• Coronaviruses: Important emerging human pathogens

      Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (American Society for Microbiology, 2014)
      The identification of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012 reaffirmed the importance of understanding how coronaviruses emerge, infect, and cause disease. By comparing what is known about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) to what has recently been found for MERS-CoV, researchers are discovering similarities and differences that may be important for pathogenesis. Here we discuss what is known about each virus and what gaps remain in our understanding, especially concerning MERS-CoV.
    • The art of war: Battles between virus and host

      Frieman, M. (Elsevier B.V., 2014)
    • The ORF4b-encoded accessory proteins of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus and two related bat coronaviruses localize to the nucleus and inhibit innate immune signalling

      Matthews, K.L.; Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (Society for General Microbiology, 2014)
      The recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a betacoronavirus, is associated with severe pneumonia and renal failure. The environmental origin of MERS-CoV is as yet unknown; however, its genome sequence is closely related to those of two bat coronaviruses, named BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5, which were derived from Chinese bat samples. A hallmark of highly pathogenic respiratory viruses is their ability to evade the innate immune response of the host. CoV accessory proteins, for example those from severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV (SARS-CoV), have been shown to block innate antiviral signalling pathways. MERS-CoV, similar to SARS-CoV, has been shown to inhibit type I IFN induction in a variety of cell types in vitro. We therefore hypothesized that MERS-CoV and the phylogenetically related BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5 may encode proteins with similar capabilities. In this study, we have demonstrated that the ORF4b-encoded accessory protein (p4b) of MERS-CoV, BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5 may indeed facilitate innate immune evasion by inhibiting the type I IFN and NF-κB signalling pathways. We also analysed the subcellular localization of p4b from MERS-CoV, BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5 and demonstrated that all are localized to the nucleus.
    • Wild-type and innate immune-deficient mice are not susceptible to the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus

      Coleman, C.M.; Matthews, K.L.; Frieman, M.B. (2014)
      The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a newly emerging highly pathogenic virus causing almost 50% lethality in infected individuals. The development of a small animal model is critical for the understanding of this virus and to aid in development of countermeasures against MERS-CoV. We found that BALB/c, 129/SvEv and 129/SvEv STAT1 knockout mice are not permissive to MERS-CoV infection. The lack of infection may be due to the low level of mRNA and protein for the MERS-CoV receptor, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), in the lungs of mice. The low level of DPP4 in the lungs likely contributes to the lack of viral replication in these mouse models and suggests that a transgenic mouse model expressing DPP4 to higher levels is necessary to create a mouse model for MERS-CoV.
    • Evaluation of SSYA10-001 as a replication inhibitor of severe acute respiratory syndrome, mouse hepatitis, and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronaviruses

      Adedeji, A.O.; Singh, K.; Coleman, C.M. (American Society for Microbiology, 2014)
      We have previously shown that SSYA10-001 blocks severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) replication by inhibiting SARS-CoV helicase (nsp13). Here, we show that SSYA10-001 also inhibits replication of two other coronaviruses, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). A putative binding pocket for SSYA10-001 was identified and shown to be similar in SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and MHV helicases. These studies show that it is possible to target multiple coronaviruses through broad-spectrum inhibitors.
    • Repurposing of clinically developed drugs for treatment of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection

      Coleman, C.M.; Venkataraman, T.; Frieman, M.B. (American Society for Microbiology, 2014)
      Outbreaks of emerging infections present health professionals with the unique challenge of trying to select appropriate pharmacologic treatments in the clinic with little time available for drug testing and development. Typically, clinicians are left with general supportive care and often untested convalescent-phase plasma as available treatment options. Repurposing of approved pharmaceutical drugs for new indications presents an attractive alternative to clinicians, researchers, public health agencies, drug developers, and funding agencies. Given the development times and manufacturing requirements for new products, repurposing of existing drugs is likely the only solution for outbreaks due to emerging viruses. In the studies described here, a library of 290 compounds was screened for antiviral activity against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Selection of compounds for inclusion in the library was dependent on current or previous FDA approval or advanced clinical development. Some drugs that had a well-defined cellular pathway as target were included. In total, 27 compounds with activity against both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV were identified. The compounds belong to 13 different classes of pharmaceuticals, including inhibitors of estrogen receptors used for cancer treatment and inhibitors of dopamine receptor used as antipsychotics. The drugs identified in these screens provide new targets for in vivo studies as well as incorporation into ongoing clinical studies.
    • Treating MERS-CoV during an outbreak

      Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (Lancet Publishing Group, 2014)
    • Purified coronavirus spike protein nanoparticles induce coronavirus neutralizing antibodies in mice

      Coleman, C.M.; Taylor, J.K.; Frieman, M.B. (Elsevier Ltd, 2014)
      Development of vaccination strategies for emerging pathogens are particularly challenging because of the sudden nature of their emergence and the long process needed for traditional vaccine development. Therefore, there is a need for development of a rapid method of vaccine development that can respond to emerging pathogens in a short time frame.The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in late 2012 demonstrate the importance of coronaviruses as emerging pathogens. The spike glycoproteins of coronaviruses reside on the surface of the virion and are responsible for virus entry. The spike glycoprotein is the major immunodominant antigen of coronaviruses and has proven to be an excellent target for vaccine designs that seek to block coronavirus entry and promote antibody targeting of infected cells.Vaccination strategies for coronaviruses have involved live attenuated virus, recombinant viruses, non-replicative virus-like particles expressing coronavirus proteins or DNA plasmids expressing coronavirus genes. None of these strategies has progressed to an approved human coronavirus vaccine in the ten years since SARS-CoV emerged. Here we describe a novel method for generating MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV full-length spike nanoparticles, which in combination with adjuvants are able to produce high titer antibodies in mice.
    • Pre- and postexposure efficacy of fully human antibodies against Spike protein in a novel humanized mouse model of MERS-CoV infection

      Coleman, C.M.; Berrebi, A.; Sisk, J.M.; Matthews, K.L.; Frieman, M.B. (National Academy of Sciences, 2015)
      Traditional approaches to antimicrobial drug development are poorly suited to combatting the emergence of novel pathogens. Additionally, the lack of small animal models for these infections hinders the in vivo testing of potential therapeutics. Here we demonstrate the use of the VelocImmune technology (a mouse that expresses human antibody-variable heavy chains and ? light chains) alongside the VelociGene technology (which allows for rapid engineering of the mouse genome) to quickly develop and evaluate antibodies against an emerging viral disease. Specifically, we show the rapid generation of fully human neutralizing antibodies against the recently emerged Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and development of a humanized mouse model for MERS-CoV infection, which was used to demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of the isolated antibodies. The VelocImmune and VelociGene technologies are powerful platforms that can be used to rapidly respond to emerging epidemics.
    • Antiviral potential of ERK/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling modulation for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection as identified by temporal kinome analysis

      Kindrachuk, J.; Ork, B.; Frieman, M.B. (American Society for Microbiology, 2015)
      Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a lineage C betacoronavirus, and infections with this virus can result in acute respiratory syndrome with renal failure. Globally, MERS-CoV has been responsible for 877 laboratory-confirmed infections, including 317 deaths, since September 2012. As there is a paucity of information regarding the molecular pathogenesis associated with this virus or the identities of novel antiviral drug targets, we performed temporal kinome analysis on human hepatocytes infected with the Erasmus isolate of MERS-CoV with peptide kinome arrays. bioinformatics analysis of our kinome data, including pathway overrepresentation analysis (ORA) and functional network analysis, suggested that extracellular signalregulated kinase (ERK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphoinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/serine-threonine kinase (AKT)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling responses were specifically modulated in response to MERS-CoV infection in vitro throughout the course of infection. The overrepresentation of specific intermediates within these pathways determined by pathway and functional network analysis of our kinome data correlated with similar patterns of phosphorylation determined through Western blot array analysis. In addition, analysis of the effects of specific kinase inhibitors on MERS-CoV infection in tissue culture models confirmed these cellular response observations. Further, we have demonstrated that a subset of licensed kinase inhibitors targeting the ERK/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways significantly inhibited MERS-CoV replication in vitro whether they were added before or after viral infection. Taken together, our data suggest that ERK/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling responses play important roles in MERS-CoV infection and may represent novel drug targets for therapeutic intervention strategies.
    • Targeting N-glycan cryptic sugar moieties for broad-spectrum virus neutralization: Progress in identifying conserved molecular targets in viruses of distinct phylogenetic origins

