Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne arthralgia arbovirus that is reemergent in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. CHIKV infection has been shown to be self-limiting, but the molecular mechanisms of the innate immune response that control CHIKV replication remain undefined. Here, longitudinal transcriptional analyses of PBMCs from a cohort of CHIKV-infected patients revealed that type I IFNs controlled CHIKV infection via RSAD2 (which encodes viperin), an enigmatic multifunctional IFN-stimulated gene (ISG). Viperin was highly induced in monocytes, the major target cell of CHIKV in blood. Anti-CHIKV functions of viperin were dependent on its localization in the ER, and the N-terminal amphipathic α-helical domain was crucial for its antiviral activity in controlling CHIKV replication. Furthermore, mice lacking Rsad2 had higher viremia and severe joint inflammation compared with wild-type mice. Our data demonstrate that viperin is a critical antiviral host protein that controls CHIKV infection and provide a preclinical basis for the design of effective control strategies against CHIKV and other reemerging arthrogenic alphaviruses.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted virus that has reemerged as a significant public health threat in the last decade. Since the 2005-2006 chikungunya fever epidemic in the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion, millions of people in more than 40 countries have been infected. Despite this, there is currently no antiviral treatment for chikungunya infection. In this study, an immunofluorescence-based screening platform was developed to identify potential inhibitors of CHIKV infection. A primary screen was performed using a highly purified natural product compound library, and 44 compounds exhibiting ≥70% inhibition of CHIKV infection were identified as positive hits. Among these, four were selected for dose-dependent inhibition assays to confirm their anti-CHIKV activity. Harringtonine, a cephalotaxine alkaloid, displayed potent inhibition of CHIKV infection (50% effective concentration [EC50] = 0.24 μM) with minimal cytotoxicity and was selected for elucidation of its antiviral mechanism. Time-of-addition studies, cotreatment assays, and direct transfection of viral genomic RNA indicated that harringtonine inhibited an early stage of the CHIKV replication cycle which occurred after viral entry into cells. In addition, quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot analyses indicated that harringtonine affects CHIKV RNA production as well as viral protein expression. Treatment of harringtonine against Sindbis virus, a related alphavirus, suggested that harringtonine could inhibit other alphaviruses. This study suggests for the first time that harringtonine exerts its antiviral effects by inhibiting CHIKV viral protein synthesis.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an arthritogenic member of the Alphavirus genus (family Togaviridae) transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. CHIKV is now known to target non hematopoietic cells such as epithelial, endothelial cells, fibroblasts and to less extent monocytes/macrophages. The type I interferon (IFN) response is an early innate immune mechanism that protects cells against viral infection. Cells express different pattern recognition receptors (including TLR7 and RIG-I) to sense viruses and to induce production of type I IFNs which in turn will bind to their receptor. This should result in the phosphorylation and translocation of STAT molecules into the nucleus to promote the transcription of IFN-stimulated antiviral genes (ISGs). We herein tested the capacity of CHIKV clinical isolate to infect two different human fibroblast cell lines HS 633T and HT-1080 and we analyzed the resulting type I IFN innate immune response.
Indirect immunofluorescence and quantitative RT-PCR were used to test for the susceptibility of both fibroblast cell lines to CHIKV.
Interestingly, the two fibroblast cell lines HS 633T and HT-1080 were differently susceptible to CHIKV infection and the former producing at least 30-fold higher viral load at 48 h post-infection (PI). We found that the expression of antiviral genes (RIG-I, IFN-β, ISG54 and ISG56) was more robust in the more susceptible cell line HS 633T at 48 h PI. Moreover, CHIKV was shown to similarly interfere with the nuclear translocation of pSTAT1 in both cell lines.
Critically, CHIKV can control the IFN response by preventing the nuclear translocation of pSTAT1 in both fibroblast cell lines. Counter-intuitively, the relative resistance of HT-1080 cells to CHIKV infection could not be attributed to more robust innate IFN- and ISG-dependent antiviral responses. These cell lines may prove to be valuable models to screen for novel mechanisms mobilized differentially by fibroblasts to control CHIKV infection, replication and spreading from cell to cell.
