(19)
(11)EP 3 733 688 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
04.11.2020 Bulletin 2020/45

(21)Application number: 20176389.3

(22)Date of filing:  29.06.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
C07K 14/18(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 30.06.2016 GB 201611512

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
17001115.9 / 3263590

(71)Applicant: Pharmaq AS
7863 Overhalla (NO)

(72)Inventors:
  • BRUDAL, Espen
    7863 Overhalla (NO)
  • HAUGLAND, Oyvind
    7863 Overhalla (NO)
  • JOHANSEN, Renate
    7863 Overhalla (NO)
  • VESTVIK, Nils Frederik
    7863 Overhalla (NO)

(74)Representative: Mannion, Sally Kim 
Zoetis UK Limited First Floor, Birchwood Building Springfield Drive
Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7LP
Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 7LP (GB)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 25-05-2020 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)FISH VIRUS


(57) The present invention relates to a novel fish virus, nucleic acid sequences originating from the virus, and uses thereof.




Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS



[0001] This application claims priority from GB1611512.3 filed June 30, 2016, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0002] The present invention relates to a newly discovered virus (Lumpfish flavivirus), which causes disease in fish, and the use of the isolated virus within veterinary immunology and diagnosis. More specifically, the invention provides nucleic acid sequences coding proteins and the use thereof in inter alia recombinant vaccines, DNA vaccines, live recombinant vaccines, and vaccines comprising attenuated or inactivated Lumpfish flavivirus. The protein coding sequences are also useful in respect of developing methods providing for immunological determination of virus infection. The invention thus also relates to antibodies, and the use thereof in immunoassays. The present invention also relates to primers useful in methods for detection of virus in a test sample. The present invention also provides diagnostic kits comprising recombinant proteins, antibodies and primers, respectively.

BACKGROUND



[0003] The lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus L.) has become an important aquaculture species due to its efficacy as a cleaner fish for Atlantic salmon. This species has shown a high appetite for the ectoparasitic copepod, the sea louse Lepeophtherius salmonis Krøyer, representing a non-pharmaceutical and therefore an environmentally friendly delousing method when compared to chemical treatments. It is therefore important to ensure a stable supply of lumpfish for use as cleaner fish in the salmon industry.

[0004] Lumpfish, a common species along the Norwegian coast, has a broad geographical distribution, from Greenland in the north to the coast of Portugal in the east and Cape Cod in the south-west, indicating a broad temperature tolerance. This species in addition seems to be more robust and with a less complicated intensive production of larvae and juveniles compared to other cleaner fish species such as the ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta, goldsinny wrasse Ctenolabrus rupestris L. and corkwing wrasse Symphodus melops L.

[0005] Since the intensive production of this species is relatively new (around 2012), very little is known about the disease problems potentially faced by this species when being produced at high densities. At present, the main causes of death in cleaner fish are related to bacterial diseases. A number of bacteria with pathogenic potential have been isolated from farmed and wild caught cleaner fish including such species as Vibrio anguillarum, Vibrio ordalii and Pseudomonas anguilliseptica, and there are indications that primary pathogens of cleaner fish are also Aeromonas salmonicida, Vibrio splendidus and Vibrio tapetis. A few vaccines have been available for vaccinating lumpfish against bacterial diseases.

[0006] No viral diseases have been characterized in lumpfish until the description given in this patent application.

[0007] Elevated levels of mortalities were observed in a rearing facility for lumpfish in Norway. Histology samples were collected, and these showed mild to severe necrosis in the liver from all sampled lumpfish. The genome of a novel virus, most closely related to the virus family Flaviviridae was characterized. This novel virus is referred to herein as Lumpfish flavivirus.

[0008] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide nucleic acid sequences originating from Lumpfish flavivirus, and various useful applications thereof.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0009] In a first aspect, the present invention provides an isolated virus comprising a ribonucleic acid genome having at least 70% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20, and variants and fragments thereof. In an embodiment, the virus of the invention comprises a ribonucleic acid genome sequence having at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98%, at least 99%, at least 99.5% or at least 99.9% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention belongs to the family flaviviridae. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is isolated from lumpfish. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is a flavivirus isolated from a lumpfish. In some embodiment, the virus of the invention is a lumpfish flavivirus (LFV).

[0010] In a second aspect, the present invention provides an isolated DNA nucleic acid sequence originating from the virus of the invention having a sequence selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof having at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4 or SEQ ID NO. 6.

[0011] In some embodiments, the isolated DNA nucleic acid sequence originating from the virus of the invention may have at least 80%, at least 85%,at least 90%, at least 91%, at least 92%, at least 93%, at least 94%, at least 95%, at least 96%, at least 97%, at least 98% or at least 99% sequence identity to at least 99.5 %, or at least 99.9% sequence identity to a nucleic acid selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, and SEQ ID NO. 6.

[0012] A third aspect of the invention relates to a vector comprising a nucleic acid sequence according to the second aspect of the present invention.

[0013] In some embodiments, a vector is provided comprising a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4 or SEQ ID NO. 6, wherein the nucleic acid sequence is operably or operatively linked to control sequences directing the expression of said nucleic acid sequences. In some embodiments, the variants or fragments may have at least 80%, preferably at least 90 %, at least 92 %, at least 95 %, at least 97 %, at least 99 %, at least 99.5 %, or at least 99.9% sequence identity to a nucleic acid selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, and SEQ ID NO. 6.

[0014] In a fourth aspect of the invention, a host cell is provided comprising a vector of the third aspect.

[0015] According to a fifth aspect of the invention, DNA vaccines are provided comprising a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ ID NO. 6. In some embodiments, the variants or fragments may have at least 80%, preferably at least 90 %, at least 92 %, at least 95 %, at least 97 %, at least 99 %, at least 99.5 %, or at least 99.9% sequence identity to a nucleic acid selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, and SEQ ID NO. 6.

[0016] A sixth aspect of the invention relates to recombinant proteins encoded by a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ ID NO. 6. In some embodiments, the variants or fragments may have at least 80%, preferably at least 90 %, at least 92 %, at least 95 %, at least 97 %, at least 99 %, at least 99.5 %, or at least 99.9% sequence identity to a nucleic acid selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, and SEQ ID NO. 6.

[0017] In some embodiments, recombinant proteins according to the present invention have an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, SEQ ID NO. 7, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, or SEQ ID NO. 7. In some embodiments, the variants or fragments may have at least 80%, preferably at least 90 %, at least 92 %, at least 95 %, at least 97 %, at least 99 %, at least 99.5 %, or at least 99.9% sequence identity to a nucleic acid selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, and SEQ ID NO. 7.

[0018] In a seventh aspect, the present invention provides a recombinant vaccine comprising at least one of the recombinant proteins of the sixth aspect.

[0019] In an eighth aspect of the invention, an antibody is provided that specifically recognises and binds to a recombinant protein of the sixth aspect. The antibody may be a monoclonal antibody or a polyclonal antibody.

[0020] According to a ninth aspect of the invention, an immunoassay is provided for the detection of antibodies specific for the virus of the invention in a biological sample. The immunoassay comprises the following steps:

a) contacting a biological sample suspected to comprise antibodies raised against the virus of the invention with at least one of the recombinant proteins according to the sixth aspect of the present invention; and

(b) determining whether the at least one recombinant protein binds to antibodies present in the biological sample wherein said binding represents an indication that the sample contains antibodies specific for the virus of the invention.



[0021] In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is isolated from lumpfish. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is from the family flaviviridae, In some embodiments the virus of the invention is a Lumpfish flavivirus.

[0022] According to a tenth aspect of the invention an immunoassay is provided for detection of the virus of the invention in a biological sample. The immunoassay comprises the following steps:
  1. (a) contacting a biological sample suspected to comprise the virus of the invention with one or more antibodies that specifically recognise and bind to a recombinant protein according to the sixth aspect of the invention (such as an antibody of the eighth aspect); and
  2. (b) determining whether the one or more antibody binds to the virus of the invention present in the biological sample wherein said binding represents an indication that the sample contains the virus of the invention.


[0023] In some embodiments, the one or more antibody may be a monoclonal antibody.

[0024] In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is isolated from lumpfish. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is from the family flaviviridae, In some embodiments the virus of the invention is a Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV).

[0025] In an eleventh aspect, the present invention provides a primer comprising a sequence of at least about 10 nucleotides, wherein said primer hybridizes to a nucleic acid sequence originating from the virus of the invention having a sequence selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ ID NO. 6. In some embodiments the primer is suitable for use in PCR and hybridizes to the nucleic acid sequence at a temperature of at least 50 °C. In some embodiments, the variants or fragments may have at least 80%, preferably at least 90 %, at least 92 %, at least 95 %, at least 97 %, at least 99 %, at least 99.5 %, or at least 99.9% sequence identity to a nucleic acid selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, and SEQ ID NO. 6.

[0026] In some embodiments, the primer may consist of or comprise at least 15 nucleotides, such as at least 20 nucleotides.

[0027] In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is isolated from lumpfish. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is from the family flaviviridae, In some embodiments the virus of the invention is a Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV).

[0028] In twelfth aspect of the invention, a method for the detection of the virus of the invention in a biological sample is provided. The method comprises the following steps:
  1. a) isolating nucleic acids from a biological sample suspected to comprise the virus of the invention;
  2. b) contacting the nucleic acids with at least one primer in accordance with the eleventh aspect of the invention;
  3. c) subjecting the mixture of b) to stringent hybridisation conditions; and,
  4. d) determining whether hybridisation between the primer and the nucleic acids has occurred, wherein hybridisation indicates the presence of the virus of the invention in the biological sample.


[0029] In some embodiments, the mixture of b) is also subjected to reverse transcription and amplification conditions, preferably suitable PCR conditions.

