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1.  The rotavirus nonstructural glycoprotein NSP4 possesses membrane destabilization activity. 
Journal of Virology  1996;70(10):6973-6981.
During a unique morphogenetic process, rotaviruses obtain a transient membrane envelope when newly synthesized subviral particles bud into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). As rotavirus particles mature, they lose their transient membrane and a layer of the glycoprotein VP7 forms the virion outer capsid shell. The nonstructural glycoprotein NSP4 functions as an intracellular receptor in the ER membrane (K. S. Au, W. K. Chan, J. W. Burns, and M. K. Estes, J. Virol. 63:4553-4562, 1989), and it has been hypothesized that NSP4 is involved in the removal of the envelope during viral morphogenesis (M. K. Estes and J. Cohen, Microbiol. Rev. 53:410-449, 1989; B. L. Petrie, M. K. Estes, and D. Y. Graham, J. Virol. 46:270-274, 1983). The purpose of the present study was to determine if NSP4 has a direct membrane destabilization activity (MDA) by using liposome leakage assays and electron microscopic visualization of liposome, microsome, and viral envelope disruption. The fluorescent marker (calcein) incorporated into liposomes was released when the liposomes were incubated with purified NSP4. A region corresponding to amino acid residues 114 to 135 of NSP4 also released calcein from liposomes. NSP4(114-135) peptide-specific antibody completely blocked the MDA of the purified NSP4 protein. These results suggest that this region contains at least part of the functional domain of NSP4. Liposomes composed of phosphatidylcholine and microsomes (to simulate ER membranes) were broken when observed by electron microscopy after incubation with NSP4 or the NSP4(114-135) peptide. In contrast, the envelope of Sendai virus, which is derived from cytoplasmic membranes, and erythrocytes were not disrupted by NSP4 and the NSP4(114-135) peptide. These results provide direct evidence that NSP4 possesses MDA and suggest that it can cause ER membrane damage. Therefore, NSP4 might play an important role in the removal of the transient envelope from budding particles during viral morphogenesis. A model for the MDA of NSP4 in viral morphogenesis is proposed.
PMCID: PMC190747  PMID: 8794341
2.  Porcine rotaviruses antigenically related to human rotavirus serotypes 1 and 2. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1990;28(3):633-636.
Fecal samples from rotavirus-infected piglets were characterized by a serotyping enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) by using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific to human serotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4 (D. O. Matson, M. K. Estes, J. W. Burns, H. B. Greenberg, K. Taniguchi, and S. Urasawa, submitted for publication). Rotavirus in 19 of 25 specimens tested from two herds of pigs from Buenos Aires province, Argentina, were classified antigenically as follows: one serotype 1, four serotype 2, two serotype 3, and no serotype 4. Six specimens reacted with both serotype 1 and 2 MAbs, and viruses in six specimens probably belonged to other serotypes because they reacted only with a VP7 common epitope MAb. Two porcine rotavirus fecal samples found to contain both serotype 1 and 2 viruses by the MAb-based test and one found to contain a serotype 2 virus were grown in tissue culture. When plaque-purified preparations of these tissue culture-adapted viruses were analyzed in the serotyping ELISA, the C60 and C86 preparations reacted only as serotype 1 viruses, indicating that the original fecal samples, which showed multiple VP7 reactivities, were heterogeneous and apparently contained two types of viruses. Testing of plaque-purified C134 virus confirmed its serotype 2 reactivity. The MAb-based serotype designations of these viruses also were confirmed by using a neutralization immunoperoxidase focus reduction assay. This is the first report of the occurrence of serotype 1 and 2 rotaviruses in animals. The MAbs originally developed to serotype human rotaviruses can be utilized to type animal rotaviruses.
PMCID: PMC269683  PMID: 2157739
3.  Biochemical characterization of a smaller form of recombinant Norwalk virus capsids assembled in insect cells. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(10):8066-8072.
