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Differences in Establishment of Persistence of Vaccine and Wild Type Rubella Viruses in Fetal Endothelial Cells
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Differences in Establishment of Persistence of Vaccine and Wild Type Rubella Viruses in Fetal Endothelial Cells
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    PLoS One
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    Both wild type (WT) and vaccine rubella virus (RV) can pass through the placenta to infect a human fetus, but only wtRV routinely causes pathology. To investigate possible reasons for this, we compared establishment of persistence of wtRV and RA27/3 vaccine strains in fetal endothelial cells. We showed that yields of RA27/3 and wtRV were similar after the first round of replication, but then only vaccine-infected cultures went through a crisis characterized by partial cell loss and gradual decline of virus titer followed by recovery and establishment of persistent cultures with low levels of RA27/3 secretion. We compared various steps of virus replication, but we were unable to identify changes, which might explain the 2-log difference in RA27/3 and wtRV yields in persistently infected cultures. Whole genome sequencing did not reveal selection of virus variants in either the wtRV or RA27/3 cultures. Quantitative single-cell analysis of RV replication by in situ hybridization detected, on average, 1-4 copies of negative-strand RNA and ~50 copies of positive-strand genomic RNA in cells infected with both vaccine and WT viruses. The distinct characteristics of RA27/3 replication were the presence of large amounts of negative-strand RV RNA and RV dsRNA at the beginning of the crisis and the accumulation of high amounts of genomic RNA in a subpopulation of infected cells during crisis and persistence. These results suggest that RA27/3 can persist in fetal endothelial cells, but the characteristics of persistence and mechanisms for the establishment and maintenance of persistence are different from wtRV.

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