Indexed on: 23 Dec '04Published on: 23 Dec '04Published in: Journal of virology
Sabin strains used in the manufacture of oral polio vaccine (OPV) replicate in the human organism and can give rise to vaccine-derived polioviruses. The increased neurovirulence of vaccine derivatives has been known since the beginning of OPV use, but their ability to establish circulation in communities has been recognized only recently during the latest stages of the polio eradication campaign. This important observation called for studies of their emergence and evolution as well as extensive surveillance to determine the scope of this phenomenon. Here, we present the results of a study of vaccine-derived isolates from an immunocompromised poliomyelitis patient, the contacts, and the local sewage. All isolates were identified as closely related and slightly evolved vaccine derivatives with a recombinant type 2/type 1 genome. The strains also shared several amino acid substitutions including a mutation in the VP1 protein that was previously shown to be associated with the loss of attenuation. Another mutation in the VP3 protein resulted in altered immunological properties of the isolates, possibly facilitating virus spread in immunized populations. The patterns and rates of the accumulation of synonymous mutations in isolates collected from the patient over the extended period of excretion suggest either a substantially nonuniform rate of mutagenesis throughout the genome, or, more likely, the strains may have been intratypic recombinants between coevolving derivatives with different degrees of divergence from the vaccine parent. This study provides insight into the early stages of the establishment of circulation by runaway vaccine strains.