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1.
Clin Infect Dis ; 2022 May 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1927312

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is highly transmissible in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. The dynamics governing its establishment and propensity towards fixation (reaching 100% frequency in the SARS-CoV-2 population) in communities remain unknown. In this work, we describe the dynamics of Omicron at three institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the greater Boston area. METHODS: We use diagnostic and variant-specifying molecular assays and epidemiological analytical approaches to describe the rapid dominance of Omicron following its introduction to three IHEs with asymptomatic surveillance programs. RESULTS: We show that the establishment of Omicron at IHEs precedes that of the state and region, and that the time to fixation is shorter at IHEs (9.5-12.5 days) than in the state (14.8 days) or region. We show that the trajectory of Omicron fixation among university employees resembles that of students, with a 2-3 day delay. Finally, we compare cycle threshold (Ct) values in Omicron vs. Delta variant cases on college campuses, and identify lower viral loads among college affiliates harboring Omicron infections. CONCLUSIONS: We document the rapid takeover of the Omicron variant at IHEs, reaching near-fixation within the span of 9.5-12.5 days despite lower viral loads, on average, than the previously dominant Delta variant. These findings highlight the transmissibility of Omicron, its propensity to rapidly dominate small populations, and the ability of robust asymptomatic surveillance programs to offer early insights into the dynamics of pathogen arrival and spread.

2.
Nat Med ; 28(5): 1083-1094, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1671607

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated a clear need for high-throughput, multiplexed and sensitive assays for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and other respiratory viruses and their emerging variants. Here, we present a cost-effective virus and variant detection platform, called microfluidic Combinatorial Arrayed Reactions for Multiplexed Evaluation of Nucleic acids (mCARMEN), which combines CRISPR-based diagnostics and microfluidics with a streamlined workflow for clinical use. We developed the mCARMEN respiratory virus panel to test for up to 21 viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, other coronaviruses and both influenza strains, and demonstrated its diagnostic-grade performance on 525 patient specimens in an academic setting and 166 specimens in a clinical setting. We further developed an mCARMEN panel to enable the identification of 6 SARS-CoV-2 variant lineages, including Delta and Omicron, and evaluated it on 2,088 patient specimens with near-perfect concordance to sequencing-based variant classification. Lastly, we implemented a combined Cas13 and Cas12 approach that enables quantitative measurement of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A viral copies in samples. The mCARMEN platform enables high-throughput surveillance of multiple viruses and variants simultaneously, enabling rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , COVID-19/diagnosis , Humans , Microfluidics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
3.
Nat Microbiol ; 7(1): 108-119, 2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1574813

ABSTRACT

The global spread and continued evolution of SARS-CoV-2 has driven an unprecedented surge in viral genomic surveillance. Amplicon-based sequencing methods provide a sensitive, low-cost and rapid approach but suffer a high potential for contamination, which can undermine laboratory processes and results. This challenge will increase with the expanding global production of sequences across a variety of laboratories for epidemiological and clinical interpretation, as well as for genomic surveillance of emerging diseases in future outbreaks. We present SDSI + AmpSeq, an approach that uses 96 synthetic DNA spike-ins (SDSIs) to track samples and detect inter-sample contamination throughout the sequencing workflow. We apply SDSIs to the ARTIC Consortium's amplicon design, demonstrate their utility and efficiency in a real-time investigation of a suspected hospital cluster of SARS-CoV-2 cases and validate them across 6,676 diagnostic samples at multiple laboratories. We establish that SDSI + AmpSeq provides increased confidence in genomic data by detecting and correcting for relatively common, yet previously unobserved modes of error, including spillover and sample swaps, without impacting genome recovery.


Subject(s)
DNA Primers/standards , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Sequence Analysis/standards , COVID-19/diagnosis , DNA Primers/chemical synthesis , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Quality Control , RNA, Viral/genetics , Reproducibility of Results , Sequence Analysis/methods , Whole Genome Sequencing , Workflow
4.
Science ; 371(6529)2021 02 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388436

ABSTRACT

Analysis of 772 complete severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genomes from early in the Boston-area epidemic revealed numerous introductions of the virus, a small number of which led to most cases. The data revealed two superspreading events. One, in a skilled nursing facility, led to rapid transmission and significant mortality in this vulnerable population but little broader spread, whereas other introductions into the facility had little effect. The second, at an international business conference, produced sustained community transmission and was exported, resulting in extensive regional, national, and international spread. The two events also differed substantially in the genetic variation they generated, suggesting varying transmission dynamics in superspreading events. Our results show how genomic epidemiology can help to understand the link between individual clusters and wider community spread.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Boston/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Disease Outbreaks , Epidemiological Monitoring , Humans
5.
Viruses ; 13(8)2021 08 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1376992

