Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.8, 3391-3402, 2020
Characterization of the highly immunogenic VP2 protrusion domain as a diagnostic antigen for members of Birnaviridae family
Birnaviridae is a family of viruses (birnaviruses) which consists of four genera, members of which cause diseases in fish, birds, mollusks, and insects. The genome of birnaviruses encodes the highly immunogenic VP2 capsid protein. In order to demonstrate that the VP2 protein can be exploited as a diagnostic antigen for birnaviruses, we developed a lateral flow assay based on the surface-exposed VP2 protrusion domain of a representative birnavirus, infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) of serotype 1 which causes the highly devastating infectious bursal disease in chickens. The biophysical characterization of the purified domain reveals that the domain predominantly consists of beta-sheets, exists in a trimeric form, and remains folded at high temperatures, making it suitable for diagnostic purposes. Owing to its highly immunogenic nature and excellent biophysical properties, we employed the VP2 protrusion domain in a gold nanoparticle-based lateral flow assay for rapid detection of anti-IBDV antibodies in serum samples of infected chickens. Our results indicate that the domain binds anti-IBDV antibodies with high specificity during laboratory testing and on-site testing. The lateral flow assay reported here yields comparable results in a qualitative manner as obtained through a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). As VP2 is a common capsid protein of birnaviruses, the lateral flow assay can be generalized for other birnaviruses, and members of Tetraviridae and Nodaviridae families which contain homologous VP2 capsid proteins.