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1.
J Virol ; 96(5): e0179121, 2022 03 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1799229

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and seasonal influenza viruses are cocirculating in the human population. However, only a few cases of viral coinfection with these two viruses have been documented in humans with some people having severe disease and others mild disease. To examine this phenomenon, ferrets were coinfected with SARS-CoV-2 and human seasonal influenza A viruses (IAVs; H1N1 or H3N2) and were compared to animals that received each virus alone. Ferrets were either immunologically naive to both viruses or vaccinated with the 2019 to 2020 split-inactivated influenza virus vaccine. Coinfected naive ferrets lost significantly more body weight than ferrets infected with each virus alone and had more severe inflammation in both the nose and lungs compared to that of ferrets that were single infected with each virus. Coinfected, naive animals had predominantly higher IAV titers than SARS-CoV-2 titers, and IAVs were efficiently transmitted by direct contact to the cohoused ferrets. Comparatively, SARS-CoV-2 failed to transmit to the ferrets that cohoused with coinfected ferrets by direct contact. Moreover, vaccination significantly reduced IAV titers and shortened the viral shedding but did not completely block direct contact transmission of the influenza virus. Notably, vaccination significantly ameliorated influenza-associated disease by protecting vaccinated animals from severe morbidity after IAV single infection or IAV and SARS-CoV-2 coinfection, suggesting that seasonal influenza virus vaccination is pivotal to prevent severe disease induced by IAV and SARS-CoV-2 coinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic. IMPORTANCE Influenza A viruses cause severe morbidity and mortality during each influenza virus season. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the human population offers the opportunity to potential coinfections of both viruses. The development of useful animal models to assess the pathogenesis, transmission, and viral evolution of these viruses as they coinfect a host is of critical importance for the development of vaccines and therapeutics. The ability to prevent the most severe effects of viral coinfections can be studied using effect coinfection ferret models described in this report.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/prevention & control , Coinfection/prevention & control , Influenza Vaccines/immunology , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/prevention & control , Animals , COVID-19/immunology , Female , Ferrets/immunology , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype/genetics , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype/immunology , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/genetics , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/immunology , Orthomyxoviridae Infections/immunology , Vaccination , Virus Shedding
2.
Cell Rep ; 38(12): 110558, 2022 03 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1797096

ABSTRACT

Mutations in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike receptor-binding domain (RBD) may alter viral host tropism and affect the activities of neutralizing antibodies. Here, we investigated 153 RBD mutants and 11 globally circulating variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs) (including Omicron) for their antigenic changes and cross-species tropism in cells expressing 18 ACE2 orthologs. Several RBD mutations strengthened viral infectivity in cells expressing ACE2 orthologs of non-human animals, particularly those less susceptible to the ancestral strain. The mutations surrounding amino acids (aas) 439-448 and aa 484 are more likely to cause neutralization resistance. Strikingly, enhanced cross-species infection potential in the mouse and ferret, instead of the neutralization-escape scores of the mutations, account for the positive correlation with the cumulative prevalence of mutations in humans. These findings present insights for potential drivers of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and provide informative parameters for tracking and forecasting spreading mutations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , Ferrets , Humans , Membrane Glycoproteins/metabolism , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Tropism , Viral Envelope Proteins
3.
J Microbiol ; 60(3): 255-267, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1782975

ABSTRACT

As of February 2022, SARS-CoV-2 is still one of the most serious public health threats due to its high mortality rate and rapid spread of novel variants. Since the first outbreak in 2019, general understanding of SARS-CoV-2 has been improved through basic and clinical studies; however, knowledge gaps still exist in our understanding of the emerging novel SARSCoV-2 variants, which impacts the corresponding development of vaccines and therapeutics. Especially, accumulation of mutations in SARS-CoV-2 and rapid spread in populations with previous immunity has resulted in selection of variants that evade the host immune response. This phenomenon threatens to render current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines ineffective for controlling the pandemic. Proper animal models are essential for detailed investigations into the viral etiology, transmission and pathogenesis mechanisms, as well as evaluation of the efficacy of vaccine candidates against recent SARS-CoV-2 variants. Further, the choice of animal model for each research topic is important for researchers to gain better knowledge of recent SARS-CoV-2 variants. Here, we review the advantages and limitations of each animal model, including mice, hamsters, ferrets, and non-human primates, to elucidate variant SARS-CoV-2 etiology and transmission and to evaluate therapeutic and vaccine efficacy.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Animals , COVID-19 Vaccines , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets , Humans , Mice , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virulence
4.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 5680, 2022 Apr 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1778625

