Borna Disease Virus Glycoprotein Is Required for Viral Dissemination in Neurons

Jeffrey J. Bajramovic, Sylvia Münter, Sylvie Syan, Ulf Nehrbass, Michel Brahic, Daniel Gonzalez-Dunia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Borna disease virus (BDV) is a nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus with a tropism for neurons. Infection with BDV causes neurological diseases in a wide variety of animal species. Although it is known that the virus spreads from neuron to neuron, assembled viral particles have never been visualized in the brains of infected animals. This has led to the hypothesis that BDV spreads as nonenveloped ribonucleoproteins (RNP) rather than as enveloped viral particles. We assessed whether the viral envelope glycoprotein (GP) is required for neuronal dissemination of BDV by using primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons. We show that upon in vitro infection, BDV replicated and spread efficiently in this system. Despite rapid virus dissemination, very few infectious viral particles were detectable in the culture. However, neutralizing antibodies directed against BDV-GP inhibited BDV spread. In addition, interference with BDV-GP processing by inhibiting furin-mediated cleavage of the glycoprotein blocked virus spread. Finally, antisense treatment with peptide nucleic acids directed against BDV-GP mRNA inhibited BDV dissemination, marking BDV-GP as an attractive target for antiviral therapy against BDV. Together, our results demonstrate that the expression and correct processing of BDV-GP are necessary for BDV dissemination in primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons, arguing against the hypothesis that the virus spreads from neuron to neuron in the form of nonenveloped RNP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12222-12231
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


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