Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) papillomaviruses: Vaccine antigen candidates and screening test development

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Center for Coastal Research, Marine Mammal Research and Conservation, Fort Pierce, FL 34946, USA.
Veterinary Microbiology (Impact Factor: 2.51). 08/2008; 133(1-2):43-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2008.06.017
Source: PubMed


Papillomaviruses (PVs) have been shown as being the etiologic agents of various benign and malignant tumours in many vertebrate species. In dolphins and porpoises, a high prevalence of orogenital tumours has recently been documented with at least four distinct novel species-specific PV types detected in such lesions. Therefore, we generated the immunological reagents to establish a serological screening test to determine the prevalence of PV infection in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins [(Tursiops truncatus (Tt)]. Using the baculovirus expression system, virus-like particles (VLPs) derived from the L1 proteins of two TtPV types, TtPV1 and TtPV2, were generated. Polyclonal antibodies against TtPV VLPs were produced in rabbits and their specificity for the VLPs was confirmed. Electron microscopy and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) studies revealed that the generated VLPs self-assembled into particles presenting conformational immunodominant epitopes. As such, these particles are potential antigen candidates for a TtPV vaccine. Subsequently, the VLPs served as antigens in initial ELISA tests using sera from six bottlenose dolphins to investigate PV antibody presence. Three of these sera were derived from dolphins with genital tumour history and showed positive PV ELISA reactivity, while the remaining sera from lesion-free dolphins were PV antibody-negative. The results suggest that the developed screening test may serve as a potential tool for determining PV prevalence and thus for observing transmission rates in dolphin populations as the significance of PV infection in cetaceans starts to unfold.

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