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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 Nov;11(6):1120-9.

Serological method using recombinant S2 protein to differentiate equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV)-infected and EIAV-vaccinated horses.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


We recently reported a highly protective attenuated live virus vaccine for equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) based on a proviral construct (EIAVUKDeltaS2) with a genetically engineered mutation in the viral S2 gene that eliminates expression of this accessory protein. While the EIAVUKDeltaS2 vaccine provides protection from detectable infection by experimental challenge with highly virulent virus, the potential for commercial application of this vaccine is complicated by the fact that horses inoculated with the EIAVUKDeltaS2 vaccine strain become seropositive in various reference diagnostic assays based on detection of antibodies to virion core or envelope proteins. To address this issue, we describe here the development and optimization of a new serologic EIAV diagnostic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect serum antibodies to the EIAV S2 protein that are produced in infected horses but not in horses inoculated with the EIAVUKDeltaS2 vaccine virus. The test S2 protein antigen was developed using the S2 gene sequence from the EIAVUK strain of virus and a series of modifications to facilitate production and purification of the diagnostic antigen, designated HS2G. Using this HS2G as antigen, we describe the development of an affinity ELISA that provides a sensitive and specific detection of S2-specific serum antibodies in experimentally and field-infected horses (22 of 24), without detectable reactivity with immune serum from uninfected (12 of 12) or vaccinated (29 of 29) horses. These data indicate that the S2-based diagnostic ELISA has the potential to accurately differentiate horses infected with EIAV from horses inoculated with an attenuated EIAV vaccine strain with a mutant S2 gene.

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