Online: 16 October 2020 (11:49:13 CEST)
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by infection with the 2019 novel coronavirus 2 (2019-nCoV, now referred to as SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 has become a global pandemic since its outbreak at the end of Dec 2019. COVID-19 could lead to severe acute respiratory disease, especially to those who have reduced immunity. Binding of the viral Spike protein (S) to its receptor ACE2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) on the surface of target cells has been proven to be key for virus entry and infection. Although ACE2 expression in the respiratory system is necessary for pneumonia infection by SARS-CoV-2, the regulation of ACE2 gene expression remains poorly investigated, especially for patients that are in pre-pathological conditions. Here, by analyzing The Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database, we investigated the expression regulation of ACE2 in various kinds of primary epithelial cells from the respiratory system after varies of respiratory viruses infection such as influenza A virus (IFV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human rhinovirus (hRV). Our analyses reveal that infection of multiple kinds of respiratory viruses or influenza vaccines greatly increased ACE2 expression, suggesting that respiratory viruses infection could represent a high risk factor for developing COVID-19. We also found that the regulatory effect of influenza A virus on ACE2 expression is associated with activation of the interferon beta-induced pathway and viral RNA-activated host response. Together, our data provide a theoretical framework for clinical classification for SARS-CoV-2 infection susceptibility and could be used for future prevention and therapy treatment for COVID-19.
Thu, 24 September 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0565.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Immunobiochemical aspects; pathogenesis; diagnosis; management
Online: 24 September 2020 (04:39:38 CEST)
Background: A new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that emerged from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, has spread throughout the world and is declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). A lot remains to be understood of SARS-CoV-2 and the disease (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 has until recently been identified as responsible for both asymptomatic and serious life-threatening infections. The unavailability of specific therapeutic agents is a major hurdle in the treatment and management of COVID-19 patients. The present review attempts to evaluate the immunobiochemical aspects of the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Main Body: This review is a comprehensive evaluation of the data collected through various sources, including Google Scholar, PubMed, and Scopus. The articles were searched and selected using key words such as “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)”, “Diagnosis of COVID-19”, Pathogenesis of Covid-19”, “management of COVID-19”, “Immunology of COVID-19”, and “Complications of COVID-19”. The study noted that the novel Coronavirus infection could result in an exaggerated immune response, causing a cytokine storm and damaging several organs of the body. The infected patients develop several complications, including immunological, hematological, and biochemical alterations. Consequently, COVID-19 patients may develop cardiovascular, liver, renal, and neurological complications, among others. Conclusion: An increased understanding of the immunobiochemical aspects of the disease may contribute to better management of SARS-CoV-2-infected persons, as evidenced from the available literature. A holistic approach to the management of COVID-19 patients taking into consideration the effect of COVID-19 infection on various organs of the body assumes increased significance in patient management.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0559.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: porcine astroviruses; linear antigenic epitopes; recombination; glycosylation; whole genome sequences; East Africa
Online: 24 September 2020 (03:26:44 CEST)
Astroviruses (AstVs) are occurs globally and are common causes of gastroenteritis in human and animals. The genetic diversity and epidemiology of AstVs in Africa is not well known, hence, we aimed to genetically characterize astroviruses in asymptomatic smallholder piglets in East Africa. Twenty-four samples randomly selected from 446 piglets (<6 months old), initially collected for rotavirus study, was sequenced for metagenomic analysis. Thirteen (13/24) samples had contigs with high identity to genus Mamastrovirus. Analysis of 7 strains with complete (or near complete) genome revealed variable nucleotide and amino acid sequence identities with known PoAstV strains. The U083 and K321 strains had nucleotide sequence similarities ranging from 66.4 to 75.4 % to the known PoAstV2 strains, nucleotide sequence similarity of U460 strain with known PoAstV3 ranged 57.0 to 65.1 % to the, while K062, K366, K451, and K456 strains showed nucleotide sequence similarities of 63.5 to 80 % to the known PoAstV4 strains. The low sequence identities (<90 %) indicate that novel genotypes of PoAstVs are circulating in the study area. Multiple recombination events were detected in our PoAstV4 strains, indicating that the genetic diversity observed in these strains may be due to recombination. Importantly, we identified potential candidate epitopes with conserved peptides in our PoAstV strains that could aid in the design of immune diagnosis tools and subunit vaccines. Our data provide new intuitions into the genetic structure of porcine astroviruses in East African.
