ResearchPad - virology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A conformation-based intra-molecular initiation factor identified in the flavivirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14506 The function of a protein is often dictated by a single defined fold, which in turn is determined by its amino acid sequences. However, multiple global conformations can be utilized by a protein to fulfill distinct functions under different circumstances. The flavivirus NS5 protein, a natural fusion of an N-terminal methyltransferase (MTase) and a C-terminal RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), may be such an example. Previously reported NS5 crystal structures exhibit two apparently different global conformations. In this work, we demonstrate that both conformations are conserved in the flaviviruses and important for virus proliferation, but only one of them is clearly relevant to RdRP catalysis, in particular at the early stages of the RNA synthesis.

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<![CDATA[Low response in eliciting neuraminidase inhibition activity of sera among recipients of a split, monovalent pandemic influenza vaccine during the 2009 pandemic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14470 Antibodies against influenza virus neuraminidase (NA) protein prevent releasing of the virus from host cells and spreading of infection foci and are considered the ‘second line of defence’ against influenza. Haemagglutinin inhibition antibody-low responders (HI-LRs) are present among influenza split vaccine recipients. The NA inhibition (NAI) antibody response in vaccinees is worth exploring, especially those in the HI-LRs population. We collected pre- and post-vaccination sera from 61 recipients of an inactivated, monovalent, split vaccine against A/H1N1pdm09 and acute and convalescent sera from 49 unvaccinated patients naturally infected with the A/H1N1pdm09 virus during the 2009 influenza pandemic. All samples were subjected to haemagglutinin inhibition (HI), NAI and neutralisation assays. Most paired sera from naturally infected patients exhibited marked elevation in the NAI activity, and seroconversion rates (SCR) among HI-LRs and HI-responders (HI-Rs) were 60% and 87%, respectively; however, those from vaccinees displayed low increase in the NAI activity, and the SCR among HI-LRs and HI-Rs were 0% and 12%, respectively. In both HI-LRs and HI-Rs, vaccination with the inactivated, monovalent, split vaccine failed to elicit the NAI activity efficiently in the sera of the naive population, compared with the natural infection. Hence, the improvement of influenza vaccines is warranted to elicit not only HI but also NAI antibodies.

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<![CDATA[<i>Ehrlichia chaffeensis</i> TRP120-mediated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of tumor suppressor FBW7 increases oncoprotein stability and promotes infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13827 E. chaffeensis is an obligately intracellular bacterium that replicates in mononuclear phagocytes by secreting effectors that manipulate host cell processes and exploit evolutionarily conserved pathways. This investigation reveals the complex and expanding role of the E. chaffeensis TRP120 moonlighting effector as a ubiquitin (Ub) ligase targeting host nuclear proteins. Herein, we demonstrate that E. chaffeensis TRP120 HECT Ub ligase targets the nuclear tumor suppressor Skp1-cullin-1-FBOX E3 ubiquitin (Ub) ligase complex substrate recognition subunit, F-BOX and WD domain repeating-containing 7 (FBW7) for degradation. FBW7 is a central regulator of broadly acting host cell oncoproteins involved in cell proliferation and survival. The reduction in FBW7 through TRP120-mediated ubiquitination increases cellular oncoprotein levels and promotes E. chaffeensis infection. This study illuminates novel bacterial effector-host interactions, the importance and interplay of both host and bacterial Ub ligases and the Ub-proteasome system for infection, and mechanisms whereby evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways are hijacked by obligately intracellular pathogens.

