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1.  Recombinant Secreted Antigens from Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Delivered as a Cocktail Vaccine Enhance the Immune Response of Mice 
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is the etiological agent of porcine enzootic pneumonia (EP), which is a respiratory disease responsible for huge economic losses in the pig industry worldwide. The commercially available vaccines provide only partial protection and are expensive. Thus, the development of alternatives for the prophylaxis of EP is critical for improving pig health. The use of multiple antigens in the same immunization may represent a promising alternative. In the present study, seven secreted proteins of M. hyopneumoniae were cloned, expressed in Escherichia coli, and evaluated for antigenicity using serum from naturally and experimentally infected pigs. In addition, the immunogenicity of the seven recombinant proteins delivered individually or in protein cocktail vaccines was evaluated in mice. In Western blot assays and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, most of the recombinant proteins evaluated were recognized by convalescent-phase serum from the animals, indicating that they are expressed during the infectious process. The recombinant proteins were also immunogenic, and most induced a mixed IgG1/IgG2a humoral immune response. The use of these proteins in a cocktail vaccine formulation enhanced the immune response compared to their use as antigens delivered individually, providing evidence of the efficacy of the multiple-antigen administration strategy for the induction of an immune response against M. hyopneumoniae.
PMCID: PMC3889581  PMID: 23803903
2.  Diagnosis of Canine Leptospirosis by a Highly Sensitive FRET-PCR Targeting the lig Genes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89507.
Canine leptospirosis is underdiagnosed due to its wide spectrum of clinical presentations and the lack of a rapid and sensitive test for the accurate diagnosis of acute and chronic infections. In this study, we developed a highly sensitive and specific fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-PCR to detect common pathogenic leptospires in dogs, including Leptospira interrogans serovars Autumnalis, Canicola, Copenhageni (Icterohaemorrhagiae serogroup) and Pomona, and Leptospira kirschneri serovar Grippotyphosa. This PCR targets the lig genes, exclusively found in the pathogenic Leptospira species but not in saprophytic species (L. biflexa). A robust, high-stringency step-down real-time platform was coupled to the highly specific detection of leptospiral DNA by fluorescently labeled FRET probes. This enabled the detection of a single copy of the lig gene in a PCR containing DNA from up to 50 µL canine blood or 400 µL urine. Sensitivity determination by use of limiting serial dilutions of extracted leptospiral DNA indicated that the lig FRET-PCR we established was almost 100-fold more sensitive than the widely accepted lipL32 SYBR assay and 10-fold more sensitive than a 16S rRNA TaqMan assay. Application of this method to 207 dogs with potential leptospiral infection enabled us to diagnose three cases of canine leptospirosis characterized by low amounts of leptospiral DNA in body fluids. Detection of canine leptospirosis with the lig FRET-PCR was more sensitive with the lig FRET-PCR than with the 16S rRNA TaqMan PCR, which detected only 2 of the 3 cases, and the lipL32 SYBR PCR, which detected none of the 3 dogs with leptospirosis.
PMCID: PMC3933566  PMID: 24586833
3.  Construction and Evaluation of V. cholerae O139 Mutant, VCUSM21P, as a Safe Live Attenuated Cholera Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e81817.
Cholera is a major infectious disease, affecting millions of lives annually. In endemic areas, implementation of vaccination strategy against cholera is vital. As the use of safer live vaccine that can induce protective immunity against Vibrio cholerae O139 infection is a promising approach for immunization, we have designed VCUSM21P, an oral cholera vaccine candidate, which has ctxA that encodes A subunit of ctx and mutated rtxA/C, ace and zot mutations. VCUSM21P was found not to disassemble the actin of HEp2 cells. It colonized the mice intestine approximately 1 log lower than that of the Wild Type (WT) strain obtained from Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia. In the ileal loop assay, unlike WT challenge, 1×106 and 1×108 colony forming unit (CFU) of VCUSM21P was not reactogenic in non-immunized rabbits. Whereas, the reactogenicity caused by the WT in rabbits immunized with 1×1010 CFU of VCUSM21P was found to be reduced as evidenced by absence of fluid in loops administered with 1×102–1×107 CFU of WT. Oral immunization using 1×1010 CFU of VCUSM21P induced both IgA and IgG against Cholera Toxin (CT) and O139 lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The serum vibriocidal antibody titer had a peak rise of 2560 fold on week 4. Following Removable Intestinal Tie Adult Rabbit Diarrhoea (RITARD) experiment, the non-immunized rabbits were found not to be protected against lethal challenge with 1×109 CFU WT, but 100% of immunized rabbits survived the challenge. In the past eleven years, V. cholerae O139 induced cholera has not been observed. However, attenuated VCUSM21P vaccine could be used for vaccination program against potentially fatal endemic or emerging cholera caused by V. cholerae O139.
