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The genome of a Mesozoic paleovirus reveals the evolution of hepatitis B viruses

Paleovirology involves the identification of ancient endogenous viral elements within eukaryotic genomes. The evolutionary origins of the reverse-transcribing hepatitis B viruses, however, remain elusive, due to the small number of endogenized sequences present in host genomes. Here we report a comprehensively dated genomic record of hepatitis B virus endogenizations that spans bird evolution from >82 to <12.1 million years ago. The oldest virus relic extends over a 99% complete hepatitis B virus genome sequence and constitutes the first discovery of a Mesozoic paleovirus genome. We show that Hepadnaviridae are >63 million years older than previously known and provide direct evidence for coexistence of hepatitis B viruses and birds during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras. Finally, phylogenetic analyses and distribution of hepatitis B virus relics suggest that birds potentially are the ancestral hosts of Hepadnaviridae and mammalian hepatitis B viruses probably emerged after a bird–mammal host switch. Our study reveals previously undiscovered and multi-faceted insights into prehistoric hepatitis B virus evolution and provides valuable resources for future studies, such as in-vitro resurrection of Mesozoic hepadnaviruses.

  
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Can't think HOW I missed this one!!  Really good evidence that even pararetroviruses - with their accelerated evolution - are ancient, evolutionarily speaking.

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Virology News
Topical news snippets about viruses that affect people.  And other things. Like zombies B-)
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Genomoviridae: a new family of widespread single-stranded DNA viruses

Official Full-Text Publication: Genomoviridae: a new family of widespread single-stranded DNA viruses on ResearchGate, the professional network for scientists.
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Stupid name - but highly interesting viruses B-)
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Virus particles in a doughnut-shaped chamber form fixed patterns

Virus particles in a doughnut-shaped chamber form fixed patterns | Virology News | Scoop.it
Large biomolecules in a small space spontaneously form symmetrical patterns. Researchers from FOM institute AMOLF discovered this together with colleagues from Oxford and Jülich when they confined rod-shaped virus particle
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Emerging strain of honeybee virus proves even more deadly

Emerging strain of honeybee virus proves even more deadly | Virology News | Scoop.it
Viral infections have been identified as a major factor​ in the continued decline of honeybee populations, including Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). Now, European researchers have shown that DWV is composed of two different strains, and the second is even more virulent than the established type.
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South Africa’s bid to end AIDS

South Africa’s bid to end AIDS | Virology News | Scoop.it
The tools exist, but the country’s epidemic—the largest in the world—won’t yield easily
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Imagine that a country that is still developing can have the largest number of people on ARVs in the world. With a tax base of some 10% of the population.
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Researchers identify exact origin of 2009 swine H1N1 flu pandemic

Researchers identify exact origin of 2009 swine H1N1 flu pandemic | Virology News | Scoop.it
The 2009 swine H1N1 flu pandemic — responsible for more than 17,000 deaths worldwide — originated in pigs from a very small region in central Mexico, a research team headed by investigators at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is reporting.
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Mysterious viral haemorrhagic fever outbreak in northern South Sudan

team from WHO's Regional Office for Africa is investigating a mysterious viral haemorrhagic fever outbreak in northern South Sudan that has killed 10 people. At the same time, national health officials are scrambling to put preventive measures in place based on the scant knowledge they have so far. However, in a country where nearly 2.5 years of fighting have left the health system in tatters, it is unclear how effective those efforts will be.

The outbreak was 1st reported to national health officials in March [2016], but John Rumunu, South Sudan's director general of preventive health services for the Ministry of Health, said it might have started as early as December 2015. The symptoms include unexplained bleeding, vomiting, and fever.
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Protein cages made in the lab resemble virus particles

Protein cages made in the lab resemble virus particles | Virology News | Scoop.it
Viruses store their genetic material inside a protein shell, known as a capsid, which sometimes has an icosahedral shape. Now, in a development that could go viral, chemists have learned how to create protein icosahedra that look just like the ones some viruses use. Potential applications of such caged structures include packaging biomolecules, drugs, and vaccines and delivering displayed antigens capable of eliciting disease-fighting antibodies.
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Some viruses could survive on children's toys for hours and cause infection, study finds

Certain viruses, such as influenza, could survive on children's toys long enough to result in exposures, placing children at risk for getting infectious diseases, according to researchers at Georgia State University.
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Children: almost as bad as cockroaches for spreading disease
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Dengue virus exposure may amplify Zika infection

Dengue virus exposure may amplify Zika infection | Virology News | Scoop.it
Previous exposure to the dengue virus may increase the potency of Zika infection, according to research from Imperial College London.

