SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Cell host & microbe

190

The recent association of Zika virus with cases of microcephaly has sparked a global health crisis and highlighted the need for mechanisms to combat the Zika vector, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Wolbachia pipientis, a bacterial endosymbiont of insect, has recently garnered attention as a mechanism for arbovirus control. Here we report that Aedes aegypti harboring Wolbachia are highly resistant to infection with two currently circulating Zika virus isolates from the recent Brazilian epidemic. Wolbachia-harboring mosquitoes displayed lower viral prevalence and intensity and decreased disseminated infection and, critically, did not carry infectious virus in the saliva, suggesting that viral transmission was blocked. Our data indicate that the use of Wolbachia-harboring mosquitoes could represent an effective mechanism to reduce Zika virus transmission and should be included as part of Zika control strategies.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Infection, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Wolbachia

107

Both endotherms and ectotherms (e.g., fish) increase their body temperature to limit pathogen infection. Ectotherms do so by moving to warmer places, hence the term “behavioral fever.” We studied the manifestation of behavioral fever in the common carp infected by cyprinid herpesvirus 3, a native carp pathogen. Carp maintained at 24°C died from the infection, whereas those housed in multi-chamber tanks encompassing a 24°C-32°C gradient migrated transiently to the warmest compartment and survived as a consequence. Behavioral fever manifested only at advanced stages of infection. Consistent with this, expression of CyHV-3 ORF12, encoding a soluble decoy receptor for TNF-α, delayed the manifestation of behavioral fever and promoted CyHV-3 replication in the context of a temperature gradient. Injection of anti-TNF-α neutralizing antibodies suppressed behavioral fever, and decreased fish survival in response to infection. This study provides a unique example of how viruses have evolved to alter host behavior to increase fitness.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene expression, Bacteria, Infection, Thermoregulation, Fever, Cyprinidae, Goldfish

82

Levels of inflammatory mediators in circulation are known to increase with age, but the underlying cause of this age-associated inflammation is debated. We find that, when maintained under germ-free conditions, mice do not display an age-related increase in circulating pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. A higher proportion of germ-free mice live to 600 days than their conventional counterparts, and macrophages derived from aged germ-free mice maintain anti-microbial activity. Co-housing germ-free mice with old, but not young, conventionally raised mice increases pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood. In tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-deficient mice, which are protected from age-associated inflammation, age-related microbiota changes are not observed. Furthermore, age-associated microbiota changes can be reversed by reducing TNF using anti-TNF therapy. These data suggest that aging-associated microbiota promote inflammation and that reversing these age-related microbiota changes represents a potential strategy for reducing age-associated inflammation and the accompanying morbidity.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Cytokine, Interleukin 1, Atherosclerosis, Apoptosis, Tumor necrosis factor-alpha

72

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in China and rapidly spread worldwide. To prevent SARS-CoV-2 dissemination, understanding the in vivo characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 is a high priority. We report a ferret model of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission that recapitulates aspects of human disease. SARS-CoV-2-infected ferrets exhibit elevated body temperatures and virus replication. Although fatalities were not observed, SARS-CoV-2-infected ferrets shed virus in nasal washes, saliva, urine, and feces up to 8 days post-infection. At 2 days post-contact, SARS-CoV-2 was detected in all naive direct contact ferrets. Furthermore, a few naive indirect contact ferrets were positive for viral RNA, suggesting airborne transmission. Viral antigens were detected in nasal turbinate, trachea, lungs, and intestine with acute bronchiolitis present in infected lungs. Thus, ferrets represent an infection and transmission animal model of COVID-19 that may facilitate development of SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics and vaccines.

67

The human gut microbiome is comprised of densely colonizing microorganisms including bacteriophages, which are in dynamic interaction with each other and the mammalian host. To address how bacteriophages impact bacterial communities in the gut, we investigated the dynamic effects of phages on a model microbiome. Gnotobiotic mice were colonized with defined human gut commensal bacteria and subjected to predation by cognate lytic phages. We found that phage predation not only directly impacts susceptible bacteria but also leads to cascading effects on other bacterial species via interbacterial interactions. Metabolomic profiling revealed that shifts in the microbiome caused by phage predation have a direct consequence on the gut metabolome. Our work provides insight into the ecological importance of phages as modulators of bacterial colonization, and it additionally suggests the potential impact of gut phages on the mammalian host with implications for their therapeutic use to precisely modulate the microbiome.

