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

Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Current Issue of Viruses


  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6200-6217: Stem Cell-Based Cell Carrier for Targeted Oncolytic Virotherapy: Translational Opportunity and Open Questions

  • Oncolytic virotherapy for cancer is an innovative therapeutic option where the ability of a virus to promote cell lysis is harnessed and reprogrammed to selectively destroy cancer cells. Such treatment modalities exhibited antitumor activity in preclinical and clinical settings and appear to be well tolerated when tested in clinical trials. However, the clinical success of oncolytic virotherapy has been significantly hampered due to the inability to target systematic metastasis. This is partly due to the inability of the therapeutic virus to survive in the patient circulation, in order to target tumors at distant sites. An early study from various laboratories demonstrated that cells infected with oncolytic virus can protect the therapeutic payload form the host immune system as well as function as factories for virus production and enhance the therapeutic efficacy of oncolytic virus. While a variety of cell lineages possessed potential as cell carriers, copious investigation has established stem cells as a very attractive cell carrier system in oncolytic virotherapy. The ideal cell carrier desire to be susceptible to viral infection as well as support viral infection, maintain immunosuppressive properties to shield the loaded viruses from the host immune system, and most importantly possess an intrinsic tumor homing ability to deliver loaded viruses directly to the site of the metastasis—all qualities stem cells exhibit. In this review, we summarize the recent work in the development of stem cell-based carrier for oncolytic virotherapy, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of cell carriers, especially focusing on why stem cells have emerged as the leading candidate, and finally propose a future direction for stem cell-based targeted oncolytic virotherapy that involves its establishment as a viable treatment option for cancer patients in the clinical setting.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6182-6199: Fluorescent Protein-Tagged Sindbis Virus E2 Glycoprotein Allows Single Particle Analysis of Virus Budding from Live Cells

  • Sindbis virus (SINV) is an enveloped, mosquito-borne alphavirus. Here we generated and characterized a fluorescent protein-tagged (FP-tagged) SINV and found that the presence of the FP-tag (mCherry) affected glycoprotein transport to the plasma membrane whereas the specific infectivity of the virus was not affected. We examined the virions by transmission electron cryo-microscopy and determined the arrangement of the FP-tag on the surface of the virion. The fluorescent proteins are arranged icosahedrally on the virus surface in a stable manner that did not adversely affect receptor binding or fusion functions of E2 and E1, respectively. The delay in surface expression of the viral glycoproteins, as demonstrated by flow cytometry analysis, contributed to a 10-fold reduction in mCherry-E2 virus titer. There is a 1:1 ratio of mCherry to E2 incorporated into the virion, which leads to a strong fluorescence signal and thus facilitates single-particle tracking experiments. We used the FP-tagged virus for high-resolution live-cell imaging to study the spatial and temporal aspects of alphavirus assembly and budding from mammalian cells. These processes were further analyzed by thin section microscopy. The results demonstrate that SINV buds from the plasma membrane of infected cells and is dispersed into the surrounding media or spread to neighboring cells facilitated by its close association with filopodial extensions.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6163-6181: Incomplete LPS Core-Specific Felix01-Like Virus vB_EcoM_VpaE1

  • Bacteriophages represent a valuable source for studying the mechanisms underlying virus-host interactions. A better understanding of the host-specificity of viruses at the molecular level can promote various phage applications, including bacterial diagnostics, antimicrobial therapeutics, and improve methods in molecular biology. In this study, we describe the isolation and characterization of a novel coliphage, vB_EcoM_VpaE1, which has different host specificity than its relatives. Morphology studies, coupled with the results of genomic and proteomic analyses, indicate that vB_EcoM_VpaE1 belongs to the newly proposed genus Felix01likevirus in the family Myoviridae. The genus Felix01likevirus comprises a group of highly similar phages that infect O-antigen-expressing Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains. Phage vB_EcoM_VpaE1 differs from the rest of Felix01-like viruses, since it infects O-antigen-deficient E. coli strains with an incomplete core lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We show that vB_EcoM_VpaE1 can infect mutants of E. coli that contain various truncations in their LPS, and can even recognize LPS that is truncated down to the inner-core oligosaccharide, showing potential for the control of rough E. coli strains, which usually emerge as resistant mutants upon infection by O-Ag-specific phages. Furthermore, VpaE1 can replicate in a wide temperature range from 9 to 49°C, suggesting that this virus is well adapted to harsh environmental conditions. Since the structural proteins of such phages tend to be rather robust, the receptor-recognizing proteins of VpaE1 are an attractive tool for application in glycan analysis, bacterial diagnostics and antimicrobial therapeutics.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6152-6162: Inhibition Profiling of Retroviral Protease Inhibitors Using an HIV-2 Modular System

  • Retroviral protease inhibitors (PIs) are fundamental pillars in the treatment of HIV infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Currently used PIs are designed against HIV-1, and their effect on HIV-2 is understudied. Using a modular HIV-2 protease cassette system, inhibition profiling assays were carried out for protease inhibitors both in enzymatic and cell culture assays. Moreover, the treatment-associated resistance mutations (I54M, L90M) were introduced into the modular system, and comparative inhibition assays were performed to determine their effect on the susceptibility of the protease. Our results indicate that darunavir, saquinavir, indinavir and lopinavir were very effective HIV-2 protease inhibitors, while tipranavir, nelfinavir and amprenavir showed a decreased efficacy. I54M, L90M double mutation resulted in a significant reduction in the susceptibility to most of the inhibitors with the exception of tipranavir. To our knowledge, this modular system constitutes a novel approach in the field of HIV-2 protease characterization and susceptibility testing.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6108-6126: Activation of the Mitochondrial Apoptotic Signaling Platform during Rubella Virus Infection

  • Mitochondria- as well as p53-based signaling pathways are central for the execution of the intrinsic apoptotic cascade. Their contribution to rubella virus (RV)-induced apoptosis was addressed through time-specific evaluation of characteristic parameters such as permeabilization of the mitochondrial membrane and subsequent release of the pro-apoptotic proteins apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and cytochrome c from mitochondria. Additionally, expression and localization pattern of p53 and selected members of the multifunctional and stress-inducible cyclophilin family were examined. The application of pifithrinμ as an inhibitor of p53 shuttling to mitochondria reduced RV-induced cell death to an extent similar to that of the broad spectrum caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk (benzyloxycarbonyl-V-A-D-(OMe)-fmk). However, RV progeny generation was not altered. This indicates that, despite an increased survival rate of its cellular host, induction of apoptosis neither supports nor restricts RV replication. Moreover, some of the examined apoptotic markers were affected in a strain-specific manner and differed between the cell culture-adapted strains: Therien and the HPV77 vaccine on the one hand, and a clinical isolate on the other. In summary, the results presented indicate that the transcription-independent mitochondrial p53 program contributes to RV-induced apoptosis.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6141-6151: Silencing of a Germin-Like Protein Gene (CchGLP) in Geminivirus-Resistant Pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) BG-3821 Increases Susceptibility to Single and Mixed Infections by Geminiviruses PHYVV and PepGMV

  • Germin-like proteins (GLPs) are encoded by a family of genes found in all plants, and in terms of function, the GLPs are implicated in the response of plants to biotic and abiotic stresses. CchGLP is a gene encoding a GLP identified in a geminivirus-resistant Capsicum chinense Jacq accession named BG-3821, and it is important in geminivirus resistance when transferred to susceptible tobacco in transgenic experiments. To characterize the role of this GLP in geminivirus resistance in the original accession from which this gene was identified, this work aimed at demonstrating the possible role of CchGLP in resistance to geminiviruses in Capsicum chinense Jacq. BG-3821. Virus-induced gene silencing studies using a geminiviral vector based in PHYVV component A, displaying that silencing of CchGLP in accession BG-3821, increased susceptibility to geminivirus single and mixed infections. These results suggested that CchGLP is an important factor for geminivirus resistance in C. chinense BG-3821 accession.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6127-6140: Multiple Poliovirus Proteins Repress Cytoplasmic RNA Granules

  • We have previously shown that poliovirus (PV) infection induces stress granule (SG) formation early in infection and then inhibits the formation of SG and disperses processing bodies (PBs) by the mid-phase of infection. Loss of SG was linked to cleavage of G3BP1 by viral 3C proteinase (3Cpro), however dispersal of PBs was not strongly linked to cleavage of specific factors by viral proteinases, suggesting other viral proteins may play roles in inhibition of SG or PB formation. Here we have screened all viral proteins for roles in inducing or inhibiting the formation of RNA granules by creating fusions with mCherry and expressing them individually in cells. Expression of viral proteins separately revealed that the capsid region P1, 2Apro, 3A, 3Cpro, the protease precursor 3CD and 3D polymerase all affect RNA granules to varying extents, whereas 2BC does not. 2Apro, which cleaves eIF4GI, induced SGs as expected, and entered novel foci containing the SG nucleating protein G3BP1. Of the two forms of G3BP, only G3BP1 is cleaved by a virus proteinase, 3Cpro, whereas G3BP2 is not cleaved by 3Cpro or 2Apro. Surprisingly, 3CD, which contains proteinase activity, differentially repressed PBs but not SGs. Further, both 2Apro and 3Cpro expression dispersed PBs, however molecular targets were different since PB dispersal due to 2Apro and heat shock protein (Hsp)90 inhibition but not 3Cpro, could be rescued by application of oxidative stress to cells. The data indicate that PV repression of SGs and PBs is multifactorial, though protease function is dominant.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6089-6107: An Evolutionarily Young Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Endogenous Retrovirus Identified from Next Generation Sequence Data

  • Transcriptome analysis of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) tissues identified sequences with similarity to Porcine Endogenous Retroviruses (PERV). Based on these sequences, four proviral copies and 15 solo long terminal repeats (LTRs) of a newly described endogenous retrovirus were characterized from the polar bear draft genome sequence. Closely related sequences were identified by PCR analysis of brown bear (Ursus arctos) and black bear (Ursus americanus) but were absent in non-Ursinae bear species. The virus was therefore designated UrsusERV. Two distinct groups of LTRs were observed including a recombinant ERV that contained one LTR belonging to each group indicating that genomic invasions by at least two UrsusERV variants have recently occurred. Age estimates based on proviral LTR divergence and conservation of integration sites among ursids suggest the viral group is only a few million years old. The youngest provirus was polar bear specific, had intact open reading frames (ORFs) and could potentially encode functional proteins. Phylogenetic analyses of UrsusERV consensus protein sequences suggest that it is part of a pig, gibbon and koala retrovirus clade. The young age estimates and lineage specificity of the virus suggests UrsusERV is a recent cross species transmission from an unknown reservoir and places the viral group among the youngest of ERVs identified in mammals.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6080-6088: Recent Advances in BLV Research

  • Different animal models have been proposed to investigate the mechanisms of Human T-lymphotropic Virus (HTLV)-induced pathogenesis: rats, transgenic and NOD-SCID/γcnull (NOG) mice, rabbits, squirrel monkeys, baboons and macaques. These systems indeed provide useful information but have intrinsic limitations such as lack of disease relevance, species specificity or inadequate immune response. Another strategy based on a comparative virology approach is to characterize a related pathogen and to speculate on possible shared mechanisms. In this perspective, bovine leukemia virus (BLV), another member of the deltaretrovirus genus, is evolutionary related to HTLV-1. BLV induces lymphoproliferative disorders in ruminants providing useful information on the mechanisms of viral persistence, genetic determinants of pathogenesis and potential novel therapies.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6067-6079: Coxsackievirus B4 Can Infect Human Peripheral Blood-Derived Macrophages

  • Beyond acute infections, group B coxsackieviruses (CVB) are also reported to play a role in the development of chronic diseases, like type 1 diabetes. The viral pathogenesis mainly relies on the interplay between the viruses and innate immune response in genetically-susceptible individuals. We investigated the interaction between CVB4 and macrophages considered as major players in immune response. Monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) generated with either M-CSF or GM-CSF were inoculated with CVB4, and infection, inflammation, viral replication and persistence were assessed. M-CSF-induced MDM, but not GM-CSF-induced MDM, can be infected by CVB4. In addition, enhancing serum was not needed to infect MDM in contrast with parental monocytes. The expression of viral receptor (CAR) mRNA was similar in both M-CSF and GM-CSF MDM. CVB4 induced high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and TNFα) in both MDM populations. CVB4 effectively replicated and persisted in M-CSF MDM, but IFNα was produced in the early phase of infection only. Our results demonstrate that CVB4 can replicate and persist in MDM. Further investigations are required to determine whether the interaction between the virus and MDM plays a role in the pathogenesis of CVB-induced chronic diseases.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6051-6066: Neurotropic Enterovirus Infections in the Central Nervous System

  • Enteroviruses are a group of positive-sense single stranded viruses that belong to the Picornaviridae family. Most enteroviruses infect humans from the gastrointestinal tract and cause mild symptoms. However, several enteroviruses can invade the central nervous system (CNS) and result in various neurological symptoms that are correlated to mortality associated with enteroviral infections. In recent years, large outbreaks of enteroviruses occurred worldwide. Therefore, these neurotropic enteroviruses have been deemed as re-emerging pathogens. Although these viruses are becoming large threats to public health, our understanding of these viruses, especially for non-polio enteroviruses, is limited. In this article, we review recent advances in the trafficking of these pathogens from the peripheral to the central nervous system, compare their cell tropism, and discuss the effects of viral infections in their host neuronal cells.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6043-6050: Enterovirus D68 Infection

