The development of novel diagnostic countermeasures for Rift Valley fever virus

dc.contributor.authorRagan, Izabela Katarzyna
dc.description.abstractRift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a zoonotic arbovirus that is a significant threat to livestock and humans. It is listed as #3 for most dangerous animal threats and is in the top 10 pathogens needing urgent research in preventative and control measures. Although RVFV has never been reported in the US or Europe, outbreaks outside the African continent have sparked renewed interest in developing diagnostics and vaccines to protect both agriculture and public health. Having specific and versatile diagnostics is critical for vaccine development and application. For example, diagnostic tools that aid in identifying key immunogens and understanding the virus-host interaction directly contribute to developing protective vaccines. Additionally, vaccines that are used prophylactically or in response to an outbreak require diagnostic tests to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA). This is critical for assessing the return to ‘disease free’ status after an outbreak. Unfortunately, there are limited RVFV diagnostic tests that are versatile and DIVA compatible with the newest RVFV vaccines. We describe the development of several diagnostic tools that are DIVA compatible for detecting RVFV nucleic acid, antibodies, and antigens. First, we evaluate a fluorescence microsphere immunoassay (FMIA) for the detection of antibodies against a RVFV surface glycoprotein and the nucleocapsid protein. The targets developed in this assay provide the basis for a DIVA-compatible serological assay with a candidate RVFV Gn/Gc subunit vaccine, as well as, offer a multiplexing platform that can simultaneously screen for several ruminant diseases. Second, we describe a novel chromogenic in situ hybridization (ISH) assay to detect RVFV in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues. This molecular assay offers a highly sensitive, multiplexing platform that detects RVFV RNA on the cellular level of diagnostic tissue samples. Moreover, we demonstrate the first application of ISH as a DIVA-compatible assay for candidate RVFV gene-deletion vaccines. Third, we provide working protocols for western blot (WB), immunohistochemistry (IHC), and immunofluorescence (IF) that use monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies against key RVFV antigens. These tools can be applied to pathogenesis research and used in the development of vaccine and therapeutic countermeasures against RVFV. The RVFV diagnostic methods developed and evaluated in this dissertation can serve as a model for developing diagnostic strategies for other transboundary animal diseases.en_US
dc.description.advisorA. Sally Davisen_US
dc.description.advisorWilliam Wilsonen_US
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen_US
dc.description.departmentDepartment of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiologyen_US
dc.subjectRift Valley fever virusen_US
dc.subjectDifferentiating infected from vaccinated animalsen_US
dc.subjectVeterinary medicineen_US
dc.titleThe development of novel diagnostic countermeasures for Rift Valley fever virusen_US


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