CHIKV; Type I IFN; HS 633T; HT-1080; RIG-I; TLR7; STAT-1
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that induces in humans a disease characterized by fever, rash, and pain in muscles and joints. The recent emergence or reemergence of CHIKV in the Indian Ocean Islands and India has stressed the need to better understand the pathogenesis of this disease. Previous CHIKV disease models have used young or immunodeficient mice, but these do not recapitulate human disease patterns and are unsuitable for testing immune-based therapies. Herein, we describe what we believe to be a new model for CHIKV infection in adult, immunocompetent cynomolgus macaques. CHIKV infection in these animals recapitulated the viral, clinical, and pathological features observed in human disease. In the macaques, long-term CHIKV infection was observed in joints, muscles, lymphoid organs, and liver, which could explain the long-lasting CHIKV disease symptoms observed in humans. In addition, the study identified macrophages as the main cellular reservoirs during the late stages of CHIKV infection in vivo. This model of CHIKV physiopathology should allow the development of new therapeutic and/or prophylactic strategies.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging alphavirus that has caused significant disease in the Indian Ocean region since 2005. During this outbreak, in addition to fever, rash and arthritis, severe cases of CHIKV infection have been observed in infants. Challenging the notion that the innate immune response in infants is immature or defective, we demonstrate that both human infants and neonatal mice generate a robust type I interferon (IFN) response during CHIKV infection that contributes to, but is insufficient for, the complete control of infection. To characterize the mechanism by which type I IFNs control CHIKV infection, we evaluated the role of ISG15 and defined it as a central player in the host response, as neonatal mice lacking ISG15 were profoundly susceptible to CHIKV infection. Surprisingly, UbE1L−/− mice, which lack the ISG15 E1 enzyme and therefore are unable to form ISG15 conjugates, displayed no increase in lethality following CHIKV infection, thus pointing to a non-classical role for ISG15. No differences in viral loads were observed between wild-type (WT) and ISG15−/− mice, however, a dramatic increase in proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines was observed in ISG15−/− mice, suggesting that the innate immune response to CHIKV contributes to their lethality. This study provides new insight into the control of CHIKV infection, and establishes a new model for how ISG15 functions as an immunomodulatory molecule in the blunting of potentially pathologic levels of innate effector molecules during the host response to viral infection.
Type I interferon plays a critical role in the host defense to viral infection. Signaling through the type I IFN receptor allows for the induction of hundreds of interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) that generate an antiviral state within host cells. The ubiquitin-like molecule ISG15 has been shown to play an important role during multiple viral infections, including influenza virus infection. To date, the ability of ISG15 to protect against viral infection has been shown to be dependent on its ability to covalently bind (or conjugate) to target proteins, including the binding of viral proteins. We investigated the importance of the type I interferon response and ISG15 conjugation in a neonatal model of Chikungunya virus infection, a re-emerging human pathogen in the Indian Ocean region. Remarkably, the role of ISG15 during CHIKV infection appears to be conjugation independent, suggesting a non-classical role for ISG15 during viral infection. Our data also suggests that ISG15 plays an immunoregulatory role, as opposed to having direct antiviral function. Our CHIKV model may provide an opportunity to identify a novel mechanism by which ISG15 contributes to the innate immune response to viral infection.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging human pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes. Like that of other alphaviruses, CHIKV replication causes general host shutoff, leading to severe cytopathicity in mammalian cells, and inhibits the ability of infected cells to respond to interferon (IFN). Recent research, however, suggests that alphaviruses may have additional mechanisms to circumvent the host's antiviral IFN response. Here we show that CHIKV replication is resistant to inhibition by interferon once RNA replication has been established and that CHIKV actively suppresses the antiviral IFN response by preventing IFN-induced gene expression. Both CHIKV infection and CHIKV replicon RNA replication efficiently blocked STAT1 phosphorylation and/or nuclear translocation in mammalian cells induced by either type I or type II IFN. Expression of individual CHIKV nonstructural proteins (nsPs) showed that nsP2 was a potent inhibitor of IFN-induced JAK-STAT signaling. In addition, mutations in CHIKV-nsP2 (P718S) and Sindbis virus (SINV)-nsP2 (P726S) that render alphavirus replicons noncytopathic significantly reduced JAK-STAT inhibition. This host shutoff-independent inhibition of IFN signaling by CHIKV is likely to have an important role in viral pathogenesis.