Wed, 23 September 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0526.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19 testing; molecular diagnostics; immunological testing; RT-qPCR; ELISA; pool PCR; lateral flow assay; rapid assay
Online: 23 September 2020 (03:33:12 CEST)
Accurate diagnosis at an early stage of infection is essential for the successful management of any contagious disease. The COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a pandemic that has affected 214 countries affecting more than 30.8 million people causing 0.957 million deaths as of third week of September, 2020. The primary diagnosis of the infection is done either by the molecular technique of RT-qPCR by detecting portions of the RNA of the viral genome or through immunodiagnostic tests by detecting the viral proteins or the antibodies produced by the host. As the demand for the test increased rapidly many naive manufacturers entered the market with novel kits and more and more laboratories also entered the diagnostic arena making the test result more error-prone. There are serious debates globally and regionally on the sensitivity and specificity of these tests and about the overall accuracy and reliability of the tests for decision making on control strategies. The significance of the test is also complexed by the presence of asymptomatic carriers, re-occurrence of infection in cured patients as well as by the varied incubation periods of the infection and shifting of the viral location in the host tissues. In this paper, we review the techniques available for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and probable factors that can reduce the sensitivity and specificity of the different test methods currently in vogue. We also provide a check-list of factors to be taken care to avoid fallacious practices to reduce false positive and false negative results by the clinical laboratories
Tue, 22 September 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0198.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: coronavirus; aquatic organisms; fish; marine mammals; frogs; birds
Online: 22 September 2020 (11:45:01 CEST)
Coronaviruses are pathogens recognized for having an animal origin, commonly associated with terrestrial environments. However, although in a few cases, there are reports of their presence in aquatic organisms like fish, frogs, waterfowls and marine mammals. None of these cases has led to human health effects when contact with these infected organisms has taken place, whether they are alive or dead. Aquatic birds seem to be the main group carrying and circulating these types of viruses among healthy bird populations. Although the route of infection for CoVID-19 by water or aquatic organisms has not yet been observed in the wild, the relevance of its study is highlighted because there are cases of other viral infections known to have been transferred to humans by aquatic biota. It is encouraging to know that aquatic species, such as fish, marine mammals, and amphibians, shows very few cases of coronaviruses and that some other aquatic animals may also be a possible source of cure or treatment against then, as some evidence with algae and marine sponges suggest.
