African swine fever (ASF) is a devastating haemorrhagic fever of pigs with mortality rates approaching 100 per cent. It causes major economic losses, threatens food security and limits pig production in affected countries. ASF is caused by a large DNA virus, African swine fever virus (ASFV). There is no vaccine against ASFV and this limits the options for disease control. ASF has been confined mainly to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is maintained in a sylvatic cycle and/or among domestic pigs. Wildlife hosts include wild suids and arthropod vectors. The relatively small numbers of incursions to other continents have proven to be very difficult to eradicate. Thus, ASF remained endemic in the Iberian peninsula until the mid-1990s following its introductions in 1957 and 1960 and the disease has remained endemic in Sardinia since its introduction in 1982. ASF has continued to spread within Africa to previously uninfected countries, including recently the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. Given the continued occurrence of ASF in sub-Saharan Africa and increasing global movements of people and products, it is not surprising that further transcontinental transmission has occurred. The introduction of ASF to Georgia in the Caucasus in 2007 and dissemination to neighbouring countries emphasizes the global threat posed by ASF and further increases the risks to other countries.
We review the mechanisms by which ASFV is maintained within wildlife and domestic pig populations and how it can be transmitted. We then consider the risks for global spread of ASFV and discuss possibilities of how disease can be prevented.
African swine fever; molecular epidemiology; transmission; arthropod vectors; pigs
African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious and economically important disease of domestic pigs. There is no vaccine, and so reliable diagnosis is essential for control strategies. The performance of four recombinant ASF virus (ASFV) protein (pK205R, pB602L, p104R, and p54)-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) was evaluated with European porcine field sera that had been established by Office International des Epizooties (OIE)-approved tests to be ASFV negative (n = 119) and ASFV positive (n = 80). The κ values showed that there was almost perfect agreement between the results of the “gold standard” test (immunoblotting) and the results obtained by the p54-specific ELISA (κ = 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90 to 0.99) and the pK205R-specific ELISA or the pB602L-specific ELISA (κ = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.86 to 0.97). For the pA104R-specific ELISA, there was substantial to almost perfect agreement (κ = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.72 to 0.89). Similar results were observed by the OIE-approved ELISA (κ = 0.89; 95% CI, 0.82 to 0.95). Importantly, antibodies against these proteins were detectable early after infection of domestic pigs. Preliminary testing of 9 positive and 17 negative serum samples from pigs from West Africa showed identical results by the recombinant protein-based ELISA and the OIE-approved tests. In contrast, there was a high degree of specificity but a surprisingly a low level of sensitivity with 7 positive and 342 negative serum samples from pigs from East Africa. With poorly preserved sera, only the p104R-specific ELISA showed a significant reduction in sensitivity compared to that of the OIE-approved ELISA. Finally, these recombinant proteins also detected antibodies in the sera of the majority of infected warthogs. Thus, recombinant ASFV proteins p54, pB602L, and pK205R provide sensitive and specific targets for the detection of antibodies in European and West African domestic pigs and warthogs.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the causative agent of African swine fever (ASF) that is the significant disease of domestic pigs. Several studies showed that ASFV can influence on porcine blood cells in vitro. Thus, we asked ourselves whether ASFV infection results in changes in porcine blood cells in vivo. A series of experiments were performed in order to investigate the effects of ASFV infection on porcine peripheral white blood cells. Nine pigs were inoculated by intramuscular injection with 104 50% hemadsorbing doses of virus (genotype II) distributed in Armenia and Georgia. The total number of fifteen cell types was calculated during experimental infection.
Although band-to-segmented neutrophils ratio became much higher (3.5) in infected pigs than in control group (0.3), marked neutropenia and lymphopenia were detected from 2 to 3 days post-infection. In addition to band neutrophils, the high number of other immature white blood cells, such as metamyelocytes, was observed during the course of infection. From the beginning of infection, atypical lymphocytes, with altered nuclear shape, arose and became 15% of total cells in the final phase of infection. Image scanning cytometry revealed hyperdiploid DNA content in atypical lymphocytes only from 5 days post-infection, indicating that DNA synthesis in pathological lymphocytes occurred in the later stages of infection.