PMCID: PMC3914778  PMID: 24505241
4.  A Conserved Region of Leptospiral Immunoglobulin-Like A and B Proteins as a DNA Vaccine Elicits a Prophylactic Immune Response against Leptospirosis 
The leptospiral immunoglobulin-like (Lig) proteins LigA and LigB possess immunoglobulin-like domains with 90-amino-acid repeats and are adhesion molecules involved in pathogenicity. They are conserved in pathogenic Leptospira spp. and thus are of interest for use as serodiagnostic antigens and in recombinant vaccine formulations. The N-terminal amino acid sequences of the LigA and LigB proteins are identical, but the C-terminal sequences vary. In this study, we evaluated the protective potential of five truncated forms of LigA and LigB proteins from Leptospira interrogans serovar Canicola as DNA vaccines using the pTARGET mammalian expression vector. Hamsters immunized with the DNA vaccines were subjected to a heterologous challenge with L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni strain Spool via the intraperitoneal route. Immunization with a DNA vaccine encoding LigBrep resulted in the survival of 5/8 (62.5%) hamsters against lethal infection (P < 0.05). None of the control hamsters or animals immunized with the other vaccine preparations survived. The vaccine induced an IgG antibody response and, additionally, conferred sterilizing immunity in 80% of the surviving animals. Our results indicate that the LigBrep DNA vaccine is a promising candidate for inclusion in a protective leptospiral vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3647749  PMID: 23486420
5.  A Prime-Boost Strategy Using the Novel Vaccine Candidate, LemA, Protects Hamsters against Leptospirosis 
Toward developing an effective vaccine capable of conferring heterologous protection, the putative lipoprotein LemA, which presents an M3 epitope similar to that of Listeria, was evaluated as a vaccine candidate in the hamster model of leptospirosis. LemA is conserved (>70% pairwise identity) among the pathogenic Leptospira spp., indicating its potential in stimulating a cross-protective immune response. Using different vaccination strategies, including prime-boost, DNA vaccine, and a subunit preparation, recombinant LemA conferred different levels of protection in hamsters. Significant protection against mortality was observed for the prime-boost and the DNA vaccine strategies, which showed 87.5% (P < 0.01) and 62.5% (P < 0.05) efficacy, respectively. Although the subunit vaccine preparation protected 50.0% of immunized hamsters, the level of protection was not significant. None of the hamsters in the control groups survived challenge with a virulent strain of Leptospira interrogans serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae. Characterization of the immune response found that the strongest antibody response was stimulated by the subunit vaccine preparation, followed by the prime-boost strategy. The DNA vaccine failed to elicit an antibody response in immunized hamsters.
PMCID: PMC3647757  PMID: 23515012
6.  A Novel Helper Phage Enabling Construction of Genome-Scale ORF-Enriched Phage Display Libraries 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75212.
Phagemid-based expression of cloned genes fused to the gIIIP coding sequence and rescue using helper phages, such as VCSM13, has been used extensively for constructing large antibody phage display libraries. However, for randomly primed cDNA and gene fragment libraries, this system encounters reading frame problems wherein only one of 18 phages display the translated foreign peptide/protein fused to phagemid-encoded gIIIP. The elimination of phages carrying out-of-frame inserts is vital in order to improve the quality of phage display libraries. In this study, we designed a novel helper phage, AGM13, which carries trypsin-sensitive sites within the linker regions of gIIIP. This renders the phage highly sensitive to trypsin digestion, which abolishes its infectivity. For open reading frame (ORF) selection, the phagemid-borne phages are rescued using AGM13, so that clones with in-frame inserts express fusion proteins with phagemid-encoded trypsin-resistant gIIIP, which becomes incorporated into the phages along with a few copies of AGM13-encoded trypsin-sensitive gIIIP. In contrast, clones with out-of-frame inserts produce phages carrying only AGM13-encoded trypsin-sensitive gIIIP. Trypsin treatment of the phage population renders the phages with out-of-frame inserts non-infectious, whereas phages carrying in-frame inserts remain fully infectious and can hence be enriched by infection. This strategy was applied efficiently at a genome scale to generate an ORF-enriched whole genome fragment library from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in which nearly 100% of the clones carried in-frame inserts after selection. The ORF-enriched libraries were successfully used for identification of linear and conformational epitopes for monoclonal antibodies specific to mycobacterial proteins.
