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

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The immune response can be divided into innate and adaptive components that synergise to effect the clearance of pathogens. Recently, it has been realised that these arms of the immune system do not act independently, the magnitude and quality of the adaptive response is dependent on signals derived from the innate response. Here, we review the innate immune responses to bovine viral diarrhoea virus infections of cattle and relate these changes to immunosuppression and the subsequent development of the adaptive immune response.


Eleven cases of thrombocytopenic purpura (TP) in sexually mature male or female Gottingen minipigs occurred sporadically over 3 1/2 years in a closed breeding colony protected by strict barrier conditions. Typical clinical signs of TP, including extensive subcutaneous haemorrhages, were seen in all affected animals. Haematological abnormalities included marked thrombocytopenia and anaemia. A consistent histopathological finding was the presence of membranoproliferative lesions in the renal glomeruli. Immunohistochemically, glomerular deposits were positively labelled for complement factor C1q and often also for immunoglobulins. Bone marrow findings consisting of increased numbers of immature and apoptotic megakaryocytcs were compatible with a state of increased platelet consumption. Based on the combined presence of thrombocytopenia and renal immune complexes, it is suggested that the syndrome was related to a type III hypersensitivity reaction. However, further studies are needed to verify this hypothesis.


A recombinant infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), BeauR-M41(S), was generated using our reverse genetics system (R. Casais, V. Thiel, S. G. Siddell, D. Cavanagh, and P. Britton, J. Virol. 75:12359-12369, 2001), in which the ectodomain region of the spike gene from IBV M41-CK replaced the corresponding region of the IBV Beaudette genome. BeauR-M41(S) acquired the same cell tropism phenotype as IBV M41-CK in four different cell types, demonstrating that the IBV spike glycoprotein is a determinant of cell tropism.
Diebold S S, Montoya M, Unger H, Alexopoulou L, Roy P, Haswell L E, Al-Shamkhani A, Flavell R, Borrow P, Sousa C R E (2003)

Viral infection switches non-plasmacytoid dendritic cells into high interferon producers

Nature 424 (6946), 324-328


Type I interferons (IFN-I) are important cytokines linking innate and adaptive immunity(1). Plasmacytoid dendritic cells make high levels of IFN-I in response to viral infection and are thought to be the major source of the cytokines in vivo(2). Here, we show that conventional non-plasmacytoid dendritic cells taken from mice infected with a dendritic-cell-tropic strain of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus make similarly high levels of IFN-I on subsequent culture. Similarly, non-plasmacytoid dendritic cells secrete high levels of IFN-I in response to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), a major viral signature(3), when the latter is introduced into the cytoplasm to mimic direct viral infection. This response is partially dependent on the cytosolic dsRNA-binding enzyme protein kinase R-4 and does not require signalling through toll-like receptor (TLR) 3, a surface receptor for dsRNA(5). Furthermore, we show that sequestration of dsRNA by viral NS1 (refs 6,7) explains the inability of conventional dendritic cells to produce IFN-I on infection with influenza. Our results suggest that multiple dendritic cell types, not just plasmacytoid cells, can act as specialized interferon-producing cells in certain viral infections, and reveal the existence of a TLR-independent pathway for dendritic cell activation that can be the target of viral interference.
Forsyth M A, Parida S, Alexandersen S, Belsham G J, Barrett T (2003)

Rinderpest virus lineage differentiation using RT-PCR and SNAP-ELISA

Journal of Virological Methods 107, 29-36


An RT-PCR/ELISA system has been developed that detects and differentiates Rinderpest virus (RPV) from the other closely related morbillivirus of ruminants, Peste des petits Ruminants virus (PPRV). In addition, using lineage specific probes, it is possible to determine whether the virus sample is wild-type or vaccine, and the likely origin of the outbreak if it is wild-type. It involves carrying out a RT-PCR with one digoxygenin (Dig)-labelled primer followed by a hybridisation step with a virus-specific, biotin-labelled, probe. The hybridisation step is carried out in an ELISA format on a streptavidin-coated plate. The DIG-labelled products are detected using a specific anti-DIG monoclonal antibody and an anti-mouse horseradish peroxidase conjugate. The hybridisation step replaces nucleotide sequencing or nested PCR for confirmation of the identity of DNA product. The assay is fast and easy to carry out and can give semi-quantitative estimates of the virus content of samples.


Various pathogens have been shown to infect antigen-presenting cells and affect their capacity to interact with and stimulate T-cell responses. We have used an antigenically identical pair of noncytopathic (ncp) and cytopathic (cp) bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) isolates to determine how the two biotypes affect monocyte and dendritic cell (DC) function. We have shown that monocytes and DCs are both susceptible to infection with ncp BVDV and cp BVDV in vitro. In addition, monocytes infected with ncp BVDV were compromised in their ability to stimulate allogeneic and memory CD4(+) T cell responses, but DCs were not affected. This was not due to down-regulation of a number of recognized co-stimulatory molecules including CD80, CD86 and CD40. Striking differences in the response of the two cell types to infection with cytopathic virus were seen. Dendritic cells were not susceptible to the cytopathic effect caused by cp BVDV, whereas monocytes were killed. Analysis of interferon (IFN)-alpha/beta production showed similar levels in monocytes and DCs exposed to cp BVDV, but none was detected in cells exposed to ncp BVDV. We conclude that the prevention of cell death in DCs is not associated with enhanced production of IFN-alpha/beta, as proposed for influenza virus, but is by a distinct mechanism.
Gomez-Villamandos J C, Carrasco L, Bautista M J, Sierra M A, Quezada M, Hervas J, De Lara F C M, Ruiz-Villamor E, Salguero F J, Sanchez-Cordon P J, Romanini S, Nunez A, Mekonen T, Mendez A, Jover A (2003)