The expression of the single capsid protein of Norwalk virus (NV) in Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) insect cells infected with recombinant baculovirus results in the assembly of virus-like particles (VLPs) of two sizes, the predominant 38-nm, or virion-size VLPs, and smaller, 23-nm VLPs. Here we describe the purification and biochemical characterization of the 23-nm VLPs. The 23-nm VLPs were purified to 95% homogeneity from the medium of Sf9 cultures by isopycnic CsCl gradient centrifugation followed by rate-zonal centrifugation in sucrose gradients. The compositions of the purified 23- and 38-nm VLPs were compared by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and protein immunoblots. VLPs of both sizes showed a doublet at 58 kDa, the size of the full-length capsid protein. Upon alkaline treatment, the 23-nm VLPs underwent dissociation into soluble intermediates that were able to reassemble into 23- and 38-nm VLPs upon dialysis, suggesting that the assembly of both types of structures has a common pathway. Antigenic and biochemical properties of the 38- and 23-nm VLPs were examined and found to be conserved. Immunoprecipitation assays using polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies indicated that immunodominant epitopes on the capsid protein as well as conformational epitopes are conserved in the two types of particles. The trypsin cleavage site at residue 227 was protected in the assembled particles of both sizes but exposed after alkaline dissociation. These results, and the conservation of the binding activity of both forms of recombinant NV VLPs to cultured cells (L. J. White, J. M. Ball, M. E. Hardy, T. N. Tanaka, N. Kitamoto, and M. K. Estes, J. Virol. 70:6589-6597, 1996), suggest that the tertiary folding of the capsid protein responsible for these properties is conserved in the two structures. We hypothesize that the 23-nm VLPs are formed when 60 units of the NV capsid protein assembles into a structure with T=1 symmetry.
PMCID: PMC192173  PMID: 9311906
4.  Collaborative evaluation of a method for the detection of Norwalk virus in shellfish tissues by PCR. 
A multicenter, collaborative trial was performed to evaluate the reliability and reproducibility of a previously described method for the detection of Norwalk virus in shellfish tissues with the PCR (R.L. Atmar, F. H. Neill, J. L. Romalde, F. Le Guyader, C. M. Woodley, T. G. Metcalf, and M. K. Estes, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61:3014-3018, 1995). Virus was added to the stomachs and hepatopancreatic tissues of oysters or hard-shell clams in the control laboratory, the samples were shipped to the participating laboratories, and viral nucleic acids were extracted and then detected by reverse transcription-PCR. The sensitivity and specificity of the assay were 85 and 91%, respectively, when results were determined by visual inspection of ethidium bromide-stained agarose gels; the test sensitivity and specificity improved to 87 and 100%, respectively, after confirmation by hybridization with a digoxigenin-labeled, virus-specific probe. We have demonstrated that this method can be implemented successfully by several laboratories to detect Norwalk virus in shellfish tissues.
PMCID: PMC167792  PMID: 8572702
5.  The rotavirus nonstructural glycoprotein NSP4 mobilizes Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum. 
Journal of Virology  1995;69(9):5763-5772.
We previously reported that expression of rotavirus nonstructural glycoprotein NSP4 is responsible for an increase in cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) in Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) insect cells (P. Tian, Y. Hu, W. P. Schilling, D. A. Lindsay, J. Eiden, and M. K. Estes, J. Virol. 68:251-257, 1994). The purpose of the present study was to determine the mechanism by which NSP4 causes an increase in [Ca2+]i by measuring the permeability of the cytoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes in recombinant-baculovirus-infected Sf9 cells. No obvious change in plasmalemma permeability to divalent cations was observed in cells expressing NSP4 compared with that in cells expressing another rotaviral glycoprotein (VP7) when the influx of Ba2+, a Ca2+ surrogate, was monitored. The basal Ca2+ permeability of the internal Ca2+ store was evaluated by measuring the release of Ca2+ induced by ionomycin, a Ca2+ ionophore, or thapsigargin, an inhibitor of the ER Ca(2+)-ATPase pump, following suspension of the cells in Ca(2+)-free extracellular buffer. Releasable Ca2+ decreased with time to a greater extent in cells expressing NSP4 compared with that in cells expressing VP7, suggesting that NSP4 increases the basal Ca2+ permeability of the ER membrane. To determine the possible mechanism by which NSP4 increases ER permeability, purified NSP4 protein or a 22-amino-acid synthetic peptide consisting of residues 114 to 135 (NSP4(114-135) was added exogenously to noninfected Sf9 cells during measurement of [Ca2+]i. Both NSP4 and the NSP4(114-135 peptide produced a time-dependent increase in [Ca2+]i that was attenuated by prior inhibition of phospholipase C with U-73122. Pretreatment of the cells with thapsigargin completely blocked the increase in [Ca2+]i produced by NSP4(114-135, but the peptide only partially reduced the change in [Ca2+]i produced by thapsigargin. No changes in [Ca2+]i were seen in cells treated with control peptides. These results suggest that (i) exogenous NSP4 increases [Ca2+]i through the activation of phospholipase C, (ii) Ca2+ release by exogenous NSP4 is from a store that is a subset of the thapsigargin-sensitive compartment, and (iii) amino acid residues 114 to 135 of NSP4 are sufficient for this activity. In contrast to exogenous NSP4, the mechanism by which endogenously expressed NSP4 increases [Ca2+]1 appears to be unrelated to phospholipase C, since no effect of U-73122 was seen on the elevated [Ca2+]1 in cells expressing NSP4 and exogenously applied NSP4(114-135) caused a further increase in [Ca2+]1 in cells expressing NSP4 protein.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC189437  PMID: 7637021