From this study, it can be concluded that ASFV infection leads to serious changes in composition of white blood cells. Particularly, acute ASFV infection in vivo is accompanied with the emergence of immature cells and atypical lymphocytes in the host blood. The mechanisms underlying atypical cell formation remain to be elucidated.
African swine fever (ASF) is a highly lethal and economically significant disease of domestic pigs in Eastern Africa particularly in Uganda where outbreaks regularly occur. Sequence analysis of variable genome regions have been extensively used for molecular epidemiological studies of African swine fever virus (ASFV) isolates. By combining p72, P54 and pB602L (CVR), a high level resolution approach is achieved for viral discrimination. The major aim of this study therefore, was to investigate the genetic relatedness of ASF outbreaks that occurred between 2010 and 2013 in Uganda to contribute to the clarification of the epidemiological situation over a four year period.
Tissue samples from infected domestic pigs associated with an ASF outbreak from 15 districts in Uganda were confirmed as being infected with ASFV using a p72 gene-based polymerase chain reaction amplification (PCR) assay recommended by OIE. The analysis was conducted by genotyping based on sequence data from three single copy ASFV genes. The E183L gene encoding the structural protein P54 and part of the gene encoding the p72 protein was used to delineate genotypes. Intra-genotypic resolution of viral relationships was achieved by analysis of tetramer amino acid repeats within the hypervariable CVR of the B602L gene.
Twenty one (21) ASF outbreaks were confirmed by the p72 ASF diagnostic PCR, however; only 17 isolates were successfully aligned after sequencing. Our entire isolates cluster with previous ASF viruses in genotype IX isolated in Uganda and Kenya using p72 and P54 genes. Analysis of the CVR gene generated three sub-groups one with 23 tetrameric amino acid repeats (TRS) with an additional CAST sequence, the second with 22 TRS while one isolate Ug13. Kampala1 had 13 TRS.
We identified two new CVR subgroups different from previous studies. This study constitutes the first detailed assessment of the molecular epidemiology of ASFV in domestic pigs in the different regions of Uganda.
African swine fever virus; Genotyping; P54; p72; pB602L (central variable region) sequencing
African swine fever (ASF) is an important disease of pigs and outbreaks of ASF have occurred in Europe on multiple occasions. To explore the period for which the European soft tick species Ornithodoros erraticus (Acari: Argasidae) is able to act as a reservoir of African swine fever virus (ASFV) after infected hosts are removed, we collected specimens from farms in the provinces of Alentejo and Algarve in Portugal during the endemic period and tested them subsequently using cell culture and experimental infection. We show that ticks from previously infected farms may contain infectious virus for at least five years and three months after the removal of infectious hosts. Furthermore, in two cases infectious virus was successfully isolated from ticks on restocked farms that had not yet suffered a re-emergence of disease. Experimental transmission to pigs was demonstrated in batches tested up to 380 days after an outbreak. These results clarify the epidemiological role of O. erraticus ticks in the persistence of ASFV in the field, provide additional evidence to support its role in the re-emergence of a sporadic outbreak of ASF in Portugal in 1999 and suggest that the current quarantine legislation and restocking advice when these ticks are present on the pig farm premises is appropriate.
The virus isolate introduced to the Caucasus in 2007 is closely related to a group of viruses, genotype II, circulating in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Zambia.
African swine fever (ASF) is widespread in Africa but is rarely introduced to other continents. In June 2007, ASF was confirmed in the Caucasus region of Georgia, and it has since spread to neighboring countries. DNA fragments amplified from the genome of the isolates from domestic pigs in Georgia in 2007 were sequenced and compared with other ASF virus (ASFV) isolates to establish the genotype of the virus. Sequences were obtained from 4 genome regions, including part of the gene B646L that encodes the p72 capsid protein, the complete E183L and CP204L genes, which encode the p54 and p30 proteins and the variable region of the B602L gene. Analysis of these sequences indicated that the Georgia 2007 isolate is closely related to isolates belonging to genotype II, which is circulating in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Zambia. One possibility for the spread of disease to Georgia is that pigs were fed ASFV-contaminated pork brought in on ships and, subsequently, the disease was disseminated throughout the region.
