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1.  Use of hydrophilic extra-viral domain of canine distemper virus H protein for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay development 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2014;15(4):503-509.
Simple methods for measuring the levels of serum antibody against canine distemper virus (CDV) would assist in the effective vaccination of dogs. To develop an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) specific for CDV, we expressed hydrophilic extra-viral domain (HEVD) protein of the A75/17-CDV H gene in a pET 28a plasmid-based Escherichia (E.) coli vector system. Expression was confirmed by dot and Western blotting. We proposed that detection of E. coli-expressed H protein might be conformation-dependent because intensities of the reactions observed with these two methods varied. The H gene HEVD protein was further purified and used as an antigen for an ELISA. Samples from dogs with undetectable to high anti-CDV antibody titers were analyzed using this HEVD-specific ELISA and a commercial CDV antibody detection kit (ImmunoComb). Levels of HEVD antigenicity measured with the assays and immunochromatography correlated. These data indicated that the HEDV protein may be used as antigen to develop techniques for detecting antibodies against CDV.
PMCID: PMC4269592  PMID: 25234325
canine distemper virus; enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; H gene; hydrophilic extra-viral domain; immunochromatography
2.  Detection of Canine Distemper Virus Nucleoprotein RNA by Reverse Transcription-PCR Using Serum, Whole Blood, and Cerebrospinal Fluid from Dogs with Distemper 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(11):3634-3643.
Reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) was used to detect canine distemper virus (CDV) nucleoprotein (NP) RNA in serum, whole blood, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 38 dogs with clinically suspected distemper. Results were correlated to clinical findings, anti-CDV neutralizing antibody titers, postmortem findings, and demonstration of CDV NP antigen by immunohistochemistry. The specificity of the RT-PCR was ensured by amplification of RNA from various laboratory CDV strains, restriction enzyme digestion, and Southern blot hybridization. In 29 of 38 dogs, CDV infection was confirmed by postmortem examination and immunohistochemistry. The animals displayed the catarrhal, systemic, and nervous forms of distemper. Seventeen samples (serum, whole blood, or CSF) from dogs with distemper were tested with three sets of primers targeted to different regions of the NP gene of the CDV Onderstepoort strain. Expected amplicons were observed in 82, 53, and 41% of the 17 samples, depending upon the primer pair used. With the most sensitive primer pair (primer pair I), CDV NP RNA was detected in 25 of 29 (86%) serum samples and 14 of 16 (88%) whole blood and CSF samples from dogs with distemper but not in body fluids from immunohistochemically negative dogs. Nucleotide sequence analysis of five RT-PCR amplicons from isolates from the field revealed few silent point mutations. These isolates exhibited greater homology to the Rockborn (97 to 99%) than to the Onderstepoort (95 to 96%) CDV strain. In summary, although the sensitivity of the RT-PCR for detection of CDV is strongly influenced by the location of the selected primers, this nucleic acid detection system represents a highly specific and sensitive method for the antemortem diagnosis of distemper in dogs, regardless of the form of distemper, humoral immune response, and viral antigen distribution.
PMCID: PMC85712  PMID: 10523566
3.  Vaccinia virus recombinants expressing either the measles virus fusion or hemagglutinin glycoprotein protect dogs against canine distemper virus challenge. 
Journal of Virology  1991;65(8):4263-4274.
cDNA clones of the genes encoding either the hemagglutinin (HA) or fusion (F) proteins of the Edmonston strain of measles virus (MV) were expressed in vaccinia virus recombinants. Immunofluorescence analysis detected both proteins on the plasma membranes of unfixed cells as well as internally in fixed cells. Immunoprecipitation of metabolically radiolabeled infected-cell extracts by using specific sera demonstrated a 76-kDa HA polypeptide and gene products of 60, 44, and 23 kDa which correspond to a MV F precursor and cleavage products F0, F1, and F2, respectively. Neither recombinant induced cell fusion of Vero cells when inoculated individually, but efficient cell fusion was readily observed upon coinfection of cells with both recombinants. Inoculation of dogs with the vaccinia virus-MV F recombinant (VV-MVF) did not give rise to detectable MV-neutralizing antibody. Inoculation of dogs with the vaccinia virus-MV HA recombinant (VV-MVHA) or coinoculation with both recombinants (VV-MVF and VV-MVHA) induced significant MV-neutralizing titers that were increased following a booster inoculation. Inoculation of dogs with the vaccinia virus recombinants or with MV failed to induce canine distemper virus (CDV)-neutralizing antibodies. Upon challenge with a lethal dose of virulent CDV, signs of infection were observed in dogs inoculated with (VV-MVF). No symptoms of disease were observed in dogs that had been vaccinated with VV-MVHA or with VV-MVHA and VV-MVF and then challenged with CDV. All dogs vaccinated with the recombinant viruses as well as those inoculated with MV or a vaccine strain of CDV survived CDV challenge.
PMCID: PMC248864  PMID: 1830113
4.  Measles Vaccination of Nonhuman Primates Provides Partial Protection against Infection with Canine Distemper Virus 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(8):4423-4433.
