[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HCV genotype 4 is prevalent in many African countries, yet little is known about the genotype׳s epidemic history on the continent. We present a comprehensive study of the molecular epidemiology of genotype 4. To address the deficit of data from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) we PCR amplified 60 new HCV isolates from the DRC, resulting in 33 core- and 48 NS5B-region sequences. Our data, together with genotype 4 database sequences, were analysed using Bayesian phylogenetic approaches. We find three well-supported intra-genotypic lineages and estimate that the genotype 4 common ancestor existed around 1733 (1650–1805). We show that genotype 4 originated in central Africa and that multiple lineages have been exported to north Africa since ~1850, including subtype 4a which dominates the epidemic in Egypt. We speculate on the causes of the historical intra-continental spread of genotype 4, including population movements during World War 2.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The family Hepeviridae consists of positive-stranded RNA viruses that infect a wide range of mammalian species, as well as chickens and trout. A subset of these viruses infects humans and can cause a self-limiting acute hepatitis that may become chronic in immunosuppressed individuals. Current published descriptions of the taxonomical divisions within the family Hepeviridae are contradictory in relation to the assignment of species and genotypes. Through analysis of existing sequence information, we propose a taxonomic scheme in which the family is divided into the genera Orthohepevirus (all mammalian and avian hepatitis E virus (HEV) isolates) and Piscihepevirus (cutthroat trout virus). Species within the genus Orthohepevirus are designated Orthohepevirus A (isolates from human, pig, wild boar, deer, mongoose, rabbit and camel), Orthohepevirus B (isolates from chicken), Orthohepevirus C (isolates from rat, greater bandicoot, Asian musk shrew, ferret and mink) and Orthohepevirus D (isolates from bat). Proposals are also made for the designation of genotypes within the human and rat HEVs. This hierarchical system is congruent with hepevirus phylogeny, and the three classification levels (genus, species and genotype) are consistent with, and reflect discontinuities in the ranges of pairwise distances between amino acid sequences. Adoption of this system would include the avoidance of host names in taxonomic identifiers and provide a logical framework for the assignment of novel variants.
Journal of General Virology 07/2014; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fulminant hepatitis is a rare outcome of infection with hepatitis E virus. Several recent reports suggest that virus variation is an important determinant of disease progression.
Liver international: official journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver 06/2014; · 3.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Non-primate hepacivirus (NPHV), equine pegivirus (EPgV) and Theiler's disease associated virus (TDAV) are newly discovered members of two genera in the Flaviviridae family, Hepacivirus and Pegivirus respectively, that include human hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human pegivirus (HPgV). To investigate their epidemiology, persistence and clinical features of infection, large cohorts of horses and other mammalian species were screened for NPHV, EPgV and TDAV viraemia and for past exposure through serological assays for NPHV and EPgV-specific antibodies. NPHV antibodies were detected in 43% of 328 horses screened for antibodies to NS3 and core antibodies, of which three were viraemic by PCR. All five horses that were stablemates of a viraemic horse were seropositive, as was a dog on the same farm. With this single exception, all other species were negative for NPHV antibodies and viraemia (donkeys (n=100), dogs (n=112), cats (n=131), non-human primates (n=164) and humans (n=362). EPgV antibodies to NS3 were detected in 66.5% of horses, including 11 of the 12 horses that had EPgV viraemia. All donkey samples were negative for EPgV antibody and RNA. All horse and donkey samples were negative for TDAV RNA. By comparing viraemia frequencies in horses with and without liver disease, no evidence was obtained that supported an association between active NPHV and EPgV infections with hepatopathy. The study demonstrates that NPHV and EPgV infections are widespread and enzootic in the study horse population and confirms that NPHV and potentially EPgV have higher frequencies of viral clearance than HCV and HPgV infections in humans.
