Viruses2016, 8(5), 127; doi:10.3390/v8050127 (registering DOI) - published 6 May 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Commonly used tests based on wild-type viruses, such as immunostaining, cannot meet the demands for rapid detection of viral replication, high-throughput screening for antivirals, as well as for tracking viral proteins or virus transport in real time. Notably, the development of replicating-competent reporter-expressing viruses (RCREVs) has provided an excellent option to detect directly viral replication without the use of secondary labeling, which represents a significant advance in virology. This article reviews the applications of RCREVs in diagnostic and molecular virology, including rapid neutralization tests, high-throughput screening systems, identification of viral receptors and virus-host interactions, dynamics of viral infections in vitro and in vivo, vaccination approaches and others. However, there remain various challenges associated with RCREVs, including pathogenicity alterations due to the insertion of a reporter gene, instability or loss of the reporter gene expression, or attenuation of reporter signals in vivo. Despite all these limitations, RCREVs have become powerful tools for both basic and applied virology with the development of new technologies for generating RCREVs, the inventions of novel reporters and the better understanding of regulation of viral replication.
Viruses2016, 8(5), 122; doi:10.3390/v8050122 (registering DOI) - published 5 May 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Dengue, the most prevalent arthropod-borne viral disease, is caused by the dengue virus (DENV), a member of the Flaviviridae family, and is a considerable public health threat in over 100 countries, with 2.5 billion people living in high-risk areas. However, no specific antiviral drug or licensed vaccine currently targets DENV infection. The replicon system has all the factors needed for viral replication in cells. Since the development of replicon systems, transient and stable reporter replicons, as well as reporter viruses, have been used in the study of various virological aspects of DENV and in the identification of DENV inhibitors. In this review, we summarize the DENV reporter replicon system and its applications in high-throughput screening (HTS) for identification of anti-DENV inhibitors. We also describe the use of this system in elucidation of the mechanisms of virus replication and viral dynamics in vivo and in vitro.
Viruses2016, 8(5), 116; doi:10.3390/v8050116 (registering DOI) - published 4 May 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The current dramatic increase of antibiotic resistant bacteria has revitalised the interest in bacteriophages as alternative antibacterial treatment. Meanwhile, the development of bioinformatics methods for analysing genomic data places high-throughput approaches for phage characterization within reach. Here, we present HostPhinder, a tool aimed at predicting the bacterial host of phages by examining the phage genome sequence. Using a reference database of 2196 phages with known hosts, HostPhinder predicts the host species of a query phage as the host of the most genomically similar reference phages. As a measure of genomic similarity the number of co-occurring k-mers (DNA sequences of length k) is used. Using an independent evaluation set, HostPhinder was able to correctly predict host genus and species for 81% and 74% of the phages respectively, giving predictions for more phages than BLAST and significantly outperforming BLAST on phages for which both had predictions. HostPhinder predictions on phage draft genomes from the INTESTI phage cocktail corresponded well with the advertised targets of the cocktail. Our study indicates that for most phages genomic similarity correlates well with related bacterial hosts. HostPhinder is available as an interactive web service  and as a stand alone download from the Docker registry .
Viruses2016, 8(5), 123; doi:10.3390/v8050123 (registering DOI) - published 4 May 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Single-cell sequencing technologies, i.e., single cell analysis followed by deep sequencing investigate cellular heterogeneity in many biological settings. It was only in the past year that single-cell sequencing analyses has been applied in the field of virology, providing new ways to explore viral diversity and cell response to viral infection, which are summarized in the present review.
Viruses2016, 8(5), 108; doi:10.3390/v8050108 - published 2 May 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Hantaviruses are important emerging pathogens belonging to the Bunyaviridae family. Like other segmented negative strand RNA viruses, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) also known as L protein of hantaviruses lacks an intrinsic “capping activity”. Hantaviruses therefore employ a “cap snatching” strategy acquiring short 5′ RNA sequences bearing 5′cap structures by endonucleolytic cleavage from host cell transcripts. The viral endonuclease activity implicated in cap snatching of hantaviruses has been mapped to the N-terminal domain of the L protein. Using a combination of molecular modeling and structure–function analysis we confirm and extend these findings providing evidence for high conservation of the L endonuclease between Old and New World hantaviruses. Recombinant hantavirus L endonuclease showed catalytic activity and a defined cation preference shared by other viral endonucleases. Based on the previously reported remarkably high activity of hantavirus L endonuclease, we established a cell-based assay for the hantavirus endonuclase function. The robustness of the assay and its high-throughput compatible format makes it suitable for small molecule drug screens to identify novel inhibitors of hantavirus endonuclease. Based on the high degree of similarity to RdRp endonucleases, some candidate inhibitors may be broadly active against hantaviruses and other emerging human pathogenic Bunyaviruses.
Viruses2016, 8(5), 121; doi:10.3390/v8050121 - published 2 May 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: While human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and 2 (HIV-1 and HIV-2) share many similar traits, major differences in pathogenesis and clinical outcomes exist between the two viruses. The differential expression of host factors like microRNAs (miRNAs) in response to HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections are thought to influence the clinical outcomes presented by the two viruses. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules which function in transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. MiRNAs play a critical role in many key biological processes and could serve as putative biomarker(s) for infection. Identification of miRNAs that modulate viral life cycle, disease progression, and cellular responses to infection with HIV-1 and HIV-2 could reveal important insights into viral pathogenesis and provide new tools that could serve as prognostic markers and targets for therapeutic intervention. The aim of this study was to elucidate the differential expression profiles of host miRNAs in cells infected with HIV-1 and HIV-2 in order to identify potential differences in virus-host interactions between HIV-1 and HIV-2. Differential expression of host miRNA expression profiles was analyzed using the miRNA profiling polymerase chain reaction (PCR) arrays. Differentially expressed miRNAs were identified and their putative functional targets identified. The results indicate that hsa-miR 541-3p, hsa-miR 518f-3p, and hsa-miR 195-3p were consistently up-regulated only in HIV-1 infected cells. The expression of hsa-miR 1225-5p, hsa-miR 18a* and hsa-miR 335 were down modulated in HIV-1 and HIV-2 infected cells. Putative functional targets of these miRNAs include genes involved in signal transduction, metabolism, development and cell death.