The carboxy-terminal acidic domain of Rift Valley Fever virus NSs protein is essential for the formation of filamentous structures but not for the nuclear localization of the protein.
The ambisense S segment of Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus (a phlebovirus in the Bunyaviridae family) codes for two proteins: the viral complementary-sense RNA for the N nucleoprotein and the genomic-sense RNA for the nonstructural protein NSs. Except for the fact that the NSs protein is phosphorylated and forms filamentous structures in the nuclei of infected cells (R. Swanepoel and N. K. Blackburn, J. Gen. Virol. 34:557-561, 1977), its role is poorly understood, especially since the replication cycle of all these viruses takes place in the cytoplasm. To investigate the mechanisms involved in filament formation, we expressed NSs in mammalian cells via a recombinant Semliki Forest virus and demonstrated that the protein alone was able to form structures similar to those observed in RVF virus-infected cells, indicating that the presence of other RVF virus proteins is not required for filament formation. The yeast two-hybrid system was used to show that the protein interacts with itself and to map the interacting domains. Various deletion and substitution mutants were constructed, and the mutant proteins were analyzed by immunoprecipitation, Western blotting and immunofluorescence. These experiments indicated that the 10 to 17 amino acids of the carboxy-terminal domain were involved in self-association of the protein and that deletion of this acidic carboxy-terminal domain prevents the protein from forming filaments but does not affect its nuclear localization. The role of two phosphorylation sites present in this domain was also investigated, but they were not found to have a major influence on the formation of the nuclear filament. (+info)
Genetic reassortment of Rift Valley fever virus in nature.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), a phlebovirus of the Bunyaviridae family, is an arthropod-borne virus which emerges periodically throughout Africa, emphasizing that it poses a major threat for animal and human populations. To assess the genetic variability of RVFV, several isolates from diverse localities of Africa were investigated by means of reverse transcription-PCR followed by direct sequencing of a region of the small (S), medium (M), and large (L) genomic segments. Phylogenetic analysis showed the existence of three major lineages corresponding to geographic variants from West Africa, Egypt, and Central-East Africa. However, incongruences detected between the L, M, and S phylogenies suggested that genetic exchange via reassortment occurred between strains from different lineages. This hypothesis, depicted by parallel phylogenies, was further confirmed by statistical tests. Our findings, which strongly suggest exchanges between strains from areas of endemicity in West and East Africa, strengthen the potential existence of a sylvatic cycle in the tropical rain forest. This also emphasizes the risk of generating uncontrolled chimeric viruses by using live attenuated vaccines in areas of endemicity. (+info)
Rift valley fever surveillance in the lower Senegal river basin: update 10 years after the epidemic.
After the Rift valley fever (RVF) epidemic of 1987 in the Senegal River Basin, RVF surveillance based on serosurveys has been conducted for 10 years. Serum samples were obtained from 1336 persons and from sheep and goats in selected areas, and these were tested for IgG/IgM RVF antibodies by ELISA. After a period of regular decrease in RVF prevalence in domestic animals until 1993, an epizootic was observed in all herds in 1994-95 with increases in IgM levels and abortions. During the same period, no human cases or RVF IgM were detected. The RVF IgG prevalence significantly correlated with date of birth: children born after 1987 have a low prevalence (5%) in clear contrast to the older population (25.3%) in Podor district. A retrospective analysis of rainfall and RVF prevalence in small domestic animals over the last 10 years showed that the re-emergence correlated with heavy rainfall. A general analysis of the risk of re-emergence and the efficiency of this RVF surveillance system are presented. (+info)
The Rift Valley fever virus nonstructural protein NSs is phosphorylated at serine residues located in casein kinase II consensus motifs in the carboxy-terminus.
The S segment of Rift Valley fever virus (Bunyaviridae, Phlebovirus) codes for two proteins, the nucleoprotein N and the nonstructural protein NSs. The NSs protein is a phosphoprotein of unknown function that is localized in the cytoplasm and the nuclei of infected cells where it forms filamentous structures. To characterize further the protein expressed in VC10 cells infected with the MP12 strain, we analyzed its phosphorylation states and showed that phosphorylated forms were found in both compartments. Cytoplasmic and nuclear NSs were phosphorylated only at serine residues. Phosphopeptide mapping and molecular analysis of mutants obtained by site-directed mutagenesis allowed us to map the major phosphorylation sites of nuclear and cytoplasmic forms of NSs to serine residues 252 and 256, located at the carboxy-terminus in consensus sequences for casein kinase II. A similar map was obtained when the protein was purified from mosquito cells infected with MP12. In addition, we showed that the purified unphosphorylated NSs protein expressed from pET-NSs plasmid in a coupled transcription-translation reaction containing Escherichia coli S30 extracts did not possess autophosphorylation activity but was phosphorylated in vitro after incubation with recombinant casein kinase II. (+info)
Observations on the epidemiology of Rift Valley fever in Kenya.
