California bunyaviruses cause encephalitis in mammalian hosts after peripheral infection. The virulence of these viruses is determined by their ability to replicate sequentially in striated muscle, cause viremia, and invade and replicate in the central nervous system. These viruses are also able to infect vector mosquitoes following ingestion of a blood meal containing virus. Bunyaviruses are negative stranded RNA viruses with a trisegmented genome, and the large, medium, and small RNA segments encode the polymerase, the glycoproteins, and the nucleoprotein, respectively. Reassortants between virulent and avirulent virus clones have been used to map virulence determinants in mice as well as determinants of infectivity in mosquitoes. Attenuation in mice and infectivity in mosquitoes of some virus clones maps to the medium RNA segment, implying that the virus glycoproteins, which are involved in virus entry, play a role in virulence. Attenuation in mice and mosquito infectivity of other clones maps to the large RNA segment, suggesting that cell-specific differences in the function of the viral polymerase can also determine virulence and host range.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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