Robert F Garry

Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

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Publications (210)1320.31 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has the potential to transform the discovery of viruses causing unexplained acute febrile illness (UAFI) because it does not depend on culturing the pathogen or a priori knowledge of the pathogen's nucleic acid sequence. More generally, it has the potential to elucidate the complete human virome, including viruses that cause no overt symptoms of disease, but may have unrecognized immunological or developmental consequences. We have used NGS to identify RNA viruses in the blood of 195 patients with UAFI and compared them with those found in 328 apparently healthy (i.e., no overt signs of illness) control individuals, all from communities in southeastern Nigeria. Among UAFI patients, we identified the presence of nucleic acids from several well-characterized pathogenic viruses, such as HIV-1, hepatitis, and Lassa virus. In our cohort of healthy individuals, however, we detected the nucleic acids of two novel rhabdoviruses. These viruses, which we call Ekpoma virus-1 (EKV-1) and Ekpoma virus-2 (EKV-2), are highly divergent, with little identity to each other or other known viruses. The most closely related rhabdoviruses are members of the genus Tibrovirus and Bas-Congo virus (BASV), which was recently identified in an individual with symptoms resembling hemorrhagic fever. Furthermore, by conducting a serosurvey of our study cohort, we find evidence for remarkably high exposure rates to the identified rhabdoviruses. The recent discoveries of novel rhabdoviruses by multiple research groups suggest that human infection with rhabdoviruses might be common. While the prevalence and clinical significance of these viruses are currently unknown, these viruses could have previously unrecognized impacts on human health; further research to understand the immunological and developmental impact of these viruses should be explored. More generally, the identification of similar novel viruses in individuals with and without overt symptoms of disease highlights the need for a broader understanding of the human virome as efforts for viral detection and discovery advance.
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Zoonotic infections, which transmit from animals to humans, form the majority of new human pathogens. Following zoonotic transmission, the pathogen may already have, or may acquire, the ability to transmit from human to human. With infections such as Lassa fever (LF), an often fatal, rodent-borne, hemorrhagic fever common in areas of West Africa, rodent-to-rodent, rodent-to-human, human-to-human and even human-to-rodent transmission patterns are possible. Indeed, large hospital-related outbreaks have been reported. Estimating the proportion of transmission due to human-to-human routes and related patterns (e.g. existence of super-spreaders), in these scenarios is challenging, but essential for planned interventions.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 01/2015; 9(1):e3398. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003398 · 4.49 Impact Factor
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    William R Gallaher, Robert F Garry
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    ABSTRACT: Filoviruses, such as Ebola and Marburg viruses, cause severe outbreaks of human infection, including the extensive epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa in 2014. In the course of examining mutations in the glycoprotein gene associated with 2014 Ebola virus (EBOV) sequences, a differential level of conservation was noted between the soluble form of glycoprotein (sGP) and the full length glycoprotein (GP), which are both encoded by the GP gene via RNA editing. In the region of the proteins encoded after the RNA editing site sGP was more conserved than the overlapping region of GP when compared to a distant outlier species, Tai Forest ebolavirus. Half of the amino acids comprising the "delta peptide", a 40 amino acid carboxy-terminal fragment of sGP, were identical between otherwise widely divergent species. A lysine-rich amphipathic peptide motif was noted at the carboxyl terminus of delta peptide with high structural relatedness to the cytolytic peptide of the non-structural protein 4 (NSP4) of rotavirus. EBOV delta peptide is a candidate viroporin, a cationic pore-forming peptide, and may contribute to EBOV pathogenesis.
