Recovery and characterization of a chimeric rinderpest virus with the glycoproteins of peste-des-petits-ruminants virus: homologous F and H proteins are required for virus viability.
Rinderpest (RP) and peste-des-petits-ruminants (PPR) are two important diseases of domestic ruminants. To improve on currently available vaccines against PPR, we have created cDNA copies of the RP virus genome in which either the fusion (F) or haemagglutinin (H) gene, or both, was replaced with the corresponding gene from PPR virus. It was necessary to develop a modified rescue system in which the T7 RNA polymerase was provided by a recombinant fowlpox virus and the entire rescue procedure took place in Vero cells before we could obtain live virus from these chimeric constructs. No virus was recovered when only one of the glycoprotein genes was changed, but a chimeric virus containing both F and H genes from PPR virus was reproducibly rescued from cDNA, indicating that a virus-specific functional interaction takes place between the F and H proteins. The rescued virus expressing the PPR glycoproteins grew more slowly in tissue culture than either parental virus and formed abnormally large syncytia. Goats infected with the chimaera showed no adverse reaction, as assessed by clinical signs, temperature, leukocyte count, virus isolation, and serology, and were protected from subsequent challenge with wild-type PPR virus.