Emergence of attenuated West Nile virus variants in Texas, 2003

C. Todd Davis, David W.C. Beasley, Hilda Guzman, Marina Siirin, Ray E. Parsons, Robert B. Tesh, Alan D.T. Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


In order to understand how West Nile virus (WNV) has evolved since its introduction into North America, we have studied the genetic and phenotypic variation among WNV isolates collected in various areas during consecutive transmission seasons. The present report describes for the first time phenotypic changes occurring in the North American WNV population. Several isolates collected in Texas during 2003 display a small plaque (sp) and temperature sensitive (ts) phenotype, as well as reduced replication in cell culture, in comparison to isolates collected in 2002 and New York in 1999. Studies of mouse neuroinvasiveness/neurovirulence also indicate that several of these isolates were attenuated in neuroinvasiveness, but not for neurovirulence. The complete genome and deduced amino acid sequences of several of these isolates have been determined in order to map the mutations responsible for this phenotypic variation. These data indicate microevolution of WNV and the emergence of isolates exhibiting phenotypic variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-350
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 5 2004


  • Flavivirus
  • Microevolution
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Viral pathogenesis
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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