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Lassa fever (LF) is a severe viral hemorrhagic fever caused by Lassa virus (LASV). The LF program at the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in Eastern Sierra Leone currently provides diagnostic services and clinical care for more than 500 suspected LF cases per year. Nearly two-thirds of suspected LF patients presenting to the LF Ward test negative for either LASV antigen or anti-LASV immunoglobulin M (IgM), and therefore are considered to have a non-Lassa febrile illness (NLFI). The NLFI patients in this study were generally severely ill, which accounts for their high case fatality rate of 36%. The current studies were aimed at determining possible causes of severe febrile illnesses in non-LF cases presenting to the KGH, including possible involvement of filoviruses. A seroprevalence survey employing commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests revealed significant IgM and IgG reactivity against dengue virus, chikungunya virus, West Nile virus (WNV), Leptospira, and typhus. A polymerase chain reaction-based survey using sera from subjects with acute LF, evidence of prior LASV exposure, or NLFI revealed widespread infection with Plasmodium falciparum malaria in febrile patients. WNV RNA was detected in a subset of patients, and a 419 nt amplicon specific to filoviral L segment RNA was detected at low levels in a single patient. However, 22% of the patients presenting at the KGH between 2011 and 2014 who were included in this survey registered anti-Ebola virus (EBOV) IgG or IgM, suggesting prior exposure to this agent. The 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is already the deadliest and most widely dispersed outbreak of its kind on record. Serological evidence reported here for possible human exposure to filoviruses in Sierra Leone prior to the current EVD outbreak supports genetic analysis that EBOV may have been present in West Africa for some time prior to the 2014 outbreak.
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    ABSTRACT: We have developed a robust RNA sequencing method for generating complete de novo assemblies with intra-host variant calls of Lassa and Ebola virus genomes in clinical and biological samples. Our method uses targeted RNase H-based digestion to remove contaminating poly(rA) carrier and ribosomal RNA. This depletion step improves both the quality of data and quantity of informative reads in unbiased total RNA sequencing libraries. We have also developed a hybrid-selection protocol to further enrich the viral content of sequencing libraries. These protocols have enabled rapid deep sequencing of both Lassa and Ebola virus and are broadly applicable to other viral genomics studies.
    Genome Biology 11/2014; 15(11):519. DOI:10.1186/PREACCEPT-1698056557139770 · 10.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Limited clinical and laboratory data are available on patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD). The Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, which had an existing infrastructure for research regarding viral hemorrhagic fever, has received and cared for patients with EVD since the beginning of the outbreak in Sierra Leone in May 2014. Methods We reviewed available epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory records of patients in whom EVD was diagnosed between May 25 and June 18, 2014. We used quantitative reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction assays to assess the load of Ebola virus (EBOV, Zaire species) in a subgroup of patients. Results Of 106 patients in whom EVD was diagnosed, 87 had a known outcome, and 44 had detailed clinical information available. The incubation period was estimated to be 6 to 12 days, and the case fatality rate was 74%. Common findings at presentation included fever (in 89% of the patients), headache (in 80%), weakness (in 66%), dizziness (in 60%), diarrhea (in 51%), abdominal pain (in 40%), and vomiting (in 34%). Clinical and laboratory factors at presentation that were associated with a fatal outcome included fever, weakness, dizziness, diarrhea, and elevated levels of blood urea nitrogen, aspartate aminotransferase, and creatinine. Exploratory analyses indicated that patients under the age of 21 years had a lower case fatality rate than those over the age of 45 years (57% vs. 94%, P=0.03), and patients presenting with fewer than 100,000 EBOV copies per milliliter had a lower case fatality rate than those with 10 million EBOV copies per milliliter or more (33% vs. 94%, P=0.003). Bleeding occurred in only 1 patient. Conclusions The incubation period and case fatality rate among patients with EVD in Sierra Leone are similar to those observed elsewhere in the 2014 outbreak and in previous outbreaks. Although bleeding was an infrequent finding, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal manifestations were common. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.).
    New England Journal of Medicine 10/2014; DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa1411680 · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ribavirin (RBV) continues to be an important component of interferon-free hepatitis C treatment regimens, as RBV alone does not inhibit HCV replication effectively; the reason for this ineffectiveness has not been established. In this study, we investigated the RBV resistance mechanism using a persistently infected HCV cell culture system. The antiviral activity of RBV against HCV was progressively impaired in the persistently infected culture, whereas interferon lambda (IFN-λ1), a Type III IFN, showed a strong antiviral response and induced viral clearance. We found that HCV replication in persistently infected cultures induces an autophagy response that impairs RBV uptake by preventing the expression of equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1). The Huh-7.5 cell line treated with an autophagy inducer, Torin 1, down-regulated membrane expression of ENT1 and terminated RBV uptake. In contrast, autophagy inhibitors hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), 3-Methyladenine (3-MA), and Bafilomycin A1 (BafA1) prevented ENT1 degradation and enhanced RBV antiviral activity. The HCV-induced autophagy response, as well as treatment with Torin 1, degrades clathrin heavy chain expression in a hepatoma cell line. Reduced expression of the clathrin heavy chain by HCV prevents ENT1 recycling to the plasma membrane and forces the ENT1 to the lysosome for degradation. This study provides a potential mechanism for the impairment of RBV antiviral activity in persistently infected HCV cell cultures, and suggests that inhibition of the HCV-induced autophagy response could be used as a strategy for improving RBV antiviral activity against HCV infection.
