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Concept: Viruses


Alteration of leaf surface phenotypes due to virus infection has the potential to affect the likelihood of colonisation by insect vectors, or to affect their feeding activities. The aim of this study was to investigate whether viruses that rely on insects for their transmission, and which can be sensitive to the polarization of light, affect the percentage polarization of light reflected from leaves. We also set out to discover whether a correlation exists between the expression of ECERIFERUM (CER) genes involved in cuticular wax synthesis and the polarization of the light reflected from the leaf surfaces. It was found that the aphid-vectored viruses Potato virus Y and Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) caused significant reductions in the percentage polarization of light reflected from the abaxial surfaces of leaves of Nicotiana tabacum, whereas the non-insect-vectored viruses Tobacco mosaic virus and Pepino mosaic virus did not induce this effect. In Arabidopsis thaliana, there was little difference in the impacts of CMV and the non-insect-vectored Turnip vein clearing virus on polarization reflection, with both viruses increasing the percentage polarization of light reflected from the abaxial surfaces of leaves. There was a trend towards increased accumulation of CER6 transcripts in N. tabacum and A. thaliana when infected with aphid-vectored viruses. No significant effect of infection on trichome densities was found in A. thaliana, suggesting that alterations to the formation of cuticular waxes may be the more likely phenotypic change on the leaf surface contributing to the changes in polarization reflection. The possible impacts and adaptive significance of these effects with regard to viral transmission by insects are discussed.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Virus, Genome, Light, Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Viruses


The field of oncolytic virus therapy, the use of live, replicating viruses for the treatment of cancer, has expanded rapidly over the past decade. Preclinical models have clearly demonstrated anticancer activity against a number of different cancer types. Several agents have entered clinical trials and promising results have led to late stage clinical development for some viruses. The early clinical trials have demonstrated that oncolytic viruses by themselves have potential to result in tumor regression. Engineering of viruses to express novel genes have also led to the use of these vectors as a novel form of gene therapy. As a result, interest in oncolytic virus therapy has gained traction. The following review will focus on the first wave of clinical translation of oncolytic virus therapy, what has been learned so far, and potential challenges ahead for advancing the field.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cancer, Oncology, Microbiology, Virus, Oncolytic virus, Viruses


BACKGROUND: There is agreement that the infectivity assay with the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) is a suitable surrogate test to validate disinfectants for hepatitis B virucidal activity. However, since this test is not widely used, information is necessary whether disinfectants with limited virucidal activity also inactivate DHBV. In general, disinfectants with limited virucidal activity are used for skin and sensitive surfaces while agents with full activity are more aggressive. The present study compares the activity of five different biocides against DHBV and the classical test virus for limited virucidal activity, the vaccinia virus strain Lister Elstree (VACV) or the modified vaccinia Ankara strain (MVA). METHODS: Virucidal assay was performed as suspension test according to the German DVV/RKI guideline. Duck hepatitis B virus obtained from congenitally infected Peking ducks was propagated in primary duck embryonic hepatocytes and was detected by indirect immunofluorescent antigen staining. RESULTS: The DHBV was inactivated by the use of 40% ethanol within 1-min and 30% isopropanol within 2-min exposure. In comparison, 40% ethanol within 2-min and 40% isopropanol within 1-min exposure were effective against VACV/MVA. These alcohols only have limited virucidal activity, while the following agents have full activity. 0.01% peracetic acid inactivated DHBV within 2 min and a concentration of 0.005% had virucidal efficacy against VACV/MVA within 1 min. After 2-min exposure, 0.05% glutardialdehyde showed a comparable activity against DHBV and VACV/MVA. This is also the case for 0.7% formaldehyde after a contact time of 30 min. CONCLUSIONS: Duck hepatitis B virus is at least as sensitive to limited virucidal activity as VACV/MVA. Peracetic acid is less effective against DHBV, while the alcohols are less effective against VACV/MVA. It can be expected that in absence of more direct tests the results may be extrapolated to HBV.

Concepts: Alcohol, Virus, Ethanol, Hepatitis B, Viruses, Vaccinia, Hepadnaviridae, Modified vaccinia Ankara


Zika virus has emerged as a severe health threat with a rapidly expanding range. The IFITM family of restriction factors inhibits the replication of a broad range of viruses, including the closely related flaviruses West Nile virus and dengue virus. Here, we show that IFITM1 and IFITM3 inhibit Zika virus infection early in the viral life cycle. Moreover, IFITM3 can prevent Zika-virus-induced cell death. These results suggest that strategies to boost the actions and/or levels of the IFITMs might be useful for inhibiting a broad range of emerging viruses.

Concepts: Microbiology, Virus, Ribavirin, Viruses, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Flaviviridae, Flaviviruses


With the recent regulatory approval of Talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) for the treatment of advanced of melanoma in the United States, Europe and Australia, oncolytic virus immunotherapy has earned its place in the clinic. However, the adoption of T-VEC by the U.S. oncology community has been slow, and so far has been largely limited to specialized cancer centers. Limiting factors include the intratumoral route of administration, which is unfamiliar to medical oncologists, biosafety concerns related to the use of a live virus in the clinic, and the explosion of other therapeutic strategies now available for the treatment of advanced melanoma. Herein, we review the development of T-VEC, and suggest how it fits into the in the current clinical treatment paradigm, and provide pearls for drug preparation, administration, and monitoring of response to therapy.

