Complete bibliography at Google Scholar

Neutralizing antibodies from naturally infected individuals against SARS-CoV-2 Gamma and Delta variants in the Paraguayan population
Samudio A, Sotelo PH, González-Maldonado P, Alfonso L, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R and Langjahr P
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 Virus (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). A substantial number of SARS-CoV-2 infection cases have been reported during the pandemic, and vaccination coverage in some regions, particularly in developing countries, remains very low. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) have also emerged as some of the most pressing public health issues. In this scenario, it is crucial to know whether COVID-19 convalescent antibodies have cross-neutralizing action against VOCs to contribute to the analysis of the future progress of the pandemic.
Humoral and cellular response induced by a second booster of an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in adults
Méndez C, Peñaloza HF, Schultz BM, Piña-Iturbe A, Ríos M, Moreno-Tapia D, Pereira-Sánchez P, Leighton D, Orellana C, Covarrubias C, Gálvez NMS, Soto JA, Duarte LF, Rivera-Pérez D, Vázquez Y, Cabrera A, Bustos S, Iturriaga C, Urzua M, Navarrete MS, Rojas Á, Fasce RA, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Acevedo M, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Weiskopf D, Grifoni A, Sette A, Zeng G, Meng W, , González-Aramundiz JV, González PA, Abarca K, Melo-González F, Bueno SM and Kalergis AM
The Omicron variant has challenged the control of the COVID-19 pandemic due to its immuno-evasive properties. The administration of a booster dose of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine showed positive effects in the immunogenicity against SARS-CoV-2, effect that is even enhanced after the administration of a second booster.
Neutralizing antibodies induced by homologous and heterologous boosters in CoronaVac vaccines in Chile
Acevedo J, Acevedo ML, Gaete-Argel A, Araos R, Gonzalez C, Espinoza D, Rivas S, Pizarro P, Jarpa S, Soto-Rifo R, Jara A and Valiente-Echeverría F
To determine the impact of a booster dose on the humoral response in individuals inoculated with a complete schedule of any SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, we evaluated the neutralizing antibody (NAb) titres of homologous or heterologous booster doses over a 90-days period in CoronaVac vaccinees from 3 centres in Santiago, Chile.
COVID-19 lateral flow IgG seropositivity and serum neutralising antibody responses after primary and booster vaccinations in Chile: a cross-sectional study
Sauré D, O'Ryan M, Torres JP, Zuñiga M, Soto-Rifo R, Valiente-Echeverría F, Gaete-Argel A, Neira I, Saavedra V, Acevedo ML, Archila C, Acuña F, Rain M and Basso LJ
By June 30, 2022, 92·6% of the Chilean population older than 18 years had received a full primary SARS-CoV-2 vaccine series, mostly with CoronaVac (Sinovac Biotech), and 78·4% had received a booster dose, mostly heterologous with BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) and ChAdOx1 (AstraZeneca). We previously reported national seroprevalence data from lateral flow testing of IgG SARS-CoV-2 antibodies up to 16 weeks after primary vaccination. Our aim here was to study IgG seropositivity dynamics up to 30 weeks after primary vaccination and, in CoronaVac recipients, up to 26 weeks after booster vaccination, and to establish the correlation between lateral flow tests and neutralising antibody titres.
Author Correction: Differential neutralizing antibody responses elicited by CoronaVac and BNT162b2 against SARS-CoV-2 Lambda in Chile
Acevedo ML, Gaete-Argel A, Alonso-Palomares L, de Oca MM, Bustamante A, Gaggero A, Paredes F, Cortes CP, Pantano S, Martínez-Valdebenito C, Angulo J, Le Corre N, Ferrés M, Navarrete MA, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
Inactivated Vaccine-Induced SARS-CoV-2 Variant-Specific Immunity in Children
Soto JA, Melo-González F, Gutierrez-Vera C, Schultz BM, Berríos-Rojas RV, Rivera-Pérez D, Piña-Iturbe A, Hoppe-Elsholz G, Duarte LF, Vázquez Y, Moreno-Tapia D, Ríos M, Palacios PA, Garcia-Betancourt R, Santibañez Á, Pacheco GA, Mendez C, Andrade CA, Silva PH, Diethelm-Varela B, Astudillo P, Calvo M, Cárdenas A, González M, Goldsack M, Gutiérrez V, Potin M, Schilling A, Tapia LI, Twele L, Villena R, Grifoni A, Sette A, Weiskopf D, Fasce RA, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Acevedo ML, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Retamal-Díaz A, Muñoz-Jofré N, , Meng X, Xin Q, Alarcón-Bustamante E, González-Aramundiz JV, Le Corre N, Álvarez-Figueroa MJ, González PA, Abarca K, Perret C, Carreño LJ, Bueno SM and Kalergis AM
Multiple vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been evaluated in clinical trials. However, trials addressing the immune response in the pediatric population are scarce. The inactivated vaccine CoronaVac has been shown to be safe and immunogenic in a phase 1/2 clinical trial in a pediatric cohort in China. Here, we report interim safety and immunogenicity results of a phase 3 clinical trial for CoronaVac in healthy children and adolescents in Chile. Participants 3 to 17 years old received two doses of CoronaVac in a 4-week interval until 31 December 2021. Local and systemic adverse reactions were registered for volunteers who received one or two doses of CoronaVac. Whole-blood samples were collected from a subgroup of 148 participants for humoral and cellular immunity analyses. The main adverse reaction reported after the first and second doses was pain at the injection site. Four weeks after the second dose, an increase in neutralizing antibody titer was observed in subjects relative to their baseline visit. Similar results were found for activation of specific CD4 T cells. Neutralizing antibodies were identified against the Delta and Omicron variants. However, these titers were lower than those for the D614G strain. Importantly, comparable CD4 T cell responses were detected against these variants of concern. Therefore, CoronaVac is safe and immunogenic in subjects 3 to 17 years old, inducing neutralizing antibody secretion and activating CD4 T cells against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. (This study has been registered at under no. NCT04992260.) This work evaluated the immune response induced by two doses of CoronaVac separated by 4 weeks in healthy children and adolescents in Chile. To date, few studies have described the effects of CoronaVac in the pediatric population. Therefore, it is essential to generate knowledge regarding the protection of vaccines in this population. Along these lines, we reported the anti-S humoral response and cellular immune response to several SARS-CoV-2 proteins that have been published and recently studied. Here, we show that a vaccination schedule consisting of two doses separated by 4 weeks induces the secretion of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, CoronaVac induces the activation of CD4 T cells upon stimulation with peptides from the proteome of SARS-CoV-2. These results indicate that, even though the neutralizing antibody response induced by vaccination decreases against the Delta and Omicron variants, the cellular response against these variants is comparable to the response against the ancestral strain D614G, even being significantly higher against Omicron.
Differences in the immune response elicited by two immunization schedules with an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a randomized phase 3 clinical trial
Gálvez NMS, Pacheco GA, Schultz BM, Melo-González F, Soto JA, Duarte LF, González LA, Rivera-Pérez D, Ríos M, Berrios RV, Vázquez Y, Moreno-Tapia D, Vallejos OP, Andrade CA, Hoppe-Elsholz G, Iturriaga C, Urzua M, Navarrete MS, Rojas Á, Fasce R, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Acevedo ML, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Weiskopf D, Grifoni A, Sette A, Zeng G, Meng W, , González-Aramundiz JV, Johnson M, Goldblatt D, González PA, Abarca K, Bueno SM and Kalergis AM
The development of vaccines to control the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic progression is a worldwide priority. CoronaVac is an inactivated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine approved for emergency use with robust efficacy and immunogenicity data reported in trials in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, and Chile.
