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Jean-Yves Sgro
Inst. for Mol.Virology
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Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Current Issue of Viruses


  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 351: Neurotropism In Vitro and Mouse Models of Severe and Mild Infection with Clinical Strains of Enterovirus 71

  • Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a common etiological agent of hand, foot, and mouth disease and fatal neurological diseases in children. The neuropathogenicity of severe EV71 infection has been documented, but studies comparing mouse models of severe and mild EV71 infection are lacking. The aim of the study was to investigate the neurovirulence of EV71 strains and the differences in serum cytokine and chemokine levels in mouse models of severe and mild EV71 infection. Nine EV71 isolates belonging to the C4 subgenogroup (proposed as genotype D) displayed infectivity in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells; moreover, ultrastructural observation confirmed viral particle replication. The survival rate of the severe model was 71.43% (5/7), and 60% (3/5) of the surviving severe model mice displayed sequelae of paralysis, whereas the only symptom in mild model mice was ruffled fur. Dynamic detection of serum cytokine and chemokine levels demonstrated that interleukin (IL)-5, IL-13, IL-6, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1), and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 5 (also called Regulated upon Activation, Normal T-cell Expressed, and Secreted (CCL5/RANTES) were significantly up-regulated at the early period of infection, indicating that these factors might herald a severe outcome. Our findings suggest that elevated cytokines and chemokines may have potential value as prognostic markers in mouse models.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 349: New Paradigms for the Study of Ocular Alphaherpesvirus Infections: Insights into the Use of Non-Traditional Host Model Systems

  • Ocular herpesviruses, most notably human alphaherpesvirus 1 (HSV-1), canid alphaherpesvirus 1 (CHV-1) and felid alphaherpesvirus 1 (FHV-1), infect and cause severe disease that may lead to blindness. CHV-1 and FHV-1 have a pathogenesis and induce clinical disease in their hosts that is similar to HSV-1 ocular infections in humans, suggesting that infection of dogs and cats with CHV-1 and FHV-1, respectively, can be used as a comparative natural host model of herpesvirus-induced ocular disease. In this review, we discuss both strengths and limitations of the various available model systems to study ocular herpesvirus infection, with a focus on the use of these non-traditional virus-natural host models. Recent work has demonstrated the robustness and reproducibility of experimental ocular herpesvirus infections in dogs and cats, and, therefore, these non-traditional models can provide additional insights into the pathogenesis of ocular herpesvirus infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 350: The Role of Infected Cell Proliferation in the Clearance of Acute HBV Infection in Humans

  • Around 90–95% of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infected adults do not progress to the chronic phase and, instead, recover naturally. The strengths of the cytolytic and non-cytolytic immune responses are key players that decide the fate of acute HBV infection. In addition, it has been hypothesized that proliferation of infected cells resulting in uninfected progeny and/or cytokine-mediated degradation of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) leading to the cure of infected cells are two major mechanisms assisting the adaptive immune response in the clearance of acute HBV infection in humans. We employed fitting of mathematical models to human acute infection data together with physiological constraints to investigate the role of these hypothesized mechanisms in the clearance of infection. Results suggest that cellular proliferation of infected cells resulting in two uninfected cells is required to minimize the destruction of the liver during the clearance of acute HBV infection. In contrast, we find that a cytokine-mediated cure of infected cells alone is insufficient to clear acute HBV infection. In conclusion, our modeling indicates that HBV clearance without lethal loss of liver mass is associated with the production of two uninfected cells upon proliferation of an infected cell.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 348: Diversity of dsDNA Viruses in a South African Hot Spring Assessed by Metagenomics and Microscopy

  • The current view of virus diversity in terrestrial hot springs is limited to a few sampling sites. To expand our current understanding of hot spring viral community diversity, this study aimed to investigate the first African hot spring (Brandvlei hot spring; 60°C, pH 5.7) by means of electron microscopy and sequencing of the virus fraction. Microscopy analysis revealed a mixture of regular- and ‘jumbo’-sized tailed morphotypes (Caudovirales), lemon-shaped virions (Fuselloviridae-like; salterprovirus-like) and pleiomorphic virus-like particles. Metavirome analysis corroborated the presence of His1-like viruses and has expanded the current clade of salterproviruses using a polymerase B gene phylogeny. The most represented viral contig was to a cyanophage genome fragment, which may underline basic ecosystem functioning provided by these viruses. Furthermore, a putative Gemmata-related phage was assembled with high coverage, a previously undocumented phage-host association. This study demonstrated that a moderately thermophilic spring environment contained a highly novel pool of viruses and should encourage future characterization of a widertemperature range of hot springs throughout the world.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 344: Epidemiological Investigations of Four Cowpox Virus Outbreaks in Alpaca Herds, Germany

  • Four cowpox virus (CPXV) outbreaks occurred in unrelated alpaca herds in Eastern Germany during 2012–2017. All incidents were initially noticed due to severe, generalized, and finally lethal CPXV infections, which were confirmed by testing of tissue and serum samples. As CPXV-infection has been described in South American camelids (SACs) only three times, all four herds were investigated to gain a deeper understanding of CPXV epidemiology in alpacas. The different herds were investigated twice, and various samples (serum, swab samples, and crusts of suspicious pox lesions, feces) were taken to identify additionally infected animals. Serum was used to detect CPXV-specific antibodies by performing an indirect immunofluorescence assay (iIFA); swab samples, crusts, and feces were used for detection of CPXV-specific DNA in a real-time PCR. In total, 28 out of 107 animals could be identified as affected by CPXV, by iIFA and/or PCR. Herd seroprevalence ranged from 16.1% to 81.2%. To investigate the potential source of infection, wild small mammals were trapped around all alpaca herds. In two herds, CPXV-specific antibodies were found in the local rodent population. In the third herd, CPXV could be isolated from a common vole (Microtus arvalis) found drowned in a water bucket used to water the alpacas. Full genome sequencing and comparison with the genome of a CPXV from an alpaca from the same herd reveal 99.997% identity, providing further evidence that the common vole is a reservoir host and infection source of CPXV. Only in the remaining fourth herd, none of the trapped rodents were found to be CPXV-infected. Rodents, as ubiquitous reservoir hosts, in combination with increasingly popular alpacas, as susceptible species, suggest an enhanced risk of future zoonotic infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 347: RNA Virus Evolution via a Quasispecies-Based Model Reveals a Drug Target with a High Barrier to Resistance

  • The rapid occurrence of therapy-resistant mutant strains provides a challenge for anti-viral therapy. An ideal drug target would be a highly conserved molecular feature in the viral life cycle, such as the packaging signals in the genomes of RNA viruses that encode an instruction manual for their efficient assembly. The ubiquity of this assembly code in RNA viruses, including major human pathogens, suggests that it confers selective advantages. However, their impact on viral evolution cannot be assessed in current models of viral infection that lack molecular details of virus assembly. We introduce here a quasispecies-based model of a viral infection that incorporates structural and mechanistic knowledge of packaging signal function in assembly to construct a phenotype-fitness map, capturing the impact of this RNA code on assembly yield and efficiency. Details of viral replication and assembly inside an infected host cell are coupled with a population model of a viral infection, allowing the occurrence of therapy resistance to be assessed in response to drugs inhibiting packaging signal recognition. Stochastic simulations of viral quasispecies evolution in chronic HCV infection under drug action and/or immune clearance reveal that drugs targeting all RNA signals in the assembly code collectively have a high barrier to drug resistance, even though each packaging signal in isolation has a lower barrier than conventional drugs. This suggests that drugs targeting the RNA signals in the assembly code could be promising routes for exploitation in anti-viral drug design.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 346: Epigenetic Regulation of Viral Biological Processes

  • It is increasingly clear that DNA viruses exploit cellular epigenetic processes to control their life cycles during infection. This review will address epigenetic regulation in members of the polyomaviruses, adenoviruses, human papillomaviruses, hepatitis B, and herpes viruses. For each type of virus, what is known about the roles of DNA methylation, histone modifications, nucleosome positioning, and regulatory RNA in epigenetic regulation of the virus infection will be discussed. The mechanisms used by certain viruses to dysregulate the host cell through manipulation of epigenetic processes and the role of cellular cofactors such as BRD4 that are known to be involved in epigenetic regulation of host cell pathways will also be covered. Specifically, this review will focus on the role of epigenetic regulation in maintaining viral episomes through the generation of chromatin, temporally controlling transcription from viral genes during the course of an infection, regulating latency and the switch to a lytic infection, and global dysregulation of cellular function.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 345: Characterization of Ovine A3Z1 Restriction Properties against Small Ruminant Lentiviruses (SRLVs)

  • Intrinsic factors of the innate immune system include the apolipoprotein B editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3) protein family. APOBEC3 inhibits replication of different virus families by cytosine deamination of viral DNA and a not fully characterized cytosine deamination-independent mechanism. Sheep are susceptible to small ruminant lentivirus (SRLVs) infection and contain three APOBEC3 genes encoding four proteins (A3Z1, Z2, Z3 and Z2-Z3) with yet not deeply described antiviral properties. Using sheep blood monocytes and in vitro-derived macrophages, we found that A3Z1 expression is associated with lower viral replication in this cellular type. A3Z1 transcripts may also contain spliced variants (A3Z1Tr) lacking the cytidine deaminase motif. A3Z1 exogenous expression in fully permissive fibroblast-like cells restricted SRLVs infection while A3Z1Tr allowed infection. A3Z1Tr was induced after SRLVs infection or stimulation of blood-derived macrophages with interferon gamma (IFN-γ). Interaction between truncated isoform and native A3Z1 protein was detected as well as incorporation of both proteins into virions. A3Z1 and A3Z1Tr interacted with SRLVs Vif, but this interaction was not associated with degradative properties. Similar A3Z1 truncated isoforms were also present in human and monkey cells suggesting a conserved alternative splicing regulation in primates. A3Z1-mediated retroviral restriction could be constrained by different means, including gene expression and specific alternative splicing regulation, leading to truncated protein isoforms lacking a cytidine-deaminase motif.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 343: The Ms6 Mycolyl-Arabinogalactan Esterase LysB is Essential for an Efficient Mycobacteriophage-Induced Lysis

  • All dsDNA phages encode two proteins involved in host lysis, an endolysin and a holin that target the peptidoglycan and cytoplasmic membrane, respectively. Bacteriophages that infect Gram-negative bacteria encode additional proteins, the spanins, involved in disruption of the outer membrane. Recently, a gene located in the lytic cassette was identified in the genomes of mycobacteriophages, which encodes a protein (LysB) with mycolyl-arabinogalactan esterase activity. Taking in consideration the complex mycobacterial cell envelope that mycobacteriophages encounter during their life cycle, it is valuable to evaluate the role of these proteins in lysis. In the present work, we constructed an Ms6 mutant defective on lysB and showed that Ms6 LysB has an important role in lysis. In the absence of LysB, lysis still occurs but the newly synthesized phage particles are deficiently released to the environment. Using cryo-electron microscopy and tomography to register the changes in the lysis phenotype, we show that at 150 min post-adsorption, mycobacteria cells are incompletely lysed and phage particles are retained inside the cell, while cells infected with Ms6wt are completely lysed. Our results confirm that Ms6 LysB is necessary for an efficient lysis of Mycobacterium smegmatis, acting, similarly to spanins, in the third step of the lysis process.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 341: Epstein–Barr Virus Hijacks DNA Damage Response Transducers to Orchestrate Its Life Cycle

  • The Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous virus that infects most of the human population. EBV infection is associated with multiple human cancers, including Burkitt’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a subset of gastric carcinomas, and almost all undifferentiated non-keratinizing nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Intensive research has shown that EBV triggers a DNA damage response (DDR) during primary infection and lytic reactivation. The EBV-encoded viral proteins have been implicated in deregulating the DDR signaling pathways. The consequences of DDR inactivation lead to genomic instability and promotecellular transformation. This review summarizes the current understanding of the relationship between EBV infection and the DDR transducers, including ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated), ATR (ATM and Rad3-related), and DNA-PK (DNA-dependent protein kinase), and discusses how EBV manipulates the DDR signaling pathways to complete the replication process of viral DNA during lytic reactivation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 342: The Non-Homologous End Joining Protein PAXX Acts to Restrict HSV-1 Infection

  • Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) has extensive interactions with the host DNA damage response (DDR) machinery that can be either detrimental or beneficial to the virus. Proteins in the homologous recombination pathway are known to be required for efficient replication of the viral genome, while different members of the classical non-homologous end-joining (c-NHEJ) pathway have opposing effects on HSV-1 infection. Here, we have investigated the role of the recently-discovered c-NHEJ component, PAXX (Paralogue of XRCC4 and XLF), which we found to be excluded from the nucleus during HSV-1 infection. We have established that cells lacking PAXX have an intact innate immune response to HSV-1 but show a defect in viral genome replication efficiency. Counterintuitively, PAXX−/− cells were able to produce greater numbers of infectious virions, indicating that PAXX acts to restrict HSV-1 infection in a manner that is different from other c-NHEJ factors.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 340: Vaccinia Virus Natural Infections in Brazil: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  • The orthopoxviruses (OPV) comprise several emerging viruses with great importance to human and veterinary medicine, including vaccinia virus (VACV), which causes outbreaks of bovine vaccinia (BV) in South America. Historically, VACV is the most comprehensively studied virus, however, its origin and natural hosts remain unknown. VACV was the primary component of the smallpox vaccine, largely used during the smallpox eradication campaign. After smallpox was declared eradicated, the vaccination that conferred immunity to OPV was discontinued, favoring a new contingent of susceptible individuals to OPV. VACV infections occur naturally after direct contact with infected dairy cattle, in recently vaccinated individuals, or through alternative routes of exposure. In Brazil, VACV outbreaks are frequently reported in rural areas, affecting mainly farm animals and humans. Recent studies have shown the role of wildlife in the VACV transmission chain, exploring the role of wild rodents as reservoirs that facilitate VACV spread throughout rural areas. Furthermore, VACV circulation in urban environments and the significance of this with respect to public health, have also been explored. In this review, we discuss the history, epidemiological, ecological and clinical aspects of natural VACV infections in Brazil, also highlighting alternative routes of VACV transmission, the factors involved in susceptibility to infection, and the natural history of the disease in humans and animals, and the potential for dissemination to urban environments.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 339: EBV and Apoptosis: The Viral Master Regulator of Cell Fate?

  • Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) was first discovered in cells from a patient with Burkitt lymphoma (BL), and is now known to be a contributory factor in 1–2% of all cancers, for which there are as yet, no EBV-targeted therapies available. Like other herpesviruses, EBV adopts a persistent latent infection in vivo and only rarely reactivates into replicative lytic cycle. Although latency is associated with restricted patterns of gene expression, genes are never expressed in isolation; always in groups. Here, we discuss (1) the ways in which the latent genes of EBV are known to modulate cell death, (2) how these mechanisms relate to growth transformation and lymphomagenesis, and (3) how EBV genes cooperate to coordinately regulate key cell death pathways in BL and lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). Since manipulation of the cell death machinery is critical in EBV pathogenesis, understanding the mechanisms that underpin EBV regulation of apoptosis therefore provides opportunities for novel therapeutic interventions.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 338: Structures and Functions of the Envelope Glycoprotein in Flavivirus Infections

  • Flaviviruses are enveloped, single-stranded RNA viruses that widely infect many animal species. The envelope protein, a structural protein of flavivirus, plays an important role in host cell viral infections. It is composed of three separate structural envelope domains I, II, and III (EDI, EDII, and EDIII). EDI is a structurally central domain of the envelope protein which stabilizes the overall orientation of the protein, and the glycosylation sites in EDI are related to virus production, pH sensitivity, and neuroinvasiveness. EDII plays an important role in membrane fusion because of the immunodominance of the fusion loop epitope and the envelope dimer epitope. Additionally, EDIII is the major target of neutralization antibodies. The envelope protein is an important target for research to develop vaccine candidates and antiviral therapeutics. This review summarizes the structures and functions of ED I/II/III, and provides practical applications for the three domains, with the ultimate goal of implementing strategies to utilize the envelope protein against flavivirus infections, thus achieving better diagnostics and developing potential flavivirus therapeutics and vaccines.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 336: Antibody Competition Reveals Surface Location of HPV L2 Minor Capsid Protein Residues 17–36

  • The currently available nonavalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine exploits the highly antigenic L1 major capsid protein to promote high-titer neutralizing antibodies, but is limited to the HPV types included in the vaccine since the responses are highly type-specific. The limited cross-protection offered by the L1 virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine warrants further investigation into cross-protective L2 epitopes. The L2 proteins are yet to be fully characterized as to their precise placement in the virion. Adding to the difficulties in localizing L2, studies have suggested that L2 epitopes are not well exposed on the surface of the mature capsid prior to cellular engagement. Using a series of competition assays between previously mapped anti-L1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) (H16.V5, H16.U4 and H16.7E) and novel anti-L2 mAbs, we probed the capsid surface for the location of an L2 epitope (aa17–36). The previously characterized L1 epitopes together with our competition data is consistent with a proposed L2 epitope within the canyons of pentavalent capsomers.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 337: Combined Proteomics/Genomics Approach Reveals Proteomic Changes of Mature Virions as a Novel Poxvirus Adaptation Mechanism

  • DNA viruses, like poxviruses, possess a highly stable genome, suggesting that adaptation of virus particles to specific cell types is not restricted to genomic changes. Cowpox viruses are zoonotic poxviruses with an extraordinarily broad host range, demonstrating their adaptive potential in vivo. To elucidate adaptation mechanisms of poxviruses, we isolated cowpox virus particles from a rat and passaged them five times in a human and a rat cell line. Subsequently, we analyzed the proteome and genome of the non-passaged virions and each passage. While the overall viral genome sequence was stable during passaging, proteomics revealed multiple changes in the virion composition. Interestingly, an increased viral fitness in human cells was observed in the presence of increased immunomodulatory protein amounts. As the only minor variant with increasing frequency during passaging was located in a viral RNA polymerase subunit and, moreover, most minor variants were found in transcription-associated genes, protein amounts were presumably regulated at transcription level. This study is the first comparative proteome analysis of virus particles before and after cell culture propagation, revealing proteomic changes as a novel poxvirus adaptation mechanism.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 334: Begomoviral Movement Protein Effects in Human and Plant Cells: Towards New Potential Interaction Partners

  • Geminiviral single-stranded circular DNA genomes replicate in nuclei so that the progeny DNA has to cross both the nuclear envelope and the plasmodesmata for systemic spread within plant tissues. For intra- and intercellular transport, two proteins are required: a nuclear shuttle protein (NSP) and a movement protein (MP). New characteristics of ectopically produced Abutilon mosaic virus (AbMV) MP (MPAbMV), either authentically expressed or fused to a yellow fluorescent protein or epitope tags, respectively, were determined by localization studies in mammalian cell lines in comparison to plant cells. Wild-type MPAbMV and the distinct MPAbMV: reporter protein fusions appeared as curled threads throughout mammalian cells. Co-staining with cytoskeleton markers for actin, intermediate filaments, or microtubules identified these threads as re-organized microtubules. These were, however, not stabilized by the viral MP, as demonstrated by nocodazole treatment. The MP of a related bipartite New World begomovirus, Cleome leaf crumple virus (ClLCrV), resulted in the same intensified microtubule bundling, whereas that of a nanovirus did not. The C-terminal section of MPAbMV, i.e., the protein’s oligomerization domain, was dispensable for the effect. However, MP expression in plant cells did not affect the microtubules network. Since plant epidermal cells are quiescent whilst mammalian cells are proliferating, the replication-associated protein RepAbMV protein was then co-expressed with MPAbMV to induce cell progression into S-phase, thereby inducing distinct microtubule bundling without MP recruitment to the newly formed threads. Co-immunoprecipitation of MPAbMV in the presence of RepAbMV, followed by mass spectrometry identified potential novel MPAbMV-host interaction partners: the peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase NIMA-interacting 4 (Pin4) and stomatal cytokinesis defective 2 (SCD2) proteins. Possible roles of these putative interaction partners in the begomoviral life cycle and cytoskeletal association modes are discussed.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 335: Crystal Structure of the Full-Length Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Capsid Protein Shows an N-Terminalβ-Hairpin in the Absence of N-Terminal Proline

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a member of the Retroviridae family. It is the causative agent of an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in cats and wild felines. Its capsid protein (CA) drives the assembly of the viral particle, which is a critical step in the viral replication cycle. Here, the first atomic structure of full-length FIV CA to 1.67Å resolution is determined. The crystallized protein exhibits an original tetrameric assembly, composed of dimers which are stabilized by an intermolecular disulfide bridge induced by the crystallogenesis conditions. The FIV CA displays a standard α-helical CA topology with two domains, separatedby a linker shorter than other retroviral CAs. The β-hairpin motif at its amino terminal end, which interacts with nucleotides in HIV-1, is unusually long in FIV CA. Interestingly, this functional β-motif is formed in this construct in the absence of the conserved N-terminal proline. The FIV CA exhibits a cis Arg–Pro bond in the CypA-binding loop, which is absent in known structures of lentiviral CAs. This structure represents the first tri-dimensional structure of a functional, full-length FIV CA.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 330: Characterization of Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor-Associated Mutations in the RNase H Region of HIV-1 Subtype C Infected Individuals

  • The South African national treatment programme includes nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) in both first and second line highly active antiretroviral therapy regimens. Mutations in the RNase H domain have been associated with resistance to NRTIs but primarily in HIV-1 subtype B studies. Here, we investigated the prevalence and association of RNase H mutations with NRTI resistance in sequences from HIV-1 subtype C infected individuals. RNase H sequences from 112 NRTI treated but virologically failing individuals and 28 antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naive individuals were generated and analysed. In addition, sequences from 359 subtype C ART-naive sequences were downloaded from Los Alamos database to give a total of 387 sequences from ART-naive individuals for the analysis. Fisher’s exact test was used to identify mutations and Bayesian network learning was applied to identify novel NRTI resistance mutation pathways in RNase H domain. The mutations A435L, S468A, T470S, L484I, A508S, Q509L, L517I, Q524E and E529D were more prevalent in sequences from treatment-experienced compared to antiretroviral treatment naive individuals, however, only the E529D mutation remained significant after correction for multiple comparison. Our findings suggest a potential interaction between E529D and NRTI-treatment; however, site-directed mutagenesis is needed to understand the impactof this RNase H mutation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 333: The 17th Rocky Mountain Virology Association Meeting

  • Since 2000, scientists and students from the greater Rocky Mountain region, along with invited speakers, both national and international, have gathered at the Mountain Campus of Colorado State University to discuss their area of study, present recent findings, establish or strengthen collaborations, and mentor the next generation of virologists and prionologists through formal presentations and informal discussions concerning science, grantsmanship and network development. This year, approximately 100 people attended the 17th annual Rocky Mountain Virology Association meeting, that began with a keynote presentation, and featured 29 oral and 35 poster presentations covering RNA and DNA viruses, prions, virus-host interactions and guides to successful mentorship. Since the keynote address focused on the structure and function of Zika and related flaviviruses, a special session was held to discuss RNA control. The secluded meeting at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains gave ample time for in-depth discussions amid the peak of fall colors in the aspen groves while the random bear provided excitement. On behalf of the Rocky Mountain Virology Association, this report summarizes the aamp;amp;gt;50 reports.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 331: Poxvirus Host Range Genes and Virus–Host Spectrum: A Critical Review

  • The Poxviridae family is comprised of double-stranded DNA viruses belonging to nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV). Among the NCLDV, poxviruses exhibit the widest known host range, which is likely observed because this viral family has been more heavily investigated. However, relative to each member of the Poxviridae family, the spectrum of the host is variable, where certain viruses can infect a large range of hosts, while others are restricted to only one host species. It has been suggested that the variability in host spectrum among poxviruses is linked with the presence or absence of some host range genes. Would it be possible to extrapolate the restriction of viral replication in a specific cell lineage to an animal, a far more complex organism? In this study, we compare and discuss the relationship between the host range of poxvirus species and the abundance/diversity of host range genes. We analyzed the sequences of 38 previously identified and putative homologs of poxvirus host range genes, and updated these data with deposited sequences of new poxvirus genomes. Overall, the term host range genes might not be the most appropriate for these genes, since no correlation between them and the viruses’ host spectrum was observed, and a change in nomenclature should be considered. Finally, we analyzed the evolutionary history of these genes, and reaffirmed the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) for certain elements, as previously suggested. Considering the data presented in this study, it is not possible to associate the diversity of host range factors with the amount of hosts of known poxviruses, and this traditional nomenclature creates misunderstandings.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 332: Rapid Construction of Complex Plant RNA Virus Infectious cDNA Clones for Agroinfection Using a Yeast-E. coli-Agrobacterium Shuttle Vector

  • The availability of infectious full-length clone is indispensable for reverse genetics studies of virus biology, pathology and construction of viral vectors. However, for RNA viruses with large genome sizes or those exhibiting inherent cloning difficulties, procedure to generate biologically active complementary DNA (cDNA) clones can be time-consuming or technically challenging. Here we have constructed a yeast-Escherichia coli-Agrobacterium shuttle vector that enables highly efficient homologous recombination in yeast for assembly of Agrobacterium compatible plant virus clones. Using this vector, we show that infectious cDNA clones of a plant negative-stranded RNA virus, sonchus yellow net rhabdovirus, can be rapidly assembled. In addition, one-step assembly of infectious clones of potato virus Y in yeast, either with or without intron, was readily achieved from as many as eight overlapping DNA fragments. More importantly, the recovered yeast plasmids can be transformed directly into Agrobacterium for inoculation, thereby obviating the E. coli cloning steps and associated toxicity issues. This method is rapid, highly efficient and cost-effective and should be readily applicable to a broad range of plant viruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 329: Structure and Function of Caliciviral RNA Polymerases

  • Caliciviruses are a leading agent of human and animal gastroenteritis and respiratory tract infections, which are growing concerns in immunocompromised individuals. However, no vaccines or therapeutics are yet available. Since the rapid rate of genetic evolution of caliciviruses is mainly due to the error-prone nature of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), this article focuses on recent studies of the structures and functions of RdRp from caliciviruses. It also provides recent advances in the interactions of RdRp with virion protein genome-linked (VPg) and RNA and the structural and functional features of its precursor.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 328: Metagenomic Analysis of Therapeutic PYO Phage Cocktails from 1997 to 2014

  • Phage therapy has regained interest in recent years due to the alarming spread of antibiotic resistance. Whilst phage cocktails are commonly sold in pharmacies in countries such as Georgia and Russia, this is not the case in western countries due to western regulatory agencies requiring a thorough characterization of the drug. Here, DNA sequencing of constituent biological entities constitutes a first step. The pyophage (PYO) cocktail is one of the main commercial products of the Georgian Eliava Institute of Bacteriophage, Microbiology and Virology and is used to cure skin infections. Since its first production in the 1930s, the composition of the cocktail has been periodically modified to add phages effective against emerging pathogenic strains. In this paper, we compared the composition of three PYO cocktails from 1997 (PYO97), 2000 (PYO2000) and 2014 (PYO2014). Based on next generation sequencing, de novo assembly and binning of contigs into draft genomes based on tetranucleotide distance, thirty and twenty-nine phage draft genomes were predicted in PYO97 and PYO2014, respectively. Of these, thirteen and fifteen shared high similarity to known phages. Eleven draft genomes were found to be common in the two cocktails. One of these showed no similarity to publicly available phage genomes. Representatives of phages targeting E. faecalis, E. faecium, E. coli, Proteus, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus were found in both cocktails. Finally, we estimated larger overlap of the PYO2000 cocktail to PYO97 compared to PYO2014. Using next generation sequencing and metagenomics analysis, we were able to characterize and compare the content of PYO cocktails separated by 17 years in time. Even though the cocktail composition is upgraded every six months, we found it to remain relatively stable over the years.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 327: Biology of the BKPyV: An Update