Mon, 21 September 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; coronavirus; signaling pathway; molecular alteration
Online: 21 September 2020 (04:17:24 CEST)
Emerging viruses description have grown at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the 21st century. The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its related illness, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been reported as the third highly pathogenic coronavirus introducing itself into human population in the current era after the SARS-CoV and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Molecular and cellular studies considering the pathogenesis of this novel coronavirus are still in the early stages of research, however, regarding the similarity of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, it could be hypothesized that the NF-κB, Cytokine regulation, ERK, and TNF-α signaling pathways are the more likely causes of inflammation upon onset of COVID-19. There are several drugs prescribed and used to alleviate the activity of these inflammatory cellular signaling pathways which might be beneficial for developing novel therapeutic modalities against COVID-19. In this review, we briefly summarized the alteration of cellular signaling pathways affected by coronavirus infection, particularly SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV and tabulated the current therapeutic agents approved for previous human diseases.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0487.v1
Online: 21 September 2020 (03:35:15 CEST)
The age-related mortality and morbidity risk of COVID-19 has been considered speculative without enough scientific evidence. This study aimed to collect more evidence on the association between patient age and risk of severe disease state and/or mortality from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Genomic dataset along with metadata (3608 samples) retrieved from GISAID from different geographical regions were grouped into 10 age groups (0-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90, 91-100 years) as well as high-risk or low-risk according to patient clinical status. Genomic sequences were aligned and analyzed using MAFFT and FASTTREE to build a phylogenetic tree in order to identify age-risk associations based on phylogenetic clustering. Case fatality rates (CFR), as well as the Odds ratio (OR) for high-risk outcomes, were calculated for different age groups. Results revealed that individuals aged between 25-50 years have the best immune response to the infection. On the other hand, disease fatality was higher in patients aging above 50 years. We created an application to calculate the OR of being at high risk given a certain age threshold from GISAID datasets. OR values increased between ages 1-10 years (1.271) and 11-20 years (1.313) but reduced at age range 21-30 years (1.290) and increased again for 61-70 years (2.465). CFR calculated for each of the age groups had peak values at 90-100 years (26.8%) and the lowest at 0-10 years (0%). The CFR for ages above 50 years was about twice greater (11.6%-26.8%) than that for ages below (0-6.6%). The phylogenetic analysis revealed that the majority of samples obtained from India showed low-risk among different age groups and were defined as clade GH. Another cluster from Singapore visualization showed unfavorable patient outcome across several age groups and were classified under clade O. To conclude, this study analyses showed a variety of age-risk associations. As scientists from different countries upload more genomes to globally shared databases, more evidence will reinforce mortality risk associations in COVID-19 patients.
Sun, 20 September 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: JC virus; polyomavirus; SV40; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
Online: 20 September 2020 (14:08:01 CEST)
The polyomaviruses are small, non-enveloped DNA tumor viruses that cause serious disease in immunosuppressed people, including progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in patients infected with JC polyomavirus, but the molecular events mediating polyomavirus entry are poorly understood. Through genetic knockdown approaches, we identified phosphoinositide 3’ kinase γ (PI3Kγ) and its regulatory subunit PIK3R5 as cellular proteins that facilitate infection of human SVG-A glial cells by JCPyV, but not by adenovirus, an unrelated small, non-enveloped DNA tumor virus. PI3Kα appears less important for polyomavirus infection than PI3Kγ. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of PIK3R5 or PI3Kγ inhibited infection by authentic JCPyV and by JC pseudovirus. PI3Kγ knockout also inhibited infection by BK and Merkel Cell pseudoviruses, other pathogenic human polyomaviruses, and SV40, an important model polyomavirus. Reintroduction of the wild-type PI3Kγ gene into the PI3Kγ knock-out SVG-A cells rescued the JCPyV infection defect. Disruption of the PI3Kγ pathway did not block binding of JCPyV to cells or virus internalization, implying that PI3Kγ facilitates some intracellular step(s) of infection. These results imply that agents that inhibit PI3Kγ signaling may have a role in managing polyomavirus infections.
Sat, 19 September 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: origin of viruses; phylogenetic reconstruction; reductive evolution; obligate intracellular parasites; Varidnaviria; Bamfordvirae; Nucleocytoviricota
Online: 19 September 2020 (03:51:15 CEST)
The extension of virology beyond its traditional medical, veterinary or agricultural applications, now called environmental virology, has shown that viruses are both the most numerous and diverse biological entities on earth. In particular, virus isolation studies involving unicellular eukaryotic hosts (heterotrophic and photosynthetic protozoans) revealed numerous viral types previously unexpected in terms of virion structure and morphology, genome size and gene content, or mode of replication. Complemented by large-scale metagenomic analyzes, these discoveries have rekindled interest in the enigma of the evolutionary origin of viruses, for which no simple definition encompassing all of their diversity is still unanimous. Several laboratories have repeatedly tackled the deep reconstruction of the evolutionary history of viruses, using various methods of molecular phylogeny applied to the few shared genes detected in certain virus groups (e.g. the Nucleocytoviricota). Beyond the practical difficulties of establishing reliable homology relationships from extremely divergent sequences, I present here purely conceptual arguments highlighting several fundamental limitations plaguing the reconstruction of the deep evolutionary history of viruses, and even more the identification of their unique of multiple origin (s). Those limitations are direct consequences of the particularly random mechanisms which govern the reductive evolution of obligate intracellular parasites.
