Morphogenesis of salmonid gill poxvirus associated with proliferative gill disease in farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Norway
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- Nylund, A., Watanabe, K., Nylund, S. et al. Arch Virol (2008) 153: 1299. doi:10.1007/s00705-008-0117-7
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Proliferative gill disease (PGD) is an emerging problem in Norwegian culture of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Parasites (Ichthyobodo spp.) and bacteria (Flexibacter/Flavobacterium) may cause PGD, but for most cases of PGD in farmed salmon in Norway, no specific pathogen has been identified as the causative agent. However, Neoparamoeba sp. and several bacteria and viruses have been associated with this disease. In the spring of 2006, a new poxvirus, salmon gill poxvirus (SGPV), was discovered on the gills of salmon suffering from PGD in fresh water in northern Norway. Later the same year, this virus was also found on gills of salmon at two marine sites in western Norway. All farms suffered high losses associated with the presence of this virus. In this study, we describe the entry and morphogenesis of the SGP virus in epithelial gill cells from Atlantic salmon. Intracellular mature virions (IMVs) are the only infective particles that seem to be produced. These are spread by cell lysis and by “budding” of virus packages, containing more that 100 IMVs, from the apical surface of infected cells. Entry of the IMVs appears to occur by attachment to microridges on the cell surface and fusion of the viral and cell membranes, delivering the cores into the cytoplasm. The morphogenesis starts with the emergence of crescents in viroplasm foci in perinuclear areas of infected cells. These crescents consist of two tightly apposed unit membranes (each 5 nm thick) that seem to be derived from membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum. The crescents develop into spheres, immature virions (IVs), that are 350 nm in diameter and surrounded by two unit membranes. The maturation of the IVs occurs by condensation of the core material and a change from spherical to boat-shaped particles, intracellular mature virions (IMVs), that are about 300 nm long. Hence, the IMVs from the SGP virus have a different morphology compared to other vertebrate poxviruses that are members of the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae, and they are more similar to members of subfamily Entomopoxvirinae, genus Alphaentomopoxvirus. However, it is premature to make a taxonomic assignment until the genome of the SGP virus has been sequenced, but morphogenesis clearly shows that this virus is a member of family Poxviridae.