  • First described in 1962 in children hospitalized for pneumonia and bronchiolitis, the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is an emergent viral pathogen. Since its discovery, during the long period of surveillance up to 2005, EV-D68 was reported only as a cause of sporadic outbreaks. In recent years, many reports from different countries have described an increasing number of patients with respiratory diseases due to EV-D68 associated with relevant clinical severity. In particular, an unexpectedly high number of children have been hospitalized for severe respiratory disease due to EV-D68, requiring intensive care such as intubation and mechanical ventilation. Moreover, EV-D68 has been associated with acute flaccid paralysis and cranial nerve dysfunction in children, which has caused concerns in the community. As no specific antiviral therapy is available, treatment is mainly supportive. Moreover, because no vaccines are available, conventional infection control measures (i.e., standard, for contacts and droplets) in both community and healthcare settings are recommended. However, further studies are required to fully understand the real importance of this virus. Prompt diagnosis and continued surveillance of EV-D68 infections are essential to managing and preventing new outbreaks. Moreover, if the association between EV-D68 and severe diseases will be confirmed, the development of adequate preventive and therapeutic approaches are a priority.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 6009-6042: Oncolytic Adenovirus: Strategies and Insights for Vector Design and Immuno-Oncolytic Applications

  • Adenoviruses (Ad) are commonly used both experimentally and clinically, including oncolytic virotherapy applications. In the clinical area, efficacy is frequently hampered by the high rates of neutralizing immunity, estimated as high as 90% in some populations that promote vector clearance and limit bioavailability for tumor targeting following systemic delivery. Active tumor targeting is also hampered by the ubiquitous nature of the Ad5 receptor, hCAR, as well as the lack of highly tumor-selective targeting ligands and suitable targeting strategies. Furthermore, significant off-target interactions between the viral vector and cellular and proteinaceous components of the bloodstream have been documented that promote uptake into non-target cells and determine dose-limiting toxicities. Novel strategies are therefore needed to overcome the obstacles that prevent efficacious Ad deployment for wider clinical applications. The use of less seroprevalent Ad serotypes, non-human serotypes, capsid pseudotyping, chemical shielding and genetic masking by heterologous peptide incorporation are all potential strategies to achieve efficient vector escape from humoral immune recognition. Conversely, selective vector arming with immunostimulatory agents can be utilized to enhance their oncolytic potential by activation of cancer-specific immune responses against the malignant tissues. This review presents recent advantages and pitfalls occurring in the field of adenoviral oncolytic therapies.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5987-6008: Genetic and Phylogenetic Characterization of Tataguine and Witwatersrand Viruses and Other Orthobunyaviruses of the Anopheles A, Capim, Guamá, Koongol, Mapputta, Tete, and Turlock Serogroups

  • The family Bunyaviridae has more than 530 members that are distributed among five genera or remain to be classified. The genus Orthobunyavirus is the most diverse bunyaviral genus with more than 220 viruses that have been assigned to more than 18 serogroups based on serological cross-reactions and limited molecular-biological characterization. Sequence information for all three orthobunyaviral genome segments is only available for viruses belonging to the Bunyamwera, Bwamba/Pongola, California encephalitis, Gamboa, Group C, Mapputta, Nyando, and Simbu serogroups. Here we present coding-complete sequences for all three genome segments of 15 orthobunyaviruses belonging to the Anopheles A, Capim, Guamá, Kongool, Tete, and Turlock serogroups, and of two unclassified bunyaviruses previously not known to be orthobunyaviruses (Tataguine and Witwatersrand viruses). Using those sequence data, we established the most comprehensive phylogeny of the Orthobunyavirus genus to date, now covering 15 serogroups. Our results emphasize the high genetic diversity of orthobunyaviruses and reveal that the presence of the small nonstructural protein (NSs)-encoding open reading frame is not as common in orthobunyavirus genomes as previously thought.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5962-5986: Conformational Ensemble of the Poliovirus 3CD Precursor Observed by MD Simulations and Confirmed by SAXS: A Strategy to Expand the Viral Proteome?

  • The genomes of RNA viruses are relatively small. To overcome the small-size limitation, RNA viruses assign distinct functions to the processed viral proteins and their precursors. This is exemplified by poliovirus 3CD protein. 3C protein is a protease and RNA-binding protein. 3D protein is an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). 3CD exhibits unique protease and RNA-binding activities relative to 3C and is devoid of RdRp activity. The origin of these differences is unclear, since crystal structure of 3CD revealed“beads-on-a-string” structure with no significant structural differences compared to the fully processed proteins. We performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on 3CD to investigate its conformational dynamics. A compact conformation of 3CD was observed that was substantially different fromthat shown crystallographically. This new conformation explained the unique properties of 3CD relative to the individual proteins. Interestingly, simulations of mutant 3CD showed altered interface. Additionally, accelerated MD simulations uncovered a conformational ensemble of 3CD. When we elucidated the 3CD conformations in solution using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments a range of conformations from extended to compact was revealed, validating the MD simulations. The existence of conformational ensemble of 3CD could be viewed as a way to expand the poliovirus proteome, an observation that may extend to other viruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5933-5961: Fluorescent Protein Approaches in Alpha Herpesvirus Research

  • In the nearly two decades since the popularization of green fluorescent protein (GFP), fluorescent protein-based methodologies have revolutionized molecular and cell biology, allowing us to literally see biological processes as never before. Naturally, this revolution has extended to virology in general, and to the study of alpha herpesviruses in particular. In this review, we provide a compendium of reported fluorescent protein fusions to herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and pseudorabies virus (PRV) structural proteins, discuss the underappreciated challenges of fluorescent protein-based approaches in the context of a replicating virus, and describe general strategies and best practices for creating new fluorescent fusions. We compare fluorescent protein methods to alternative approaches, and review two instructive examples of the caveats associated with fluorescent protein fusions, including describing several improved fluorescent capsid fusions in PRV. Finally, we present our future perspectives on the types of powerful experiments these tools now offer.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5919-5932: Efficacy of a Trivalent Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Vaccine against Enterovirus 71 and Coxsackieviruses A16 and A6 in Mice

  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) has recently emerged as a major public health concern across the Asian-Pacific region. Enterovirus 71 (EV71) and Coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) are the primary causative agents of HFMD, but other members of the Enterovirus A species, including Coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6), can cause disease. The lack of small animal models for these viruses have hampered the development of a licensed HFMD vaccine or antivirals. We have previously reported on the development of a mouse model for EV71 and demonstrated the protective efficacy of an inactivated EV71 vaccine candidate. Here, mouse-adapted strains of CVA16 and CVA6 were produced by sequential passage of the viruses through mice deficient in interferon (IFN)α/β (A129) and α/β and γ (AG129) receptors. Adapted viruses were capable of infecting 3 week-old A129 (CVA6) and 12 week-old AG129 (CVA16) mice. Accordingly, these models were used in active and passive immunization studies to test the efficacy of a trivalent vaccine candidate containing inactivated EV71, CVA16, and CVA6. Full protection from lethal challenge against EV71 and CVA16 was observed in trivalent vaccinated groups. In contrast, monovalent vaccinated groups with non-homologous challenges failed to cross protect. Protection from CVA6 challenge was accomplished through a passive transfer study involving serum raised against the trivalent vaccine. These animal models will be useful for future studies on HFMD related pathogenesis and the efficacy of vaccine candidates.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5908-5918: Antiviral Activity of Porcine Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 against Swine Viruses in Cell Culture

  • Interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1), as an important transcription factor, is abundantly induced upon virus infections and participates in host antiviral immune responses. However, the roles of porcine IRF1 (poIRF1) in host antiviral defense remain poorly understood. In this study, we determined that poIRF1 was upregulated upon infection with viruses and distributed in nucleus in porcine PK-15 cells. Subsequently, we tested the antiviral activities of poIRF1 against several swine viruses in cells. Overexpression of poIRF1 can efficiently suppress the replication of viruses, and knockdown of poIRF1 promotes moderately viral replication. Interestingly, overexpression of poIRF1 enhances dsRNA-induced IFN-β and IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) promoter activation, whereas knockdown of poIRF1 cannot significantly affect the activation of IFN-β promoter induced by RNA viruses. This study suggests that poIRF1 plays a significant role in cellular antiviral response against swine viruses, but might be dispensable for IFN-β induction triggered by RNA viruses in PK-15 cells. Given these results, poIRF1 plays potential roles in cellular antiviral responses against swine viruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5902-5907: Chikungunya Virus Replication in Salivary Glands of the Mosquito Aedes albopictus

  • Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging arbovirus transmitted to humans by mosquitoes such as Aedes albopictus. To be transmitted, CHIKV must replicate in the mosquito midgut, then disseminate in the hemocele and infect the salivary glands before being released in saliva. We have developed a standardized protocol to visualize viral particles in the mosquito salivary glands using transmission electron microscopy. Here we provide direct evidence for CHIKV replication and storage in Ae. albopictus salivary glands.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5889-5901: Harnessing the Power of Onco-Immunotherapy with Checkpoint Inhibitors

  • Oncolytic viruses represent a diverse class of replication competent viruses that curtail tumor growth. These viruses, through their natural ability or through genetic modifications, can selectively replicate within tumor cells and induce cell death while leaving normal cells intact. Apart from the direct oncolytic activity, these viruses mediate tumor cell death via the induction of innate and adaptive immune responses. The field of oncolytic viruses has seen substantial advancement with the progression of numerous oncolytic viruses in various phases of clinical trials. Tumors employ a plethora of mechanisms to establish growth and subsequently metastasize. These include evasion of immune surveillance by inducing up-regulation of checkpoint proteins which function to abrogate T cell effector functions. Currently, antibodies blocking checkpoint proteins such as anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) and anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) have been approved to treat cancer and shown to impart durable clinical responses. These antibodies typically need pre-existing active immune tumor microenvironment to establish durable clinical outcomes and not every patient responds to these therapies. This review provides an overview of published pre-clinical studies demonstrating superior therapeutic efficacy of combining oncolytic viruses with checkpoint blockade compared to monotherapies. These studies provide compelling evidence that oncolytic therapy can be potentiated by coupling it with checkpoint therapies.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5875-5888: Psoralen Inactivation of Viruses: A Process for the Safe Manipulation of Viral Antigen and Nucleic Acid

  • High consequence human pathogenic viruses must be handled at biosafety level 2, 3 or 4 and must be rendered non-infectious before they can be utilized for molecular or immunological applications at lower biosafety levels. Here we evaluate psoralen-inactivated Arena-, Bunya-, Corona-, Filo-, Flavi- and Orthomyxoviruses for their suitability as antigen in immunological processes and as template for reverse transcription PCR and sequencing. The method of virus inactivation using a psoralen molecule appears to have broad applicability to RNA viruses and to leave both the particle and RNA of the treated virus intact, while rendering the virus non-infectious.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5855-5874: In Vitro Evolution of Bovine Foamy Virus Variants with Enhanced Cell-Free Virus Titers and Transmission

  • Virus transmission is essential for spreading viral infections and is a highly coordinated process which occurs by cell-free transmission or cell–cell contact. The transmission of Bovine Foamy Virus (BFV) is highly cell-associated, with undetectable cell-free transmission. However, BFV particle budding can be induced by overexpression of wild-type (wt) BFV Gag and Env or artificial retargeting of Gag to the plasma membrane via myristoylation membrane targeting signals, closely resembling observations in other foamy viruses. Thus, the particle release machinery of wt BFV appears to be an excellent model system to study viral adaption to cell-free transmission by in vitro selection and evolution. Using selection for BFV variants with high cell-free infectivity in bovine and non-bovine cells, infectivity dramatically increased from almost no infectious units to about 105–106 FFU (fluorescent focus forming units)/mL in both cell types. Importantly, the selected BFV variants with high titer (HT) cell-free infectivity could still transmit via cell-cell contacts and were neutralized by serum from naturally infected cows. These selected HT–BFV variants will shed light into virus transmission and potential routes of intervention in the spread of viral infections. It will also allow the improvement or development of new promising approaches for antiretroviral therapies.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5844-5854: Detection and Characterization of a Novel Reassortant Mammalian Orthoreovirus in Bats in Europe

  • A renewed interest in mammalian orthoreoviruses (MRVs) has emerged since new viruses related to bat MRV type 3, detected in Europe, were identified in humans and pigs with gastroenteritis. This study reports the isolation and characterization of a novel reassortant MRV from the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). The isolate, here designated BatMRV1-IT2011, was first identified by electron microscopy and confirmed using PCR and virus-neutralization tests. The full genome sequence was obtained by next-generation sequencing. Molecular and antigenic characterizations revealed that BatMRV1-IT2011 belonged to serotype 1, which had not previously been identified in bats. Phylogenetic and recombination detection program analyses suggested that BatMRV1-IT2011 was a reassortant strain containing an S1 genome segment similar to those of MRV T1/bovine/Maryland/Clone23/59 and C/bovine/ Indiana/MRV00304/2014, while other segments were more similar to MRVs of different hosts, origins and serotypes. The presence of neutralizing antibodies against MRVs has also been investigated in animals (dogs, pigs, bovines and horses). Preliminary results suggested that MRVs are widespread in animals and that infections containing multiple serotypes, including MRVs of serotype 1 with an S1 gene similar to BatMRV1-IT2011, are common. This paper extends the current knowledge of MRVs and stresses the importance to continue and improve MRV surveillance in bats and other mammals through the development and standardization of specific diagnostic tools.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5831-5843: Meningitis Caused by Toscana Virus Is Associated with Strong Antiviral Response in the CNS and Altered Frequency of Blood Antigen-Presenting Cells

  • Toscana virus (TOSV) is a Phlebotomus-transmitted RNA virus and a frequent cause of human meningitis and meningoencephalitis in Southern Europe during the summer season. While evidence for TOSV-related central nervous system (CNS) cases is increasing, little is known about the host defenses against TOSV. We evaluated innate immune response to TOSV by analyzing frequency and activation of blood antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and cytokine levels in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with TOSV neuroinvasive infection and controls. An altered frequency of different blood APC subsets was observed in TOSV-infected patients, with signs of monocytic deactivation. Nevertheless, a proper or even increased responsiveness of toll-like receptor 3 and 7/8 was observed in blood APCs of these patients as compared to healthy controls. Systemic levels of cytokines remained low in TOSV-infected patients, while levels of anti-inflammatory and antiviral mediators were significantly higher in CSF from TOSV-infected patients as compared to patients with other infectious and noninfectious neurological diseases. Thus, the early host response to TOSV appears effective for viral clearance, by proper response to TLR3 and TLR7/8 agonists in peripheral blood and by a strong and selective antiviral and anti-inflammatory response in the CNS.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5813-5830: Cleavage of the HPV16 Minor Capsid Protein L2 during Virion Morphogenesis Ablates the Requirement for Cellular Furin during De Novo Infection

