Genomic quasispecies associated with the initiation of infection and disease in ponies experimentally infected with equine infectious anemia virus.
ABSTRACT: Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) provides a uniquely dynamic system in which to study the mechanism and role of genomic variation in lentiviral persistence and pathogenesis. We have used a Shetland pony model of infection to investigate the association of specific long terminal repeat (LTR) and env gene genomic sequences with the initiation of infection and the onset of disease. We analyzed viral RNA isolated from a pathogenic stock of virus (EIAV PV) and from plasma taken during the first disease episode from two ponies infected with EIAV PV. Overall sequence variation within gp90 was low in EIAV PV and only slightly higher in plasma virus samples isolated from ponies during the first disease episode. However, a high proportion of mutations were localized to the principal neutralizing domain in EIAV PV and to the principal neutralizing domain and the gp90 hypervariable region in the two pony-derived samples. The rate of fixation of mutations was analyzed and determined to be approximately 4 x 10(-2) mutations per site per year. Sequence diversity within the U3 region of the LTR was extremely low, which suggested that the previously reported hypervariability of this region may be a consequence of selection for replication of EIAV in different host cells. The predominant EIAV PV env and LTR sequences were used to construct chimeric viruses so that the contribution of these sequences to viral pathogenicity could be examined. The chimeras replicated in cultured equine monocytes to the same extent as the parental nonpathogenic virus and did not cause disease in Shetland ponies by 120 days postinfection, suggesting that the EIAV genomic determinants of pathogenesis are complex.
Project description:An infectious nonpathogenic molecular clone (19-2-6A) of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) was modified by substitution of a 3.3-kbp fragment amplified by PCR techniques from a pathogenic variant (EIAV(PV)) of the cell culture-adapted strain of EIAV (EIAV(PR)). This substitution consisted of coding sequences for 77 amino acids at the carboxyl terminus of the integrase, the S1 (encoding the second exon of tat), S2, and S3 (encoding the second exon of rev) open reading frames, the complete env gene (including the first exon of rev), and the 3' long terminal repeat (LTR). Modified 19-2-6A molecular clones were designated EIAV(PV3.3), and infection of a single pony (678) with viruses derived from a mixture of five of these molecular clones induced clinical signs of acute equine infectious anemia (EIA) at 23 days postinfection (dpi). As a consequence of this initial study, a single molecular clone, EIAV(PV3.3#3) (redesignated EIAV(UK)), was selected for further study and inoculated into two ponies (613 and 614) and two horses (700 and 764). Pony 614 and the two horses developed febrile responses by 12 dpi, which was accompanied by a 48 to 64% reduction in platelet number, whereas pony 613 did not develop fever (40.6 degrees C) until 76 dpi. EIAV could be isolated from the plasma of these animals by 5 to 7 dpi, and all became seropositive for antibodies to this virus by 21 dpi. Analysis of the complete nucleotide sequence demonstrated that the 3.3-kbp 3' fragment of EIAV(UK) differed from the consensus sequence of EIAV(PV) by just a single amino acid residue in the second exon of the rev gene. Complete homology with the EIAV(PV) consensus sequence was observed in the hypervariable region of the LTR. However, EIAV(UK) was found to contain an unusual 68-bp nucleotide insertion/duplication in a normally conserved region of the LTR sequence. These results demonstrate that substitution of a 3.3-kbp fragment from the EIAV(PV) strain into the infectious nonpathogenic molecular clone 19-2-6A leads to the production of progeny virus particles with the ability to induce clinical signs of EIA. Therefore, EIAV(UK), which is the first pathogenic, cell culture-adapted molecular clone of EIAV to be described, should be of value in identifying viral determinants of pathogenicity.
