Publications by authors named "Masamichi Muramatsu"

119 Publications

Seroprevalence of Flavivirus Neutralizing Antibodies in Thailand by High-Throughput Neutralization Assay: Endemic Circulation of Zika Virus before 2012.

mSphere 2021 Jul 14:e0033921. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Thailand is a hyperendemic country for flavivirus infections in Southeast Asia. Although the reporting system for flavivirus surveillance in Thailand is well established, syndromic surveillance tends to underestimate the true epidemiological status of flaviviruses due to the majority of infections being asymptomatic. To accurately understand the prevalence of flaviviruses in endemic regions, we performed neutralization tests against multiple flaviviruses using 147 serum samples from healthy donors collected from four distinct regions in Thailand. Single-round infectious particles (SRIP) for six flaviviruses, dengue virus types 1 to 4 (DENV-1 to -4), Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), and Zika virus (ZIKV), were used as antigens for developing a safe, high-throughput neutralization assay. Titers of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) against the six flaviviruses revealed that DENV-1 and DENV-2, followed by ZIKV were the predominant circulating flaviviruses in a total of four regions, whereas the prevalence of NAbs against JEV varied among regions. Although the seroprevalence of ZIKV was low relative to that of DENV-1 and DENV-2, the findings strongly suggested that ZIKV has been circulating at a sustained level in Thailand since before 2012. These findings not only demonstrated the application of an SRIP-neutralization test in a serological study, but also elucidated the circulation and distribution trends of different flaviviruses in Thailand. Neutralization tests are the most reliable assay for flavivirus antibody detection; however, these assays are not suitable for high-throughput processing due to their time-consuming and labor-intensive nature. In this study, we developed single-round infectious particles (SRIPs) with a luciferase gene for dengue virus types 1 to 4, Japanese encephalitis virus, and Zika virus for use in a safe, high-throughput neutralization assay. We performed neutralization tests against multiple flaviviruses using 147 serum samples that were collected from healthy donors residing in four distinct regions of Thailand in 2011 to 2012. The assay was useful for surveys of flavivirus seroprevalence. The data revealed that dengue virus type 1 (DENV-1) and DENV-2 were the predominant circulating flaviviruses in Thailand and that Zika virus has been circulating at a sustained level in Thailand since before 2012.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00339-21DOI Listing
July 2021

Generation of a Bactrian camel hepatitis E virus by a reverse genetics system.

J Gen Virol 2021 Jul;102(7)

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Gakuen 4-7-1, Musashi-murayama, Tokyo 208-0011, Japan.

Bactrian camel hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a novel HEV belonging to genotype 8 (HEV-8) in the species of the genus in the family . HEV-8 cross-transmits to cynomolgus monkeys and has a potential risk for zoonotic infection. Until now, neither a cell-culture system to grow the virus nor a reverse genetics system to generate the virus has been developed. To generate replication-competent HEV-8 and to establish a cell-culture system, we synthesized capped genomic HEV-8 RNAs by transcription and used them to transfect into PLC/PRF/5 cells. A HEV-8 strain, HEV-8M2, was recovered from the capped HEV-8 RNA-transfected cell-culture supernatants and subsequently passaged in the cells, demonstrating that PLC/PRF/5 cells were capable of supporting the replication of the HEV-8, and that a cell-culture system for HEV-8 was successfully established. In addition to PLC/PRF/5 cells, A549 and Caco-2 cells appeared to be competent for the replication, but HepG2 C3/A, Vero, Hela S3, HEp-2C, 293T and GL37 cells were incompetent. The HEV-8M2 strain was capable of infecting cynomolgus monkeys by an intravenous inoculation, indicating that HEV-8 was infectious and again carried a risk for zoonotic infection. In contrast, HEV-8 did not infect nude rats and BALB/c nude mice, suggesting that the reservoir of HEV-8 was limited. In addition, the replication of the HEV-8M2 strain was efficiently abrogated by ribavirin but not by favipiravir, suggesting that ribavirin is a drug candidate for therapeutic treatment of HEV-8-induced hepatitis. The infectious HEV-8 produced by a reverse genetics system would be useful to elucidate the mechanisms of HEV replication and the pathogenesis of type E hepatitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.001618DOI Listing
July 2021

Identification of natural compounds extracted from crude drugs as novel inhibitors of hepatitis C virus.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2021 Aug 12;567:1-8. Epub 2021 Jun 12.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 162-8640, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address:

Natural product-derived crude drugs are expected to yield an abundance of new drugs to treat infectious diseases. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an oncogenic virus that significantly impacts public health. In this study, we sought to identify anti-HCV compounds in extracts of natural products. A total of 110 natural compounds extracted from several herbal medicine plants were examined for antiviral activity against HCV. Using a Huh7-mCherry-NLS-IPS reporter system for HCV infection, we first performed a rapid screening for anti-HCV compounds extracted from crude drugs. The compounds threo-2,3-bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3-butoxypropan-1-ol (#106) and medioresinol (#110), which were extracted from Crataegus cuneate, exhibited anti-HCV activity and significantly inhibited HCV production in a dose-dependent manner. Analyses using HCV pseudoparticle and subgenomic replicon systems indicated that compounds #106 and #110 specifically inhibit HCV RNA replication but not viral entry or translation. Interestingly, compound #106 also inhibited the replication and production of hepatitis A virus. Our findings suggest that C. cuneate is a new source for novel anti-hepatitis virus drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.06.022DOI Listing
August 2021

Biochemical and Structural Properties of Entecavir-Resistant Hepatitis B Virus Polymerase with L180M/M204V Mutations.

J Virol 2021 Jul 26;95(16):e0240120. Epub 2021 Jul 26.

Choju Medical Institute, Toyohashi, Japan.

