Glycoprotein Gp50-Negative Pseudorabies Virus - A Novel-Approach Toward A Nonspreading Live Herpesvirus Vaccine
Essential herpesvirus glycoproteins are involved in membrane fusion processes during infection, e.g., viral penetration and direct cell-to-cell transmission. We previously showed that the gD-homologous glycoprotein gp50 of pseudorabies virus (PrV) is essential for virus entry into target cells but proved to be dispensable for direct viral cell-to-cell spread in cell culture (I. Rauh and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 65:5348-5456, 1991). For gp50-negative (gp50-) viruses, after phenotypic complementation necessary for primary infection, the only means of viral spread is by way of direct cell-to-cell transmission. In contrast, virus mutants lacking the essential gB-homologous glycoprotein gII after phenotypic complementation are only able to infect primary target cells and are blocked in further viral spread. To analyze how these in vitro phenotypes translate into virus replication in the animal, mice were infected intranasally with gp50- or gII- PrV mutants after prior phenotypic complementation by propagation on cell lines providing the essential glycoprotein in trans. Our results show that whereas the gII- mutants did not cause disease or any symptoms, gp50- mutants derived from two different PrV strains were fully virulent, with animals exhibiting severe symptoms ultimately leading to death. However, free infectious virus could not be recovered from either gp50- or gII- PrV-infected animals. We conclude that direct cell-to-cell transmission as the only means of viral spread of the gp50- mutants is sufficient for a full virulent phenotype in mice. After infection of pigs with phenotypically complemented gp50- PrV, only mild symptoms were observed, whereas the gII- mutant was totally avirulent. In both cases, shedding of infectious virus did not occur, in contrast to results with animals infected by gX- PrV that showed severe signs of disease and extensive virus shedding. After challenge infection with the highly virulent NIA-3 strain, the previously gII- PrV-infected animals exhibited severe symptoms, whereas the gp50- PrV-infected pigs showed a significant level of protection. In conclusion, vaccination with a PrV mutant lacking glycoprotein gp50, which is unable to spread between animals because of a lack of formation of free infectious virions, can confer on pigs protection against challenge infection. These results provide the basis for the development of new, nonspreading live herpesvirus vaccines based on gp50- PrV mutants.