African swine fever virus; genome analysis; transmission; Georgia; research
In order to circumvent the need for infectious virus for the diagnosis of African swine fever (ASF), we established the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique for the detection of ASF virus (ASFV) DNA. A 740-bp fragment that originated from the conserved region of the viral genome was partially sequenced. From this sequence, four PCR primers and one oligonucleotide probe were designed and synthesized. A specific 640-bp PCR product was amplified by using oligonucleotides 1 and 5 as primers and extracts of the following samples as templates: organs and plasma obtained from ASFV-infected pigs, ASFV-infected cell cultures, and cloned DNA fragments containing the same conserved genomic region as that in the original 740-bp clone. No specific reaction products were observed in the corresponding controls. The identities of the PCR products were confirmed either by a second amplification with nested primers or by hybridization with a specific, biotinylated oligonucleotide probe. PCR proved to be a quicker and more sensitive method than virus isolation followed by the hemadsorption test when spleen and plasma samples from experimentally ASFV-infected pigs were tested. Furthermore, cloned virus DNA could be used as a positive control in the place of a live virus control. This is advantageous whenever the use of live virus is undesirable.
African swine fever (ASF) is caused by a large and highly pathogenic DNA virus, African swine fever virus (ASFV), which provokes severe economic losses and expansion threats. Presently, no specific protection or vaccine against ASF is available, despite the high hazard that the continued occurrence of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, the recent outbreak in the Caucasus in 2007, and the potential dissemination to neighboring countries, represents. Although virus entry is a remarkable target for the development of protection tools, knowledge of the ASFV entry mechanism is still very limited. Whereas early studies have proposed that the virus enters cells through receptor-mediated endocytosis, the specific mechanism used by ASFV remains uncertain. Here we used the ASFV virulent isolate Ba71, adapted to grow in Vero cells (Ba71V), and the virulent strain E70 to demonstrate that entry and internalization of ASFV includes most of the features of macropinocytosis. By a combination of optical and electron microscopy, we show that the virus causes cytoplasm membrane perturbation, blebbing and ruffles. We have also found that internalization of the virions depends on actin reorganization, activity of Na+/H+ exchangers, and signaling events typical of the macropinocytic mechanism of endocytosis. The entry of virus into cells appears to directly stimulate dextran uptake, actin polarization and EGFR, PI3K-Akt, Pak1 and Rac1 activation. Inhibition of these key regulators of macropinocytosis, as well as treatment with the drug EIPA, results in a considerable decrease in ASFV entry and infection. In conclusion, this study identifies for the first time the whole pathway for ASFV entry, including the key cellular factors required for the uptake of the virus and the cell signaling involved.
ASFV is a highly pathogenic zoonotic virus, which can cause severe economic losses and bioterrorism threats. No vaccine against ASFV is available so far. A strong hazard of ASFV dissemination through EU countries from Caucasian areas has recently emerged, thus making urgent to acquire knowledge and tools for protection against this virus. Despite that, our understanding of how ASFV enters host cells is very limited. A thorough understanding of this process would enable to design targeted antiviral therapies and vaccine development. The present study clearly defines key steps of ASFV cellular uptake, as well as the host factors responsible for permitting virus entry into cells. Our results indicate that the primary mechanism of ASFV uptake is a macropinocytosis-like process, that involves cellular membrane perturbation, actin polarization, activity of Na+/H+ membrane channels, and signaling proceedings typical of the macropinocytic mechanism of endocytosis, such as Rac1-Pak1 pathways, PI3K and tyrosine-kinases activation. These findings help understanding how ASFV infects cells and suggest that disturbance of macropinocytosis may be useful in the impairment of infection and vaccine development.
