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Virus Res. 2013 May;173(2):270-9. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2013.02.007. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Attenuation of porcine circovirus type-2b by replacement with the Rep gene of porcine circovirus type-1.

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Key Laboratory of Animal Diseases Diagnostic and Immunology, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China.


Porcine circovirus type-2 (PCV2) is the primary causative agent of porcine circovirus-associated diseases and has 4 main ORFs, ORF1 (Rep gene), ORF2 (Cap gene), ORF3 within ORF1, and ORF4, which is overlapped with ORF3, and 1 origin (Ori) of replication located between ORF1 and ORF2. The chimeric PCV1-2, containing the PCV2 capsid, PCV1 rep, and Ori genes, is attenuated in pigs. In order to verify the role of the Rep gene or Ori in the virulence of PCV2, 3 chimeric viruses [PCV2b-Ori1 (PCV1 Ori gene cloned into the backbone of PCV2b), PCV2b-rep1 (PCV1 Rep gene cloned into the backbone of PCV2b), and PCV2b-rep1-Ori1 (PCV1 Rep and Ori genes cloned into the backbone of PCV2b)] and 2 wild-type recombinant PCV2b and PCV1 were constructed and identified. The experimental results in piglets showed that clinical symptoms, viremia, viral load, lesions in lymphoid and lung tissues, and IL-10 and TNF-α expression levels in PBMCs in the PCV2b-rep1-Ori1 and PCV2b-rep1 groups were significantly decreased, compared to PCV2-infected piglets. Meanwhile, histological lesions of lymphoid and lung tissues, viral loads in lymphoid tissues, viremia, and TNF-α expression in PBMCs were not significantly different between groups PCV2b-Ori1 and PCV2b, suggesting that the Rep gene (ORF1) likely contributes to viral pathogenicity in vivo.

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