MicroRNA targeting of neurotropic flavivirus: effective control of virus escape and reversion to neurovirulent phenotype.
ABSTRACT: Neurotropic flaviviruses can efficiently replicate in the developing and mature central nervous systems (CNS) of mice causing lethal encephalitis. Insertion of a single copy of a target for brain-expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) in the 3' noncoding region (3'NCR) of the flavivirus genome (chimeric tick-borne encephalitis virus/dengue virus) abolished virus neurovirulence in the mature mouse CNS. However, in the developing CNS of highly permissive suckling mice, the miRNA-targeted viruses can revert to a neurovirulent phenotype by accumulating deletions or mutations within the miRNA target sequence. Virus escape from miRNA-mediated suppression in the developing CNS was markedly diminished by increasing the number of miRNA target sites and by extending the distance between these sites in the virus genome. Insertion of multiple miRNA targets into the 3'NCR altered virus neuroinvasiveness, decreased neurovirulence and neuroinflammatory responses, and prevented neurodegeneration without loss of immunogenicity. Although the onset of encephalitis was delayed, a small number of suckling mice still succumbed to lethal intracerebral infection with the miRNA-targeted viruses. Sequence analysis of brain isolates from moribund mice revealed that the viruses escaped from miRNA-mediated suppression exclusively through the deletion of miRNA targets and viral genome sequence located between the two miRNA targets separated by the greatest distance. These findings offer a general strategy to control the reversion of virus to a virulent phenotype: a simultaneous miRNA targeting of the viral genome at many different functionally important regions could prevent virus escape from miRNA-based attenuation, since a deletion of the targeted genomic sequences located between the inserted miRNA binding sites would be lethal for the virus.
Project description:In recent years, microRNA-targeting has become an effective strategy for selective control of tissue-tropism and pathogenicity of both DNA and RNA viruses. Previously, we reported the successful application of this strategy to control the neurovirulent phenotype of a model chimeric tick-borne encephalitis/dengue type 4 virus (TBEV/DEN4), containing the structural protein genes of a highly virulent TBEV in the genetic backbone of non-neuroinvasive DEN4 virus. In the present study, we investigated the suitability of this approach for the attenuation of the more neurovirulent chimeric virus (TBEV/LGTV), which is based on the genetic backbone of the naturally attenuated member of the TBEV serocomplex, a Langat virus (LGTV). Unlike the TBEV/DEN4, the TBEV/LGTV virus retained the ability of its parental viruses to spread from the peripheral site of inoculation to the CNS. We evaluated ten potential sites in the 3'NCR of the TBEV/LGTV genome for placement of microRNA (miRNA) targets and found that the TBEV/LGTV genome is more restrictive for such genetic manipulations compared to TBEV/DEN4. In addition, unlike TBEV/DEN4 virus, the introduction of multiple miRNA targets into either the 3'NCR or ORF of the TBEV/LGTV genome had only a modest effect on virus attenuation in the developing CNS of highly permissive newborn mice. However, simultaneous miRNA-targeting in the ORF and 3'NCR had synergistic effect on control and silencing of virus replication in the brain and completely abolished the virus neurotropism. Furthermore, neuroinvasiveness of miRNA-targeted TBEV/LGTV viruses in very sensitive immunodeficient SCID mice was significantly limited. Immunocompetent animals immunized with such viruses were completely protected against challenge with the neurovirulent LGTV parent. These findings support the rationale of the miRNA-targeting approach to develop live attenuated virus vaccines against various neurotropic viruses.
Project description:To develop a live attenuated virus vaccine against St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus, two antigenic chimeric viruses were generated by replacing the membrane precursor and envelope protein genes of dengue virus type 4 (DEN4) with those from SLE with or without a 30 nucleotide deletion in the DEN4 3' untranslated region of the chimeric genome. Chimeric viruses were compared with parental wild-type SLE for level of neurovirulence and neuroinvasiveness in mice and for safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy in rhesus monkeys. The resulting viruses, SLE/DEN4 and SLE/DEN4Delta30, had greatly reduced neuroinvasiveness in immunodeficient mice but retained neurovirulence in suckling mice. Chimerization of SLE with DEN4 resulted in only moderate restriction in replication in rhesus monkeys, whereas the presence of the Delta30 mutation led to over-attenuation. Introduction of previously described attenuating paired charge-to-alanine mutations in the DEN4 NS5 protein of SLE/DEN4 reduced neurovirulence in mice and replication in rhesus monkeys. Two modified SLE/DEN4 viruses, SLE/DEN4-436,437 clone 41 and SLE/DEN4-654,655 clone 46, have significantly reduced neurovirulence in mice and conferred protective immunity in monkeys against SLE challenge. These viruses may be considered for use as SLE vaccine candidates and for use as diagnostic reagents with reduced virulence.
