Visualization of yellow fever virus infection in mice using a bioluminescent reporter virus.
ABSTRACT: Yellow fever virus (YFV) is a re-emerging flavivirus, which can lead to severe clinical manifestations and high mortality, with no specific antiviral therapies available. The live-attenuated yellow fever vaccine 17D (YF17D) has been widely used for over eighty years. However, the emergence of yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YFL-AVD) and yellow fever vaccine-associated neurotropic disease (YFL-AND) raised non-negligible concerns. Additionally, the attenuation mechanism of YF17D is still unclear. Thus, the development of convenient models is crucial to understand the mechanisms behind YF17D attenuation and its adverse effects. In this work, we generated a reporter YF17D expressing nano-luciferase (NLuc). In vitro and in vivo characterization demonstrated that the NLuc-YF17D shared similar biological properties with its parental strain and the NLuc activity can reflect viral infectivity reliably. Combined with in vivo bioluminescence imaging, a series of mice models of YF17D infection was established, which will be useful for the evaluation of antiviral medicines and novel vaccine candidates. Especially, we demonstrated that intraperitoneally (i.p.) infection of NLuc-YF17D in type I interferon receptor-deficient mice A129 resulted in outcomes resembling YEL-AVD and YEL-AND, evidenced by viral replication in multiple organs and invasion of the central neuronal system. Finally, in vitro and in vivo assays based on this reporter virus were established to evaluate the antiviral activities of validated antiviral agents. In conclusion, the bioluminescent reporter virus described herein provides a powerful platform to study YF17D attenuation and vaccine-associated diseases as well as to develop novel countermeasures against YFV.
Project description:From 2016 to 2018, Brazil faced the biggest yellow fever (YF) outbreak in the last 80 years, representing a risk of YF reurbanization, especially in megacities. Along with this challenge, the mass administration of the fractionated YF vaccine dose in a naïve population brought another concern: the possibility to increase YF adverse events associated with viscerotropic (YEL-AVD) or neurological disease (YEL-AND). For this reason, we developed a quantitative real time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) assay based on a duplex TaqMan protocol to distinguish broad-spectrum infections caused by wild-type yellow fever virus (YFV) strain from adverse events following immunization (AEFI) by 17DD strain during the vaccination campaign used to contain this outbreak. A rapid and more accurate RT-qPCR assay to diagnose YFV was established, being able to detect even different YFV genotypes and geographic strains that circulate in Central and South America. Moreover, after testing around 1400 samples from human cases, non-human primates and mosquitoes, we detected just two YEL-AVD cases, confirmed by sequencing, during the massive vaccination in Brazilian Southeast region, showing lower incidence than AEFI as expected.
Project description:Yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD) is a rare complication of yellow fever (YF) vaccination. A previously healthy 22-year-old female died following YF vaccination despite aggressive measures. Serial viral load titers, cytokine levels and host genetic factors were evaluated in an attempt to understand this unusual and lethal outcome. The patient's high-titer vaccine viremia and possibly related minor genetic anomalies provide clues to exploring the etiology of YEL-AVD.
Project description:Yellow fever (YF) remains a threat to human health in tropical regions of Africa and South America. Live-attenuated YF-17D vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in protecting travellers and populations in endemic regions against YF, despite very rare severe reactions following vaccination - YF vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease (YEL-AVD) and neurological disease (YEL-AND). We describe the generation and selection of a live-attenuated YF-17D vaccine candidate and present its preclinical profile. Initially, 24 YF-17D vaccine candidate sub-strains from the Stamaril® and YF-VAX® lineage were created through transfection of viral genomic RNA into Vero cells cultured in serum-free media to produce seed lots. The clone with the 'optimal' preclinical profile, i.e. the lowest neurovirulence, neurotropism and viscerotropism, and immunogenicity at least comparable with Stamaril and YF-VAX in relevant animal models, was selected as the vaccine candidate and taken forward for assessment at various production stages. The 'optimal' vaccine candidate was obtained from the YF-VAX lineage (hence named vYF-247) and had five nucleotide differences relative to its parent, with only two changes that resulted in amino acid changes at position 480 of the envelope protein (E) (valine to leucine), and position 65 of the non-structural protein 2A (NS2A) (methionine to valine). vYF-247 was less neurovirulent in mice than Stamaril and YF-VAX irrespective of production stage. Its attenuation profile in terms of neurotropism and viscerotropism was similar to YF-VAX in A129 mice, a 'worst case' animal model lacking type-I IFN receptors required to initiate viral clearance. Thus, vYF-247 would not be expected to have higher rates of YEL-AVD or YEL-AND than Stamaril and YF-VAX. In hamsters, vYF-247 was immunogenic and protected against high viremia and death induced by a lethal challenge with the hamster-adapted Jimenez P10 YF virus strain. Our data suggests that vYF-247 would provide robust protection against YF disease in humans, similar to currently marketed YF vaccines.
