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      Natural and Experimental Infection of Caenorhabditis Nematodes by Novel Viruses Related to Nodaviruses

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          Abstract

          Novel viruses have been discovered in wild Caenorahbditis nematode isolates and can now be used to explore host antiviral pathways, nematode ecology, and host-pathogen co-evolution.

          Abstract

          An ideal model system to study antiviral immunity and host-pathogen co-evolution would combine a genetically tractable small animal with a virus capable of naturally infecting the host organism. The use of C. elegans as a model to define host-viral interactions has been limited by the lack of viruses known to infect nematodes. From wild isolates of C. elegans and C. briggsae with unusual morphological phenotypes in intestinal cells, we identified two novel RNA viruses distantly related to known nodaviruses, one infecting specifically C. elegans (Orsay virus), the other C. briggsae (Santeuil virus). Bleaching of embryos cured infected cultures demonstrating that the viruses are neither stably integrated in the host genome nor transmitted vertically. 0.2 µm filtrates of the infected cultures could infect cured animals. Infected animals continuously maintained viral infection for 6 mo (∼50 generations), demonstrating that natural cycles of horizontal virus transmission were faithfully recapitulated in laboratory culture. In addition to infecting the natural C. elegans isolate, Orsay virus readily infected laboratory C. elegans mutants defective in RNAi and yielded higher levels of viral RNA and infection symptoms as compared to infection of the corresponding wild-type N2 strain. These results demonstrated a clear role for RNAi in the defense against this virus. Furthermore, different wild C. elegans isolates displayed differential susceptibility to infection by Orsay virus, thereby affording genetic approaches to defining antiviral loci. This discovery establishes a bona fide viral infection system to explore the natural ecology of nematodes, host-pathogen co-evolution, the evolution of small RNA responses, and innate antiviral mechanisms.

          Author Summary

          The nematode C. elegans is a robust model organism that is broadly used in biology. It also has great potential for the study of host-microbe interactions, as it is possible to systematically knockout almost every gene in high-throughput fashion to examine the potential role of each gene in infection. While C. elegans has been successfully applied to the study of bacterial infections, only limited studies of antiviral responses have been possible since no virus capable of infecting any Caenorhabditis nematode in laboratory culture has previously been described. Here we report the discovery of natural viruses infecting wild isolates of C. elegans and its relative C. briggsae. These novel viruses are most closely related to the ssRNA nodaviruses, but have larger genomes than other described nodaviruses and clearly represent a new taxon of virus. We were able to use these viruses to infect a variety of laboratory nematode strains. We show that mutant worms defective in the RNA interference pathway, an antiviral system known to operate in a number of organisms, accumulate more viral RNA than wild type strains. The discovery of these viruses will enable further studies of host-virus interactions in C. elegans and the identification of other host mechanisms that counter viral infection.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Tetherin inhibits retrovirus release and is antagonized by HIV-1 Vpu.

          Human cells possess an antiviral activity that inhibits the release of retrovirus particles, and other enveloped virus particles, and is antagonized by the HIV-1 accessory protein, Vpu. This antiviral activity can be constitutively expressed or induced by interferon-alpha, and it consists of protein-based tethers, which we term 'tetherins', that cause retention of fully formed virions on infected cell surfaces. Using deductive constraints and gene expression analyses, we identify CD317 (also called BST2 or HM1.24), a membrane protein of previously unknown function, as a tetherin. Specifically, CD317 expression correlated with, and induced, a requirement for Vpu during HIV-1 and murine leukaemia virus particle release. Furthermore, in cells where HIV-1 virion release requires Vpu expression, depletion of CD317 abolished this requirement. CD317 caused retention of virions on cell surfaces and, after endocytosis, in CD317-positive compartments. Vpu co-localized with CD317 and inhibited these effects. Inhibition of Vpu function and consequent mobilization of tetherin's antiviral activity is a potential therapeutic strategy in HIV/AIDS.
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            The Human Genome Browser at UCSC

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              Induction and suppression of RNA silencing by an animal virus.

              RNA silencing is a sequence-specific RNA degradation mechanism that is operational in plants and animals. Here, we show that flock house virus (FHV) is both an initiator and a target of RNA silencing in Drosophila host cells and that FHV infection requires suppression of RNA silencing by an FHV-encoded protein, B2. These findings establish RNA silencing as an adaptive antiviral defense in animal cells. B2 also inhibits RNA silencing in transgenic plants, providing evidence for a conserved RNA silencing pathway in the plant and animal kingdoms.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                PLoS Biol
                plos
                plosbiol
                PLoS Biology
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1544-9173
                1545-7885
                January 2011
                January 2011
                25 January 2011
                : 9
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institut Jacques Monod, CNRS-University of Paris-Diderot, Paris, France
                [2 ]Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
                [3 ]Departments of Molecular Microbiology and Pathology & Immunology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America
                Oxford University, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                The author(s) have made the following declarations about their contributions: Conceived and designed the experiments: MAF EAM DW. Performed the experiments: MAF AA JP GW IN TB YJ CJF MS. Analyzed the data: MAF AA JP GW IN TB GZ CJF LDG MS EAM DW. Wrote the paper: MAF AA EAM DW.

                Article
                10-PLBI-RA-8820R2
                10.1371/journal.pbio.1000586
                3026760
                21283608
                Félix et al. 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.
                Page count
                Pages: 14
                Categories
                Research Article
                Ecology/Environmental Microbiology
                Immunology/Innate Immunity
                Virology
                Virology/Animal Models of Infection

                Life sciences

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