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Vaccine. 2008 Jul 4;26(29-30):3580-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 May 22.

Characterization of influenza virus variants with different sizes of the non-structural (NS) genes and their potential as a live influenza vaccine in poultry.

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Food Animal Health Research Program, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691, United States.


From a stock of A/turkey/Oregon/71-delNS1 (H7N3) virus, which has a 10 nucleotide deletion in the coding region of the NS1 gene, we found that several variants with different sizes of NS genes could be produced by passaging the virus in 10- and 14-day-old embryonating chicken eggs (ECE), but not in 7-day-old ECE or Vero cells. We were able to rescue the reassortant virus that has different sizes of the NS genes and confirmed that those NS genes are genetically stable. By conducting in vivo studies in 2-week-old chickens, we found two plaque purified variants (D-del pc3 and pc4) which can be used as a potential live-attenuated vaccine. The variants were highly attenuated in chickens and did not transmit the virus from infected chickens to uninoculated cage mates. At the same time, the variants induced relatively high antibody titers which conferred good protection against a high dose heterologous virus challenge. Our study indicates that naturally selected NS1 deletion variants might be useful in the development of live-attenuated influenza vaccines in poultry. Furthermore, deletion in the NS1 protein can be potentially useful as a negative marker for a differentiating infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) approach.

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