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Acta Veterinaria-Beograd 2023, 73 (1), 13-21 UDK: 578.8:577.213.3 615.371 Research article DOI: 10.2478/acve-2023-0002 DESIGN OF A REPLICATIVE-COMPETENT MGF110 (1L-5-6L) DELETED AFRICAN SWINE FEVER VIRUS (GENOTYPE II) 1 1,2,3 1 Mariia V. NEFEDEVA *, Alexander S. MALOGOLOVKIN , Ilya A. TITOV 1 2 Federal Research Center for Virology and Microbiology, Volginsky, Russia; Sirius University of Science and Technology, Sochi, Russia; Sechenov First Moscow State Medical Univesity, Moscow, Russia (Received 09 November 2022, Accepted 24 February 2023) Viral individual genes functions and their role in the interaction with the host cells remain the main area in the study of African swine fever virus (ASFV) biology. The extreme heterogeneity of the ASFV makes it difﬁ cult to develop vaccines against this pathogen. In this work, we generated the ASFV deletion mutant virus Volgograd/D(1L-5-6L) with the six genes deletion in multigenic family 110 (MGF110) (1L-5-6L) and studied its characteristics in vitro. The homologous recombination method was used for the deletion in ASFV parental strain Volgograd/14с. A series of six passages was carried out in the COS-1 cell culture using the limiting dilution method. The recombinant strain Volgograd/D(1L-5-6L) MGF110 was selected by the plaque formation method. Performed study of viral replication showed no changes in viral growth kinetics in comparison with the parental strain. The ASFV Volgograd/D(1L-5-6L) MGF110 is a great tool available to test the importance of MGF110 for virus virulence and vaccine development. Keywords: African swine fever virus, multigenic family 110, recombinant virus, COS-1 cell culture. INTRODUCTION African swine fever (ASF) is a viral hemorrhagic disease with exceptionally high mortality in domestic pigs and wild boars . Despite the measures taken, ASF continues to spread across borders, affecting many European countries, China and other Asian countries in 2018 . In this regard, studies aimed at developing a vaccine against this dangerous disease have intensiﬁ ed. Researchers use various approaches to vaccine development, such as immunization with recombinant proteins [3-5], DNA vaccines , or vector vaccines [7,8]. However, so far, these approaches have not protected animals from infection. The only method that made it possible to obtain some positive results, expressed in the complete or partial protection of animals under experimental conditions from infection with a homologous virus strain, is the creation *Corresponding author: e-mail: email@example.com 13 Acta Veterinaria-Beograd 2023, 73 (1), 13-21 of deletion mutants [9-12]. Two papers describing the creation of a vaccine candidate by this method have gained wide popularity. Chen et al., 2020 describes the creation and testing of an artiﬁ cially attenuated strain with a deletion of seven genes based on the Chinese strain “HLJ/18” . At the same time, Borca et al., 2020 deleted only one I177L gene, which according to them led to the attenuation of the original virus strain, “Georgia/2007” . Vaccine trials on large livestock, carried out in a number of farms in Vietnam are pending and the results will demonstrate the potential and safety of deployed vaccine . This fact may indicate the gap of scientiﬁ c knowledge about the functions of certain genes in the ASFV genome, which is the reason for the difﬁ culties in creating a universal and effective vaccine against this disease. The ASFV high genetic diversity is determined by the right (5’) and left (3’) variable regions of the genome, represented by multigene families [16-18]. One of the representatives of multigene families is MGF110, which is located at the 5’ terminal region of the ASFV genome. Despite active research in determining certain genes functionality, as well as identifying potential ASFV virulence genes, MGF110 is still insufﬁ ciently studied. At the same time, there is evidence of its possible role in virus attenuation. As an example, in a naturally attenuated ASFV strain isolated in 2014 in Estonia, the absence of some members of MGF110 was demonstrated [19,20]. Thus, in order to study the role of this multigene family in the processes of virus pathogenesis and attenuation, we aimed to develop a recombinant strain with a large deletion of MGF110 (1L-5-6L) genes. MATERIALS