Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is the causative agent for a swine disease affecting the pig industry worldwide. Infection with PRRSV leads to reproductive complications, respiratory illness, and weak immunity to secondary infections. To better control PRRSV infection, novel approaches for generating control measures are critically needed. Here, in vitro Gibson assembly (GA) of viral genomic cDNA fragments was tested for its use as a quick and simple method to recover infectious PRRSV in cell culture. GA involves the activities of T5-exonuclease, Phusion polymerase, and Taq ligase to join overlapping cDNA fragments in an isothermal condition. Four overlapping cDNA fragments covering the entire PRRSV genome and one vector fragment were used to create a plasmid capable of expressing the PRRSV genome. The assembled product was used to transfect a co-culture of 293T and MARC-145 cells. Supernatants from the transfected cells were then passaged onto MARC-145 cells to rescue infectious virus particles. Verification and characterization of the recovered virus confirmed that the GA protocol generated infectious PRRSV that had similar characteristics to the parental virus. This approach was then tested for the generation of a chimeric virus. By replacing one of the four genomic fragments with that of another virus strain, a chimeric virus was successfully recovered via GA. In conclusion, this study describes for the first time the use of GA as a simple, yet powerful tool for generating infectious PRRSV needed for studying PRRSV biology and developing novel vaccines.
Virulent strains of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) can cause devastating disease in chickens worldwide. Although the current vaccines are substantially effective, they do not completely prevent infection, virus shedding and disease. To produce genotype-matched vaccines, a full-genome reverse genetics system has been used to generate a recombinant virus in which the F protein cleavage site has been changed to that of avirulent vaccine virus. In the other strategy, the vaccines have been generated by replacing the F and HN genes of a commercial vaccine strain with those from a genotype-matched virus. However, the protective efficacy of a chimeric virus vaccine has not been directly compared with that of a full-genome virus vaccine developed by reverse genetics. Therefore, in this study, we evaluated the protective efficacy of genotype VII matched chimeric vaccines by generating three recombinant viruses based on avirulent LaSota (genotype II) strain in which the open reading frames (ORFs) encoding the F and HN proteins were replaced, individually or together, with those of the circulating and highly virulent Indonesian NDV strain Ban/010. The cleavage site of the Ban/010 F protein was mutated to the avirulent motif found in strain LaSota. In vitro growth characteristics and a pathogenicity test indicated that all three chimeric viruses retained the highly attenuated phenotype of the parental viruses. Immunization of chickens with chimeric and full-length genome VII vaccines followed by challenge with virulent Ban/010 or Texas GB (genotype II) virus demonstrated protection against clinical disease and death. However, only those chickens immunized with chimeric rLaSota expressing the F or F plus HN proteins of the Indonesian strain were efficiently protected against shedding of Ban/010 virus. Our findings showed that genotype-matched vaccines can provide protection to chickens by efficiently preventing spread of virus, primarily due to the F protein.
Influenza neuraminidase (NA) is a major target for anti-influenza drugs. With an increasing number of viruses resistant to the anti-NA drug oseltamivir, functionally active recombinant NA is needed for screening novel anti-NA compounds. In this study, the secretable NA (sNA) head domain of influenza A/Vietnam/DT-036/05 (H5N1) virus was expressed successfully in human embryonic kidney (HEK-293T) cells and shown to be enzymatically active. The inclusion of a plasmid encoding nonstructural protein 1 (NS1) of influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/34 virus with the sNA plasmid in the cotransfection demonstrated an increase in H5N1 sNA expression by 7.4 fold. Subsequently, the sNA/NS1 cotransfection protocol in serum-free 293-F suspension cell culture was optimized to develop a rapid transient gene expression (TGE) system for expression of large amounts of H5N1 sNA. Under optimized conditions, NS1 enhanced H5N1 sNA expression by 4.2 fold. The resulting H5N1 sNA displayed comparable molecular weight, glycosylation, K(m) for MUNANA, and K(i) for oseltamivir carboxylate to those of H5N1 NA on the virus surface. Taken together, the NS1-enhancing sNA expression strategy presented in this study could be used for rapid high-level expression of enzymatically active H5N1 sNA in suspension mammalian cells. This strategy may be applied for expression of sNA of other strains of influenza virus as well as the other recombinant proteins.
Influenza virus nonstructural protein-1 (NS1) is abundantly expressed in influenza virus infected cells. NS1 is well recognized for counteracting host antiviral activities and regulating host and viral protein expression. When used as a plasmid component in DNA transfection, NS1 was shown to significantly increase expression levels of a cotransfected gene of different plasmid. Our previous studies demonstrated that addition of an NS1 plasmid increased the expression levels of influenza virus secreted neuraminidase (sNA) gene in 293T cells. In this study, we improved the utilization of NS1 as an enhancer for transient protein expression by generating pFluNS1 plasmid to contain two expression cassettes; one encoding an NS1 gene and another encoding a gene of interest. pFluNS1 is expected to codeliver the NS1 gene into the same cells receiving the gene of interest. The plasmid is therefore designed to induce higher protein expression levels than a cotransfection of an NS1 plasmid and a plasmid containing a gene of interest. To test the efficiency of pFluNS1, influenza virus sNA and non-viral DsRed genes were cloned into pFluNS1. The expression of these genes from pFluNS1 was then compared to the expression from a cotransfection of an NS1 plasmid and an expression plasmid coding for sNA or DsRed. We found that gene expression from pFluNS1 reached equal or higher levels to those derived from the cotransfection. Because the expression from pFluNS1 needs only one plasmid, a lesser amount of transfection reagent was required. Thus, the use of pFluNS1 provides a transfection approach that reduces the cost of protein expression without compromising high levels of protein expression. Together, these data suggest that pFluNS1 can serve as a novel alternative for an efficient transient protein expression in mammalian cells.
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