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1.  Nipah Virus C and W Proteins Contribute to Respiratory Disease in Ferrets 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(14):6326-6343.
ABSTRACT
Nipah virus (NiV) is a highly lethal paramyxovirus that recently emerged as a causative agent of febrile encephalitis and severe respiratory disease in humans. The ferret model has emerged as the preferred small-animal model with which to study NiV disease, but much is still unknown about the viral determinants of NiV pathogenesis, including the contribution of the C protein in ferrets. Additionally, studies have yet to examine the synergistic effects of the various P gene products on pathogenesis in animal models. Using recombinant NiVs (rNiVs), we examine the sole contribution of the NiV C protein and the combined contributions of the C and W proteins in the ferret model of NiV pathogenesis. We show that an rNiV void of C expression resulted in 100% mortality, though with limited respiratory disease, like our previously reported rNiV void of W expression; this finding is in stark contrast to the attenuated phenotype observed in previous hamster studies utilizing rNiVs void of C expression. We also observed that an rNiV void of both C and W expression resulted in limited respiratory disease; however, there was severe neurological disease leading to 60% mortality, and the surviving ferrets demonstrated sequelae similar to those for human survivors of NiV encephalitis.
IMPORTANCE Nipah virus (NiV) is a human pathogen capable of causing lethal respiratory and neurological disease. Many human survivors have long-lasting neurological impairment. Using a ferret model, this study demonstrated the roles of the NiV C and W proteins in pathogenesis, where lack of either the C or the W protein independently decreased the severity of clinical respiratory disease but did not decrease lethality. Abolishing both C and W expression, however, dramatically decreased the severity of respiratory disease and the level of destruction of splenic germinal centers. These ferrets still suffered severe neurological disease: 60% succumbed to disease, and the survivors experienced long-term neurological impairment, such as that seen in human survivors. This new ferret NiV C and W knockout model may allow, for the first time, the examination of interventions to prevent or mitigate the neurological damage and sequelae experienced by human survivors.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00215-16
PMCID: PMC4936148  PMID: 27147733
2.  Rescue of non-human primates from advanced Sudan ebolavirus infection with lipid encapsulated siRNA 
Nature microbiology  2016;1(10):16142.
Although significant progress has been made in developing therapeutics against Zaire ebolavirus, these therapies do not protect against other Ebola species such as Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV). Here, we describe an RNA interference therapeutic comprising siRNA targeting the SUDV VP35 gene encapsulated in lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology with increased potency beyond formulations used in TKM-Ebola clinical trials. Twenty-five rhesus monkeys were challenged with a lethal dose of SUDV. Twenty animals received siRNA-LNP beginning at 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days post-challenge. VP35-targeting siRNA-LNP treatment resulted in up to 100% survival, even when initiated when fever, viraemia and disease signs were evident. Treatment effectively controlled viral replication, mediating up to 4 log10 reductions after dosing. Mirroring clinical findings, a correlation between high viral loads and fatal outcome was observed, emphasizing the importance of stratifying efficacy according to viral load. In summary, strong survival benefit and rapid control of SUDV replication by VP35-targeting LNP confirm its therapeutic potential in combatting this lethal disease.
doi:10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.142
PMCID: PMC5154560  PMID: 27670117
3.  Oral and Conjunctival Exposure of Nonhuman Primates to Low Doses of Ebola Makona Virus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2016;214(Suppl 3):S263-S267.
Nonhuman primate (NHP) models of Ebola virus (EBOV) infection primarily use parenteral or aerosol routes of exposure. Uniform lethality can be achieved in these models at low doses of EBOV (≤100 plaque-forming units [PFU]). Here, we exposed NHPs to low doses of EBOV (Makona strain) by the oral or conjunctival routes. Surprisingly, animals exposed to 10 PFU by either route showed no signs of disease. Exposure to 100 PFU resulted in illness and/or lethal infection. These results suggest that these more natural routes require higher doses of EBOV to produce disease or that there may be differences between Makona and historical strains.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiw149
PMCID: PMC5050459  PMID: 27284090
Ebola virus; pathogenesis; nonhuman primate
4.  A Single-Vector, Single-Injection Trivalent Filovirus Vaccine: Proof of Concept Study in Outbred Guinea Pigs 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2015;212(Suppl 2):S384-S388.