A Booster Dose of CoronaVac Increases Neutralizing Antibodies and T Cells that Recognize Delta and Omicron Variants of Concern
Schultz BM, Melo-González F, Duarte LF, Gálvez NMS, Pacheco GA, Soto JA, Berríos-Rojas RV, González LA, Moreno-Tapia D, Rivera-Pérez D, Ríos M, Vázquez Y, Hoppe-Elsholz G, Andrade-Parra CA, Vallejos OP, Piña-Iturbe A, Iturriaga C, Urzua M, Navarrete MS, Rojas Á, Fasce R, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Acevedo ML, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Weiskopf D, Grifoni A, Sette A, Zeng G, Meng W, , González-Aramundiz JV, González PA, Abarca K, Kalergis AM and Bueno SM
CoronaVac is an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Previous studies reported increased levels of neutralizing antibodies and specific T cells 2 and 4 weeks after two doses of CoronaVac; these levels were significantly reduced at 6 to 8 months after the two doses. Here, we report the effect of a booster dose of CoronaVac on the anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune response generated against the variants of concern (VOCs), Delta and Omicron, in adults participating in a phase III clinical trial in Chile. Volunteers immunized with two doses of CoronaVac in a 4-week interval received a booster dose of the same vaccine between 24 and 30 weeks after the second dose. Neutralization capacities and T cell activation against VOCs Delta and Omicron were assessed 4 weeks after the booster dose. We observed a significant increase in neutralizing antibodies 4 weeks after the booster dose. We also observed a rise in anti-SARS-CoV-2-specific CD4 T cells over time, and these cells reached a peak 4 weeks after the booster dose. Furthermore, neutralizing antibodies and SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells induced by the booster showed activity against VOCs Delta and Omicron. Our results show that a booster dose of CoronaVac increases adults' humoral and cellular anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune responses. In addition, immunity induced by a booster dose of CoronaVac is active against VOCs, suggesting adequate protection. CoronaVac is an inactivated vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that has been approved by WHO for emergency use. Phase III clinical trials are in progress in several countries, including China, Brazil, Turkey, and Chile, and have shown safety and immunogenicity after two doses of the vaccine. This report characterizes immune responses induced by two doses of CoronaVac followed by a booster dose 5 months after the second dose in healthy Chilean adults. The data reported here show that a booster dose increased the immune responses against SARS-CoV-2, enhancing levels of neutralizing antibodies against the ancestral strain and VOCs. Similarly, anti-SARS-CoV-2 CD4 T cell responses were increased following the booster dose. In contrast, levels of gamma interferon secretion and T cell activation against the VOCs Delta and Omicron were not significantly different from those for the ancestral strain. Therefore, a third dose of CoronaVac in a homologous vaccination schedule improves its immunogenicity in healthy volunteers.
Safety and Immunogenicity of an Inactivated Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Vaccine in a Subgroup of Healthy Adults in Chile
Bueno SM, Abarca K, González PA, Gálvez NMS, Soto JA, Duarte LF, Schultz BM, Pacheco GA, González LA, Vázquez Y, Ríos M, Melo-González F, Rivera-Pérez D, Iturriaga C, Urzúa M, Domínguez A, Andrade CA, Berríos-Rojas RV, Canedo-Marroquín G, Covián C, Moreno-Tapia D, Saavedra F, Vallejos OP, Donato P, Espinoza P, Fuentes D, González M, Guzmán P, Muñoz Venturelli P, Pérez CM, Potin M, Rojas Á, Fasce RA, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Oyarzún-Arrau A, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Weiskopf D, Sette A, Zeng G, Meng W, González-Aramundiz JV and Kalergis AM
The development of effective vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 is a global priority. CoronaVac is an inactivated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine with promising safety and immunogenicity profiles. This article reports safety and immunogenicity results obtained for healthy Chilean adults aged ≥18 years in a phase 3 clinical trial.
Author Correction: Differential neutralizing antibody responses elicited by CoronaVac and BNT162b2 against SARS-CoV-2 Lambda in Chile
Acevedo ML, Gaete-Argel A, Alonso-Palomares L, de Oca MM, Bustamante A, Gaggero A, Paredes F, Cortes CP, Pantano S, Martínez-Valdebenito C, Angulo J, Le Corre N, Ferrés M, Navarrete MA, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
Serological study of CoronaVac vaccine and booster doses in Chile: immunogenicity and persistence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike antibodies
Vargas L, Valdivieso N, Tempio F, Simon V, Sauma D, Valenzuela L, Beltrán C, Castillo-Delgado L, Contreras-Benavides X, Acevedo ML, Acevedo J, Gonzalez RI, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Rosemblatt M, Lopez M, Osorio F and Bono MR
Chile was severely affected by COVID19 outbreaks but was also one of the first countries to start a nationwide program to vaccinate against the disease. Furthermore, Chile became one of the fastest countries to inoculate a high percentage of the target population and implemented homologous and heterologous booster schemes in late 2021 to prevent potential immunological waning. The aim of this study is to compare the immunogenicity and time course of the humoral response elicited by the CoronaVac vaccine in combination with homologous versus heterologous boosters.
Neutralizing antibody titers elicited by CoronaVac and BNT162b2 vaccines in health care workers with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection
Wolff MJ, Acevedo ML, Núñez MA, Lafourcade M, Gaete-Argel A, Soto-Rifo R and Valiente-Echeverría F
We report neutralizing antibody titers (NAbTs) elicited by CoronaVac and BNT162b2 vaccines in healthcare workers with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection using both a pseudotype-based assay and a commercial kit. NAbTs were higher for the mRNA vaccine and increased in all previously infected. Good correlation between both assays was found.
Differential neutralizing antibody responses elicited by CoronaVac and BNT162b2 against SARS-CoV-2 Lambda in Chile
Acevedo ML, Gaete-Argel A, Alonso-Palomares L, de Oca MM, Bustamante A, Gaggero A, Paredes F, Cortes CP, Pantano S, Martínez-Valdebenito C, Angulo J, Le Corre N, Ferrés M, Navarrete MA, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
SARS-CoV-2 variant Lambda was dominant in several South American countries, including Chile. To ascertain the efficacy of local vaccination efforts, we used pseudotyped viruses to characterize the neutralization capacity of antibodies elicited by CoronaVac (n = 53) and BNT162b2 (n = 56) in healthcare workers from Clínica Santa María and the Faculty of Medicine at Universidad de Chile, as well as in convalescent plasma from individuals infected during the first wave visiting the Hospital Clínico at Pontificia Universidad Católica (n = 30). We observed that BNT162b2 elicits higher neutralizing antibody titres than CoronaVac, with differences ranging from 7.4-fold for the ancestral spike (Wuhan-Hu-1) to 8.2-fold for the Lambda spike and 13-fold for the Delta spike. Compared with the ancestral virus, neutralization against D614G, Alpha, Gamma, Lambda and Delta variants was reduced by between 0.93- and 4.22-fold for CoronaVac, 1.04- and 2.38-fold for BNT162b2, and 1.26- and 2.67-fold for convalescent plasma. Comparative analyses among the spike structures of the different variants suggest that mutations in the spike protein from the Lambda variant, including the 246-252 deletion in an antigenic supersite at the N-terminal domain loop and L452Q/F490S within the receptor-binding domain, may account for immune escape. Interestingly, analyses using pseudotyped and whole viruses showed increased entry rates into HEK293T-ACE2 cells, but reduced replication rates in Vero-E6 cells for the Lambda variant when compared with the Alpha, Gamma and Delta variants. Our data show that inactivated virus and messenger RNA vaccines elicit different levels of neutralizing antibodies with different potency to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the variant of interest Lambda.
Screening of Natural Products Inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 Entry
González-Maldonado P, Alvarenga N, Burgos-Edwards A, Flores-Giubi ME, Barúa JE, Romero-Rodríguez MC, Soto-Rifo R, Valiente-Echeverría F, Langjahr P, Cantero-González G and Sotelo PH
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the search for new molecules with antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. The entry of the virus into the cell is one of the main targets for inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection. Natural products are an important source of new therapeutic alternatives against diseases. Pseudotyped viruses allow the study of SARS-CoV-2 viral entry inhibitors, and due to their simplicity, they allow the screening of a large number of antiviral candidates in Biosafety Level 2 facilities. We used pseudotyped HIV-1 with the D614G SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein to test its ability to infect ACE2-expressing HEK 293T cells in the presence of diverse natural products, including 21 plant extracts, 7 essential oils, and 13 compounds from plants and fungi. The 50% cytotoxic concentration (CC) was evaluated using the resazurin method. From these analyses, we determined the inhibitory activity of the extract of , which had a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC) of 91.65 µg/mL, a CC of 693.5 µg/mL, and a selectivity index (SI) of 7.57, indicating its potential use as an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 entry. Moreover, our work indicates the usefulness of the pseudotyped-virus system in the screening of SARS-CoV-2 entry inhibitors.
A booster dose of an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine increases neutralizing antibodies and T cells that recognize Delta and Omicron variants of concern
Schultz BM, Melo-González F, Duarte LF, Gálvez NM, Pacheco GA, Soto JA, Berríos-Rojas RV, González LA, Moreno-Tapia D, Rivera-Pérez D, Ríos M, Vázquez Y, Hoppe-Elsholz G, Vallejos OP, Iturriaga C, Urzua M, Navarrete MS, Rojas Á, Fasce R, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Acevedo M, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Weiskopf D, Grifoni A, Sette A, Zeng G, Meng W, , González-Aramundiz JV, González PA, Abarca K, Kalergis AM and Bueno SM
CoronaVac is an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. Previous studies reported increased levels of neutralizing antibodies and specific T cells two- and four-weeks after two doses of CoronaVac , but the levels of neutralizing antibodies are reduced at six to eight months after two doses. Here we report the effect of a booster dose of CoronaVac on the anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune response generated against variants of concern (VOC) Delta and Omicron in adults participating in a phase 3 clinical trial in Chile.
