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Jean-Yves Sgro
Inst. for Mol.Virology
731B Bock Labs
1525 Linden Drive Madison, WI 53706

Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Advanced Online Publications Articles
  • Current Issue of Journal of General Virology

    Journal of General Virology current issue

  • 'Liver let die': oxidative DNA damage and hepatotropic viruses [REVIEWS]

  • Chronic infections by the hepatotropic viruses hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are major risk factors for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). It is estimated that more than 700 000 individuals per year die from HCC, and around 80 % of HCC is attributable to HBV or HCV infection. Despite the clear clinical importance of virus-associated HCC, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely elusive. Oxidative stress, in particular DNA lesions associated with oxidative damage, play a major contributory role in carcinogenesis, and are strongly linked to the development of many cancers, including HCC. A large body of evidence demonstrates that both HBV and HCV induce hepatic oxidative stress, with increased oxidative DNA damage being observed both in infected individuals and in murine models of infection. Here, we review the impact of HBV and HCV on the incidence and repair of oxidative DNA damage. We begin by giving a brief overview of oxidative stress and the repair of DNA lesions induced by oxidative stress. We then review in detail the evidence surrounding the mechanisms by which both viruses stimulate oxidative stress, before focusing on how the viral proteins themselves may perturb the cellular response to oxidative DNA damage, impacting upon genome stability and thus hepatocarcinogenesis.

  • Louping ill virus: an endemic tick-borne disease of Great Britain [REVIEWS]

  • In Europe and Asia, Ixodid ticks transmit tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV), a flavivirus that causes severe encephalitis in humans but appears to show no virulence for livestock and wildlife. In the British Isles, where TBEV is absent, a closely related tick-borne flavivirus, named louping ill virus (LIV), is present. However, unlike TBEV, LIV causes a febrile illness in sheep, cattle, grouse and some other species, that can progress to fatal encephalitis. The disease is detected predominantly in animals from upland areas of the UK and Ireland. This distribution is closely associated with the presence of its arthropod vector, the hard tick Ixodes ricinus. The virus is a positive-strand RNA virus belonging to the genus Flavivirus, exhibiting a high degree of genetic homology to TBEV and other mammalian tick-borne viruses. In addition to causing acute encephalomyelitis in sheep, other mammals and some avian species, the virus is recognized as a zoonotic agent with occasional reports of seropositive individuals, particularly those whose occupation involves contact with sheep. Preventative vaccination in sheep is effective although there is no treatment for disease. Surveillance for LIV in Great Britain is limited despite an increased awareness of emerging arthropod-borne diseases and potential changes in distribution and epidemiology. This review provides an overview of LIV and highlights areas where further effort is needed to control this disease.

  • Deletions in the highly polymorphic region (HPR) of infectious salmon anaemia virus HPR0 haemagglutinin-esterase enhance viral fusion and influence the interaction with the fusion protein [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • Since the discovery of a non-virulent infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) HPR0 variant, many studies have speculated on the functional role of deletions within the highly polymorphic region (HPR) of genomic segment 6, which codes for the haemagglutininnndash;esterase (HE) protein. To address this issue, mutant HE proteins with deletions in their HPR were generated from the Scottish HPR0 template (NWM10) and fusion-inducing activity was measured using lipid (octadecyl rhodamine B) and content mixing assays (firefly luciferase). Segment six HPR was found to have a strong influence on ISAV fusion, and deletions in this near-membrane region predominantly increased the fusion-inducing ability of the resulting HE proteins. The position and length of the HPR deletions were not significant factors, suggesting that they may affect fusion non-specifically. In comparison, the amino acid composition of the associated fusion (F) protein was a more crucial criterion. Antibody co-patching and confocal fluorescence demonstrated that the HE and F proteins were highly co-localized, forming defined clusters on the cell surface post-transfection. The binding of erythrocyte ghosts on the attachment protein caused a reduction in the percentage of co-localization, suggesting that ISAV fusion might be triggered through physical separation of the F and HE proteins. In this process, HPR deletion appeared to modulate and reduce the strength of interaction between the two glycoproteins, causing more F protein to be released and activated. This work provides a first insight into the mechanism of virulence acquisition through HPR deletion, with fusion enhancement acting as a major contributing factor.

  • Antigenic and genetic characterization of a divergent African virus, Ikoma lyssavirus [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • In 2009, a novel lyssavirus (subsequently named Ikoma lyssavirus, IKOV) was detected in the brain of an African civet (Civettictis civetta) with clinical rabies in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. The degree of nucleotide divergence between the genome of IKOV and those of other lyssaviruses predicted antigenic distinction from, and lack of protection provided by, available rabies vaccines. In addition, the index case was considered likely to be an incidental spillover event, and therefore the true reservoir of IKOV remained to be identified. The advent of sensitive molecular techniques has led to a rapid increase in the discovery of novel viruses. Detecting viral sequence alone, however, only allows for prediction of phenotypic characteristics and not their measurement. In the present study we describe the in vitro and in vivo characterization of IKOV, demonstrating that it is (1) pathogenic by peripheral inoculation in an animal model, (2) antigenically distinct from current rabies vaccine strains and (3) poorly neutralized by sera from humans and animals immunized against rabies. In a laboratory mouse model, no protection was elicited by a licensed rabies vaccine. We also investigated the role of bats as reservoirs of IKOV. We found no evidence for infection among 483 individuals of at least 13 bat species sampled across sites in the Serengeti and Southern Kenya.

  • Characterization of an enhanced antigenic change in the pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza virus haemagglutinin [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • Murine hybridomas producing neutralizing mAbs specific to the pandemic influenza virus A/California/07/2009 haemagglutinin (HA) were isolated. These antibodies recognized at least two different but overlapping new epitopes that were conserved in the HA of most Spanish pandemic isolates. However, one of these isolates (A/Extremadura/RR6530/2010) lacked reactivity with the mAbs and carried two unique mutations in the HA head (S88Y and K136N) that were required simultaneously to eliminate reactivity with the murine antibodies. This unusual requirement directly illustrates the phenomenon of enhanced antigenic change proposed previously for the accumulation of simultaneous amino acid substitutions at antigenic sites of the influenza A virus HA during virus evolution (Shih et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 104 , 6283nndash;6288, 2007). The changes found in the A/Extremadura/RR6530/2010 HA were not found in escape mutants selected in vitro with one of the mAbs, which contained instead nearby single amino acid changes in the HA head. Thus, either single or double point mutations may similarly alter epitopes of the new antigenic site identified in this work in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus HA. Moreover, this site is relevant for the human antibody response, as shown by competition of mAbs and human post-infection sera for virus binding. The results are discussed in the context of the HA antigenic structure and challenges posed for identification of sequence changes with possible antigenic impact during virus surveillance.

  • Vaccination with the RSV fusion protein formulated with a combination adjuvant induces long-lasting protective immunity [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the primary causative agents of upper and lower respiratory tract infections in young children, in particular infants. Recently, we reported the protective efficacy of a RSV vaccine formulation consisting of a truncated version of the fusion (F) protein formulated with a Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonist and an immunostimulatory peptide in a carrier system (F/TriAdj). To evaluate the duration of immunity induced by this vaccine candidate, we carried out long-term trials. The F was formulated with triple adjuvant (TriAdj) containing either polyinosinic : polycytidylic acid (polyI : C) or cytosine-phosphate-guanosine oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG ODNs) and administered intranasally to mice. One year after the second vaccination all mice were challenged with RSV. Both F/TriAdj formulations mediated the induction of high levels of IgG1, IgG2a and virus-neutralizing antibodies, and IgA in the lungs. Based on the numbers of IFN-- and IL-5-secreting cells in the spleen, the immune response was slightly T-helper cell type 1 (Th1)-biased. This was confirmed by the presence of F85nndash;93-specific CD8+ effector T cells in the lungs of both F/TriAdj(polyI : C)- and F/TriAdj(CpG)-immunized mice. Both F/TriAdj formulations induced RSV-specific CD8+ T cells. However, F/TriAdj(polyI : C) generated significantly higher IgG affinity maturation and higher numbers of RSV-specific CD8+ effector memory T cells in lungs and CD8+ central memory T cells in spleen and lymph nodes than F/TriAdj(CpG). After RSV challenge, no virus replication and no evidence of vaccine-induced pathology were detected in mice immunized with either of the F/TriAdj formulations, demonstrating that the duration of immunity induced with these vaccines is at least one year.

  • Genomic and phylogenetic characterization of viruses included in the Manzanilla and Oropouche species complexes of the genus Orthobunyavirus, family Bunyaviridae [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • A thorough characterization of the genetic diversity of viruses present in vector and vertebrate host populations is essential for the early detection of and response to emerging pathogenic viruses, yet genetic characterization of many important viral groups remains incomplete. The Simbu serogroup of the genus Orthobunyavirus, family Bunyaviridae, is an example. The Simbu serogroup currently consists of a highly diverse group of related arboviruses that infect both humans and economically important livestock species. Here, we report complete genome sequences for 11 viruses within this group, with a focus on the large and poorly characterized Manzanilla and Oropouche species complexes. Phylogenetic and pairwise divergence analyses indicated the presence of high levels of genetic diversity within these two species complexes, on a par with that seen among the five other species complexes in the Simbu serogroup. Based on previously reported divergence thresholds between species, the data suggested that these two complexes should actually be divided into at least five species. Together these five species formed a distinct phylogenetic clade apart from the rest of the Simbu serogroup. Pairwise sequence divergences among viruses of this clade and viruses in other Simbu serogroup species complexes were similar to levels of divergence among the other orthobunyavirus serogroups. The genetic data also suggested relatively high levels of natural reassortment, with three potential reassortment events present, including two well-supported events involving viruses known to infect humans.