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the infectious disease COVID-19, which has rapidly become an international pandemic with significant impact on healthcare systems and the global economy. To assist antiviral therapy and vaccine development efforts, we performed a natural history/time course study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in ferrets to characterise and assess the suitability of this animal model. Ten ferrets of each sex were challenged intranasally with 4.64 × 104 TCID50 of SARS-CoV-2 isolate Australia/VIC01/2020 and monitored for clinical disease signs, viral shedding, and tissues collected post-mortem for histopathological and virological assessment at set intervals. We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicated in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets with consistent viral shedding in nasal wash samples and oral swab samples up until day 9. Infectious SARS-CoV-2 was recovered from nasal washes, oral swabs, nasal turbinates, pharynx, and olfactory bulb samples within 3-7 days post-challenge; however, only viral RNA was detected by qRT-PCR in samples collected from the trachea, lung, and parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Viral antigen was seen exclusively in nasal epithelium and associated sloughed cells and draining lymph nodes upon immunohistochemical staining. Due to the absence of clinical signs after viral challenge, our ferret model is appropriate for studying asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and most suitable for use in vaccine efficacy studies.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Ferrets , Animals , Nasal Mucosa , SARS-CoV-2 , Viral Load
5.
J Gen Virol ; 103(4)2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1774462

ABSTRACT

Following the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in PR China in late 2019 a number of variants have emerged, with two of these - alpha and delta - subsequently growing to global prevalence. One characteristic of these variants are changes within the spike protein, in particular the receptor-binding domain (RBD). From a public health perspective, these changes have important implications for increased transmissibility and immune escape; however, their presence could also modify the intrinsic host range of the virus. Using viral pseudotyping, we examined whether the variants of concern (VOCs) alpha, beta, gamma and delta have differing host angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor usage patterns, focusing on a range of relevant mammalian ACE2 proteins. All four VOCs were able to overcome a previous restriction for mouse ACE2, with demonstrable differences also seen for individual VOCs with rat, ferret or civet ACE2 receptors, changes that we subsequently attributed to N501Y and E484K substitutions within the spike RBD.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Ferrets , Host Specificity , Humans , Mice , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/chemistry , Rats , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
6.
BMC Vet Res ; 18(1): 124, 2022 Apr 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1770541

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronaviruses have the potential to cross species barriers. To learn the molecular intersections among the most common coronaviruses of domestic and close-contact animals, we analyzed representative coronavirus genera infecting mouse, rat, rabbit, dog, cat, cattle, white-tailed deer, swine, ferret, mink, alpaca, Rhinolophus bat, dolphin, whale, chicken, duck and turkey hosts; reference or complete genome sequences were available for most of these coronavirus genera. Protein sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees were built for the spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins. The host receptors and enzymes aminopeptidase N (APN), angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), sialic acid synthase (SAS), transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), cathepsin L (and its analogs) and furin were also compared. RESULTS: Overall, the S, E, M, and N proteins segregated according to their viral genera (α, ß, or γ), but the S proteins of alphacoronaviruses lacked conservation of phylogeny. Interestingly, the unique polybasic furin cleavage motif found in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) but not in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) exists in several ß-coronaviruses and a few α- or γ-coronaviruses. Receptors and enzymes retained host species-dependent relationships with one another. Among the hosts, critical ACE2 residues essential for SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding were most conserved in white-tailed deer and cattle. CONCLUSION: The polybasic furin cleavage motif found in several ß- and other coronaviruses of animals points to the existence of an intermediate host for SARS-CoV-2, and it also offers a counternarrative to the theory of a laboratory-engineered virus. Generally, the S proteins of coronaviruses show crossovers of phylogenies indicative of recombination events. Additionally, the consistency in the segregation of viral proteins of the MERS-like coronavirus (NC_034440.1) from pipistrelle bat supports its classification as a ß-coronavirus. Finally, similarities in host enzymes and receptors did not always explain natural cross-infections. More studies are therefore needed to identify factors that determine the cross-species infectivity of coronaviruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Cattle Diseases , Deer , Dog Diseases , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus , Rodent Diseases , Swine Diseases , Animals , COVID-19/veterinary , Cattle , Dogs , Ferrets , Mice , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/genetics , Phylogeny , Rabbits , Rats , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Swine
7.
J Virol ; 96(7): e0010022, 2022 Apr 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1728835