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<![CDATA[Placental transfer of Letermovir &amp; Maribavir in the <i>ex vivo</i> human cotyledon perfusion model. New perspectives for <i>in utero</i> treatment of congenital cytomegalovirus infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11236 Congenital cytomegalovirus infection can lead to severe sequelae. When fetal infection is confirmed, we hypothesize that fetal treatment could improve the outcome. Maternal oral administration of an effective drug crossing the placenta could allow fetal treatment. Letermovir (LMV) and Maribavir (MBV) are new CMV antivirals, and potential candidates for fetal treatment.MethodsThe objective was to investigate the placental transfer of LMV and MBV in the ex vivo method of the human perfused cotyledon. Term placentas were perfused, in an open-circuit model, with LMV or MBV at concentrations in the range of clinical peak plasma concentrations. Concentrations were measured using ultraperformance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Mean fetal transfer rate (FTR) (fetal (FC) /maternal concentration), clearance index (CLI), accumulation index (AI) (retention of each drug in the cotyledon tissue) were measured. Mean FC were compared with half maximal effective concentrations of the drugs (EC50(LMV) and EC50(MBV)).ResultsFor LMV, the mean FC was (± standard deviation) 1.1 ± 0.2 mg/L, 1,000-fold above the EC50(LMV). Mean FTR, CLI and AI were 9 ± 1%, 35 ± 6% and 4 ± 2% respectively. For MBV, the mean FC was 1.4 ± 0.2 mg/L, 28-fold above the EC50(MBV). Mean FTR, CLI and AI were 10 ± 1%, 50 ± 7% and 2 ± 1% respectively.ConclusionsDrugs’ concentrations in the fetal side should be in the range for in utero treatment of fetuses infected with CMV as the mean FC was superior to the EC50 for both molecules. ]]> <![CDATA[Cell signaling and cytomegalovirus reactivation: what do Src family kinases have to do with it?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_9180 Primary infection with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is usually asymptomatic and leads to the establishment of lifelong latent infection. A major site of latency are the CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells. Importantly, normal cellular differentiation of CD34+ cells to a macrophage or dendritic cell phenotype is concomitant with viral reactivation. Molecular studies of HCMV latency have shown that the latent viral genome is associated with histone proteins and that specific post-translational modifications of these histones correlates with the transcriptional activity of the genome arguing that expression of key viral genes that dictate latency and reactivation are subject to the rules of the histone code hypothesis postulated for the regulation of eukaryotic gene expression. Finally, many studies now point to a key role for multiple signaling pathways to provide the cue for HCMV reactivation. The challenge now is to understand the complex interplay between cell identity, transcriptional regulation and cell signaling that occurs to promote reactivation and, additionally, how HCMV may further manipulate these events to support reactivation. Understanding how HCMV utilizes these pathways to drive HCMV reactivation will provide new insight into the mechanisms that govern viral and host gene expression and, potentially, illuminate new, host-directed, therapeutic opportunities to support our attempts to control this important medical pathogen of immune-compromised individuals.

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<![CDATA[Expanding our understanding of the role polyprotein conformation plays in the coronavirus life cycle]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_9177 Coronavirus are the causative agents in many globally concerning respiratory disease outbreaks such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). It is therefore important that we improve our understanding of how the molecular components of the virus facilitate the viral life cycle. These details will allow for the design of effective interventions. Krichel and coauthors in their article in the Biochemical Journal provide molecular details of how the viral polyprotein (nsp7–10) produced from the positive single stranded RNA genome, is cleaved to form proteins that are part of the replication/transcription complex. The authors highlight the impact the polyprotein conformation has on the cleavage efficiency of the main protease (Mpro) and hence the order of release of non-structural proteins 7–10 (nsp7–10) of the SARS-CoV. Cleavage order is important in controlling viral processes and seems to have relevance in terms of the protein–protein complexes formed. The authors made use of mass spectrometry to advance our understanding of the mechanism by which coronaviruses control nsp 7, 8, 9 and 10 production in the virus life cycle.

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<![CDATA[Adherence to antiretroviral therapy and associated factors among Human immunodeficiency virus positive patients accessing treatment at Nekemte referral hospital, west Ethiopia, 2019]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7637 Antiretroviral therapy has a remarkable clinical effect in reducing the progress of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The clinical outcome of Anti-Retroviral therapy depends on strict adherence. Poor adherence reduces the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy and increases viral replication. With changes in service delivery over time and differences in socio-demographic status from region to region, it is essential to measure adherence. Therefore, this study aimed to assess adherence to antiretroviral therapy and its associated factors among HIV/AIDS patients accessing treatment at Nekemte referral hospital, West Ethiopia.MethodsInstitutional based cross-sectional study was conducted on 311 HIV/AIDS patients from March 01 to March 30, 2019. The study participants were selected by a simple random sampling method and interviewed using structured questionnaires. Bivariable logistic regression was conducted to find an association between each independent variable and adherence to antiretroviral medication. Multivariable logistic regression was used to find the independent variables which best predict adherence. The statistical significance was measured using odds ratio at a 95% confidence interval with a p-value of less than 0.05.ResultsOut of a total of 311 patients sampled, 305 were participated in the study, making a response rate of 98.07%. From these 305 study participants,73.1% (95% CI = 68.2, 78.0) were adherent to their medication. Having knowledge about HIV and its treatment (AOR = 8.24, 95% CI: 3.10, 21.92), having strong family/social support (AOR = 6.21, 95% CI: 1.39, 27.62), absence of adverse drug reaction (AOR = 5.33, 95% CI: 1.95, 14.57), absence of comorbidity of other chronic diseases (AOR = 5.72, 95% CI: 1.91, 17.16) and disclosing HIV status to the family (AOR = 5.08, 95% CI: 2.09, 12.34) were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of adherence to antiretroviral medication.ConclusionThe level of adherence to antiretroviral therapy was found low compared to WHO recommendation. The clinician should emphasize reducing adverse drug reaction, detecting and treating co-morbidities early, improving knowledge through health education, and encouraging the patients to disclose their HIV status to their families. ]]> <![CDATA[Molecular Pathogenesis of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N14b910db-5baf-47b5-8096-66733d838d76

