Publications by authors named "Michael A McVoy"

67 Publications

On the Biology of Werner's Complex.

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2021 Jun 8. Epub 2021 Jun 8.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Pediatrics, UNITED STATES.

Werner's Complex, as a cationic coordination complex (CCC), has hitherto unappreciated biological properties derived from its binding affinity to highly anionic biomolecules such as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and nucleic acids. Competitive inhibitor and spectroscopic assays confirm the high affinity to GAGs heparin, heparan sulfate (HS) and its pentasaccharide mimetic Fondaparinux (FPX). Functional consequences of this affinity include inhibition of FPX cleavage by bacterial heparinase and mammalian heparanase enzymes with inhibition of cellular invasion and migration. Werner's Complex is a very efficient condensing agent for DNA and tRNA. In proof-of-principle for translational implications, it is demonstrated to display antiviral activity against human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) at micromolar concentrations with promising selectivity. Exploitation of non-covalent hydrogen-bonding and electrostatic interactions has motivated the unprecedented discovery of these properties, opening new avenues of research for this iconic compound.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.202105019DOI Listing
June 2021

Genome sequences of human cytomegalovirus strain TB40/E variants propagated in fibroblasts and epithelial cells.

Virol J 2021 Jun 3;18(1):112. Epub 2021 Jun 3.

Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Oakland, CA, 94609, USA.

The advent of whole genome sequencing has revealed that common laboratory strains of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) have major genetic deficiencies resulting from serial passage in fibroblasts. In particular, tropism for epithelial and endothelial cells is lost due to mutations disrupting genes UL128, UL130, or UL131A, which encode subunits of a virion-associated pentameric complex (PC) important for viral entry into these cells but not for entry into fibroblasts. The endothelial cell-adapted strain TB40/E has a relatively intact genome and has emerged as a laboratory strain that closely resembles wild-type virus. However, several heterogeneous TB40/E stocks and cloned variants exist that display a range of sequence and tropism properties. Here, we report the use of PacBio sequencing to elucidate the genetic changes that occurred, both at the consensus level and within subpopulations, upon passaging a TB40/E stock on ARPE-19 epithelial cells. The long-read data also facilitated examination of the linkage between mutations. Consistent with inefficient ARPE-19 cell entry, at least 83% of viral genomes present before adaptation contained changes impacting PC subunits. In contrast, and consistent with the importance of the PC for entry into endothelial and epithelial cells, genomes after adaptation lacked these or additional mutations impacting PC subunits. The sequence data also revealed six single noncoding substitutions in the inverted repeat regions, single nonsynonymous substitutions in genes UL26, UL69, US28, and UL122, and a frameshift truncating gene UL141. Among the changes affecting protein-coding regions, only the one in UL122 was strongly selected. This change, resulting in a D390H substitution in the encoded protein IE2, has been previously implicated in rendering another viral protein, UL84, essential for viral replication in fibroblasts. This finding suggests that IE2, and perhaps its interactions with UL84, have important functions unique to HCMV replication in epithelial cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12985-021-01583-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8173854PMC
June 2021

LoReTTA, a user-friendly tool for assembling viral genomes from PacBio sequence data.

Virus Evol 2021 Jan 23;7(1):veab042. Epub 2021 Apr 23.

MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow, UK.

Long-read, single-molecule DNA sequencing technologies have triggered a revolution in genomics by enabling the determination of large, reference-quality genomes in ways that overcome some of the limitations of short-read sequencing. However, the greater length and higher error rate of the reads generated on long-read platforms make the tools used for assembling short reads unsuitable for use in data assembly and motivate the development of new approaches. We present LoReTTA (Long Read Template-Targeted Assembler), a tool designed for performing assembly of long reads generated from viral genomes on the PacBio platform. LoReTTA exploits a reference genome to guide the assembly process, an approach that has been successful with short reads. The tool was designed to deal with reads originating from viral genomes, which feature high genetic variability, possible multiple isoforms, and the dominant presence of additional organisms in clinical or environmental samples. LoReTTA was tested on a range of simulated and experimental datasets and outperformed established long-read assemblers in terms of assembly contiguity and accuracy. The software runs under the Linux operating system, is designed for easy adaptation to alternative systems, and features an automatic installation pipeline that takes care of the required dependencies. A command-line version and a user-friendly graphical interface version are available under a GPLv3 license at https://bioinformatics.cvr.ac.uk/software/ with the manual and a test dataset.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ve/veab042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8111061PMC
January 2021

Antiviral activities of four marine sulfated glycans against adenovirus and human cytomegalovirus.

Antiviral Res 2021 Jun 14;190:105077. Epub 2021 Apr 14.

Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1101 E. Marshall Street, Richmond, VA, 23298-0163, USA. Electronic address:

Broad-spectrum antivirals are more needed than ever to provide treatment options for novel emerging viruses and for viruses that lack therapeutic options or have developed resistance. A large number of viruses rely on charge-dependent non-specific interactions with heparan sulfate (HS), a highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG), for attachment to cell surfaces to initiate cell entry. As such, inhibitors targeting virion-HS interactions have potential to have broad-spectrum antiviral activity. Previous research has explored organic and inorganic small molecules, peptides, and GAG mimetics to disrupt virion-HS interactions. Here we report antiviral activities against both enveloped (the herpesvirus human cytomegalovirus) and non-enveloped (adenovirus) DNA viruses for four defined marine sulfated glycans: a sulfated galactan from the red alga Botryocladia occidentalis; a sulfated fucan from the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus, and a sulfated fucan and a fucosylated chondroitin sulfate from the sea cucumber Isostichopus badionotus. As evidenced by gene expression, time of addition, and treatment/removal assays, all four novel glycans inhibited viral attachment and entry, most likely through interactions with virions. The sulfated fucans, which both lack anticoagulant activity, had similar antiviral profiles, suggesting that their activities are not only due to sulfation content or negative charge density but also due to other physicochemical factors such as the potential conformational shapes of these carbohydrates in solution and upon interaction with virion proteins. The structural and chemical properties of these marine sulfated glycans provide unique opportunities to explore relationships between glycan structure and their antiviral activities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2021.105077DOI Listing
June 2021

Localization of the WD repeat-containing protein 5 to the Virion Assembly Compartment Facilitates Human Cytomegalovirus Assembly.

J Virol 2021 Jan 27. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

Department of Gastroenterology, Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, China.