  • The BK virus (BKPyV) is a member of the Polyomaviridae family first isolated in 1971. BKPyV causes frequent infections during childhood and establishes persistent infections with minimal clinical implications within renal tubular cells and the urothelium. However, reactivation of BKPyV in immunocompromised individuals may cause serious complications. In particular, with the implementation of more potent immunosuppressive drugs in the last decade, BKPyV has become an emerging pathogen in kidney and bone marrow transplant recipients where it often causes associated nephropathy and haemorrhagic cystitis, respectively. Unfortunately, no specific antiviral against BKPyV has been approved yet and the only therapeutic option is a modulation of the immunosuppressive drug regimen to improve immune control though it may increase the risk of rejection. A better understanding of the BKPyV life cycle is thus needed to develop efficient treatment against this virus. In this review, we provide an update on recent advances in understanding the biology of BKPyV.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 326: Helicase Domain of West Nile Virus NS3 Protein Plays a Role in Inhibition of Type I Interferon Signalling

  • West Nile virus (WNV) is a neurotropic flavivirus that can cause encephalitis in mammalian and avian hosts. In America, the virulent WNV strain (NY99) is causing yearly outbreaks of encephalitis in humans and horses, while in Australia the less virulent Kunjin strain of WNV strain has not been associated with significant disease outbreaks until a recent 2011 large outbreak in horses (but not in humans) caused by NSW2011 strain. Using chimeric viruses between NY99 and NSW2011 strains we previously identified a role for the non-structural proteins of NY99 strain and especially the NS3 protein, in enhanced virus replication in type I interferon response-competent cells and increased virulence in mice. To further define the role of NY99 NS3 protein in inhibition of type I interferon response, we have generated and characterised additional chimeric viruses containing the protease or the helicase domains of NY99 NS3 on the background of the NSW2011 strain. The results identified the role for the helicase but not the protease domain of NS3 protein in the inhibition of type I interferon signalling and showed that helicase domain of the more virulent NY99 strain performs this function more efficiently than helicase domain of the less virulent NSW2011 strain. Further analysis with individual amino acid mutants identified two amino acid residues in the helicase domain primarily responsible for this difference. Using chimeric replicons, we also showed that the inhibition of type I interferon (IFN) signalling was independent of other known functions of NS3 in RNA replication and assembly of virus particles.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 325: Gene Editing in Human Lymphoid Cells: Role for Donor DNA, Type of Genomic Nuclease and Cell Selection Method

  • Programmable endonucleases introduce DNA breaks at specific sites, which are repaired by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or homology recombination (HDR). Genome editing in human lymphoid cells is challenging as these difficult-to-transfect cells may also inefficiently repair DNA by HDR. Here, we estimated efficiencies and dynamics of knockout (KO) and knockin (KI) generation in human T and B cell lines depending on repair template, target loci and types of genomic endonucleases. Using zinc finger nuclease (ZFN), we have engineered Jurkat and CEM cells with the 8.2 kb human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)∆Env genome integrated at the adeno-associated virus integration site 1 (AAVS1) locus that stably produce virus particles and mediate infection upon transfection with helper vectors. Knockouts generated by ZFN or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR/Cas9) double nicking techniques were comparably efficient in lymphoid cells. However, unlike polyclonal sorted cells, gene-edited cells selected by cloning exerted tremendous deviations in functionality as estimated by replication of HIV-1 and human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) in these cells. Notably, the recently reported high-fidelity eCas9 1.1 when combined to the nickase mutation displayed gene-dependent decrease in on-target activity. Thus, the balance between off-target effects and on-target efficiency of nucleases, as well as choice of the optimal method of edited cell selection should be takeninto account for proper gene function validation in lymphoid cells.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 322: Hijacking of the Ubiquitin/Proteasome Pathway by the HIV Auxiliary Proteins

  • The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) ensures regulation of the protein pool in the cell by ubiquitination of proteins followed by their degradation by the proteasome. It plays a central role in the cell under normal physiological conditions as well as during viral infections. On the one hand, the UPS can be used by the cell to degrade viral proteins, thereby restricting the viral infection. On the other hand, it can also be subverted by the virus to its own advantage, notably to induce degradation of cellular restriction factors. This makes the UPS a central player in viral restriction and counter-restriction. In this respect, the human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1 and 2) represent excellent examples. Indeed, many steps of the HIV life cycle are restricted by cellular proteins, some of which are themselves components of the UPS. However, HIV itself hijacks the UPS to mediate defense against several cellular restriction factors. For example, the HIV auxiliary proteins Vif, Vpx and Vpu counteract specific restriction factors by the recruitment of cellular UPS components. In this review, we describe the interplay between HIV and the UPS to illustrate its role in the restriction of viral infections and its hijacking by viral proteins for counter-restriction.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 324: Clinical Relevance of Total HIV DNA in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Compartments as a Biomarker of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND)

  • The pathogenesis of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders is complex and multifactorial. It is hypothesized that the critical events initiating this condition occur outside the brain, particularly in the peripheral blood. Diagnoses of HIV-induced neurocognitive disorders largely rely on neuropsychometric assessments, which are not precise. Total HIV DNA in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), quantified by PCR, correlate with disease progression, which is a promising biomarker to predict HAND. Numerous PCR assays for HIV DNA in cell compartments are prone to variation due to the lack of standardization and, therefore, their utility in predicting HAND produced different outcomes. This review evaluates the clinical relevance of total HIV DNA in circulating mononuclear cells using different published quantitative PCR (qPCR) protocols. The rationale is to shed light on the most appropriate assays and sample types used to accurately quantify HIV DNA load, which predicts severity of neurocognitive impairment. The role of monocytes as a vehicle for trafficking HIV into the CNS makes it the most suitable sample for determining a HAND associated reservoir. Studies have also shown significant associations between monocyte HIV DNA levels with markers of neurodamage. However, qPCR assays using PBMCs are cheaper and available commercially, thus could be beneficial in clinical settings. There is need, however, to standardise DNA extraction, normalisation and limit of detection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 323: Protoparvovirus Interactions with the Cellular DNA Damage Response

  • Protoparvoviruses are simple single-stranded DNA viruses that infect many animal species. The protoparvovirus minute virus of mice (MVM) infects murine and transformed human cells provoking a sustained DNA damage response (DDR). This DDR is dependent on signaling by the ATM kinase and leads to a prolonged pre-mitotic cell cycle block that features the inactivation of ATR-kinase mediated signaling, proteasome-targeted degradation of p21, and inhibition of cyclin B1 expression. This review explores how protoparvoviruses, and specifically MVM, co-opt the common mechanisms regulating the DDR and cell cycle progression in order to prepare the host nuclear environment for productive infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 321: Atomic Resolution Structure of the Oncolytic Parvovirus LuIII by Electron Microscopy and 3D Image Reconstruction

  • LuIII, a protoparvovirus pathogenic to rodents, replicates in human mitotic cells, making it applicable for use to kill cancer cells. This virus group includes H-1 parvovirus (H-1PV) and minute virus of mice (MVM). However, LuIII displays enhanced oncolysis compared to H-1PV and MVM, a phenotype mapped to the major capsid viral protein 2 (VP2). This suggests that within LuIII VP2 are determinants for improved tumor lysis. To investigate this, the structure of the LuIII virus-like-particle was determined using single particle cryo-electron microscopy and image reconstruction to 3.17Å resolution, and compared to the H-1PV and MVM structures. The LuIII VP2 structure, ordered from residue 37 to 587 (C-terminal), had the conserved VP topology and capsid morphology previously reported for other protoparvoviruses. This includes a core β-barrel and α-helix A, a depression at the icosahedral 2-fold and surrounding the 5-fold axes, and a single protrusion at the 3-fold axes. Comparative analysis identified surface loop differences among LuIII, H-1PV, and MVM at or close to the capsid 2- and 5-fold symmetry axes, and the shoulder of the 3-fold protrusions. The 2-fold differences cluster near the previously identified MVM sialic acid receptor binding pocket, and revealed potential determinants of protoparvovirus tumor tropism.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 320: The Role of Brincidofovir in Preparation for a Potential Smallpox Outbreak

  • Smallpox (variola) virus is considered a Category A bioterrorism agent due to its ability to spread rapidly and the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with infection. Current recommendations recognize the importance of oral antivirals and call for having at least two smallpox antivirals with different mechanisms of action available in the event of a smallpox outbreak. Multiple antivirals are recommended due in large part to the propensity of viruses to become resistant to antiviral therapy, especially monotherapy. Advances in synthetic biology heighten concerns that a bioterror attack with variola would utilize engineered resistance to antivirals and potentially vaccines. Brincidofovir, an oral antiviral in late stage development, has proven effective against orthopoxviruses in vitro and in vivo, has a different mechanism of action from tecovirimat (the only oral smallpox antiviral currently in the US Strategic National Stockpile), and has a resistance profile that reduces concerns in the scenario of a bioterror attack using genetically engineered smallpox. Given the devastating potential of smallpox as a bioweapon, preparation of a multi-pronged defense that accounts for the most obvious bioengineering possibilities is strategically imperative.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 318: Hazard Characterization of Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara Vector: What Are the Knowledge Gaps?

  • Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is the vector of choice for human and veterinary applications due to its strong safety profile and immunogenicity in vivo. The use of MVA and MVA-vectored vaccines against human and animal diseases must comply with regulatory requirements as they pertain to environmental risk assessment, particularly the characterization of potential adverse effects to humans, animals and the environment. MVA and recombinant MVA are widely believed to pose low or negligible risk to ecosystem health. However, key aspects of MVA biology require further research in order to provide data needed to evaluate the potential risks that may occur due to the use of MVA and MVA-vectored vaccines. The purpose of this paper is to identify knowledge gaps in the biology of MVA and recombinant MVA that are of relevance to its hazard characterization and discuss ongoing and future experiments aimed at providing data necessary to fill in the knowledge gaps. In addition, we presented arguments for the inclusion of uncertainty analysis and experimental investigation of verifiable worst-case scenarios in the environmental risk assessment of MVA and recombinant MVA. These will contribute to improved risk assessment of MVA and recombinant MVA vaccines.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 319: Development of a Lethal Intranasal Exposure Model of Ebola Virus in the Cynomolgus Macaque

  • Ebola virus (EBOV) is a filovirus that can cause Ebola virus disease (EVD). No approved vaccines or therapies exist for filovirus infections, despite an urgent need. The development and testing of effective countermeasures against EBOV requires use of animal models and a thorough understanding of how the model aligns with EVD in humans. The majority of published studies report outcomes of parenteral exposures for emulating needle stick transmission. However, based on data from EVD outbreaks, close contact exposures to infected bodily fluid seems to be one of the primary routes of EBOV transmission. Thus, further work is needed to develop models that represent mucosal exposure. To characterize the outcome of mucosal exposure to EBOV, cynomolgus macaques were exposed to EBOV via intranasal (IN) route using the LMA® mucosal atomization device (LMA® MAD). For comparison, four non-human primates (NHPs) were exposed to EBOV via intramuscular (IM) route. This IN exposure model was uniformly lethal and correlated with a statistically significant delay in time to death when compared to exposure via the IM route.This more closely reflects the timeframes observed in human infections. An IN model of exposure offers an attractive alternative to other models as it can offer insight into the consequences of exposure via a mucosal surface and allows for screening countermeasures via a different exposure route.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 317: Antibody Cross-Reactivity between Porcine Cytomegalovirus (PCMV) and Human Herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6)

  • Porcine cytomegalovirus (PCMV) infection is widely prevalent among pigs, and PCMV is one of the viruses which may be transmitted during xenotransplantation using pig cells, tissues, or organs. While human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a major risk factor for allotransplantation, it is still unclear whether PCMV is able to infect human cells or pose a risk for xenotransplantation. Previously, it was shown that transmission of PCMV after pig kidney to non-human primate transplantations resulted in a significantly reduced survival time of the transplanted organ. To detect PCMV, PCR-based and immunological methods were used. Screening of pigs by Western blot analyses using recombinant viral proteins revealed up to 100% of the tested animals to be infected. When the same method was applied to screen human sera for PCMV-reactive antibodies, positive Western blot results were obtained in butchers and workers in the meat industry as well as in normal blood donors. To exclude an infection of humans with PCMV, the sera were further investigated. PCMV is closely related to human herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) and human herpesvirus-7 (HHV-7), and a sequence alignment of glycoprotein B suggests that the antibodies may cross-react with identical epitope sequences. HCMV is not related with PCMV, and no correlation between antibody reactivity against PCMV and HCMV was detected. These data indicate that antibodies against PCMV found in humans are cross-reactive antibodies against HHV-6.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 314: ABC Assay: Method Development and Application to Quantify the Role of Three DWV Master Variants in Overwinter Colony Losses of European Honey Bees

  • Deformed wing virus (DWV) is one of the most prevalent honey bee viral pathogens in the world. Typical of many RNA viruses, DWV is a quasi-species, which is comprised of a large number of different variants, currently consisting of three master variants: Type A, B, and C. Little is known about the impact of each variant or combinations of variants upon the biology of individual hosts. Therefore, we have developed a new set of master variant-specific DWV primers and a set of standards that allow for the quantification of each of the master variants. Competitive reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experimental design confirms that each new DWV primer set is specific to the retrospective master variant. The sensitivity of the ABC assay is dependent on whether DNA or RNA is used as the template and whether other master variants are present in the sample. Comparison of the overall proportions of each master variant within a sample of known diversity, as confirmed by next-generation sequence (NGS) data, validates the efficiency of the ABC assay. The ABC assay was used on archived material from a Devon overwintering colony loss (OCL) 2006–2007 study; further implicating DWV type A and, for the first time, possibly C in the untimely collapse of honey bee colonies. Moreover, in this study DWV type B was not associated with OCL. The use of the ABC assay will allow researchers to quickly and cost effectively pre-screen for the presence of DWV master variants in honey bees.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 315: Differential Effect of Newly Isolated Phages Belonging to PB1-Like, phiKZ-Like and LUZ24-Like Viruses against Multi-Drug Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa under Varying Growth Conditions

