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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
  • Current Issue of Virology Journal

    Virology Journal - Latest Articles

  • HIV-1 vaccine immunogen design strategies

  • An effective human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccine is expected to have the greatest impact on HIV-1 spread and remains a global scientific priority. Only one candidate vaccine has significantly reduced HIV-1 acquisition, yet at a limited efficacy of 31%, and none have delayed disease progression in vaccinated individuals. Thus, the challenge remains to develop HIV-1 immunogens that will elicit protective immunity. A combination of two independent approaches - namely the elicitation of broadly neutralising antibodies (bNAb) to prevent or reduce acquisition of infection and stimulation of effective cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses to slow disease progression in breakthrough infections (recent evidence suggests that CTLs could also block HIV-1 from establishing persistent infection) ? is the current ideal. The purpose of this review is to summarise strategies and progress in the design and testing of HIV-1 immunogens to elicit bNAb and protective CTL immune responses. Recent advances in mimicking the functional native envelope trimer structure and in designing structurally-stabilised bNAb epitope forms to drive development of germline precursors to mature bNAb are highlighted. Systematic or computational approaches to T cell immunogen design aimed at covering viral diversity, increasing the breadth of immune responses and/or reducing viable viral escape are discussed. We also discuss a recent novel vaccine vector approach shown to induce extremely broad and persistent T cell responses that could clear highly pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) early after infection in the monkey model. While in vitro and animal model data are promising, Phase II and III human clinical trials are ultimately needed to determine the efficacy of immunogen design approaches.

  • Identification of human papillomaviruses from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded pre-cancer and invasive cervical cancer specimens in Zambia: a cross-sectional study

  • Background: The most common human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes isolated from cervical cancer in select African countries are HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-35, and HPV-45, but the most common genotypes in Zambia are unknown. The overall objective of this study was to assess the potential impact of current HPV vaccines in preventing cervical cancer in Zambia, by determining the combined prevalence of HPV-16 and/or HPV-18 in invasive cervical cancer (ICC) and high-grade pre-cancer [cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 or 3 (CIN2/3)] cases.FindingsWe compared DNA extraction techniques to determine which assay performs well in the Zambian context, where unbuffered formalin is used to fix specimens. We then tested specimens with the Abbott RealTime High-Risk HPV test to estimate the prevalence of HPV-16/18 in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded ICC and CIN2/3 specimens. DNA extraction using heat (without xylene) was more successful than xylene-based extraction. Over 80% of specimens tested using heat extraction and the Abbott RealTime HPV test were positive for HPV. HPV-16 and/or HPV-18 were identified in 65/93 (69.9%) ICC specimens positive for HPV and in 38/65 (58.5%) CIN2/3 specimens positive for HPV. Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first report to identify HPV genotypes in cervical cancers in Zambia. A combined HPV-16/18 prevalence of 69.9% in ICC specimens suggests that current vaccines will be highly protective against cervical cancer in Zambia.

  • Complete genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of dengue type 1 virus isolated from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

  • Background: Dengue viruses (DENVs) are mosquito-borne viruses which can cause disease ranging from mild fever to severe dengue infection. These viruses are endemic in several tropical and subtropical regions. Multiple outbreaks of DENV serotypes 1, 2 and 3 (DENV-1, DENV-2 and DENV-3) have been reported from the western region in Saudi Arabia since 1994. Strains from at least two genotypes of DENV-1 (Asia and America/Africa genotypes) have been circulating in western Saudi Arabia until 2006. However, all previous studies reported from Saudi Arabia were based on partial sequencing data of the envelope (E) gene without any reports of full genome sequences for any DENV serotypes circulating in Saudi Arabia.FindingsHere, we report the isolation and the first complete genome sequence of a DENV-1 strain (DENV-1-Jeddah-1-2011) isolated from a patient from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2011. Whole genome sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis showed high similarity between DENV-1-Jeddah-1-2011strain and D1/H/IMTSSA/98/606 isolate (Asian genotype) reported from Djibouti in 1998. Further analysis of the full envelope gene revealed a close relationship between DENV-1-Jeddah-1-2011strain and isolates reported between 2004?2006 from Jeddah as well as recent isolates from Somalia, suggesting the widespread of the Asian genotype in this region. Conclusions: These data suggest that strains belonging to the Asian genotype might have been introduced into Saudi Arabia long before 2004 most probably by African pilgrims and continued to circulate in western Saudi Arabia at least until 2011. Most importantly, these results indicate that pilgrims from dengue endemic regions can play an important role in the spread of new DENVs in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. Therefore, availability of complete genome sequences would serve as a reference for future epidemiological studies of DENV-1 viruses.

