Expression and evolutionary analysis of West Nile virus (Merion Strain)

Mathura P. Ramanathan, Jerome A. Chambers, Jesse Taylor, Bette T. Korber, Mark D. Lee, Aysegul Nalca, Kesan Dang, Panyupa Pankhong, Watcharee Attatippaholkun, David B. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The authors report a new strain of West Nile virus (WNV) with the expression analysis of its individual open reading frames. Since its sudden appearance in the summer of 1999 in New York City, the virus has spread rapidly across the continental United States into Canada and Mexico. Besides, its rapid transmission by various vectors, the spread of this virus through organ transplantation, blood transfusion, and mother-child transmission through breast milk is of concern. In order to understand molecular variations of WNV in North America and to generate new tools for understanding WNV biology, a complete clone of WNV has been constructed. Investigations so far have focused only on half of its genes products and a detailed molecular and cell biological aspects on all of WNV gene have yet to be clearly established. The open reading frames of WNV were recovered through an reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-PCR using brain tissue from a dead crow collected in Merion, PA, and cloned into a mammalian expression vector. The deduced amino acid sequences of individual open reading frames were analyzed to determine various structural motifs and functional domains. Expression analysis shows that in neuronal cells, C, NS1, and NS5 proteins are nuclear localized whereas the rest of the antigens are confined to the cytoplasm when they are expressed in the absence of other viral antigens. This is the first report that provides an expression analysis as well as intracellular distribution pattern for all of WNV gene products, cloned from an infected bird. Evolutionary analysis of Merion strain sequences indicates that this strain is distinct phylogenetically from the previously reported WNV strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-556
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Merion strain
  • Phylogenetic analysis
  • WNV antigens
  • WNV pathogenesis
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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