Journal of General Virology 05/2014; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anelloviruses are a family of small single stranded circular DNA viruses with a vast genetic diversity. Human infections with the prototype anellovirus, torque teno virus (TTV), are ubiquitous and related viruses have been described in a number of other mammalian hosts. Despite over 15 years of investigation, however, there is still little known about the pathogenesis and possible disease associations of anellovirus infections, arising in part due to the lack of a robust cell culture system for viral replication or tractable small animal model. We report the identification of diverse anelloviruses in several species of wild rodents. The viruses are highly prevalent in wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and field voles (Microtus agrestis), detectable at a low frequency in bank voles (Myodes glareolus) but absent from house mice (Mus musculus). The viruses identified have a genomic organisation consistent with other anelloviruses but form two clear phylogenetic groups that are as distinct from each other as from defined genera.
Journal of General Virology 04/2014; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SUMMARY To combat schistosomiasis, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that infection levels are determined prior to designing and implementing control programmes, as the treatment regimens depend on the population infection prevalence. However, the sensitivity of the parasitological infection diagnostic method is less reliable when infection levels are low. The aim of this study was to compare levels of Schistosoma haematobium infection obtained by the parasitological method vs serological technique. Infection levels in preschool and primary school-aged children and their implications for control programmes were also investigated. Infection prevalence based on serology was significantly higher compared with that based on parasitology for both age groups. The difference between infection levels obtained using the two methods increased with age. Consequentially, in line with the WHO guidelines, the serological method suggested a more frequent treatment regimen for this population compared with that implied by the parasitological method. These findings highlighted the presence of infection in children aged ⩽5 years, further reiterating the need for their inclusion in control programmes. Furthermore, this study demonstrated the importance of using sensitive diagnostic methods as this has implications on the required intervention controls for the population.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Enteroviruses (EVs) are a genetically and antigenically diverse group of viruses infecting humans. A mostly distinct set of EV variants have additionally been documented to infect wild apes and several, primarily captive, Old World monkey (OWM) species. To investigate the prevalence and genetic characteristics of EVs infecting OWMs in the wild, faecal samples from mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) and other species collected in remote regions of Southern Cameroon were screened for EV RNA. Remarkably high rates of EV positivity were detected in M.sphinx (100 from 102 screened), Cercocebus torquatus (7/7) and Cercopithecus cephus (2/4), with high viral loads indicative of active infection. Genetic characterisation in VP4/VP2 and VP1 regions allowed EV variants to be assigned to simian species H (EV-H), EV-J (including one or more new types) while seven matched simian EV-B variants, SA5 and EV110 (chimpanzee). Sequences from the remaining 70 formed a new genetic group distinct in VP4/2 and VP1 region from all currently recognised human or simian EV species. Complete genome sequences were obtained from three to determine their species assignment. In common with EV-J and the EV-A A13 isolate, new group sequences were chimaeric, being most closely related to EV-A in capsid genes and to EV-B in the non-structural gene region. Further recombination events created different groupings in 5' and 3' untranslated regions. While clearly a distinct EV group, the hybrid nature of new variants prevented their unambiguous classification as either members of a new species or as divergent members of EV-A using current ICTV assignment criteria.