Epitranscriptomic regulation of HIV-1 full-length RNA packaging
Pereira-Montecinos C, Toro-Ascuy D, Ananías-Sáez C, Gaete-Argel A, Rojas-Fuentes C, Riquelme-Barrios S, Rojas-Araya B, García-de-Gracia F, Aguilera-Cortés P, Chnaiderman J, Acevedo ML, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
During retroviral replication, the full-length RNA serves both as mRNA and genomic RNA. However, the mechanisms by which the HIV-1 Gag protein selects the two RNA molecules that will be packaged into nascent virions remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that deposition of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) regulates full-length RNA packaging. While m6A deposition by METTL3/METTL14 onto the full-length RNA was associated with increased Gag synthesis and reduced packaging, FTO-mediated demethylation promoted the incorporation of the full-length RNA into viral particles. Interestingly, HIV-1 Gag associates with the RNA demethylase FTO in the nucleus and contributes to full-length RNA demethylation. We further identified two highly conserved adenosines within the 5'-UTR that have a crucial functional role in m6A methylation and packaging of the full-length RNA. Together, our data propose a novel epitranscriptomic mechanism allowing the selection of the HIV-1 full-length RNA molecules that will be used as viral genomes.
Surveillance of seasonal respiratory viruses among Chilean patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
Alonso-Palomares LA, Cáceres CJ, Tapia R, Aguilera-Cortés P, Valenzuela S, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Gaggero A and Barriga GP
Dynein Light-Chain Dynlrb2 Is Essential for Murine Leukemia Virus Traffic and Nuclear Entry
Pietrantoni G, Gaete-Argel A, Herrera-Rojo D, Ibarra-Karmy R, Bustos FJ, Valiente-Echeverría F and Arriagada G
Murine leukemia virus (MLV) requires the infected cell to divide to access the nucleus to integrate into the host genome. It has been determined that MLV uses the microtubule and actin network to reach the nucleus at the early stages of infection. Several studies have shown that viruses use the dynein motor protein associated with microtubules for their displacement. We have previously reported that dynein light-chain roadblock type 2 (Dynlrb2) knockdown significantly decreases MLV infection compared to nonsilenced cells, suggesting a functional association between this dynein light chain and MLV preintegration complex (PIC). In this study, we aimed to determine if the dynein complex Dynlrb2 subunit plays an essential role in the retrograde transport of MLV. For this, an MLV mutant containing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) fused to the viral protein p12 was used to assay the PIC localization and speed in cells in which the expression of Dynlrb2 was modulated. We found a significant decrease in the arrival of MLV PIC to the nucleus and a reduced net speed of MLV PICs when Dynlrb2 was knocked down. In contrast, an increase in nuclear localization was observed when Dynlrb2 was overexpressed. Our results suggest that Dynlrb2 plays an essential role in MLV retrograde transport. Different viruses use different components of cytoplasmic dynein complex to traffic to their replication site. We have found that murine leukemia virus (MLV) depends on dynein light-chain Dynlrb2 for infection, retrograde traffic, and nuclear entry. Our study provides new information regarding the molecular requirements for retrograde transport of MLV preintegration complex and demonstrates the essential role of Dynlrb2 in MLV infection.
Performance of SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test compared with real-time RT-PCR in asymptomatic individuals
Peña M, Ampuero M, Garcés C, Gaggero A, García P, Velasquez MS, Luza R, Alvarez P, Paredes F, Acevedo J, Farfán MJ, Solari S, Soto-Rifo R and Valiente-Echeverría F
Screening, testing and contact tracing plays a pivotal role in control of the COVID-19 pandemic. To enable this it is necessary to increase the testing capacity. This study compared a SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test (RAT) and RT-PCR in 842 asymptomatic individuals from Tarapacá, Chile. A sensitivity of 69.86%, specificity of 99.61%, PPV of 94.44% and NPP of 97.22% with Ct values (Ct > 27) that were significantly higher among individuals with false-negative RAT were reported. These results support the fact that RAT might have a significant impact on the identification of asymptomatic carriers in areas that lack suitable laboratories to perform SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR diagnostics, or the results take more than 24-48 h, as well as zones with high traffic of individuals such as border/customs, airports, interregional bus, train stations or in any mass testing campaign requiring rapid results.
RNA Helicase DDX3: A Double-Edged Sword for Viral Replication and Immune Signaling
Hernández-Díaz T, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
DDX3 is a cellular ATP-dependent RNA helicase involved in different aspects of RNA metabolism ranging from transcription to translation and therefore, DDX3 participates in the regulation of key cellular processes including cell cycle progression, apoptosis, cancer and the antiviral immune response leading to type-I interferon production. DDX3 has also been described as an essential cellular factor for the replication of different viruses, including important human threats such HIV-1 or HCV, and different small molecules targeting DDX3 activity have been developed. Indeed, increasing evidence suggests that DDX3 can be considered not only a promising but also a viable target for anticancer and antiviral treatments. In this review, we summarize distinct functional aspects of DDX3 focusing on its participation as a double-edged sword in the host immune response and in the replication cycle of different viruses.
CBP80/20-dependent translation initiation factor (CTIF) inhibits HIV-1 Gag synthesis by targeting the function of the viral protein Rev
García-de-Gracia F, Gaete-Argel A, Riquelme-Barrios S, Pereira-Montecinos C, Rojas-Araya B, Aguilera P, Oyarzún-Arrau A, Rojas-Fuentes C, Acevedo ML, Chnaiderman J, Valiente-Echeverría F, Toro-Ascuy D and Soto-Rifo R
Translation initiation of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) full-length RNA has been shown to occur through cap-dependent and IRES-driven mechanisms. Previous studies suggested that the nuclear cap-binding complex (CBC) rather than eIF4E drives cap-dependent translation of the full-length RNA and we have recently reported that the CBC subunit CBP80 supports the function of the viral protein Rev during nuclear export and translation of this viral transcript. Ribosome recruitment during CBC-dependent translation of cellular mRNAs relies on the activity CBP80/20 translation initiation factor (CTIF), which bridges CBP80 and the 40S ribosomal subunit through interactions with eIF3g. Here, we report that CTIF inhibits HIV-1 and HIV-2 Gag synthesis from the full-length RNA. Our results indicate that CTIF associates with HIV-1 Rev through its N-terminal domain and is recruited onto the full-length RNA ribonucleoprotein complex in order to interfere with Gag synthesis. We also demonstrate that CTIF induces the cytoplasmic accumulation of Rev impeding the association of the viral protein with CBP80. We finally show that Rev interferes with the association of CTIF with CBP80 indicating that CTIF and Rev compete for the CBC subunit.
Interim report: Safety and immunogenicity of an inactivated vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in healthy chilean adults in a phase 3 clinical trial
Bueno SM, Abarca K, González PA, Gálvez NM, Soto JA, Duarte LF, Schultz BM, Pacheco GA, González LA, Vázquez Y, Ríos M, Melo-González F, Rivera-Pérez D, Iturriaga C, Urzúa M, Dominguez A, Andrade CA, Berrios RV, Canedo-Marroquín G, Covián C, Moreno-Tapia D, Saavedra F, Vallejos OP, Donato P, Espinoza P, Fuentes D, González M, Guzmán P, Muñoz-Venturelli P, Pérez CM, Potin M, Rojas A, Fasce R, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramírez E, Gaete-Argel A, Oyarzún-Arrau A, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Weiskopf D, Sette A, Zeng G, Meng W, González-Aramundiz JV and Kalergis AM
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact worldwide, with an incommensurable social and economic burden. The rapid development of safe and protective vaccines against this disease is a global priority. CoronaVac is a vaccine prototype based on inactivated SARS-CoV-2, which has shown promising safety and immunogenicity profiles in pre-clinical studies and phase 1/2 trials in China. To this day, four phase 3 clinical trials are ongoing with CoronaVac in Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, and Chile. This article reports the safety and immunogenicity results obtained in a subgroup of participants aged 18 years and older enrolled in the phase 3 Clinical Trial held in Chile.
