantly higher viral loads in serum and body secretions, despite similar replication characteristics in cell culture. The two viruses were transmitted to all contact piglets. Ninety percent of the piglets infected with vPdR-36U seroconverted, while only one vPdR-5U-infected piglet developed antibodies. The vPdR-5U-infected piglets showed only transient alpha interferon (IFN-α) responses in serum after 1 week of infection, while the vPdR-36U-infected piglets showed sustained IFN-α levels during the first 2 weeks. Taken together, these data show that the 3' UTR poly-U insertion acquired by the PdR isolate reduces viral virulence and activates the innate and humoral immune responses without affecting viral transmission.IMPORTANCE Classical swine fever (CSF), a highly contagious viral disease of pigs, is still endemic in some countries of Asia and Central and South America. Considering that the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) plays an important role in flavivirus replication, the present study showed for the first time that a long polyuridine sequence acquired in the 3' UTR by an endemic CSFV isolate can activate immunity, control viral replication, and modulate disease in piglets. Our findings provide new avenues for the development of novel vaccines against infections with CSF virus and other flaviviruses. Knowledge of molecular virulence determinants is also relevant for future development of rapid and efficient diagnostic tools for the prediction of the virulence of field isolates and for efficient CSF control.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Virology and Immunology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Liniger, Matthias; Gerber, Markus Daniel and Ruggli, Nicolas


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




American Society for Microbiology




Achim Braun Parham

Date Deposited:

01 Dec 2020 15:49

Last Modified:

01 Dec 2020 15:49

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

3′ UTR CSFV polyuridine insertion viral replication virulence





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