The filoviruses, Marburg marburgvirus (MARV), Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV), and Sudan ebolavirus (SEBOV), cause severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates (NHPs). Monovalent recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)–based vaccine vectors, which encode a filovirus glycoprotein (GP) in place of the VSV glycoprotein, have shown 100% efficacy against homologous filovirus challenge in rodent and NHP studies. Here, we examined the utility of a single-vector, single-injection trivalent rVSV vector expressing MARV, ZEBOV, and SEBOV GPs to protect against MARV-, ZEBOV-, and SEBOV-induced disease in outbred Hartley guinea pigs where we observed protection from effects of all 3 filoviruses.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv126
PMCID: PMC4564539  PMID: 25957964
cross-protection; Ebola virus; filovirus; guinea pig; Marburg virus; trivalent; vaccine; vesicular stomatitis virus
5.  Comparison of the Pathogenesis of the Angola and Ravn Strains of Marburg Virus in the Outbred Guinea Pig Model 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2015;212(Suppl 2):S258-S270.
Background. Phylogenetic comparisons of known Marburg virus (MARV) strains reveal 2 distinct genetic lineages: Ravn and the Lake Victoria Marburg complex (eg, Musoke, Popp, and Angola strains). Nucleotide variances of >20% between Ravn and other MARV genomes suggest that differing virulence between lineages may accompany this genetic divergence. To date, there exists limited systematic experimental evidence of pathogenic differences between MARV strains.
Methods. Uniformly lethal outbred guinea pig models of MARV-Angola (MARV-Ang) and MARV-Ravn (MARV-Rav) were developed by serial adaptation. Changes in genomic sequence, weight, temperature, histopathologic findings, immunohistochemical findings, hematologic profiles, circulating biochemical enzyme levels, coagulation parameters, viremia levels, cytokine levels, eicanosoid levels, and nitric oxide production were compared between strains.
Results. MARV-Rav infection resulted in delayed increases in circulating inflammatory and prothrombotic elements, notably lower viremia levels, less severe histologic alterations, and a delay in mean time to death, compared with MARV-Ang infection. Both strains produced more marked coagulation abnormalities than previously seen in MARV-infected mice or inbred guinea pigs.
Conclusions. Although both strains exhibit great similarity to pathogenic markers of human and nonhuman primate MARV infection, these data highlight several key differences in pathogenicity that may serve to guide the choice of strain and model used for development of vaccines or therapeutics for Marburg hemorrhagic fever.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv182
PMCID: PMC4564542  PMID: 26092858
filovirus; Marburg virus; Angola; Ravn; guinea pig; animal model; pathogenesis; coagulation
6.  Stat1-Deficient Mice Are Not an Appropriate Model for Efficacy Testing of Recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus–Based Filovirus Vaccines 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2015;212(Suppl 2):S404-S409.
Stat1−/− mice lack a response to interferon α, β, and γ, allowing for replication of nonadapted wild-type (wt) Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus. We sought to establish a mouse model for efficacy testing of live attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)–based filovirus vaccine vectors using wt Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus challenge strains. While infection of immunocompetent mice with different rVSV-based filovirus vectors did not cause disease, infection of Stat1−/− mice with the same vectors resulted in systemic infection and lethal outcome for the majority of tested rVSVs. Despite differences in viral loads, organ tropism was remarkably similar between rVSV filovirus vaccine vectors and rVSVwt, with the exception of the brain. In conclusion, Stat1−/− mice are not an appropriate immunocompromised mouse model for efficacy testing of live attenuated, replication-competent rVSV vaccine vectors.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv188
PMCID: PMC4564544  PMID: 26022440
Vesicular stomatitis virus; Ebolavirus; Marburgvirus; vaccine; Stat1-deficient mice
7.  Considerations in the Use of Nonhuman Primate Models of Ebola Virus and Marburg Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2015;212(Suppl 2):S91-S97.
