Host-Specific Glycans Are Correlated with Susceptibility to Infection by Lagoviruses, but Not with Their Virulence.
ABSTRACT: Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) and European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) are two lagoviruses from the family Caliciviridae that cause fatal diseases in two leporid genera, Oryctolagus and Lepus, respectively. In the last few years, several examples of host jumps of lagoviruses among leporids were recorded. In addition, a new pathogenic genotype of RHDV emerged, and many nonpathogenic strains of lagoviruses have been described. The molecular mechanisms behind host shifts and the emergence of virulence are unknown. Since RHDV uses glycans of the histo-blood group antigen type as attachment factors to initiate infection, we studied if glycan specificities of the new pathogenic RHDV genotype, nonpathogenic lagoviruses, and EBHSV potentially play a role in determining the host range and virulence of lagoviruses. We observed binding to A, B, or H antigens of the histo-blood group family for all strains known to primarily infect European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which have recently been classified as GI strains. However, we could not explain the emergence of virulence, since similar glycan specificities were found in several pathogenic and nonpathogenic strains. In contrast, EBHSV, recently classified as GII.1, bound to terminal ?-linked N-acetylglucosamine residues of O-glycans. Expression of these attachment factors in the upper respiratory and digestive tracts in three lagomorph species (Oryctolagus cuniculus, Lepus europaeus, and Sylvilagus floridanus) showed species-specific patterns regarding susceptibility to infection by these viruses, indicating that species-specific glycan expression is likely a major contributor to lagovirus host specificity and range.IMPORTANCE Lagoviruses constitute a genus of the family Caliciviridae comprising highly pathogenic viruses, RHDV and EBHSV, that infect rabbits and hares, respectively. Recently, nonpathogenic strains were discovered and new pathogenic strains have emerged. In addition, host jumps between lagomorphs have been observed. The mechanisms responsible for the emergence of pathogenicity and host species range are unknown. Previous studies showed that RHDV strains attach to glycans expressed in the upper respiratory and digestive tracts of rabbits, the likely portals of virus entry. Here, we studied the glycan-binding properties of novel pathogenic and nonpathogenic strains looking for a link between glycan binding and virulence or between glycan specificity and host range. We found that glycan binding did not correlate with virulence. However, expression of glycan motifs in the upper respiratory and digestive tracts of lagomorphs revealed species-specific patterns associated with the host ranges of the virus strains, suggesting that glycan diversity contributes to lagovirus host ranges.
Project description:Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is a lagovirus that causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) in European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). In 2010, a new genotype called RHDV2 emerged in France. It exhibits a larger host range than classical RHDV strains by sporadically infecting different hare species, including the European hare (Lepus europaeus). Phylogenetic analyses revealed that closely related RHDV2 strains circulate locally in both hares and rabbits, and therefore that RHDV2 strains infecting hares do not belong to a lineage that has evolved only in this species. We showed that RHDV2 is widely distributed in France and that it was responsible for more than a third of cases of lagovirus disease in European hare populations in 2015. The oldest RHDV2 positive hare was sampled in November 2013 and we reported two hares co-infected by EBHSV and RHDV2. All together, our results raise important epidemiological and evolutionary issues. In particular, along with the potential emergence of recombinant EBHSV/RHDV2 strains in hares, the enlargement of the host range changes the host population structure of RHDV2 and may alter the impact of the virus on rabbit and hare populations.
Project description:The eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is an American lagomorph. In 1966, it was introduced to Italy, where it is currently widespread. Its ecological niche is similar to those of native rabbits and hares and increasing overlap in distribution brings these species into ever closer contact. Therefore, cottontails are at risk of infection with the two lagoviruses endemically present in Italy: Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease virus (RHDV) and European Brown Hare Syndrome Virus (EBHSV). To verify the susceptibility of Sylvilagus to these viruses, we analyzed 471 sera and 108 individuals from cottontail populations in 9 provinces of north-central Italy from 1999 to 2012. In total, 15-20% of the cottontails tested seropositive for EBHSV; most titres were low, but some were as high as 1/1280. All the cottontails virologically tested for RHDV and EBHSV were negative with the exception of one individual found dead with hares during a natural EBHS outbreak in December 2009. The cottontail and the hares showed typical EBHS lesions, and the EBHSV strain identified was the same in both species (99.9% identity). To experimentally confirm the diagnosis, we performed two trials in which we infected cottontails with both EBHSV and RHDV. One out of four cottontails infected with EBHSV died of an EBHS-like disease, and the three surviving animals developed high EBHSV antibody titres. In contrast, neither mortality nor seroconversion was detected after infection with RHDV. Taken together, these results suggest that Sylvilagus is susceptible to EBHSV infection, which occasionally evolves to EBHS-like disease; the eastern cottontail could therefore be considered a "spill over" or "dead end" host for EBHSV unless further evidence is found to confirm that it plays an active role in the epidemiology of EBHSV.
