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Marek’s disease herpesvirus vaccines integrate into chicken host chromosomes yet lack a virus-host phenotype associated with oncogenic transformation

McPherson, Marla C., Cheng, Hans H., Delany, Mary E.
Vaccine 2016 v.34 no.46 pp. 5554-5561
Marek disease, antineoplastic activity, biosecurity, chickens, death, disease resistance, flocks, genetic resistance, genome, host-pathogen relationships, hosts, immunity, models, oncogenic viruses, pathogens, phenotype, selection methods, serotypes, telomeres, vaccination, vaccines, virus replication
Marek’s disease (MD) is a lymphotropic and oncogenic disease of chickens that can lead to death in susceptible and unvaccinated host birds. The causative pathogen, MD virus (MDV), a highly oncogenic alphaherpesvirus, integrates into host genome near the telomeres. MD occurrence is controlled across the globe by biosecurity, selective breeding for enhanced MD genetic resistance, and widespread vaccination of flocks using attenuated serotype 1 MDV or other serotypes. Despite over 40 years of usage, the specific mechanism(s) of MD vaccine-related immunity and anti-tumor effects are not known. Here we investigated the cytogenetic interactions of commonly used MD vaccine strains of all three serotypes (HVT, SB-1, and Rispens) with the host to determine if all were equally capable of host genome integration. We also studied the dynamic profiles of chromosomal association and integration of the three vaccine strains, a first for MD vaccine research. Our cytogenetic data provide evidence that all three MD vaccine strains tested integrate in the chicken host genome as early as 1 day after vaccination similar to oncogenic strains. However, a specific, transformation-associated virus-host phenotype observed for oncogenic viruses is not established. Our results collectively provide an updated model of MD vaccine-host genome interaction and an improved understanding of the possible mechanisms of vaccinal immunity. Physical integration of the oncogenic MDV genome into host chromosomes along with cessation of viral replication appears to have joint signification in MDV’s ability to induce oncogenic transformation. Whereas for MD vaccine serotypes, a sustained viral replication stage and lack of the chromosome-integrated only stage were shared traits during early infection.