The filoviruses, Ebola virus and Marburg virus, are zoonotic pathogens that cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates (NHPs), with case-fatality rates ranging from 23% to 90%. The current outbreak of Ebola virus infection in West Africa, with >26 000 cases, demonstrates the long-underestimated public health danger that filoviruses pose as natural human pathogens. Currently, there are no vaccines or treatments licensed for human use. Licensure of any medical countermeasure may require demonstration of efficacy in the gold standard cynomolgus or rhesus macaque models of filovirus infection. Substantial progress has been made over the last decade in characterizing the filovirus NHP models. However, there is considerable debate over a variety of experimental conditions, including differences among filovirus isolates used, routes and doses of exposure, and euthanasia criteria, all of which may contribute to variability of results among different laboratories. As an example of the importance of understanding these differences, recent data with Ebola virus shows that an addition of a single uridine residue in the glycoprotein gene at the editing site attenuates the virus. Here, we draw on decades of experience working with filovirus-infected NHPs to provide a perspective on the importance of various experimental conditions.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv284
PMCID: PMC4564553  PMID: 26063223
Ebola virus; Marburg virus; filovirus; nonhuman primate; animal model; vaccine; treatment
8.  Vaccination With a Highly Attenuated Recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Vector Protects Against Challenge With a Lethal Dose of Ebola Virus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2015;212(Suppl 2):S443-S451.
Previously, recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) pseudotypes expressing Ebolavirus glycoproteins (GPs) in place of the VSV G protein demonstrated protection of nonhuman primates from lethal homologous Ebolavirus challenge. Those pseudotype vectors contained no additional attenuating mutations in the rVSV genome. Here we describe rVSV vectors containing a full complement of VSV genes and expressing the Ebola virus (EBOV) GP from an additional transcription unit. These rVSV vectors contain the same combination of attenuating mutations used previously in the clinical development pathway of an rVSV/human immunodeficiency virus type 1 vaccine. One of these rVSV vectors (N4CT1-EBOVGP1), which expresses membrane-anchored EBOV GP from the first position in the genome (GP1), elicited a balanced cellular and humoral GP-specific immune response in mice. Guinea pigs immunized with a single dose of this vector were protected from any signs of disease following lethal EBOV challenge, while control animals died in 7–9 days. Subsequently, N4CT1-EBOVGP1 demonstrated complete, single-dose protection of 2 macaques following lethal EBOV challenge. A single sham-vaccinated macaque died from disease due to EBOV infection. These results demonstrate that highly attenuated rVSV vectors expressing EBOV GP may provide safer alternatives to current EBOV vaccines.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv316
PMCID: PMC4564554  PMID: 26109675
attenuation; rVSV vector; Ebola vaccine; glycoprotein; challenge; nonhuman primates
9.  Development of Prototype Filovirus Recombinant Antigen Immunoassays 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2015;212(Suppl 2):S359-S367.
Background. Throughout the 2014–2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, major gaps were exposed in the availability of validated rapid diagnostic platforms, protective vaccines, and effective therapeutic agents. These gaps potentiated the development of prototype rapid lateral flow immunodiagnostic (LFI) assays that are true point-of-contact platforms, for the detection of active Ebola infections in small blood samples.
Methods. Recombinant Ebola and Marburg virus matrix VP40 and glycoprotein (GP) antigens were used to derive a panel of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. Antibodies were tested using a multivariate approach to identify antibody-antigen combinations suitable for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and LFI assay development.
Results. Polyclonal antibodies generated in goats were superior reagents for capture and detection of recombinant VP40 in test sample matrices. These antibodies were optimized for use in antigen-capture ELISA and LFI assay platforms. Prototype immunoglobulin M (IgM)/immunoglobulin G (IgG) ELISAs were similarly developed that specifically detect Ebola virus–specific antibodies in the serum of experimentally infected nonhuman primates and in blood samples obtained from patients with Ebola from Sierra Leone.
Conclusions. The prototype recombinant Ebola LFI assays developed in these studies have sensitivities that are useful for clinical diagnosis of acute ebolavirus infections. The antigen-capture and IgM/IgG ELISAs provide additional confirmatory assay platforms for detecting VP40 and other ebolavirus-specific immunoglobulins.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiv353
PMCID: PMC4564556  PMID: 26232440
Ebola; Ebola virus; filovirus; lateral flow immunodiagnostic; point-of-care testing; ELISA
10.  The Synthetic Antiviral Drug Arbidol Inhibits Globally Prevalent Pathogenic Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(6):3086-3092.
