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17.  Modulation of Flavivirus Population Diversity by RNA Interference 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):4035-4039.
To test the hypothesis that RNA interference (RNAi) imposes diversifying selection on RNA virus genomes, we quantified West Nile virus (WNV) quasispecies diversity after passage in Drosophila cells in which RNAi was left intact, depleted, or stimulated against WNV. As predicted, WNV diversity was significantly lower in RNAi-depleted cells and significantly greater in RNAi-stimulated cells relative to that in controls. These findings reveal that an innate immune defense can shape viral population structure.
PMCID: PMC4403385  PMID: 25631077
18.  A Host Susceptibility Gene, DR1, Facilitates Influenza A Virus Replication by Suppressing Host Innate Immunity and Enhancing Viral RNA Replication 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3671-3682.
Influenza A virus (IAV) depends on cellular factors to complete its replication cycle; thus, investigation of the factors utilized by IAV may facilitate antiviral drug development. To this end, a cellular transcriptional repressor, DR1, was identified from a genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screen. Knockdown (KD) of DR1 resulted in reductions of viral RNA and protein production, demonstrating that DR1 acts as a positive host factor in IAV replication. Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis showed that there was a strong induction of interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression after prolonged DR1 KD. We found that beta interferon (IFN-β) was induced by DR1 KD, thereby activating the JAK-STAT pathway to turn on ISG expression, which led to a strong inhibition of IAV replication. This result suggests that DR1 in normal cells suppresses IFN induction, probably to prevent undesired cytokine production, but that this suppression may create a milieu that favors IAV replication once cells are infected. Furthermore, biochemical assays of viral RNA replication showed that DR1 KD suppressed viral RNA replication. We also showed that DR1 associated with all three subunits of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) complex, indicating that DR1 may interact with individual components of the viral RdRp complex to enhance viral RNA replication. Thus, DR1 may be considered a novel host susceptibility gene for IAV replication via a dual mechanism, not only suppressing the host defense to indirectly favor IAV replication but also directly facilitating viral RNA replication.
IMPORTANCE Investigations of virus-host interactions involved in influenza A virus (IAV) replication are important for understanding viral pathogenesis and host defenses, which may manipulate influenza virus infection or prevent the emergence of drug resistance caused by a high error rate during viral RNA replication. For this purpose, a cellular transcriptional repressor, DR1, was identified from a genome-wide RNAi screen as a positive regulator in IAV replication. In the current studies, we showed that DR1 suppressed the gene expression of a large set of host innate immunity genes, which indirectly facilitated IAV replication in the event of IAV infection. Besides this scenario, DR1 also directly enhanced the viral RdRp activity, likely through associating with individual components of the viral RdRp complex. Thus, DR1 represents a novel host susceptibility gene for IAV replication via multiple functions, not only suppressing the host defense but also enhancing viral RNA replication. DR1 may be a potential target for drug development against influenza virus infection.
PMCID: PMC4403386  PMID: 25589657
19.  Development of Live-Attenuated Arenavirus Vaccines Based on Codon Deoptimization 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3523-3533.
Arenaviruses have a significant impact on public health and pose a credible biodefense threat, but the development of safe and effective arenavirus vaccines has remained elusive, and currently, no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-licensed arenavirus vaccines are available. Here, we explored the use of a codon deoptimization (CD)-based approach as a novel strategy to develop live-attenuated arenavirus vaccines. We recoded the nucleoprotein (NP) of the prototypic arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) with the least frequently used codons in mammalian cells, which caused lower LCMV NP expression levels in transfected cells that correlated with decreased NP activity in cell-based functional assays. We used reverse-genetics approaches to rescue a battery of recombinant LCMVs (rLCMVs) encoding CD NPs (rLCMV/NPCD) that showed attenuated growth kinetics in vitro. Moreover, experiments using the well-characterized mouse model of LCMV infection revealed that rLCMV/NPCD1 and rLCMV/NPCD2 were highly attenuated in vivo but, upon a single immunization, conferred complete protection against a subsequent lethal challenge with wild-type (WT) recombinant LCMV (rLCMV/WT). Both rLCMV/NPCD1 and rLCMV/NPCD2 were genetically and phenotypically stable during serial passages in FDA vaccine-approved Vero cells. These results provide proof of concept of the safety, efficacy, and stability of a CD-based approach for developing live-attenuated vaccine candidates against human-pathogenic arenaviruses.