The early-stage laboratory findings, published in the journal Nature Immunology, suggests the recent explosive outbreak of Zika may have been driven in part by previous exposure to the dengue virus.
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Made-to-order icosahedral nanocages 

Researchers have designed and produced a self-assembling protein shell shaped like an icosahedron -- similar to those that encapsulate viruses. The achievement may open new avenues for engineering cargo-containing nano-cages to package and deliver drugs and vaccines directly into cells, or building small reactors to catalyze biochemical reactions. The shell is also amenable to genetic fusion, such as the addition of fluorescent proteins.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Copying viruses...B-)
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This Viral DNA Infects Cells by Changing From a Solid to a Liquid

This Viral DNA Infects Cells by Changing From a Solid to a Liquid | Virology News | Scoop.it
Two new studies are showing that viral infections are possible owing to a remarkable biological phase transition. The research shows that viral DNA transforms from a glassy solid to a fluid-like state when the conditions for infection are just right. The new insight could result in new antiviral therapies.
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How a Flu Virus Invades a Cell

How a Flu Virus Invades a Cell | Virology News | Scoop.it
Researchers from the University of Washington are the first to visualize the insidious way that the flu virus latches onto a cell and plows its way inside, causing an infection.
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BEAUTIFUL EM! 
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Memory loss caused by West Nile virus explained

Thousands of West Nile virus survivors live with neurological problems such as memory loss that last for years. New research shows that these long-term problems may be due to the patient's own immune system destroying parts of their neurons, which suggests that intervening in the immune response may help prevent brain damage or help patients recover.
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Gene editing could destroy herpes viruses living inside you

Gene editing could destroy herpes viruses living inside you | Virology News | Scoop.it

The CRISPR technique is a new weapon against dormant herpes viruses in the body, which cause cold sores and can be implicated in blindness and cancer


Herpesvirus graphic from Russell Kightley Media

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Bright carbonate deposits as evidence of aqueous alteration on Ceres

Bright carbonate deposits as evidence of aqueous alteration on Ceres | Virology News | Scoop.it
The typically dark surface of the dwarf planet Ceres is punctuated by areas of much higher albedo, most prominently in the Occator crater. These small bright areas have been tentatively interpreted as containing a large amount of hydrated magnesium sulfate, in contrast to the average surface, which is a mixture of low-albedo materials and magnesium phyllosilicates, ammoniated phyllosilicates and carbonates. Here we report high spatial and spectral resolution near-infrared observations of the bright areas in the Occator crater on Ceres. Spectra of these bright areas are consistent with a large amount of sodium carbonate, constituting the most concentrated known extraterrestrial occurrence of carbonate on kilometre-wide scales in the Solar System. The carbonates are mixed with a dark component and small amounts of phyllosilicates, as well as ammonium carbonate or ammonium chloride. Some of these compounds have also been detected in the plume of Saturn’s sixth-largest moon Enceladus. The compounds are endogenous and we propose that they are the solid residue of crystallization of brines and entrained altered solids that reached the surface from below. The heat source may have been transient (triggered by impact heating). Alternatively, internal temperatures may be above the eutectic temperature of subsurface brines, in which case fluids may exist at depth on Ceres today.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
And where there's water, there's life. And where there's life - viruses...B-)
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Two Escape Mechanisms of Influenza A Virus to a Broadly Neutralizing Stalk-Binding Antibody