In humans, chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection causes fever, rash, and acute and persisting polyarthalgia/arthritis associated with joint swelling. We report a new CHIKV disease model in adult mice that distinguishes the wild-type CHIKV-LR strain from the live-attenuated vaccine strain (CHIKV-181/25). Although eight-week old normal mice inoculated in the hind footpad developed no hind limb swelling with either virus, CHIKV-LR replicated in musculoskeletal tissues and caused detectable inflammation. In mice deficient in STAT1-dependent interferon (IFN) responses, CHIKV-LR caused significant swelling of the inoculated and contralateral limbs and dramatic inflammatory lesions, while CHIKV-181/25 vaccine and another arthritogenic alphavirus, Sindbis, failed to induce swelling. IFN responses suppressed CHIKV-LR and CHIKV-181/25 replication equally in dendritic cells in vitro whereas macrophages were refractory to infection independently of STAT1-mediated IFN responses. Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) binding may be a CHIKV vaccine attenuation mechanism as CHIKV-LR infectivity was not dependent upon GAG, while CHIKV-181/25 was highly dependent.
Background. Rapidly spreading to new regions, including the islands of the Indian Ocean, Central Africa, and Europe, Chikungunya fever is becoming a major problem of public health. Unlike other members of the alphavirus genus, immune responses to Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) have been poorly investigated.
Methods. We conducted a large ex vivo multiplex study of 50 cytokine, chemokine, and growth factor plasma profiles in 69 acutely infected patients from the Gabonese outbreak of 2007. We also assessed a phenotypic study of T lymphocyte responses during human acute CHIKV infection.
Results. CHIKV infection in humans elicited strong innate immunity involving the production of numerous proinflammatory mediators. Interestingly, high levels of Interferon (IFN) α were consistently found. Production of interleukin (IL) 4, IL-10, and IFN-γ suggested the engagement of the adaptive immunity. This was confirmed by flow cytometry of circulating T lymphocytes that showed a CD8+ T lymphocyte response in the early stages of the disease, and a CD4+ T lymphocyte mediated response in the later stages. For the first time to our knowledge, we found evidence of CD95-mediated apoptosis of CD4+ T lymphocytes during the first 2 days after symptoms onset, ex vivo.
Conclusions. Together, our findings suggest that strong innate immunity is required to control CHIKV infection.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging mosquito-borne Alphavirus that causes a clinical disease involving fever, myalgia, nausea and rash. The distinguishing feature of CHIKV infection is the severe debilitating poly-arthralgia that may persist for several months after viral clearance. Since its re-emergence in 2004, CHIKV has spread from the Indian Ocean region to new locations including metropolitan Europe, Japan, and even the United States. The risk of importing CHIKV to new areas of the world is increasing due to high levels of viremia in infected individuals as well as the recent adaptation of the virus to the mosquito species Aedes albopictus. CHIKV re-emergence is also associated with new clinical complications including severe morbidity and, for the first time, mortality. In this study, we characterized disease progression and host immune responses in adult and aged Rhesus macaques infected with either the recent CHIKV outbreak strain La Reunion (LR) or the West African strain 37997. Our results indicate that following intravenous infection and regardless of the virus used, Rhesus macaques become viremic between days 1–5 post infection. While adult animals are able to control viral infection, aged animals show persistent virus in the spleen. Virus-specific T cell responses in the aged animals were reduced compared to adult animals and the B cell responses were also delayed and reduced in aged animals. Interestingly, regardless of age, T cell and antibody responses were more robust in animals infected with LR compared to 37997 CHIKV strain. Taken together these data suggest that the reduced immune responses in the aged animals promotes long-term virus persistence in CHIKV-LR infected Rhesus monkeys.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging Alphavirus that has caused recent massive outbreaks in the Indian Ocean region. In addition, outbreaks have been documented in Europe and elsewhere in the world, initiated by infected travelers returning to their homelands. The recent outbreak strains possess extended vector range and as such, raise the potential of CHIKV outbreaks in the Southeastern parts of the United States. In this study, we examined CHIKV immunity in adult and aged Rhesus macaques following infection with two different CHIKV strains (recent outbreak strain CHIKV-LR and a West African Strain CHIKV-37997). CHIKV-LR causes persistent infection in the aged animals and replicates, on average, to higher levels than CHIKV-37997. Irrespective of the viral strain used, aged animals had delayed and/or reduced immunity compared to adult animals. Our data support the clinical findings of CHIKV susceptibility in vulnerable populations including the aged and provide mechanistic evidence that an effective immune response directed against the virus is required for preventing persistent CHIKV infection.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito transmitted alphavirus that recently caused several large scale outbreaks/epidemics of arthritic disease in tropics of Africa, Indian Ocean basin and South-East Asia. This re-emergence event was facilitated by genetic adaptation (E1-A226V substitution) of CHIKV to a newly significant mosquito vector for this virus; Aedes albopictus. However, the molecular mechanism explaining the positive effect of the E1-A226V mutation on CHIKV fitness in this vector remains largely unknown. Previously we demonstrated that the E1-A226V substitution is also associated with attenuated CHIKV growth in cells depleted by cholesterol.
