Special Issue "The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology"

A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915). This special issue belongs to the section "General Virology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Carla Varanda
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ICAAM - Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada, Universidade de Évora, Polo da Mitra, Ap. 94, 7006-554 Évora, Portugal
Interests: plant virology; plant protection; plant pathology; virus-induced gene silencing; diagnostic methods; gene expression
Dr. Patrick Materatski
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ICAAM - Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada, Universidade de Évora, Polo da Mitra, Ap. 94, 7006-554 Évora, Portugal
Interests: plant virology; virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS); RNAi; fungal ecology; plant pathogenic fungi; plant protection; molecular biology; plant parasitic nematodes; benthic nematodes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Viruses are capable of causing devastating diseases in several organisms; however, they are simple systems and can be manipulated to be beneficial and useful for several purposes in different areas. In medicine, they have been used for a long time in vaccines and are now being used as vectors to carry materials for the treatment of diseases, such as cancer, in specific target cells. In agriculture, they are being studied to introduce desirable characteristics in plants or render resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. They have been exploited in nanotechnology for the deposition of specific metals and have been shown to be of great benefit to nanomaterial production. They can also be used for different applications in pharmacology, cosmetics, electronics, and other industries. Additionally, they have been used in gene therapy to deliver specific genes into organisms. Thus, viruses are no longer only seen as bad pathogens. They have shown enormous potential, covering several important areas in our lives, and they are making our lives easier and better. While they have already proved their potential in some industries and areas of research, there is still a long road ahead. In this Special Issue, our aim is to contribute to the current knowledge on virus use and to highlight recent significant advances in the use of viruses in several fields.

Dr. Carla Varanda
Dr. Patrick Materatski
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • viral vectors
  • potential use
  • plant protection
  • nanotechnology
  • gene therapy

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Relocation of the attTn7 Transgene Insertion Site in Bacmid DNA Enhances Baculovirus Genome Stability and Recombinant Protein Expression in Insect Cells
Viruses 2020, 12(12), 1448; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121448 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 741
Abstract
Baculovirus expression vectors are successfully used for the commercial production of complex (glyco)proteins in eukaryotic cells. The genome engineering of single-copy baculovirus infectious clones (bacmids) in E. coli has been valuable in the study of baculovirus biology, but bacmids are not yet widely [...] Read more.
Baculovirus expression vectors are successfully used for the commercial production of complex (glyco)proteins in eukaryotic cells. The genome engineering of single-copy baculovirus infectious clones (bacmids) in E. coli has been valuable in the study of baculovirus biology, but bacmids are not yet widely applied as expression vectors. An important limitation of first-generation bacmids for large-scale protein production is the rapid loss of gene of interest (GOI) expression. The instability is caused by the mini-F replicon in the bacmid backbone, which is non-essential for baculovirus replication in insect cells, and carries the adjacent GOI in between attTn7 transposition sites. In this paper, we test the hypothesis that relocation of the attTn7 transgene insertion site away from the mini-F replicon prevents deletion of the GOI, thereby resulting in higher and prolonged recombinant protein expression levels. We applied lambda red genome engineering combined with SacB counterselection to generate a series of bacmids with relocated attTn7 sites and tested their performance by comparing the relative expression levels of different GOIs. We conclude that GOI expression from the odv-e56 (pif-5) locus results in higher overall expression levels and is more stable over serial passages compared to the original bacmid. Finally, we evaluated this improved next-generation bacmid during a bioreactor scale-up of Sf9 insect cells in suspension to produce enveloped chikungunya virus-like particles as a model vaccine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessArticle
Recombinant Lactococcus Expressing a Novel Variant of Infectious Bursal Disease Virus VP2 Protein Can Induce Unique Specific Neutralizing Antibodies in Chickens and Provide Complete Protection
Viruses 2020, 12(12), 1350; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121350 - 25 Nov 2020
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Recent reports of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) infections in China, Japan, and North America have indicated the presence of variant, and the current conventional IBDV vaccine cannot completely protect against variant IBDV. In this study, we constructed recombinant Lactococcus lactis (r-L. [...] Read more.