  • A single amino acid mutation, R42A, in the Newcastle disease virus matrix protein abrogates its nuclear localization and attenuates viral replication and pathogenicity [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • The Newcastle disease virus (NDV) matrix (M) protein is a highly basic and nucleocytoplasmic shuttling viral protein. Previous study has demonstrated that the N-terminal 100 aa of NDV M protein are somewhat acidic overall, but the remainder of the polypeptide is strongly basic. In this study, we investigated the role of the N-terminal basic residues in the subcellular localization of M protein and in the replication and pathogenicity of NDV. We found that mutation of the basic residue arginine (R) to alanine (A) at position 42 disrupted Mrrsquo;s nuclear localization. Moreover, a recombinant virus with R42A mutation in the M protein reduced viral replication in DF-1 cells and attenuated the virulence and pathogenicity of the virus in chickens. This is the first report to show that a basic residue mutation in the NDV M protein abrogates its nuclear localization and attenuates viral replication and pathogenicity.

  • Two major mumps genotype G variants dominated recent mumps outbreaks in the Netherlands (2009-2012) [ANIMAL: RNA VIRUSES]

  • During three seasons of mumps outbreaks in the Netherlands (September 2009nndash;August 2012), 822 mumps cases were laboratory-confirmed at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Most patients were vaccinated young adults. Given the protracted endemic circulation, we studied the genetic diversity and changes of mumps virus over a period of 3 years. Phylogenetic analysis of the small hydrophobic (SH) gene (316 bp) was performed on a representative set of 808 specimens that tested positive for mumps via PCR. Additionally, the haemagglutinin/neuraminidase (HN) gene (1749 bp) and fusion (F) gene (1617 bp) were sequenced for a subset of samples (n = 17). Correlations between different sequence types and epidemiological and clinical data were investigated. The outbreaks in the Netherlands were dominated by two SH gene sequence types within genotype G, termed MuVs/Delft.NLD/03.10 (variant 1) and MuVs/Scheemda.NLD/12.10 (variant 2). Sequence analysis of the HN and F genes indicated that the outbreaks were initiated by separately introduced genetic lineages. The predominance of variant 2 by the end of the first outbreak season could not be explained by any of the epidemiological factors investigated. Orchitis was more frequently reported in males infected with variant 2, irrespective of age and vaccination status. These findings illustrate genetic heterogeneity of an emerging mumps genotype, and raise questions about the mechanisms driving mumps epidemiology and immunity in relation to vaccination.

  • Protection from lethal challenge in a neonatal mouse model by circulating recombinant form coxsackievirus A16 vaccine candidates [POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Circulating coxsackievirus A16 (CA16) is a major cause of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in South-east Asia. At present, there is no vaccine against CA16. Pathogenic animal models that are sensitive to diverse circulating CA16 viruses would be desirable for vaccine development and evaluation. In this study, we isolated and characterized several circulating CA16 viruses from recent HFMD patients. These CA16 viruses currently circulating in humans were highly pathogenic in a newly developed neonatal mouse model; we also observed and analysed the pathogenesis of representative circulating recombinant form CA16 viruses. An inactivated CA16 vaccine candidate, formulated with alum adjuvant and containing submicrogram quantities of viral proteins, protected neonatal mice born to immunized female mice from lethal-dose challenge with a series of CA16 viruses. Further analysis of humoral immunity showed that antibody elicited from both the immunized dams and their pups could neutralize various lethal viruses by a cytopathic effect in vitro. Moreover, viral titres and loads in the tissues of challenged pups in the vaccine group were far lower than those in the control group, and some were undetectable. This lethal-challenge model using pathogenic CA16 viruses and the vaccine candidates that mediated protection in this model could be useful tools for the future development and evaluation of CA16 vaccines.

  • Identification and genetic characterization of a novel picornavirus from chickens [POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • A novel picornavirus from commercial broiler chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) has been identified and genetically characterized. The viral genome consists of a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA genome of ggt;9243 nt excluding the poly(A) tail and as such represents one of the largest picornavirus genomes reported to date. The virus genome is GC-rich with a G+C content of 54.5 %. The genomic organization is similar to other picornaviruses: 5' UTRnndash;Lnndash;VP0nndash;VP3nndash;VP1nndash;2Anndash;2Bnndash;2Cnndash;3Anndash;3Bnndash;3Cnndash;3Dnndash;3' UTR. The partially characterized 5' UTR of ggt;373 nt appears to possess a type II internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), which is also found in members of the genera Aphthovirus and Cardiovirus. This IRES exhibits significant sequence similarity to turkey llsquo;gallivirus Arrsquo;. The 3' UTR of 278 nt contains the conserved 48 nt llsquo;barbell-likerrsquo; structure identified in llsquo;passerivirusrrsquo;, llsquo;gallivirusrrsquo;, Avihepatovirus and some Kobuvirus genus members. A predicted large open reading frame (ORF) of 8592 nt encodes a potential polyprotein precursor of 2864 amino acids. In addition, the virus contains a predicted large L protein of 462 amino acids. Pairwise sequence comparisons, along with phylogenetic analysis revealed the highest percentage identity to llsquo;Passerivirus Arrsquo; (formerly called turdivirus 1), forming a monophyletic group across the P1, P2 and P3 regions, with llt;40, llt;40 and llt;50 % amino acid identity respectively. Reduced identity was observed against llsquo;gallivirus Arrsquo; and members of the Kobuvirus genus. Quantitative PCR analysis estimated a range of 4x105 to 5x108 viral genome copies g-1 in 22 (73 %) of 30 PCR-positive faeces. Based on sequence and phylogenetic analysis, we propose that this virus is the first member of a potential novel genus within the family Picornaviridae. Further studies are required to investigate the pathogenic potential of this virus within the avian host.

  • Novel antibody binding determinants on the capsid surface of serotype O foot-and-mouth disease virus [POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Five neutralizing antigenic sites have been described for serotype O foot-and-mouth disease viruses (FMDV) based on monoclonal antibody (mAb) escape mutant studies. However, a mutant virus selected to escape neutralization of mAb binding at all five sites was previously shown to confer complete cross-protection with the parental virus in guinea pig challenge studies, suggesting that amino acid residues outside the mAb binding sites contribute to antibody-mediated in vivo neutralization of FMDV. Comparison of the ability of bovine antisera to neutralize a panel of serotype O FMDV identified three novel putative sites at VP2-74, VP2-191 and VP3-85, where amino acid substitutions correlated with changes in sero-reactivity. The impact of these positions was tested using site-directed mutagenesis to effect substitutions at critical amino acid residues within an infectious copy of FMDV O1 Kaufbeuren (O1K). Recovered viruses containing additional mutations at VP2-74 and VP2-191 exhibited greater resistance to neutralization with both O1K guinea pig and O BFS bovine antisera than a virus that was engineered to include only mutations at the five known antigenic sites. The changes at VP2-74 and VP3-85 are adjacent to critical amino acids that define antigenic sites 2 and 4, respectively. However VP2-191 (17 AAring; away from VP2-72), located at the threefold axis and more distant from previously identified antigenic sites, exhibited the most profound effect. These findings extend our knowledge of the surface features of the FMDV capsid known to elicit neutralizing antibodies, and will improve our strategies for vaccine strain selection and rational vaccine design.

  • Whole-genome analysis of bovine rotavirus species C isolates obtained in Yamagata, Japan, 2003-2010 [DOUBLE-STRAND RNA]

  • An epidemic of diarrhoea in adult cows occurred at a total of 105 dairy farms in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan, between 2003 and 2010. Reverse transcription-PCR diagnostic tests revealed the presence of bovine rotavirus species C (RVCs) in samples from each of six farms (5.7 %). In this study, we determined the full-length nucleotide sequences of 11 RNA segments from six bovine RVC strains and investigated genetic diversity among them, including two bovine RVC strains identified in a previous study. Comparisons of all segmental nucleotide and the deduced amino acid sequences among bovine RVCs indicated high identities across all genes except for the VP4 gene. Phylogenetic analysis of each gene revealed that the six bovine RVCs belonged to a bovine cluster distinct from human and porcine RVCs. Bovine RVC strains could be clearly divided into two lineages of the VP4 genes. The nucleotide sequence identity for VP4 genes between lineage I and II was 83.7nndash;84.8 %. Moreover, bovine RVC strains belonging to lineage I exhibited one amino acid deletion and three amino acid insertions, which differed for those strains belonging to lineage II. Our data suggest that multiple bovine RVCs originated from a common ancestor, but had different genetic backgrounds, not only in Yamagata Prefecture but also in the rest of Japan.

  • Sulfated galactans isolated from the red seaweed Gracilaria fisheri target the envelope proteins of white spot syndrome virus and protect against viral infection in shrimp haemocytes [LARGE DNA]

  • The present study was aimed at evaluating an underlying mechanism of the antiviral activity of the sulfated galactans (SG) isolated from the red seaweed Gracilaria fisheri against white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection in haemocytes of the black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon. Primary culture of haemocytes from Penaeus monodon was performed and inoculated with WSSV, after which the cytopathic effect (CPE), cell viability and viral load were determined. Haemocytes treated with WSSV-SG pre-mix showed decreased CPE, viral load and cell mortality from the viral infection. Solid-phase virus-binding assays revealed that SG bound to WSSV in a dose-related manner. Far Western blotting analysis indicated that SG bound to VP 26 and VP 28 proteins of WSSV. In contrast to the native SG, desulfated SG did not reduce CPE and cell mortality, and showed low binding activity with WSSV. The current study suggests that SG from Gracilaria fisheri elicits its anti-WSSV activity by binding to viral proteins that are important for the process of viral attachment to the host cells. It is anticipated that the sulfate groups of SG are important for viral binding.