In this study, using a panel of CHIKV clones that varies in sensitivity to cholesterol, we investigated the possible relationship between cholesterol dependence and Ae. albopictus infectivity.
We demonstrated that there is no clear mechanistic correlation between these two phenotypes. We also showed that the E1-A226V mutation increases the pH dependence of the CHIKV fusion reaction; however, subsequent genetic analysis failed to support an association between CHIKV dependency on lower pH, and mosquito infectivity phenotypes.
the E1-A226V mutation probably acts at different steps of the CHIKV life cycle, affecting multiple functions of the virus.
Chikungunya virus; Aedes albopictus; cholesterol; pH threshold of fusion
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.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an alphavirus responsible for numerous epidemics throughout Africa and Asia, causing infectious arthritis and reportedly linked with fatal infections in newborns and elderly. Previous studies in animal models indicate that humoral immunity can protect against CHIKV infection, but despite the potential efficacy of B-cell-driven intervention strategies, there are no virus-specific vaccines or therapies currently available. In addition, CHIKV has been reported to elicit long-lasting virus-specific IgM in humans, and to establish long-term persistence in non-human primates, suggesting that the virus might evade immune defenses to establish chronic infections in man. However, the mechanisms of immune evasion potentially employed by CHIKV remain uncharacterized. We previously described two human monoclonal antibodies that potently neutralize CHIKV infection. In the current report, we have characterized CHIKV mutants that escape antibody-dependent neutralization to identify the CHIKV E2 domain B and fusion loop “groove” as the primary determinants of CHIKV interaction with these antibodies. Furthermore, for the first time, we have also demonstrated direct CHIKV cell-to-cell transmission, as a mechanism that involves the E2 domain A and that is associated with viral resistance to antibody-dependent neutralization. Identification of CHIKV sub-domains that are associated with human protective immunity, will pave the way for the development of CHIKV-specific sub-domain vaccination strategies. Moreover, the clear demonstration of CHIKV cell-to-cell transmission and its possible role in the establishment of CHIKV persistence, will also inform the development of future anti-viral interventions. These data shed new light on CHIKV-host interactions that will help to combat human CHIKV infection and inform future studies of CHIKV pathogenesis.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is transmitted by mosquito bites and causes a febrile disease that is often characterized by persistent joint pain. Until recently, CHIKV outbreaks were limited to tropical areas of Africa and Asia. However, since 2007, following a large CHIKV epidemic in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia, CHIKV has also been reported in temperate European regions. As mosquito habitats expand, virus dissemination may become more prevalent, but there are currently no vaccines or CHIKV-specific treatments available. We previously described two human antibodies that potently block cellular CHIKV infection. In the current report, we have characterized CHIKV mutants that escape neutralization to identify sub-domains of the virus envelope which are involved in CHIKV interaction with these antibodies, thereby opening the door for the development of CHIKV-specific sub-domain vaccination strategies. For the first time, we have also demonstrated that CHIKV can be directly transmitted between cells, bypassing transport through the extra-cellular space. This mode of dissemination, which is associated with viral resistance to antibody neutralization, may play a critical role in the establishment of persistent CHIKV infection. Together, these findings will aid the design of new strategies to combat CHIKV infection and will inform future studies of CHIKV pathogenesis.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an arbovirus (genus Alphavirus, family Togaviridae) that has recently caused disease outbreaks in the Indian Ocean basin and southern Europe. These outbreaks could be associated with a possible shift in primary vector from Aedes aegypti to Ae. albopictus. To evaluate vector competence differences in possible CHIKV vectors, we evaluated the dose-dependant susceptibility of Florida strains of Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti for infection with a La Réunion island strain of CHIKV. Pledget and water-jacketed membrane feeding systems were also evaluated. We show that both Aedes spp. were susceptible to the highest CHIKV doses, whereas only Ae. albopictus developed disseminated infections after exposure to the two lowest doses. Infection rates for both mosquito species were significantly affected by the bloodmeal delivery method used. This information is important in assessing risk of an outbreak of imported CHIKV in the United States, in determining differences in vectorial capacity of these two vector species, and in evaluating arbovirus delivery methods in the laboratory.