Early versus deferred anti-SARS-CoV-2 convalescent plasma in patients admitted for COVID-19: A randomized phase II clinical trial
Balcells ME, Rojas L, Le Corre N, Martínez-Valdebenito C, Ceballos ME, Ferrés M, Chang M, Vizcaya C, Mondaca S, Huete Á, Castro R, Sarmiento M, Villarroel L, Pizarro A, Ross P, Santander J, Lara B, Ferrada M, Vargas-Salas S, Beltrán-Pavez C, Soto-Rifo R, Valiente-Echeverría F, Caglevic C, Mahave M, Selman C, Gazitúa R, Briones JL, Villarroel-Espindola F, Balmaceda C, Espinoza MA, Pereira J and Nervi B
Convalescent plasma (CP), despite limited evidence on its efficacy, is being widely used as a compassionate therapy for hospitalized patients with COVID-19. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of early CP therapy in COVID-19 progression.
Insights into neutralizing antibody responses in individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in Chile
Beltrán-Pavez C, Riquelme-Barrios S, Oyarzún-Arrau A, Gaete-Argel A, González-Stegmaier R, Cereceda-Solis K, Aguirre A, Travisany D, Palma-Vejares R, Barriga GP, Gaggero A, Martínez-Valdebenito C, Corre NL, Ferrés M, Balcells ME, Fernandez J, Ramírez E, Villarroel F, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
Chile has one of the worst numbers worldwide in terms of SARS-CoV-2 positive cases and COVID-19-related deaths per million inhabitants; thus, characterization of neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses in the general population is critical to understanding of immunity at the local level. Given our inability to perform massive classical neutralization assays due to the scarce availability of BSL-3 facilities in the country, we developed and fully characterized an HIV-based SARS-CoV-2 pseudotype, which was used in a 96-well plate format to investigate NAb responses in samples from individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or treated with convalescent plasma. We also identified samples with decreased or enhanced neutralization activity against the D614G spike variant compared with the wild type, indicating the relevance of this variant in host immunity. The data presented here represent the first insights into NAb responses in individuals from Chile, serving as a guide for future studies in the country.
Accuracy of a RT-qPCR SARS-CoV-2 detection assay without prior RNA extraction
Beltrán-Pavez C, Alonso-Palomares LA, Valiente-Echeverría F, Gaggero A, Soto-Rifo R and Barriga GP
The current COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a threat to the population worldwide with over 21 million infected people. There is an urgent need for the development of rapid and massive detection tools as well as the identification and isolation of infected individuals. we sought to evaluate different RT-qPCR kits and protocols to evaluate the best approach to be used omitting an RNA extraction step. We have investigated the sensitivity and performance of different commercially available RT-qPCR kits in detecting SARS-CoV-2 using 80 extracted RNA and NSS from COVID-19 diagnosed patients. We evaluated the ability of each kit to detect viral RNA from both kit-extracted or directly from a pre-boiled NSS observing that direct RNA detection is possible when Ct values are lower than 30 with the three kits tested. Since SARS-CoV-2 testing in most locations occurs once COVID-19 symptoms are evident and, therefore, viral loads are expected to be high, our protocol will be useful in supporting SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis, especially in America where COVID-19 cases have exploded in the recent weeks as well as in low- and middle-income countries, which would not have massive access to kit-based diagnosis. The information provided in this work paves the way for the development of more efficient SARS-CoV-2 detection approaches avoiding an RNA extraction step.
HS and Enterotoxigenic Hinder Stress Granule Assembly
Velásquez F, Marín-Rojas J, Soto-Rifo R, Torres A, Del Canto F and Valiente-Echeverría F
, one of the most abundant bacterial species in the human gut microbiota, has developed a mutualistic relationship with its host, regulating immunological responses. In contrast, enterotoxigenic (ETEC), one of the main etiologic agents of diarrheal morbidity and mortality in children under the age of five in developing countries, has developed mechanisms to reduce the immune-activator effect to carry out a successful infection. Following infection, the host cell initiates the shutting-off of protein synthesis and stress granule (SG) assembly. This is mostly mediated by the phosphorylation of translation initiator factor 2α (eIF2α). We therefore evaluated the ability of a non-pathogenic strain ( HS) and an ETEC strain (ETEC 1766a) to induce stress granule assembly, even in response to exogenous stresses. In this work, we found that infection with HS or ETEC 1766a prevents SG assembly in Caco-2 cells treated with sodium arsenite (Ars) after infection. We also show that this effect occurs through an eIF2α phosphorylation (eIF2α-P)-dependent mechanism. Understanding how bacteria counters host stress responses will lay the groundwork for new therapeutic strategies to bolster host cell immune defenses against these pathogens.
Crosstalk between RNA Metabolism and Cellular Stress Responses during Zika Virus Replication
Oyarzún-Arrau A, Alonso-Palomares L, Valiente-Echeverría F, Osorio F and Soto-Rifo R
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne virus associated with neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly. In humans, ZIKV is able to replicate in cell types from different tissues including placental cells, neurons, and microglia. This intricate virus-cell interaction is accompanied by virally induced changes in the infected cell aimed to promote viral replication as well as cellular responses aimed to counteract or tolerate the virus. Early in the infection, the 11-kb positive-sense RNA genome recruit ribosomes in the cytoplasm and the complex is translocated to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) for viral protein synthesis. In this process, ZIKV replication is known to induce cellular stress, which triggers both the expression of innate immune genes and the phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2α), shutting-off host protein synthesis. Remodeling of the ER during ZIKV replication also triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR), which induces changes in the cellular transcriptional landscapes aimed to tolerate infection or trigger apoptosis. Alternatively, ZIKV replication induces changes in the adenosine methylation patterns of specific host mRNAs, which have different consequences in viral replication and cellular fate. In addition, the ZIKV RNA genome undergoes adenosine methylation by the host machinery, which results in the inhibition of viral replication. However, despite these relevant findings, the full scope of these processes to the outcome of infection remains poorly elucidated. This review summarizes relevant aspects of the complex crosstalk between RNA metabolism and cellular stress responses against ZIKV and discusses their possible impact on viral pathogenesis.
New Challenges of HIV-1 Infection: How HIV-1 Attacks and Resides in the Central Nervous System
Rojas-Celis V, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R and Toro-Ascuy D
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has become one of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. The main causal agent of AIDS is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which infects various cell types of the immune system that express the CD4 receptor on their surfaces. Today, combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) is the standard treatment for all people with HIV; although it has improved the quality of life of people living with HIV (PLWH), it cannot eliminate the latent reservoir of the virus. Therefore HIV/AIDS has turned from a fatal disease to a chronic disease requiring lifelong treatment. Despite significant viral load suppression, it has been observed that at least half of patients under cART present HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), which have been related to HIV-1 infection and replication in the central nervous system (CNS). Several studies have focused on elucidating the mechanism by which HIV-1 can invade the CNS and how it can generate the effects seen in HAND. This review summarizes the research on HIV-1 and its interaction with the CNS with an emphasis on the generation of HAND, how the virus enters the CNS, the relationship between HIV-1 and cells of the CNS, and the effect of cART on these cells.
A Rev-CBP80-eIF4AI complex drives Gag synthesis from the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA
Toro-Ascuy D, Rojas-Araya B, García-de-Gracia F, Rojas-Fuentes C, Pereira-Montecinos C, Gaete-Argel A, Valiente-Echeverría F, Ohlmann T and Soto-Rifo R
Gag synthesis from the full-length unspliced mRNA is critical for the production of the viral progeny during human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) replication. While most spliced mRNAs follow the canonical gene expression pathway in which the recruitment of the nuclear cap-binding complex (CBC) and the exon junction complex (EJC) largely stimulates the rates of nuclear export and translation, the unspliced mRNA relies on the viral protein Rev to reach the cytoplasm and recruit the host translational machinery. Here, we confirm that Rev ensures high levels of Gag synthesis by driving nuclear export and translation of the unspliced mRNA. These functions of Rev are supported by the CBC subunit CBP80, which binds Rev and the unspliced mRNA in the nucleus and the cytoplasm. We also demonstrate that Rev interacts with the DEAD-box RNA helicase eIF4AI, which translocates to the nucleus and cooperates with the viral protein to promote Gag synthesis. Finally, we show that the Rev/RRE axis is important for the assembly of a CBP80-eIF4AI complex onto the unspliced mRNA. Together, our results provide further evidence towards the understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which Rev drives Gag synthesis from the unspliced mRNA during HIV-1 replication.