Fri, 18 September 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0361.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; foodborne viruses; enteric viruses; fecal-oral transmission; fresh produce, berries, fruits, hepatitis A virus, Norovirus, ready-to-eat foods.
Online: 18 September 2020 (10:35:33 CEST)
Background:Although highly strict social distancing and viral spread protection guidelines are in force, the reported numbers of COVID-19 cases across the world are still increasing. This indicates that we are still unable to completely understand the transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2. One of the possible routes that can play a significant role is the fecal-oral transmission since SARS-CoV-2 can replicate in the intestines as demonstrated by isolation of infectious virus from fecal samples of COVID-19 cases. Scope and approach:In this review, we compare the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 with the distinctive characteristics of enteric foodborne viruses. We also discuss and respond to the arguments given in some reports that downplay the importance of foodborne transmission route of SARS-CoV-2. Key findings and conclusions:Enteric viruses such as human noroviruses (HuNoVs) and hepatitis A virus (HAV) are known to transmit through foods such as fresh produce and berries, leading to frequent multistate foodborne disease outbreaks all over the world. SARS-CoV-2 was found to share four distinctive characteristics of foodborne viruses that allow them to transmit through foods. This similarity in characteristics, recent report of detecting SARS-CoV-2 particles from frozen food packages in China, and recent suspected foodborne COVID-19 case in New Zealand, indicate that foodborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is more evident than previously thought possible. To support or deny this route of transmission, urgent research needs to be undertaken to answer two primary questions and many secondary ones as described in this review.
Thu, 17 September 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0395.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Spike protein, V483A, substitution mutation, virus-host cell interaction, high transmission, infectivity.
Online: 17 September 2020 (10:43:02 CEST)
Exploring the biological significance of mutations in SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, causing the COVID–19 pandemic, has recently become an area of paramount interest for many researchers, who are pouring their tremendous efforts, in cracking the COVID–19 pandemic code. One of many such mutations that have occurred in the viral genome is V483A mutation, which is a part of the receptor-binding motif (RBM), present in the S1 domain of the spike protein. V483A mutant virus is becoming popular in North America with 36 cases so far, due to its frequent occurrences in recent days. In this review, we have assembled all information, currently available on V483A mutation, and have made a critical analysis based on the perspectives of many researchers all around the world. Comparison is made between the wild type and the V483A mutants to analyze certain factors like the type of interaction between the virus and host cell interface, binding affinity, stability, partition energy, hydrophobicity, occurrence rate, and transmissibility. Insilico dynamic analysis shows minimal alteration in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of V483A mutant protein in free-state and no significant change of mutant tertiary structure of RBM upon binding to the ACE2 receptor. Comprehensive details about infectivity and evasion of the immune system by the virus are discussed. This information can in turn be of monumental importance in the field of vaccine and drug development because the mutants are becoming resistant to the vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
Tue, 15 September 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0338.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; vaccine hesitancy; vaccine attitudes; vaccine development; SARS-CoV-2
Online: 15 September 2020 (10:32:28 CEST)
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, with the United States being highly affected. A vaccine provides the best hope for a permanent solution to controlling the pandemic. However, to be effective, a vaccine must be accepted and used by a large majority of the population. Structural equation modelling was used to analyze the relationships of several factors with attitudes toward potential COVID-19 vaccination. The survey was administered to 316 respondents across the United States by a survey corporation. Prior vaccine usage and attitudes predicted attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination. Assessment of the severity of COVID-19 for the United States was also predictive. Approximately 68% of all respondents were supportive of being vaccinated for COVID-19, but side effects, efficacy, and length of testing remained concerns. Longer testing, increased efficacy and development in the United States were significantly associated with increased vaccine acceptance. Messages promoting COVID-19 vaccination should seek to alleviate the concerns of those who are already vaccine-hesitant. Messaging directed at the benefits of vaccination for the United States as a country would address the second predictive factor. Enough time should be taken to allay concerns about both short and long-term side effects before a vaccine is released.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0327.v1