[0030] In some embodiments, the stringent hybridisation conditions comprise hybridization in a buffer consisting of 6 X SSC, 50 mM Tris-HCL (pH=7.5), 1 mM EDTA, 0.02% PVP, 0.02% Ficoll, 0.02% BSA and 100 µg/ml denatured salmon sperm DNA, for 48 hours at 65°C, washing in a buffer consisting of 2 X SSC, 25 0.01 % PVP, 0.01% Ficoll, 0.01% BSA for 45 minutes at 37°C, and washing in a buffer consisting of 0.1 X SSC, for 45 minutes at 50°C.
In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is isolated from lumpfish. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is from the family flaviviridae, In some embodiments the virus of the invention is a Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV).
In a thirteenth aspect, the present invention relates to a diagnostic kit comprising at least one primer sequence in accordance with the eleventh aspect of the invention. In a fourteenth aspect, the present invention relates to the use of the nucleic acid sequences of the second aspect of the invention for the preparation of a DNA vaccine, a recombinant vaccine, or a live recombinant microorganism.

[0031] In some embodiments, the isolated virus of the invention may be used in medicine. For example, the isolated virus may be used in inactivated or attenuated form as a vaccine.
In a fifteenth aspect, the isolated virus of the invention may be used as part of a vaccine formulation in a method of preventing an infection in a lumpfish. In some embodiments, the isolated virus may be attenutated or killed. In some embodiments the attenuated or killed virus of the invention may be formulated with an adjuvant.

[0032] In a sixteenth aspect, the invention provides a vaccine comprising the virus of the fourteenth or fifteenth aspect in inactivated or attenuated form.

[0033] In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is isolated from lumpfish. In some embodiments, the virus of the invention is from the family flaviviridae, In some embodiments the virus of the invention is a Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV).

[0034] In some embodiments, the vaccine may be used in the treatment or prevention of liver necrosis in lumpfish.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES



[0035] 

Figures 1A-1D discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 1) corresponding to the genomic sequence of the Lumpfish flavivirus, which is 11336 nucleotides in length.

Figure 2A and 2B discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 2) corresponding to the open reading frame 1 of the Lumpfish flavivirus. The open reading frame 1 comprises the sequence starting at the nucleotide in position 277 and ending at the nucleotide in position 4323 of SEQ ID NO. 1.

Figure 3 discloses the amino acid sequence coded by the sequence depicted in figure 2, i.e. the amino acid sequence corresponding to SEQ ID NO. 3.

Figure 4A-4C discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 4) corresponding to the open reading frame 2 of the Lumpfish flavivirus. The open reading frame 2 comprises the sequence starting at the nucleotide in position 4320 and ending at the nucleotide in position 10727 of SEQ ID NO. 1.

Figure 5 discloses the amino acid sequence coded by the sequence depicted in figure 4, i.e. the amino acid sequence corresponding to SEQ ID NO. 5.

Figure 6 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 6) corresponding to the putative envelope protein of the Lumpfish flavivirus. This sequence starts at the nucleotide in position 1297 and ends at the nucleotide in position 2853 of SEQ ID NO. 1.

Figure 7 discloses the amino acid sequence coded by the sequence depicted in figure 6, i.e. the amino acid sequence corresponding to the putative envelope protein, SEQ ID NO. 7.

Figure 8A-8D discloses the RNA sequence (SEQ ID NO.8) corresponding to the RNA genome of the Lumpfish flavivirus, which is 11336 nucleotides in length.

Figure 9 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 21) corresponding assembled sequence of the sequence of the LFV strain 1 isolate of Lumpfish flavivirus.

Figure 10 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 22) corresponding assembled sequence of the sequence of the LFV strain 2 isolate of Lumpfish flavivirus.

Figure 11 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 23) corresponding assembled sequence of the sequence of the LFV strain 3 isolate of Lumpfish flavivirus.

Figure 12 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 24) corresponding assembled sequence of the sequence of the LFV strain 4 isolate of Lumpfish flavivirus.

Figure 13 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 25) corresponding assembled sequence of the sequence of the LFV strain 5 isolate of Lumpfish flavivirus.

Figure 14 discloses the DNA sequence (SEQ ID NO. 26) corresponding assembled sequence of the sequence of the LFV strain reference of Lumpfish flavivirus.

Figure 15A and B graphically discloses the LFV Ct values of Lumpfish tissue samples from (A) Kidney and (B) Heart tissue sampled at 1, 7, 14, 21 and 31 days post challenge. Each icon represents one fish. Ten fish are sampled per time point.

Figure 16 graphically discloses the LFV Ct values of Lumpfish kidney tissue samples sampled at 14 and 31 days post challenge. Each icon represents one fish. Ten fish are sampled per tank per time point.

Figure 17 discloses a photographic image of a histological section of a normal lumpfish liver.

Figure 18 discloses a photographic image of a histological section of a lumpfish liver with extensive tissue damage sampled at 21 days post IP challenge with LFV containing tissue homogenate.

Figure 19 discloses a photographic image of a histological section of a lumpfish liver with extensive tissue damage sampled at 31 days post IP challenge with LFV containing tissue homogenate.

Figure 20 discloses a photographic image of an ethidium bromide stained agarose gel showing the PCR product using the LFV1 forward and reverse primers, the products of which were sequenced and aligned to show variant LFV.

Figure 21 discloses a photographic image of an ethidium bromide stained agarose gel showing the PCR product using the LFV2 forward and reverse primers, the products of which were sequenced and aligned to show variant LFV.

Figure 22 discloses a photographic image of an ethidium bromide stained agarose gel showing the PCR product using the LFV3 forward and reverse primers, the products of which were sequenced and aligned to show variant LFV.

Figure 23 discloses a photographic image of an ethidium bromide stained agarose gel showing the PCR product using the LFV4 forward and reverse primers, the products of which were sequenced and aligned to show variant LFV.

Figure 24 represents a phylogenetic tree constructed from the nucleotide alignments of the five variant LFV strains isolated.

Figure 25 represents individual sequence alignment and consensus sequence of the putative structural proteins of the five variant LFV isolated


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION



[0036] The present invention and the various embodiments thereof will now be described in detail in the following.

Definitions



[0037] The present invention relates to isolated nucleic acid sequences and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70% sequence identity to the isolated nucleic acid sequences. The terms "% sequence identity", "% identical", "% identity", "% homology", and similar terms, are to be understood to refer to the percentage of nucleotides that two or more sequences or fragments thereof contain that are the same. A specified percentage of nucleotides can be referred to as having, for example, 70%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95%, 99% sequence identity or homology over a specified region when compared and aligned for maximum correspondence. Unless otherwise stated, the determination of sequence identity/homology is based on a comparison of the entire sequences, and not on selected portions. The skilled person will acknowledge that various means for comparing sequences are available. For example, one non-limiting example of a useful computer sequence alignment program useful for determining the percent sequence identity/ homology between sequences includes the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) (Altschul et al., 1990, J. of Molec. Biol., 215:403-410, "The BLAST Algorithm; Altschul et al., 1997, Nuc. Acids Res. 25:3389-3402, , Karlin and Altschul 1990, Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA, 87:2264-68; 1993, Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA 90:5873-77).

[0038] The term "fragments or variants thereof" used in respect of the nucleic acid sequences and recombinant proteins according to the present invention is to be understood to encompass nucleic acid sequences and recombinant proteins that only differ from the isolated sequences SEQ ID NO. 1-26 by way of some amino acid or nucleotide additions, deletions or alteration that have little or no effect on the functional activity of the claimed sequences. The skilled person will acknowledge that modifications of a protein coding nucleotide sequence may be introduced which do not alter the amino acid sequence, e.g. the substitution of a nucleotide resulting in that the triplet affected by the substitution still codes for the same amino acid. Such alterations may, for example, be introduced to adapt the nucleic acid sequence to the codons preferably used by a host cell and thus to enhance the expression of a desired recombinant protein. Furthermore, the addition of nucleic acid sequences coding polypeptides which facilitate purification may be added without affecting the activity of the resulting recombinant protein.

[0039] The skilled person will further acknowledge that alterations of the nucleic acid sequence resulting in modifications of the amino acid sequence of the corresponding recombinant protein may have little, if any, effect on e.g. the protein's ability to induce protection against Lumpfish flavivirus infection, if the alteration does not have any impact on the resulting three dimensional structure of the recombinant protein. For example, a codon for the amino acid alanine, a hydrophobic amino acid, may be substituted by a codon encoding another less hydrophobic residue, such as glycine, or a more hydrophobic residue, such as valine, leucine, or isoleucine. Similarly, changes which result in substitution of one negatively charged residue for another, such as aspartic acid for glutamic acid, or one positively charged residue for another, such as lysine for arginine, can also be expected to produce a recombinant protein with substantially the same functional activity as the protein having the amino acid sequences as depicted in SEQ ID NO.s 3, 5, and 7, and thus to be expected to constitute a biologically equivalent product. Nucleotide changes which result in alteration of the N-terminal or C-terminal portions of the protein molecule would also not be expected to alter the functional activity of the protein. Each of the proposed modifications is well within the routine skill in the art, as is determination of retention of biological activity of the encoded products. Therefore, where the terms "nucleic acid sequences of the invention" or "recombinant protein of the invention" are used in either the specification or the claims each will be understood to encompass all such modifications and variations which result in the production of a biologically equivalent protein.

[0040] Thus, the present invention therefore encompasses recombinant proteins and fragments thereof which differ in respect of amino acid substitutions, addition or deletions, compared with the recombinant proteins having the sequence of SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, and SEQ ID NO. 7, respectively, but which exert substantially the same functional activity as the proteins having the sequence of SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, and SEQ ID NO. 7.

