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1.  Rotavirus A-specific single-domain antibodies produced in baculovirus-infected insect larvae are protective in vivo 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:59.
Single-domain antibodies (sdAbs), also known as nanobodies or VHHs, are characterized by high stability and solubility, thus maintaining the affinity and therapeutic value provided by conventional antibodies. Given these properties, VHHs offer a novel alternative to classical antibody approaches. To date, VHHs have been produced mainly in E. coli, yeast, plants and mammalian cells. To apply the single-domain antibodies as a preventive or therapeutic strategy to control rotavirus infections in developing countries (444,000 deaths in children under 5 years of age) has to be minimized their production costs.
Here we describe the highly efficient expression of functional VHHs by the Improved Baculovirus Expression System (IBES® technology), which uses a baculovirus expression vector in combination with Trichoplusia ni larvae as living biofactories. Two VHHs, named 3B2 and 2KD1, specific for the inner capsid protein VP6 of Group A rotavirus, were expressed in insect larvae. The IBES® technology achieved very high expression of 3B2 and 2KD1, reaching 2.62% and 3.63% of the total soluble protein obtained from larvae, respectively. These expression levels represent up to 257 mg/L of protein extract after insect processing (1 L extract represents about 125 g of insect biomass or about 375 insect larvae). Larva-derived antibodies were fully functional when tested in vitro and in vivo, neutralizing Group A rotaviruses and protecting offspring mice against rotavirus-induced diarrhea.
Our results open up the possibility of using insects as living biofactories (IBES® technology) for the cost-efficient production of these and other fully functional VHHs to be used for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, thereby eliminating concerns regarding the use of bacterial or mammalian cells. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that insects have been used as living biofactories to produce a VHH molecule.
PMCID: PMC3444942  PMID: 22953695
Single-domain antibodies; Therapeutic molecule; Neutralization; Rotavirus A; Insect; Baculovirus; IBES®technology
2.  IgY Antibodies Protect against Human Rotavirus Induced Diarrhea in the Neonatal Gnotobiotic Piglet Disease Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42788.
Group A Rotaviruses are the most common cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in children worldwide. The aim of the present work was to evaluate protection against rotavirus (RV) diarrhea conferred by the prophylactic administration of specific IgY antibodies (Ab) to gnotobiotic piglets experimentally inoculated with virulent Wa G1P[8] human rotavirus (HRV). Chicken egg yolk IgY Ab generated from Wa HRV hyperimmunized hens specifically recognized (ELISA) and neutralized Wa HRV in vitro. Supplementation of the RV Ab free cow milk diet with Wa HRV-specific egg yolk IgY Ab at a final ELISA Ab titer of 4096 (virus neutralization –VN- titer = 256) for 9 days conferred full protection against Wa HRV associated diarrhea and significantly reduced virus shedding. This protection was dose-dependent. The oral administration of semi-purified passive IgY Abs from chickens did not affect the isotype profile of the pig Ab secreting cell (ASC) responses to Wa HRV infection, but it was associated with significantly fewer numbers of HRV–specific IgA ASC in the duodenum. We further analyzed the pigś immune responses to the passive IgY treatment. The oral administration of IgY Abs induced IgG Ab responses to chicken IgY in serum and local IgA and IgG Ab responses to IgY in the intestinal contents of neonatal piglets in a dose dependent manner. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that IgY Abs administered orally as a milk supplement passively protect neonatal pigs against an enteric viral pathogen (HRV). Piglets are an animal model with a gastrointestinal physiology and an immune system that closely mimic human infants. This strategy can be scaled-up to inexpensively produce large amounts of polyclonal IgY Abs from egg yolks to be applied as a preventive and therapeutic passive Ab treatment to control RV diarrhea.
PMCID: PMC3411843  PMID: 22880110
3.  Uniformity of Rotavirus Strain Nomenclature Proposed by the Rotavirus Classification Working Group (RCWG) 
Archives of Virology  2011;156(8):1397-1413.