Project description:Mass vaccination with the live attenuated vaccine YF-17D is the current way to prevent infection with Yellow fever virus (YFV). However, 0.000012-0.00002% of vaccinated patients develop post-vaccination neurological syndrome (YEL-AND). Understanding the factors responsible for neuroinvasion, neurotropism, and neurovirulence of the vaccine is critical for improving its biosafety. The YF-FNV vaccine strain, known to be associated with a higher frequency of YEL-AND (0.3-0.4%) than YF-17D, is an excellent model to study vaccine neuroinvasiveness. We determined that neuroinvasiveness of YF-FNV occured both via infection and passage through human brain endothelial cells. Plaque purification and next generation sequencing (NGS) identified several neuroinvasive variants. Their neuroinvasiveness was not higher than that of YF-FNV. However, rebuilding the YF-FNV population diversity from a set of isolated YF-FNV-N variants restored the original neuroinvasive phenotype of YF-FNV. Therefore, we conclude that viral population diversity is a critical factor for YFV vaccine neuroinvasiveness.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>The live attenuated yellow fever virus (YFV) vaccine 17D stands as a "gold standard" for a successful vaccine. 17D was developed empirically by passaging the wild-type Asibi strain in mouse and chicken embryo tissues. Despite its immense success, the molecular determinants for virulence attenuation and immunogenicity of the 17D vaccine are poorly understood. 17D evolved several mutations in its genome, most of which lie within the envelope (E) protein. Given the major role played by the YFV E protein during virus entry, it has been hypothesized that the residues that diverge between the Asibi and 17D E proteins may be key determinants of attenuation. In this study, we define the process of YFV entry into target cells and investigate its implication in the activation of the antiviral cytokine response. We found that Asibi infects host cells exclusively via the classical clathrin-mediated endocytosis, while 17D exploits a clathrin-independent pathway for infectious entry. We demonstrate that the mutations in the 17D E protein acquired during the attenuation process are sufficient to explain the differential entry of Asibi versus 17D. Interestingly, we show that 17D binds to and infects host cells more efficiently than Asibi, which culminates in increased delivery of viral RNA into the cytosol and robust activation of the cytokine-mediated antiviral response. Overall, our study reveals that 17D vaccine and Asibi enter target cells through distinct mechanisms and highlights a link between 17D attenuation, virus entry, and immune activation.<h4>Importance</h4>The yellow fever virus (YFV) vaccine 17D is one of the safest and most effective live virus vaccines ever developed. The molecular determinants for virulence attenuation and immunogenicity of 17D are poorly understood. 17D was generated by serially passaging the virulent Asibi strain in vertebrate tissues. Here we examined the entry mechanisms engaged by YFV Asibi and the 17D vaccine. We found the two viruses use different entry pathways. We show that the mutations differentiating the Asibi envelope (E) protein from the 17D E protein, which arose during attenuation, are key determinants for the use of these distinct entry routes. Finally, we demonstrate that 17D binds and enters host cells more efficiently than Asibi. This results in a higher uptake of viral RNA into the cytoplasm and consequently a greater cytokine-mediated antiviral response. Overall, our data provide new insights into the biology of YFV infection and the mechanisms of viral attenuation.
