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The complete gag gene from small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLV) encodes for a polyprotein of 55 kDa, known as p55gag. p55gag presents multiple antigenic epitopes, which can be recognized by antibodies, increasing the opportunity to detect SRLV-positive animals. Therefore, this polyprotein is considered an excellent candidate to use in diagnostic tests to detect antibodies against SRLV. Different studies have suggested that the selection of the recombinant antigen, which must be representative of the virus strains circulating in the test population, is crucial to avoid false negative results. Thus, the use of proteins from different viral strains isolated from goats or sheep of a given region or country may be a useful strategy to increase the ability to detect SRLV-infected animals. In the present study, the pMAL-p5X vector was used to express and purify p55gag (now called rp55gag for recombinant polyprotein 55 gag). The cloned gene was inserted downstream from the malE gene of Escherichia coli, which encodes a maltose-binding protein (MBP), resulting in the expression of an MBP fusion protein. The complete gag gene was amplified by RT-PCR. Finally, after digestion, the product was cloned into the pMAL-p5X vector and used to transform E. coli ER2325 cells. After the purification of MBP-rp55gag by affinity chromatography, the eluted fraction was observed by SDS-PAGE and Western Blot (WB). The WB was carried out with 85 serum samples from small ruminants previously analysed and compared by two commercial ELISAs. The results show that 76 of the serum samples were concordant with those by both ELISAs. Regarding the other nine serum samples, which showed discordant results between both ELISAs, were positive by WB. The results thus show that the rp55gag could be considered as an antigen in a confirmatory diagnostic assay to detect SRLV by WB. For this purpose, a future study with a high number of sera to determine the test specificity and sensitivity, using the p55gag of the circulating strain in Argentina will be necessary. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Leandro Daniel Picotto, Nadia Analía Fuentealba, Giuseppe Bertoni, Marianela Patrucco, Guillermo Hernán Sguazza, María Gabriela Echeverria, Carlos Javier Panei. Argentinian small ruminant lentivirus (SRLV) p55gag antigen fused to maltose binding protein to use in SRLV serological confirmatory diagnosis. Virus research. 2021 Apr 15;296:198332

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PMID: 33549642

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