PMCID: PMC3785514  PMID: 24086469
7.  ESBL-Producing Enterobacteriaceae: Occurrence, Risk Factors for Fecal Carriage and Strain Traits in the Swiss Slaughter Cattle Population Younger than 2 Years Sampled at Abattoir Level 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71725.
During the past decade extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacteriaceae have become a matter of great concern in human and veterinary medicine. In this cross-sectional study fecal swabs of a geographically representative number of Swiss cattle at slaughterhouse level were sampled i) to determine the occurrence of ESBL producing Enterobacteriaceae in the Swiss slaughter cattle population younger than 2 years, and ii) to assess risk factors for shedding ESBL producing Enterobacteriaceae. In total, 48 (8.4%; 95% C.I. 6.3–11.1%) independent ESBL producing Enterobacteriaceae were detected among the 571 tested animals. Species identification revealed 46 E. coli strains, one Enterobacter cloacae and one Citrobacter youngae. In view of beta-lactam antibiotics, all 48 isolates were resistant to ampicillin, cephalothin and cefpodoxime. Forty-five (93.8%) isolates were resistant cefuroxime; one (2.1%) isolate to cefoxitin, 28 (58.3%) isolates to cefotaxime, 2 (4.2%) isolates to ceftazidime, and 2 (4.2%) isolates to cefepime. Risk factors for shedding ESBL producing Enterobacteriaceae were (i) age (OR 0.19 and 0.12 in age category 181 d to 1y and 1y to 2 y compared to ≤180 d), (ii) primary production type, meaning dairy compared to beef on farm of origin (OR 5.95), and (iii) more than 1 compared to less than 1 animal movement per d per 100 animals on farm of origin (OR 2.37).
PMCID: PMC3748101  PMID: 23977126
8.  Genome-Wide Relatedness of Treponema pedis, from Gingiva and Necrotic Skin Lesions of Pigs, with the Human Oral Pathogen Treponema denticola 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71281.
Treponema pedis and T. denticola are two genetically related species with different origins of isolation. Treponema denticola is part of the human oral microbiota and is associated with periodontitis while T. pedis has been isolated from skin lesions in animals, e.g., digital dermatitis in cattle and necrotic ulcers in pigs. Although multiple Treponema phylotypes may exist in ulcerative lesions in pigs, T. pedis appears to be a predominant spirochete in these lesions. Treponema pedis can also be present in pig gingiva. In this study, we determined the complete genome sequence of T. pedis strain T A4, isolated from a porcine necrotic ear lesion, and compared its genome with that of T. denticola. Most genes in T. pedis were homologous to those in T. denticola and the two species were similar in general genomic features such as size, G+C content, and number of genes. In addition, many homologues of specific virulence-related genes in T. denticola were found in T. pedis. Comparing a selected pair of strains will usually not give a complete picture of the relatedness between two species. We therefore complemented the analysis with draft genomes from six T. pedis isolates, originating from gingiva and necrotic ulcers in pigs, and from twelve T. denticola strains. Each strain carried a considerable amount of accessory genetic material, of which a large part was strain specific. There was also extensive sequence variability in putative virulence-related genes between strains belonging to the same species. Signs of lateral gene-transfer events from bacteria known to colonize oral environments were found. This suggests that the oral cavity is an important habitat for T. pedis. In summary, we found extensive genomic similarities between T. pedis and T. denticola but also large variability within each species.
PMCID: PMC3747143  PMID: 23977007
9.  Production and Evaluation of a Recombinant Chimeric Vaccine against Clostridium botulinum Neurotoxin Types C and D 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69692.