  • A shutoff and exonuclease mutant of murine gammaherpesvirus-68 yields infectious virus and causes RNA loss in type I interferon receptor knockout cells [LARGE DNA]

  • Significant loss of RNA followed by severely reduced cellular protein pool, a phenomenon termed host shutoff, is associated with a number of lytic virus infections and is a critical player in viral pathogenesis. Until recently, viral DNA exonucleases were associated only with processing of viral genomic DNA and its encapsidation. However, recent observations have identified host shutoff and exonuclease function for the highly conserved viral exonucleases in -herpesviruses, which include Kaposirrsquo;s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, Epsteinnndash;Barr virus and the mouse model murine gammaherpesvirus-68, also referred to as MHV-68. In this study, we show that although ablation of the MHV-68 exonuclease ORF37 caused a restrictive phenotype in WT IFN-aalpha;/bbeta; receptor-positive cells such as NIH 3T3, lack of ORF37 was tolerated in cells lacking the IFN-aalpha;/bbeta; receptor: the ORF37Stop virus was capable of forming infectious particles and caused loss of mRNA in IFN-aalpha;/bbeta; receptor knockout cells. Moreover, ORF37Stop virus was able to establish lytic infection in the lungs of mice lacking the IFN-aalpha;/bbeta; receptor. These observations provide evidence that lytic MHV-68 infection and subsequent loss of mRNA can take place independently of ORF37. Moreover, efficient growth of ORF37Stop virus also identifies a role for this family of viral nucleases in providing a window of opportunity for virus growth by overcoming type I IFN-dependent responses.

  • Singapore grouper iridovirus-encoded semaphorin homologue (SGIV-sema) contributes to viral replication, cytoskeleton reorganization and inhibition of cellular immune responses [LARGE DNA]

  • Semaphorins are a large, phylogenetically conserved family of proteins that are involved in a wide range of biological processes including axonal steering, organogenesis, neoplastic transformation, as well as immune responses. In this study, a novel semaphorin homologue gene belonging to the Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV), ORF155R (termed SGIV-sema), was cloned and characterized. The coding region of SGIV-sema is 1728 bp in length, encoding a predicted protein with 575 aa. SGIV-sema contains a ~370 aa N-terminal Sema domain, a conserved plexin-semaphorin-integrin (PSI) domain, and an immunoglobulin (Ig)-like domain near the C terminus. SGIV-sema is an early gene product during viral infection and predominantly distributed in the cytoplasm with a speckled and clubbed pattern of appearance. Functionally, SGIV-sema could promote viral replication during SGIV infection in vitro, with no effect on the proliferation of host cells. Intriguingly, ectopically expressed SGIV-sema could alter the cytoskeletal structure of fish cells, characterized by a circumferential ring of microtubules near the nucleus and a disrupted microfilament organization. Furthermore, SGIV-sema was able to attenuate the cellular immune response, as demonstrated by decreased expression of inflammation/immune-related genes such as IL-8, IL-15, TNF-aalpha; and mediator of IRF3 activation (MITA), in SGIV-sema-expressing cells before and after SGIV infection. Ultimately, our study identified a novel, functional SGIV gene that could regulate cytoskeletal structure, immune responses and facilitate viral replication.

  • Phosphorylation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 capsid protein at serine 16, required for peptidyl-prolyl isomerase-dependent uncoating, is mediated by virion-incorporated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 [RETROVIRUSES]

  • We reported previously that Pin1 facilitates human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) uncoating by interacting with the capsid core through the phosphorylated Ser16-Pro17 motif. However, the specific kinase responsible for Ser16 phosphorylation has remained unknown. Here, we showed that virion-associated extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) phosphorylates Ser16. The characterization of immature virions produced by exposing chronically HIV-1LAV-1-infected CEM/LAV-1 cells to 10 mmicro;M saquinavir indicated that Ser16 is phosphorylated after the initiation of Pr55Gag processing. Furthermore, a mass spectrometry-based in vitro kinase assay demonstrated that ERK2 specifically phosphorylated the Ser16 residue in the Ser16-Pro17 motif-containing substrate. The treatment of CEM/LAV-1 cells with the ERK2 inhibitor sc-222229 decreased the Ser16 phosphorylation level inside virions, and virus partially defective in Ser16 phosphorylation showed impaired reverse transcription and attenuated replication owing to attenuated Pin1-dependent uncoating. Furthermore, the suppression of ERK2 expression by RNA interference in CEM/LAV-1 cells resulted in suppressed ERK2 packaging inside virions and decreased the Ser16 phosphorylation level inside virions. Interestingly, the ERK2-packaging-defective virus showed impaired reverse transcription and attenuated HIV-1 replication. Taken together, these findings provide insights into the as-yet-obscure processes in Pin1-dependent HIV-1 uncoating.

  • The asparagine residue in the FRNK box of potyviral helper-component protease is critical for its small RNA binding and subcellular localization [RNA]

  • The multifunctional potyviral helper-component protease (HcPro) contains variable regions with some functionally conserved domains, such as the FRNK box. Natural variants occur at the FRNK box, a conserved central domain, known for its role in RNA binding and RNAi suppression activities, although no dominant natural variants for the N182 residue are known to occur. Here, a mutant at HcProN182L was developed to investigate its role in natural populations. Using in vitro studies, we found an increase in the small RNA (sRNA) binding potential of HcProN182L without affecting its proteinnndash;protein interaction properties, suggesting that the presence of N182 is critical to maintain threshold levels of sRNAs, but does not interfere in the self-interaction of HcPro. Furthermore, we found that expression of HcProN182L in Nicotiana benthamiana affected plant growth. Transient expression of HcProN182L induced reporter gene expression in 16c GFP transgenic plants more than HcPro did, suggesting that replacement of asparagine in the FRNK box favours RNA silencing suppression. HcPro was found to be distributed in the nucleus and cytoplasm, whereas HcProN182L was observed only in cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in N. benthamiana leaves, when fused to a GFP tag and expressed by agro-infiltration, suggesting mutation favours oligomerization of HcPro. These findings suggest that amino acid N182 of the conserved FRNK box may regulate RNA silencing mechanisms, and is required for maintenance of the subcellular localization of the protein for its multi-functionality. Hence, the N182 residue of the FRNK box seems to be indispensable for potyvirus infection during evolution.

  • Genome diversity and evidence of recombination and reassortment in nanoviruses from Europe [DNA]

  • The recent identification of a new nanovirus, pea necrotic yellow dwarf virus, from pea in Germany prompted us to survey wild and cultivated legumes for nanovirus infections in several European countries. This led to the identification of two new nanoviruses: black medic leaf roll virus (BMLRV) and pea yellow stunt virus (PYSV), each considered a putative new species. The complete genomes of a PYSV isolate from Austria and three BMLRV isolates from Austria, Azerbaijan and Sweden were sequenced. In addition, the genomes of five isolates of faba bean necrotic yellows virus (FBNYV) from Azerbaijan and Spain and those of four faba bean necrotic stunt virus (FBNSV) isolates from Azerbaijan were completely sequenced, leading to the first identification of FBNSV occurring in Europe. Sequence analyses uncovered evolutionary relationships, extensive reassortment and potential remnants of mixed nanovirus infections, as well as intra- and intercomponent recombination events within the nanovirus genomes. In some virus isolates, diverse types of the same genome component (paralogues) were observed, a type of genome complexity not described previously for any member of the family Nanoviridae. Moreover, infectious and aphid-transmissible nanoviruses from cloned genomic DNAs of FBNYV and BMLRV were reconstituted that, for the first time, allow experimental reassortments for studying the genome functions and evolution of these nanoviruses.

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  • The identification of novel anelloviruses with broad diversity in UK rodents [ANIMAL VIRUSES - SMALL DNA]

  • Anelloviruses are a family of small single stranded circular DNA viruses with a vast genetic diversity. Human infections with the prototype anellovirus, torque teno virus (TTV), are ubiquitous and related viruses have been described in a number of other mammalian hosts. Despite over 15 years of investigation, however, there is still little known about the pathogenesis and possible disease associations of anellovirus infections, arising in part due to the lack of a robust cell culture system for viral replication or tractable small animal model. We report the identification of diverse anelloviruses in several species of wild rodents. The viruses are highly prevalent in wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and field voles (Microtus agrestis), detectable at a low frequency in bank voles (Myodes glareolus) but absent from house mice (Mus musculus). The viruses identified have a genomic organisation consistent with other anelloviruses but form two clear phylogenetic groups that are as distinct from each other as from defined genera.

  • Genetic diversity of feline morbilliviruses isolated in Japan [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Feline morbillivirus (FmoPV) is an emerging virus in domestic cats and considered to be associated with tubulointerstitial nephritis. Although FmoPV was first described in China in 2012, there has been no report of the isolation of this virus in other countries. In this study, we describe the isolation and characterization of FmoPV from domestic cats in Japan. By using RT-PCR, we found that 3 of 13 urine samples from cats brought to veterinary hospitals were positive for FmoPV. FmoPV strains SS1 to SS3 were isolated from the RT-PCR-positive urine samples. CRFK cells exposed to FmoPV showed cytopathic effects with syncytia formation, and FmoPV N protein was detected by indirect immunofluorescence assays. In addition, pleomorphic virus particles with apparent glycoprotein envelope spikes were observed by electron microscopy. By sequence analysis of FmoPV H and L genes, we found that FmoPVs showed genetic diversity, however signatures of positive selection were not identified.

