[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) (genus Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae) is an arbovirus that causes severe disease in humans and livestock in sub-Saharan African countries. Although the MP-12 strain of RVFV is a live attenuated vaccine candidate, neuroinvasiveness and neurovirulence of MP-12 in mice may be a concern when vaccinating certain individuals, especially those that are immunocompromised. We have developed a novel, single-cycle replicable MP-12 (scMP-12), which carries an L RNA, M RNA mutant encoding a mutant envelope protein lacking an endoplasmic reticulum retrieval signal and defective for membrane fusion function, and S RNA encoding N protein and green fluorescent protein. The scMP-12 underwent efficient amplification, then formed plaques and retained the introduced mutation after serial passages in a cell line stably expressing viral envelope proteins. However, inoculation of the scMP-12 into naïve cells resulted in a single round of viral replication, and production of low levels of noninfectious virus-like particles. Intracranial inoculation of scMP-12 into suckling mice did not cause clinical signs or death, a finding which demonstrated that the scMP-12 lacked neurovirulence. Mice immunized with a single dose of scMP-12 produced neutralizing antibodies, whose titers were higher than in mice immunized with replicon particles carrying L RNA and S RNA encoding N protein and green fluorescent protein. Moreover, 90% of the scMP-12-immunized mice were protected from wild-type RVFV challenge by efficiently suppressing viremia and replication of the challenge virus in the liver and the spleen. These data demonstrated that scMP-12 is a safe and immunogenic RVFV vaccine candidate.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NSm non-structural protein of Rift Valley fever virus (family Bunyaviridae, genus Phlebovirus) has an anti-apoptotic function and affects viral pathogenesis. We found that NSm integrates into the mitochondrial outer membrane, and that the protein's N-terminus is exposed to the cytoplasm. The C-terminal region of NSm, which contains a basic amino acid cluster and a putative transmembrane domain, targeted the protein to the mitochondrial outer membrane and exerted anti-apoptotic function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We characterized the RNA elements involved in the packaging of Rift Valley fever virus RNA genome segments, L, M, and S. The 5'-terminal 25 nucleotides of each RNA segment were equally competent for RNA packaging and carried an RNA packaging signal, which overlapped with the RNA replication signal. Only the deletion mutants of L RNA, but not full-length L RNA, were efficiently packaged, implying the possible requirement of RNA compaction for L RNA packaging.
Journal of Virology 01/2012; 86(7):4034-9. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Bunyaviridae family includes pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), a member in the Phlebovirus genus of the family Bunyaviridae, is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and causes a mosquito-borne disease in ruminants and humans. Viruses in the family Bunyaviridae carry a tripartite, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA genome composed of L, M, and S RNAs. Little is known about how the three genomic RNA segments are copackaged to generate infectious bunyaviruses. We explored the mechanism that governs the copackaging of the three genomic RNAs into RVFV particles. The expression of viral structural proteins along with replicating S and M RNAs resulted in the copackaging of both RNAs into RVFV-like particles, while replacing M RNA with M1 RNA, lacking a part of the M RNA 5' UTR, abrogated the RNA copackaging. L RNA was efficiently packaged into virus particles released from cells supporting the replication of L, M, and S RNAs, and replacing M RNA with M1 RNA abolished the packaging of L RNA. Detailed analyses using various combinations of replicating viral RNAs suggest that M RNA alone or a coordinated function of M and S RNAs exerted efficient L RNA packaging either directly or indirectly. Collectively, these data are consistent with the possibility that specific intermolecular interactions among the three viral RNAs drive the copackaging of these RNAs to produce infectious RVFV.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2011; 108(2):804-9. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), a member of the genus Phlebovirus within the family Bunyaviridae, is a negative-stranded RNA virus with a tripartite genome. RVFV is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes fever and severe hemorrhagic illness among humans, while in livestock it causes fever and high abortion rates.
Sequence analysis showed that a wild-type RVFV ZH501 preparation consisted of two major viral subpopulations, with a single nucleotide heterogeneity at nucleotide 847 of M segment (M847); one had a G residue at M847 encoding glycine in a major viral envelope Gn protein, while the other carried A residue encoding glutamic acid at the corresponding site. Two ZH501-derived viruses, rZH501-M847-G and rZH501-M847-A, carried identical genomic sequences, except that the former and the latter had G and A, respectively, at M847 were recovered by using a reverse genetics system. Intraperitoneal inoculation of rZH501-M847-A into mice caused a rapid and efficient viral accumulation in the sera, livers, spleens, kidneys and brains, and killed most of the mice within 8 days, whereas rZH501-M847-G caused low viremia titers, did not replicate as efficiently as did rZH501-M847-A in these organs, and had attenuated virulence to mice. Remarkably, as early as 2 days postinfection with rZH501-M847-G, the viruses carrying A at M847 emerged and became the major virus population thereafter, while replicating viruses retained the input A residue at M847 in rZH501-M847-A-infected mice.
These data demonstrated that the single nucleotide substitution in the Gn protein substantially affected the RVFV mouse virulence and that a virus population carrying the virulent viral genotype quickly emerged and became the major viral population within a few days in mice that were inoculated with the attenuated virus.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(4):e9986. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) (genus Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae) causes mosquito-borne epidemic diseases in humans and livestock. The virus carries three RNA segments, L, M, and S, of negative or ambisense polarity. L protein, an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, encoded in the L segment, and N protein, encoded in the S segment, exert viral RNA replication and transcription. Coexpression of N, hemagglutinin (HA)-tagged L, and viral minigenome resulted in minigenome replication and transcription, a finding that demonstrated HA-tagged L was biologically active. Likewise L tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) was biologically competent. Coimmunoprecipitation analysis using extracts from cells coexpressing HA-tagged L and GFP-tagged L showed the formation of an L oligomer. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis and coimmunoprecipitation studies demonstrated the formation of an intermolecular L-L interaction through its N-terminal and C-terminal regions and also suggested an intramolecular association between the N-terminal and C-terminal regions of L protein. A biologically inactive L mutant, in which the conserved signature SDD motif was replaced by the amino acid residues GNN, exhibited a dominant negative phenotype when coexpressed with wild-type L in the minigenome assay system. Expression of this mutant L also inhibited viral gene expression in virus-infected cells. These data provided compelling evidence for the importance of oligomerization of RVFV L protein for its polymerase activity.
Journal of Virology 10/2009; 83(24):12779-89. · 5.08 Impact Factor