In April 2008, a nucleotide sequence-based, complete genome classification system was developed for group A rotaviruses (RVs). This system assigns a specific genotype to each of the 11 genome segments of a particular RV strain according to established nucleotide percent cut-off values. Using this approach, the genome of individual RV strains are given the complete descriptor of Gx-P[x]-Ix-Rx-Cx-Mx-Ax-Nx-Tx-Ex-Hx. A Rotavirus Classification Working Group (RCWG) was formed by scientists in the field to maintain, evaluate, and develop the RV genotype classification system, in particular to aid in the designation of new genotypes. Since its conception, the group has ratified 50 new genotypes: as of January 2011, new genotypes for VP7 (G20–G26), VP4 (P[28]–P[35]), VP6 (I12–I16), VP1 (R5–R9), VP2 (C6–C9), VP3 (M7–M8), NSP1 (A15–A16), NSP2 (N6–N9), NSP3 (T8–T12), NSP4 (E12–E14), and NSP5/6 (H7–H11) have been defined for RV strains identified in humans, cows, pigs, horses, mice, South American camelids (guanaco and vicuña), chickens, turkeys, pheasants, and bats. With increasing numbers of complete RV genome sequences becoming available, a standardized RV strain nomenclature system is needed and the RCWG proposes that individual RV strains are named as follows: RV group/species of origin/country of identification/common name/year of identification/G- and P-type. In collaboration with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the RCWG is also working on developing a RV-specific resource for the deposition of nucleotide sequences. This resource will provide useful information regarding RV strains, including but not limited to, the individual gene genotypes, epidemiological, and clinical information. Together, the proposed nomenclature system and the NCBI RV resource will offer highly useful tools for investigators to search for, retrieve, and analyze the ever-growing volume of RV genomic data.
PMCID: PMC3398998  PMID: 21597953
Rotavirus; Classification; Nomenclature; Strain; Nomenclature guidelines
4.  Isolation and characterization of bovine parainfluenza virus type 3 from water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) in Argentina 
Parainfluenza virus type 3 (PIV3) was isolated from dairy buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) naturally affected with respiratory and reproductive clinical conditions.
Examination of nasal and vaginal swabs collected from 12 diseased buffaloes led to the isolation of three paramyxovirus isolates from two animals. Antigenic, morphological and biological characteristics of these three isolates were essentially similar to those of members of the Paramyxoviridae family. Antigenic analysis by direct immunofluorescence and cross neutralization test placed these isolates together with bovine parainfluenza virus type 3 (BPIV3). Nucleotide and amino acid phylogenetic analysis of partial matrix gene sequences of the buffalo isolates and six field BPIV3 isolates from bovines in Argentina were studied. Buffalo isolates were similar to genotype B (BPIV3b) while the six BPIV3 isolates were similar to genotypes A (BPIV3a) and C (BPIV3c).
This is the first characterization of BPIV3 in water buffalo.
According to the samples analyzed, in Argentina, the genotype B was found in buffalo and the genotypes A and C were found in cattle.
PMCID: PMC3430567  PMID: 22716217
5.  Are Human P[14] Rotavirus Strains the Result of Interspecies Transmissions from Sheep or Other Ungulates That Belong to the Mammalian Order Artiodactyla?▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(7):2917-2929.
A limited number of human G6P[14] rotavirus strains that cause gastroenteritis in humans have been isolated in Europe and Australia. The complete genome sequences were determined for five of these human strains—B10925-97 (isolated in Belgium in 1997), 111/05-27 (Italy, 2005), PA169 (Italy, 1987), MG6 (Australia, 1993), and Hun5 (Hungary, 1997)—and their genetic relatedness to animal rotavirus strains was evaluated by sequencing the complete genome of the sheep rotavirus OVR762 (G8P[14]; Spain, 2002), the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) rotavirus strains Arg/Chubut/99 and Arg/Río Negro/98 (G8P[14] and G8P[1], respectively; Argentina, 1999 and 1998), the sable antelope strain RC-18/08 (G6P[14]; South Africa, 2008), and the bovine rotavirus strain Arg/B383/98 (G15P[11]; Argentina, 1998). These analyses revealed an overall consensus genomic constellation (G6/G8)-P[14]-I2-(R2/R5)-C2-M2-(A3/A11)-N2-T6-(E2/E12)-H3, together with a few gene reassortments, and the phylogenetic analyses confirmed that the P[14] human strains evaluated in this study were closely related to rotavirus strains isolated from sheep, cattle, goats, guanacos, and antelopes and to rabbits (albeit to a lesser extent), suggesting that one (or more) of these animal species might be the source of the human G6P[14] strains. The main feature of the genotype and phylogenetic analyses was the close overall genomic relatedness between the five human G6P[14] rotavirus strains and the ovine and antelope rotavirus strains. Taken together, these data strongly suggest a common origin for the human P[14] strains and those of the even-toed ungulates belonging to the mammalian order Artiodactyla, with sheep probably playing a key role in the interspecies transmission responsible for the introduction of P[14] rotavirus strains into the human population.
