The Pirbright Institute publication directory contains details of selected publications written by our researchers.

There were a total of 1725 results for your search.
Rehman Z U, Che L, Ren S, Liao Y, Qiu X, Yu S, Sun Y, Tan L, Song C, Liu W, Ding Z, Munir M, Nair V, Meng C, Ding C (2018)

Supplementation of Vitamin E protects chickens from Newcastle disease virus-mediated exacerbation of intestinal oxidative stress and tissue damage

Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry 47 (4), 1655-1666
Publisher’s version:


Newcastle disease virus (NDV) causes a highly devastating and contagious disease in poultry, which is mainly attributed to extensive tissue damages in the digestive, respiratory and nervous systems. However, nature and dynamics of NDV-induced oxidative stresses in the intestine of chickens remain elusive. METHODS: In this study, we examined the magnitude of intestinal oxidative stress and histopathological changes caused by the virulent NDV infection, and explored the protective roles of vitamin E (vit. E) in ameliorating these pathological changes. For these purposes, chickens were divided into four groups namely i) non supplemented and non-challenged (negative control, CON); ii) no supplementation of vit. E but challenged with ZJ1 (positive control, NS+CHA); iii) vit. E supplementation at the dose of 50 IU/day/Kg body weight and ZJ1 challenge (VE50+CHA); and 4) vit. E supplementation at the dose of 100 IU/day/Kg body weight and ZJ1 challenge (VE100+CHA). In all groups, we analyzed concentrations of glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), nitric oxide (NO), total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), and activity of glutathione S-transferase (GST), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) using biochemical methods. The virus loads were determined by quantitative RT-PCR and antibody titers by hemagglutination inhibition assays. We also examined the histopathological changes in the duodenal and jejunal mucosa at 3 and 5-day post infection (dpi) with NDV. RESULTS: A significant elevation in the NO level was observed in NDV challenged chickens compared to the CON chickens at 2 dpi. The MDA contents were significantly increased whereas GSH was significantly decreased in NDV-challenged chickens compared to control. Furthermore, activities of GST, CAT, SOD, as well as the TOAC were markedly decreased in challenged chickens in comparison with control. Virus copy numbers were higher in NDV infected NS+CHA group compared to other groups. Severe histopathological changes including inflammation, degeneration and broken villi were observed in the intestine of NDV challenged chickens. However, all these malfunctions of antioxidant system and pathological changes in the intestine were partially or completely reversed by the vit. E supplementation. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that NDV infection causes oxidative stress and histopathological changes in the duodenum and jejunum of chickens, which can be partially or fully ameliorated by supplementation of vit. E. Additionally, these findings suggest that oxidative stress contributes to the intestinal damages in NDV infected chickens. These findings will help to understand the pathogenesis of NDV and further investigation of therapeutic agents for control of Newcastle disease.

Hwang S, Schmiegelt B, Ferretti L, Krug J (2018)

Universality classes of interaction structures for NK fitness landscapes

Journal of Statistical Physics 172 (1), 226-278


Kauffman's NK-model is a paradigmatic example of a class of stochastic models of genotypic fitness landscapes that aim to capture generic features of epistatic interactions in multilocus systems. Genotypes are represented as sequences of L binary loci. The fitness assigned to a genotype is a sum of contributions, each of which is a random function defined on a subset of kL loci. These subsets or neighborhoods determine the genetic interactions of the model. Whereas earlier work on the NK model suggested that most of its properties are robust with regard to the choice of neighborhoods, recent work has revealed an important and sometimes counter-intuitive influence of the interaction structure on the properties of NK fitness landscapes. Here we review these developments and present new results concerning the number of local fitness maxima and the statistics of selectively accessible (that is, fitness-monotonic) mutational pathways. In particular, we develop a unified framework for computing the exponential growth rate of the expected number of local fitness maxima as a function of L, and identify two different universality classes of interaction structures that display different asymptotics of this quantity for large k. Moreover, we show that the probability that the fitness landscape can be traversed along an accessible path decreases exponentially in L for a large class of interaction structures that we characterize as locally bounded. Finally, we discuss the impact of the NK interaction structures on the dynamics of evolution using adaptive walk models.

