An antigenic double mutant of rabies virus (challenge virus standard [CVS] strain) was selected by successive use of two neutralizing antiglycoprotein monoclonal antibodies, both specific for antigenic site III. This mutant differed from the original virus strain by two amino acid substitutions in the ectodomain of the glycoprotein. The lysine in position 330 and the arginine in position 333 were replaced by asparagine and methionine, respectively. This double mutant was not pathogenic for adult mice. When injected intramuscularly into the forelimbs of adult mice, this virus could not penetrate the nervous system, either by the motor or by the sensory route, while respective single mutants infected motoneurons in the spinal cord and sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia. In vitro experiments showed that the double mutant was able to infect BHK cells, neuroblastoma cells, and freshly prepared embryonic motoneurons, albeit with a lower efficiency than the CVS strain. Upon further incubation at 37°C, the motoneurons became resistant to infection by the mutant while remaining permissive to CVS infection. These results suggest that rabies virus uses different types of receptors: a molecule which is ubiquitously expressed at the surface of continuous cell lines and which is recognized by both CVS and the double mutant and a neuron-specific molecule which is not recognized by the double mutant
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