65

The acquisition and development of the infant microbiome are key to establishing a healthy host-microbiome symbiosis. The maternal microbial reservoir is thought to play a crucial role in this process. However, the source and transmission routes of the infant pioneering microbes are poorly understood. To address this, we longitudinally sampled the microbiome of 25 mother-infant pairs across multiple body sites from birth up to 4 months postpartum. Strain-level metagenomic profiling showed a rapid influx of microbes at birth followed by strong selection during the first few days of life. Maternal skin and vaginal strains colonize only transiently, and the infant continues to acquire microbes from distinct maternal sources after birth. Maternal gut strains proved more persistent in the infant gut and ecologically better adapted than those acquired from other sources. Together, these data describe the mother-to-infant microbiome transmission routes that are integral in the development of the infant microbiome.

55

The tuberculosis vaccine bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) has heterologous beneficial effects against non-related infections. The basis of these effects has been poorly explored in humans. In a randomized placebo-controlled human challenge study, we found that BCG vaccination induced genome-wide epigenetic reprograming of monocytes and protected against experimental infection with an attenuated yellow fever virus vaccine strain. Epigenetic reprogramming was accompanied by functional changes indicative of trained immunity. Reduction of viremia was highly correlated with the upregulation of IL-1β, a heterologous cytokine associated with the induction of trained immunity, but not with the specific IFNγ response. The importance of IL-1β for the induction of trained immunity was validated through genetic, epigenetic, and immunological studies. In conclusion, BCG induces epigenetic reprogramming in human monocytes in vivo, followed by functional reprogramming and protection against non-related viral infections, with a key role for IL-1β as a mediator of trained immunity responses.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Disease, Infectious disease, Virus, Vaccine, Infection, Fever

53

Effective countermeasures against the recent emergence and rapid expansion of the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) require the development of data and tools to understand and monitor its spread and immune responses to it. However, little information is available about the targets of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2. We used the Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource (IEDB) to catalog available data related to other coronaviruses. This includes SARS-CoV, which has high sequence similarity to SARS-CoV-2 and is the best-characterized coronavirus in terms of epitope responses. We identified multiple specific regions in SARS-CoV-2 that have high homology to the SARS-CoV virus. Parallel bioinformatic predictions identified a priori potential B and T cell epitopes for SARS-CoV-2. The independent identification of the same regions using two approaches reflects the high probability that these regions are promising targets for immune recognition of SARS-CoV-2. These predictions can facilitate effective vaccine design against this virus of high priority.

45

An in-depth annotation of the newly discovered coronavirus (2019-nCoV) genome has revealed differences between 2019-nCoV and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or SARS-like coronaviruses. A systematic comparison identified 380 amino acid substitutions between these coronaviruses, which may have caused functional and pathogenic divergence of 2019-nCoV.

44

Compared with terrestrial mammals, bats have a longer lifespan and greater capacity to co-exist with a variety of viruses. In addition to cytosolic DNA generated by these viral infections, the metabolic demands of flight cause DNA damage and the release of self-DNA into the cytoplasm. However, whether bats have an altered DNA sensing/defense system to balance high cytosolic DNA levels remains an open question. We demonstrate that bats have a dampened interferon response due to the replacement of the highly conserved serine residue (S358) in STING, an essential adaptor protein in multiple DNA sensing pathways. Reversing this mutation by introducing S358 restored STING functionality, resulting in interferon activation and virus inhibition. Combined with previous reports on bat-specific changes of other DNA sensors such as TLR9, IFI16, and AIM2, our findings shed light on bat adaptation to flight, their long lifespan, and their unique capacity to serve as a virus reservoir.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Bacteria, Evolution, Metabolism, Virus, DNA repair, Mammal