  • Nuclear Receptor 4 group A member 1 determines the hepatitis C virus entry efficiency through the regulation of cellular receptor and apolipoprotein E expression [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • The orphan nuclear receptor subfamily 4 group A member 1 (NR4A1) is a transcription factor stimulated by many factors and plays pivotal roles in metabolism, proliferation, and apoptosis. The expression of NR4A1 in Huh7.5.1 cells was significantly upregulated by HCV infection. The silencing of NR4A1 inhibited the entry of HCV and reduced the specific infectivity of secreted HCV particles, but had only minor or no effect on the genome replication and translation, virion assembly, and viral release steps of the virus life cycle. Further experiments demonstrated that the silencing of NR4A1 affected virus entry through pan-downregulation of the expression of HCV receptors SR-BI, Occludin, Claudin-1, and EGFR, but not CD81. The reduced specific infectivity of HCV in the knockdown cells was due to the decreased apolipoprotein E (ApoE) expression. These results explained the delayed spread of HCV in NR4A1 knockdown Huh7.5.1 cells. Thus, NR4A1 plays a role in HCV replication through regulating the expression of HCV receptors and ApoE and facilitates HCV entry and spread.


  • Although many cells undergo transformation, few of them actually develop into tumors, due to successful mechanisms of immunosurveillance. To investigate whether an infectious agent may play a role in this process, the growth of a plasmacytoma was followed in mice infected by lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus. Acutely infected animals were significantly protected against tumor growth. The mechanisms responsible for this protection were analyzed in mice deficient for relevant immune cells or molecules, and after in vivo cell depletion. This effect of viral infection correlated with natural killer cell activation and with interferon- production. It was also related to activation of NK/T cells. Therefore, our results indicate that infections with benign microorganisms may protect the host against cancer development, through non-specific stimulation of its innate immune system and especially of natural killer cells.

  • Mutational analysis of the helicase domain of a replication initiator protein reveals critical roles of Lys 272 of B' motif and Lys 289 of {beta}-hairpin loop in geminivirus replication [PLANT VIRUSES - DNA]

  • Replication initiator protein (Rep) is indispensible for rolling-circle replication of geminiviruses, a group of plant infecting circular single stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses. However, the mechanism of DNA unwinding by circular ssDNA virus encoded helicases is unknown. To understand geminivirus Rep function, we compared the sequence and secondary structure of Rep with those of bovine papillomavirus-E1 and employed charged residue-to-alanine scanning mutagenesis to generate a set of single-substitution mutants in Walker A (K227), in Walker B (D261, 262), and within or adjacent to the B' motif (K272, K286 and K289). All mutants were asymptomatic and viral accumulation could not be detected by Southern blot from both tomato and N. benthamiana plants. Furthermore, the K272 and K289 mutants were deficient in DNA binding and unwinding. Biochemical studies and modelling data based on comparison with the known structures of SF3 helicases suggest that the conserved lysine (K289) located in a predicted bbeta;-hairpin loop may interact with ssDNA, while lysine 272 in the B' motif (K272) located on the outer surface of the protein is presumably involved in coupling ATP-induced conformational changes to DNA binding. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that the roles of the B' motif and the adjacent bbeta;-hairpin loop in geminivirus replication have been elucidated.

  • A novel approach to propagate flavivirus infectious cDNA clones in bacteria by introducing tandem repeat sequences upstream of virus genome [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Despite tremendous efforts to improve the methodology for constructing flavivirus infectious cDNAs, the manipulation of flavivirus cDNAs remains a difficult task in bacteria. Here, we successfully propagated DNA-launched type 2 dengue virus (DENV2) and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infectious cDNAs by introducing seven repeats of the tetracycline-response element (7XTRE) and a minimal cytomegalovirus (CMVmin) promoter upstream of the viral genome. Insertion of the 7XTRE-CMVmin sequence upstream of the DENV2 or JEV genome decreased the cryptic E. coli promoter (ECP) activity of the viral genome in bacteria, as measured using fusion constructs containing DENV2 or JEV segments and the reporter gene Renilla luciferase in an empty vector. The growth kinetics of recombinant viruses derived from DNA-launched DENV2 and JEV infectious cDNAs were similar to those of parental viruses. Similarly, RNA-launched DENV2 infectious cDNAs were generated by inserting 7XTRE-CMVmin, five repeats of the GAL4 upstream activating sequence (5XGAL4), or five repeats of BamHI linkers (5XBamHI) upstream of the DENV2 genome. All three tandem repeat sequences decreased the ECP activity of the DENV2 genome in bacteria. Notably 7XTRE-CMVmin stabilized RNA-launched JEV infectious cDNAs and reduced the ECP activity of the JEV genome in bacteria. The growth kinetics of recombinant viruses derived from RNA-launched DENV2 and JEV infectious cDNAs displayed patterns similar to those of the parental viruses. These results support a novel methodology for constructing flavivirus infectious cDNAs, which will facilitate research in virology, viral pathogenesis, and vaccine development of flaviviruses and other RNA viruses.

  • Growth of osteosarcoma cells in a three-dimensional bone-like matrix alters their susceptibility to adeno-associated virus [ANIMAL VIRUSES - SMALL DNA]

  • Osteosarcoma cells U2OS are partially susceptible to adeno-associated virus 2 infection, allowing efficient synthesis of Rep proteins and, in a low percentage of cells, capsid production. It is not clear if this partial susceptibility to infection is due to the bone cell-like nature of these cells, or is rather a result of their transformed properties. Here we grew osteosarcoma cells in a biomimetic three-dimensional bone-like matrix composed of calcium phosphate and chitosan and tested whether this would increase or reduce their permissiveness to virus. The osteosarcoma cells grew in the matrix and began to express the alkaline phosphatase bone cell differentiation marker. This was accompanied by a block to their infection by adeno-associated virus, as indicated by Rep and capsid production. Infection of cells growing in three-dimensional tissue-like matrices could be, in a wider context, a practical way to mimic in vivo conditions.

  • Equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4) uses a restricted set of equine major histocompatibility complex class I proteins as entry receptors [ANIMAL VIRUSES - LARGE DNA]

  • Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) was shown to use an unusual receptor for cellular entry, major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules. Here we demonstrate that the closely related equine herpesvirus EHV-4 also uses this strategy for cellular invasion, both in equine cells in culture and in the heterologous, non-permissive murine mastocytoma cell line (P815) after stable transfection with horse MHC-I genes. Using a panel of P815 cell lines transfected with individual horse MHC-I genes, we provide support for the hypothesis that EHV-1 and EHV-4 target classical polymorphic MHC-I molecules as viral entry receptors. All known equine MHC-I molecules from the two principal classical polymorphic loci specify alanine at position 173 (A173), while other MHC-I loci encode different amino acids at this position and did not permit viral entry. Site-directed mutagenesis of position 173 diminished or enhanced viral entry, depending upon the initial amino acid. However, there are other, as yet undefined, constraints to this process: MHC-I genes from two non-classical loci carry A173 but did not enable viral entry in P815 transfectants. Our study suggests that the capacity to bind MHC-I molecules arose in the common ancestor of EHV-1 and EHV-4. The widespread occurrence of A173 in classical polymorphic horse MHC-I molecules indicates that horses of most MHC haplotypes should be susceptible to infection via this entry portal.

  • Genome sequence of a crustacean iridovirus, IIV31, isolated from the pill bug, Armadillidium vulgare [INSECT VIRUSES - DNA]

  • Members of the family Iridoviridae are animal viruses that infect only invertebrates and poikilothermic vertebrates. The invertebrate iridovirus 31 (IIV31) was originally isolated from pill bug adults of Armadillidium vulgare (class Crustacea, order Isopoda, sub-order Oniscidea) found in Southern California on the campus of the University of California, Riverside. IIV31 virions are icosahedral, have a diameter of about 135 nm, and contain a dsDNA genome of 220.22 kbp in length, 35.09 % GC content and 203 open reading frames. Here, we describe the complete genome sequence of this virus and its annotation. This is the eighth genome sequence of an invertebrate iridovirus reported.

  • Differential restriction patterns of mRNA decay factor AUF1 during picornavirus infections [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • During infection by picornaviruses, the cellular environment is modified to favor viral replication. This includes the modification of specific host proteins, including the recently discovered viral proteinase cleavage of mRNA decay factor AUF1. This cellular RNA binding protein was previously shown to act as a restriction factor during poliovirus, rhinovirus, or coxsackievirus infection. During infection by these viruses, AUF1 re-localizes to the cytoplasm and is cleaved by the viral 3C/3CD proteinase. In this study, we demonstrate that replication of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), a picornavirus belonging to the cardiovirus genus, is AUF1-independent. During EMCV infection, AUF1 re-localizes to the cytoplasm; however, unlike what is seen during enterovirus infections, AUF1 is not cleaved to detectable levels even at late times after infection. This suggests that AUF1 does not act broadly as an inhibitor of picornavirus infections but may instead act as a selective restriction factor targeting members of the enterovirus genus.

  • Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Potyvirus Infection [PLANT VIRUSES - RNA]

  • Potyviruses represent one of the most economically important and widely distributed groups of plant viruses. Despite considerable progress towards understanding the cellular and molecular basis of their pathogenicity, many questions remain about the mechanisms by which potyviruses suppress host defences and create an optimal intracellular environment for viral translation, replication, assembly and spread. This review focuses on the multifunctional roles of potyviral proteins and their interplay with various host factors in different compartments of the infected cell. We place special emphasis on the recently discovered and currently putative mechanisms by which potyviruses subvert the normal functions of different cellular organelles in order to establish an efficient and productive infection.

