Host range determinants located on the interior of the poliovirus capsid

Eric G. Moss, Vincent R. Racaniello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


inability of certain poliovirus strains to infect mice can be overcome by the expression of human poliovirus receptors in mice or by the presence of a particular amino acid sequence of the B-C loop of the viral capsid protein VP1. We have identified changes in an additional capsid structure that permit host-restricted poliovirus strains to infect mice. Variants of the mouse-virulent P2/Lansing strain were constructed containing amino acid changes, deletions and insertions in the B-C loop of VP1. These variants were attenuated in mice, demonstrating the importance of the B-C loop sequence in host range. Passage of two of the B-C loop variants in mice led to the selection of viruses that were substantially more virulent. The increased neurovirulence of these strains was mapped to two different suppressor mutations in the N-terminus of VP1. Whereas the B-C loop of VP1 is highly exposed on the surface of the capsid, near the five-fold axis of symmetry, the suppressor mutations are in the interior of the virion, near the three-fold axis. Introduction of the suppressor mutations into the genome of the mouse-avirulent P1/Mahoney strain resulted in neurovirulent viruses, demonstrating that the P2/Lansing B-C loop sequence is not required to infect mice. Because the internal host range determinants are in a structure known to be important in conformational transitions of the virion, the host range of poliovirus may be determined by the ability of virions to undergo transitions catalyzed by cell receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1074
Number of pages8
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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