      Wang, D.; Tang, J.; Wang, L.-X. (MDPI AG, 2015)
      Identifying molecular targets for eliciting broadly virus-neutralizing antibodies is one of the key steps toward development of vaccines against emerging viral pathogens. Owing to genomic and somatic diversities among viral species, identifying protein targets for broad-spectrum virus neutralization is highly challenging even for the same virus, such as HIV-1. However, viruses rely on host glycosylation machineries to synthesize and express glycans and, thereby, may display common carbohydrate moieties. Thus, exploring glycan-binding profiles of broad-spectrum virus-neutralizing agents may provide key information to uncover the carbohydrate-based virus-neutralizing epitopes. In this study, we characterized two broadly HIV-neutralizing agents, human monoclonal antibody 2G12 and Galanthus nivalis lectin (GNA), for their viral targeting activities. Although these agents were known to be specific for oligomannosyl antigens, they differ strikingly in virus-binding activities. The former is HIV-1 specific; the latter is broadly reactive and is able to neutralize viruses of distinct phylogenetic origins, such as HIV-1, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). In carbohydrate microarray analyses, we explored the molecular basis underlying the striking differences in the spectrum of anti-virus activities of the two probes. Unlike 2G12, which is strictly specific for the high-density Man<inf>9</inf>GlcNAc<inf>2</inf>Asn (Man9)-clusters, GNA recognizes a number of N-glycan cryptic sugar moieties. These include not only the known oligomannosyl antigens but also previously unrecognized tri-antennary or multi-valent GlcNAc-terminating N-glycan epitopes (Tri/m-Gn). These findings highlight the potential of N-glycan cryptic sugar moieties as conserved targets for broad-spectrum virus neutralization and suggest the GNA-model of glycan-binding warrants focused investigation. Copyright 2015 by the authors.
    • Growth and quantification of MERS-CoV infection

      Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (Blackwell Publishing Inc., 2015)
      Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging highly pathogenic respiratory virus. Although MERS-CoV only emerged in 2012, we and others have developed assays to grow and quantify infectious MERS-CoV and RNA products of replication in vitro. MERS-CoV is able to infect a range of cell types, but replicates to high titers in Vero E6 cells. Protocols for the propagation and quantification of MERS-CoV are presented.
    • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus ORF7a inhibits bone marrow stromal antigen 2 virion tethering through a novel mechanism of glycosylation interference

      Taylor, J.K.; Coleman, C.M.; Postel, S.; Sisk, J.M.; Venkataraman, T.; Sundberg, E.J.; Frieman, M.B. (American Society for Microbiology, 2015)
      Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in November 2002 as a case of atypical pneumonia in China, and the causative agent of SARS was identified to be a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Bone marrow stromal antigen 2 (BST-2; also known as CD317 or tetherin) was initially identified to be a pre-B-cell growth promoter, but it also inhibits the release of virions of the retrovirus human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) by tethering budding virions to the host cell membrane. Further work has shown that BST-2 restricts the release of many other viruses, including the human coronavirus 229E (hCoV-229E), and the genomes of many of these viruses encode BST-2 antagonists to overcome BST-2 restriction. Given the previous studies on BST-2, we aimed to determine if BST-2 has the ability to restrict SARS-CoV and if the SARS-CoV genome encodes any proteins that modulate BST-2's antiviral function. Through an in vitro screen, we identified four potential BST-2 modulators encoded by the SARS-CoV genome: the papain-like protease (PLPro), nonstructural protein 1 (nsp1), ORF6, and ORF7a. As the function of ORF7a in SARS-CoV replication was previously unknown, we focused our study on ORF7a. We found that BST-2 does restrict SARS-CoV, but the loss of ORF7a leads to a much greater restriction, confirming the role of ORF7a as an inhibitor of BST-2. We further characterized the mechanism of BST-2 inhibition by ORF7a and found that ORF7a localization changes when BST-2 is overexpressed and ORF7a binds directly to BST-2. Finally, we also show that SARSCoV ORF7a blocks the restriction activity of BST-2 by blocking the glycosylation of BST-2.
    • Genome Wide Identification of SARS-CoV Susceptibility Loci Using the Collaborative Cross