  • Infections by high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the causative agents for the development of cervical cancer. As with other non-enveloped viruses, HPVs are taken up by the cell through endocytosis following primary attachment to the host cell. Through studies using recombinant pseudovirus particles (PsV), many host cellular proteins have been implicated in the process. The proprotein convertase furin has been demonstrated to cleave the minor capsid protein, L2, post-attachment to host cells and is required for infectious entry by HPV16 PsV. In contrast, using biochemical inhibition by a furin inhibitor and furin-negative cells, we show that tissue-derived HPV16 native virus (NV) initiates infection independent of cellular furin. We show that HPV16 L2 is cleaved during virion morphogenesis in differentiated tissue. In addition, HPV45 is also not dependent on cellular furin, but two other alpha papillomaviruses, HPV18 and HPV31, are dependent on the activity of cellular furin for infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5801-5812: Potential for Co-Infection of a Mosquito-Specific Flavivirus, Nhumirim Virus, to Block West Nile Virus Transmission in Mosquitoes

  • Nhumirim virus (NHUV) is an insect-specific virus that phylogenetically affiliates with dual-host mosquito-borne flaviviruses. Previous in vitro co-infection experiments demonstrated prior or concurrent infection of Aedes albopictus C6/36 mosquito cells with NHUV resulted in a 10,000-fold reduction in viral production of West Nile virus (WNV). This interference between WNV and NHUV was observed herein in an additional Ae. albopictus mosquito cell line, C7-10. A WNV 2K peptide (V9M) mutant capable of superinfection with a pre-established WNV infection demonstrated a comparable level of interference from NHUV as the parental WNV strain in C6/36 and C7-10 cells. Culex quinquefasciatus and Culex pipiens mosquitoes intrathoracically inoculated with NHUVandWNV, or solely withWNVas a control, were allowed to extrinsically incubate the viruses up to nine and 14 days, respectively, and transmissibility and replication of WNV was determined. The proportion of Cx. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes capable of transmitting WNV was significantly lower for the WNV/NHUV group than the WNV control at seven and nine days post inoculation (dpi), while no differences were observed in the Cx. pipiens inoculation group. By dpi nine, a 40% reduction in transmissibility in mosquitoes from the dual inoculation group was observed compared to the WNV-only control. These data indicate the potential that infection of some Culex spp. vectors with NHUV could serve as a barrier for efficient transmissibility of flaviviruses associated with human disease.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5792-5800: Genomic Mining Reveals Deep Evolutionary Relationships between Bornaviruses and Bats

  • Bats globally harbor viruses in order Mononegavirales, such as lyssaviruses and henipaviruses; however, little is known about their relationships with bornaviruses. Previous studies showed that viral fossils of bornaviral origin are embedded in the genomes of several mammalian species such as primates, indicative of an ancient origin of exogenous bornaviruses. In this study, we mined the available 10 bat genomes and recreated a clear evolutionary relationship of endogenous bornaviral elements and bats. Comparative genomics showed that endogenization of bornaviral elements frequently occurred in vesper bats, harboring EBLLs (endogenous bornavirus-like L elements) in their genomes. Molecular dating uncovered a continuous bornavirus-bat interaction spanning 70 million years. We conclude that better understanding of modern exogenous bornaviral circulation in bat populations is warranted.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5780-5791: Immunostimulatory Gene Therapy Using Oncolytic Viruses as Vehicles

  • Immunostimulatory gene therapy has been developed during the past twenty years. The aim of immunostimulatory gene therapy is to tilt the suppressive tumor microenvironment to promote anti-tumor immunity. Hence, like a Trojan horse, the gene vehicle can carry warriors and weapons into enemy territory to combat the tumor from within. The most promising immune stimulators are those activating and sustaining Th1 responses, but even if potent effects were seen in preclinical models, many clinical trials failed to show objective responses in cancer patients. However, with new tools to control ongoing immunosuppression in cancer patients, immunostimulatory gene therapy is now emerging as an interesting option. In parallel, oncolytic viruses have been shown to be safe in patients. To prolong immune stimulation and to increase efficacy, these two fields are now merging and oncolytic viruses are armed with immunostimulatory transgenes. These novel agents are racing towards approval as established cancer immunotherapeutics.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5767-5779: Oncolytic Replication of E1b-Deleted Adenoviruses

  • Various viruses have been studied and developed for oncolytic virotherapies. In virotherapy, a relatively small amount of viruses used in an intratumoral injection preferentially replicate in and lyse cancer cells, leading to the release of amplified viral particles that spread the infection to the surrounding tumor cells and reduce the tumor mass. Adenoviruses (Ads) are most commonly used for oncolytic virotherapy due to their infection efficacy, high titer production, safety, easy genetic modification, and well-studied replication characteristics. Ads with deletion of E1b55K preferentially replicate in and destroy cancer cells and have been used in multiple clinical trials. H101, one of the E1b55K-deleted Ads, has been used for the treatment of late-stage cancers as the first approved virotherapy agent. However, the mechanism of selective replication of E1b-deleted Ads in cancer cells is still not well characterized. This review will focus on three potential molecular mechanisms of oncolytic replication of E1b55K-deleted Ads. These mechanisms are based upon the functions of the viral E1B55K protein that are associated with p53 inhibition, late viralmRNAexport, and cell cycle disruption.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5746-5766: Resistance of Hepatitis C Virus to Inhibitors: Complexity and Clinical Implications

  • Selection of inhibitor-resistant viral mutants is universal for viruses that display quasi-species dynamics, and hepatitis C virus (HCV) is no exception. Here we review recent results on drug resistance in HCV, with emphasis on resistance to the newly-developed, directly-acting antiviral agents, as they are increasingly employed in the clinic. We put the experimental observations in the context of quasi-species dynamics, in particular what the genetic and phenotypic barriers to resistance mean in terms of exploration of sequence space while HCV replicates in the liver of infected patients or in cell culture. Strategies to diminish the probability of viral breakthrough during treatment are briefly outlined.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5736-5745: Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type I (HTLV-1) Infection among Iranian Blood Donors: First Case-Control Study on the Risk Factors

  • Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection is an endemic condition in Northeast Iran and, as such, identification of risk factors associated with the infection in this region seems to be a necessity. All the possible risk factors for HTLV-1 seropositivity among first-time blood donors were evaluated in Mashhad, Iran, during the period of 2011–2012. Blood donation volunteers were interviewed for demographic data, medical history, and behavioral characteristics and the frequencies of risk factors were compared between HTLV-1 positive (case) and HTLV-1 negative (control) donors. The data was analyzed using Chi square and t-tests. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify independent risk factors for the infection. Assessments were carried out on 246 cases aged 17–60 and 776 controls aged 17–59, who were matched based on their ages, gender, and date and center of donation. Logistic analysis showed low income (OR = 1.53, p = 0.035), low educational level (OR = 1.64, p = 0.049), being born in the cities of either Mashhad (OR = 2.47, p = 0.001) or Neyshabour (OR = 4.30, p aamp;amp;lt; 0001), and a history of blood transfusion (OR = 3.17, p = 0.007) or non-IV drug abuse (OR = 3.77, p aamp;amp;lt; 0.0001) were significant predictors for infection with HTLV-1. Lack of variability or small sample size could be reasons of failure to detect some well-known risk factors for HTLV-1 infection, such as prolonged breastfeeding and sexual promiscuity. Pre-donation screening of possible risk factors for transfusion-transmissible infections should also be considered as an important issue, however, a revision of the screening criteria such as a history of transfusion for more than one year prior to donation is strongly recommended.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5718-5735: Composite Sequence–Structure Stability Models as Screening Tools for Identifying Vulnerable Targets for HIV Drug and Vaccine Development

  • Rapid evolution and high sequence diversity enable Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) populations to acquire mutations to escape antiretroviral drugs and host immune responses, and thus are major obstacles for the control of the pandemic. One strategy to overcome this problem is to focus drugs and vaccines on regions of the viral genome in which mutations are likely to cripple function through destabilization of viral proteins. Studies relying on sequence conservation alone have had only limited success in determining critically important regions. We tested the ability of two structure-based computational models to assign sites in the HIV-1 capsid protein (CA) that would be refractory to mutational change. The destabilizing mutations predicted by these models were rarely found in a database of 5811 HIV-1 CA coding sequences, with none being present at a frequency greater than 2%. Furthermore, 90% of variants with the low predicted stability (from a set of 184 CA variants whose replication fitness or infectivity has been studied in vitro) had aberrant capsid structures and reduced viral infectivity. Based on the predicted stability, we identified 45 CA sites prone to destabilizing mutations. More than half of these sites are targets of one or more known CA inhibitors. The CA regions enriched with these sites also overlap with peptides shown to induce cellular immune responses associated with lower viral loads in infected individuals. Lastly, a joint scoring metric that takes into account both sequence conservation and protein structure stability performed better at identifying deleterious mutations than sequence conservation or structure stability information alone. The computational sequence–structure stability approach proposed here might therefore be useful for identifying immutable sites in a protein for experimental validation as potential targets for drug and vaccine development.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5705-5717: The Impact of Wolbachia on Virus Infection in Mosquitoes

  • Mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue, West Nile and chikungunya viruses cause significant morbidity and mortality in human populations. Since current methods are not sufficient to control disease occurrence, novel methods to control transmission of arboviruses would be beneficial. Recent studies have shown that virus infection and transmission in insects can be impeded by co-infection with the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis. Wolbachia is a maternally inherited endosymbiont that is commonly found in insects, including a number of mosquito vector species. In Drosophila, Wolbachia mediates antiviral protection against a broad range of RNA viruses. This discovery pointed to a potential strategy to interfere with mosquito transmission of arboviruses by artificially infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachia. This review outlines research on the prevalence of Wolbachia in mosquito vector species and the impact of antiviral effects in both naturally and artificially Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5686-5704: 3D Analysis of HCMV Induced-Nuclear Membrane Structures by FIB/SEM Tomography: Insight into an Unprecedented Membrane Morphology

  • We show that focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (FIB/SEM) tomography is an excellent method to analyze the three-dimensional structure of a fibroblast nucleus infected with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). We found that the previously described infoldings of the inner nuclear membrane, which are unique among its kind, form an extremely complex network of membrane structures not predictable by previous two-dimensional studies. In all cases they contained further invaginations (2nd and 3rd order infoldings). Quantification revealed 5498HCMV capsids within two nuclear segments, allowing an estimate of 15,000 to 30,000 capsids in the entire nucleus five days post infection. Only 0.8% proved to be enveloped capsids which were exclusively detected in 1st order infoldings (perinuclear space). Distribution of the capsids between 1st, 2nd and 3rd order infoldings is in complete agreement with the envelopment/de-envelopment model for egress of HCMV capsids from the nucleus and we confirm that capsid budding does occur at the large infoldings. Based on our results we propose the pushing membrane model: HCMV infection induces local disruption of the nuclear lamina and synthesis of new membrane material which is pushed into the nucleoplasm, forming complex membrane infoldings in a highly abundant manner, which then may be also used by nucleocapsids for budding.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5659-5685: Host-Targeting Agents to Prevent and Cure Hepatitis C Virus Infection

  • Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which are leading indications of liver transplantation (LT). To date, there is no vaccine to prevent HCV infection and LT is invariably followed by infection of the liver graft. Within the past years, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) have had a major impact on the management of chronic hepatitis C, which has become a curable disease in the majority of DAA-treated patients. In contrast to DAAs that target viral proteins, host-targeting agents (HTAs) interfere with cellular factors involved in the viral life cycle. By acting through a complementary mechanism of action and by exhibiting a generally higher barrier to resistance, HTAs offer a prospective option to prevent and treat viral resistance. Indeed, given their complementary mechanism of action, HTAs and DAAs can act in a synergistic manner to reduce viral loads. This review summarizes the different classes of HTAs against HCV infection that are in preclinical or clinical development and highlights their potential to prevent HCV infection, e.g., following LT, and to tailor combination treatments to cure chronic HCV infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5643-5658: Low Proviral Load is Associated with Indeterminate Western Blot Patterns in Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Infected Individuals: Could Punctual Mutations be Related?

