Salmon Erythrocytes Sequester Active Virus Particles in Infectious Salmon Anaemia

Johanna Hol Fosse*, Maria Aamelfot, Tonje Sønstevold, Simon Chioma Weli, Niccolò Vendramin, Petra Elisabeth Petersen, Anita Solhaug, Marit Måsøy Amundsen, Inger Austrheim Heffernan, Argelia Cuenca, Debes Hammershaimb Christiansen, Knut Falk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) binds circulating Atlantic salmon erythrocytes, but the relevance of this interaction for the course of infection and development of disease remains unclear. We here characterise ISAV-erythrocyte interactions in experimentally infected Atlantic salmon and show that ISAV-binding to erythrocytes is common and precedes the development of disease. Viral RNA and infective particles were enriched in the cellular fraction of blood. While erythrocyte-associated ISAV remained infectious, erythrocytes dose-dependently limited the infection of cultured cells. Surprisingly, immunostaining of blood smears revealed expression of ISAV proteins in a small fraction of erythrocytes in one of the examined trials, confirming that ISAV can be internalised in this cell type and engage the cellular machinery in transcription and translation. However, viral protein expression in erythrocytes was rare and not required for development of disease and mortality. Furthermore, active transcription of ISAV mRNA was higher in tissues than in blood, supporting the assumption that ISAV replication predominantly takes place in endothelial cells. In conclusion, Atlantic salmon erythrocytes bind ISAV and sequester infective virus particles during infection, but do not appear to significantly contribute to ISAV replication. We discuss the implications of our findings for infection dynamics and pathogenesis of infectious salmon anaemia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number310
Issue number2
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Orthomyxovirus
  • Isavirus
  • Red blod cell
  • Adsorption
  • Decoy
  • Viral replication
  • Nucleated erythrocyte


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