This study is the first large scale investigation of the frequency of infection and diversity of enteroviruses (EVs) infecting monkeys (primarily mandrills) in the wild. Findings demonstrate extremely high frequencies of active infection (95%) among mandrills and other Old World monkey species inhabiting remote regions of Cameroon without human contact. EV variants detected were distinct from those infecting human populations, comprising members of enterovirus species B, J and H and a large novel group of viruses that potentially represent a candidate new EV species. The viral sequences obtained contribute substantially to our growing understanding of the genetic diversity of EVs and the existence of inter-species chimaerism that characterises the novel variants in the current study, as well as in previously characterised species A and J viruses infecting monkeys. The latter findings will contribute to future development of consensus criteria for species assignments in enteroviruses and other picornavirus genera.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most RNA viruses infecting mammals and other vertebrates show profound suppression of CpG and UpA dinucleotide frequencies. To investigate this functionally, mutants of the picornavirus, echovirus 7 (E7), were constructed with altered CpG and UpA compositions in two 1.1-1.3 Kbase regions. Those with increased frequencies of CpG and UpA showed impaired replication kinetics and higher RNA/infectivity ratios compared with wild-type virus. Remarkably, mutants with CpGs and UpAs removed showed enhanced replication, larger plaques and rapidly outcompeted wild-type virus on co-infections. Luciferase-expressing E7 sub-genomic replicons with CpGs and UpAs removed from the reporter gene showed 100-fold greater luminescence. E7 and mutants were equivalently sensitive to exogenously added interferon-β, showed no evidence for differential recognition by ADAR1 or pattern recognition receptors RIG-I, MDA5 or PKR. However, kinase inhibitors roscovitine and C16 partially or entirely reversed the attenuated phenotype of high CpG and UpA mutants, potentially through inhibition of currently uncharacterized pattern recognition receptors that respond to RNA composition. Generating viruses with enhanced replication kinetics has applications in vaccine production and reporter gene construction. More fundamentally, the findings introduce a new evolutionary paradigm where dinucleotide composition of viral genomes is subjected to selection pressures independently of coding capacity and profoundly influences host-pathogen interactions.
Nucleic Acids Research 01/2014; · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The long-term impact of chronic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection on brain status in injecting drug users (IDU) treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is unknown. Viral persistence in the brain with ongoing neuroinflammation may predispose to Alzheimer-like neurodegeneration. In this study, we investigated the brains of ten HAART-treated individuals (six IDU and four non-DU), compared with ten HIV negative controls (six IDU and four non-DU). HIV DNA levels in brain tissue were correlated with plasma and lymphoid tissue viral loads, cognitive status, microglial activation and Tau protein and amyloid deposition. Brain HIV proviral DNA levels were low in most cases but higher in HIV encephalitis (n = 2) and correlated significantly with levels in lymphoid tissue (p = 0.0075), but not with those in plasma. HIV positive subjects expressed more Tau protein and amyloid than HIV negative controls (highest in a 58 year old), as did IDU, but brain viral loads showed no relation to Tau and amyloid. Microglial activation linked significantly to HIV positivity (p = 0.001) and opiate abuse accentuated these microglial changes (p = 0.05). This study confirms that HIV DNA persists in brains despite HAART and that opiate abuse adds to the risk of brain damage in HIV positive subjects. Novel findings in this study show that (1) plasma levels are not a good surrogate indicator of brain status, (2) viral burden in brain and lymphoid tissues is related, and (3) while Tau and amyloid deposition is increased in HIV positive IDU, this is not specifically related to increased HIV burden within the brain.
Journal of NeuroVirology 01/2014; · 2.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The epidemiology of viral hepatitis has changed. Since the introduction of safe and effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B in 1980s, the incidence of acute infections caused by these viruses has been declining in the UK. At the same time, hepatitis E virus (HEV) has been recognised as an increasingly important cause of acute hepatitis, but testing is not widely available.
The aim of this study was to establish the viral causes of acute hepatitis, and use that data to modify the current diagnostic algorithm.
A Cognos search was performed to collate subjects tested for HAV, HBV, HCV, HEV, EBV and CMV between June 2010 and December 2012. Information included virological result and their ALT level if done within 5 days from virological testing.
From 3462 subjects with suspected acute viral hepatitis, only 25% had biochemical evidence of acute hepatitis (n=854; ALT>100IU/l). The frequency of detection of acute HEV infection (25/409) was over 31-times higher than that of HAV (6/3462), and 7-times higher than that of HBV (24/3462). Most cases of acute HAV, HEV, EBV and CMV infections presented with abnormal ALT levels. Most EBV infections were associated with lymphadenopathy (23/34); in comparison most of CMV infections were not associated with lymphadenopathy (18/22).