    Journal of Virology 10/2014; DOI:10.1128/JVI.02492-14 · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In its largest outbreak, Ebola virus disease is spreading through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. We sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone to ~2000× coverage. We observed a rapid accumulation of interhost and intrahost genetic variation, allowing us to characterize patterns of viral transmission over the initial weeks of the epidemic. This West African variant likely diverged from central African lineages around 2004, crossed from Guinea to Sierra Leone in May 2014, and has exhibited sustained human-to-human transmission subsequently, with no evidence of additional zoonotic sources. Because many of the mutations alter protein sequences and other biologically meaningful targets, they should be monitored for impact on diagnostics, vaccines, and therapies critical to outbreak response.
    Science 09/2014; 345(6202):1369-1372. DOI:10.1126/science.1259657 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Kenema Government Hospital Lassa Fever Ward in Sierra Leone, directed since 2005 by Dr. Sheikh Humarr Khan, is the only medical unit in the world devoted exclusively to patient care and research of a viral hemorrhagic fever. When Ebola virus disease unexpectedly appeared in West Africa in late 2013 and eventually spread to Kenema, Khan and his fellow healthcare workers remained at their posts, providing care to patients with this devastating illness. Khan and the chief nurse, Mbalu Fonnie, became infected and died at the end of July, a fate that they have sadly shared with more than ten other healthcare workers in Kenema and hundreds across the region. This article pays tribute to Sheik Humarr Khan, Mbalu Fonnie and all the healthcare workers who have acquired Ebola virus disease while fighting the epidemic in West Africa. Besides the emotional losses, the death of so many skilled and experienced healthcare workers will severely impair health care and research in affected regions, which can only be restored through dedicated, long-term programs.
    Antiviral Research 09/2014; 111. DOI:10.1016/j.antiviral.2014.09.001 · 3.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sequence determination of complete or coding-complete genomes of viruses is becoming common practice for supporting the work of epidemiologists, ecologists, virologists, and taxonomists. Sequencing duration and costs are rapidly decreasing, sequencing hardware is under modification for use by non-experts, and software is constantly being improved to simplify sequence data management and analysis. Thus, analysis of virus disease outbreaks on the molecular level is now feasible, including characterization of the evolution of individual virus populations in single patients over time. The increasing accumulation of sequencing data creates a management problem for the curators of commonly used sequence databases and an entry retrieval problem for end users. Therefore, utilizing the data to their fullest potential will require setting nomenclature and annotation standards for virus isolates and associated genomic sequences. The National Center for Biotechnology Information's (NCBI's) RefSeq is a non-redundant, curated database for reference (or type) nucleotide sequence records that supplies source data to numerous other databases. Building on recently proposed templates for filovirus variant naming [ ( )/ / / / - ], we report consensus decisions from a majority of past and currently active filovirus experts on the eight filovirus type variants and isolates to be represented in RefSeq, their final designations, and their associated sequences.
    Viruses 09/2014; 6(9-9):3663-82. DOI:10.3390/v6093663 · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV), a member of the family Flaviviridae, is a leading cause of chronic liver disease and cancer. Recent advances in HCV therapeutics have resulted in improved cure rates, but an HCV vaccine is not available and is urgently needed to control the global pandemic. Vaccine development has been hampered by the lack of high-resolution structural information for the two HCV envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2. Recently, Kong and co-workers (Science 342,: 1090-1094, 2013) and Khan and co-workers (Nature, 509: , 381-384. 2014) independently determined the structure of the HCV E2 ectodomain core with some unexpected and informative results. The HCV E2 ecotdomain core features a globular architecture with antiparallel β-sheets forming a central β sandwich. The residues comprising the epitopes of several neutralizing and non-neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies were also determined, which is an essential step towards obtaining a fine map of the human humoral response to HCV. Also clarified were the regions of E2 that directly bind CD81, an important HCV cellular receptor. While it has been widely assumed that HCV E2 is a class II viral fusion protein (VFP), the new structure suggests that the HCV E2 ectodomain shares structural and functional similarities only with domain III of class II VFPs. The new structural determinations suggest that the HCV glycoproteins use a different mechanism from class II fusion proteins for cell fusion.
