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Am J Vet Res. 1995 Jul;56(7):870-4.

Abortion in heifers inoculated with a thymidine kinase-negative recombinant of bovine herpesvirus 1.

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USDA, National Animal Disease Center, Ames, IA 50010, USA.


The Copper isolate of bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1) was used to produce a thymidine kinase-negative (TK-) recombinant by insertion of a beta-galactosidase (bgal) expression cassette into the TK coding region. The recombinant virus (TK- bgal+) was tested for abortifacient activity in cattle by inoculation of 5 pregnant heifers at 25 to 29 weeks gestation. Five additional heifers were inoculated with the Cooper TK-positive (TK+) virus to serve as controls. After inoculation, both groups of heifers developed similar febrile responses and neutralizing antibody titers. Virus was isolated from blood of all heifers during the first postinoculation (PI) week, and isolation frequencies were similar for both groups. In contrast, whereas virus was isolated from many of the nasal and vaginal swab specimens of heifers inoculated with TK+ virus, only rare virus isolations were made from the heifers given TK- bgal+ virus. All heifers inoculated with TK+ virus aborted between PI days 19 and 35. The finding of characteristic microscopic lesions and viral antigen in fetal tissues indicated that the abortions were caused by BHV-1 infection. Virus was isolated from 3 fetuses, and all isolates were TK+ virus. Two heifers inoculated with TK- bgal+ virus aborted at PI days 25 and 39. Fetal tissues had typical BHV-1 microscopic lesions and viral antigen. Virus was isolated from blood of both fetuses, and the isolates were TK- bgal+. Results of this study indicate that inactivation of the TK gene reduces, but does not eliminate, the abortifacient activity of BHV-1.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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