We previously reported that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) utilizes the cellular protein WD repeat-containing protein 5 (WDR5) to facilitate capsid nuclear egress. Here, we further show that HCMV infection results in WDR5 localization in a juxtanuclear region, and that its localization to this cellular site is associated with viral replication and late viral gene expression. Furthermore, WDR5 accumulated in the virion assembly compartment (vAC) and co-localized with vAC markers of gamma-tubulin (γ-tubulin), early endosomes, and viral vAC marker proteins pp65, pp28, and glycoprotein B (gB). WDR5 co-immunoprecipitated with multiple virion proteins, including MCP, pp150, pp65, pIRS1, and pTRS1, which may explain WDR5 accumulation in the vAC during infection. WDR5 fractionated with virions either in the presence or absence of Triton X-100 and was present in purified viral particles, suggesting that WDR5 was incorporated into HCMV virions. Thus, WDR5 localized to the vAC and was incorporated into virions, raising the possibility that in addition to capsid nuclear egress, WDR5 could also participate in cytoplasmic HCMV virion morphogenesis. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has a large (∼235-kb) genome that contains over 170 ORFs and exploits numerous cellular factors to facilitate its replication. In the late phase of HCMV infection cytoplasmic membranes are reorganized to establish the virion assembly compartment (vAC), which has been shown to necessary for efficient assembly of progeny virions. We previously reported that WDR5 facilitates HCMV nuclear egress. Here, we show that WDR5 is localized to the vAC and incorporated into virions, perhaps contributing to efficient virion maturation. Thus, findings in this study identified a potential role for WDR5 in HCMV assembly in the cytoplasmic phase of virion morphogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02101-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8103678PMC
January 2021

Substitution-inert polynuclear platinum compounds inhibit human cytomegalovirus attachment and entry.

Antiviral Res 2020 12 22;184:104957. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1101 E. Marshall Street, Richmond, VA, 23298-0163, USA. Electronic address:

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infects up to 90-100% of the world population. Although HCMV infection is not a concern for immunocompetent patients, it can be life threatening for immunocompromised individuals. Additionally, congenital HCMV infections can cause serious neurological deficits in neonates. Since viral resistance mutations arise for all current treatments, new treatments targeting novel processes are needed. A well-defined target for HCMV is heparan sulfate, a highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) necessary for virion/host cell attachment. In this study, we investigated as possible antiviral agents substitution-inert cationic polynuclear platinum complexes (PPCs) that demonstrate charge-dependent high affinity for GAGs (Katner et al., 2018; Peterson et al., 2017). Certain PPCs had anti-HCMV activities in low micromolar concentrations and antiviral activity correlated with their GAG-binding affinity. Time of addition, removal, and mechanistic studies were consistent with PPCs binding to cells and blocking HCMV virion attachment; however, evidence also suggested that PPC/virion interactions could inhibit fibroblast but not epithelial cell infection. We hypothesize that the PPC-heparan sulfate interaction described here is a general approach to inhibition of virion/host cell attachment and viral entry mediated by other anionic GAGs and sialic acids on the cell surface. Through metalloshielding of the critical sulfate receptors, PPCs offer an attractive alternative to current antiviral compounds, with the potential to target a broad spectrum of viruses that utilize GAGs for attachment and entry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2020.104957DOI Listing
December 2020

Correction to: Human cytomegalovirus DNA and immediate early protein 1/2 are highly associated with glioma and prognosis.

Protein Cell 2021 Apr;12(4):313

Joint Center of Translational Precision Medicine, Guangzhou Institute of Pediatrics, Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center, Guangzhou, 510623, China.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13238-020-00787-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8018912PMC
April 2021

Impairment in neurocognitive function following experimental neonatal guinea pig cytomegalovirus infection.

Pediatr Res 2021 Mar 17;89(4):838-845. Epub 2020 Jun 17.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA.

Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a leading infectious cause of neurologic deficits, both in the settings of congenital and perinatal infection, but few animal models exist to study neurodevelopmental outcomes. This study examined the impact of neonatal guinea pig CMV (GPCMV) infection on spatial learning and memory in a Morris water maze (MWM) model.

Methods: Newborn pups were challenged intraperitoneally (i.p.) with a pathogenic red fluorescent protein-tagged GPCMV, or sham inoculated. On days 15-19 post infection (p.i.), pups were tested in the MWM. Viral loads were measured in blood and tissue by quantitative PCR (qPCR), and brain samples collected at necropsy were examined by histology and immunohistochemistry.

Results: Viremia (DNAemia) was detected at day 3 p.i. in 7/8 challenged animals. End-organ dissemination was observed, by qPCR, in the lung, liver, and spleen. CD4-positive (CD4) and CD8-positive (CD8) T cell infiltrates were present in brains of challenged animals, particularly in periventricular and hippocampal regions. Reactive gliosis and microglial nodules were observed. Statistically significant spatial learning and memory deficits were observed by MWM, particularly for total maze distance traveled (p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Neonatal GPCMV infection in guinea pigs results in cognitive defects demonstrable by the MWM. This neonatal guinea pig challenge model can be exploited for studying antiviral interventions.

Impact: CMV impairs neonatal neurocognition and memory in the setting of postnatal infection. The MWM can be used to examine memory and learning in a guinea pig model of neonatal CMV infection. CD4 and CD8 T cells infiltrate the brain following neonatal CMV challenge. This article demonstrates that the MWM can be used to evaluate memory and learning after neonatal GPCMV challenge. The guinea pig can be used to examine central nervous system pathology caused by neonatal CMV infection and this attribute may facilitate the study of vaccines and antivirals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41390-020-1010-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8168912PMC
March 2021

Cytomegalovirus Strain TB40/E Restrictions and Adaptations to Growth in ARPE-19 Epithelial Cells.

Microorganisms 2020 Apr 24;8(4). Epub 2020 Apr 24.

Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Francisco, Oakland, CA 94611, USA.

