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In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (10)

Articles by Alexey Seregin in JoVE

 JoVE Immunology and Infection

In Vivo Imaging Systems (IVIS) Detection of a Neuro-Invasive Encephalitic Virus

1Experimental Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch


JoVE 4429

Utilizing luciferase and in vivo imaging systems (IVIS) as a novel means to identify disease endpoints before clinical developments occur. IVIS has allowed us to visualize in real time the invasion of encephalitic viruses over multiple days, providing a more accurate disease model for future study. It has also allowed us to identify the potential protective features of antivirals and vaccines faster than currently utilized animal models. The capability to utilize individual animals over multiple time points ensures reduced animal requirements, costs, and overall morbidity to the animals utilized ensuring a more humane and more scientific means of disease study.

Other articles by Alexey Seregin on PubMed

An Attenuated West Nile Prototype Virus is Highly Immunogenic and Protects Against the Deadly NY99 Strain: a Candidate for Live WN Vaccine Development

In a short time, West Nile virus has developed into a nationwide health and veterinary problem. The high virulence of the circulating virus and related lineage 1 WN strains hinders development of an attenuated live vaccine. We describe an attenuated WN isolate, WN1415, which is a molecularly cloned descendant of the WN prototype B956 strain. The parent virus belongs to lineage 2, members of which have not been associated with epidemic or epizootic outbreaks. A set of non-conservative mutations, mostly in non-structural protein genes, distinguishes the WN1415 isolate from the parent B956 prototype strain. Immunization with WN1415 (55-550,000 pfu) established a potent immunity, which protected the majority of mice against lethal challenge with WN NY99. The attenuated nature of the isolate and its excellent growth characteristics combined with the availability of a highly stable infectious clone make the isolate an attractive candidate for live WN vaccine development.

The Suitability of Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis Vaccines for Immunization Against West Nile Virus

Seven volunteers involved in flavivirus studies have been immunized with commercial Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever vaccines JE-VAX and YF-VAX. Strong homologous and cross-reactive with West Nile virus (WNV) antibody responses with titers 1:1600 to 1:51200 were found in all donors. All donors developed high levels of yellow fever virus (YFV) and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) neutralizing antibodies with titers 1:50 to 1:1600 and 1:20 to 1:640, respectively, and WNV neutralizing antibodies with titers 1:10 to 1:80. In contrast, predominantly YF-specific cell-mediated immunity was detected in all immunized donors. Responses to YFV were long lasting, but the anti-JEV humoral immunity was found to decrease with time. Cross-reactive anti-WNV responses were following the same trend dropping below detectable level at 4 years post-immunization and sharply coming back after booster immunization with the JE vaccine. Thus, immunization with the commercial flavivirus JE vaccine may be beneficial for individuals at high risk of exposure to WNV, such as personnel involved in WN research.

Biological Properties of Chimeric West Nile Viruses

Recently, we have described a lineage 2 attenuated WN virus suitable for the development of a live WN vaccine. To design vaccine candidates with an improved immunogenicity, we assembled an infectious clone of the NY99 strain and created several chimeric constructs with reciprocal exchanges of structural protein genes between attenuated W956 and virulent NY99 and investigated their biological properties. Our data indicated that, while the growth rates of NY99 and chimeric viruses in tissue culture are determined primarily by properties of the structural proteins, determinants responsible for a highly cytopathic phenotype of NY99 or lack thereof for W956 are located within the nonstructural protein region of the WN genome. The high virulence of NY99 and the attenuated phenotype of W956 were found to be associated with determinants in the nonstructural region. Chimeric viruses carrying the NY99 structural proteins were attenuated in neuroinvasiveness and demonstrated an immunogenicity superior to W956.

Immunogenicity of West Nile Virus Infectious DNA and Its Noninfectious Derivatives

The exceptionally high virulence of the West Nile NY99 strain makes its suitability in the development of a live WN vaccine uncertain. The aim of this study is to investigate the immunogenicity of noninfectious virus derivatives carrying pseudolethal mutations, which preclude virion formation without affecting preceding steps of the viral infectious cycle. When administered using DNA immunization, such constructs initiate an infectious cycle but cannot lead to a viremia. While the magnitude of the immune response to a noninfectious replication-competent construct was lower than that of virus or infectious DNA, its overall quality and the protective effect were similar. In contrast, a nonreplicating construct of similar length induced only a marginally detectable immune response in the dose range used. Thus, replication-competent noninfectious constructs derived from infectious DNA may offer an advantageous combination of the safety of noninfectious formulations with the quality of the immune response characteristic of infectious vaccines.

Inhibition of Alphavirus Infection in Cell Culture and in Mice with Antisense Morpholino Oligomers

The genus Alphavirus contains members that threaten human health, both as natural pathogens and as potential biological weapons. Peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PPMO) enter cells readily and can inhibit viral replication through sequence-specific steric blockade of viral RNA. Sindbis virus (SINV) has low pathogenicity in humans and is regularly utilized as a model alphavirus. PPMO targeting the 5'-terminal and AUG translation start site regions of the SINV genome blocked the production of infectious SINV in tissue culture. PPMO designed against corresponding regions in Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) were likewise found to be effective in vitro against several strains of VEEV. Mice treated with PPMO before and after VEEV infection were completely protected from lethal outcome while mice receiving only post-infection PPMO treatment were partially protected. Levels of virus in tissue samples correlated with animal survival. Uninfected mice suffered no apparent ill-effects from PPMO treatment. Thus, PPMO appear promising as candidates for therapeutic development against alphaviruses.

