Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV), a fish rhabdovirus, infects several marine and freshwater fish species. There are many strains of VHSV that affect different fish, but some strains of one genetic subgroup have gained high virulence in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). To define the genetic basis of high virulence in trout, we used reverse genetics to create chimeric VHSVs in which viral nucleoprotein (N), P (phosphoprotein), or M (matrix protein) genes, or the N and P genes, were exchanged between a trout-virulent European VHSV strain (DK-3592B) and a trout-avirulent North American VHSV strain (MI03). Testing of the chimeric recombinant VHSV (rVHSV) by intraperitoneal injection in juvenile rainbow trout showed that exchanges of the viral P or M genes had no effect on the trout virulence phenotype of either parental strain. However, reciprocal exchanges of the viral N gene resulted in a partial gain of function in the chimeric trout-avirulent strain (22% mortality) and complete loss of virulence for the chimeric trout-virulent strain (2% mortality). Reciprocal exchanges of both the N and P genes together resulted in complete gain of function in the chimeric avirulent strain (82% mortality), again with complete loss of virulence in the chimeric trout-virulent strain (0% mortality). Thus, the VHSV N gene contains an essential determinant of trout virulence that is strongly enhanced by the viral P gene. We hypothesize that the host-specific virulence mechanism may involve increased efficiency of the viral polymerase complex when the N and P proteins have adapted to more efficient interaction with a host component from rainbow trout.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||The nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein are major determinants of the virulence of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in rainbow trout|
|Series title||Journal of Virology|
|Publisher||American Society for Microbiology|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Fisheries Research Center|