arbovirus; viremia; vector competence; vectorial capacity; blood feeding
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that in humans causes an acute febrile illness characterized by fever, arthralgia, and rash. It is currently associated with large outbreaks in Asia, Africa, and islands of the Indian Ocean and has been introduced from these tropical regions into Europe, where local transmission has been recorded on two occasions. The underlying basis of the pathogenesis of CHIKV and related alphaviruses that produce similar symptoms remains unclear. By applying new techniques, for example, in vivo imaging in live animals and arthropods, we may improve our understanding of viral pathogenesis in vertebrates and viral replication in mosquitoes. This technical report describes the evaluation of a CHIKV–luciferase clone to visualize infection and dissemination in both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes and mice. In mosquitoes, luciferase activity was seen at 3 and 7 days post-infection in both head and abdomens. In vivo imaging of CHIKV–luciferase was detected in mice for up to 5 days post-infection at the site of inoculation with limited dissemination to the skeletal muscle.
Chikungunya; Alphavirus; Luciferase; Mosquito
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that causes chikungunya fever in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Because the mosquito vector Aedes albopictus is present in habitats across Europe, North America, and East Asia, CHIKV has become a serious worldwide public health concern. Infection with CHIKV typically causes fever, rash, myalgia, and arthralgia. One of the important questions yet to be answered is how the host immune system is involved in the development of this disease. In this study, we prepared a CHIKV-pseudotyped lentiviral vector for use in a safe and convenient neutralization (NT) assay and analyzed its efficacy. The CHIKV-pseudotyped lentiviral vector was prepared by cotransfection with plasmids encoding the CHIKV glycoproteins E3, E2, 6k, and E1, packaging elements, and a luciferase reporter. This alternative to native CHIKV can be safely handled in a biosafety level 2 facility. The NT assay was optimized using sera from CHIKV-immunized mice and then applied to human patient sera. The majority of the serum samples from patients with chikungunya in Thailand showed robust neutralization activities, with titers that were tightly correlated with those determined by a conventional NT assay. Moreover, there was a strong correlation with the CHIKV antibody titers as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Thus, the CHIKV-pseudotyped-lentiviral-vector-based NT assay system is a powerful tool for examining the neutralization activity of patient sera, which will lead to a better understanding of the immune responses involved in CHIKV infection.
The mosquito-borne alphavirus, chikungunya virus (CHIKV), has recently reemerged, producing the largest epidemic ever recorded for this virus, with up to 6.5 million cases of acute and chronic rheumatic disease. There are currently no licensed vaccines for CHIKV and current anti-inflammatory drug treatment is often inadequate. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of two human monoclonal antibodies, C9 and E8, from CHIKV infected and recovered individuals. C9 was determined to be a potent virus neutralizing antibody and a biosensor antibody binding study demonstrated it recognized residues on intact CHIKV VLPs. Shotgun mutagenesis alanine scanning of 98 percent of the residues in the E1 and E2 glycoproteins of CHIKV envelope showed that the epitope bound by C9 included amino-acid 162 in the acid-sensitive region (ASR) of the CHIKV E2 glycoprotein. The ASR is critical for the rearrangement of CHIKV E2 during fusion and viral entry into host cells, and we predict that C9 prevents these events from occurring. When used prophylactically in a CHIKV mouse model, C9 completely protected against CHIKV viremia and arthritis. We also observed that when administered therapeutically at 8 or 18 hours post-CHIKV challenge, C9 gave 100% protection in a pathogenic mouse model. Given that targeting this novel neutralizing epitope in E2 can potently protect both in vitro and in vivo, it is likely to be an important region both for future antibody and vaccine-based interventions against CHIKV.