6.  Detection of Norwalk virus and hepatitis A virus in shellfish tissues with the PCR. 
A method for the detection of Norwalk virus and hepatitis A virus from shellfish tissues by PCR was developed. Virus was added to the stomach and hepatopancreatic tissues of oysters or hard-shell clams, and viral nucleic acids were purified by a modification of a previously described method (R.L. Atmar, T.G. Metcalf, F.H. Neill, and M.K. Estes, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59:631-635, 1993). The new method had the following advantages compared with the previously described method: (i) more rapid sample processing; (ii) increased test sensitivity; (iii) decreased sample-associated interference with reverse transcription-PCR; and (iv) use of chloroform-butanol in place of the chlorofluorocarbon trichlorotrifluoroethane. In addition, internal standards for both Norwalk virus and hepatitis A virus were made which demonstrated when inhibitors to reverse transcription-PCR were present and allowed quantitation of the viral nucleic acids present in samples. This assay can be used to investigate shellfish-associated gastroenteritis outbreaks and to study factors involved in virus persistence in shellfish.
PMCID: PMC167576  PMID: 7487032
7.  Specific proteolytic cleavage of recombinant Norwalk virus capsid protein. 
Journal of Virology  1995;69(3):1693-1698.
Norwalk virus (NV) causes epidemic outbreaks of acute nonbacterial gastroenteritis in humans. The NV capsid is made up of a single protein, and expression of the capsid protein in baculovirus recombinants results in spontaneous assembly of the protein into virus-like particles (X. Jiang, M. Wang, D. Y. Graham, and M. K. Estes, J. Virol. 66:6527-6532, 1992). We have investigated whether the NV capsid protein undergoes a specific proteolytic cleavage. Recombinant NV (rNV) particles were digested with trypsin to determine if a specific cleavage occurred. A predominant band with a molecular weight of approximately 32,000 (32K protein) was observed when trypsin-treated rNV was electrophoresed on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels. Determination of the N-terminal sequence of this band showed that a trypsin-specific cleavage occurred at amino acid residue 227. Early studies identified two proteins with molecular weights of 59,000 and 30,000 (59K and 30K proteins) in the stool of NV-infected volunteers that were reactive with postinfection antiserum. (H. B. Greenberg, J. R. Valdesuso, A. R. Kalica, R. G. Wyatt, V. J. McAuliffe, A. Z. Kapikian, and R. M. Chanock, J. Virol. 37:994-999, 1981). We hypothesized that the 32K rNV cleavage product might be analogous to the 30K soluble protein detected in stools of NV-infected volunteers. Immunoprecipitation of soluble protein from these stool extracts with a rabbit polyclonal antiserum made against rNV, and Western blot detection with a mouse polyclonal antiserum made against rNV, revealed a single band with an apparent molecular weight of 30,000 that migrated similarly to the trypsin cleavage product observed in vitro. The N terminus of this band was identical to that of the 32K cleavage product of rNV capsid protein. These data show that the 30K protein in stool is produced by specific cleavage of the NV capsid protein in vivo. Trypsin cleavage of isolated soluble rNV 58K capsid protein and of assembled particles showed that only soluble 58K capsid protein is susceptible to cleavage. The presence of a large amount of soluble capsid protein may influence the immune response to or pathogenicity of NV infections.
PMCID: PMC188770  PMID: 7853506
8.  Detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM), IgA, and IgG Norwalk virus-specific antibodies by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with baculovirus-expressed Norwalk virus capsid antigen in adult volunteers challenged with Norwalk virus. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1994;32(12):3059-3063.
