Viruses2015, 7(4), 2168-2184; doi:10.3390/v7042168 - published 22 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by a virus member of the genus Orthopoxvirus and is endemic to Central and Western African countries. Previous work has identified two geographically disjuct clades of monkeypox virus based on the analysis of a few genomes coupled with epidemiological and clinical analyses; however, environmental and geographic causes of this differentiation have not been explored. Here, we expand previous phylogenetic studies by analyzing a larger set of monkeypox virus genomes originating throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to identify possible biogeographic barriers associated with genetic differentiation; and projected ecological niche models onto environmental conditions at three periods in the past to explore the potential role of climate oscillations in the evolution of the two primary clades. Analyses supported the separation of the Congo Basin and West Africa clades; the Congo Basin clade shows much shorter branches, which likely indicate a more recent diversification of isolates within this clade. The area between the Sanaga and Cross Rivers divides the two clades and the Dahomey Gap seems to have also served as a barrier within the West African clade. Contraction of areas with suitable environments for monkeypox virus during the Last Glacial Maximum, suggests that the Congo Basin clade of monkeypox virus experienced a severe bottleneck and has since expanded its geographic range.
Viruses2015, 7(4), 2147-2167; doi:10.3390/v7042147 - published 22 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Alphaviruses such as chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Semliki Forest virus (SFV) are small enveloped RNA viruses that bud from the plasma membrane. Tetherin/BST2 is an interferon-induced host membrane protein that inhibits the release of many enveloped viruses via direct tethering of budded particles to the cell surface. Alphaviruses have highly organized structures and exclude host membrane proteins from the site of budding, suggesting that their release might be insensitive to tetherin inhibition. Here, we demonstrated that exogenously-expressed tetherin efficiently inhibited the release of SFV and CHIKV particles from host cells without affecting virus entry and infection. Alphavirus release was also inhibited by the endogenous levels of tetherin in HeLa cells. While rubella virus (RuV) and dengue virus (DENV) have structural similarities to alphaviruses, tetherin inhibited the release of RuV but not DENV. We found that two recently identified tetherin isoforms differing in length at the N-terminus exhibited distinct capabilities in restricting alphavirus release. SFV exit was efficiently inhibited by the long isoform but not the short isoform of tetherin, while both isoforms inhibited vesicular stomatitis virus exit. Thus, in spite of the organized structure of the virus particle, tetherin specifically blocks alphavirus release and shows an interesting isoform requirement.
Viruses2015, 7(4), 2126-2146; doi:10.3390/v7042126 - published 22 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: To investigate gene loss in poxviruses belonging to the Chordopoxvirinae subfamily, we assessed the gene content of representative members of the subfamily, and determined whether individual genes present in each genome were intact, truncated, or fragmented. When nonintact genes were identified, the early stop mutations (ESMs) leading to gene truncation or fragmentation were analyzed. Of all the ESMs present in these poxvirus genomes, over 65% co-localized with microsatellites—simple sequence nucleotide repeats. On average, microsatellites comprise 24% of the nucleotide sequence of these poxvirus genomes. These simple repeats have been shown to exhibit high rates of variation, and represent a target for poxvirus protein variation, gene truncation, and reductive evolution.