ABSTRACT: Infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV; Gallid herpesvirus 1) is an alphaherpesvirus that causes acute respiratory disease in chickens. The role of glycoprotein G (gG) in vitro has been investigated in a number of alphaherpesviruses, but the relevance of gG in vivo in the pathogenicity of ILTV or in other alphaherpesviruses is unknown. In this study, gG-deficient mutants of ILTV were generated and inoculated into specific-pathogen-free chickens to assess the role of gG in pathogenicity. In chickens, gG-deficient ILTV reached a similar titre to wild-type (wt) ILTV but was significantly attenuated with respect to induction of clinical signs, effect on weight gain and bird mortality. In addition, an increased tracheal mucosal thickness, reflecting increased inflammatory cell infiltration at the site of infection, was detected in birds inoculated with gG-deficient ILTV compared with birds inoculated with wt ILTV. The reinsertion of gG into gG-deficient ILTV restored the in vivo phenotype of the mutant to that of wt ILTV. Quantitative PCR analysis of the expression of the genes adjacent to gG demonstrated that they were not affected by the deletion of gG and investigations in vitro confirmed that the phenotype of gG-deficient ILTV was consistent with unaltered expression of these adjacent genes. This is the first reported study to demonstrate definitively that gG is a virulence factor in ILTV and that deletion of gG from this alphaherpesvirus genome causes marked attenuation of the virus in its natural host.
Journal of General Virology 11/2006; 87(Pt 10):2839-47. · 3.36 Impact Factor