HEV screening should be included in the initial testing panel for acute hepatitis and screening at least for HAV and HEV might be limited to those with abnormal ALT levels.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology 01/2014; · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 2005 consensus proposal for the classification of hepatitis C virus (HCV) presented an agreed and uniform nomenclature for HCV variants and the criteria for their assignment into genotypes and subtypes. Since its publication, the available dataset of HCV sequences has vastly expanded through advancement in nucleotide sequencing technologies and an increasing focus on the role of HCV genetic variation in disease and treatment outcomes. The current study represents a major update to the previous consensus HCV classification, incorporating additional sequence information derived from over 1,300 (near-)complete genome sequences of HCV available on public databases in May 2013. Analysis resolved several nomenclature conflicts between genotype designations and using consensus criteria created a classification of HCV into seven confirmed genotypes and 67 subtypes. There are 21 additional complete coding region sequences of unassigned subtype. The study additionally describes the development of a Web resource hosted by the International Committee for Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) that maintains and regularly updates tables of reference isolates, accession numbers, and annotated alignments (http://talk.ictvonline.org/links/hcv/hcv-classification.htm). The Flaviviridae Study Group urges those who need to check or propose new genotypes or subtypes of HCV to contact the Study Group in advance of publication to avoid nomenclature conflicts appearing in the literature. While the criteria for assigning genotypes and subtypes remain unchanged from previous consensus proposals, changes are proposed in the assignment of provisional subtypes, subtype numbering beyond “w,” and the nomenclature of intergenotypic recombinant. Conclusion: This study represents an important reference point for the consensus classification of HCV variants that will be of value to researchers working in clinical and basic science fields. (Hepatology 2014;59:318-327)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives
Enteroviruses (EV) and human parechoviruses (HPeV) infections are increasingly indentified in neonates and young children with sepsis, meningitis and encephalitis. We investigated EV and HPeV viral loads in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) among those presenting with sepsis or central nervous system (CNS) disease to gain understanding of the nature of these infections.
Detections frequencies and viral loads of EV and HPeV RNA were compared in plasma and CSF obtained from infected children originally identified on sepsis or CNS screening.
Two distinct infection profiles were identified; 11 subjects with CNS disease, showed higher or similar viral loads in CSF than in plasma (median plasma:CSF ratio 0.5), whereas 14 children with sepsis showed low or undetectable viral loads in CSF and high viral loads in plasma (mean ratio 5,700). HPeV type 3 and one EV serotype (coxsackievirus B2) were primarily associated with the latter presentation.
Simple detection of EV or HPeV RNA in CSF is not predictive of CNS disease, especially in the absence of clinical markers (i.e. pleocytosis). Screening of plasma can identify EV and HPeV RNA in a substantial proportion of sepsis cases, some of which will be missed if CSF samples alone are screened.
The Journal of infection 01/2014; · 4.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA viruses infecting vertebrates differ fundamentally in their ability to establish persistent infections with markedly different patterns of transmission, disease mechanisms and evolutionary relationships with their hosts. Although interactions with host innate and adaptive responses are complex and persistence mechanisms likely multi-factorial, we previously observed associations between bioinformatically predicted RNA secondary formation in genomes of positive-stranded RNA viruses with their in vivo fitness and persistence. To analyse this interactions functionally, we transfected fibroblasts with non-replicating, non-translated RNA transcripts from RNA viral genomes with differing degrees of genome-scale ordered RNA structure (GORS). Single-stranded RNA transcripts induced interferon-β mediated though RIG-I and PKR activation, the latter associated with rapid induction of antiviral stress granules. A striking inverse correlation was observed between induction of both cellular responses with transcript RNA structure formation that was independent of both nucleotide composition and sequence length. The consistent inability of cells to recognize RNA transcripts possessing GORS extended to downstream differences from unstructured transcripts in expression of TNF-α, other interferon-stimulated genes and induction of apoptosis. This functional association provides novel insights into interactions between virus and host early after infection and provides evidence for a novel mechanism for evading intrinsic and innate immune responses.