Project description:We have investigated the genetic evolution of three functionally distinct regions of the equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) genome (env, rev, and long terminal repeat) during recurring febrile episodes in a pony experimentally infected with a well-characterized reference biological clone designated EIAV(PV). Viral populations present in the plasma of an EIAV(PV)-infected pony during sequential febrile episodes (18, 34, 80, 106, and 337 days postinfection) were amplified from viral RNA, analyzed, and compared to the inoculated strain. The comparison of the viral quasispecies showed that the inoculated EIAV(PV) quasispecies were all represented during the first febrile episode, but entirely replaced at the time of the second febrile episode, and that new predominant quasispecies were associated with each subsequent cycle of disease. One of the more surprising results was the in vivo generation of large deletion (up to 15 amino acids) in the principal neutralizing domain (PND) of gp90 during the third febrile episode. This deletion did not alter the competence for in vitro replication as shown by the analysis of a env chimeric clone with a partially deleted PND and did not altered the fitness of the virus in vivo, since this partially deleted envelope became the major population during the fourth febrile episode. Finally, we showed that the amino acid mutations were not randomly distributed but delineated eight variables regions, V1 to V8, with V3 containing the PND region. These studies provide the first detailed description of the evolution of EIAV genomic quasispecies during persistent infection and reveal new insights into the genetics and potential mechanisms of lentivirus genomic variation.
Project description:Lentiviral envelope (Env) antigenic variation and associated immune evasion present major obstacles to vaccine development. The concept that Env is a critical determinant for vaccine efficacy is well accepted, however defined correlates of protection associated with Env variation have yet to be determined. We reported an attenuated equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) vaccine study that directly examined the effect of lentiviral Env sequence variation on vaccine efficacy. The study identified a significant, inverse, linear correlation between vaccine efficacy and increasing divergence of the challenge virus Env gp90 protein compared to the vaccine virus gp90. The report demonstrated approximately 100% protection of immunized ponies from disease after challenge by virus with a homologous gp90 (EV0), and roughly 40% protection against challenge by virus (EV13) with a gp90 13% divergent from the vaccine strain. In the current study we examine whether the protection observed when challenging with the EV0 strain could be conferred to animals via chimeric challenge viruses between the EV0 and EV13 strains, allowing for mapping of protection to specific Env sequences. Viruses containing the EV13 proviral backbone and selected domains of the EV0 gp90 were constructed and in vitro and in vivo infectivity examined. Vaccine efficacy studies indicated that homology between the vaccine strain gp90 and the N-terminus of the challenge strain gp90 was capable of inducing immunity that resulted in significantly lower levels of post-challenge virus and significantly delayed the onset of disease. However, a homologous N-terminal region alone inserted in the EV13 backbone could not impart the 100% protection observed with the EV0 strain. Data presented here denote the complicated and potentially contradictory relationship between in vitro virulence and in vivo pathogenicity. The study highlights the importance of structural conformation for immunogens and emphasizes the need for antibody binding, not neutralizing, assays that correlate with vaccine protection.
Project description:Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) infection of horses is characterized by well-defined waves of viremia associated with the sequential evolution of distinct viral populations displaying extensive envelope gp90 variation; however, a correlation of in vivo envelope evolution with in vitro serum neutralization phenotype remains undefined. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to utilize a previously defined panel of natural variant EIAV envelope isolates from sequential febrile episodes to characterize the effects of envelope variation during persistent infection on viral neutralization phenotypes and to define the determinants of EIAV envelope neutralization specificity. To assess the neutralization phenotypes of the sequential EIAV envelope variants, we determined the sensitivity of five variant envelopes to neutralization by a longitudinal panel of immune serum from the source infected pony. The results indicated that the evolution of the EIAV envelope sequences observed during sequential febrile episodes produced an increasingly neutralization-resistant phenotype. To further define the envelope determinants of EIAV neutralization specificity, we examined the neutralization properties of a panel of chimeric envelope constructs derived from reciprocal envelope domain exchanges between selected neutralization-sensitive and neutralization-resistant envelope variants. These results indicated that the EIAV gp90 V3 and V4 domains individually conferred serum neutralization resistance while other envelope segments in addition to V3 and V4 were evidently required for conferring total serum neutralization sensitivity. These data clearly demonstrate for the first time the influence of sequential gp90 variation during persistent infection in increasing envelope neutralization resistance, identify the gp90 V3 and V4 domains as the principal determinants of antibody neutralization resistance, and indicate distinct complex cooperative envelope domain interactions in defining sensitivity to serum antibody neutralization.