[0041] Terms such as "antigen", "immunogenic protein or peptide", "antigenic determinant", and "epitope", when used in connection with the present invention, are to be understood to refer to a recombinant protein or fragment thereof according to the invention which is able to induce protection against Lumpfish flavivirus infection in fish or which is able to bind to an antibody which recognises and binds to the Lumpfish flavivirus. A fragment of a recombinant protein having a sequence as depicted in SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, and SEQ ID NO. 7, respectively may constitute such an antigen or epitope. A non-limiting example of an antigenic fragment is a fragment constituting, for example, 8-11 amino acids of the sequence SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5, or SEQ ID NO. 7.

[0042] The term "originating from", as used herein, refers to a DNA sequence that was originally isolated from an RNA virus, reverse transcribed and made into double stranded DNA molecules. The DNA sequences of the present invention originated from the RNA genome of the virus of the invention.

[0043] The term "vaccine" as used herein refers to a material that can produce an immune response that blocks the infectivity, either partially or fully, of an infectious agent, which in respect of the present invention is the Lumpfish flavivirus affecting fish such as e.g. Lumpfish. Thus, when the vaccines of the invention are administered to a fish, the fish is immunised against the disease caused by Lumpfish flavivirus. The immunising component of the vaccine may be e.g. DNA as in a DNA vaccine, a recombinant protein or fragment thereof according to the present invention, a live recombinant microorganism, or an inactivated or attenuated virus.

[0044] When used in relation to the virus of the present invention, the term "isolated" refers to the virus when separated from its natural environment, such as the cells and tissues from its natural host. In particular, the term "isolated" refers to a culture, such as a pure culture of the virus derived from a tissue sample from an infected host. As viruses cannot reproduce on their own and use host cell machinery to make both the viral genome and capsids, the term "isolated" may in particular refer to a culture of cells infected with the virus. The term "isolated" may further refer to a virus which is substantially free of other viral or microbial material. The term "substantially free of other viral or microbial material" as used herein refers to a preparation of a virus in which other viral or microbial material cannot be detected using conventional techniques like seeding on TSA or cysteine heart agar spread plates, seeding in cell cultures known to support the growth of fish viruses like Pancreas Disease Virus, Infectious Salmon Anemia virus and Infectious pancreatic Necrosis virus and PCR with primers designed against known sequences from fish pathogens. Further, it is to be understood that when "substantially free of other viral or microbial material" the virus of the invention is in a form wherein it may be used for therapeutic purposes. This definition does not exclude applications in which a pure culture of the virus according to the invention is combined with other vaccine antigens, e.g. other bacterial or viral antigens in compositions, e.g. compositions intended for vaccination purposes.

[0045] As outlined below, the present invention also provides primers (i.e. oligonucleotide sequences) useful as diagnostic tools. The term "primer" as used herein refers to an oligonucleotide produced from a longer sequence (e.g. as a restriction fragment) or produced synthetically, which is significantly complementary to a Lumpfish flavivirus target sequence and thus capable of hybridizing to a nucleic acid sequence of the present invention. The primer may be labelled to facilitate detection, e.g. using fluorescent labels or other label means known to the skilled person.

Detailed description of the embodiments of the invention



[0046] It is to be understood that content of prior art documents referred to herein is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Lumpfish flavivirus



[0047] The present inventors have identified and isolated a new virus, referred to herein as "Lumpfish flavivirus" (LFV). According to specific embodiments of the invention, the virus comprises in its genome a ribonucleic acid sequence, SEQ ID NO. 20 and which, by reverse transcription and two-strand synthesis provides the DNA sequence set forth in SEQ ID NO: 1, or a closely related or variant sequence. Nucleic acid sequences

[0048] The present invention describes the genomic sequence of the new Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV). Tissue was collected from lumpfish showing clinical signs of disease, with extensive liver necrosis. Tissue was homogenized, pelleted by centrifugation, and the supernatant subjected to DNase and RNase treatment. RNA was then isolated and cDNA synthesised using random primers. Thereafter, double stranded DNA was provided and amplified by PCR using random primers, and the obtained products were sequenced and analysed to obtain part of the genomic sequence. The sequence of the rest of the genome was obtained by PCR with specific primers and 3' and 5' RACE (Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends), and the DNA sequence corresponding to the full genomic sequence of the virus is given in figure 1 and SEQ ID NO. 1 and further represented as the ribonucleic acid sequence of the RNA genome as set forth in SEQ ID NO.20..

[0049] The further analysis of SEQ ID NO. 1 by the present inventors revealed two open reading frames which are believed to include the coding region for several viral proteins. Sequence comparison with other known viral sequences has revealed that the open reading frame 1 (SEQ ID NO. 2) according to the present invention shows very weak homology to other viral sequences. However, certain putative protein motives can be identified, and an organisation corresponding to the common outline of Flaviviridae is suggested. Furthermore, the analysis of the open reading frame 1 (SEQ ID NO. 2) indicates that it comprises a nucleic acid sequence coding an envelope protein (SEQ ID NO. 6). The amino acid sequence of the open reading frame 1 is shown in figure 3 and SEQ ID NO. 3. Said sequence shows only very weak homology with other known proteins.

[0050] A further isolated nucleic acid sequence of the invention (open reading frame 2, SEQ ID NO. 4) comprises a sequence coding putative proteins and the amino acid sequence thereof is depicted in figure 5 and SEQ ID NO. 5

[0051] The SEQ ID NO. 6 of the invention comprises a sequence which is also believed to include the coding sequence of a putative envelope protein, the amino acid sequence thereof being depicted in figure 6/SEQ ID NO. 6. Surprisingly, said sequence shows only very weak homology with other viral envelope proteins, and no other members of the Flaviviridae family comprise this particular open reading frame.

[0052] The discovery of the Lumpfish flavivirus and the determination and disclosure of the viral nucleotide sequences advantageously facilitates substantial progress in respect of controlling and preventing liver necrosis in fish. For example, the sequences of the open reading frames 1, 2, or the putative envelope protein (SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO.4, or SEQ ID NO. 6), may be used in the development of recombinant proteins to be used in vaccines, or the development of DNA vaccines or a live recombinant microorganism.

[0053] Recombinant proteins which are coded for by sequences based on the open reading frames 1, 2, or the putative envelope protein (SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO.4, or SEQ ID NO. 6), may also be used in the development of diagnostic tools, for example, through the production of antibodies and the development of immunoassays for the detection of the presence of Lumpfish flavivirus in biological samples.

[0054] In addition, the sequences provided may be used in the development of diagnostic tools. For example, the nucleic acid sequences or fragments thereof may be used to detect the presence of Lumpfish flavivirus in fish or other biological samples.

[0055] Various aspects and embodiments of the invention resulting from the disclosed viral nucleic acid sequences are outlined further below. The skilled person will acknowledge that said embodiments should not be understood to represent a limit on the scope of the uses of the claimed nucleic acid sequences. Other uses of the claimed nucleic acid sequences are also understood to be covered by the scope of the present invention.

Recombinant proteins



[0056] According to one aspect of the invention, the invention provides recombinant Lumpfish flavivirus proteins.

[0057] The skilled person is well familiar with the various available biotechnological techniques providing for the expression of isolated nucleic acid sequences for the preparation of recombinant proteins by heterologous expression in various host cell systems using commonly available genetic engineering techniques and recombinant DNA expression systems. Various protocols for the expression of recombinant protein are known, cf. e.g. "Recombinant Gene Expression Protocols, in Methods in Molecular Biology, 1997, Ed. Rocky S Tuan, Human Press (ISSN 1064-3745) or Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning: A laboratory Manual (third edition), 2001, CSHL Press, (ISBN 978-087969577-4). For example, the nucleic acid sequences of the open reading frames 1 and 2 or fragments or variants thereof may be inserted in suitable expression vectors comprising all the necessary transcriptional and translational regulatory sequences specifically adapted for directing the expression of the desired protein coding nucleic acid sequence in a suitable host cell. Suitable expression vectors are e.g. plasmids, cosmids, viruses or artificial yeast chromosomes (YAC's). A non-limiting list of examples of suitable expression vector systems is e.g. pET-type of vectors (available from Invitrogen), pcDNA3.1 vectors (available from Invitrogen), or the pBR-type, pUC-type or pGEM-type of expression vectors. The obtained expression vector including the open reading frames (SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4 or SEQ ID NO. 6) or a fragment thereof is then introduced in suitable host cells for the production of the desired recombinant protein.

[0058] According to one embodiment of the invention, a vector is provided comprising a sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4 or SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ ID NO. 6, operatively linked to control sequences directing the expression of said sequences. The term "operatively linked", means that the desired sequence coding for a recombinant protein is linked to all the necessary transcriptional and translational regulatory sequences specifically adapted for directing the expression of the desired protein coding nucleic acid sequence in a suitable host cell.

[0059] It should be understood that various modifications may be introduced in the nucleic sequences of the present invention utilising techniques well known to the skilled person for example to facilitate expression. By the use of site directed mutagenesis, modification may be introduced to adapt the coding sequence to the desired host used to express the sequence and thus produce the recombinant protein. The skilled person is well aware of the fact of the presence of host specific codons, and that the adaption of a heterologous nucleic acid sequence to the host specific codons increase the expression efficiency. Other modification may also be introduced, e.g. to facilitate isolation and purification, i.e. by adding a sequence coding for a peptide or protein useful for such purposes. Also, nucleic acid sequences coding signal peptide providing for secretion of the desired recombinant protein from the host cell may also be linked to the nucleic acid sequences of the present invention. In case the recombinant protein is expressed in a live recombinant microorganism (see below), the nucleic acid sequence may be modified to enable the anchorage of the recombinant protein in the membrane or cell wall of the microorganism resulting in the presentation of the recombinant protein on the surface of the live recombinant microorganism. According to such an embodiment of the invention, the nucleic acid sequence of the present invention is modified by adding a nucleic acid sequence coding a protein or peptide resulting in the anchorage of the resulting recombinant protein in the membrane or cell wall of the live recombinant microorganism.

