Sara M Volk

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, Texas, United States

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Publications (6)21.92 Total impact

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    Vaccine 10/2011; 29(45):8174-8174. DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.07.088 · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The greatest risk from live-attenuated vaccines is reversion to virulence. Particular concerns arise for RNA viruses, which exhibit high mutation frequencies. We examined the stability of 3 attenuation strategies for the alphavirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV): a traditional, point mutation-dependent attenuation approach exemplified by TC-83; a rationally designed, targeted-mutation approach represented by V3526; and a chimeric vaccine, SIN/TC/ZPC. Our findings suggest that the chimeric strain combines the initial attenuation of TC-83 with the greater phenotypic stability of V3526, highlighting the importance of the both initial attenuation and stability for live-attenuated vaccines.
    Vaccine 02/2011; 29(12):2230-4. DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.01.055 · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a mosquito-borne alphavirus, has traditionally circulated in Africa and Asia, causing human febrile illness accompanied by severe, chronic joint pain. In Africa, epidemic emergence of CHIKV involves the transition from an enzootic, sylvatic cycle involving arboreal mosquito vectors and nonhuman primates, into an urban cycle where peridomestic mosquitoes transmit among humans. In Asia, however, CHIKV appears to circulate only in the endemic, urban cycle. Recently, CHIKV emerged into the Indian Ocean and the Indian subcontinent to cause major epidemics. To examine patterns of CHIKV evolution and the origins of these outbreaks, as well as to examine whether evolutionary rates that vary between enzootic and epidemic transmission, we sequenced the genomes of 40 CHIKV strains and performed a phylogenetic analysis representing the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. We inferred that extant CHIKV strains evolved from an ancestor that existed within the last 500 years and that some geographic overlap exists between two main enzootic lineages previously thought to be geographically separated within Africa. We estimated that CHIKV was introduced from Africa into Asia 70 to 90 years ago. The recent Indian Ocean and Indian subcontinent epidemics appear to have emerged independently from the mainland of East Africa. This finding underscores the importance of surveillance to rapidly detect and control African outbreaks before exportation can occur. Significantly higher rates of nucleotide substitution appear to occur during urban than during enzootic transmission. These results suggest fundamental differences in transmission modes and/or dynamics in these two transmission cycles.
    Journal of Virology 07/2010; 84(13):6497-504. DOI:10.1128/JVI.01603-09 · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the 1950s and 1960s, alphaviruses in the Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) antigenic complex were the most frequently isolated arboviruses in Trinidad. Since then, there has been very little research performed with these viruses. Herein, we report on the isolation, sequencing, and phylogenetic analyses of Mucambo virus (MUCV; VEE complex subtype IIIA), including 6 recently isolated from Culex (Melanoconion) portesi mosquitoes and 11 previously isolated in Trinidad and Brazil. Results show that nucleotide and amino acid identities across the complete structural polyprotein for the MUCV isolates were 96.6-100% and 98.7-100%, respectively, and the phylogenetic tree inferred for MUCV was highly geographically- and temporally-structured. Bayesian analyses suggest that the sampled MUCV lineages have a recent common ancestry of approximately 198 years (with a 95% highest posterior density (HPD) interval of 63-448 years) prior to 2007, and an overall rate of evolution of 1.28 x 10(-4) substitutions/site/yr.
    Virology 08/2009; 392(1):123-30. DOI:10.1016/j.virol.2009.06.038 · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Between 2005 and 2007 Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) caused its largest outbreak/epidemic in documented history. An unusual feature of this epidemic is the involvement of Ae. albopictus as a principal vector. Previously we have demonstrated that a single mutation E1-A226V significantly changed the ability of the virus to infect and be transmitted by this vector when expressed in the background of well characterized CHIKV strains LR2006 OPY1 and 37997. However, in the current study we demonstrate that introduction of the E1-A226V mutation into the background of an infectious clone derived from the Ag41855 strain (isolated in Uganda in 1982) does not significantly increase infectivity for Ae. albopictus. In order to elucidate the genetic determinants that affect CHIKV sensitivity to the E1-A226V mutation in Ae. albopictus, the genomes of the LR2006 OPY1 and Ag41855 strains were used for construction of chimeric viruses and viruses with a specific combination of point mutations at selected positions. Based upon the midgut infection rates of the derived viruses in Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti mosquitoes, a critical role of the mutations at positions E2-60 and E2-211 on vector infection was revealed. The E2-G60D mutation was an important determinant of CHIKV infectivity for both Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti, but only moderately modulated the effect of the E1-A226V mutation in Ae. albopictus. However, the effect of the E2-I211T mutation with respect to mosquito infections was much more specific, strongly modifying the effect of the E1-A226V mutation in Ae. albopictus. In contrast, CHIKV infectivity for Ae. aegypti was not influenced by the E2-1211T mutation. The occurrence of the E2-60G and E2-211I residues among CHIKV isolates was analyzed, revealing a high prevalence of E2-211I among strains belonging to the Eastern/Central/South African (ECSA) clade. This suggests that the E2-211I might be important for adaptation of CHIKV to some particular conditions prevalent in areas occupied by ECSA stains. These newly described determinants of CHIKV mosquito infectivity for Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti are of particular importance for studies aimed at the investigation of the detailed mechanisms of CHIKV adaptations to its vector species.
    PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(8):e6835. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0006835 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We developed chimeric Sindbis (SINV)/eastern equine encephalitis (EEEV) viruses and investigated their potential for use as live virus vaccines against EEEV. One vaccine candidate contained structural protein genes from a typical North American EEEV strain, while the other had structural proteins from a naturally attenuated Brazilian isolate. Both chimeric viruses replicated efficiently in mammalian and mosquito cell cultures and were highly attenuated in mice. Vaccinated mice did not develop detectable disease or viremia, but developed high titers of neutralizing antibodies. Upon challenge with EEEV, mice vaccinated with >10(4) PFU of the chimeric viruses were completely protected from disease. These findings support the potential use of these SIN/EEEV chimeras as safe and effective vaccines.
    Vaccine 11/2007; 25(43):7573-81. DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.07.061 · 3.49 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

221 Citations
21.92 Total Impact Points

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  • 2007–2011
    • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
      • • Institute for Human Infections and Immunity
      • • Department of Pathology
      Galveston, Texas, United States