Author Summary IAV causes seasonal epidemics and periodic pandemics that result in significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. The effectiveness of influenza vaccines is highly variable because the virus evolves rapidly and causes antibody mismatch. The use of neuraminidase inhibitors, the current standard of treatment for IAV infection, is limited by their lack of efficacy beyond 48 hours of symptom onset and by the emergence of drug resistant viruses. Recently, broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting the conserved stalk region of IAV HA have been discovered. These antibodies are able to block the infection of many or even all IAV strains, and hold great promise as the next generation of anti-flu treatment. Nonetheless, virus resistance to these antibodies has not been thoroughly studied despite the common view that broadly neutralizing stalk-binding antibodies are less permissive for mutational escape due to the functional importance of their highly conserved epitopes. In this study, we isolated three resistant viruses to a stalk-binding antibody that was previously shown to neutralize all IAV tested. Interestingly, they use two distinct mechanisms to escape the antibody, abolishing antibody binding or enhancing membrane fusion. Our study emphasizes the need to consider novel escape mechanisms when studying virus resistance to broadly neutralizing stalk-binding antibodies.
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I will diffidently point out that the virus escaped ONE stalk-binding antibody - and a "universal" vaccine would elicit more than just one!
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Vaccine protection against Zika virus from Brazil

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus that is responsible for an unprecedented current epidemic in Brazil and the Americas1,2. ZIKV has been causally associated with fetal microcephaly, intrauterine growth restriction, and other birth defects in both humans3-8 and mice9-11. The rapid development of a safe and effective ZIKV vaccine is a global health priority1,2, but very little is currently known about ZIKV immunology and mechanisms of immune protection. Here we show that a single immunization of a plasmid DNA vaccine or a purified inactivated virus vaccine provides complete protection in susceptible mice against challenge with a ZIKV outbreak strain from northeast Brazil. This ZIKV strain has recently been shown to cross the placenta and to induce fetal microcephaly and other congenital malformations in mice11. We produced DNA vaccines expressing full-length ZIKV pre-membrane and envelope (prM-Env) as well as a series of deletion mutants. The full-length prM-Env DNA vaccine, but not the deletion mutants, afforded complete protection against ZIKV as measured by absence of detectable viremia following challenge, and protective efficacy correlated with Env-specific antibody titers. Adoptive transfer of purified IgG from vaccinated mice conferred passive protection, and CD4 and CD8 T lymphocyte depletion in vaccinated mice did not abrogate protective efficacy. These data demonstrate that protection against ZIKV challenge can be achieved by single-shot subunit and inactivated virus vaccines in mice and that Env-specific antibody titers represent key immunologic correlates of protection. Our findings suggest that the development of a ZIKV vaccine for humans will likely be readily achievable.

Ed Rybicki's insight:
OK: so a DNA vaccine against PrM-Env of Zika, plus killed virions, both protect against Zika infection in mice. But mice aren't men. And monkeys lie....
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Broad Cross-Protection in Preclinical Models by a HPV L1/L2 Chimeric VLP vaccine

At least 15 high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are linked to anogenital preneoplastic lesions and cancer. Currently, there are three licensed prophylactic HPV vaccines based on virus-like particles (VLPs) of the L1 major capsid protein from HPV-2, -4, or -9, including the AS04-adjuvanted HPV-16/18 L1 vaccine. The L2 minor capsid protein contains HPV-neutralizing epitopes that are well conserved across numerous high-risk HPVs. Therefore, the objective of our study was to assess the capacity to broaden vaccine-mediated protection using AS04-adjuvanted vaccines based on VLP chimeras of L1 with one or two L2 epitopes. Several chimeric VLPs were constructed by inserting L2 epitopes within the DE loop and/or C terminus of L1. Based on the shape, yield, size, and immunogenicity, one of seven chimeras was selected for further evaluation in mouse and rabbit challenge models. The chimeric VLP consisted of HPV-18 L1 with insertions of HPV-33 L2 (amino acid residues 17 to 36; L1 DE loop) and HPV-58 L2 (amino acid residues 56 to 75; L1 C terminus). This chimeric L1/L2 VLP vaccine induced persistent immune responses and protected against all of the different HPVs evaluated (HPV-6, -11, -16, -31, -35, -39, -45, -58, and -59 as pseudovirions or quasivirions) in both mouse and rabbit challenge models. The degree and breadth of protection in the rabbit were further enhanced when the chimeric L1/L2 VLP was formulated with the L1 VLPs from the HPV-16/18 L1 vaccine. Therefore, the novel HPV-18 L1/L2 chimeric VLP (alone or in combination with HPV-16 and HPV-18 L1 VLPs) formulated with AS04 has the potential to provide broad protective efficacy in human subjects.

