Filovirus Virulence in Interferon α/β and γ Double Knockout Mice, and Treatment with Favipiravir.
ABSTRACT: The 2014 Ebolavirus outbreak in West Africa highlighted the need for vaccines and therapeutics to prevent and treat filovirus infections. A well-characterized small animal model that is susceptible to wild-type filoviruses would facilitate the screening of anti-filovirus agents. To that end, we characterized knockout mice lacking α/β and γ interferon receptors (IFNAGR KO) as a model for wild-type filovirus infection. Intraperitoneal challenge of IFNAGR KO mice with several known human pathogenic species from the genus Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus, except Bundibugyo ebolavirus and Taï Forest ebolavirus, caused variable mortality rate. Further characterization of the prototype Ebola virus Kikwit isolate infection in this KO mouse model showed 100% lethality down to a dilution equivalent to 1.0 × 10-1 pfu with all deaths occurring between 7 and 9 days post-challenge. Viral RNA was detectable in serum after challenge with 1.0 × 10² pfu as early as one day after infection. Changes in hematology and serum chemistry became pronounced as the disease progressed and mirrored the histological changes in the spleen and liver that were also consistent with those described for patients with Ebola virus disease. In a proof-of-principle study, treatment of Ebola virus infected IFNAGR KO mice with favipiravir resulted in 83% protection. Taken together, the data suggest that IFNAGR KO mice may be a useful model for early screening of anti-filovirus medical countermeasures.
Project description:Previous studies demonstrated that a single intramuscular (i.m.) dose of an attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vector (VesiculoVax vector platform; rVSV-N4CT1) expressing the glycoprotein (GP) from the Mayinga strain of Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) protected nonhuman primates (NHPs) from lethal challenge with EBOV strains Kikwit and Makona. Here, we studied the immunogenicities of an expanded range of attenuated rVSV vectors expressing filovirus GP in mice. Based on data from those studies, an optimal attenuated trivalent rVSV vector formulation was identified that included rVSV vectors expressing EBOV, Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), and the Angola strain of Marburg marburgvirus (MARV) GPs. NHPs were vaccinated with a single dose of the trivalent formulation, followed by lethal challenge 28 days later with each of the three corresponding filoviruses. At day 14 postvaccination, a serum IgG response specific for all three GPs was detected in all the vaccinated macaques. A modest and balanced cell-mediated immune response specific for each GP was also detected in a majority of the vaccinated macaques. No matter the level of total GP-specific immune response detected postvaccination, all the vaccinated macaques were protected from disease and death following lethal challenge with each of the three filoviruses. These findings indicate that vaccination with a single dose of attenuated rVSV-N4CT1 vectors each expressing a single filovirus GP may provide protection against the filoviruses most commonly responsible for outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever in sub-Saharan Africa.IMPORTANCE The West African Ebola virus Zaire outbreak in 2013 showed that the disease was not only a regional concern, but a worldwide problem, and highlighted the need for a safe and efficacious vaccine to be administered to the populace. However, other endemic pathogens, like Ebola virus Sudan and Marburg, also pose an important health risk to the public and therefore require development of a vaccine prior to the occurrence of an outbreak. The significance of our research was the development of a blended trivalent filovirus vaccine that elicited a balanced immune response when administered as a single dose and provided complete protection against a lethal challenge with all three filovirus pathogens.