Measles virus (MV) is being considered for global eradication, which would likely reduce compliance with MV vaccination. As a result, children will grow up without MV-specific immunity, creating a potential niche for closely related animal morbilliviruses such as canine distemper virus (CDV). Natural CDV infection causing clinical signs has never been reported in humans, but recent outbreaks in captive macaques have shown that CDV can cause disease in primates. We studied the virulence and tropism of recombinant CDV expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein in naive and measles-vaccinated cynomolgus macaques. In naive animals CDV caused viremia and fever and predominantly infected CD150+ lymphocytes and dendritic cells. Virus was reisolated from the upper and lower respiratory tracts, but infection of epithelial or neuronal cells was not detectable at the time points examined, and the infections were self-limiting. This demonstrates that CDV readily infects nonhuman primates but suggests that additional mutations are necessary to achieve full virulence in nonnatural hosts. Partial protection against CDV was observed in measles-vaccinated macaques, as demonstrated by accelerated control of virus replication and limited shedding from the upper respiratory tract. While neither CDV infection nor MV vaccination induced detectable cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies, MV-specific neutralizing antibody levels of MV-vaccinated macaques were boosted by CDV challenge infection, suggesting that cross-reactive VN epitopes exist. Rapid increases in white blood cell counts in MV-vaccinated macaques following CDV challenge suggested that cross-reactive cellular immune responses were also present. This study demonstrates that zoonotic morbillivirus infections can be controlled by measles vaccination.
IMPORTANCE Throughout history viral zoonoses have had a substantial impact on human health. Given the drive toward global eradication of measles, it is essential to understand the zoonotic potential of animal morbilliviruses. Morbilliviruses are thought to have evolved from a common ancestral virus that jumped species and adapted to new hosts. Recently, canine distemper virus (CDV), a morbillivirus normally restricted to carnivores, caused disease outbreaks in nonhuman primates. Here, we report that experimental CDV infection of monkeys resulted in fever and leukopenia. The virus replicated to high levels in lymphocytes but did not spread to epithelial cells or the central nervous system. Importantly, like measles virus in macaques, the infections were self-limiting. In measles-vaccinated macaques CDV was cleared more rapidly, resulting in limited virus shedding from the upper respiratory tract. These studies demonstrate that although CDV can readily infect primates, measles immunity is protective, and CDV infection is self-limiting.
PMCID: PMC3993716  PMID: 24501402
5.  A comparison of the immune responses of dogs exposed to canine distemper virus (CDV) — Differences between vaccinated and wild-type virus exposed dogs 
Canine distemper virus (CDV)-specific immune response was measured in different dog populations. Three groups of vaccinated or wild-type virus exposed dogs were tested: dogs with a known vaccination history, dogs without a known vaccination history (shelter dogs), and dogs with potential exposure to wild-type CDV. The use of a T-cell proliferation assay demonstrated a detectable CDV-specific T-cell response from both spleen and blood lymphocytes of dogs. Qualitatively, antibody assays [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and neutralization assay] predicted the presence of a T-cell response well, although quantitatively neither antibody assays nor the T-cell assay correlated well with each other. An interesting finding from our study was that half of the dogs in shelters were not vaccinated (potentially posing a public veterinary health problem) and that antibody levels in dogs living in an environment with endemic CDV were lower than in vaccinated animals.
PMCID: PMC2896803  PMID: 20885846
6.  Sandwich-dot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of canine distemper virus 
A sandwich-dot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (dot ELISA) was developed for the detection of canine distemper virus (CDV). In 56 dogs suspected to have CD the rates of detection of CDV antigen in samples of blood lymphocytes and palpebral conjunctiva by dot ELISA and ELISA were, respectively, 91% (49/54) and 81% (44/54) for the lymphocyte samples and 88% (28/32) and 75% (24/32) for the conjunctival samples. The CDV detection limits were 10 ng/50 μL for dot ELISA and 40 ng/50 μL for ELISA. The reliability of dot ELISA relative to electron microscopy was 96% with 22 samples: all 21 samples in which CDV particles were observed by electron microscopy yielded positive results with dot ELISA; the single sample in which particles were not observed yielded false-positive results with dot ELISA. The results indicate that the dot ELISA developed can serve as a reliable rapid diagnostic test in suspected cases of CD and also be useful for epidemiologic surveillance of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3788663  PMID: 24124274
7.  Rapid and sensitive detection of canine distemper virus by one-tube reverse transcription-insulated isothermal polymerase chain reaction 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10(1):213.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) has been associated with outbreaks of canine infectious respiratory disease in shelters and boarding kennel environments. POCKITTM Nucleic Acid Analyzer is a field-deployable device capable of generating automatically interpreted insulated isothermal polymerase chain reaction (iiPCR) results from extracted nucleic acid within one hour. In this study, reverse transcription iiPCR (RT-iiPCR) was developed to facilitate point-of-need diagnosis of CDV infection.
