Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Young-Min Lee


Young-Min Lee


Christopher J. Davies


Arnaud J. Van Wettere


Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the causative agent of Japanese encephalitis (JE), the leading cause of vaccine-preventable neurological disease. JEV is a flavivirus that is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes, similar to dengue virus (DENV), St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV), West Nile virus (WNV), and Zika virus (ZIKV). The two viral characteristics that dictate virulence are (1) neuroinvasiveness, the ability of the virus to invade the central nervous system(CNS), and (2) neurovirulence, the capacity of the virus to kill resident cells in the CNS. The clinically proven live-attenuated JEV vaccine, SA14-14-2, lacks both pathogenic characteristics unlike its virulent parental virus, SA14. Previous work has revealed the viral E gene as the main determinant of these two pathogenic properties, though the molecular mechanisms behind their attenuation remain unclear. The E gene encodes for the viral envelope glycoprotein that is involved in viral entry into susceptible host cells. The E protein of SA14-14-2 differs from SA14 by nine amino acids. To investigate the role of these mutations in JEV virulence, we created a series of SA14E mutants using infectious cDNA technology. Here, we report the independent function of domains I (DI) and II (DII) of the viral E protein in JEV neurotropism. We reveal that an individual mutation in DI, E138K, and synergism between two mutations in DII, E244G and K279M, are independently sufficient for the attenuation of JEV neuroinvasion. Also, we report that multiple E mutations are required for full attenuation of JEV neurovirulence. Overall, our findings show the direct relationship between genetic factors and JEV neuroinvasion. These results provide a solid foundational base for the logical development of other, currently non-existing, live-attenuated neurotropic flavivirus vaccines and antivirals.



Available for download on Sunday, December 01, 2024