Project description:Yellow fever virus (YFV) is a member of the Flaviviridae family. In Brazil, yellow fever (YF) cases have increased dramatically in sylvatic areas neighboring urban zones in the last few years. Because of the high lethality rates associated with infection and absence of any antiviral treatments, it is essential to identify therapeutic options to respond to YFV outbreaks. Repurposing of clinically approved drugs represents the fastest alternative to discover antivirals for public health emergencies. Other Flaviviruses, such as Zika (ZIKV) and dengue (DENV) viruses, are susceptible to sofosbuvir, a clinically approved drug against hepatitis C virus (HCV). Our data showed that sofosbuvir docks onto YFV RNA polymerase using conserved amino acid residues for nucleotide binding. This drug inhibited the replication of both vaccine and wild-type strains of YFV on human hepatoma cells, with EC50 values around 5 ?M. Sofosbuvir protected YFV-infected neonatal Swiss mice and adult type I interferon receptor knockout mice (A129-/-) from mortality and weight loss. Because of its safety profile in humans and significant antiviral effects in vitro and in mice, Sofosbuvir may represent a novel therapeutic option for the treatment of YF. Key-words: Yellow fever virus; Yellow fever, antiviral; sofosbuvir.
Project description:Although a highly effective vaccine is available, the number of yellow fever cases has increased over the past 2 decades, which highlights the pressing need for antiviral therapeutics. In a high-throughput screening campaign, we identified an acetic acid benzodiazepine (BDAA) compound which potently inhibits yellow fever virus (YFV). Interestingly, while treatment of YFV-infected cultures with 2 ?M BDAA reduced the virion production by greater than 2 logs, the compound was not active against 21 other viruses from 14 different viral families. Selection and genetic analysis of drug-resistant viruses revealed that replacement of the proline at amino acid 219 (P219) of the nonstructural protein 4B (NS4B) with serine, threonine, or alanine conferred YFV with resistance to BDAA without apparent loss of replication fitness in cultured mammalian cells. However, replacement of P219 with glycine conferred BDAA resistance with significant loss of replication ability. Bioinformatics analysis predicts that the P219 amino acid is localized at the endoplasmic reticulum lumen side of the fifth putative transmembrane domain of NS4B, and the mutation may render the viral protein incapable of interacting with BDAA. Our studies thus revealed an important role and the structural basis for the NS4B protein in supporting YFV replication. Moreover, in YFV-infected hamsters, oral administration of BDAA protected 90% of the animals from death, significantly reduced viral load by greater than 2 logs, and attenuated virus infection-induced liver injury and body weight loss. The encouraging preclinical results thus warrant further development of BDAA or its derivatives as antiviral agents to treat yellow fever. IMPORTANCE Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease which threatens approximately 1 billion people living in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America. Although a highly effective yellow fever vaccine has been available for more than 7 decades, the low vaccination rate fails to prevent outbreaks in at-risk regions. It has been estimated that up to 1.7 million YFV infections occur in Africa each year, resulting in 29,000 to 60,000 deaths. Thus far, there is no specific antiviral treatment for yellow fever. To cope with this medical challenge, we identified a benzodiazepine compound that selectively inhibits YFV by targeting the viral NS4B protein. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating in vivo safety and antiviral efficacy of a YFV NS4B inhibitor in an animal model. We have thus reached a critical milestone toward the development of specific antiviral therapeutics for clinical management of yellow fever.