Project description:Filoviruses cause highly lethal viral hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. Current immunotherapeutic options for filoviruses are mostly specific to Ebola virus (EBOV), although other members of Filoviridae such as Sudan virus (SUDV), Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), and Marburg virus (MARV) have also caused sizeable human outbreaks. Here we report a set of pan-ebolavirus and pan-filovirus monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) derived from cynomolgus macaques immunized repeatedly with a mixture of engineered glycoproteins (GPs) and virus-like particles (VLPs) for three different filovirus species. The antibodies recognize novel neutralizing and nonneutralizing epitopes on the filovirus glycoprotein, including conserved conformational epitopes within the core regions of the GP1 subunit and a novel linear epitope within the glycan cap. We further report the first filovirus antibody binding to a highly conserved epitope within the fusion loop of ebolavirus and marburgvirus species. One of the antibodies binding to the core GP1 region of all ebolavirus species and with lower affinity to MARV GP cross neutralized both SUDV and EBOV, the most divergent ebolavirus species. In a mouse model of EBOV infection, this antibody provided 100% protection when administered in two doses and partial, but significant, protection when given once at the peak of viremia 3 days postinfection. Furthermore, we describe novel cocktails of antibodies with enhanced protective efficacy compared to individual MAbs. In summary, the present work describes multiple novel, cross-reactive filovirus epitopes and innovative combination concepts that challenge the current therapeutic models.Filoviruses are among the most deadly human pathogens. The 2014-2015 outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) led to more than 27,000 cases and 11,000 fatalities. While there are five species of Ebolavirus and several strains of marburgvirus, the current immunotherapeutics primarily target Ebola virus. Since the nature of future outbreaks cannot be predicted, there is an urgent need for therapeutics with broad protective efficacy against multiple filoviruses. Here we describe a set of monoclonal antibodies cross-reactive with multiple filovirus species. These antibodies target novel conserved epitopes within the envelope glycoprotein and exhibit protective efficacy in mice. We further present novel concepts for combination of cross-reactive antibodies against multiple epitopes that show enhanced efficacy compared to monotherapy and provide complete protection in mice. These findings set the stage for further evaluation of these antibodies in nonhuman primates and development of effective pan-filovirus immunotherapeutics for use in future outbreaks.
Project description:The unprecedented 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa has highlighted the need for effective therapeutics against filoviruses. Monoclonal antibody (MAb) cocktails have shown great potential as EVD therapeutics; however, the existing protective MAbs are virus species specific. Here we report the development of pan-ebolavirus and pan-filovirus antibodies generated by repeated immunization of mice with filovirus glycoproteins engineered to drive the B cell responses toward conserved epitopes. Multiple pan-ebolavirus antibodies were identified that react to the Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, and Reston viruses. A pan-filovirus antibody that was reactive to the receptor binding regions of all filovirus glycoproteins was also identified. Significant postexposure efficacy of several MAbs, including a novel antibody cocktail, was demonstrated. For the first time, we report cross-neutralization and in vivo protection against two highly divergent filovirus species, i.e., Ebola virus and Sudan virus, with a single antibody. Competition studies indicate that this antibody targets a previously unrecognized conserved neutralizing epitope that involves the glycan cap. Mechanistic studies indicated that, besides neutralization, innate immune cell effector functions may play a role in the antiviral activity of the antibodies. Our findings further suggest critical novel epitopes that can be utilized to design effective cocktails for broad protection against multiple filovirus species.Filoviruses represent a major public health threat in Africa and an emerging global concern. Largely driven by the U.S. biodefense funding programs and reinforced by the 2014 outbreaks, current immunotherapeutics are primarily focused on a single filovirus species called Ebola virus (EBOV) (formerly Zaire Ebola virus). However, other filoviruses including Sudan, Bundibugyo, and Marburg viruses have caused human outbreaks with mortality rates as high as 90%. Thus, cross-protective immunotherapeutics are urgently needed. Here, we describe monoclonal antibodies with cross-reactivity to several filoviruses, including the first report of a cross-neutralizing antibody that exhibits protection against Ebola virus and Sudan virus in mice. Our results further describe a novel combination of antibodies with enhanced protective efficacy. These results form a basis for further development of effective immunotherapeutics against filoviruses for human use. Understanding the cross-protective epitopes are also important for rational design of pan-ebolavirus and pan-filovirus vaccines.
Project description:The filoviruses Marburg virus and Ebola virus cause severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality in humans and nonhuman primates. Among the most promising filovirus vaccines under development is a system based on recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that expresses a single filovirus glycoprotein (GP) in place of the VSV glycoprotein (G). Here, we performed a proof-of-concept study in order to determine the potential of having one single-injection vaccine capable of protecting nonhuman primates against Sudan ebolavirus (SEBOV), Zaire ebolavirus (ZEBOV), Cote d'Ivoire ebolavirus (CIEBOV), and Marburgvirus (MARV). In this study, 11 cynomolgus monkeys were vaccinated with a blended vaccine consisting of equal parts of the vaccine vectors VSVDeltaG/SEBOVGP, VSVDeltaG/ZEBOVGP, and VSVDeltaG/MARVGP. Four weeks later, three of these animals were challenged with MARV, three with CIEBOV, three with ZEBOV, and two with SEBOV. Three control animals were vaccinated with VSV vectors encoding a nonfilovirus GP and challenged with SEBOV, ZEBOV, and MARV, respectively, and five unvaccinated control animals were challenged with CIEBOV. Importantly, none of the macaques vaccinated with the blended vaccine succumbed to a filovirus challenge. As expected, an experimental control animal vaccinated with VSVDeltaG/ZEBOVGP and challenged with SEBOV succumbed, as did the positive controls challenged with SEBOV, ZEBOV, and MARV, respectively. All five control animals challenged with CIEBOV became severely ill, and three of the animals succumbed on days 12, 12, and 14, respectively. The two animals that survived CIEBOV infection were protected from subsequent challenge with either SEBOV or ZEBOV, suggesting that immunity to CIEBOV may be protective against other species of Ebola virus. In conclusion, we developed an immunization scheme based on a single-injection vaccine that protects nonhuman primates against lethal challenge with representative strains of all human pathogenic filovirus species.
