Involvement of nucleoprotein, phosphoprotein, and matrix protein genes of rabies virus in virulence for adult mice

Virus Res. 2007 Feb;123(2):154-60. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2006.08.011. Epub 2006 Sep 28.


Rabies virus Ni-CE strain causes nonlethal infection in adult mice after intracerebral inoculation, whereas the parental Nishigahara strain kills mice. In this study, to identify viral gene(s) related to the difference in pathogenicity between Ni-CE and Nishigahara strains, we generated chimeric viruses with respective genes of the virulent Nishigahara strain in the background of the avirulent Ni-CE genome. Since chimeric viruses, which had the N, P, or M genes of the Nishigahara strain, respectively, killed adult mice after intracerebral inoculation, it became evident that the N, P, and M genes are related to the difference in pathogenicity between Ni-CE and Nishigahara strains. Previously, we showed that the G gene is a major contributor to the difference in pathogenicity between another avirulent strain, RC-HL, and the parental Nishigahara strain. These results imply that the attenuation mechanism of the Ni-CE strain is different from that of the RC-HL strain, thus suggesting that rabies virus can be attenuated by diverse mechanisms. This is the first report of changes in viral genes other than the G gene of rabies virus causing the reversion of pathogenicity of an avirulent strain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins / genetics*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics*
  • Rabies / virology*
  • Rabies Vaccines / genetics
  • Rabies virus / genetics*
  • Rabies virus / pathogenicity
  • Viral Matrix Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Structural Proteins / genetics*
  • Virulence


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • P phosphoprotein, Rabies virus
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Rabies Vaccines
  • Viral Matrix Proteins
  • Viral Structural Proteins
  • nucleocapsid protein, Rabies virus