Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) cases continue to be reported, predominantly in Saudi Arabia and occasionally other countries. Although dromedaries are the main reservoir, other animal species might be susceptible to MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection and potentially serve as reservoirs. To determine whether other animals are potential reservoirs, we inoculated MERS-CoV into llamas, pigs, sheep, and horses and collected nasal and rectal swab samples at various times. The presence of MERS-CoV in the nose of pigs and llamas was confirmed by PCR, titration of infectious virus, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization; seroconversion was detected in animals of both species. Conversely, in sheep and horses, virus-specific antibodies did not develop and no evidence of viral replication in the upper respiratory tract was found. These results prove the susceptibility of llamas and pigs to MERS-CoV infection. Thus, the possibility of MERS-CoV circulation in animals other than dromedaries, such as llamas and pigs, is not negligible.
Different species of camelids play an important role in the epidemiology of various emerging infectious diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome. For precise investigations of the immunopathogenesis in these host species, appropriate immunohistochemical markers are highly needed in order to phenotype distinct immune cells populations in camelids. So far, specific immunohistochemical markers for camelid immune cells are rarely commercially available, and cross-reactivity studies are restricted to the use of frozen dromedary tissues. To bridge this gap, 14 commercially available primary antibodies were tested for their suitability to demonstrate immune cell populations on formalin fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections of dromedaries, Bactrian camels, llamas, and alpacas in the present study. Out of these, 9 antibodies directed against CD3, CD20, CD79α, HLA-DR, Iba-1, myeloid/histiocyte antigen, CD204, CD208, and CD68 antigen exhibited distinct immunoreaction patterns to certain camelid immune cell subsets. The distribution of these antigens was comparatively evaluated in different anatomical compartments of thymus, spleen, mesenteric, and tracheobronchial lymph nodes. The presented results will provide a basis for further investigations in camelids, especially with respect to the role of the immune response in certain infectious diseases, which harbor a considerable risk to spill over to other species.
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes severe respiratory infections that can be life-threatening. To establish an infection and spread, MERS-CoV, like most other viruses, must navigate through an intricate network of antiviral host responses. Besides the well-known type I interferon (IFN-α/β) response, the protein kinase R (PKR)-mediated stress response is being recognized as an important innate response pathway. Upon detecting viral dsRNA, PKR phosphorylates eIF2α, leading to the inhibition of cellular and viral translation and the formation of stress granules (SGs), which are increasingly recognized as platforms for antiviral signaling pathways. It is unknown whether cellular infection by MERS-CoV activates the stress response pathway or whether the virus has evolved strategies to suppress this infection-limiting pathway. Here, we show that cellular infection with MERS-CoV does not lead to the formation of SGs. By transiently expressing the MERS-CoV accessory proteins individually, we identified a role of protein 4a (p4a) in preventing activation of the stress response pathway. Expression of MERS-CoV p4a impeded dsRNA-mediated PKR activation, thereby rescuing translation inhibition and preventing SG formation. In contrast, p4a failed to suppress stress response pathway activation that is independent of PKR and dsRNA. MERS-CoV p4a is a dsRNA binding protein. Mutation of the dsRNA binding motif in p4a disrupted its PKR antagonistic activity. By inserting p4a in a picornavirus lacking its natural PKR antagonist, we showed that p4a exerts PKR antagonistic activity also under infection conditions. However, a recombinant MERS-CoV deficient in p4a expression still suppressed SG formation, indicating the expression of at least one other stress response antagonist. This virus also suppressed the dsRNA-independent stress response pathway. Thus, MERS-CoV interferes with antiviral stress responses using at least two different mechanisms, with p4a suppressing the PKR-dependent stress response pathway, probably by sequestering dsRNA. MERS-CoV p4a represents the first coronavirus stress response antagonist described.
Engineering modular platforms to control biomolecular architecture can advance both the understanding and the manipulation of biological systems. Icosahedral particles uniformly displaying single antigens stimulate potent immune activation and have been successful in various licensed vaccines. However, it remains challenging to display multiple antigens on a single particle and to induce broader immunity protective across strains or even against distinct diseases. Here, we design a dually addressable synthetic nanoparticle by engineering the multimerizing coiled-coil IMX313 and two orthogonally reactive split proteins. SpyCatcher protein forms an isopeptide bond with SpyTag peptide through spontaneous amidation. SnoopCatcher forms an isopeptide bond with SnoopTag peptide through transamidation. SpyCatcher-IMX-SnoopCatcher provides a modular platform, whereby SpyTag-antigen and SnoopTag-antigen can be multimerized on opposite faces of the particle simply upon mixing. We demonstrate efficient derivatization of the platform with model proteins and complex pathogen-derived antigens. SpyCatcher-IMX-SnoopCatcher was expressed in Escherichia coli and was resilient to lyophilization or extreme temperatures. For the next generation of malaria vaccines, blocking the transmission of the parasite from human to mosquito is an important goal. SpyCatcher-IMX-SnoopCatcher multimerization of the leading transmission-blocking antigens Pfs25 and Pfs28 greatly enhanced the antibody response to both antigens in comparison to the monomeric proteins. This dual plug-and-display architecture should help to accelerate vaccine development for malaria and other diseases.
The threat posed by pandemics grows alongside increased globalization and technological innovation. Distant cultures can now be connected in a day’s time, and international trade links global health and economic prosperity. This report details nine priority areas and accompanying action items that will help to address current pandemic response problems.
Developing centralized leadership; coordinating existing agencies and departments; reforming WHO; and providing adequate funding to establish sufficient supplies, infrastructure, expertise ,and institutions are paramount to success in pandemic response.