Recent reports of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) infections in China, Japan, and North America have indicated the presence of variant, and the current conventional IBDV vaccine cannot completely protect against variant IBDV. In this study, we constructed recombinant Lactococcus lactis (r-L. lactis) expressing a novel variant of IBDV VP2 (avVP2) protein along with the Salmonella resistance to complement killing (RCK) protein, and Western blotting analysis confirmed that r-L. lactis successfully expressed avVP2-RCK fusion protein. We immunized chickens with this vaccine and subsequently challenged them with the very virulent IBDV (vvIBDV) and a novel variant wild IBDV (avIBDV) to evaluate the immune effect of the vaccine. The results show that the r-L. lactis-avVP2-RCK-immunized group exhibited a 100% protection rate when challenged with avIBDV and 100% survival rate to vvIBDV. Furthermore, this immunization resulted in the production of unique neutralizing antibodies that cannot be detected by conventional ELISA. These results indicate that r-L. lactis-avVP2-RCK is a promising candidate vaccine against IBDV infections, which can produce unique neutralizing antibodies that cannot be produced by other vaccines and protect against IBDV infection, especially against the variant strain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessArticle
JSRV Intragenic Enhancer Element Increases Expression from a Heterologous Promoter and Promotes High Level AAV-Mediated Transgene Expression in the Lung and Liver of Mice
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1266; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111266 - 06 Nov 2020
Viewed by 566
Abstract
Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) induces tumors in the distal airways of sheep and goats. A putative intragenic enhancer, termed JE, localized to the 3′ end of the JSRV env gene, has been previously described. Herein we provide further evidence that the JE functions [...] Read more.
Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) induces tumors in the distal airways of sheep and goats. A putative intragenic enhancer, termed JE, localized to the 3′ end of the JSRV env gene, has been previously described. Herein we provide further evidence that the JE functions as a transcriptional enhancer, as it was able to enhance gene expression when placed in either forward or reverse orientation when combined with a heterologous chicken beta actin promoter. We then generated novel composite promoters designed to improve transgene expression from adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy vectors. A hybrid promoter consisting of the shortest JE sequence examined (JE71), the U3 region of the JSRV long terminal repeat (LTR), and the chicken beta actin promoter, demonstrated robust expression in vitro and in vivo, when in the context of AAV vectors. AAV-mediated transgene expression in vivo from the hybrid promoter was marginally lower than that observed for AAV vectors encoding the strong CAG promoter, but greatly reduced in the heart, making this promoter/enhancer combination attractive for non-cardiac applications, particularly respiratory tract or liver directed therapies. Replacement of the murine leukemia virus intron present in the original vector construct with a modified SV40 intron reduced the promoter/enhancer/intron cassette size to 719 bp, leaving an additional ~4 kb of coding capacity when packaged within an AAV vector. Taken together, we have developed a novel, compact promoter that is capable of directing high level transgene expression from AAV vectors in both the liver and lung with diminished transgene expression in the heart. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessArticle
Parenterally Administered Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus-Like Particle-Based Vaccine Formulated with CCL25/28 Chemokines Induces Systemic and Mucosal Immune Protectivity in Pigs
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1122; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101122 - 02 Oct 2020
Viewed by 892
Abstract
Generation of a safe, economical, and effective vaccine capable of inducing mucosal immunity is critical for the development of vaccines against enteric viral diseases. In the current study, virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the spike (S), membrane (M), and envelope (E) structural proteins of [...] Read more.
Generation of a safe, economical, and effective vaccine capable of inducing mucosal immunity is critical for the development of vaccines against enteric viral diseases. In the current study, virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the spike (S), membrane (M), and envelope (E) structural proteins of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) expressed by the novel polycistronic baculovirus expression vector were generated. The immunogenicity and protective efficacy of the PEDV VLPs formulated with or without mucosal adjuvants of CCL25 and CCL28 (CCL25/28) were evaluated in post-weaning pigs. While pigs intramuscularly immunized with VLPs alone were capable of eliciting systemic anti-PEDV S-specific IgG and cellular immunity, co-administration of PEDV VLPs with CCL25/28 could further modulate the immune responses by enhancing systemic anti-PEDV S-specific IgG, mucosal IgA, and cellular immunity. Upon challenge with PEDV, both VLP-immunized groups showed milder clinical signs with reduced fecal viral shedding as compared to the control group. Furthermore, pigs immunized with VLPs adjuvanted with CCL25/28 showed superior immune protection against PEDV. Our results suggest that VLPs formulated with CCL25/28 may serve as a potential PEDV vaccine candidate and the same strategy may serve as a platform for the development of other enteric viral vaccines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessArticle
Virus-Induced Flowering by Apple Latent Spherical Virus Vector: Effective Use to Accelerate Breeding of Grapevine
Viruses 2020, 12(1), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12010070 - 07 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1943
Abstract
Apple latent spherical virus (ALSV) was successfully used in promoting flowering (virus-induced flowering, VIF) in apple and pear seedlings. In this paper, we report the use of ALSV vectors for VIF in seedlings and in vitro cultures of grapevine. After adjusting experimental conditions [...] Read more.