Pre- and postexposure sera collected from 17 adult volunteers challenged with Norwalk virus as described previously (D. Y. Graham, X. Jiang, T. Tanaka, A. Opekun, P. Madore, and M. K. Estes, J. Infect. Dis. 170:34-43, 1994) were examined for Norwalk virus-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM), IgA, and IgG by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays with recombinant Norwalk virus antigen bound to the solid phase. Sixteen of the 17 volunteers had evidence of past infection, all presenting with preexisting IgG antibody of high avidity; only one volunteer had no evidence of previous infection. Virus infection was detected in 14 of the 16 volunteers with evidence of past infection, and 9 of the infected volunteers had symptomatic illness. A significant rise in both virus-specific IgA and IgG titers was detected after challenge in all of the volunteers who became ill. Five of the asymptomatic volunteers who were infected had rising titers of virus-specific IgG, but only two of the five had a concomitant rise in their virus-specific IgA antibody titers. Antibody rises were detectable in eight of nine ill volunteers 8 to 11 days after challenge but in the asymptomatic volunteers only after more than 15 days had elapsed. Virus-specific IgM was detected after challenge in all 14 infected volunteers. Between symptomatic and asymptomatic volunteers there were no significant differences in titers of virus-specific IgG and IgA in serum before challenge; however, there were significantly higher titers in symptomatic volunteers between 8 and > 90 days after challenge for virus-specific IgG and 8 and 24 days after challenge for virus-specific IgA.
PMCID: PMC264229  PMID: 7883902
9.  Specific interactions between rotavirus outer capsid proteins VP4 and VP7 determine expression of a cross-reactive, neutralizing VP4-specific epitope. 
Journal of Virology  1992;66(1):432-439.
We previously reported that the expression of rotavirus phenotypes by reassortants was affected by recipient genetic background and proposed specific interactions between the outer capsid proteins VP4 and VP7 as the basis for the phenotypic effects (D. Chen, J. W. Burns, M. K. Estes, and R. F. Ramig, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:3743-3747, 1989). A neutralizing, cross-reactive VP4-specific monoclonal antibody (MAb), 2G4, was used to probe the protein-protein interactions. The VP4 specificity of 2G4 was confirmed by immunoblot analysis. MAb 2G4 reacted with both standard (SA11-C13) and variant rotavirus SA11 (SA11-4F) but did not react with bovine rotavirus B223 as determined by plaque reduction neutralization (PRN) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). When a panel of SA11-4F/B223 and SA11-Cl3/B223 reassortants in purified or crude lysate form that had been grown in the presence or absence of trypsin was analyzed with MAb 2G4 by PRN and ELISA, the results with some reassortants were unexpected. That is, MAb 2G4 reacted with VP4 of SA11 parental origin (4F or C13) when it was assembled into capsids with the homologous SA11 VP7 but failed to react with VP4 of SA11 assembled into capsids with heterologous B223 VP7. Conversely, MAb 2G4 failed to react with VP4 of B223 parental origin when it was assembled into capsids with homologous B223 VP7 but did react with B223 VP4 assembled into capsids with the heterologous SA11 VP7. Similar reactivity was observed when 2G4 was used to immunoprecipitate purified double-shelled virions. When soluble unassembled viral proteins were analyzed by ELISA, the 2G4 reactive pattern was as predicted from the parental origin of VP4. That is, 2G4 reacted with the soluble VP4 of reassortants having VP4 from SA11-Cl3 or SA11-4F and failed to react with VP4 of B223 origin, regardless of the origin of VP7. PRN and ELISA results obtained with nonglycosylated viruses revealed that the unexpected reactivity of 2G4 with virus particles was not the result of differential glycosylation of VP7 and epitope masking. These results indicate that the 2G4 epitope existed in the soluble form of VP4 encoded by SA11-Cl3 or SA11-4F but not in soluble B223 VP4. On the other hand, in assembled virions, the presentation of the 2G4 epitope on VP4 was unexpected in some reassortants and was affected by the specific interactions between VP4 and VP7 of heterologous parental origin.
PMCID: PMC238303  PMID: 1370090
12.  Rotavirus NSP4 Induces a Novel Vesicular Compartment Regulated by Calcium and Associated with Viroplasms 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(12):6061-6071.
Rotavirus is a major cause of infantile viral gastroenteritis. Rotavirus nonstructural protein 4 (NSP4) has pleiotropic properties and functions in viral morphogenesis as well as pathogenesis. Recent reports show that the inhibition of NSP4 expression by small interfering RNAs leads to alteration of the production and distribution of other viral proteins and mRNA synthesis, suggesting that NSP4 also affects virus replication by unknown mechanisms. This report describes studies aimed at correlating the localization of intracellular NSP4 in cells with its functions. To be able to follow the localization of NSP4, we fused the C terminus of full-length NSP4 with the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and expressed this fusion protein inducibly in a HEK 293-based cell line to avoid possible cytotoxicity. NSP4-EGFP was initially localized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) as documented by Endo H-sensitive glycosylation and colocalization with ER marker proteins. Only a small fraction of NSP4-EGFP colocalized with the ER-Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC) marker ERGIC-53. NSP4-EGFP did not enter the Golgi apparatus, in agreement with the Endo H sensitivity and a previous report that secretion of an NSP4 cleavage product generated in rotavirus-infected cells is not inhibited by brefeldin A. A significant population of expressed NSP4-EGFP was distributed in novel vesicular structures throughout the cytoplasm, not colocalizing with ER, ERGIC, Golgi, endosomal, or lysosomal markers, thus diverging from known biosynthetic pathways. The appearance of vesicular NSP4-EGFP was dependent on intracellular calcium levels, and vesicular NSP4-EGFP colocalized with the autophagosomal marker LC3. In rotavirus-infected cells, NSP4 colocalized with LC3 in cap-like structures associated with viroplasms, the site of nascent viral RNA replication, suggesting a possible new mechanism for the involvement of NSP4 in virus replication.