Online: 15 September 2020 (04:24:17 CEST)
In regions lacking genomic data, analysis of sequences from the early stages of an outbreak can provide important insights into the diversity of pathogens present. Following the detection of the first imported case of COVID-19 in the Northern sector of Ghana on 13th March 2020, we have now molecularly characterized and phylogenetically analysed sequences including three (3) complete genomes of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) isolated from nine (9) patients observed in Ghana. Eight (8) of these patients reported with a recent history of foreign travel and one (1) with no history of foreign travel. We performed high throughput sequencing for 9 samples following the determination of high concentration of viral RNA. In addition, we estimated the potential impact that long distance transportation of samples to testing centres may have on sequencing outcomes. Here, two samples that were closest in terms of viral RNA concentration but transported from sites which are over 400km apart were assessed. All sequences were compared to previous sequences from Ghana and representative sequences from regions where our patients had previously travelled. Complete genomes were obtained for three (3) sequences and with another near complete genome with a coverage of 95.6%. Sequences with coverage in excess of 80% were found to belong to three lineages namely A, B.1 and B.2. Our sequences clustered in two different clades with the majority falling within a clade composed of sequences from sub-Saharan Africa. Less RNA fragmentation was seen in sample KATH23 which was collected 9km compared with sample TTH6 which was collected and transported over a distance of 400km to the testing site. The clustering of several sequences from sub-Saharan Africa suggests regional circulation of the viruses in the subregion. Importantly, there may be the need to decentralize testing sites and build more capacity across Africa to boost the sequencing output of the subregion.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0324.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: MERS-CoV; camel; seroprevalence; transmission; ELISA; RT-qPCR; slaughterhouse
Online: 15 September 2020 (03:54:34 CEST)
Background: MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus that have emerged in humans in 2012 and caused severe respiratory illness with mortality rate of 34.4%. Since its appearance, MERS-CoV have been reported in 27 countries and most of these cases were in Saudi Arabia. So far, dromedaries are considered to be the intermediate host and the only known source of human infection. Method: This study was designed to determine the seroprevalence and the infection rate of MERS-CoV in slaughtered food-camels in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A total of 171 nasal swabs along with 161 serum samples were collected during the winter; from January to April 2019. Nasal swabs were examined by Rapid test and RT-qPCR to detect MERS-CoV RNA, while serum samples were tested primarily using S1-based ELISA Kit to detect MERS-CoV (IgG) antibodies and subsequently by MERS pseudotyped viral particles (MERSpp) neutralization assay for confirmation. Genetic diversity of the positive isolates was determined based on the amplification and sequencing of the spike gene. Results: Our results showed high prevalence (38%) of MERS-CoV infection in slaughtered camels and high seropositivity (70.81%) during the time of the study. These data indicate previous and ongoing MERS-CoV infection in camels. Phylogenic analysis revealed relatively low genetic variability among our isolated samples. When these isolates were aligned against published spike sequences of MERS-CoV, deposited in global databases, there was sequence similarity of 94%. Conclusion: High seroprevalence and high genetic stability of MERS-CoV in camels indicating that camels pose a public health threat. The widespread of MERS-CoV infections in camels increases the risk of future zoonotic transmission into people with direct contact with these infected camels. This study confirms re-infections in camels, highlighting a challenge for vaccine development when it comes to protective immunity.
