April 21, 2020  |  

SMRT sequencing revealed the diversity and characteristics of defective interfering RNAs in influenza A (H7N9) virus infection.

Influenza defective interfering (DI) particles are replication-incompetent viruses carrying large internal deletion in the genome. The loss of essential genetic information causes abortive viral replication, which can be rescued by co-infection with a helper virus that possesses an intact genome. Despite reports of DI particles present in seasonal influenza A H1N1 infections, their existence in human infections by the avian influenza A viruses, such as H7N9, has not been studied. Here we report the ubiquitous presence of DI-RNAs in nasopharyngeal aspirates of H7N9-infected patients. Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing was first applied and long-read sequencing analysis showed that a variety of H7N9 DI-RNA species were present in the patient samples and human bronchial epithelial cells. In several abundantly expressed DI-RNA species, long overlapping sequences have been identified around at the breakpoint region and the other side of deleted region. Influenza DI-RNA is known as a defective viral RNA with single large internal deletion. Beneficial to the long-read property of SMRT sequencing, double and triple internal deletions were identified in half of the DI-RNA species. In addition, we examined the expression of DI-RNAs in mice infected with sublethal dose of H7N9 virus at different time points. Interestingly, DI-RNAs were abundantly expressed as early as day 2 post-infection. Taken together, we reveal the diversity and characteristics of DI-RNAs found in H7N9-infected patients, cells and animals. Further investigations on this overwhelming generation of DI-RNA may provide important insights into the understanding of H7N9 viral replication and pathogenesis.


April 21, 2020  |  

A systematic review of the Trypanosoma cruzi genetic heterogeneity, host immune response and genetic factors as plausible drivers of chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy.

Chagas disease is a complex tropical pathology caused by the kinetoplastid Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite displays massive genetic diversity and has been classified by international consensus in at least six Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) that are broadly distributed in the American continent. The main clinical manifestation of the disease is the chronic chagasic cardiomyopathy (CCC) that is lethal in the infected individuals. However, one intriguing feature is that only 30-40% of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Some authors have suggested that the immune response, host genetic factors, virulence factors and even the massive genetic heterogeneity of T. cruzi are responsible of this clinical pattern. To date, no conclusive data support the reason why a few percentages of the infected individuals will develop CCC. Therefore, we decided to conduct a systematic review analysing the host genetic factors, immune response, cytokine production, virulence factors and the plausible association of the parasite DTUs and CCC. The epidemiological and clinical implications are herein discussed.


April 21, 2020  |  

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for the fine-scale disconnectivity we observe and discuss the epidemiological consequences of flexible reproductive modes. Our study reinvigorates the hunt for the site of genetic exchange in the T. cruzi life cycle, provides tools to define the genetic determinants of parasite virulence, and reforms longstanding theory on clonality in trypanosomatid parasites.


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