African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a lethal haemorrhagic disease of domestic pigs with mortality rates of up to 100 %. An outbreak in Russia in 2007 has since spread into Europe. There is currently no vaccine available, however infection with attenuated strains of ASFV can protect against infection with closely related virulent strains. Autophagy is a conserved, essential cell process that regulates multiple pathways that are critical for mounting an effective immune response. Experiments have shown that inhibiting the ability of viruses to regulate autophagy can lead to enhanced immune responses. We have shown that ASFV does not require autophagy for replication and that autophagosome formation is inhibited during infection. In addition, through analysis of key proteins in the upstream autophagy pathway, we describe a novel mechanism of ASFV inhibition of autophagy. This research will expand our understanding of the interaction between ASFV and the autophagy pathway with the potential that a low virulent ASFV strain with an altered ability to modulate autophagy will provide enhanced immunity against virulent isolates.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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