Fri, 11 September 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0244.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Myxomatosis; recombinant myxoma virus; ha-MYXV; European rabbit; Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus; species jump; spillover
Online: 11 September 2020 (08:03:18 CEST)
In late 2018, an epidemic myxomatosis outbreak emerged on the Iberian Peninsula leading to high mortality in Iberian hare populations. Soon, a recombinant virus (MYXV-Tol or ha-MYXV) was identified, harboring a 2.8 kb insertion containing evolved duplicates of M060L, M061L, M064L, and M065L from MYXV. Since 2017, 1616 rabbits and 82 hares were tested by a qPCR directed to M000.5L/R gene, conserved in MYXV and MYXV-Tol/ ha-MYXV strains. A subset (20%) of the positive samples was tested for the insert with MYXV being detected in rabbits and recombinant MYXV in hares. Recently, two wild rabbits found dead in South Portugal, showing skin oedema and pulmonary lesions tested positive for the 2.8 Kb insert. Sequencing showed 100% similarity with the insert sequences described in Iberian hares from Spain. Viral particles were observed in the lungs of both rabbits by electron microscopy, and isolation in RK13 cells showed virus infectivity. Despite the analysis of recombinant MYXV genomes may predict its ability to infect rabbit, routine analyses showed species segregation for the circulation of MYXV and recombinant MYXV in wild rabbit and in Iberian hares, respectively. This study demonstrates, however, that recombinant MYXV can effectively infect and cause myxomatosis in wild rabbits and domestic rabbits, which raises serious concerns for the future of the Iberian wild leporids and emphasizes the need to continue monitoring MYXV and recombinant MYXV in both species.
Wed, 9 September 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0198.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: coronavirus; aquatic organisms; fish; marine mammals; crustaceans; birds
Online: 9 September 2020 (04:04:12 CEST)
Coronaviruses are pathogens recognized for having an animal origin and commonly associated with terrestrial environments. However, although in few cases, there are reports of their presence in aquatic organisms like fish, crustaceans, waterfowls and marine mammals. None of these cases have even led to human health effects, when contact with these infected organisms, whether they are alive or dead. Aquatic birds seem to be the main group in carrying and circulating these types of viruses in healthy bird populations and play an important role in these environments. Although the route of infection for CoVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) by water or aquatic organisms, has not yet been observed in the wild, the relevance of its study is highlighted , because there are cases of other viral infections (no coronavirus), which are known to have been transferred to the human by aquatic biota. What is even better, it becomes encouraging to know that aquatic species shows very few cases in fishes, marine mammals, and crustaceans, and some other aquatic animals may also be a possible source of cure or treatment against coronaviruses, as some evidence with algae and marine sponges suggests.
Mon, 7 September 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; thermal inversion; PM2.5 air pollution; desert dust intrusions
Online: 7 September 2020 (04:28:12 CEST)
A probe of a patient, seeking help in an emergency ward of a French hospital in late December 2019 because of Influenza like symptoms, was retrospectively tested positive to COVID-19. Despite the early appearance of the virus in Europe, the prevalence and virulence appeared to be low for several weeks, before the spread and severity of symptoms increased exponentially, yet with marked spatial and temporal differences. Here, we compare the possible linkages between peaks of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and the sudden, explosive increase of hospitalizations and mortality rates in the Swiss Canton of Ticino, and the Greater Paris and London regions. We also discuss the influence of Saharan dust intrusions on the COVID-19 outbreak observed in early 2020 on the Canary Islands. We find that high PM2.5 concentrations – possibly favored by air temperature inversions or Saharan dust intrusions – are not only modulating but even more so boosting severe outbreaks of COVID-19. We conclude that the overburdening of the health services and hospitals as well as the high over-mortality observed in various regions of Europe in spring 2020 can be linked to peaks of PM2.5 and likely particular weather situations that have favored the spread and enhanced the virulence of the virus. In the future, we recommend to monitor not only the prevalence of the virus, but also to consider the occurrence of weather situations that can lead to sudden, very explosive COVID-19 outbreaks.