Project description:The equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) attenuated vaccine was developed by long-term passaging of a field-isolated virulent strain in cross-species hosts, followed by successive cultivation in cells in vitro To explore the molecular mechanism underlying the evolution of the EIAV attenuated vaccine, a systematic study focusing on long-terminal-repeat (LTR) variation in numerous virus strains ranging from virulent EIAV to attenuated EIAV was performed over time both in vitro and in vivo Two hypervariable regions were identified within the U3 region in the enhancer region (EHR) and the negative regulatory element (NRE) and within the R region in the transcription start site (TSS) and the Tat-activating region (TAR). Among these sites, variation in the U3 region resulted in the formation of additional transcription factor binding sites; this variation of the in vitro-adapted strains was consistent with the loss of pathogenicity. Notably, the same LTR variation pattern was observed both in vitro and in vivo Generally, the LTR variation in both the attenuated virus and the virulent strain fluctuated over time in vivo Interestingly, the attenuated-virus-specific LTR variation was also detected in horses infected with the virulent strain, supporting the hypothesis that the evolution of an attenuated virus might have involved branching from EIAV quasispecies. This hypothesis was verified by phylogenetic analysis. The present systematic study examining the molecular evolution of attenuated EIAV from EIAV quasispecies may provide an informative model reflecting the evolution of similar lentiviruses.IMPORTANCE The attenuated EIAV vaccine was the first lentiviral vaccine used to successfully control for equine infectious anemia in China. This vaccine provides an important reference for studying the relationship between EIAV gene variation and changes in biological characteristics. Importantly, the vaccine provides a model for the investigation of lentiviral quasispecies evolution. This study followed the "natural" development of the attenuated EIAV vaccine by use of a systematic analysis of LTR evolution in vitro and in vivo The results revealed that the increase in LTR variation with passaging was accompanied by a decrease in virulence, which indicated that LTR variability might parallel the attenuation of virulence. Interestingly, the attenuated-virus-specific LTR variation was also detected in virulent-strain-infected horses, a finding consistent with those of previous investigations of gp90 and S2 evolution. Therefore, we present a hypothesis that the evolution of the attenuated virus may involve branching from EIAV quasispecies present in vivo.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Miniature size in horses represents an extreme reduction of withers height that originated after domestication. In some breeds, it is a highly desired trait representing a breed- or subtype-specific feature. The genomic changes that emerged due to strong-targeted selection towards this distinct type remain unclear. RESULTS:Comparisons of whole-genome sequencing data from two Miniature Shetland ponies and one standard-sized Shetland pony, performed to elucidate genetic determinants for miniature size, revealed four synergistic variants, limiting withers height to 34.25 in. (87 cm). Runs of homozygosity regions were detected spanning these four variants in both the Miniature Shetland ponies and the standard-sized Shetland pony. They were shown to be characteristic of the Shetland pony breed, resulting in a miniature type under specific genotypic combinations. These four genetic variants explained 72% of the size variation among Shetland ponies and related breeds. The length of the homozygous regions indicate that they arose over 1000 years ago. In addition, a copy number variant was identified in DIAPH3 harboring a loss exclusively in ponies and donkeys and thus representing a potential height-associated variant. CONCLUSION:This study reveals main drivers for miniature size in horses identified in whole genome data and thus provides relevant candidate genes for extremely short stature in mammals.
Project description:The identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) such as height and their underlying causative variants is still challenging and often requires large sample sizes. In humans hundreds of loci with small effects control the heritable portion of height variability. In domestic animals, typically only a few loci with comparatively large effects explain a major fraction of the heritability. We investigated height at withers in Shetland ponies and mapped a QTL to ECA 6 by genome-wide association (GWAS) using a small cohort of only 48 animals and the Illumina equine SNP70 BeadChip. Fine-mapping revealed a shared haplotype block of 793 kb in small Shetland ponies. The HMGA2 gene, known to be associated with height in horses and many other species, was located in the associated haplotype. After closing a gap in the equine reference genome we identified a non-synonymous variant in the first exon of HMGA2 in small Shetland ponies. The variant was predicted to affect the functionally important first AT-hook DNA binding domain of the HMGA2 protein (c.83G>A; p.G28E). We assessed the functional impact and found impaired DNA binding of a peptide with the mutant sequence in an electrophoretic mobility shift assay. This suggests that the HMGA2 variant also affects DNA binding in vivo and thus leads to reduced growth and a smaller stature in Shetland ponies. The identified HMGA2 variant also segregates in several other pony breeds but was not found in regular-sized horse breeds. We therefore conclude that we identified a quantitative trait nucleotide for height in horses.