  • Background: indeterminate Western blot (WB) patterns are a major concern for diagnosis of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection, even in non-endemic areas. Objectives: (a) to define the prevalence of indeterminate WB among different populations from Argentina; (b) to evaluate if low proviral load (PVL) is associated with indeterminate WB profiles; and (c) to describe mutations in LTR and tax sequence of these cases. Results: Among 2031 samples, 294 were reactive by screening. Of them, 48 (16.3%) were WB indeterminate and of those 15 (31.3%) were PCR+. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) was performed to 52 HTLV-1+ samples, classified as Group 1 (G1): 25 WB+ samples from individuals with pathologies; Group 2 (G2): 18 WB+ samples from asymptomatic carriers (AC); and Group 3 (G3): 9 seroindeterminate samples from AC. Median PVL was 4.78, 2.38, and 0.15 HTLV-1 copies/100 PBMCs, respectively; a significant difference (p=0.003) was observed. Age and sex were associated with PVL in G1 and G2, respectively. Mutations in the distal and central regions of Tax Responsive Elements (TRE) 1 and 2 of G3 were observed, though not associated with PVL.The 8403Aaamp;amp;gt;G mutation of the distal region, previously related to high PVL, was absent in G3 but present in 50% of WB+ samples (p = 0.03). Conclusions: indeterminateWBresults confirmed later as HTLV-1 positive may be associated with low PVL levels. Mutations in LTR and tax are described; their functional relevance remains to be determined.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5632-5642: Identification and Application of Neutralizing Epitopes of Human Adenovirus Type 55 Hexon Protein

  • Human adenovirus type 55 (HAdV55) is a newly identified re-emergent acute respiratory disease (ARD) pathogen with a proposed recombination of hexon gene between HAdV11 and HAdV14 strains. The identification of the neutralizing epitopes is important for the surveillance and vaccine development against HAdV55 infection. In this study, four type-specific epitope peptides of HAdV55 hexon protein, A55R1 (residues 138 to 152), A55R2 (residues 179 to 187), A55R4 (residues 247 to 259) and A55R7 (residues 429 to 443), were predicted by multiple sequence alignment and homology modeling methods, and then confirmed with synthetic peptides by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and neutralization tests (NT). Finally, the A55R2 was incorporated into human adenoviruses 3 (HAdV3) and a chimeric adenovirus rAd3A55R2 was successfully obtained. The chimeric rAd3A55R2 could induce neutralizing antibodies against both HAdV3 and HAdV55. This current study will contribute to the development of novel adenovirus vaccine candidate and adenovirus structural analysis.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5619-5631: Exposure to West Nile Virus Increases Bacterial Diversity and Immune Gene Expression in Culex pipiens

  • Complex interactions between microbial residents of mosquitoes and arboviruses are likely to influence many aspects of vectorial capacity and could potentially have profound effects on patterns of arbovirus transmission. Such interactions have not been well studied for West Nile virus (WNV; Flaviviridae, Flavivirus) and Culex spp. mosquitoes. We utilized next-generation sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA bacterial genes derived from Culex pipiens Linnaeus following WNV exposure and/or infection and compared bacterial populations and broad immune responses to unexposed mosquitoes. Our results demonstrate that WNV infection increases the diversity of bacterial populations and is associated with up-regulation of classical invertebrate immune pathways including RNA interference (RNAi), Toll, and Jak-STAT (Janus kinase-Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription). In addition, WNV exposure alone, without the establishment of infection, results in similar alterations to microbial and immune signatures, although to a lesser extent. Multiple bacterial genera were found in greater abundance inWNV-exposed and/or infected mosquitoes, yet the most consistent and notable was the genus Serratia.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5610-5618: Entry of Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus into Human Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cells by Ultrasound

  • Low-intensity ultrasound is a useful method to introduce materials into cells due to the transient formation of micropores, called sonoporations, on the cell membrane. Whether oncolytic herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) can be introduced into oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells through membrane pores remains undetermined. Human SCC cell line SAS and oncolytic HSV-1 RH2, which was deficient in the 134.5 gene and fusogenic, were used. Cells were exposed to ultrasound in the presence or absence of microbubbles. The increase of virus entry was estimated by plaque numbers. Viral infection was hardly established without the adsorption step, but plaque number was increased by the exposure of HSV-1-inoculated cells to ultrasound. Plaque number was also increased even if SAS cells were exposed to ultrasound and inoculated with RH2 without the adsorption step. This effect was abolished when the interval from ultrasound exposure to virus inoculation was prolonged. Scanning electron microscopy revealed depressed spots on the cell surface after exposure to ultrasound. These results suggest that oncolytic HSV-1 RH2 can be introduced into SAS cells through ultrasound-mediated pores of the cell membrane that are resealed after an interval.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5609: Addendum: Kong, M.Y.; Whitley, R.J.; Peng, N.; Oster, R.; Schoeb, T.R.; Sullender, W.; Ambalavanan, N.; Clancy, J.P.; Gaggar, A.; Blalock J.E. Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Mediates RSV Infection in Vitro and in Vivo. Viruses 2015, 30, 7, 4230–4253

  • The authors wish to make the following addition to their paper [1]. [...]

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5603-5608: Special Issue: Honey Bee Viruses

  • Pollination of flowering plants is an important ecosystem service provided by wild insect pollinators and managed honey bees. Hence, losses and declines of pollinating insect species threaten human food security and are of major concern not only for apiculture or agriculture but for human society in general. Honey bee colony losses and bumblebee declines have attracted intensive research interest over the last decade and although the problem is far from being solved we now know that viruses are among the key players of many of these bee losses and bumblebee declines. With this special issue on bee viruses we, therefore, aimed to collect high quality original papers reflecting the current state of bee virus research. To this end, we focused on newly discovered viruses (Lake Sinai viruses, bee macula-like virus), or a so far neglected virus species (Apis mellifera filamentous virus), and cutting edge technologies (mass spectrometry, RNAi approach) applied in the field.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5587-5602: Requirements within the Ebola Viral Glycoprotein for Tetherin Antagonism

  • Tetherin is an interferon-induced, intrinsic cellular response factor that blocks release of numerous viruses, including Ebola virus, from infected cells. As with many viruses targeted by host factors, Ebola virus employs a tetherin antagonist, the viral glycoprotein (EboGP), to counteract restriction and promote virus release. Unlike other tetherin antagonists such as HIV-1 Vpu or KSHV K5, the features within EboGP needed to overcome tetherin are not well characterized. Here, we describe sequences within the EboGP ectodomain and membrane spanning domain (msd) as necessary to relieve tetherin restriction of viral particle budding. Fusing the EboGP msd to a normally secreted form of the glycoprotein effectively promotes Ebola virus particle release. Cellular protein or lipid anchors could not substitute for the EboGP msd. The requirement for the EboGP msd was not specific for filovirus budding, as similar results were seen with HIV particles. Furthermore trafficking of chimeric proteins to budding sites did not correlate with an ability to counter tetherin. Additionally, we find that a glycoprotein construct, which mimics the cathepsin-activated species by proteolytic removal of the EboGP glycan cap and mucin domains, is unable to counteract tetherin. Combining these results suggests an important role for the EboGP glycan cap and msd in tetherin antagonism.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5571-5586: Nucleobase but not Sugar Fidelity is Maintained in the Sabin I RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase

  • The Sabin I poliovirus live, attenuated vaccine strain encodes for four amino acid changes (i.e., D53N, Y73H, K250E, and T362I) in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). We have previously shown that the T362I substitution leads to a lower fidelity RdRp, and viruses encoding this variant are attenuated in a mouse model of poliovirus. Given these results, it was surprising that the nucleotide incorporation rate and nucleobase fidelity of the Sabin I RdRp is similar to that of wild-type enzyme, although the Sabin I RdRp is less selective against nucleotides with modified sugar groups. We suggest that the other Sabin amino acid changes (i.e., D53N, Y73H, K250E) help to re-establish nucleotide incorporation rates and nucleotide discrimination near wild-type levels, which may be a requirement for the propagation of the virus and its efficacy as a vaccine strain. These results also suggest that the nucleobase fidelity of the Sabin I RdRp likely does not contribute to viral attenuation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5553-5570: Vector-Enabled Metagenomic (VEM) Surveys Using Whiteflies (Aleyrodidae) Reveal Novel Begomovirus Species in the New and OldWorlds

  • Whitefly-transmitted viruses belonging to the genus Begomovirus (family Geminiviridae) represent a substantial threat to agricultural food production. The rapid evolutionary potential of these single-stranded DNA viruses combined with the polyphagous feeding behavior of their whitefly vector (Bemisia tabaci) can lead to the emergence of damaging viral strains. Therefore, it is crucial to characterize begomoviruses circulating in different regions and crops globally. This study utilized vector-enabled metagenomics (VEM) coupled with high-throughput sequencing to survey begomoviruses directly from whiteflies collected in various locations (California (USA), Guatemala, Israel, Puerto Rico, and Spain). Begomoviruses were detected in all locations, with the highest diversity identified in Guatemala where up to seven different species were identified in a single field. Both bipartite and monopartite viruses were detected, including seven new begomovirus species from Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Spain. This begomovirus survey extends the known diversity of these highly damaging plant viruses. However, the new genomes described here and in the recent literature appear to reflect the outcome of interactions between closely-related species, often resulting from recombination, instead of unique, highly divergent species.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5539-5552: Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) Inhibits RNA-Mediated Gene Silencing by Targeting Ago-2

  • Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) infection strongly modulates the host’s immune response. The RNA silencing pathway is an intracellular innate response to viral infections. However, it is unknown whether PRRSV interacts with cellular RNA silencing to facilitate the viral infection. Here, we report for the first time the interaction between PRRSV and RNA silencing in both the porcine macrophages and African green monkey kidney cell line (MARC-145) cell line, which were derived from African green monkey kidney cells and highly permissive for PRRSV infection. Our data demonstrated that PRRSV suppressed RNA silencing induced by short-hairpin (sh) RNA, double-strand (ds) RNA and microRNA (miRNA) and downregulated the expression of argonaute protein-2 (Ago-2), which is a key protein of the RNA silencing pathway in animal cells. Further, exogenous introduction of siRNA and shRNA downregulated Dicer or Ago-2 proteins of the cellular RNA silencing apparatus in MARC-145 cells and porcine macrophages, which, in turn, increased the viral replication and titers. The viral non-structure protein 1α (nsp-1α) and nsp11 of PRRSV were identified as the suppressors for cellular RNA silencing (RSSs) to downregulate the Ago-2 protein. Our results identify that PRRSV,through its nsp proteins, suppresses the cellular RNA silencing apparatus in favor of viral infection and supports a co-evolutionary process of the virus and the cellular RNA silencing process.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5525-5538: Comparative Genomic Analysis of Classical and Variant Virulent Parental/Attenuated Strains of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

  • Since 2010, the variant porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has been the etiological agent responsible for the outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) worldwide. In this study, a variant PEDV strain YN1 was isolated, serially propagated on the Vero cells and was characterized for 200 passages. To better elucidate the molecular basis of Vero cell adaptation of variant PEDV strains, we sequenced, compared, and analyzed the full-genome sequences of parental YN1 and passages 15, 30, 60, 90, 144, and 200. The results showed that the variations increased with the viral passage. The nucleotides sequences of non-structural protein (NSP)2, NSP4-7, NSP10, NSP12 and NSP13 genes did not change during the Vero cell adaptation process. After comparison of the variation characteristic of classical, variant virulent/attenuated strains, it was found that attenuation of PEDV virus was associated with 9-26 amino acid (aa) changes in open reading frames (ORF) 1a/b and S protein, early termination in ORF3, 1–3 aa changes in E, M and N protein and some nucleotide sequences’ synonymous mutations. The aa deletion at about 144 aa of S protein could be the attenuation marker for the PEDV. The pig study showed that the early termination in ORF3 was more important for virus cell adaptation than virus attenuation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5508-5524: Identifying Recent HIV Infections: From Serological Assays to Genomics

  • In this paper, we review serological and molecular based methods to identify HIV infection recency. The accurate identification of recent HIV infection continues to be an important research area and has implications for HIV prevention and treatment interventions. Longitudinal cohorts that follow HIV negative individuals over time are the current gold standard approach, but they are logistically challenging, time consuming and an expensive enterprise. Methods that utilize cross-sectional testing and biomarker information have become an affordable alternative to the longitudinal approach. These methods use well-characterized biological makers to differentiate between recent and established HIV infections. However, recent results have identified a number of limitations in serological based assays that are sensitive to the variability in immune responses modulated by HIV subtypes, viral load and antiretroviral therapy. Molecular methods that explore the dynamics between the timing of infection and viral evolution are now emerging as a promising approach. The combination of serological and molecular methods may provide a good solution to identify recent HIV infection in cross-sectional data. As part of this review, we present the advantages and limitations of serological and molecular based methods and their potential complementary role for the identification of HIV infection recency.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5489-5507: The Role of Cytokines and Chemokines in Filovirus Infection

  • Ebola- and marburgviruses are highly pathogenic filoviruses and causative agents of viral hemorrhagic fever. Filovirus disease is characterized by a dysregulated immune response, severe organ damage, and coagulation abnormalities. This includes modulation of cytokines, signaling mediators that regulate various components of the immune system as well as other biological processes. Here we examine the role of cytokines in filovirus infection, with an emphasis on understanding how these molecules affect development of the antiviral immune response and influence pathology. These proteins may present targets for immune modulation by therapeutic agents and vaccines in an effort to boost the natural immune response to infection and/or reduce immunopathology.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5476-5488: Complete Genome and Phylogeny of Puumala Hantavirus Isolates Circulating in France

  • Puumala virus (PUUV) is the agent of nephropathia epidemica (NE), a mild form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) in Europe. NE incidence presents a high spatial variation throughout France, while the geographical distribution of the wild reservoir of PUUV, the bank vole, is rather continuous. A missing piece of the puzzle is the current distribution and the genetic variation of PUUV in France, which has been overlooked until now and remains poorly understood. During a population survey, from 2008 to 2011, bank voles were trapped in eight different forests of France located in areas known to be endemic for NE or in area from where no NE case has been reported until now. Bank voles were tested for immunoglobulin (Ig)G ELISA serology and two seropositive animals for each of three different areas (Ardennes, Jura and Orleans) were then subjected to laboratory analyses in order to sequence the whole S, M and L segments of PUUV. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that French PUUV isolates globally belong to the central European (CE) lineage although isolates from Ardennes are clearly distinct from those in Jura and Orleans, suggesting a different evolutionary history and origin of PUUV introduction in France. Sequence analyses revealed specific amino acid signatures along the N protein, including in PUUV from the Orleans region from where NE in humans has never been reported. The relevance of these mutations in term of pathophysiology is discussed.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5443-5475: Longitudinal Antigenic Sequences and Sites from Intra-Host Evolution (LASSIE) Identifies Immune-Selected HIV Variants