  • Molecular characterization of avian influenza H5N1 virus in Egypt and the emergence of a novel endemic sub-clade [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • CClade 2.2 highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses have been in continuous circulation in Egyptian poultry since 2006. Their persistence caused significant genetic drift that led to the re-classification of these viruses into sub-clades 2.2.1 and Here, we conducted full genome sequence and phylogenetic analyses of 45 H5N1 isolated during 2006nndash;2013 through systematic surveillance in Egypt, and 53 viruses that were previously sequenced and available in the public domain. Results indicate that H5N1 viruses in Egypt continue to evolve and a new distinct cluster has emerged. Mutations affecting viral virulence, pathogenicity, transmission, receptor-binding preference, and drug resistance were studied. In light of our findings that H5N1 in Egypt continues to evolve, surveillance and molecular studies need to be sustained.

  • Full-length genomes of 16 HCV genotype 1 isolates representing subtypes 1c, 1d, 1e, 1g, 1h, 1i, 1j, 1k, and two new subtypes 1m and 1n, and four unclassified variants reveals ancestral relationships among subtypes [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • We characterized the full-length genomes of 16 distinct HCV-1 isolates. Among them, four represent the first full-length genomes for subtypes 1d (QC103), 1i (QC181), 1j (QC329) and 1k (QC82), and another four correspond to subtypes 1c (QC165), 1g (QC78), 1h (QC156) and 1e (QC172). Both QC196 and QC87 are assigned into a new subtype 1m, and QC113 and QC74 into another new subtype 1n. The remaining four (QC60, QC316, QC152, QC180) did not classify among the established subtypes and correspond to four new lineages. Subtypes 1j, 1k, 1m, 1n, and the unclassified isolate QC60 were identified in Haitian immigrants. In the updated HCV nomenclature of 2005, a total of 12 subtypes of HCV-1 were designated. Including the data from the present study, all but subtypes 1f now have their full-length genomes defined. Further analysis of partial NS5B sequences available in GenBank denoted a total of 21 unclassified lineages indicating the taxonomic complexity of HCV-1. Among them, six have had their full-length genomes characterized. Based on the available full-length genome sequences, a timescale phylogenetic tree was reconstructed which estimated important time points in the evolution of HCV genotype 1. It revealed that subtype 1a diverged from its nearest relatives 135 years ago and subtype 1b 112 years ago. When subtypes 1a, 1j, 1k, 1m, 1n, and six close relatives (all but one from Haitian immigrants) were considered as a whole, the divergence time was 176 years ago. This diversification was concurrent in time during which the transatlantic slave trade was actively taking place. When taking all the HCV-1 isolates as a single lineage the divergence time was 326 years ago. This analysis suggests the existence of a recent common ancestor for subtype 1a and the Haitian variants; a co-origin for subtypes 1b, 1i and 1d is also implied.

  • Viral metagenomics analysis demonstrates the diversity of viral flora in piglet diarrheic feces in China [OTHER VIRUSES]

  • To investigate the diversity of viral flora, we used metagenomics to study the viral communities in a pooled fecal sample of 27 diarrheic piglets from intensive commercial farms in China. The 15 distinct mammalian viruses identified in the pooled diarrheic sample were, in order of abundance of nucleic acids sequence, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), sapovirus, porcine bocavirus-4 (PBoV-4), sapelovirus, torovirus, coronavirus, PBoV-2, stool-associated single-stranded DNA virus (poSCV), astrovirus (AstV), kobuvirus, posavirus-1, porcine enterovirus-9 (PEV-9), porcine circovirus-like (po-circo-like) virus, picobirnavirus (PBV) and torque teno sus virus 2 (TTSuV-2). The every virus prevalence rate was verified from diarrheic and healthy piglets by PCR assay. An average of 5.5 different viruses was shed in diarrheic piglet, and one piglet was in fact co-infected with 11 different viruses. In contrary, healthy piglets shed an average of 3.2 different viruses. Compared to healthy piglets, the co-infection of PEDV and PBoV had a high prevalence rate in diarrhea samples, suggesting a correlation to the appearance of diarrhea in piglets. Furthermore, several recently described viruses were here reported for the first time in China, and novel genotypes were identified. Therefore, our investigation results provided an unbiased survey of viral communities and prevalence in fecal sample of piglets.

  • Sunguru Virus: a novel virus in the family Rhabdoviridae isolated from a chicken in northwestern Uganda [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Sunguru virus (SUNV), a novel virus belonging to the highly diverse Rhabdoviridae family, was isolated from a domestic chicken in the district of Arua, Uganda in 2011. This is the first documented isolation of a rhabdovirus from a chicken. SUNV is related to, but distinct from, Boteke virus and other members of the unclassified Sandjimba group. The genome is 11,056 kb in length and contains the five core rhabdovirus genes plus an additional C gene (within the open reading frame of the phosphoprotein gene) and a small hydrophobic protein (between the matrix and glycoprotein genes). Inoculation of vertebrate cells resulted in significant growth, with a peak titer of 7.8 log10 PFU/mL observed in baby hamster kidney cells. Little to no growth was observed in invertebrate cells and in live mosquitoes, with Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes demonstrating a 47.4% infection rate in the body but no dissemination to the salivary glands; this suggests that this novel virus is not arthropod-borne like some other members of the family Rhabdoviridae.

  • Recombinant bovine respiratory syncytial virus with deletion of the SH gene induces increased apoptosis and pro-inflammatory cytokines in vitro, and is attenuated and induces protective immunity in calves [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) causes inflammation and obstruction of the small airways, leading to severe respiratory disease in young calves. The virus is closely related to human (H)RSV, a major cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children. The ability to manipulate the genome of RSV has provided opportunities for the development of stable, live attenuated RSV vaccines. The role of the SH protein in the pathogenesis of BRSV was evaluated in vitro and in vivo using a recombinant (r)BRSV in which the SH gene had been deleted. Infection of bovine epithelial cells and monocytes with rBRSVSH, in vitro, resulted in an increase in apoptosis, and higher levels of tumor necrosis factor-aalpha; and interleukin-1bbeta; compared with cells infected with parental, wild-type (WT) rBRSV. Although replication of rBRSVSH and WT rBRSV, in vitro, were similar, the replication of rBRSVSH was moderately reduced in the lower, but not the upper, respiratory tract of experimentally infected calves. Despite the greater ability of rBRSVSH to induce pro-inflammatory cytokines, in vitro, the pulmonary inflammatory response in rBRSVSH-infected calves was significantly reduced compared to that in calves inoculated with WT rBRSV, 6 days previously. Virus lacking SH appeared to be as immunogenic and effective in inducing resistance to virulent virus challenge, 6 months later, as the parental rBRSV. These findings suggest that rBRSVSH may be an ideal live attenuated virus vaccine candidate, combining safety with a high level of immunogenicity.

  • Relationship between genotypes and serotypes of genogroup 1 recoviruses: A model for human norovirus antigenic diversity. [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Human norovirus (NoV) research greatly relies on cell culture propagable surrogate caliciviruses, including the murine NoVs and the prototype "Recovirus" (ReCV), the Tulane virus. However, the extreme biological diversity of human NoVs cannot be modeled by uniform group of viruses or a single isolate. Based on a diverse group of recently described ReCVs a more advanced model, capable to reflect human NoV biological diversity, is currently being developed. Here we report the genotypic and serotypic relationships among 10 G1 ReCV isolates, including the Tulane virus and nine other, recently cell culture adapted strains. Based on VP1 amino acid sequences and classification constraints established for NoVs, the G1 ReCVs separated into 3 genotypes, with variable organization of the three open reading frames. Interestingly, cross-neutralization plaque assays revealed the existence of 4 distinct serotypes, with two serotypes detected among the G1.2 strains. The amino acid difference between the two G1.2 ReCV serotypes was 12%. This is less than the minimum 13% difference established between NoV genotypes. Interestingly, one of the G1.3 ReCVs was equally neutralized by antisera raised against the G1.3 (6% aa difference) and the G1.1 (25% aa difference) representative strains. These results imply the existence of a large number of human NoV serotypes, but also shared cross-neutralization epitopes between some strains of different genotypes. In conclusion, the ReCV surrogate model is able to address biologically relevant questions about enteric CV diversity.

  • Interactions among Dendrolimus punctatus cypovirus proteins and identification of the genomic encoding of its A-spike [ANIMAL VIRUSES - DOUBLE-STRAND RNA]

  • Revealing the interactions among cypovirus (CPV) proteins would facilitate understanding of viral replication and assembly. In the present study, interactions among proteins encoded by the 10 segments of Dendrolimus punctatus cypovirus (DpCPV) were identified using yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) and far-western blotting assays. In total, 24 pairs of interactions were detected. Twelve pairs of one-direction interactions, four pairs of binary interactions, and four pairs of self-associations were identified in the Y2H assays. Another four pairs of interactions were identified by far-western blotting. The interactions between the methyltransferase domain of turret protein (VP3) and VP4 as well as between polyhedrin and VP4 were further confirmed by far-western blotting and pull-down assays, respectively. In addition, the immuno-gold labeling showed that the A-spike of DpCPV was formed by VP4. In conclusion, we obtained the protein-protein interaction network of DpCPV and identified that its A-spike was formed by VP4 encoded by genomic segment 6.