Analytical sensitivity (limit of detection 95%) of the established CDV RT-iiPCR was about 11 copies of in vitro transcribed RNA per reaction. CDV RT-iiPCR generated positive signals from CDV, but not Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parvovirus, canine herpesvirus, canine adenovirus 2, canine influenza virus (subtype H3N8), canine parainfluenza virus, and canine respiratory coronavirus. To evaluate accuracy of the established reaction in canine distemper clinical diagnosis, 110 specimens from dogs, raccoons, and foxes suspected with CDV infection were tested simultaneously by CDV RT-iiPCR and real-time RT-PCR. CDV RT-iiPCR demonstrated excellent sensitivity (100%) and specificity (100%), compared to real-time RT-PCR.
The results indicated an excellent correlation between RT-iiPCR and a reference real time RT-PCR method. Working in a lyophilized format, the established method has great potential to be used for point-of-care diagnosis of canine distemper in animals, especially in resource-limited facilities.
PMCID: PMC4172905  PMID: 25200113
Canine distemper virus; Insulated isothermal polymerase chain reaction; iiPCR; Point-of-care diagnosis
8.  Canine Distemper Virus: an Emerging Disease in Wild Endangered Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) 
mBio  2013;4(4):e00410-13.
Fewer than 500 Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) remain in the wild. Due to low numbers and their solitary and reclusive nature, tiger sightings across their range in the Russian Far East and China are rare; sightings of sick tigers are rarer still. Serious neurologic disease observed in several wild tigers since 2001 suggested disease emergence in this endangered species. To investigate this possibility, histology, immunohistochemistry (IHC), in situ hybridization (ISH), and reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) were performed on tissues from 5 affected tigers that died or were destroyed in 2001, 2004, or 2010. Our results reveal canine distemper virus (CDV) infection as the cause of neurologic disease in two tigers and definitively establish infection in a third. Nonsuppurative encephalitis with demyelination, eosinophilic nuclear viral inclusions, and positive immunolabeling for CDV by IHC and ISH were present in the two tigers with available brain tissue. CDV phosphoprotein (P) and hemagglutinin (H) gene products were obtained from brains of these two tigers by RT-PCR, and a short fragment of CDV P gene sequence was detected in lymph node tissue of a third tiger. Phylogenetically, Amur tiger CDV groups with an Arctic-like strain in Baikal seals (Phoca siberica). Our results, which include mapping the location of positive tigers and recognition of a cluster of cases in 2010, coupled with a lack of reported CDV antibodies in Amur tigers prior to 2000 suggest wide geographic distribution of CDV across the tiger range and recent emergence of CDV as a significant infectious disease threat to endangered Amur tigers in the Russian Far East.
Recognition of disease emergence in wildlife is a rare occurrence. Here, for the first time, we identify and characterize a canine distemper virus (CDV), the second most common cause of infectious disease death in domestic dogs and a viral disease of global importance in common and endangered carnivores, as the etiology of neurologic disease and fatal encephalitis in wild, endangered Amur tigers. We establish that in 2010 CDV directly or indirectly killed ~1% of Amur tigers. Location of positive cases over an expansive geographic area suggests that CDV is widely distributed across the tiger range. Interspecies interactions are increasing as human populations grow and expand into wildlife habitats. Identifying animal reservoirs for CDV and identifying the CDV strains that are transmissible to and among wildlife species, including Amur tigers and sympatric critically endangered Amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis), is essential for guiding conservation and mitigation efforts.
PMCID: PMC3747579  PMID: 23943758
9.  Natural and immune cytolysis of canine distemper virus-infected target cells. 
Infection and Immunity  1980;28(3):724-734.
Natural and immune cytolysis of canine distemper virus (CDV)-infected target cells in vitro is described. Lymphocytes expressing natural cytotoxicity were found in specific-pathogen-free beagle dogs and in beagle-coonhound crosses before vaccination with CDV and indefinitely after vaccination, when the ephemeral immune lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity (ILMC) had declined. In contrast to the natural lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity, the ILMC was genetically restricted, could not be blocked by CDV-specific antibody, and was effective against measles virus-infected as well as CDV-infectd target cells. Lymphocyte populations were depleted of Fc receptor and surface immunoglobulin-bearing cells by rosetting techniques and tested in comparison. An antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity was demostrated against CDV-infected target cells that were preincubated with CDV antibody when Fc receptor-bearing lymphocytes were not removed. The ILMC was measurable for approximately 10 days beginning at 6 days post-vaccination. In contrast, CDV antibody measured by virus neutralization and humoral cytotoxicity was detectable by 6 days postvaccination and persisted at peak levels for at least 5 months.
PMCID: PMC551011  PMID: 7399692
10.  Canine distemper virus persistence in demyelinating encephalitis by swift intracellular cell-to-cell spread in astrocytes is controlled by the viral attachment protein 
Acta Neuropathologica  2010;119(5):617-630.
