[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sunguru virus (SUNV), a novel virus belonging to the highly diverse Rhabdoviridae family, was isolated from a domestic chicken in the district of Arua, Uganda in 2011. This is the first documented isolation of a rhabdovirus from a chicken. SUNV is related to, but distinct from, Boteke virus and other members of the unclassified Sandjimba group. The genome is 11,056 kb in length and contains the five core rhabdovirus genes plus an additional C gene (within the open reading frame of the phosphoprotein gene) and a small hydrophobic protein (between the matrix and glycoprotein genes). Inoculation of vertebrate cells resulted in significant growth, with a peak titer of 7.8 log10 PFU/mL observed in baby hamster kidney cells. Little to no growth was observed in invertebrate cells and in live mosquitoes, with Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes demonstrating a 47.4% infection rate in the body but no dissemination to the salivary glands; this suggests that this novel virus is not arthropod-borne like some other members of the family Rhabdoviridae.
Journal of General Virology 04/2014; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vector-borne and zoonotic pathogens have comprised a significant proportion of the emerging infectious diseases in humans in recent decades. The role of many wildlife species as reservoirs for arthropod-borne viral pathogens is poorly understood. We investigated the exposure history of various African wildlife species from the Congo basin to mosquito-borne flaviviruses and alphaviruses by testing archived serum samples. Sera from 24 African forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus), 34 African elephants (Loxodonta africana), 40 duikers (Cephalophus and Philantomba spp.), 25 mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx), 32 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), five Grauer's gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri), two L'Hoest's monkeys (Cercopithecus lhoesti), two golden monkeys (Cercopithecus kandti), and three chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) sampled between 1991 and 2009 were tested for antibodies against chikungunya virus (CHIKV), o'nyong-nyong virus (ONNV), West Nile virus (WNV), dengue 2 virus (DENV-2), and yellow fever virus (YFV) by plaque reduction neutralization test. Specific neutralizing antibodies against ONNV were found in African forest buffalo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Gabon, duikers in the DRC, and mandrills in Gabon, providing novel evidence of enzootic circulation of ONNV in these countries. African forest buffalo in the DRC and Gabon also demonstrated evidence of exposure to CHIKV, WNV, and DENV-2, while mandrills in Gabon were antibody positive for CHIKV, DENV-2, WNV, and YFV. All of the elephants tested had a strong neutralizing antibody response to WNV. We also document results from a survey of gorillas for arboviruses, of which 4/32 (13%) had antibody to an alphavirus or flavivirus. Overall, our results demonstrate a high prevalence of neutralizing antibodies against multiple arboviruses in wildlife in equatorial Africa.
Journal of wildlife diseases 07/2013; 49(3):587-99. · 1.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) is a naturally occurring recombinant virus derived from ancestral Sindbis and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses. We previously showed that infection by WEEV isolates McMillan (McM) and IMP-181 (IMP) results in high (∼90-100%) and low (0%) mortality, respectively, in outbred CD-1 mice when virus is delivered by either subcutaneous or aerosol routes. However, relatively little is known about specific virulence determinants of WEEV. We previously observed that IMP infected Culex tarsalis mosquitoes at a high rate (app. 80%) following ingestion of an infected bloodmeal but these mosquitoes were infected by McM at a much lower rate (10%). To understand the viral role in these phenotypic differences, we characterized the pathogenic phenotypes of McM/IMP chimeras. Chimeras encoding the E2 of McM on an IMP backbone (or the reciprocal) had the most significant effect on infection phenotypes in mice or mosquitoes. Furthermore, exchanging the arginine, present on IMP E2 glycoprotein at position 214, for the glutamine present at the same position on McM, ablated mouse mortality. Curiously, the reciprocal exchange did not confer mouse virulence to the IMP virus. Mosquito infectivity was also determined and significantly, one of the important loci was the same as the mouse virulence determinant identified above. Replacing either IMP E2 amino acid 181 or 214 with the corresponding McM amino acid lowered mosquito infection rates to McM-like levels. As with the mouse neurovirulence, reciprocal exchange of amino acids did not confer mosquito infectivity. The identification of WEEV E2 amino acid 214 as necessary for both IMP mosquito infectivity and McM mouse virulence indicates that they are mutually exclusive phenotypes and suggests an explanation for the lack of human or equine WEE cases even in the presence of active transmission.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e60427. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: O'nyong nyong virus (ONNV) and Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) are two closely related alphaviruses with very different infection patterns in the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. ONNV is the only alphavirus transmitted by anopheline mosquitoes, but specific molecular determinants of infection of this unique vector specificity remain unidentified. Fifteen distinct chimeric viruses were constructed to evaluate both structural and non-structural regions of the genome and infection patterns were determined through artificial infectious feeds in An. gambiae with each of these chimeras. Only one region, non-structural protein 3 (nsP3), was sufficient to up-regulate infection to rates similar to those seen with parental ONNV. When ONNV non-structural protein 3 (nsP3) replaced nsP3 from CHIKV virus in one of the chimeric viruses, infection rates in An. gambiae went from 0% to 63.5%. No other single gene or viral region addition was able to restore infection rates. Thus, we have shown that a non-structural genome element involved in viral replication is a major element involved in ONNV's unique vector specificity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) has been the causative agent for sporadic epidemics and equine epizootics throughout the Americas since the 1930s. In 1969, an outbreak of Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) spread rapidly from Guatemala and through the Gulf Coast region of Mexico, reaching Texas in 1971. Since this outbreak, there have been very few studies to determine the northward extent of endemic VEEV in this region. This study reports the findings of serologic surveillance in the Gulf Coast region of Mexico from 2003-2010. Phylogenetic analysis was also performed on viral isolates from this region to determine whether there have been substantial genetic changes in VEEV since the 1960s. Based on the findings of this study, the Gulf Coast lineage of subtype IE VEEV continues to actively circulate in this region of Mexico and appears to be responsible for infection of humans and animals throughout this region, including the northern State of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging mosquito-borne alphavirus infections caused by chikungunya virus (CHIKV) or o'nyong-nyong virus (ONNV) are responsible for sporadic and sometimes explosive urban outbreaks. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine against either virus. We have developed a highly attenuated recombinant CHIKV candidate vaccine (CHIKV/IRES) that in preclinical studies was demonstrated to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious. In this study we investigated the potential of this vaccine to induce cross-protective immunity against the antigenically related ONNV. Our studies demonstrated that a single dose of CHIKV/IRES elicited a strong cross-neutralizing antibody response and conferred protection against ONNV challenge in the A129 mouse model. Moreover, CHIKV/IRES immune A129 dams transferred antibodies to their offspring that were protective, and passively transferred anti-CHIKV/IRES immune serum protected AG129 mice, independently of a functional IFN response. These findings highlight the potential of the CHIKV/IRES vaccine to protect humans against not only CHIKV but also against ONNV-induced disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is the mosquito-borne alphavirus that is the etiologic agent of massive outbreaks of arthralgic febrile illness that recently affected millions of people in Africa and Asia. The only CHIKV vaccine that has been tested in humans, strain 181/clone 25, is a live-attenuated derivative of Southeast Asian human isolate strain AF15561. The vaccine was immunogenic in phase I and II clinical trials; however, it induced transient arthralgia in 8% of the vaccinees. There are five amino acid differences between the vaccine and its parent, as well as five synonymous mutations, none of which involves cis-acting genome regions known to be responsible for replication or packaging. To identify the determinants of attenuation, we therefore tested the five nonsynonymous mutations by cloning them individually or in different combinations into infectious clones derived from two wild-type (WT) CHIKV strains, La Reunion and AF15561. Levels of virulence were compared with those of the WT strains and the vaccine strain in two different murine models: infant CD1 and adult A129 mice. An attenuated phenotype indistinguishable from that of the 181/clone 25 vaccine strain was obtained by the simultaneous expression of two E2 glycoprotein substitutions, with intermediate levels of attenuation obtained with the single E2 mutations. The other three amino acid mutations, in nsP1, 6K, and E1, did not have a detectable effect on CHIKV virulence. These results indicate that the attenuation of strain 181/clone 25 is mediated by two point mutations, explaining the phenotypic instability observed in human vaccinees and also in our studies.
Journal of Virology 03/2012; 86(11):6084-96. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-borne pathogen that has recently caused devastating urban epidemics of severe and sometimes chronic arthralgia. As with most other mosquito-borne viral diseases, control relies on reducing mosquito populations and their contact with people, which has been ineffective in most locations. Therefore, vaccines remain the best strategy to prevent most vector-borne diseases. Ideally, vaccines for diseases of resource-limited countries should combine low cost and single dose efficacy, yet induce rapid and long-lived immunity with negligible risk of serious adverse reactions. To develop such a vaccine to protect against chikungunya fever, we employed a rational attenuation mechanism that also prevents the infection of mosquito vectors. The internal ribosome entry site (IRES) from encephalomyocarditis virus replaced the subgenomic promoter in a cDNA CHIKV clone, thus altering the levels and host-specific mechanism of structural protein gene expression. Testing in both normal outbred and interferon response-defective mice indicated that the new vaccine candidate is highly attenuated, immunogenic and efficacious after a single dose. Furthermore, it is incapable of replicating in mosquito cells or infecting mosquitoes in vivo. This IRES-based attenuation platform technology may be useful for the predictable attenuation of any alphavirus.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that causes explosive outbreaks of febrile illness associated with rash, and painful arthralgia. The CHIK vaccine strain 181/clone25 (181/25) developed by the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was shown to be well-tolerated and highly immunogenic in phase I and II clinical trials although it induced transient arthralgia in some healthy adult volunteers. In an attempt to better understand the host factors that are involved in the attenuating phenotype of CHIK 181/25 vaccine virus we conducted studies in interferon (IFN)-compromised mice and also evaluated its immunogenic potential and protective capacity. Infection of AG129 mice (defective in IFN-α/β and IFN-γ receptor signaling) with CHIK 181/25 resulted in rapid mortality within 3-4 days. In contrast, all infected A129 mice (defective in IFN-α/β receptor signaling) survived with temporary morbidity characterized by ruffled appearance and body weight loss. A129 heterozygote mice that retain partial IFN-α/β receptor signaling activity remained healthy. Infection of A129 mice with CHIK 181/25 induced significant levels of IFN-γ and IL-12 while the inflammatory cytokines, TNFα and IL-6 remained low. A single administration of the CHIK 181/25 vaccine provided both short-term and long-term protection (38 days and 247 days post-prime, respectively) against challenge with wt CHIKV-La Reunion (CHIKV-LR). This protection was at least partially mediated by antibodies since passively transferred immune serum protected both A129 and AG129 mice from wt CHIKV-LR and 181/25 virus challenge. Overall, these data highlight the importance of IFNs in controlling CHIK 181/25 vaccine and demonstrate the ability of this vaccine to elicit neutralizing antibody responses that confer short-and long-term protection against wt CHIKV-LR challenge.