Apoptosis inversely correlates with rabies virus neurotropism

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Dec:1010:598-603. doi: 10.1196/annals.1299.112.


We report that non-neurotropic rabies virus (RV) strains, currently used to immunize wildlife against rabies, induces not only a caspase-dependent apoptosis in the human lymphoblastoid Jurkat T cell line (Jurkat-vect), but also a caspase-independent pathway. Cell redistribution of the apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) was observed in Jurkat-vect infected with RV vaccine strain. Bcl-2 overproduction in Jurkat T cells (Jurkat-Bcl-2) abolished both caspase activation and AIF distribution. In contrast, strain of neurotropic RV did not induce apoptosis. The inverse correlation of the induction of apoptosis and the capacity of a virus strain to invade the brain suggests that blockage of apoptosis could be a strategy selected by neurotropic virus to favor its progression through the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor
  • Brain / virology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Flavoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Rabies virus / pathogenicity*


  • AIFM1 protein, human
  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor
  • Flavoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Caspases