Ciaravino G, García-Saenz A, Cabras S, Allepuz A, Casal J, García-Bocanegra I, De Koeijer A, Gubbins S, Sáez J L, Cano-Terriza D, Napp S (2018)

Assessing the variability in transmission of bovine tuberculosis within Spanish cattle herds

Epidemics 23, 110-120


In Spain, despite years of efforts to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB), the disease is still endemic, with some areas of high prevalence. In this context, the surveillance and control plans may need to be re-evaluated, and understanding the dynamics of bTB spread within Spanish herds may help to develop new strategies for reducing the time for detection of infected herds and for the elimination of bTB from the herds already infected. Here, we developed a compartmental stochastic model to simulate bTB within-herd transmission, fed it with epidemiological data from 22 herds (obtained from a previous work) and carried out parameter inference using Approximate Bayesian Computing methods We also estimated the "Within-herd transmission potential Number" (Rh), i.e. the average number of secondary cases generated by a single animal infected introduced into a totally susceptible herd, considering different scenarios depending on the frequency of controls. The median global values obtained for the transmission parameters were: for the transmission coefficient (β), 0.014 newly infected animals per infectious individual per day (i.e. 5.2 per year), for the rate at which infected individuals become infectious (α), 0.01 per day (equivalent to a latent period of 97 days), and for the rate at which infected individuals become reactive to the skin test (α1), 0.08 per day (equivalent to a period of 12 days for an infected animal to become reactive). However, the results also evidenced a great variability in the estimates of those parameters (in particular β and α) among the 22 herds. Considering a 6-month interval between tests, the mean Rh was 0.23, increasing to 0.82 with an interval of 1 year, and to 2.01 and 3.47 with testing intervals of 2 and 4 years, respectively.

Brown A C, Reddy V R A P, Lee J, Nair V (2018)

Marek's disease virus oncoprotein Meq physically interacts with the chicken infectious anemia virus-encoded apoptotic protein apoptin

Oncotarget 9 (48), 28910-28920


Marek's disease (MD) is a neoplastic disease of poultry caused by Marek's disease virus (MDV), a highly contagious alphaherpesvirus. Meq, the major MDV oncoprotein, induces neoplastic transformation of T-cells through several mechanisms, including inhibition of apoptosis. In contrast, the chicken anemia virus (CAV)-encoded protein apoptin (VP3) is a powerful inducer of apoptosis of tumor cells, a property that is exploited for anticancer therapeutics. Although the molecular mechanisms of selective induction of tumor cell apoptosis by apoptin are not fully understood, its tumor cell-restricted nuclear translocation is thought to be important. Co-infection with MDV and CAV is common in many countries, CAV antigens are readily detectable in MD lymphomas, and the MDV-transformed T-lymphoblastoid cell lines such as MSB-1 is widely used for propagating CAV for vaccine production. As MDV-transformed cell lines express high levels of Meq, we examined here whether CAV-encoded apoptin interacts with Meq in these cells. Using immunofluorescence microscopy, we found that apoptin and Meq co-localize to the nucleus, and biochemical analysis indicated that the two proteins do physically interact. Using a combination of Meq mutagenesis and co-immunoprecipitation, we demonstrate that apoptin interacts with Meq within a region between amino acids 130 and 140. Results from the IncuCyte assay suggested that Meq inhibits apoptin-induced apoptosis activity. In summary, our findings indicate that Meq interacts with and inhibits apoptin. Insights into this novel interaction between Meq and apoptin will relevance for pathogenesis of coinfections of the two viruses and in CAV vaccine production using MDV-transformed cell lines.

