We generated a replicating chimeric measles virus in which the hemagglutinin and fusion surface glycoproteins were replaced with the gp160 envelope glycoprotein of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVmac239). Based on a previously cloned live-attenuated Schwarz vaccine strain of measles virus (MV), this chimera was rescued at high titers using reverse genetics in CD4+ target cells. Cytopathic effect consisted in the presence of large cell aggregates evolving to form syncytia, as observed during SIV infection. The morphology of the chimeric virus was identical to that of the parent MV particles. The presence of SIV gp160 as the only envelope protein on chimeric particles surface altered the cell tropism of the new virus from CD46+ to CD4+ cells. Used as an HIV candidate vaccine, this MV/SIVenv chimeric virus would mimic transient HIV-like infection, benefiting both from HIV-like tropism and the capacity of MV to replicate in dendritic cells, macrophages and lymphocytes.
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