PMCID: PMC1472611  PMID: 16731945
13.  Infant morbidity in an Indian slum birth cohort 
Archives of disease in childhood  2007;93(6):479-484.
To establish incidence rates, clinic referrals, hospitalisations, mortality rates and baseline determinants of morbidity among infants in an Indian slum.
A community-based birth cohort with twice-weekly surveillance.
Vellore, South India.
452 newborns recruited over 18 months, followed through infancy.
Main outcome measures
Incidence rates of gastrointestinal illness, respiratory illness, undifferentiated fever, other infections and non-infectious morbidity; rates of community-based diagnoses, clinic visits and hospitalisation; and rate ratios of baseline factors for morbidity.
Infants experienced 12 episodes (95% confidence interval (CI) 11 to 13) of illness, spending about one fifth of their infancy with an illness. Respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms were most common with incidence rates (95% CI) of 7.4 (6.9 to 7.9) and 3.6 (3.3 to 3.9) episodes per child-year. Factors independently associated with a higher incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness were age (3-5 months), male sex, cold/wet season and household involved in beedi work. The rate (95% CI) of hospitalisation, mainly for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, was 0.28 (0.22 to 0.35) per child-year.
The morbidity burden due to respiratory and gastrointestinal illness is high in a South Indian urban slum, with children ill for approximately one fifth of infancy, mainly with respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. The risk factors identified were younger age, male sex, cold/wet season and household involvement in beedi work.
PMCID: PMC2682775  PMID: 17916587
14.  Prevalence of antibodies to Norwalk virus in England: detection by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using baculovirus-expressed Norwalk virus capsid antigen. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1993;31(4):1022-1025.
A total of 3,250 serum specimens collected in England in 1991 and 1992 were tested by an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibody to Norwalk virus using baculovirus-expressed capsid antigen, and 2,382 (73.3%) were positive. The prevalence of Norwalk virus antibody differed regionally. It was lowest (24.6%) in 6- to 11-month-old infants and increased to 89.7% in persons over 60 years old.
PMCID: PMC263611  PMID: 8385148
15.  Isolation of group B porcine rotavirus in cell culture. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1996;34(3):759-761.
While group A and C rotaviruses have been grown in cell culture, group B rotavirus has never been cultured. In this study we successfully isolated porcine group B rotavirus in swine kidney cells. Pancreatin treatment is essential for the propagation of group B rotavirus.
PMCID: PMC228888  PMID: 8904456
16.  Rotavirus virus-like particles administered mucosally induce protective immunity. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(11):8707-8717.
We have evaluated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of rotavirus subunit vaccines administered by mucosal routes. Virus-like particles (VLPs) produced by self-assembly of individual rotavirus structural proteins coexpressed by baculovirus recombinants in insect cells were the subunit vaccine tested. We first compared the immunogenicities and protective efficacies of VLPs containing VP2 and VP6 (2/6-VLPs) and G3 2/6/7-VLPs mixed with cholera toxin and administered by oral and intranasal routes in the adult mouse model of rotavirus infection. VLPs administered orally induced serum antibody and intestinal immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG. The highest oral dose (100 microg) of VLPs induced protection from rotavirus challenge (> or = 50% reduction in virus shedding) in 50% of the mice. VLPs administered intranasally induced higher serum and intestinal antibody responses than VLPs administered orally. All mice receiving VLPs intranasally were protected from challenge; no virus was shed after challenge. Since there was no difference in immunogenicity or protective efficacy between 2/6- and 2/6/7-VLPs, protection was achieved without inclusion of the neutralization antigens VP7 and VP4. We also tested the immunogenicities and protective efficacies of 2/6-VLPs administered intranasally without the addition of cholera toxin. 2/6-VLPs administered intranasally without cholera toxin induced lower serum and intestinal antibody titers than 2/6-VLPs administered with cholera toxin. The highest dose (100 microg) of 2/6-VLPs administered intranasally without cholera toxin resulted in a mean reduction in shedding of 38%. When cholera toxin was added, higher levels of protection were achieved with 10-fold less immunogen. VLPs administered mucosally offer a promising, safe, nonreplicating vaccine for rotavirus.