ABSTRACT

Understanding how animal influenza A viruses (IAVs) acquire airborne transmissibility in humans and ferrets is needed to prepare for and respond to pandemics. Here, we investigated in ferrets the replication and transmission of swine H1N1 isolates P4 and G15, whose majority population had decreased polymerase activity and poor hemagglutinin (HA) stability, respectively. For both isolates, a minor variant was selected and transmitted in ferrets. Polymerase-enhancing variant PA-S321 airborne-transmitted and propagated in one ferret. HA-stabilizing variant HA1-S210 was selected in all G15-inoculated ferrets and was transmitted by contact and airborne routes. With an efficient polymerase and a stable HA, the purified minor variant G15-HA1-S210 had earlier and higher peak titers in inoculated ferrets and was recovered at a higher frequency after airborne transmission than P4 and G15. Overall, HA stabilization played a more prominent role than polymerase enhancement in the replication and transmission of these viruses in ferrets. The results suggest pandemic risk-assessment studies may benefit from deep sequencing to identify minor variants with human-adapted traits. IMPORTANCE Diverse IAVs circulate in animals, yet few acquire the viral traits needed to start a human pandemic. A stabilized HA and mammalian-adapted polymerase have been shown to promote the adaptation of IAVs to humans and ferrets (the gold-standard model for IAV replication, pathogenicity, and transmissibility). Here, we used swine IAV isolates of the gamma lineage as a model to investigate the importance of HA stability and polymerase activity in promoting replication and transmission in ferrets. These are emerging viruses that bind to both α-2,6- and α-2,3-linked receptors. Using isolates containing mixed populations, a stabilized HA was selected within days in inoculated ferrets. An enhanced polymerase was also selected and propagated after airborne transmission to a ferret. Thus, HA stabilization was a stricter requirement, yet both traits promoted transmissibility. Knowing the viral traits needed for pandemic potential, and the relative importance of each, will help identify emerging viruses of greatest concern.


Subject(s)
Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype , Influenza A virus , Influenza, Human , Orthomyxoviridae Infections , Animals , Ferrets , Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus , Hemagglutinins , Humans , Swine
8.
mBio ; 11(3)2020 05 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1723548

