Characterization of an in vitro model of alphavirus infection of immature and mature neurons

Patty S. Vernon, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Terminally differentiated, mature neurons are essential cells that are not easily regenerated. Neurotropic viruses, such as Sindbis virus (SV), cause encepnalomyelitis through their ability to replicate in neurons. SV causes the death of immature neurons, while mature neurons can often survive infection. The lack of a reproducible and convenient neuronal cell culture system has hindered a detailed study of the differences in levels of virus replication between immature and mature neurons and the molecular events involved in virus clearance from mature neurons. We have characterized SV replication in immortalized CSM14.1 rat neuronal cells that can be differentiated into neurons. During differentiation, CSM14.1 cells ceased dividing, developed neuronal morphology, and expressed neuron-specific cell markers. SV infection of undifferentiated CSM14.1 cells was efficient and resulted in high levels of virus replication and cell death. SV infection of differentiated CSM14.1 cells was less efficient and resulted in the production of 10- to 100-fold less virus and cell survival. In undifferentiated cells, SV induced a rapid shutdown of cellular protein synthesis and pE2 was efficiently processed to E2 (ratio of E2 to pE2, 2.14). In differentiated cells, the SV-induced shutdown of cellular protein synthesis was transient and pE2 was the primary form of E2 in cells (ratio of E2 to pE2, 0.0426). We conclude that age-dependent restriction of virus replication is an intrinsic property of maturing neurons and that the CSM14.1 cell line is a convenient model system for investigating the interactions of alphaviruses with neurons at various stages of differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3438-3447
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of an in vitro model of alphavirus infection of immature and mature neurons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this