PMCID: PMC192335  PMID: 9343229
17.  Three-dimensional structural analysis of recombinant rotavirus-like particles with intact and amino-terminal-deleted VP2: implications for the architecture of the VP2 capsid layer. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(10):7353-7360.
Rotaviruses are the leading cause of severe infantile gastroenteritis worldwide. These viruses are large, complex icosahedral particles consisting of three concentric capsid layers enclosing a genome of eleven segments of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). The amino terminus of the innermost capsid protein VP2 possesses a nonspecific single-stranded RNA and dsRNA binding activity, and the amino terminus is also essential for the incorporation of the polymerase enzyme VP1 and guanylyltransferase VP3 into the core of the virion. Biochemical and structural studies have suggested that VP2, and especially the amino terminus, appears to act as a scaffold for proper assembly of the components of the viral core. To locate the amino terminus of VP2 within the core, we have used electron cryomicroscopy and image reconstruction to determine the three-dimensional structures of recombinant virus-like particles that contain either full-length or amino-terminal-deleted forms of VP2 coexpressed with the intermediate capsid protein VP6. A comparison of these structures indicates two significant changes along the inner surface of VP2 in the structure lacking the amino terminus: a loss of mass adjacent to the fivefold axes and a redistribution of mass along the fivefold axes. Examination of the VP2 layer suggests that the proteins are arranged as dimers of 120 quasi-equivalent molecules, with each dimer extending between neighboring fivefold axes. Our results indicate that the amino termini of both quasi-equivalent VP2 molecules are located near the icosahedral vertices.
PMCID: PMC192080  PMID: 9311813
18.  Study of Norwalk virus and Mexico virus infections at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(9):2381-2385.
Small round-structured viruses (SRSVs) or Norwalk-like viruses have been implicated as an important causative agent of gastroenteritis outbreaks. We used the relatively newly developed recombinant enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) to determine the seroprevalence of Norwalk virus (NV) and Mexico virus (MxV) in a family-based cohort and an antenatal clinic cohort at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa. High prevalences (96 to 99%) of anti-NV and anti-MxV antibodies were detected in both cohorts. We also investigated the pattern of antibody acquisition in a cohort of infants and young children without gastroenteritis and found that by 48 months of age all children had acquired adult antibody levels to both these viruses. Lastly, we tested 276 stool specimens collected from infants and young children with gastroenteritis for the presence of NV or MxV antigen by recombinant EIAs to each virus, by electron microscopy (EM), and by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR. NV and MxV antigens were present in 1.8 and 4.3% of the stool specimens, respectively, by the recombinant EIAs; 9.2% were positive for SRSVs by EM, and 25% of these SRSVs gave a positive result by RT-PCR for primer pair 35-36 directed to a region of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene. The seroprevalence studies indicate a high level of exposure to these viruses in both children and adults. Although the viral antigens are not highly prevalent in diarrheal stools, it was determined by the two assays for NV and MxV that children are, nevertheless, infected early in life.
PMCID: PMC229972  PMID: 9276420
19.  Use of heat release and an internal RNA standard control in reverse transcription-PCR detection of Norwalk virus from stool samples. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(2):511-514.
Norwalk virus (NV) and the Norwalk-like viruses are important human pathogens that cause epidemic acute viral gastroenteritis. Current techniques used to recover NV from clinical samples involve multistep viral extraction and elution procedures with subsequent viral detection by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). In this study, a simple method using heat to recover viral RNA from 45 stool samples was compared to a conventional viral RNA extraction technique, with subsequent analysis by RT-PCR. In addition, we used an internal RNA standard for the detection of inhibitors present in processed samples. Our results indicate that the use of heat to recover NV RNA from stool samples has a sensitivity for the detection of NV RNA that is similar to the more labor-intensive, time-consuming, conventional RNA extraction technique. The use of an RNA internal standard permits the detection of inhibitors present in processed samples, allowing the identification of false negatives. The standard we developed has the advantage of allowing differential detection between wild-type viral RNA and standard using internal oligoprobe hybridization.
PMCID: PMC229614  PMID: 9003630
20.  Detection and analysis of a small round-structured virus strain in oysters implicated in an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis. 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1996;62(11):4268-4272.