Apple latent spherical virus (ALSV) was successfully used in promoting flowering (virus-induced flowering, VIF) in apple and pear seedlings. In this paper, we report the use of ALSV vectors for VIF in seedlings and in vitro cultures of grapevine. After adjusting experimental conditions for biolistic inoculation of virus RNA, ALSV efficiently infected not only progeny seedlings of Vitis spp. ‘Koshu,’ but also in vitro cultures of V. vinifera ‘Neo Muscat’ without inducing viral symptoms. The grapevine seedlings and in vitro cultures inoculated with an ALSV vector expressing the ‘florigen’ gene (Arabidopsis Flowering locus T, AtFT) started to set floral buds 20–30 days after inoculation. This VIF technology was successfully used to promote flowering and produce grapes with viable seeds in in vitro cultures of F1 hybrids from crosses between V. ficifolia and V. vinifera and made it possible to analyze the quality of fruits within a year after germination. High-temperature (37 °C) treatment of ALSV-infected grapevine disabled virus movement to newly growing tissue to obtain ALSV-free shoots. Thus, the VIF using ALSV vectors can be used to shorten the generation time of grapevine seedlings and accelerate breeding of grapevines with desired traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Host Specificity Revealed by Biological Characterization and Whole Genome Sequencing of Bacteriophages Infecting Salmonella enterica
Viruses 2019, 11(9), 854; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11090854 - 14 Sep 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2599
Abstract
Phages infecting members of the opportunistic human pathogen, Salmonella enterica, are widespread in natural environments and offer a potential source of agents that could be used for controlling populations of this bacterium; yet, relatively little is known about these phages. Here we [...] Read more.
Phages infecting members of the opportunistic human pathogen, Salmonella enterica, are widespread in natural environments and offer a potential source of agents that could be used for controlling populations of this bacterium; yet, relatively little is known about these phages. Here we describe the isolation and characterization of 45 phages of Salmonella enterica from disparate geographic locations within British Columbia, Canada. Host-range profiling revealed host-specific patterns of susceptibility and resistance, with several phages identified that have a broad-host range (i.e., able to lyse >40% of bacterial hosts tested). One phage in particular, SE13, is able to lyse 51 out of the 61 Salmonella strains tested. Comparative genomic analyses also revealed an abundance of sequence diversity in the sequenced phages. Alignment of the genomes grouped the phages into 12 clusters with three singletons. Phages within certain clusters exhibited extraordinarily high genome homology (>98% nucleotide identity), yet between clusters, genomes exhibited a span of diversity (<50% nucleotide identity). Alignment of the major capsid protein also supported the clustering pattern observed with alignment of the whole genomes. We further observed associations between genomic relatedness and the site of isolation, as well as genetic elements related to DNA metabolism and host virulence. Our data support the knowledge framework for phage diversity and phage–host interactions that are required for developing phage-based applications for various sectors, including biocontrol, detection and typing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Plant Viruses: From Targets to Tools for CRISPR
Viruses 2021, 13(1), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13010141 - 19 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1183
Abstract
Plant viruses cause devastating diseases in many agriculture systems, being a serious threat for the provision of adequate nourishment to a continuous growing population. At the present, there are no chemical products that directly target the viruses, and their control rely mainly on [...] Read more.
Plant viruses cause devastating diseases in many agriculture systems, being a serious threat for the provision of adequate nourishment to a continuous growing population. At the present, there are no chemical products that directly target the viruses, and their control rely mainly on preventive sanitary measures to reduce viral infections that, although important, have proved to be far from enough. The current most effective and sustainable solution is the use of virus-resistant varieties, but which require too much work and time to obtain. In the recent years, the versatile gene editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas has simplified the engineering of crops and has successfully been used for the development of viral resistant plants. CRISPR stands for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’ and CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins, and is based on a natural adaptive immune system that most archaeal and some bacterial species present to defend themselves against invading bacteriophages. Plant viral resistance using CRISPR/Cas technology can been achieved either through manipulation of plant genome (plant-mediated resistance), by mutating host factors required for viral infection; or through manipulation of virus genome (virus-mediated resistance), for which CRISPR/Cas systems must specifically target and cleave viral DNA or RNA. Viruses present an efficient machinery and comprehensive genome structure and, in a different, beneficial perspective, they have been used as biotechnological tools in several areas such as medicine, materials industry, and agriculture with several purposes. Due to all this potential, it is not surprising that viruses have also been used as vectors for CRISPR technology; namely, to deliver CRISPR components into plants, a crucial step for the success of CRISPR technology. Here we discuss the basic principles of CRISPR/Cas technology, with a special focus on the advances of CRISPR/Cas to engineer plant resistance against DNA and RNA viruses. We also describe several strategies for the delivery of these systems into plant cells, focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of the use of plant viruses as vectors. We conclude by discussing some of the constrains faced by the application of CRISPR/Cas technology in agriculture and future prospects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessReview
Plant Virology Delivers Diverse Toolsets for Biotechnology
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1338; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111338 - 23 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 922
Abstract
Over a hundred years of research on plant viruses has led to a detailed understanding of viral replication, movement, and host–virus interactions. The functions of vast viral genes have also been annotated. With an increased understanding of plant viruses and plant–virus interactions, various [...] Read more.