ABSTRACT

Due to the urgent need of a therapeutic treatment for coronavirus (CoV) disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, a number of FDA-approved/repurposed drugs have been suggested as antiviral candidates at clinics, without sufficient information. Furthermore, there have been extensive debates over antiviral candidates for their effectiveness and safety against severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV 2 (SARS-CoV-2), suggesting that rapid preclinical animal studies are required to identify potential antiviral candidates for human trials. To this end, the antiviral efficacies of lopinavir-ritonavir, hydroxychloroquine sulfate, and emtricitabine-tenofovir for SARS-CoV-2 infection were assessed in the ferret infection model. While the lopinavir-ritonavir-, hydroxychloroquine sulfate-, or emtricitabine-tenofovir-treated group exhibited lower overall clinical scores than the phosphate-buffered saline (PBS)-treated control group, the virus titers in nasal washes, stool specimens, and respiratory tissues were similar between all three antiviral-candidate-treated groups and the PBS-treated control group. Only the emtricitabine-tenofovir-treated group showed lower virus titers in nasal washes at 8 days postinfection (dpi) than the PBS-treated control group. To further explore the effect of immune suppression on viral infection and clinical outcome, ferrets were treated with azathioprine, an immunosuppressive drug. Compared to the PBS-treated control group, azathioprine-immunosuppressed ferrets exhibited a longer period of clinical illness, higher virus titers in nasal turbinate, delayed virus clearance, and significantly lower serum neutralization (SN) antibody titers. Taken together, all antiviral drugs tested marginally reduced the overall clinical scores of infected ferrets but did not significantly affect in vivo virus titers. Despite the potential discrepancy of drug efficacies between animals and humans, these preclinical ferret data should be highly informative to future therapeutic treatment of COVID-19 patients.IMPORTANCE The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, with rapidly increasing numbers of mortalities, placing increasing strain on health care systems. Despite serious public health concerns, no effective vaccines or therapeutics have been approved by regulatory agencies. In this study, we tested the FDA-approved drugs lopinavir-ritonavir, hydroxychloroquine sulfate, and emtricitabine-tenofovir against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a highly susceptible ferret infection model. While most of the drug treatments marginally reduced clinical symptoms, they did not reduce virus titers, with the exception of emtricitabine-tenofovir treatment, which led to diminished virus titers in nasal washes at 8 dpi. Further, the azathioprine-treated immunosuppressed ferrets showed delayed virus clearance and low SN titers, resulting in a prolonged infection. As several FDA-approved or repurposed drugs are being tested as antiviral candidates at clinics without sufficient information, rapid preclinical animal studies should proceed to identify therapeutic drug candidates with strong antiviral potential and high safety prior to a human efficacy trial.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , Betacoronavirus/drug effects , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Betacoronavirus/immunology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Ferrets , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , United States , United States Food and Drug Administration , Viral Load
9.
J Virol Methods ; 302: 114475, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1652648

ABSTRACT

Accurate and sensitive detection of antibody to SARS-CoV-2 remains an essential component of the pandemic response. Measuring antibody that predicts neutralising activity and the vaccine response is an absolute requirement for laboratory-based confirmatory and reference activity. The viral receptor binding domain (RBD) constitutes the prime target antigen for neutralising antibody. A double antigen binding assay (DABA), providing the most sensitive format has been exploited in a novel hybrid manner employing a solid-phase S1 preferentially presenting RBD, coupled with a labelled RBD conjugate, used in a two-step sequential assay for detection and measurement of antibody to RBD (anti-RBD). This class and species neutral assay showed a specificity of 100 % on 825 pre COVID-19 samples and a potential sensitivity of 99.6 % on 276 recovery samples, predicting quantitatively the presence of neutralising antibody determined by pseudo-type neutralization and by plaque reduction. Anti-RBD is also measurable in ferrets immunised with ChadOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine and in humans immunised with both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. This assay detects anti-RBD at presentation with illness, demonstrates its elevation with disease severity, its sequel to asymptomatic infection and its persistence after the loss of antibody to the nucleoprotein (anti-NP). It also provides serological confirmation of prior infection and offers a secure measure for seroprevalence and studies of vaccine immunisation in human and animal populations. The hybrid DABA also displays the attributes necessary for the detection and quantification of anti-RBD to be used in clinical practice. An absence of detectable anti-RBD by this assay predicates the need for passive immune prophylaxis in at-risk patients.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/isolation & purification , COVID-19/diagnosis , Ferrets , Humans , RNA, Viral , Seroepidemiologic Studies
10.
J Infect Dis ; 225(3): 404-412, 2022 02 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1672208