[0060] The present invention thus provides vectors comprising the nucleic sequence as depicted in figure 2 and/or 4 and/or 6 (SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4 or SEQ ID NO. 6) or variants or fragments thereof. The present invention also provides host cells comprising the vectors of the invention.

[0061] Various commercially available host cells specifically adapted for the production of recombinant proteins may be used, including both prokaryotic host cells and eukaryotic host cells. Non-limiting examples of suitable prokaryote host cells are Escherichia Coli, Bacillus substilis, Lactobacilus sp, Caulobacter cresentus, Yersinia ruckeri, or Vibrio anguillarum. Non-limiting examples of suitable eukaryote host cells are yeast such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or Chinese hamster ovary cells. Viruses may also be used for the recombinant expression of a desired protein, cf. e.g. alphavirus, adenovirus or baculovirus vector systems (Bac-to-Bac® Baculovirus Expression Systems, Invitrogen, PichiaPink™ Yeast Expression System, Invitrogen).

[0062] According to one embodiment of the invention, a pET vector available from Invitrogen and specifically adapted for the expression of recombinant proteins in Escherichia Coli is used. The pET vector is an example of a bacterial expression vector and the invention is not limited to one vector system. One of skill in the art will recognize that other bacterial expression vectors may be used in place of a pET vector and yield positive results.

[0063] Recombinant protein may also be provided by using cell free expression systems. Recombinant proteins being the results of expression of the open reading frames 1 or 2 or putative envelope protein (SEQ ID NO. 2, 4 or 6) or fragments, variants, or combinations thereof may be used in a vaccine to obtain protection against further Lumpfish flavivirus infections.

Recombinant vaccine composition



[0064] Recombinant proteins prepared by heterologous expression of the nucleic acid sequences according to the present invention may be used as immunogenic component(s) of a recombinant vaccine composition.

[0065] The present invention therefore provides a vaccine composition comprising at least one recombinant protein having an amino acid sequence as depicted in figure 3, 5 or 7 (SEQ ID NO. 3, SEQ ID NO. 5 or SEQ ID NO. 7), or fragments or variants thereof.

[0066] According to one aspect of the invention, the at least one recombinant protein used in a vaccine consists of or comprises a fragment of the envelope protein coded for by the sequences of the SEQ ID NO. 6 that induce an immune response in the individual being administered the recombinant vaccine of the invention. Such fragments may constitute an epitope of the envelope protein coded for by SEQ ID NO. 6, is also known as an antigenic determinant. The skilled person is well familiar with the fact that the envelope proteins of a virus may comprise one or more epitopes that constitutes the part of the envelope protein that is recognized by the immune system and thus result in the development of protection against further infection. The epitopes may be found as linear, continuous sequence of amino acids, such as e.g. 8-11 amino acids, within an envelope protein or another surface structure of a pathogen organism. Such an epitope is commonly named a linear epitope. An epitope of an envelope protein may also be the results the three dimensional structure of the envelope protein, e.g. formed by the assembling of amino acids of the sequence that are not sequential. Such epitopes are commonly named discontinuous epitope, and are often larger than a linear epitope.

[0067] Linear and discontinuous epitopes comprised in the envelope protein of the invention may be determined by the use of epitope mapping technology available to the skilled person, c.f. Methods in Molecular Biology: Epitope Mapping Protocols, 1996, vol. 66, Ed. Glenn E Morris, Human Press (ISBN 978-0-89603-375-7). It is to be understood that vaccines comprising recombinant proteins according to the present invention which constitute protecting epitopes of the envelope protein of Lumpfish flavivirus, prepared by the expression of fragments of the putative envelope protein open reading frame (SEQ ID NO. 6), or variants or fragments thereof, are covered by scope of the present invention. More specifically, epitopes which are recognized by neutralizing antibodies will be of particular interest.

[0068] Epitopes that are found in those parts of the recombinant proteins according to the present invention that are particularly specific for the Lumpfish flavivirus are preferred.

[0069] The recombinant vaccine composition according to the invention comprising recombinant proteins or fragments thereof as outlined above may further comprise an adjuvant. Examples of adjuvants frequently used in fish and shellfish farming are muramyldipeptides, lipopolysaccharides, several glucans and glycans, mineral oil, Montanide™ and Carbopol®. An extensive overview of adjuvants suitable for fish and shellfish vaccines is given in the review paper by Jan Raa, 1996, Reviews in Fisheries Science 4(3): 229-228.

[0070] The vaccine of the invention may further comprise a suitable pharmaceutical carrier. In a currently preferred embodiment the vaccine is formulated as an emulsion of water in oil. The vaccine may also comprise a so-called "vehicle". A vehicle is a device to which the antigen adheres, without being covalently bound to it. Such vehicles include, for example, biodegradable nano/micro-particles or - capsules of PLGA (poly-lactide-co-glycolic acid), alginate or chitosan, liposomes, niosomes, micelles, multiple emulsions and macrosols, all of which are known in the art. A special form of such a vehicle, in which the antigen is partially embedded in the vehicle, is the so-called ISCOM (European patents EP0109942, EP0180564 and EP0242380.

[0071] In addition, the vaccine may comprise one or more suitable surface-active compounds or emulsifiers, e.g. Cremophore®, Tween® and Span®. Adjuvants such as interleukin, CpG and glycoproteins may also be used.

[0072] It is to be understood that the vaccine may further be in a formulation comprising an antigen from a bacterial source, an antigenic material obtained from a viral source other than the fish virus as described herein, an antigenic material obtained from a parasitical source, and/or an antigenic material obtained from a fungal source. Polyvalent vaccines containing antigens from typical fish pathogens other than Lumpfish flavivirus are well known in the art and are already commercially available. In addition, representative isolates of relevant fish pathogens are available from various sources.

[0073] In particular embodiments of the invention said antigen from a bacterial source is selected from the group consisting of: live, attenuated or killed bacteria of the species Piscirickettsias sp. Aeromonas sp., Vibrio sp., Listonella sp., Moritella viscosa, Photobacterium damsela, Flavobacterium sp., Yersinia sp., Renibacterium sp., Streptococcus sp., Lactococcus sp., Leuconostoc sp., Bifidobacterium sp., Pediococcus sp., Brevibacterium sp., Edwarsiella sp., Francisella sp., Pseudomonas sp., Cytophaga sp., Nocardia sp., Mycobacerium sp., parts or subunits of these bacteria, and any combination hereof.

[0074] Isolates of such bacteria are available, e.g. from LGC Promochem/American Type Culture Collection ATCC repository and distribution center (ATCC) including strains of A. salmonicida (ATCC 33658), V. salmonicida (ATCC 43839), V. anguillarum serotype O1(ATCC 43305) and O2(ATCC 19264), and Moritella viscosa (ATCC BAA-105). In addition, cultures of Piscirickettsias salmonis have been deposited in the European Collection of Cell Culture (ECACC), Health Protection Agency, Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire (UK), SP4 0JG UK on the 9 June 2006 under the following accession numbers: 06050901, 06050902, 06050903 and 07032110.

[0075] Other specific embodiments pertain to a vaccine, wherein said antigenic material obtained from a viral source other than the Lumpfish flavivirus described herein is from a virus selected from the group consisting of: Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV), Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV), Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHNV), Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus (IPNV), Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC), Channel Catfish Virus (CCV), Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus (ISAV), pancreatic disease virus (SPDV), Iridovirus, and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation virus (HSMIV), parts or subunits of any one of these viruses, and combinations hereof. Representative species of such viruses are available to the skilled artisan, for instance from the following deposits: infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV, ATCC VR-1318, country of origin: unknown), Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV, ATCC VR_1389, country of origin: Denmark); Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHNV, ATCC VR-1392, country of origin: USA)); Pancreatic Necrosis Virus; Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC, ATCC VR-1390, country of origin: Denmark); Channel Catfish Virus (CCV) (ATCC VR-665, country of origin: USA); Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) virus (ATCC VR-1554, country of origin: Canada).

[0076] Patent deposits have previously been made by the present applicant of the following viral species: Heart and Skeletal Muscle Infection Virus (HSMIV, patent deposit nr ECACC 04050401, country of origin: Norway).

[0077] In more specific embodiments, said antigenic material obtained from a viral source other than the Lumpfish flavivirus as described herein is from the group consisting of: Glycoprotein of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV), nucleoprotein of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV), glycoprotein of Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHNV), nucleoprotein structural proteins of Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus (IPNV), G protein of Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC), and a membrane-associated protein, tegumin or capsid protein or glycoprotein, of Channel Catfish Virus (CCV), antigenic fragments of any one of these proteins and combinations thereof.

[0078] In other embodiments said antigenic material from a parasitic source is from a source selected from the group consisting of Lepeophtheirus Sp., Caligus Sp., and Ichthyophthirius Sp, parts of any one of these parasites, and combinations thereof.

[0079] In yet other embodiments said antigenic material is from a fungal source selected from the group consisting of Saprolegnia Sp., Branchiomyces sanguinis, Branchiomyces demigrans and Icthyophonus hoferi.

[0080] The vaccine according to the invention may in particular be formulated for administration to a fin fish. More specifically the vaccine may be (formulated) for administration to a telostei. The teleostei include, but are not limited to salmonids, lumpfish, wrasse, basses, breams, cods, snappers, flatfish, catfish, yellowtails and tilapias.