IMPORTANCE Several arenaviruses cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and pose a credible bioterrorism threat. Currently, no FDA-licensed vaccines are available to combat arenavirus infections, while antiarenaviral therapy is limited to the off-label use of ribavirin, which is only partially effective and is associated with side effects. Here, we describe the generation of recombinant versions of the prototypic arenavirus LCMV encoding codon-deoptimized viral nucleoproteins (rLCMV/NPCD). We identified rLCMV/NPCD1 and rLCMV/NPCD2 to be highly attenuated in vivo but able to confer protection against a subsequent lethal challenge with wild-type LCMV. These viruses displayed an attenuated phenotype during serial amplification passages in cultured cells. Our findings support the use of this approach for the development of safe, stable, and protective live-attenuated arenavirus vaccines.
PMCID: PMC4403387  PMID: 25589652
20.  Identification of Amino Acid Substitutions Supporting Antigenic Change of Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3763-3775.
The majority of currently circulating influenza A(H1N1) viruses are antigenically similar to the virus that caused the 2009 influenza pandemic. However, antigenic variants are expected to emerge as population immunity increases. Amino acid substitutions in the hemagglutinin protein can result in escape from neutralizing antibodies, affect viral fitness, and change receptor preference. In this study, we constructed mutants with substitutions in the hemagglutinin of A/Netherlands/602/09 in an attenuated backbone to explore amino acid changes that may contribute to emergence of antigenic variants in the human population. Our analysis revealed that single substitutions affecting the loop that consists of amino acid positions 151 to 159 located adjacent to the receptor binding site caused escape from ferret and human antibodies elicited after primary A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infection. The majority of these substitutions resulted in similar or increased replication efficiency in vitro compared to that of the virus carrying the wild-type hemagglutinin and did not result in a change of receptor preference. However, none of the substitutions was sufficient for escape from the antibodies in sera from individuals that experienced both seasonal and pandemic A(H1N1) virus infections. These results suggest that antibodies directed against epitopes on seasonal A(H1N1) viruses contribute to neutralization of A(H1N1)pdm09 antigenic variants, thereby limiting the number of possible substitutions that could lead to escape from population immunity.
IMPORTANCE Influenza A viruses can cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans. Amino acid substitutions in the hemagglutinin protein can result in escape from antibody-mediated neutralization. This allows the virus to reinfect individuals that have acquired immunity to previously circulating strains through infection or vaccination. To date, the vast majority of A(H1N1)pdm09 strains remain antigenically similar to the virus that caused the 2009 influenza pandemic. However, antigenic variants are expected to emerge as a result of increasing population immunity. We show that single amino acid substitutions near the receptor binding site were sufficient to escape from antibodies specific for A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses but not from antibodies elicited in response to infections with seasonal A(H1N1) and A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses. This study identified substitutions in A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses that support escape from population immunity but also suggested that the number of potential escape variants is limited by previous exposure to seasonal A(H1N1) viruses.
PMCID: PMC4403388  PMID: 25609810
21.  New Insights into the Evolutionary Rate of Hepatitis B Virus at Different Biological Scales 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3512-3522.
The evolutionary rates of hepatitis B virus (HBV) estimated using contemporary sequences are 102 to 104 times higher than those derived from archaeological and genetic evidence. This discrepancy makes the origin of HBV and the time scale of its spread, both of which are critical for studying the burden of HBV pathogenicity, largely unresolved. To evaluate whether the dual demands (i.e., adaptation within hosts and colonization between hosts) of the viral life cycle affect this conundrum, the HBV quasispecies dynamics within and among hosts from a family consisting of a grandmother, her 5 children, and her 2 granddaughters, all of whom presumably acquired chronic HBV through mother-to-infant transmission, were examined by PCR cloning and next-generation sequencing methods. We found that the evolutionary rate of HBV between hosts was considerably lower than that within hosts. Moreover, the between-host substitution rates of HBV decreased as transmission numbers between individuals increased. Both observations were due primarily to changes at nonsynonymous rather than synonymous sites. There were significantly more multiple substitutions than expected for random mutation processes, and 97% of substitutions were changed from common to rare amino acid residues in the database. Continual switching between colonization and adaptation resulted in a rapid accumulation of mutations at a limited number of positions, which quickly became saturated, whereas substitutions at the remaining regions occurred at a much lower rate. Our study may help to explain the time-dependent HBV substitution rates reported in the literature and provide new insights into the origin of the virus.
IMPORTANCE It is known that the estimated hepatitis B virus (HBV) substitution rate is time dependent, but the reason behind this observation is still elusive. We hypothesize that owing to the small genome size of HBV, transmission between hosts and adaptation within hosts must exhibit high levels of fitness trade-offs for the virus. By studying the HBV quasispecies dynamics for a chain of sequentially infected transmissions within a family, we found the HBV substitution rate between patients to be negatively correlated with the number of transmissions. Continual switching between hosts resulted in a rapid accumulation of mutations at a limited number of genomic sites, which quickly became saturated in the short term. Nevertheless, substitutions at the remaining regions occurred at a much lower rate. Therefore, the HBV substitution rate decreased as the divergence time increased.