Project description:To identify polymorphic sites that could be used as biomarkers of Ebola virus passage history, we repeatedly amplified Ebola virus (Kikwit variant) in vitro and in vivo and performed deep sequencing analysis of the complete genomes of the viral subpopulations. We then determined the sites undergoing selection during passage in Vero E6 cells. Four locations within the Ebola virus Kikwit genome were identified that together segregate cell culture-passaged virus and virus obtained from infected non-human primates. Three of the identified sites are located within the glycoprotein gene (GP) sequence: the poly-U (RNA editing) site at position 6925, as well as positions 6677, and 6179. One site was found in the VP24 gene at position 10833. In all cases, in vitro and in vivo, both populations (majority and minority variants) were maintained in the viral swarm, with rapid selections occurring after a few passages or infections. This analysis approach will be useful to differentiate whether filovirus stocks with unknown history have been passaged in cell culture and may support filovirus stock standardization for medical countermeasure development.
Project description:Filoviruses (viruses in the genus Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus in the family Filoviridae) cause severe haemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. Rapid, highly sensitive, and reliable filovirus-specific assays are required for diagnostics and outbreak control. Characterisation of antigenic sites in viral proteins can aid in the development of viral antigen detection assays such immunochromatography-based rapid diagnosis. We generated a panel of mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to the nucleoprotein (NP) of Ebola virus belonging to the species Zaire ebolavirus. The mAbs were divided into seven groups based on the profiles of their specificity and cross-reactivity to other species in the Ebolavirus genus. Using synthetic peptides corresponding to the Ebola virus NP sequence, the mAb binding sites were mapped to seven antigenic regions in the C-terminal half of the NP, including two highly conserved regions among all five Ebolavirus species currently known. Furthermore, we successfully produced species-specific rabbit antisera to synthetic peptides predicted to represent unique filovirus B-cell epitopes. Our data provide useful information for the development of Ebola virus antigen detection assays.
Project description:With the exception of Reston and Lloviu viruses, filoviruses (marburgviruses, ebolaviruses, and "cuevaviruses") cause severe viral hemorrhagic fevers in humans. Filoviruses use a class I fusion protein, GP(1,2), to bind to an unknown, but shared, cell surface receptor to initiate virus-cell fusion. In addition to GP(1,2), ebolaviruses and cuevaviruses, but not marburgviruses, express two secreted glycoproteins, soluble GP (sGP) and small soluble GP (ssGP). All three glycoproteins have identical N termini that include the receptor-binding region (RBR) but differ in their C termini. We evaluated the effect of the secreted ebolavirus glycoproteins on marburgvirus and ebolavirus cell entry, using Fc-tagged recombinant proteins. Neither sGP-Fc nor ssGP-Fc bound to filovirus-permissive cells or inhibited GP(1,2)-mediated cell entry of pseudotyped retroviruses. Surprisingly, several Fc-tagged ?-peptides, which are small C-terminal cleavage products of sGP secreted by ebolavirus-infected cells, inhibited entry of retroviruses pseudotyped with Marburg virus GP(1,2), as well as Marburg virus and Ebola virus infection in a dose-dependent manner and at low molarity despite absence of sequence similarity to filovirus RBRs. Fc-tagged ?-peptides from three ebolaviruses (Ebola virus, Sudan virus, and Taï Forest virus) inhibited GP(1,2)-mediated entry and infection of viruses comparably to or better than the Fc-tagged RBRs, whereas the ?-peptide-Fc of an ebolavirus nonpathogenic for humans (Reston virus) and that of an ebolavirus with lower lethality for humans (Bundibugyo virus) had little effect. These data indicate that ?-peptides are functional components of ebolavirus proteomes. They join cathepsins and integrins as novel modulators of filovirus cell entry, might play important roles in pathogenesis, and could be exploited for the synthesis of powerful new antivirals.