Thu, 3 September 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0061.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: holothurian; Apostichopus; wasting; virus; flavivirus; totivirus
Online: 3 September 2020 (06:20:30 CEST)
Sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea; Echinodermata) are ecologically significant constituents of benthic marine habitats. We surveilled RNA viruses inhabiting 8 species (representing 4 families) of holothurian collected from four geographically distinct locations by viral metagenomics, including a single specimen of Apostichopus californicus affected by a hitherto undocumented wasting disease. The RNA virome comprised genome fragments of both single-stranded positive sense and double stranded RNA viruses, including those assigned to the Picornavirales, Ghabrivirales, and Amarillovirales. We discovered an unconventional flavivirus genome fragment which was most similar to a shark virus. Ghabivirales-like genome fragments were most similar to fungal totiviruses in both genome architecture and homology, and likely infected mycobiome constituents. Picornavirales, which are commonly retrieved in host-associated viral metagenomes, were similar to invertebrate transcriptome-derived picorna-like viruses. Sequence reads recruited from the grossly normal A. californicus metavirome to nearly all viral genome fragments recovered from the wasting-affected A. californicus. The greatest number of viral genome fragments was recovered from wasting A. californicus compared to any other surveyed holothurian, including the grossly normal A. californicus, which reflects a pattern observed in viral metagenomics study of sea star wasting. These results expand the known host range of flaviviruses, and suggest that fungi and their viruses may play roles in holothurian ecology.
Tue, 1 September 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202009.0005.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: mink astrovirus; molecular diagnostics; molecular polymorphism; phylogenetics
Online: 1 September 2020 (11:18:15 CEST)
Mink astrovirus infection remains a poorly understood disease entity, and the aetiological agent itself causes disease with a heterogeneous course, including gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms. This paper presents cases of astrovirus infection in mink from continental Europe. RNA was isolated from the brains and intestines of animals showing symptoms typical of shaking mink syndrome (n = 6). RT-PCR was used to detect astrovirus genetic material, and the reaction products were separated on a 1% agarose gel. The specificity of the reaction was confirmed by sequencing all samples. The presence of astrovirus RNA was detected in each of the samples tested. Sequencing and bioinformatic analysis indicated the presence of the same variant of the virus in all samples. Comparison of the variant with the sequences available in bioinformatics databases confirmed that the Polish isolates form a separate clade, closely related to Danish isolates. The similarity of the Polish variant to those isolated in other countries ranged from 2.4% (in relation to Danish isolates) to 7.1% (in relation to Canadian isolates). Phylogenetic relationships between variants appear to be associated with the geographic distances between them. To our knowledge, this work describes the first results on the molecular epidemiology of MAstV in continental Europe. The detection of MAstV in Central Europe indicates the need for further research to broaden our understanding of the molecular epidemiology of MAstV in Europe.
