Electrical technician

An electrical technician opening has arisen at The Pirbright Institute. This is an exciting opportunity for anyone who is interested in playing a part in the institute, supporting scientific research to understand, predict, detect and respond to viral disease outbreaks.

Mechanical technician

An mechanical technician opening has arisen at The Pirbright Institute. This is an exciting opportunity for anyone who is interested in playing a part in the institute, supporting scientific research to understand, predict, detect and respond to viral disease outbreaks. The post will involve carrying out planned preventative maintenance (PPM) and reactive maintenance duties at the institute to assist and enable scientists to study viruses of livestock that are endemic and exotic to the UK, including zoonotic viruses, to protect animal and human health.

Zhou J, Zhao G-L, Wang X-M, Du X-S, Su S, Li C-G, Nair V, Yao Y-X, Cheng Z-Q (2018)

Synergistic viral replication of Marek's disease virus and avian leukosis virus subgroup J is responsible for the enhanced pathogenicity in the superinfection of chickens

Viruses 10 (5), 271
Publisher’s version: https://doi.org/10.3390/v10050271


Superinfection of Marek's disease virus (MDV) and avian leukosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J) causes lethal neoplasia and death in chickens. However, whether there is synergism between the two viruses in viral replication and pathogenicity has remained elusive. In this study, we found that the superinfection of MDV and ALV-J increased the viral replication of the two viruses in RNA and protein level, and synergistically promoted the expression of IL-10, IL-6, and TGF-β in chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEF). Moreover, MDV and ALV-J protein expression in dual-infected cells detected by confocal laser scanning microscope appeared earlier in the cytoplasm and the nucleus, and caused more severe cytopathy than single infection, suggesting that synergistically increased MDV and ALV-J viral-protein biosynthesis is responsible for the severe cytopathy. In vivo, compared to the single virus infected chickens, the mortality and tumor formation rates increased significantly in MDV and ALV-J dual-infected chickens. Viral loads of MDV and ALV-J in tissues of dual-infected chickens were significantly higher than those of single-infected chickens. Histopathology observation showed that more severe inflammation and tumor cells metastases were present in dual-infected chickens. In the present study, we concluded that synergistic viral replication of MDV and ALV-J is responsible for the enhanced pathogenicity in superinfection of chickens.

Zhang Y, Tang N, Sadigh Y, Baigent S, Shen Z, Nair V, Yao Y (2018)

Application of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system on MDV-1 genome for the study of gene function

Viruses 10 (6), 279


Marek's disease virus (MDV) is a member of alphaherpesviruses associated with Marek's disease, a highly contagious neoplastic disease in chickens. Complete sequencing of the viral genome and recombineering techniques using infectious bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones of Marek's disease virus genome have identified major genes that are associated with pathogenicity. Recent advances in CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing have given opportunities for precise editing of the viral genome for identifying pathogenic determinants. Here we describe the application of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approaches to delete the Meq and pp38 genes from the CVI988 vaccine strain of MDV. This powerful technology will speed up the MDV gene function studies significantly, leading to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of MDV pathogenesis.

Wilson A J, Harrup L E (2018)

Reproducibility and relevance in insect-arbovirus infection studies

Current Opinion in Insect Science early view,


Experimental infections of insects with arboviruses are performed to achieve a variety of objectives but principally to draw inferences about the potential role of field populations in transmission or to explore the molecular basis of vector–pathogen interactions. The design of such studies determines both their reproducibility and the extent to which their results can be extrapolated to natural environments, and is constrained by the resources available. We discuss recent findings regarding the effects of nutrition, the microbiome, co-infecting agents and feeding methods on the outcome of such experiments, and identify resource-efficient ways to increase their relevance and reproducibility, including the development of community standards for reporting such studies and better standards for cell line and colony authentication.