  • In this study, we characterize three phages (SL1 SL2, and SL4), isolated from hospital sewage with lytic activity against clinical isolates of multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MDR-PA). The host spectrum ranged from 41% to 54%, with all three phages together covering 79% of all tested clinical isolates. Genome analysis revealed that SL1 (65,849 bp, 91 open reading frames ORFs) belongs to PB1-like viruses, SL2 (279,696 bp, 354 ORFs) to phiKZ-like viruses and SL4 (44,194 bp, 65 ORFs) to LUZ24-like viruses. Planktonic cells of four of five selected MDR-PA strains were suppressed by at least one phage with multiplicities of infection (MOIs) ranging from 1 to 10−6 for 16 h without apparent regrowth of bacterial populations. While SL2 was most potent in suppressing planktonic cultures the strongest anti-biofilm activity was observed with SL4. Phages were able to rescue bacteria-infected wax moth larvae (Galleria melonella) for 24 h, whereby highest survival rates (90%) were observed with SL1. Except for the biofilm experiments, the effect of a cocktail with all three phages was comparable to the action of the best phage alone; hence, there are no synergistic but also no antagonistic effects among phages. The use of a cocktail with these phages is therefore expedient for increasing host range and minimizing the development of phage resistance.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 316: Virus Infection and Death Receptor-Mediated Apoptosis

  • Virus infection can trigger extrinsic apoptosis. Cell-surface death receptors of the tumor necrosis factor family mediate this process. They either assist persistent viral infection or elicit the elimination of infected cells by the host. Death receptor-mediated apoptosis plays an important role in viral pathogenesis and the host antiviral response. Many viruses have acquired the capability to subvert death receptor-mediated apoptosis and evade the host immune response, mainly by virally encoded gene products that suppress death receptor-mediated apoptosis. In this review, we summarize the current information on virus infection and death receptor-mediated apoptosis, particularly focusing on the viral proteins that modulate death receptor-mediated apoptosis.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 313: Protoparvovirus Cell Entry

  • The Protoparvovirus (PtPV) genus of the Parvoviridae family of viruses includes important animal pathogens and reference molecular models for the entire family. Some virus members of the PtPV genus have arisen as promising tools to treat tumoral processes, as they exhibit marked oncotropism and oncolytic activities while being nonpathogenic for humans. The PtPVs invade and replicate within the nucleus making extensive use of the transport, transcription and replication machineries of the host cells. In order to reach the nucleus, PtPVs need to cross over several intracellular barriers and traffic through different cell compartments, which limit their infection efficiency. In this review we summarize molecular interactions, capsid structural transitions and hijacking of cellular processes, by which the PtPVs enter and deliver their single-stranded DNA genome into the host cell nucleus. Understanding mechanisms that govern the complex PtPV entry will be instrumental in developing approaches to boost their anticancer therapeutic potential and improving their safety profile.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 312: Oral Delivery of Probiotics Expressing Dendritic Cell-Targeting Peptide Fused with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus COE Antigen: A Promising Vaccine Strategy against PEDV

  • Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), an enteric coronavirus, is the causative agent of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) that damages intestinal epithelial cells and results in severe diarrhea and dehydration in neonatal suckling pigs with up to 100% mortality. The oral vaccine route is reported as a promising approach for inducing protective immunity against PEDV invasion. Furthermore, dendritic cells (DCs), professional antigen-presenting cells, link humoral and cellular immune responses for homeostasis of the intestinal immune environment. In this study, in order to explore an efficient oral vaccine against PEDV infection, a mucosal DC-targeting oral vaccine was developed using Lactobacillus casei to deliver the DC-targeting peptide (DCpep) fused with the PEDV core neutralizing epitope (COE) antigen. This probiotic vaccine could efficiently elicit secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA)-based mucosal and immunoglobulin G (IgG)-based humoral immune responses via oral vaccination in vivo. Significant differences (p aamp;amp;lt; 0.05) in the immune response levels were observed between probiotics expressing the COE-DCpep fusion protein and COE antigen alone, suggesting better immune efficiency of the probiotics vaccine expressing the DC-targeting peptide fused with PEDV COE antigen. This mucosal DC-targeting oral vaccine delivery effectively enhances vaccine antigen delivery efficiency, providing a useful strategy to induce efficient immune responses against PEDV infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 311: Deep Sequencing Data and Infectivity Assays Indicate that Chickpea Chlorotic Dwarf Virus is the Etiological Agent of the“Hard Fruit Syndrome” of Watermelon

  • Chickpea chlorotic dwarf virus (CpCDV), a polyphagous mastrevirus, family Geminiviridae, has been recently linked to the onset of the“hard fruit syndrome” of watermelon, first described in Tunisia, that makes fruits unmarketable due to the presence of white hard portions in the flesh, chlorotic mottling on the rind, and an unpleasant taste. To investigate the etiological agent of this disease, total RNA extracted from symptomatic watermelon fruits was subjected to small RNA sequencing through next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques. Data obtained showed the presence of CpCDV and two other viral species. However, following validation through polymerase chain reaction (PCR), CpCDV was the only viral species consistently detected in all samples. Watermelon seedlings were then challenged by an agroinfectious CpCDV clone; several plants proved to be CpCDV-infected, and were able to produce fruits. CpCDV infected and replicated in watermelon fruits and leaves, leading to abnormality in fruits and in seed production, similar to those described in field. These results indicate that CpCDV is the etiological agent of the “hard fruit syndrome” of watermelon.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 310: Human Metapneumovirus Attachment Protein Contributes to Neutrophil Recruitment into the Airways of Infected Mice

  • Human Metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a leading respiratory pathogen that causes lower respiratory tract infections worldwide. Acute HMPV infection induces an exacerbated inflammatory neutrophilic response leading to bronchiolitis and pneumonia. However, the mechanism by which the virus regulates neutrophil infiltration into the airways still remains unexplored. In this work, we used an experimental mouse model of HMPV infection to demonstrate that the attachment (G) protein of HMPV contributes to the recruitment of neutrophils into the airways and modulate the production of neutrophil chemoattractants and Type I IFN responses, specifically IFN-α. These findings provide the first evidence that the HMPV G protein contributes to the in vivo neutrophilic response to HMPV infection and furthers our understanding on virus induced inflammatory responses in the airways.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 309: The Battle of RNA Synthesis: Virus versus Host

  • Transcription control is the foundation of gene regulation. Whereas a cell is fully equipped for this task, viruses often depend on the host to supply tools for their transcription program. Over the course of evolution and adaptation, viruses have found diverse ways to optimally exploit cellular host processes such as transcription to their own benefit. Just as cells are increasingly understood to employ nascent RNAs in transcription regulation, recent discoveries are revealing how viruses use nascent RNAs to benefit their own gene expression. In this review, we first outline the two different transcription programs used by viruses, i.e., transcription (DNA-dependent) and RNA-dependent RNA synthesis. Subsequently, we use the distinct stages (initiation, elongation, termination) to describe the latest insights into nascent RNA-mediated regulation in the context of each relevant stage.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 307: The Operophtera brumata Nucleopolyhedrovirus (OpbuNPV) Represents an Early, Divergent Lineage within Genus Alphabaculovirus

  • Operophtera brumata nucleopolyhedrovirus (OpbuNPV) infects the larvae of the winter moth, Operophtera brumata. As part of an effort to explore the pesticidal potential of OpbuNPV, an isolate of this virus from Massachusetts (USA)—OpbuNPV-MA—was characterized by electron microscopy of OpbuNPV occlusion bodies (OBs) and by sequencing of the viral genome. The OBs of OpbuNPV-MA consisted of irregular polyhedra and contained virions consisting of a single rod-shaped nucleocapsid within each envelope. Presumptive cypovirus OBs were also detected in sections of the OB preparation. The OpbuNPV-MA genome assembly yielded a circular contig of 119,054 bp and was found to contain little genetic variation, with most polymorphisms occurring at a frequency of aamp;amp;lt; 6%. A total of 130 open reading frames (ORFs) were annotated, including the 38 core genes of Baculoviridae, along with five homologous repeat (hr) regions. The results of BLASTp and phylogenetic analysis with selected ORFs indicated that OpbuNPV-MA is not closely related to other alphabaculoviruses. Phylogenies based on concatenated core gene amino acid sequence alignments placed OpbuNPV-MA on a basal branch lying outside other alphabaculovirus clades. These results indicate that OpbuNPV-MA represents a divergent baculovirus lineage that appeared early during the diversification of genus Alphabaculovirus.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 308: Gammaherpesviral Tegument Proteins, PML-Nuclear Bodies and the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System

  • Gammaherpesviruses like Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) subvert the ubiquitin proteasome system for their own benefit in order to facilitate viral gene expression and replication. In particular, viral tegument proteins that share sequence homology to the formylglycineamide ribonucleotide amidotransferase (FGARAT, or PFAS), an enzyme in the cellular purine biosynthesis, are important for disrupting the intrinsic antiviral response associated with Promyelocytic Leukemia (PML) protein-associated nuclear bodies (PML-NBs) by proteasome-dependent and independent mechanisms. In addition, all herpesviruses encodefor a potent ubiquitin protease that can efficiently remove ubiquitin chains from proteins and thereby interfere with several different cellular pathways. In this review, we discuss mechanisms and functional consequences of virus-induced ubiquitination and deubiquitination for early events in gammaherpesviral infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 305: Structural and Functional Insight into Canarypox Virus CNP058 Mediated Regulation of Apoptosis

  • Programmed cell death or apoptosis is an important component of host defense systems against viral infection. The B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) proteins family is the main arbiter of mitochondrially mediated apoptosis, and viruses have evolved sequence and structural mimics of Bcl-2 to subvert premature host cell apoptosis in response to viral infection. The sequencing of the canarypox virus genome identified a putative pro-survival Bcl-2 protein, CNP058. However, a role in apoptosis inhibition for CNP058 has not been identified to date. Here, we report that CNP058 is able to bind several host cell pro-death Bcl-2 proteins, including Bak and Bax, as well as several BH3 only-proteins including Bim, Bid, Bmf, Noxa, Puma, and Hrk with high to moderate affinities. We then defined the structural basis for CNP058 binding to pro-death Bcl-2 proteins by determining the crystal structure of CNP058 bound to Bim BH3. CNP058 adopts the conserved Bcl-2 like fold observed in cellular pro-survival Bcl-2 proteins, and utilizes the canonical ligand binding groove to bind Bim BH3. We then demonstrate that CNP058 is a potent inhibitor of ultraviolet (UV) induced apoptosis in a cell culture model. Our findings suggest that CNP058 is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis that is able to bind to BH3 domain peptides from a broad range of pro-death Bcl-2 proteins, and may play a key role in countering premature host apoptosis.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 306: Mutation of a Conserved Nuclear Export Sequence in Chikungunya Virus Capsid Protein Disrupts Host Cell Nuclear Import

  • Transmitted by mosquitoes; chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is responsible for frequent outbreaks of arthritic disease in humans. CHIKV is an arthritogenic alphavirus of the Togaviridae family. Capsid protein, a structural protein encoded by the CHIKV RNA genome, is able to translocate to the host cell nucleus. In encephalitic alphaviruses nuclear translocation induces host cell shut off; however, the role of capsid protein nuclear localisation in arthritogenic alphaviruses remains unclear. Using replicon systems, we investigated a nuclear export sequence (NES) in the N-terminal region of capsid protein; analogous to that found in encephalitic alphavirus capsid but uncharacterised in CHIKV. The chromosomal maintenance 1 (CRM1) export adaptor protein mediated CHIKV capsid protein export from the nucleus and a region within the N-terminal part of CHIKV capsid protein was required for active nuclear targeting. In contrast to encephalitic alphaviruses, CHIKV capsid protein did not inhibit host nuclear import; however, mutating the NES of capsid protein (∆NES) blocked host protein access to the nucleus. Interactions between capsid protein and the nucleus warrant further investigation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 303: The Th17 Lineage: From Barrier Surfaces Homeostasis to Autoimmunity, Cancer, and HIV-1 Pathogenesis

  • The T helper 17 (Th17) cells represent a subset of CD4+ T-cells with unique effector functions, developmental plasticity, and stem-cell features. Th17 cells bridge innate and adaptive immunity against fungal and bacterial infections at skin and mucosal barrier surfaces. Although Th17 cells have been extensively studied in the context of autoimmunity, their role in various other pathologies is underexplored and remains an area of open investigation. This review summarizes the history of Th17 cell discovery and the current knowledge relative to the beneficial role of Th17 cells in maintaining mucosal immunity homeostasis. We further discuss the concept of Th17 pathogenicity in the context of autoimmunity, cancer, and HIV infection, and we review the most recent discoveries on molecular mechanisms regulating HIV replication/persistence in pathogenic Th17 cells. Finally, we stress the need for novel fundamental research discovery-based Th17-specific therapeutic interventions to treat pathogenic conditions associated with Th17 abnormalities, including HIV infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 304: Hepatitis B Virus and DNA Damage Response: Interactions and Consequences for the Infection

  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major etiologic agent of acute and chronic hepatitis, and end-stage liver disease. Establishment of HBV infection, progression to persistency and pathogenesis are determined by viral and cellular factors, some of which remain still undefined. Key steps of HBV life cycle e.g., transformation of genomic viral DNA into transcriptionally active episomal DNA (cccDNA) or transcription of viral mRNAs from cccDNA, take place in the nucleus of infected cells and strongly depend on enzymatic activities provided by cellular proteins. In this regard, DNA damage response (DDR) pathways and some DDR proteins are being recognized as important factors regulating the infection. On one hand, HBV highjacks specific DDR proteins to successfully complete some of the steps of its life cycle. On the other hand, HBV subverts DDR pathways to presumably create a cellular environment that favours its replication. Direct consequences of these interactions are: HBV DNA integration into host chromosomal DNA, and accumulation of mutations in host chromosomal DNA that could eventually trigger carcinogenic processes, which would explain in part the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in chronically infected patients. Unravelling the interactions that HBV establishes with DDR pathways might help identify new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 302: Marine Viruses: Key Players in Marine Ecosystems

  • Viruses were recognized as the causative agents of fish diseases, such as infectious pancreatic necrosis and Oregon sockeye disease, in the early 1960s [1], and have since been shown to be responsible for diseases in all marine life from bacteria to protists, mollusks, crustaceans, fish and mammals [2].[...]