[0081] In a presently preferred embodiment the vaccine is formulated for administration to lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus)

[0082] In further embodiments of the invention the vaccine is formulated for administration by a route selected from the group consisting of: Bath, immersion, intraperitoneal injection, intramuscular injection and oral administration.

Live recombinant microorganism



[0083] According to another embodiment of the invention, the sequences of SEQ ID NO. 6, or variants or fragments thereof, may also be used to develop a live recombinant microorganism to be used in a vaccine against Lumpfish flavivirus infection. A live recombinant organism functions as a carrier for genetic information according to the present invention by the insertion of genetic material of the SEQ ID NO. 6, or variants or fragments thereof. Said sequence or variants or fragments thereof may be inserted in the microorganism in such a way that the microorganism is capable of expressing said nucleic acid sequences. The nucleic acid sequences or variants or fragments thereof according to the invention may be inserted in the genome of the microorganism or by the introduction of a vector comprising the desired nucleic acid sequences. The live recombinant microorganism may thus be a carrier of nucleic acid sequences coding for the recombinant proteins or variants or fragments thereof according to the present invention. As mentioned above, the live recombinant organism may e.g. carry one or more recombinant proteins according to the present invention on the surface, e.g. wherein said recombinant proteins are anchored in the membrane or the cell wall of the live recombinant organism.

[0084] The live recombinant microorganism may be e.g. a virus, a bacteria or a parasite. The live recombinant microorganism may function in the same way as a live fish vaccine, i.e. the microorganism may replicate in the target fish and result in an immunological response against the recombinant proteins coded by the nucleic acids of the invention.

[0085] The live recombinant microorganism may have the advantage of being efficiently cultured and thus being optimised for desired fermentation processes and high yield production of vaccine.

[0086] The skilled person will be able, by the use of common biotechnological techniques for cloning and constructions of recombinant organisms, to construct a live recombinant microorganism according to the present invention.

[0087] The live recombinant microorganism may also be the carrier of nucleic acid coding for other fish pathogens thus providing for protection against a variety of pathogens. The live recombinant organism may thus include nucleic acids coding e.g. coating proteins or fragments thereof of other fish viruses, such as e.g. SAV, IPNV, IHNV or HSMIV.

[0088] According to one embodiment of the invention, the live recombinant microorganism is a virus able to replicate in fish, preferably lumpfish. For example, IHNV may be used as live recombinant microorganism, c.f. WO 03/097090 reporting the use of a modified novirhabdovirus to obtain vaccines. The use of live recombinant microorganism as carrier for nucleic acids coding antigens is also suggested for other fish pathogens, e.g. in WO 2007/031572.

[0089] A vaccine composition comprising a live recombinant microorganism may further comprise adjuvants, carrier, surface-active compounds or emulsifiers, including as those agents described above in relation to recombinant vaccines. Furthermore, the advantage of combining different vaccine components is equally applicable to the live recombinant vaccine according to the present invention as to recombinant vaccine composition as disclosed above.

DNA vaccine



[0090] According to one aspect of the invention, a DNA vaccine is provided comprising nucleic acids according to the present invention.

[0091] DNA vaccines are based on the administration of nucleic acids sequence(s) coding an antigen to a patient, wherein the expression of said nucleic acid(s) results in an immune response in said patient. For the purpose of the present invention, the patient is a fish. A DNA vaccine may consist of a naked plasmid DNA comprising a nucleic acid sequence coding the desired antigen of a pathogen operably linked to suitable promoter sequences and other suitable control sequences enabling the expression of said nucleic acid sequence by the cells of the patient after administration of the vaccine. A DNA vaccine may also be carried in a live host microorganism which is involved in delivering the genetic material to the patient.

[0092] Various DNA vaccines to combat fish pathogens are known. Heppell et al. reports of the protection against live virus after injection with a DNA vaccine comprising viral haemorrhagic septicaemia virus G and N genes cloned into an expression plasmid and injected into rainbow trout (Fish and Shellfish Immunology, 1998, vol 8, issue 4, pp 271-286). Lorenzen and LaPatra describes a DNA vaccine against a fish rabdhovirus in "DNA vaccines for aquacultured fish", Rev. sci.tech. Off int. Epiz., 2005 (1), 201-213. A DNA vaccine resulting in protective effects is further more reported by Mikalsen et al., 2005, "Protective effects of a DNA vaccine expressing the infectious salmon anaemia virus hemagglutinin esterase in Atlantic salmon", Vaccine, 23:30, pp 4895-4905.

[0093] In EP 1 818 406 A1, a DNA expression system that may be used to produce a DNA vaccine that prevents infectious disease in aquatic animals is described, wherein the expression is directed by a cytomegalovirus promoter.

[0094] WO 2007/31572 discloses inter alia a DNA vaccine useful to combat SAV infections in salmonid fish.

[0095] WO 2009/002376 discloses a DNA vaccine useful to combat viral infection in carp (Spring viremia of carp virus).

[0096] EP 2 011 876 regards the development of a DNA fish vaccine useful to combat KOI Herpes disease that affects carps.

[0097] Based on the prior art and the common general knowledge referred to above, the skilled person is able to construct a DNA vaccine comprising the SEQ ID NO. 6 of the present invention or fragments or variants thereof utilizing methods commonly used in the field of genetic engineering.

[0098] DNA vaccines consisting of naked plasmid comprising the SEQ ID NO. 6 or fragments or variant thereof may be administered to fish by intramuscular injection or particle mediated delivery by gene gun. The latter involves the coating of small gold particles with the DNA vaccine, and the administration is then effected by air-pressured mediated intradermal delivery. Intramuscular injection of a DNA vaccine according to the present invention is preferred as it is more cost effective than the gene gun method, cf. Lorenz and LaPatra, supra. Methods for the administration of DNA vaccines to fish is furthermore disclosed in "Intramuscular Injection of DNA vaccines in Fish" by Heppel and Davis in "DNA Vaccines: Methods and Protocols", Methods of Molecular Medicine, 2000, vol. 29 (ISBN 978-0-89603-508-5).

Inactivated or attenuated vaccine



[0099] The isolated Lumpfish flavivirus of the invention may be used in the preparation of a vaccine, for example, in which the virus is in attenuated or inactivated form.

[0100] Various methods are known, including chemical or physical means for inactivation of viruses. Chemical inactivation may for instance be carried out by treatment of the virus with enzymes, with formaldehyde, β-propiolactone or ethyleneimine or a derivative thereof, with organic solvent (e.g. 30 halogenated hydrocarbon) and/or detergent, e.g. Triton® or Tween®. Physical inactivation can advantageously be carried out by subjecting the viruses to energy-rich radiation, such as UV light, gamma irradiation or X-rays.

Antibodies and immunoassays



[0101] The recombinant proteins or isolated virus according to the present invention may be used to obtain antibodies capable of binding a Lumpfish flavivirus.

[0102] Another aspect of the invention thus relates to an antiserum or an isolated antibody or antibodies (monoclonal or polyclonal) which selectively binds to a Lumpfish flavivirus or to a component or part of said virus. Antiserum is conventionally obtained for instance by immunising a laboratory animal with the appropriate antigenic determinant. Once the concentration of antibodies in serum from the animal reaches a desired level, the animal is bled. The serum thus obtained should contain antibodies produced in response to the immunogenic stimulus.

[0103] Likewise, techniques for the preparation of antibodies are known to the skilled person. The techniques include the traditional hybridoma technology and alternative techniques such as mRNA display, ribosome display, phage display and covalent display.

[0104] In some embodiments of the invention the isolated antibody comprises a marker, e.g. a radiolabel, a fluorescent tag, a chemiluminescent label or an enzyme. The antibody may be a polyclonal or monoclonal antibody. Protocols for the labelling of antibodies by coupling of the various markers mentioned above are well known to the skilled person.

[0105] For sufficient protection and control of the disease caused by Lumpfish flavivirus, means for efficient diagnosis and detection of Lumpfish flavivirus is needed. The present invention therefore provides immunoassays, useful for the diagnosis and detection of Lumpfish flavivirus in fish. An immunoassay within the meaning of the present invention is a biochemical test that measures the presence and/or concentration of the Lumpfish flavivirus in a biological sample, such as e.g. serum. An immunoassay thus utilises the specific binding of an antibody to its antigen. Both the presence of antigens (e.g. present on the Lumpfish flavivirus) and the presence of antibodies against the Lumpfish flavivirus may be measured in the biological sample.

[0106] The present invention further provides an immunoassay for the detection of antibodies specific for Lumpfish flavivirus in a biological sample, comprising (a) contacting the recombinant proteins according to the present invention and a biological sample suspected to comprise antibodies against a Lumpfish flavivirus; and (b) determining whether the one or more antibodies binds to a Lumpfish flavivirus present in the biological sample wherein said binding represents an indication that the sample contains antibodies specific for Lumpfish flavivirus.

[0107] According to another aspect of the invention, an immunoassay for the detection of Lumpfish flavivirus in a biological sample is provided, comprising (a) contacting one or more antibodies that specifically recognise and bind to a recombinant protein according to the invention and a biological sample suspected to comprise Lumpfish flavivirus; and (b) determining whether the antibody binds to Lumpfish flavivirus present in the biological sample wherein said binding represent an indication that the sample contains a Lumpfish flavivirus.

[0108] The complex formed in the immunoassays according to the present invention, e.g. the binding of an antibody to a Lumpfish flavivirus present in a biological sample or the binding of an antibody present in a biological sample to a recombinant protein or fragment thereof according to the present invention, may be determined by various means known to the skilled person such as, for example, densitometry, fluorimetry, or colorimetry.

