The African swine fever virus thymidine kinase gene is required for efficient replication in swine macrophages and for virulence in swine

D. M. Moore, L. Zsak, J. G. Nellan, Z. Lu, D. L. Rock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

African swine fever virus (ASFV) replicates in the cytoplasm of infected cells and contains genes encoding a number of enzymes needed for DNA synthesis, including a thymidine kinase (TK) gene. Recombinant TK gene deletion viruses were produced by using two highly pathogenic isolates of ASFV through homologous recombination with an ASFV p72 promoter-β- glucuronidase indicator cassette (p72GUS) flanked by ASFV sequences targeting the TK region. Attempts to isolate double-crossover TK gene deletion mutants on swine macrophages failed, suggesting a growth deficiency of TK- ASFV on macrophages. Two pathogenic ASFV isolates, ASFV Malawi and ASFV Haiti, partially adapted to Vero cells, were used successfully to construct TK deletion viruses on Vero cells. The selected viruses grew well on Vero cells, but both mutants exhibited a growth defect on swine macrophages at low multiplicities of infection (MOI), yielding 0.1 to 1.0% of wild-type levels. At high MOI, the macrophage growth defect was not apparent. The Malawi TK deletion mutant showed reduced virulence for swine, producing transient fevers, lower viremia titers, and reduced mortality. In contrast, 100% mortality was observed for swine inoculated with the TK+ revertant virus. Swine surviving TK- ASFV infection remained free of clinical signs of African swine fever following subsequent challenge with the parental pathogenic ASFV. The data indicate that the TK gene of ASFV is important for growth in swine macrophages in vitro and is a virus virulence factor in swine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10310-10315
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of virology
Volume72
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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