2nd Symposium on the Neurovirology and Immunology of
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
TITLE: INSTABILITY OF SCMV-DERIVED STEALTH VIRAL GENOME
AUTHOR: W. John Martin
Atypical cytopathic (stealth) viruses have been cultured from blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and brain biopsies of patients with a spectrum of neuropsychiatric dysfunctional brain syndromes. Genetic sequence analysis of the stealth viruses isolated from a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and from a patient with severe encephalopathy following a bipolar psychotic illness indicate that they were probably both derived from African green monkey simian cytomegalovirus (SCMV). Additional sequencing of multiple EcoRI and SacI clones of the virus isolated from the CFS patient confirms that it has undergone significant genetic changes from SCMV, including point mutations, deletions, recombinations, and duplications. These changes result in a fragmented viral genome which shows marked microheterogeneity. Genetic diversification is consistent with impaired fidelity of viral replication. Mutations and/or loss of genes coding normally immunogenic components may explain why stealth viruses generally evoke little or no inflammatory reactiosn within the parenchyma of the brain. Furthermore, the production of mutated, inhibitory viral products offers a potential explanation for the clinical recovery seen in several patients with stealth viral encephalopathy and in animals inoculated with these viruses.