  • Shortening the unstructured, interdomain region of the non-structural protein NS1 of an avian H1N1 influenza virus increases its replication and pathogenicity in chickens [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Currently circulating H5N1 influenza viruses have undergone a complex evolution since the appearance of their progenitor A/Goose/Guangdong/1/96 in 1996. After the eradication of the H5N1 viruses that emerged in Hong Kong in 1997 (HK/97 viruses), new genotypes of H5N1 viruses emerged in the same region in year 2000, that were more pathogenic for both chickens and mice than HK/97 viruses. These, as well as virtually all highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses since 2000, harbor a deletion of amino-acids 80-84 in the unstructured region of NS1 linking its RNA-binding domain to its effector domain. Segments NS harboring this mutation have since been found in non-H5N1 viruses, and we asked whether this 5-aa deletion could have a general effect not limited to the NS1 of H5N1 viruses. We genetically engineered this deletion in the NS segment of a duck-origin avian H1N1 virus, and compared the in vivo and in vitro properties of the wild-type and NSdel8084 viruses. In experimentally infected chickens, the NSdel8084 virus showed both an increased replication potential and an increased pathogenicity. This in vivo phenotype was correlated with a higher replicative efficiency in vitro, both in embryonated eggs and in a chicken lung epithelial cell line. Our data demonstrate that the increased replicative potential conferred by this small deletion is a general feature not restricted to NS1 from H5N1 viruses, and suggest that viruses acquiring this mutation may be positively selected in the future.

  • Evaluation of a mouse model for the West Nile virus group for the purpose of determining viral pathotypes [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • The West Nile flaviviruses are an important cause of viral meningoencephalitis in some areas of the world. They exhibit marked variation in pathogenicity, with some viral lineages (such as those from North America) causing high prevalence of severe neurological disease, while others (such as Australian Kunjin virus) rarely causing disease. The aim of this study was to characterise West Nile virus disease in a mouse model and to elucidate the pathogenetic features that distinguish disease variation. Ten-fold dilutions of five WNV strains (New York 1999, MRM16 and three horse isolates of WNV-Kunjin: Boort and two isolates from the 2011 Australian outbreak) were inoculated into mice by the intraperitoneal route. All isolates induced meningoencephalitis in different proportions of infected mice. WNVNY99 was the most pathogenic, the three horse isolates were of intermediate pathogenicity and WNVKUNV-MRM16 was the least, causing mostly asymptomatic disease with seroconversion. Infectivity, but not pathogenicity, was related to challenge dose. By cluster analysis of the recorded clinical signs, histopathological lesions and antigen distribution scores, the cases could be classified into groups corresponding to disease severity. Metrics that were important in determining pathotype included neurological signs (paralysis and seizures), meningoencephalitis, brain antigen scores and replication in extra-neural tissues. Whereas all mice infected with WNVNY99 had extra-neural antigen, those infected with the WNV-Kunjin viruses only occasionally had antigen outside the nervous system. We conclude that the mouse model could be a useful tool for the assessment of pathotype for West Nile viruses.

  • A novel papillomavirus in Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) faeces sampled at the Cape Crozier colony, Antarctica [ANIMAL VIRUSES - SMALL DNA]

  • Papillomaviruses are epitheliotropic viruses that have circular double stranded DNA genomes encapsidated in non-enveloped virions. They have been found to infect a variety of mammals, reptiles and birds but they have so far not been found in amphibians. Using a Next-Gen de novo assembly contig-informed recovery, we cloned and Sanger-sequenced the complete genome of a novel papillomavirus from the faecal matter of Adeeacute;lie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) nesting on Ross Island, Antarctica. The genome has all the usual features of a papillomavirus and an E9 open reading frame encoding a protein of unknown function that is found in all the avian papillomaviruses. This novel papillomavirus genome shares ~60% pairwise identity with the genomes of the other three known avian papillomaviruses: Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus 1 (FcPV1), Francolinus leucoscepus papillomavirus 1 (FlPV1) and Psittacus erithacus papillomavirus 1 (PePV1). Both pairwise identity analysis and phylogenetic analysis of the major capsid protein gene clearly indicate that it is a new species (Pygoscelis adeliae papillomavirus 1, PaCV1). No evidence of recombination was detected in the genome of PaCV1 but we did detect a recombinant region (119nts) in the E6 gene of FlPV1 with the recombinant region being derived from ancestral FcPV1-like sequences. Previously only paramyxoviruses, orthomyxoviruses, and avian pox viruses have been genetically identified in penguins, however, the majority of the penguin viral identifications have been based on serology or histology. This is the first report of a papillomavirus associated with a penguin species.

  • Expression and nuclear localization of the TATA-binding protein during baculovirus infection [INSECT VIRUSES - DNA]

  • The TATA box binding protein (TBP) plays a key role in initiating eukaryotic transcription and is used by many viruses for viral transcription. We previously reported increased TBP levels during the infection with the baculovirus Autographa californica multicapsid nuclear polyhedrovirus (AcMNPV). The TBP antiserum used in that study, however, cross-reacted with a baculoviral protein. Here, we report that with a TBP-specific antiserum increased amounts of nuclear TBP were detected upon infection of S. frugipeda and TN-368 cells. TBP levels increased until 72 h p.i. while tbp transcripts decreased by 16 h p.i. which suggests a virus-induced influence on the TBP protein levels. To address a potential modification of the TBP degradation pathway during infection, we investigated the possible role of viral ubiquitin. Infection studies with AcMNPV recombinants carrying a mutated viral ubiquitin gene revealed that the TBP increase during infection was not altered. In addition, pulse-chase experiments indicated a high TBP half-life of about 60 h in uninfected cells, suggesting that a virus-induced increase of TBP stability was unlikely. This increase in TBP correlated with a redistribution to nuclear domains resembling sites of viral DNA synthesis. Furthermore, we observed colocalization of TBP with host RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), but only until 8 h p.i. while TBP, but not RNAPII, was present in the enlarged replication domains late during infection. Thus, we suggest that AcMNPV adapted a mechanism to accumulate the higly stable cellular TBP at sites of viral DNA replication and transcription.

  • Susceptibility of European Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) to Experimental Infection with Lineage 1 and 2 West Nile Viruses. [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Mass bird mortality has been observed in North America after the introduction of West Nile virus (WNV), most notably massive die-offs of American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). In contrast, WNV epidemic activity in Europe has been characterized by very low incidences of bird mortality. As the general susceptibility of European corvids to strains of WNV remains in question, European jackdaws (Corvus monedula) were inoculated with WNV strains currently circulating in Greece (Gr-10), Italy (FIN and Ita09) and Hungary (578/10), as well as a North American (NY99) genotype with a demonstrated corvid virulence phenotype. Infection with all strains except WNV-FIN resulted in mortality. Viremia was observed for birds inoculated with all strains and virus was detected in a series of organs upon necropsy. These results suggest that jackdaws could potentially function as a sentinel for following WNV transmission in Europe; however, elicited viremia levels might be too low to allow for efficient transmission of virus to mosquitoes.

  • Palmitoylation Is Required for Intracellular Trafficking of Influenza B Virus NB Protein and Efficient Influenza B Growth In Vitro [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • All influenza virusesrrsquo; bud and egress from lipid rafts within the apical plasma membrane of infected epithelial cells. As a result all components of progeny virions must be transported to these lipids rafts for assembly and budding. Though the mechanism of transport for other influenza proteins has been elucidated, influenza B glycoprotein NB subcellular localization and transport are not completely understood. To address the aforementioned properties of NB protein, a series of trafficking experiments were conducted. Here we showed that NB co-localized with markers specific for the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi region. The data from chemical treatment of NB-expressing cells by Brefeldin A, a fungal antibiotic and a known chemical inhibitor of the protein secretory pathway, further confirmed that NB is transported through the ER golgi pathway as it restricted NB localization to the perinuclear region. Using NB deletion mutants, the hydrophobic transmembrane domain was identified as being required for NB transport to the plasma membrane. Furthermore, palmitoylation was also required for transport of NB protein to the plasma membrane. Systematic mutation of NBrrsquo;s cysteines to serines demonstrated that cysteine 49, likely in a palmitoylated form, is also required for transport to the plasma membrane. Surprisingly, further analysis demonstrated that in vitro replication of NBC49S mutant virus was delayed relative to the parental influenza B virus. The results of this study demonstrate NB is the third influenza virus protein to have been shown to be palmitoylated and together these findings may aid in future studies aimed at elucidating NBrrsquo;s function.

  • Perpetuation of H5N1 and H9N2 Avian Influenza Viruses in Natural Waters [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Water bodies are important media for the spread and transmission of avian influenza viruses (AIV). The determining factor for an AIV to transmit through diffusion in waters is the term of viability of the virus in water body. To better understand the perpetuation of AIV in nature waters, and thus risks of AIV spread and transmission via it, we systematically studied the inactivation dynamics of two strains (H5N1 and H9N2), at different temperatures in waters of important migratory birds habitats within China: Dongting Lake, Poyang Lake, Qinghai Lake and Hubei segment of the Yangtze River, and we also studied the impact of water-borne microorganisms on perpetuation of AIVs. Our findings indicate that water is very likely an important route for the epidemic spread of the AIVs, especially during the fall and winter seasons. In addition, water-borne microorganisms significantly antagonize the persistence of AIVs.