  • Within-host genetic sequencing from samples collected over time provides a dynamic view of how viruses evade host immunity. Immune-driven mutations might stimulate neutralization breadth by selecting antibodies adapted to cycles of immune escape that generate within-subject epitope diversity. Comprehensive identification of immune-escape mutations is experimentally and computationally challenging. With current technology, many more viral sequences can readily be obtained than can be tested for binding and neutralization, making down-selection necessary. Typically, this is done manually, by picking variants that represent different time-points and branches on a phylogenetic tree. Such strategies are likely to miss many relevant mutations and combinations of mutations, and to be redundant for other mutations. Longitudinal Antigenic Sequences and Sites from Intrahost Evolution (LASSIE) uses transmitted founder loss to identify virus“hot-spots” under putative immune selection and chooses sequences that represent recurrent mutations in selected sites. LASSIE favors earliest sequences in which mutations arise. With well-characterized longitudinal Env sequences, we confirmed selected sites were concentrated in antibody contacts and selected sequences represented diverse antigenic phenotypes. Practical applications include rapidly identifying immune targets under selective pressure within a subject, selecting minimal sets of reagents for immunological assays that characterize evolving antibody responses, and for immunogens in polyvalent “cocktail” vaccines.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5428-5442: Perspective of Use of Antiviral Peptides against Influenza Virus

  • The threat of a worldwide influenza pandemic has greatly increased over the past decade with the emergence of highly virulent avian influenza strains. The increased frequency of drug-resistant influenza strains against currently available antiviral drugs requires urgent development of new strategies for antiviral therapy, too. The research in the field of therapeutic peptides began to develop extensively in the second half of the 20th century. Since then, the mechanisms of action for several peptides and their antiviral prospect received large attention due to the global threat posed by viruses. Here, we discussed the therapeutic properties of peptides used in influenza treatment. Peptides with antiviral activity against influenza can be divided into three main groups. First, entry blocker peptides such as a Flupep that interact with influenza hemagglutinin, block its binding to host cells and prevent viral fusion. Second, several peptides display virucidal activity, disrupting viral envelopes, e.g., Melittin. Finally, a third set of peptides interacts with the viral polymerase complex and act as viral replication inhibitors such as PB1 derived peptides. Here, we present a review of the current literature describing the antiviral activity, mechanism and future therapeutic potential of these influenza antiviral peptides.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5410-5427: Diagnosis of Dengue Infection Using Conventional and Biosensor Based Techniques

  • Dengue is an arthropod-borne viral disease caused by four antigenically different serotypes of dengue virus. This disease is considered as a major public health concern around the world. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine or antiviral drug available for the prevention and treatment of dengue disease. Moreover, clinical features of dengue are indistinguishable from other infectious diseases such as malaria, chikungunya, rickettsia and leptospira. Therefore, prompt and accurate laboratory diagnostic test is urgently required for disease confirmation and patient triage. The traditional diagnostic techniques for the dengue virus are viral detection in cell culture, serological testing, and RNA amplification using reverse transcriptase PCR. This paper discusses the conventional laboratory methods used for the diagnosis of dengue during the acute and convalescent phase and highlights the advantages and limitations of these routine laboratory tests. Subsequently, the biosensor based assays developed using various transducers for the detection of dengue are also reviewed.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5388-5409: Sequence and Structure Analysis of Distantly-Related Viruses Reveals Extensive Gene Transfer between Viruses and Hosts and among Viruses

  • The origin and evolution of viruses is a subject of ongoing debate. In this study, we provide a full account of the evolutionary relationships between proteins of significant sequence and structural similarity found in viruses that belong to different classes according to the Baltimore classification. We show that such proteins can be found in viruses from all Baltimore classes. For protein families that include these proteins, we observe two patterns of the taxonomic spread. In the first pattern, they can be found in a large number of viruses from all implicated Baltimore classes. In the other pattern, the instances of the corresponding protein in species from each Baltimore class are restricted to a few compact clades. Proteins with the first pattern of distribution are products of so-called viral hallmark genes reported previously. Additionally, this pattern is displayed by the envelope glycoproteins from Flaviviridae and Bunyaviridae and helicases of superfamilies 1 and 2 that have homologs in cellular organisms. The second pattern can often be explained by horizontal gene transfer from the host or between viruses, an example being Orthomyxoviridae and Coronaviridae hemagglutinin esterases. Another facet of horizontal gene transfer comprises multiple independent introduction events of genes from cellular organisms into otherwise unrelated viruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5375-5387: Emerging Roles of Viroporins Encoded by DNA Viruses: Novel Targets for Antivirals?

  • Studies have highlighted the essential nature of a group of small, highly hydrophobic, membrane embedded, channel-forming proteins in the life cycles of a growing number of RNA viruses. These viroporins mediate the flow of ions and a range of solutes across cellular membranes and are necessary for manipulating a myriad of host processes. As such they contribute to all stages of the virus life cycle. Recent discoveries have identified proteins encoded by the small DNA tumor viruses that display a number of viroporin like properties. This review article summarizes the recent developments in our understanding of these novel viroporins; describes their roles in the virus life cycles and in pathogenesis and speculates on their potential as targets for anti-viral therapeutic intervention.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5361-5374: Respiratory Syncytial Virus Persistence in Murine Macrophages Impairs IFN-β Response but Not Synthesis

  • Type-I interferon (IFN-I) production is an early response to viral infection and pathogenic viruses have evolved multiple strategies to evade this cellular defense. Some viruses can establish and maintain persistent infections by altering the IFN-I signaling pathway. Here, we studied IFN-I synthesis and response in an in vitro model of persistent infection by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in a murine macrophage-like cell line. In this model, interferon regulatory factor 3 was constitutively active and located at nuclei of persistently infected cells, inducing expression of IFN-beta mRNA and protein. However, persistently infected macrophages did not respond in an autocrine manner to the secreted-IFN-beta or to recombinant-IFN-beta, since phosphorylated-STAT1 was not detected by western blot and transcription of the interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) Mx1 and ISG56 was not induced. Treatment of non-infected macrophages with supernatants from persistently infected cells induced STAT1 phosphorylation and ISGs expression, mediated by the IFN-I present in the supernatants, because blocking the IFN-I receptor inhibited STAT1 phosphorylation. Results suggest that the lack of autocrine response to IFN-I by the host cell may be one mechanism for maintenance of RSV persistence. Furthermore, STAT1 phosphorylation and ISGs expression induced in non-infected cells by supernatants from persistently infected macrophages suggest that RSV persistence may trigger a proinflammatory phenotype in non-infected cells as part of the pathogenesis of RSV infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5343-5360: A 2,5-Dihydroxybenzoic Acid–Gelatin Conjugate: The Synthesis, Antiviral Activity and Mechanism of Antiviral Action Against Two Alphaherpesviruses

  • Various natural and synthetic polyanionic polymers with different chemical structures are known to exhibit potent antiviral activity in vitro toward a variety of enveloped viruses and may be considered as promising therapeutic agents. A water-soluble conjugate of 2,5-dihydroxybezoic acid (2,5-DHBA) with gelatin was synthesized by laccase-catalyzed oxidation of 2,5-DHBA in the presence of gelatin, and its antiviral activity against pseudorabies virus (PRV) and bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BoHV-1), two members of the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily, was studied. The conjugate produced no direct cytotoxic effect on cells, and did not inhibit cell growth at concentrations up to 1000µg/mL. It exhibited potent antiviral activity against PRV (IC50, 1.5–15 µg/mL for different virus strains) and BoHV-1 (IC50, 0.5–0.7 µg/mL). When present during virus adsorption, the conjugate strongly inhibited the attachment of PRV and BoHV-1 to cells. The 2,5-DHBA–gelatin conjugate had no direct virucidal effect on the viruses and did not influence their penetration into cells, cell-to-cell spread, production of infectious virus particles in cells, and expression of PRV glycoproteins E and B. The results indicated that the 2,5-DHBA–gelatin conjugate strongly inhibits the adsorption of alphaherpesviruses to cells and can be a promising synthetic polymer for the development of antiviral formulations against alphaherpesvirus infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5328-5342: HCV Drug Resistance Challenges in Japan: The Role of Pre-Existing Variants and Emerging Resistant Strains in Direct Acting Antiviral Therapy

  • Sustained virological response (SVR) rates have increased dramatically following the approval of direct acting antiviral (DAA) therapies. While individual DAAs have a low barrier to resistance, most patients can be successfully treated using DAA combination therapy. However, DAAs are vulnerable to drug resistance, and resistance-associated variants (RAVs) may occur naturally prior to DAA therapy or may emerge following drug exposure. While most RAVs are quickly lost in the absence of DAAs, compensatory mutations may reinforce fitness. However, the presence of RAVs does not necessarily preclude successful treatment. Although developments in hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapy in Asia have largely paralleled those in the United States, Japan’s July 2014 approval of asunaprevir plus daclatasvir combination therapy as the first all-oral interferon-free therapy was not repeated in the United States. Instead, two different combination therapies were approved: sofosbuvir/ledipasvir and paritaprevir/ritonavir/ombitasvir/dasabuvir. This divergence in treatment approaches may lead to differences in resistance challenges faced by Japan and the US. However, the recent approval of sofosbuvir plus ledipasvir in Japan and the recent submissions of petitions for approval of paritaprevir/ritonavir plus ombitasvir suggest a trend towards a new consensus on emerging DAA regimens.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5319-5327: Multi-Modal Imaging with a Toolbox of Influenza AReporter Viruses

  • Reporter viruses are useful probes for studying multiple stages of the viral life cycle. Here we describe an expanded toolbox of fluorescent and bioluminescent influenza A reporter viruses. The enhanced utility of these tools enabled kinetic studies of viral attachment, infection, and co-infection. Multi-modal bioluminescence and positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging of infected animals revealed that antiviral treatment reduced viral load, dissemination, and inflammation. These new technologies and applications will dramatically accelerate in vitro and in vivo influenza virus studies.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5305-5318: The Role of Electron Microscopy in Studying the Continuum of Changes in Membranous Structures during Poliovirus Infection

  • Replication of the poliovirus genome is localized to cytoplasmic replication factories that are fashioned out of a mixture of viral proteins, scavenged cellular components, and new components that are synthesized within the cell due to viral manipulation/up-regulation of protein and phospholipid synthesis. These membranous replication factories are quite complex, and include markers from multiple cytoplasmic cellular organelles. This review focuses on the role of electron microscopy in advancing our understanding of poliovirus RNA replication factories. Structural data from the literature provide the basis for interpreting a wide range of biochemical studies that have been published on virus-induced lipid biosynthesis. In combination, structural and biochemical experiments elucidate the dramatic membrane remodeling that is a hallmark of poliovirus infection. Temporal and spatial membrane modifications throughout the infection cycle are discussed. Early electron microscopy studies of morphological changes following viral infection are re-considered in light of more recent data on viral manipulation of lipid and protein biosynthesis. These data suggest the existence of distinct subcellular vesicle populations, each of which serves specialized roles in poliovirus replication processes.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5274-5304: Modeling Influenza Virus Infection: A Roadmap for Influenza Research

  • Influenza A virus (IAV) infection represents a global threat causing seasonal outbreaks and pandemics. Additionally, secondary bacterial infections, caused mainly by Streptococcus pneumoniae, are one of the main complications and responsible for the enhanced morbidity and mortality associated with IAV infections. In spite of the significant advances in our knowledge of IAV infections, holistic comprehension of the interplay between IAV and the host immune response (IR) remains largely fragmented. During the last decade, mathematical modeling has been instrumental to explain and quantify IAV dynamics. In this paper, we review not only the state of the art of mathematical models of IAV infection but also the methodologies exploited for parameter estimation. We focus on the adaptive IR control of IAV infection and the possible mechanisms that could promote a secondary bacterial coinfection. To exemplify IAV dynamics and identifiability issues, a mathematical model to explain the interactions between adaptive IR and IAV infection is considered. Furthermore, in this paper we propose a roadmap for future influenza research. The development of a mathematical modeling framework with a secondary bacterial coinfection, immunosenescence, host genetic factors and responsiveness to vaccination will be pivotal to advance IAV infection understanding and treatment optimization.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5257-5273: Phosphorylation of Single Stranded RNA Virus Proteins and Potential for Novel Therapeutic Strategies

  • Post translational modification of proteins is a critical requirement that regulates function. Among the diverse kinds of protein post translational modifications, phosphorylation plays essential roles in protein folding, protein:protein interactions, signal transduction, intracellular localization, transcription regulation, cell cycle progression, survival and apoptosis. Protein phosphorylation is also essential for many intracellular pathogens to establish a productive infection cycle. Preservation of protein phosphorylation moieties in pathogens in a manner that mirrors the host components underscores the co-evolutionary trajectory of pathogens and hosts, and sheds light on how successful pathogens have usurped, either in part or as a whole, the host enzymatic machinery. Phosphorylation of viral proteins for many acute RNA viruses including Flaviviruses and Alphaviruses has been demonstrated to be critical for protein functionality. This review focuses on phosphorylation modifications that have been documented to occur on viral proteins with emphasis on acutely infectious, single stranded RNA viruses. The review additionally explores the possibility of repurposing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved inhibitors as antivirals for the treatment of acute RNA viral infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5243-5256: HPV16 E6 Controls the Gap Junction Protein Cx43 in Cervical Tumour Cells

  • Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) causes a range of cancers including cervical and head and neck cancers. HPV E6 oncoprotein binds the cell polarity regulator hDlg (human homologue of Drosophila Discs Large). Previously we showed in vitro, and now in vivo, that hDlg also binds Connexin 43 (Cx43), a major component of gap junctions that mediate intercellular transfer of small molecules. In HPV16-positive non-tumour cervical epithelial cells (W12G) Cx43 localised to the plasma membrane, while in W12T tumour cells derived from these, it relocated with hDlg into the cytoplasm. We now provide evidence that E6 regulates this cytoplasmic pool of Cx43. E6 siRNA depletion in W12T cells resulted in restoration of Cx43 and hDlg trafficking to the cell membrane. In C33a HPV-negative cervical tumour cells expressing HPV16 or 18 E6, Cx43 was located primarily in the cytoplasm, but mutation of the 18E6 C-terminal hDlg binding motif resulted in redistribution of Cx43 to the membrane. The data indicate for the first time that increased cytoplasmic E6 levels associated with malignant progression alter Cx43 trafficking and recycling to the membrane and the E6/hDlg interaction may be involved. This suggests a novel E6-associated mechanism for changes in Cx43 trafficking in cervical tumour cells.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5225-5242: Isolation and Genome Characterization of the Virulent Staphylococcus aureus Bacteriophage SA97

