Immunological memory is elicited after either vaccination or natural exposure to a pathogen and is essential for protection against re-exposure. Despite its critical importance, the ability to interrogate the veterinary animal memory immune response has long been hindered by a paucity of tools to assess immunological memory. As a result, the evaluation and analysis of protective immune responses that predict immune protection in food and fiber animals and facilitate vaccine development are obstructed. To fill this gap in knowledge in swine, we created a B cell tetramer to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) nonstructural protein 7 (nsp7) to efficiently and effectively investigate the memory B cell response, a hallmark of anti-viral immunity. This novel reagent was validated by using a modified capture ELISA, tetramer pulldowns, and flow cytometry, and it was shown to detect rare, antigen-specific B cells that were present at a frequency of about 0.001% of total B lymphocytes in immune animals. The nsp7-B cell tetramer will help to characterize the PRRSV-specific memory B cell response, which is fundamentally important for understanding immunological competence and animal variation in resistance to PRRSV infection. We expect that the method will be widely applicable to the exploration of immunity to veterinary pathogens.
- B cell