Project description:A clinical isolate of measles virus (MeV) bearing a single amino acid alteration in the viral fusion protein (F; L454W) was previously identified in two patients with lethal sequelae of MeV central nervous system (CNS) infection. The mutation dysregulated the viral fusion machinery so that the mutated F protein mediated cell fusion in the absence of known MeV cellular receptors. While this virus could feasibly have arisen via intrahost evolution of the wild-type (wt) virus, it was recently shown that the same mutation emerged under the selective pressure of small-molecule antiviral treatment. Under these conditions, a potentially neuropathogenic variant emerged outside the CNS. While CNS adaptation of MeV was thought to generate viruses that are less fit for interhost spread, we show that two animal models can be readily infected with CNS-adapted MeV via the respiratory route. Despite bearing a fusion protein that is less stable at 37°C than the wt MeV F, this virus infects and replicates in cotton rat lung tissue more efficiently than the wt virus and is lethal in a suckling mouse model of MeV encephalitis even with a lower inoculum. Thus, either during lethal MeV CNS infection or during antiviral treatment in vitro, neuropathogenic MeV can emerge, can infect new hosts via the respiratory route, and is more pathogenic (at least in these animal models) than wt MeV.IMPORTANCE Measles virus (MeV) infection can be severe in immunocompromised individuals and lead to complications, including measles inclusion body encephalitis (MIBE). In some cases, MeV persistence and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) occur even in the face of an intact immune response. While they are relatively rare complications of MeV infection, MIBE and SSPE are lethal. This work addresses the hypothesis that despite a dysregulated viral fusion complex, central nervous system (CNS)-adapted measles virus can spread outside the CNS within an infected host.
Project description:A chimeric yellow fever (YF) virus/Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus vaccine (ChimeriVax-JE) was constructed by insertion of the prM-E genes from the attenuated JE virus SA14-14-2 vaccine strain into a full-length cDNA clone of YF 17D virus. Passage in fetal rhesus lung (FRhL) cells led to the emergence of a small-plaque virus containing a single Met-->Lys amino acid mutation at E279, reverting this residue from the SA14-14-2 to the wild-type amino acid. A similar virus was also constructed by site-directed mutagenesis (J. Arroyo, F. Guirakhoo, S. Fenner, Z.-X. Zhang, T. P. Monath, and T. J. Chambers, J. Virol. 75:934-942, 2001). The E279 mutation is located in a beta-sheet in the hinge region of the E protein that is responsible for a pH-dependent conformational change during virus penetration from the endosome into the cytoplasm of the infected cell. In independent transfection-passage studies with FRhL or Vero cells, mutations appeared most frequently in hinge 4 (bounded by amino acids E266 to E284), reflecting genomic instability in this functionally important region. The E279 reversion caused a significant increase in neurovirulence as determined by the 50% lethal dose and survival distribution in suckling mice and by histopathology in rhesus monkeys. Based on sensitivity and comparability of results with those for monkeys, the suckling mouse is an appropriate host for safety testing of flavivirus vaccine candidates for neurotropism. After intracerebral inoculation, the E279 Lys virus was restricted with respect to extraneural replication in monkeys, as viremia and antibody levels (markers of viscerotropism) were significantly reduced compared to those for the E279 Met virus. These results are consistent with the observation that empirically derived vaccines developed by mouse brain passage of dengue and YF viruses have increased neurovirulence for mice but reduced viscerotropism for humans.
