White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) occurs worldwide and causes high mortality and considerable economic damage to the shrimp farming industry. No adequate treatments against this virus are available. It is generally accepted that invertebrates such as shrimp do not have an adaptive immune response system such as that present in vertebrates. As it has been demonstrated that shrimp surviving a WSSV infection have higher survival rates upon subsequent rechallenge, we investigated the potential of oral vaccination of shrimp with subunit vaccines consisting of WSSV virion envelope proteins. Penaeus monodon shrimp were fed food pellets coated with inactivated bacteria overexpressing two WSSV envelope proteins, VP19 and VP28. Vaccination with VP28 showed a significant lower cumulative mortality compared to vaccination with bacteria expressing the empty vectors after challenge via immersion (relative survival, 61%), while vaccination with VP19 provided no protection. To determine the onset and duration of protection, challenges were subsequently performed 3, 7, and 21 days after vaccination. A significantly higher survival was observed both 3 and 7 days postvaccination (relative survival, 64% and 77%, respectively), but the protection was reduced 21 days after the vaccination (relative survival, 29%). This suggests that contrary to current assumptions that invertebrates do not have a true adaptive immune system, a specific immune response and protection can be induced in P. monodon. These experiments open up new ways to benefit the WSSV-hampered shrimp farming industry.
- major structural proteins
- genome sequence