A wide range of viruses from different virus families in different geographical areas, may cause immediate or delayed neuropathological changes and neurological manifestations in humans and animals. Infection by neurotropic viruses as well as the resulting immune response can irreversibly disrupt the complex structural and functional architecture of the central nervous system, frequently leaving the patient or affected animal with a poor or fatal prognosis. Mechanisms that govern neuropathogenesis and immunopathogenesis of viral infections are highlighted, using examples of well-studied virus infections that are associated with these alterations in different populations throughout the world. A better understanding of the molecular, epidemiological and biological characteristics of these infections and in particular of mechanisms that underlie their clinical manifestations may be expected to provide tools for the development of more effective intervention strategies and treatment regimens.
A SARS-CoV lacking the full-length E gene (SARS-CoV-∆E) was attenuated and an effective vaccine. Here, we show that this mutant virus regained fitness after serial passages in cell culture or in vivo, resulting in the partial duplication of the membrane gene or in the insertion of a new sequence in gene 8a, respectively. The chimeric proteins generated in cell culture increased virus fitness in vitro but remained attenuated in mice. In contrast, during SARS-CoV-∆E passage in mice, the virus incorporated a mutated variant of 8a protein, resulting in reversion to a virulent phenotype. When the full-length E protein was deleted or its PDZ-binding motif (PBM) was mutated, the revertant viruses either incorporated a novel chimeric protein with a PBM or restored the sequence of the PBM on the E protein, respectively. Similarly, after passage in mice, SARS-CoV-∆E protein 8a mutated, to now encode a PBM, and also regained virulence. These data indicated that the virus requires a PBM on a transmembrane protein to compensate for removal of this motif from the E protein. To increase the genetic stability of the vaccine candidate, we introduced small attenuating deletions in E gene that did not affect the endogenous PBM, preventing the incorporation of novel chimeric proteins in the virus genome. In addition, to increase vaccine biosafety, we introduced additional attenuating mutations into the nsp1 protein. Deletions in the carboxy-terminal region of nsp1 protein led to higher host interferon responses and virus attenuation. Recombinant viruses including attenuating mutations in E and nsp1 genes maintained their attenuation after passage in vitro and in vivo. Further, these viruses fully protected mice against challenge with the lethal parental virus, and are therefore safe and stable vaccine candidates for protection against SARS-CoV.
The newly emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has infected at least 1,082 people, including 439 fatalities. So far, no empirical virus isolation study has been done to elucidate infectious virus secretion or serotype variability. Here, we used 51 respiratory samples from 32 patients with confirmed MERS-CoV infection for virus isolation in Vero B4 and Caco-2 cells. We found Caco-2 cells to significantly enhance isolation success over routinely used Vero cells. Isolation success correlated with viral RNA concentration and time after diagnosis as well as with the amount of IgA antibodies secreted in respiratory samples used for isolation. Results from plaque reduction neutralization assays using a representative range of serum samples and virus isolates suggested that all circulating human MERS-CoV strains represent one single serotype. The choice of prototype strain is not likely to influence the success of candidate MERS-CoV vaccines. However, vaccine formulations should be evaluated for their potential to induce IgA.