ABSTRACT
Arbidol (ARB) is a synthetic antiviral originally developed to combat influenza viruses. ARB is currently used clinically in several countries but not in North America. We have previously shown that ARB inhibits in vitro hepatitis C virus (HCV) by blocking HCV entry and replication. In this report, we expand the list of viruses that are inhibited by ARB and demonstrate that ARB suppresses in vitro infection of mammalian cells with Ebola virus (EBOV), Tacaribe arenavirus, and human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). We also confirm suppression of hepatitis B virus and poliovirus by ARB. ARB inhibited EBOV Zaire Kikwit infection when added before or at the same time as virus infection and was less effective when added 24 h after EBOV infection. Experiments with recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing the EBOV Zaire glycoprotein showed that infection was inhibited by ARB at early stages, most likely at the level of viral entry into host cells. ARB inhibited HHV-8 replication to a similar degree as cidofovir. Our data broaden the spectrum of antiviral efficacy of ARB to include globally prevalent viruses that cause significant morbidity and mortality.
IMPORTANCE There are many globally prevalent viruses for which there are no licensed vaccines or antiviral medicines. Some of these viruses, such as Ebola virus or members of the arenavirus family, rapidly cause severe hemorrhagic diseases that can be fatal. Other viruses, such as hepatitis B virus or human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), establish persistent infections that cause chronic illnesses, including cancer. Thus, finding an affordable, effective, and safe drug that blocks many viruses remains an unmet medical need. The antiviral drug arbidol (ARB), already in clinical use in several countries as an anti-influenza treatment, has been previously shown to suppress the growth of many viruses. In this report, we expand the list of viruses that are blocked by ARB in a laboratory setting to include Ebola virus, Tacaribe arenavirus, and HHV-8, and we propose ARB as a broad-spectrum antiviral drug that may be useful against hemorrhagic viruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02077-15
PMCID: PMC4810626  PMID: 26739045
11.  Targeting Innate Immunity for Antiviral Therapy through Small Molecule Agonists of the RLR Pathway 
Journal of Virology  2016;90(5):2372-2387.
ABSTRACT
The cellular response to virus infection is initiated when pathogen recognition receptors (PRR) engage viral pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). This process results in induction of downstream signaling pathways that activate the transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3). IRF3 plays a critical role in antiviral immunity to drive the expression of innate immune response genes, including those encoding antiviral factors, type 1 interferon, and immune modulatory cytokines, that act in concert to restrict virus replication. Thus, small molecule agonists that can promote IRF3 activation and induce innate immune gene expression could serve as antivirals to induce tissue-wide innate immunity for effective control of virus infection. We identified small molecule compounds that activate IRF3 to differentially induce discrete subsets of antiviral genes. We tested a lead compound and derivatives for the ability to suppress infections caused by a broad range of RNA viruses. Compound administration significantly decreased the viral RNA load in cultured cells that were infected with viruses of the family Flaviviridae, including West Nile virus, dengue virus, and hepatitis C virus, as well as viruses of the families Filoviridae (Ebola virus), Orthomyxoviridae (influenza A virus), Arenaviridae (Lassa virus), and Paramyxoviridae (respiratory syncytial virus, Nipah virus) to suppress infectious virus production. Knockdown studies mapped this response to the RIG-I-like receptor pathway. This work identifies a novel class of host-directed immune modulatory molecules that activate IRF3 to promote host antiviral responses to broadly suppress infections caused by RNA viruses of distinct genera.
IMPORTANCE Incidences of emerging and reemerging RNA viruses highlight a desperate need for broad-spectrum antiviral agents that can effectively control infections caused by viruses of distinct genera. We identified small molecule compounds that can selectively activate IRF3 for the purpose of identifying drug-like molecules that can be developed for the treatment of viral infections. Here, we report the discovery of a hydroxyquinoline family of small molecules that can activate IRF3 to promote cellular antiviral responses. These molecules can prophylactically or therapeutically control infection in cell culture by pathogenic RNA viruses, including West Nile virus, dengue virus, hepatitis C virus, influenza A virus, respiratory syncytial virus, Nipah virus, Lassa virus, and Ebola virus. Our study thus identifies a class of small molecules with a novel mechanism to enhance host immune responses for antiviral activity against a variety of RNA viruses that pose a significant health care burden and/or that are known to cause infections with high case fatality rates.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02202-15
PMCID: PMC4810700  PMID: 26676770
12.  Pathogenic Differences between Nipah Virus Bangladesh and Malaysia Strains in Primates: Implications for Antibody Therapy 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:30916.