Purpose of Review

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in 2012 and is listed in the World Health Organization’s blueprint of priority diseases that need immediate research. Camels are reservoirs of this virus, and the virus spills over into humans through direct contact with camels. Human-to-human transmission and travel-associated cases have been identified as well. Limited studies have characterized the molecular pathogenesis of MERS-CoV. Most studies have used ectopic expression of viral proteins to characterize MERS-CoV and its ability to modulate antiviral responses in human cells. Studies with live virus are limited, largely due to the requirement of high containment laboratories. In this review, we have summarized current studies on MERS-CoV molecular pathogenesis and have mentioned some recent strategies that are being developed to control MERS-CoV infection.

Recent Findings

Multiple antiviral molecules with the potential to inhibit MERS-CoV infection by disrupting virus-receptor interactions are being developed and tested. Although human vaccine candidates are still being developed, a candidate camel vaccine is being tested for efficacy. Combination of supportive treatment with interferon and antivirals is also being explored.

Summary

New antiviral molecules that inhibit MERS-CoV and host cell receptor interaction may become available in the future. Additional studies are required to identify and characterize the pathogenesis of MERS-CoV EMC/2012 and other circulating strains. An effective MERS-CoV vaccine, for humans and/or camels, along with an efficient combination antiviral therapy may help us prevent future MERS cases.

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<![CDATA[The tetraspanin CD9 facilitates MERS-coronavirus entry by scaffolding host cell receptors and proteases]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/598bdfb5fa495b7488185485

Infection by enveloped coronaviruses (CoVs) initiates with viral spike (S) proteins binding to cellular receptors, and is followed by proteolytic cleavage of receptor-bound S proteins, which prompts S protein-mediated virus-cell membrane fusion. Infection therefore requires close proximity of receptors and proteases. We considered whether tetraspanins, scaffolding proteins known to facilitate CoV infections, hold receptors and proteases together on cell membranes. Using knockout cell lines, we found that the tetraspanin CD9, but not the tetraspanin CD81, formed cell-surface complexes of dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), the MERS-CoV receptor, and the type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP) member TMPRSS2, a CoV-activating protease. This CD9-facilitated condensation of receptors and proteases allowed MERS-CoV pseudoviruses to enter cells rapidly and efficiently. Without CD9, MERS-CoV viruses were not activated by TTSPs, and they trafficked into endosomes to be cleaved much later and less efficiently by cathepsins. Thus, we identified DPP4:CD9:TTSP as the protein complexes necessary for early, efficient MERS-CoV entry. To evaluate the importance of these complexes in an in vivo CoV infection model, we used recombinant Adenovirus 5 (rAd5) vectors to express human DPP4 in mouse lungs, thereby sensitizing the animals to MERS-CoV infection. When the rAd5-hDPP4 vectors co-expressed small RNAs silencing Cd9 or Tmprss2, the animals were significantly less susceptible, indicating that CD9 and TMPRSS2 facilitated robust in vivo MERS-CoV infection of mouse lungs. Furthermore, the S proteins of virulent mouse-adapted MERS-CoVs acquired a CD9-dependent cell entry character, suggesting that CD9 is a selective agent in the evolution of CoV virulence.