[0109] The immunoassays of the invention as described above may be a standard Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The skilled person will be able to provide ELISA protocols using antibodies developed against the recombinant proteins according to the present invention, or the recombinant proteins. Reference is in this respect made to the ELISA Guidebook, Methods in Molecular biology, vol. 149, ed. By John R Crowther, Humana Press, 2001.

[0110] The present invention also provides a diagnostic kit for carrying out the immunoassays according to the present invention. According to one embodiment, the kit according to the invention comprises antibodies recognizing a recombinant protein according to the invention and usual means for carrying out an immunoassay, such as e.g. an ELISA plate, and a reagent capable of producing a detectable colour change upon the binding of the antibodies to a Lumpfish flavivirus in a biological sample to be tested. According to another embodiment, a kit is provided comprising one or more recombinant proteins according to the invention and usual means for carrying out an immunoassay, such as e.g. an ELISA plate, and a reagent capable of producing a detectable colour change upon the binding of said recombinant proteins to antibodies in a biological sample to be tested.

Primer sequences and method of detection of Lumpfish flavivirus infection



[0111] The nucleic acid sequences of the present invention may be used to detect the presence of Lumpfish flavivirus in fish. The present invention therefore also relates to a diagnostic method wherein primers specifically hybridize to a nucleic acid in a test sample that is similar to the nucleic acid sequences of the invention. Such tests may take the form of a PCR test or a hybridization test without amplification.

[0112] The detection of nucleic acids present in a biological sample is widely applied in both human and veterinary diagnosis, wherein nucleic acids from e.g. pathogens present in biological samples are isolated and hybridized to one or more primers. The one or more primers to be used in hybridization based detection methods is constructed so that they are able to specifically bind to a nucleic acid sequence if present in the sample to be tested. The primers may be linked to a signalling unit or probe, such as e.g. a radiolabel, a luminescent molecule, or a fluorescent molecule, enabling the visualisation of the binding of the primers to a target sequence.

[0113] A primer as used herein refers to a nucleic acid sequence, which can be used as a probe in a method of detection of the presence of Lumpfish flavivirus in fish. The primers according to the present invention consist of at least 10, preferably at least 15, and more preferably at least 20 nucleotides that are able to hybridize to nucleic acid sequences isolated from a Lumpfish flavivirus.

[0114] The primer according to the present invention is able to hybridize to another nucleic acid molecule, such as genomic RNA originating from Lumpfish flavivirus or cDNA prepared from said genomic RNA, under appropriate conditions of temperature and solution ionic strength, cf. e.g. Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning: A laboratory Manual (third edition), 2001, CSHL Press, (ISBN 978-087969577-4). The condition of temperature and ionic strength determine what the skilled person will recognise as the "stringency" of the hybridization. The suitable stringency for hybridisation of a primer to target nucleic acids depends on inter alia the length of the primer and the degree of complementation, variables well known to the skilled person. For example, high stringency conditions may comprise hybridization in a buffer consisting of or comprising 6 X SSC, 50 mM Tris-HCL (pH=7.5), 1 mM EDTA, 0.02% PVP, 0.02% Ficoll, 0.02% BSA and 100 µg/ml denatured salmon sperm DNA, for 48 hours at 65°C, washing in a buffer consisting of 2 X SSC, 25 0.01% PVP, 0.01% Ficoll, 0.01% BSA for 45 minutes at 37°C, and washing in a buffer consisting of 0.1 X SSC, for 45 minutes at 50°C. A minimum length of a hybridisable primer is usually at least about 10 nucleotides, preferably about 15 nucleotides and more preferably about 20 nucleotides.

[0115] Various protocols for the detection of nucleic acid sequences by PCR are available to the skilled person; cf. e.g. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 226, PCR protocols, second ed., Ed. Barlett and Stirling, Humana Press, 2003. The skilled person will furthermore, with the knowledge of the genomic Lumpfish flavivirus sequence depicted in figure 1 (SEQ ID NO. 1) be able to provide suitable primers for the purpose of using said primers in a method for detection of the presence of Lumpfish flavivirus according to the present invention. Reference is in this respect made to the textbook PCR Primer Design, vol. 402 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology, Ed. A. Yuryev, 2007, Humana Press.

[0116] According to one embodiment of the invention, the following primers are provided:
Table 1
5'- CCTCCATTCCCAAGGAAAAT-'3 (SEQ ID NO. 8)
5'- GGTCCTGCGATGTGATCTTT -'3 (SEQ ID NO. 9)
5'- GAGAACAGCCAGCAATGACA -'3 (SEQ ID NO. 10)
5'- TTCGAGTGTGATGAGCAAGC -'3 (SEQ ID NO. 11)

EXAMPLES


Example 1


Identification of viral sequences.



[0117] Lumpfish in a culture facility were showing signs of disease and dying. Samples were collected for histopathological analysis. Several organs were collected, and the specific histopathological change that was observed was necrosis in the liver.

[0118] Livers from the diseased fish were homogenized, centrifuged at 3000xg and passed through a 0.22 µm filter. The homogenate was digested with approximately 250U DNase l/ml and 5µg RNase A/ml in RDD-buffer (included with Qiagen DNase I) for 1h at 37°C.

[0119] RNA was prepared from the sample using QIAamp viral kit (Qiagen) according to the manufacturer's instructions. Single stranded cDNA was synthesized using SuperScript® III reverse transcriptase kit (Invitrogen) and random primers with a fixed 5' overhang (FR26RVN primer 5' GCC GGA GCT CTG CAG ATA TCN NNN NN 3'; Djikeng et al., BMC Genomics 2008, 9:5). The RNA was incubated at 95°C prior to cDNA synthesis to avoid problems caused by a possible secondary structure of the RNA. After synthesis the RNA strand was digested using RNase H before double stranded DNA was made using a combination of the 2nd strand buffer components of the Universal RiboClone® cDNA Synthesis System (Promega) and Exo-Klenow polymerase and including additional supply of the random primers. A single primer PCR reaction using primer against the random primer fixed overhang (FR20RV 5' GCC GGA GCT CTG CAG ATA TC 3'; Djikeng et al., BMC Genomics 2008, 9:5) and standard Taq polymerase (Invitrogen) was performed (initial denature of cDNA 95°C for 5 minutes, 40 cycles of 94°C for 30 seconds, primer annealing 60°C for 15 seconds and synthesis 72°C for 1 minute and then final synthesis 72°C for 10 minutes), and the resulting products were separated by 1% agarose gel electrophoresis. PCR products in the size range 500 - 1000 bp were excised from the gel in one piece, purified and cloned using the TOPO-TA cloning system (Invitrogen). Approximately 300 clones were sequenced and subjected to analysis.

[0120] Sequences were subjected to analysis in the ContigExpress program of Vector NTI software, resulting in identification of different sequences. The complete genome sequence was obtained by PCR amplification of genome sequence located between the initially obtained sequences, as well as 3' and 5' RACE using standard procedures.

[0121] Only weak homology with known virus sequences was detected. Finally, a genome of 10779 bp was assembled (as set forth in SEQ ID NO.1), containing two open reading frames. This is the first time a putative member of the Flaviviridae is identified in a teleost.

[0122] The analysis of SEQ ID NO. 1, as described, revealed two open reading frames which are believed to include the coding region for several viral proteins. Sequence comparison with other known viral sequences revealed that the open reading frame 1 (SEQ ID NO. 2) according to the present invention shows very weak homology to other viral sequences. However, certain putative protein motives can be identified, and an organisation corresponding to the common outline of Flaviviridae is suggested. Furthermore, the analysis of the open reading frame 1 (SEQ ID NO. 2) indicates that it comprises a nucleic acid sequence coding an envelope protein (SEQ ID NO. 6).

Example 2


Expression and use of recombinant proteins



[0123] Gene sequences from SEQ ID NO. 6 were amplified by PCR and cloned into a pET vector system using standard methods readily known by one of skill in the art. An E.coli host cell was transformed, and recombinant protein expressed. Recombinant protein was purified using standard techniques. Additionally, SEQ ID NO. 6 was amplified by PCR and cloned into a eukaryotic vector. A eukaryotic host cell was transformed and recombinant protein expressed.

[0124] Recombinant proteins, as described herein, were formulated into a suitable formulation, preferably but not limited to, a water-in-oil emulsions and will be used as a formulation to produce an immune response in a lumpfish. Any variants related to SEQ ID 6. that can be construed as having conservative amino acid substitutions are included in this description. Additionally, any open reading frames expressing proteins from a lumpfish flavivirus, or any variant of a lumpfish flavirus having about 70% sequence identity to the open reading frames described herein, may be used as part of a formulation to produce and immune response.

[0125] Additionally, rabbits and mice will be immunized with recombinant proteins cloned and expressed, as described herein. The antibody responses against the proteins will be assessed at various time points. Serum from the immunized animals will be tested in virus neutralization assays and used for additional in vitro assays.

Example 3


Vaccination and challenge of lumpfish with a recombinant lumpfish flavivirus protein



[0126] The effect of a vaccine based on the recombinant putative envelope protein (SEQ ID NO.6) from Lumpfish flavivirus will be assessed.

[0127] Lumpfish will be vaccinated by intraperitoneal injection with a vaccine comprising recombinant putative Lumpfish flavivirus envelope protein, SEQ ID NO.6, or variants thereof. After an immunization period, vaccine efficacy will be tested through i.p. challenge of vaccinated and unvaccinated lumpfish with Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV). Tissue samples from vaccinated and unvaccinated fish will be collected for histopathological evaluation. Samples will also analyzed for the presence of virus by PCR-screening and other methods.

[0128] Mortality will be registered daily and tissue samples will be collected at different time points from the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups for histopathological evaluation, measurement of antibody response and PCR-screening for the presence of virus.