Bovine botulism is a fatal disease that is caused by botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) produced by Clostridium botulinum serotypes C and D and that causes great economic losses, with nearly 100% lethality during outbreaks. It has also been considered a potential source of human food-borne illness in many countries. Vaccination has been reported to be the most effective way to control bovine botulism. However, the commercially available toxoid-based vaccines are difficult and hazardous to produce. Neutralizing antibodies targeted against the C-terminal fragment of the BoNT heavy chain (HC) are known to confer efficient protection against lethal doses of BoNTs. In this study, a novel recombinant chimera, consisting of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin B subunit (LTB), a strong adjuvant of the humoral immune response, fused to the HC of BoNT serotypes C and D, was produced in E. coli. Mice vaccinated with the chimera containing LTB and an equivalent molar ratio of the chimera without LTB plus aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3) developed 2 IU/mL of antitoxins for both serotypes. Guinea pigs immunized with the recombinant chimera with LTB plus Al(OH)3 developed a protective immune response against both BoNT/C (5 IU/mL) and BoNT/D (10 IU/mL), as determined by a mouse neutralization bioassay with pooled sera. The results achieved with guinea pig sera fulfilled the requirements of commercial vaccines for prevention of botulism, as determined by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, Supply. The presence of LTB was essential for the development of a strong humoral immune response, as it acted in synergism with Al(OH)3. Thus, the vaccine described in this study is a strong candidate for the control of botulism in cattle.
PMCID: PMC3729698  PMID: 23936080
10.  Towards Risk-Based Test Protocols: Estimating the Contribution of Intensive Testing to the UK Bovine Tuberculosis Problem 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63961.
Eradicating disease from livestock populations involves the balancing act of removing sufficient numbers of diseased animals without removing too many healthy individuals in the process. As ever more tests for bovine tuberculosis (BTB) are carried out on the UK cattle herd, and each positive herd test triggers more testing, the question arises whether ‘false positive’ results contribute significantly to the measured BTB prevalence. Here, this question is explored using simple probabilistic models of test behaviour. When the screening test is applied to the average UK herd, the estimated proportion of test-associated false positive new outbreaks is highly sensitive to small fluctuations in screening test specificity. Estimations of this parameter should be updated as a priority. Once outbreaks have been confirmed in screening-test positive herds, the following rounds of intensive testing with more sensitive, albeit less specific, tests are highly likely to remove large numbers of false positive animals from herds. Despite this, it is unlikely that significantly more truly infected animals are removed. BTB test protocols should become based on quantified risk in order to prevent the needless slaughter of large numbers of healthy animals.
PMCID: PMC3661673  PMID: 23717517
11.  Productive Infection of Bovine Papillomavirus Type 2 in the Urothelial Cells of Naturally Occurring Urinary Bladder Tumors in Cattle and Water Buffaloes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62227.
Papillomaviruses (PVs) are highly epitheliotropic as they usually establish productive infections within squamous epithelia of the skin, the anogenital tract and the oral cavity. In this study, early (E) and late (L) protein expression of bovine papillomavirus type 2 (BPV-2) in the urothelium of the urinary bladder is described in cows and water buffaloes suffering from naturally occurring papillomavirus-associated urothelial bladder tumors.
Methods and Findings
E5 protein, the major oncoprotein of the BPV-2, was detected in all tumors. L1 DNA was amplified by PCR, cloned and sequenced and confirmed to be L1 DNA. The major capsid protein, L1, believed to be only expressed in productive papillomavirus infection was detected by Western blot analysis. Immunohistochemical investigations confirmed the presence of L1 protein both in the cytoplasm and nuclei of cells of the neoplastic urothelium. Finally, the early protein E2, required for viral DNA replication and known to be a pivotal factor for both productive and persistent infection, was detected by Western blot and immunohistochemically. Electron microscopic investigations detected electron dense particles, the shape and size of which are consistent with submicroscopic features of viral particles, in nuclei of neoplastic urothelium.
This study shows that both active and productive infections by BPV-2 in the urothelium of the bovine and bubaline urinary bladder can occur in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3646877  PMID: 23667460
12.  The Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction in Leptospirosis: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59266.
Leptospirosis is an endemo-epidemic zoonotic disease associated with potentially fatal renal, cardiovascular or pulmonary failure. Recommended treatment includes antibiotics, which may induce a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (JHR). Since little information on the importance of this adverse event is available, we performed this review to quantify frequency and impact of JHR in leptospirosis management.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This review systematically summarizes the literature on the JHR in leptospirosis. To approach the broader aspects of the subject, articles considering the treatment of leptospirosis, national leptospirosis guidelines and textbook and technical reports of the World Health Organisation were reviewed. Publications describing JHR in leptospirosis are very limited and consist mainly of single case reports and small case series. A single randomized control trial specifically assessed the JHR occurrence, but it has never been systematically investigated in large trials. Not all guidelines and not all literature on leptospirosis mention this reaction which can be fatal.