    Journal of Virology 07/2014; 88(18). DOI:10.1128/JVI.00874-14 · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Our understanding of genome biology, genomics, and disease, and even hu-man history, has advanced tremen-dously with the completion of the Human Genome Project. Technologi-cal advances coupled with significant cost reductions in genomic research have yielded novel insights into disease etiol-ogy, diagnosis, and therapy for some of the world's most intractable and devastat-ing diseases—including ma-laria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, and diabetes. Yet, de-spite the burden of infectious diseases and, more recently, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa, Africans have only par-ticipated minimally in genomics research. Of the thousands of genome-wide association studies (GWASs) that have been conducted globally, only seven (for HIV susceptibility, malaria, tuberculosis, and podoconiosis) have been conducted exclusively on Afri-can participants; four others (for prostate cancer, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anthropometry) included some African participants (www.genome.gov/gwastudies/). As discussed in 2011 (www.h3africa.org), if the dearth of genomics research involving Africans persists, the potential health and economic benefits emanating from genomic science may elude an entire continent. The lack of large-scale genomics studies in Africa is the result of many deep-seated issues, including a shortage of African scien-tists with genomic research expertise, lack of biomedical research infrastructure, lim-ited computational expertise and resources, lack of adequate support for biomedical research by African governments, and the participation of many African scientists in collaborative research at no more than the level of sample collection. Overcoming these limitations will, in part, depend on African Enabling the genomic revolution in Africa By The H3Africa Consortium * H3Africa is developing capacity for health-related genomics research in Africa Yet, roughly a decade ago, newly pro-posed DNA-based taxonomy (11) promised to solve the species debate. A Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) (12) quickly emerged, seeking to provide a reliable, cost-effective solution to the problem of species identification (12) and a standard screening threshold of sequence differ-ence (10× average intraspecific difference) to speed the discovery of new animal spe-cies (13). Sometimes considered a "carica-ture of real taxonomy" (14), this approach failed to identify, perhaps not surprisingly, two American crow species and a number of members of the herring gull Larus ar-gentatus species assemblage above the set threshold (13). Furthermore, despite past (3) and present (6) sequencing projects, carrion crows and hooded crows can also not be differentiated from one another by means of DNA-barcode approaches. By contrast, Poelstra et al. show that much more DNA sequencing data are needed, combined with RNA expression data, to reconstruct the evolution of a reproductive barrier that culminated in the speciation of these two crow taxa. Armed with this new very detailed genetic informa-tion, it is clear that none of the currently formulated species concepts fully apply to these two crow taxa (unless one is willing relax some stringency in the various definitions). In-deed, the genomes of German carrion crows are much more similar to those of hooded crows than to Spanish car-rion crows. Put simply, apart from the few carrion crow type "speciation islands," German carrion crows could be con-sidered to represent hooded crows with a black (carrion crow) phenotype. There is a clear need for ad-ditional population genomic studies using a more dense sampling, especially among the fully black carrion crows, before the complexity of repro-ductive isolation and speciation among these two taxa can be fully understood. The specia-tion genomics strategy already proved itself in unraveling the complexities of mimicry among many Heliconius butterfly taxa (7) and, as in the study of Poelstra et al., stresses the im-portance of using RNA-based information in addition to DNA. Only time will tell if, and when, German carrion crows will adopt the "hooded phenotype," a fate that seems un-avoidable. Until then, we can only applaud these crows for defeating Linnaeus's curse.
