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Partial characterization of retroviruses from boid snakes with inclusion body disease

Elliott R. JacobsonDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Jorge OrósVeterinary Faculty, the Department of Histology and Pathology, University of Las Palmas de GC, Las Palmas, Spain.

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Sylvia J. TuckerDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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David P. PollockDepartment of Pathobiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Karen L. KelleyCollege of Veterinary Medicine, and the Core Imaging Laboratory, Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Robert J. MunnDepartment of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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Brad A. LockDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Ayalew MergiaDepartment of Pathobiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Janet K. YamamotoDepartment of Pathobiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

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Abstract

Objective—To characterize retroviruses isolated from boid snakes with inclusion body disease (IBD).

Animals—2 boa constrictors with IBD and 1 boa exposed to an affected snake.

Procedure—Snakes were euthanatized, and tissue specimens and blood samples were submitted for virus isolation. Tissue specimens were cultured with or without commercially available viper heart cells and examined by use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for evidence of viral replication. Reverse transcriptase activity was determined in sucrose gradient-purified virus. Western blotting was performed, using polyclonal antibodies against 1 of the isolated viruses. Specificity of the rabbit anti-virus antibody was evaluated, using an immunogold-labeling TEM technique.

Results—3 viruses (RV-1, RV-2, and RV-3) were isolated. The isolates were morphologically comparable to members of the Retroviridae family. Reverse transcriptase activity was high in sucrose gradient fractions that were rich in virus. Polyclonal antibody against RV-1 reacted with proteins of similar relative mobility in RV-1 and RV-2. By use of immunogold labeling, this antibody also recognized virions of both RV-1 and RV-2.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—A retrovirus was isolated from boid snakes with IBD or exposed to IBD. Western blot analysis of viral proteins indicated that viruses isolated from the different snakes were similar. Whether this virus represents the causative agent of IBD is yet to be determined. The isolation of retroviruses from boid snakes with IBD is an important step in the process of identifying the causative agent of this disease. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:217–224)

Abstract

Objective—To characterize retroviruses isolated from boid snakes with inclusion body disease (IBD).

Animals—2 boa constrictors with IBD and 1 boa exposed to an affected snake.

Procedure—Snakes were euthanatized, and tissue specimens and blood samples were submitted for virus isolation. Tissue specimens were cultured with or without commercially available viper heart cells and examined by use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for evidence of viral replication. Reverse transcriptase activity was determined in sucrose gradient-purified virus. Western blotting was performed, using polyclonal antibodies against 1 of the isolated viruses. Specificity of the rabbit anti-virus antibody was evaluated, using an immunogold-labeling TEM technique.

Results—3 viruses (RV-1, RV-2, and RV-3) were isolated. The isolates were morphologically comparable to members of the Retroviridae family. Reverse transcriptase activity was high in sucrose gradient fractions that were rich in virus. Polyclonal antibody against RV-1 reacted with proteins of similar relative mobility in RV-1 and RV-2. By use of immunogold labeling, this antibody also recognized virions of both RV-1 and RV-2.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—A retrovirus was isolated from boid snakes with IBD or exposed to IBD. Western blot analysis of viral proteins indicated that viruses isolated from the different snakes were similar. Whether this virus represents the causative agent of IBD is yet to be determined. The isolation of retroviruses from boid snakes with IBD is an important step in the process of identifying the causative agent of this disease. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:217–224)