Entecavir (ETV) is a widely used anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) drug. However, the emergence of resistant mutations in HBV reverse transcriptase (RT) results in treatment failure. To understand the mechanism underlying the development of ETV resistance by HBV RT, we analyzed the L180M, M204V, and L180M/M204V mutants using a combination of biochemical and structural techniques. ETV-triphosphate (ETV-TP) exhibited competitive inhibition with dGTP in both wild-type (wt) RT and M204V RT, as observed using Lineweaver-Burk plots. In contrast, RT L180M or L180M/M204V did not fit either competitive, uncompetitive, noncompetitive, or typical mixed inhibition, although ETV-TP was a competitive inhibitor of dGTP. Crystallography of HIV RT, mimicking HBV RT L180M/M204V, showed that the F115 bulge (F88 in HBV RT) caused by the F160M mutation induced deviated binding of dCTP from its normal tight binding position. Modeling of ETV-TP on the deviated dCTP indicated that a steric clash could occur between ETV-TP methylene and the 3'-end nucleoside ribose. ETV-TP is likely to interact primarily with HBV RT M171 prior to final accommodation at the deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) binding site (Y. Yasutake, S. Hattori, H. Hayashi, K. Matsuda, et al., Sci Rep 8:1624, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-19602-9). Therefore, in HBV RT L180M/M204V, ETV-TP may be stuck at M171, a residue that is conserved in almost all HBV isolates, leading to the strange inhibition pattern observed in the kinetic analysis. Collectively, our results provide novel insights into the mechanism of ETV resistance of HBV RT caused by L180M and M204V mutations. HBV infects 257 million people in the world, who suffer from elevated risks of liver cirrhosis and cancer. ETV is one of the most potent anti-HBV drugs, and ETV resistance mutations in HBV RT have been extensively studied. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying ETV resistance have remained elusive. We propose an attractive hypothesis to explain ETV resistance and effectiveness using a combination of kinetic and structural analyses. ETV is likely to have an additional interaction site, M171, beside the dNTP pocket of HBV RT; this finding indicates that nucleos(t)ide analogues (NAs) recognizing multiple interaction sites within RT may effectively inhibit the enzyme. Modification of ETV may render it more effective and enable the rational design of efficient NA inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02401-20DOI Listing
July 2021

Mefloquine, a Potent Anti-severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Drug as an Entry Inhibitor .

Front Microbiol 2021 30;12:651403. Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused serious public health, social, and economic damage worldwide and effective drugs that prevent or cure COVID-19 are urgently needed. Approved drugs including Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir or Interferon were reported to inhibit the infection or propagation of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), however, their clinical efficacies have not yet been well demonstrated. To identify drugs with higher antiviral potency, we screened approved anti-parasitic/anti-protozoal drugs and identified an anti-malarial drug, Mefloquine, which showed the highest anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity among the tested compounds. Mefloquine showed higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity than Hydroxychloroquine in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 and Calu-3 cells, with IC = 1.28 μM, IC = 2.31 μM, and IC = 4.39 μM in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells. Mefloquine inhibited viral entry after viral attachment to the target cell. Combined treatment with Mefloquine and Nelfinavir, a replication inhibitor, showed synergistic antiviral activity. Our mathematical modeling based on the drug concentration in the lung predicted that Mefloquine administration at a standard treatment dosage could decline viral dynamics in patients, reduce cumulative viral load to 7% and shorten the time until virus elimination by 6.1 days. These data cumulatively underscore Mefloquine as an anti-SARS-CoV-2 entry inhibitor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.651403DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8119653PMC
April 2021

MafF Is an Antiviral Host Factor That Suppresses Transcription from Hepatitis B Virus Core Promoter.

J Virol 2021 Jul 12;95(15):e0076721. Epub 2021 Jul 12.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a stealth virus that exhibits only minimal induction of the interferon system, which is required for both innate and adaptive immune responses. However, 90% of acutely infected adults can clear the virus, suggesting the presence of additional mechanisms that facilitate viral clearance. Here, we report that Maf bZIP transcription factor F (MafF) promotes host defense against infection with HBV. Using a small interfering RNA (siRNA) library and an HBV/NanoLuc (NL) reporter virus, we screened to identify anti-HBV host factors. Our data showed that silencing of led to a 6-fold increase in luciferase activity after HBV/NL infection. Overexpression of MafF reduced HBV core promoter transcriptional activity, which was relieved upon mutation of the putative MafF binding region. Loss of MafF expression through CRISPR/Cas9 editing (in HepG2-hNTCP-C4 cells) or siRNA silencing (in primary hepatocytes [PXB cells]) induced HBV core RNA and HBV pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) levels, respectively, after HBV infection. MafF physically binds to the HBV core promoter and competitively inhibits HNF-4α binding to an overlapping sequence in the HBV enhancer II sequence (EnhII), as seen by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis. MafF expression was induced by interleukin-1β (IL-1β) or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) treatment in both HepG2 and PXB cells, in an NF-κB-dependent manner. Consistently, expression levels were significantly enhanced and positively correlated with the levels of these cytokines in patients with chronic HBV infection, especially in the immune clearance phase. HBV is a leading cause of chronic liver diseases, infecting about 250 million people worldwide. HBV has developed strategies to escape interferon-dependent innate immune responses. Therefore, the identification of other anti-HBV mechanisms is important for understanding HBV pathogenesis and developing anti-HBV strategies. MafF was shown to suppress transcription from the HBV core promoter, leading to significant suppression of the HBV life cycle. Furthermore, MafF expression was induced in chronic HBV patients and in primary human hepatocytes (PXB cells). This induction correlated with the levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β and TNF-α). These data suggest that the induction of MafF contributes to the host's antiviral defense by suppressing transcription from selected viral promoters. Our data shed light on a novel role for MafF as an anti-HBV host restriction factor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00767-21DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8274605PMC
July 2021

Isolation and Characterization of a Subtype 4b of Hepatitis E Virus Using a PLC/PRF/5 cell-derived Cell Line Resistant to Porcine Sapelovirus Infection.

Jpn J Infect Dis 2021 Apr 30. Epub 2021 Apr 30.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan.