    Science 06/2014; 344(6190):1346-1348. · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The family Arenaviridae includes a number of viruses of public health importance, such as the Category A hemorrhagic fever viruses Lassa, Junin, Machupo, Guanarito, and Sabia. Current chemotherapy for arenavirus infection is limited to the nucleoside analogue ribavirin, which is characterized by considerable toxicity and treatment failure. Using Pichinde virus as a model arenavirus, we attempted to design glycoprotein-derived fusion inhibitors similar to the FDA-approved anti-HIV peptide enfuvirtide. We have identified a GP2-derived peptide, AVP-p, with antiviral activity and no acute cytotoxicity. The IC50 value for the peptide is 7 μM, with complete inhibition of viral plaque formation at approximately 20 μM, and its antiviral activity is largely sequence-dependent. AVP-p demonstrates activity against Old and New World arenaviruses but not against enveloped viruses of other families. Unexpectedly, fusion assays reveal that the peptide induces virus-liposome fusion at neutral pH and that the process is strictly glycoprotein-mediated. As observed in cryo-electron micrographs, AVP-p treatment causes morphological changes consistent with fusion protein activation in virions, including disappearance of pre-fusion glycoprotein spikes and increased particle diameters, and fluorescence microscopy shows reduced binding by peptide-treated virus. Steady-state fluorescence anisotropy measurements suggest that glycoproteins are destabilized by peptide-induced alterations in viral membrane order. We conclude that untimely deployment of fusion machinery by the peptide could render virions less able to engage in on-pathway receptor-binding or endosomal fusion. AVP-p may represent a potent, highly-specific, novel therapeutic strategy for arenavirus infection.
    Journal of Virology 05/2014; 88(15). DOI:10.1128/JVI.01133-14 · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Hussain Badani, Robert F Garry, William C Wimley
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    ABSTRACT: There are many peptides known that inhibit the entry of enveloped viruses into cells, including one peptide that is successfully being used in the clinic as a drug. In this review, we discuss the discovery, antiviral activity and mechanism of action of such peptides. While peptide entry inhibitors have been discovered by a wide variety of approaches (structure-based, accidental, intentional, rational and brute force) we show here that they share a common physical chemical property: they are at least somewhat hydrophobic and/or amphipathic and have a propensity to interact with membrane interfaces. We propose that this propensity drives a shared mechanism of action for many peptide entry inhibitors, involving direct interactions with viral and cellular membranes, as well as interactions with the complex hydrophobic protein/lipid interfaces that are exposed, at least transiently, during virus-cell fusion. By interacting simultaneously with the membrane interfaces and other critical hydrophobic surfaces, we hypothesize that peptide entry inhibitors can act by changing the physical chemistry of the membranes, and the fusion protein interfaces bridging them, and by doing so interfere with the fusion of cellular and viral membranes. Based on this idea, we propose that an approach that focuses on the interfacial hydrophobicity of putative entry inhibitors, could lead to the efficient discovery of novel, broad-spectrum viral entry inhibitors.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 04/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.bbamem.2014.04.015 · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lassa fever (LF), an often-fatal hemorrhagic disease caused by Lassa virus (LASV), is a major public health threat in West Africa. When the violent civil conflict in Sierra Leone (1991 to 2002) ended, an international consortium assisted in restoration of the LF program at Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in an area with the world's highest incidence of the disease. Clinical and laboratory records of patients presenting to the KGH Lassa Ward in the post-conflict period were organized electronically. Recombinant antigen-based LF immunoassays were used to assess LASV antigenemia and LASV-specific antibodies in patients who met criteria for suspected LF. KGH has been reestablished as a center for LF treatment and research, with over 500 suspected cases now presenting yearly. Higher case fatality rates (CFRs) in LF patients were observed compared to studies conducted prior to the civil conflict. Different criteria for defining LF stages and differences in sensitivity of assays likely account for these differences. The highest incidence of LF in Sierra Leone was observed during the dry season. LF cases were observed in ten of Sierra Leone's thirteen districts, with numerous cases from outside the traditional endemic zone. Deaths in patients presenting with LASV antigenemia were skewed towards individuals less than 29 years of age. Women self-reporting as pregnant were significantly overrepresented among LASV antigenemic patients. The CFR of ribavirin-treated patients presenting early in acute infection was lower than in untreated subjects. Lassa fever remains a major public health threat in Sierra Leone. Outreach activities should expand because LF may be more widespread in Sierra Leone than previously recognized. Enhanced case finding to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment is imperative to reduce mortality. Even with ribavirin treatment, there was a high rate of fatalities underscoring the need to develop more effective and/or supplemental treatments for LF.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 03/2014; 8(3):e2748. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002748 · 4.49 Impact Factor
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    Cancer-Causing Viruses and Their Inhibitors, Edited by Satys Prakash Gupta, 01/2014: chapter Mechanisms of Hepatitis C Virus Clearance by Interferon and Ribavirin Combination Lessons Learned from In Vitro Cell Culture: pages 85-119; CRC Press., ISBN: Print ISBN: 978-1-4665-8977-3
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    ABSTRACT: In 2014, Ebola virus (EBOV) was identified as the etiological agent of a large and still expanding outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa and a much more confined EVD outbreak in Middle Africa. Epidemiological and evolutionary analyses confirmed that all cases of both outbreaks are connected to a single introduction each of EBOV into human populations and that both outbreaks are not directly connected. Coding-complete genomic sequence analyses of isolates revealed that the two outbreaks were caused by two novel EBOV variants, and initial clinical observations suggest that neither of them should be considered strains. Here we present consensus decisions on naming for both variants (West Africa: "Makona", Middle Africa: "Lomela") and provide database-compatible full, shortened, and abbreviated names that are in line with recently established filovirus sub-species nomenclatures.