The mechanism of viral persistence, the driving force behind the chronic progression of inflammatory demyelination in canine distemper virus (CDV) infection, is associated with non-cytolytic viral cell-to-cell spread. Here, we studied the molecular mechanisms of viral spread of a recombinant fluorescent protein-expressing virulent CDV in primary canine astrocyte cultures. Time-lapse video microscopy documented that CDV spread was very efficient using cell processes contacting remote target cells. Strikingly, CDV transmission to remote cells could occur in less than 6 h, suggesting that a complete viral cycle with production of extracellular free particles was not essential in enabling CDV to spread in glial cells. Titration experiments and electron microscopy confirmed a very low CDV particle production despite higher titers of membrane-associated viruses. Interestingly, confocal laser microscopy and lentivirus transduction indicated expression and functionality of the viral fusion machinery, consisting of the viral fusion (F) and attachment (H) glycoproteins, at the cell surface. Importantly, using a single-cycle infectious recombinant H-knockout, H-complemented virus, we demonstrated that H, and thus potentially the viral fusion complex, was necessary to enable CDV spread. Furthermore, since we could not detect CD150/SLAM expression in brain cells, the presence of a yet non-identified glial receptor for CDV was suggested. Altogether, our findings indicate that persistence in CDV infection results from intracellular cell-to-cell transmission requiring the CDV-H protein. Viral transfer, happening selectively at the tip of astrocytic processes, may help the virus to cover long distances in the astroglial network, “outrunning” the host’s immune response in demyelinating plaques, thus continuously eliciting new lesions.
PMCID: PMC2849939  PMID: 20119836
Demyelinating encephalitis; CDV persistence; Primary brain cells; Swift cell-to-cell spread; Attachment protein
11.  Antagonistic Pleiotropy and Fitness Trade-Offs Reveal Specialist and Generalist Traits in Strains of Canine Distemper Virus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50955.
Theoretically, homogeneous environments favor the evolution of specialists whereas heterogeneous environments favor generalists. Canine distemper is a multi-host carnivore disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV). The described cell receptor of CDV is SLAM (CD150). Attachment of CDV hemagglutinin protein (CDV-H) to this receptor facilitates fusion and virus entry in cooperation with the fusion protein (CDV-F). We investigated whether CDV strains co-evolved in the large, homogeneous domestic dog population exhibited specialist traits, and strains adapted to the heterogeneous environment of smaller populations of different carnivores exhibited generalist traits. Comparison of amino acid sequences of the SLAM binding region revealed higher similarity between sequences from Canidae species than to sequences from other carnivore families. Using an in vitro assay, we quantified syncytia formation mediated by CDV-H proteins from dog and non-dog CDV strains in cells expressing dog, lion or cat SLAM. CDV-H proteins from dog strains produced significantly higher values with cells expressing dog SLAM than with cells expressing lion or cat SLAM. CDV-H proteins from strains of non-dog species produced similar values in all three cell types, but lower values in cells expressing dog SLAM than the values obtained for CDV-H proteins from dog strains. By experimentally changing one amino acid (Y549H) in the CDV-H protein of one dog strain we decreased expression of specialist traits and increased expression of generalist traits, thereby confirming its functional importance. A virus titer assay demonstrated that dog strains produced higher titers in cells expressing dog SLAM than cells expressing SLAM of non-dog hosts, which suggested possible fitness benefits of specialization post-cell entry. We provide in vitro evidence for the expression of specialist and generalist traits by CDV strains, and fitness trade-offs across carnivore host environments caused by antagonistic pleiotropy. These findings extend knowledge on CDV molecular epidemiology of particular relevance to wild carnivores.
PMCID: PMC3519774  PMID: 23239996
12.  CD9, a tetraspan transmembrane protein, renders cells susceptible to canine distemper virus. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(1):42-49.
Canine distemper virus (CDV), a lymphotropic and neurotropic negative-stranded RNA virus of the Morbillivirus genus, causes a life-threatening disease in several carnivores, including domestic dogs. To identify the cellular receptor(s) involved in the uptake of CDV by susceptible cells, we isolated a monoclonal antibody (MAb K41) which binds to the cell surface and inhibits the CDV infection of several cell lines from various species. Pretreatment of cells with MAb K41 reduces the number of infectious centers and the size of the syncytia. Using affinity chromatography with MAb K41, we purified from HeLa and Vero cell extracts a 26-kDa protein which contained the amino acid sequence TKDEPQRETLK of human CD9, a member of the tetraspan transmembrane or transmembrane 4 superfamily of cell surface proteins. Transfection of NIH 3T3 or MDBK cells with a CD9 expression plasmid rendered these cells permissive for viral infection and raised virus production by a factor of 10 to 100. The mechanism involved is still unclear, since we were unable to detect direct binding of CDV to CD9 by using immunoprecipitation and a virus overlay protein binding assay. These findings indicate that human CD9 and its homologs in other species are necessary factors for the uptake of CDV by target cells, the formation of syncytia, and the production of progeny virus.
PMCID: PMC191022  PMID: 8985321
13.  A multiplex reverse transcription-nested polymerase chain reaction for detection and differentiation of wild-type and vaccine strains of canine distemper virus 
Virology Journal  2010;7:86.
