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Previously, we developed a model for testing the virulence and immunogenicity of vaccinia virus (VV) mutants based on the intradermal injection of BALB/c mouse ear pinnae. The model is characterized by a local infection in the inoculated skin without signs of systemic illness, mimicking dermal vaccination with VV. Here a further characterization of this model is presented, including the responses of mice to infectious virus doses as low as 10 p.f.u., a quantification of the infiltrate at the site of infection and use of different virus and mouse strains. The model was then used to compare the pathogenesis of six mutants of VV strain Western Reserve (WR) lacking genes A36R, A40R, A44L, B12R, B13R or B15R with that of appropriate control viruses. All of these genes except B12R and B15R influence the outcome of dermal infection with WR and for A40R and B13R this is the first role that has been reported after infection of mammals. A comparison of new and published results from intradermal and intranasal models is presented, showing that out of 16 gene deletion or insertion mutants of VV, half have phenotypes distinct from controls in only one of these models. Thus, the intranasal and intradermal models are complementary tools for dissecting the genetic basis of VV virulence.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of General Virology


Microbiology Society

Publication Date





1977 - 1986