Although generally assumed to be a rare event, the true prevalence of JHR in leptospirosis is unknown and the awareness of this event is insufficient. All leptospirosis guidelines and local leptospirosis protocols should stress on systematic monitoring for clinical status early after antibiotic administration. Large well designed studies are required to precise the incidence and the impact of JHR as well as the severity and rates between various antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC3608636  PMID: 23555644
13.  Evaluation on the Efficacy and Immunogenicity of Recombinant DNA Plasmids Expressing Spike Genes from Porcine Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57468.
Porcine transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PDEV) can cause severe diarrhea in pigs. Development of effective vaccines against TGEV and PEDV is one of important prevention measures. The spike (S) protein is the surface glycoprotein of TGEV and PEDV, which can induce specific neutralization antibodies and is a candidate antigen for vaccination attempts. In this study, the open reading frames of the TGEV S1 protein and in addition of the S or S1 proteins of PEDV were inserted into the eukaryotic expression vector, pIRES, resulting in recombinant plasmids, pIRES-(TGEV-S1-PEDV-S1) and pIRES-(TGEV-S1-PEDV-S). Subsequently, 6–8 weeks old Kunming mice were inoculated with both DNA plasmids. Lymphocyte proliferation assay, virus neutralization assay, IFN-γ assay and CTL activity assay were performed. TGEV/PEDV specific antibody responses as well as kinetic changes of T lymphocyte subgroups of the immunized mice were analyzed. The results showed that the recombinant DNA plasmids increased the proliferation of T lymphocytes and the number of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocyte subgroups. In addition, the DNA vaccines induced a high level of IFN-γ in the immunized mice. The specific CTL activity in the pIRES-(TGEV-S1-PEDV-S) group became significant at 42 days post-immunization. At 35 days post-immunization, the recombinant DNA plasmids bearing full-length S genes of TGEV and PEDV stimulated higher levels of specific antibodies and neutralizing antibodies in immunized mice.
PMCID: PMC3602451  PMID: 23526943
14.  Characterization of Anamnestic T-cell Responses Induced by Conventional Vaccines against Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57509.
A better understanding of how T1 vaccination confers immunity would facilitate the rational design of improved vaccines against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP). We show here that mycoplasmas-induced recall proliferation and IFN-γ responses are detected in cattle that received multiple shots of T1 vaccines. These anamnestic responses were under the strict control of CD4+ T lymphocytes. Moreover, CD62L expression indicated that both CD4+ effector memory (Tem) and central memory (Tcm) T lymphocytes are elicited in these animals. Comparative analysis with data from cattle that completely recovered from CBPP infection revealed similar anamnestic T-cell responses albeit at a lower magnitude for T1-vaccinated animals, particularly in the Tcm compartment. In conclusion, we discuss how our current understanding of T-cell responses will contribute to ongoing efforts for the improvement of future CBPP vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3585371  PMID: 23469008
15.  Development of Two Murine Antibodies against Neospora caninum Using Phage Display Technology and Application on the Detection of N. caninum 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53264.
Neosporosis, caused by an intracellular parasite, Neospora caninum, is an infectious disease primarily of cattle and dogs. It occurs worldwide and causes huge damages to dairy farms. In this study, we immunized mice with recombinant surface-associated protein 1 of N. caninum (rNcSAG1) and developed two novel monoclonal antibodies, A10 and H3, against NcSAG1 using phage-display technology. Both clones bound to purified rNcSAG1 and the half maximal inhibitory concentrations of A10 and H3 are 50 and 72 nM of rNcSAG1, respectively. In immunofluorescence assays, both A10 and H3 Fabs bound to N. caninum parasites. Direct detection of N. caninum parasites was developed firstly using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with A10 and H3. Binding of A10 and H3 antibodies to rNcSAG1 was also inhibited by some certain anti-N. caninum antibodies in the neosporosis-positive cattle sera, suggesting they might bind to the same epitopes of NcSAG1 with those anti-N. caninum antibodies of bovine. These antibodies were demonstrated to have a potential for monitoring the N. caninum parasites in a dairy farm, which may lead to protect livestock from parasite-infection.