Despite displaying broad tropism in vivo, human cytomegalovirus (CMV) contained in bodily fluids replicates inefficiently in most cultured cell types except fibroblasts. As propagation in fibroblasts leads to the accumulation of genomic changes, a number of strains were generated by serial passaging on endothelial cells. One of these, TB40/E, was shown to contain a mixture of genetically distinct virus variants, and to retain tropism for fibroblasts, endothelial and epithelial cells. Cloning of an endotheliotropic subpopulation produced the TB40-BAC4 variant, extensively used in CMV tropism studies. Because TB40-BAC4 represents only one of the different variants comprising TB40/E, we generated a series of epithelial-cell adapted stocks derived from a TB40/E mixed stock, rather than from TB40-BAC4. Within two passages on ARPE-19 cells, virus populations were produced with the ability to enter and initiate replication with similar efficiencies in both epithelial cells and fibroblasts. Although the ability to release progeny also increased, cell-free virus yields from ARPE-19 cells remained consistently two to three-logs lower than from fibroblasts, hinting at the existence of a post-entry and post-genome synthesis block in epithelial cells. Multinucleated syncytia also rapidly appeared exclusively in ARPE-19 cell cultures, where their numbers and dimensions increased with virus passage. Irrespective of the number of infected nuclei comprising each syncytium, however, only one cytoplasmic virion assembly compartment was consistently observed, leading us to speculate that improvements in entry efficiency associated with ARPE-19 cell adaptation lead to the development of syncytia, which may negatively affect progeny release by limiting the amount of resources available to maturing virions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8040615DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7232150PMC
April 2020

Genome Sequence of Human Cytomegalovirus Ig-KG-H2, a Variant of Strain KG Propagated in the Presence of Neutralizing Antibodies.

Microbiol Resour Announc 2020 Apr 23;9(17). Epub 2020 Apr 23.

Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Human cytomegalovirus shed in infant urine was isolated and serially passaged in fibroblasts in the presence or absence of neutralizing antibodies. Comparison of the genome sequences of representative viruses Ig-KG-H2 (passed with antibody) and ϕ-KG-B5 (passed without antibody) revealed the presence of several mutations in each virus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/MRA.00063-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7180270PMC
April 2020

Immunization with Human Cytomegalovirus Core Fusion Machinery and Accessory Envelope Proteins Elicit Strong Synergistic Neutralizing Activities.

Vaccines (Basel) 2020 Apr 13;8(2). Epub 2020 Apr 13.

The Institute for Vaccine Research and Department of Pathology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) core fusion machinery proteins gB and gH/gL, and accessory proteins UL128/UL130/UL131A, are the key envelope proteins that mediate HCMV entry into and infection of host cells. To determine whether these HCMV envelope proteins could elicit neutralizing activities synergistically, we immunized rabbits with individual or various combinations of these proteins adsorbed to aluminum hydroxide mixed with CpG-ODN. We then analyzed serum neutralizing activities with multiple HCMV laboratory strains and clinical isolates. HCMV trimeric gB and gH/gL elicited high and moderate titers of HCMV neutralizing activity, respectively. HCMV gB in combination with gH/gL elicited up to 17-fold higher HCMV neutralizing activities compared to the sum of neutralizing activity elicited by the individual proteins analyzed with both fibroblasts and epithelial cells. HCMV gB+gH/gL+UL128/UL130/UL131A in combination increased the neutralizing activity up to 32-fold compared to the sum of neutralizing activities elicited by the individual proteins analyzed with epithelial cells. Adding UL128/UL130/UL131A to gB and gH/gL combination did not increase further the HCMV neutralizing activity analyzed with fibroblasts. These data suggest that the combination of HCMV core fusion machinery envelope proteins gB+gH/gL or the combination of gB and pentameric complex could be ideal vaccine candidates that would induce optimal immune responses against HCMV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines8020179DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7348949PMC
April 2020

Comparative neutralizing potencies of antibodies suggest conservation as well as mechanistic differences in human cytomegalovirus entry into epithelial and endothelial cells.

Virol J 2020 04 8;17(1):50. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

Virology laboratory, Shengjing Hospital, China Medical University, Shenyang, People's Republic of China.

Antibody neutralization of cytomegalovirus (CMV) entry into diverse cell types is a key consideration for development of vaccines and immunotherapeutics. CMV entry into fibroblasts differs significantly from entry into epithelial or endothelial cells: fibroblast entry is mediated by gB and gH/gL/gO, whereas both epithelial and endothelial cell entry require an additional pentameric complex (PC) comprised of gH/gL/UL128/UL130/UL131A. Because PC-specific antibodies in CMV-seropositive human sera do not affect fibroblast entry but potently block entry into epithelial or endothelial cells, substantially higher neutralizing potencies for CMV-positive sera are observed when assayed using epithelial cells as targets than when using fibroblasts. That certain sera exhibit similar discordances between neutralizing potencies measured using epithelial vs. endothelial cells (Gerna G. et al.J Gen Virol, 89:853-865, 2008) suggested that additional mechanistic differences may also exist between epithelial and endothelial cell entry. To further explore this issue, neutralizing potencies using epithelial and endothelial cells were simultaneously determined for eight CMV-positive human sera, CMV-hyperimmune globulin, and a panel of monoclonal or anti-peptide antibodies targeting specific epitopes in gB, gH, gH/gL, or the PC. No significant differences were observed between epithelial and endothelial neutralizing potencies of epitope-specific antibodies, CMV-hyperimmune globulin, or seven of the eight human sera. However, one human serum exhibited a six-fold higher potency for neutralizing entry into epithelial cells vs. endothelial cells. These results suggest that epitopes exist that are important for epithelial entry but are less critical, or perhaps dispensable, for endothelial cell entry. Their existence should be considered when developing monoclonal antibody therapies or subunit vaccines representing limited epitopes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12985-020-01320-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7144056PMC
April 2020

Human cytomegalovirus DNA and immediate early protein 1/2 are highly associated with glioma and prognosis.

Protein Cell 2020 07;11(7):525-533

Joint Center of Translational Precision Medicine, Guangzhou Institute of Pediatrics, Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center, Guangzhou, 510623, China.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13238-020-00696-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7305282PMC
July 2020

A Replication-Defective Human Cytomegalovirus Vaccine Elicits Humoral Immune Responses Analogous to Those with Natural Infection.

J Virol 2019 12 13;93(23). Epub 2019 Nov 13.

Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) can cause congenital infections, which are a leading cause of childhood disabilities. Since the rate of maternal-fetal transmission is much lower in naturally infected (HCMV-seropositive) women, we hypothesize that a vaccine candidate capable of eliciting immune responses analogous to those of HCMV-seropositive subjects may confer protection against congenital HCMV. We have previously described a replication-defective virus vaccine based on strain AD169 (D. Wang, D. C. Freed, X. He, F. Li, et al., Sci Transl Med 8:362ra145, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf9387). The vaccine, named V160, has been shown to be safe and immunogenic in HCMV-seronegative human subjects, eliciting both humoral and cellular immune responses (S. P. Adler, S. E. Starr, S. A. Plotkin, S. H. Hempfling, et al., J Infect Dis 220:411-419, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/171.1.26). Here, we further showed that sera from V160-immunized HCMV-seronegative subjects have attributes similar in quality to those from seropositive subjects, including high-avidity antibodies to viral antigens, coverage against a panel of genetically distinct clinical isolates, and protection against viral infection in diverse types of human cells in culture. More importantly, vaccination appeared efficient in priming the human immune system, inducing memory B cells in six V160 recipients at frequencies comparable to those of three HCMV-seropositive subjects. Our results demonstrate the ability of V160 to induce robust and durable humoral memory responses to HCMV, justifying further clinical evaluation of the vaccine against congenital HCMV. HCMV infection can lead to miscarriage or childhood disabilities, and an effective vaccine is urgently needed. Since children born to women who are seropositive prior to pregnancy are less likely to be affected by congenital HCMV infection, it has been hypothesized that a vaccine capable of inducing an immune response resembling the responses in HCMV-seropositive women may be effective. We previously described a replication-defective virus vaccine that has been demonstrated safe and immunogenic in HCMV-seronegative subjects. Here, we conducted additional analyses to show that the vaccine can induce antibodies with functional attributes similar to those from HCMV-seropositive subjects. Importantly, vaccination can induce long-lived memory B cells at frequencies comparable to those seen in HCMV-seropositive subjects. We conclude that this vaccine is a promising candidate that warrants further clinical evaluation for prevention of congenital HCMV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00747-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6854503PMC
December 2019

Susceptibility of Enterovirus-D68 to RNAi-mediated antiviral knockdown.

Antiviral Res 2019 10 20;170:104565. Epub 2019 Jul 20.

Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA. Electronic address:

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) represents an emerging pathogen which has demonstrated a capacity for causing epidemic illness in pediatric and immunocompromised patients. With no effective antiviral treatment available, therapeutic interventions are currently limited to supportive care. Utilizing available genomic sequences from the 2014 B3 Epidemic EV-D68 clade and the 1962 Fermon EV-D68 strains, we performed in silico comparative genomic analysis, identifying several islands of phylogenetic conservation within the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene. The effects of transfecting short-interfering double-stranded RNA (siRNA) molecules targeting these conserved sequences were tested in vitro using a human rhabdomyosarcoma cell-based model of EV-D68 infection. Two siRNA sequences demonstrated reproducible ability to abrogate EV-D68-mediated cytopathic effect in vitro. These siRNA sequences were also able to decrease EV-D68 genome replication, VP-2 capsid protein expression, and infectious particle production in vitro. EV-D68 knockdown was sequence-specific and not observed in cells treated with a negative control siRNA lacking sequence homology to the viral genome. The regions targeted by these siRNA's are located in highly conserved regions of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene. The most potent siRNA targeted a sequence found in subsequent enzyme crystallographic studies to enhance the enzyme's thermostability (Wang et al., 2017). Topical nebulized siRNAs have recently been utilized as antivirals in human studies, with no adverse effects or toxicities noted (Gottlieb et al., 2016). Sequence selection is likely one primary factor determining the potential efficacy of such therapeutics. These results demonstrate that the identified siRNA sequences are able to suppress EV-D68 replication and cytopathic effect in vitro.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2019.104565DOI Listing
October 2019

Immunization of Rabbits with Recombinant Human Cytomegalovirus Trimeric versus Monomeric gH/gL Protein Elicits Markedly Higher Titers of Antibody and Neutralization Activity.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Jun 28;20(13). Epub 2019 Jun 28.

Department of Pathology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.

Congenital human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection and HCMV infection of immunosuppressed patients cause significant morbidity and mortality, and vaccine development against HCMV is a major public health priority. HCMV envelope glycoproteins gB, gH, and gL, which constitute the core fusion machinery, play critical roles in HCMV fusion and entry into host cells. HCMV gB and gH/gL have been reported to elicit potent neutralizing antibodies. Recently, the gB/gH/gL complex was identified in the envelope of HCMV virions, and 16-50% of the total gH/gL bound to gB, forming the gB/gH/gL complex. These findings make the gB/gH/gL a unique HCMV vaccine candidate. We previously reported the production of HCMV trimeric gB and gH/gL heterodimers, and immunization with a combination of trimeric gB and gH/gL heterodimers elicited strong synergistic HCMV-neutralizing activity. To further improve the immunogenicity of gH/gL, we produced trimeric gH/gL. Rabbits immunized with HCMV trimeric gH/gL induced up to 38-fold higher serum titers of gH/gL-specific IgG relative to HCMV monomeric gH/gL, and elicited ~10-fold higher titers of complement-dependent and complement-independent HCMV-neutralizing activity for both epithelial cells and fibroblasts. HCMV trimeric gH/gL in combination with HCMV trimeric gB would be a novel promising HCMV vaccine candidate that could induce highly potent neutralizing activities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133158DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6651862PMC
June 2019

Single-Cell Transcriptome Analysis of CD34 Stem Cell-Derived Myeloid Cells Infected With Human Cytomegalovirus.

Front Microbiol 2019 21;10:577. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Center for Immunobiology and Vaccine Development, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA, United States.

Myeloid cells are important sites of lytic and latent infection by human cytomegalovirus (CMV). We previously showed that only a small subset of myeloid cells differentiated from CD34 hematopoietic stem cells is permissive to CMV replication, underscoring the heterogeneous nature of these populations. The exact identity of resistant and permissive cell types, and the cellular features characterizing the latter, however, could not be dissected using averaging transcriptional analysis tools such as microarrays and, hence, remained enigmatic. Here, we profile the transcriptomes of ∼7000 individual cells at day 1 post-infection using the 10× genomics platform. We show that viral transcripts are detectable in the majority of the cells, suggesting that virion entry is unlikely to be the main target of cellular restriction mechanisms. We further show that viral replication occurs in a small but specific sub-group of cells transcriptionally related to, and likely derived from, a cluster of cells expressing markers of Colony Forming Unit - Granulocyte, Erythrocyte, Monocyte, Megakaryocyte (CFU-GEMM) oligopotent progenitors. Compared to the remainder of the population, CFU-GEMM cells are enriched in transcripts with functions in mitochondrial energy production, cell proliferation, RNA processing and protein synthesis, and express similar or higher levels of interferon-related genes. While expression levels of the former are maintained in infected cells, the latter are strongly down-regulated. We thus propose that the preferential infection of CFU-GEMM cells may be due to the presence of a pre-established pro-viral environment, requiring minimal optimization efforts from viral effectors, rather than to the absence of specific restriction factors. Together, these findings identify a potentially new population of myeloid cells permissive to CMV replication, and provide a possible rationale for their preferential infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.00577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6437045PMC
March 2019

Inclusion of Antibodies to Cell Culture Media Preserves the Integrity of Genes Encoding RL13 and the Pentameric Complex Components During Fibroblast Passage of Human Cytomegalovirus.

