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Genetic and antigenic heterogeneity of GI-1/Massachusetts lineage infectious bronchitis virus variants recently isolated in China

Sheng, Jie, Ren, Mengting, Han, Zongxi, Sun, Junfeng, Zhao, Yan, Liu, Shengwang
Poultry science 2020 v.99 no.11 pp. 5440-5451
Infectious bronchitis virus, amino acids, chickens, evolution, flocks, genome, live vaccines, mutation, neutralization tests, pathogenicity, reverse genetics, viral shedding, China
Four GI-1/Massachusetts-type (GI-1/Mass-type) infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) strains were isolated and the complete genomes of these isolates, coupled with the Mass-type live-attenuated vaccine H120 and the Mass-type pathogenic M41 strains, were sequenced in the present study. Our results show that isolates LJL/140820 and I0306/17 may be derived from the Ma5 (another Mass-type live-attenuated vaccine strain) and H120 vaccine strains, respectively. The I1124/16 strain was found to be a M41 variant that likely resulted from nucleotide accumulated mutations in the genome. Consistently, the results of the virus neutralization test showed that isolate I1124/16 was antigenically related but slight different from the M41. Our results from the protection experiments pointed out that chickens immunized with H120 failed to eliminate viral shedding after infection with the isolate I1124/16, which was different from that of M41; this result was consistent to the field observation and further implicated that the variant IBV isolate I1124/16 was antigenic different from the M41 strain. Furthermore, the I1124/16 was found to have comparable but slightly lower pathogenicity with the M41 strain. More studies based on the reverse genetic techniques are needed to elucidate the amino acids in the S1 subunit of spike protein contributing to the altered antigenicity of the isolate I1124/16. In addition, an IBV isolate, LJL/130609, was found to be originated from recombination events between the I1124/16- and Connecticut-like strains. Our results from the virus neutralization test also showed that isolates LJL/130609 and I1124/16 were antigenic closely related. Hence, there are at least 3 different genetic evolution patterns for the circulation of the GI-1/Mass-type IBV field strains in China. The differences of vaccines used, the field conditions and genetic pressures between different flocks, likely account for the emergence, evolution patterns, and characteristics of the Mass-type IBV strains.