SciCombinator

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

Journal: Viruses

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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.

Concepts: DNA methylation, Organism, Gene, Virus, Cancer, Gene expression, Immune system, DNA

23

The apolipoprotein B messenger RNA-editing, enzyme-catalytic, polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3) family of cytidine deaminases plays an important role in the innate immune response to viral infections by editing viral genomes. However, the cytidine deaminase activity of APOBEC3 enzymes also induces somatic mutations in host genomes, which may drive cancer progression. Recent studies of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and disease outcome highlight this duality. HPV infection is potently inhibited by one family member, APOBEC3A. Expression of APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B is highly elevated by the HPV oncoproteins E6 and E7 during persistent virus infection and disease progression. Furthermore, there is a high prevalence of APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B mutation signatures in HPV-associated cancers. These findings suggest that induction of an APOBEC3-mediated antiviral response during HPV infection may inadvertently contribute to cancer mutagenesis and virus evolution. Here, we discuss current understanding of APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B biology in HPV restriction, evolution, and associated cancer mutagenesis.

Concepts: Bacteria, Infection, Disease, Mutation, Virus, Cancer, Human papillomavirus, Immune system

21

Prior to the discovery of the mimivirus in 2003, viruses were thought to be physically small and genetically simple. Mimivirus, with its ~750-nm particle size and its ~1.2-Mbp genome, shattered these notions and changed what it meant to be a virus. Since this discovery, the isolation and characterization of giant viruses has exploded. One of the more recently discovered giant viruses, Samba virus, is a Mimivirus that was isolated from the Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon. Initial characterization of Samba has revealed some structural information, although the preparation techniques used are prone to the generation of structural artifacts. To generate more native-like structural information for Samba, we analyzed the virus through cryo-electron microscopy, cryo-electron tomography, scanning electron microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy. These microscopy techniques demonstrated that Samba particles have a capsid diameter of ~527 nm and a fiber length of ~155 nm, making Samba the largest Mimivirus yet characterized. We also compared Samba to a fiberless mimivirus variant. Samba particles, unlike those of mimivirus, do not appear to be rigid, and quasi-icosahedral, although the two viruses share many common features, including a multi-layered capsid and an asymmetric nucleocapsid, which may be common amongst the Mimiviruses.

Concepts: Electron microscope, Virology, Organism, Brazil, Microscope, Electron, Genome, Virus

20

Myxoma virus (MYXV) is the type species of the Leporipoxviruses, a genus of Chordopoxvirinae, double stranded DNA viruses, whose members infect leporids and squirrels, inducing cutaneous fibromas from which virus is mechanically transmitted by biting arthropods. However, in the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), MYXV causes the lethal disease myxomatosis. The release of MYXV as a biological control for the wild European rabbit population in Australia, initiated one of the great experiments in evolution. The subsequent coevolution of MYXV and rabbits is a classic example of natural selection acting on virulence as a pathogen adapts to a novel host species. Slightly attenuated mutants of the progenitor virus were more readily transmitted by the mosquito vector because the infected rabbit survived longer, while highly attenuated viruses could be controlled by the rabbit immune response. As a consequence, moderately attenuated viruses came to dominate. This evolution of the virus was accompanied by selection for genetic resistance in the wild rabbit population, which may have created an ongoing co-evolutionary dynamic between resistance and virulence for efficient transmission. This natural experiment was repeated on a continental scale with the release of a separate strain of MYXV in France and its subsequent spread throughout Europe. The selection of attenuated strains of virus and resistant rabbits mirrored the experience in Australia in a very different environment, albeit with somewhat different rates. Genome sequencing of the progenitor virus and the early radiation, as well as those from the 1990s in Australia and Europe, has shown that although MYXV evolved at high rates there was no conserved route to attenuation or back to virulence. In contrast, it seems that these relatively large viral genomes have the flexibility for multiple pathways that converge on a similar phenotype.

Concepts: Genetics, Genome, Virus, European Rabbit, Rabbit, Gene, Evolution, DNA

15

The English sweating sickness caused five devastating epidemics between 1485 and 1551, England was hit hardest, but on one occasion also mainland Europe, with mortality rates between 30% and 50%. The Picardy sweat emerged about 150 years after the English sweat disappeared, in 1718, in France. It caused 196 localized outbreaks and apparently in its turn disappeared in 1861. Both diseases have been the subject of numerous attempts to define their origin, but so far all efforts were in vain. Although both diseases occurred in different time frames and were geographically not overlapping, a common denominator could be what we know today as hantavirus infections. This review aims to shed light on the characteristics of both diseases from contemporary as well as current knowledge and suggests hantavirus infection as the most likely cause for the English sweating sickness as well as for the Picardy sweat.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Hantavirus

14

Influenza A viruses (IAVs) cause seasonal pandemics and epidemics with high morbidity and mortality, which calls for effective anti-IAV agents. The glycoprotein hemagglutinin of influenza virus plays a crucial role in the initial stage of virus infection, making it a potential target for anti-influenza therapeutics development. Here we found that quercetin inhibited influenza infection with a wide spectrum of strains, including A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (H1N1), A/FM-1/47/1 (H1N1), and A/Aichi/2/68 (H3N2) with half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 7.756 ± 1.097, 6.225 ± 0.467, and 2.738 ± 1.931 μg/mL, respectively. Mechanism studies identified that quercetin showed interaction with the HA2 subunit. Moreover, quercetin could inhibit the entry of the H5N1 virus using the pseudovirus-based drug screening system. This study indicates that quercetin showing inhibitory activity in the early stage of influenza infection provides a future therapeutic option to develop effective, safe and affordable natural products for the treatment and prophylaxis of IAV infections.