Viruses 2019 03 5;11(3). Epub 2019 Mar 5.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.

Propagation of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) in cultured cells results in genetic adaptations that confer improved growth in vitro and significant attenuation in vivo. Mutations in arise quickly, while mutations in the locus emerge later during fibroblast passage and disrupt formation of a glycoprotein complex that is important for entry into epithelial and endothelial cells. As CMV replicates in the context of host antibodies in vivo, we reasoned that antibodies might mitigate the accumulation of adaptive mutations during cell culture passage. To test this, CMV in infant urine was used to infect replicate fibroblast cultures. One lineage was passaged in the absence of CMV-hyperimmuneglobulin (HIG) while the other was passaged with HIG in the culture medium. The former lost epithelial tropism and acquired mutations disrupting RL13 and UL131A expression, whereas the latter retained epithelial tropism and both gene loci remained intact after 22 passages. Additional mutations resulting in single amino acid changes also occurred in encoding glycoprotein M, encoding a subunit of the helicase/primase complex, and encoding the Immediate Early 2 protein. An epitheliotropic RL13+/UL131A+ virus was isolated by limiting dilution in the presence of HIG and expanded to produce a working stock sufficient to conduct cell tropism experiments. Thus, production of virus stocks by culture in the presence of antibodies may facilitate in vitro experiments using viruses that are genetically more authentic than previously available.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v11030221DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466449PMC
March 2019

Novel trimeric human cytomegalovirus glycoprotein B elicits a high-titer neutralizing antibody response.

Vaccine 2018 09 3;36(37):5580-5590. Epub 2018 Aug 3.

Department of Pathology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, United States.

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a major cause of disability in congenitally infected infants and in the immunosuppressed. There is currently no licensed prophylactic HCMV vaccine. The HCMV envelope glycoprotein B (gB) is considered a major vaccine target antigen based on its critical role in mediating viral-host cell fusion and thus viral entry. The natural conformation of HCMV gB within the viral envelope is a trimer, but there has been no reported success in producing a recombinant trimeric gB suitable for vaccine use. Phase II clinical trials of a monomeric recombinant gB protein demonstrated 50% efficacy in preventing HCMV infection in seronegative women of reproductive age, and in reducing viremia in solid organ transplantation recipients. We now report the production of a uniformly trimeric recombinant HCMV gB protein in Chinese ovary cells, as demonstrated by Western blot analysis under modified non-reducing conditions and size exclusion chromatography with multi-angle scattering. Immunization of mice with trimeric HCMV gB induced up to 11-fold higher serum titers of total gB-specific IgG relative to monomeric HCMV gB using Alum + CpG as adjuvants. Further, trimeric HCMV gB elicited 50-fold higher complement-independent and 20-fold higher complement-dependent HCMV neutralizing titers compared to monomeric HCMV gB using the fibroblast cell line, MRC-5, and up to 6-fold higher complement-independent and -dependent HCMV neutralizing titers using the epithelial cell line, ARPE-19. The markedly enhanced HCMV neutralizing activity in response to trimeric HCMV gB was also observed using an additional four distinct clinical HCMV isolates. These data support a role for trimeric HCMV gB as an important component for clinical testing of a prophylactic HCMV vaccine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.07.056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556890PMC
September 2018

A Guinea pig cytomegalovirus resistant to the DNA maturation inhibitor BDCRB.

Antiviral Res 2018 06 9;154:44-50. Epub 2018 Apr 9.

Departments of Pediatrics, Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, 1101 E. Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23298-0163, USA. Electronic address:

Herpesvirus DNA packaging is an essential step in virion morphogenesis and an important target for antiviral development. The halogenated benzimidazole 2-bromo-5,6-dichloro-1-β-d-ribofuranosyl-1H-benzimidazole (BDCRB) was the first compound found to selectively disrupt DNA packaging. It has activity against human cytomegalovirus as well as guinea pig cytomegalovirus. The latter provides a useful small animal model for congenital cytomegalovirus infection. To better understand the mechanism by which BDCRB acts, a guinea pig cytomegalovirus resistant to BDCRB was derived and characterized. An L406P substitution occurred within GP89, a subunit of the complex that cleaves and packages DNA, but transfer of this mutation to an otherwise wild type genetic background did not confer significant BDCRB resistance. The resistant virus also had a 13.4-kb deletion that also appeared to be unrelated to BDCRB-resistance as a virus with a similar spontaneous deletion was sensitive to BDCRB. Lastly, the BDCRB-resistant virus exhibited a dramatic increase in the number of reiterated terminal repeats at both genomic termini. The mechanism that underlies this change in genome structure is not known but may relate to the duplication of terminal repeats that is associated with DNA cleavage and packaging. A model is presented in which BDCRB impairs the ability of terminase to recognize cleavage site sequences, but repeat arrays overcome this impairment by presenting terminase with multiple opportunities to recognize the correct cleavage site sequences that lie within the repeats. Further elucidation of this phenomenon should prove valuable for understanding the molecular basis of herpesvirus DNA maturation and the mechanism of action of this class of drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2018.04.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5955856PMC
June 2018

WDR5 Facilitates Human Cytomegalovirus Replication by Promoting Capsid Nuclear Egress.

J Virol 2018 05 13;92(9). Epub 2018 Apr 13.

