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Recombinant Rinderpest Vaccines Expressing Membrane-Anchored Proteins as Genetic Markers: Evidence of Exclusion of Marker Protein from the Virus Envelope

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Agricultural Value Chains / Agri-Businesses
Anderson, J.; Baron, M.D.; Barrett, T.; Monaghan, P.; Rennie, L.F.; Walsh, E.P.
Institute for Animal Health, UK

Rinderpest virus (RPV) causes a severe disease of cattle resulting in serious economic losses in parts of the developing world. Effective control and elimination of this disease require a genetically marked rinderpest vaccine that allows serological differentiation between animals that have been vaccinated against rinderpest and those which have recovered from natural infection. We have constructed two modified cDNA clones of the vaccine strain RNA genome of the virus, with the coding sequence of either a receptor site mutant form of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) gene or a membrane-anchored form of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene (ANC-GFP), inserted as a potential genetic marker. Infectious recombinant virus was rescued in cell culture from both constructs. The RPVINS-HA and RPVANC-GFP viruses were designed to express either the HA or ANC-GFP protein on the surface of virus-infected cells with the aim of stimulating a strong humoral antibody response to the marker protein. In vitro studies showed that the marker proteins were expressed on the surface of virus-infected cells, although to different extents, but neither was incorporated into the envelope of the virus particles. RPVINS-HA- or RPVANC-GFP-vaccinated cattle produced normal levels of humoral anti-RPV antibodies and significant levels of anti-HA or anti-GFP antibodies, respectively. Both viruses were effective in stimulating protective immunity against RPV and antibody responses to the marker protein in all animals when tested in a cattle vaccination trial.