Sadigh Y, Powers C, Spiro S, Pedrera M, Broadbent A, Nair V (2018)

Gallid herpesvirus 3 SB-1 strain as a recombinant viral vector for poultry vaccination

npj Vaccines 3 (1), 21


Live herpesvirus-vectored vaccines are widely used in veterinary medicine to protect against many infectious diseases. In poultry, three strains of herpesvirus vaccines are used against Marek's disease (MD). However, of these, only the herpesvirus of turkeys (HVT) has been successfully developed and used as a recombinant vaccine vector to induce protection against other avian viral diseases such as infectious bursal disease (IBD), Newcastle disease (ND) or avian influenza (AI). Although effective when administered individually, recombinant HVT vectors have limitations when combined in multivalent vaccines. Thus there is a need for developing additional viral vectors that could be combined with HVT in inducing protection against multiple avian diseases in multivalent vaccines. Gallid herpesvirus 3 (GaHV3) strain SB-1 is widely used by the poultry industry as bivalent vaccine in combination with HVT to exploit synergistic effects against MD. Here, we report the development and application of SB-1 as a vaccine vector to express the VP2 capsid antigen of IBD virus. A VP2 expression cassette was introduced into the SB-1 genome at three intergenic locations (UL3/UL4, UL10/UL11 and UL21/UL22) using recombineering methods on the full-length pSB-1 infectious clone of the virus. We show that the recombinant SB-1 vectors expressing VP2 induced neutralising antibody responses at levels comparable to that of commercial HVT-based VAXXITEKHVT+IBD vaccine. Birds vaccinated with the experimental recombinant SB-1 vaccine were protected against clinical disease after challenge with the very virulent UK661 IBDV isolate, demonstrating its value as an efficient viral vector for developing multivalent vaccines against avian diseases.

Clarke B D, Islam M R, Yusuf M A, Mahapatra M, Parida S (2018)

Molecular detection, isolation and characterization of peste-des-petits ruminants virus from goat milk from outbreaks in Bangladesh and its implication for eradication strategy

Transboundary and Emerging Diseases early view,


Peste-des-petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious transboundary viral disease of small ruminants, which is endemic in much of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In South Asia, PPR is of significant concern to the Indian subcontinent including Bangladesh as more than 30% of the world's sheep and goats are farmed in this region, predominantly by small, poor and marginal farmers. PPR virus was detected and isolated from goat milk from field samples from PPR outbreaks (2012-2015) in Bangladesh and its full-length sequences obtained. Sequence analysis of the partial N gene of Bangladesh isolates showed 99.3%-100% identity whereas 98.2%-99.6% identity was observed when compared with neighbouring Indian viruses. Further analysis of the full-length genomes indicated that the Bangladesh isolates were 99.3%-99.99% identical among themselves and 98.3%-98.4% identical to neighbouring Indian viruses. These findings further support the transboundary transmission of PPR virus across the Indian and Bangladesh border. In additional, the establishment of a cross-border strategy between India and Bangladesh will be of paramount importance for the eradication of PPR in this region. Molecular detection and isolation of PPR virus from milk is of significant potential concern for spread of the disease to free areas as the major producers of goat milk globally are PPR endemic countries in particular India and Bangladesh, as well as Sudan. Milk is a noninvasive sample type and bulk goat milk sampling for the detection of PPRV would be of practical significance for regional surveillance of PPRV as progress is made towards the targeted 2030 eradication.

Bachanek-Bankowska K, Di Nardo A, Wadsworth J, Henry E K M, Parlak U, Timina A, Mischenko A, Qasim I A, Abdollahi D, Sultana M, Hossain M A, King D P, Knowles N J (2018)

Foot-and-mouth disease in the Middle East caused by an A/ASIA/G-VII virus lineage, 2015-2016

Emerging Infectious Diseases 24 (6), 1073-1078


Phylogenetic analyses of foot-and-mouth disease type A viruses in the Middle East during 2015-2016 identified viruses belonging to the A/ASIA/G-VII lineage, which originated in the Indian subcontinent. Changes in a critical antigenic site within capsid viral protein 1 suggest possible evolutionary pressure caused by an intensive vaccination program.


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