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 301: Preclinical Testing of an Oncolytic Parvovirus: Standard Protoparvovirus H-1PV Efficiently Induces Osteosarcoma Cell Lysis In Vitro

  • Osteosarcoma is the most frequent malignant disease of the bone. On the basis of early clinical experience in the 1960s with H-1 protoparvovirus (H-1PV) in osteosarcoma patients, this effective oncolytic virus was selected for systematic preclinical testing on various osteosarcoma cell cultures. A panel of five human osteosarcoma cell lines (CAL 72, H-OS, MG-63, SaOS-2, U-2OS) was tested. Virus oncoselectivity was confirmed by infecting non-malignant human neonatal fibroblasts and osteoblasts used as culture models of non-transformed mesenchymal cells. H-1PV was found to enter osteosarcoma cells and to induce viral DNA replication, transcription of viral genes, and translation to viral proteins. After H-1PV infection, release of infectious viral particles from osteosarcoma cells into the supernatant indicated successful viral assembly and egress. Crystal violet staining revealed progressive cytomorphological changes in all osteosarcoma cell lines. Infection of osteosarcoma cell lines with the standard H-1PV caused an arrest of the cell cycle in the G2 phase, and these lines had a limited capacity for standard H-1PV virus replication. The cytotoxicity of wild-type H-1PV virus towards osteosarcoma cells was compared in vitro with that of two variants, Del H-1PV and DM H-1PV, previously described as fitness variants displaying higher infectivity and spreading in human transformed cell lines of different origins. Surprisingly, wild-type H-1PV displayed the strongest cytostatic and cytotoxic effects in this analysis and thus seems the most promising for the next preclinical validation steps in vivo.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 299: Seed Transmission of Beet Curly Top Virus and Beet Curly Top Iran Virus in a Local Cultivar of Petunia in Iran

  • Beet curly top virus (BCTV) and beet curly top Iran virus (BCTIV) are known as the causal agents of curly top disease in beet and several other dicotyledonous plants in Iran. These viruses are transmitted by Circulifer species, and until now, there has been no confirmed report of their seed transmission. A percentage (38.2–78.0%) of the seedlings developed from the seeds of a petunia local cultivar under insect-free conditions showed stunting, interveinal chlorosis, leaf curling, and vein swelling symptoms, and were infected by BCTV when tested by PCR. Presence of BCTV in seed extracts of petunia local cultivar was confirmed by PCR and IC-PCR, followed by sequencing. Agroinoculation of curly top free petunia plants with a BCTV infectious clone resulted in BCTV infection of plants and their developed seeds. These results show the seed infection and transmission of BCTV in a local cultivar of petunia. Similar experiments performed with BCTIV showed that this virus is also seed transmissible in the same cultivar of petunia, although with a lower rate (8.8–18.5%). Seed transmission of curly top viruses may have significant implications in the epidemiology of these viruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 300: Random Network Models to Predict the Long-Term Impact of HPV Vaccination on Genital Warts

  • The Human papillomaviruses (HPV) vaccine induces a herd immunity effect in genital warts when a large number of the population is vaccinated. This aspect should be taken into account when devising new vaccine strategies, like vaccination at older ages or male vaccination. Therefore, it is important to develop mathematical models with good predictive capacities. We devised a sexual contact network that was calibrated to simulate the Spanish epidemiology of different HPV genotypes. Through this model, we simulated the scenario that occurred in Australia in 2007, where 12–13 year-old girls were vaccinated with a three-dose schedule of a vaccine containing genotypes 6 and 11, which protect against genital warts, and also a catch-up program in women up to 26 years of age. Vaccine coverage were 73 % in girls with three doses and with coverage rates decreasing with age until 52 % for 20–26 year-olds. A fast 59 % reduction in the genital warts diagnoses occurred in the model in the first years after the start of the program, similar to what was described in the literature.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 298: Secreted Expression of the Cap Gene of Porcine Circovirus Type 2 in Classical Swine Fever Virus C-Strain: Potential of C-Strain Used as a Vaccine Vector

  • Bivalent vaccines based on live attenuated viruses expressing a heterologous protein are an attractive strategy to address co-infections with various pathogens in the field. Considering the excellent efficacy and safety of the lapinized live attenuated vaccine C-strain (HCLV strain) of classical swine fever virus (CSFV), we proposed that C-strain has the potential as a viral vector for developing bivalent vaccines. To this end, we generated three recombinant viruses based on C-strain, one expressing the capsid (Cap) gene of porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) with the nuclear localization signal (NLS) (rHCLV-2ACap), and the other two expressing the PCV2 Cap gene without the NLS yet containing the signal peptide of the prolactin gene (rHCLV-pspCap) or that of the ubiquitin-specific peptidase gene (rHCLV-uspCap). All the recombinant viruses exhibited phenotypes similar to those of the parental virus and produced high-level anti-CSFV neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) in rabbits. Interestingly, rHCLV-uspCap and rHCLV-pspCap, but not rHCLV-2ACap, elicited detectable anti-Cap and -PCV2 NAbs in rabbits. Taken together, our data demonstrate that C-strain can be used as a viral vector to develop bivalent vaccines.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 297: MicroRNA and mRNA Dysregulation in Astrocytes Infected with Zika Virus

  • The Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic is an ongoing public health concern. ZIKV is a flavivirus reported to be associated with microcephaly, and recent work in animal models demonstrates the ability of the virus to cross the placenta and affect fetal brain development. Recent findings suggest that the virus preferentially infects neural stem cells and thereby deregulates gene expression, cell cycle progression, and increases cell death. However, neuronal stem cells are not the only brain cells that are susceptible to ZIKV and infection of other brain cells may contribute to disease progression. Herein, we characterized ZIKV replication in astrocytes, and profiled temporal changes in host microRNAs (miRNAs) and transcriptomes during infection. We observed the deregulation of numerous processes known to be involved in flavivirus infection, including genes involved in the unfolded protein response pathway. Moreover, a number of miRNAs were upregulated, including miR-30e-3p, miR-30e-5p, and, miR-17-5p, which have been associated with other flavivirus infections. This study highlights potential miRNAs that may be of importance in ZIKV pathogenesis.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 296: A Next-Generation Sequencing Approach Uncovers Viral Transcripts Incorporated in Poxvirus Virions

  • Transcripts are known to be incorporated in particles of DNA viruses belonging to the families of Herpesviridae and Mimiviridae, but the presence of transcripts in other DNA viruses, such as poxviruses, has not been analyzed yet. Therefore, we first established a next-generation-sequencing (NGS)-based protocol, enabling the unbiased identification of transcripts in virus particles. Subsequently, we applied our protocol to analyze RNA in an emerging zoonotic member of the Poxviridae family, namely Cowpox virus. Our results revealed the incorporation of 19 viral transcripts, while host identifications were restricted to ribosomal and mitochondrial RNA. Most viral transcripts had an unknown and immunomodulatory function, suggesting that transcript incorporation may be beneficial for poxvirus immune evasion. Notably, the most abundant transcript originated from the D5L/I1R gene that encodes a viral inhibitor of the host cytoplasmic DNA sensing machinery.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 295: Expression Profiles of Ligands for Activating Natural Killer Cell Receptors on HIV Infected and Uninfected CD4+ T Cells

  • Natural Killer (NK) cell responses to HIV-infected CD4 T cells (iCD4) depend on the integration of signals received through inhibitory (iNKR) and activating NK receptors (aNKR). iCD4 activate NK cells to inhibit HIV replication. HIV infection-dependent changes in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) ligands for iNKR on iCD4 are well documented. By contrast, less is known regarding the HIV infection related changes in ligands for aNKR on iCD4. We examined the aNKR ligand profiles HIV p24+ HIV iCD4s that maintained cell surface CD4 (iCD4+), did not maintain CD4 (iCD4−) and uninfected CD4 (unCD4) T cells for expression of unique long (UL)-16 binding proteins-1 (ULBP-1), ULBP-2/5/6, ULBP-3, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class 1-related (MIC)-A, MIC-B, CD48, CD80, CD86, CD112, CD155, Intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, ICAM-2, HLA-E, HLA-F, HLA-A2, HLA-C, and the ligands to NKp30, NKp44, NKp46, and killer immunoglobulin-like receptor 3DS1 (KIR3DS1) by flow cytometry on CD4 T cells from 17 HIV-1 seronegative donors activated and infected with HIV. iCD4+ cells had higher expression of aNKR ligands than did unCD4. However, the expression of aNKR ligands on iCD4 where CD4 was downregulated (iCD4−) was similar to (ULBP-1, ULBP-2/5/6, ULBP-3, MIC-A, CD48, CD80, CD86 and CD155) or significantly lower than (MIC-B, CD112 and ICAM-2) what was observed on unCD4. Thus, HIV infection can be associated with increased expression of aNKR ligands oreither baseline or lower than baseline levels of aNKR ligands, concomitantly with the HIV-mediated downregulation of cell surface CD4 on infected cells.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 272: The Evolutionary History and Spatiotemporal Dynamics of the NC Lineage of Citrus Tristeza Virus

  • Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) is a major pathogen affecting citrus trees worldwide. However, few studies have focused on CTV’s evolutionary history and geographic behavior. CTV is locally dispersed by an aphid vector and long distance dispersion due to transportation of contaminated material. With the aim to delve deeper into the CTV-NC (New Clade) genotype evolution, we estimated an evolution rate of 1.19 × 10−3 subs/site/year and the most common recent ancestor in 1977. Furthermore, the place of origin of the genotype was in the United States, and a great expansion of the population was observed in Uruguay. This expansion phase could be a consequence of the increment in the number of naïve citrus trees in Uruguayan orchards encompassing citrus industry growth in the past years.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 294: The Luteovirus P4 Movement Protein Is a Suppressor of Systemic RNA Silencing

  • The plant viral family Luteoviridae is divided into three genera: Luteovirus, Polerovirus and Enamovirus. Without assistance from another virus, members of the family are confined to the cells of the host plant’s vascular system. The first open reading frame (ORF) of poleroviruses and enamoviruses encodes P0 proteins which act as silencing suppressor proteins (VSRs) against the plant’s viral defense-mediating RNA silencing machinery. Luteoviruses, such as barley yellow dwarf virus-PAV (BYDV-PAV), however, have no P0 to carry out the VSR role, so we investigated whether other proteins or RNAs encoded by BYDV-PAV confer protection against the plant’s silencing machinery. Deep-sequencing of small RNAs from plants infected with BYDV-PAV revealed that the virus is subjected to RNA silencing in thephloem tissues and there was no evidence of protection afforded by a possible decoy effect of the highly abundant subgenomic RNA3. However, analysis of VSR activity among the BYDV-PAV ORFs revealed systemic silencing suppression by the P4 movement protein, and a similar, but weaker, activity by P6.The closely related BYDV-PAS P4, but not the polerovirus potato leafroll virus P4, also displayed systemic VSR activity. Both luteovirus and the polerovirus P4 proteins also showed transient, weak local silencing suppression. This suggests that systemic silencing suppression is the principal mechanism by which the luteoviruses BYDV-PAV and BYDV-PAS minimize the effects of the plant’s anti-viral defense.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 293: Why Human Papillomavirus Acute Infections Matter

  • Most infections by human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are `acute’, that is non-persistent. Yet, for HPVs, as for many other oncoviruses, there is a striking gap between our detailed understanding of chronic infections and our limited data on the early stages of infection. Here we argue that studying HPV acute infections is necessary and timely. Focusing on early interactions will help explain why certain infections are cleared while others become chronic or latent. From a molecular perspective, descriptions of immune effectors and pro-inflammatory pathways during the initial stages of infections have the potential to lead to novel treatments or to improved handling algorithms. From a dynamical perspective, adopting concepts from spatial ecology, such as meta-populations or meta-communities, can help explain why HPV acute infections sometimes last for years. Furthermore, cervical cancer screening and vaccines impose novel iatrogenic pressures on HPVs, implying that anticipating any viral evolutionary response remains essential. Finally, hints at the associations between HPV acute infections and fertility deserve further investigation given their high, worldwide prevalence. Overall, understanding asymptomatic and benign infections may be instrumental in reducing HPV virulence.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 292: Polyprotein Processing as a Determinant for in Vitro Activity of Semliki Forest Virus Replicase

  • Semliki Forest virus (SFV) is an arthropod-borne alphavirus that induces membrane invaginations (spherules) in host cells. These harbor the viral replication complexes (RC) that synthesize viral RNA. Alphaviruses have four replicase or nonstructural proteins (nsPs), nsP1–4, expressed as polyprotein P1234. An early RC, which synthesizes minus-strand RNA, is formed by the polyprotein P123 and the polymerase nsP4. Further proteolytic cleavage results in a late RC consisting of nsP1–4 and synthesizing plus strands. Here, we show that only the late RCs are highly active in RNA synthesis in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrate that active RCs can be isolated from both virus-infected cells and cells transfected with the wild-type replicase in combination with a plasmid expressing a template RNA. When an uncleavable polyprotein P123 and polymerase nsP4 were expressed together with a template, high levels of minus-strand RNA were produced in cells, but RCs isolated from these cells were hardly active in vitro. Furthermore, we observed that the uncleavable polyprotein P123 and polymerase nsP4, which have previously been shown to form spherules even in the absence of the template, did not replicate an exogenous template. Consequently, we hypothesize that the replicase proteins were sequestered in spherules and were no longer able to recruit a template.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 291: Innate Immune Evasion Mediated by Flaviviridae Non-Structural Proteins