A multiplex reverse transcription-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nPCR) method was developed for the detection and differentiation of wild-type and vaccine strains of canine distemper virus (CDV). A pair of primers (P1 and P4) specific for CDV corresponding to the highly conserved region of the CDV genome were used as a common primer pair in the first-round PCR of the nested PCR. Primers P2 specific for CDV wild-type strains, were used as the forward primer together with the common reverse primer P4 in the second round of nested PCR. Primers P3, P5 specific for CDV wild-type strain or vaccine strain, were used as the forward primer together with the common reverse primer P4+P6 in the second round of nested PCR. A fragment of 177 bp was amplified from vaccine strain genomic RNA, and a fragment of 247 bp from wild-type strain genomic RNA in the RT-nPCR, and two fragments of 247 bp and 177 bp were amplified from the mixed samples of vaccine and wild-type strains. No amplification was achieved for uninfected cells, or cells infected with Newcastle disease virus (NDV), canine parvovirus (CPV), canine coronavirus (CCV), rabies virus (RV), or canine adenovirus (CAV). The RT-nPCR method was used to detect 30 field samples suspected of canine distemper from Heilongjiang and Jilin Provinces, and 51 samples in Shandong province. As a result of 30 samples, were found to be wild-type-like, and 5 to be vaccine-strain-like. The RT-nPCR method can be used to effectively detect and differentiate wild-type CDV-infected dogs from dogs vaccinated with CDV vaccine, and thus can be used in clinical detection and epidemiological surveillance.
PMCID: PMC2880969  PMID: 20433759
14.  New Aspects of the Pathogenesis of Canine Distemper Leukoencephalitis 
Viruses  2014;6(7):2571-2601.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a member of the genus morbillivirus, which is known to cause a variety of disorders in dogs including demyelinating leukoencephalitis (CDV-DL). In recent years, substantial progress in understanding the pathogenetic mechanisms of CDV-DL has been made. In vivo and in vitro investigations provided new insights into its pathogenesis with special emphasis on axon-myelin-glia interaction, potential endogenous mechanisms of regeneration, and astroglial plasticity. CDV-DL is characterized by lesions with a variable degree of demyelination and mononuclear inflammation accompanied by a dysregulated orchestration of cytokines as well as matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors. Despite decades of research, several new aspects of the neuropathogenesis of CDV-DL have been described only recently. Early axonal damage seems to represent an initial and progressive lesion in CDV-DL, which interestingly precedes demyelination. Axonopathy may, thus, function as a potential trigger for subsequent disturbed axon-myelin-glia interactions. In particular, the detection of early axonal damage suggests that demyelination is at least in part a secondary event in CDV-DL, thus challenging the dogma of CDV as a purely primary demyelinating disease. Another unexpected finding refers to the appearance of p75 neurotrophin (NTR)-positive bipolar cells during CDV-DL. As p75NTR is a prototype marker for immature Schwann cells, this finding suggests that Schwann cell remyelination might represent a so far underestimated endogenous mechanism of regeneration, though this hypothesis still remains to be proven. Although it is well known that astrocytes represent the major target of CDV infection in CDV-DL, the detection of infected vimentin-positive astrocytes in chronic lesions indicates a crucial role of this cell population in nervous distemper. While glial fibrillary acidic protein represents the characteristic intermediate filament of mature astrocytes, expression of vimentin is generally restricted to immature or reactive astrocytes. Thus, vimentin-positive astrocytes might constitute an important cell population for CDV persistence and spread, as well as lesion progression. In vitro models, such as dissociated glial cell cultures, as well as organotypic brain slice cultures have contributed to a better insight into mechanisms of infection and certain morphological and molecular aspects of CDV-DL. Summarized, recent in vivo and in vitro studies revealed remarkable new aspects of nervous distemper. These new perceptions substantially improved our understanding of the pathogenesis of CDV-DL and might represent new starting points to develop novel treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC4113784  PMID: 24992230
axon; canine distemper virus; central nervous system; cytokine; distemper leukoencephalitis; immature astrocyte; matrix metalloproteinase; p75 neurotrophin receptor; Schwann cell; vimentin
15.  The hemagglutinin envelope protein of canine distemper virus (CDV) confers cell tropism as illustrated by CDV and measles virus complementation analysis. 
Journal of Virology  1995;69(3):1661-1668.
Measles virus (MV) and canine distemper virus (CDV) are morbilliviruses that cause acute illnesses and several persistent central nervous system infections in humans and in dogs, respectively. Characteristically, the cytopathic effect of these viruses is the formation of syncytia in permissive cells. In this study, a vaccinia virus expression system was used to express MV and CDV hemagglutinin (HA) and fusion (F) envelope proteins. We found that cotransfecting F and HA genes of MV or F and HA genes of CDV resulted in extensive syncytium formation in permissive cells while transfecting either F or HA alone did not. Similar experiments with heterologous pairs of proteins, CDV-F with MV-HA or MV-F with CDV-HA, caused significant cell fusion in both cases. These results indicate that in this expression system, cell fusion requires both F and HA; however, the functions of these proteins are interchangeable between the two types of morbilliviruses. Human-mouse somatic hybrids were used to determine the human chromosome conferring susceptibility to either MV and CDV. Of the 12 hybrids screened, none were sensitive to MV. Two of the hybrids containing human chromosome 19 formed syncytia following CDV infection. In addition, these two hybrids underwent cell fusion when cotransfected with CDV-F and CDV-HA (but not MV-F and MV-HA) glycoproteins by using the vaccinia virus expression system. To discover the viral component responsible for cell specificity, complementation experiments coexpressing CDV-HA with MV-F or CDV-F with MV-HA in the CDV-sensitive hybrids were performed. We found that syncytia were formed only in the presence of CDV-HA. These results support the idea that the HA protein is responsible for cell tropism. Furthermore, while the F protein is necessary for the fusion process, it is interchangeable with the F protein from other morbilliviruses.
