Infection rate of Leptospira interrogans in the field rodent, Apodemus agrarius, in Korea.
Leptospirosis has significantly decreased in Korea since 1988, following the leptospiral vaccination programme initiated in 1988. Whether this wholly explains the decreased incidence is uncertain. As an initial step to answer this question, infection rates of Leptospira interrogans in field rodents, Apodemis agrarius, were examined and compared with previous data. Two hundred and twenty-two A. agrarius were captured during October-December 1996. Spirochaetes were isolated from 22 (9.9%) and leptospiral DNA was detected in an additional 6 rodents (12.6%). Subsequent microscopic agglutination tests (MAT) classified all these isolates as L. interrogans serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae serovar lai. The above data did not significantly differ from previous surveys in 1984-7. There was no significant change of L. interrogans infection in field rodents following the introduction of the vaccination programme in Korea. Further studies are needed to determine the role of human vaccination in reducing incidence. (+info
A neural network based predictor of residue contacts in proteins.
We describe a method based on neural networks for predicting contact maps of proteins using as input chemicophysical and evolutionary information. Neural networks are trained on a data set comprising the contact maps of 200 non-homologous proteins of well resolved three-dimensional structures. The systems learn the association rules between the covalent structure of each protein and its correspondent contact map by means of a standard back propagation algorithm. Validation of the predictor on the training set and on 408 proteins of known structure which are not homologous to those contained in the training set indicate that this method scores higher than statistical approaches previously described and based on correlated mutations and sequence information. (+info
Bex1, a gene with increased expression in parthenogenetic embryos, is a member of a novel gene family on the mouse X chromosome.
Parthenogenetic and normal blastocysts were compared using differential display analysis as a means to identify new imprinted genes. A single gene was identified with increased expression in parthenogenetic blastocysts, suggesting it might be an imprinted gene expressed from the maternally inherited allele. The gene, named Bex1 (brainexpressedX-linked gene), maps near Plp on the mouse X chromosome and to Xq22 in humans. Database homology searches revealed two additional uncharacterized cDNAs similar to Bex1 that were named Bex2 and Bex3. Allele-specific expression analysis of Bex1 using F1 blastocysts indicated an excess of transcript expressed from the maternally inherited allele compared with the paternally inherited allele. This excess level of transcript derived from the maternally inherited allele may be due to imprinted X inactivation of the paternally inherited allele in the extraembryonic lineages of female embryos rather than a result of genomic imprinting. (+info
Isolation and characterization of Dobrava hantavirus carried by the striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius) in Estonia.
Dobrava hantavirus (DOB) was isolated from the striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius) trapped on Saaremaa Island, Estonia, and its genetic and antigenic characteristics were subsequently analysed. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the Estonian DOB strain, together with several wild strains carried by Apodemus agrarius, forms a well-supported lineage within the DOB clade. The topography of the trees calculated for the S, M and L nucleotide sequences of the Estonian DOB suggests a similar evolutionary history for all three genes of this virus and, therefore, the absence of heterologous reassortment in its evolution. A cross-neutralization comparison of the Estonian virus with the prototype DOB, isolated from a yellow-necked mouse (A. flavicollis) in Slovenia, revealed 2- to 4-fold differences in the end-point titres of rabbit and human antisera. When studied with a panel of 25 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), the Estonian and Slovenian DOB isolates showed similar antigenic patterns that could be distinguished by two MAbs. Genetic comparison showed sequence differences in all three genome segments of the two DOB isolates, including an additional N-glycosylation site in the deduced sequence of the G2 protein from the Estonian virus. Whether any of these mutations relates to the different rodent hosts rather than to the distant geographical origin of the two isolates remains to be resolved. Taken together, our observations suggest that A. agrarius, which is known to harbour Hantaan virus in Asia, carries another hantavirus, DOB, in north-east Europe. (+info
Comparison of Ehrlichia muris strains isolated from wild mice and ticks and serologic survey of humans and animals with E. muris as antigen.
