Archerfield, Australia
Archerfield, Australia

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O'Brien C.A.,University of Queensland | Hobson-Peters J.,University of Queensland | Yam A.W.Y.,University of Queensland | Yam A.W.Y.,Cancer Science Institute | And 9 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2015

Mosquito-borne viruses encompass a range of virus families, comprising a number of significant human pathogens (e.g., dengue viruses, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus). Virulent strains of these viruses are continually evolving and expanding their geographic range, thus rapid and sensitive screening assays are required to detect emerging viruses and monitor their prevalence and spread in mosquito populations. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is produced during the replication of many of these viruses as either an intermediate in RNA replication (e.g., flaviviruses, togaviruses) or the double-stranded RNA genome (e.g., reoviruses). Detection and discovery of novel viruses from field and clinical samples usually relies on recognition of antigens or nucleotide sequences conserved within a virus genus or family. However, due to the wide antigenic and genetic variation within and between viral families, many novel or divergent species can be overlooked by these approaches. We have developed two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) which show co-localised staining with proteins involved in viral RNA replication in immunofluorescence assay (IFA), suggesting specific reactivity to viral dsRNA. By assessing binding against a panel of synthetic dsRNA molecules, we have shown that these mAbs recognise dsRNA greater than 30 base pairs in length in a sequence-independent manner. IFA and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were employed to demonstrate detection of a panel of RNA viruses from several families, in a range of cell types. These mAbs, termed monoclonal antibodies to viral RNA intermediates in cells (MAVRIC), have now been incorporated into a high-throughput, economical ELISA-based screening system for the detection and discovery of viruses from mosquito populations. Our results have demonstrated that this simple system enables the efficient detection and isolation of a range of known and novel viruses in cells inoculated with field-caught mosquito samples, and represents a rapid, sequence-independent, and cost-effective approach to virus discovery. © 2015 O’Brien et al.


PubMed | University of Queensland, Public Health Virology Laboratory and National University of Singapore
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PLoS neglected tropical diseases | Year: 2015

Mosquito-borne viruses encompass a range of virus families, comprising a number of significant human pathogens (e.g., dengue viruses, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus). Virulent strains of these viruses are continually evolving and expanding their geographic range, thus rapid and sensitive screening assays are required to detect emerging viruses and monitor their prevalence and spread in mosquito populations. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is produced during the replication of many of these viruses as either an intermediate in RNA replication (e.g., flaviviruses, togaviruses) or the double-stranded RNA genome (e.g., reoviruses). Detection and discovery of novel viruses from field and clinical samples usually relies on recognition of antigens or nucleotide sequences conserved within a virus genus or family. However, due to the wide antigenic and genetic variation within and between viral families, many novel or divergent species can be overlooked by these approaches. We have developed two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) which show co-localised staining with proteins involved in viral RNA replication in immunofluorescence assay (IFA), suggesting specific reactivity to viral dsRNA. By assessing binding against a panel of synthetic dsRNA molecules, we have shown that these mAbs recognise dsRNA greater than 30 base pairs in length in a sequence-independent manner. IFA and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were employed to demonstrate detection of a panel of RNA viruses from several families, in a range of cell types. These mAbs, termed monoclonal antibodies to viral RNA intermediates in cells (MAVRIC), have now been incorporated into a high-throughput, economical ELISA-based screening system for the detection and discovery of viruses from mosquito populations. Our results have demonstrated that this simple system enables the efficient detection and isolation of a range of known and novel viruses in cells inoculated with field-caught mosquito samples, and represents a rapid, sequence-independent, and cost-effective approach to virus discovery.


Warrilow D.,Public Health Virology Laboratory | Watterson D.,University of Queensland | Hall R.A.,University of Queensland | Davis S.S.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Here we describe Casuarina virus (CASV), a new virus in the family Mesoniviridae. This is the first report of a mesonivirus in Australia, which extends the geographical range of this virus family to 3 continents. The virus was isolated in 2010 from Coquillettidia xanthogaster mosquitoes during surveillance in the suburbs of Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. Cryo-electron microscopy of the CASV virions revealed spherical particles of 65 nm in size with large club-shaped projections of approximately 15 nm in length. The new virus was most closely related to Alphamesonivirus 1, the only currently recognized species in the family. In 2013 a further 5 putative new mesonivirus species were described: Hana, Méno, Nsé, Moumo and Dak Nong viruses. The evolutionary distance between CASV and two of its closest relatives, Cavally and Hana viruses (Jones-Taylor-Thornton distance of 0.151 and 0.224, respectively), along with its isolation from a different genus of mosquitoes captured on a separate continent indicate that CASV is a new species. © 2014 Warrilow et al.