State Key Laboratory of Virology, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Wuhan, China

WD repeat-containing protein 5 (WDR5) is essential for assembling the VISA-associated complex to induce a type I interferon antiviral response to Sendai virus infection. However, the roles of WDR5 in DNA virus infections are not well described. Here, we report that human cytomegalovirus exploits WDR5 to facilitate capsid nuclear egress. Overexpression of WDR5 in fibroblasts slightly enhanced the infectious virus yield. However, WDR5 knockdown dramatically reduced infectious virus titers with only a small decrease in viral genome replication or gene expression. Further investigation of late steps of viral replication found that WDR5 knockdown significantly impaired formation of the viral nuclear egress complex and induced substantially fewer infoldings of the inner nuclear membrane. In addition, fewer capsids were associated with these infoldings, and there were fewer capsids in the cytoplasm. Restoration of WDR5 partially reversed these effects. These results suggest that WDR5 knockdown impairs the nuclear egress of capsids, which in turn decreases virus titers. These findings reveal an important role for a host factor whose function(s) is usurped by a viral pathogen to promote efficient replication. Thus, WDR5 represents an interesting regulatory mechanism and a potential antiviral target. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has a large (∼235-kb) genome with over 170 open reading frames and exploits numerous cellular factors to facilitate its replication. HCMV infection increases protein levels of WD repeat-containing protein 5 (WDR5) during infection, overexpression of WDR5 enhances viral replication, and knockdown of WDR5 dramatically attenuates viral replication. Our results indicate that WDR5 promotes the nuclear egress of viral capsids, the depletion of WDR5 resulting in a significant decrease in production of infectious virions. This is the first report that WDR5 favors HCMV, a DNA virus, replication and highlights a novel target for antiviral therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00207-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5899187PMC
May 2018

Fibroblast-adapted human CMV vaccines elicit predominantly conventional CD8 T cell responses in humans.

J Exp Med 2017 Jul 31;214(7):1889-1899. Epub 2017 May 31.

Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)-based vaccines have shown remarkable efficacy in the rhesus macaque model of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, enabling 50% of vaccinated monkeys to clear a subsequent virulent simian immunodeficiency virus challenge. The protective vaccine elicited unconventional CD8 T cell responses that were entirely restricted by MHC II or the nonclassical MHC I molecule, MHC-E. These unconventional responses were only elicited by a fibroblast-adapted rhesus CMV vector with limited tissue tropism; a repaired vector with normal tropism elicited conventional responses. Testing whether these unusual protective CD8 T responses could be elicited in humans requires vaccinating human subjects with a fibroblast-adapted mutant of human CMV (HCMV). In this study, we describe the CD8 T cell responses of human subjects vaccinated with two fibroblast-adapted HCMV vaccines. Most responses were identified as conventional classically MHC I restricted, and we found no evidence for MHC II or HLA-E restriction. These results indicate that fibroblast adaptation alone is unlikely to explain the unconventional responses observed in macaques.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1084/jem.20161988DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5502433PMC
July 2017

Cytomegalovirus Virions Shed in Urine Have a Reversible Block to Epithelial Cell Entry and Are Highly Resistant to Antibody Neutralization.

Clin Vaccine Immunol 2017 Jun 5;24(6). Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) causes sensorineural hearing loss and developmental disabilities in newborns when infections are acquired Pregnant women may acquire CMV from oral exposure to CMV in urine or saliva from young children. Neutralizing antibodies in maternal saliva have the potential to prevent maternal infection and, in turn, fetal infection. As CMV uses different viral glycoprotein complexes to enter different cell types, the first cells to be infected in the oral cavity could determine the type of antibodies needed to disrupt oral transmission. Antibodies targeting the pentameric complex (PC) should block CMV entry into epithelial cells but not into fibroblasts or Langerhans cells (which do not require the PC for entry), while antibodies targeting glycoprotein complexes gB or gH/gL would be needed to block entry into fibroblasts, Langerhans cells, or other cell types. To assess the potential for antibodies to disrupt oral acquisition, CMV from culture-positive urine samples (uCMV) was used to study cell tropisms and sensitivity to antibody neutralization. uCMV entered epithelial cells poorly compared with the entry into fibroblasts. CMV-hyperimmune globulin or monoclonal antibodies targeting gB, gH/gL, or the PC were incapable of blocking the entry of uCMV into either fibroblasts or epithelial cells. Both phenotypes were lost after one passage in cultured fibroblasts, suggestive of a nongenetic mechanism. These results suggest that uCMV virions have a reversible block to epithelial cell entry. Antibodies may be ineffective in preventing maternal oral CMV acquisition but may limit viral spread in blood or tissues, thereby reducing or preventing fetal infection and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/CVI.00024-17DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5461377PMC
June 2017

Genomic analysis of chimeric human cytomegalovirus vaccine candidates derived from strains Towne and Toledo.

Virus Genes 2017 Aug 8;53(4):650-655. Epub 2017 Apr 8.

MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow, UK.

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is an important opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised patients and a major cause of congenital birth defects when acquired in utero. In the 1990s, four chimeric viruses were constructed by replacing genome segments of the high passage Towne strain with segments of the low passage Toledo strain, with the goal of obtaining live attenuated vaccine candidates that remained safe but were more immunogenic than the overly attenuated Towne vaccine. The chimeras were found to be safe when administered to HCMV-seronegative human volunteers, but to differ significantly in their ability to induce seroconversion. This suggests that chimera-specific genetic differences impacted the ability to replicate or persist in vivo and the consequent ability to induce an antibody response. To identify specific genomic breakpoints between Towne and Toledo sequences and establish whether spontaneous mutations or rearrangements had occurred during construction of the chimeras, complete genome sequences were determined. No major deletions or rearrangements were observed, although a number of unanticipated mutations were identified. However, no clear association emerged between the genetic content of the chimeras and the reported levels of vaccine-induced HCMV-specific humoral or cellular immune responses, suggesting that multiple genetic determinants are likely to impact immunogenicity. In addition to revealing the genome organization of the four vaccine candidates, this study provided an opportunity to probe the genetics of HCMV attenuation in humans. The results may be valuable in the future design of safe live or replication-defective vaccines that optimize immunogenicity and efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11262-017-1452-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5527331PMC
August 2017

Impact of Antibodies and Strain Polymorphisms on Cytomegalovirus Entry and Spread in Fibroblasts and Epithelial Cells.