HIV-1 enhances mTORC1 activity and repositions lysosomes to the periphery by co-opting Rag GTPases
Cinti A, Le Sage V, Milev MP, Valiente-Echeverría F, Crossie C, Miron MJ, Panté N, Olivier M and Mouland AJ
HIV-1 co-opts several host machinery to generate a permissive environment for viral replication and transmission. In this work we reveal how HIV-1 impacts the host translation and intracellular vesicular trafficking machineries for protein synthesis and to impede the physiological late endosome/lysosome (LEL) trafficking in stressful conditions. First, HIV-1 enhances the activity of the master regulator of protein synthesis, the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Second, the virus commandeers mTOR-associated late endosome/lysosome (LEL) trafficking and counteracts metabolic and environmental stress-induced intracellular repositioning of LEL. We then show that the small Rag GTPases, RagA and RagB, are required for the HIV-1-mediated LEL repositioning that is likely mediated by interactions between the Rags and the viral proteins, Gag and Vif. siRNA-mediated depletion of RagA and RagB leads to a loss in mTOR association to LEL and to a blockade of viral particle assembly and release at the plasma membrane with a marked concomitant reduction in virus production. These results show that HIV-1 co-opts fundamental mechanisms that regulate LEL motility and positioning and support the notion that LEL positioning is critical for HIV-1 replication.
The [Mo₆Cl] Cluster is Biologically Secure and Has Anti-Rotavirus Activity In Vitro
Rojas-Mancilla E, Oyarce A, Verdugo V, Morales-Verdejo C, Echeverria C, Velásquez F, Chnaiderman J, Valiente-Echeverría F and Ramirez-Tagle R
The molybdenum cluster [Mo₆Cl] is a fluorescent component with potential for use in cell labelling and pharmacology. Biological safety and antiviral properties of the cluster are as yet unknown. Here, we show the effect of acute exposition of human cells and red blood cells to the molybdenum cluster and its interaction with proteins and antiviral activity in vitro. We measured cell viability of HepG2 and EA.hy926 cell lines exposed to increasing concentrations of the cluster (0.1 to 250 µM), by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) colorimetric assay. Hemolysis and morphological alterations of red blood cells, obtained from healthy donors, exposed to the cluster (10 to 200 µM) at 37 °C were analyzed. Furthermore, quenching of tryptophan residues of albumin was performed. Finally, plaque formation by rotavirus SA11 in MA104 cells treated with the cluster (100 to 300 µM) were analyzed. We found that all doses of the cluster showed similar cell viability, hemolysis, and morphology values, compared to control. Quenching of tryptophan residues of albumin suggests a protein-cluster complex formation. Finally, the cluster showed antiviral activity at 300 µM. These results indicate that the cluster [Mo₆Cl] could be intravenously administered in animals at therapeutic doses for further in vivo studies and might be studied as an antiviral agent.
Epitranscriptomic regulation of viral replication
Pereira-Montecinos C, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
RNA plays central roles in biology and novel functions and regulation mechanisms are constantly emerging. To accomplish some of their functions within the cell, RNA molecules undergo hundreds of chemical modifications from which N6-methyladenosine (mA), inosine (I), pseudouridine (ψ) and 5-methylcytosine (5mC) have been described in eukaryotic mRNA. Interestingly, the mA modification was shown to be reversible, adding novel layers of regulation of gene expression through what is now recognized as epitranscriptomics. The development of molecular mapping strategies coupled to next generation sequencing allowed the identification of thousand of modified transcripts in different tissues and under different physiological conditions such as viral infections. As intracellular parasites, viruses are confronted to cellular RNA modifying enzymes and, as a consequence, viral RNA can be chemically modified at some stages of the replication cycle. This review focuses on the chemical modifications of viral RNA and the impact that these modifications have on viral gene expression and the output of infection. A special emphasis is given to mA, which was recently shown to play important yet controversial roles in different steps of the HIV-1, HCV and ZIKV replication cycles.
Interactions between the HIV-1 Unspliced mRNA and Host mRNA Decay Machineries
Toro-Ascuy D, Rojas-Araya B, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
The human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) unspliced transcript is used both as mRNA for the synthesis of structural proteins and as the packaged genome. Given the presence of retained introns and instability AU-rich sequences, this viral transcript is normally retained and degraded in the nucleus of host cells unless the viral protein REV is present. As such, the stability of the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA must be particularly controlled in the nucleus and the cytoplasm in order to ensure proper levels of this viral mRNA for translation and viral particle formation. During its journey, the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA assembles into highly specific messenger ribonucleoproteins (mRNPs) containing many different host proteins, amongst which are well-known regulators of cytoplasmic mRNA decay pathways such as up-frameshift suppressor 1 homolog (UPF1), Staufen double-stranded RNA binding protein 1/2 (STAU1/2), or components of miRNA-induced silencing complex (miRISC) and processing bodies (PBs). More recently, the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA was shown to contain ⁶-methyladenosine (m⁶A), allowing the recruitment of YTH ⁶-methyladenosine RNA binding protein 2 (YTHDF2), an m⁶A reader host protein involved in mRNA decay. Interestingly, these host proteins involved in mRNA decay were shown to play positive roles in viral gene expression and viral particle assembly, suggesting that HIV-1 interacts with mRNA decay components to successfully accomplish viral replication. This review summarizes the state of the art in terms of the interactions between HIV-1 unspliced mRNA and components of different host mRNA decay machineries.
Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of RNA Granules and Viral Infections
Poblete-Durán N, Prades-Pérez Y, Vera-Otarola J, Soto-Rifo R and Valiente-Echeverría F
After viral infection, host cells respond by mounting an anti-viral stress response in order to create a hostile atmosphere for viral replication, leading to the shut-off of mRNA translation (protein synthesis) and the assembly of RNA granules. Two of these RNA granules have been well characterized in yeast and mammalian cells, stress granules (SGs), which are translationally silent sites of RNA triage and processing bodies (PBs), which are involved in mRNA degradation. This review discusses the role of these RNA granules in the evasion of anti-viral stress responses through virus-induced remodeling of cellular ribonucleoproteins (RNPs).
DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 connects CRM1-dependent nuclear export and translation of the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA through its N-terminal domain
Fröhlich A, Rojas-Araya B, Pereira-Montecinos C, Dellarossa A, Toro-Ascuy D, Prades-Pérez Y, García-de-Gracia F, Garcés-Alday A, Rubilar PS, Valiente-Echeverría F, Ohlmann T and Soto-Rifo R
DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3 is a host factor essential for HIV-1 replication and thus, a potential target for novel therapies aimed to overcome viral resistance. Previous studies have shown that DDX3 promotes nuclear export and translation of the HIV-1 unspliced mRNA. Although the function of DDX3 during both processes requires its catalytic activity, it is unknown whether other domains surrounding the helicase core are involved. Here, we show the involvement of the N- and C-terminal domains of DDX3 in the regulation of HIV-1 unspliced mRNA translation. Our results suggest that the intrinsically disordered N-terminal domain of DDX3 regulates its functions in translation by acting prior to the recruitment of the 43S pre-initiation complex onto the viral 5'-UTR. Interestingly, this regulation was conserved in HIV-2 and was dependent on the CRM1-dependent nuclear export pathway suggesting a role of the RNA helicase in interconnecting nuclear export with ribosome recruitment of the viral unspliced mRNA. This specific function of DDX3 during HIV gene expression could be exploited as an alternative target for pharmaceutical intervention.
Proteomic analysis of HIV-1 Gag interacting partners using proximity-dependent biotinylation
Le Sage V, Cinti A, Valiente-Echeverría F and Mouland AJ
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag polyprotein is necessary and sufficient to assemble non-infectious particles. Given that HIV-1 subverts many host proteins at all stages of its life cycle, it is essential to identify these interactions as potential targets for antiretroviral therapy.
RNA helicase DDX3: at the crossroad of viral replication and antiviral immunity
Valiente-Echeverría F, Hermoso MA and Soto-Rifo R
Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp (DEAD)-box polypeptide 3, or DDX3, belongs to the DEAD-box family of ATP-dependent RNA helicases and is known to play different roles in RNA metabolism ranging from transcription to nuclear export, translation, and assembly of stress granules. In addition, there is growing evidence that DDX3 is a component of the innate immune response against viral infections. As such, DDX3 has been shown to play roles both upstream and downstream of I-kappa beta kinase ε (IKKε)/TANK-binding kinase 1, leading to IFN-β production. Interestingly, several RNA viruses, including human threats such as HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus, hijack DDX3 to accomplish various steps of their replication cycles. Thus, it seems that viruses have evolved to exploit DDX3's functions while threatening the innate immune response. Understanding this interesting dichotomy in DDX3 function will help us not only to improve our knowledge of virus-host interactions but also to develop novel antiviral drugs targeting the multifaceted roles of DDX3 in viral replication.