AND METHODS Virus and cells The virulent ASFV Volgograd/14c strain (genotype II, serogroup 8) was obtained from the Federal Research Center for Virology and Microbiology, Vladimir region, Russia (FRCVM) strain collection. COS-1 cells were used to cultivate the recombinant virus and determine its characteristics (grown in DMEM/F-12 with 5% fetal bovine serum “Gibco”, USA; 37 C, 5% CO ). Porcine blood derived macrophages were prepared by the method of cell separation in a Ficoll density gradient and grown in TM RPMI Medium 1640 (1x) with GlutaMAX -I and 10% FBS (“Gibco”, USA) and 30% of autologous porcine plasma, then incubated at 37 C° with 5% CO . Experimental study The ASFV Volgograd/14c strain DNA was used as a matrix for ampliﬁ cation. For deletion of six MGF110 (1L-5-6L) genes, speciﬁ c oligonucleotide primers were designed. Recombination arms (744 bp left and 714 bp right) as well as the EGFP reporter gene under the control of the p72 promoter, was synthesized by ampliﬁ cation of overlapping fragments (Table 1). 14 Nefedeva et al.: Design of a replicative-competent MGF110 (1L-5-6L) deleted African swine fever virus (genotype II) Table 1. Oligonucleotides for 1L-5-6L MGF110 genes deletion Position on the Product GC, Tm, Title Sequence 5’- 3’ ASFV genome length % C Georgia_2007/1 LF_1_fwd ggcgaattgggcccgacgtcgca 6260 55.3 84.1 tgtttcacttgtctcaagctcttc 743 LF_1L_rev ctccggcgacccgtgaaaatgatttta 7003 41.9 77.0 ttagacatgattgttg RF_6L_fwd ctgtacaagtaatgctacggctggctgaacag 10108 50.0 73.8 RF_6L_rev acgcgttgggagctctcccatatggataaa 10821 49.1 70.6 gagtagagcgttagctactactg GFP_1L_6L_fwd aaatcattttcacgggtcgccggaggaaaagtc 6991-7003 956 48.5 73.9 55.6 78.9 GFP_1L_6L_rev gccagccgtagcattacttgtacagctcgtccatgc 10108 – 10120 The oligonucleotides were designed using Oligo 6.0 program (http://oligo.net/ downloads.html). LongAmpTaq 2X Master Mix kit («NEB», USA) was used to amplify PCR products. The resulting PCR products were ampliﬁ ed by overlapping fragments and were used for cell transfection. The size of the deletion is 3103 bp. For recombinant virus selection and screening, 96-well plates were infected with 10- fold dilutions of the cell lysate containing the Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 recombinant virus. Plates were screened for 5-6 days. As a result, 6 passages were performed in the COS-1 cells. After 2 passages, the Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 recombinant virus titer was 1.60 ± 0.10 lg TCID /ml, after 4 passages – 4.28 ± 0.15 lg TCID /ml. By the 6th passage, the 50 50 recombinant virus titer reached 4.94 ± 0.13 lg TCID /ml. The performed sequencing analysis allows us to conclude that there are no nucleotide substitutions and conﬁ rms the presence of the speciﬁ c EGFP marker gene with the p72 promoter. Homologous recombination was carried out by COS-1 cells infecting (kidney of the African green monkey) in 6 well plates at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) equal to 0.3 with wild-type ASFV Volgograd/14c for 1 hour and subsequent cells transfection with 2.0 μg of PCR products. Single cells expressing eGFP were observed on the second to third days after infection-transfection under ZOE Fluorescent Cell Imager (“Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.”). Transfection of COS-1 cells was perfor med using Lipofectamine 3000 («Ther moFisher», USA) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For the Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 virus selection, the limiting dilutions method and analysis of ﬂ uorescent plaques were used. Nucleotide sequencing was performed on the Genetic Analyzer 3130 automatic sequencer («Applied Biosystems», USA). The absence of the parental type in Δ1L-5- 6L-MGF110 recombinant was conﬁ rmed by PCR followed by 1.5% electrophoresis. In order to determine the ASFV Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 titer, the porcine blood derived macrophages and COS-1 cells were used. Virus DNA was extracted using DNA-sorb-B 15 Acta Veterinaria-Beograd 2023, 73 (1), 13-21 kit («InterLabService», Russia). Real-time quantitative PCR was performed in Real- time CFX96 Touch ampliﬁ er («Bio-Rad Laboratories», USA), with oligonucleotide primers complementary to the ASFVB646L gene . To determine the effect of gene deletion on the virus replication kinetics, COS-1 cells