A human hepatocarcinoma cell line, PLC/PRF/5, is susceptible to hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection and is used for isolating this virus. It is difficult to use this cell line for the isolation of HEV directly from fecal specimens of swine or wild boar contaminated with porcine sapelovirus (PSV), because PSV infection results in rapid and extensive cytopathic effects in PLC/PRF/5 cells, interrupting the growth of HEV. Herein, we used a PSV infection-resistant cell line, N1380 derived from PLC/PRF/5 cells, and we successfully isolated an HEV-4b strain from a PSV-positive swine fecal specimen. Our results indicate that N1380 cells are a useful tool for the isolation of HEV from swine or wild boar fecal specimens, even when they are co-infected with PSV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7883/yoken.JJID.2021.100DOI Listing
April 2021

Flavonoid-triazolyl hybrids as potential anti-hepatitis C virus agents: Synthesis and biological evaluation.

Eur J Med Chem 2021 Jun 31;218:113395. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Key Laboratory of Computational Chemistry Based Natural Antitumor Drug Research & Development, Liaoning Province, School of Traditional Chinese Materia Medica, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang, 110016, People's Republic of China. Electronic address:

A series of flavonoid-triazolyl hybrids were synthesized and evaluated as novel inhibitors of hepatitis C virus (HCV). The results of anti-HCV activity assays showed that most of the synthesized derivatives at a concentration of 100 μg/mL inhibited the generation of progeny virus. Among these derivatives, 10m and 10r exhibited the most potent anti-HCV activity and inhibited the production of HCV in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, 10m and 10r had no significant inhibitory effect on viral translation or replication. Additional action mechanism studies revealed that the most potent compounds, 10m and 10r, significantly inhibited viral entry to 34.0% and 52.0%, respectively, at 10 μM. These results suggest further effective application of 10m and 10r as potential HCV preventive agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmech.2021.113395DOI Listing
June 2021

Potential anti-COVID-19 agents, cepharanthine and nelfinavir, and their usage for combination treatment.

iScience 2021 Apr 26;24(4):102367. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan.

Antiviral treatments targeting the coronavirus disease 2019 are urgently required. We screened a panel of already approved drugs in a cell culture model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and identified two new agents having higher antiviral potentials than the drug candidates such as remdesivir and chroloquine in VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells: the anti-inflammatory drug cepharanthine and human immunodeficiency virus protease inhibitor nelfinavir. Cepharanthine inhibited SARS-CoV-2 entry through the blocking of viral binding to target cells, while nelfinavir suppressed viral replication partly by protease inhibition. Consistent with their different modes of action, synergistic effect of this combined treatment to limit SARS-CoV-2 proliferation was highlighted. Mathematical modeling antiviral activity coupled with the calculated total drug concentrations in the lung predicts that nelfinavir will shorten the period until viral clearance by 4.9 days and the combining cepharanthine/nelfinavir enhanced their predicted efficacy. These results warrant further evaluation of the potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of cepharanthine and nelfinavir.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.102367DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7997640PMC
April 2021

Identification of Anti-Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Oxysterol Derivatives In Vitro.

Int J Mol Sci 2021 Mar 19;22(6). Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan.

The development of effective antiviral drugs targeting the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is urgently needed to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We have previously studied the use of semi-synthetic derivatives of oxysterols, oxidized derivatives of cholesterol as drug candidates for the inhibition of cancer, fibrosis, and bone regeneration. In this study, we screened a panel of naturally occurring and semi-synthetic oxysterols for anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity using a cell culture infection assay. We show that the natural oxysterols, 7-ketocholesterol, 22()-hydroxycholesterol, 24()-hydroxycholesterol, and 27-hydroxycholesterol, substantially inhibited SARS-CoV-2 propagation in cultured cells. Among semi-synthetic oxysterols, Oxy210 and Oxy232 displayed more robust anti-SARS-CoV-2 activities, reducing viral replication more than 90% at 10 μM and 99% at 15 μM, respectively. When orally administered in mice, peak plasma concentrations of Oxy210 fell into a therapeutically relevant range (19 μM), based on the dose-dependent curve for antiviral activity in our cell-based assay. Mechanistic studies suggest that Oxy210 reduced replication of SARS-CoV-2 by disrupting the formation of double-membrane vesicles (DMVs); intracellular membrane compartments associated with viral replication. Our study warrants further evaluation of Oxy210 and Oxy232 as a safe and reliable oral medication, which could help protect vulnerable populations with increased risk of developing COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms22063163DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8003796PMC
March 2021

Identification of novel avian and mammalian deltaviruses provides new insights into deltavirus evolution.

Virus Evol 2021 Jan 12;7(1):veab003. Epub 2021 Feb 12.

Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, 53 Kawahara-cho, Shogo-in, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.

Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is a satellite virus that requires hepadnavirus envelope proteins for its transmission. Although recent studies identified HDV-related deltaviruses in certain animals, the evolution of deltaviruses, such as the origin of HDV and the mechanism of its coevolution with its helper viruses, is unknown, mainly because of the phylogenetic gaps among deltaviruses. Here, we identified novel deltaviruses of passerine birds, woodchucks, and white-tailed deer by extensive database searches and molecular surveillance. Phylogenetic and molecular epidemiological analyses suggest that HDV originated from mammalian deltaviruses and the past interspecies transmission of mammalian and passerine deltaviruses. Further, metaviromic and experimental analyses suggest that the satellite-helper relationship between HDV and hepadnavirus was established after the divergence of the HDV lineage from non-HDV mammalian deltaviruses. Our findings enhance our understanding of deltavirus evolution, diversity, and transmission, indicating the importance of further surveillance for deltaviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ve/veab003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7882216PMC
January 2021

Activation-induced cytidine deaminase is a possible regulator of cross-talk between oocytes and granulosa cells through GDF-9 and SCF feedback system.

Sci Rep 2021 Feb 15;11(1):3833. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kanazawa University, Takara-machi 13-1, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, 920-8640, Japan.

Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID, Aicda) is a master gene regulating class switching of immunoglobulin genes. In this study, we investigated the significance of AID expression in the ovary. Immunohistological study and RT-PCR showed that AID was expressed in murine granulosa cells and oocytes. However, using the Aicda-Cre/Rosa-tdRFP reporter mouse, its transcriptional history in oocytes was not detected, suggesting that AID mRNA in oocytes has an exogenous origin. Microarray and qPCR validation revealed that mRNA expressions of growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF-9) in oocytes and stem cell factor (SCF) in granulosa cells were significantly decreased in AID-knockout mice compared with wild-type mice. A 6-h incubation of primary granuloma cells markedly reduced AID expression, whereas it was maintained by recombinant GDF-9. In contrast, SCF expression was induced by more than threefold, whereas GDF-9 completely inhibited its increase. In the presence of GDF-9, knockdown of AID by siRNA further decreased SCF expression. However, in AID-suppressed granulosa cells and ovarian tissues of AID-knockout mice, there were no differences in the methylation of SCF and GDF-9. These findings suggest that AID is a novel candidate that regulates cross-talk between oocytes and granulosa cells through a GDF-9 and SCF feedback system, probably in a methylation-independent manner.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-83529-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884688PMC
February 2021

Efficient detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the solid fraction of wastewater.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Apr 18;763:144587. Epub 2020 Dec 18.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 4-7-1 Gakuen, Musashi-murayama, Tokyo 208-0011, Japan.

In the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, environmental surveillance for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 has become increasingly important. Studies have demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 RNA is present in the feces of infected individuals; further, its presence in wastewater has been reported. However, an optimized method for its detection in sewage has not yet been adequately investigated. Therefore, in this study, the efficient detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the solid fraction of wastewater was investigated using two quantitative PCR assays. In particular, wastewater samples were collected from a manhole located in the commercial district of a metropolitan region in Japan, where COVID-19 is highly prevalent, and two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The samples were concentrated using four separate methods, namely, electronegative membrane adsorption, polyethylene glycol precipitation, ultrafiltration, and solid precipitation. Each method revealed a significant concentration of pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV) RNA, which is an indicator virus for wastewater. As expected, non-enveloped PMMoV RNA was enriched in the supernatant fraction such that relatively low concentrations were detected in the solid fraction of the wastewater samples. In contrast, higher SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations were consistently detected in the solid fractions compared with the supernatant fractions based on the other methods that were investigated in this study. Spearman's correlation tests showed that the SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in wastewater samples from the WWTP were significantly correlated with the number of COVID-19 cases recorded during the data collection period. These results demonstrate that viral recovery from the solid fraction is an effective method for SARS-CoV-2 RNA surveillance in an aqueous environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144587DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7746508PMC
April 2021

Identification of Two Critical Neutralizing Epitopes in the Receptor Binding Domain of Hepatitis B Virus preS1.

J Virol 2020 Dec 9. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major public health problem. Human hepatocytes are infected with HBV via binding between the preS1 region in the large envelope protein of HBV and sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Although several monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that recognize the receptor binding domain in preS1 and neutralize HBV infection have been isolated, details of neutralizing epitopes are not understood. In this study, we generated 13 MAbs targeting the preS1 receptor binding domain from preS1-specific memory B cells derived from DNA immunized mice. The MAbs were classified into three groups according to the epitope regions, designated epitopes I-III. A virus neutralization assay revealed that MAbs recognizing epitopes I and III neutralized HBV infection, suggesting that these domains are critical epitopes for viral neutralization. In addition, a neutralization assay against multiple genotypes of HBV revealed that epitope I is a semi-pangenotypic neutralizing epitope, whereas epitope III is a genotype-specific epitope. We also showed that neutralizing MAbs against preS1 could neutralize HBV bearing vaccine-induced escape mutation. These findings provide insight into novel immunoprophylaxis for the prevention and treatment of HBV infection. The HBV preS1 2-47 aa region (preS1/2-47) is essential for virus binding with sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Several MAbs targeting preS1/2-47 have been reported to neutralize HBV infection; however, which region in preS1/2-47 contains the critical neutralizing epitope for HBV infection is unclear. Here, we generated several MAbs targeting preS1/2-47 and found that MAbs recognizing the N- or C-terminus of preS1/2-47 remarkably neutralized HBV infection. We further confirmed the neutralizing activity of anti-preS1 MAbs against HBV with vaccine escape mutation. These data clarified the relationship between the antibody epitope and the virus neutralizing activity and also suggested the potential ability of a vaccine antigen containing the preS1 region to overcome the weakness of current HB vaccines comprising the small S protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01680-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8092832PMC
December 2020

MCPIP1 reduces HBV-RNA by targeting its epsilon structure.

Sci Rep 2020 11 27;10(1):20763. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

Department of Molecular Genetics, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, 920-8640, Japan.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the major causative factor of chronic viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. We previously demonstrated that a proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β reduced the level of HBV RNA. However, the mechanism underlying IL-1β-mediated viral RNA reduction remains incompletely understood. In this study, we report that immune regulator Monocyte chemotactic protein-1-induced protein 1 (MCPIP1) can reduce HBV RNA in hepatocytes. MCPIP1 expression level was higher in the liver tissue of HBV-infected patients and mice. Overexpression of MCPIP1 decreased HBV RNA, whereas ablating MCPIP1 in vitro enhanced HBV production. The domains responsible for RNase activity or oligomerization, were required for MCPIP1-mediated viral RNA reduction. The epsilon structure of HBV RNA was important for its antiviral activity and cleaved by MCPIP1 in the cell-free system. Lastly, knocking out MCPIP1 attenuated the anti-HBV effect of IL-1β, suggesting that MCPIP1 is required for IL-1β-mediated HBV RNA reduction. Overall, these results suggest that MCPIP1 may be involved in the antiviral effect downstream of IL-1β.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77166-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7699622PMC
November 2020

Hepatitis E virus infection in 6-month-old pigs in Taiwan.