African swine fever (ASF) is an asymptomatic infection of warthogs and bushpigs, which has become an emergent disease of domestic pigs, characterized by hemorrhage, lymphopenia, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. It is caused by a large icosohedral double-stranded DNA virus, African swine fever virus (ASFV), with infection of macrophages well characterized in vitro and in vivo. This study shows that virulent isolates of ASFV also infect primary cultures of porcine aortic endothelial cells and bushpig endothelial cells (BPECs) in vitro. Kinetics of early and late gene expression, viral factory formation, replication, and secretion were similar in endothelial cells and macrophages. However, ASFV-infected endothelial cells died by apoptosis, detected morphologically by terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling and nuclear condensation and biochemically by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage at 4 h postinfection (hpi). Immediate-early proinflammatory responses were inhibited, characterized by a lack of E-selectin surface expression and interleukin 6 (IL-6) and IL-8 mRNA synthesis. Moreover, ASFV actively downregulated interferon-induced major histocompatibility complex class I surface expression, a strategy by which viruses evade the immune system. Significantly, Western blot analysis showed that the 65-kDa subunit of the transcription factor NF-κB, a central regulator of the early response to viral infection, decreased by 8 hpi and disappeared by 18 hpi. Both disappearance of NF-κB p65 and cleavage of PARP were reversed by the caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk. Interestingly, surface expression and mRNA transcription of tissue factor, an important initiator of the coagulation cascade, increased 4 h after ASFV infection. These data suggest a central role for vascular endothelial cells in the hemorrhagic pathogenesis of the disease. Since BPECs infected with ASFV also undergo apoptosis, resistance of the natural host must involve complex pathological factors other than viral tropism.
African swine fever (ASF) is a highly lethal disease of domestic pigs caused by the only known DNA arbovirus. It was first described in Kenya in 1921 and since then many isolates have been collected worldwide. However, although several phylogenetic studies have been carried out to understand the relationships between the isolates, no molecular dating analyses have been achieved so far. In this paper, comprehensive phylogenetic reconstructions were made using newly generated, publicly available sequences of hundreds of ASFV isolates from the past 70 years. Analyses focused on B646L, CP204L, and E183L genes from 356, 251, and 123 isolates, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses were achieved using maximum likelihood and Bayesian coalescence methods. A new lineage-based nomenclature is proposed to designate 35 different clusters. In addition, dating of ASFV origin was carried out from the molecular data sets. To avoid bias, diversity due to positive selection or recombination events was neutralized. The molecular clock analyses revealed that ASFV strains currently circulating have evolved over 300 years, with a time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) in the early 18th century.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) is a large DNA virus that enters host cells after receptor-mediated endocytosis and depends on acidic cellular compartments for productive infection. The exact cellular mechanism, however, is largely unknown. In order to dissect ASFV entry, we have analyzed the major endocytic routes using specific inhibitors and dominant negative mutants and analyzed the consequences for ASFV entry into host cells. Our results indicate that ASFV entry into host cells takes place by clathrin-mediated endocytosis which requires dynamin GTPase activity. Also, the clathrin-coated pit component Eps15 was identified as a relevant cellular factor during infection. The presence of cholesterol in cellular membranes, but not lipid rafts or caveolae, was found to be essential for a productive ASFV infection. In contrast, inhibitors of the Na+/H+ ion channels and actin polymerization inhibition did not significantly modify ASFV infection, suggesting that macropinocytosis does not represent the main entry route for ASFV. These results suggest a dynamin-dependent and clathrin-mediated endocytic pathway of ASFV entry for the cell types and viral strains analyzed.