PMCID: PMC4403390  PMID: 25589664
22.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Employs the Cellular Dynein Light Chain 1 Protein for Reverse Transcription through Interaction with Its Integrase Protein 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3497-3511.
In this study, we examined the requirement for host dynein adapter proteins such as dynein light chain 1 (DYNLL1), dynein light chain Tctex-type 1 (DYNLT1), and p150Glued in early steps of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication. We found that the knockdown (KD) of DYNLL1, but not DYNLT1 or p150Glued, resulted in significantly lower levels of HIV-1 reverse transcription in cells. Following an attempt to determine how DYNLL1 could impact HIV-1 reverse transcription, we detected the DYNLL1 interaction with HIV-1 integrase (IN) but not with capsid (CA), matrix (MA), or reverse transcriptase (RT) protein. Furthermore, by mutational analysis of putative DYNLL1 interaction motifs in IN, we identified the motifs 52GQVD and 250VIQD in IN as essential for DYNLL1 interaction. The DYNLL1 interaction-defective IN mutant HIV-1 (HIV-1INQ53A/Q252A) exhibited impaired reverse transcription. Through further investigations, we have also detected relatively smaller amounts of particulate CA in DYNLL1-KD cells or in infections with HIV-1INQ53A/Q252A mutant virus. Overall, our study demonstrates the novel interaction between HIV-1 IN and cellular DYNLL1 proteins and suggests the requirement of this virus-cell interaction for proper uncoating and efficient reverse transcription of HIV-1.
IMPORTANCE Host cellular DYNLL1, DYNLT1, and p150Glued proteins have been implicated in the replication of several viruses. However, their roles in HIV-1 replication have not been investigated. For the first time, we demonstrated that during viral infection, HIV-1 IN interacts with DYNLL1, and their interaction was found to have a role in proper uncoating and efficient reverse transcription of HIV-1. Thus, interaction of IN and DYNLL1 may be a potential target for future anti-HIV therapy. Moreover, while our study has evaluated the involvement of IN in HIV-1 uncoating and reverse transcription, it also predicts a possible mechanism by which IN contributes to these early viral replication steps.
PMCID: PMC4403391  PMID: 25568209
23.  Identification of PB2 Mutations Responsible for the Efficient Replication of H5N1 Influenza Viruses in Human Lung Epithelial Cells 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3947-3956.
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses have caused outbreaks among poultry worldwide, resulting in sporadic infections in humans with approximately 60% mortality. However, efficient transmission of H5N1 viruses among humans has yet to occur, suggesting that further adaptation of H5N1 viruses to humans is required for their efficient transmission among humans. The viral determinants for efficient replication in humans are currently poorly understood. Here, we report that the polymerase PB2 protein of an H5N1 influenza virus isolated from a human in Vietnam (A/Vietnam/UT36285/2010, virus 36285) increased the growth ability of an avian H5N1 virus (A/wild bird/Anhui/82/2005, virus Wb/AH82) in human lung epithelial A549 cells (however, the reassortant virus did not replicate more efficiently than human 36285 virus). Furthermore, we demonstrate that the amino acid residues at positions 249, 309, and 339 of the PB2 protein from this human isolate were responsible for its efficient replication in A549 cells. PB2 residues 249G and 339M, which are found in the human H5N1 virus, are rare in H5N1 viruses from both human and avian sources. Interestingly, PB2-249G is found in over 30% of human seasonal H3N2 viruses, which suggests that H5N1 viruses may replicate well in human cells when they acquire this mutation. Our data are of value to H5N1 virus surveillance.
IMPORTANCE Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses must acquire mutations to overcome the species barrier between avian species and humans. When H5N1 viruses replicate in human respiratory cells, they can acquire amino acid mutations that allow them to adapt to humans through continuous selective pressure. Several amino acid mutations have been shown to be advantageous for virus adaptation to mammalian hosts. Here, we found that amino acid changes at positions 249, 309, and 339 of PB2 contribute to efficient replication of avian H5N1 viruses in human lung cells. These findings are beneficial for evaluating the pandemic risk of circulating avian viruses and for further functional analysis of PB2.
PMCID: PMC4403392  PMID: 25609813
24.  Soluble T Cell Immunoglobulin Mucin Domain 3 Is Shed from CD8+ T Cells by the Sheddase ADAM10, Is Increased in Plasma during Untreated HIV Infection, and Correlates with HIV Disease Progression 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3723-3736.