HIV-2 genomic RNA accumulates in stress granules in the absence of active translation
Soto-Rifo R, Valiente-Echeverria F, Rubilar PS, Garcia-de-Gracia F, Ricci EP, Limousin T, Décimo D, Mouland AJ and Ohlmann T
During the post-transcriptional events of the HIV-2 replication cycle, the full-length unspliced genomic RNA (gRNA) is first used as an mRNA to synthesize Gag and Gag-Pol proteins and then packaged into progeny virions. However, the mechanisms responsible for the coordinate usage of the gRNA during these two mutually exclusive events are poorly understood. Here, we present evidence showing that HIV-2 expression induces stress granule assembly in cultured cells. This contrasts with HIV-1, which interferes with stress granules assembly even upon induced cellular stress. Moreover, we observed that the RNA-binding protein and stress granules assembly factor TIAR associates with the gRNA to form a TIAR-HIV-2 ribonucleoprotein (TH2RNP) complex localizing diffuse in the cytoplasm or aggregated in stress granules. Although the assembly of TH2RNP in stress granules did not require the binding of the Gag protein to the gRNA, we observed that increased levels of Gag promoted both translational arrest and stress granule assembly. Moreover, HIV-2 Gag also localizes to stress granules in the absence of a 'packageable' gRNA. Our results indicate that the HIV-2 gRNA is compartmentalized in stress granules in the absence of active translation prior to being selected for packaging by the Gag polyprotein.
Roles of HIV-1 capsid in viral replication and immune evasion
Le Sage V, Mouland AJ and Valiente-Echeverría F
The primary roles of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) capsid (CA) protein are to encapsidate and protect the viral RNA genome. It is becoming increasing apparent that HIV-1 CA is a multifunctional protein that acts early during infection to coordinate uncoating, reverse transcription, nuclear import of the pre-integration complex and integration of double stranded viral DNA into the host genome. Additionally, numerous recent studies indicate that CA is playing a crucial function in HIV-1 immune evasion. Here we summarize the current knowledge on HIV-1 CA and its interactions with the host cell to promote infection. The fact that CA engages in a number of different protein-protein interactions with the host makes it an interesting target for the development of new potent antiviral agents.
eEF2 and Ras-GAP SH3 domain-binding protein (G3BP1) modulate stress granule assembly during HIV-1 infection
Valiente-Echeverría F, Melnychuk L, Vyboh K, Ajamian L, Gallouzi IE, Bernard N and Mouland AJ
Stress granules (SG) are translationally silent sites of RNA triage induced by environmental stresses including viral infection. Here we show that HIV-1 Gag blocks SG assembly irrespective of eIF2α phosphorylation and even when SG assembly is forced by overexpression of Ras-GAP SH3 domain-binding protein (G3BP1) or TIAR. The overexposed loops in the amino-terminal capsid domain of Gag and host eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) are found to be critical for the SG blockade via interaction. Moreover, cyclophilin A (CypA) stabilizes the Gag-eEF2 association. eEF2 depletion not only lifts the SG blockade but also results in impaired virus production and infectivity. Gag also disassembles preformed SGs by recruiting G3BP1, thereby displacing eEF2, revealing another unsuspected virus-host interaction involved in the HIV-1-imposed SG blockade. Understanding how HIV-1 counters anti-viral stress responses will lay the groundwork for new therapeutic strategies to bolster host cell immune defences against HIV-1 and other pathogens.
Depletion of hnRNP A2/B1 overrides the nuclear retention of the HIV-1 genomic RNA
Gordon H, Ajamian L, Valiente-Echeverrìa F, Lévesque K, Rigby WF and Mouland AJ
hnRNP A2 is a cellular protein that is important for nucleocytoplasmic and cytosolic trafficking of the HIV-1 genomic RNA. Both hnRNP A2's interaction with HIV-1 RNA and its expression levels influence the activities of Rev in mediating nucleocytoplasmic export of the HIV-1 genomic RNA. While the lack of Rev expression during HIV-1 gene expression results in nuclear retention of HIV-1 genomic RNA, we show here by fluorescence in situ hybridization and fractionation studies that the genomic RNA translocates to the cytoplasm when hnRNP A2/B1 are depleted from cells. Polyribosome analyses revealed that the genomic RNA was shunted into a cytoplasmic, dense polyribosomal fraction. This fraction contained several RNA-binding proteins involved in viral gene expression and RNA trafficking but did not contain the translation initiation factor, eIF4G1. Amino acid incorporation into nascent polypeptides in this fraction was also greatly reduced, demonstrating that this fraction contains mRNAs that are poorly translated. These results demonstrate that hnRNP A2/B1 expression plays roles in the nuclear retention of the HIV-1 genomic RNA in the absence of Rev and in the release of the genomic RNA from translationally inactive, cytoplasmic RNP complexes.
Viral modulation of stress granules
Valiente-Echeverría F, Melnychuk L and Mouland AJ
Following viral infection, the host responds by mounting a robust anti-viral response with the aim of creating an unfavorable environment for viral replication. As a countermeasure, viruses have elaborated mechanisms to subvert the host response in order to maintain viral protein synthesis and production. In the last decade, several reports have shown that viruses modulate the assembly of stress granules (SGs), which are translationally silent ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) and sites of RNA triage. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of the interactions between viruses and the host response and how virus-induced modulations in SG abundance play fundamental roles in dictating the success of viral replication.
[Molecular identification of Ehrlichia canis in a dog from Arica, Chile]
López J, Abarca K, Mundaca MI, Caballero C and Valiente-Echeverría F
We report a molecular confirmed case of canine ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia canis. A 10-year old female crossbred Siberian from the city of Arica, which was infested by ticks, presented hemorrhagic manifestations (hematomas and snout bleeding) and prostration. Blood cell count revealed thrombocytopenia (30,000 platelets/ mm³). Immunochromatographic rapid testing for E. canis IgG was positive. Amplification and sequencing of a fragment of the 16S rRNA gen from a blood sample showed 100% homology with E. canis from Perú. This is the first report of E. canis in Chile, an agent with known zoonotic potential.
[Morphological and molecular identification of canine filariae in a semi-rural district of the Metropolitan Region in Chile]
López J, Valiente-Echeverría F, Carrasco M, Mercado R and Abarca K
To date, there has been no definitive confirmation of the presence of zoonotic dirofilariasis in dogs in Chile.
[Human bocavirus in Chile: clinical characteristics and epidemiological profile in children with acute respiratory tract infections]
Flores C JC, Vizcaya A C, Araos B R, Montecinos P L, Godoy M P, Valiente-Echeverría F, Perret P C, Valenzuela C P, Hirsch B T and Ferrés G M
Human bocavirus (HBoV) is a newly discovered parvovirus found in children with acute respiratory tract infections (ARTI).
Activity of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 cell cycle-dependent internal ribosomal entry site is modulated by IRES trans-acting factors
Vallejos M, Deforges J, Plank TD, Letelier A, Ramdohr P, Abraham CG, Valiente-Echeverría F, Kieft JS, Sargueil B and López-Lastra M
The 5' leader of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genomic RNA harbors an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) that is functional during the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. Here we show that translation initiation mediated by the HIV-1 IRES requires the participation of trans-acting cellular factors other than the canonical translational machinery. We used 'standard' chemical and enzymatic probes and an 'RNA SHAPE' analysis to model the structure of the HIV-1 5' leader and we show, by means of a footprinting assay, that G2/M extracts provide protections to regions previously identified as crucial for HIV-1 IRES activity. We also assessed the impact of mutations on IRES function. Strikingly, mutations did not significantly affect IRES activity suggesting that the requirement for pre-formed stable secondary or tertiary structure within the HIV-1 IRES may not be as strict as has been described for other viral IRESes. Finally, we used a proteomic approach to identify cellular proteins within the G2/M extracts that interact with the HIV-1 5' leader. Together, data show that HIV-1 IRES-mediated translation initiation is modulated by cellular proteins.
Translation initiation of viral mRNAs
López-Lastra M, Ramdohr P, Letelier A, Vallejos M, Vera-Otarola J and Valiente-Echeverría F
Viruses depend on cells for their replication but have evolved mechanisms to achieve this in an efficient and, in some instances, a cell-type-specific manner. The expression of viral proteins is frequently subject to translational control. The dominant target of such control is the initiation step of protein synthesis. Indeed, during the early stages of infection, viral mRNAs must compete with their host counterparts for the protein synthetic machinery, especially for the limited pool of eukaryotic translation initiation factors (eIFs) that mediate the recruitment of ribosomes to both viral and cellular mRNAs. To circumvent this competition viruses use diverse strategies so that ribosomes can be recruited selectively to viral mRNAs. In this review we focus on the initiation of protein synthesis and outline some of the strategies used by viruses to ensure efficient translation initiation of their mRNAs.