Project description:Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus that causes fatal neurological disease in humans, is one of the most important emerging pathogens of public health significance. JEV represents the JE serogroup, which also includes West Nile, Murray Valley encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis viruses. Within this serogroup, JEV is a vaccine-preventable pathogen, but the molecular basis of its neurovirulence remains unknown. Here, we constructed an infectious cDNA of the most widely used live-attenuated JE vaccine, SA14-14-2, and rescued from the cDNA a molecularly cloned virus, SA14-14-2MCV, which displayed in vitro growth properties and in vivo attenuation phenotypes identical to those of its parent, SA14-14-2. To elucidate the molecular mechanism of neurovirulence, we selected three independent, highly neurovirulent variants (LD50, <1.5 PFU) from SA14-14-2MCV (LD50, >1.5×105 PFU) by serial intracerebral passage in mice. Complete genome sequence comparison revealed a total of eight point mutations, with a common single G1708?A substitution replacing a Gly with Glu at position 244 of the viral E glycoprotein. Using our infectious SA14-14-2 cDNA technology, we showed that this single Gly-to-Glu change at E-244 is sufficient to confer lethal neurovirulence in mice, including rapid development of viral spread and tissue inflammation in the central nervous system. Comprehensive site-directed mutagenesis of E-244, coupled with homology-based structure modeling, demonstrated a novel essential regulatory role in JEV neurovirulence for E-244, within the ij hairpin of the E dimerization domain. In both mouse and human neuronal cells, we further showed that the E-244 mutation altered JEV infectivity in vitro, in direct correlation with the level of neurovirulence in vivo, but had no significant impact on viral RNA replication. Our results provide a crucial step toward developing novel therapeutic and preventive strategies against JEV and possibly other encephalitic flaviviruses.
Project description:Several different mammalian neurotropic viruses produce an age-dependent encephalitis characterized by more severe disease in younger hosts. To elucidate potential factors that contribute to age-dependent resistance to lethal viral encephalitis, we compared central nervous system (CNS) gene expression in neonatal and weanling mice that were either mock infected or infected intracerebrally with a recombinant strain, dsTE12Q, of the prototype alphavirus Sindbis virus. In 1-day-old mice, infection with dsTE12Q resulted in rapidly fatal disease associated with high CNS viral titers and extensive CNS apoptosis, whereas in 4-week-old mice, dsTE12Q infection resulted in asymptomatic infection with lower CNS virus titers and undetectable CNS apoptosis. GeneChip expression comparisons of mock-infected neonatal and weanling mouse brains revealed developmental regulation of the mRNA expression of numerous genes, including some apoptosis regulatory genes, such as the proapoptotic molecules caspase-3 and TRAF4, which are downregulated during development, and the neuroprotective chemokine, fractalkine, which is upregulated during postnatal development. In parallel with increased neurovirulence and increased viral replication, Sindbis virus infection in 1-day-old mice resulted in both a greater number of host inflammatory genes with altered expression and greater changes in levels of host inflammatory gene expression than infection in 4-week-old mice. Only one inflammatory response gene, an expressed sequence tag similar to human ISG12, increased by a greater magnitude in infected 4-week-old mouse brains than in infected 1-day-old mouse brains. Furthermore, we found that enforced neuronal ISG12 expression results in a significant delay in Sindbis virus-induced death in neonatal mice. Together, our data identify genes that are developmentally regulated in the CNS and genes that are differentially regulated in the brains of different aged mice in response to Sindbis virus infection.
Project description:More than 14,000 neonates are infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV) annually. Approximately half display manifestations limited to the skin, eyes, or mouth (SEM disease). The rest develop invasive infections that spread to the central nervous system (CNS disease or encephalitis) or throughout the infected neonate (disseminated disease). Invasive HSV disease is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, but the viral and host factors that predispose neonates to these forms are unknown. To define viral diversity within the infected neonatal population, we evaluated 10 HSV-2 isolates from newborns with a range of clinical presentations. To assess viral fitness independently of host immune factors, we measured viral growth characteristics in cultured cells and found diverse in vitro phenotypes. Isolates from neonates with CNS disease were associated with larger plaque size and enhanced spread, with the isolates from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) exhibiting the most robust growth. We sequenced complete viral genomes of all 10 neonatal viruses, providing new insights into HSV-2 genomic diversity in this clinical setting. We found extensive interhost and intrahost genomic diversity throughout the viral genome, including amino acid differences in more than 90% of the viral proteome. The genes encoding glycoprotein G (gG; US4), glycoprotein I (gI; US7), and glycoprotein K (gK; UL53) and viral proteins UL8, UL20, UL24, and US2 contained variants that were found in association with CNS isolates. Many of these viral proteins are known to contribute to cell spread and neurovirulence in mouse models of CNS disease. This report represents the first application of comparative pathogen genomics to neonatal HSV disease.IMPORTANCE Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes invasive disease in half of infected neonates, resulting in significant mortality and permanent cognitive morbidity. The factors that contribute to invasive disease are not understood. This study revealed diversity among HSV isolates from infected neonates and detected the first associations between viral genetic variations and clinical disease manifestations. We found that viruses isolated from newborns with encephalitis showed enhanced spread in culture. These viruses contained protein-coding variations not found in viruses causing noninvasive disease. Many of these variations were found in proteins known to impact neurovirulence and viral spread between cells. This work advances our understanding of HSV diversity in the neonatal population and how it may impact disease outcome.