  • Human Pegivirus (HPgV or GB virus C) RNA is found in multiple blood mononuclear cells in vivo and serum-derived viral RNA containing particles are infectious in vitro [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Human Pegivirus (HPgV; previously called GB virus C/hepatitis G virus) has limited pathogenicity despite causing persistent infection, and is associated with prolonged survival in HIV-infected individuals. Although HPgV RNA is found in and produced by T and B lymphocytes, the primary permissive cell type(s) are unknown. We quantified HPgV RNA in highly purified CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, including naiiuml;ve, central memory, and effector memory populations, and in B cells (CD19+), NK cells (CD56+) cells and monocytes (CD14+) using real time RT-PCR. Single genome sequencing was performed on virus within individual cell types to estimate genetic diversity among cell populations. HPgV RNA was present in CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes (9 of 9 subjects), B lymphocytes (7 of 10), NK cells and monocytes (both 4 of 5). HPgV RNA levels were higher in naiiuml;ve (CD45RA+) CD4+ cells than in central memory and effector memory cells (pllt;0.01). HPgV sequences were highly conserved between patients (0.117 pplusmn; 0.02 substitutions per site; range 0.58nndash;0.14) and within subjects (0.006 pplusmn; 0.003 substitutions per site; range 0.006nndash;0.010). The non-synonymous/synonymous substitution ratio was 0.07 suggesting low selective pressure. CFSE-labeled HPgV RNA-containing particles precipitated by a commercial exosome isolation reagent delivered CSFE to uninfected monocytes, NK cells, T and B lymphocytes, and HPgV RNA was transferred to peripheral blood mononuclear cells with evidence of subsequent viral replication. Thus, HPgV RNA-containing serum particles including microvesicles may contribute to delivery of HPgV to PBMCs in vivo, explaining the apparent broad tropism of this persistent human RNA virus.

  • Guinea Pig Cytomegalovirus GP129/131/133, Homologs of Human Cytomegalovirus UL128/130/131A, are Necessary for Infection of Monocytes and Macrophages [ANIMAL VIRUSES - LARGE DNA]

  • The GP129, GP131 and GP133 genes of guinea pig cytomegalovirus (GPCMV) are homologs of human CMV UL128, UL130 and UL131A, respectively, which are essential for infection of endothelial and epithelial cells and for viral transmission to leukocytes. Our previous study demonstrated that a GPCMV strain lacking the 1.6-kb locus that contains the GP129, GP131, and GP133 genes had a growth defect in animals. Here we demonstrated that the wild-type strain but not the 1.6-kb deleted strain formed capsids in macrophages prepared from the peritoneal fluid. To understand the mechanism, we prepared GPCMV strains defective in each of GP129, GP131 and GP133 and found that they were all essential for the infection of peritoneal, splenic and PBMC-derived macrophages/monocytes and expression of immediate-early antigens in the macrophages/monocytes, although they were dispensable for infection of fibroblasts. Monocyte/macrophage-tropism could be one of the important determinants for viral dissemination in vivo.

  • Breast carcinoma associated protein - a novel binding partner of Mason-Pfizer monkey virus protease [ANIMAL VIRUSES - RETROVIRUSES]

  • We identified breast cancer-associated protein (BCA3) as a novel binding partner of Mason-Pfizer monkey virus protease (M-PMV PR). The interaction was confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation and immunocolocalization of M-PMV PR and BCA3. Full-length but not C-terminally truncated BCA3 was incorporated into M-PMV virions. We ruled out the potential role of the G-patch domain, a glycine-rich domain located at the C-terminus of M-PMV PR, in BCA3 interaction and virion incorporation. Expression of BCA3 does not affect M-PMV particle release and proteolytic processing; however, it slightly increases M-PMV infectivity.

  • Genetic characterization of a novel duck-origin picornavirus with six 2A proteins [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • A novel virus was detected from diseased ducks and completely determined. The virus was shown to have a picornavirus-like genome layout. Interestingly, the genome contained a total of up to six 2As, including four 2As (2A1 to 2A4) each having an NPGP motif, an AIG1-like 2A5, and a parechovirus-like 2A6. The 5'UTR was predicted to possess a hepacivirus/pestivirus (HP)-like internal ribosome entry site (IRES). However, the subdomain IIIe consisted of a 3-nt stem and five unpaired bases, distinct from those found in all other HP-like IRESs. The virus was most closely related to duck hepatitis A virus (DHAV), with amino acid identities of 37.7%, 39%, and 43.7% in the P1, P2, and P3 regions, respectively. Based on these investigations, together with phylogenetic analyses, the virus could be considered as the founding member of a novel picornavirus genus that we tentatively named llsquo;Aalivirusrrsquo;, with llsquo;Aalivirus Arrsquo; as the type species.

  • Tanay virus, a new species of virus isolated from mosquitoes in the Philippines [OTHER VIRUSES]

  • We isolated a new species of virus from mosquitoes in the Philippines in 2005. The virion was elliptical in shape and had a short single projection. The virus was named Tanay virus (TANAV) after the locality. Genomic RNA of TANAV was a positive strand, 9,562nt+poly-A, and poly-cistronic. The longest open reading frame (ORF) contained putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), however, conserved short motifs in the RdRP were permuted. TANAV was phylogenetically close to Negevirus, a recently proposed taxon of viruses isolated from hemophagic insects, and to some plant viruses, such as Citrus leprosis virus C, Hibiscus green spot virus and Blueberry necrotic ring blotch virus. In this article, we described the TANAV and the permuted structure of its RdRP, and discussed its phylogeny together with plant viruses and the Negevirus.

  • IFNL4/IL-28B haplotype structure and its impact on susceptibility to hepatitis C virus and treatment response in Japanese population [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • A new type III interferon, interferon lambda 4 (IFNL4), and its single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) ss469415590 causing a frame-shift have been recently reported to strongly affect anti-viral therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in African and Caucasian populations compared to previously reported interleukin-28B (IL-28B) SNPs, rs12979860 and rs8099917. To compare the predictability for treatment outcome among those polymorphisms, we estimated haplotype structure of IFNL4/IL-28B consisting of the three SNPs in 4,630 Japanese chronic hepatitis C patients and 1,122 healthy controls and then compared their impact on response to pegylated-interferon (PEG-IFN) plus ribavirin (RBV) combined therapy in 903 HCV-1b infected patients. A total of five haplotypes were identified, although two major haplotypes accounted for ggt; 99% of the variation. The SNPs were tightly linked but not in absolute linkage disequilibrium. We could not find any difference in the predictive impact of any of these 3 SNPs with regard to susceptibility to HCV and treatment response. However, patients with favorable rs8099917 TT, linked to unfavorable genotype of ss469415590 and rs12979860, showed poor initial viral response compared to those with all favorable genotypes (p = 0.0022). These findings suggest that, in part, ss469415590 and rs12979860 may have better predictive impact on response to PEG-IFN plus RBV therapy in the Japanese population, especially in patients having any of minor haplotypes consisting of these SNPs.

  • HMG CoA reductase is negatively associated with PCV2 infection and PCV2-induced apoptotic cell death [ANIMAL VIRUSES - SMALL DNA]

  • We have examined the role of HMG CoA reductase (HMGCR) during PCV2 (porcine circovirus 2) infection. The results demonstrated that levels of endogenous HMGCR were not significantly different in PCV2 infected cells and mock infected cells. However, the level of phosphorylated HMGCR, as an inactivated form of HMGCR, was increased in PCV2-infected cells. Furthermore, HMGCR was upregulated by overexpression, silenced by siRNA, or inactivated using its dominant-negative form in PK-15 cells. The results showed that PCV2 infection was inhibited by HMGCR overexpression, whereas it was significantly increased in HMGCR-silenced cells and HMGCR inhibitor-treated cells. Moreover, there was a robust apoptotic response at 48 hours post infection (hpi) in the HMGCR-inactivated cells, and this response was significantly greater than that observed in the PK-15 cells. A modest apoptotic response was also observed in the HMGCR-silenced cells. Caspase-3 activity was also analyzed in the PCV2-infected cells at 48 hpi. As expected, caspase-3 activity was significantly increased in the HMGCR-inactivated cells and the HMGCR-silenced cells compared with PK-15 cells. PCV2 replication was dose-dependently increased in the HMGCR-inactivated cells when treated with increasing amounts of HMGCR inhibitor. Altogether, HMGCR was negatively associated with PCV2 infection and PCV2-induced apoptotic cell death. These data demonstrated that HMGCR can be used as a candidate target for disease control and antivirus research related to PCV2. Furthermore, the cells generated in this study can be used to evaluate the potential effects of HMGCR on PCV2 replication.

  • Consequences of in vitro host shift for St. Louis encephalitis virus [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Understanding the potential for host range shifts and expansions of RNA viruses is critical to predicting the evolutionary and epidemiological paths of these pathogens. Because arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) experience frequent spillover from their amplification cycles and are generalists by nature, they are likely to experience a relatively high frequency of success in a range of host environments. Despite this, the potential for host expansion, the genetic correlates of adaptation to novel environments and the costs of such adaptations in originally competent hosts are not well characterized for arboviruses. In the studies presented here, we utilized experimental evolution of St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV; Flaviviridae, flavivirus) in vitro in the Dermacentor andersoni line of tick cells to model adaptation to a novel invertebrate host. Our results demonstrate that levels of adaptation and costs in alternate hosts are highly variable among lineages, but also that significant fitness increases in tick cells are achievable with only modest change in consensus genetic sequence. In addition, although accumulation of diversity may at times buffer against phenotypic costs within the SLEV swarm, an increased proportion of variants with an impaired capacity to infect and spread on vertebrate cell culture accumulated with tick cell passage. Isolation and characterization of a subset of these variants suggests that the NS3 gene is an important host range determinant for SLEV.