PMCID: PMC3540087  PMID: 23308179
16.  Avirulent Marek’s Disease Virus Type 1 Strain 814 Vectored Vaccine Expressing Avian Influenza (AI) Virus H5 Haemagglutinin Induced Better Protection Than Turkey Herpesvirus Vectored AI Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53340.
Herpesvirus of turkey (HVT) as a vector to express the haemagglutinin (HA) of avian influenza virus (AIV) H5 was developed and its protection against lethal Marek’s disease virus (MDV) and highly pathogenic AIV (HPAIV) challenges was evaluated previously. It is well-known that avirulemt MDV type 1 vaccines are more effective than HVT in prevention of lethal MDV infection. To further increase protective efficacy against HPAIV and lethal MDV, a recombinant MDV type 1 strain 814 was developed to express HA gene of HPAIV H5N1.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A recombinant MDV-1 strain 814 expressing HA gene of HPAIV H5N1 virus A/goose/Guangdong/3/96 at the US2 site (rMDV-HA) was developed under the control of a human CMV immediate-early promoter. The HA expression in the rMDV-HA was tested by immunofluorescence and Western blot analyses, and in vitro and in vivo growth properties of rMDV-HA were also analyzed. Furthermore, we evaluated and compared the protective immunity of rMDV-HA and previously constructed rHVT-HA against HPAIV and lethal MDV. Vaccination of chickens with rMDV-HA induced 80% protection against HPAIV, which was better than the protection rate by rHVT-HA (66.7%). In the animal study with MDV challenge, chickens immunized with rMDV-HA were completely protected against virulent MDV strain J-1 whereas rHVT-HA only induced 80% protection with the same challenge dose.
The rMDV-HA vaccine was more effective than rHVT-HA vaccine for protection against lethal MDV and HPAIV challenges. Therefore, avirulent MDV type 1 vaccine is a better vector than HVT for development of a recombinant live virus vaccine against virulent MDV and HPAIV in poultry.
PMCID: PMC3536743  PMID: 23301062
17.  A 90-Day Dietary Toxicity Study of Genetically Modified Rice T1C-1 Expressing Cry1C Protein in Sprague Dawley Rats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52507.
In a 90-day study, Sprague Dawley rats were fed transgenic T1C-1 rice expressing Cry1C protein and were compared with rats fed non-transgenic parental rice Minghui 63 and rats fed a basal diet. No adverse effects on animal behavior or weight gain were observed during the study. Blood samples were collected and analyzed, and standard hematological and biochemical parameters were compared. A few of these parameters were found to be significantly different, but were within the normal reference intervals for rats of this breed and age, and were thus not considered to be treatment-related. Following sacrifice, a large number of organs were weighed, and macroscopic and histopathological examinations were performed with no changes reported. The aim of this study was to use a known animal model to determine the safety of the genetically modified (GM) rice T1C-1. The results showed no adverse or toxic effects due to T1C-1 rice when tested in this 90-day study.
PMCID: PMC3531449  PMID: 23300690
18.  A Cucumber Mosaic Virus Based Expression System for the Production of Porcine Circovirus Specific Vaccines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52688.
Potential porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) capsid protein epitopes, suitable for expression on the surface of cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) particles were determined by a thorough analysis of the predicted PCV capsid protein structure. The ab initio protein structure prediction was carried out with fold recognition and threading methods. The putative PCV epitopes were selected on the basis of PCV virion models and integrated into the plant virus coat protein, after amino acid position 131. The recombinants were tested for infectivity and stability on different Nicotiana species and stable recombinant virus particles were purified. The particles were tested for their ability to bind to PCV induced porcine antibodies and used for specific antibody induction in mice and pigs. The results showed that PCV epitopes expressed on the CMV surface were recognized by the porcine antibodies and they were also able to induce PCV specific antibody response. Challenge experiment with PCV2 carried out in immunized pigs showed partial protection against the infection. Based on these results it was concluded that specific antiviral vaccine production for the given pathogen was feasible, offering an inexpensive way for the mass production of such vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3527602  PMID: 23285149
19.  Vaccination with a BCG Strain Overexpressing Ag85B Protects Cattle against Mycobacterium bovis Challenge 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51396.
Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of tuberculosis in cattle but also infects other animals, including humans. Previous studies in cattle have demonstrated that the protection induced by BCG is not complete. In order to improve the protection efficacy of BCG, in this study we overexpressed Ag85B in a BCG Pasteur strain, by using an expression system based on the use of an auxotrophic strain for the leucine amino acid, and complementation with leuD. We found that vaccination of cattle with BCG overexpressing Ag85B induced higher production of IL-17 and IL-4 mRNA upon purified protein derivative (PPDB) stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) than vaccination with BCG. Moreover, the IL-17 mRNA expression after vaccination negatively correlated with disease severity resulting from a subsequent challenge with M. bovis, suggesting that this cytokine is a potential biomarker of cattle protection against bovine tuberculosis. Importantly, vaccination with the recombinant BCG vaccine protected cattle better than the wild-type BCG Pasteur.
PMCID: PMC3519572  PMID: 23251517
20.  Protection against Lethal Leptospirosis after Vaccination with LipL32 Coupled or Coadministered with the B Subunit of Escherichia coli Heat-Labile Enterotoxin 
Leptospirosis, a worldwide zoonosis, lacks an effective, safe, and cross-protective vaccine. LipL32, the most abundant, immunogenic, and conserved surface lipoprotein present in all pathogenic species of Leptospira, is a promising antigen candidate for a recombinant vaccine. However, several studies have reported a lack of protection when this protein is used as a subunit vaccine. In an attempt to enhance the immune response, we used LipL32 coupled to or coadministered with the B subunit of the Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin (LTB) in a hamster model of leptospirosis. After homologous challenge with 5× the 50% lethal dose (LD50) of Leptospira interrogans, animals vaccinated with LipL32 coadministered with LTB and LTB::LipL32 had significantly higher survival rates (P < 0.05) than animals from the control group. This is the first report of a protective immune response afforded by a subunit vaccine using LipL32 and represents an important contribution toward the development of improved leptospirosis vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3346321  PMID: 22379066
21.  Effects of the Oral Administration of Viable and Heat-Killed Streptococcus bovis HC5 Cells to Pre-Sensitized BALB/c Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48313.
Antimicrobial peptides have been suggested as an alternative to classical antibiotics in livestock production and bacteriocin-producing bacteria could be added to animal feeds to deliver bacteriocins in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of ruminant and monogastric animals. In this study, viable (V) and heat-killed (HK) Streptococcus bovis HC5 cells were orally administered to pre-sensitized mice in order to assess the effects of a bacteriocin-producing bacteria on histological parameters and the immune response of the GI tract of monogastric animals. The administration of V and HK S. bovis HC5 cells during 58 days to BALB/c mice did not affect weight gain, but an increase in gut permeability was detected in animals receiving the HK cells. Viable and heat killed cells caused similar morphological alterations in the GI tract of the animals, but the most prominent effects were detected in the small intestine. The oral administration of S. bovis HC5 also influenced cytokine production in the small intestine, and the immune-mediated activity differed between V and HK cells. The relative expression of IL-12 and INF-γ was significantly higher in the small intestine of mice treated with V cells, while an increase in IL-5, IL-13 and TNF-α expression was only detected in mice treated with HK cells. Considering that even under a condition of severe challenge (pre-sensitization followed by daily exposure to the same bacterial immunogen) the general health of the animals was maintained, it appears that oral administration of S. bovis HC5 cells could be a useful route to deliver bacteriocin in the GI tract of livestock animals.
PMCID: PMC3483269  PMID: 23144752
22.  A Focused Ethnographic Study of Sri Lankan Government Field Veterinarians’ Decision Making about Diagnostic Laboratory Submissions and Perceptions of Surveillance 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48035.
The global public health community is facing the challenge of emerging infectious diseases. Historically, the majority of these diseases have arisen from animal populations at lower latitudes where many nations experience marked resource constraints. In order to minimize the impact of future events, surveillance of animal populations will need to enable prompt event detection and response. Many surveillance systems targeting animals rely on veterinarians to submit cases to a diagnostic laboratory or input clinical case data. Therefore understanding veterinarians’ decision-making process that guides laboratory case submission and their perceptions of infectious disease surveillance is foundational to interpreting disease patterns reported by laboratories and engaging veterinarians in surveillance initiatives. A focused ethnographic study was conducted with twelve field veterinary surgeons that participated in a mobile phone-based surveillance pilot project in Sri Lanka. Each participant agreed to an individual in-depth interview that was recorded and later transcribed to enable thematic analysis of the interview content. Results found that field veterinarians in Sri Lanka infrequently submit cases to laboratories – so infrequently that common case selection principles could not be described. Field veterinarians in Sri Lanka have a diagnostic process that operates independently of laboratories. Participants indicated a willingness to take part in surveillance initiatives, though they highlighted a need for incentives that satisfy a range of motivations that vary among field veterinarians. This study has implications for the future of animal health surveillance, including interpretation of disease patterns reported, system design and implementation, and engagement of data providers.