  • A novel bacteriophage that infects S. aureus, SA97, was isolated and characterized. The phage SA97 belongs to the Siphoviridae family, and the cell wall teichoic acid (WTA) was found to be a host receptor of the phage SA97. Genome analysis revealed that SA97 contains 40,592 bp of DNA encoding 54 predicted open reading frames (ORFs), and none of these genes were related to virulence or drug resistance. Although a few genes associated with lysogen formation were detected in the phage SA97 genome, the phage SA97 produced neither lysogen nor transductant in S. aureus. These results suggest that the phage SA97 may be a promising candidate for controlling S. aureus.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5206-5224: Inhibitors of the Hepatitis C Virus Polymerase; Mode of Action and Resistance

  • The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a pandemic human pathogen posing a substantial health and economic burden in both developing and developed countries. Controlling the spread of HCV through behavioural prevention strategies has met with limited success and vaccine development remains slow. The development of antiviral therapeutic agents has also been challenging, primarily due to the lack of efficient cell culture and animal models for all HCV genotypes, as well as the large genetic diversity between HCV strains. On the other hand, the use of interferon-α-based treatments in combination with the guanosine analogue, ribavirin, achieved limited success, and widespread use of these therapies has been hampered by prevalent side effects. For more than a decade, the HCV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) has been targeted for antiviral development, and direct-acting antivirals (DAA) have been identified which bind to one of at least six RdRp inhibitor-binding sites, and are now becoming a mainstay of highly effective and well tolerated antiviral treatment for HCV infection. Here we review the different classes of RdRp inhibitors and their mode of action against HCV. Furthermore, the mechanism of antiviral resistance to each class is described, including naturally occurring resistance-associated variants (RAVs) in different viral strains and genotypes. Finally, we review the impact of these RAVs on treatment outcomes with the newly developed regimens.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5191-5205: Differentially-Expressed Pseudogenes in HIV-1 Infection

  • Not all pseudogenes are transcriptionally silent as previously thought. Pseudogene transcripts, although not translated, contribute to the non-coding RNA pool of the cell that regulates the expression of other genes. Pseudogene transcripts can also directly compete with the parent gene transcripts for mRNA stability and other cell factors, modulating their expression levels. Tissue-specific and cancer-specific differential expression of these“functional” pseudogenes has been reported. To ascertain potential pseudogene:gene interactions in HIV-1 infection, we analyzed transcriptomes from infected and uninfected T-cells and found that 21 pseudogenes are differentially expressed in HIV-1 infection. This is interesting because parent genes of one-third of these differentially-expressed pseudogenes are implicated in HIV-1 life cycle, and parent genes of half of these pseudogenes are involved in different viral infections. Our bioinformatics analysis identifies candidate pseudogene:gene interactions that may be of significance in HIV-1 infection. Experimental validation of these interactions would establish that retroviruses exploit this newly-discovered layer of host gene expression regulation for their own benefit.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5172-5190: Filoviruses: One of These Things is (not) Like the Other

  • The family Filoviridae contains several of the most deadly pathogens known to date and the current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Western Africa, due to Ebola virus (EBOV) infection, highlights the need for active and broad research into filovirus pathogenesis. However, in comparison, the seven other known filovirus family members are significantly understudied. Many of these, including Marburgviruses and Ebolaviruses other than EBOV, are also highly virulent and fully capable of causing widespread epidemics. This review places the focus on these non-EBOV filoviruses, including known immunological and pathological data. The available animal models, research tools and currently available therapeutics will also be discussed along with an emphasis in the large number of current gaps in knowledge of these less highlighted filoviruses. It is evident that much research is yet to be done in order to bring the non-EBOV filovirus field to the forefront of current research and, importantly, to the development of more effective vaccines and therapeutics to combat potential future outbreaks.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5169-5171: Viroporins: Structures and functions beyond cell membrane permeabilization

  • Viroporins represent an interesting group of viral proteins that exhibit two sets of functions. First, they participate in several viral processes that are necessary for efficient production of virus progeny. [...]

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5155-5168: Interferon-Free Hepatitis C Treatment before and after Liver Transplantation: The Role of HCV Drug Resistance

  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the leading causes of end-stage liver disease and the main indication for liver transplantation (LT) in most countries. All patients who undergo LT with detectable serum HCV RNA experience graft reinfection progressing to cirrhosis within five years in 20% to 30% of them. Obtaining a sustained virological response (SVR) greatly improves overall and graft survival. Until 2011, standard antiviral therapy using PEGylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) was the only effective therapy, with an SVR rate around 30% in this setting. For patients infected with genotype 1, first generation NS3/4A protease inhibitors (PIs), boceprevir (BOC) or telaprevir (TVR), associated with PEG-IFN and RBV for 48 weeks have increased the SVR rates to 60% in non-transplant patients. However, tolerability and drug-drug interactions with calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) are both limiting factors of their use in the liver transplant setting. Over recent years, the efficacy of antiviral C therapy has improved dramatically using new direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents without PEG-IFN and/or RBV, leading to SVR rates over 90% in non-transplant patients. Results available for transplant patients showed a better efficacy and tolerability and less drug-drug interactions than with first wave PIs. However, some infrequent cases of viral resistance have been reported using PIs or NS5A inhibitors pre- or post-LT that can lead to difficulties in the management of these patients.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5145-5154: Tight Junctions Go Viral!

  • Tight junctions (TJs) are highly specialized membrane domains involved in many important cellular processes such as the regulation of the passage of ions and macromolecules across the paracellular space and the establishment of cell polarity in epithelial cells. Over the past few years there has been increasing evidence that different components of the TJs can be hijacked by viruses in order to complete their infectious cycle. Viruses from at least nine different families of DNA and RNA viruses have been reported to use TJ proteins in their benefit. For example, TJ proteins such as JAM-A or some members of the claudin family of proteins are used by members of the Reoviridae family and hepatitis C virus as receptors or co-receptors during their entry into their host cells. Reovirus, in addition, takes advantage of the TJ protein Junction Adhesion Molecule-A (JAM-A) to achieve its hematogenous dissemination. Some other viruses are capable of regulating the expression or the localization of TJ proteins to induce cell transformation or to improve the efficiency of their exit process. This review encompasses the importance of TJs for viral entry, replication, dissemination, and egress, and makes a clear statement of the importance of studying these proteins to gain a better understanding of the replication strategies used by viruses that infect epithelial and/or endothelial cells.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5133-5144: Preventive Activity against Influenza (H1N1) Virus by Intranasally Delivered RNA-Hydrolyzing Antibody in Respiratory Epithelial Cells of Mice

  • The antiviral effect of a catalytic RNA-hydrolyzing antibody, 3D8 scFv, for intranasal administration against avian influenza virus (H1N1) was described. The recombinant 3D8 scFv protein prevented BALB/c mice against H1N1 influenza virus infection by degradation of the viral RNA genome through its intrinsic RNA-hydrolyzing activity. Intranasal administration of 3D8 scFv (50μg/day) for five days prior to infection demonstrated an antiviral activity (70% survival) against H1N1 infection. The antiviral ability of 3D8 scFv to penetrate into epithelial cells from bronchial cavity via the respiratory mucosal layer was confirmed by immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR, and histopathological examination. The antiviral activity of 3D8 scFv against H1N1 virus infection was not due to host immune cytokines or chemokines, but rather to direct antiviral RNA-hydrolyzing activity of 3D8 scFv against the viral RNA genome. Taken together, our results suggest that the RNase activity of 3D8 scFv, coupled with its ability to penetrate epithelial cells through the respiratory mucosal layer, directly prevents H1N1 virus infection in a mouse model system.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5115-5132: Conformational Masking and Receptor-Dependent Unmasking of Highly Conserved Env Epitopes Recognized by Non-Neutralizing Antibodies That Mediate Potent ADCC against HIV-1

  • The mechanism of antibody-mediated protection is a major focus of HIV-1 vaccine development and a significant issue in the control of viremia. Virus neutralization, Fc-mediated effector function, or both, are major mechanisms of antibody-mediated protection against HIV-1, although other mechanisms, such as virus aggregation, are known. The interplay between virus neutralization and Fc-mediated effector function in protection against HIV-1 is complex and only partially understood. Passive immunization studies using potent broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) show that both neutralization and Fc-mediated effector function provides the widest dynamic range of protection; however, a vaccine to elicit these responses remains elusive. By contrast, active immunization studies in both humans and non-human primates using HIV-1 vaccine candidates suggest that weakly neutralizing or non-neutralizing antibodies can protect by Fc-mediated effector function, albeit with a much lower dynamic range seen for passive immunization with bnAbs. HIV-1 has evolved mechanisms to evade each type of antibody-mediated protection that must be countered by a successful AIDS vaccine. Overcoming the hurdles required to elicit bnAbs has become a major focus of HIV-1 vaccine development. Here, we discuss a less studied problem, the structural basis of protection (and its evasion) by antibodies that protect only by potent Fc-mediated effector function.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5084-5114: Tegument Assembly and Secondary Envelopment of Alphaherpesviruses

  • Alphaherpesviruses like herpes simplex virus are large DNA viruses characterized by their ability to establish lifelong latent infection in neurons. As for all herpesviruses, alphaherpesvirus virions contain a protein-rich layer called“tegument” that links the DNA-containing capsid to the glycoprotein-studded membrane envelope. Tegument proteins mediate a diverse range of functions during the virus lifecycle, including modulation of the host-cell environment immediately after entry, transport of virus capsids to the nucleus during infection, and wrapping of cytoplasmic capsids with membranes (secondary envelopment) during virion assembly. Eleven tegument proteins that are conserved across alphaherpesviruses have been implicated in the formation of the tegument layer or in secondary envelopment. Tegument is assembled via a dense network of interactions between tegument proteins, with the redundancy of these interactions making it challenging to determine the precise function of any specific tegument protein. However, recent studies have made great headway in defining the interactions between tegument proteins, conserved across alphaherpesviruses, which facilitate tegument assembly and secondary envelopment. We summarize these recent advances and review what remains to be learned about the molecular interactions required to assemble mature alphaherpesvirus virions following the release of capsids from infected cell nuclei.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5066-5083: Exosome Biogenesis, Regulation, and Function in Viral Infection

  • Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released upon fusion of multivesicular bodies(MVBs) with the cellular plasma membrane. They originate as intraluminal vesicles (ILVs) duringthe process of MVB formation. Exosomes were shown to contain selectively sorted functionalproteins, lipids, and RNAs, mediating cell-to-cell communications and hence playing a role in thephysiology of the healthy and diseased organism. Challenges in the field include the identificationof mechanisms sustaining packaging of membrane-bound and soluble material to these vesicles andthe understanding of the underlying processes directing MVBs for degradation or fusion with theplasma membrane. The investigation into the formation and roles of exosomes in viral infection is inits early years. Although still controversial, exosomes can, in principle, incorporate any functionalfactor, provided they have an appropriate sorting signal, and thus are prone to viral exploitation.This review initially focuses on the composition and biogenesis of exosomes. It then explores theregulatory mechanisms underlying their biogenesis. Exosomes are part of the endocytic system,which is tightly regulated and able to respond to several stimuli that lead to alterations in thecomposition of its sub-compartments. We discuss the current knowledge of how these changesaffect exosomal release. We then summarize how different viruses exploit specific proteins ofendocytic sub-compartments and speculate that it could interfere with exosome function, althoughno direct link between viral usage of the endocytic system and exosome release has yet beenreported. Many recent reports have ascribed functions to exosomes released from cells infectedwith a variety of animal viruses, including viral spread, host immunity, and manipulation of themicroenvironment, which are discussed. Given the ever-growing roles and importance of exosomesin viral infections, understanding what regulates their composition and levels, and defining theirfunctions will ultimately provide additional insights into the virulence and persistence of infections.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5040-5065: Recent Progress in Therapeutic Treatments and Screening Strategies for the Prevention and Treatment of HPV-Associated Head and Neck Cancer

  • The rise in human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has elicited significant interest in the role of high-risk HPV in tumorigenesis. Because patients with HPV-positive HNSCC have better prognoses than do their HPV-negative counterparts, current therapeutic strategies for HPV+ HNSCC are increasingly considered to be overly aggressive, highlighting a need for customized treatment guidelines for this cohort. Additional issues include the unmet need for a reliable screening strategy for HNSCC, as well as the ongoing assessment of the efficacy of prophylactic vaccines for the prevention of HPV infections in the head and neck regions. This review also outlines a number of emerging prospects for therapeutic vaccines, as well as for targeted, molecular-based therapies for HPV-associated head and neck cancers. Overall, the future for developing novel and effective therapeutic agents for HPV-associated head and neck tumors is promising; continued progress is critical in order to meet the challenges posed by the growing epidemic.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5018-5039: Genetic Diversity and Selective Pressure in Hepatitis C Virus Genotypes 1–6: Significance for Direct-Acting Antiviral Treatment and Drug Resistance

  • Treatment with pan-genotypic direct-acting antivirals, targeting different viral proteins, is the best option for clearing hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in chronically infected patients. However, the diversity of the HCV genome is a major obstacle for the development of antiviral drugs, vaccines, and genotyping assays. In this large-scale analysis, genome-wide diversity and selective pressure was mapped, focusing on positions important for treatment, drug resistance, and resistance testing. A dataset of 1415 full-genome sequences, including genotypes 1–6 from the Los Alamos database, was analyzed. In 44% of all full-genome positions, the consensus amino acid was different for at least one genotype. Focusing on positions sharing the same consensus amino acid in all genotypes revealed that only 15% was defined as pan-genotypic highly conserved (≥99% amino acid identity) and an additional 24% as pan-genotypic conserved (≥95%). Despite its large genetic diversity, across all genotypes, codon positions were rarely identified to be positively selected (0.23%–0.46%) and predominantly found to be under negative selective pressure, suggestingmainly neutral evolution. For NS3, NS5A, and NS5B, respectively, 40% (6/15), 33% (3/9), and 14% (2/14) of the resistance-related positions harbored as consensus the amino acid variant related to resistance, potentially impeding treatment. For example, the NS3 variant 80K, conferring resistance to simeprevir used for treatment of HCV1 infected patients, was present in 39.3% of the HCV1a strains and 0.25% of HCV1b strains. Both NS5A variants 28M and 30S, known to be associated with resistance to the pan-genotypic drug daclatasvir, were found in a significant proportion of HCV4 strains (10.7%). NS5B variant 556G, known to confer resistance to non-nucleoside inhibitor dasabuvir, was observed in 8.4% of the HCV1b strains. Given the large HCV genetic diversity, sequencing efforts for resistance testing purposes may need to be genotype-specific or geographically tailored.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 5016-5017: Jan van der Noordaa (1934–2015); A Virologist Pur Sang

  • Our loyal friend and colleague, Jan van der Noordaa, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 80 on the evening of 17 June 2015. [...]