were infected with the ASFV Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 recombinant virus and the original Volgograd/14c with a multiplicity of infection of 0.1 and 1.0 TCID /cell. The experiment was carried out in 2 replicates. Samples aliquots were collected within 5 days. RESULTS Construction of ASFV ∆1L-5-6L-MGF110 deletion mutant Presence of speciﬁ c 1L-5-6L-MGF110 gene deletion was conﬁ rmed by PCR. After the ampliﬁ cation of DNA samples, isolated from the parental strain and the strain with deletion, speciﬁ c amplicons with a length of 4561b.p. and 2394 b.p., respectively, were detected. This fact indicates the absence of the parental virus type in the Δ1L-5- 6L-MGF110 recombinant (data not presented). Infectious activity of ∆1L-5-6L-MGF110 Determination of the ASFV Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 recombinant infectious activity was carried out in 96-well microplates with the porcine blood derived macrophages and COS-1 cells. The titration results showed that the ASFV Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 virus infectious activity in the porcine blood derived macrophages is 7.25 ± 0.28 lg HAU / ml and 7.00 ± 0.21 lg TCID /ml in COS-1 cells. Thus, it can be concluded that the deletion of genes 1L-5-6L of the MGF110 multigene family does not affect viral replication in vitro. Growth characteristics of constructed ASFV ∆MGF110 deletion mutant According to the results, at 0.1 TCID50/cell multiplicity of infection, a growth curve was observed for both recombinant and original viruses, which reached the maximum copy number on 4-5 days after infection in COS-1 cell culture. At 1.0 TCID50/cell Figure 1. Quantiﬁ cation of the ASFV growth characteristics ASFV Δ1L-5-6L-MGF110 (square) and Volgograd/14c (circle) in COS-1 cell culture at a multiplicity of infection of 0.1 (А) and 1.0 (В) TCID /cell. 16 Nefedeva et al.: Design of a replicative-competent MGF110 (1L-5-6L) deleted African swine fever virus (genotype II) multiplicity of infection, a logistic growth curve is traced in infected cells and the increase of ﬂ uorescent foci within 5 days is also noted (Figure 1). Thus, the ASF ΔMGF110 replication kinetics were deter mined at different multiplicities of infection in the COS-1 cell culture. DISCUSSION This work is devoted to the deletion of large MGF 110 fragment of the African swine fever virus and its implication on virus growth. Titers in primary and transplanted cell cultures, the absence of the original parental type of virus, and growth characteristics were determined. The results of the study will help understand of the MGF110 role in the ASFV pathogenesis. Scientists have drawn attention to the multigenic family 110 of the African swine fever virus genome. A large amount of new data on the structural and functional organization of this multigenic family is presented in the work of Zhu et al., 2021. Thus, using the phylogenetic analysis method on 65 full length ASFV genomes, which are available in Genbank, it was possible to classify MGF 110 sequences in 8 groups (MGF-110A - MGF-110I). At the same time, MGF 100 and MGF 110 lack any similarity in nucleotide sequences with other multigene families present in the virus genome. Moreover, it has been predicted that members of MGF 110 may encode one or more transmembrane helices (6 groups of MGF110). They can also encode signal peptides. Most of the proteins encoded by MGF110 are located on the cell membrane or in the intercellular space . There is evidence that proteins encoded by the 110 multigene family affect the structure and functions of the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum [ER], involving it in the operation of viral factories and virion assembly. Also, due to a change in the endoplasmic reticulum with the participation of MGF110 proteins, regulation of the transfer of immunoregulatory or anticoagulant proteins to the surface of mononuclear phagocytic cells can be carried out. All these intended functions can inﬂ uence the determination of the range of hosts and virulence . However, despite all the data obtained, the functions performed by these proteins during the infectious cycle remain to be elucidated. Many research, aimed at studying the functions of MGF 110 by creating deletion viruses. Thus, in the work of Ramirez-Medina et al., 2021 a deletion mutant that