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Characterization of Uncultivable Bat Influenza Virus Using a Replicative Synthetic Virus

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      Abstract

      Bats harbor many viruses, which are periodically transmitted to humans resulting in outbreaks of disease (e.g., Ebola, SARS-CoV). Recently, influenza virus-like sequences were identified in bats; however, the viruses could not be cultured. This discovery aroused great interest in understanding the evolutionary history and pandemic potential of bat-influenza. Using synthetic genomics, we were unable to rescue the wild type bat virus, but could rescue a modified bat-influenza virus that had the HA and NA coding regions replaced with those of A/PR/8/1934 (H1N1). This modified bat-influenza virus replicated efficiently in vitro and in mice, resulting in severe disease. Additional studies using a bat-influenza virus that had the HA and NA of A/swine/Texas/4199-2/1998 (H3N2) showed that the PR8 HA and NA contributed to the pathogenicity in mice. Unlike other influenza viruses, engineering truncations hypothesized to reduce interferon antagonism into the NS1 protein didn't attenuate bat-influenza. In contrast, substitution of a putative virulence mutation from the bat-influenza PB2 significantly attenuated the virus in mice and introduction of a putative virulence mutation increased its pathogenicity. Mini-genome replication studies and virus reassortment experiments demonstrated that bat-influenza has very limited genetic and protein compatibility with Type A or Type B influenza viruses, yet it readily reassorts with another divergent bat-influenza virus, suggesting that the bat-influenza lineage may represent a new Genus/Species within the Orthomyxoviridae family. Collectively, our data indicate that the bat-influenza viruses recently identified are authentic viruses that pose little, if any, pandemic threat to humans; however, they provide new insights into the evolution and basic biology of influenza viruses.

      Author Summary

      The identification of influenza virus-like sequences in two different bat species has generated great interest in understanding their biology, ability to mix with other influenza viruses, and their public health threat. Unfortunately, bat-influenza viruses couldn't be cultured from the samples containing the influenza-like nucleic acids. We used synthetic genomics strategies to create wild type bat-influenza, or bat-influenza modified by substituting the surface glycoproteins with those of model influenza A viruses. Although influenza virus-like particles were produced from both synthetic genomes, only the modified bat-influenza viruses could be cultured. The modified bat-influenza viruses replicated efficiently in vitro and an H1N1 modified version caused severe disease in mice. Collectively our data show: (1) the two bat-flu genomes identified in other studies are replication competent, suggesting that host cell specificity is the major limitation for propagation of bat-influenza, (2) bat-influenza NS1 antagonizes host interferon response more efficiently than that of a model influenza A virus, (3) bat-influenza has both genetic and protein incompatibility with influenza A or B viruses, and (4) that these bat-influenza lineages pose little pandemic threat.

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      Most cited references 37

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      Bats: important reservoir hosts of emerging viruses.

      Bats (order Chiroptera, suborders Megachiroptera ["flying foxes"] and Microchiroptera) are abundant, diverse, and geographically widespread. These mammals provide us with resources, but their importance is minimized and many of their populations and species are at risk, even threatened or endangered. Some of their characteristics (food choices, colonial or solitary nature, population structure, ability to fly, seasonal migration and daily movement patterns, torpor and hibernation, life span, roosting behaviors, ability to echolocate, virus susceptibility) make them exquisitely suitable hosts of viruses and other disease agents. Bats of certain species are well recognized as being capable of transmitting rabies virus, but recent observations of outbreaks and epidemics of newly recognized human and livestock diseases caused by viruses transmitted by various megachiropteran and microchiropteran bats have drawn attention anew to these remarkable mammals. This paper summarizes information regarding chiropteran characteristics and information regarding 66 viruses that have been isolated from bats. From these summaries, it is clear that we do not know enough about bat biology; we are doing too little in terms of bat conservation; and there remain a multitude of questions regarding the role of bats in disease emergence.
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        Molecular basis for high virulence of Hong Kong H5N1 influenza A viruses.

        In 1997, an H5N1 influenza A virus was transmitted from birds to humans in Hong Kong, killing 6 of the 18 people infected. When mice were infected with the human isolates, two virulence groups became apparent. Using reverse genetics, we showed that a mutation at position 627 in the PB2 protein influenced the outcome of infection in mice. Moreover, high cleavability of the hemagglutinin glycoprotein was an essential requirement for lethal infection.
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          The multifunctional NS1 protein of influenza A viruses.

          The non-structural (NS1) protein of influenza A viruses is a non-essential virulence factor that has multiple accessory functions during viral infection. In recent years, the major role ascribed to NS1 has been its inhibition of host immune responses, especially the limitation of both interferon (IFN) production and the antiviral effects of IFN-induced proteins, such as dsRNA-dependent protein kinase R (PKR) and 2'5'-oligoadenylate synthetase (OAS)/RNase L. However, it is clear that NS1 also acts directly to modulate other important aspects of the virus replication cycle, including viral RNA replication, viral protein synthesis, and general host-cell physiology. Here, we review the current literature on this remarkably multifunctional viral protein. In the first part of this article, we summarize the basic biochemistry of NS1, in particular its synthesis, structure, and intracellular localization. We then discuss the various roles NS1 has in regulating viral replication mechanisms, host innate/adaptive immune responses, and cellular signalling pathways. We focus on the NS1-RNA and NS1-protein interactions that are fundamental to these processes, and highlight apparent strain-specific ways in which different NS1 proteins may act. In this regard, the contributions of certain NS1 functions to the pathogenicity of human and animal influenza A viruses are also discussed. Finally, we outline practical applications that future studies on NS1 may lead to, including the rational design and manufacture of influenza vaccines, the development of novel antiviral drugs, and the use of oncolytic influenza A viruses as potential anti-cancer agents.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Virology, J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, Maryland, United States of America
            [2 ]Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, United States of America
            University of Berne, Switzerland
            Author notes

            The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

            Conceived and designed the experiments: BZ JM QL DEW WM. Performed the experiments: BZ JM QL BB WW MD JL YL NC AN XL DEW WM. Analyzed the data: BZ JM QL WW BB RSS TBS DEW WM. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: BZ JM QL WW BB RSS DEW WM. Contributed to the writing of the manuscript: BZ JM QL JAR DEW WM.

            [¤a]

            Current address: Department of Biology, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America

            [¤b]

            Current address: Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

            Contributors
            Role: Editor
            Journal
            PLoS Pathog
            PLoS Pathog
            plos
            plospath
            PLoS Pathogens
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1553-7366
            1553-7374
            October 2014
            2 October 2014
            : 10
            : 10
            25275541
            4183581
            PPATHOGENS-D-14-00861
            10.1371/journal.ppat.1004420
            (Editor)

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            Counts
            Pages: 18
            Funding
            These studies were supported by; Kansas State University (Start-up SRO001), European Commission FP7-GA258084, Department of Homeland Security Contract HSHQDC-13-C-B0016, and the J. Craig Venter Institute (DEW, Start-up 0394). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
            Categories
            Research Article
            Biology and Life Sciences
            Evolutionary Biology
            Genetics
            Microbiology
            Molecular Biology
            Synthetic Biology
            Medicine and Health Sciences
            Infectious Diseases
            Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
            Custom metadata
            The authors confirm that all data underlying the findings are fully available without restriction. All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

            Infectious disease & Microbiology

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