A chicken embryo eye model for the analysis of alphaherpesvirus neuronal spread and virulence

Bruce W. Banfield, G. S. Yap, A. C. Knapp, L. W. Enquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We describe use of developing chicken embryos as a model to study neuronal spread and virulence of pseudorabies virus (PRV). At embryonic day 12, β-galactosidase-expressing PRV strains were injected into the vitreous humor of one eye, and virus replication and spread from the eye to the brain were measured by β-galactosidase activity and the recovery of infectious virus from tissues. The wild-type PRV strain, Becker, replicated in the eye and then spread to the brain, causing extensive pathology characterized by edema, hemorrhage, and necrosis that localized to virally infected tissue. The attenuated vaccine strain, Bartha, replicated in the eye and spread throughout specific regions of the brain, producing little to no overt pathology. Becker mutants lacking membrane proteins gE or gI replicated in the eye and were able to spread to the brain efficiently. The pathology associated with replication of these mutants in the brain was intermediate to that induced by Becker or Bartha. Mixed infection of agE deletion mutant and a gI deletion mutant restored the pathogenic phenotype to wild-type levels. These data indicate that the replication of virus in embryonic brain tissue is not sufficient to induce the characteristic pathological response and that the gE and gI gene products actively affect pathological responses in the developing chicken brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4580-4588
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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