Project description:Molecular determinants of neuropathogenesis have been shown to be present in the hemagglutinin (H) protein of measles virus (MV). An H gene insertion vector has been generated from the Edmonston B vaccine full-length infectious clone of MV. Using this vector, it is possible to insert complete H open reading frames into the parental (Edtag) background. The H gene from a rodent brain-adapted MV strain (CAM/RB) was inserted into this vector, and a recombinant virus (EdtagCAMH) was rescued by using a modified vaccinia virus which expresses T7 RNA polymerase (MVA-T7). The recombinant virus grew at an equivalent rate and to similar titers as the CAM/RB and Edtag parental viruses. Neurovirulence was assayed in a mouse model for MV encephalitis. Viruses were injected intracerebrally into the right cortex of C57/BL/6 suckling mice. After infection mice inoculated with the CAM/RB strain developed hind limb paralysis and ataxia. Clinical symptoms were never observed with an equivalent dose of Edtag virus or in sham infections. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was used to detect viral antigen in formalin-fixed brain sections. Measles antigen was observed in neurons and neuronal processes of the hippocampus, frontal, temporal, and olfactory cortices and neostriatum on both sides of symmetrical structures. Viral antigen was not detected in mice infected with Edtag virus. Mice infected with the recombinant virus, EdtagCAMH, became clinically ill, and virus was detected by IHC in regions of the brain similar to those in which it was detected in animals infected with CAM/RB. The EdtagCAMH infection had, however, progressed much less than the CAM/RB virus at 4 days postinfection. It therefore appears that additional determinants are encoded in other regions of the MV genome which are required for full neurovirulence equivalent to CAM/RB. Nevertheless, replacement of the H gene alone is sufficient to cause neuropathology.
Project description:Based on previous preclinical evaluation in mice and monkeys, the chimeric TBEV/DEN4Delta30 virus, carrying the prM and E protein genes from a highly virulent Far Eastern strain of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) on the backbone of a nonneuroinvasive dengue type 4 virus (DEN4), has been identified as a promising live attenuated virus vaccine candidate against disease caused by TBEV. However, prior to use of this vaccine candidate in humans, its neurovirulence in nonhuman primates needed to be evaluated. In the present study, we compared the neuropathogeneses of the chimeric TBEV/DEN4Delta30 virus; Langat virus (LGTV), a former live TBEV vaccine; and yellow fever 17D virus vaccine (YF 17D) in rhesus monkeys inoculated intracerebrally. TBEV/DEN4Delta30 and YF 17D demonstrated remarkably similar spatiotemporal profiles of virus replication and virus-associated histopathology in the central nervous system (CNS) that were high in cerebral hemispheres but progressively decreased toward the spinal cord. In contrast, the neurovirulence of LGTV exhibited the reverse profile, progressing from the site of inoculation toward the cerebellum and spinal cord. Analysis of the spatiotemporal distribution of viral antigens in the CNS of monkeys revealed a prominent neurotropism associated with all three attenuated viruses. Nevertheless, TBEV/DEN4Delta30 virus exhibited higher neurovirulence in monkeys than either LGTV or YF 17D, suggesting insufficient attenuation. These results provide insight into the neuropathogenesis associated with attenuated flaviviruses that may guide the design of safe vaccines.
Project description:Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), a mosquito-borne RNA virus, is one of the most acutely virulent viruses endemic to the Americas, causing between 30% and 70% mortality in symptomatic human cases. A major factor in the virulence of EEEV is the presence of four binding sites for the hematopoietic cell-specific microRNA, miR-142-3p, in the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of the virus. Three of the sites are "canonical" with all 7 seed sequence residues complimentary to miR-142-3p while one is "non-canonical" and has a seed sequence mismatch. Interaction of the EEEV genome with miR-142-3p limits virus replication in myeloid cells and suppresses the systemic innate immune response, greatly exacerbating EEEV neurovirulence. The presence of the miRNA binding sequences is also required for efficient EEEV replication in mosquitoes and, therefore, essential for transmission of the virus. In the current studies, we have examined the role of each binding site by point mutagenesis of the seed sequences in all combinations of sites followed by infection of mammalian myeloid cells, mosquito cells and mice. The resulting data indicate that both canonical and non-canonical sites contribute to cell infection and animal virulence, however, surprisingly, all sites are rapidly deleted from EEEV genomes shortly after infection of myeloid cells or mice. Finally, we show that the virulence of a related encephalitis virus, western equine encephalitis virus, is also dependent upon miR-142-3p binding sites.