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Parvovirus host range variation and control

We have been of the canine parvovirus (CPV), a new parvovirus of dogs that was first recognized in 1978 when the virus spread world-wide in dogs, causing serious disease and killing many millions of dogs. The CPV appears to be a naturally derived host range variant of a virus that is similar to the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) which infects cats and related animals. CPV differs from FPV in only a small number of sequence differences, and we have shown that the new canine host range of CPV resulted from only two changes in its capsid protein. We are now seeking to understand the mechanisms of virus infection, and to determine how viral host range is controlled by cells from different hosts. We are examining the atomic structures of the parvovirus capsids and defining point mutants that affect host range, and are also studying the flexibility of the capsid using structure -specific probes and antibodies. Studies of a series of mutants indicate that the structure of the capsid is very precisely designed for canine cell infection, and that most modifications of that optimal structure result in viruses that cannot infect dog cells. This points to a very close interaction between the virus capsid and the uptake pathway of the host cell.