  • Flaviviridae-caused diseases are a critical, emerging public health problem worldwide. Flaviviridae infections usually cause severe, acute or chronic diseases, such as liver damage and liver cancer resulting from a hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and high fever and shock caused by yellow fever. Many researchers worldwide are investigating the mechanisms by which Flaviviridae cause severe diseases. Flaviviridae can interfere with the host’s innate immunity to achieve their purpose of proliferation. For instance, dengue virus (DENV) NS2A, NS2B3, NS4A, NS4B and NS5; HCV NS2, NS3, NS3/4A, NS4B and NS5A; and West Nile virus (WNV) NS1 and NS4B proteins are involved in immune evasion. This review discusses the interplay between viral non-structural Flaviviridae proteins and relevant host proteins, which leads to the suppression of the host’s innate antiviral immunity.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 290: The Bcl-2 Family in Host-Virus Interactions

  • Members of the B cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) family are pivotal arbiters of mitochondrially mediated apoptosis, a process of fundamental importance during tissue development, homeostasis, and disease. At the structural and mechanistic level, the mammalian members of the Bcl-2 family are increasingly well understood, with their interplay ultimately deciding the fate of a cell. Dysregulation of Bcl-2-mediated apoptosis underlies a plethora of diseases, and numerous viruses have acquired homologs of Bcl-2 to subvert host cell apoptosis and autophagy to prevent premature death of an infected cell. Here we review the structural biology, interactions, and mechanisms of action of virus-encoded Bcl-2 proteins, and how they impact on host-virus interactions to ultimately enable successful establishment and propagation of viral infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 289: Telomere Dynamics in Immune Senescence and Exhaustion Triggered by Chronic Viral Infection

  • The progressive loss of immunological memory during aging correlates with a reduced proliferative capacity and shortened telomeres of T cells. Growing evidence suggests that this phenotype is recapitulated during chronic viral infection. The antigenic volume imposed by persistent and latent viruses exposes the immune system to unique challenges that lead to host T-cell exhaustion, characterized by impaired T-cell functions. These dysfunctional memory T cells lack telomerase, the protein capable of extending and stabilizing chromosome ends, imposing constraints on telomere dynamics. A deleterious consequence of this excessive telomere shortening is the premature induction of replicative senescence of viral-specific CD8+ memory T cells. While senescent cells are unable to expand, they can survive for extended periods of time and are more resistant to apoptotic signals. This review takes a closer look at T-cell exhaustion in chronic viruses known to cause human disease: Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), Hepatitis B/C/D virus (HBV/HCV/HDV), human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I), human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus-1/2(HSV-1/2), and Varicella–Zoster virus (VZV). Current literature linking T-cell exhaustion with critical telomere lengths and immune senescence are discussed. The concept that enduring antigen stimulation leads to T-cell exhaustion that favors telomere attrition and a cell fate marked by enhanced T-cell senescence appears to be a common endpoint to chronic viral infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 288: Autophagy Proteins in Viral Exocytosis and Anti-Viral Immune Responses

  • Abstract: Autophagy-related (Atg) gene-encoded proteins were originally described for their crucial role in macroautophagy, a catabolic pathway for cytoplasmic constituent degradation in lysosomes. Recently it has become clear that modules of this machinery can also be used to influence endo- and exocytosis. This mini review discusses how these alternative Atg functions support virus replication and viral antigen presentation on major histocompatibility (MHC) class I and II molecules. A better understanding of the modular use of the macroautophagy machinery might enable us to manipulate these alternative functions of Atg proteins during anti-viral therapies and to attenuate virus-induced immune pathologies.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 287: Sophoraflavenone G Restricts Dengue and Zika Virus Infection via RNA Polymerase Interference

  • Flaviviruses including Zika, Dengue and Hepatitis C virus cause debilitating diseases in humans, and the former are emerging as global health concerns with no antiviral treatments. We investigated Sophora Flavecens, used in Chinese medicine, as a source for antiviral compounds. We isolated Sophoraflavenone G and found that it inhibited Hepatitis C replication, but not Sendai or Vesicular Stomatitis Virus. Pre- and post-infection treatments demonstrated anti-flaviviral activity against Dengue and Zika virus, via viral RNA polymerase inhibition. These data suggest that Sophoraflavenone G represents a promising candidate regarding anti-Flaviviridae research.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 283: Assessing Monkeypox Virus Prevalence in Small Mammals at the Human–Animal Interface in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • During 2012, 2013 and 2015, we collected small mammals within 25 km of the town of Boende in Tshuapa Province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The prevalence of monkeypox virus (MPXV) in this area is unknown; however, cases of human infection were previously confirmed near these collection sites. Samples were collected from 353 mammals (rodents, shrews, pangolins, elephant shrews, a potamogale, and a hyrax). Some rodents and shrews were captured from houses where human monkeypox cases have recently been identified, but most were trapped in forests and agricultural areas near villages. Real-time PCR and ELISA were used to assess evidence of MPXV infection and other Orthopoxvirus (OPXV) infections in these small mammals. Seven (2.0%) of these animal samples were found to be anti-orthopoxvirus immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody positive (six rodents: two Funisciurus spp.; one Graphiurus lorraineus; one Cricetomys emini; one Heliosciurus sp.; one Oenomys hypoxanthus, and one elephant shrew Petrodromus tetradactylus); no individuals were found positive in PCR-based assays. These results suggest that a variety of animals can be infected with OPXVs, and that epidemiology studies and educational campaigns should focus on animals that people are regularly contacting, including larger rodents used as protein sources.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 286: Protoparvovirus Knocking at the Nuclear Door

  • Protoparvoviruses target the nucleus due to their dependence on the cellular reproduction machinery during the replication and expression of their single-stranded DNA genome. In recent years, our understanding of the multistep process of the capsid nuclear import has improved, and led to the discovery of unique viral nuclear entry strategies. Preceded by endosomal transport, endosomal escape and microtubule-mediated movement to the vicinity of the nuclear envelope, the protoparvoviruses interact with the nuclear pore complexes. The capsids are transported actively across the nuclear pore complexes using nuclear import receptors. The nuclear import is sometimes accompanied by structural changes in the nuclear envelope, and is completed by intranuclear disassembly of capsids and chromatinization of the viral genome. This review discusses the nuclear import strategies of protoparvoviruses and describes its dynamics comprising active and passive movement, and directed and diffusive motion of capsids in the molecularly crowded environment of the cell.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 285: Protein Inhibitor of Activated STAT2 Restricts HCV Replication by Modulating Viral Proteins Degradation

  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication in cells is controlled by many host factors. In this report, we found that protein inhibitor of activated STAT2 (PIAS2), which is a small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) E3 ligase, restricted HCV replication. During infection, HCV core, NS3 and NS5A protein expression, as well as the viral assembly and budding efficiency were enhanced when endogenous PIAS2 was knocked down, whereas exogenous PIAS2 expression decreased HCV core, NS3, and NS5A protein expression and the viral assembly and budding efficiency. PIAS2 did not influence the viral entry, RNA replication, and protein translation steps of the viral life cycle. When expressed together with SUMO1, PIAS2 reduced the HCV core, NS3 and NS5A protein levels expressed from individual plasmids through the proteasome pathway in a ubiquitin-independent manner; the stability of these proteins in the HCV infectious system was enhanced when PIAS2 was knocked down. Furthermore, we found that the core was SUMOylated at amino acid K78, and PIAS2 enhanced the SUMOylation level of the core.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 282: 3D Spatially Resolved Models of the Intracellular Dynamics of the Hepatitis C Genome Replication Cycle

  • Mathematical models of virus dynamics have not previously acknowledged spatial resolution at the intracellular level despite substantial arguments that favor the consideration of intracellular spatial dependence. The replication of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) viral RNA (vRNA) occurs within special replication complexes formed from membranes derived from endoplasmatic reticulum (ER). These regions, termed membranous webs, are generated primarily through specific interactions between nonstructural virus-encoded proteins (NSPs) and host cellular factors. The NSPs are responsible for the replication of the vRNA and their movement is restricted to the ER surface. Therefore, in this study we developed fully spatio-temporal resolved models of the vRNA replication cycle of HCV. Our simulations are performed upon realistic reconstructed cell structures—namely the ER surface and the membranous webs—based on data derived from immunostained cells replicating HCV vRNA. We visualized 3D simulations that reproduced dynamics resulting from interplay of the different components of our models (vRNA, NSPs, and a host factor), and we present an evaluation of the concentrations for the components within different regions of the cell. Thus far, our model is restricted to an internal portion of a hepatocyte and is qualitative more than quantitative. For a quantitative adaption to complete cells, various additional parameters will have to be determined through further in vitro cell biology experiments, which can be stimulated by the results deccribed in the present study.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 284: Why do Individuals Differ in Viral Susceptibility? A Story Told by Model Organisms

  • Viral susceptibility and disease progression is determined by host genetic variation that underlies individual differences. Genetic polymorphisms that affect the phenotype upon infection have been well-studied for only a few viruses, such as HIV-1 and Hepatitis C virus. However, even for well-studied viruses the genetic basis of individual susceptibility differences remains elusive. Investigating the effect of causal polymorphisms in humans is complicated, because genetic methods to detect rare or small-effect polymorphisms are limited and genetic manipulation is not possible in human populations. Model organisms have proven a powerful experimental platform to identify and characterize polymorphisms that underlie natural variations in viral susceptibility using quantitative genetic tools. We summarize and compare the genetic tools available in three main model organisms, Mus musculus, Drosophila melanogaster, and Caenorhabditis elegans, and illustrate how these tools can be applied to detect polymorphisms that determine the viral susceptibility. Finally, we analyse how candidate polymorphisms from model organisms can be used to shed light on the underlying mechanism of individual variation. Insights in causal polymorphisms and mechanisms underlying individual differences in viral susceptibility in model organisms likely provide a better understanding in humans.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 280: An Insight into Cotton Leaf Curl Multan Betasatellite, the Most Important Component of Cotton Leaf Curl Disease Complex

  • Cotton leaf curl disease (CLCuD) is one of the most economically important diseases and is a constraint to cotton production in major producers, Pakistan and India. CLCuD is caused by monopartite plant viruses belonging to the family Geminiviridae (genus Begomovirus), in association with an essential, disease-specific satellite, Cotton leaf curl Multan betasatellite (CLCuMuB) belonging to a newly-established family Tolecusatellitidae (genus Betasatellite). CLCuMuB has a small genome (ca. 1350 nt) with a satellite conserved region, an adenine-rich region and a single gene that encodes for a multifunctionalβC1 protein. CLCuMuB βC1 protein has a major role in pathogenicity and symptom determination, and alters several host cellular functions like autophagy, ubiquitination, and suppression of gene silencing, to assist CLCuD infectivity. Efficient trans-replication ability of CLCuMuB with several monopartite and bipartite begomoviruses, is also associated with the rapid evolution and spread of CLCuMuB. In this article we comprehensively reviewed the role of CLCuMuB in CLCuD, focusing on the βC1 functions and its interactions with host proteins.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 281: Current Peptide and Protein Candidates Challenging HIV Therapy beyond the Vaccine Era

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a causative agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can slow down the replication of HIV-1, leading to an improvement in the survival of HIV-1-infected patients. However, drug toxicities and poor drug administration has led to the emergence of a drug-resistant strain. HIV-1 immunotherapy has been continuously developed, but antibody therapy and HIV vaccines take time to improve its efficiency and have limitations. HIV-1-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-based immunotherapy founded on neutralizing antibodies is now being developed. In HIV-1 therapy, anti-HIV chimeric antigen receptors showed promising data in the suppression of HIV-1 replication; however, autologous transfusion is still a problem. This has led to the development of effective peptides and proteins for an alternative HIV-1 treatment. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive review of potent anti-HIV-1 peptides and proteins that reveal promising therapeutic activities. The inhibitory mechanisms of each therapeutic molecule in the different stages of the HIV-1 life cycle will be discussed herein.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 278: A Cross-Sectional Serosurvey of Anti-Orthopoxvirus Antibodies in Central and Western Africa

  • Since the eradication of smallpox and the subsequent discontinuation of the worldwide smallpox vaccination program, other Orthopoxviruses beside Variola virus have been increasingly representing a risk to human health. To investigate the extent of natural contact with Orthopoxviruses and possible demographic risk factors for such an exposure, we performed a cross-sectional serosurvey of anti-Orthopoxvirus IgG antibodies in West and Central Africa. To this end, people living in forest regions in Côte d’Ivoire (CIV, n = 737) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (COD, n = 267) were assigned into groups according to their likely smallpox vaccination status. The overall prevalence of anti-Orthopoxvirus antibodies was 51% in CIV and 60% in COD. High rates of seropositivity among the vaccinated part of the population (80% in CIV; 96% COD) indicated a long-lasting post vaccination immune response. In non-vaccinated participants, seroprevalences of 19% (CIV) and 26% (COD) indicated regular contact with Orthopoxviruses. Multivariate logistic regression revealed that the antibody level in the vaccinated part of the population was higher in COD than in CIV, increased with age and was slightly higher in females than males. In the unvaccinated part of the population none of these factors influenced antibody level significantly. In conclusion, our results confirm expectedly high anti-Orthopoxvirus seroprevalences in previously smallpox-vaccinated people living in CIV and the COD but more unexpectedly imply regular contact with Orthopoxviruses both in Western and Central Africa, even in the absence of recognized outbreaks.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 279: Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Capsid—The Clever Caper

  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is a New World alphavirus that is vectored by mosquitos and cycled in rodents. It can cause disease in equines and humans characterized by a febrile illness that may progress into encephalitis. Like the capsid protein of other viruses, VEEV capsid is an abundant structural protein that binds to the viral RNA and interacts with the membrane-bound glycoproteins. It also has protease activity, allowing cleavage of itself from the growing structural polypeptide during translation. However, VEEV capsid protein has additional nonstructural roles within the host cell functioning as the primary virulence factor for VEEV. VEEV capsid inhibits host transcription and blocks nuclear import in mammalian cells, at least partially due to its complexing with the host CRM1 and importinα/β1 nuclear transport proteins. VEEV capsid also shuttles between the nucleus and cytoplasm and is susceptible to inhibitors of nuclear trafficking, making it a promising antiviral target. Herein, the role of VEEV capsid in viral replication and pathogenesis will be discussed including a comparison to proteins of other alphaviruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 277: Effects of Amprenavir on HIV-1 Maturation, Production and Infectivity Following Drug Withdrawal in Chronically-Infected Monocytes/Macrophages