Outbreaks of shellfish-transmitted viral disease occur periodically, but frequently the causative agent is not identified. In November 1993, during investigation of a multistate outbreak of acute gastroenteritis, incriminated lots of oysters were collected. Oyster tissues (stomachs and digestive diverticula) were processed for virus extraction and nucleic acid purification. Human calicivirus sequences were sought by reverse transcriptase PCR using different primer sets. Amplicons were obtained from 9 of 10 shellfish samples from four different lots when primers specific for the outbreak virus strain were used. The specificity of the amplification was confirmed by hybridization. The amplicons from the nine positive oysters were cloned and sequenced. The sequence of each of the clones was identical to the others but showed some variation (7 of 81 bp) from the sequences obtained from the stools of three persons made III by the outbreak.
PMCID: PMC168251  PMID: 8900022
21.  Attachment and entry of recombinant Norwalk virus capsids to cultured human and animal cell lines. 
Journal of Virology  1996;70(10):6589-6597.
Norwalk virus (NV) is the prototype strain of a group of noncultivable human caliciviruses responsible for epidemic outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis. While these viruses do not grow in tissue culture cells or animal models, expression of the capsid protein in insect cells results in the self-assembly of recombinant Norwalk virus-like particles (rNV VLPs) that are morphologically and antigenically similar to native NV. We have used these rNV VLPs to examine virus-cell interactions. Binding and internalization of VLPs to cultured human and animal cell lines were studied in an attempt to identify potentially susceptible cell lines for virus propagation in vitro and to determine if early events in the replication cycle were responsible for the narrow host range and restriction of virus growth in cell culture. Radiolabeled VLPs specifically bound to a saturable number of binding molecules on the cell surface of 13 cell lines from different origins, including human intestine (differentiated and undifferentiated Caco-2) and insect (Spodoptera frugiperda 9) ovary. Differentiated Caco-2 cells bound significantly more rNV VLPs than the other cell lines. Variations in the amount of bound VLPs among the different cell lines did not correlate with the tissue or species of origin. VLP binding was specific, as determined by competition experiments with unlabeled rNV VLPs; however, only 1.4 to 6.8% of the specifically prebound radiolabeled VLPs became internalized into cells. Blocking experiments using polygonal and monoclonal anti-rNV sera and specific antipeptide sera were performed to map the domains on rNV VLPs involved in binding to cells. One monoclonal antibody (NV8812) blocked binding of rNV VLPs to human and animal cell lines. The binding site of monoclonal antibody NV8812 was localized to the C-terminal 300 to 384 residues of the capsid protein by immunoprecipitation with truncated and cleaved forms of the capsid protein. These data suggest that the C-terminal region of the capsid protein is involved in specific binding of rNV VLPs to cells.
PMCID: PMC190699  PMID: 8794293
22.  Characterization and replicase activity of double-layered and single-layered rotavirus-like particles expressed from baculovirus recombinants. 
Journal of Virology  1996;70(5):2736-2742.
Rotavirus has a capsid composed of three concentric protein layers. We coexpressed various combinations of the rotavirus structural proteins of single-layered (core) and double-layered (single-shelled) capsids from baculovirus vectors in insect cells and determined the ability of the various combinations to assemble into viruslike particles (VLPs). VLPs were purified by centrifugation, their structure was examined by negative-stain electron microscopy, their protein content was determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and GTP binding assays, and their ability to support synthesis of negative-strand RNAs on positive-sense template RNAs was determined in an in vitro replication system. Coexpression of all possible combinations of VP1, VP2, VP3, and VP6, the proteins of double-layered capsids, resulted in the formation of VP1/2/3/6, VP1/2/6, VP2/3/6, and VP2/6 double-layered VLPs. These VLPs had the structural characteristics of empty rotavirus double-layered particles and contained the indicated protein species. Only VPI/2/3/6 and VP1/2/6 particles supported RNA replication. Coexpression of all possible combinations of VPl, VP2, and VP3, the proteins of single-layered capsids, resulted in the formation of VP1/2/3, VP1/2, VP2/3, and VP2 single-layered VLPs. These VLPs had the structural characteristics of empty single-layered rotavirus particles and contained the indicated protein species. Only VP1/2/3 and VP1/2 VLPs supported RNA replication. We conclude that (i) the assembly of VP1 and VP3 into VLPs requires the presence of VP2, (ii) the role of VP2 in the assembly of VP1 and VP3 and in replicase activity is most likely structural, (iii) VP1 is required and VP3 is not required for replicase activity of VLPs, and (iv) VP1/2 VLPs constitute the minimal replicase particle in the in vitro replication system.