      Gralinski, L.E.; Ferris, M.T.; Frieman, M.B. (Public Library of Science, 2015)
      New systems genetics approaches are needed to rapidly identify host genes and genetic networks that regulate complex disease outcomes. Using genetically diverse animals from incipient lines of the Collaborative Cross mouse panel, we demonstrate a greatly expanded range of phenotypes relative to classical mouse models of SARS-CoV infection including lung pathology, weight loss and viral titer. Genetic mapping revealed several loci contributing to differential disease responses, including an 8.5Mb locus associated with vascular cuffing on chromosome 3 that contained 23 genes and 13 noncoding RNAs. Integrating phenotypic and genetic data narrowed this region to a single gene, Trim55, an E3 ubiquitin ligase with a role in muscle fiber maintenance. Lung pathology and transcriptomic data from mice genetically deficient in Trim55 were used to validate its role in SARS-CoV-induced vascular cuffing and inflammation. These data establish the Collaborative Cross platform as a powerful genetic resource for uncovering genetic contributions of complex traits in microbial disease severity, inflammation and virus replication in models of outbred populations.
    • Abelson kinase inhibitors are potent inhibitors of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus fusion

      Coleman, C.M.; Sisk, J.M.; Frieman, M.B. (American Society for Microbiology, 2016)
      The highly pathogenic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cause significant morbidity and morality. There is currently no approved therapeutic for highly pathogenic coronaviruses, even as MERS-CoV is spreading throughout the Middle East. We previously screened a library of FDA-approved drugs for inhibitors of coronavirus replication in which we identified Abelson (Abl) kinase inhibitors, including the anticancer drug imatinib, as inhibitors of both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV in vitro. Here we show that the anti-CoV activity of imatinib occurs at the early stages of infection, after internalization and endosomal trafficking, by inhibiting fusion of the virions at the endosomal membrane. We specifically identified the imatinib target, Abelson tyrosine-protein kinase 2 (Abl2), as required for efficient SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV replication in vitro. These data demonstrate that specific approved drugs can be characterized in vitro for their anticoronavirus activity and used to identify host proteins required for coronavirus replication. This type of study is an important step in the repurposing of approved drugs for treatment of emerging coronaviruses.
    • A Universal Next-Generation Sequencing Protocol To Generate Noninfectious Barcoded cDNA Libraries from High-Containment RNA Viruses

      Moser, L.A.; Ramirez-Carvajal, L.; Matthews, K. (American Society for Microbiology, 2016)
      Several biosafety level 3 and/or 4 (BSL-3/4) pathogens are high-consequence, single-stranded RNA viruses, and their genomes, when introduced into permissive cells, are infectious. Moreover, many of these viruses are select agents (SAs), and their genomes are also considered SAs. For this reason, cDNAs and/or their derivatives must be tested to ensure the absence of infectious virus and/or viral RNA before transfer out of the BSL-3/4 and/or SA laboratory. This tremendously limits the capacity to conduct viral genomic research, particularly the application of next-generation sequencing (NGS). Here, we present a sequence-independent method to rapidly amplify viral genomic RNA while simultaneously abolishing both viral and genomic RNA infectivity across multiple single-stranded positive-sense RNA (ssRNA) virus families. The process generates barcoded DNA amplicons that range in length from 300 to 1,000 bp, which cannot be used to rescue a virus and are stable to transport at room temperature. Our barcoding approach allows for up to 288 barcoded samples to be pooled into a single library and run across various NGS platforms without potential reconstitution of the viral genome. Our data demonstrate that this approach provides full-length genomic sequence information not only from high-titer virion preparations but it can also recover specific viral sequence from samples with limited starting material in the background of cellular RNA, and it can be used to identify pathogens from unknown samples. In summary, we describe a rapid, universal standard operating procedure that generates high-quality NGS libraries free of infectious virus and infectious viral RNA. IMPORTANCE This report establishes and validates a standard operating procedure (SOP) for select agents (SAs) and other biosafety level 3 and/or 4 (BSL-3/4) RNA viruses to rapidly generate noninfectious, barcoded cDNA amenable for next-generation sequencing (NGS). This eliminates the burden of testing all processed samples derived from high-consequence pathogens prior to transfer from high-containment laboratories to lower-containment facilities for sequencing. Our established protocol can be scaled up for high-throughput sequencing of hundreds of samples simultaneously, which can dramatically reduce the cost and effort required for NGS library construction. NGS data from this SOP can provide complete genome coverage from viral stocks and can also detect virus-specific reads from limited starting material. Our data suggest that the procedure can be implemented and easily validated by institutional biosafety committees across research laboratories. Copyright 2016 Moser et al.
    • Human polyclonal immunoglobulin G from transchromosomic bovines inhibits MERS-CoV in vivo