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    ABSTRACT: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness characterized by multi-organ failure and hemorrhagic manifestations. Lassa fever is most frequently diagnosed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, although sporadic cases have been recorded in other West African countries, including Mali. The etiological agent of Lassa fever is Lassa virus (LASV), an Arenavirus which is maintained in nature and frequently transmitted to humans by Mastomys natalensis. The purpose of this study was to better define the geographic distribution of LASV-infected rodents in sub-Saharan Mali. Small mammals were live-trapped at various locations across Mali for the purpose of identifying potential zoonotic pathogens. Serological and molecular assays were employed and determined LASV infected rodents were exclusively found in the southern Mali near the border of Côte d'Ivoire. Overall, 19.4% of Mastomys natalensis sampled in this region had evidence of LASV infection, with prevalence rates for individual villages ranging from 0 to 52%. Full-length genomic sequences were determined using high throughput sequencing methodologies for LASV isolates generated from tissue samples of rodents collected in four villages and confirmed the phylogenetic clustering of Malian LASV with strain AV. The risk of human infections with LASV is greatest in villages in southern Mali. Lassa fever should be considered in the differential diagnosis for febrile individuals and appropriate diagnostic techniques need to be established to determine the incidence of infection and disease in these regions.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 12/2013; 7(12):e2582. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002582 · 4.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For enveloped viruses, fusion of the viral envelope with a cellular membrane is critical for a productive infection to occur. This fusion process is mediated by at least three classes of fusion proteins (Class I, II, and III) based on the protein sequence and structure. For Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), the glycoprotein Gc (Class II fusion protein) mediates this fusion event following entry into the endocytic pathway, allowing the viral genome access to the cell cytoplasm. Here, we show that peptides analogous to the RVFV Gc stem region inhibited RVFV infectivity in cell culture by inhibiting the fusion process. Further, we show that infectivity can be inhibited for diverse, unrelated RNA viruses that have Class I (Ebola virus), Class II (Andes virus), or Class III (vesicular stomatitis virus) fusion proteins using this single peptide. Our findings are consistent with an inhibition mechanism similar to that proposed for stem peptide fusion inhibitors of dengue virus in which the RVFV inhibitory peptide first binds to both the virion and cell membranes, allowing it to traffic with the virus into the endocytic pathway. Upon acidification and rearrangement of Gc, the peptide is then able to specifically bind to Gc and prevent fusion of the viral and endocytic membranes, thus inhibiting viral infection. These results could provide novel insights into conserved features among the three classes of viral fusion proteins and offer direction for the future development of broadly active fusion inhibitors.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 09/2013; 7(9):e2430. DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002430 · 4.49 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
1,320.31 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1986–2015
    • Tulane University
      • • Department of Microbiology and Immunology
      • • Division of Microbiology
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
  • 2012
    • Harvard University
      • Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 1989–2012
    • Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans
      • • Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Parasitology
      • • Section of Rheumatology
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
  • 2006
    • LSU Medical Center
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
  • 1995–2003
    • Molecular and Cellular Biology Program
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 1999
    • Baylor College of Medicine
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 1998
    • University of California, Davis
      • Division of Rheumatology/Allergy/Clinical Immunology
      Davis, California, United States
  • 1991
    • University of New Orleans
      New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
    • Louisiana State University
      • School of Veterinary Medicine
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
  • 1990
    • Baylor University
      Waco, Texas, United States
  • 1978–1989
    • University of Texas at Austin
      • Department of Microbiology
      Texas City, TX, United States
  • 1986–1988
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      Los Ángeles, California, United States