PMCID: PMC190130  PMID: 8627747
23.  Monoclonal antibodies for detection of Norwalk virus antigen in stools. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1995;33(9):2511-2513.
Monoclonal antibodies against the prototype 8FIIa strain of Norwalk virus were prepared and applied to an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for detecting Norwalk virus in stool specimens. The monoclonal antibodies immunoprecipitated a 58-kDa protein which had been produced by in vitro transcription-translation of Norwalk virus cloned cDNA, and they reacted by EIA with recombinant Norwalk virus capsid protein at a sensitivity level of 1 ng/ml. The EIA detected virus in all tested samples from 15 different Norwalk virus-infected volunteers. No cross-reactions were seen in stools containing other caliciviruses or in stools containing rotaviruses, astroviruses, or enteric adenoviruses.
PMCID: PMC228462  PMID: 7494063
24.  Three-dimensional structure of baculovirus-expressed Norwalk virus capsids. 
Journal of Virology  1994;68(8):5117-5125.
The three-dimensional structure of the baculovirus-expressed Norwalk virus capsid has been determined to a resolution of 2.2 nm using electron cryomicroscopy and computer image processing techniques. The empty capsid, 38.0 nm in diameter, exhibits T = 3 icosahedral symmetry and is composed of 90 dimers of the capsid protein. The striking features of the capsid structure are arch-like capsomeres, at the local and strict 2-fold axes, formed by dimers of the capsid protein and large hollows at the icosahedral 5- and 3-fold axes. Despite its distinctive architecture, the Norwalk virus capsid has several similarities with the structures of T = 3 single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses. The structure of the protein subunit appears to be modular with three distinct domains: the distal globular domain (P2) that appears bilobed, a central stem domain (P1), and a lower shell domain (S). The distal domains of the 2-fold related subunits interact with each other to form the top of the arch. The lower domains of the adjacent subunits associate tightly to form a continuous shell between the radii of 11.0 and 15.0 nm. No significant mass density is observed below the radius of 11.0 mm. It is suspected that the hinge peptide in the adjoining region between the central domain and the shell domain may facilitate the subunits adapting to various quasi-equivalent environments. Architectural similarities between the Norwalk virus capsid and the other ssRNA viruses have suggested a possible domain organization along the primary sequence of the Norwalk virus capsid protein. It is suggested that the N-terminal 250 residues constitute the lower shell domain (S) with an eight-strand beta-barrel structure and that the C-terminal residues beyond 250 constitute the protruding (P1+P2) domains. A lack of an N-terminal basic region and the ability of the Norwalk virus capsid protein to form empty T = 3 shells suggest that the assembly pathway and the RNA packing mechanisms may be different from those proposed for tomato bushy stunt virus and southern bean mosaic virus but similar to that in tymoviruses and comoviruses.
PMCID: PMC236455  PMID: 8035511
25.  Application of PCR to detect Norwalk virus in fecal specimens from outbreaks of gastroenteritis. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1994;32(3):642-648.
Norwalk virus (NV) and other small round-structured viruses (SRSVs) are frequent causes of gastroenteritis outbreaks. The recent cloning and sequencing of the NV genome has made it possible to detect NV and Norwalk-related viruses from fecal specimens by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR. We applied this technique to the examination of a total of 139 fecal specimens from 19 outbreaks characterized by NV serology, including 56 samples from 7 NV outbreaks, 36 from 6 Norwalk-related virus outbreaks, and 47 from 6 outbreaks with SRSVs visualized by electron microscopy that were serologically unrelated to NV. Three primer pairs were evaluated: two pairs in the polymerase region of NV and one pair near the 3' end of the genome. When one set of primers (primer pair 51-3) from the polymerase region was used, 40% of all samples were positive by RT-PCR and specimens from the NV outbreaks were more likely to be positive (64%) than those from outbreaks associated with Norwalk-related viruses (44%) or SRSVs (8%). To determine the relationship of the outbreak strains to NV, we compared the sequences of a 145-base portion of the polymerase gene from 10 specimens obtained from five different outbreaks characterized as NV by serology. No two outbreak strains had the same sequence in this 145-base portion of the polymerase gene, and the identities of the nucleotide and amino acid sequences of these products compared with the sequences of the corresponding region of NV ranged from 62 to 79% and 69 to 90%, respectively. Because of sequence diversity in the polymerase region, the successful application of RT-PCR to investigations of outbreaks of suspected NV-associated gastroenteritis will depend on the use of either multiple primer pairs or primers made against regions of the genome that are more conserved.
PMCID: PMC263100  PMID: 8195372

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