Bioluminescent imaging of vaccinia virus infection in immunocompetent and immunodeficient rats as a model for human smallpox

Bioluminescent imaging of vaccinia virus infection in immunocompetent and immunodeficient rats as a model for human smallpox

Abstract

Due to the increasing concern of using smallpox virus as biological weapons for terrorist attack, there is renewed interest in studying the pathogenesis of human smallpox and development of new therapies. Animal models are highly demanded for efficacy and safety examination of new vaccines and therapeutic drugs. Here, we demonstrated that both wild type and immunodeficient rats infected with an engineered vaccinia virus carrying Firefly luciferase reporter gene (rTV-Fluc) could recapitulate infectious and clinical features of human smallpox. Vaccinia viral infection in wild type Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats displayed a diffusible pattern in various organs, including liver, head and limbs. The intensity of bioluminescence generated from rTV-Fluc correlated well with viral loads in tissues. Moreover, neutralizing antibodies had a protective effect against virus reinfection. The recombination activating gene 2 (Rag2) knockout rats generated by transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) technology were further used to examine the infectivity of the rTV-Fluc in immunodeficient populations. Here we demonstrated that Rag2-/- rats were more susceptible to rTV-Fluc than SD rats with a slower virus clearance rate. Therefore, the rTV-Fluc/SD rats and rTV-Fluc/Rag2-/- rats are suitable visualization models, which recapitulate wild type or immunodeficient populations respectively, for testing human smallpox vaccine and antiviral drugs.

Authors: Liu Q1, Fan C2, Zhou S2, Guo Y3, Zuo Q2, Ma J1, Liu S2, Wu X2, Peng Z2, Fan T2, Guo C3, Shen Y3, Huang W1, Li B2, He Z2, Wang Y1.

Influence Factor: 4.0738

Citation: Sci Rep 5, 11397 (2015).

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