Studying the coevolutionary dynamics between bacteria and the bacteriophage viruses that infect them is critical to understanding both microbial diversity and ecosystem functioning. Phages can play a key role in shaping bacterial population dynamics and can significantly alter both intra- and inter-specific competition among bacterial hosts. Predicting how phages might influence community stability and apparent competition, however, requires an understanding of how bacteria-phage interaction networks evolve as a function of host diversity and community dynamics. Here, we first review the progress that has been made in understanding phage specificity, including the use of experimental evolution, we then introduce a new dataset on natural bacteriophages collected from the phyllosphere of horse chestnut trees, and finally we highlight that bacterial sensitivity to phage is rarely a binary trait and that this variation should be taken into account and reported. We emphasize that there is currently insufficient evidence to make broad generalizations about phage host range in natural populations, the limits of phage adaptation to novel hosts, or the implications of phage specificity in shaping microbial communities. However, the combination of experimental and genomic approaches with the study of natural communities will allow new insight to the evolution and impact of phage specificity within complex bacterial communities.
The outbreak of West Nile virus (WNV) in 1999 in the USA, and its continued spread throughout the Americas, parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, underscored the need for WNV antiviral development. Here, we review the current status of WNV drug discovery. A number of approaches have been used to search for inhibitors of WNV, including viral infection-based screening, enzyme-based screening, structure-based virtual screening, structure-based rationale design, and antibody-based therapy. These efforts have yielded inhibitors of viral or cellular factors that are critical for viral replication. For small molecule inhibitors, no promising preclinical candidate has been developed; most of the inhibitors could not even be advanced to the stage of hit-to-lead optimization due to their poor drug-like properties. However, several inhibitors developed for related members of the family Flaviviridae, such as dengue virus and hepatitis C virus, exhibited cross-inhibition of WNV, suggesting the possibility to re-purpose these antivirals for WNV treatment. Most promisingly, therapeutic antibodies have shown excellent efficacy in mouse model; one of such antibodies has been advanced into clinical trial. The knowledge accumulated during the past fifteen years has provided better rationale for the ongoing WNV and other flavivirus antiviral development.
Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is a group of viruses that belongs to the Picornaviridae family, which also includes viruses such as polioviruses. EV71, together with coxsackieviruses, is widely known for its association with Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD), which generally affects children age five and below. Besides HFMD, EV71 can also trigger more severe and life-threatening neurological conditions such as encephalitis. Considering the lack of a vaccine and antiviral drug against EV71, together with the increasing spread of these viruses, the development of such drugs and vaccines becomes the top priority in protecting our younger generations. This article, hence, reviews some of the recent progress in the formulations of anti-therapeutics and vaccine generation for EV71, covering (i) inactivated vaccines; (ii) baculovirus-expressed vaccines against EV71; (iii) human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment; and (iv) the use of monoclonal antibody therapy as a prevention and treatment for EV71 infections.
There is growing interest in characterizing the viromes of diverse mammalian species, particularly in the context of disease emergence. However, little is known about virome diversity in aquatic mammals, in part due to difficulties in sampling. We characterized the virome of the exhaled breath (or blow) of the Eastern Australian humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). To achieve an unbiased survey of virome diversity, a meta-transcriptomic analysis was performed on 19 pooled whale blow samples collected via a purpose-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, or drone) approximately 3 km off the coast of Sydney, Australia during the 2017 winter annual northward migration from Antarctica to northern Australia. To our knowledge, this is the first time that UAVs have been used to sample viruses. Despite the relatively small number of animals surveyed in this initial study, we identified six novel virus species from five viral families. This work demonstrates the potential of UAVs in studies of virus disease, diversity, and evolution.
High-throughput transcriptome sequencing allows for the unbiased detection of viruses in host tissues. The application of this technique to immunosuppressed animals facilitates the detection of viruses that might otherwise be excluded or contained in immunocompetent individuals. To identify potential viral pathogens infecting domestic cats we performed high-throughput transcriptome sequencing of tissues from cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). A novel member of the Hepadnaviridae, tentatively named domestic cat hepadnavirus, was discovered in a lymphoma sample and its complete 3187 bp genome characterized. Phylogenetic analysis placed the domestic cat hepadnavirus as a divergent member of mammalian orthohepadnaviruses that exhibits no close relationship to any other virus. DNA extracted from whole blood from pet cats was positive for the novel hepadnavirus by PCR in 6 of 60 (10%) FIV-infected cats and 2 of 63 (3.2%) FIV-uninfected cats. The higher prevalence of hepadnavirus viraemia detected in FIV-infected cats mirrors that seen in human immunodeficiency virus-infected humans coinfected with hepatitis B virus. In summary, we report the first hepadnavirus infection in a carnivore and the first in a companion animal. The natural history, epidemiology and pathogenic potential of domestic cat hepadnavirus merits additional investigation.