Nipah virus (NiV) is a paramyxovirus that causes severe disease in humans and animals. There are two distinct strains of NiV, Malaysia (NiVM) and Bangladesh (NiVB). Differences in transmission patterns and mortality rates suggest that NiVB may be more pathogenic than NiVM. To investigate pathogenic differences between strains, 4 African green monkeys (AGM) were exposed to NiVM and 4 AGMs were exposed to NiVB. While NiVB was uniformly lethal, only 50% of NiVM-infected animals succumbed to infection. Histopathology of lungs and spleens from NiVB-infected AGMs was significantly more severe than NiVM-infected animals. Importantly, a second study utilizing 11 AGMs showed that the therapeutic window for human monoclonal antibody m102.4, previously shown to rescue AGMs from NiVM infection, was much shorter in NiVB-infected AGMs. Together, these data show that NiVB is more pathogenic in AGMs under identical experimental conditions and suggests that postexposure treatments may need to be NiV strain specific for optimal efficacy.
doi:10.1038/srep30916
PMCID: PMC4971471  PMID: 27484128
13.  The Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) as a Lethal Infection Model for 3 Species of Ebolavirus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2016;214(4):565-569.
Small-animal models have been developed for several Filoviridae species; however, serial adaptation was required to produce lethal infection. These adapted viruses have sequence changes in several genes, including those that modulate the host immune response. Nonhuman primate models do not require adaptation of filoviruses. Here, we describe lethal models of disease for Bundibugyo, Sudan, and Zaire species of Ebolavirus in the domestic ferret, using wild-type nonadapted viruses. Pathologic features were consistent with disease in primates. Of particular importance, this is the only known small-animal model developed for Bundibugyo and the only uniformly lethal animal model for Bundibugyo.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jiw209
PMCID: PMC4957446  PMID: 27354371
Filovirus; Ebola virus; ferret; animal model; virulence; pathogenesis; permeability; coagulopathy; adaptation; vaccines; therapeutics
14.  Most neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies target novel epitopes requiring both Lassa virus glycoprotein subunits 
Nature Communications  2016;7:11544.
Lassa fever is a severe multisystem disease that often has haemorrhagic manifestations. The epitopes of the Lassa virus (LASV) surface glycoproteins recognized by naturally infected human hosts have not been identified or characterized. Here we have cloned 113 human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for LASV glycoproteins from memory B cells of Lassa fever survivors from West Africa. One-half bind the GP2 fusion subunit, one-fourth recognize the GP1 receptor-binding subunit and the remaining fourth are specific for the assembled glycoprotein complex, requiring both GP1 and GP2 subunits for recognition. Notably, of the 16 mAbs that neutralize LASV, 13 require the assembled glycoprotein complex for binding, while the remaining 3 require GP1 only. Compared with non-neutralizing mAbs, neutralizing mAbs have higher binding affinities and greater divergence from germline progenitors. Some mAbs potently neutralize all four LASV lineages. These insights from LASV human mAb characterization will guide strategies for immunotherapeutic development and vaccine design.
Lassa virus can cause haemorrhagic fever for which no specific treatment currently exists. Here the authors have cloned 113 monoclonal antibodies from the survivors of Lassa infection and show that the majority of neutralizing antibodies target a complex of GP1 and GP2 viral proteins.
doi:10.1038/ncomms11544
PMCID: PMC4866400  PMID: 27161536
15.  Differential regulation of interferon responses by Ebola and Marburg virus VP35 proteins 
Cell reports  2016;14(7):1632-1640.
SUMMARY
Suppression of innate immune responses during filoviral infection contributes to disease severity. Ebola (EBOV) and Marburg (MARV) viruses each encode a VP35 protein that suppresses RIG-I-like receptor signaling and interferon-α/β (IFN-α/β) production by several mechanisms, including direct binding to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Here, we demonstrate that in cell culture MARV infection results in a greater upregulation of IFN responses as compared to EBOV infection. This correlates with differences in the efficiencies by which EBOV and MARV VP35s antagonize RIG-I signaling. Furthermore, structural and biochemical studies suggest that differential recognition of RNA elements by the respective VP35 C-terminal IFN inhibitory domain (IID) rather than affinity for RNA by the respective VP35s is critical for this observation. Our results reveal functional differences in EBOV versus MARV VP35 RNA binding result in unexpected differences in the host response to deadly viral pathogens.
doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2016.01.049
PMCID: PMC4767585  PMID: 26876165
filovirus; immune evasion; pattern associated molecular pattern (PAMP); RIG-I like receptor; type I interferon; VP35
16.  Isolation and Characterization of a Novel Gammaherpesvirus from a Microbat Cell Line 
mSphere  2016;1(1):e00070-15.