Chronic HIV infection results in a loss of HIV-specific CD8+ T cell effector function, termed “exhaustion,” which is mediated, in part, by the membrane coinhibitory receptor T cell immunoglobulin mucin domain-3 (Tim-3). Like many other receptors, a soluble form of this protein has been described in human blood plasma. However, soluble Tim-3 (sTim-3) is poorly characterized, and its role in HIV disease is unknown. Here, we show that Tim-3 is shed from the surface of responding CD8+ T cells by the matrix metalloproteinase ADAM10, producing a soluble form of the coinhibitory receptor. Despite previous reports in the mouse model, no alternatively spliced, soluble form of Tim-3 was observed in humans. Shed sTim-3 was found in human plasma and was significantly elevated during early and chronic untreated HIV infection, but it was not found differentially modulated in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-treated HIV-infected subjects or in elite controllers compared to HIV-uninfected subjects. Plasma sTim-3 levels were positively correlated with HIV load and negatively correlated with CD4 counts. Thus, plasma sTim-3 shedding correlated with HIV disease progression. Despite these correlations, we found that shedding Tim-3 did not improve the function of CD8+ T cells in terms of gamma interferon production or prevent their apoptosis through galectin-9. Further characterization studies of sTim-3 function are needed to understand the contribution of sTim-3 in HIV disease pathogenesis, with implications for novel therapeutic interventions.
IMPORTANCE Despite the overall success of HAART in slowing the progression to AIDS in HIV-infected subjects, chronic immune activation and T cell exhaustion contribute to the eventual deterioration of the immune system. Understanding these processes will aid in the development of interventions and therapeutics to be used in combination with HAART to slow or reverse this deterioration. Here, we show that a soluble form of T cell exhaustion associated coinhibitory molecule 3, sTim-3, is shed from the surface of T cells. Furthermore, sTim-3 is elevated in the plasma of treatment-naive subjects with acute or chronic HIV infection and is associated with markers of disease progression. This is the first study to characterize sTim-3 in human plasma, its source, and mechanism of production. While it is still unclear whether sTim-3 contributes to HIV pathogenesis, sTim-3 may represent a new correlate of HIV disease progression.
PMCID: PMC4403393  PMID: 25609823
25.  Effective Lethal Mutagenesis of Influenza Virus by Three Nucleoside Analogs 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(7):3584-3597.
Lethal mutagenesis is a broad-spectrum antiviral strategy that exploits the high mutation rate and low mutational tolerance of many RNA viruses. This approach uses mutagenic drugs to increase viral mutation rates and burden viral populations with mutations that reduce the number of infectious progeny. We investigated the effectiveness of lethal mutagenesis as a strategy against influenza virus using three nucleoside analogs, ribavirin, 5-azacytidine, and 5-fluorouracil. All three drugs were active against a panel of seasonal H3N2 and laboratory-adapted H1N1 strains. We found that each drug increased the frequency of mutations in influenza virus populations and decreased the virus' specific infectivity, indicating a mutagenic mode of action. We were able to drive viral populations to extinction by passaging influenza virus in the presence of each drug, indicating that complete lethal mutagenesis of influenza virus populations can be achieved when a sufficient mutational burden is applied. Population-wide resistance to these mutagenic agents did not arise after serial passage of influenza virus populations in sublethal concentrations of drug. Sequencing of these drug-passaged viral populations revealed genome-wide accumulation of mutations at low frequency. The replicative capacity of drug-passaged populations was reduced at higher multiplicities of infection, suggesting the presence of defective interfering particles and a possible barrier to the evolution of resistance. Together, our data suggest that lethal mutagenesis may be a particularly effective therapeutic approach with a high genetic barrier to resistance for influenza virus.
IMPORTANCE Influenza virus is an RNA virus that causes significant morbidity and mortality during annual epidemics. Novel therapies for RNA viruses are needed due to the ease with which these viruses evolve resistance to existing therapeutics. Lethal mutagenesis is a broad-spectrum strategy that exploits the high mutation rate and the low mutational tolerance of most RNA viruses. It is thought to possess a higher barrier to resistance than conventional antiviral strategies. We investigated the effectiveness of lethal mutagenesis against influenza virus using three different drugs. We showed that influenza virus was sensitive to lethal mutagenesis by demonstrating that all three drugs induced mutations and led to an increase in the generation of defective viral particles. We also found that it may be difficult for resistance to these drugs to arise at a population-wide level. Our data suggest that lethal mutagenesis may be an attractive anti-influenza strategy that warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4403394  PMID: 25589650

Results 1-25 (42587)