PubMed | Red Cross, Grifols, University of Queensland and Public Health Virology Laboratory
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Transfusion | Year: 2016

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) poses a risk to transfusion safety. In Australia, locally acquired HEV is rare and cases are mainly reported in travelers returning from countries endemic for HEV. The risk posed by HEV to transfusion safety in Australia is unknown; therefore, we aimed to measure the rate of current HEV infection in Australian blood donations.A total of 14,799 blood donations were tested for HEV RNA by transcription-mediated amplification, with confirmatory testing by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Viral load quantification and phylogenetic analysis was performed on HEV RNA-positive samples.One (0.0068%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.0002%-0.0376%) sample was confirmed positive for HEV RNA, resulting in a risk of collecting a HEV-viremic donation of 1 in 14,799 (95% CI, 1 in 584,530 to 1 in 2,657). The viral load in this sample was approximately 15,000 IU/mL, and it was determined to be Genotype 3.Our finding of 1 in 14,799 Australian donations positive for HEV RNA is lower than that from many other developed countries; this is consistent with the relatively low seroprevalence in Australia. As this HEV RNA-positive sample was Genotype 3, it seems likely that this infection was acquired through zoonotic transmission, either within Australia or overseas in a developed nation. HEV has the potential to pose a risk to transfusion safety in Australia; however, additional, larger studies are required to quantify the magnitude of this risk.


Hall-Mendelin S.,Public Health Virology Laboratory | Allcock R.,University of Western Australia | Allcock R.,Royal Perth Hospital | Kresoje N.,University of Western Australia | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Human disease incidence attributed to arbovirus infection is increasing throughout the world, with effective control interventions limited by issues of sustainability, insecticide resistance and the lack of effective vaccines. Several promising control strategies are currently under development, such as the release of mosquitoes trans-infected with virus-blocking Wolbachia bacteria. Implementation of any control program is dependent on effective virus surveillance and a thorough understanding of virus-vector interactions. Massively parallel sequencing has enormous potential for providing comprehensive genomic information that can be used to assess many aspects of arbovirus ecology, as well as to evaluate novel control strategies. To demonstrate proof-of-principle, we analyzed Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus experimentally infected with dengue, yellow fever or chikungunya viruses. Random amplification was used to prepare sufficient template for sequencing on the Personal Genome Machine. Viral sequences were present in all infected mosquitoes. In addition, in most cases, we were also able to identify the mosquito species and mosquito micro-organisms, including the bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia. Importantly, naturally occurring Wolbachia strains could be differentiated from strains that had been trans-infected into the mosquito. The method allowed us to assemble near full-length viral genomes and detect other micro-organisms without prior sequence knowledge, in a single reaction. This is a step toward the application of massively parallel sequencing as an arbovirus surveillance tool. It has the potential to provide insight into virus transmission dynamics, and has applicability to the post-release monitoring of Wolbachia in mosquito populations. © 2013 Hall-Mendelin et al.


PubMed | Public Health Virology Laboratory
Type: | Journal: Scientific reports | Year: 2016

Dengue viruses (DENVs) are the leading cause of mosquito-borne viral disease of humans. They exist in both endemic and sylvatic ecotypes. In 2014, a viremic patient who had recently visited the rainforests of Brunei returned to Australia displaying symptoms consistent with DENV infection. A unique DENV strain was subsequently isolated from the patient, which we propose belongs to a new genotype within DENV serotype 1 (DENV-1). Bayesian evolutionary phylogenetic analysis suggests that the putative sylvatic DENV-1 Brunei 2014 (Brun2014) is the most divergent DENV-1 yet recorded and increases the time to the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for DENV-1 from 120 years to 315 years. DENV-1 classification of the Brun2014 strain was further supported by monoclonal antibody serotyping data. Phenotypic characterization demonstrated that Brun2014 replication rates in mosquito cells and infection rates in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were not significantly different from an epidemic DENV-1 strain. Given its ability to cause human illness and infect Ae. aegypti, potential urban spillover and clinical disease from further Brun2014 transmission cannot be discounted.


