The genus Cyprinivirus consists of a growing list of phylogenetically related viruses, some of which cause severe economic losses to the aquaculture industry. The archetypal member, cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3) causes mass mortalities worldwide in koi and common carp. A CyHV-3 mutant was described previously that is attenuated in vivo by a deletion affecting two genes (ORF56 and ORF57). The relative contributions of ORF56 and ORF57 to the safety and efficacy profile of this vaccine candidate have now been assessed by analysing viruses individually deleted for ORF56 or ORF57. Inoculation of these viruses into carp demonstrated that the absence of ORF56 did not affect virulence, whereas the absence of ORF57 led to an attenuation comparable to, though slightly less than, that of the doubly deleted virus. To demonstrate further the role of ORF57 as a key virulence factor, a mutant retaining the ORF57 region but unable to express the ORF57 protein was produced by inserting multiple in-frame stop codons into the coding region. Analysis of this virus in vivo revealed a safety and efficacy profile comparable to that of the doubly deleted virus. These findings show that ORF57 encodes an essential CyHV-3 virulence factor. They also indicate that ORF57 orthologues in other cypriniviruses may offer promising targets for the rational design of attenuated recombinant vaccines.
Keywords: Alloherpesvirus; Attenuated vaccine; Cyprinid herpesvirus 3; Cyprinivirus; Herpesvirus; Koi herpesvirus.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.