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 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 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.
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.
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.
Prevalence ranged from 7.8% to 22.1%, depending on region.
In Senegal, during 2002–2007, 11 outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) were reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health. Despite this, little was known of the epidemiology of ASF in the country. To determine the prevalence of ASF in Senegal in 2006, we tested serum specimens collected from a sample of pigs in the 3 main pig-farming regions for antibodies to ASF virus using an ELISA. Of 747 serum samples examined, 126 were positive for ASF, suggesting a prevalence of 16.9%. The estimated prevalences within each of the regions (Fatick, Kolda, and Ziguinchor) were 13.3%, 7.8%, and 22.1%, respectively, with statistical evidence to suggest that the prevalence in Ziguinchor was higher than in Fatick or Kolda. This regional difference is considered in relation to different farming systems and illegal trade with neighboring countries where the infection is endemic.
African swine fever; viruses; Senegal; prevalence; research
The family Asfarviridae contains only a single virus species, African swine fever virus (ASFV). ASFV is a viral agent with significant economic impact due to its devastating effects on populations of domesticated pigs during outbreaks but has not been reported to infect humans. We report here the discovery of novel viral sequences in human serum and sewage which are clearly related to the asfarvirus family but highly divergent from ASFV. Detection of these sequences suggests that greater genetic diversity may exist among asfarviruses than previously thought and raises the possibility that human infection by asfarviruses may occur.
The cellular secretory pathway is important during the assembly and envelopment of viruses and also controls the transport of host proteins, such as cytokines and major histocompatibility proteins, that function during the elimination of viruses by the immune system. African swine fever virus (ASFV) encodes at least 26 proteins with stretches of hydrophobic amino acids suggesting entry into the secretory pathway (R. J. Yanez, J. M. Rodriguez, M. L. Nogal, L. Yuste, C. Enriquez, J. F. Rodriguez, and E. Vinuela, Virology 208:249–278, 1995). To predict how and where these potential membrane proteins function, we have studied the integrity of the secretory pathway in cells infected with ASFV. Remarkably, ASFV caused complete loss of immunofluorescence signal for the trans Golgi network (TGN) marker protein TGN46 and dispersed the AP1 TGN adapter complex. Loss of TGN46 signal was not due to degradation of TGN46, suggesting redistribution of TGN46 to other membrane compartments. ASFV markedly slowed transport of cathepsin D to lysosomes, demonstrating that loss of TGN structure correlated with loss of TGN function. ASFV shows a tropism for macrophages, and it is possible that ASFV compromises TGN function to augment the activity of viral membrane proteins or to suppress the function of host immunoregulatory proteins.
Viral interference with secretory cargo is a common mechanism for pathogen immune evasion. Selective down regulation of critical immune system molecules such as major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins enables pathogens to mask themselves from their host. African swine fever virus (ASFV) disrupts the trans-Golgi network (TGN) by altering the localization of TGN46, an organelle marker for the distal secretory pathway. Reorganization of membrane transport components may provide a mechanism whereby ASFV can disrupt the correct secretion and/or cell surface expression of host proteins. In the study reported here, we used the tsO45 temperature-sensitive mutant of the G protein of vesicular stomatitis virus to show that ASFV significantly reduces the rate at which the protein is delivered to the plasma membrane. This is linked to a general reorganization of the secretory pathway during infection and a specific, microtubule-dependent disruption of structural components of the TGN. Golgin p230 and TGN46 are separated into distinct vesicles, whereupon TGN46 is depleted. These data suggest that disruption of the TGN by ASFV can slow membrane traffic during viral infection. This may be functionally important because infection of macrophages with virulent isolates of ASFV increased the expression of MHC class I genes, but there was no parallel increase in MHC class I molecule delivery to the plasma membrane.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) infection leads to rearrangement of vimentin into a cage surrounding virus factories. Vimentin rearrangement in cells generally involves phosphorylation of N-terminal domains of vimentin by cellular kinases to facilitate disassembly and transport of vimentin filaments on microtubules. Here, we demonstrate that the first stage in vimentin rearrangement during ASFV infection involves a microtubule-dependent concentration of vimentin into an “aster” within virus assembly sites located close to the microtubule organizing center. The aster may play a structural role early during the formation of the factory. Conversion of the aster into a cage required ASFV DNA replication. Interestingly, viral DNA replication also resulted in the activation of calcium calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM kinase II) and phosphorylation of the N-terminal domain of vimentin on serine 82. Immunostaining showed that vimentin within the cage was phosphorylated on serine 82. Significantly, both viral DNA replication and Ser 82 phosphorylation were blocked by KN93, an inhibitor of CaM kinase II, suggesting a link between CaM kinase II activation, DNA replication, and late gene expression. Phosphorylation of vimentin on serine 82 may be necessary for cage formation or may simply be a consequence of activation of CaM kinase II by ASFV. The vimentin cage may serve a cytoprotective function and prevent movement of viral components into the cytoplasm and at the same time concentrate late structural proteins at sites of virus assembly.