  • New insight into HCV E1/E2 region of genotype 4a

  • IntroductionHepatitis C virus (HCV) genome contains two envelope proteins (E1 and E2) responsible for the virus entry into the cell. There is a substantial lack of sequences covering the full length of E1/E2 region for genotype 4. Our study aims at providing new sequences as well as characterizing the genetic divergence of the E1/E2 region of HCV 4a using our new sequences along with all publicly available datasets. Methods: The genomic segments covering the whole E1/E2 region were isolated from Egyptian HCV patients and sequenced. The resulting 36 sequences 36 were analyzed using sequence analysis techniques to study variability within and among hosts in the same time point. Furthermore, previously published HCV E1/E2 sequence datasets for genotype 4a were retrieved and categorized according to the geographical location and date of isolation and were used for further analysis of variability among Egyptian over a period of 15 years, also compared with non-Egyptian sequences to figure out region-specific variability. Results: Phylogenetic analysis of the new sequences has shown variability within the host and among different individuals in the same time point. Analysis of the 36 sequences along with the Egyptian sequences (254 sequences in E1 in the period from 1997 to 2010 and 8 E2 sequences in the period from 2006 to 2010) has shown temporal change over time. Analysis of the new HCV sequences with the non-Egyptian sequences (182 sequences in E1 and 155 sequences in the E2) has shown region specific variability. The molecular clock rate of E1 was estimated to be 5E-3 per site per year for Egyptian and 5.38E-3 for non-Egyptian. The clock rate of E2 was estimated to be 8.48E per site per year for Egyptian and 6.3E-3 for non-Egyptian. Conclusion: The results of this study support the high rate of evolution of the Egyptian HCV genotype 4a. It has also revealed significant level of genetic variability among sequences from different regions in the world.

  • IL-22-producing Th22 cells play a protective role in CVB3-induced chronic myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy by inhibiting myocardial fibrosis

  • Background: A new subset of T helper (Th) cells, named IL-22-producing Th22 cells, was identified recently. Th22 cells have been implicated in immunity and inflammation. However, the role of these cells in the progression from acute viral myocarditis (AVMC) to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and myocardial fibrosis remains unknown. Methods: BALB/c mice were repeatedly i.p. infected with Coxsackie virus B3 (CVB3) to establish models of AVMC, chronic myocarditis and DCM. On week 2, 12 and 24 post initial injection, the percentage of splenic Th22 cells, the levels of plasma IL-22, cardiac IL-22 receptor (IL-22R) expression, and indicators of myocardial fibrosis were measured. Further, mice with AVMC and chronic myocarditis were treated with an anti-IL-22 neutralizing antibody (Ab). The collagen volume fraction (CVF), the percentage of splenic Th22 cells, plasma IL-22 levels, cardiac IL-22R expression and indicators of myocardial fibrosis were then monitored. Results: Compared to control mice at the same time points, AVMC, chronic myocarditis and DCM mice have higher percentage of splenic Th22 cells, higher plasma IL-22 levels, increased cardiac IL-22R, as well as increased collagen typeI-A1 (COL1-A1), collagen type III-A1 (COL3-A1) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) expression. However, the expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1(TIMP-1) was decreased. Treatment of AVMC and chronic myocarditis mice with an anti-IL-22 Ab decreased the survival rate and exacerbated myocardial fibrosis. The percentage of splenic Th22 cells, plasma IL-22 levels and cardiac IL-22R expression also decreased in anti-IL-22 Ab treatment group as compared to IgG and PBS treated groups of AVMC and chronic myocarditis mice. Moreover, increased expression of COL1-A1, COL3-A1, MMP9 but decreased expression of TIMP-1 were observed in anti-IL-22 Ab mouse group. Conclusions: Th22 cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of CVB3-induced mouse chronic myocarditis and DCM. IL-22 is a myocardium-protective cytokine by inhibiting myocardial fibrosis. Therefore, Th 22 cells may be considered as potential therapeutic targets for DCM.

