Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Vaccinia virus(VACV) encodes many proteins that antagonize the innate immune system including a family of intracellular proteins with a B-cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2-like structure. One of these Bcl-2 proteins called K7 binds Toll-like receptor-adaptor proteins and the DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 and thereby inhibits the activation of NF-κB and interferon regulatory factor 3. However, the contribution of K7 to virus virulence is not known. Here a VACV lacking theK7Rgene (vΔK7) was constructed and compared with control viruses that included a plaque purified wt (vK7), a revertant with theK7Rgene reinserted (vK7-rev) and a frame-shifted virus in which the translational initiation codon was mutated to prevent K7 protein expression (vK7-fs). Data presented show that loss of K7 does not affect virus replication in cell culture orin vivo; however, viruses lacking the K7 protein were less virulent than controls in murine intradermal (i.d.) and intranasal (i.n.) infection models and there was an altered acute immune response to infection. In the i.d. model, vΔK7 induced smaller lesions than controls, and after i.n. infection vΔK7 induced a reduced weight loss and signs of illness, and more rapid clearance of virus from infected tissue. Concomitantly, the intrapulmonary innate immune response to infection with vΔK7 showed increased infiltration of NK cells and CD8+T-cells, enhanced MHC class II expression by macrophages, and enhanced cytolysis of target cells by NK cells and VACV-specific CD8+T-cells. Thus protein K7 is a virulence factor that affects the acute immune response to infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of General Virology


Microbiology Society

Publication Date





1647 - 1657