PMCID: PMC188765  PMID: 7853502
16.  Canine distemper virus persistence in the nervous system is associated with noncytolytic selective virus spread. 
Journal of Virology  1995;69(3):1678-1686.
Canine distemper virus (CDV), a negative-strand RNA morbillivirus, causes a progressive demyelinating disease in which virus persistence plays an essential role. The antiviral immune response leads to virus clearance in the inflammatory lesions. However, CDV can replicate and persist outside these inflammatory lesions within the brain. How CDV is capable of persisting in the presence of an effective antiviral immune response is poorly understood. In the present investigation, we studied several aspects of virus replication in primary dog brain cell cultures (DBCC), comparing an attenuated CDV strain and a virulent CDV strain. Confluent DBCC were infected with either virulent A75/17-CDV or attenuated Onderstepoort-CDV and monitored for 60 days. Persistence was not associated with defective virus production, because all mRNAs and corresponding proteins were continuously expressed in the noncytolytic infection. Quantitative measurements did not detect a difference between the two types of infection in the rate of virus transcription and protein synthesis at the level of the single cell. However, electron microscopy and virus titration experiments showed that in the persistent CDV infection virus budding is strongly limited compared with that of the attenuated virus. Morphometry and immunocytochemistry showed profound differences in the way the two viruses spread in the culture. The attenuated CDV spread randomly to immediately adjacent cells, whereas persistent CDV spread selectively to more-distant cells by way of cell processes. In conclusion, the present study supports a mechanism of CDV persistence through selective spread by way of cell processes, enabling virulent CDV to invade the central nervous system without the need of releasing much virus into the extracellular space.
PMCID: PMC188767  PMID: 7853504
17.  Monoclonal Antibody-Based Competitive Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for Detection of Morbillivirus Antibody in Marine Mammal Sera 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(5):1877-1881.
A competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA), using two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), was developed and compared with the standard virus neutralization test (VNT) for detecting antibodies against canine distemper virus (CDV) and phocine distemper virus (PDV) in sera from dogs and various species of marine mammals. The test depends on the blocking of MAb binding to solid-phase antigen in the presence of positive serum. Test conditions were optimized by using control VNT-negative and -positive sera specific for CDV and PDV. A positive cutoff value of 30% inhibition, which represents the mean cutoff of a VNT-negative population (n = 623) plus 2 standard deviations, was adopted for the test. A total of 736 serum samples were tested by the new cELISA and by the VNT as the “gold standard.” An unexpected but useful finding was the ability of this CDV- and PDV-specific cELISA to also detect antibodies against the related pair dolphin morbillivirus and porpoise morbillivirus. Based on a subpopulation of 625 sera used in statistical analyses, the overall sensitivity and specificity of cELISA relative to those of the VNT were 94.9 and 97.7%, respectively. Because the cELISA proved to be nearly as sensitive and specific as the VNT while being simpler and more rapid, it would be an adequate screening test for suspect CDV or PDV cases and would also be useful for epidemiological surveillance of morbilliviral infections in marine mammal populations.
PMCID: PMC88042  PMID: 11326007
18.  The Hemagglutinin of Canine Distemper Virus Determines Tropism and Cytopathogenicity 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(14):6418-6427.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) and measles virus (MV) cause severe illnesses in their respective hosts. The viruses display a characteristic cytopathic effect by forming syncytia in susceptible cells. For CDV, the proficiency of syncytium formation varies among different strains and correlates with the degree of viral attenuation. In this study, we examined the determinants for the differential fusogenicity of the wild-type CDV isolate 5804Han89 (CDV5804), the small- and large-plaque-forming variants of the CDV vaccine strain Onderstepoort (CDVOS and CDVOL, respectively), and the MV vaccine strain Edmonston B (MVEdm). The cotransfection of different combinations of fusion (F) and hemagglutinin (H) genes in Vero cells indicated that the H protein is the main determinant of fusion efficiency. To verify the significance of this observation in the viral context, a reverse genetic system to generate recombinant CDVs was established. This system is based on a plasmid containing the full-length antigenomic sequence of CDVOS. The coding regions of the H proteins of all CDV strains and MVEdm were introduced into the CDV and MV genetic backgrounds, and recombinant viruses rCDV-H5804, rCDV-HOL, rCDV-HEdm, rMV-H5804, rMV-HOL, and rMV-HOS were recovered. Thus, the H proteins of the two morbilliviruses are interchangeable and fully functional in a heterologous complex. This is in contrast with the glycoproteins of other members of the family Paramyxoviridae, which do not function efficiently with heterologous partners. The fusogenicity, growth characteristics, and tropism of the recombinant viruses were examined and compared with those of the parental strains. All these characteristics were found to be predominantly mediated by the H protein regardless of the viral backbone used.
