Application of HDR-CRISPR/Cas9 and erythrocyte binding for rapid generation of recombinant turkey herpesvirus-vectored avian influenza virus vaccines

Avian influenza viruses (AIVs) are highly contagious and have caused huge economical loss to the poultry industry. AIV vaccines remain one of the most effective methods of controlling this disease. Turkey herpesvirus (HVT) is a commonly used live attenuated vaccine against Marek’s disease; it has also been used as a viral vector for recombinant AIV vaccine development. The clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system is a gene editing tool which, in vaccinology, has facilitated the development of recombinant DNA viral-vectored vaccines. Here, we utilize homology-directed repair (HDR) for the generation of a HVT–H7N9 HA bivalent vaccine; a H7N9 HA expression cassette was inserted into the intergenic region between UL45 and UL46 of HVT. To optimize the selection efficiency of our bivalent vaccine, we combined CRISPR/Cas9 with erythrocyte binding to rapidly generate recombinant HVT–H7HA candidate vaccines.

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