      Luke, T.; Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2016)
      As of 13 November 2015, 1618 laboratory-confirmed human cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 579 deaths, had been reported to the World Health Organization. No specific preventive or therapeutic agent of proven value against MERS-CoV is currently available. Public Health England and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium identified passive immunotherapy with neutralizing antibodies as a treatment approach that warrants priority study. Two experimental MERS-CoV vaccines were used to vaccinate two groups of transchromosomic (Tc) bovines that were genetically modified to produce large quantities of fully human polyclonal immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. Vaccination with a clade A ?-irradiated whole killed virion vaccine (Jordan strain) or a clade B spike protein nanoparticle vaccine (Al-Hasa strain) resulted in Tc bovine sera with high enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and neutralizing antibody titers in vitro. Two purified Tc bovine human IgG immunoglobulins (Tc hIgG), SAB-300 (produced after Jordan strain vaccination) and SAB-301 (produced after Al-Hasa strain vaccination), also had high ELISA and neutralizing antibody titers without antibody- dependent enhancement in vitro. SAB-301 was selected for in vivo and preclinical studies. Administration of single doses of SAB-301 12 hours before or 24 and 48 hours after MERS-CoV infection (Erasmus Medical Center 2012 strain) of Ad5-hDPP4 receptor-transduced mice rapidly resulted in viral lung titers near or below the limit of detection. Tc bovines, combined with the ability to quickly produce Tc hIgG and develop in vitro assays and animal model(s), potentially offer a platform to rapidly produce a therapeutic to prevent and/or treat MERSCoV infection and/or other emerging infectious diseases.
    • Screening of FDA-Approved Drugs for Treatment of Emerging Pathogens

      Sisk, J.M.; Frieman, M.B. (American Chemical Society, 2016)
      The current outbreaks of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Ebolavirus (EboV) have revealed a gap in the development and availability of drugs to treat these infections. To date, there are no approved treatments for patients infected with MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a virus that continues to infect new patients and that has now spread from the Middle East to Asia. Despite a downward trend in the number of new EboV cases in West Africa, new infections are still occurring, and many patients continue to suffer from this illness. People infected with MERS and Ebola viruses receive only supportive care in hopes of recovery. Investigation into repurposing drugs approved by the FDA is gaining interest. To identify better treatment strategies, several groups have used drug screens to repurpose FDA-approved drugs as inhibitors of MERS-CoV and EboV.
    • SARS-CoV attack (severe acute respiratory syndrome)

      Freeman, D.; Kenez, E. (Elsevier Inc., 2016)
    • One-Health: A safe, efficient, dual-use vaccine for humans and animals against middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus and rabies virus

      Wirblich, C.; Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (American Society for Microbiology, 2017)
      Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in 2012 and is a highly pathogenic respiratory virus. There are no treatment options against MERS-CoV for humans or animals, and there are no large-scale clinical trials for therapies against MERS-CoV. To address this need, we developed an inactivated rabies virus (RABV) that contains the MERS-CoV spike (S) protein expressed on its surface. Our initial recombinant vaccine, BNSP333-S, expresses a full-length wild-type MERS-CoV S protein; however, it showed significantly reduced viral titers compared to those of the parental RABV strain and only low-level incorporation of full-length MERS-CoV S into RABV particles. Therefore, we developed a RABV-MERS vector that contained the MERS-CoV S1 domain of the MERS-CoV S protein fused to the RABV G protein C terminus (BNSP333-S1). BNSP333-S1 grew to titers similar to those of the parental vaccine vector BNSP333, and the RABV G-MERS-CoV S1 fusion protein was efficiently expressed and incorporated into RABV particles. When we vaccinated mice, chemically inactivated BNSP333-S1 induced high-titer neutralizing antibodies. Next, we challenged both vaccinated mice and control mice with MERS-CoV after adenovirus transduction of the human dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (hDPP4) receptor and then analyzed the ability of mice to control MERS-CoV infection. Our results demonstrated that vaccinated mice were fully protected from the MERS-CoV challenge, as indicated by the significantly lower MERS-CoV titers and MERS-CoV and mRNA levels in challenged mice than those in unvaccinated controls. These data establish that an inactivated RABV-MERS S-based vaccine may be effective for use in animals and humans in areas where MERS-CoV is endemic.