PMCID: PMC114365  PMID: 11413309
19.  Canine distemper virus (CDV) infection of ferrets as a model for testing Morbillivirus vaccine strategies: NYVAC- and ALVAC-based CDV recombinants protect against symptomatic infection. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(2):1506-1513.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) infection of ferrets causes an acute systemic disease involving multiple organ systems, including the respiratory tract, lymphoid system, and central nervous system (CNS). We have tested candidate CDV vaccines incorporating the fusion (F) and hemagglutinin (HA) proteins in the highly attenuated NYVAC strain of vaccinia virus and in the ALVAC strain of canarypox virus, which does not productively replicate in mammalian hosts. Juvenile ferrets were vaccinated twice with these constructs, or with an attenuated live-virus vaccine, while controls received saline or the NYVAC and ALVAC vectors expressing rabies virus glycoprotein. Control animals did not develop neutralizing antibody and succumbed to distemper after developing fever, weight loss, leukocytopenia, decreased activity, conjunctivitis, an erythematous rash typical of distemper, CNS signs, and viremia in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (as measured by reverse transcription-PCR). All three CDV vaccines elicited neutralizing titers of at least 1:96. All vaccinated ferrets survived, and none developed viremia. Both recombinant vaccines also protected against the development of symptomatic distemper. However, ferrets receiving the live-virus vaccine lost weight, became lymphocytopenic, and developed the erythematous rash typical of CDV. These data show that ferrets are an excellent model for evaluating the ability of CDV vaccines to protect against symptomatic infection. Because the pathogenesis and clinical course of CDV infection of ferrets is quite similar to that of other Morbillivirus infections, including measles, this model will be useful in testing new candidate Morbillivirus vaccines.
PMCID: PMC191207  PMID: 8995676
20.  Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in Another Big Cat: Should CDV Be Renamed Carnivore Distemper Virus? 
mBio  2013;4(5):e00702-13.
One of the greatest threats to the conservation of wild cat populations may be dogs or, at least, one of their viruses. Canine distemper virus (CDV), a single-stranded RNA virus in the Paramyxoviridae family and genus Morbillivirus, infects and causes disease in a variety of species, not just canids. An outbreak of CDV in wild lions in the Serengeti, Tanzania, in 1994 was a wake-up call for conservationists, as it demonstrated that an infectious disease could swiftly impact a previously healthy felid population. To understand how this virus causes disease in noncanid hosts, researchers have focused on specific mutations in the binding site of the CDV hemagglutinin gene. Now, Seimon et al. provide information on CDV in its latest feline victim, the endangered wild Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) [T. A. Seimon et al., mBio 4(4):e00410-13, 2013, doi:10.1128/mBio.00410-13]. Their findings of CDV strains infecting tigers, in combination with recent information from other felids, paints a different picture, one in which CDV strains from a variety of geographic lineages and with a variety of amino acid residues in the hemagglutinin gene binding site can infect cats and cause disease. Although CDV has been known as a multihost disease since its discovery in domestic dogs in 1905, perhaps it is time to reconsider whether these noncanid species are not just incidental or “spillover” hosts but, rather, a normal part of the complex ecology of this infectious disease.
PMCID: PMC3774196  PMID: 24045642
21.  Phylogenetic Characterization of Canine Distemper Viruses Detected in Naturally Infected Dogs in North America 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(10):5009-5017.
In 2004, six puppies and one adult dog from a total of four premises were subjected to necropsy evaluation. For five of the seven dogs, disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV) infection was suspected based on clinical signs. In all of the dogs, a diagnosis of CDV infection was established by the presence of compatible gross and histologic lesions, immunohistochemical labeling for CDV antigen, and detection of CDV RNA by reverse transcription-PCR. To further characterize the CDV strains detected in the four cases, complete gene sequences were determined for the hemagglutinin (H) and fusion (F) protein genes, while partial gene sequencing was performed for the phosphoprotein gene. A total of 4,508 bases were sequenced for the CDV strains detected from each of the four cases. Two cases were found to have identical sequences except for 2 bases in the intergenic region of the F and H genes. Phylogenetic analysis strongly suggested an evolutionary relationship between sequences detected in these two cases and those of phocine distemper virus 2 and two other strains of CDV not previously detected in the continental United States. Clear phylogenetic relationships were not established for viruses detected in the two additional cases; however, one strain showed similarity to CDV strains detected in a panda from China. Importantly, the three CDV strains detected were demonstrated to be genetically distinct from known vaccine strains and strains previously reported in the continental United States.
PMCID: PMC1248462  PMID: 16207955
22.  Nectin4 Is an Epithelial Cell Receptor for Canine Distemper Virus and Involved in Neurovirulence 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(18):10207-10210.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) uses signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM), expressed on immune cells, as a receptor. However, epithelial and neural cells are also affected by CDV in vivo. Wild-type CDV strains showed efficient replication with syncytia in Vero cells expressing dog nectin4, and the infection was blocked by an anti-nectin4 antibody. In dogs with distemper, CDV antigen was preferentially detected in nectin4-positive neurons and epithelial cells, suggesting that nectin4 is an epithelial cell receptor for CDV and also involved in its neurovirulence.