ABSTRACT

Cocirculation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and influenza viruses could pose unpredictable risks to health systems globally, with recent studies suggesting more severe disease outcomes in coinfected patients. The initial lack of a readily available coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine has reinforced the importance of influenza vaccine programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is an important tool in protecting against influenza, particularly in children. However, it is unknown whether LAIV administration influences the outcomes of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection or disease. To investigate this, quadrivalent LAIV was administered to ferrets 3 days before or after SARS-CoV-2 infection. LAIV administration did not exacerbate the SARS-CoV-2 disease course or lung pathology with either regimen. In addition, LAIV administered before SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly reduced SARS-CoV-2 replication and shedding in the upper respiratory tract. This study demonstrated that LAIV administration in close proximity to SARS-CoV-2 infection does not exacerbate mild disease and can reduce SARS-CoV-2 shedding.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza Vaccines , Virus Shedding , Animals , COVID-19/therapy , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets , Influenza Vaccines/therapeutic use , Lung , Respiratory System/virology , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Vaccines, Attenuated/therapeutic use , Virus Replication
11.
Science ; 375(6577): 161-167, 2022 Jan 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1648160

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical need for broad-spectrum therapeutics against respiratory viruses. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major threat to pediatric patients and older adults. We describe 4'-fluorouridine (4'-FlU, EIDD-2749), a ribonucleoside analog that inhibits RSV, related RNA viruses, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), with high selectivity index in cells and human airway epithelia organoids. Polymerase inhibition within in vitro RNA-dependent RNA polymerase assays established for RSV and SARS-CoV-2 revealed transcriptional stalling after incorporation. Once-daily oral treatment was highly efficacious at 5 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) in RSV-infected mice or 20 mg/kg in ferrets infected with different SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, initiated 24 or 12 hours after infection, respectively. These properties define 4'-FlU as a broad-spectrum candidate for the treatment of RSV, SARS-CoV-2, and related RNA virus infections.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/drug therapy , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Uracil Nucleotides/pharmacology , Administration, Oral , Animals , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Antiviral Agents/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line , Coronavirus RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Female , Ferrets , Humans , Mice , Mice, Inbred BALB C , Microbial Sensitivity Tests , Mononegavirales/drug effects , Mononegavirales/physiology , RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase/metabolism , Respiratory Mucosa/virology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections/virology , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/genetics , Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Transcription, Genetic , Uracil Nucleotides/administration & dosage , Uracil Nucleotides/metabolism , Virus Replication/drug effects
12.
Thromb Res ; 210: 6-11, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1634248

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many patients who are diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) suffer from venous thromboembolic complications despite the use of stringent anticoagulant prophylaxis. Studies on the exact mechanism(s) underlying thrombosis in COVID-19 are limited as animal models commonly used to study venous thrombosis pathophysiology (i.e. rats and mice) are naturally not susceptible to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Ferrets are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection, successfully used to study virus transmission, and have been previously used to study activation of coagulation and thrombosis during influenza virus infection. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore the use of (heat-inactivated) plasma and lung material from SARS-CoV-2-inoculated ferrets studying COVID-19-associated changes in coagulation and thrombosis. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Histology and longitudinal plasma profiling using mass spectrometry-based proteomics approach was performed. RESULTS: Lungs of ferrets inoculated intranasally with SARS-CoV-2 demonstrated alveolar septa that were mildly expanded by macrophages, and diffuse interstitial histiocytic pneumonia. However, no macroscopical or microscopical evidence of vascular thrombosis in the lungs of SARS-CoV-2-inoculated ferrets was found. Longitudinal plasma profiling revealed minor differences in plasma protein profiles in SARS-CoV-2-inoculated ferrets up to 2 weeks post-infection. The majority of plasma coagulation factors were stable and demonstrated a low coefficient of variation. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that while ferrets are an essential and well-suited animal model to study SARS-CoV-2 transmission, their use to study SARS-CoV-2-related changes relevant to thrombotic disease is limited.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Thrombosis , Venous Thrombosis , Animals , Blood Proteins , Ferrets , Humans , Lung , Mice , Rats , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Cell Rep ; 38(6): 110344, 2022 02 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1639571

