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Lülf, Anna-Theresa; Freudenstein, Astrid; Marr, Lisa; Sutter, Gerd ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6143-082X and Volz, Asisa (2016): Non-plaque-forming virions of Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara express viral genes. In: Virology, Vol. 499: pp. 322-330

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In cell culture infections with vaccinia virus the number of counted virus particles is substantially higher than the number of plaques obtained by titration. We found that standard vaccine preparations of recombinant Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara produce only about 20-30% plaque-forming virions in fully permissive cell cultures. To evaluate the biological activity of the non-plaque-forming particles, we generated recombinant viruses expressing fluorescent reporter proteins under transcriptional control of specific viral early and late promoters. Live cell imaging and automated counting by fluorescent microscopy indicated that virtually all virus particles can enter cells and switch on viral gene expression. Although most of the non-plaque-forming infections are arrested at the level of viral early gene expression, we detected activation of late viral transcription in 10-20% of single infected cells. Thus, non plaque-forming particles are biologically active, and likely contribute to the immunogenicity of vaccinia virus vaccines. (C) 2016 ELSEVIER. All rights reserved.

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