CHIKV is characterized by acute and chronic polyarthritis/polyarthralgia that can be debilitating and protracted. Currently there are no FDA-approved vaccines or specific antiviral treatments for CHIKV. We thus identified and characterized human monoclonal antibodies directed against CHIKV that could be utilized in prophylactic and immediate post-exposure settings. Such patient derived monoclonal antibodies could also provide useful information on critical antigens and epitopes for development of future vaccines and other biologics. We describe here the identification of two monoclonal antibodies (C9 and E8) isolated from recovered patients. C9 potently inhibited CHIKV infection in cells and prevented viremia and arthritis in a mouse model of CHIKV disease. The epitope for this antibody includes an amino-acid residue in a key acid-sensitive region of the E2 glycoprotein of CHIKV. Rearrangement of this region following exposure to low pH is critical for uncovering portions of the companion E1 glycoprotein, required for successful entry of CHIKV into cells. We hypothesize that binding of antibodies to this region stabilizes the native complex and thus prevents such rearrangements.
The emerging arthritogenic, mosquito-borne chikungunya virus (CHIKV) causes severe disease in humans and represents a serious public health threat in countries where Aedes spp mosquitoes are present. This study describes for the first time the successful production of CHIKV virus-like particles (VLPs) in insect cells using recombinant baculoviruses. This well-established expression system is rapidly scalable to volumes required for epidemic responses and proved well suited for processing of CHIKV glycoproteins and production of enveloped VLPs. Herein we show that a single immunization with 1 µg of non-adjuvanted CHIKV VLPs induced high titer neutralizing antibody responses and provided complete protection against viraemia and joint inflammation upon challenge with the Réunion Island CHIKV strain in an adult wild-type mouse model of CHIKV disease. CHIKV VLPs produced in insect cells using recombinant baculoviruses thus represents as a new, safe, non-replicating and effective vaccine candidate against CHIKV infections.
Viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes represent major threats for human health all over the world. One of these viruses is the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). CHIKV is transmitted by the Asian Tiger mosquito, which is making ground to more temperate regions such as Europe, and thereby increasing the risk of CHIKV infections. The virus causes severe fevers and long lasting joint pains. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to combat CHIKV infections. This study describes the development of a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine against CHIKV infections, which is produced in insect cells. VLPs are structurally identical to the wild type virus, but these particles cannot replicate due to the absence of the viral genome. The CHIKV VLPs that were produced using the baculovirus-insect cell expression system, were correctly produced and mimic live CHIKV in structural organisation and protein function. Interestingly, a single administration of a low dose (1 µg/mouse) of non-adjuvanted VLPs induced robust neutralizing antibody titers and provided complete protection upon CHIKV challenge against viraemia and disease symptoms. This new effective, safe and scalable vaccine candidate represents a step forward in the prevention of CHIKV infections.
In 2004, chikungunya virus (CHIKV) re-emerged from East Africa to cause devastating epidemics of debilitating and often chronic arthralgia that have affected millions of people in the Indian Ocean Basin and Asia. More limited epidemics initiated by travelers subsequently occurred in Italy and France, as well as human cases exported to most regions of the world, including the Americas where CHIKV could become endemic. Because CHIKV circulates during epidemics in an urban mosquito–human cycle, control of transmission relies on mosquito abatement, which is rarely effective. Furthermore, there is no antiviral treatment for CHIKV infection and no licensed vaccine to prevent disease. Here, we discuss the challenges to the development of a safe, effective and affordable chikungunya vaccine and recent progress toward this goal.