The 5'-untranslated region of the mouse mammary tumor virus mRNA exhibits cap-independent translation initiation
Vallejos M, Ramdohr P, Valiente-Echeverría F, Tapia K, Rodriguez FE, Lowy F, Huidobro-Toro JP, Dangerfield JA and López-Lastra M
In this study, we demonstrate the identification of an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) within the 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) of the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV). The 5'-UTR of the full-length mRNA derived from the infectious, complete MMTV genome was cloned into a dual luciferase reporter construct containing an upstream Renilla luciferase gene (RLuc) and a downstream firefly luciferase gene (FLuc). In rabbit reticulocyte lysate, the MMTV 5'-UTR was capable of driving translation of the second cistron. In vitro translational activity from the MMTV 5'-UTR was resistant to the addition of m(7)GpppG cap-analog and cleavage of eIF4G by foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) L-protease. IRES activity was also demonstrated in the Xenopus laevis oocyte by micro-injection of capped and polyadenylated bicistronic RNAs harboring the MMTV-5'-UTR. Finally, transfection assays showed that the MMTV-IRES exhibits cell type-dependent translational activity, suggesting a requirement for as yet unidentified cellular factors for its optimal function.
The Elav-like protein HuR exerts translational control of viral internal ribosome entry sites
Rivas-Aravena A, Ramdohr P, Vallejos M, Valiente-Echeverría F, Dormoy-Raclet V, Rodríguez F, Pino K, Holzmann C, Huidobro-Toro JP, Gallouzi IE and López-Lastra M
The human embryonic-lethal abnormal vision (ELAV)-like protein, HuR, has been recently found to be involved in the regulation of protein synthesis. In this study we show that HuR participates in the translational control of the HIV-1 and HCV IRES elements. HuR functions as a repressor of HIV-1 IRES activity and acts as an activator of the HCV IRES. The effect of HuR was evaluated in three independent experimental systems, rabbit reticulocyte lysate, HeLa cells, and Xenopus laevis oocytes, using both overexpression and knockdown approaches. Furthermore, results suggest that HuR mediated regulation of HIV-1 and HCV IRESes does not require direct binding of the protein to the RNA nor does it need the nuclear translocation of the IRES-containing RNAs. Finally, we show that HuR has a negative impact on post-integration steps of the HIV-1 replication cycle. Thus, our observations yield novel insights into the role of HuR in the post-transcriptional regulation of HCV and HIV-1 gene expression.
Anaplasma platys in dogs, Chile
Abarca K, López J, Perret C, Guerrero J, Godoy P, Veloz A, Valiente-Echeverría F, León U, Gutjahr C and Azócar T
We conducted a 16S rRNA nested PCR for the genus Ehrlichia and Ehrlichia spp. with blood samples from 30 ill dogs in Chile. Phylogenetic analysis was performed by using groESL gene amplification. We identified Anaplasma platys as 1 of the etiologic agents of canine ehrlichiosis.
Immune responses during COVID-19 breakthrough cases in vaccinated children and adolescents
Rivera-Pérez D, Méndez C, Diethelm-Varela B, Melo-González F, Vázquez Y, Meng X, Xin Q, Fasce RA, Fernández J, Mora J, Ramirez E, Acevedo ML, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Grifoni A, Weiskopf D, Sette A, Astudillo P, Le Corre N, Abarca K, Perret C, González PA, Soto JA, Bueno SM and Kalergis AM
Vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection has been somewhat limited due to the widespread dissemination of the Omicron variant, its subvariants, and the immune response dynamics of the naturally infected with the virus.
Impact of homologous and heterologous boosters in neutralizing antibodies titers against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron in solid-organ transplant recipients
Gaete-Argel A, Saavedra-Alarcón V, Sauré D, Alonso-Palomares L, Acevedo ML, Alarcón M, Bueno SM, Kalergis AM, Soto-Rifo R, Valiente-Echeverría F and Cortes CP
Booster doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines improve seroconversion rates in solid organ transplant recipients (SOTRs) but the impact of homologous and heterologous booster doses in neutralizing antibody (NAb) titers and their ability to interfere with the variant of concern Omicron are not well studied.
Customizably designed multibodies neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in a variant-insensitive manner
Abreu C, Ortega C, Olivero-Deibe N, Carrión F, Gaete-Argel A, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Milan Bonotto R, Marcello A and Pantano S
The COVID-19 pandemic evolves constantly, requiring adaptable solutions to combat emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. To address this, we created a pentameric scaffold based on a mammalian protein, which can be customized with up to 10 protein binding modules. This molecular scaffold spans roughly 20 nm and can simultaneously neutralize SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins from one or multiple viral particles. Using only two different modules targeting the Spike's RBD domain, this construct outcompetes human antibodies from vaccinated individuals' serum and blocks cell attachment and pseudotyped virus entry. Additionally, the multibodies inhibit viral replication at low picomolar concentrations, regardless of the variant. This customizable multibody can be easily produced in procaryote systems, providing a new avenue for therapeutic development and detection devices, and contributing to preparedness against rapidly evolving pathogens.
Evaluation of the Immune Response Induced by CoronaVac 28-Day Schedule Vaccination in a Healthy Population Group
Escobar A, Reyes-López FE, Acevedo ML, Alonso-Palomares L, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Portillo H, Gatica J, Flores I, Nova-Lamperti E, Barrera-Avalos C, Bono MR, Vargas L, Simon V, Leiva-Salcedo E, Vial C, Hormazabal J, Cortes LJ, Valdés D, Sandino AM, Imarai M and Acuña-Castillo C
CoronaVac vaccine from Sinovac Life Science is currently being used in several countries. In Chile, the effectiveness of preventing hospitalization is higher than 80% with a vaccination schedule. However, to date, there are no data about immune response induction or specific memory. For this reason, we recruited 15 volunteers without previous suspected/diagnosed COVID-19 and with negative PCR over time to evaluate the immune response to CoronaVac 28 and 90 days after the second immunization (dpi). The CoronaVac administration induces total and neutralizing anti-spike antibodies in all vaccinated volunteers at 28 and 90 dpi. Furthermore, using ELISpot analysis to assay cellular immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, we found an increase in IFN-gamma- and Granzyme B-producing cells in vaccinated volunteers at 28 and 90 dpi. Together, our results indicate that CoronaVac induces a robust humoral immune response and cellular immune memory of at least 90 dpi.
Sustained Antibody-Dependent NK Cell Functions in Mild COVID-19 Outpatients During Convalescence
Fuentes-Villalobos F, Garrido JL, Medina MA, Zambrano N, Ross N, Bravo F, Gaete-Argel A, Oyarzún-Arrau A, Amanat F, Soto-Rifo R, Valiente-Echeverría F, Ocampo R, Esveile C, Ferreira L, Cabrera J, Torres V, Rioseco ML, Riquelme R, Barría S, Alvarez R, Pinos Y, Krammer F, Calvo M, Barria MI and
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19) pandemic has left researchers scrambling to identify the humoral immune correlates of protection from COVID-19. To date, the antibody mediated correlates of virus neutralization have been extensively studied. However, the extent that non-neutralizing functions contribute to anti-viral responses are ill defined. In this study, we profiled the anti-spike antibody subtype/subclass responses, along with neutralization and antibody-dependent natural killer cell functions in 83 blood samples collected between 4 and 201 days post-symptoms onset from a cohort of COVID-19 outpatients. We observed heterogeneous humoral responses against the acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. Overall, anti-spike profiles were characterized by a rapid rise of IgA and sustained IgG titers. In addition, strong antibody-mediated natural killer effector responses correlated with milder disease and being female. While higher neutralization profiles were observed in males along with increased severity. These results give an insight into the underlying function of antibodies beyond neutralization and suggest that antibody-mediated natural killer cell activity is a key function of the humoral response against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
Call to Action: Supporting Latin American Early Career Researchers on the Quest for Sustainable Development in the Region
Lopez-Verges S, Valiente-Echeverría F, Godoy-Faúndez A, Fernandez Rivas D, Urbani B, Berger JJ and Carmona-Mora P
N -Methyladenosine Negatively Regulates Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus Replication
Figueroa F, Vega-Gibson A, Catrileo J, Gaete-Argel A, Riquelme-Barrios S, Alonso-Palomares LA, Tapia LI, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R and Acevedo ML
N-methyladenosine (mA) is the most abundant internal modification described in eukaryotic mRNA and several viral RNA including human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). Here, we evaluated the impact of mA writers, erasers and readers on HRSV genomic RNA accumulation and inclusion bodies assembly during viral replication. We observed that the METTL3/METTL14 mA writer complex plays a negative role in HRSV protein synthesis and viral titers, while mA erasers FTO and ALKBH5 had the opposite effect. We also observed that mA readers YTHDF1-3 bind to the viral genomic RNA inducing a decrease in its intracellular levels and thus, inhibiting viral replication. Finally, we observed that overexpression of YTHDFs proteins caused a decrease in the size of inclusion bodies (IBs), accompanied by an increase in their number. METTL3 knockdown cells showed an opposite effect indicating that the dynamics of IBs assembly and coalescence are strongly affected by mA readers in a mechanism dependent on mA writers. Taken together, our results demonstrated that the mA modification negatively affects HRSV replication, possibly through a mechanism involving the assembly of inclusion bodies, the main factories of viral genomic RNA synthesis.