Sci Rep 2020 10 9;10(1):16869. Epub 2020 Oct 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 4-7-1 Gakuen, Musashi-murayama, Tokyo, 208-0011, Japan.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the causative agent of acute hepatitis E. Genotype 3 (G3) and 4 (G4) HEV have recently been identified in and isolated from swine as the main HEV genotypes worldwide. However, there is limited information on HEV infection status among pigs in Taiwan, especially pigs in the stage before transportation to the slaughterhouse. To determine the frequency of HEV infection among pigs in Taiwan, we detected and quantified HEV RNA contained in 295 fecal specimens collected from 6-month-old pigs bred in 30 pig farms located in 8 counties. We found that 25.1% (74/295) of the fecal specimens were positive for HEV RNA by a quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and the copy number ranged from 2.3 × 10 to 2.08 × 10 copies/g. Amplification of a 338 bp sequence in ORF2 was achieved in 16 of 74 HEV RNA-positive samples, and their nucleotide sequences were determined. Two HEV sequences appeared to belong to subtype 3a of G3 and the remaining 14 HEV sequences belonged to subtype 4b of G4 (G4b). The entire genome sequence of two G4b HEVs was obtained by next-generation sequence analyses, and the phylogenetic analyses indicated that unique G4b HEVs were circulating in pig farms in Taiwan. In the present study, we found that both G3 and G4 HEVs were circulating in Taiwanese pig farms and G4b was the predominant subtype. In addition, the relatively high detection frequency of HEV RNA in the 6-month-old pigs indicated that Taiwanese pigs just before transportation to the slaughterhouse are at risk of carrying HEVs, and thus thorough cooking or heating of pork meat or organs is needed before consumption in Taiwan and possibly in other countries as well.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74034-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547095PMC
October 2020

Immunization of human hepatitis E viruses conferred protection against challenge by a camel hepatitis E virus.

Vaccine 2020 10 23;38(46):7316-7322. Epub 2020 Sep 23.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Gakuen 4-7-1, Musashi-murayama, Tokyo 208-0011, Japan. Electronic address:

Dromedary camel hepatitis E virus is a novel HEV that belongs to the family Hepeviridae, and is classified as genotype 7 HEV (HEV-7). Since HEV-7 is transmitted from camels to humans and causes acute hepatitis E, this virus is a non-negligible pathogen for zoonosis, and a vaccine against HEV-7 infection is urgently needed. Here, we first intravenously inoculated HEV-7 to rhesus monkeys to explore the susceptibility, and we established an animal model. We then used virus-like particles (VLPs) of HEV-1 (HEV-1 VLPs) and HEV-3 (HEV-3 VLPs), a candidate hepatitis E vaccine, to intramuscularly inoculate rhesus monkeys. The monkeys elicited IgG antibody titers as high as >1:102,400 against heterologous HEV-7 without any adjuvants. The HEV-1 VLPs and HEV-3 VLPs-immunized monkeys were challenged intravenously with HEV-7, and they were protected completely from the infection, demonstrating that these VLPs could be a usable vaccine against HEV-7 infection. We also observed that HEV-7-infected rhesus monkeys did not show any liver damage during these experiments. Further efforts are necessary to establish an animal model for investigation of the pathogenesis of hepatitis E caused by HEV-7 infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.09.036DOI Listing
October 2020

Sphingomyelin Is Essential for the Structure and Function of the Double-Membrane Vesicles in Hepatitis C Virus RNA Replication Factories.

J Virol 2020 11 9;94(23). Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan

Some plus-stranded RNA viruses generate double-membrane vesicles (DMVs), one type of the membrane replication factories, as replication sites. Little is known about the lipid components involved in the biogenesis of these vesicles. Sphingomyelin (SM) is required for hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication, but the mechanism of SM involvement remains poorly understood. SM biosynthesis starts in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and gives rise to ceramide, which is transported from the ER to the Golgi by the action of ceramide transfer protein (CERT), where it can be converted to SM. In this study, inhibition of SM biosynthesis, either by using small-molecule inhibitors or by knockout (KO) of CERT, suppressed HCV replication in a genotype-independent manner. This reduction in HCV replication was rescued by exogenous SM or ectopic expression of the CERT protein, but not by ectopic expression of nonfunctional CERT mutants. Observing low numbers of DMVs in stable replicon cells treated with a SM biosynthesis inhibitor or in CERT-KO cells transfected with either HCV replicon or with constructs that drive HCV protein production in a replication-independent system indicated the significant importance of SM to DMVs. The degradation of SM of the -isolated DMVs affected their morphology and increased the vulnerability of HCV RNA and proteins to RNase and protease treatment, respectively. Poliovirus, known to induce DMVs, showed decreased replication in CERT-KO cells, while dengue virus, known to induce invaginated vesicles, did not. In conclusion, these findings indicated that SM is an essential constituent of DMVs generated by some plus-stranded RNA viruses. Previous reports assumed that sphingomyelin (SM) is essential for HCV replication, but the mechanism was unclear. In this study, we showed for the first time that SM and ceramide transfer protein (CERT), which is in the SM biosynthesis pathway, are essential for the biosynthesis of double-membrane vesicles (DMVs), the sites of viral replication. Low numbers of DMVs were observed in CERT-KO cells transfected with replicon RNA or with constructs that drive HCV protein production in a replication-independent system. HCV replication was rescued by ectopic expression of the CERT protein, but not by CERT mutants, that abolishes the binding of CERT to vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein (VAP) or phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PI4P), indicating new roles for VAP and PI4P in HCV replication. The biosynthesis of DMVs has great importance to replication by a variety of plus-stranded RNA viruses. Understanding of this process is expected to facilitate the development of diagnosis and antivirus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01080-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7654263PMC
November 2020

EBV-LMP1 induces APOBEC3s and mitochondrial DNA hypermutation in nasopharyngeal cancer.

Cancer Med 2020 10 20;9(20):7663-7671. Epub 2020 Aug 20.

Division of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan.

An Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is a principal oncogene that plays a pivotal role in EBV-associated malignant tumors including nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Recent genomic landscape studies revealed that NPC also contained many genomic mutations, suggesting the role of LMP1 as a driver gene for the induction of these genomic mutations. Nonetheless, its exact mechanism has not been investigated. In this study, we report that LMP1 alters the expression profile of APOBEC3s(A3s), host deaminases that introduce consecutive C-to-U mutations (hypermutation). In vitro, LMP1 induces APOBEC3B (A3B) and 3F(A3F), in a nasopharyngeal cell line, AdAH. Overexpression of LMP1, A3B, or A3F induces mtDNA hypermutation, which is also detectable from NPC specimens. Expression of LMP1 and A3B in NPC was correlated with neck metastasis. These results provide evidence as to which LMP1 induces A3s and mtDNA hypermutation, and how LMP1 facilitates metastasis is also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.3357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7571841PMC
October 2020

Extracellular vesicles secreted by HBV-infected cells modulate HBV persistence in hydrodynamic HBV transfection mouse model.