Example 4


DNA vaccine protecting against infection with Lumpfish flavivirus



[0129] SEQ ID NO. 6 and parts, fragments, and variants thereof, will be cloned into a vaccine vector suitable to be used as part of a DNA vaccine. The resulting vector will be injected intramuscularly into lumpfish. After an immunization period, vaccine efficacy will be tested through i.p. challenge of vaccinated and unvaccinated lumpfish with Lumpfish flavivirus. Tissue samples from vaccinated and unvaccinated fish will be collected for histopathological evaluation. Samples will also be analyzed for the presence of virus by PCR-screening and other methods.

Example 4


Testing the infectivity of LFV



[0130] The aim of this study was to reproduce disease in Lumpfish by experimental infection to investigate if Lumpfish virus (LFV) could be transmitted horizontally by infected Lumpfish to naïve Lumpfish by cohabitation, and to investigate whether the virus could be transmitted to Atlantic salmon by cohabiting with infected Lumpfish.

Study design



[0131] This was a comparative, randomized, double tank laboratory study. The study period lasted 4 weeks. The fish were acclimatized to the conditions to be used in the study prior to start. Below is a table of characteristics of the fish (Table 2).
Table 2
SpeciesLumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus)Atlantic salmon (Salmo sa/ar)
Strain Fjordforsk AS Stofnfiskur Iceland
Origin Fjordforsk AS Egghouse Vogavik, Iceland
Batch no. - ILAB_15_500
Number of fish 160 (incl. 10 fish for baseline 30 (incl. 10 fish for baseline
Size 16.8 grams in average at challenge 94.3 grams in average at challenge
Vaccination status Unvaccinated Unvaccinated
Disease history None None


[0132] The study fish were unvaccinated and were free from disease. The Atlantic salmon were already smoltified by ILAB, in order to be ready for cohabiting with infected Lumpfish. Head kidney samples from 15 Lumpfish were screened for the presence of atypical A. salmonicida, Pasteurella sp. and Lumpfish Flavivirus upon introduction to the facility. All samples were negative for all the investigated disease agents.

[0133] The fish were acclimatized for minimum 1 week to the conditions to be used in the study period (12 °C, 34 % salinity sea water, 12:12 light:darkness). The fish were kept in two 150 L tanks during the challenge period. Environmental parameters during the study period are described in Table 3
Table 3
WeekSalinityTemp. °CO2 (%)Tank size / densityPhotoperiod (L:D)
41-45 34 ‰ 12±1°C 70-100 150 L 12:12

Challenge


Challenge isolate



[0134] The challenge material ALV 1224 consisted of tissue homogenate from Lumpfish originating from a field outbreak of LFV. Histopathological examination revealed changes dominated by acute and chronic inflammation in the liver, necrosis and loss of normal tissue structure of the kidney, loss of normal tissue structure in the spleen, and changes in the heart. The fish were strongly positive for LFV in all investigated organs (gills, brain, heart, skin, liver, spleen, kidney, intestines) with Ct values averaging 10-14. The liver, spleen and kidney were aseptically extracted from the infected fish. Liver from nine fish were pooled, and spleen plus kidney from the same nine fish were pooled, homogenized in L-15 medium with gentamicin, cell debris removed by centrifugation, and the supernatant filtered through a 0.45 µm filter. The resulting challenge material was strongly positive for LFV, with Ct-values of 17 and 18 from liver and head-kidney/spleen respectively. However, when RNAse treating the samples, the Ct values increased to 30 and 23 respectively, indicating that the majority of intact (and therefore probably infectious) viral particles can be found in the kidney/spleen rather than the liver.

Challenge procedure



[0135] The Lumpfish were marked by VIE-tagging at the time of marking, according to Table 4. 3x1 ml ampulles of spleen/kidney and liver homogenate each was thawed on ice, and pooled prior to challenge. Disposable syringes were used to infect 50 Lumpfish by IP injection of 0.05 ml challenge material to each tank. To C6T7, 50 uninfected Lumpfish were added to be infected by cohabitation, while 20 uninfected Atlantic salmon were added to C6T8. These were to be infected by cohabitation.
Table 4
Challenge study design
SpeciesMarkingChallenge modeCellTankNo. of fish
Lumpfish 2x Orange IP C6 7 50
Lumpfish 2x Yellow* Cohabitation C6 7 50
Lumpfish 2x Red IP C6 8 50
Atlantic salmon - Cohabitation C6 8 20
  Total 170

Collection of tissue samples for Reverse Transcriptase quantitative PCR



[0136] The fish were euthanized prior to collection of tissue samples. Kidney tissue was collected on RNAlater from minimum ten (10) unvaccinated fish prior to challenge. The collected kidney tissue was screened by Reverse Transcriptase quantitative-PCR (RT-qPCR) to confirm absence of Lumpfish Flavivirus in the test population prior to vaccination. Liver, heart, gill and kidney tissue was collected on RNAlater from 10 Lumpfish from C6T8 the day after challenge, in order to determine the quantity of LFV in the respective tissues as a consequence of injection of the challenge material. Also, liver, heart, gill and kidney tissue samples was collected on RNAlater from 10 fish per group at one, two, three and four weeks post challenge for C6T7, and at two and four weeks post challenge for C6T8. The samples were analysed.

Collection of tissue samples for histopathology



[0137] Tissue samples (liver, kidney, spleen and heart) were collected from ten (10) Lumpfish and Atlantic salmon on formalin for histopathological evaluation prior to challenge. Also, tissue samples were collected from ten (10) fish per group at one, two, three and four weeks post challenge for C6T7, and at two and four weeks post challenge for C6T8. Histopathological changes developing after challenge were investigated for a selection of groups and time points after evaluating the results obtained by RT-qPCR:
  • Baseline samples of ten Lumpfish prior to challenge
  • ten IP injected Lumpfish from C6T7 at 21 dpc
  • ten IP injected Lumpfish from C6T7 at 31 dpc


[0138] The scoring was performed blind by a third-party assessor in order to evaluate the degree of histopathological changes developing in the respective tissue as a consequence of infection with LFV.

Results- Prevalence of LFV in Fish Post Challenge


IP injected Lumpfish



[0139] The prevalence of LFV in IP injected Lumpfish increased throughout the study. The results are shown in Figure 9A and 9B. No fish were positive for LFV at introduction to the study facility, one day post challenge (dpc) or 7 dpc. However, at 14 dpc, 4/10 fish were positive for LFV in kidney, heart and gills, and 5/10 fish were positive for LFV in liver. At 21 dpc 10/10 fish were positive for LFV in kidney and heart. At 31 dpc, 9/10 fish were positive for LFV in kidney, heart and liver.

[0140] The quantity of LFV in IP-infected Lumpfish increased from 14 dpc to 21 dpc. However, there was no apparent change in the quantity of LFV from 21 to 31 dpc. The quantity of LFV in kidney samples was investigated from 10 Lumpfish from C6T8 at 14 dpc and at termination at 31 dpc, in order to investigate if there were any relevant differences between the two tanks. As can be seen in Figure 10, there is a slightly higher prevalence of LFV-positive Lumpfish at 14 dpc in C6T8 compared to C6T7 (8/10 compared to 4/10). The Lumpfish in C6T8 have been cohabiting with Atlantic salmon, with expected higher stress levels for these fish compared to C6T7. This might be the reason for a higher prevalence. At 31 dpc, there were no relevant differences between the two challenge tanks with regards to the prevalence of LFV-positive Lumpfish (9/10 vs 10/10).

Cohabiting Lumpfish



[0141] None of the Lumpfish cohabitants were positive for LFV (kidney) when investigated at 14 dpc, Figure 9. However, 10/10 Lumpfish were positive for LFV (kidney and heart) when investigated at 21 dpc showing that LFV can be horizontally transmitted from IP injected Lumpfish to naïve Lumpfish. At 31 dpc, the prevalence of LFV positive fish had decreased to 4/10 fish (kidney and heart).

Cohabiting Atlantic salmon



[0142] Atlantic salmon were investigated for the presence of LFV in kidney, in order to investigate whether LFV could be horizontally transmitted from IP infected Lumpfish. At 14 dpi, 0/10 Atlantic salmon were positive for LFV by PCR. 1/9 Atlantic salmon sampled at 31 dpc was positive for LFV in the kidney. However, as this sample was negative when re-analyzed, and gill, liver and heart samples from the same fish were all negative, it is apparent that this was a false positive sample.

Histopathological changes developing post challenge with LFV



[0143] The histopathological changes developing after IP infection with LFV-containing tissue homogenate was investigated at 21 and 31 dpc (Table 5 below). Kidney, heart, liver and spleen were investigated. The most interesting findings were in the liver. 4/10 fish exhibited severe histopathological changes of the liver, dominated by diffuse necrosis at 21 dpc. This is characteristic for what is observed in field outbreaks of LFV. In addition, 2/10 fish exhibited mild changes, while 4/10 were negative. Only minor histpathological changes were detected in the kidney and heart at 21 dpc. While the spleen showed some histopathology, this might
not be related to the disease, as the spleen is a difficult organ to evaluate. Investigation of 10 Lumpfish prior to challenge showed the absence of necrotic or inflammatory changes in the liver prior to infection with LFV. However, minor changes were observed in the spleen and kidney, which might be related to the sampling procedure or other factors not related to LFV.

[0144] At 31 dpc, similar histopathological changes were observed as at 21 dpc. Severe necrosis of the liver was observed in 6/10 fish IP injected Lumpfish. Also, inflammatory changes were observed, and infiltration of connective tissue. No significant changes were detected for the Lumpfish infected by cohabitation sampled at 31 dpc.