Concepts: Medicine, Oncology, Microbiology, United States, Chemotherapy, Therapy, Oncolytic virus, Viruses


Traditional response criteria may be insufficient to characterize full clinical benefits of anticancer immunotherapies. Consequently, endpoints such as durable response rate (DRR; a continuous response [complete or partial objective response] beginning within 12 months of treatment and lasting ≥6 months) have been employed. There has not, however, been validation that DRR correlates with other more traditional endpoints of clinical benefit such as overall survival.

Concepts: Immune system, Oncology, Microbiology, The Canon of Medicine,, Viruses, Cancer treatments, Immunotherapy


Glioblastoma is a highly lethal brain cancer that frequently recurs in proximity to the original resection cavity. We explored the use of oncolytic virus therapy against glioblastoma with Zika virus (ZIKV), a flavivirus that induces cell death and differentiation of neural precursor cells in the developing fetus. ZIKV preferentially infected and killed glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) relative to differentiated tumor progeny or normal neuronal cells. The effects against GSCs were not a general property of neurotropic flaviviruses, as West Nile virus indiscriminately killed both tumor and normal neural cells. ZIKV potently depleted patient-derived GSCs grown in culture and in organoids. Moreover, mice with glioblastoma survived substantially longer and at greater rates when the tumor was inoculated with a mouse-adapted strain of ZIKV. Our results suggest that ZIKV is an oncolytic virus that can preferentially target GSCs; thus, genetically modified strains that further optimize safety could have therapeutic efficacy for adult glioblastoma patients.

Concepts: DNA, Neuron, Oncology, Microbiology, Brain tumor, Viruses, West Nile virus, Flavivirus


Transfusion-transmitted infections have been documented for several arboviruses, including West Nile and dengue viruses (1). Zika virus, a flavivirus transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that has been identified as a cause of congenital microcephaly and other serious brain defects (2), became recognized as a potential threat to blood safety after reports from a 2013-2014 outbreak in French Polynesia. Blood safety concerns were based on very high infection incidence in the population at large during epidemics, the high percentage of persons with asymptomatic infection, the high proportion of blood donations with evidence of Zika virus nucleic acid upon retrospective testing, and an estimated 7-10-day period of viremia (3). At least one instance of transfusion transmission of Zika virus has been documented in Brazil after the virus emerged there, likely in 2014 (4). Rapid epidemic spread has followed to other areas of the Americas, including Puerto Rico.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Virus, Mosquito, Viruses, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Latin America


The recent rapid spread of Zika virus and its unexpected linkage to birth defects and an autoimmune-neurological syndrome has generated worldwide concern. Zika virus is a flavivirus like dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses. We present the 3.8Å resolution structure of mature Zika virus determined by cryo-electron microscopy. The structure of Zika virus is similar to other known flavivirus structures except for the ~10 amino acids that surround the Asn154 glycosylation site found in each of the 180 envelope glycoproteins that make up the icosahedral shell. The carbohydrate moiety associated with this residue, recognizable in the cryo-EM electron density, may function as an attachment site of the virus to host cells. This region varies not only among Zika virus strains but also in other flaviviruses and suggests that changes in this region influence virus transmission and disease.

Concepts: Protein, Virus, Ribavirin, Viruses, West Nile virus, Flavivirus, Flaviviridae, Flaviviruses


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that emerged recently as a global health threat, causing a pandemic in the Americas. ZIKV infection mostly causes mild disease, but is linked to devastating congenital birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. The high level of cross-reactivity among flaviviruses and their cocirculation has complicated serological approaches to differentially detect ZIKV and dengue virus (DENV) infections, accentuating the urgent need for a specific and sensitive serological test. We previously generated a ZIKV nonstructural protein 1 (NS1)-specific human monoclonal antibody, which we used to develop an NS1-based competition ELISA. Well-characterized samples from RT-PCR-confirmed patients with Zika and individuals exposed to other flavivirus infections or vaccination were used in a comprehensive analysis to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the NS1 blockade-of-binding (BOB) assay, which was established in laboratories in five countries (Nicaragua, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, and Switzerland). Of 158 sera/plasma from RT-PCR-confirmed ZIKV infections, 145 (91.8%) yielded greater than 50% inhibition. Of 171 patients with primary or secondary DENV infections, 152 (88.9%) scored negative. When the control group was extended to patients infected by other flaviviruses, other viruses, or healthy donors (n = 540), the specificity was 95.9%. We also analyzed longitudinal samples from DENV-immune and DENV-naive ZIKV infections and found inhibition was achieved within 10 d postonset of illness and maintained over time. Thus, the Zika NS1 BOB assay is sensitive, specific, robust, simple, low-cost, and accessible, and can detect recent and past ZIKV infections for surveillance, seroprevalence studies, and intervention trials.

Concepts: Antibody, Virus, Positive predictive value, Infection, Type I and type II errors, Sensitivity and specificity, Viruses, Flaviviruses