Serological survey of Toscana virus infections in a high-risk population in Italy.
Toscana virus is the most important agent responsible for meningitis in central Italy. We report a serosurveillance study, using an immunoenzymatic assay, of 360 serum samples harvested from a high-risk population occupationally exposed to Toscana virus in two regions of Italy, Tuscany and Piedmont. The results indicates a seroprevalence of Toscana virus of 77.2% in the forestry workers, particularly in the Tuscany region. This fact is strictly correlated with the ecological niches specific for the survival of Toscana virus arthropod vector. (+info)
Unusual presentation of life-threatening Toscana virus meningoencephalitis.
This case report describes a brother and a sister with severe meningoencephalitis caused by Toscana virus (TOSv). The clinical presentation was characterized by stiff neck, deep coma, maculopapular rash, diffuse lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, renal involvement, tendency to bleeding, and diffuse intravascular coagulation. The boy had epididymo-orchitis. Recovery with neurologic sequelae as hydrocephalus was observed. Microbiological diagnosis was obtained by serological tests and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products from the S and M segments was carried out. TOSv may be a causative agent in severe meningoencephalitis. (+info)
Development of a mouse model for the study of Toscana virus pathogenesis.
Toscana virus (TOSV) has recently been recognized as an emerging virus transmitted by phlebotomus vectors, responsible for acute neurological diseases in Mediterranean countries. In our study, we demonstrated that adult Balb/c mice were susceptible to TOSV when infected intracerebrally (i.c.) or subcutaneously (s.c.) with a neuroadapted strain of the virus. We have shown that by performing serial passages of a wild type human isolate of TOSV in mouse brains, selection occurs for a highly virulent variant which replicates efficiently in the central nervous system (CNS) of i.c.-injected mice, causing acute encephalitis and death. Immunohistochemical analysis and TUNEL assay of post-mortem organs showed that TOSV replication was highly restricted to neurons in which it induced apoptotic death; however, virus antigen-positivity was also observed in the spleen and lymph nodes. In s.c.-injected mice, virus was detectable in the spleen and lymph nodes, whereas only few meningeal cells and neurons were affected, allowing for the mouse survival the infection. The presence of TOSV in spleen and lymph node cells in both s.c.- and i.c.-treated mice suggests their possible involvement in the diffusion of the infection. This animal model may be helpful for the development of prophylactic measures against TOSV infections. (+info)
The N terminus of Rift Valley fever virus nucleoprotein is essential for dimerization.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a Phlebovirus in the Bunyaviridae family. The nucleoprotein N is the most abundant component of the virion; numerous copies of N associate with the viral RNA genome and form pseudohelicoidal ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) circularized by a panhandle structure formed by the base-paired RNA sequences at the 3' and 5' termini. These structures play a central role in transcription and replication. We investigated the intermolecular interactions of the RVFV N protein and found that after chemical cross-linking treatment, the nucleoprotein from purified RNPs migrates mainly as dimers. The N-N interaction was studied using the yeast two-hybrid system, the GST pull-down method, and mutational analysis. We demonstrated that the N terminus from residue 1 to 71, and particularly Tyr 4 and Phe 11, which are conserved among phlebovirus N sequences, are involved in the interaction. The C-terminal region did not seem to be essential for the N-N interaction. Moreover, we showed that N(TOS), the N protein of the related Toscana phlebovirus, interacts with itself and forms heterodimers with N(RVF), suggesting that the dimeric form of N may be a conserved feature in phlebovirus RNPs. (+info)
Emergence of Toscana virus in Europe.
Toscana virus (TOSV) is an arthropod-borne virus first identified in 1971 from the sandfly Phlebotomus perniciosus in central Italy. Many case reports in travelers and clinical research and epidemiologic studies conducted around the Mediterranean region have shown that TOSV has a tropism for the central nervous system (CNS) and is a major cause of meningitis and encephalitis in countries in which it circulates. In central Italy, TOSV is the most frequent cause of meningitis from May to October, far exceeding enteroviruses. In other northern Mediterranean countries, TOSV is among the 3 most prevalent viruses associated with meningitis during the warm seasons. Therefore, TOSV must be considered an emerging pathogen. Here, we review the epidemiology of TOSV in Europe and determine questions that should be addressed in future studies. Despite increasing evidence of its major role in medicine as an emerging cause of CNS infections, TOSV remains an unstudied pathogen, and few physicians are aware of its potential to cause CNS infections. (+info)
Toscana virus in Spain.
Toscana virus (TOSV, Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae) infection is one of the most prevalent arboviruses in Spain. Within the objectives of a multidisciplinary network, a study on the epidemiology of TOSV was conducted in Granada, in southern Spain. The overall seroprevalence rate was 24.9%, significantly increasing with age. TOSV was detected in 3 of 103 sandfly pools by viral culture or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction from a region of the L gene. Nucleotide sequence homology was 99%-100% in TOSV from vectors and patients and 80%-81% compared to the Italian strain ISS Phl.3. Sequencing of the N gene of TOSV isolates from patients and vectors indicated 87%-88% and 100% homology at the nucleotide and amino acid levels, respectively, compared to the Italian strain. These findings demonstrate the circulation of at least 2 different lineages of TOSV in the Mediterranean basin, the Italian lineage and the Spanish lineage. (+info)
Toscana virus central nervous system infections in southern Italy.
Toscana virus was detected by reverse transcription-nested PCR in 5.6% of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from patients with meningitis and encephalitis during the summer in southern Italy. The central nervous system infections were associated with young adults and with a substantially benign clinical course. Presenting features and CSF findings are also discussed in the present report. (+info)
A shared transcription termination signal on negative and ambisense RNA genome segments of Rift Valley fever, sandfly fever Sicilian, and Toscana viruses.
The Phlebovirus genus (family Bunyaviridae) is composed of a diverse group of arboviruses that cause disease syndromes ranging from mild febrile illness to hemorrhagic fever with high fatality. Although antigenically similar, these viruses differ by approximately 25% at the genome level, and their ecologies, including geographic ranges, preferred vector species, and hosts, vary considerably. In contrast to other ambisense viruses, where RNA hairpin structures which serve as transcription termination signals are frequently found separating the opposite-sense open reading frames, no evidence of predicted high-energy hairpin structures was found at the ambisense junctions of phlebovirus S RNA segments. However, a conserved sequence motif was identified on both negative and ambisense genome segments that functions as a transcription termination signal for the N, NSs, and GPC mRNAs in three diverse phleboviruses, namely, Rift Valley fever, sandfly Sicilian, and Toscana viruses. The exact termination of nascent virus mRNA molecules was determined by 3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends. Surprisingly, analysis of the termini of mRNAs from both S and M segments of these three viruses revealed that transcription termination occurred immediately upstream of a conserved sequence motif with the general features 3'-C(1-3)GUCG/A-5'. In contrast, no corresponding sequence motif was found in the L segments, and analysis indicated a "runoff" transcript approach to L mRNA termination. The absolute requirement of the identified transcription termination motif was demonstrated by using a highly efficient Rift Valley fever virus reverse genetics system to generate live recombinant viruses with S segments lacking the termination signal motif for the NP or NSs mRNA and showing that these recombinant viruses generated mRNAs that failed to terminate correctly. (+info)