The reports stresses that Foreign aid for global health and related investments has never been more important to international security and US national security
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is transmitted by insect vectors, and therefore vaccination is one of the most important tools of disease control. In our study, novel subunit vaccines on the basis of an amino-terminal domain of SBV Gc of 234 amino acids (“Gc Amino”) first were tested and selected using a lethal small animal challenge model and then the best performing formulations also were tested in cattle. We could show that neither E. coli expressed nor the reduced form of “Gc Amino” protected from SBV infection. In contrast, both, immunization with “Gc Amino”-encoding DNA plasmids and “Gc-amino” expressed in a mammalian system, conferred protection in up to 66% of the animals. Interestingly, the best performance was achieved with a multivalent antigen containing the covalently linked Gc domains of both, SBV and the related Akabane virus. All vaccinated cattle and mice were fully protected against SBV challenge infection. Furthermore, in the absence of antibodies against the viral N-protein, differentiation between vaccinated and field-infected animals allows an SBV marker vaccination concept. Moreover, the presented vaccine design also could be tested for other members of the Simbu serogroup and might allow the inclusion of additional immunogenic domains.
Synthetic biology uses living cells as molecular foundries for the biosynthesis of drugs, therapeutic proteins, and other commodities. However, the need for specialized equipment and refrigeration for production and distribution poses a challenge for the delivery of these technologies to the field and to low-resource areas. Here, we present a portable platform that provides the means for on-site, on-demand manufacturing of therapeutics and biomolecules. This flexible system is based on reaction pellets composed of freeze-dried, cell-free transcription and translation machinery, which can be easily hydrated and utilized for biosynthesis through the addition of DNA encoding the desired output. We demonstrate this approach with the manufacture and functional validation of antimicrobial peptides and vaccines and present combinatorial methods for the production of antibody conjugates and small molecules. This synthetic biology platform resolves important practical limitations in the production and distribution of therapeutics and molecular tools, both to the developed and developing world
Coronaviruses (CoVs) have a remarkable potential to change tropism. This is particularly illustrated over the last 15 years by the emergence of two zoonotic CoVs, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)- and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV. Due to their inherent genetic variability, it is inevitable that new cross-species transmission events of these enveloped, positive-stranded RNA viruses will occur. Research into these medical and veterinary important pathogens—sparked by the SARS and MERS outbreaks—revealed important principles of inter- and intraspecies tropism changes. The primary determinant of CoV tropism is the viral spike (S) entry protein. Trimers of the S glycoproteins on the virion surface accommodate binding to a cell surface receptor and fusion of the viral and cellular membrane. Recently, high-resolution structures of two CoV S proteins have been elucidated by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. Using this new structural insight, we review the changes in the S protein that relate to changes in virus tropism. Different concepts underlie these tropism changes at the cellular, tissue, and host species level, including the promiscuity or adaptability of S proteins to orthologous receptors, alterations in the proteolytic cleavage activation as well as changes in the S protein metastability. A thorough understanding of the key role of the S protein in CoV entry is critical to further our understanding of virus cross-species transmission and pathogenesis and for development of intervention strategies
Porcine enteric coronaviruses (CoVs) cause severe disease in the porcine herds worldwide, leading to important economic losses. Despite the knowledge of these viruses since the 1970s, vaccination strategies have not been implemented, leading to continuous re-emergence of novel virulent strains. Live attenuated vaccines historically have been the most efficient. We consider that the new trend is the development of recombinant vaccines by using reverse genetics systems to engineer attenuated viruses, which could be used as effective and safe modified live vaccine candidates. To this end, host cell signaling pathways influencing porcine CoV virulence should be identified. Similarly, the identity of viral proteins involved in the modulation of host cell pathways influencing CoV pathogenesis should be analyzed. With this information, and using reverse genetics systems, it is possible to design viruses with modifications in the viral proteins acting as virulence factors, which may lead to attenuated viruses and, therefore, vaccine candidates. In addition, novel antiviral drugs may be developed once the host cell pathways and the molecular mechanism affecting porcine CoV replication and virulence are known. This review is focused in the host cell responses to enteric porcine CoV infection and the viral proteins involved in pathogenesis.
Coronavirus (CoV) nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14) is a 60-kDa protein encoded by the replicase gene that is part of the replication-transcription complex. It is a bifunctional enzyme bearing 3′-to-5′ exoribonuclease (ExoN) and guanine-N7-methyltransferase (N7-MTase) activities. ExoN hydrolyzes single-stranded RNAs and double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) and is part of a proofreading system responsible for the high fidelity of CoV replication. nsp14 N7-MTase activity is required for viral mRNA cap synthesis and prevents the recognition of viral mRNAs as “non-self” by the host cell. In this work, a set of point mutants affecting different motifs within the ExoN domain of nsp14 was generated, using transmissible gastroenteritis virus as a model of Alphacoronavirus. Mutants lacking ExoN activity were nonviable despite being competent in both viral RNA and protein synthesis. A specific mutation within zinc finger 1 (ZF-C) led to production of a viable virus with growth and viral RNA synthesis kinetics similar to that of the parental virus. Mutant recombinant transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) ZF-C (rTGEV-ZF-C) caused decreased cytopathic effect and apoptosis compared with the wild-type virus and reduced levels of dsRNA accumulation at late times postinfection. Consequently, the mutant triggered a reduced antiviral response, which was confirmed by evaluating different stages of the dsRNA-induced antiviral pathway. The expression of beta interferon (IFN-β), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interferon-stimulated genes in cells infected with mutant rTGEV-ZF-C was reduced compared to the levels seen with the parental virus. Overall, our data revealed a potential role for CoV nsp14 in modulation of the innate immune response.