Neurovirulent Retrovirus of Wild Mice

  • John L. Portis


A murine retrovirus (WM-E) isolated originally from a population of wild mice in Southern California [1] induces a neurological disease that has gained increasing attention with the advent of the encephalomyelopathies associated with human retrovirus infection. The virus resembles, in genomic structure, typical type C murine leukemia viruses. It exists in the wild as an exogenous infectious agent [2] transmitted from mother to offspring in the milk [3] and establishes a persistent productive infection throughout the life of the mouse. The incubation period of the neurological disease ranges from a few weeks to as long as a year, depending on the virus isolate and the concentration of the inoculum. The disease is characterized clinically by initial tremor and abnormal abduction reflex of the hindlimbs, progressing to frank hindlimb paralysis with neurogenic atrophy of the skeletal muscles. The pathology consists of a progressive loss of motor neurons in the ventral gray matter of the spinal cord, as well as the nuclei of the brainstem and cerebellum, associated with microglial proliferation and astrocytosis, but without inflammatory cell infiltrates [4]. Neurons as well as glial elements undergo a vacuolar degeneration reminiscent of the spongiform encephalopathies caused by the unconventional agents. However, no evidence for accumulation of “prion protein” (syn. SAF protein) has been detected in the murine retroviral disease [5].


Long Terminal Repeat Murine Leukemia Virus Wild Mouse Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis Neuronal Infection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Gardner MB, Henderson BE, Officer JE, Rongey RW, Parker JC, Oliver C, Estes JD, Huebner RJ (1973) A spontaneous lower motor neuron disease apparently caused by indigenous type-C RNA virus in wild mice. J Natl Cancer Inst 51: 1243–1254PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barbacid M, Robbins KC, Aaronson SA (1979) Wild mouse RNA tumor viruses. A nongenetically transmitted virus group closely related to exogenous leukemia viruses of laboratory mouse strains. J Exp Med 149: 254–266PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gardner MB, Chivi A, Dougherty MF, Casagrande J, Estes JD (1979) Congenital transmission of murine leukemia virus from wild mice prone to the development of lymphoma and paralysis. J Natl Cancer Inst 62: 63–69PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Andrews JM, Gardner MB (1974) Lower motor neuron degeneration associated with type C RNA virus infection in mice: Neuropathological features. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 33: 285–307PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Merz PA, Rohwer RG, Kascsak R, Wisniewski HM, Somerville RA, Gibbs CJ, Gajdusek DC (1984) Infection-specific particle from unconventional slow virus diseases. Science 225: 437–440PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brooks BR, Swarz JR, Johnson RT (1980) Spongiform polioencephalomyelopathy caused by a murine retrovirus. Lab Invest 43: 480–486PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Portis JL, McAtee FJ, Hayes SF (1987) Horizontal transmission of murine retroviruses. J Virol 61: 1037–1044PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hoffman PM, Morse HC (1985) Host genetic determinants of neurological disease induced by Cas-Br-M murine leukemia virus. J Virol 53: 40–43PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    McAtee FJ, Portis JL (1985) Monoclonal antibodies specific for wild mouse neurotropic retroviruses: Defection of comparable levels of virus replication in mouse strains susceptible and resistant to paralytic disease. J Virol 56: 1018–1022PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Li Y, Golemis E, Hartley JW, Hopkins N (1987) Disease specificity of nondefective Friend and Moloney murine leukemia viruses is controlled by a small number of nucleotides. J Virol 61: 693–700PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Oldstone MBA, Jensen F, Dixon FJ, Lampert PW (1980) Pathogenesis of the slow disease of the central nervous system associated with wild mouse virus. II. Role of virus and host gene products. Virology 107: 180–193PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    DesGroseillers L, Barrette M, Jolicoeur P (1984) Physical mapping of the paralysis-inducing determinant of a wild mouse ecotropic neurotropic virus. J Virol 52: 356–363PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    DesGroseillers L, Rassart E, Robitaille Y, Jolicoeur P (1985) Retrovirus-induced spongiform encephalopathy: The 3’-end long terminal repeat—containing viral sequences influence the incidence of disease and the specificity of the neurological syndrome. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 82: 8818–8822PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hoffman PM, Robbins DS, Morse HC (1984) Role of immunity in age-related resistance to paralysis after murine leukemia virus infection. J Virol 52: 734–738PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Oldstone MBA, Lampert PW, Lee S, Dixon FJ (1977) Pathogenesis of the slow disease of the central nervous system associated with WM 1504 E virus. Am J Pathol 88: 193–212Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Swarz JR, Brooks BR, Johnson RT (1981) Spongiform polioencephalomyelopathy caused by a murine retrovirus. II. Ultrastructural localization of virus replication and spongiform changes in the central nervous system. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol 7: 365–380PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pitts OM, Powers JM, Bilello JA, Hoffman PM (1987) Ultrastructural changes associated with retroviral replication in central nervous system capillary endothelial cells. Lab Invest 56: 401–409PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wiley CA, Schrier RD, Nelson JA, Lampert PW, Oldstone MBA (1986) Cellular localization of human immunodeficiency virus infection within the brains of acquired immune deficiency syndrome patients. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 83: 7089–7093PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Zachary JF, Knupp CJ, Wong PKY (1986) Noninflammatory spongiform polioencephalomyelopathy caused by a neurotropic temperature-sensitive mutant of Moloney murine leukemia virus TB. Am J Pathol 124: 457–468PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dorner AJ, Coffin JM (1988) Determinants for receptor interaction and cell killing on the avian retrovirus glycoprotein gp85. Cell 45: 365–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Robain O, Chany-Fournier F, Cerutti I, Mazlo M, Chany C (1986) Role of VSV G antigen in the development of experimental spongiform encephalopathy in mice. Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 70: 220–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Haase AT, Gantz D, Eble B, Walker D, Stowring L, Ventura P, Blum H, Wiegrefe S, Zupancic M, Tourtellotte W, Gibbs CJ Jr, Norrby E, Rozenblatt S (1985) Natural history of restricted synthesis and expression of measles virus genes in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 82: 3020–3024PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Portis

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations