PLoS Pathogens (Mar 2015)

Diminished reovirus capsid stability alters disease pathogenesis and littermate transmission.

  • Joshua D Doyle,
  • Jennifer E Stencel-Baerenwald,
  • Courtney A Copeland,
  • Jillian P Rhoads,
  • Judy J Brown,
  • Kelli L Boyd,
  • James B Atkinson,
  • Terence S Dermody

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 3
p. e1004693


Read online

Reovirus is a nonenveloped mammalian virus that provides a useful model system for studies of viral infections in the young. Following internalization into host cells, the outermost capsid of reovirus virions is removed by endosomal cathepsin proteases. Determinants of capsid disassembly kinetics reside in the viral σ3 protein. However, the contribution of capsid stability to reovirus-induced disease is unknown. In this study, we found that mice inoculated intramuscularly with a serotype 3 reovirus containing σ3-Y354H, a mutation that reduces viral capsid stability, succumbed at a higher rate than those infected with wild-type virus. At early times after inoculation, σ3-Y354H virus reached higher titers than wild-type virus at several sites within the host. Animals inoculated perorally with a serotype 1 reassortant reovirus containing σ3-Y354H developed exaggerated myocarditis accompanied by elaboration of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Surprisingly, unchallenged littermates of mice infected with σ3-Y354H virus displayed higher titers in the intestine, heart, and brain than littermates of mice inoculated with wild-type virus. Together, these findings suggest that diminished capsid stability enhances reovirus replication, dissemination, lethality, and host-to-host spread, establishing a new virulence determinant for nonenveloped viruses.