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<![CDATA[Identification of a novel archaea virus, detected in hydrocarbon polluted Hungarian and Canadian samples]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N5489318a-3499-4862-9afc-2378cea7eecb

Metagenomics is a helpful tool for the analysis of unculturable organisms and viruses. Viruses that target bacteria and archaea play important roles in the microbial diversity of various ecosystems. Here we show that Methanosarcina virus MV (MetMV), the second Methanosarcina sp. virus with a completely determined genome, is characteristic of hydrocarbon pollution in environmental (soil and water) samples. It was highly abundant in Hungarian hydrocarbon polluted samples and its genome was also present in the NCBI SRA database containing reads from hydrocarbon polluted samples collected in Canada, indicating the stability of its niche and the marker feature of this virus. MetMV, as the only currently identified marker virus for pollution in environmental samples, could contribute to the understanding of the complicated network of prokaryotes and their viruses driving the decomposition of environmental pollutants.

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<![CDATA[Baloxavir treatment of ferrets infected with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus reduces onward transmission]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nca8f7add-a1d9-4373-9c77-344aec55ea94

Influenza viruses cause seasonal outbreaks and pose a continuous pandemic threat. Although vaccines are available for influenza control, their efficacy varies each season and a vaccine for a novel pandemic virus manufactured using current technology will not be available fast enough to mitigate the effect of the first pandemic wave. Antivirals can be effective against many different influenza viruses but have not thus far been used extensively for outbreak control. Baloxavir, a recently licensed antiviral drug that targets the influenza virus endonuclease, has been shown to reduce virus shedding more effectively than oseltamivir, a widely used neuraminidase inhibitor drug. Thus it is possible that treatment with baloxavir might also interrupt onward virus transmission. To test this, we utilized the ferret model, which is the most commonly used animal model to study influenza virus transmission. We established a subcutaneous baloxavir administration method in ferrets which achieved similar pharmacokinetics to the approved human oral dose. Transmission studies were then conducted in two different locations with different experimental setups to compare the onward transmission of A(H1N1)pdm09 virus from infected ferrets treated with baloxavir, oseltamivir or placebo to naïve sentinel ferrets exposed either indirectly in adjacent cages or directly by co-housing. We found that baloxavir treatment reduced infectious viral shedding in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets compared to placebo, and reduced the frequency of transmission amongst sentinels in both experimental setups, even when treatment was delayed until 2 days post-infection. In contrast, oseltamivir treatment did not substantially affect viral shedding or transmission compared to placebo. We did not detect the emergence of baloxavir-resistant variants in treated animals or in untreated sentinels. Our results support the concept that antivirals which decrease viral shedding could also reduce influenza transmission in the community.

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<![CDATA[Feasibility of establishing an HIV vaccine preparedness cohort in a population of the Uganda Police Force: Lessons learnt from a prospective study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Ne890bb8a-5661-4c39-82f7-6f40a2e69675

Background

Members of uniformed armed forces are considered to be at high risk for HIV infection and have been proposed as suitable candidates for participation in HIV intervention studies. We report on the feasibility of recruitment and follow up of individuals from the community of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) for an HIV vaccine preparedness study.

Methods

HIV-negative volunteers aged 18–49 years, were identified from UPF facilities situated in Kampala and Wakiso districts through community HIV counselling and testing. Potential volunteers were referred to the study clinic for screening, enrolment and quarterly visits for one year. HIV incidence, retention rates were estimated and expressed as cases per 100 person years of observation (PYO). Rate ratios were used to determine factors associated with retention using Poisson regression models.

Results

We screened 560 to enroll 500 volunteers between November 2015 and May 2016. One HIV seroconversion occurred among 431 PYO, for an incidence rate of 0.23/100 PYO (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.03–1.64). Overall, retention rate was 87% at one year, and this was independently associated with residence duration (compared to <1 year, 1 to 5 years adjusted rate ratio (aRR) = 1.19, 95%CI: 1.00–1.44); and >5 years aRR = 1.34, 95%CI: 0.95–1.37); absence of genital discharge in the last 3 months (aRR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.38–2.83, absence of genital ulcers (aRR = 1.90, 95%CI: 1.26–2.87, reporting of new sexual partner in the last month (aRR = 0.57, 95%CI: 0.45–0.71, being away from home for more than two nights (aRR = 1.27, 95%CI: 1.04–1.56, compared to those who had not travelled) and absence of knowledge on HIV prevention (aRR = 2.67, 95%CI: 1.62–4.39).

Conclusions

While our study demonstrates the feasibility of recruiting and retaining individuals from the UPF for HIV research, we did observe lower than anticipated HIV incidence, perhaps because individuals at lower risk of HIV infection may have been the first to come forward to participate or participants followed HIV risk reduction measures. Our findings suggest lessons for recruitment of populations at high risk of HIV infection.