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4997-5015: High Rate of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) Infections in Wild Chimpanzees in Northeastern Gabon

  • The emergence of HIV-1 groups M, N, O, and P is the result of four independent cross-species transmissions between chimpanzees (cpz) and gorillas (gor) from central/south Cameroon and humans respectively. Although the first two SIVcpz were identified in wild-born captive chimpanzees in Gabon in 1989, no study has been conducted so far in wild chimpanzees in Gabon. To document the SIVcpz infection rate, genetic diversity, and routes of virus transmission, we analyzed 1458 faecal samples collected in 16 different locations across the country, and we conducted follow-up missions in two of them. We found 380 SIV antibody positive samples in 6 different locations in the north and northeast. We determined the number of individuals collected by microsatellite analysis and obtained an adjusted SIV prevalence of 39.45%. We performed parental analysis to investigate viral spread between and within communities and found that SIVs were epidemiologically linked and were transmitted by both horizontal and vertical routes. We amplified pol and gp41 fragments and obtained 57 new SIVcpzPtt strains from three sites. All strains, but one, clustered together within a specific phylogeographic clade. Given that these SIV positive samples have been collected nearby villages and that humans continue to encroach in ape’s territories, the emergence of a new HIV in this area needs to be considered.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4978-4996: Alterations of Nuclear Architecture and Epigenetic Signatures during African Swine Fever Virus Infection

  • Viral interactions with host nucleus have been thoroughly studied, clarifying molecular mechanisms and providing new antiviral targets. Considering that African swine fever virus (ASFV) intranuclear phase of infection is poorly understood, viral interplay with subnuclear domains and chromatin architecture were addressed. Nuclear speckles, Cajal bodies, and promyelocytic leukaemia nuclear bodies (PML-NBs) were evaluated by immunofluorescence microscopy and Western blot. Further, efficient PML protein knockdown by shRNA lentiviral transduction was used to determine PML-NBs relevance during infection. Nuclear distribution of different histone H3 methylation marks at lysine’s 9, 27 and 36, heterochromatin protein 1 isoforms (HP1α, HPβ and HPγ) and several histone deacetylases (HDACs) were also evaluated to assess chromatin status of the host. Our results reveal morphological disruption of all studied subnuclear domains and severe reduction of viral progeny in PML-knockdown cells. ASFV promotes H3K9me3 and HP1β foci formation from early infection, followed by HP1α and HDAC2 nuclear enrichment, suggesting heterochromatinization of host genome. Finally, closeness between DNA damage response factors, disrupted PML-NBs, and virus-induced heterochromatic regions were identified. In sum, our results demonstrate that ASFV orchestrates spatio-temporal nuclear rearrangements, changing subnuclear domains, relocating Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Rad-3 related (ATR)-related factors and promoting heterochromatinization, probably controlling transcription, repressing host gene expression, and favouring viral replication.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4960-4977: Anti-HBV Drugs: Progress, Unmet Needs, and New Hope

  • Approximately 240 million people worldwide are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), which represents a significant challenge to public health. The current goal in treating chronic HBV infection is to block progression of HBV-related liver injury and inflammation to end-stage liver diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, because we are unable to eliminate chronic HBV infection. Available therapies for chronic HBV infection mainly include nucleos/tide analogues (NAs), non-NAs, and immunomodulatory agents. However, none of them is able to clear chronic HBV infection. Thus, a new generation of anti-HBV drugs is urgently needed. Progress has been made in the development and testing of new therapeutics against chronic HBV infection. This review aims to summarize the state of the art in new HBV drug research and development and to forecast research and development trends and directions in the near future.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4945-4959: Determinants of Disease Phenotype Differences Caused by Closely-Related Isolates of Begomovirus Betasatellites Inoculated with the Same Species of Helper Virus

  • Tomato yellow leaf curl China virus (TYLCCNV) is a monopartite begomovirus associated with different betasatellites. In this study, we investigate two different isolates of Tomato yellow leaf curl China betasatellite (TYLCCNB) to determine what features of the viral genome are required for induction of characteristic phenotypic differences between closely-related betasatellite. When co-agroinoculated with TYLCCNV into Nicotiana spp. and tomato plants, TYLCCNB-Y25 induced only leaf curling on all hosts, while TYLCCNB-Y10 also induced enations, vein yellowing, and shoot distortions. Further assays showed thatβC1 of TYLCCNB-Y25 differs from that of TYLCCNB-Y10 in symptom induction and transcriptional modulating. Hybrid satellites were constructed in which the βC1 gene or 200 nt partial promoter-like fragment upstream of the βC1 were exchanged. Infectivity assays showed that a TYLCCNB-Y25 hybrid with the intact TYLCCNB-Y10 βC1 gene was able to induce vein yellowing, shoot distortions, and a reduced size and number of enations. A TYLCCNB-Y10 hybrid with the intact TYLCCNB-Y25 βC1 gene produced only leaf curling. In contrast, the TYLCCNB-Y25 and TYLCCNB-Y10 hybrids with swapped partial promoter-like regions had little effect on the phenotypes induced by wild-type betasatellites. Further experiments showed that the TYLCCNB-Y25 hybrid carrying the C-terminal region of TYLCCNB-Y10 βC1 induced TYLCCNB-Y10-like symptoms. These findings indicate that the βC1 protein is the major symptom determinant and that the C-terminal region of βC1 plays an important role in symptom induction.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4929-4944: Clinical Implications of Antiviral Resistance in Influenza

  • Influenza is a major cause of severe respiratory infections leading to excessive hospitalizations and deaths globally; annual epidemics, pandemics, and sporadic/endemic avian virus infections occur as a result of rapid, continuous evolution of influenza viruses. Emergence of antiviral resistance is of great clinical and public health concern. Currently available antiviral treatments include four neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivir, peramivir, laninamivir), M2-inibitors (amantadine, rimantadine), and a polymerase inhibitor (favipiravir). In this review, we focus on resistance issues related to the use of neuraminidase inhibitors (NAIs). Data on primary resistance, as well as secondary resistance related to NAI exposure will be presented. Their clinical implications, detection, and novel therapeutic options undergoing clinical trials are discussed.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4911-4928: Insect-Specific Virus Discovery: Significance for the Arbovirus Community

  • Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), especially those transmitted by mosquitoes, are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in humans and animals worldwide. Recent discoveries indicate that mosquitoes are naturally infected with a wide range of other viruses, many within taxa occupied by arboviruses that are considered insect-specific. Over the past ten years there has been a dramatic increase in the literature describing novel insect-specific virus detection in mosquitoes, which has provided new insights about viral diversity and evolution, including that of arboviruses. It has also raised questions about what effects the mosquito virome has on arbovirus transmission. Additionally, the discovery of these new viruses has generated interest in their potential use as biological control agents as well as novel vaccine platforms. The arbovirus community will benefit from the growing database of knowledge concerning these newly described viral endosymbionts, as their impacts will likely be far reaching.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4894-4910: Honokiol, a Lignan Biphenol Derived from the Magnolia Tree, Inhibits Dengue Virus Type 2 Infection

  • Dengue is the most widespread arbovirus infection and poses a serious health and economic issue in tropical and subtropical countries. Currently no licensed vaccine or compounds can be used to prevent or manage the severity of dengue virus (DENV) infection. Honokiol, a lignan biphenol derived from the Magnolia tree, is commonly used in Eastern medicine. Here we report that honokiol has profound antiviral activity against serotype 2 DENV (DENV-2). In addition to inhibiting the intracellular DENV-2 replicon, honokiol was shown to suppress the replication of DENV-2 in baby hamster kidney (BHK) and human hepatocarcinoma Huh7 cells. At the maximum non-toxic dose of honokiol treatment, the production of infectious DENV particles was reduced aamp;amp;gt;90% in BHK and Huh7 cells. The underlying mechanisms revealed that the expression of DENV-2 nonstructural protein NS1/NS3 and its replicating intermediate, double-strand RNA, was dramatically reduced by honokiol treatment. Honokiol has no effect on the expression of DENV putative receptors, but may interfere with the endocytosis of DENV-2 by abrogating the co-localization of DENV envelope glycoprotein and the early endosomes. These results indicate that honokiol inhibits the replication, viral gene expression, and endocytotic process of DENV-2, making it a promising agent for chemotherapy of DENV infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4873-4893: Structural Conservation and Functional Diversity of the Poxvirus Immune Evasion (PIE) Domain Superfamily

  • Poxviruses encode a broad array of proteins that serve to undermine host immune defenses. Structural analysis of four of these seemingly unrelated proteins revealed the recurrent use of a conserved beta-sandwich fold that has not been observed in any eukaryotic or prokaryotic protein. Herein we propose to call this unique structural scaffolding the PIE (Poxvirus Immune Evasion) domain. PIE domain containing proteins are abundant in chordopoxvirinae, with our analysis identifying 20 likely PIE subfamilies among 33 representative genomes spanning 7 genera. For example, cowpox strain Brighton Red appears to encode 10 different PIEs: vCCI, A41, C8, M2, T4 (CPVX203), and the SECRET proteins CrmB, CrmD, SCP-1, SCP-2, and SCP-3. Characterized PIE proteins all appear to be nonessential for virus replication, and all contain signal peptides for targeting to the secretory pathway. The PIE subfamilies differ primarily in the number, size, and location of structural embellishments to the beta-sandwich core that confer unique functional specificities. Reported ligands include chemokines, GM-CSF, IL-2, MHC class I, and glycosaminoglycans. We expect that the list of ligands and receptors engaged by the PIE domain will grow as we come to better understand how this versatile structural architecture can be tailored to manipulate host responses to infection.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4854-4872: Viral Mimicry to Usurp Ubiquitin and SUMO Host Pathways

  • Posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of proteins include enzymatic changes by covalent addition of cellular regulatory determinants such as ubiquitin (Ub) and small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) moieties. These modifications are widely used by eukaryotic cells to control the functional repertoire of proteins. Over the last decade, it became apparent that the repertoire of ubiquitiylation and SUMOylation regulating various biological functions is not restricted to eukaryotic cells, but is also a feature of human virus families, used to extensively exploit complex host-cell networks and homeostasis. Intriguingly, besides binding to host SUMO/Ub control proteins and interfering with the respective enzymatic cascade, many viral proteins mimic key regulatory factors to usurp this host machinery and promote efficient viral outcomes. Advanced detection methods and functional studies of ubiquitiylation and SUMOylation during virus-host interplay have revealed that human viruses have evolved a large arsenal of strategies to exploit these specific PTM processes. In this review, we highlight the known viral analogs orchestrating ubiquitin and SUMO conjugation events to subvert and utilize basic enzymatic pathways.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4836-4853: Bio-Control of Salmonella Enteritidis in Foods Using Bacteriophages

  • Two lytic phages, vB_SenM-PA13076 (PA13076) and vB_SenM-PC2184 (PC2184), were isolated from chicken sewage and characterized with host strains Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) ATCC13076 and CVCC2184, respectively. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that they belonged to the family Myoviridae. The lytic abilities of these two phages in liquid culture showed 104 multiplicity of infection (MOI) was the best in inhibiting bacteria, with PC2184 exhibiting more activity than PA13076. The two phages exhibited broad host range within the genus Salmonella. Phage PA13076 and PC2184 had a lytic effect on 222 (71.4%) and 298 (95.8%) of the 311 epidemic Salmonella isolates, respectively. We tested the effectiveness of phage PA13076 and PC2184 as well as a cocktail combination of both in three different foods (chicken breast, pasteurized whole milk and Chinese cabbage) contaminated with SE. Samples were spiked with 1× 104 CFU individual SE or a mixture of strains (ATCC13076 and CVCC2184), then treated with 1 × 108 PFU individual phage or a two phage cocktail, and incubated at 4 °C or 25 °C for 5 h. In general, the inhibitory effect of phage and phage cocktail was better at 4 °C than that at 25 °C, whereas the opposite result was observed in Chinese cabbage, and phage cocktail was better than either single phage. A significant reduction in bacterial numbers (1.5–4 log CFU/sample, p aamp;amp;lt; 0.05) was observed in all tested foods. The two phages on the three food samples were relatively stable,especially at 4 ºC, with the phages exhibiting the greatest stability in milk. Our research shows that our phages have potential effectiveness as a bio-control agent of Salmonella in foods.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4826-4835: New Structure Sheds Light on Selective HIV-1 Genomic RNA Packaging

