Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) is a fish rhabdovirus infection of world-wide importance. Control policies have been established but the disease still causes heavy losses in fish farming. The development of a recombinant subunit vaccine was initiated to produce a safe and effective vaccine to protect fish against VHS. The VHS virus (VHSV) glycoprotein, which induces neutralizing antibodies in rainbow trout, was chosen for expression in insect cells using a baculovirus vector. The of the recombinant protein estimated by SDS-PAGE was slightly lower than that of the native viral protein. The recombinant protein displayed different degrees of glycosylation and was recognized in ELISA by neutralizing antibodies. It was transported to the plasma membrane of insect cells where its ability to induce membrane fusion was preserved. The efficacy of the recombinant protein as a vaccine was compared with those of an inactivated and an attenuated vaccine. When injected intraperitoneally into rainbow trout, the baculo-virus-encoded protein was shown (i) to induce the synthesis of VHSV-neutralizing antibodies and (ii) to confer protection against virus challenge. Immunization performed by immersion failed. This is the first report of a recombinant vaccine that protects fish against VHSV.


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