  • A paucity of information is available on the activity of protease inhibitors (PI) in chronically-infected monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) and on the kinetics of viral-rebound after PI removal in vitro. To fill this gap, the activity of different concentrations of amprenavir (AMP) was evaluated in chronically-infected MDM by measuring p24-production every day up to 12 days after drug administration and up to seven days after drug removal. Clinically-relevant concentrations of AMP (4 and 20μM) drastically decreased p24 amount released from chronically-infected MDM from Day 2 up to Day 12 after drug administration. The kinetics of viral-rebound after AMP-removal (4 and 20 μM) showed that, despite an initial increase, p24-production over time never reached the level observed for untreated-MDM, suggesting a persistent intracellular drug activity. In line with this, after AMP-removal, human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) infectivity and intracellular the p24/p55 ratio (reflecting virion-maturation) were remarkably lower than observed for untreated MDM. Overall, AMP shows high efficacy in blocking HIV-1 replication in chronically-infected MDM, persisting even after drug-removal. This highlights the role of protease inhibitors in preventing the establishment of this important HIV-1 reservoir, thus reducing viral-dissemination in different anatomical compartments.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 276: Comment: Characterization of Two Historic Smallpox Specimens from a Czech Museum

  • The complete genome sequences of two strains of variola virus (VARV) sampled from human smallpox specimens present in the Czech National Museum, Prague, were recently determined, with one of the sequences estimated to date to the mid-19th century. Using molecular clock methods, the authors of this study go on to infer that the currently available strains of VARV share an older common ancestor, at around 1350 AD, than some recent estimates based on other archival human samples. Herein, we show that the two Czech strains exhibit anomalous branch lengths given their proposed age, and by assuming a constant rate of evolutionary change across the rest of the VARV phylogeny estimate that their true age in fact lies between 1918 and 1937. We therefore suggest that the age of the common ancestor of currently available VARV genomes most likely dates to late 16th and early 17th centuries and not ~1350 AD.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 274: Immunogenicity of eGFP-Marked Recombinant Lactobacillus casei against Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

  • Porcine transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) are the causative agents of highly fatal acute diarrhea in pigs, resulting in enormous losses in the pig industry worldwide. To develop an effective bivalent oral vaccine against TGEV and PEDV infection, the D antigenic site of the TGEV spike (S) protein and the major antigen site (core neutralizing epitope—COE) of the PEDV S protein were used as immunogens, and the enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) gene was used as a reporter to construct genetically engineered Lactobacillus casei rLpPGF-T7g10-eGFP-6D-COE. The expression of proteins of interest by the recombinant L. casei was confirmed by confocal laser scanning microscopy and a Western blot assay, and the immunogenicity of rLpPGF-T7g10-eGFP-6D-COE in orally immunized mice was evaluated. The results showed that levels of anti-PEDV and anti-TGEV serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and mucosal secreted immunoglobulin A (sIgA) antibodies obtained from the mice immunized with rLpPGF-T7g10-eGFP-6D-COE, as well as the proliferation levels of lymphocytes, were significantly higher than those in mice orally administered phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) or rLpPG-T7g10. Moreover, the serum IgG antibodies showed neutralizing effects against PEDV and TGEV. Our data suggest that the antibiotic resistance-free genetically engineered L. casei bivalent oral vaccine provides a safe and promising strategy for vaccine development against PEDV and TGEV.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 275: Inference of a Geminivirus−Host Protein−Protein Interaction Network through Affinity Purification and Mass Spectrometry Analysis

  • Viruses reshape the intracellular environment of their hosts, largely through protein-protein interactions, to co-opt processes necessary for viral infection and interference with antiviral defences. Due to genome size constraints and the concomitant limited coding capacity of viruses, viral proteins are generally multifunctional and have evolved to target diverse host proteins. Inference of the virus-host interaction network can be instrumental for understanding how viruses manipulate the host machinery and how re-wiring of specific pathways can contribute to disease. Here, we use affinity purification and mass spectrometry analysis (AP-MS) to define the global landscape of interactions between the geminivirus Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) and its host Nicotiana benthamiana. For this purpose, we expressed tagged versions of each of TYLCV-encoded proteins (C1/Rep, C2/TrAP, C3/REn, C4, V2, and CP) in planta in the presence of the virus. Using a quantitative scoring system, 728 high-confidence plant interactors were identified, and the interaction network of each viral protein was inferred; TYLCV-targeted proteins are more connected than average, and connect with other proteins through shorter paths, which would allow the virus to exert large effects with few interactions. Comparative analyses of divergence patterns between N. benthamiana and potato, a non-host Solanaceae, showed evolutionary constraints on TYLCV-targeted proteins. Our results provide a comprehensive overview of plant proteins targeted by TYLCV during the viral infection, which may contribute to uncovering the underlying molecular mechanisms of plant viral diseases and provide novel potential targets for anti-viral strategies and crop engineering. Interestingly, some of the TYLCV-interacting proteins appear to be convergently targeted by other pathogen effectors, which suggests a central role for these proteins in plant-pathogen interactions, and pinpoints them as potential targets to engineer broad-spectrum resistance to biotic stresses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 271: Antiviral Properties of Chemical Inhibitors of Cellular Anti-Apoptotic Bcl-2 Proteins

  • Viral diseases remain serious threats to public health because of the shortage of effective means of control. To combat the surge of viral diseases, new treatments are urgently needed. Here we show that small-molecules, which inhibit cellular anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins (Bcl-2i), induced the premature death of cells infected with different RNA or DNA viruses, whereas, at the same concentrations, no toxicity was observed in mock-infected cells. Moreover, these compounds limited viral replication and spread. Surprisingly, Bcl-2i also induced the premature apoptosis of cells transfected with viral RNA or plasmid DNA but not of mock-transfected cells. These results suggest that Bcl-2i sensitizes cells containing foreign RNA or DNA to apoptosis. A comparison of the toxicity, antiviral activity, and side effects of six Bcl-2i allowed us to select A-1155463 as an antiviral lead candidate. Thus, our results pave the way for the further development of Bcl-2i for the prevention and treatment of viral diseases.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 273: The Incredible Journey of Begomoviruses in Their Whitefly Vector

  • Begomoviruses are vectored in a circulative persistent manner by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. The insect ingests viral particles with its stylets. Virions pass along the food canal and reach the esophagus and the midgut. They cross the filter chamber and the midgut into the haemolymph, translocate into the primary salivary glands and are egested with the saliva into the plant phloem. Begomoviruses have to cross several barriers and checkpoints successfully, while interacting with would-be receptors and other whitefly proteins. The bulk of the virus remains associated with the midgut and the filter chamber. In these tissues, viral genomes, mainly from the tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) family, may be transcribed and may replicate. However, at the same time, virus amounts peak, and the insect autophagic response is activated, which in turn inhibits replication and induces the destruction of the virus. Some begomoviruses invade tissues outside the circulative pathway, such as ovaries and fat cells. Autophagy limits the amounts of virus associated with these organs. In this review, we discuss the different sites begomoviruses need to cross to complete a successful circular infection, the role of the coat protein in this process and the sites that balance between virus accumulation and virus destruction.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 270: Canonical and Non-Canonical Autophagy in HIV-1 Replication Cycle

  • Autophagy is a lysosomal-dependent degradative process essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis, and is a key player in innate and adaptive immune responses to intracellular pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). In HIV-1 target cells, autophagy mechanisms can (i) selectively direct viral proteins and viruses for degradation; (ii) participate in the processing and presentation of viral-derived antigens through major histocompatibility complexes; and (iii) contribute to interferon production in response to HIV-1 infection. As a consequence, HIV-1 has evolved different strategies to finely regulate the autophagy pathway to favor its replication and dissemination. HIV-1 notably encodes accessory genes encoding Tat, Nef and Vpu proteins, which are able to perturb and hijack canonical and non-canonical autophagy mechanisms. This review outlines the current knowledge on the complex interplay between autophagy and HIV-1 replication cycle, providing an overview of the autophagy-mediated molecular processes deployed both by infected cells to combat the virus and by HIV-1 to evade antiviral response.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 269: Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine contains Substantial and Unexpected Amounts of Defective Viral Genomic RNA

  • The live attenuated influenza vaccine FluMist® was withdrawn in the USA by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after its failure to provide adequate protective immunity during 2013–2016. The vaccine uses attenuated core type A and type B viruses, reconfigured each year to express the two major surface antigens of the currently circulating viruses. Here Fluenz™ Tetra, the European version of this vaccine, was examined directly for defective-interfering (DI) viral RNAs. DI RNAs are deleted versions of the infectious virus genome, and have powerful biological properties including attenuation of infection, reduction of infectious virus yield, and stimulation of some immune responses. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction followed by cloning and sequencing showed that Fluenz™ vaccine contains unexpected and substantial amounts of DI RNA arising from both its influenza A and influenza B components, with 87 different DI RNA sequences identified. Flu A DI RNAs from segment 3 replaced the majority of the genomic full-length segment 3, thus compromising its infectivity. DI RNAs arise during vaccine production and non-infectious DI virus replaces infectious virus pro rata so that fewer doses of the vaccine can be made. Instead the vaccine carries a large amount of non-infectious but biologically active DI virus. The presence of DI RNAs could significantly reduce the multiplication in the respiratory tract of the vaccine leading to reduced immunizing efficacy and could also stimulate the host antiviral responses, further depressing vaccine multiplication. The role of DI viruses in the performance of this and other vaccines requires further investigation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 268: Why Human Papillomaviruses Activate the DNA Damage Response (DDR) and How Cellular and Viral Replication Persists in the Presence of DDR Signaling

  • Human papillomaviruses (HPV) require the activation of the DNA damage response (DDR) in order to undergo a successful life cycle. This activation presents a challenge for the virus and the infected cell: how does viral and host replication proceed in the presence of a DDR that ordinarily arrests replication; and how do HPV16 infected cells retain the ability to proliferate in the presence of a DDR that ordinarily arrests the cell cycle? This raises a further question: why do HPV activate the DDR? The answers to these questions are only partially understood; a full understanding could identify novel therapeutic strategies to target HPV cancers. Here, we propose that the rapid replication of an 8 kb double stranded circular genome during infection creates aberrant DNA structures that attract and activate DDR proteins. Therefore, HPV replication in the presence of an active DDR is a necessity for a successful viral life cycle in order to resolve these DNA structures on viral genomes; without an active DDR, successful replication of the viral genome would not proceed. We discuss the essential role of TopBP1 in this process and also how viral and cellular replication proceeds in HPV infected cells in the presence of DDR signals.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 267: Natural History of HPV Infection across the Lifespan: Role of Viral Latency

  • Large-scale epidemiologic studies have been invaluable for elaboration of the causal relationship between persistent detection of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and the development of invasive cervical cancer. However, these studies provide limited data to adequately inform models of the individual-level natural history of HPV infection over the course of a lifetime, and particularly ignore the biological distinction between HPV-negative tests and lack of infection (i.e., the possibility of latent, undetectable HPV infection). Using data from more recent epidemiological studies, this review proposes an alternative model of the natural history of genital HPV across the life span. We argue that a more complete elucidation of the age-specific probabilities of the alternative transitions is highly relevant with the expanded use of HPV testing in cervical cancer screening. With routine HPV testing in cervical cancer screening, women commonly transition in and out of HPV detectability, raising concerns for the patient and the provider regarding the source of the positive test result, its prognosis, and effective strategies to prevent future recurrence. Alternative study designs and analytic frameworks are proposed to better understand the frequency and determinants of these transition pathways.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 266: Oncolytic Reovirus Infection Is Facilitated by the Autophagic Machinery

  • Mammalian reovirus is a double-stranded RNA virus that selectively infects and lyses transformed cells, making it an attractive oncolytic agent. Despite clinical evidence for anti-tumor activity, its efficacy as a stand-alone therapy remains to be improved. The success of future trials can be greatly influenced by the identification and the regulation of the cellular pathways that are important for reovirus replication and oncolysis. Here, we demonstrate that reovirus induces autophagy in several cell lines, evident from the formation of Atg5-Atg12 complexes, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) lipidation, p62 degradation, the appearance of acidic vesicular organelles, and LC3 puncta. Furthermore, in electron microscopic images of reovirus-infected cells, autophagosomes were observed without evident association with viral factories. Using UV-inactivated reovirus, we demonstrate that a productive reovirus infection facilitates the induction of autophagy. Importantly, knock-out cell lines for specific autophagy-related genes revealed that the expression of Atg3 and Atg5 but not Atg13 facilitates reovirus replication. These findings highlight a central and Atg13-independent role for the autophagy machinery in facilitating reovirus infection and contribute to a better understanding of reovirus-host interactions.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 264: Tomato Leaf Curl New Delhi Virus: An Emerging Virus Complex Threatening Vegetable and Fiber Crops

  • The tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) (genus Begomovirus, family Geminiviridae) represents an important constraint to tomato production, as it causes the most predominant and economically important disease affecting tomato in the Indian sub-continent. However, in recent years, ToLCNDV has been fast extending its host range and spreading to new geographical regions, including the Middle East and the western Mediterranean Basin. Extensive research on the genome structure, protein functions, molecular biology, and plant–virus interactions of ToLCNDV has been conducted in the last decade. Special emphasis has been given to gene silencing suppression ability in order to counteract host plant defense responses. The importance of the interaction with DNA alphasatellites and betasatellites in the biology of the virus has been demonstrated. ToLCNDV genetic variability has been analyzed, providing new insights into the taxonomy, host adaptation, and evolution of this virus. Recombination and pseudorecombination have been shown as motors of diversification and adaptive evolution. Important progress has also been made in control strategies to reduce disease damage. This review highlights these various achievements in the context of the previous knowledge of begomoviruses and their interactions with plants.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 265: A Recombinant Measles Vaccine with Enhanced Resistance to Passive Immunity

  • Current measles vaccines suffer from poor effectiveness in young infants due primarily to the inhibitory effect of residual maternal immunity on vaccine responses. The development of a measles vaccine that resists such passive immunity would strongly contribute to the stalled effort toward measles eradication. In this concise communication, we show that a measles virus (MV) with enhanced hemagglutinin (H) expression and incorporation, termed MVvac2-H2, retained its enhanced immunogenicity, previously established in older mice, when administered to very young, genetically modified, MV-susceptible mice in the presence of passive anti-measles immunity. This immunity level mimics the sub-neutralizing immunity prevalent in infants too young to be vaccinated. Additionally, toward a more physiological small animal model of maternal anti-measles immunity interference, we document vertical transfer of passive anti-MV immunity in genetically-modified, MV susceptible mice and show in this physiological model a better MVvac2-H2 immunogenic profile than that of the parental vaccine strain. In sum, these data support the notion that enhancing MV hemagglutinin incorporation can circumvent in vivo neutralization. This strategy merits additional exploration as an alternative pediatric measles vaccine.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 263: Viruses of Microbes

  • Viruses of microbes encompass all viruses that infect archaea, bacteria, and single-celled eukaryotes, especially algae and protozoa [...]