African swine fever (ASF) is an acute haemorrhagic disease of domestic pigs for which there is currently no vaccine. We showed that experimental immunisation of pigs with the non-virulent OURT88/3 genotype I isolate from Portugal followed by the closely related virulent OURT88/1 genotype I isolate could confer protection against challenge with virulent isolates from Africa including the genotype I Benin 97/1 isolate and genotype X Uganda 1965 isolate. This immunisation strategy protected most pigs challenged with either Benin or Uganda from both disease and viraemia. Cross-protection was correlated with the ability of different ASFV isolates to stimulate immune lymphocytes from the OURT88/3 and OURT88/1 immunised pigs.
African swine fever; Asfarviridae; Pigs; Protection; Immunisation
African swine fever virus (ASFV), a large icosahedral deoxyvirus, is the causative agent of an economically relevant hemorrhagic disease that affects domestic pigs. The major purpose of the present study was to investigate the nuclear transport activities of the ASFV p37 and p14 proteins, which result from the proteolytic processing of a common precursor. Experiments were performed by using yeast-based nucleocytoplasmic transport assays and by analysis of the subcellular localization of different green fluorescent and Myc fusion proteins in mammalian cells. The results obtained both in yeast and mammalian cells clearly demonstrated that ASFV p14 protein is imported into the nucleus but not exported to the cytoplasm. The ability of p37 protein to be exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm of both yeast and mammalian cells was also demonstrated, and the results clearly indicate that p37 nuclear export is dependent on the interaction of the protein with the CRM-1 receptor. In addition, p37 was shown to exhibit nuclear import activity in mammalian cells. The p37 protein nuclear import and export abilities described here constitute the first report of a nucleocytoplasmic shuttling protein encoded by the ASFV genome. Overall, the overlapping results obtained for green fluorescent protein fusions and Myc-tagged proteins undoubtedly demonstrate that ASFV p37 and p14 proteins exhibit nucleocytoplasmic transport activities. These findings are significant for understanding the role these proteins play in the replication cycle of ASFV.
We have analyzed the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) induced by in vitro infection with African swine fever (ASF) virus (ASFV) and the systemic and local release of this inflammatory cytokine upon in vivo infection. An early increase in TNF-α mRNA expression was detected in ASFV-infected alveolar macrophages, and high levels of TNF-α protein were detected by ELISA in culture supernatants from these cells. When animals were experimentally infected with a virulent isolate (E-75), enhanced TNF-α expression in mainly affected organs correlated with viral protein expression. Finally, elevated levels of TNF-α were detected in serum, corresponding to the onset of clinical signs. TNF-α has been reported to be critically involved in the pathogenesis of major clinical events in ASF, such as intravascular coagulation, tissue injury, apoptosis, and shock. In the present study, TNF-α containing supernatants from ASFV-infected cultures induced apoptosis in uninfected lymphocytes; this effect was partially abrogated by preincubation with an anti-TNF-α specific antibody. These results suggest a relevant role for TNF-α in the pathogenesis of ASF.
A single-step, multiplex, real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was developed for the simultaneous and differential laboratory diagnosis of Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) and African swine fever virus (ASFV) alongside an exogenous internal control RNA (IC-RNA). Combining a single extraction methodology and primer and probe sets for detection of the three target nucleic acids CSFV, ASFV and IC-RNA, had no effect on the analytical sensitivity of the assay and the new triplex RT-PCR was comparable to standard PCR techniques for CSFV and ASFV diagnosis. After optimisation the assay had a detection limit of 5 CSFV genome copies and 22 ASFV genome copies. Analytical specificity of the triplex assay was validated using a panel of viruses representing 9 of the 11 CSFV subgenotypes, at least 8 of the 22 ASFV genotypes as well as non-CSFV pestiviruses. Positive and negative clinical samples from animals infected experimentally, due to field exposure or collected from the UK which is free from both swine diseases, were used to evaluate the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity for detection of both viruses. The diagnostic sensitivity was 100% for both viruses whilst diagnostic specificity estimates were 100% for CSFV detection and 97.3% for ASFV detection. The inclusion of a heterologous internal control allowed identification of false negative results, which occurred at a higher level than expected. The triplex assay described here offers a valuable new tool for the differential detection of the causative viruses of two clinically indistinguishable porcine diseases, whose geographical occurrence is increasingly overlapping.
