Development of novel virus vectors for influenza vaccination
Wasson, Peter Stewart
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The influenza virus, a member of the Orthomyxoviridae family, causes regular, large-scale morbidity and mortality in birds and humans and significant human suffering and economic loss. The primary aim of this study was to develop a novel influenza vaccine. Vaccines are an essential tool for the control of influenza because they increase resistance to infection, prevent illness and death and help to limit virus transmission to other birds and mammals, including humans. By reducing the environmental contamination of influenza virus in global poultry stocks, the risk of a new pandemic virus being generated by the human-avian link is diminished. Marek’s Disease is a common lymphoproliferative disease of poultry that is readily controlled worldwide using the live attenuated vaccine, CVI988. The Marek’s Disease Virus (MDV) CVI988 viral genome, available as a Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC), forms viable infectious viral particles when transfected into Chicken Embryo Fibroblast (CEF) cells. Using BAC mutagenesis, two non-essential genes in the MDV CVI988 BAC (UL41 and US10), were identified and replaced by the low pathogenic influenza haemagglutinin 10 (H10) gene. These live recombinant MDV-H10 vectors will allow simultaneous vaccination against both pathogens. In addition, the non-essential genes were also replaced with GFP creating MDV-GFP constructs. Both genes were expressed initially using a CMV promoter, although this disrupted the MDV CVI988 BAC; a second promoter, PGK-1, proved more successful. A third MDV gene (UL50) was deleted, but severe attenuation prevented the incorporation of H10 into this open reading frame. Future work to test the MDV-HA constructs in vivo will be carried out in collaboration with the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Italy. In addition, development of MDV constructs containing multiple HA genes (H10 and H5) linked by the 2A polyprotein can be developed with the goal of establishing heterosubtypic immunity.