Characterization of gene deletion mutants of Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (koi herpesvirus) lacking the immunogenic envelope glycoproteins pORF25, pORF65, pORF148 and pORF149
Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3) or koi herpesvirus is a global pathogen causing mass mortality in koi and common carp, against which improved vaccines are urgently needed. In this study we investigated the role of four nonessential, but immunogenic envelope glycoproteins encoded by members of the ORF25 gene family (ORF25, ORF65, ORF148 and ORF149) during CyHV-3 replication. Single deletion of ORF65 did not affect in vitro replication, and deletion of ORF148 even slightly enhanced virus growth on common carp brain (CCB) cells, deletions of ORF25 or ORF149 led to reduced plaque sizes and virus titers, which was due to delayed entry into host cells. An ORF148/ORF149 double deletion mutant exhibited wild-type like growth indicating opposing functions of the two proteins. Electron microscopy of CCB cells infected with either mutant did not indicate any effects on virion formation and maturation in nucleus or cytoplasm, nor on release of enveloped particles. The ORF148, ORF149 and double deletion mutants were also tested in animal experiments using juvenile carp, and proved to be insufficiently attenuated for use as live virus vaccines. However, surviving fish were protected against challenge with wild-type CyHV-3, demonstrating that these antibody inducing proteins are dispensable for an efficient immune response in vivo.
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