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 262: PERK Signal-Modulated Protein Translation Promotes the Survivability of Dengue 2 Virus-Infected Mosquito Cells and Extends Viral Replication

  • Survival of mosquitoes from dengue virus (DENV) infection is a prerequisite of viral transmission to the host. This study aimed to see how mosquito cells can survive the infection during prosperous replication of the virus. In C6/36 cells, global protein translation was shut down after infection by DENV type 2 (DENV2). However, it returned to a normal level when infected cells were treated with an inhibitor of the protein kinase RNA (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK) signaling pathway. Based on a 7-Methylguanosine 5′-triphosphate (m7GTP) pull-down assay, the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4F (eIF4F) complex was also identified in DENV2-infected cells. This suggests that most mosquito proteins are synthesized via canonical cap-dependent translation. When the PERK signal pathway was inhibited, both accumulation of reactive oxygen species and changes in the mitochondrial membrane potential increased. This suggested that ER stress response was alleviated through the PERK-mediated shutdown of global proteins in DENV2-infected C6/36 cells. In the meantime, the activities of caspases-9 and -3 and the apoptosis-related cell death rate increased in C6/36 cells with PERK inhibition. This reflected that the PERK-signaling pathway is involved in determining cell survival, presumably by reducing DENV2-induced ER stress. Looking at the PERK downstream target, α-subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2α), an increased phosphorylation status was only shown in infected C6/36 cells. This indicated that recruitment of ribosome binding to the mRNA 5′-cap structure could have been impaired in cap-dependent translation. It turned out that shutdown of cellular protein translation resulted ina pro-survival effect on mosquito cells in response to DENV2 infection. As synthesis of viral proteins was not affected by the PERK signal pathway, an alternate mode other than cap-dependent translation may be utilized. This finding provides insights into elucidating how the PERK signal pathway modulates dynamic translation of proteins and helps mosquito cells survive continuous replication of the DENV2. It was ecologically important for virus amplification in mosquitoes and transmission to humans.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 261: Mechanisms by which HPV Induces a Replication Competent Environment in Differentiating Keratinocytes

  • Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the causative agents of cervical cancer and are also associated with other genital malignancies, as well as an increasing number of head and neck cancers. HPVs have evolved their life cycle to contend with the different cell states found in the stratified epithelium. Initial infection and viral genome maintenance occurs in the proliferating basal cells of the stratified epithelium, where cellular replication machinery is abundant. However, the productive phase of the viral life cycle, including productive replication, late gene expression and virion production, occurs upon epithelial differentiation, in cells that normally exit the cell cycle. This review outlines how HPV interfaces with specific cellular signaling pathways and factors to provide a replication-competent environment in differentiating cells.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 259: LEDGF/p75 Deficiency Increases Deletions at the HIV-1 cDNA Ends

  • Processing of unintegrated linear HIV-1 cDNA by the host DNA repair system results in its degradation and/or circularization. As a consequence, deficient viral cDNA integration generally leads to an increase in the levels of HIV-1 cDNA circles containing one or two long terminal repeats (LTRs). Intriguingly, impaired HIV-1 integration in LEDGF/p75-deficient cells does not result in a correspondent increase in viral cDNA circles. We postulate that increased degradation of unintegrated linear viral cDNA in cells lacking the lens epithelium-derived growth factor (LEDGF/p75) account for this inconsistency. To evaluate this hypothesis, we characterized the nucleotide sequence spanning 2-LTR junctions isolated from LEDGF/p75-deficient and control cells. LEDGF/p75 deficiency resulted in a significant increase in the frequency of 2-LTRs harboring large deletions. Of note, these deletions were dependent on the 3′ processing activity of integrase and were not originated by aberrant reverse transcription. Our findings suggest a novel role of LEDGF/p75 in protecting the unintegrated 3′ processed linear HIV-1 cDNA from exonucleolytic degradation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 260: A Recombinant HAV Expressing a Neutralization Epitope of HEV Induces Immune Response against HAV and HEV in Mice

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV) are causative agents of acute viral hepatitis transmitted via the fecal–oral route. Both viruses place a heavy burden on the public health and economy of developing countries. To test the possibility that HAV could be used as an expression vector for the development of a combination vaccine against hepatitis A and E infections, recombinant HAV-HEp148 was created as a vector to express an HEV neutralization epitope (HEp148) located at aa 459–606 of the HEV capsid protein. The recombinant virus expressed the HEp148 protein in a partially dimerized state in HAV-susceptible cells. Immunization with the HAV-HEp148 virus induced a strong HAV- and HEV-specific immune response in mice. Thus, the present study demonstrates a novel approach to the development of a combined hepatitis A and E vaccine.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 256: Geminiviruses and Plant Hosts: A Closer Examination of the Molecular Arms Race

  • Geminiviruses are plant-infecting viruses characterized by a single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) genome. Geminivirus-derived proteins are multifunctional and effective regulators in modulating the host cellular processes resulting in successful infection. Virus-host interactions result in changes in host gene expression patterns, reprogram plant signaling controls, disrupt central cellular metabolic pathways, impair plant’s defense system, and effectively evade RNA silencing response leading to host susceptibility. This review summarizes what is known about the cellular processes in the continuing tug of war between geminiviruses and their plant hosts at the molecular level. In addition, implications for engineered resistance to geminivirus infection in the context of a greater understanding of the molecular processes are also discussed. Finally, the prospect of employing geminivirus-based vectors in plant genome engineering and the emergence of powerful genome editing tools to confer geminivirus resistanceare highlighted to complete the perspective on geminivirus-plant molecular interactions.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 258: Characterization of vB_SauM-fRuSau02, a Twort-Like Bacteriophage Isolated from a Therapeutic Phage Cocktail

  • Staphylococcus aureus is a commensal and pathogenic bacterium that causes infections in humans and animals. It is a major cause of nosocomial infections worldwide. Due to increasing prevalence of multidrug resistance, alternative methods to eradicate the pathogen are necessary. In this respect, polyvalent staphylococcal myoviruses have been demonstrated to be excellent candidates for phage therapy. Here we present the characterization of the bacteriophage vB_SauM-fRuSau02 (fRuSau02) that was isolated from a commercial Staphylococcus bacteriophage cocktail produced by Microgen (Moscow, Russia). The genomic analysis revealed that fRuSau02 is very closely related to the phage MSA6, and possesses a large genome (148,464 bp), with typical modular organization and a low G+C (30.22%) content. It can therefore be classified as a new virus among the genus Twortlikevirus. The genome contains 236 predicted genes, 4 of which were interrupted by insertion sequences. Altogether, 78 different structural and virion-associated proteins were identified from purified phage particles by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The host range of fRuSau02 was tested with 135 strains, including 51 and 54 Staphylococcus aureus isolates from humans and pigs, respectively, and 30 coagulase-negative Staphylococcus strains of human origin. All clinical S. aureus strains were at least moderately sensitive to the phage, while only 39% of the pig strains were infected. Also, some strains of Staphylococcus intermedius, Staphylococcus lugdunensis, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus haemolyticus, Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Staphylococcus pseudointer were sensitive. We conclude that fRuSau02, a phage therapy agent in Russia, can serve as an alternative to antibiotic therapy against S. aureus.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 257: Engineered Disease Resistance in Cotton Using RNA-Interference to Knock down Cotton leaf curl Kokhran virus-Burewala and Cotton leaf curl Multan betasatellite Expression

  • Cotton leaf curl virus disease (CLCuD) is caused by a suite of whitefly-transmitted begomovirus species and strains, resulting in extensive losses annually in India and Pakistan. RNA-interference (RNAi) is a proven technology used for knockdown of gene expression in higher organisms and viruses. In this study, a small interfering RNA (siRNA) construct was designed to target the AC1 gene of Cotton leaf curl Kokhran virus-Burewala (CLCuKoV-Bu) and theβC1 gene and satellite conserved region of the Cotton leaf curl Multan betasatellite (CLCuMB). The AC1 gene and CLCuMB coding and non-coding regions function in replication initiation and suppression of the plant host defense pathway, respectively. The construct, Vβ, was transformed into cotton plants using the Agrobacterium-mediated embryo shoot apex cut method. Results from fluorescence in situ hybridization and karyotyping assays indicated that six of the 11 T1 plants harbored a single copy of the Vβ transgene. Transgenic cotton plants and non-transgenic (susceptible) test plants included as the positive control were challenge-inoculated using the viruliferous whitefly vector to transmit the CLCuKoV-Bu/CLCuMB complex. Among the test plants, plant Vβ-6 was asymptomatic, had the lowest amount of detectable virus, and harbored a single copy of the transgene on chromosome six. Absence of characteristic leaf curl symptom development in transgenic Vβ-6 cotton plants, and significantly reduced begomoviral-betasatellite accumulation based on real-time polymerase chain reaction, indicated the successful knockdown of CLCuKoV-Bu and CLCuMB expression, resulting in leaf curl resistantplants.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 255: Identification of a Novel Inhibitor against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

  • The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first isolated in 2012, and circulated worldwide with high mortality. The continual outbreaks of MERS-CoV highlight the importance of developing antiviral therapeutics. Here, we rationally designed a novel fusion inhibitor named MERS-five-helix bundle (MERS-5HB) derived from the six-helix bundle (MERS-6HB) which was formed by the process of membrane fusion. MERS-5HB consists of three copies of heptad repeat 1 (HR1) and two copies of heptad repeat 2 (HR2) while MERS-6HB includes three copies each of HR1 and HR2. As it lacks one HR2, MERS-5HB was expected to interact with viral HR2 to interrupt the fusion step. What we found was that MERS-5HB could bind to HR2P, a peptide derived from HR2, with a strong affinity value (KD) of up to 0.24 nM. Subsequent assays indicated that MERS-5HB could inhibit pseudotyped MERS-CoV entry effectively with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of about 1μM. In addition, MERS-5HB significantly inhibited spike (S) glycoprotein-mediated syncytial formation in a dose-dependent manner. Further biophysical characterization showed that MERS-5HB was a thermo-stable α-helical secondary structure. The inhibitory potency of MERS-5HB may provide an attractive basis for identification of a novel inhibitor against MERS-CoV, as a potential antiviral agent.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 254: Immunopathogenesis of HPV-Associated Cancers and Prospects for Immunotherapy

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a causative factor for various cancers of the anogenital region and oropharynx, and is supposed to play an important cofactor role for skin carcinogenesis. Evasion from immunosurveillance favors viral persistence. However, there is evidence that the mere presence of oncogenic HPV is not sufficient for malignant progression and that additional tumor-promoting steps are required. Recent studies have demonstrated that HPV-transformed cells actively promote chronic stromal inflammation and conspire with cells in the local microenvironment to promote carcinogenesis. This review highlights the complex interplay between HPV-infected cells and the local immune microenvironment during oncogenic HPV infection, persistence, and malignant progression, and discusses new prospects for diagnosis and immunotherapy of HPV-associated cancers.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 252: Analysis of Class I Major Histocompatibility Complex Gene Transcription in Human Tumors Caused by Human Papillomavirus Infection

  • Oncoproteins from high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) downregulate the transcription of the class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC-I) antigen presentation apparatus in tissue culture model systems. This could allow infected or transformed cells to evade the adaptive immune response. Using data from over 800 human cervical and head aamp;amp;amp; neck tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we determined the impact of HPV status on the mRNA expression of all six MHC-I heavy chain genes, and theβ2 microglobulin light chain. Unexpectedly, these genes were all expressed at high levels in HPV positive (HPV+) cancers compared with normal control tissues. Indeed, many of these genes were expressed at significantly enhanced levels in HPV+ tumors. Similarly, the transcript levels of several other components of the MHC-I peptide-loading complex were also high in HPV+ cancers. The coordinated expression of high mRNA levels of the MHC-I antigen presentation apparatus could be a consequence of the higher intratumoral levels of interferon γ in HPV+ carcinomas, which correlate with signatures of increased infiltration by T- and NK-cells. These data, which were obtained from both cervical and oral tumors in large human cohorts, indicates that HPV oncoproteins do not efficiently suppress the transcription of the antigen presentation apparatus in human tumors.

  • Viruses, Vol. 9, Pages 253: Re-Assembly and Analysis of an Ancient Variola Virus Genome

  • We report a major improvement to the assembly of published short read sequencing data from an ancient variola virus (VARV) genome by the removal of contig-capping sequencing tags and manual searches for gap-spanning reads. The new assembly, together with camelpox and taterapox genomes, permitted new dates to be calculated for the last common ancestor of all VARV genomes. The analysis of recently sequenced VARV-like cowpox virus genomes showed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and amino acid changes in the vaccinia virus (VACV)-Cop-O1L ortholog, predicted to be associated with VARV host specificity and virulence, were introduced into the lineage before the divergence of these viruses. A comparison of the ancient and modern VARV genome sequences also revealed a measurable drift towards adenine + thymine (A + T) richness.
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