J Biol Chem 2020 08 10;295(35):12449-12460. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

Department of Innovative Medical Science, Tokai University School of Medicine, Kanagawa, Japan

Hepatitis B, a viral infection that affects the liver, is thought to affect over 257 million people worldwide, and long-term infection can lead to life-threatening issues such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B develops by the interaction between hepatitis B virus (HBV) and host immune response. However, questions of how HBV-infected cells thwart immune system defenses remain unanswered. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are used for cellular communication, carrying cargoes such as RNAs, proteins, and lipids and delivering them intracellularly after being endocytosed by target cells. HBV-infected liver cells secrete several types of EVs into body fluids such as complete and incomplete virions, and exosomes. We previously demonstrated that monocytes that incorporated EVs moved to immunoregulatory phenotypes via up-regulation of PD-L1, an immunocheckpoint molecule, and down-regulation of CD69, a leukocyte activation molecule. In this study, we transfected mice with HBV using hydrodynamic injection and studied the effects of EVs secreted by HBV-infected liver cells. EVs secreted from cells with HBV replication strongly suppressed the immune response, inhibiting the eradication of HBV-replicating cells in the mice transfected with HBV. EVs were systemically incorporated in multiple organs, including liver, bone marrow (BM), and intestine. Intriguingly, the BM cells that incorporated EVs acquired intestinal tropism and the dendritic cell populations in the intestine increased. These findings suggest that the EVs secreted by HBV-infected liver cells exert immunosuppressive functions, and that an association between the liver, bone marrow, and intestinal tract exists through EVs secreted from HBV-infected cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA120.014317DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7458813PMC
August 2020

Persistent infection with a rabbit hepatitis E virus created by a reverse genetics system.

Transbound Emerg Dis 2021 Mar 29;68(2):615-625. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Rabbit hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a novel zoonotic infectious agent. Although a cell culture system to grow the virus has been established, there is currently no reverse genetics system for generating the virus. In this study, capped genomic rabbit HEV RNAs generated by in vitro transcription were transfected into PLC/PRF/5 cells, and the recovered viruses were subsequently passaged in the cells. The cell culture supernatant was capable of infecting rabbits negative for anti-HEV antibody by intravenous and oral inoculation, indicating that rabbit HEV generated by the reverse genetics system is infectious. Genome-wide analyses indicated that no nucleotide sequence change occurred in the virus genomes that were recovered from the cell culture supernatant after transfection and passaged one time or in the virus genomes recovered from faecal specimens of the infected rabbits. Ribavirin, a broad-spectrum anti-viral inhibitor, efficiently abrogated virus replication ex vivo and transiently suppressed the virus growth in the virus-infected rabbits, suggesting that this reagent is a candidate for therapeutic treatment. In addition, transmission of rabbit HEV to rabbits caused persistent infection, suggesting that the virus-infected rabbit could be an animal model for virus-induced hepatitis. The infectious rabbit HEV produced by a reverse genetics system would be useful to elucidate the mechanisms of HEV replication and the pathogenesis of viral hepatitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13723DOI Listing
March 2021

Characterization of a Novel Rat Hepatitis E Virus Isolated from an Asian Musk Shrew ().

Viruses 2020 07 1;12(7). Epub 2020 Jul 1.

Department of Virology II, 2, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Gakuen 4-7-1, Musashi-murayama, Tokyo 208-0011, Japan.

The Asian musk shrew (shrew) is a new reservoir of a rat hepatitis E virus (HEV) that has been classified into genotype HEV-C1 in the species However, there is no information regarding classification of the new rat HEV based on the entire genome sequences, and it remains unclear whether rat HEV transmits from shrews to humans. We herein inoculated nude rats (Long-Evans rnu/rnu) with a serum sample from a shrew trapped in China, which was positive for rat HEV RNA, to isolate and characterize the rat HEV distributed in shrews. A rat HEV strain, S1129, was recovered from feces of the infected nude rat, indicating that rat HEV was capable of replicating in rats. S1129 adapted and grew well in PLC/PRF/5 cells, and the recovered virus (S1129c1) infected Wistar rats. The entire genomes of S1129 and S1129c1 contain four open reading frames and share 78.3-81.8% of the nucleotide sequence identities with known rat HEV isolates, demonstrating that rat HEVs are genetically diverse. We proposed that genotype HEV-C1 be further classified into subtypes HEV-C1a to HEV-C1d and that the S1129 strain circulating in the shrew belonged to the new subtype HEV-C1d. Further studies should focus on whether the S1129 strain infects humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v12070715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7411586PMC
July 2020

Isolation and characterization of mammalian orthoreoviruses using a cell line resistant to sapelovirus infection.

Transbound Emerg Dis 2020 Nov 14;67(6):2849-2859. Epub 2020 Jun 14.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Porcine sapelovirus (PSV) is a causative agent of acute diarrhoea, pneumonia and reproductive disorders in swine. Since PSV infection interrupts the growth of other viruses due to its high replication capability in cell culture, the prevention of PSV replication is a keystone to the isolation of non-PSV agents from PSV-contaminated samples. In the present study, we established the PSV infection-resistant cell line N1380 and isolated three mammalian orthoreoviruses (MRV) strains, sR1521, sR1677 and sR1590, from swine in Taiwan. These Taiwanese isolates induced an extensive cytopathic effect in N1380 cells upon infection. The complete and empty virus particles were purified from the cell culture supernatants. Next-generation sequencing analyses revealed that the complete virus particles contained 10 segments, including 3 large (L1, L2 and L3), 3 medium (M1, M2 and M3) and 4 small (S1, S2, S3 and S4) segments. In contrast, the empty virus particles without genome were non-infectious. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the Taiwanese strains belong to serotype 2 MRV (MRV2). We established an ELISA for the detection of IgG antibody against MRV2 by using the empty virus particles as the antigen. A total of 540 swine and 95 wild boar serum samples were collected in Japan, and the positive rates were 100% and 52.6%, respectively. These results demonstrated that MRV infection occurred frequently in both swine and wild boar in Japan. We established a cell line that is efficient for the isolation of MRV, and the ELISA based on the naturally occurring empty particles would be of great value for the surveillance of MRV-related diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tbed.13655DOI Listing
November 2020

N-Terminal PreS1 Sequence Regulates Efficient Infection of Cell-Culture-Generated Hepatitis B Virus.