  • Expression pattern of NLRP3 and its related cytokines in the lung and brain of avian influenza virus H9N2 infected BALB/c mice

  • Background: H9N2 avian influenza virus (AIV) becomes the focus for its ability of transmission to mammals and as a donor to provide internal genes to form the new epidemic lethal influenza viruses. Residue 627 in PB2 has been proven the virulence factor of H9N2 avian influenza virus in mice, but the detailed data for inflammation difference between H9N2 virus strains with site 627 mutation is still unclear. The inflammasome NLRP3 is recently reported as the cellular machinery responsible for activation of inflammatory processes and plays an important role during the development of inflammation caused by influenza virus infection. Methods: In this study, we investigated the expression pattern of NLRP3 and its related cytokines of IL-1β and TNF-α in BALB/c mice infected by H9N2 AIV strains with only a site 627 difference at both mRNA and protein levels at different time points. Results: The results showed that the expression level of NLRP3, IL-1β and TNF-α changed in the lung and brain of BALB/c mice after infection by VK627 and rVK627E. The immunohistological results showed that the positive cells of NLRP3, IL-1β and TNF-α altered the positive levels of original cells in tissues and infiltrated inflammatory cells which caused by H9N2 infection. Conclusions: Our results provided the basic data at differences in expression pattern of NLRP3 and its related cytokines in BALB/c mice infected by H9N2 influenza viruses with only a site 627 difference. This implied that NLRP3 inflammasome plays a role in host response to influenza virus infection and determines the outcome of clinical manifestation and pathological injury. This will explain the variable of pathological presentation in tissues and enhance research on inflammation process of the AIV H9N2 infection.

  • Identification of putative interactions between swine and human influenza A virus nucleoprotein and human host proteins

  • Background: Influenza A viruses (IAVs) are important pathogens that affect the health of humans and many additional animal species. IAVs are enveloped, negative single-stranded RNA viruses whose genome encodes at least ten proteins. The IAV nucleoprotein (NP) is a structural protein that associates with the viral RNA and is essential for virus replication. Understanding how IAVs interact with host proteins is essential for elucidating all of the required processes for viral replication, restrictions in species host range, and potential targets for antiviral therapies. Methods: In this study, the NP from a swine IAV was cloned into a yeast two-hybrid“bait” vector for expression of a yeast Gal4 binding domain (BD)-NP fusion protein. This“bait” was used to screen a Y2H human HeLa cell“prey” library which consisted of human proteins fused to the Gal4 protein’s activation domain (AD). The interaction of“bait” and“prey” proteins resulted in activation of reporter genes. Results: Seventeen positive bait-prey interactions were isolated in yeast. All of the“prey” isolated also interact in yeast with a NP“bait” cloned from a human IAV strain. Isolation and sequence analysis of the cDNAs encoding the human prey proteins revealed ten different human proteins. These host proteins are involved in various host cell processes and structures, including purine biosynthesis (PAICS), metabolism (ACOT13), proteasome (PA28B), DNA-binding (MSANTD3), cytoskeleton (CKAP5), potassium channel formation (KCTD9), zinc transporter function (SLC30A9), Na+/K+ ATPase function (ATP1B1), and RNA splicing (TRA2B). Conclusions: Ten human proteins were identified as interacting with IAV NP in a Y2H screen. Some of these human proteins were reported in previous screens aimed at elucidating host proteins relevant to specific viral life cycle processes such as replication. This study extends previous findings by suggesting a mechanism by which these host proteins associate with the IAV, i.e., physical interaction with NP. Furthermore, this study revealed novel host protein-NP interactions in yeast.

  • Identification of VP1 peptides diagnostic of encephalomyocarditis virus from swine

  • Background: Encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) can cause myocarditis, respiratory failure, reproductive failure, and sudden death in pre-weaned piglets, which has been isolated in China. EMCV VP1 protein was one of the most important structural proteins and played an important role in the protective immunity. In this study, 10 monoclonal antibodies (McAbs) against EMCV VP1 were screened and identified. Results: Epitope mapping results indicated that McAbs (6E11, 7A7, 7C9) specifically recognized the linear epitopes V(2)ENAEK(7), McAbs (1D1, 2A2, 5A1, 5A11, 5G1) recognized the epitope F(19)VAQPVY(25), and McAbs 1G8 and 3A9 recognized P(42)IGAFTVK(49). Protein sequence alignment of VP1 with 16 EMCV isolates indicated that the epitope F(19)VAQPVY(25) was conserved in all the reference strains. The epitopes P(42)IGAFTVK(49) and V(2)ENAEK(7) only had 1 or 2 variable amino acid among the reference strains. The 3D model analysis results showed that these epitopes presented as spheres were shown within the context of the complete particle. Conclusions: In this study, ten McAbs against EMCV VP1 were developed and three B-cells epitopes (2-7aa, 19-25aa and 42-49aa) were defined in VP1. All the results herein will promote the future investigations into the function of VP1 of EMCV and development of diagnostic methods of EMCV.

