• The role of the poly(A) tract in the replication and virulence of tick-borne encephalitis virus.

      Asghar, Naveed; Lee, Yi-Ping; Nilsson, Emma; Lindqvist, Richard; Melik, Wessam; Kröger, Andrea; Överby, Anna K; Johansson, Magnus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research. Inhoffenstr. 7. 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-12-16)
      The tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is a flavivirus transmitted to humans, usually via tick bites. The virus causes tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in humans, and symptoms range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe and long-lasting sequelae, including permanent brain damage. It has been suggested that within the population of viruses transmitted to the mammalian host, quasispecies with neurotropic properties might become dominant in the host resulting in neurological symptoms. We previously demonstrated the existence of TBEV variants with variable poly(A) tracts within a single blood-fed tick. To characterize the role of the poly(A) tract in TBEV replication and virulence, we generated infectious clones of Torö-2003 with the wild-type (A)3C(A)6 sequence (Torö-6A) or with a modified (A)3C(A)38 sequence (Torö-38A). Torö-38A replicated poorly compared to Torö-6A in cell culture, but Torö-38A was more virulent than Torö-6A in a mouse model of TBE. Next-generation sequencing of TBEV genomes after passaging in cell culture and/or mouse brain revealed mutations in specific genomic regions and the presence of quasispecies that might contribute to the observed differences in virulence. These data suggest a role for quasispecies development within the poly(A) tract as a virulence determinant for TBEV in mice.
    • SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing human recombinant antibodies selected from pre-pandemic healthy donors binding at RBD-ACE2 interface.

      Bertoglio, Federico; Meier, Doris; Langreder, Nora; Steinke, Stephan; Rand, Ulfert; Simonelli, Luca; Heine, Philip Alexander; Ballmann, Rico; Schneider, Kai-Thomas; Roth, Kristian Daniel Ralph; et al. (NPG, 2021-03-11)
      COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a new recently emerged sarbecovirus. This virus uses the human ACE2 enzyme as receptor for cell entry, recognizing it with the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the S1 subunit of the viral spike protein. We present the use of phage display to select anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike antibodies from the human naïve antibody gene libraries HAL9/10 and subsequent identification of 309 unique fully human antibodies against S1. 17 antibodies are binding to the RBD, showing inhibition of spike binding to cells expressing ACE2 as scFv-Fc and neutralize active SARS-CoV-2 virus infection of VeroE6 cells. The antibody STE73-2E9 is showing neutralization of active SARS-CoV-2 as IgG and is binding to the ACE2-RBD interface. Thus, universal libraries from healthy human donors offer the advantage that antibodies can be generated quickly and independent from the availability of material from recovering patients in a pandemic situation.