Recently, we reported that African swine fever virus (ASFV) multigene family (MGF) 360 and 530 genes are significant swine macrophage host range determinants that function by promoting infected-cell survival. To examine the function of these genes in ASFV's arthropod host, Ornithodoros porcinus porcinus, an MGF360/530 gene deletion mutant (Pr4Δ35) was constructed from an ASFV isolate of tick origin, Pr4. Pr4Δ35 exhibited a significant growth defect in ticks. The deletion of six MGF360 and two MGF530 genes from Pr4 markedly reduced viral replication in infected ticks 100- to 1,000-fold. To define the minimal set of MGF360/530 genes required for tick host range, additional gene deletion mutants lacking individual or multiple MGF genes were constructed. The deletion mutant Pr4Δ3-C2, which lacked three MGF360 genes (3HL, 311, and 3LL), exhibited reduced viral growth in ticks. Pr4Δ3-C2 virus titers in ticks were significantly reduced 100- to 1,000-fold compared to control values at various times postinfection. In contrast to the parental virus, with which high levels of virus replication were observed in the tissues of infected adults, Pr4Δ3-C2 replication was not detected in the midgut, hemolymph, salivary gland, coxal gland, or reproductive organs at 15 weeks postinfection. These data indicate that ASFV MGF360 genes are significant tick host range determinants and that they are required for efficient virus replication and generalization of infection. The impaired virus replication of Pr4Δ3-C2 in the tick midgut likely accounts for the absence of the generalized infection that is necessary for the natural transmission of virus from ticks to pigs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science