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<![CDATA[A bacteriophage mimic of the bacterial nucleoid-associated protein Fis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nbf1f42c6-6725-44f1-b51e-cbf4b7adea60

We report the identification and characterization of a bacteriophage λ-encoded protein, NinH. Sequence homology suggests similarity between NinH and Fis, a bacterial nucleoid-associated protein (NAP) involved in numerous DNA topology manipulations, including chromosome condensation, transcriptional regulation and phage site-specific recombination. We find that NinH functions as a homodimer and is able to bind and bend double-stranded DNA in vitro. Furthermore, NinH shows a preference for a 15 bp signature sequence related to the degenerate consensus favored by Fis. Structural studies reinforced the proposed similarity to Fis and supported the identification of residues involved in DNA binding which were demonstrated experimentally. Overexpression of NinH proved toxic and this correlated with its capacity to associate with DNA. NinH is the first example of a phage-encoded Fis-like NAP that likely influences phage excision-integration reactions or bacterial gene expression.

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<![CDATA[Mapping the coevolution, leadership and financing of research on viral vectors, RNAi, CRISPR/Cas9 and other genomic editing technologies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N5b989351-f842-4a35-9237-928ff4c9c806

Genomic editing technologies are developing rapidly, promising significant developments for biomedicine, agriculture and other fields. In the present investigation, we analyzed and compared the process of innovation for six genomic technologies: viral vectors, RNAi, TALENs, meganucleases, ZFNs and CRISPR/Cas including the profile of the main research institutions and their funders, to understand how innovation evolved and what institutions influenced research trajectories. A Web of Science search of papers on viral vectors RNAi, CRISPR/Cas, TALENs, ZFNs and meganucleases was used to build a citation network of 16,746 papers. An analysis of network clustering combined with text mining was performed. For viral vectors, a long-term process of incremental innovation was identified, which was largely publicly funded in the United States and the European Union. The trajectory of RNAi research included clusters related to the study of RNAi as a biological phenomenon and its use in functional genomics, biomedicine and pest control. A British philanthropic organization and a US pharmaceutical company played a key role in the development of basic RNAi research and clinical application respectively, in addition to government and academic institutions. In the case of CRISPR/Cas research, basic science discoveries led to the technical improvements, and these two in turn provided the information required for the development of biomedical, agricultural, livestock and industrial applications. The trajectory of CRISPR/Cas research exhibits a geopolitical division of the investigation efforts between the US, as the main producer and funder of basic research and technical improvements, and Chinese research institutions increasingly leading applied research. Our results reflect a change in the model for financing science, with reduced public financing for basic science and applied research on publicly funded technological developments in the US, and the emergence of China as a scientific superpower, with implications for the development of applications of genomic technologies.

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<![CDATA[Development of a diagnostic system for detection of specific antibodies and antigens against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nfd69fddc-cf19-4592-ada8-a9d1063a7e78

ABSTRACT

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) is a single‐stranded RNA virus that causes severe respiratory disease in humans with a high fatality rate. Binding of the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike (S) glycoprotein to dipeptidyl peptidase 4 is the critical step in MERS‐CoV infection of a host cell. No vaccines or clinically applicable treatments are currently available for MERS‐CoV. Therefore, rapid diagnosis is important for improving patient outcomes through prompt treatment and protection against viral outbreaks. In this study, the aim was to establish two ELISA systems for detecting antigens and antibodies against MERS‐CoV. Using a recombinant full‐length S protein, an indirect ELISA was developed and found to detect MERS‐CoV‐specific antibodies in animal sera and sera of patient with MERS. Moreover, MAbs were induced with the recombinant S protein and RBD and used for sandwich ELISA to detect the MERS‐CoV S protein. Neither ELISA system exhibited significant intra‐assay or inter‐assay variation, indicating good reproducibility. Moreover, the inter‐day precision and sensitivity were adequate for use as a diagnostic kit. Thus, these ELISAs can be used clinically to diagnose MERS‐CoV.

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<![CDATA[Neutralizing antibody against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-coronavirus spike is highly effective for the protection of mice in the murine SARS model]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N593cf99c-6159-436f-ad34-41c66d83ccc6

ABSTRACT

We evaluated the efficacy of three SARS vaccine candidates in a murine SARS model utilizing low‐virulence Pp and SARS‐CoV coinfection. Vaccinated mice were protected from severe respiratory disease in parallel with a low virus titer in the lungs and a high neutralizing antibody titer in the plasma. Importantly, the administration of spike protein‐specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody protected mice from the disease, indicating that the neutralization is sufficient for protection. Moreover, a high level of IL‐6 and MCP‐1 production, but not other 18 cytokines tested, on days 2 and 3 after SARS‐CoV infection was closely linked to the virus replication and disease severity, suggesting the importance of these cytokines in the lung pathogenicity of SARS‐CoV infection.