The integrity of the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway is required for efficient African swine fever virus (ASFV) infection. Incorporation of prenyl groups into Rho GTPases plays a key role in several stages of ASFV infection, since both geranylgeranyl and farnesyl pyrophosphates are required at different infection steps. We found that Rho GTPase inhibition impaired virus morphogenesis and resulted in an abnormal viral factory size with the accumulation of envelope precursors and immature virions. Furthermore, abundant defective virions reached the plasma membrane, and filopodia formation in exocytosis was abrogated. Rac1 was activated at early ASFV infection stages, coincident with microtubule acetylation, a process that stabilizes microtubules for virus transport. Rac1 inhibition did not affect the viral entry step itself but impaired subsequent virus production. We found that specific Rac1 inhibition impaired viral induced microtubule acetylation and viral intracellular transport. These findings highlight that viral infection is the result of a carefully orchestrated modulation of Rho family GTPase activity within the host cell; this modulation results critical for virus morphogenesis and in turn, triggers cytoskeleton remodeling, such as microtubule stabilization for viral transport during early infection.
An African swine fever virus (ASFV) gene with similarity to the T-lymphocyte surface antigen CD2 has been found in the pathogenic African isolate Malawi Lil-20/1 (open reading frame [ORF] 8-DR) and a cell culture-adapted European virus, BA71V (ORF EP402R) and has been shown to be responsible for the hemadsorption phenomenon observed for ASFV-infected cells. The structural and functional similarities of the ASFV gene product to CD2, a cellular protein involved in cell-cell adhesion and T-cell-mediated immune responses, suggested a possible role for this gene in tissue tropism and/or immune evasion in the swine host. In this study, we constructed an ASFV 8-DR gene deletion mutant (Δ8-DR) and its revertant (8-DR.R) from the Malawi Lil-20/1 isolate to examine gene function in vivo. In vitro, Δ8-DR, 8-DR.R, and the parental virus exhibited indistinguishable growth characteristics on primary porcine macrophage cell cultures. In vivo, 8-DR had no obvious effect on viral virulence in domestic pigs; disease onset, disease course, and mortality were similar for the mutant Δ8-DR, its revertant 8-DR.R, and the parental virus. Altered viral infection was, however, observed for pigs infected with Δ8-DR. A delay in spread to and/or replication of Δ8-DR in the draining lymph node, a delay in generalization of infection, and a 100- to 1,000-fold reduction in virus titers in lymphoid tissue and bone marrow were observed. Onset of viremia for Δ8-DR-infected animals was significantly delayed (by 2 to 5 days), and mean viremia titers were reduced approximately 10,000-fold at 5 days postinfection and 30- to 100-fold at later times; moreover, unlike in 8-DR.R-infected animals, the viremia was no longer predominantly erythrocyte associated but rather was equally distributed among erythrocyte, leukocyte, and plasma fractions. Mitogen-dependent lymphocyte proliferation of swine peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro was reduced by 90 to 95% following infection with 8-DR.R but remained unaltered following infection with Δ8-DR, suggesting that 8-DR has immunosuppressive activity in vitro. Together, these results suggest an immunosuppressive role for 8-DR in the swine host which facilitates early events in viral infection. This may be of most significance for ASFV infection of its highly adapted natural host, the warthog.