alphavirus; antibody; chikungunya; emergence; evolution; mosquito; vaccine
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an arthritogenic alphavirus, is transmitted to humans by infected Aedes (Ae.) aegypti and Ae.albopictus mosquitoes. In the study, reverse-transcription PCR (RT PCR) and virus isolation detected CHIKV in patient samples and also in adult Ae.albopictus mosquitoes that was derived from larvae collected during a chikungunya (CHIK) outbreak in Kerala in 2009. The CHIKV strains involved in the outbreak were the East, Central and South African (ECSA) genotype that had the E1 A226V mutation. The viral strains from the mosquitoes and CHIK patients from the same area showed a close relationship based on phylogenetic analysis. Genetic characterization by partial sequencing of non-structural protein 2 (nsP2; 378 bp), envelope E1 (505 bp) and E2 (428 bp) identified one critical mutation in the E2 protein coding region of these CHIKV strains. This novel, non-conservative mutation, L210Q, consistently present in both human and mosquito-derived samples studied, was within the region of the E2 protein (amino acids E2 200-220) that determines mosquito cell infectivity in many alpha viruses. Our results show the involvement of Ae. albopictus in this outbreak in Kerala and appearance of CHIKV with novel genetic changes. Detection of virus in adult mosquitoes, emerged in the laboratory from larvae, also points to the possibility of transovarial transmission (TOT) of mutant CHIKV strains in mosquitoes.
Chikungunya Virus (ChikV) surprised by a massive re-emerging outbreak in Indian Ocean in 2006, reaching Europe in 2007 and exhibited exceptional severe physiopathology in infants and elderly patients. In this context, it is important to analyze the innate immune host responses triggered against ChikV. Autophagy has been shown to be an important component of the innate immune response and is involved in host defense elimination of different pathogens. However, the autophagic process was recently observed to be hijacked by virus for their own replication. Here we provide the first evidence that hallmarks of autophagy are specifically found in HEK.293 infected cells and are involved in ChikV replication.
To test the capacity of ChikV to mobilize the autophagic machinery, we performed fluorescence microscopy experiments on HEK.GFP.LC3 stable cells, and followed the LC3 distribution during the time course of ChikV infection. To confirm this, we performed electron microscopy on HEK.293 infected cells. To test the effect of ChikV-induced-autophagy on viral replication, we blocked the autophagic process, either by pharmacological (3-MA) or genetic inhibition (siRNA against the transcript of Beclin 1, an autophagic protein), and analyzed the percentage of infected cells and the viral RNA load released in the supernatant. Moreover, the effect of induction of autophagy by Rapamycin on viral replication was tested.
The increasing number of GFP-LC3 positive cells with a punctate staining together with the enhanced number of GFP-LC3 dots per cell showed that ChikV triggered an autophagic process in HEK.293 infected cells. Those results were confirmed by electron microscopy analysis since numerous membrane-bound vacuoles characteristic of autophagosomes were observed in infected cells. Moreover, we found that inhibition of autophagy, either by biochemical reagent and RNA interference, dramatically decreases ChikV replication.
Taken together, our results suggest that autophagy may play a promoting role in ChikV replication. Investigating in details the relationship between autophagy and viral replication will greatly improve our knowledge of the pathogenesis of ChikV and provide insight for the design of candidate antiviral therapeutics.
ChikV; alphavirus; autophagy; innate immunity
After two decades of quiescence, epidemic resurgence of Chikungunya fever (CHIKF) was reported in Africa, several islands in the Indian Ocean, South-East Asia and the Pacific causing unprecedented morbidity with some cases of fatality. Early phylogenetic analyses based on partial sequences of Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) have led to speculation that the virus behind recent epidemics may result in greater pathogenicity. To understand the reasons for these new epidemics, we first performed extensive analyses of existing CHIKV sequences from its introduction in 1952 to 2009. Our results revealed the existence of a continuous genotypic lineage, suggesting selective pressure is active in CHIKV evolution. We further showed that CHIKV is undergoing mild positive selection, and that site-specific mutations may be driven by cell-mediated immune pressure, with occasional changes that resulted in the loss of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I-restricting elements. These findings provide a basis to understand Chikungunya virus evolution and reveal the power of post-genomic analyses to understand CHIKV and other viral epidemiology. Such an approach is useful for studying the impact of host immunity on pathogen evolution, and may help identify appropriate antigens suitable for subunit vaccine formulations.
Emerging mosquito-borne alphavirus infections caused by chikungunya virus (CHIKV) oro`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.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV); O`Nyong –nyong virus (ONNV); A129 mice; Interferon (IFN); maternal-fetal immunity
The replicative cycle of chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an alphavirus that recently re-emerged in India and in Indian Ocean area, remains mostly unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the intracellular trafficking pathway(s) hijacked by CHIKV to enter mammalian cells.
