Identification and characterization of a poliovirus capsid mutant with enhanced thermal stability

Y. Nguyen, Palmy R. Jesudhasan, Elizabeth R. Aguilera, Julie K. Pfeiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Enteric viruses, including poliovirus, are spread by the fecal-oral route. In order to persist and transmit to a new host, enteric virus particles must remain stable once they are in the environment. Environmental stressors such as heat and disinfectants can inactivate virus particles and prevent viral transmission. It has been previously demonstrated that bacteria or bacterial surface glycans can enhance poliovirus virion stability and limit inactivation from heat or bleach. While investigating the mechanisms underlying bacterially enhanced virion thermal stability, we identified and characterized a poliovirus (PV) mutant with increased resistance to heat inactivation. The M132V mutant harbors a single amino acid change in the VP1 capsid coding that is sufficient to confer heat resistance but not bleach resistance. Although the M132V virus was stable in the absence of bacteria or feces at most temperatures, M132V virus was stabilized by feces at very high temperatures. M132V PV had reduced specific infectivity and RNA uncoating compared with those of wild-type (WT) PV, but viral yields in HeLa cells were similar. In orally inoculated mice, M132V had a slight fitness cost since fecal titers were lower and 12.5% of fecal viruses reverted to the WT. Overall, this work sheds light on factors that influence virion stability and fitness. IMPORTANCE Viruses spread by the fecal-oral route need to maintain viability in the environment to ensure transmission. Previous work indicated that bacteria and bacterial surface polysaccharides can stabilize viral particles and enhance transmission. To explore factors that influence viral particle stability, we isolated a mutant poliovirus that is heat resistant. This mutant virus does not require feces for stability at most temperatures but can be stabilized by feces at very high temperatures. Even though the mutant virus is heat resistant, it is susceptible to inactivation by treatment with bleach. This work provides insight into how viral particles maintain infectivity in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01510-18
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Bacteria
  • Poliovirus
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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