Project description:We report the full genome sequence of the non-pathogenic rabbit lagovirus Lagovirus europaeus/GI.3/O cun/FR/2006/06-11 (GI.3/06-11), collected from a healthy French domestic rabbit in 2006, and initially described as 06-11 strain. The sequence reveals a genomic organization similar to lagoviruses. It was 7,436 bases long and contained two open reading frames (ORF). A dipeptide variation at the potential p23/2C-like helicase cleavage site (EE instead of ED) was observed, a feature only shared with non-recombinant pathogenic lagoviruses in GI.2 and with two European brown hare syndrome viruses (EBHSV) collected in 1982 in Sweden. GI.3/06-11 has only one initiation codon at the beginning of the ORF2 like the avirulent Italian rabbit calicivirus (RCV) and EBHSV. Previous genetic analyses based on the capsid gene sequences showed that GI.3/06-11 was closer to the RCV and pathogenic lagoviruses GI.1 strains than other lagoviruses. This study, by revealing that GI.3/06-11 genome sequence significantly clustered with pathogenic GI.2 strains, gives prominence of new genetic relationship among lagoviruses and should contribute to understand the emergence of pathogenic strains.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Two closely related caliciviruses cocirculate in Australia: rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) and rabbit calicivirus Australia 1 (RCV-A1). RCV-A1 causes benign enteric infections in the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Australia and New Zealand, while its close relative RHDV causes a highly pathogenic infection of the liver in the same host. The comparison of these viruses provides important information on the nature and trajectory of virulence evolution, particularly as highly virulent strains of RHDV may have evolved from nonpathogenic ancestors such as RCV-A1. To determine the evolution of RCV-A1 we sequenced the full-length genomes of 44 RCV-A1 samples isolated from healthy rabbits and compared key evolutionary parameters to those of its virulent relative, RHDV. Despite their marked differences in pathogenicity and tissue tropism, RCV-A1 and RHDV have evolved in a very similar manner. Both viruses have evolved at broadly similar rates, suggesting that their dynamics are largely shaped by high background mutation rates, and both exhibit occasional recombination and an evolutionary environment dominated by purifying selection. In addition, our comparative analysis revealed that there have been multiple changes in both virulence and tissue tropism in the evolutionary history of these and related viruses. Finally, these new genomic data suggest that either RCV-A1 was introduced into Australia after the introduction of myxoma virus as a biocontrol agent in 1950 or there was drastic reduction of the rabbit population, and hence of RCV-A1 genetic diversity, perhaps coincident with the emergence of myxoma virus. IMPORTANCE:The comparison of closely related viruses that differ profoundly in propensity to cause disease in their hosts offers a powerful opportunity to reveal the causes of changes in virulence and to study how such changes alter the evolutionary dynamics of these pathogens. Here we describe such a novel comparison involving two closely related RNA viruses that cocirculate in Australia, the highly virulent rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) and the nonpathogenic rabbit calicivirus Australia 1 (RCV-A1). Both viruses infect the European rabbit, but they differ in virulence, tissue tropism, and mechanisms of transmission. Surprisingly, and despite these fundamental differences, RCV-A1 and RHDV have evolved at very similar (high) rates and with strong purifying selection. Furthermore, candidate key mutations were identified that may play a role in virulence and/or tissue tropism and therefore warrant further investigation.
Project description:Recombination is one of the major sources of genetic variation in viruses. RNA viruses, such as rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), are among the viruses with the highest recombination rates. Several recombination events have been described for RHDV, mostly as a consequence of their genomic architecture. Here, we undertook phylogenetic and recombination analyses of French and Swedish RHDV strains from 1994 to 2016 and uncovered a new intergenotypic recombination event. This event occurred in the late 1990s/early 2000s and involved nonpathogenic GI.3 strains as donors for the nonstructural part of the genome of these recombinants, while pathogenic GI.1d strains contributed to the structural part. These GI.3P-GI.1d recombinant strains did not entirely replace GI.1d (nonrecombinant) strains, but became the dominant strains in France and Sweden, likely due to a fitness advantage associated with this genomic architecture. GI.3P-GI.1d (P stands for polymerase) strains persisted until 2013 and 2016 in Sweden and France, respectively, and cocirculated with the new genotype GI.2 in France. Since strains from the first GI.2 outbreaks were GI.3P-GI.2, we hypothesize that GI.3P-GI.1d could be the parental strain. Our results confirm the outstanding recombination ability of RHDV and its importance in the evolution of lagoviruses, which was only revealed by studying complete genomic sequences.
