Expression of immunogenic structural proteins of cyprinid herpesvirus 3 in vitro assessed using immunofluorescence
Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3), also called koi herpesvirus (KHV), is the aetiological agent of a fatal disease in carp and koi (Cyprinus carpio L.), referred to as koi herpesvirus disease. The virus contains at least 40 structural proteins, of which few have been characterised with respect to their immunogenicity. Indirect immunofluorescence assays (IFAs) using two epitope-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were used to examine the expression kinetics of two potentially immunogenic and diagnostically relevant viral antigens, an envelope glycoprotein and a capsid-associated protein. The rate of expression of these antigens was determined following a time-course of infection in two CyHV-3 susceptible cell lines. The results were quantified using an IFA, performed in microtitre plates, and image analysis was used to analyse confocal micrographs, enabling measurement of differential virus-associated fluorescence and nucleus-associated fluorescence from stacks of captured scans. An 8-tenfold increase in capsid-associated protein expression was observed during the first 5 days post-infection compared to a ≤2-fold increase in glycoprotein expression. A dominant protein of ~100 kDa reacted with the capsid-associated MAb (20F10) in western blot analysis. This band was also recognised by sera obtained from carp infected with CyHV-3, indicating that this capsid-associated protein is produced in abundance during infection in vitro and is immunogenic to carp. Mass spectrometry carried out on this protein identified it as a previously uncharacterised product of open reading frame 84. This abundantly expressed and immunogenic capsid-associated antigen may be a useful candidate for KHV serological diagnostics.