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Vaccinia virus (VV) protein A39R has amino acid similarity to the extracellular domain of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked cell surface semaphorin (SEMA7A/CDw108) that has an immunological expression profile and binding properties, thereby implicating A39R as an immunomodulator. Previously, a closely related A39R protein expressed by ectromelia virus was shown to induce cytokine production and up-regulate ICAM-1 expression in mouse monocytesin vitro. In this study, we show that theA39Rgene of VV strain Copenhagen (COP) encodes a 50–55 kDa secreted glycoprotein and is expressed late during infection. The A39R protein was secreted by eight of 15 strains of VV, but not by strain Western Reserve (WR). To analyse the VV A39R function, several recombinant viruses were made, including anA39Rdeletion mutant of VV COP and a WR mutant containing theA39Rsequence from COP. Loss of the gene from COP did not affect virus growthin vitro, or VV virulence in a mouse intranasal model, and had only a slight effect on lesion size in an intradermal model. In contrast, expression of COPA39Rby VV WR was associated with an increase in the severity and persistence of skin lesions after intradermal infection of mice. Finally, a histological examination of mouse skin infected with recombinant viruses suggested that A39R has direct or indirect pro-inflammatory properties.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of General Virology


Microbiology Society

Publication Date





2083 - 2093