In metropolitan Tokyo, the Ehrlichia muris seropositivity rate of 24 wild mice was 63% in Hinohara Village, but in the surrounding areas, it was 0 to 5%. This finding suggests that the reservoir of E. muris is focal. Among the 15 seropositive mice, ehrlichiae were isolated from 9 Apodemus speciosus mice and 1 A. argenteus mouse, respectively. Five ehrlichial isolates were obtained from 10 ticks (Haemaphysalis flava) collected in Asuke Town, Aichi Prefecture, where the E. muris type strain had been isolated. These new isolates were compared with the E. muris type strain. The mouse virulence and ultrastructure of the new isolates were similar to those of the type strain, and all of them were cross-reactive with each other, as well as with the type strain, by indirect immunofluorescent-antibody test. The levels of similarity of the base sequences of the 16S rRNA gene of one of the A. speciosus isolates and one of the tick isolates to that of the E. muris type strain were 99.79 and 99.93%, respectively. We suggest that all of these isolates are E. muris; that E. muris is not limited to Eothenomys kageus but infects other species of mice; and that E. muris is present at locations other than Aichi Prefecture. It appears that H. flava is a potential vector of E. muris. Twenty (1%) of 1803 humans from metropolitan Tokyo were found to be seropositive for E. muris antibodies. A serological survey revealed that exposure to E. muris or organisms antigenically cross-reactive to E. muris occurred among dogs, wild mice, monkeys, bears, deer, and wild boars in Gifu Prefecture, nearby prefectures, and Nagoya City, central Japan. However, human beings and Rattus norvegicus rats in this area were seronegative. These results indicate broader geographic distribution of and human and animal species exposure to E. muris or related Ehrlichia spp. in Japan. (+info
Long-term studies of hantavirus reservoir populations in the southwestern United States: rationale, potential, and methods.
Hantaviruses are rodent-borne zoonotic agents that cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome in Asia and Europe and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in North and South America. The epidemiology of human diseases caused by these viruses is tied to the ecology of the rodent hosts, and effective control and prevention relies on a through understanding of host ecology. After the 1993 HPS outbreak in the southwestern United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiated long-term studies of the temporal dynamics of hantavirus infection in host populations. These studies, which used mark-recapture techniques on 24 trapping webs at nine sites in the southwestern United States, were designed to monitor changes in reservoir population densities and in the prevalence and incidence of infection; quantify environmental factors associated with these changes; and when linked to surveillance databases for HPS, lead to predictive models of human risk to be used in the design and implementation of control and prevention measures for human hantavirus disease. (+info
Parental allele-specific chromatin configuration in a boundary-imprinting-control element upstream of the mouse H19 gene.
The mouse H19 gene is expressed from the maternal chromosome exclusively. A 2-kb region at 2 to 4 kb upstream of H19 is paternally methylated throughout development, and these sequences are necessary for the imprinted expression of both H19 and the 5'-neighboring Igf2 gene. In particular, on the maternal chromosome this element appears to insulate the Igf2 gene from enhancers located downstream of H19. We analyzed the chromatin organization of this element by assaying its sensitivity to nucleases in nuclei. Six DNase I hypersensitive sites (HS sites) were detected on the unmethylated maternal chromosome exclusively, the two most prominent of which mapped 2.25 and 2.75 kb 5' to the H19 transcription initiation site. Five of the maternal HS sites were present in expressing and nonexpressing tissues and in embryonic stem (ES) cells. They seem, therefore, to reflect the maternal origin of the chromosome rather than the expression of H19. A sixth maternal HS site, at 3.45 kb upstream of H19, was detected in ES cells only. The nucleosomal organization of this element was analyzed in tissues and ES cells by micrococcal nuclease digestion. Specifically on the maternal chromosome, an unusual and strong banding pattern was obtained, suggestive of a nonnucleosomal organization. From our studies, it appears that the unusual chromatin organization with the presence of HS sites (maternal chromosome) and DNA methylation (paternal chromosome) in this element are mutually exclusive and reflect alternate epigenetic states. In addition, our data suggest that nonhistone proteins are associated with the maternal chromosome and that these might be involved in its boundary function. (+info
Receptor-mediated interference mechanism responsible for resistance to polytropic leukemia viruses in Mus castaneus.
The Asian mouse Mus castaneus is resistant to infection by the polytropic mink cell focus-inducing (MCF) subgroup of murine leukemia viruses (MuLVs). Genetic crosses showed this recessive resistance to be governed by a single gene that maps at or near the gene encoding the polytropic viral receptor, Rmc1. To investigate this resistance, we mated M. castaneus with mice carrying the wild mouse Sxv variant of the Rmc1 receptor that allows infection by xenotropic as well as polytropic virus. Unlike other F1 hybrids of M. castaneus, these F1 mice were resistant to both xenotropic and polytropic classes of MuLVs. Analysis of backcrossed progeny of the F1 hybrids mated to Sxv mice indicates that resistance is due to inheritance of two M. castaneus genes. Cells from individual backcross mice were also examined for cell surface antigen by fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis with monoclonal antibodies reactive with xenotropic or MCF virus env glycoproteins. A correlation was observed between virus resistance and antigen, suggesting that virus resistance is due to expression of endogenous viral envelope genes that interfere with infection by exogenous virus. Since the inbred strain Rmc1 receptor remains functional in the presence of these M. castaneus genes, and since M. castaneus contains multiple copies of xenotropic MuLV env genes, we suggest that these resistance genes control expression of xenotropic env glycoprotein that interferes with exogenous virus in cells containing the Sxv variant of Rmc1. (+info