PubMed | University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, Public Health Virology Laboratory and Westmead Hospital
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PLoS neglected tropical diseases | Year: 2016

West Nile virus is globally wide-spread and causes significant disease in humans and animals. The evolution of West Nile virus Kunjin subtype in Australia (WNVKUN) was investigated using archival samples collected over a period of 50 years. Based on the pattern of fixed amino acid substitutions and time-stamped molecular clock analyses, a single long-term lineage (or topotype) was inferred. This implies that a bottleneck exists such that regional strains eventually die out and are replaced with strains from a single source. This was consistent with current hypotheses regarding the distribution of WNVKUN, whereby the virus is enzootic in northern Australia and is disseminated to southern states by water-birds or mosquitoes after flooding associated with above average rainfall. In addition, two previous amino acid changes associated with pathogenicity, an N-Y-S glycosylation motif in the envelope protein and a phenylalanine at amino acid 653 in the RNA polymerase, were both detected in all isolates collected since the 1980s. Changes primarily occurred due to stochastic drift. One fixed substitution each in NS3 and NS5, subtly changed the chemical environment of important functional groups, and may be involved in fine-tuning RNA synthesis. Understanding these evolutionary changes will help us to better understand events such as the emergence of the virulent strain in 2011.


PubMed | Public Health Virology Laboratory
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Evolutionary bioinformatics online | Year: 2016

Historically, classifications of arboviruses were based on serological techniques. Hence, collections of arbovirus isolates have been central to this process by providing the antigenic reagents for these methods. However, with increasing concern about biosafety and security, the introduction of molecular biology techniques has led to greater emphasis on the storage of nucleic acid sequence data over the maintenance of archival material. In this commentary, we provide examples of where archival collections provide an important source of genetic material to assist in confirming the authenticity of reference strains and vaccine stocks, to clarify taxonomic relationships particularly when isolates of the same virus species have been collected across a wide expanse of time and space, for future phenotypic analysis, to determine the historical diversity of strains, and to understand the mechanisms leading to changes in genome structure and virus evolution.


PubMed | Public Health Virology Laboratory
Type: | Journal: PLoS currents | Year: 2016

The globally emergent Zika virus (ZIKV) is a threat to Australia, given the number of imported cases from epidemic regions and the presence of competent mosquito vectors. We report the isolation of ZIKV from a female traveler who recently returned from Tonga to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in 2016.A specific TaqMan real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay (RT-PCR) assay was used to detect ZIKV in serum and urine samples. Conventional cell culture techniques and suckling mice were employed in an attempt to isolate ZIKV from serum and urine.A ZIKV isolate (TS17-2016) was recovered from the serum sample after one passage in suckling mouse brains and harvested 11 days post inoculation. Phylogenetic analysis of complete envelope (E) gene sequences demonstrated TS17-2016 shared 99.9% nucleotide identity with other contemporary sequences from Tonga 2016, Brazil 2015 and French Polynesia 2013 within the Asian lineage.This is the first known report of successful isolation of ZIKV from a human clinical sample in Australia and the first from a traveler from Tonga. This study highlights the potential difficulties in isolating ZIKV from acute clinical samples using conventional cell culture techniques, particularly in non-endemic countries like Australia where access to samples of sufficient viral load is limited. The successful isolation of TS17-2016 will be essential for continued investigations of ZIKV transmission and pathogenicity and will enable the advancement of new preventative control measures extremely relevant to the Australian and Pacific region.


Huang B.,Public Health Virology Laboratory | Allcock R.,University of Western Australia | Warrilow D.,Public Health Virology Laboratory
Virology Reports | Year: 2016

Arboviruses circulate in the biota of northern Australia, sometimes causing disease in animals and humans. Five different arboviruses, isolated and stored for over 30 years, were re-cultured and sequenced using high-throughput sequencing technology (Ion Torrent PGM) for identification and genetic characterization. Phylogenetic analysis, primarily of sequence fragments of the large segment, indicated classification as members of the Family Bunyaviridae (Belmont, Little Sussex, Parker's Farm, and Thimiri viruses). Another was identified as a member of the Family Rhabdoviridae (Beatrice Hill virus) based on phylogenetic analysis of the RNA polymerase region. © 2016 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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