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) replicates in the cytoplasm of infected cells and contains genes encoding a number of enzymes needed for DNA synthesis, including a thymidine kinase (TK) gene. Recombinant TK gene deletion viruses were produced by using two highly pathogenic isolates of ASFV through homologous recombination with an ASFV p72 promoter–β-glucuronidase indicator cassette (p72GUS) flanked by ASFV sequences targeting the TK region. Attempts to isolate double-crossover TK gene deletion mutants on swine macrophages failed, suggesting a growth deficiency of TK− ASFV on macrophages. Two pathogenic ASFV isolates, ASFV Malawi and ASFV Haiti, partially adapted to Vero cells, were used successfully to construct TK deletion viruses on Vero cells. The selected viruses grew well on Vero cells, but both mutants exhibited a growth defect on swine macrophages at low multiplicities of infection (MOI), yielding 0.1 to 1.0% of wild-type levels. At high MOI, the macrophage growth defect was not apparent. The Malawi TK deletion mutant showed reduced virulence for swine, producing transient fevers, lower viremia titers, and reduced mortality. In contrast, 100% mortality was observed for swine inoculated with the TK+ revertant virus. Swine surviving TK− ASFV infection remained free of clinical signs of African swine fever following subsequent challenge with the parental pathogenic ASFV. The data indicate that the TK gene of ASFV is important for growth in swine macrophages in vitro and is a virus virulence factor in swine.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) produces a fatal acute hemorrhagic fever in domesticated pigs that potentially is a worldwide economic threat. Using an expressed sequence tag (EST) library-based antisense method of random gene inactivation and a phenotypic screen for limitation of ASFV replication in cultured human cells, we identified six host genes whose cellular functions are required by ASFV. These included three loci, BAT3 (HLA-B-associated transcript 3), C1qTNF (C1q and tumor necrosis factor-related protein 6), and TOM40 (translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 40), for which antisense expression from a tetracycline-regulated promoter resulted in reversible inhibition of ASFV production by >99%. The effects of antisense transcription of the BAT3 EST and also of expression in the sense orientation of this EST, which encodes amino acid residues 450 to 518 of the mature BAT3 protein, were investigated more extensively. Sense expression of the BAT3 peptide, which appears to reversibly interfere with BAT3 function by a dominant negative mechanism, resulted in decreased synthesis of viral DNA and proteins early after ASFV infection, altered transcription of apoptosis-related genes as determined by cDNA microarray analysis, and increased cellular sensitivity to staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Antisense transcription of BAT3 reduced ASFV production without affecting abundance of the virus macromolecules we assayed. Our results, which demonstrate the utility of EST-based functional screens for the detection of host genes exploited by pathogenic viruses, reveal a novel collection of cellular genes previously not known to be required for ASFV infection.
The lack of available vaccines against African swine fever virus (ASFV) means that the evaluation of new immunization strategies is required. Here we show that fusion of the extracellular domain of the ASFV Hemagglutinin (sHA) to p54 and p30, two immunodominant structural viral antigens, exponentially improved both the humoral and the cellular responses induced in pigs after DNA immunization. However, immunization with the resulting plasmid (pCMV-sHAPQ) did not confer protection against lethal challenge with the virulent E75 ASFV-strain. Due to the fact that CD8+ T-cell responses are emerging as key components for ASFV protection, we designed a new plasmid construct, pCMV-UbsHAPQ, encoding the three viral determinants above mentioned (sHA, p54 and p30) fused to ubiquitin, aiming to improve Class I antigen presentation and to enhance the CTL responses induced. As expected, immunization with pCMV-UbsHAPQ induced specific T-cell responses in the absence of antibodies and, more important, protected a proportion of immunized-pigs from lethal challenge with ASFV. In contrast with control pigs, survivor animals showed a peak of CD8+ T-cells at day 3 post-infection, coinciding with the absence of viremia at this time point. Finally, an in silico prediction of CTL peptides has allowed the identification of two SLA I-restricted 9-mer peptides within the hemagglutinin of the virus, capable of in vitro stimulating the specific secretion of IFNγ when using PBMCs from survivor pigs. Our results confirm the relevance of T-cell responses in protection against ASF and open new expectations for the future development of more efficient recombinant vaccines against this disease.