Project description:The molecular clones pSPeiav19 and p19/wenv17 of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) differ in env and long terminal repeats (LTRs) and produce viruses (EIAV(19) and EIAV(17), respectively) of dramatically different virulence phenotypes. These constructs were used to generate a series of chimeric clones to test the individual contributions of LTR, surface (SU), and transmembrane (TM)/Rev regions to the disease potential of the highly virulent EIAV(17). The LTRs of EIAV(19) and EIAV(17) differ by 16 nucleotides in the transcriptional enhancer region. The two viruses differ by 30 amino acids in SU, by 17 amino acids in TM, and by 8 amino acids in Rev. Results from in vivo infections with chimeric clones indicate that both LTR and env of EIAV(17) are required for the development of severe acute disease. In the context of the EIAV(17) LTR, SU appears to have a greater impact on virulence than does TM. EIAV(17SU), containing only the TM/Rev region from the avirulent parent, induced acute disease in two animals, while a similar infectious dose of EIAV(17TM) (which derives SU from the avirulent parent) did not. Neither EIAV(17SU) nor EIAV(17TM) produced lethal disease when administered at infectious doses that were 6- to 30-fold higher than a lethal dose of the parental EIAV(17). All chimeric clones replicated in primary equine monocyte-derived macrophages, and there was no apparent correlation between macrophage tropism and virulence phenotype.
Project description:The equine lentivirus receptor 1 (ELR1), a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) protein family, has been identified as a functional receptor for equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV). Toward defining the functional interactions between the EIAV SU protein (gp90) and its ELR1 receptor, we mapped the gp90 binding domain of ELR1 by a combination of binding and functional assays using the EIAV SU gp90 protein and various chimeric receptor proteins derived from exchanges between the functional ELR1 and the nonbinding homolog, mouse herpesvirus entry mediator (murine HveA). Complementary exchanges of the respective cysteine-rich domains (CRD) between the ELR1 and murine HveA proteins revealed CRD1 as the predominant determinant of functional gp90 binding to ELR1 and also to a chimeric murine HveA protein expressed on the surface of transfected Cf2Th cells. Mutations of individual amino acids in the CRD1 segment of ELR1 and murine HveA indicated the Leu70 in CRD1 as essential for functional binding of EIAV gp90 and for virus infection of transduced Cf2Th cells. The specificity of the EIAV SU binding domain identified for the ELR1 receptor is fundamentally identical to that reported previously for functional binding of feline immunodeficiency virus SU to its coreceptor CD134, another TNFR protein. These results indicate unexpected common features of the specific mechanisms by which diverse lentiviruses can employ TNFR proteins as functional receptors.
Project description:A primary mechanism of lentivirus persistence is the ability of these viruses to evolve in response to biological and immunological selective pressures with a remarkable array of genetic and antigenic variations that constitute a perpetual natural experiment in genetic engineering. A widely accepted paradigm of lentivirus evolution is that the rate of genetic variation is correlated directly with the levels of virus replication: the greater the viral replication, the more opportunities that exist for genetic modifications and selection of viral variants. To test this hypothesis directly, we examined the patterns of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) envelope variation during a 2.5-year period in experimentally infected ponies that differed markedly in clinical progression and in steady-state levels of viral replication as indicated by plasma virus genomic RNA assays. The results of these comprehensive studies revealed for the first time similar extents of envelope gp90 variation in persistently infected ponies regardless of the number of disease cycles (one to six) and viremia during chronic disease. The extent of envelope variation was also independent of the apparent steady-state levels of virus replication during long-term asymptomatic infection, varying from undetectable to 10(5) genomic RNA copies per ml of plasma. In addition, the data confirmed the evolution of distinct virus populations (genomic quasispecies) associated with sequential febrile episodes during acute and chronic EIA and demonstrated for the first time ongoing envelope variation during long-term asymptomatic infections. Finally, comparison of the rates of evolution of the previously defined EIAV gp90 variable domains demonstrated distinct differences in the rates of nucleotide and amino acid sequence variation, presumably reflecting differences in the ability of different envelope domains to respond to immune or other biological selection pressures. Thus, these data suggest that EIAV variation can be associated predominantly with ongoing low levels of virus replication and selection in target tissues, even in the absence of substantial levels of plasma viremia, and that envelope variation continues during all stages of persistent infection as the virus successfully avoids clearance by host defense mechanisms.