The cowpox virus-encoded homolog of the vaccinia virus complement control protein is an inflammation modulatory protein

Virology. 1997 Mar 3;229(1):126-33. doi: 10.1006/viro.1996.8396.


Vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP) is encoded by vaccinia virus, with its homolog encoded by other pathogenic poxviruses including variola virus. Since rodents are the primary reservoir hosts of cowpox virus (CPV) and since CPV encodes a highly conserved functional homolog of VCP, termed here the inflammation modulatory protein (IMP), the effects of injection of CPV into the footpads of mice was determined in order to study the precise in vivo effects of IMP. Macroscopic examination of the site of injection with a recombinant virus lacking IMP (CPV-IMP) showed greater tissue damage, with more hemorrhage and induration, than sites injected with the wild-type cowpox virus. In addition, the measurement of the specific swelling response carried out for several weeks revealed significantly greater swelling in mice injected with CPV-IMP. Thus, IMP modulates the complement-activated inflammatory response in vivo. Furthermore, the diminished destruction of host tissue observed in the presence of IMP indicates symbiosis in which the virus ensures the preservation of surrounding host tissue, possibly to support the growth of its progeny.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Complement Inactivator Proteins / genetics*
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Cowpox virus / genetics*
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • Complement Inactivator Proteins
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Viral Proteins
  • inflammation modulatory protein, Cowpox virus
  • Complement System Proteins