  • MEK/ERK signaling pathway is required for enterovirus 71 replication in immature dendritic cells

  • Background: The mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase/extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (MEK/ERK) signaling pathway is involved in viral life cycle. However, the effect of MEK/ERK pathway in enterovirus 71(EV71)-infected immature dendritic cells (iDCs) is still unclear. Methods: Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated and induced to generate iDCs. Unifected iDCs and EV71-infected iDCs with a multiplicity of infection (MOI = 5) were analyzed by flow cytometry. Differential gene expressions of MEK/ERK signaling pathway molecules in EV71-infected iDCs were performed by PCR arrays. The phosphorylation of MEK/ERK pathway molecules in EV71-infected iDCs preincubated without or with U0126 (20 μM) at indicated times was detected by Western blot. The concentrations of IL-1α, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-α, IFN-α1, IFN-β and IFN-γ in culture supernatant were analyzed by the luminex fluorescent technique. Results: When iDCs were infected with EV71 for 24 h, the percentage of CD80, CD83, CD86 and HLA-DR expressed on iDCs significantly increased. PCR arrays showed that gene expressions of molecules in MEK/ERK signaling pathway were remarkably upregulated in EV71-infected iDCs. EV71 infection activated both MEK1/2 and ERK1/2, which phosphorylated their downstream transcription factor c-Fos, c-Jun, c-myc and Elk1. Importantly, the treatment of U0126 significantly inhibited MEK/ERK signaling pathway molecules and severely impaired virus replication., Additionally, EV71 infection promoted the expression of son of sevenless (SOS1) and increased the secretion of IL-1α, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-α,IFN-β and IFN-γ. Furthermore,the release of IL-1α, IL-2,IL-6 and TNF-α could be effectively suppressed by inhibitor U0126. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the MEK/ERK signaling pathway plays an important role in EV71-infected iDCs and these molecules may be potential targets for the development of new anti-EV71 drugs.

  • No transmission of hepatitis E virus in pigs fed diets containing commercial spray-dried porcine plasma: a retrospective study of samples from several swine trials

  • Background: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been reported in the human population and pigs are a recognized reservoir for HEV and a possible source of HEV transmission to humans. Spray-dried porcine plasma (SDPP) is an ingredient commonly used in feed for pigs around the world. Even though processing conditions used to produce SDPP should be adequate to inactivate HEV, it was of interest to analyze commercial SDPP samples for presence of genome and antibodies (AB) against HEV and to retrospectively analyze serum samples collected from pigs used in past experiments that had been fed diets containing either 0% or 8% SDPP to detect potential transmission of HEV as determined by seroconversion. Results: Eighty-five commercial SDPP samples were analyzed by ELISA and 100% of them contained AB against HEV, while 22.4% (11 of 49 samples analyzed) were positive for HEV RNA.Frozen sera samples (n = 140) collected from 70 pigs used in past experiments that had been fed diets containing either 0% or 8% commercial SDPP was analyzed by ELISA for AB against HEV. Age of pigs at sera sampling ranged from 3 to 15 weeks and feeding duration of diets ranged from approximately 4 to 9 weeks. One lot of SDPP used in one experiment was analyzed and confirmed to contain HEV RNA. Regardless of the diet fed, some sera samples collected at the beginning of an experiment contained AB titer against HEV. These sera samples were collected from weaned pigs prior to feeding of the experimental diets and the HEV titer was probably from maternal origin. However, by the end of the experiments, HEV titer was not detected or had declined by more than 50% of the initial titer concentration. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting presence of HEV AB titer and RNA in SDPP. Retrospective analysis of serum collected from pigs fed diets with SDPP revealed no indication of seroconversion to HEV. The results indicate that feeding SDPP in diets for pigs does not represent a risk of transmitting HEV, even though HEV genome may be detected in SDPP.
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