Project description:Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) is a veterinary disease that affects the European rabbit and has a significant economic and ecological negative impact. In Portugal, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) was reported in 1989 and still causes enzootic outbreaks. Several recombination events have been detected in RHDV strains, including in the first reported outbreak. Here we describe the occurrence of recombination in RHDV strains recovered from rabbit and Iberian hare samples collected in the mid-1990s in Portugal. Characterization of full genomic sequences revealed the existence of a single recombination breakpoint at the boundary of the non-structural and the structural encoding regions, further supporting the importance of this region as a recombination hotspot in lagoviruses. Phylogenetic analysis showed that in the structural region, the recombinant strains were similar to pathogenic G1 strains, but in the non-structural region they formed a new group that diverged ~13% from known strains. No further reports of such group exist, but this recombination event was also detected in an Iberian hare that was associated with the earliest species jump in RHDV. Our results highlight the importance of the characterization of full genomes to disclose RHDV evolution and show that lagoviruses' diversity has been significantly undersampled.
Project description:Monoclonal antibodies directed against the capsid protein of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) were used to identify field cases of European brown hare syndrome (EBHS) and to distinguish between RHDV and the virus responsible for EBHS. Western blot (immunoblot) analysis of liver extract of an EBHS virus (EBHSV)-infected hare revealed a single major capsid protein species of approximately 60 kDa that shared epitopes with the capsid protein of RHDV. RNA isolated from the liver of an EBHSV-infected hare contained two viral RNA species of 7.5 and 2.2 kb that comigrated with the genomic and subgenomic RNAs of RHDV and were recognized by labeled RHDV cDNA in Northern (RNA) hybridizations. The nucleotide sequence of the 3' 2.8 kb of the EBHSV genome was determined from four overlapping cDNA clones. Sequence analysis revealed an open reading frame that contains part of the putative RNA polymerase gene and the complete capsid protein gene. This particular genome organization is shared by RHDV but not by other known caliciviruses. The deduced amino acid sequence of the capsid protein of EBHSV was compared with the capsid protein sequences of RDDV and other caliciviruses. The amino acid sequence comparisons revealed that EBHSV is closely related to RHDV and distantly related to other caliciviruses. On the basis of their genome organization, it is suggested that caliciviruses be divided into three groups.
Project description:Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) is a calicivirus that causes acute infections in both domestic and wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). The virus causes significant economic losses in rabbit farming and reduces wild rabbit populations. The recent emergence of RHDV variants capable of overcoming immunity to other strains emphasises the need to develop universally effective antivirals to enable quick responses during outbreaks until new vaccines become available. The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) is a primary target for the development of such antiviral drugs. In this study, we used cell-free in vitro assays to examine the biochemical characteristics of two rabbit calicivirus RdRps and the effects of several antivirals that were previously identified as human norovirus RdRp inhibitors. The non-nucleoside inhibitor NIC02 was identified as a potential scaffold for further drug development against rabbit caliciviruses. Our experiments revealed an unusually high temperature optimum (between 40 and 45 °C) for RdRps derived from both a pathogenic and a non-pathogenic rabbit calicivirus, possibly demonstrating an adaptation to a host with a physiological body temperature of more than 38 °C. Interestingly, the in vitro polymerase activity of the non-pathogenic calicivirus RdRp was at least two times higher than that of the RdRp of the highly virulent RHDV.
Project description:Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is caused by a calicivirus, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), which is responsible for high mortality in domestic and wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). RHDV strains were sequenced from wild European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus) collected in the Azorean island of Pico, Portugal. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the Pico RHDV strains diverge from all of the others described so far, but cluster with the genogroups 1-5 (G1-G5). The genetic distance between the Pico RHDV sequences and each G1, G2 and G3-G5 genogroup (~0.08) is compatible with an RHDV introduction at least 17 years ago. Our results show that in Pico, RHDV is the outcome of an independent evolution from the original RHDV strain that appeared in its European rabbit population. These are the first sequences of RHDV obtained in the subspecies O. c. algirus, outside of its original region, the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, we discuss the risk of rabbit translocations from the Azores to the Iberian Peninsula, where the rabbit wild populations are suffering high mortalities.
Project description:The endemic non-pathogenic Australian rabbit calicivirus RCV-A1 is known to provide some cross protection to lethal infection with the closely related Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV). Despite its obvious negative impacts on viral biocontrol of introduced European rabbits in Australia, little is known about the extent and mechanisms of this cross protection. In this study 46 rabbits from a colony naturally infected with RCV-A1 were exposed to RHDV. Survival rates and survival times did not correlate with titres of serum antibodies specific to RCV-A1 or cross reacting to RHDV, but were instead influenced by the time between infection with the two viruses, demonstrating for the first time that the cross protection to lethal RHDV infection is transient. These findings are an important step towards a better understanding of the complex interactions of co-occurring pathogenic and non-pathogenic lagoviruses.