Title page for ETD etd-08132012-170802

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hu, Jianzhong
Author's Email Address hjz07@vt.edu
URN etd-08132012-170802
Title Development of subunit vaccines against porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV)
Degree PhD
Department Biological Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Zhang, Chenming Mike Committee Chair
Barone, Justin Robert Committee Member
LeRoith, Tanya Committee Member
Meng, Xiang-Jin Committee Member
  • protein purification
  • vaccine
  • PRRS
  • M protein
  • porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viru
Date of Defense 2012-08-06
Availability restricted
Since emerging in Europe and the US, PRRS has spread globally and become the most significant infectious disease currently devastating the swine industry. In the US alone, the economic losses caused by this disease amount to more than 560 million US dollars every year. Modified-live PRRSV vaccines (MLV) are the most effective option currently available for the control of the disease. MLVs can confer solid protection against homologous re-infection and have significant effects in reducing viral shedding. But the vaccine efficacy varies upon heterologous challenge. None of the current vaccines are able to completely prevent respiratory infection, transplacental transmission, as well as pig-to-pig transmission of the virus. More importantly, the intrinsic risk of MLV vaccine to revert to virulent virus under farm conditions poses a great safety concern. The unsatisfactory efficacy and safety of current PRRSV vaccines drives the continuous efforts of developing a new generation of vaccines.

The strategy we focus on for novel PRRSV vaccine development is subunit vaccine. The reasons for choosing this strategy are: 1) subunit vaccines only contain the immunogenic fragments of a pathogen. Administration of such pathogen fragments eliminates the risk of pathogens reverting back to their virulent form as in the case of modified live vaccines. 2) Subunit vaccines have advantages in terms of vaccine production since a well-defined pathogen fragment can more easily be produced consistently.

To achieve of our goal of developing safe and efficacious subunit vaccines against PRRSV, three projects were completed. First, a scalable process for purification of PRRSV particles from cell culture was developed. This process produced purified viral particles for ELISA and cell-based assays used in vaccine development. Second, a plant-made oral subunit vaccine against PRRSV was developed. Administration of the plant-made vaccine, the vaccinated animals produced virus-specific serum and intestine mucosal antibodies with neutralization activity, as well as cellular immune responses with a preference of virus-specific IFN-γ production. Since neutralization antibodies and virus-specific IFN-γ response are the crucial factors contributing to protection against PRRSV infection, the plant-made oral subunit vaccine strategy is an attractive strategy for developing a new generation of the vaccine to control PRRS disease. Third, a chimeric protein consisting of the ectodomains of viral M and GP5 proteins was expressed and purified. The protein product showed a single band on a silver-stained gel and contained an endotoxin level of less than 10 EU/mg protein. In addition, the purified protein showed expected bioactivities. It was antigenic, could bind to a cellular receptor for the virus (heparan sulfate), and could block virus infection of susceptible cells. Therefore, the chimeric protein is a promising subunit vaccine candidate against PRRSV.

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