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Topic review
Updated time: 05 May 2021
Submitted by: Ahmed Omar Kaseb
Definition: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to an unprecedented threat to the international community and raised major concerns in terms of public health safety. Although our current understanding of the complexity of COVID-19 pathogenesis remains limited, the infection is largely mediated by the interaction of viral spike protein and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The functional importance of ACE2 in different demographic and comorbid conditions may explain the significant variation in incidence and mortality of COVID-19 in vulnerable groups, and highlights its candidacy as a potential therapeutic target.
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Topic review
Updated time: 24 May 2021
Submitted by: Ronen Borenstein
Definition: Viral pathogens often exploit host cell regulatory and signaling pathways to ensure an optimal environment for growth and survival. Several studies have suggested that 5′-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an intracellular serine/threonine kinase, plays a significant role in the modulation of infection.
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Videos
Updated time: 09 Nov 2020
Submitted by: Camila Xu
Viruses have been regarded as a growing danger to humanity's health, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced this thought. However, an increasing number of reports have demonstrated that viral weaponry can also be exploited for therapeutic applications. This consideration inspired the scientific committee of the event "Viruses not only the bad ones" to organize a series of webinars that will bring us on a journey through the world of viruses. This series will provide information about SARS-CoV-2 and other threatening viruses that could be responsible for new outbreaks, but will focus on the latest achievements in the application of viral technologies for the development of innovative therapeutic approaches.
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Topic review
Updated time: 10 Jun 2021
Submitted by: Young-Ki Choi
Definition: Even though numerous studies have been performed in the over 100 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic, knowledge of the host factors influencing influenza disease severity remains elusive. Shortcomings include understanding the transmission mechanisms, natural history and precise pathogenesis of influenza disease, and host immune responses. In addition, knowledge gaps exist regarding the relationship between clinical presentation, transmission, and protection levels. Given that universal influenza vaccines are still unavailable, there remains prodigious potential for influenza to reassort and cause severe human epidemics and pandemics. Therefore, it is essential to continuously assess host-virus interactions, transmission mechanisms, and the host immune response to different influenza viruses in various animal models. The selection of appropriate animal models for specific research questions is prerequisite for accurate understanding of influenza virus properties prior to clinical trials for novel universal influenza vaccines. In this review, the advantages and disadvantages of different animal models used for influenza research, including mice, ferrets, guinea pigs, swine, felines, canines, and non-human primates, will be discussed.
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Topic review
Updated time: 04 Nov 2020
Submitted by: Rana Abdelnabi
Definition: Alphaviruses are members of the Togaviridae family that are mainly transmitted by arthropods such as mosquitoes. In the last decades, several alphaviruses have re-emerged causing outbreaks worldwide. Infections with the Old World alphaviruses (e.g. CHIKV, RRV) are primarily associated with polyarthritis and myalgia that can persist for months to years. On the other hand, New World alphaviruses such as VEEV cause mainly neurological disease. Despite the worldwide (re-)emergence of these viruses, there are no antivirals or vaccines available for the treatment or prevention of infections with alphaviruses. It is therefore of utmost importance to develop antiviral strategies against these viruses. We here provide an overview of the reported antiviral strategies against arthritogenic alphaviruses. In addition, we highlight the future perspectives for the development and the proper use of such antivirals.
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Topic review
Updated time: 21 Nov 2020
Submitted by: Kiran Gadhave
Definition: Potyviruses are the largest group of plant infecting RNA viruses that cause significant losses in a wide range of crops across the globe. The majority of viruses in the genus Potyvirus are transmitted by aphids in a non-persistent, non-circulative manner and have been extensively studied vis-à-vis their structure, taxonomy, evolution, diagnosis, transmission, and molecular interactions with hosts.
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Topic review
Updated time: 27 Jul 2020
Submitted by: François Ferron
Definition: Arenaviridae is a family of viruses harbouring important emerging pathogens belonging to the Bunyavirales order. Like in other segmented negative strand RNA viruses, the nucleoprotein (NP) is a major actor of the viral life cycle being both (i) the necessary co-factor of the polymerase present in the L protein, and (ii) the last line of defence of the viral genome (vRNA) by physically hiding its presence in the cytoplasm. The NP is also one of the major players interfering with the immune system. Several structural studies of NP have shown that it features two domains: a globular RNA binding domain (NP-core) in its N-terminal and an exonuclease domain (ExoN) in its C-terminal. Further studies have observed that significant conformational changes are necessary for RNA encapsidation. We here present the architecture and latest structural data available on Arenaviridae NP.
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Topic review
Updated time: 13 Apr 2021
Submitted by: Ana Catarina Urbano
Definition: Genome condensation and packaging are essential processes in the life cycle of viruses. Mimivirus and many other nucleocytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV) subfamilies have evolved a unique genome packaging mechanism that is comparable to chromosome segregation in bacteria and archaea and requires a number of specific enzymes, such as packaging ATPases, recombinases, DNA polymerases, helicases, and topoisomerases, as well as histones or histone-like proteins. Although the mechanisms of assembly and genome encapsidation in African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) have not been fully characterized, the similarities in genome structure with Poxviruses and data from electron microscopy suggest that the ASFV packaging machinery is similar to Mimivirus and other NCLDVs. ASFV encodes up to 70 structural proteins, 16 of which, at least, are thought to be involved in assembly of the virus particle and include a predicted packaging A32L ATPase (B354L), a lambda-like recombinase (D345L), a type II topoisomerase (P1192R), and the histone-like DNA-binding protein pA104R.
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Topic review
Updated time: 29 Jan 2021
Submitted by: Stephan Pleschka
Definition: Avian influenza A virus (AIV) infections with H5N1- and H9N2-strains and co-infections with both subtypes have been frequently reported in field samples from poultry, but genetic reassortment between both subtypes has not been reported yet. Therefore, we evaluated the genetic compatibility and the replication efficiency of H5N1 reassortants of recently circulating H5N1 and H9N2 in Egypt (H5N1-EGY and H9N2-EGY). We show that the replication efficiencies of H5N1-EGY reassortants expressing PB2 and PA polymerase subunits of H9N2-EGY, H5N1PB2-H9N2EGY and H5N1PA-H9N2EGY, were higher than the wildtype H5N1-EGY in mammalian cells, but comparable to the positive H5N1 control comprising the 6 human-adapted/H9N2 derived internal proteins-encoding segments of human H7N9 (H5N1-6H7N9Anhui), at 37°C. By propagating both H5N1 reassortants on mammalian cell cultures at 33°C and 39°C, both viruses replicated to higher levels than the parental H5N1-EGY, but comparable to the control H5N1-6H7N9Anhui, at both temperatures. This may confirm that the emergence of H5N1 reassortants with internal proteins-encoding segments from cocirculating H9N2 viruses is possible in principle and may be potentiated by improved replication fitness of these reassortants. The eventual spread of these reassortants would negatively augment the zoonotic potential of H5N1 viruses in nature.
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Videos
Updated time: 09 Dec 2020
Submitted by: Camila Xu
This topic of the first webinar of the COVID-19 series discussed how to avoid a new lockdown. The Chair of the online seminar, Prof. Dr. Antoine Flahault, explained how a second lockdown could be avoided in general, but also in the context of Europe. Professor Flahault then proceeded to answer questions from the audience. The second guest speaker was Prof. Dr. Evelyne Bischof. As she was in China during the lockdown, she shared her hands-on experience with the audience and put forward different strategies in order to possibly avoid a second wave.
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