, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 672-683
Date: 09 Oct 2010

A Reverse Genetics System for the Great Lakes Strain of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus: the NV Gene is Required for Pathogenicity

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Abstract

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV), belonging to the genus Novirhabdovirus in the family of Rhabdoviridae, causes a highly contagious disease of fresh and saltwater fish worldwide. Recently, a novel genotype of VHSV, designated IVb, has invaded the Great Lakes in North America, causing large-scale epidemics in wild fish. An efficient reverse genetics system was developed to generate a recombinant VHSV of genotype IVb from cloned cDNA. The recombinant VHSV (rVHSV) was comparable to the parental wild-type strain both in vitro and in vivo, causing high mortality in yellow perch (Perca flavescens). A modified recombinant VHSV was generated in which the NV gene was substituted with an enhanced green fluorescent protein gene (rVHSV-ΔNV-EGFP), and another recombinant was made by inserting the EGFP gene into the full-length viral clone between the P and M genes (rVHSV-EGFP). The in vitro replication kinetics of rVHSV-EGFP was similar to rVHSV; however, the rVHSV-ΔNV-EGFP grew 2 logs lower. In yellow perch challenges, wtVHSV and rVHSV induced 82–100% cumulative per cent mortality (CPM), respectively, whereas rVHSV-EGFP produced 62% CPM and rVHSV-ΔNV-EGFP caused only 15% CPM. No reversion of mutation was detected in the recovered viruses and the recombinant viruses stably maintained the foreign gene after several passages. These results indicate that the NV gene of VHSV is not essential for viral replication in vitro and in vivo, but it plays an important role in viral replication efficiency and pathogenicity. This system will facilitate studies of VHSV replication, virulence, and production of viral vectored vaccines.