Schwartz J C, Hammond J A (2018)

The unique evolution of the pig LRC, a single KIR but expansion of LILR and a novel Ig receptor family

Immunogenetics early view,


The leukocyte receptor complex (LRC) encodes numerous immunoglobulin (Ig)-like receptors involved in innate immunity. These include the killer-cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) and the leukocyte Ig-like receptors (LILR) which can be polymorphic and vary greatly in number between species. Using the recent long-read genome assembly, Sscrofa11.1, we have characterized the porcine LRC on chromosome 6. We identified a ~197-kb region containing numerous LILR genes that were missing in previous assemblies. Out of 17 such LILR genes and fragments, six encode functional proteins, of which three are inhibitory and three are activating, while the majority of pseudogenes had the potential to encode activating receptors. Elsewhere in the LRC, between FCAR and GP6, we identified a novel gene that encodes two Ig-like domains and a long inhibitory intracellular tail. Comparison with two other porcine assemblies revealed a second, nearly identical, non-functional gene encoding a short intracellular tail with ambiguous function. These novel genes were found in a diverse range of mammalian species, including a pseudogene in humans, and typically consist of a single long-tailed receptor and a variable number of short-tailed receptors. Using porcine transcriptome data, both the novel inhibitory gene and the LILR were highly expressed in peripheral blood, while the single KIR gene, KIR2DL1, was either very poorly expressed or not at all. These observations are a prerequisite for improved understanding of immune cell functions in the pig and other species

Robinson J, Guethlein L A, Maccari G, Blokhuis J, Bimber B N, de Groot N G, Sanderson N D, Abi-Rached L, Walter L, Bontrop R E, Hammond J A, Marsh S G E, Parham P (2018)

Nomenclature for the KIR of non-human species

Immunogenetics early view,


The increasing number of Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) sequences available for non-human primate species and cattle has prompted development of a centralized database, guidelines for a standardized nomenclature, and minimum requirements for database submission. The guidelines and nomenclature are based on those used for human KIR and incorporate modifications made for inclusion of non-human species in the companion IPD-NHKIR database. Included in this first release are the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), orangutan (Pongo abelii and Pongo pygmaeus), and cattle (Bos taurus).

El Naggar R F, Rohaim M A, Bazid A H, Ahmed K A, Hussein H A, Munir M (2018)

Biological characterization of wild-bird-origin avian avulavirus 1 and efficacy of currently applied vaccines against potential infection in commercial poultry

Archives of Virology early view,


Newcastle disease virus (NDV), the type member of the species Avian avulavirus 1 (formerly known as avian paramyxovirus serotype 1), causes a highly contagious and economically important disease in a myriad of avian species around the globe. While extensive vaccination programs have been implemented in ND-endemic countries, the disease is continuously spreading in commercial, backyard, and wild captive poultry. In order to investigate the evolution of the virus and assess the efficiency of the vaccine regimens that are currently being applied in commercial poultry, four wild-bird-origin NDV strains were characterized biologically, based on mean death time and intracerebral pathogenicity index, and genetically, based on the cleavage motif (112RRQKRF117) in the fusion (F) protein. Based on these features, all of the isolates were characterized as velogenic strains of NDV. Phylogenetic analysis based on the complete genome sequence revealed clustering of these isolates within class II, genotype VII. This class of NDV remains the predominant genotype in the Egyptian poultry industry, as well as in those of many Asian and African countries. To investigate the potential of these wild-bird-origin NDV isolates to cause infection in domesticated poultry and to assess the efficacy of currently available vaccines for protection of commercial poultry, an extensive animal challenge experiment was performed. Cumulative clinicopathological and immunological investigations of virus-challenged chickens indicate that these isolates can potentially be transmitted between chicken and cause systemic infections, and the currently applied vaccines are unable to prevent clinical disease and virus shedding. Taken together, the data represent a comprehensive evaluation of the ability of Egyptian wild-bird-origin NDV strains to cause infection in commercial poultry and highlights the need for a continuous and large-scale surveillance as well as revised vaccine approaches. These integrated and multifaceted strategies would be crucial in any efforts to control and eradicate the disease globally.

