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Trombley A.R.,U.S. Army | Wachter L.,MedImmune | Garrison J.,Battelle | Buckley-Beason V.A.,U.S. Army | And 7 more authors.
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene | Year: 2010

Viral hemorrhagic fever is caused by a diverse group of single-stranded, negative-sense or positive-sense RNA viruses belonging to the families Filoviridae (Ebola and Marburg), Arenaviridae (Lassa, Junin, Machupo, Sabia, and Guanarito), and Bunyaviridae (hantavirus). Disease characteristics in these families mark each with the potential to be used as a biological threat agent. Because other diseases have similar clinical symptoms, specific laboratory diagnostic tests are necessary to provide the differential diagnosis during outbreaks and for instituting acceptable quarantine procedures. We designed 48 TaqMan™-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for specific and absolute quantitative detection of multiple hemorrhagic fever viruses. Forty-six assays were determined to be virus-specific, and two were designated as pan assays for Marburg virus. The limit of detection for the assays ranged from 10 to 0.001 plaque-forming units (PFU)/PCR. Although these real-time hemorrhagic fever virus assays are qualitative (presence of target), they are also quantitative (measure a single DNA/RNA target sequence in an unknown sample and express the final results as an absolute value (e.g., viral load, PFUs, or copies/mL) on the basis of concentration of standard samples and can be used in viral load, vaccine, and antiviral drug studies. Copyright © 2010 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Andersen K.G.,Harvard University | Andersen K.G.,Cambridge Broad Institute | Andersen K.G.,Scripps Research Institute | Shapiro B.J.,Harvard University | And 84 more authors.
Cell | Year: 2015

Summary The 2013-2015 West African epidemic of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reminds us of how little is known about biosafety level 4 viruses. Like Ebola virus, Lassa virus (LASV) can cause hemorrhagic fever with high case fatality rates. We generated a genomic catalog of almost 200 LASV sequences from clinical and rodent reservoir samples. We show that whereas the 2013-2015 EVD epidemic is fueled by human-to-human transmissions, LASV infections mainly result from reservoir-to-human infections. We elucidated the spread of LASV across West Africa and show that this migration was accompanied by changes in LASV genome abundance, fatality rates, codon adaptation, and translational efficiency. By investigating intrahost evolution, we found that mutations accumulate in epitopes of viral surface proteins, suggesting selection for immune escape. This catalog will serve as a foundation for the development of vaccines and diagnostics. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Branco L.M.,Tulane University | Branco L.M.,Autoimmune Technologies, Llc | Grove J.N.,Tulane University | Moses L.M.,Tulane University | And 6 more authors.
Virology Journal | Year: 2010

Background: Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is a neglected tropical disease with significant impact on the health care system, society, and economy of Western and Central African nations where it is endemic. With a high rate of infection that may lead to morbidity and mortality, understanding how the virus interacts with the host's immune system is of great importance for generating vaccines and therapeutics. Previous work by our group identified a soluble isoform of the Lassa virus (LASV) GP1 (sGP1) in vitro resulting from the expression of the glycoprotein complex (GPC) gene 12. Though no work has directly been done to demonstrate the function of this soluble isoform in arenaviral infections, evidence points to immunomodulatory effects against the host's immune system mediated by a secreted glycoprotein component in filoviruses, another class of hemorrhagic fever-causing viruses. A significant fraction of shed glycoprotein isoforms during viral infection and biogenesis may attenuate the host's inflammatory response, thereby enhancing viral replication and tissue damage. Such shed glycoprotein mediated effects were previously reported for Ebola virus (EBOV), a filovirus that also causes hemorrhagic fever with nearly 90% fatality rates 345. The identification of an analogous phenomenon in vivo could establish a new correlate of LHF infection leading to the development of sensitive diagnostics targeting the earliest molecular events of the disease. Additionally, the reversal of potentially untoward immunomodulatory functions mediated by sGP1 could potentiate the development of novel therapeutic intervention. To this end, we investigated the presence of sGP1 in the serum of suspected LASV patients admitted to the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) Lassa Fever Ward (LFW), in Kenema, Sierra Leone that tested positive for viral antigen or displayed classical signs of Lassa fever. Results: It is reasonable to expect that a narrow window exists for detection of sGP1 as the sole protein shed during early arenaviral biogenesis. This phenomenon was clearly distinguishable from virion-associated GP1 only prior to the emergence of de novo viral particles. Despite this restricted time frame, in 2/46 suspected cases in two studies performed in late 2009 and early 2010, soluble glycoprotein component shedding was identified. Differential detection of viral antigens GP1, GP2, and NP by western blot yielded five different scenarios: whole LASV virions (GP1, GP2, NP; i.e. active viremia), different combinations of these three proteins, sGP1 only, NP only, and absence of all three proteins. Four additional samples showed inconclusive evidence for sGP1 shedding due to lack of detection of GP2 and NP by western blot; however, a sensitive LASV NP antigen capture ELISA generated marginally positive signals. Conclusions: During a narrow window following active infection with LASV, soluble GP1 can be detected in patient sera. This phenomenon parallels other VHF infection profiles, with the actual role of a soluble viral glycoprotein component in vivo remaining largely speculative. The expenditure of energy and cellular resources toward secretion of a critical protein during viral biogenesis without apparent specific function requires further investigation. Future studies will be aimed at systematically identifying the role of LASV sGP1 in the infection process and outcome in vitro and in vivo. © 2010 Branco et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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