Bats are of significant interest as reservoirs for zoonotic viral pathogens; however, tools to dissect bat-virus interactions are limited in availability. This study serendipitously identified, in an established bat cell line, a fully replication-competent gammaherpesvirus; determined the complete genome sequence of the virus; and generated a viral transcript map. This virus can replicate in select human and nonhuman primate cell lines. However, analyses of viral sequences support a bat origin for this virus; we therefore refer to the virus as bat gammaherpesvirus 8 (BGHV8). The viral genome contains unique open reading frames that likely encode modulators of bat innate and adaptive immune signaling pathways and expresses viral miRNAs. The virus and its gene products should provide a unique tool to dissect both bat and gammaherpesvirus biology.
ABSTRACT
While employing deep sequencing and de novo assembly to characterize the mRNA transcript profile of a cell line derived from the microbat Myotis velifer incautus, we serendipitously identified mRNAs encoding proteins with a high level of identity to herpesviruses. A majority were closely related to proteins of equine herpesvirus 2 (EHV-2), a horse gammaherpesvirus. We demonstrated by electron microscopy the presence of herpesvirus-like particles in the microbat cells. Passage of supernatants from microbat cells to Vero cells resulted in syncytium formation, and expression of viral genes and amplification of viral DNA were demonstrated by quantitative PCR. Susceptibility of human cell lines to productive infection was also demonstrated. Next-generation sequencing and de novo assembly of the viral genome from supernatants from Vero cells yielded a single contig of approximately 130 kb with at least 77 open reading frames (ORFs), predicted microRNAs (miRNAs), and a gammaherpesvirus genomic organization. Phylogenic analysis of the envelope glycoprotein (gB) and DNA polymerase (POLD1) revealed similarity to multiple gammaherpesviruses, including those from as-yet-uncultured viruses of the Rhadinovirus genus that were obtained by deep sequencing of bat tissues. Moreover, the assembled genome revealed ORFs that share little or no homology to known ORFs in EHV-2 but are similar to accessory proteins of other gammaherpesviruses. Some also have striking homology to predicted Myotis bat proteins. Cumulatively, this study provides the first isolation and characterization of a replication-competent bat gammaherpesvirus.
IMPORTANCE Bats are of significant interest as reservoirs for zoonotic viral pathogens; however, tools to dissect bat-virus interactions are limited in availability. This study serendipitously identified, in an established bat cell line, a fully replication-competent gammaherpesvirus; determined the complete genome sequence of the virus; and generated a viral transcript map. This virus can replicate in select human and nonhuman primate cell lines. However, analyses of viral sequences support a bat origin for this virus; we therefore refer to the virus as bat gammaherpesvirus 8 (BGHV8). The viral genome contains unique open reading frames that likely encode modulators of bat innate and adaptive immune signaling pathways and expresses viral miRNAs. The virus and its gene products should provide a unique tool to dissect both bat and gammaherpesvirus biology.
doi:10.1128/mSphere.00070-15
PMCID: PMC4863610  PMID: 27303702
bats; genomics; herpesviruses; next-generation sequencing; transcriptomics; virus discovery
17.  Multiple Circulating Infections Can Mimic the Early Stages of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers and Possible Human Exposure to Filoviruses in Sierra Leone Prior to the 2014 Outbreak 
Viral Immunology  2015;28(1):19-31.
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.
doi:10.1089/vim.2014.0108
PMCID: PMC4287116  PMID: 25531344
18.  Lipid nanoparticle siRNA treatment of Ebola virus Makona infected nonhuman primates 
Nature  2015;521(7552):362-365.
The current outbreak of Ebola virus (EBOV) in West Africa is unprecedented, causing more cases and fatalities than all previous outbreaks combined, and has yet to be controlled1. Several postexposure interventions have been employed under compassionate use to treat a number of patients repatriated to Europe and the United States2. However, the in vivo efficacy of these interventions against the new outbreak strain of EBOV is unknown. Here, we show that lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-encapsulated siRNAs rapidly adapted to target the Makona outbreak strain of EBOV are able to protect 100% of rhesus monkeys against lethal challenge when treatment was initiated at 3 days postexposure while animals were viremic and clinically ill. Although all infected animals showed evidence of advanced disease including abnormal hematology, blood chemistry, and coagulopathy, siRNA-treated animals had milder clinical features and fully recovered while the untreated control animals succumbed. These results represent the first successful demonstration of therapeutic anti-EBOV efficacy against the new outbreak strain in nonhuman primates (NHPs) and highlight the rapid development of LNP-delivered siRNA as a countermeasure against this highly lethal human disease.
doi:10.1038/nature14442
PMCID: PMC4467030  PMID: 25901685
19.  Aerosolized Ebola vaccine protects primates and elicits lung-resident T cell responses 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2015;125(8):3241-3255.