  • ICP0 induces CD83-degradation in mature dendritic cells independently of its E3 ubiquitin ligase function [ANIMAL VIRUSES - LARGE DNA]

  • Mature dendritic cells (mDCs) are the most potent antigen presenting cells (APCs) known today since they are the only APCs able to induce naiiuml;ve T cells. Therefore they play a crucial role during the induction of effective antiviral immune responses. Interestingly, the surface molecule CD83 expressed on mDCs, is targeted by several viruses. As CD83 was shown to exert costimulatory functions on mDCs its downmodulation represents a viral immune escape mechanism. Mechanistically, it has been shown that HSV-1 infection leads to proteasomal degradation of CD83 resulting in a strongly diminished T cell stimulatory capacity of the infected mDC. Earlier data from our laboratory suggest that the viral immediate early protein ICP0 (infected cell protein 0) plays an important role in this process. In the present study we show that ICP0 is sufficient to induce CD83-degradation in the absence of any other viral factor. However, the mechanism of ICP0 mediated CD83-degradation is not yet understood. Here we provide evidence that ubiquitination of lysine residues is, despite of the published E3 ubiquitin ligase activity of ICP0, not necessary for CD83-degradation. This finding is underlined by the observation that expression of an ICP0 mutant lacking the E3 ubiquitin ligase domain in mDCs still induces CD83-degradation. Finally, inhibition of E1 activating enzyme using the specific inhibitor PYR-41 did not prevent CD83-degradation. Taken together, our data provide strong evidence that ICP0 alone induces CD83-degradation independently of its E3 ubiquitin ligase function and of the ubiquitin machinery.

  • A Novel Flavivirus in the Soybean Cyst Nematode [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Heterodera glycines, the soybean cyst nematode (SCN), is a subterranean root pathogen that causes the most damaging disease of soybean in the United States. A novel nematode virus genome, soybean cyst nematode virus 5 (SbCNV-5), was identified in RNASeq data from SCN eggs and second-stage juveniles. The SbCNV-5 RNA dependent RNA polymerase and RNA helicase domains have homology to pestiviruses in the Flaviviridae, suggesting SbCNV-5 is a positive-polarity single-stranded RNA virus. SbCNV-5 RNA was present in all nematode developmental stages indicating a transovarial mode of transmission, but it is also potentially sexually transmitted via the male. SbCNV-5 was common in SCN laboratory cultures and in nematode populations isolated from the field. Transmission electron microscopy of sections from a female SCN showed virus particles budding from the endoplasmic reticulum and in endosomes. The size of the viral genome is 19,191 nucleotides, which makes it much larger than known pestiviruses. Additionally, the presence of a methyltransferase in the SbCNV-5 genome is atypical for a pestivirus. When cDNA sequences were mapped to the genome of SbCNV-5, a disproportionate number aligned to the 3rrsquo; non-translated region, suggesting SbCNV-5 produces a subgenomic RNA, which was confirmed by RNA blot analysis. Since subgenomic RNAs and methyltransferases do not occur in pestiviruses, we conclude that SbCNV-5 is a new flavivirus infecting the soybean cyst nematode.

  • Pigeon circoviruses display patterns of recombination, genomic secondary structure and selection similar to those of Beak and feather disease viruses [ANIMAL VIRUSES - SMALL DNA]

  • Pigeon circovirus (PiCV) has a ~2kb genome circular single stranded DNA genome. All but one of the known PiCV isolates have been found infecting pigeons in various parts of the world. In this study we screened 324 swab and tissue samples from Polish pigeons and recovered 30 complete genomes, 16 of which came from birds displaying no obvious pathology. Together with 17 other publically available PiCV complete genomes sampled throughout the Northern Hemisphere and Australia, we find that PiCV displays a similar degree of genetic diversity to that of the related Psittacine infecting circovirus species, Beak and feather disease virus (BFDV). We show that, as is the case with its pathology and epidemiology, PiCV also displays patterns of recombination, genomic secondary structure and natural selection that are generally very similar to those of BFDV. It is likely that breeding facilities play a significant role in the emergence of new recombinant PiCV variants and given that ~50% of the domestic pigeon population is infected subclinically, all pigeon breeding stocks should be routinely screened for this virus.

  • Domains of the cucumber mosaic virus 2b silencing suppressor protein affecting inhibition of salicylic acid-induced resistance and priming of salicylic acid accumulation during infection [PLANT VIRUSES - RNA]

  • The cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) 2b silencing suppressor protein allows the virus to overcome resistance to replication and local movement in inoculated leaves of plants treated with salicylic acid (SA), a resistance-inducing plant hormone. In Arabidopsis thaliana plants systemically infected with CMV, the 2b protein also primes the induction of SA biosynthesis during this compatible interaction. We found that CMV infection of susceptible tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) also induced SA accumulation. Utilization of mutant 2b proteins expressed during infection of tobacco showed that the N and C terminal domains, which had previously been implicated in regulation of symptom induction, were both required for subversion of SA-induced resistance, while all mutants tested except those affecting the putative phosphorylation domain had lost the ability to prime SA accumulation and expression of the SA-induced marker gene PR-1.

  • Evidence of extrahepatic replication of Hepatitis E virus in human placenta [OTHER VIRUSES]

  • The incidence and severity of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection in pregnant women is high in developing countries. Transplacental transmission of HEV in the third trimester of pregnancy has been found to be associated with a high fetal mortality. Based on this evidence and in absence of report on HEV replication in extra hepatic sites, this study was carried out to investigate if HEV replication occurs in the placenta of the infected mothers. The study included 68 acute viral hepatitis (AVH) and 22 acute liver failure (ALF) pregnant patients. Viral RNA was extracted from blood and placenta. HEV replication in placenta was confirmed by a replicative negative strand-specific rt-PCR. Viral load was estimated by real time PCR. Immunohistochemical studies were also carried out for in situ detection of HEV in placental tissue sections. Replicative HEV RNA was detectable only in the placenta in ALF and AVH cases and not in the blood samples.Also, positive staining of placental tissue sections stained with Hep E virus antibody against the viral structural protein ORF3 was identified. HEV replication in placenta also correlated with fetal and maternal mortality in ALF. It is demonstrated for the first time that HEV replication does occur in human placenta and placenta may be a site of extrahepatic replication of Hepatitis E virus in humans.

  • Viral determinants of influenza A host range [ANIMAL VIRUSES - NEGATIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Typical avian influenza A viruses are restricted from replicating efficiently and causing disease in humans. However, an avian virus can become adapted to humans by mutating or recombining with currently circulating human viruses. These viruses have the potential to cause pandemics in an immunologically naiiuml;ve human population. It is critical that we understand the molecular basis of host range restriction and how this can be overcome. Here we review our current understanding of the mechanisms by which influenza viruses adapt to replicate efficiently in a new host. We predominantly focus on the influenza polymerase which remains one of the least understood host range barriers.

  • Genome sequencing identifies genetic and antigenic divergence of porcine picobirnaviruses [ANIMAL VIRUSES - DOUBLE-STRAND RNA]

  • The full-length genome sequence of a porcine picobirnavirus detected in Italy in 2004 was determined. The S segment was 1730 nucleotide (nt) in length, coding for a putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Two distinct sub-populations of L segment (LA and LB) were identified in the sample, with the sizes ranging from 2351 to 2666 nt. The ORF1 coding for a protein of unknown function, contained repetitions of the ExxRxNxxxE motif in variable number. The capsid protein coding ORF2 spanned nt 810-2447 in the LB variants and started at nt 734 in the LA variants. However, a termination codon was present only in one of all LA segment variants. Three dimensional modelling of the porcine PBV capsids suggested structural differences in the protruding domain, tentatively involved as antigens in humoral immune response. Altogether, these findings suggest simultaneous presence of two different picobirnavirus strains sharing the same S segment but displaying genetically diverse L segments. In addition, the sample probably contained a mixture of PBVs with aberrant RNA replication products. Altered structure in the L segments could be tolerated and retained in the presence of functionally integer cognate genes and represent a mechanism of virus diversification.

  • A C-terminal, cysteine-rich site in poliovirus 2CATPase is required for morphogenesis [ANIMAL VIRUSES - POSITIVE-STRAND RNA]

  • Morphogenesis of member viruses of genus Enterovirus of Picornaviridae is still poorly understood despite decades-long investigations. However, we recently provided evidence that 2CATPase gives specificity to poliovirus encapsidation through an interaction with capsid protein VP3. Polypeptide 2CATPase is a highly conserved nonstructural protein of enteroviruses with important roles in RNA replication, encapsidation and uncoating. We have identified a site (K279/R280) near the C-terminus of the polypeptide that is required for morphogenesis. The aim of our current project was to search for additional functional sites near the C-terminus of the 2CATPase polypeptide, with particular interest in those that are required for encapsidation. We selected for analysis a cysteine-rich site of the polypeptide and constructed four mutants in which cysteines or a histidine was changed to an alanine. The RNA transcripts were transfected into HeLa cells yielding 2 lethal, one temperature-sensitive and one quasi-infectious mutant. All four mutants exhibited normal protein translation in vitro and 3 of them possessed severe RNA replication defects. The quasi-infectious mutant (C286A) yielded variants with a pseudoreversion at the original site (A286D) but some also contained one additional mutation: A138Vor M293V. The temperature-sensitive mutant (C272A/H273A) exhibited an encapsidation, and possibly also an uncoating defect, at 37ddeg;C. Variants of this mutant revealed suppressor mutations at 3 different sites in the 2CATPase polypeptide: A138V, M293V, or K295R. We conclude that the cysteine-rich site near the C-terminus of 2CATPase is involved in encapsidation, possibly through an interaction with an upstream segment located between boxes A and B of the nucleotide-binding domain.

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