Entry pathways were investigated using a variety of pharmacological inhibitors or overexpression of dominant negative forms of proteins perturbating cellular endocytosis. We found that CHIKV infection of HEK293T mammalian cells is independent of clathrin heavy chain and- dependent of functional Eps15, and requires integrity of Rab5-, but not Rab7-positive endosomal compartment. Cytoskeleton integrity is crucial as cytochalasin D and nocodazole significantly reduced infection of the cells. Finally, both methyl β-cyclodextrin and lysomotropic agents impaired CHIKV infection, supporting that a cholesterol-, pH-dependent step is required to achieve productive infection. Interestingly, differential sensitivity to lysomotropic agents was observed between the prototypal 37997 African strain of CHIKV and the LR-OPY1 virus isolated from the recent outbreak in Reunion Island.
Together our data indicate that CHIKV entry in its target cells is essentially mediated by clathrin-independent, Eps15-dependent endocytosis. Despite that this property is shared by the prototypal 37997 African strain of CHIKV and the LR-OPY1 virus isolated from the recent outbreak in La Réunion Island, differential sensitivity to lysomotropic agents may support that the LR-OPY1 strain has acquired specific entry mechanisms.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that re-emerged in 2004 and has caused massive outbreaks in recent years. The lack of a licensed vaccine or treatment options emphasize the need to obtain more insight into the viral life cycle and CHIKV-host interactions. Infectious cDNA clones are important tools for such studies, and for mechanism of action studies on antiviral compounds. Existing CHIKV cDNA clones are based on a single genome from an individual clinical isolate, which is expected to have evolved specific characteristics in response to the host environment, and possibly also during subsequent cell culture passaging. To obtain a virus expected to have the general characteristics of the recent E1-226V CHIKV isolates, we have constructed a new CHIKV full-length cDNA clone, CHIKV LS3, based on the consensus sequence of their aligned genomes. Here we report the characterization of this synthetic virus and a green fluorescent protein-expressing variant (CHIKV LS3-GFP). Their characteristics were compared to those of natural strain ITA07-RA1, which was isolated during the 2007 outbreak in Italy. In cell culture the synthetic viruses displayed phenotypes comparable to the natural isolate, and in a mouse model they caused lethal infections that were indistinguishable from infections with a natural strain. Compared to ITA07-RA1 and clinical isolate NL10/152, the synthetic viruses displayed similar sensitivities to several antiviral compounds. 3-deaza-adenosine was identified as a new inhibitor of CHIKV replication. Cyclosporin A had no effect on CHIKV replication, suggesting that cyclophilins -opposite to what was found for other +RNA viruses- do not play an essential role in CHIKV replication. The characterization of the consensus sequence-based synthetic viruses and their comparison to natural isolates demonstrated that CHIKV LS3 and LS3-GFP are suitable and representative tools to study CHIKV-host interactions, screen for antiviral compounds and unravel their mode of action.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is the causative agent of an outbreak that began in La Réunion in 2005 and remains a major public health concern in India, Southeast Asia, and southern Europe. CHIKV is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and the associated disease is characterized by fever, myalgia, arthralgia, and rash. As viral load in infected patients declines before the appearance of neutralizing antibodies, we studied the role of type I interferon (IFN) in CHIKV pathogenesis. Based on human studies and mouse experimentation, we show that CHIKV does not directly stimulate type I IFN production in immune cells. Instead, infected nonhematopoietic cells sense viral RNA in a Cardif-dependent manner and participate in the control of infection through their production of type I IFNs. Although the Cardif signaling pathway contributes to the immune response, we also find evidence for a MyD88-dependent sensor that is critical for preventing viral dissemination. Moreover, we demonstrate that IFN-α/β receptor (IFNAR) expression is required in the periphery but not on immune cells, as IFNAR−/−→WT bone marrow chimeras are capable of clearing the infection, whereas WT→IFNAR−/− chimeras succumb. This study defines an essential role for type I IFN, produced via cooperation between multiple host sensors and acting directly on nonhematopoietic cells, in the control of CHIKV.