Direct delivery of aerosolized vaccines to the respiratory mucosa elicits both systemic and mucosal responses. This vaccine strategy has not been tested for Ebola virus (EBOV) or other hemorrhagic fever viruses. Here, we examined the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of an aerosolized human parainfluenza virus type 3–vectored vaccine that expresses the glycoprotein (GP) of EBOV (HPIV3/EboGP) delivered to the respiratory tract. Rhesus macaques were vaccinated with aerosolized HPIV3/EboGP, liquid HPIV3/EboGP, or an unrelated, intramuscular, Venezuelan equine encephalitis replicon vaccine expressing EBOV GP. Serum and mucosal samples from aerosolized HPIV3/EboGP recipients exhibited high EBOV-specific IgG, IgA, and neutralizing antibody titers, which exceeded or equaled titers observed in liquid recipients. The HPIV3/EboGP vaccine induced an EBOV-specific cellular response that was greatest in the lungs and yielded polyfunctional CD8+ T cells, including a subset that expressed CD103 (αE integrin), and CD4+ T helper cells that were predominately type 1. The magnitude of the CD4+ T cell response was greater in aerosol vaccinees. The HPIV3/EboGP vaccine produced a more robust cell-mediated and humoral immune response than the systemic replicon vaccine. Moreover, 1 aerosol HPIV3/EboGP dose conferred 100% protection to macaques exposed to EBOV. Aerosol vaccination represents a useful and feasible vaccination mode that can be implemented with ease in a filovirus disease outbreak situation.
doi:10.1172/JCI81532
PMCID: PMC4563760  PMID: 26168222
20.  Single dose attenuated Vesiculovax vaccines protect primates against Ebola Makona virus 
Nature  2015;520(7549):688-691.
The family Filoviridae contains three genera, Ebolavirus (EBOV), Marburg virus, and Cuevavirus1. Some members of the EBOV genus, including Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV), can cause lethal hemorrhagic fever in humans. During 2014 an unprecedented ZEBOV outbreak occurred in West Africa and is still ongoing, resulting in nearly 10,000 deaths, and causing global concern of uncontrolled disease. To meet this challenge a rapid acting vaccine is needed. Many vaccine approaches have shown promise in being able to protect nonhuman primate (NHPs) against ZEBOV2. In response to the current ZEBOV outbreak several of these vaccines have been fast tracked for human use. However, it is not known whether any of these vaccines can provide protection against the new outbreak Makona strain of ZEBOV. One of these approaches is a first generation recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)-based vaccine expressing the ZEBOV glycoprotein (GP) (rVSV/ZEBOV). To address safety concerns associated with this vector, we developed two candidate, further attenuated rVSV/ZEBOV vaccines. Both attenuated vaccines produced an approximately ten-fold lower vaccine-associated viremia compared to the first generation vaccine and both provided complete, single dose protection of macaques from lethal challenge with the Makona outbreak strain of ZEBOV.
doi:10.1038/nature14428
PMCID: PMC4629916  PMID: 25853476
21.  The broad-spectrum antiviral favipiravir protects guinea pigs from lethal Lassa virus infection post-disease onset 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:14775.
With up to 500,000 infections annually, Lassa virus (LASV), the cause of Lassa fever, is one of the most prevalent etiological agents of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) in humans. LASV is endemic in several West African countries with sporadic cases and prolonged outbreaks observed most commonly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Additionally several cases of Lassa fever have been imported into North America, Europe and Asia making LASV a global threat to public health. Despite this, currently no approved therapeutic or vaccine exists to treat or prevent LASV infections. Here, using a passaged strain of LASV that is uniformly lethal in Hartley guinea pigs, we demonstrate that favipiravir, a broad-spectrum antiviral agent and leading treatment option for influenza, has potent activity against LASV infection. In this model, once daily treatment with favipiravir significantly reduced viral titers in tissue samples and reduced mortality rates when compared with animals receiving vehicle-only or ribavirin, the current standard of care for Lassa fever. Favipiravir remained highly effective against lethal LASV infection when treatments were initiated nine days post-infection, a time when animals were demonstrating advanced signs of disease. These results support the further preclinical evaluation of favipiravir for Lassa fever and other VHFs.
doi:10.1038/srep14775
PMCID: PMC4600983  PMID: 26456301
22.  Marburg virus infection in nonhuman primates: Therapeutic treatment by lipid-encapsulated siRNA 
Science translational medicine  2014;6(250):250ra116.
