Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Margo Brinton

Second Advisor

Teryl Frey

Third Advisor

Richard Dix

Abstract

African monkey species are natural hosts of simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV) and develop persistent, asymptomatic infections. SHFV was previously shown to also cause a rapid onset fatal hemorrhagic fever disease in macaques. Infection of macaques with a new isolate of SHFV from persistently infected baboon sera, that showed high nucleotide identity with the lab strain LVR, resulted in viremia, pro-inflammatory cytokine and tissue factor production, and symptoms of coagulation defects. Primary macrophages and myeloid dendritic cell cultures from disease-susceptible macaques efficiently replicated SHFV and produced pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6 and TNF-α, as well as tissue factor. Cells from disease resistant baboons produced low virus yields and the immunomodulatory cytokine IL-10. IL-10 treatment of macaque cells decreased IL-6 levels but had no effect on TNF-α levels, tissue factor or virus production suggesting that IL-10 plays a role in modulating immunopathology in disease-resistant baboons but not in regulating the efficiency of virus replication.

SHFV is a member of the family Arteriviridae. The SHFV genome encodes 8 minor structural proteins. Other arteriviruses encode 4 minor structural proteins. Amino acid sequence comparisons suggest that the four additional SHFV minor structural proteins resulted from gene duplication. A full-length infectious clone of SHFV was constructed and produced virus with replication kinetics comparable to the parental virus. Mutant infectious clones, each with the start codon of one of the minor structural proteins substituted, were analyzed. All eight SHFV proteins were required for infectious virus production.

The SHFV nonstructural polyprotein is processed into the mature replicase proteins by several viral proteases including papain-like cysteine proteases (PLPs). Only one or two PLP domains are present in other arteriviruses but SHFV has three PLP domains. Analysis of in vitro proteolytic processing of C- and N-terminally tagged polyproteins indicated that the PLP in each of the three SHFV nsp1 proteins is active. However, the nsp1α protease is more similar to a cysteine protease than a PLP. Analysis of the subcellular localization of the three SHFV nsp1 proteins indicated they have divergent functions.

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