PMCID: PMC3485039  PMID: 23133542
23.  Bluetongue Viruses Based on Modified-Live Vaccine Serotype 6 with Exchanged Outer Shell Proteins Confer Full Protection in Sheep against Virulent BTV8 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44619.
Since 1998, Bluetongue virus (BTV)-serotypes 1, 2, 4, 9, and 16 have invaded European countries around the Mediterranean Basin. In 2006, a huge BT outbreak started after incursion of BTV serotype 8 (BTV8) in North-Western Europe. IN 2008, BTV6 and BTV11 were reported in the Netherlands and Germany, and in Belgium, respectively. In addition, Toggenburg orbivirus (TOV) was detected in 2008 in Swiss goats, which was recognized as a new serotype of BTV (BTV25). The (re-)emergency of BTV serotypes needs a rapid response to supply effective vaccines. Reverse genetics has been developed for BTV1 and more recently also for BTV6. This latter strain, BTV6/net08, is closely related to live-attenuated vaccine for serotype 6 as determined by full genome sequencing. Here, we used this strain as backbone and exchanged segment 2 and 6, respectively Seg-2 (VP2) and Seg-6 (VP5), for those of BTV serotype 1 and 8 using reverse genetics. These so-called ‘serotyped’ vaccine viruses, as mono-serotype and multi-serotype vaccine, were compared for their protective capacity in sheep. In general, all vaccinated animals developed a neutralizing antibody response against their respective serotype. After challenge at three weeks post vaccination with cell-passaged, virulent BTV8/net07 (BTV8/net07/e1/bhkp3) the vaccinated animals showed nearly no clinical reaction. Even more, challenge virus could not be detected, and seroconversion or boostering after challenge was negligible. These data demonstrate that all sheep were protected from a challenge with BTV8/net07, since sheep of the control group showed viremia, seroconversion and clinical signs that are specific for Bluetongue. The high level of cross-protection is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3458051  PMID: 23049753
24.  Highly Virulent Leptospira borgpetersenii Strain Characterized in the Hamster Model 
A recent study by our group reported the isolation and partial serological and molecular characterization of four Leptospira borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum strains. Here, we reproduced experimental leptospirosis in golden Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) and carried out standardization of lethal dose 50% (LD50) of one of these strains (4E). Clinical disease features and histopathologic analyses of tissue lesions were also observed. As results, strain 4E induced lethality in the hamster model with inocula lower than 10 leptospires, and histopathological examination of animals showed typical lesions found in severe leptospirosis. Gross pathological findings were peculiar; animals that died early had more chance of presenting severe jaundice and less chance of presenting pulmonary hemorrhages (P < 0.01). L. borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum has had a considerable growth in human leptospirosis cases in recent years. This strain has now been thoroughly characterized and can be used in more studies, especially evaluations of vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC3144824  PMID: 21813846
25.  Subunit Approach to Evaluation of the Immune Protective Potential of Leptospiral Antigens ▿ 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2011;18(12):2026-2030.
Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonosis in the world. Current vaccines are based on whole-cell preparations that cause severe side effects and do not induce satisfactory immunity. In light of the leptospiral genome sequences recently made available, several studies aimed at identification of protective recombinant immunogens have been performed; however, few such immunogens have been identified. The aim of this study was to evaluate 27 recombinant antigens to determine their potential to induce an immune response protective against leptospirosis in the hamster model. Experiments were conducted with groups of female hamsters immunized with individual antigen preparations. Hamsters were then challenged with a lethal dose of Leptospira interrogans. Thirteen antigens induced protective immune responses; however, only recombinant proteins LIC10325 and LIC13059 induced significant protection against mortality. These results have important implications for the development of an efficacious recombinant subunit vaccine against leptospirosis.
PMCID: PMC3232701  PMID: 22030369

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