Over a hundred years of research on plant viruses has led to a detailed understanding of viral replication, movement, and host–virus interactions. The functions of vast viral genes have also been annotated. With an increased understanding of plant viruses and plant–virus interactions, various viruses have been developed as vectors to modulate gene expressions for functional studies as well as for fulfilling the needs in biotechnology. These approaches are invaluable not only for molecular breeding and functional genomics studies related to pivotal agronomic traits, but also for the production of vaccines and health-promoting carotenoids. This review summarizes the latest progress in these forefronts as well as the available viral vectors for economically important crops and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessReview
Application of Viral Vectors for Vaccine Development with a Special Emphasis on COVID-19
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1324; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111324 - 18 Nov 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1654
Abstract
Viral vectors can generate high levels of recombinant protein expression providing the basis for modern vaccine development. A large number of different viral vector expression systems have been utilized for targeting viral surface proteins and tumor-associated antigens. Immunization studies in preclinical animal models [...] Read more.
Viral vectors can generate high levels of recombinant protein expression providing the basis for modern vaccine development. A large number of different viral vector expression systems have been utilized for targeting viral surface proteins and tumor-associated antigens. Immunization studies in preclinical animal models have evaluated the elicited humoral and cellular responses and the possible protection against challenges with lethal doses of infectious pathogens or tumor cells. Several vaccine candidates for both infectious diseases and various cancers have been subjected to a number of clinical trials. Human immunization trials have confirmed safe application of viral vectors, generation of neutralizing antibodies and protection against challenges with lethal doses. A special emphasis is placed on COVID-19 vaccines based on viral vectors. Likewise, the flexibility and advantages of applying viral particles, RNA replicons and DNA replicon vectors of self-replicating RNA viruses for vaccine development are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
Open AccessReview
Viral Related Tools against SARS-CoV-2
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1172; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101172 - 16 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1315
Abstract
At the end of 2019, a new disease appeared and spread all over the world, the COVID-19, produced by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. As a consequence of this worldwide health crisis, the scientific community began to redirect their knowledge and resources to fight against [...] Read more.
At the end of 2019, a new disease appeared and spread all over the world, the COVID-19, produced by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. As a consequence of this worldwide health crisis, the scientific community began to redirect their knowledge and resources to fight against it. Here we summarize the recent research on viruses employed as therapy and diagnostic of COVID-19: (i) viral-vector vaccines both in clinical trials and pre-clinical phases; (ii) the use of bacteriophages to find antibodies specific to this virus and some studies of how to use the bacteriophages themselves as a treatment against viral diseases; and finally, (iii) the use of CRISPR-Cas technology both to obtain a fast precise diagnose of the patient and also the possible use of this technology as a cure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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Open AccessReview
Exploring the Prospects of Engineered Newcastle Disease Virus in Modern Vaccinology
Viruses 2020, 12(4), 451; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12040451 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1791
Abstract
Many traditional vaccines have proven to be incapable of controlling newly emerging infectious diseases. They have also achieved limited success in the fight against a variety of human cancers. Thus, innovative vaccine strategies are highly needed to overcome the global burden of these [...] Read more.
Many traditional vaccines have proven to be incapable of controlling newly emerging infectious diseases. They have also achieved limited success in the fight against a variety of human cancers. Thus, innovative vaccine strategies are highly needed to overcome the global burden of these diseases. Advances in molecular biology and reverse genetics have completely restructured the concept of vaccinology, leading to the emergence of state-of-the-art technologies for vaccine design, development and delivery. Among these modern vaccine technologies are the recombinant viral vectored vaccines, which are known for their incredible specificity in antigen delivery as well as the induction of robust immune responses in the vaccinated hosts. Although a number of viruses have been used as vaccine vectors, genetically engineered Newcastle disease virus (NDV) possesses some useful attributes that make it a preferable candidate for vectoring vaccine antigens. Here, we review the molecular biology of NDV and discuss the reverse genetics approaches used to engineer the virus into an efficient vaccine vector. We then discuss the prospects of the engineered virus as an efficient vehicle of vaccines against cancer and several infectious diseases of man and animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Viruses to Biotechnology)
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