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Genital Herpes Vaccine Shows Promise In Reducing Outbreaks

Genital Herpes Vaccine Shows Promise In Reducing Outbreaks | Virology News | Scoop.it
Clinical trials of a new herpes vaccine have had promising results in reducing incidences of viral shedding.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
What's the difference between love and herpes? Herpes LASTS...!
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Shocking number of children are born with a dangerous virus you've never heard of

Shocking number of children are born with a dangerous virus you've never heard of | Virology News | Scoop.it
Amanda Devereaux was excited when she found out she was pregnant with her second child. During her routine 20-week ultrasound, doctors found her daughter, Pippa's brain was about three weeks behind in development. An amniocentesis confirmed Pippa had Cytomegalovirus or CMV. Only about 9 percent of expectant mothers have ever heard about CMV, even though 1 in 150 children are born with the virus.

Ed Rybicki's insight:
Well, I have, obviously...but it's a point worth making
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Plum pox virus capsid protein suppresses plant PAMP-triggered immunity

Perception of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) by immune receptors launches defence mechanisms referred to as PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI). Successful pathogens must suppress PTI pathways via the action of effectors to efficiently colonize their hosts. So far, plant PTI has been reported to be active against most classes of pathogens, except viruses, although this defence layer was recently hypothesized as an active part of antiviral immunity which needs to be suppressed by viruses for infection success. Here, we report that Arabidopsis PTI genes are regulated upon infection by viruses and contribute to plant resistance to Plum pox virus (PPV). Our experiments further show that PPV suppresses two early PTI responses, the oxidative burst and marker gene expression, during Arabidopsis infection. In planta expression of PPV capsid protein (CP) was found to strongly impair these responses in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis, revealing its PTI-suppressor activity. In summary, we provide the first clear evidence that plant viruses acquired the ability to suppress PTI mechanisms via the action of effectors, highlighting a novel strategy employed by viruses to escape plant defences. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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What can I say - viruses are smart?!
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Mosquito monitoring stepped up at Schiphol after yellow fever carriers found 

Mosquito monitoring stepped up at Schiphol after yellow fever carriers found  | Virology News | Scoop.it
The product safety board NVWA is to step up its monitoring of mosquitoes at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport following the discovery of three yellow fever mosquitoes in two separate traps.
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So guess who's just gone through Schiphol....B-)
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Watch how this robotic-like T7 virus infects a cell

Watch how this robotic-like T7 virus infects a cell | Virology News | Scoop.it
If there was any doubt that viruses are basically microscopic machines, let this recreation of a T7 bacteriophage infecting an ecoli cell put those reservations to rest. In this animated video, the virus can be seen unfolding its six phage tail fibers as it latches on to an unsuspecting bacterium. Once stable and secure, it pierces the surface of the cell with its extended tail and injects its DNA directly into the cytoplasm. Following this genetic violation, the tail disassembles, allowing the cell's membrane to reseal. Mission accomplished.
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Sublime B-)
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Meet the virus that slays cancer cells with extreme prejudice

Meet the virus that slays cancer cells with extreme prejudice | Virology News | Scoop.it
A simple virus that causes mild stomach upsets in humans can turn cancer cells into mincemeat like no one’s business. And cancer cells had better watch their backs, as the Canadian Cancer Society announced Wednesday that it is kicking in $38.1 million for cutting-edge research in Nova Scotia.
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Reovirus as cancer killer!  An orphan finds a home.
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