Hepatology 2021 02 31;73(2):520-532. Epub 2020 Oct 31.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Background And Aims: An efficient cell-culture system for hepatitis B virus (HBV) is indispensable for research on viral characteristics and antiviral reagents. Currently, for the HBV infection assay in cell culture, viruses derived from HBV genome-integrated cell lines of HepG2.2.15 or HepAD-38 are commonly used. However, these viruses are not suitable for the evaluation of polymorphism-dependent viral characteristics or resistant mutations against antiviral reagents. HBV obtained by the transient transfection of the ordinary HBV molecular clone has limited infection efficiencies in cell culture.

Approach And Results: We found that an 11-amino-acid deletion (d11) in the preS1 region enhances the infectivity of cell-culture-generated HBV (HBVcc) to sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide-transduced HepG2 (HepG2/NTCP) cells. Infection of HBVcc derived from a d11-introduced genotype C strain (GTC-d11) was ~10-fold more efficient than infection of wild-type GTC (GTC-wt), and the number of infected cells was comparable between GTC-d11- and HepG2.2.15-derived viruses when inoculated with the same genome equivalents. A time-dependent increase in pregenomic RNA and efficient synthesis of covalently closed circular DNA were detected after infection with the GTC-d11 virus. The involvement of d11 in the HBV large surface protein in the enhanced infectivity was confirmed by an HBV reporter virus and hepatitis D virus infection system. The binding step of the GTC-d11 virus onto the cell surface was responsible for this efficient infection.

Conclusions: This system provides a powerful tool for studying the infection and propagation of HBV in cell culture and also for developing the antiviral strategy against HBV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.31308DOI Listing
February 2021

Characterization of a Novel Simian Sapelovirus Isolated from a Cynomolgus Monkey using PLC/PRF/5 Cells.

Sci Rep 2019 12 27;9(1):20221. Epub 2019 Dec 27.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Gakuen 4-7-1, Musashi-murayama, Tokyo, 208-0011, Japan.

We isolated a novel simian sapelovirus (SSV), Cam13, from fecal specimen of a cynomolgus monkey by using PLC/PRF/5 cells. The SSV infection of the cells induced an extensive cytopathic effect. Two types of virus particles with identical diameter (~32 nm) but different densities (1.348 g/cm and 1.295 g/cm) were observed in the cell culture supernatants. The RNA genome of Cam13 possesses 8,155 nucleotides and a poly(A) tail, and it has a typical sapelovirus genome organization consisting of a 5' terminal untranslated region, a large open reading frame (ORF), and a 3' terminal untranslated region. The ORF encodes a single polyprotein that is subsequently processed into a leader protein (L), four structural proteins (VP1, VP2, VP3, and VP4) and seven functional proteins (2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D). We confirmed that 293 T, HepG2/C3A, Hep2C, Huh7 and primary cynomolgus monkey kidney cells were susceptible to SSV infection. In contrast, PK-15, Vero, Vero E6, RD-A, A549, and primary green monkey kidney cells were not susceptible to SSV infection. We established an ELISA for the detection of IgG antibodies against SSV by using the virus particles as the antigen. A total of 327 serum samples from cynomolgus monkeys and 61 serum samples from Japanese monkeys were examined, and the positive rates were 88.4% and 18%, respectively. These results demonstrated that SSV infection occurred frequently in the monkeys. Since Cam13 shared 76.54%-79.52% nucleotide sequence identities with other known SSVs, and constellated in a separate lineage in the phylogeny based on the entire genome sequence, we propose that Cam13 is a new genotype of the simian sapelovirus species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56725-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6934677PMC
December 2019

Establishment of infectious genotype 4 cell culture-derived hepatitis C virus.

J Gen Virol 2020 02 20;101(2):188-197. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

To establish infectious genotype 4a (GT4a) cell culture-derived hepatitis C virus (HCVcc), we constructed full-length ED43 and 12 mutants possessing single or double mutations that increase ED43 replicon replication, and performed cell culture after RNA transfection. Sequential long-term culture of full-length ED43 RNA-transfected cells showed increased viral production in two ED43 mutants named ED43 QK/SI and TR/SI among the tested clones. These ED43 mutants possessed a common mutation, R1405G, in the NS3 helicase region and another mutation, D2413G or V2414A, in the NS5a-NS5b cleavage site. Furthermore, serial reinfection of naïve Huh7.5.1 cells accelerated peak HCV production at an earlier time point after every infection. After the fourth infection, we found a common mutation, R1405G, and six additional mutations in both ED43 QK/SI and TR/SI mutants. All seven mutations supported continuous viral production for more than 40 days in both ED43 QS-7M (QK/SI with seven mutations) and ED43 TS-7M (TR/SI with seven mutations). In addition, ED43 TS-7M did not require additional mutations for continuous virus culture up to 124 days. Both ED43 QS-7M and TS-7M were sensitive to the neutralizing E2 antibodies HCV1 and AR3A and the direct-acting antivirals, simeprevir, ledipasvir and sofosbuvir. In conclusion, we established an infectious ED43 strain containing adaptive mutations, which is important for the analysis of HCV genotype-specific pathogenesis, development of pan-genotypic agents and analysis of drug resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.001378DOI Listing
February 2020

The machinery for endocytosis of epidermal growth factor receptor coordinates the transport of incoming hepatitis B virus to the endosomal network.