PMCID: PMC2655590  PMID: 19153225
6.  Llama-Derived Single-Chain Antibody Fragments Directed to Rotavirus VP6 Protein Possess Broad Neutralizing Activity In Vitro and Confer Protection against Diarrhea in Mice▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(19):9753-9764.
Group A rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhea in human infants and newborn animals. Rotavirus virions are triple-layered particles. The outer capsid proteins VP4 and VP7 are highly variable and represent the major neutralizing antigens. The inner capsid protein VP6 is conserved among group A rotaviruses, is highly immunogenic, and is the target antigen of most immunodiagnosis tests. Llama-derived single-chain antibody fragments (VHH) are the smallest molecules with antigen-binding capacity and can therefore be expected to have properties different from conventional antibodies. In this study a library containing the VHH genes of a llama immunized with recombinant inner capsid protein VP6 was generated. Binders directed to VP6, in its native conformation within the viral particle, were selected and characterized. Four selected VHH directed to conformational epitopes of VP6 recognized all human and animal rotavirus strains tested and could be engineered for their use in immunodiagnostic tests for group A rotavirus detection. Three of the four VHH neutralized rotavirus in vivo independently of the strain serotype. Furthermore, this result was confirmed by in vivo partial protection against rotavirus challenge in a neonatal mouse model. The present study demonstrates for the first time a broad neutralization activity of VP6 specific VHH in vitro and in vivo. Neutralizing VHH directed to VP6 promise to become an essential tool for the prevention and treatment of rotavirus diarrhea.
PMCID: PMC2546978  PMID: 18632867
7.  Intranasal Administration of 2/6-Rotavirus-Like Particles with Mutant Escherichia coli Heat-Labile Toxin (LT-R192G) Induces Antibody-Secreting Cell Responses but Not Protective Immunity in Gnotobiotic Pigs 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(19):8843-8853.
We investigated the immunogenicity of recombinant double-layered rotavirus-like particle (2/6-VLPs) vaccines derived from simian SA11 or human (VP6) Wa and bovine RF (VP2) rotavirus strains. The 2/6-VLPs were administered to gnotobiotic pigs intranasally (i.n.) with a mutant Escherichia coli heat-labile toxin, LT-R192G (mLT), as mucosal adjuvant. Pigs were challenged with virulent Wa (P1A[8],G1) human rotavirus at postinoculation day (PID) 21 (two-dose VLP regimen) or 28 (three-dose VLP regimen). In vivo antigen-activated antibody-secreting cells (ASC) (effector B cells) and in vitro antigen-reactivated ASC (derived from memory B cells) from intestinal and systemic lymphoid tissues (duodenum, ileum, mesenteric lymph nodes [MLN], spleen, peripheral blood lymphocytes [PBL], and bone marrow lymphocytes) collected at selected times were quantitated by enzyme-linked immunospot assays. Rotavirus-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM), IgA, and IgG ASC and memory B-cell responses were detected by PID 21 or 28 in intestinal and systemic lymphoid tissues after i.n. inoculation with two or three doses of 2/6-VLPs with or without mLT. Greater mean numbers of virus-specific ASC and memory B cells in all tissues prechallenge were induced in pigs inoculated with two doses of SA11 2/6-VLPs plus mLT compared to SA11 2/6-VLPs without mLT. After challenge, anamnestic IgA and IgG ASC and memory B-cell responses were detected in intestinal lymphoid tissues of all VLP-inoculated groups, but serum virus-neutralizing antibody titers were not significantly enhanced compared to the challenged controls. Pigs inoculated with Wa-RF 2/6-VLPs (with or without mLT) developed higher anamnestic IgA and IgG ASC responses in ileum after challenge compared to pigs inoculated with SA11 2/6-VLPs (with or without mLT). Three doses of SA 11 2/6-VLP plus mLT induced the highest mean numbers of IgG memory B cells in MLN, spleen, and PBL among all groups postchallenge. However, no significant protection against diarrhea or virus shedding was evident in any of the 2/6-VLP (with or without mLT)-inoculated pigs after challenge with virulent Wa human rotavirus. These results indicate that 2/6-VLP vaccines are immunogenic in gnotobiotic pigs when inoculated i.n. and that the adjuvant mLT enhanced their immunogenicity. However, i.n. inoculation of gnotobiotic pigs with 2/6-VLPs did not confer protection against human rotavirus challenge.
PMCID: PMC102078  PMID: 10982326

Results 1-7 (7)