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

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Dafa'alla T H, Condon G C, Condon K C, Phillips C E, Morrison N I, Jin L, Epton M J, Fu G, Alphey L (2006)

Transposon-free insertions for insect genetic engineering

Nature Biotechnology 24 (7), 820-821
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Methods involving the release of transgenic insects in the field hold great promise for controlling vector-borne diseases and agricultural pests. Insect transformation depends on nonautonomous transposable elements as gene vectors. The resulting insertions are stable in the absence of suitable transposase, however, such absence cannot always be guaranteed. We describe a method for post-integration elimination of all transposon sequences in the pest insect Medfly, Ceratitis capitata. The resulting insertions lack transposon sequences and are therefore impervious to transposase activity.

Dawes R, Hennig B, Irving W, Petrova S, Boxall S, Ward V, Wallace D, Macallan D C, Thursz M, Hill A, Bodmer W, Beverley P C L, Tchilian E Z (2006)

Altered CD45 expression in C77G carriers influences immune function and outcome of hepatitis C infection

Journal of Medical Genetics 43 (8), 678-684


Background: A polymorphism in exon 4 (C77G) of CD45 that alters CD45 splicing has been associated with autoimmune and infectious diseases in humans. Objective: To investigate the effect of C77G in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infected individuals and study the phenotype and function of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy and hepatitis C infected C77G carriers. Results: C77G individuals showed an increased proportion of primed CD45RA and effector memory CD8 T cells and more rapid activation of the lymphocyte specific protein tyrosine kinase (Lck) following CD3 stimulation. Transgenic mice with CD45 expression mimicking that in human C77G variants had more activated/memory T cells, more rapid proliferative responses, and activation of Lck. Conclusions: Changes in CD45 isoform expression can alter immune function in human C77G variants and CD45 transgenic mice. The C77G allele may influence the outcome of HCV infection.


Expression of the CD45 Ag in hemopoietic cells is essential for normal development and function of lymphocytes, and both mice and humans lacking expression exhibit SCID. Human genetic variants of CD45, the exon 4 C77G and exon 6 A138G alleles, which after the pattern of CD45 isoform expression, are associated with autoimmune and infectious diseases. We constructed transgenic mice expressing either an altered level or combination of CD45 isoforms. We show that the total level of CD45 expressed is crucial for normal TCR signaling, lymphocyte proliferation, and cytokine production. Most importantly, transgenic lines with a normal level, but altered combinations of CD45 isoforms, CD45(RABC/+) and CD45(RO/+) mice, which mimic variant CD45 expression in C77G and A138G humans, show more rapid onset and increased severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. CD45(RO/+) cells produce more TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. Thus, for the first time, we have shown experimentally that it is the combination of CD45 isoforms that affects immune function and disease.


A total of 164 blood samples, collected from free-ranging red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and fallow deer (Dama danw) in six German national parks (NP) between 2000 and 2002, were assayed for antibodies against nine viral disease agents. Antibodies were only detected against the a-herpesviruses; specifically, bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1) (22 of 157,14%), cervid herpesvirus-1 (17 of 157, 10.8%), and caprine herpesvirus-1 (11 of 159, 6.9%). Titers ranged from 4 to 102. Most of the seropositive sera, and those with the highest antibody titers, were from red and roe deer in the Harz and Hochharz NP, which are connected and allow migration between the two. The distribution and specificity of antibodies detected in individual deer suggests that the three alpha-herpesviruses are circulating in these deer populations. No antibodies were detected against bovine viral diarrhea virus, epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus, bovine leukemia virus, bluetongue virus, foot-and-mouth disease virus, or sheep and goat poxvirus.
Gomez-Villamandos J C, De Leaniz I G, Nunez A, Salguero F J, Ruiz-Villamor E, Romero-Trevejo J L, Sanchez-Cordon P J (2006)

Neuropathologic study of experimental classical swine fever

Veterinary Pathology 43 (4), 530-540


The aim of this study was to report on the lesions occurring in the central nervous system (CNS) during experimental classical swine fever (CSF) to clarify the spatial and chronologic distribution of the lesions and virus antigen in the CNS. To learn more about the pathogenetic mechanisms of the lesions during CSF in the CNS and to investigate the role of the virus in these mechanisms, cellular infiltrates and infected cells have been characterized. Twenty-eight pigs were inoculated with the virulent CSF virus isolate Alfort 187 and slaughtered from 2 to 15 postinoculation days; 4 animals of similar background served as a control group. Immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and the transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling method were used to detect viral antigens and apoptosis. The results showed the presence of nonpurulent meningoencephalitis, occasional microhemorrhages, and apoptosis of the lymphocytes forming the perivascular and interstitital infiltrate in swine with CSF. Macrophages appeared to display little involvement in CNS lesions. The infected cells observed at the early stage of disease were lymphocytes and microglial cells in the rostral portion of the telencephalon, with infection of these cells in other areas in the next stages. The relationship between these lesions and the presence of viral antigen varied according to the type of lesion: hemorrhages were not associated with the presence of antigen in endothelial cells, but infiltrate-cell apoptosis was temporally and spacially associated to viral infection. However, the link between viral infection and the presence of cell infiltrate was far from clear.
Graham S P, Pelle R, Honda Y, Mwangi D M, Tonukari N J, Yamage M, Glew E J, de Villiers E P, Shah T, Bishop R, Abuya E, Awino E, Gachanja J, Luyai A E, Mbwika F, Muthiani A M, Ndegwa D M, Njahira M, Nyanjui J K, Onono F O, Osaso J, Saya R M, Wildmann C, Fraser C M, Maudlin I, Gardner M J, Morzaria S P, Loosmore S, Gilbert S C, Audonnet J C, van der Bruggen P, Nene V, Taracha E L (2006)