Concepts: Pandemic, Antiviral drug, Avian influenza, Transmission and infection of H5N1, 2009 flu pandemic, Influenza pandemic, Virus, Influenza

13

In contrast to previous incursions of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAIV) H5 viruses, H5N8 clade 2.3.4.4b viruses caused numerous cases of lethal infections in white-tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) affecting mainly young eagles (younger than five years of age) in Germany during winter 2016/2017. Until April 2017, 17 HPAIV H5N8-positive white-tailed sea eagles had been detected (three found alive and 14 carcasses) by real-time RT-PCR and partial nucleotide sequence analyses. Severe neurological clinical signs were noticed which were corroborated by immunohistopathology revealing mild to moderate, oligo- to multifocal necrotizing virus-induced polioencephalitis. Lethal lead (Pb) concentrations, a main factor of mortality in sea eagles in previous years, could be ruled out by atomic absorption spectrometry. HPAIV H5 clade 2.3.4.4b reportedly is the first highly pathogenic influenza virus known to induce fatal disease in European white-tailed see eagles. This virus strain may become a new health threat to a highly protected species across its distribution range in Eurasia. Positive cloacal swabs suggest that eagles can spread the virus with their faeces.

11

Dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) are now known to be the vertebrate animal reservoir that intermittently transmits the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to humans. Yet, details as to the specific mechanism(s) of zoonotic transmission from dromedaries to humans remain unclear. The aim of this study was to describe direct and indirect contact with dromedaries among all cases, and then separately for primary, non-primary, and unclassified cases of laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 1 January 2015 and 13 April 2018. We present any reported dromedary contact: direct, indirect, and type of indirect contact. Of all 1125 laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases reported to WHO during the time period, there were 348 (30.9%) primary cases, 455 (40.4%) non-primary cases, and 322 (28.6%) unclassified cases. Among primary cases, 191 (54.9%) reported contact with dromedaries: 164 (47.1%) reported direct contact, 155 (44.5%) reported indirect contact. Five (1.1%) non-primary cases also reported contact with dromedaries. Overall, unpasteurized milk was the most frequent type of dromedary product consumed. Among cases for whom exposure was systematically collected and reported to WHO, contact with dromedaries or dromedary products has played an important role in zoonotic transmission.

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Extensive surveillance in bat populations in response to recent emerging diseases has revealed that this group of mammals acts as a reservoir for a large range of viruses. However, the oldest known association between a zoonotic virus and a bat is that between rabies virus and the vampire bat. Vampire bats are only found in Latin America and their unique method of obtaining nutrition, blood-feeding or haematophagy, has only evolved in the New World. The adaptations that enable blood-feeding also make the vampire bat highly effective at transmitting rabies virus. Whether the virus was present in pre-Columbian America or was introduced is much disputed, however, the introduction of Old World livestock and associated landscape modification, which continues to the present day, has enabled vampire bat populations to increase. This in turn has provided the conditions for rabies re-emergence to threaten both livestock and human populations as vampire bats target large mammals. This review considers the ecology of the vampire bat that make it such an efficient vector for rabies, the current status of vampire-transmitted rabies and the future prospects for spread by this virus and its control.

Concepts: Present, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Rabies, Americas, Evolution, Future, Bat, Vampire

10

After Edward Jenner established human vaccination over 200 years ago, attenuated poxviruses became key players to contain the deadliest virus of its own family: Variola virus (VARV), the causative agent of smallpox. Cowpox virus (CPXV) and horsepox virus (HSPV) were extensively used to this end, passaged in cattle and humans until the appearance of vaccinia virus (VACV), which was used in the final campaigns aimed to eradicate the disease, an endeavor that was accomplished by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1980. Ever since, naturally evolved strains used for vaccination were introduced into research laboratories where VACV and other poxviruses with improved safety profiles were generated. Recombinant DNA technology along with the DNA genome features of this virus family allowed the generation of vaccines against heterologous diseases, and the specific insertion and deletion of poxvirus genes generated an even broader spectrum of modified viruses with new properties that increase their immunogenicity and safety profile as vaccine vectors. In this review, we highlight the evolution of poxvirus vaccines, from first generation to the current status, pointing out how different vaccines have emerged and approaches that are being followed up in the development of more rational vaccines against a wide range of diseases.

Concepts: Virus, Poxviridae, Vaccinia, DNA, Edward Jenner, Cowpox, Vaccination, Smallpox