[0145] The relationship between the Ct value of LFV in kidney tissue and the histopathological changes observed in the different organs was investigated by non-parametric Spearman correlation. A strong correlation was observed between histopathological changes in liver and the LFV tissue burden in kidney at 21 dpc (Spearman r -0.9342, p<0.0001) and 31 dpc (-0.8528, p-value <0.0001). For the other tissues, no significant correlation was observed between LFV kidney burden and the histopathological changes in the respective organs.

[0146] As can be seen in Figures 11-13, there is significant histological differences between the normal liver from a control fish (Fig 17), the liver having extensive tissue damage sampled at 21 days post IP challenge with LFV containing tissue homogenate (Fig 18), and a liver with extensive tissue damage sampled at 31 days post IP challenge with LFV containing tissue homogenate (Fig 19)
Table 5
Histopathology of Lumpfish IP injected with LFV-containing tissue homogenate (C6T7)
Fish no.21 dpc31 dpc
Ct kidneyKidneyHeartLiverSpleenCt kidneyKidneyHeartLiverSpleen
1 11.03 0.5 0.0 1.0 0.0 34.60 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0
2 9.70 0.5 0.5 3.0 0.0 14.51 0.0 0.0 3.0 1.0
3 12.44 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 11.90 1.0 0.0 3.0 1.0
4 10.75 1.0 0.0 3.0 2.0 12.19 1.0 0.0 3.0 3.0
5 23.41 0.5 0.5 0.0 2.0 23.45 1.0 0.0 0.0 1.0
6 21.77 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 21.56 2.0 1.0 0.0 1.0
7 10.38 0.5 0.0 3.0 3.0 12.76 1.0 0.0 3.0 3.0
8 19.55 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 22.51 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0
9 13.96 0.5 0.0 0.0 2.0 10.97 1.5 0.0 3.0 3.0
10 8.66 0.0 0.0 3.0 2.0 11.50 1.0 0.0 3.0 2.0
Mean 0.35 0.1 1.4 1.5   0.85 0.1 1.8 1.9
Spearman r - 0.08 - 0.097 - 0.17 - -
p-value 0.4397 0.40 <0.0 0.797 0.0917 0.20 <0.0 0.114

Weight at challenge



[0147] The mean weight at challenge was 17.8 and 94.3 grams for Lumpfish and Atlantic salmon respectively. The results are given in Table 6.
Table 6
Weight at challenge
SpeciesnMean weight (± 1 SD)95 % CI of mean
Lumpfish 30 17.8 ± 5.3 g 16.8 - 18.8 g
Atlantic salmon 30 94.3 ± 12.6 g 92.0 - 96.6 g


[0148] The described study showed that Lumpfish injected IP with tissue-homogenate containing LFV reproducibly developed characteristic signs of disease caused by LFV. Strong replication of LFV in IP injected Lumpfish was verified, as a function of time post challenge. Also, a clear correlation between the amount of LFV and the degree of histopathological damage to the liver was shown, verifying that the tissue damage observed was caused by LFV. To further support this proof, ten Lumpfish were shown to be negative for potential differential diagnoses (Nucleospora cyclopteri).

[0149] When non-challenged Lumpfish were cohabited with Lumpfish IP injected with LFV-containing tissue-homogenate, the virus was efficiently transmitted to the naíive Lumpfish, verifying that the virus can be transmitted horizontally to Lumpfish by natural exposure. No evidence of transmission of LFV to Atlantic salmon was observed throughout the study, indicating that LFV is unlikely to be able to be transmitted to Atlantic salmon by cohabiting with infected Lumpfish.

Conclusion



[0150] LFV has been demonstrated that it can cause disease in Lumpfish upon IP challenge, and can further be transmitted horizontally to naïve Lumpfish by natural exposure through cohabitation. Additionally, there are no indications that LFV can be transmitted to Atlantic salmon by cohabiting with infected Lumpfish.

Example 5


PCR Diagnostics and Analysis of Lumpfish flavirus (LFV) Structural Region Diversity Between Isolated Strains



[0151] The following primers described in Table 7, below, have been tested and found suitable for PCR diagnostics and identification of the Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV).
Table 7
PRIMERFORWARD (5' - 3')REVERSE (5' - 3')
POL 5'-CCTCCATTCCCAAGGAAAAT-'3 (SEQ ID NO.8) 5'- GGTCCTGCGATGTGATCTTT-'3 (SEQ ID NO.9)
FRAME 5'- GAGAACAGCCAGCAATGACA-'3 (SEQ ID NO.10) 5'- TTCGAGTGTGATGAGCAAGC-'3 (SEQ ID NO.11)
LFV 1 5'-ACATACTTAGAAGAATAACCCGG-'3 (SEQ ID NO12) 5'-TGCCGTTGGTAGCACTCCT-'3 (SEQ ID NO.13)
LFV 2 5'-TACGCAACAACCAAACCTATGG-'3 (SEQ ID NO.14) 5'-GCAGATGGAATATGGTCCTG-'3 (SEQ ID NO.15)
LFV 3 5'-GACAATGCACTCACAGGATAC-'3 (SEQ ID NO.16) 5'-GCATGAAACTGCAGTCTGTG-'3 (SEQ ID NO.17)
LFV 4 5'-TCAGAAGCCCATAACGTCGA-'3 (SEQ ID NO.18) 5'-GATGAATCGAACATGACGTCC-'3 (SEQ ID NO.19)


[0152] The study, as described herein, examined the diversity in field isolates of LFV. Variations of nucleotide sequences of the region coding for the structural proteins of five different LFV strains isolated is described. Fourteen samples of LFV were isolated from five different sites, as outlined in Table 8, below.



[0153] RNA was isolated and cDNA synthesis was performed using First Strand cDNA Synthesis (Invitrogen). PCR using Hot Start Taq DNA Polymerase (Qiagen) was performed with primers (described in Table 7 above) that were designed to cover the structural proteins of the LFV with 4 fragments overlapping each other. cDNA samples from fish numbers 4, 5, 8, 11 and 13 were used for analysis. The PCR products were visualized on an ethidium bromide stained 1.2% agarose gel, which confirmed the correct approximately 750 bp sized fragments. Figures 20-23 show the PCR product using the LFV1-4 forward and reverse primers.

[0154] The PCR fragments were isolated and sequenced. The sequence data was analyzed and fragments 1-4 from each fish was assembled and the five different virus strains were aligned.

Results



[0155] The variation at nucleotide level in the 2577 nt coding for the structural proteins of LFV is generally low. Table 9 summarizes the number of nucleotide differences between the different strains.



[0156] Figure 24 describes a phylogenetic tree constructed from the 2557 nucleotide sequences of the five strains studied in addition to the reference strain. Figure 25 describes the sequence alignment and the consensus sequence of the putative structural proteins of the five LFV strains studied.

[0157] The geographically spread field strains of LFV show low nucleotide variation in the region coding for the structural proteins. Although low variation, the reference strain from Sør-Trøndelag is the most distant with 5-7 nt differences compared to the other strains. It should be emphasized that a predominant part of the Lumpfish eggs in Norway are produced at one single localization in Norway (Averøya), where wild Lumpfish ready for spawning are caught locally and the eggs distributed to farms in Norway.
































































































Claims

1. A primer comprising a sequence of at least about 10 nucleotides, wherein said primer hybridizes to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 70% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20, the primer having a DNA sequence selected from the group consisting of; SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ I D NO. 6.
 
2. A method for detection of a virus comprising a ribonucleic acid genome sequence having at least 70% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO: 20, and variants or fragments thereof in a biological sample, the method comprising the following steps:

a) isolating nucleic acids from a biological sample suspected to comprise Lumpfish flavivirus (LFV) or a variant thereof;

b) contacting the nucleic acids with at least one set of primers, each of said primers comprising a sequence of at least about 10 nucleotides, wherein said primers hybridize to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 70% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20, the primer having a DNA sequence selected from the group consisting of; SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ I D NO. 6;

c) subjecting the mixture of b) to stringent hybridization conditions; and, d) determining whether hybridization between the primer and the nucleic acids has occurred, wherein hybridization indicates the presence of the LFV in the biological sample.


 
3. A diagnostic kit comprising at least one primer, said at least one primer a sequence of at least about 10 nucleotides, wherein said primer hybridizes to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 70% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20, the primer having a DNA sequence selected from the group consisting of; SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 70 % sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ I D NO. 6.
 
4. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to claims 1 to 3, wherein said primer comprises at least 15 nucleotides.
 
5. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein said primer is selected from the group consisting of: SEQ ID NO. 8, SEQ ID NO. 9, SEQ ID NO. 10, and SEQ ID NO. 11, SEQ ID NO. 12; SEQ ID NO. 13; SEQ ID NO, 14; SEQ ID NO. 15; SEQ ID NO. 16; SEQ ID NO. 17; SEQ ID NO. 18; and SEQ ID NO. 19; and variants thereof.
 
6. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to claim 1 to 3, wherein, said primer is about 20 nucleotides long.
 
7. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers hybridize(s) to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 70% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20.
 
8. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers hybridize(s) to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 80% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20.
 
9. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers hybridize(s) to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 90% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20.
 
10. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers hybridize(s) to a ribonucleic acid sequence having at least 95% sequence identity to SEQ ID NO. 20.
 
11. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers have a DNA sequence selected from the group consisting of; SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 80% sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ I D NO. 6.
 
12. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers have a DNA sequence selected from the group consisting of; SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 90% sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ I D NO. 6.
 
13. The primer, method or diagnostic kit according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein the primer or primers have a DNA sequence selected from the group consisting of; SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, SEQ ID NO. 6, and variants or fragments thereof which have at least 95% sequence identity to any of the sequences SEQ ID NO. 1, SEQ ID NO. 2, SEQ ID NO. 4, or SEQ I D NO. 6.
 




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Search report




Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description