Generation of a recombinant viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) expressing olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus) interferon-γ and its effects on type I interferon response and virulence

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Rhabdoviruses including viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) are highly susceptible to type I interferon (IFN) responses, and IFN-γ that is belonging to the type II IFN has been known to enhance type I IFN responses in mammals. In this study, we generated a recombinant VHSV that can express olive flounder IFN-γ (rVHSV-A-IFNγ) using reverse genetics technology, and analyzed the effect of rVHSV-A-IFNγ infection on type I IFN response in Epithelioma papulosum cyprini (EPC) cells. Furthermore, the virulence of rVHSV-A-IFNγ was evaluated by infection to olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus). Using a recombinant VHSV full genome vector in which the olive flounder IFN-γ ORF was inserted between N and P genes, rVHSV-A-IFNγ was successfully rescued, and the recombinant virus was grown well in EPC cells. On the other hand, the growth of rVHSV-A-IFNγ rescued from EPC cells was severely retarded when infected into hirame natural embryo (HINAE) cells that were originated from olive flounder. These results indicate that the EPC cell's IFN-γ receptor could not bind to olive flounder IFN-γ, but the species-specific binding of IFN-γ in HINAE cells induced antiviral responses. The expression of Mx1 gene in EPC cells infected with rVHSV-A-IFNγ was not greatly different from cells infected with rVHSV-Arfp (a recombinant VHSV harboring red fluorescent protein gene between N and P genes of the genome), however, in HINAE cells, rVHSV-A-IFNγ infection induced distinctively higher Mx1 gene expression compared to other recombinant viruses. These results suggest that olive flounder IFN-γ produced from rVHSV-A-IFNγ effectively enhanced type I IFN response in HINAE cells. In the present study, the lowest mortality of olive flounder fingerlings was recorded in the group of fish challenged with rVHSV-A-IFNγ, suggesting that the recombinant VHSV was attenuated by production of IFN-γ by itself. However, although rVHSV-A-IFNγ induced significantly lower mortality, the mortality still reached to 40%. Therefore, to be safely used in the aquaculture farms as prophylactic vaccines or immunostmulators, further manipulations that can guarantee safety are needed.

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