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 has a broad mammalian species tropism infecting humans, cats, dogs, and farmed mink. Since the start of the 2019 pandemic, several reverse zoonotic outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 have occurred in mink, one of which reinfected humans and caused a cluster of infections in Denmark. Here we investigate the molecular basis of mink and ferret adaptation and demonstrate the spike mutations Y453F, F486L, and N501T all specifically adapt SARS-CoV-2 to use mustelid ACE2. Furthermore, we risk assess these mutations and conclude mink-adapted viruses are unlikely to pose an increased threat to humans, as Y453F attenuates the virus replication in human cells and all three mink adaptations have minimal antigenic impact. Finally, we show that certain SARS-CoV-2 variants emerging from circulation in humans may naturally have a greater propensity to infect mustelid hosts and therefore these species should continue to be surveyed for reverse zoonotic infections.


Subject(s)
Adaptation, Biological/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Viral Zoonoses/genetics , Animals , COVID-19 , Ferrets/immunology , Genetic Fitness/genetics , Humans , Mink/immunology , Mutation , Pandemics , Respiratory System/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
14.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 21, 2022 01 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616983

ABSTRACT

While the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in healthy people does not differ significantly among age groups, those aged 65 years or older exhibit strikingly higher COVID-19 mortality compared to younger individuals. To further understand differing COVID-19 manifestations in patients of different ages, three age groups of ferrets are infected with SARS-CoV-2. Although SARS-CoV-2 is isolated from all ferrets regardless of age, aged ferrets (≥3 years old) show higher viral loads, longer nasal virus shedding, and more severe lung inflammatory cell infiltration, and clinical symptoms compared to juvenile (≤6 months) and young adult (1-2 years) groups. Furthermore, direct contact ferrets co-housed with the virus-infected aged group shed more virus than direct-contact ferrets co-housed with virus-infected juvenile or young adult ferrets. Transcriptome analysis of aged ferret lungs reveals strong enrichment of gene sets related to type I interferon, activated T cells, and M1 macrophage responses, mimicking the gene expression profile of severe COVID-19 patients. Thus, SARS-CoV-2-infected aged ferrets highly recapitulate COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms and are useful for understanding age-associated infection, transmission, and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , Disease Models, Animal , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Virus Shedding/immunology , Age Factors , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/blood , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/transmission , Chlorocebus aethiops , Female , Ferrets , Gene Expression Profiling/methods , Humans , Immunoglobulin G/blood , Immunoglobulin G/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Vero Cells , Virulence
16.
Nature ; 602(7896): 307-313, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585832

ABSTRACT

Emerging variants of concern (VOCs) are driving the COVID-19 pandemic1,2. Experimental assessments of replication and transmission of major VOCs and progenitors are needed to understand the mechanisms of replication and transmission of VOCs3. Here we show that the spike protein (S) from Alpha (also known as B.1.1.7) and Beta (B.1.351) VOCs had a greater affinity towards the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor than that of the progenitor variant S(D614G) in vitro. Progenitor variant virus expressing S(D614G) (wt-S614G) and the Alpha variant showed similar replication kinetics in human nasal airway epithelial cultures, whereas the Beta variant was outcompeted by both. In vivo, competition experiments showed a clear fitness advantage of Alpha over wt-S614G in ferrets and two mouse models-the substitutions in S were major drivers of the fitness advantage. In hamsters, which support high viral replication levels, Alpha and wt-S614G showed similar fitness. By contrast, Beta was outcompeted by Alpha and wt-S614G in hamsters and in mice expressing human ACE2. Our study highlights the importance of using multiple models to characterize fitness of VOCs and demonstrates that Alpha is adapted for replication in the upper respiratory tract and shows enhanced transmission in vivo in restrictive models, whereas Beta does not overcome Alpha or wt-S614G in naive animals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Animals, Laboratory/virology , COVID-19/veterinary , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus/virology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virulence/genetics
17.
Virulence ; 12(1): 2777-2786, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1565872

