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Advances in Virology
Volume 2015, Article ID 769837, 12 pages
Research Article

Measles Virus: Identification in the M Protein Primary Sequence of a Potential Molecular Marker for Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis

Hasan Kweder,1,2,3,4,5 Michelle Ainouze,1,2,3,4,5 Joanna Brunel,1,2,3,4,5 Denis Gerlier,1,2,3,4,5 Evelyne Manet,1,2,3,4,5 and Robin Buckland1,2,3,4,5

1CIRI, International Center for Infectiology Research, Université de Lyon, 69007 Lyon, France
2Inserm, U1111, 69007 Lyon, France
3Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 69007 Lyon, France
4Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie, Université Lyon 1, 69007 Lyon, France
5CNRS, UMR 5308, Lyon, France

Received 31 May 2015; Revised 6 September 2015; Accepted 17 September 2015

Academic Editor: Robert C. Gallo

Copyright © 2015 Hasan Kweder et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE), a rare lethal disease of children and young adults due to persistence of measles virus (MeV) in the brain, is caused by wild type (wt) MeV. Why MeV vaccine strains never cause SSPE is completely unknown. Hypothesizing that this phenotypic difference could potentially be represented by a molecular marker, we compared glycoprotein and matrix (M) genes from SSPE cases with those from the Moraten vaccine strain, searching for differential structural motifs. We observed that all known SSPE viruses have residues P64, E89, and A209 (PEA) in their M proteins whereas the equivalent residues for vaccine strains are either S64, K89, and T209 (SKT) as in Moraten or PKT. Through the construction of MeV recombinants, we have obtained evidence that the wt MeV-M protein PEA motif, in particular A209, is linked to increased viral spread. Importantly, for the 10 wt genotypes (of 23) that have had their M proteins sequenced, 9 have the PEA motif, the exception being B3, which has PET. Interestingly, cases of SSPE caused by genotype B3 have yet to be reported. In conclusion, our results strongly suggest that the PEA motif is a molecular marker for wt MeV at risk to cause SSPE.