PMCID: PMC3446623  PMID: 22761370
23.  Canine Distemper Virus DNA Vaccination Induces Humoral and Cellular Immunity and Protects against a Lethal Intracerebral Challenge 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(11):8472-8476.
We have studied the immune responses to the two glycoproteins of the Morbillivirus canine distemper virus (CDV) after DNA vaccination of BALB/c mice. The plasmids coding for both CDV hemagglutinin (H) and fusion protein (F) induce high levels of antibodies which persist for more than 6 months. Intramuscular inoculation of the CDV DNA induces a predominantly immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) response (Th1 response), whereas gene gun immunization with CDV H evokes exclusively an IgG1 response (Th2 response). In contrast, the CDV F gene elicited a mixed, IgG1 and IgG2a response. Mice vaccinated (by gene gun) with either the CDV H or F DNA showed a class I-restricted cytotoxic lymphocyte response. Immunized mice challenged intracerebrally with a lethal dose of a neurovirulent strain of CDV were protected. However, approximately 30% of the mice vaccinated with the CDV F DNA became obese in the first 2 months following the challenge. This was not correlated with the serum antibody levels.
PMCID: PMC110255  PMID: 9765383
24.  Vaccination against Canine Distemper Virus Infection in Infant Ferrets with and without Maternal Antibody Protection, Using Recombinant Attenuated Poxvirus Vaccines 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(14):6358-6367.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) infection of ferrets is clinically and immunologically similar to measles, making this a useful model for the human disease. The model was used to determine if parenteral or mucosal immunization of infant ferrets at 3 and 6 weeks of age with attenuated vaccinia virus (NYVAC) or canarypox virus (ALVAC) vaccine strains expressing the CDV hemagglutinin (H) and fusion (F) protein genes (NYVAC-HF and ALVAC-HF) would induce serum neutralizing antibody and protect against challenge infection at 12 weeks of age. Ferrets without maternal antibody that were vaccinated parenterally with NYVAC-HF (n = 5) or ALVAC-HF (n = 4) developed significant neutralizing titers (log10 inverse mean titer ± standard deviation of 2.30 ± 0.12 and 2.20 ± 0.34, respectively) by the day of challenge, and all survived with no clinical or virologic evidence of infection. Ferrets without maternal antibody that were vaccinated intranasally (i.n.) developed lower neutralizing titers, with NYVAC-HF producing higher titers at challenge (1.11 ± 0.57 versus 0.40 ± 0.37, P = 0.02) and a better survival rate (6/7 versus 0/5, P = 0.008) than ALVAC-HF. Ferrets with maternal antibody that were vaccinated parenterally with NYVAC-HF (n = 7) and ALVAC-HF (n = 7) developed significantly higher antibody titers (1.64 ± 0.54 and 1.28 ± 0.40, respectively) than did ferrets immunized with an attenuated CDV vaccine (0.46 ± 0.59; n = 7) or the recombinant vectors expressing rabies glycoprotein (RG) (0.19 ± 0.32; n = 8, P = 7 × 10−6). The NYVAC vaccine also protected against weight loss, and both the NYVAC and attenuated CDV vaccines protected against the development of some clinical signs of infection, although survival in each of the three vaccine groups was low (one of seven) and not significantly different from the RG controls (none of eight). Combined i.n.-parenteral immunization of ferrets with maternal antibody using NYVAC-HF (n = 9) produced higher titers (1.63 ± 0.25) than did i.n. immunization with NYVAC-HF (0.88 ± 0.36; n = 9) and ALVAC-HF (0.61 ± 0.43; n = 9, P = 3 × 10−7), and survival was also significantly better in the i.n.-parenteral group (3 of 9) than in the other HF-vaccinated animals (none of 18) or in controls immunized with RG (none of 5) (P = 0.0374). Multiple routes were not tested with the ALVAC vaccine. The results suggest that infant ferrets are less responsive to i.n. vaccination than are older ferrets and raises questions about the appropriateness of this route of immunization in infant ferrets or infants of other species.
PMCID: PMC112142  PMID: 10864646
25.  Antibody titers for canine parvovirus type-2, canine distemper virus, and canine adenovirus type-1 in adult household dogs 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  2011;52(9):983-986.
Serum antibody titers for canine parvovirus type-2 (CPV-2), canine distemper virus (CDV) and canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1) were investigated in 1031 healthy adult household dogs (2 to 18 years old) given an annual inoculation in the previous 11 to 13 months. The number of dogs retaining significant titers of antibodies against CPV-2, CDV, and CAV-1 were 888 (86%), 744 (72%), and 732 (71%), respectively. There were no differences between males and females in antibody titers against the 3 viruses. Antibody titer for CPV-2 was significantly higher in younger dogs than in older dogs, CDV antibody was significantly higher in older dogs than in younger dogs, and CAV titer was not associated with age.
PMCID: PMC3157073  PMID: 22379198

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