J Biol Chem 2020 01 12;295(3):800-807. Epub 2019 Dec 12.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan

Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) is expressed at the surface of human hepatocytes and functions as an entry receptor of hepatitis B virus (HBV). Recently, we have reported that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is involved in NTCP-mediated viral internalization during the cell entry process. Here, we analyzed which function of EGFR is essential for mediating HBV internalization. In contrast to the reported crucial function of EGFR-downstream signaling for the entry of hepatitis C virus (HCV), blockade of EGFR-downstream signaling proteins, including mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT), had no or only minor effects on HBV infection. Instead, deficiency of EGFR endocytosis resulting from either a deleterious mutation in EGFR or genetic knockdown of endocytosis adaptor molecules abrogated internalization of HBV via NTCP and prevented viral infection. EGFR activation triggered a time-dependent relocalization of HBV preS1 to the early and late endosomes and to lysosomes in concert with EGFR transport. Suppression of EGFR ubiquitination by site-directed mutagenesis or by knocking down two EGFR-sorting molecules, signal-transducing adaptor molecule (STAM) and lysosomal protein transmembrane 4β (LAPTM4B), suggested that EGFR transport to the late endosome is critical for efficient HBV infection. Cumulatively, these results support the idea that the EGFR endocytosis/sorting machinery drives the translocation of NTCP-bound HBV from the cell surface to the endosomal network, which eventually enables productive viral infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.AC119.010366DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6970923PMC
January 2020

Non-nucleoside hepatitis B virus polymerase inhibitors identified by an in vitro polymerase elongation assay.

J Gastroenterol 2020 Apr 25;55(4):441-452. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

Choju Medical Institute, Fukushimura Hospital, 19-14 Azayamanaka, Noyori-cho, Toyohashi, 441-8124, Japan.

Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) polymerase is the only virus-encoded enzyme essential for producing the HBV genome and is regarded as an attractive drug target. However, the difficulty of synthesizing and purifying recombinant HBV polymerase protein has hampered the development of new drugs targeting this enzyme, especially compounds unrelated to the nucleoside structure. We recently have developed a technique for the synthesis and purification of recombinant HBV polymerase containing the reverse transcriptase (RT) domain that carried DNA elongation activity in vitro.

Methods: We used the overproduced protein to establish an in vitro high-throughput screening system to identify compounds that inhibit the elongation activity of HBV polymerase.

Results: We screened 1120 compounds and identified a stilbene derivative, piceatannol, as a potential anti-HBV agent. Derivative analysis identified another stilbene derivative, PDM2, that was able to inhibit HBV replication with an IC of 14.4 ± 7.7 μM. An infection experiment suggested that the compounds inhibit the replication of HBV rather than the entry process, as expected. Surface plasmon resonance analysis demonstrated a specific interaction between PDM2 and the RT domain. Importantly, PDM2 showed similar inhibitory activity against the replication of both wild-type HBV and a lamivudine/entecavir-resistant HBV variant. Furthermore, PDM2 showed an additive effect in combination with clinically used nucleos(t)ide analogs.

Conclusions: We report the development of a screening system that is useful for identifying non-nucleos(t)ide RT inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00535-019-01643-0DOI Listing
April 2020

Anti-viral effects of interferon-λ3 on hepatitis B virus infection in cell culture.

Hepatol Res 2020 Mar 5;50(3):283-291. Epub 2020 Jan 5.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Aim: Interferon (IFN)-λ3 is known to have antiviral effects against various pathogens. Recently, it has been reported that the production of IFN-λ3 in colon cells after the administration of nucleotide analogs is expected to reduce hepatitis B surface antigen in chronic hepatitis B patients. Here, we aimed to prove the antiviral effects of IFN-λ3 on hepatitis B virus (HBV) by using an in vitro HBV production and infection system.

Methods: We used HepG2.2.15-derived HBV as an inoculum and the replication-competent molecular clone of HBV as a replication model.

Results: By administering IFN-λ3 to HepG2 cells transfected with the HBV molecular clone, the production of hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core-related antigen was reduced dose-dependently. IFN-λ3 treatment also reduced the number of HBV-positive cells and the synthesis of covalently closed circular DNA after infection of HepG2.2.15-derived HBV to sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide-transduced HepG2 cells. The inhibitory effect on HBV infection by IFN-λ3 was confirmed by using a recombinant a HBV reporter virus system. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the anti-HBV effect of IFN-λ3, we assessed the transcription of HBV RNA and the production of core-associated HBV DNA in HBV molecular clone-transfected HepG2 cells, and found that both parameters were reduced by IFN-λ3.

Conclusions: We observed that the administration of IFN-λ3 inhibits HBV infection and the production of HBV proteins at the HBV RNA transcription level. This finding provides novel insight into the treatment of chronic hepatitis B patients with the administration or induction of IFN-λ3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hepr.13449DOI Listing
March 2020

Hepatitis B Virus Genotype-Dependent Vulnerability of Infected Cells to Immune Reaction in the Early Phase of Infection.

Front Microbiol 2019 18;10:2427. Epub 2019 Oct 18.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype (GT)-A has been reported to predispose patients to chronic infection. To explore the immune responses in infection with different HBV genotypes and clarify the genotype-dependent pathogenicity, a system mimicking the immune reaction during the early phase of HBV infection is indispensable. To this end, we established a coculture system with the replication-competent HBV molecular clone-transfected HepG2 cells and immortalized human natural killer (NK) cells, NK-92MI. Using this system, we evaluated HBV genotype dependency in NK functions and cell death of HBV positive HepG2 cells induced by NK cells or administration of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) by use of flow cytometry. After coculture with NK cells, we found that GT-A-positive HepG2 cells exhibited lower susceptibility to NK cell-induced cell death than GT-B- or GT-C-positive HepG2 cells. The NK responses of degranulation and cytokine production were not different among transfected HBV genotypes in cocultured cells. The expression levels of death receptors in HBV-transfected HepG2 cells were not different. In GT-A-positive cells, a similar low susceptibility was detected by the external administration of TNF, although relatively higher susceptibility was observed in GT-B- and GT-C-positive cells than in GT-A-positive cells. The activation of caspase signaling was revealed to be responsible for this genotype-dependent susceptibility. In conclusion, our results indicate that the HBV genotype does not influence the NK cell function itself but rather cell vulnerability through the TNF signal pathway. This observation may explain the high chronicity rate of HBV GT-A strains even in adult infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.02427DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6813626PMC
October 2019
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