African swine fever and classical swine fever: a review of the pathogenesis

Deutsche Tierarztliche Wochenschrift 110 (4), 165-169


This paper describes major pathogenetic mechanisms of African and Classical Swine Fever virus infections. The interactions between both viruses and the monocyte-macrophage-system result in the release of mediator molecules, which are important for the further progression of the diseases. The causes of the thrombocytopenia and the mechanisms of the haemorrhages, which are characteristic in both infections, are described. Apoptotic cell death is regarded as the predominant cause of lymphopenia in both virus infections.

Gomez-Villamandos J C, Salguero F J, Ruiz-Villamor E, Sanchez-Cordon P J, Bautista M J, Sierra M A (2003)

Classical swine fever: Pathology of bone marrow

Veterinary Pathology 40 (2), 157-163


Twenty pigs were inoculated with a virulent isolate (Quillota strain) of classical swine fever (CSF) virus to determine the chronological development of lesions in bone marrow. Histopathologic, ultrastructural and immunohistochemical (detection of viral antigen gp55, myeloid-histiocyte antigen, CD3 antigen, and FVIII-rag), and morphometric techniques were employed. Viral antigen was detected from 2 days postinfection (dpi) in stromal and haematopoitic cells, and severe atrophy related to apoptosis of haematopoitic cells was observed. Megakaryocytes (MKs) did not show significant changes in number, but there were important qualitative changes including 1) increased numbers of cloud-nuclei MKs, microMKs, apoptotic MKs, and atypical nucleated MKs and 2) decreased number of typical nucleated MKs. Morphometric study of these cells showed a decrease in cytoplasmic area. MK infection was detected from 2 dpi, but in a small percentage of cells. Myeloid cells showed quantitative changes, with an increase in granulocyte numbers. Apoptosis of lymphocytes and viral infection of erythroblasts were also observed. The main changes in stroma were depletion of T lymphocytes in the middle phase of the experiment and macrophages. Viral infection was also observed in these cells. MK lesions suggest dysmegakaryocytopoiesis, which would aggravate the thrombocytopenia already present and could be responsible for it. Granulocyte changes would lead to the appearance of circulating immature forms, whereas lymphocyte apoptosis in bone marrow would contribute to lymphopenia.
Lucas M, Tsitoura E, Montoya M, Laliotou B, Aslanoglou E, Kouvatsis V, Entwisle C, Miller J, Klenerman P, Hadziyannis A, Hadziyannis S, Borrow P, Mavromara P (2003)

Characterization of secreted and intracellular forms of a truncated hepatitis C virus E2 protein expressed by a recombinant herpes simplex virus

Journal of General Virology 84, 545-554


A replication-defective herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) recombinant lacking the glycoprotein H (gH)-encoding gene and expressing a truncated form of the hepatitis C (HCV) E2 glycoprotein (E2-661) was constructed and characterized. We show here that cells infected with the HSV/HCV recombinant virus efficiently express the HCV E2-661 protein. Most importantly, cellular and secreted E2-661 protein were both readily detected by the E2-conformational mAb H53 and despite the high expression levels, only limited amounts of misfolded aggregates were detected in either the cellular or secreted fractions. Furthermore, cell-associated and secreted E2-661 protein bound to the major extracellular loop (MEL) of CD81 in a concentration-dependent manner and both were highly reactive with sera from HCV-infected patients, Finally, BALB/c mice immunized intraperitoneally with the recombinant HSV/HCV virus induced high levels of anti-E2 antibodies. Analysis of the induced immunoglobulin G (IgG) isotypes showed high levels of IgG2a while the levels of the IgG1 isotype were significantly lower, suggesting a Th1-type of response. We conclude that the HSV-1 recombinant virus represents a promising tool for production of non-aggregated, immunologically active forms of the E2-661 protein and might have potential applications in vaccine development.


The gene encoding the phosphoprotein of the vaccine strain of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) virus (Nigeria 75/1 vaccine strain) has been cloned and its nucleotide sequence been determined. This gene is 1655 nucleotides long and encodes two overlapping open reading frames (ORFs). Translation from the first AUG would produce a polypeptide of 509 amino acid residues with a predicted molecular mass of 54.9 kDa, the longest of the published morbillivirus P proteins. Translation from the second AUG would produce a protein of 177 amino acid residues with a predicted molecular mass of 20.3 kDa, analogous to the C proteins of other morbilliviruses. Evidence was found for the production of two types of P mRNA transcript, one a faithful transcript of the gene and the other with an extra G residue inserted at position 751. Translation from the first AUG of this second mRNA would produce a protein of 298 amino acids, with a predicted molecular mass 32.3 kDa, analogous to the V protein produced by other morbilliviruses. Sequences of the predicted P, C and V proteins were compared with those of the other morbillivirus sequences available to date. The P protein was found to be the most poorly conserved of the morbillivirus proteins, the amino acid identity ranging from 54% in case of Canine distemper virus (CDV) to 60% in the case of the Dolphin morbillivirus (DMV).


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