Expression of defective measles virus genes in brain tissues of patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis

K. Baczko, U. G. Liebert, M. Billeter, R. Cattaneo, H. Budka, V. ter Meulen

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89 Scopus citations


The persistence of measles virus in selected areas of the brains of four patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) was characterized by immunohistological and biochemical techniques. The five measles virus structural proteins were never simultaneously detectable in any of the brain sections. Nucleocapsid proteins and phosphoproteins were found in every diseased brain area, whereas hemagglutinin protein was detected in two cases, fusion protein was detected in three cases, and matrix protein was detected in only one case. Also, it could be shown that the amounts of measles virus RNA in the brains differed from patient to patient and in the different regions investigated. In all patients, plus-strand RNAs specific for these five viral genes could be detected. However, the amounts of fusion and hemagglutinin mRNAs were low compared with the amounts in lytically infected cells. The presence of particular measles virus RNAs in SSPE-infected brains did not always correlate with mRNA activity. In in vitro translations, the matrix protein was produced in only one case, and the hemagglutinin protein was produced in none. These results indicate that measles virus persistence in SSPE is correlated with different defects of several genes which probably prevent assembly of viral particles in SSPE-infected brain tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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