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A herpes-like virus in king crabs: Characterization and transmission under laboratory conditions

Ryazanova, T.V., Eliseikina, M.G., Kalabekov, I.M., Odintsova, N.A.
Journal of invertebrate pathology 2015 v.127 pp. 21-31
DNA-directed DNA polymerase, Paralithodes camtschatica, Paralithodes platypus, actin, amino acid motifs, bladder, bubbles, cell culture, crabs, cytoplasm, electron microscopy, epithelium, hemocytes, pathogen identification, polymerase chain reaction, tubulin, virion, virus-like particles, viruses, Okhotsk Sea
A herpes-like virus was found infecting the antennal gland and bladder epithelium in the blue king crab Paralithodes platypus from the eastern area of the Sea of Okhotsk. Electron microscopic analysis of antennal gland samples from blue king crabs with histologically confirmed signs of disease revealed virus particles, which were mostly hexagonal in shape and located primarily in the nucleus; these particles were rarely observed in the cytoplasm of infected cells. Most virus particles ranged in size from 115 to 125nm. Hemocytes of the red king crab Paralithodes camtschaticus in cell culture could be experimentally infected with virus from thawed antennal gland samples of the blue king crabs with histologically confirmed signs of viral infection. Clear signs of infection were observed in hemocyte cultures at 3–4days post-inoculation as small foci of highly vacuolated formations. These formations included several nuclei and were surrounded by a halo of small cytoplasmic bubbles containing actin and tubulin. As demonstrated by electron microscopic studies, no virus-like particles were found in the cells 1day post-inoculation, but particles become abundant at 7days post-inoculation. We developed a consensus primer PCR method for amplification of a region of the herpesviral DNA-directed DNA polymerase. Primers were designed to target sequences encoding highly conserved amino acid motifs covering a region of approximately 800bp. Thus, macroscopic, histological and ultra-structural examinations of blue king crabs infected with a virus and the molecular identification of the pathogen revealed the presence of herpesviruses. The frequency of the herpes-like viral infection in natural populations of blue king crabs in the Sea of Okhotsk ranged from 0% to 3% in different years.