Coronaviruses are single stranded, positive sense RNA viruses, which induce the rearrangement of cellular membranes upon infection of a host cell. This provides the virus with a platform for the assembly of viral replication complexes, improving efficiency of RNA synthesis. The membranes observed in coronavirus infected cells include double membrane vesicles. By nature of their double membrane, these vesicles resemble cellular autophagosomes, generated during the cellular autophagy pathway. In addition, coronavirus infection has been demonstrated to induce autophagy. Here we review current knowledge of coronavirus induced membrane rearrangements and the involvement of autophagy or autophagy protein microtubule associated protein 1B light chain 3 (LC3) in coronavirus replication.
Since time immemorial, phages-the viral parasites of bacteria-have been protecting Earth’s biosphere against bacterial overgrowth. Today, phages could help address the antibiotic resistance crisis that affects all of society. The greatest hurdle to the introduction of phage therapy in Western medicine is the lack of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework. Belgium is now implementing a pragmatic phage therapy framework that centers on the magistral preparation (compounding pharmacy in the US) of tailor-made phage medicines.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the etiological agent accounting for chronic liver disease in approximately 2-3% of the population worldwide. HCV infection often leads to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, various metabolic alterations including steatosis, insulin and interferon resistance or iron overload, and development of hepatocellular carcinoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Multiple molecular mechanisms that trigger the emergence and development of each of these pathogenic processes have been identified so far. One of these involves marked induction of a reactive oxygen species (ROS) in infected cells leading to oxidative stress. To date, markers of oxidative stress were observed both in chronic hepatitis C patients and in various in vitro systems, including replicons or stable cell lines expressing viral proteins. The search for ROS sources in HCV-infected cells revealed several mechanisms of ROS production and thus a number of cellular proteins have become targets for future studies. Furthermore, during last several years it has been shown that HCV modifies antioxidant defense mechanisms. The aim of this review is to summarize the present state of art in the field and to try to predict directions for future studies.
Viruses have evolved various mechanisms to evade host immunity and ensure efficient viral replication and persistence. Several DNA tumor viruses modulate host DNA methyltransferases for epigenetic dysregulation of immune-related gene expression in host cells. The host immune responses suppressed by virus-induced aberrant DNA methylation are also frequently involved in antitumor immune responses. Here, we describe viral mechanisms and virus-host interactions by which DNA tumor viruses regulate host DNA methylation to evade antiviral immunity, which may contribute to the generation of an immunosuppressive microenvironment during cancer development. Recent trials of immunotherapies have shown promising results to treat multiple cancers; however, a significant number of non-responders necessitate identifying additional targets for cancer immunotherapies. Thus, understanding immune evasion mechanisms of cancer-causing viruses may provide great insights for reversing immune suppression to prevent and treat associated cancers.
There is an epidemic of obesity starting about 1980 in both developed and undeveloped countries definitely associated with multiple etiologies. About 670 million people worldwide are obese. The incidence of obesity has increased in all age groups, including children. Obesity causes numerous diseases and the interaction between genetic, metabolic, social, cultural and environmental factors are possible cofactors for the development of obesity. Evidence emerging over the last 20 years supports the hypothesis that viral infections may be associated with obesity in animals and humans. The most widely studied infectious agent possibly linked to obesity is adenovirus 36 (Adv36). Adv36 causes obesity in animals. In humans, Adv36 associates with obesity both in adults and children and the prevalence of Adv36 increases in relation to the body mass index. In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that the viral E4orf1 protein (early region 4 open reading frame 1, Adv) mediates the Adv36 effect including its adipogenic potential. The Adv36 infection should therefore be considered as a possible risk factor for obesity and could be a potential new therapeutic target in addition to an original way to understand the worldwide rise of the epidemic of obesity. Here, the data indicating a possible link between viral infection and obesity with a particular emphasis to the Adv36 will be reviewed.