TC83 Replicon Vectored Vaccine Provides Protection Against Junin Virus in Guinea Pigs

Junin virus (JUNV) is the etiological agent of the potentially lethal, reemerging human disease, Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF). The mechanism of the disease development is not well understood and no antiviral therapy is available. Candid 1, a live-attenuated vaccine, has been developed by the US Army and is being used in the endemic area to prevent AHF. This vaccine is only approved for use in Argentina. In this study we have used the alphavirus-based approach to engineer a replicon system based on a human (United States Food and Drug Administration Investigational New Drug status) vaccine TC83 that express heterologous viral antigens, such as glycoproteins (GPC) of Junin virus (JUNV). Preclinical studies testing the immunogenicity and efficacy of TC83/GPC were performed in guinea pigs. A single dose of the live-attenuated alphavirus based vaccine expressing only GPC was immunogenic and provided partial protection, while a double dose of the same vaccine provided a complete protection against JUNV. This is the first scientific report to our knowledge that the immune response against GPC alone is sufficient to prevent lethal disease against JUNV in an animal model.

Rescue from Cloned CDNAs and in Vivo Characterization of Recombinant Pathogenic Romero and Live-attenuated Candid #1 Strains of Junin Virus, the Causative Agent of Argentine Hemorrhagic Fever Disease

The New World arenavirus Junin virus (JUNV) is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever (AHF), which is associated with high morbidity and significant mortality. Several pathogenic strains of JUNV have been documented, and a highly attenuated vaccine strain (Candid #1) was generated and used to vaccinate the human population at risk. The identification and functional characterization of viral genetic determinants associated with AHF and Candid #1 attenuation would contribute to the elucidation of the mechanisms contributing to AHF and the development of better vaccines and therapeutics. To this end, we used reverse genetics to rescue the pathogenic Romero and the attenuated Candid #1 strains of JUNV from cloned cDNAs. Both recombinant Candid #1 (rCandid #1) and Romero (rRomero) had the same growth properties and phenotypic features in cultured cells and in vivo as their corresponding parental viruses. Infection with rRomero caused 100% lethality in guinea pigs, whereas rCandid #1 infection was asymptomatic and provided protection against a lethal challenge with Romero. Notably, Romero and Candid #1 trans-acting proteins, L and NP, required for virus RNA replication and gene expression were exchangeable in a minigenome rescue assay. These findings support the feasibility of studies aimed at determining the contribution of each viral gene to JUNV pathogenesis and attenuation. In addition, we rescued Candid #1 viruses with three segments that efficiently expressed foreign genes introduced into their genomes. This finding opens the way for the development of a safe multivalent arenavirus vaccine.

Rapid, Non-invasive Imaging of Alphaviral Brain Infection: Reducing Animal Numbers and Morbidity to Identify Efficacy of Potential Vaccines and Antivirals

Rapid and accurate identification of disease progression are key factors in testing novel vaccines and antivirals against encephalitic alphaviruses. Typical efficacy studies utilize a large number of animals and severe morbidity or mortality as an endpoint. New technologies provide a means to reduce and refine the animal use as proposed in Hume's 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) described by Russel and Burch. In vivo imaging systems (IVIS) and bioluminescent enzyme technologies accomplish the reduction of animal requirements while shortening the experimental time and improving the accuracy in localizing active virus replication. In the case of murine models of viral encephalitis in which central nervous system (CNS) viral invasion occurs rapidly but the disease development is relatively slow, we visualized the initial brain infection and enhance the data collection process required for efficacy studies on antivirals or vaccines that are aimed at preventing brain infection. Accordingly, we infected mice through intranasal inoculation with the genetically modified pathogen, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, which expresses a luciferase gene. In this study, we were able to identify the invasion of the CNS at least 3 days before any clinical signs of disease, allowing for reduction of animal morbidity providing a humane means of disease and vaccine research while obtaining scientific data accurately and more rapidly. Based on our data from the imaging model, we confirmed the usefulness of this technology in preclinical research by demonstrating the efficacy of Ampligen, a TLR-3 agonist, in preventing CNS invasion.

Functional Interferon System is Required for Clearance of Lassa Virus

Lassa virus (LASV) is the causative agent of Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LF) in humans, a deadly disease endemic to West Africa that results in 5,000 to 10,000 deaths annually. Here we present results demonstrating that functional type I and type II interferon (IFN) signaling is required for efficient control of LASV dissemination and clearance.

Junín Virus Infection Activates the Type I Interferon Pathway in a RIG-I-dependent Manner

Junín virus (JUNV), an arenavirus, is the causative agent of Argentine hemorrhagic fever, an infectious human disease with 15-30% case fatality. The pathogenesis of AHF is still not well understood. Elevated levels of interferon and cytokines are reported in AHF patients, which might be correlated to the severity of the disease. However the innate immune response to JUNV infection has not been well evaluated. Previous studies have suggested that the virulent strain of JUNV does not induce IFN in human macrophages and monocytes, whereas the attenuated strain of JUNV was found to induce IFN response in murine macrophages via the TLR-2 signaling pathway. In this study, we investigated the interaction between JUNV and IFN pathway in human epithelial cells highly permissive to JUNV infection. We have determined the expression pattern of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) and IFN-β at both mRNA and protein levels during JUNV infection. Our results clearly indicate that JUNV infection activates the type I IFN response. STAT1 phosphorylation, a downstream marker of activation of IFN signaling pathway, was readily detected in JUNV infected IFN-competent cells. Our studies also demonstrated for the first time that RIG-I was required for IFN production during JUNV infection. IFN activation was detected during infection by either the virulent or attenuated vaccine strain of JUNV. Curiously, both virus strains were relatively insensitive to human IFN treatment. Our studies collectively indicated that JUNV infection could induce host type I IFN response and provided new insights into the interaction between JUNV and host innate immune system, which might be important in future studies on vaccine development and antiviral treatment.

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