Special Issue "Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics"

A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Viktor Müller
Website
Guest Editor
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
Interests: virus dynamics; HIV evolution and epidemiology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Computational approaches have been used to study viruses at all levels of organization: from the molecular processes that occur within infected cells, through the dynamics of populations of virions and cells inside infected hosts, up to the level of epidemics and transmission between hosts. This Special Issue invites submissions that involve computational methods (mathematical or simulation modeling, or data analysis) at any (or, for multiscale models, several) of these levels to gain new insights into the fundamental processes, etiology, spread, and evolution of viral infections.

Dr. Viktor Müller
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Viruses is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • mathematical modeling
  • simulation modeling
  • molecular processes
  • within-host dynamics
  • epidemiological models
  • multiscale models

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Spatial–Temporal Variations in Atmospheric Factors Contribute to SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak
Viruses 2020, 12(6), 588; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12060588 - 27 May 2020
Abstract
The global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reached over five million confirmed cases worldwide, and numbers are still growing at a fast rate. Despite the wide outbreak of the infection, a remarkable [...] Read more.
The global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reached over five million confirmed cases worldwide, and numbers are still growing at a fast rate. Despite the wide outbreak of the infection, a remarkable asymmetry is observed in the number of cases and in the distribution of the severity of the COVID-19 symptoms in patients with respect to the countries/regions. In the early stages of a new pathogen outbreak, it is critical to understand the dynamics of the infection transmission, in order to follow contagion over time and project the epidemiological situation in the near future. While it is possible to reason that observed variation in the number and severity of cases stems from the initial number of infected individuals, the difference in the testing policies and social aspects of community transmissions, the factors that could explain high discrepancy in areas with a similar level of healthcare still remain unknown. Here, we introduce a binary classifier based on an artificial neural network that can help in explaining those differences and that can be used to support the design of containment policies. We found that SARS-CoV-2 infection frequency positively correlates with particulate air pollutants, and specifically with particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), while ozone gas is oppositely related with the number of infected individuals. We propose that atmospheric air pollutants could thus serve as surrogate markers to complement the infection outbreak anticipation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics)
Open AccessArticle
Administration of Defective Virus Inhibits Dengue Transmission into Mosquitoes
Viruses 2020, 12(5), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12050558 - 18 May 2020
Abstract
The host-vector shuttle and the bottleneck in dengue transmission is a significant aspect with regard to the study of dengue outbreaks. As mosquitoes require 100–1000 times more virus to become infected than human, the transmission of dengue virus from human to mosquito is [...] Read more.
The host-vector shuttle and the bottleneck in dengue transmission is a significant aspect with regard to the study of dengue outbreaks. As mosquitoes require 100–1000 times more virus to become infected than human, the transmission of dengue virus from human to mosquito is a vulnerability that can be targeted to improve disease control. In order to capture the heterogeneity in the infectiousness of an infected patient population towards the mosquito population, we calibrate a population of host-to-vector virus transmission models based on an experimentally quantified infected fraction of a mosquito population. Once the population of models is well-calibrated, we deploy a population of controls that helps to inhibit the human-to-mosquito transmission of the dengue virus indirectly by reducing the viral load in the patient body fluid. We use an optimal bang-bang control on the administration of the defective virus (transmissible interfering particles (TIPs)) to symptomatic patients in the course of their febrile period and observe the dynamics in successful reduction of dengue spread into mosquitoes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics)
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Open AccessArticle
Modelling Degradation and Replication Kinetics of the Zika Virus In Vitro Infection
Viruses 2020, 12(5), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12050547 - 15 May 2020
Abstract
Mathematical models of in vitro viral kinetics help us understand and quantify the main determinants underlying the virus–host cell interactions. We aimed to provide a numerical characterization of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in vitro infection kinetics, an arthropod-borne emerging virus that has gained [...] Read more.
Mathematical models of in vitro viral kinetics help us understand and quantify the main determinants underlying the virus–host cell interactions. We aimed to provide a numerical characterization of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in vitro infection kinetics, an arthropod-borne emerging virus that has gained public recognition due to its association with microcephaly in newborns. The mathematical model of in vitro viral infection typically assumes that degradation of extracellular infectious virus proceeds in an exponential manner, that is, each viral particle has the same probability of losing infectivity at any given time. We incubated ZIKV stock in the cell culture media and sampled with high frequency for quantification over the course of 96 h. The data showed a delay in the virus degradation in the first 24 h followed by a decline, which could not be captured by the model with exponentially distributed decay time of infectious virus. Thus, we proposed a model, in which inactivation of infectious ZIKV is gamma distributed and fit the model to the temporal measurements of infectious virus remaining in the media. The model was able to reproduce the data well and yielded the decay time of infectious ZIKV to be 40 h. We studied the in vitro ZIKV infection kinetics by conducting cell infection at two distinct multiplicity of infection and measuring viral loads over time. We fit the mathematical model of in vitro viral infection with gamma distributed degradation time of infectious virus to the viral growth data and identified the timespans and rates involved within the ZIKV-host cell interplay. Our mathematical analysis combined with the data provides a well-described example of non-exponential viral decay dynamics and presents numerical characterization of in vitro infection with ZIKV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics)