J Virol 2017 07 9;91(13). Epub 2017 Jun 9.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) entry into fibroblasts differs from entry into epithelial cells. CMV also spreads cell to cell and can induce syncytia. To gain insights into these processes, 27 antibodies targeting epitopes in CMV virion glycoprotein complexes, including glycoprotein B (gB), gH/gL, and the pentamer, were evaluated for their effects on viral entry and spread. No antibodies inhibited CMV spread in fibroblasts, including those with potent neutralizing activity against fibroblast entry, while all antibodies that neutralized epithelial cell entry also inhibited spread in epithelial cells and a correlation existed between the potencies of these two activities. This suggests that exposure of virions to the cell culture medium is obligatory during spread in epithelial cells but not in fibroblasts. In fibroblasts, the formation of syncytiumlike structures was impaired not only by antibodies to gB or gH/gL but also by antibodies to the pentamer, suggesting a potential role for the pentamer in promoting fibroblast fusion. Four antibodies reacted with linear epitopes near the N terminus of gH, exhibited strain specificity, and neutralized both epithelial cell and fibroblast entry. Five other antibodies recognized conformational epitopes in gH/gL and neutralized both fibroblast and epithelial cell entry. That these antibodies were strain specific for neutralizing fibroblast but not epithelial cell entry suggests that polymorphisms external to certain gH/gL epitopes may influence antibody neutralization during fibroblast but not epithelial cell entry. These findings may have implications for elucidating the mechanisms of CMV entry, spread, and antibody evasion and may assist in determining which antibodies may be most efficacious following active immunization or passive administration. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a significant cause of birth defects among newborns infected and morbidity and mortality in transplant and AIDS patients. Monoclonal antibodies and vaccines targeting humoral responses are under development for prophylactic or therapeutic use. The findings reported here (i) confirm that cell-to-cell spread of CMV is sensitive to antibody inhibition in epithelial cells but not fibroblasts, (ii) demonstrate that antibodies can restrict the formation of syncytiumlike structures that resemble syncytial cytomegalic cells that are associated with CMV disease , and (iii) reveal that neutralization of CMV by antibodies to certain epitopes in gH or gH/gL is both strain and cell type dependent and can be governed by polymorphisms in sequences external to the epitopes. These findings serve to elucidate the mechanisms of CMV entry, spread, and antibody evasion and may have important implications for the development of CMV vaccines and immunotherapeutics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01650-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469265PMC
July 2017

Neutralization of Diverse Human Cytomegalovirus Strains Conferred by Antibodies Targeting Viral gH/gL/pUL128-131 Pentameric Complex.

J Virol 2017 04 13;91(7). Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Merck Research Laboratories, Merck and Co., Inc., Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the leading cause of congenital viral infection, and developing a prophylactic vaccine is of high priority to public health. We recently reported a replication-defective human cytomegalovirus with restored pentameric complex glycoprotein H (gH)/gL/pUL128-131 for prevention of congenital HCMV infection. While the quantity of vaccine-induced antibody responses can be measured in a viral neutralization assay, assessing the quality of such responses, including the ability of vaccine-induced antibodies to cross-neutralize the field strains of HCMV, remains a challenge. In this study, with a panel of neutralizing antibodies from three healthy human donors with natural HCMV infection or a vaccinated animal, we mapped eight sites on the dominant virus-neutralizing antigen-the pentameric complex of glycoprotein H (gH), gL, and pUL128, pUL130, and pUL131. By evaluating the site-specific antibodies in vaccine immune sera, we demonstrated that vaccination elicited functional antiviral antibodies to multiple neutralizing sites in rhesus macaques, with quality attributes comparable to those of CMV hyperimmune globulin. Furthermore, these immune sera showed antiviral activities against a panel of genetically distinct HCMV clinical isolates. These results highlighted the importance of understanding the quality of vaccine-induced antibody responses, which includes not only the neutralizing potency in key cell types but also the ability to protect against the genetically diverse field strains. HCMV is the leading cause of congenital viral infection, and development of a preventive vaccine is a high public health priority. To understand the strain coverage of vaccine-induced immune responses in comparison with natural immunity, we used a panel of broadly neutralizing antibodies to identify the immunogenic sites of a dominant viral antigen-the pentameric complex. We further demonstrated that following vaccination of a replication-defective virus with the restored pentameric complex, rhesus macaques can develop broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting multiple immunogenic sites of the pentameric complex. Such analyses of site-specific antibody responses are imperative to our assessment of the quality of vaccine-induced immunity in clinical studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02033-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5355600PMC
April 2017

A Phase 1 Study of 4 Live, Recombinant Human Cytomegalovirus Towne/Toledo Chimera Vaccines in Cytomegalovirus-Seronegative Men.

J Infect Dis 2016 Nov 11;214(9):1341-1348. Epub 2016 Aug 11.

3-V Biosciences, Menlo Park, California.

Background:  Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection causes disease in newborns and transplant recipients. A HCMV vaccine (Towne) protects transplant recipients.

Methods:  The genomes of Towne and the nonattenuated Toledo strain were recombined, yielding 4 Towne/Toledo chimera vaccines. Each of 36 HCMV-seronegative men received 1 subcutaneous dose of 10, 100, or 1000 plaque-forming units (PFU) in cohorts of 3. Safety and immunogenicity were evaluated over 12 weeks after immunization and for 52 weeks for those who seroconverted.

Results:  There were no serious local or systemic reactions. No subject had HCMV in urine or saliva. For chimera 3, none of 9 subjects seroconverted. For chimera 1, 1 of 9 seroconverted (the seroconverter received 100 PFU). For chimera 2, 3 subjects seroconverted (1 received 100 PFU, and 2 received 1000 PFU). For chimera 4, 7 subjects seroconverted (1 received 10 PFU, 3 received 100 PFU, and 3 received 1000 PFU). All 11 seroconverters developed low but detectable levels of neutralizing activity. CD4 T-cell responses were detectable in 1 subject (who received 100 PFU of chimera 4). Seven subjects receiving chimera 2 or 4 had detectable CD8 T-cell responses to IE1; 3 responded to 1-2 additional antigens.

Conclusions:  The Towne/Toledo chimera vaccine candidates were well tolerated and were not excreted. Additional human trials of chimeras 2 and 4 are appropriate.

Clinical Trials Registration:  NCT01195571.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiw365DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5079366PMC
November 2016

Repair of a Mutation Disrupting the Guinea Pig Cytomegalovirus Pentameric Complex Acquired during Fibroblast Passage Restores Pathogenesis in Immune-Suppressed Guinea Pigs and in the Context of Congenital Infection.

J Virol 2016 09 12;90(17):7715-27. Epub 2016 Aug 12.

Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Unlabelled: Guinea pig cytomegalovirus (GPCMV) provides a valuable model for congenital cytomegalovirus transmission. Salivary gland (SG)-passaged stocks of GPCMV are pathogenic, while tissue culture (TC) passage in fibroblasts results in attenuation. Nonpathogenic TC-derived virus N13R10 (cloned as a bacterial artificial chromosome [BAC]) has a 4-bp deletion that disrupts GP129, which encodes a subunit of the GPCMV pentameric complex (PC) believed to govern viral entry into select cell types, and GP130, an overlapping open reading frame (ORF) of unknown function. To determine if this deletion contributes to attenuation of N13R10, markerless gene transfer in Escherichia coli was used to construct virus r129, a variant of N13R10 in which the 4-bp deletion is repaired. Virions from r129 were found to contain GP129 as well as two other PC subunit proteins, GP131 and GP133, whereas these three PC subunits were absent from N13R10 virions. Replication of r129 in fibroblasts appeared unaltered compared to that of N13R10. However, following experimental challenge of immunocompromised guinea pigs, r129 induced significant weight loss, longer duration of viremia, and dramatically higher (up to 1.5 × 10(6)-fold) viral loads in blood and end organs compared to N13R10. In pregnant guinea pigs, challenge with doses of r129 virus of ≥5 × 10(6) PFU resulted in levels of maternal viremia, congenital transmission, pup viral loads, intrauterine growth restriction, and pup mortality comparable to that induced by pathogenic SG virus, although higher doses of r129 were required. These results suggest that the GP129-GP130 mutation is a significant contributor to attenuation of N13R10, likely by abrogating expression of a functional PC.

Importance: Tissue culture adaptation of cytomegaloviruses rapidly selects for mutations, deletions, and rearrangements in the genome, particularly for viruses passaged in fibroblast cells. Some of these mutations are focused in the region of the genome encoding components of the pentameric complex (PC), in particular homologs of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) proteins UL128, UL130, and UL131A. These mutations can attenuate the course of infection when the virus is reintroduced into animals for vaccine and pathogenesis studies. This study demonstrates that a deletion that arose during the process of tissue culture passage can be repaired, with subsequent restoration of pathogenicity, using BAC-based mutagenesis. Restoration of pathogenicity by repair of a frameshift mutation in GPCMV gene GP129 using this approach provides a valuable genetic platform for future studies using the guinea pig model of congenital CMV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00320-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4988165PMC
September 2016

Targeted Mutagenesis of Guinea Pig Cytomegalovirus Using CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Gene Editing.

J Virol 2016 08 11;90(15):6989-6998. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Unlabelled: The cytomegaloviruses (CMVs) are among the most genetically complex mammalian viruses, with viral genomes that often exceed 230 kbp. Manipulation of cytomegalovirus genomes is largely performed using infectious bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs), which necessitates the maintenance of the viral genome in Escherichia coli and successful reconstitution of virus from permissive cells after transfection of the BAC. Here we describe an alternative strategy for the mutagenesis of guinea pig cytomegalovirus that utilizes clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9)-mediated genome editing to introduce targeted mutations to the viral genome. Transient transfection and drug selection were used to restrict lytic replication of guinea pig cytomegalovirus to cells that express Cas9 and virus-specific guide RNA. The result was highly efficient editing of the viral genome that introduced targeted insertion or deletion mutations to nonessential viral genes. Cotransfection of multiple virus-specific guide RNAs or a homology repair template was used for targeted, markerless deletions of viral sequence or to introduce exogenous sequence by homology-driven repair. As CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis occurs directly in infected cells, this methodology avoids selective pressures that may occur during propagation of the viral genome in bacteria and may facilitate genetic manipulation of low-passage or clinical CMV isolates.

Importance: The cytomegalovirus genome is complex, and viral adaptations to cell culture have complicated the study of infection in vivo Recombineering of viral bacterial artificial chromosomes enabled the study of recombinant cytomegaloviruses. Here we report the development of an alternative approach using CRISPR/Cas9-based mutagenesis in guinea pig cytomegalovirus, a small-animal model of congenital cytomegalovirus disease. CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis can introduce the same types of mutations to the viral genome as bacterial artificial chromosome recombineering but does so directly in virus-infected cells. CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis is not dependent on a bacterial intermediate, and defined viral mutants can be recovered after a limited number of viral genome replications, minimizing the risk of spontaneous mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00139-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944286PMC
August 2016

A cytomegalovirus DNA vaccine induces antibodies that block viral entry into fibroblasts and epithelial cells.

Vaccine 2015 Dec 24;33(51):7328-7336. Epub 2015 Oct 24.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, United States.

A vaccine to prevent congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections is a national priority. Investigational vaccines have targeted the viral glycoprotein B (gB) as an inducer of neutralizing antibodies and phosphoprotein 65 (pp65) as an inducer of cytotoxic T cells. Antibodies to gB neutralize CMV entry into all cell types but their potency is low compared to antibodies that block epithelial cell entry through targeting the pentameric complex (gH/gL/UL128/UL130/UL131). Hence, more potent overall neutralizing responses may result from a vaccine that combines gB with pentameric complex-derived antigens. To assess the ability of pentameric complex subunits to generate epithelial entry neutralizing antibodies, DNA vaccines encoding UL128, UL130, and/or UL131 were formulated with Vaxfectin(®), an adjuvant that enhances antibody responses to DNA vaccines. Mice were immunized with individual DNA vaccines or with pair-wise or trivalent combinations. Only the UL130 vaccine induced epithelial entry neutralizing antibodies and no synergy was observed from bi- or trivalent combinations. In rabbits the UL130 vaccine again induced epithelial entry neutralizing antibodies while UL128 or UL131 vaccines did not. To evaluate compatibility of the UL130 vaccine with DNA vaccines encoding gB or pp65, mono-, bi-, or trivalent combinations were evaluated. Fibroblast and epithelial entry neutralizing titers did not differ between rabbits immunized with gB alone vs. gB/UL130, gB/pp65, or gB/UL130/pp65 combinations, indicating a lack of antagonism from coadministration of DNA vaccines. Importantly, gB-induced epithelial entry neutralizing titers were substantially higher than activities induced by UL130, and both fibroblast and epithelial entry neutralizing titers induced by gB alone as well as gB/pp65 or gB/UL130/pp65 combinations were comparable to those observed in sera from humans with naturally-acquired CMV infections. These findings support further development of Vaxfectin(®)-formulated gB-expressing DNA vaccine for prevention of congenital CMV infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.10.078DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684450PMC
December 2015