Evaluating the breadth of neutralizing antibody responses elicited by infectious bursal disease virus genogroup A1 strains using a novel chicken B-cell rescue system and neutralization assay

Eight infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) genogroups have been identified based on the sequence of the capsid hypervariable region (HVR) (A1 to A8). Given reported vaccine failures, there is a need to evaluate the ability of vaccines to neutralize the different genogroups. To address this, we used a reverse genetics system and the chicken B-cell line DT40 to rescue a panel of chimeric IBDVs and perform neutralization assays. Chimeric viruses had the backbone of a lab-adapted strain (PBG98) and the HVRs from diverse field strains as follows: classical F52-70 (A1), U.S. variant Del-E (A2), Chinese variant SHG19 (A2), very virulent UK661 (A3), M04/09 distinct (A4), Italian ITA-04 (A6), and Australian variant Vic-01/94 (A8). Rescued viruses showed no substitutions at amino acid positions 253, 284, or 330, previously found to be associated with cell-culture adaptation. Sera from chickens inoculated with wild-type (wt) (F52-70) or vaccine (228E) A1 strains had the highest mean virus neutralization (VN) titers against the A1 virus (log2 15.4 and 12.7) and the lowest against A2 viruses (log2 7.4 to 7.9; P?=?0.0001 to 0.0274), consistent with A1 viruses being most antigenically distant from A2 strains, which correlated with the extent of differences in the predicted HVR structure. VN titers against the other genogroups ranged from log2 9.3 to 13.3, and A1 strains were likely more closely antigenically related to genogroups A3 and A4 than A6 and A8. Our data are consistent with field observations and validate the new method, which can be used to screen future vaccine candidates for breadth of neutralizing antibodies and evaluate the antigenic relatedness of different genogroups.

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