Vikram Vakharia

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Vikram Vakharia

Research Interests

  • Viral pathogenesis of fish rhabdoviruses
  • Development of novel vaccines for economically important fish pathogens

My laboratory is studying the molecular biology of economically important fish viruses and focuses on viral pathogenesis and development of novel vaccines.

Current research in my laboratory has focused on two fish rhabdoviruses - infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV), which are members of the genus Novirhabdovirus of the Rhabdoviridae family. Their genome is composed of approximately 11-kb of single-stranded RNA, which contains six genes that are located along the genome in the 3' to 5' order: 3'-N-P-M-G-NV-L-5', nucleocapsid protein (N), polymerase-associated phosphoprotein (P), matrix protein (M), surface glycoprotein (G), a unique non-virion protein (NV) and virus polymerase (L). IHNV and VHSV infect a number of fresh and saltwater fish worldwide and cause a highly contagious disease. Recently a novel genotype of VHSV, designated IVb, has invaded the Great Lakes in North America, causing large-scale epidemics in wild fish. We established the reverse genetics systems for both IHNV and VHSV whereby infectious rhabdovirus can be recovered entirely from cDNA clones. Using the reverse genetics approach, we are investigating the function of viral proteins in virulence, host adaptation, pathogenesis, and creating attenuated viruses with vaccine potential against other fish pathogens.

Nervous necrosis virus (NNV) and infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV) are pathogens of economic importance to the aquaculture industry. NNV causes viral encephalopathy and retinopathy in more than 30 species of marine warm-water and cold-water fish, whereas IPNV causes pancreatic necrosis disease in salmon and trout species. We are particularly interested in developing oral vaccines for these pathogens which could be suited to large-scale aquaculture operations. To this end, we have expressed the major host-protective genes of these viruses in suitable expression systems and seek to develop virus-like particles (VLPs) based vaccines that could be fed orally to fish.

Selected Publications

  1. The efficacy of new oral vaccine feeds against Salmonid novirhabdovirus in rainbow trout. Gorgoglione B, Liu JT, Li J, Vakharia VN. Fish Shellfish Immunol Rep. 2023 Jan 4;4:100082. doi: 10.1016/j.fsirep.2023.100082. eCollection 2023 Dec. PMID: 36660300 Free PMC article.
  2. Intranasal vaccination of hamsters with a Newcastle disease virus vector expressing the S1 subunit protects animals against SARS-CoV-2 disease. Díaz MF, Calderón K, Rojas-Neyra A, Vakharia VN, Choque-Guevara R, et al. Sci Rep. 2022 Jun 20;12(1):10359. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-13560-z. PMID: 35725862 Free PMC article.
  3. Genetic subtyping and phylogenetic analysis of HA and NA from avian influenza virus in wild birds from Peru reveals unique features among circulating strains in America. Castro-Sanguinetti GR, Marques Simas PV, Apaza-Chiara AP, Callupe-Leyva JA, Rondon-Espinoza JA, Gavidia CM, More-Bayona JA, Gonzalez Veliz RI, Vakharia VN, Icochea ME. PLoS One. 2022 Jun 7;17(6):e0268957. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268957. eCollection 2022. PMID: 35671300 Free PMC article.
  4. Oral Vaccination of Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) with Baculovirus-Expressed Grass Carp Reovirus (GCRV) Proteins Induces Protective Immunity against GCRV Infection. Mu C, Zhong Q, Meng Y, Zhou Y, Jiang N, Liu W, Li Y, Xue M, Zeng L, Vakharia VN, Fan Y. Vaccines (Basel). 2021 Jan 12;9(1):41. doi: 10.3390/vaccines9010041. PMID: 33445494 Free PMC article.
  5. Effect of the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus Nonvirion Protein on Translation via PERK-eIF2α Pathway. Kesterson SP, Ringiesn J, Vakharia VN, Shepherd BS, Leaman DW, Malathi K. Viruses. 2020 Apr 30;12(5):499. doi: 10.3390/v12050499. PMID: 32365817
  6. The Nucleoprotein and Phosphoprotein Are Major Determinants of the Virulence of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus in Rainbow Trout. Vakharia VN, Li J, McKenney DG, Kurath G. J Virol. 2019 Aug 28;93(18):e00382-19. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00382-19. Print 2019 Sep 15. PMID: 31270224
  7. The glycoprotein, non-virion protein, and polymerase of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus are not determinants of host-specific virulence in rainbow trout. Yusuff S, Kurath G, Kim MS, Tesfaye TM, Li J, McKenney DG, Vakharia VN. Virol J. 2019 Mar 7;16(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s12985-019-1139-3. PMID: 30845963
  8. Oral vaccination of Macrobrachium rosenbergii with baculovirus-expressed M. rosenbergii nodavirus (MrNV) capsid protein induces protective immunity against MrNV challenge. Citarasu T, Lelin C, Babu MM, Anand SB, Nathan AA, Vakharia VN. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2019 Mar;86:1123-1129. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2018.12.010. Epub 2018 Dec 27. PMID: 30594582

For Dr. Vakharia's full list of publications, click here.