African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious and economically important disease of domestic pigs. The absence of vaccine renders the diagnostic test the only tool that can be used for the control of new outbreaks of the disease. At present, the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test is the most useful method for large-scale ASF serological studies, although false positives have been detected, mainly on poorly preserved sera. In order to improve the current diagnostic test available for ASF, we have studied the antigenic properties of the ASF virus polyprotein pp62 and its suitability for use in a novel ELISA. Two well-known antigenic proteins of ASF virus, p32 and p54, were also included in this study. These proteins were expressed in the baculovirus expression system and used as antigens in ASF serological tests. Our results indicate that the use of these recombinant proteins as antigens in the ELISAs improves the sensitivity and specificity obtained with the conventional diagnosis test used to detect antibodies against ASF virus. Furthermore, the use of polyprotein pp62 in an ELISA for testing poorly preserved sera allows performance of the diagnosis of ASF without the need to confirm the results by the immunoblot test. These features make pp62 one of the most interesting viral proteins to be used for serological ASF diagnosis.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes an acute haemorrhagic disease of domestic pigs against which there is no effective vaccine. The attenuated ASFV strain OUR T88/3 has been shown previously to protect vaccinated pigs against challenge with some virulent strains including OUR T88/1. Two genes, DP71L and DP96R were deleted from the OUR T88/3 genome to create recombinant virus OUR T88/3ΔDP2. Deletion of these genes from virulent viruses has previously been shown to reduce ASFV virulence in domestic pigs. Groups of 6 pigs were immunised with deletion virus OUR T88/3ΔDP2 or parental virus OUR T88/3 and challenged with virulent OUR T88/1 virus. Four pigs (66%) were protected by inoculation with the deletion virus OUR T88/3ΔDP2 compared to 100% protection with the parental virus OUR T88/3. Thus the deletion of the two genes DP71L and DP96R from OUR T88/3 strain reduced its ability to protect pigs against challenge with virulent virus.
•Attenuated strain OUR T88/3 protects pigs against challenge with virulent strain OUR T88/1.•OUR T88/3 encodes virulence associated genes DP71L and DP96R.•Construction of recombinant virus OUR T88/3ΔDP2 with DP71L and DP96R genes deleted.•Growth of recombinant virus OUR T88/3ΔDP2 in vitro is similar to OUR T88/3.•Pigs inoculated with OUR T88/3ΔDP2 show reduced protection when challenged with OUR T88/1
African swine fever virus; Attenuation; Virulence
African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious fatal acute haemorrhagic viral disease of pigs currently has no treatment or vaccination protocol and it threatens the pig industry worldwide. Recent outbreaks were managed by farmers with ethnoveterinary preparations with various claims of effectiveness.
We identified 35 compounds using GC-MS protocol and ASF virus (NIG 99) was significantly reduced by some extracts and fractions of the plant. However, the plant was poorly extracted by water and cytotoxicity was found to be a major problem with the use of the plant since its extracts also reduced the primary cells used in the assay.
It is confirmed that the plant has antiviral potentials against ASF virus and farmers’ claims seem to have certain degree of veracity, but finding the best means of exploring the potential of the plant while reducing its cytotoxic effect in-vitro and in-vivo will be necessary.
Ancistrocladus uncinatus; African swine fever virus; Antiviral
Long-term persistent infection was established in 100% of pigs (n = 19) experimentally infected with African swine fever virus (ASFV). Viral DNA was detected in peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes (PBML) at greater than 500 days postinfection by a PCR assay. Infectious virus was not, however, isolated from the same PBML samples. In cell fractionation studies of PBML, monocytes/macrophages were found to harbor viral DNA during the persistent phase of infection. This result indicates that monocytes/macrophages are persistently infected with ASFV and that ASFV-swine monocyte/macrophage interactions can result in either lytic or persistent infection.
Cases of African swine fever (ASF) confirmed in the laboratory in 1985 and 1986 and other data obtained since 1984, in particular and extension of the serological survey of free-ranging domestic pigs undertaken from 1981 to 1984, are presented to give an updated survey of the ASF situation in Malawi and a revised estimate of the ASF enzootic area. Evidence is presented that the area may include some border areas in Dedza and Ntcheu districts and may be expanding in some localities.