ABSTRACT

While investigating a signal of adaptive evolution in humans at the gene LARGE, we encountered an intriguing finding by Dr. Stefan Kunz that the gene plays a critical role in Lassa virus binding and entry. This led us to pursue field work to test our hypothesis that natural selection acting on LARGE-detected in the Yoruba population of Nigeria-conferred resistance to Lassa Fever in some West African populations. As we delved further, we conjectured that the "emerging" nature of recently discovered diseases like Lassa fever is related to a newfound capacity for detection, rather than a novel viral presence, and that humans have in fact been exposed to the viruses that cause such diseases for much longer than previously suspected. Dr. Stefan Kunz's critical efforts not only laid the groundwork for this discovery, but also inspired and catalyzed a series of events that birthed Sentinel, an ambitious and large-scale pandemic prevention effort in West Africa. Sentinel aims to detect and characterize deadly pathogens before they spread across the globe, through implementation of its three fundamental pillars: Detect, Connect, and Empower. More specifically, Sentinel is designed to detect known and novel infections rapidly, connect and share information in real time to identify emerging threats, and empower the public health community to improve pandemic preparedness and response anywhere in the world. We are proud to dedicate this work to Stefan Kunz, and eagerly invite new collaborators, experts, and others to join us in our efforts.


Subject(s)
Disaster Planning , Lassa Fever/epidemiology , Lassa virus/physiology , Africa, Western/epidemiology , Disaster Planning/methods , Humans , Lassa Fever/genetics , Lassa Fever/prevention & control , Lassa Fever/virology , Lassa virus/genetics , N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases/genetics , N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases/immunology , Nigeria/epidemiology , Pandemics , Polymorphism, Genetic , Receptors, Virus/genetics , Receptors, Virus/immunology
6.
Cell ; 184(15): 3962-3980.e17, 2021 07 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1252549

ABSTRACT

T cell-mediated immunity plays an important role in controlling SARS-CoV-2 infection, but the repertoire of naturally processed and presented viral epitopes on class I human leukocyte antigen (HLA-I) remains uncharacterized. Here, we report the first HLA-I immunopeptidome of SARS-CoV-2 in two cell lines at different times post infection using mass spectrometry. We found HLA-I peptides derived not only from canonical open reading frames (ORFs) but also from internal out-of-frame ORFs in spike and nucleocapsid not captured by current vaccines. Some peptides from out-of-frame ORFs elicited T cell responses in a humanized mouse model and individuals with COVID-19 that exceeded responses to canonical peptides, including some of the strongest epitopes reported to date. Whole-proteome analysis of infected cells revealed that early expressed viral proteins contribute more to HLA-I presentation and immunogenicity. These biological insights, as well as the discovery of out-of-frame ORF epitopes, will facilitate selection of peptides for immune monitoring and vaccine development.


Subject(s)
Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte/immunology , Histocompatibility Antigens Class I/immunology , Open Reading Frames/genetics , Peptides/immunology , Proteome/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , A549 Cells , Alleles , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Antigen Presentation/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Female , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Kinetics , Male , Mice , Peptides/chemistry , T-Lymphocytes/immunology
7.
bioRxiv ; 2020 Oct 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-835256

ABSTRACT

T cell-mediated immunity may play a critical role in controlling and establishing protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection; yet the repertoire of viral epitopes responsible for T cell response activation remains mostly unknown. Identification of viral peptides presented on class I human leukocyte antigen (HLA-I) can reveal epitopes for recognition by cytotoxic T cells and potential incorporation into vaccines. Here, we report the first HLA-I immunopeptidome of SARS-CoV-2 in two human cell lines at different times post-infection using mass spectrometry. We found HLA-I peptides derived not only from canonical ORFs, but also from internal out-of-frame ORFs in Spike and Nucleoprotein not captured by current vaccines. Proteomics analyses of infected cells revealed that SARS-CoV-2 may interfere with antigen processing and immune signaling pathways. Based on the endogenously processed and presented viral peptides that we identified, we estimate that a pool of 24 peptides would provide one or more peptides for presentation by at least one HLA allele in 99% of the human population. These biological insights and the list of naturally presented SARS-CoV-2 peptides will facilitate data-driven selection of peptides for immune monitoring and vaccine development.

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