  • Two copies of unspliced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 genomic RNA (gRNA) are preferentially selected for packaging by the group-specific antigen (Gag) polyprotein into progeny virions as a dimer during the late stages of the viral lifecycle. Elucidating the RNA features responsible for selective recognition of the full-length gRNA in the presence of an abundance of other cellular RNAs and spliced viral RNAs remains an area of intense research. The recent nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structure by Keane et al. [1] expands upon previous efforts to determine the conformation of the HIV-1 RNA packaging signal. The data support a secondary structure wherein sequences that constitute the major splice donor site are sequestered through base pairing, and a tertiary structure that adopts a tandem 3-way junction motif that exposes the dimerization initiation site and unpaired guanosines for specific recognition by Gag. While it remains to be established whether this structure is conserved in the context of larger RNA constructs or in the dimer, this study serves as the basis for characterizing large RNA structures using novel NMR techniques, and as a major advance toward understanding how the HIV-1 gRNA is selectively packaged.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4800-4825: Cloak and Dagger: Alternative Immune Evasion and Modulation Strategies of Poxviruses

  • As all viruses rely on cellular factors throughout their replication cycle, to be successful they must evolve strategies to evade and/or manipulate the defence mechanisms employed by the host cell. In addition to their expression of a wide array of host modulatory factors, several recent studies have suggested that poxviruses may have evolved unique mechanisms to shunt or evade host detection. These potential mechanisms include mimicry of apoptotic bodies by mature virions (MVs), the use of viral sub-structures termed lateral bodies for the packaging and delivery of host modulators, and the formation of a second,“cloaked” form of infectious extracellular virus (EVs). Here we discuss these various strategies and how they may facilitate poxvirus immune evasion. Finally we propose a model for the exploitation of the cellular exosome pathway for the formation of EVs.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4783-4799: Oral Application of T4 Phage Induces Weak Antibody Production in the Gut and in the Blood

  • A specific humoral response to bacteriophages may follow phage application for medical purposes, and it may further determine the success or failure of the approach itself. We present a long-term study of antibody induction in mice by T4 phage applied per os: 100 days of phage treatment followed by 112 days without the phage, and subsequent second application of phage up to day 240. Serum and gut antibodies (IgM, IgG, secretory IgA) were analyzed in relation to microbiological status of the animals. T4 phage applied orally induced anti-phage antibodies when the exposure was long enough (IgG day 36, IgA day 79); the effect was related to high dosage. Termination of phage treatment resulted in a decrease of IgA again to insignificant levels. Second administration of phage induces secretory IgA sooner than that induced by the first administrations. Increased IgA level antagonized gut transit of active phage. Phage resistant E. coli dominated gut flora very late, on day 92. Thus, the immunological response emerges as a major factor determining phage survival in the gut. Phage proteins Hoc and gp12 were identified as highly immunogenic. A low response to exemplary foreign antigens (from Ebola virus) presented on Hoc was observed, which suggests that phage platforms can be used in oral vaccine design.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4772-4782: Artificial TALE as a Convenient Protein Platform for Engineering Broad-Spectrum Resistance to Begomoviruses

  • Transcription activator–like effectors (TALEs) are a class of sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins that utilize a simple and predictable modality to recognize target DNA. This unique characteristic allows for the rapid assembly of artificial TALEs, with high DNA binding specificity, to any target DNA sequences for the creation of customizable sequence-specific nucleases used in genome engineering. Here, we report the use of an artificial TALE protein as a convenient platform for designing broad-spectrum resistance to begomoviruses, one of the most destructive plant virus groups, which cause tremendous losses worldwide. We showed that artificial TALEs, which were assembled based on conserved sequence motifs within begomovirus genomes, could confer partial resistance in transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana to all three begomoviruses tested. Furthermore, the resistance was maintained even in the presence of their betasatellite. These results shed new light on the development of broad-spectrum resistance against DNA viruses, such as begomoviruses.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4756-4771: The Antiviral Effect of Baicalin on Enterovirus 71 In Vitro

  • Baicalin is a flavonoid compound extracted from Scutellaria roots that has been reported to possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral activities. However, the antiviral effect of baicalin on enterovirus 71 (EV71) is still unknown. In this study, we found that baicalin showed inhibitory activity on EV71 infection and was independent of direct virucidal or prophylactic effect and inhibitory viral absorption. The expressions of EV71/3D mRNA and polymerase were significantly blocked by baicalin treatment at early stages of EV71 infection. In addition, baicalin could decrease the expressions of FasL and caspase-3, as well as inhibit the apoptosis of EV71-infected human embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (RD) cells. Altogether, these results indicate that baicalin exhibits potent antiviral effect on EV71 infection, probably through inhibiting EV71/3D polymerase expression and Fas/FasL signaling pathways.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4734-4755: Regulation of the Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling Pathway by Human Papillomavirus E6 and E7 Oncoproteins

  • Cell signaling pathways are the mechanisms by which cells transduce external stimuli, which control the transcription of genes, to regulate diverse biological effects. In cancer, distinct signaling pathways, such as the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, have been implicated in the deregulation of critical molecular processes that affect cell proliferation and differentiation. For example, changes in β-catenin localization have been identified in Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers as the lesion progresses. Specifically,β-catenin relocates from the membrane/cytoplasm to the nucleus, suggesting that this transcription regulator participates in cervical carcinogenesis. The E6 and E7 oncoproteins are responsible for the transforming activity of HPV, and some studies have implicated these viral oncoproteins in the regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Nevertheless, new interactions of HPV oncoproteins with cellular proteins are emerging, and the study of the biological effects of such interactions will help to understand HPV-related carcinogenesis. Viruses 2015, 7 4735 This review addresses the accumulated evidence of the involvement of the HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins in the activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4707-4733: Regulation of the Host Antiviral State by Intercellular Communications

  • Viruses usually induce a profound remodeling of host cells, including the usurpation of host machinery to support their replication and production of virions to invade new cells. Nonetheless, recognition of viruses by the host often triggers innate immune signaling, preventing viral spread and modulating the function of immune cells. It conventionally occurs through production of antiviral factors and cytokines by infected cells. Virtually all viruses have evolved mechanisms to blunt such responses. Importantly, it is becoming increasingly recognized that infected cells also transmit signals to regulate innate immunity in uninfected neighboring cells. These alternative pathways are notably mediated by vesicular secretion of various virus- and host-derived products (miRNAs, RNAs, and proteins) and non-infectious viral particles. In this review, we focus on these newly-described modes of cell-to-cell communications and their impact on neighboring cell functions. The reception of these signals can have anti- and pro-viral impacts, as well as more complex effects in the host such as oncogenesis and inflammation. Therefore, these“broadcasting” functions, which might be tuned by an arms race involving selective evolution driven by either the host or the virus, constitute novel and original regulations of viral infection, either highly localized or systemic.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4676-4706: Structure and Biophysical Properties of a Triple-Stranded Beta-Helix Comprising the Central Spike of Bacteriophage T4

  • Gene product 5 (gp5) of bacteriophage T4 is a spike-shaped protein that functions to disrupt the membrane of the target cell during phage infection. Its C-terminal domain is a long and slenderβ-helix that is formed by three polypeptide chains wrapped around a common symmetry axis akin to three interdigitated corkscrews. The folding and biophysical properties of such triple-stranded β-helices, which are topologically related to amyloid fibers, represent an unsolved biophysical problem.Here, we report structural and biophysical characterization of T4 gp5 β-helix and its truncated mutants of different lengths. A soluble fragment that forms a dimer of trimers and that could comprise a minimal self-folding unit has been identified. Surprisingly, the hydrophobic core of the β-helixis small. It is located near the C-terminal end of the β-helix and contains a centrally positioned and hydrated magnesium ion. A large part of the β-helix interior comprises a large elongated cavity that binds palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids in an extended conformation suggesting that these molecules might participate in the folding of the complete β-helix.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4657-4675: Autophagy Activated by Bluetongue Virus Infection Plays a Positive Role in Its Replication

  • Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an important pathogen of wild and domestic ruminants. Despite extensive study in recent decades, the interplay between BTV and host cells is not clearly understood. Autophagy as a cellular adaptive response plays a part in many viral infections. In our study, we found that BTV1 infection triggers the complete autophagic process in host cells, as demonstrated by the appearance of obvious double-membrane autophagosome-like vesicles, GFP-LC3 dots accumulation, the conversion of LC3-I to LC3-II and increased levels of autophagic flux in BSR cells (baby hamster kidney cell clones) and primary lamb lingual epithelial cells upon BTV1 infection. Moreover, the results of a UV-inactivated BTV1 infection assay suggested that the induction of autophagy was dependent on BTV1 replication. Therefore, we investigated the role of autophagy in BTV1 replication. The inhibition of autophagy by pharmacological inhibitors (3-MA, CQ) and RNA interference (siBeclin1) significantly decreased viral protein synthesis and virus yields. In contrast, treating BSR cells with rapamycin, an inducer of autophagy, promoted viral protein expression and the production of infectious BTV1. These findings lead us to conclude that autophagy is activated by BTV1 and contributes to its replication, and provide novel insights into BTV-host interactions.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4640-4656: Flaviviral Replication Complex: Coordination between RNA Synthesis and 5’-RNA Capping

  • Genome replication in flavivirus requires (—) strand RNA synthesis, (+) strand RNA synthesis, and 5’-RNA capping and methylation. To carry out viral genome replication, flavivirus assembles a replication complex, consisting of both viral and host proteins, on the cytoplasmic side of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane. Two major components of the replication complex are the viral non-structural (NS) proteins NS3 and NS5. Together they possess all the enzymatic activities required for genome replication, yet how these activities are coordinated during genome replication is not clear. We provide an overview of the flaviviral genome replication process, the membrane-bound replication complex, and recent crystal structures of full-length NS5. We propose a model of how NS3 and NS5 coordinate their activities in the individual steps of (—) RNA synthesis, (+) RNA synthesis, and 5’-RNA capping and methylation.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4624-4639: Wolbachia Do Not Induce Reactive Oxygen Species-Dependent Immune Pathway Activation in Aedes albopictus

  • Aedes albopictus is a major vector of dengue (DENV) and chikungunya (CHIKV) viruses, causing millions of infections annually. It naturally carries, at high frequency, the intracellular inherited bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia strains wAlbA and wAlbB; transinfection with the higher-density Wolbachia strain wMel from Drosophila melanogaster led to transmission blocking of both arboviruses. The hypothesis that reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced immune activation plays a role in arbovirus inhibition in this species was examined. In contrast to previous observations in Ae. aegypti, elevation of ROS levels was not observed in either cell lines or mosquito lines carrying the wild-type Wolbachia or higher-density Drosophila Wolbachia strains. There was also no upregulation of genes controlling innate immune pathways or with antioxidant/ROS-producing functions. These data suggest that ROS-mediated immune activation is not an important component of the viral transmission-blocking phenotype in this species.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4602-4623: Phage ΦPan70, a Putative Temperate Phage, Controls Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Planktonic, Biofilm and Burn Mouse Model Assays

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the Multi-Drug-Resistant organisms most frequently isolated worldwide and, because of a shortage of new antibiotics, bacteriophages are considered an alternative for its treatment. Previously, P. aeruginosa phages were isolated and best candidates were chosen based on their ability to form clear plaques and their host range. This work aimed to characterize one of those phages,ΦPan70, preliminarily identified as a good candidate for phage-therapy. We performed infection curves, biofilm removal assays, transmission-electron-microscopy, pulsed-field-gel-electrophoresis, and studied the in vivo ΦPan70 biological activity in the burned mouse model. ΦPan70 was classified as a member of the Myoviridae family and, in both planktonic cells and biofilms, was responsible for a significant reduction in the bacterial population. The burned mouse model showed an animal survival between 80% and 100%, significantly different from the control animals (0%). However, analysis of the ΦPan70 genome revealed that it was 64% identical to F10, a temperate P. aeruginosa phage. Gene annotation indicated ΦPan70 as a new, but possible temperate phage, therefore not ideal for phage-therapy. Based on this, we recommend genome sequence analysis as an early step to select candidate phages for potential application in phage-therapy, before entering into a more intensive characterization.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4582-4601: The Interaction between Cyclin B1 and Cytomegalovirus Protein Kinase pUL97 is Determined by an Active Kinase Domain

  • Replication of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is characterized by a tight virus-host cell interaction. Cyclin-dependent protein kinases (CDKs) are functionally integrated into viral gene expression and protein modification. The HCMV-encoded protein kinase pUL97 acts as a CDK ortholog showing structural and functional similarities. Recently, we reported an interaction between pUL97 kinase with a subset of host cyclins, in particular with cyclin T1. Here, we describe an interaction of pUL97 at an even higher affinity with cyclin B1. As a striking feature, the interaction between pUL97 and cyclin B1 proved to be strictly dependent on pUL97 activity, as interaction could be abrogated by treatment with pUL97 inhibitors or by inserting mutations into the conserved kinase domain or the nonconserved C-terminus of pUL97, both producing loss of activity. Thus, we postulate that the mechanism of pUL97-cyclin B1 interaction is determined by an active pUL97 kinase domain.

  • Viruses, Vol. 7, Pages 4563-4581: eEF1A Interacts with the NS5A Protein and Inhibits the Growth of Classical Swine Fever Virus

  • The NS5A protein of classical swine fever virus (CSFV) is involved in the RNA synthesis and viral replication. However, the NS5A-interacting cellular proteins engaged in the CSFV replication are poorly defined. Using yeast two-hybrid screen, the eukaryotic elongation factor 1A (eEF1A) was identified to be an NS5A-binding partner. The NS5A–eEF1A interaction was confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation, glutathione S-transferase (GST) pulldown and laser confocal microscopy assays. The domain I of eEF1A was shown to be critical for the NS5A–eEF1A interaction. Overexpression of eEF1A suppressed the CSFV growth markedly, and conversely, knockdown of eEF1A enhanced the CSFV replication significantly. Furthermore, eEF1A, as well as NS5A, was found to reduce the translation efficiency of the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) of CSFV in a dose-dependent manner, as demonstrated by luciferase reporter assay. Streptavidin pulldown assay revealed that eEF1A could bind to the CSFV IRES. Collectively, our results suggest that eEF1A interacts with NS5A and negatively regulates the growth of CSFV.
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