Academic article

CpG DNA Induces Protective Antiviral Immune Responses in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.)

Jørgensen, Jorunn B; Johansen, Lill Heidi; Steiro, Kari; Johansen, Audny

Publication details

Journal: Journal of Virology, vol. 77, p. 11471–11479, 2003

Issue: 21

International Standard Numbers:
Printed: 0022-538X
Electronic: 1098-5514

Open Access: none


Oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) containing unmethylated CpG dinucleotides within specific sequence contexts (CpG motifs) are detected, like bacterial or viral DNA, as a danger signal by the vertebrate immune system. CpG ODN show promise as vaccine adjuvants and immunoprotective agents in animal models. Here we report that pretreatment with CpG ODN in animals induces nonspecific protection against viral infection. A panel of different synthetic CpG ODN was tested for the in vitro effects in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) leukocytes. The ODN were tested for their capacity to stimulate proliferation of peripheral blood leukocytes and to induce production of interferon-like factors in head kidney leukocytes. These studies revealed that the sequence and number of the CpG motifs as well as the lengths of the ODN contribute to their stimulatory activity. ODN with the 6-mer CpG motif (5′-GTCGTT-3′) showed the highest stimulatory activity and were shown to induce protection against infectious pancreatic necrosis virus when injected in Atlantic salmon. Expression of the Mx transcript, as an indicator of alpha/beta interferon induction, was induced in the CpG-injected fish. These results suggest that CpG DNA in fish induces early, nonspecific antiviral protection.