Marburg virus (MARV) and the closely related filovirus Ebola virus cause severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever (HF) in humans and nonhuman primates with mortality rates up to 90%. There are no vaccines or drugs approved for human use, and no postexposure treatment has completely protected nonhuman primates against MARV-Angola, the strain associated with the highest rate of mortality in naturally occurring human outbreaks. Studies performed with other MARV strains assessed candidate treatments at times shortly after virus exposure, before signs of disease are detectable. We assessed the efficacy of lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery of anti-MARV nucleoprotein (NP)–targeting small interfering RNA (siRNA) at several time points after virus exposure, including after the onset of detectable disease in a uniformly lethal nonhuman primate model of MARV-Angola HF. Twenty-one rhesus monkeys were challenged with a lethal dose of MARV-Angola. Sixteen of these animals were treated with LNP containing anti-MARV NP siRNA beginning at 30 to 45 min, 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days after virus challenge. All 16 macaques that received LNP-encapsulated anti-MARV NP siRNA survived infection, whereas the untreated or mock-treated control subjects succumbed to disease between days 7 and 9 after infection. These results represent the successful demonstration of therapeutic anti–MARV-Angola efficacy in nonhuman primates and highlight the substantial impact of an LNP-delivered siRNA therapeutic as a countermeasure against this highly lethal human disease.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3009706
PMCID: PMC4502585  PMID: 25143366
23.  The Immune Modulating V and W Proteins of Nipah Virus Determine Disease Course 
Nature communications  2015;6:7483.
The viral determinants that contribute to Nipah virus (NiV)-mediated disease are poorly understood compared to other paramyxoviruses. Here, we use recombinant NiVs (rNiVs) to examine the contributions of the NiV V and W proteins to NiV pathogenesis in a ferret model using recombinant NiVs (rNiVs). We show that a V-deficient rNiV is susceptible to the innate immune response in vitro, and behaves as a replicating non-lethal virus in vivo. Remarkably, rNiV lacking W expression results in a delayed and altered disease course with decreased respiratory disease and increased terminal neurological disease associated with altered in vitro inflammatory cytokine production. This study confirms the V protein as the major determinate of pathogenesis, while also being the first in vivo study to show the W protein modulates the inflammatory host immune response in a manner that determines disease course.
doi:10.1038/ncomms8483
PMCID: PMC4482017  PMID: 26105519
24.  The immunomodulating V and W proteins of Nipah virus determine disease course 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7483.
The viral determinants that contribute to Nipah virus (NiV)-mediated disease are poorly understood compared with other paramyxoviruses. Here we use recombinant NiVs (rNiVs) to examine the contributions of the NiV V and W proteins to NiV pathogenesis in a ferret model. We show that a V-deficient rNiV is susceptible to the innate immune response in vitro and behaves as a replicating non-lethal virus in vivo. Remarkably, rNiV lacking W expression results in a delayed and altered disease course with decreased respiratory disease and increased terminal neurological disease associated with altered in vitro inflammatory cytokine production. This study confirms the V protein as the major determinant of pathogenesis, also being the first in vivo study to show that the W protein modulates the inflammatory host immune response in a manner that determines the disease course.
Nipah virus (NiV) can be transmitted from bats and other animals to humans, causing severe encephalitis and respiratory disease. Here, Satterfield et al. show that the W protein of NiV modulates the host immune response and determines disease course in a ferret model of infection.
doi:10.1038/ncomms8483
PMCID: PMC4482017  PMID: 26105519
25.  Ebola therapy protects severely ill monkeys 
Nature  2014;514(7520):41-43.
A blend of three monoclonal antibodies has completely protected monkeys against a lethal dose of Ebola virus. Unlike other post-infection therapies, the treatment works even at advanced stages of the disease.
doi:10.1038/nature13746
PMCID: PMC4469351  PMID: 25171470

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