Seroconversion and Abundance of IgG Antibodies against S1-RBD of SARS-CoV-2 and Neutralizing Activity in the Chilean Population
González-Stegmaier R, Cereceda K, Briones JL, Beltran-Pávez C, Oyarzún-Arrau A, Riquelme-Barrios S, Selman C, Yarad F, Mahave M, Caglevic C, Morales R, Aguirre A, Valiente-Echeverría F, Soto-Rifo R, Marsiglia H, Gazitua R and Villarroel-Espindola F
COVID-19 is a pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2. In Chile, half a million people have been infected and more than 16,000 have died from COVID-19. As part of the clinical trial NCT04384588, we quantified IgG against S1-RBD of SARS-CoV-2 (anti-RBD) in recovered people in Santiago and evaluated their suitability as COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors. ELISA and a luminescent SARS-CoV-2 pseudotype were used for IgG and neutralizing antibody quantification. 72.9% of the convalescent population (468 of 639) showed seroconversion (5-55 g/mL anti-RBD IgG) and were suitable candidates for plasma donation. Analysis by gender, age, and days after symptom offset did not show significant differences. Neutralizing activity correlated with an increased concentration of anti-RBD IgG ( < 0.0001) and showed a high variability between donors. We confirmed that the majority of the Chilean patients have developed anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The quantification of anti-RBD IgG in convalescent plasma donors is necessary to increase the detection of neutralizing antibodies.
Tellurite Promotes Stress Granules and Nuclear SG-Like Assembly in Response to Oxidative Stress and DNA Damage
Gaete-Argel A, Velásquez F, Márquez CL, Rojas-Araya B, Bueno-Nieto C, Marín-Rojas J, Cuevas-Zúñiga M, Soto-Rifo R and Valiente-Echeverría F
Tellurium oxyanion, tellurite ( ), is a highly toxic compound for many organisms. Its presence in the environment has increased over the past years due to industrial manufacturing processes and has been associated with adverse effects on human health. Although tellurite induces the phosphorylation of eIF2α, DNA damage and oxidative stress, the molecular mechanisms related to the cellular responses to tellurite-induced stress are poorly understood. In this work, we evaluated the ability of tellurite to induce phosphorylation of eIF2α, stress granules (SGs) assembly and their relationship with DNA damage in U2OS cells. We demonstrate that tellurite promotes the assembly of cytoplasmic SGs. Unexpectedly, tellurite also induces the assembly of nuclear SGs. Interestingly, we observed that the presence of tellurite-induced nuclear SGs correlates with γH2AX foci. However, although HO also induce DNA damage, no nuclear SGs were observed. Our data show that tellurite promotes the assembly of cytoplasmic and nuclear SGs in response to oxidative stress and DNA damage, revealing a new aspect of cellular stress response mediated by the assembly of nuclear stress granules.
A cis-acting element present within the Gag open reading frame negatively impacts on the activity of the HIV-1 IRES
Valiente-Echeverría F, Vallejos M, Monette A, Pino K, Letelier A, Huidobro-Toro JP, Mouland AJ and López-Lastra M
Translation initiation from the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) mRNA can occur through a cap or an IRES dependent mechanism. Cap-dependent translation initiation of the HIV-1 mRNA can be inhibited by the instability element (INS)-1, a cis-acting regulatory element present within the gag open reading frame (ORF). In this study we evaluated the impact of the INS-1 on HIV-1 IRES-mediated translation initiation. Using heterologous bicistronic mRNAs, we show that the INS-1 negatively impact on HIV-1 IRES-driven translation in in vitro and in cell-based experiments. Additionally, our results show that the inhibitory effect of the INS-1 is not general to all IRESes since it does not hinder translation driven by the HCV IRES. The inhibition by the INS-1 was partially rescued in cells by the overexpression of the viral Rev protein or hnRNPA1.
Dual mechanisms of translation initiation of the full-length HIV-1 mRNA contribute to gag synthesis
Monette A, Valiente-Echeverría F, Rivero M, Cohen ÉA, Lopez-Lastra M and Mouland AJ
The precursor group-specific antigen (pr55(Gag)) is central to HIV-1 assembly. Its expression alone is sufficient to assemble into virus-like particles. It also selects the genomic RNA for encapsidation and is involved in several important virus-host interactions for viral assembly and restriction, making its synthesis essential for aspects of viral replication. Here, we show that the initiation of translation of the HIV-1 genomic RNA is mediated through both a cap-dependent and an internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-mediated mechanisms. In support of this notion, pr55(Gag) synthesis was maintained at 70% when cap-dependent translation initiation was blocked by the expression of eIF4G- and PABP targeting viral proteases in two in vitro systems and in HIV-1-expressing cells directly infected with poliovirus. While our data reveal that IRES-dependent translation of the viral genomic RNA ensures pr55(Gag) expression, the synthesis of other HIV-1 proteins, including that of pr160(Gag/Pol), Vpr and Tat is suppressed early during progressive poliovirus infection. The data presented herein implies that the unspliced HIV-1 genomic RNA utilizes both cap-dependent and IRES-dependent translation initiation to supply pr55(Gag) for virus assembly and production.
In Situ Hybridization-Proximity Ligation Assay (ISH-PLA) to Study the Interaction of HIV-1 RNA and Remodeling Proteins
Toro-Ascuy D, Gaete-Argel A, Rojas-Celis V and Valiente-Echeverria F
The mechanisms involved in the posttranscriptional control of the replicative cycle of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), specifically the molecular events which allow the interaction between the viral genomic RNA (gRNA) and the cellular machinery for the transport, translation, or intracellular packaging, have not been yet elucidated. In this chapter, we describe the in situ hybridization-proximity ligation assay (ISH-PLA) to characterize interactions between the genomic RNA (gRNA) of HIV-1 and viral proteins or host proteins involved in nuclear export and translation initiation. We also present data that validate the ISH-PLA as a simple and useful tool to study HIV-1 gRNA-protein interactions within cells.
Strategies for Success. Viral Infections and Membraneless Organelles
Gaete-Argel A, Márquez CL, Barriga GP, Soto-Rifo R and Valiente-Echeverría F
Regulation of RNA homeostasis or "RNAstasis" is a central step in eukaryotic gene expression. From transcription to decay, cellular messenger RNAs (mRNAs) associate with specific proteins in order to regulate their entire cycle, including mRNA localization, translation and degradation, among others. The best characterized of such RNA-protein complexes, today named membraneless organelles, are Stress Granules (SGs) and Processing Bodies (PBs) which are involved in RNA storage and RNA decay/storage, respectively. Given that SGs and PBs are generally associated with repression of gene expression, viruses have evolved different mechanisms to counteract their assembly or to use them in their favor to successfully replicate within the host environment. In this review we summarize the current knowledge about the viral regulation of SGs and PBs, which could be a potential novel target for the development of broad-spectrum antiviral therapies.
Emerging Roles of N-Methyladenosine on HIV-1 RNA Metabolism and Viral Replication
Riquelme-Barrios S, Pereira-Montecinos C, Valiente-Echeverría F and Soto-Rifo R
N-methyladenosine (mA) is the most abundant internal modification present in Eukaryotic mRNA. The functions of this chemical modification are mediated by mA-binding proteins (mA readers) and regulated by methyltransferases (mA writers) and demethylases (mA erasers), which together are proposed to be responsible of a new layer of post-transcriptional control of gene expression. Despite the presence of mA in a retroviral genome was reported more than 40 years ago, the recent development of sequencing-based technologies allowing the mapping of mA in a transcriptome-wide manner made it possible to identify the topology and dynamics of mA during replication of HIV-1 as well as other viruses. As such, three independent groups recently reported the presence of mA along the HIV-1 genomic RNA (gRNA) and described the impact of cellular mA writers, erasers and readers on different steps of viral RNA metabolism and replication. Interestingly, while two groups reported a positive role of mA at different steps of viral gene expression it was also proposed that the presence of mA within the gRNA reduces viral infectivity by inducing the early degradation of the incoming viral genome. This review summarizes the recent advances in this emerging field and discusses the relevance of mA during HIV-1 replication.