ABSTRACT

Several animal species, including ferrets, hamsters, monkeys, and raccoon dogs, have been shown to be susceptible to experimental infection by the human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, which were responsible for the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, respectively. Emerging studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 natural infection of pet dogs and cats is also possible, but its prevalence is not fully understood. Experimentally, it has been demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 replicates more efficiently in cats than in dogs and that cats can transmit the virus through aerosols. With approximately 470 million pet dogs and 370 million pet cats cohabitating with their human owners worldwide, the finding of natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in these household pets has important implications for potential zoonotic transmission events during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as future SARS-related outbreaks. Here, we describe some of the ongoing worldwide surveillance efforts to assess the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 exposure in companion, captive, wild, and farmed animals, as well as provide some perspectives on these efforts including the intra- and inter-species coronavirus transmissions, evolution, and their implications on the human-animal interface along with public health. Some ongoing efforts to develop and implement a new COVID-19 vaccine for animals are also discussed. Surveillance initiatives to track SARS-CoV-2 exposures in animals are necessary to accurately determine their impact on veterinary and human health, as well as define potential reservoir sources of the virus and its evolutionary and transmission dynamics.


Subject(s)
Animals, Domestic/virology , Animals, Wild/virology , Animals, Zoo/virology , COVID-19/veterinary , Pets/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Animals , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19 Vaccines , Disease Reservoirs/statistics & numerical data , Disease Reservoirs/virology , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Prevalence , Viral Zoonoses/epidemiology , Viral Zoonoses/prevention & control , Viral Zoonoses/virology
19.
J Virol ; 96(3): e0145521, 2022 02 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1532961

ABSTRACT

Susceptibility to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the outcome of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been linked to underlying health conditions and the age of affected individuals. Here, we assessed the effect of age on SARS-CoV-2 infection using a ferret model. For this, young (6-month-old) and aged (18- to 39-month-old) ferrets were inoculated intranasally with various doses of SARS-CoV-2. By using infectious virus shedding in respiratory secretions and seroconversion, we estimated that the infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 in aged animals is ∼32 PFU per animal, while in young animals it was estimated to be ∼100 PFU. We showed that viral replication in the upper respiratory tract and shedding in respiratory secretions is enhanced in aged ferrets compared to young animals. Similar to observations in humans, this was associated with higher transcription levels of two key viral entry factors, ACE2 and TMPRSS2, in the upper respiratory tract of aged ferrets. IMPORTANCE In humans, ACE2 and TMPRSS2 are expressed in various cells and tissues, and differential expression has been described in young and old people, with a higher level of expressing cells being detected in the nasal brushing of older people than young individuals. We described the same pattern occurring in ferrets, and we demonstrated that age affects susceptibility of ferrets to SARS-CoV-2. Aged animals were more likely to get infected when exposed to lower infectious dose of the virus than young animals, and the viral replication in the upper respiratory tract and shedding are enhanced in aged ferrets. Together, these results suggest that the higher infectivity and enhanced ability of SARS-CoV-2 to replicate in aged individuals is associated, at least in part, with transcription levels of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 at the sites of virus entry. The young and aged ferret model developed here may represent a great platform to assess age-related differences in SARS-CoV-2 infection dynamics and replication.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Disease Susceptibility , Host-Pathogen Interactions , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Age Factors , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Biomarkers , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Disease Models, Animal , Ferrets , Gene Expression , Host-Pathogen Interactions/immunology , Organ Specificity , RNA, Viral , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Viral Load
20.
Biomed J ; 44(4): 504-507, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1525701

ABSTRACT

COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has emerged as global pandemic. Here, we described the changes in microbiota of upper respiratory tract by analyzing the publically available RNA sequencing data of SARS-CoV-2-infected ferrets. The bacterial dysbiosis due to SARS-CoV-2 was largely inversely proportional to the dysbiosis caused by influenza-A virus. The bacterial taxa which are defined as healthy ecostate were significantly reduced during SARS-CoV-2 infection. Altogether, this preliminary study provides a new insight on the possible role of bacterial communities of upper respiratory tract in determining the immunity, susceptibility, and mortality for COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Microbiota , Animals , Dysbiosis , Ferrets , Humans , Microbiota/genetics , RNA , Respiratory System , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Analysis, RNA
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