Simultaneous protective immune responses of ducks against duck plague and fowl cholera by recombinant duck enteritis virus vector expressing Pasteurella multocida OmpH gene

Duck enteritis virus and Pasteurella multocida are major duck pathogens that induce duck plague and fowl cholera, respectively, in ducks and other waterfowl populations, leading to high levels of morbidity and mortality. Immunization with live attenuated DEV vaccine containing P. multocida outer membrane protein H (OmpH) can provide the most effective protection against these two infectious diseases in ducks. We have recently reported the construction of recombinant DEV expressing P. multocida ompH gene using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing strategy with the goal of using it as a bivalent vaccine that can simultaneously protect against both infections. Here we describe the findings of our investigation into the systemic immune responses, potency and clinical protection induced by the two recombinant DEV-ompH vaccine constructs, where one copy each of the ompH gene was inserted into the DEV genome at the UL55-LORF11 and UL44-44.5 intergenic regions, respectively. Our study demonstrated that the insertion of the ompH gene exerted no adverse effect on the DEV parental virus. Moreover, ducklings immunized with the rDEV-ompH-UL55 and rDEV-ompH-UL44 vaccines induced promising levels of P. multocida OmpH-specific as well as DEV-specific antibodies and were completely protected from both diseases. Analysis of the humoral and cellular immunity confirmed the immunogenicity of both recombinant vaccines, which provided strong immune responses against DEV and P. multocida. This study not only provides insights into understanding the immune responses of ducks to recombinant DEV-ompH vaccines but also demonstrates the potential for simultaneous prevention of viral and bacterial infections using viral vectors expressing bacterial immunogens.

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