Generation and functional evaluation of a DNA vaccine co-expressing Cyprinid herpesvirus-3 envelope protein and carp interleukin-1 beta

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Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (CyHV-3) infection in carp causes a fatal and highly contagious disease that results in huge economic losses in common and koi carp aquaculture worldwide. Thus the development of an effective vaccine to protect carp stocks against the CyHV3 virus is imperative. In this study, we immunized common carps with a DNA vaccine consisting of a plasmid that co-expresses the CyHV-3 envelope protein ORF25 and the carp IL-1β gene in order to evaluate the adjuvant potential of IL-1β. Our result shows that antibodies specific to ORF25 can be detected as early as one week after intramuscular injection of the DNA vaccine at low dosage. Moreover, the co-expression of IL-1β can enhance the potency of the vaccine, as demonstrated by a higher antibody level after the third immunizations. Importantly, the DNA vaccine reduced mortality in carps when they were immunized prior to a CyHV-3 challenge, as compared to negative control groups. However, despite being able to induce higher neutralizing antibody titres, the co-expression of IL-1β in the DNA vaccine did not significantly improve the overall survival of immunized fish following virus challenge. Furthermore, the DNA vaccine can protect carps from tissue damage and histopathological alteration caused by viral infection. These strongly suggests that the vaccine can efficiently elicit protective immunity against CyHV-3 infection. In conclusion, the DNA vaccine formulated with the pIRES-ORF25-IL-1β DNA construct can protect carp against CyHV-3 infection and has potential applicability in the aquaculture industry.

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