Alves D R, Booth S P, Scavone P, Schellenberger P, Salvage J, Dedi C, Thet N-T, Jenkins A T A, Waters R, Ng K W, Overall A D J, Metcalfe A D, Nzakizwanayo J, Jones B V (2018)

Development of a high-throughput ex-vivo burn wound model using porcine skin, and its application to evaluate new approaches to control wound infection

Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 8, 196


Biofilm formation in wounds is considered a major barrier to successful treatment, and has been associated with the transition of wounds to a chronic non-healing state. Here, we present a novel laboratory model of wound biofilm formation using ex-vivo porcine skin and a custom burn wound array device. The model supports high-throughput studies of biofilm formation and is compatible with a range of established methods for monitoring bacterial growth, biofilm formation, and gene expression. We demonstrate the use of this model by evaluating the potential for bacteriophage to control biofilm formation by Staphylococcus aureus, and for population density dependant expression of S. aureus virulence factors (regulated by the Accessory Gene Regulator, agr) to signal clinically relevant wound infection. Enumeration of colony forming units and metabolic activity using the XTT assay, confirmed growth of bacteria in wounds and showed a significant reduction in viable cells after phage treatment. Confocal laser scanning microscopy confirmed the growth of biofilms in wounds, and showed phage treatment could significantly reduce the formation of these communities. Evaluation of agr activity by qRT-PCR showed an increase in activity during growth in wound models for most strains. Activation of a prototype infection-responsive dressing designed to provide a visual signal of wound infection, was related to increased agr activity. In all assays, excellent reproducibility was observed between replicates using this model.

Thi Nguyen D, Shepard S S, Burke D F, Jones J, Thor S, Nguyen L V, Nguyen T D, Balish A, Hoang D N, To T L, Iqbal M, Wentworth D E, Spackman E, van Doorn H R, Davis C T, Bryant J E (2018)

Antigenic characterization of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) viruses with chicken and ferret antisera reveals clade-dependent variation in hemagglutination inhibition profiles

Emerging Microbes and Infections 7 (1), 100


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) viruses pose a significant economic burden to the poultry industry worldwide and have pandemic potential. Poultry vaccination against HPAI A(H5N1) viruses has been an important component of HPAI control measures and has been performed in Vietnam since 2005. To systematically assess antigenic matching of current vaccines to circulating field variants, we produced a panel of chicken and ferret antisera raised against historical and contemporary Vietnamese reference viruses representing clade variants that were detected between 2001 and 2014. The antisera were used for hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays to generate data sets for analysis by antigenic cartography, allowing for a direct comparison of results from chicken or ferret antisera. HI antigenic maps, developed with antisera from both hosts, revealed varying patterns of antigenic relationships and clustering of viruses that were dependent on the clade of viruses analyzed. Antigenic relationships between existing poultry vaccines and circulating field viruses were also aligned with in vivo protection profiles determined by previously reported vaccine challenge studies. Our results establish the feasibility and utility of HPAI A(H5N1) antigenic characterization using chicken antisera and support further experimental and modeling studies to investigate quantitative relationships between genetic variation, antigenic drift and correlates of poultry vaccine protection in vivo.

Riitho V, Larska M, Strong R, La Rocca S A, Locker N, Alenius S, Steinbach F, Liu L, Uttenthal Å, Graham S P (2018)

Comparative analysis of adaptive immune responses following experimental infections of cattle with bovine viral diarrhoea virus-1 and an Asiatic atypical ruminant pestivirus

Vaccine early view,


Atypical ruminant pestiviruses are closely related to the two bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) species, BVDV-1 and BVDV-2. While there is evidence of cross-protective immune responses between BVDV-1 and BVDV-2, despite antigenic differences, there is little information on the antigenic cross-reactivity with atypical ruminant pestiviruses. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the specificity of antibody and T cell responses induced by experimental infection of calves with BVDV-1 strain Ho916, Th/04_KhonKaen (TKK), an Asiatic atypical ruminant pestivirus, or co-infection with both viruses. Homologous virus neutralization was observed in sera from both single virus infected and co-infected groups, while cross-neutralization was only observed in the TKK infected group. T cell IFN-γ responses to both viruses were observed in the TKK infected animals, whereas Ho916 infected calves responded better to homologous virus. Specifically, IFN-γ responses to viral non-structural protein, NS3, were observed in all infected groups while responses to viral glycoprotein, E2, were virus-specific. Broader antigen-specific cytokine responses were observed with similar trends between inoculation groups and virus species. The limited T cell and antibody immune reactivity of Ho916 inoculated animals to TKK suggests that animals vaccinated with current BVDV-1-based vaccines may not be protected against atypical ruminant pestiviruses.


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