lacks the 1L gene, which is a member of MGF110, was studied . It was found that this gene is not necessary for virus replication and does not affect its growth characteristics and attenuation. In another study on the deletion ASFVMGF110 5L- 6L, similar results were obtained, indicating the absence of any effect from the deletion on virus replication and virulence. It was also showed, that such a deletion can serve as a DIVA marker for a potential vaccine, since a protein is expressed from the MGF110 5-6L genes, which can be detected by ELISA . The results of our work do not contradict the data obtained by Ramirez-Medina et al., 2021. Moreover, the absence 17 Acta Veterinaria-Beograd 2023, 73 (1), 13-21 of changes in the growth characteristics and replication of the virus in vitro that we observed indicate that not only 1L, but a much larger number of MGF110 members are not required for replication in cell culture. However, data on the effect of deletion of 1L-5-6L members on virulence remains to be elucidated in an in vivo experiment. On the other hand, according to Li et al., 2021 deletion of the 9L gene in MGF 110 leads to signiﬁ cant changes in the reproduction and virulence of the virus . As a result of the deletion, a decrease in virus replication was observed in the primary culture of porcine macrophages. In an in vivo experiment, low-dose infection of sensitive animals showed no clinical picture, low viremia, and a strong immune response . This fact may indicate a signiﬁ cant role of the 9L gene in determining the ASFV properties. This gene may be a potential target in the development of vaccine candidates based on recombinant viruses. In our study, the 9L gene was not affected, but it seems a promising potential target for further research. Based on the obtained results, it can be concluded that there is no signiﬁ cant effect of the 1L-5-6L genes included in MGF 110 on virus replication and attenuation. However, to conﬁ rm the study results, it is necessary to conduct an experiment in vivo, which will allow to having ﬁ nal conclusions about the effect of the studied genes on the virus properties. CONCLUSIONS In this study, we successfully obtained and studied the growth characteristics of Volgograd/D(1L-5-6L) MGF110 recombinant virus with deletion 1L-5-6L members of multigenic family 110 from ASFV strain (genotype II, serogroup 8). Thus, it was demonstrated that the deletion of 1L-5-6L members of the multigene family 110 had no effect on virus replication in porcine macrophages and COS-1 cells. The results of this study may provide an opportunity to evaluate the role of MGF110 in immune evasion for the development of effective vaccines. Acknowledgements This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project № 22-24-00552. 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Virol Sin 2021,36(2):187– 20 Nefedeva et al.: Design of a replicative-competent MGF110 (1L-5-6L) deleted African swine fever virus (genotype II) DIZAJN REPLIKATIVNE KOMPONENTE SA MGF110 (1L-5-6L) DELECIJOM VIRUSA AFRIČKE KUGE SVINJA (GENOTIP II) Mariia V. NEFEDEVA, Alexander S. MALOGOLOVKIN, Ilya A. TITOV Funkcionisanje i uloga svakog virusnog gena u interakcijama sa ćelijama domaćina predstavljaju osnovno polje istraživanja biologije virusa, posebno uzročnika afričke kuge svinja (ASFV). Ekstremna heterogenost ASFV otežava razvoj vakcina protiv ovog uzročnika. U ovom radu, stvoren je mutant ASF Lolgograd/D(1L-5-6L) virus sa delecijom šest gena multigenetske familije 11 (MGF110) pri čemu je obavljeno ispitivanje njegovih karakteristika, in vitro. U cilju delecije parentalnog ASFV Vol- gograd/14c, korišćen je homologi rekombinantni metod. Virus je pasiran šest puta u COS-1 ćelijskoj liniji koristeći metod ograničenog razblaživanja. Selekcija rekombinan- tnog Volgograd/D(1L-5-6L) MGF110 virusa je obavljena metodom plakova. Rezultati obavljenih studija virusne replikacije ne pokazuju nikakve izmene u kinetici rasta, a u poređenju sa parentalnim sojem. Zaključeno je da ASFV Volgograd/D(1L-5-6L) MGF110 predstavlja alat za ispitivanje značaja MGF110 kako za virulenciju virusa tako i za razvoj vakcina.
Acta veterinaria – de Gruyter
Published: Mar 1, 2023
Keywords: African swine fever virus; multigenic family 110; recombinant virus; COS-1 cell culture
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