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<![CDATA[Analysis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus structural proteins in virus-like particle assembly]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N9298c1b5-0af7-465e-ab41-f836146a234e

ABSTRACT

SARS‐CoV has four major structural proteins: the N, S, M, and E proteins. To investigate the mechanism of SARS‐CoV assembly, we cloned the genes encoding these four proteins into the eukaryotic expression vector pCAGGS and transfected them into 293T cells. When all four expression vectors were co‐transfected VLP formed, as confirmed using electron microscopy. Using a rabbit polyclonal antibody specific to the N protein, N‐protein‐containing particles similar in size to the VLP were also observed by immunoelectron microscopy, indicating that the VLP contained the N protein. Co‐immunoprecipitation analyses demonstrated an interaction between the N and M proteins, suggesting that N protein binds directly to M protein to be incorporated into VLP.

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<![CDATA[Generating Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Pseudotype Bearing the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Spike Envelope Glycoprotein for Rapid and Safe Neutralization Test or Cell-Entry Assay]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7ad6498c-cfd9-496d-b21e-30e11fcbdc29

abstract:  We generated a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) pseudotype (VSV Δ G*SG) by replacing the envelope G gene with the GFP gene and complementing with spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS‐CoV in trans. The neutralization and infection blocking tests showed that the VSV Δ G*SG and SARS‐CoV reacted similarly to SARS‐CoV specific antiserum, suggesting the VSVΔ G*SG can be a safe replacement of the live SARS‐CoV for neutralization test and cell‐entry assay.

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<![CDATA[Crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 main protease provides a basis for design of improved α-ketoamide inhibitors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N032ee742-1888-4305-8546-297e21efabc9

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is a global health emergency. An attractive drug target among coronaviruses is the main protease (Mpro, 3CLpro), due to its essential role in processing the polyproteins that are translated from the viral RNA. We report the X-ray structures of the unliganded SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and its complex with an α-ketoamide inhibitor. This was derived from a previously designed inhibitor but with the P3-P2 amide bond incorporated into a pyridone ring to enhance the half-life of the compound in plasma. Based on the structure, we developed the lead compound into a potent inhibitor of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro. The pharmacokinetic characterization of the optimized inhibitor reveals a pronounced lung tropism and suitability for administration by the inhalative route.

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<![CDATA[Screening for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in hospital patients and their healthcare worker and family contacts: a prospective descriptive study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N0e94815f-7f73-4346-bdc7-1dcb5a39135f

Abstract

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health implemented a pro‐active surveillance programme for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (MERSCoV). We report MERSCoV data from 5065 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia individuals who were screened for MERSCoV over a 12‐month period. From 1 October 2012 to 30 September 2013, demographic and clinical data were prospectively collected from all laboratory forms received at the Saudi Arabian Virology reference laboratory. Data were analysed by referral type, age, gender, and MERSCoV real‐time PCR test results. Five thousand and 65 individuals were screened for MERCoV: hospitalized patients with suspected MERSCoV infection (n = 2908, 57.4%), healthcare worker (HCW) contacts (n = 1695; 33.5%), and family contacts of laboratory‐confirmed MERS cases (= 462; 9.1%). Eleven per cent of persons tested were children (<17 years of age). There were 108 cases (99 adults and nine children) of MERSCoV infection detected during the 12‐month period (108/5065, 2% case detection rate). Of 108 cases, 45 were females (six children and 39 adults) and 63 were males (three children and 60 adults). Of the 99 adults with MERSCoV infection, 70 were hospitalized patients, 19 were HCW contacts, and ten were family contacts. There were no significant increases in MERSCoV detection rates over the 12‐month period: 2.6% (19/731) in July 2013, 1.7% (19/1100) in August 2013, and 1.69% (21/1238) in September 2013. Male patients had a significantly higher MERSCoV infection rate (63/2318, 2.7%) than females (45/2747, 1.6%) (p 0.013). MERSCoV rates remain at low levels, with no significant increase over time. Pro‐active surveillance for MERSCoV in newly diagnosed patients and their contacts will continue.

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