Nucleic Acids Research 12/2013; · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Picornaviruses infecting pigs, described for many years as "porcine enteroviruses", have recently been recognised as containing viruses within three distinct genera (Teschovirus, Sapelovirus and Enterovirus). To better characterise the epidemiology and genetic diversity of members of the Enterovirus genus, faecal samples from pigs from four provinces in Vietnam were screened by polymerase chain reaction using conserved enterovirus-specific primers from the 5' untranslated region. High rates of infection were recorded in pigs on all farms, with detection frequencies of approximately 90% in recently weaned pigs but declining to 40% in those aged over one year. No differences in EV detection rates were observed between pigs with and without diarrhoea (74% [n=70] compared with 72% [n=128]). Genetic analysis of consensus VP4/VP2 and VP1 sequences amplified from a subset of EV-infected pigs identified species G EVs in all samples. Among these, VP1 sequence comparisons identified six type 1 and seven type 6 variants while four further VP1 sequences failed to group with any previously identified EV-G types. These have now been formally assigned as EV-G types 8-11 by the Picornavirus Study Group. Comparison of VP1, VP4/VP2, 3Dpol and 5'untranslated regions of study samples and those available on public databases showed frequent, bootstrap supported differences in their phylogenies indicative of extensive within-species recombination between genome regions. In summary, we have identified extremely high frequencies of infection with EV-G in pigs in Vietnam, substantial genetic diversity and recombination within the species and evidence for a much large number of circulating EV-G types than currently described.
Journal of General Virology 12/2013; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A total of 139 stool samples from wild chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos in Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were screened for enteroviruses (EVs) by RT-PCR. EV RNA was detected in 10% of samples, comprising 8 from 58 sampled chimpanzees (13.8%), 1/40 bonobos (2.5%) and 5/40 gorillas (12.2%). Three chimpanzee variants grouped with human isolate EV-A89 while four (4 chimpanzee, 1 gorilla) represented a newly identified type, EV-A119. These species A virus types overlapped with those circulating in human populations in the same area. The remaining six strains comprised a new species D type, EV-D120, infecting one chimpanzee and 4 gorillas, and a single EV variant infecting a bonobo that was remarkably divergent from other EVs and potentially constitutes a new enterovirus species. The study demonstrates both the circulation of genetically divergent EV variants in apes and monkeys as well as those shared with local human populations.
Journal of General Virology 11/2013; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis E virus is well recognized cause of acute hepatitis. Traditionally hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections were generally associated with travel to Asia and Africa. Autochthonous hepatitis E is recognized as a major cause acute hepatitis in England and Wales. However, autochthonous hepatitis E has never been documented in Scotland.
We attempted to determine if autochthonous HEV occurred in Scotland.
Samples from 377 individuals in the South-East of Scotland presenting with acute hepatitis were tested over six years. Acute hepatitis E was confirmed by detecting viraemia or documenting seroconversion and ORF-2 region sequenced. Structured interviews were carried out to identify risk factors for infection.
Sixteen individuals (4.2%) had evidence of past HEV infection. Twelve (3.2%) had acute HEV infection, 10 of whom had viraemia (genotype 1=3; genotype 3=7). Of these seven with genotype 3 infection, three had not travelled outside Scotland within the incubation period, while four had travelled to Spain (n=3) or Turkey (n=1). All three individuals with genotype 1 infection had travelled to the Indian subcontinent.
A significant proportion of HEV genotype 3 infections was autochthonous (43%). HEV screening should hence be an integral part of acute hepatitis screening in Scotland, irrespective of the travel history.
Journal of clinical virology: the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology 10/2013; · 3.12 Impact Factor