The avian adeno-associated virus (AAAV) is a replication-defective nonpathogenic virus member of the family Parvoviridae that has been proved to be useful as a viral vector for gene delivery. The use of AAAV for transgenic expression of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) protein and its ability to induce immunity in chickens were assessed. Proposed advantages of this system include no interference with maternal antibodies, diminished immune response against the vector, and the ability to accommodate large fragments of genetic information. In this work the generation of recombinant AAAV virions expressing the HN protein (rAAAV-HN) was demonstrated by electron microscopy, immunocytochemistry, and western blot analysis. Serological evidence of HN protein expression after in ovo or intramuscular inoculation of the recombinant virus in specific-pathogen-free chickens was obtained. Serum from rAAAV-HN–vaccinated birds showed a systemic immune response evidenced by NDV-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and hemagglutination inhibition testing. Positive virus neutralization in embryonated chicken eggs and indirect immunofluorescence detection of NDV infected cells by serum from rAAAV-HN vaccinated birds is also reported. A vaccine-challenge experiment in commercial broiler chickens using a Venezuelan virulent viscerotropic strain of NDV was performed. All unvaccinated controls died within 5 days postchallenge. Protection up to 80% was observed in birds vaccinated in ovo and revaccinated at 7 days of age with the rAAAV-HN. The results demonstrate the feasibility of developing and using an AAAV-based gene delivery system for poultry vaccination.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2