Theileria parva candidate vaccine antigens recognized by immune bovine cytotoxic T lymphocytes

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103 (9), 3286-3291


East Coast fever, caused by the tick-borne intracellular apicomplexan parasite Theileria parva, is a highly fatal lymphoproliferative disease of cattle. The pathogenic schizont-induced lymphocyte transformation is a unique cancer-like condition that is reversible with parasite removal. Schizont-infected cell-directed CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) constitute the dominant protective bovine immune response after a single exposure to infection. However, the schizont antigens targeted by T. parva-specific CTL are undefined. Here we show the identification of five candidate vaccine antigens that are the targets of MHC class I-restricted CD8(+) CTL from immune cattle. CD8(+) T cell responses to these antigens were boosted in T. parva-immune cattle resolving a challenge infection and, when used to immunize naive cattle, induced CTL responses that significantly correlated with survival from a lethal parasite challenge. These data provide a basis for developing a CTL-targeted anti-East Coast fever subunit vaccine. In addition, orthologs of these antigens may be vaccine targets for other apicomplexan parasites.


Gene 3 of infectious bronchitis virus is tricistronic; open reading frames (ORFs) 3a and 3b encode two small nonstructural (ns) proteins, 3a and 3b, of unknown function, and a third, structural protein E, is encoded by ORF 3c. To determine if either the 3a or the 3b protein is required for replication, we first modified their translation initiation codons to prevent translation of the 3a and 3b proteins from recombinant infectious bronchitis viruses (rIBVs). Replication in primary chick kidney (CK) cells and in chicken embryos was not affected. In chicken tracheal organ cultures (TOCs), the recombinant rIBVs reached titers similar to those of the wild-type virus, but in the case of viruses lacking the 3a protein, the titer declined reproducibly earlier. Translation of the IBV E protein is believed to be initiated by internal entry of ribosomes at a structure formed by the sequences corresponding to ORFs 3a and 3b. To assess the necessity of this mechanism, we deleted most of the sequence representing 3a and 3b to produce a gene in which ORF 3c (E) was adjacent to the gene 3 transcription-associated sequence. Western blot analysis revealed that the recombinant IBV produced fivefold less E protein. Nevertheless, titers produced in CK cells, embryos, and TOCs were similar to those of the wild-type virus, although they declined earlier in TOCs, probably due to the absence of the 3a protein. Thus, neither the tricistronic arrangement of gene 3, the internal initiation of translation of E protein, nor the 3a and 3b proteins are essential for replication per se, suggesting that these proteins are accessory proteins that may have roles in vivo.


Forty peptides were synthesized corresponding to hydrophilic clusters of amino acids within the sequences of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) nonstructural proteins (NSP). Six peptides were studied in more detail and the most promising, a 2B peptide, was evaluated in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using sera from naive, vaccinated, and vaccinated-and-challenged cattle as well as bovine sera from field outbreaks. The performance of the new NSP peptide ELISA was compared to that of 4 commercial NSP ELISA kits. Antibody to 2B was detectable from the end of the first week to the second week after infection in most of the nonvaccinated animals and by the second to third week in vaccinated-and-challenged animals. The sensitivity of the 2B peptide ELISA was comparable to the 3ABC Ceditest (Ceditest(R) FMDV-NS, Cedi Diagnostics B.V.; Chung et al., 2002). With some modification and further validation, this 2B test could be useful as a screening or conformational NSP test in postvaccination surveillance for FMD.


Chimeric mice generated with bone marrow from RelB-deficient (-/-), RelB-heterozygous (+/-) and wild-type (+/+) mice were used to determine how total or partial absence of the transcription factor RelB in haematopoietic cells affects the immune response generated after lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection. In RelB(-/-) chimeras, early virus replication was enhanced and LCMV clearance was impaired. Although plasmacytoid dendritic cell numbers were similar serum interferon (IFN)-alpha levels in RelB(-/-) and RelB(+/-) chimeras were markedly lower than in RelB(+/+) chimeras during early LCMV infection. Further, both ReIB-/- and RelB(+/-) chimeras mounted a lower-magnitude LCMV-specific CD8(+) T cell response than their RelB(+/+) counterparts, although the LCMV-specific CD8(+) T cells present were differentiated into functional cytotoxic cells. In LCMV-infected RelB-/- mice, induction of cross-priming to an independently injected soluble protein, which depends on the IFN-alpha/beta made during the viral infection, was also impaired. Notably, provision of exogenous IFN-alpha did not restore the ability of ReIB-/- mice to cross-prime. In summary, these results show that the RelB/NF-kappa B pathway is required for optimal IFN-alpha production after LCMV infection and suggest a crucial role for RelB in IFN-alpha-stimulated cross-priming of CD8(+) T cell responses.
Liu Z, Dawes R, Petrova S, Beverley P C L, Tchilian E Z (2006)

CD45 regulates apoptosis in peripheral T lymphocytes

International Immunology 18 (6), 959-966


Programmed cell death (apoptosis) is a key mechanism for regulating lymphocyte numbers. Murine lymph node lymphocytes cultured in vitro without added stimuli show significant levels of apoptosis over 24 h, detectable by staining with Annexin V. CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes from transgenic (Tg) mice expressing single CD45RABC or CD45RO isoforms show increased apoptosis and the extent of apoptosis is inversely correlated with the level of CD45 expression. CD45 Tg cells exhibit phosphatidyl serine translocation and DNA oligonucleosome formation, and can be partially rescued from apoptosis by culture in caspase inhibitors or common gamma-chain-binding cytokines. We conclude that CD45 is an important regulator of spontaneous apoptosis in T lymphocytes and this mechanism may contribute to the disease associations reported for individuals expressing CD45 variant alleles.


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