Protective immunity of grass carp induced by DNA vaccine encoding capsid protein gene (vp7) of grass carp reovirus using bacterial ghost as delivery vehicles

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Grass carp reovirus (GCRV) is one of the most pathogenic aquareovirus and can cause lethal hemorrhagic disease in grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella). However, management of GCRV infection remains a challenge. Therefore, it is necessary to find effective means for the control of its infection. The uses of bacterial ghost (BG, non-living bacteria) as carriers for DNA delivery have received considerable attentions in veterinary and human vaccines studies. Nevertheless, there is still no report about intramuscular administration of bacterial ghost-based DNA vaccines in fish. In the current study, a novel vaccine based on Escherichia coli DH5α bacterial ghost (DH5α-BG), delivering a major capsid protein gene (vp7) of grass carp reovirus encoded DNA vaccine was developed to enhance the efficacy of a vp7 DNA vaccine against GCRV in grass carp. The grass carp was injected intramuscularly by different treatments -i) naked pcDNA-vp7 (containing plasmid 1, 2.5 and 5 μg, respectively), ii) DH5α-BG/pcDNA-vp7 (containing plasmid 1, 2.5 and 5 μg, respectively) and iii) naked pcDNA, DH5α-BG or phosphate buffered saline. The immune responses and disease resistance of grass carp were assessed in different groups, and results indicated that the antibody levels, serum total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, acid phosphatase (ACP) activity and alkaline phosphatase (AKP) activity and immune-related genes were significantly enhanced in fish immunized with DH5α-BG/pcDNA-vp7 vaccine (DNA dose ranged from 2.5 to 5 μg). In addition, the relative percentage survival were significantly enhanced in fish immunized with DH5α-BG/pcDNA-vp7 vaccine and the relative percentage survival reached to 90% in DH5α-BG/pcDNA-vp7 group than that of naked pcDNA-vp7 (42.22%) at the highest DNA dose (5 μg) after 14 days of post infection. Moreover, the level of pcDNA-vp7 plasmid was higher in DH5α-BG/pcDNA-vp7 groups than naked pcDNA-vp7 groups in muscle and kidneys tissues after 21 days. Overall, those results suggested that DH5α bacterial ghost based DNA vaccine might be used as a promising vaccine for aquatic animals to fight against GCRV infection.

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