The epizootic range of Rift Valley fever in Kenya is defined from the results of virus isolations during epizootics, and form an extensive serological survey of cattle which were exposed during an epizootic. A study of the sera from a wide range of wild bovidae sampled immediately after the epizootic, showed that they did not act as reservoir or amplifying hosts for RVF. Virus isolation attempts from a variety of rodents proved negative. Rift Valley fever did not persist between epizootics by producing symptomless abortions in cattle in areas within its epizootic range. A sentinel herd sampled annually after an epizootic in 1968 revealed not one single seroconversion from 1969 to 1974. Certain forest and forest edge situations were postulated as enzootic for Rift Valley fever, and a small percentage of seroconversions were detected in cattle in these areas, born four years after the last epizootic. This has been the only evidence for the persistence of the virus in Kenya since 1968, and may be a part of the interepizootic maintenance cycle for Rift Valley fever in Kenya, which otherwise remains unknown. (+info)
The S segment of rift valley fever phlebovirus (Bunyaviridae) carries determinants for attenuation and virulence in mice.
Unlike all the other Rift Valley fever virus strains (Bunyaviridae, Phlebovirus) studied so far, clone 13, a naturally attenuated virus, does not form the filaments composed of the NSs nonstructural protein in the nuclei of infected cells (R. Muller, J. F. Saluzzo, N. Lopez, T. Drier, M. Turell, J. Smith, and M. Bouloy, Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 53:405-411, 1995). This defect is correlated with a large in-frame deletion in the NSs coding region of the S segment of the tripartite genome. Here, we show that the truncated NSs protein of clone 13 is expressed and remains in the cytoplasm, where it is degraded rapidly by the proteasome. Through the analysis of reassortants between clone 13 and a virulent strain, we localized the marker(s) of attenuation in the S segment of this attenuated virus. This result raises questions regarding the role of NSs in pathogenesis and highlights, for the first time in the Bunyaviridae family, a major role of the S segment in virulence and attenuation, possibly associated with a defect in the nonstructural protein. (+info)
Pathogen-specific resistance to Rift Valley fever virus infection is induced in mosquito cells by expression of the recombinant nucleoprotein but not NSs non-structural protein sequences.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an arbovirus of the BUNYAVIRIDAE: family, causing recurrent disease outbreaks in Africa. Natural vertebrate hosts include cattle and humans. Several mosquito species belonging to the AEDES: and CULEX: genera act as vectors of this phlebovirus. To test whether pathogen-derived resistance against RVFV could be induced by expressing genomic sequences in mosquito cells, as has been shown for La Crosse and dengue 2 viruses, we generated various recombinant Semliki Forest viruses expressing the S segment (or its genes) in the genomic or antigenomic sense. Expression of the N but not the NSs gene interfered with the production of RVFV in mosquito cells and this phenomenon was RNA- but not protein-dependent. These results raise questions on the molecular mechanisms involved in virus resistance. (+info)
Resistance to Rift Valley fever virus in Rattus norvegicus: genetic variability within certain 'inbred' strains.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is the causative agent of Rift Valley fever, a widespread disease of domestic animals and humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Laboratory rats have frequently been used as an animal model for studying the pathogenesis of Rift Valley fever. It is shown here that Lewis rats (LEW/mol) are susceptible to infection with RVFV, whereas Wistar-Furth (WF/mol) rats are resistant to RVFV infection. LEW/mol rats developed acute hepatitis and died after infection with RVFV strain ZH548, whereas WF/mol rats survived the infection. Cross-breeding of resistant WF/mol rats with susceptible LEW/mol rats demonstrated that resistance is segregated as a single dominant gene. Primary hepatocytes but not glial cells from WF/mol rats showed the resistant phenotype in cell culture, indicating that resistance was cell type-specific. Moreover, when cultured hepatocytes were stimulated with interferon (IFN) type I there was no indication of a regulatory role of IFN in the RVFV-resistance gene expression in WF/mol rats. Interestingly, previous reports have shown that LEW rats from a different breeding stock (LEW/mai) are resistant to RVFV infections, whereas WF/mai rats are susceptible. Thus, inbred rat strains seem to differ in virus susceptibility depending on their breeding histories. A better genetic characterization of inbred rat strains and a revision in nomenclature is needed to improve animal experimentation in the future. (+info)