Project description:Filoviruses of the genus Ebolavirus include 6 species with marked differences in their ability to cause disease in humans. From the highly virulent Ebola virus to the seemingly nonpathogenic Reston virus, case fatality rates can range between 0% and 90%. In order to understand the molecular basis of these differences, it is imperative to establish disease models that recapitulate human disease as faithfully as possible. Nonhuman primates (NHPs) are the gold-standard models for filovirus pathogenesis, but comparative studies are skewed by the fact that Reston virus infection can be lethal for NHPs. Here we used HLA-A2-transgenic, NOD-scid-IL-2? receptor-knockout (NSG-A2) mice reconstituted with human hematopoiesis to compare Ebola virus and Reston virus pathogenesis in a human-like environment. While markedly less pathogenic than Ebola virus, Reston virus killed 20% of infected mice, a finding that was linked to exacerbated inflammation and viral replication in the liver. In addition, the case fatality ratios of different Ebolavirus species in humans were recapitulated in the humanized mice. Our findings point to humanized mice as a putative model to test the pathogenicity of newly discovered filoviruses, and suggest that further investigations on Reston virus pathogenesis in humans are warranted.
Project description:The search for a universal filovirus vaccine that provides protection against multiple filovirus species has been prompted by sporadic but highly lethal outbreaks of Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus infections. A good prophylactic vaccine should be able to provide protection to all known filovirus species and as an upside potentially protect from newly emerging virus strains. We investigated the immunogenicity and protection elicited by multivalent vaccines expressing glycoproteins (GP) from Ebola virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV), Taï Forest virus (TAFV) and Marburg virus (MARV). Immune responses against filovirus GP have been associated with protection from disease. The GP antigens were expressed by adenovirus serotypes 26 and 35 (Ad26 and Ad35) and modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vectors, all selected for their strong immunogenicity and good safety profile. Using fully lethal NHP intramuscular challenge models, we assessed different vaccination regimens for immunogenicity and protection from filovirus disease. Heterologous multivalent Ad26-Ad35 prime-boost vaccination regimens could give full protection against MARV (range 75%-100% protection) and EBOV (range 50% to 100%) challenge, and partial protection (75%) against SUDV challenge. Heterologous multivalent Ad26-MVA prime-boost immunization gave full protection against EBOV challenge in a small cohort study. The use of such multivalent vaccines did not show overt immune interference in comparison with monovalent vaccines. Multivalent vaccines induced GP-specific antibody responses and cellular IFN? responses to each GP expressed by the vaccine, and cross-reactivity to TAFV GP was detected in a trivalent vaccine expressing GP from EBOV, SUDV and MARV. In the EBOV challenge studies, higher humoral EBOV GP-specific immune responses (p = 0.0004) were associated with survival from EBOV challenge and less so for cellular immune responses (p = 0.0320). These results demonstrate that it is feasible to generate a multivalent filovirus vaccine that can protect against lethal infection by multiple members of the filovirus family.
Project description:A plaque assay for quantitating filoviruses in virus stocks, prepared viral challenge inocula and samples from research animals has recently been fully characterized and standardized for use across multiple institutions performing Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) studies. After standardization studies were completed, Good Laboratory Practices (GLP)-compliant plaque assay method validation studies to demonstrate suitability for reliable and reproducible measurement of the Marburg Virus Angola (MARV) variant and Ebola Virus Kikwit (EBOV) variant commenced at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). The validation parameters tested included accuracy, precision, linearity, robustness, stability of the virus stocks and system suitability. The MARV and EBOV assays were confirmed to be accurate to ±0.5 log10 PFU/mL. Repeatability precision, intermediate precision and reproducibility precision were sufficient to return viral titers with a coefficient of variation (%CV) of ?30%, deemed acceptable variation for a cell-based bioassay. Intraclass correlation statistical techniques for the evaluation of the assay's precision when the same plaques were quantitated by two analysts returned values passing the acceptance criteria, indicating high agreement between analysts. The assay was shown to be accurate and specific when run on Nonhuman Primates (NHP) serum and plasma samples diluted in plaque assay medium, with negligible matrix effects. Virus stocks demonstrated stability for freeze-thaw cycles typical of normal usage during assay retests. The results demonstrated that the EBOV and MARV plaque assays are accurate, precise and robust for filovirus titration in samples associated with the performance of GLP animal model studies.