Project description:Yellow fever virus (YFV) is an arthropod-borne flavivirus, infecting ~200,000 people worldwide annually and causing about 30,000 deaths. The live attenuated vaccine strain, YFV-17D, has significantly contributed in controlling the global burden of yellow fever worldwide. However, the viral and host contributions to YFV-17D attenuation remain elusive. Type I interferon (IFN-α/β) signaling and type II interferon (IFN-γ) signaling have been shown to be mutually supportive in controlling YFV-17D infection despite distinct mechanisms of action in viral infection. However, it remains unclear how type III IFN (IFN-λ) integrates into this antiviral system. Here, we report that while wild-type (WT) and IFN-λ receptor knockout (λR-/-) mice were largely resistant to YFV-17D, deficiency in type I IFN signaling resulted in robust infection. Although IFN-α/β receptor knockout (α/βR-/-) mice survived the infection, mice with combined deficiencies in both type I signaling and type III IFN signaling were hypersusceptible to YFV-17D and succumbed to the infection. Mortality was associated with viral neuroinvasion and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). α/βR-/- λR-/- mice also exhibited distinct changes in the frequencies of multiple immune cell lineages, impaired T-cell activation, and severe perturbation of the proinflammatory cytokine balance. Taken together, our data highlight that type III IFN has critical immunomodulatory and neuroprotective functions that prevent viral neuroinvasion during active YFV-17D replication. Type III IFN thus likely represents a safeguard mechanism crucial for controlling YFV-17D infection and contributing to shaping vaccine immunogenicity.IMPORTANCE YFV-17D is a live attenuated flavivirus vaccine strain recognized as one of the most effective vaccines ever developed. However, the host and viral determinants governing YFV-17D attenuation and its potent immunogenicity are still unknown. Here, we analyzed the role of type III interferon (IFN)-mediated signaling, a host immune defense mechanism, in controlling YFV-17D infection and attenuation in different mouse models. We uncovered a critical role of type III IFN-mediated signaling in preserving the integrity of the blood-brain barrier and preventing viral brain invasion. Type III IFN also played a major role in regulating the induction of a potent but balanced immune response that prevented viral evasion of the host immune system. An improved understanding of the complex mechanisms regulating YFV-17D attenuation will provide insights into the key virus-host interactions that regulate host immune responses and infection outcomes as well as open novel avenues for the development of innovative vaccine strategies.
Project description:Yellow fever virus (YFV) is a human Flavivirus reemerging in parts of the world. While a vaccine is available, large outbreaks have recently occurred in Brazil and certain African countries. Development of an effective antiviral against YFV is crucial, as there is no available effective drug against YFV. We have identified several novel nucleoside analogs with potent antiviral activity against YFV with 50% effective concentration (EC50) values between 0.25 and 1??M with selectivity indices over 100 in culture.
Project description:Members of the flavivirus genus share a high level of sequence similarity and often circulate in the same geographical regions. However, whether T cells induced by one viral species cross-react with other related flaviviruses has not been globally addressed. In this study, we tested pools of epitopes derived from dengue (DENV), Zika (ZIKV), Japanese encephalitis (JEV), West Nile (WNV), and yellow fever (YFV) viruses by intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of individuals naturally exposed to DENV or immunized with DENV (TV005) or YF17D vaccine. CD8 T cell responses recognized epitopes from multiple flaviviruses; however, the magnitude of cross-reactive responses was consistently severalfold lower than those to the autologous epitope pools and was associated with lower expression of activation markers such as CD40L, CD69, and CD137. Next, we characterized the antigen sensitivity of short-term T cell lines (TCL) representing 29 different individual epitope/donor combinations. TCL derived from DENV monovalent vaccinees induced CD8 and CD4 T cells that cross-reacted within the DENV serocomplex but were consistently associated with >100-fold-lower antigen sensitivity for most other flaviviruses, with no cross-recognition of YFV-derived peptides. CD8 and CD4 TCL from YF17D vaccinees were associated with very limited cross-reactivity with any other flaviviruses and in five out of eight cases >1,000-fold-lower antigen sensitivity. Overall, our data suggest limited cross-reactivity for both CD4 and CD8 T cell responses between flaviviruses and have implications for understanding immunity elicited by natural infection and strategies to develop live attenuated vaccines against flaviviral species.IMPORTANCE The envelope (E) protein is the dominant target of neutralizing antibodies for dengue virus (DENV) and yellow fever virus (YFV). Accordingly, several DENV vaccine constructs use the E protein in a live attenuated vaccine format, utilizing a backbone derived from a heterologous flavivirus (such as YF) as a delivery vector. This backbone comprises the nonstructural (NS) and capsid (C) antigens, which are dominant targets of T cell responses. Here, we demonstrate that cross-reactivity at the level of T cell responses among different flaviviruses is very limited, despite high levels of sequence homology. Thus, the use of heterologous flavivirus species as a live attenuated vaccine vector is not likely to generate optimal T cell responses and might thus impair vaccine performance.