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Open AccessArticle
In Silico Discovery of Candidate Drugs against Covid-19
Viruses 2020, 12(4), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12040404 - 06 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Previous studies reported that Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the main cell receptor of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. It plays a key role in the access of the virus into the cell to produce the final infection. In the present study we investigated [...] Read more.
Previous studies reported that Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the main cell receptor of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. It plays a key role in the access of the virus into the cell to produce the final infection. In the present study we investigated in silico the basic mechanism of ACE2 in the lung and provided evidences for new potentially effective drugs for Covid-19. Specifically, we used the gene expression profiles from public datasets including The Cancer Genome Atlas, Gene Expression Omnibus and Genotype-Tissue Expression, Gene Ontology and pathway enrichment analysis to investigate the main functions of ACE2-correlated genes. We constructed a protein-protein interaction network containing the genes co-expressed with ACE2. Finally, we focused on the genes in the network that are already associated with known drugs and evaluated their role for a potential treatment of Covid-19. Our results demonstrate that the genes correlated with ACE2 are mainly enriched in the sterol biosynthetic process, Aryldialkylphosphatase activity, adenosylhomocysteinase activity, trialkylsulfonium hydrolase activity, acetate-CoA and CoA ligase activity. We identified a network of 193 genes, 222 interactions and 36 potential drugs that could have a crucial role. Among possible interesting drugs for Covid-19 treatment, we found Nimesulide, Fluticasone Propionate, Thiabendazole, Photofrin, Didanosine and Flutamide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics)
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Open AccessArticle
Evolution of BACON Domain Tandem Repeats in crAssphage and Novel Gut Bacteriophage Lineages
Viruses 2019, 11(12), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11121085 - 21 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The human gut contains an expanse of largely unstudied bacteriophages. Among the most common are crAss-like phages, which were predicted to infect Bacteriodetes hosts. CrAssphage, the first crAss-like phage to be discovered, contains a protein encoding a Bacteroides-associated carbohydrate-binding often N-terminal (BACON) [...] Read more.
The human gut contains an expanse of largely unstudied bacteriophages. Among the most common are crAss-like phages, which were predicted to infect Bacteriodetes hosts. CrAssphage, the first crAss-like phage to be discovered, contains a protein encoding a Bacteroides-associated carbohydrate-binding often N-terminal (BACON) domain tandem repeat. Because protein domain tandem repeats are often hotspots of evolution, BACON domains may provide insight into the evolution of crAss-like phages. Here, we studied the biodiversity and evolution of BACON domains in bacteriophages by analysing over 2 million viral contigs. We found a high biodiversity of BACON in seven gut phage lineages, including five known crAss-like phage lineages and two novel gut phage lineages that are distantly related to crAss-like phages. In three BACON-containing phage lineages, we found that BACON domain tandem repeats were associated with phage tail proteins, suggestive of a possible role of these repeats in host binding. In contrast, individual BACON domains that did not occur in tandem were not found in the proximity of tail proteins. In two lineages, tail-associated BACON domain tandem repeats evolved largely through horizontal transfer of separate domains. In the third lineage that includes the prototypical crAssphage, the tandem repeats arose from several sequential domain duplications, resulting in a characteristic tandem array that is distinct from bacterial BACON domains. We conclude that phage tail-associated BACON domain tandem repeats have evolved in at least two independent cases in gut bacteriophages, including in the widespread gut phage crAssphage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics)
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Open AccessArticle
MiDRMpol: A High-Throughput Multiplexed Amplicon Sequencing Workflow to Quantify HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutations against Protease, Reverse Transcriptase, and Integrase Inhibitors
Viruses 2019, 11(9), 806; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11090806 - 30 Aug 2019
Abstract
The detection of drug resistance mutations (DRMs) in minor viral populations is of potential clinical importance. However, sophisticated computational infrastructure and competence for analysis of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data lack at most diagnostic laboratories. Thus, we have proposed a new pipeline, MiDRMpol [...] Read more.
The detection of drug resistance mutations (DRMs) in minor viral populations is of potential clinical importance. However, sophisticated computational infrastructure and competence for analysis of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data lack at most diagnostic laboratories. Thus, we have proposed a new pipeline, MiDRMpol, to quantify DRM from the HIV-1 pol region. The gag-vpu region of 87 plasma samples from HIV-infected individuals from three cohorts was amplified and sequenced by Illumina HiSeq2500. The sequence reads were adapter-trimmed, followed by analysis using in-house scripts. Samples from Swedish and Ethiopian cohorts were also sequenced by Sanger sequencing. The pipeline was validated against the online tool PASeq (Polymorphism Analysis by Sequencing). Based on an error rate of <1%, a value of >1% was set as reliable to consider a minor variant. Both pipelines detected the mutations in the dominant viral populations, while discrepancies were observed in minor viral populations. In five HIV-1 subtype C samples, minor mutations were detected at the <5% level by MiDRMpol but not by PASeq. MiDRMpol is a computationally as well as labor efficient bioinformatics pipeline for the detection of DRM from HTS data. It identifies minor viral populations (<20%) of DRMs. Our method can be incorporated into large-scale surveillance of HIV-1 DRM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Biology of Viruses: From Molecules to Epidemics)
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