Mon, 31 August 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0712.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Foot-and-mouth disease virus; serotype Asia-1; BHK suspension cells; mutagenesis; particle stability; neutralizing antibody response; recombinant virus; vaccine production
Online: 31 August 2020 (06:16:50 CEST)
Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) causes the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease, which is characterized by the appearance of vesicles in and around the mouth and feet of cloven-hoofed animals. BHK21 cells are the cell line of choice for the propagation of FMDV for vaccine production world-wide but vary in their susceptibility for different FMDV strains. Previous studies showed that the FMDV resistance of a certain BHK cell line can be overcome by using a closely related but permissive cell line for the pre-adaptation of the virus, but the adapted strains were found to harbor several capsid mutations. In this study, these adaptive mutations were introduced into the original Asia-1 Shamir isolate individually or in combination to create a panel of 17 Asia-1 mutants by reverse genetics and examine the effects of the mutations on receptor usage, viral growth, immunogenicity and stability. A single amino acid exchange from glutamic acid to lysine at position 202 in VP1 turned out to be of major importance for productive infection of the suspension cell line BHK-2P. In consequence, two traditionally passage-derived strains and two recombinant viruses with a minimum set of mutations were tested in vivo. While the passaged-derived viruses showed a reduced particle stability, the genetically modified viruses were more stable but did not confer a protective immune response against the original virus isolate.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0696.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; neurotropic virus; Blood-nervous system barrier; bloodcerebrospinal-fluid-barrier; blood-brain-barrier; blood-nerve barrier; olfactory route; Lymphatic brain drainage route; Peripheral nerve or neuronal retrograde route; Macrophage/monocytes cargo route; Double membrane vesicles cargo route; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
Online: 31 August 2020 (04:43:34 CEST)
Without protective and/or therapeutic agents the SARS-CoV-2 infection known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is quickly spreading worldwide. It has surprising transmissibility potential, since it could infect all ages, gender, and human sectors. It attacks respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, hepatic, and endovascular systems and can reach the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS) through known and unknown mechanisms. The reports on the neurological manifestations and complications of the SARS-CoV-2 infection are increasing exponentially. Herein, we enumerate seven candidate routes, which the mature or immature SARS-CoV-2 components could use to reach the CNS and PNS, utilizing the within-body crosstalk between organs. The majority of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients suffer from some neurological manifestations (e.g., confusion, anosmia, and ageusia). It seems that although the mature virus did not reach the CNS or PNS of the majority of patients, its unassembled components and/or the accompanying immune-mediated responses may be responsible for the observed neurological symptoms. The viral particles and/or its components have been specifically documented in endothelial cells of lung, kidney, skin, and CNS. This means that the blood-endothelial-barrier may be considered as the main route for SARS-CoV-2 entry into the nervous system, with the barrier disruption being more logical than barrier permeability, as evidenced by postmortem analyses.
Sun, 30 August 2020
COMMUNICATION | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0665.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; envelop protein; mutations; transmembrane domain; triple cysteine motif
Online: 30 August 2020 (11:50:59 CEST)
The ongoing mutations in the structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2 is the major impediment for prevention and control of the COVID-19 disease. The envelope (E) protein of SARS-CoV-2 is a structural protein existing in both monomeric and homopentameric forms, associated with a multitude of functions including virus assembly, replication, dissemination, release of virions, infection, pathogenesis, and immune response stimulation. In the present study, 81,818 high quality E protein sequences retrieving from the GISAID were subjected to mutational analyses. Our analysis revealed that only 0.012 % (982/81818) stains possessed amino acid (aa) substitutions in 63 sites of the genome while 58.77% mutations in the primary structure of nucleotides in 134 sites. We found the V25A mutation in the transmembrane domain which is a key factor for the homopentameric conformation of E protein. We also observed a triple cysteine motif harboring mutations (L39M, A41S, A41V, C43F, C43R, C43S, C44Y, N45R) which may hinder the binding of E protein with spike glycoprotein. These results therefore suggest the continuous monitoring of each structural protein of SARS-CoV-2 since the number of genome sequences from across the world are continuously increasing.
TECHNICAL NOTE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0659.v1
Online: 30 August 2020 (11:22:12 CEST)
We show that low quality of all 427 Brazilian SARS-CoV-2 genomes recently published in Science (1) challenges their phylogenetic inference and may lead to incorrect typing of viral strains in clades with no statistical support. Absence of basecalling quality in genome assemblies and proper phylogeny parameter estimates preclude the assessment of signal-to-noise ratio in the data, downstream analysis and conclusions.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0658.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: glioma; oncolytic virus; glioblastoma; virotherapy; brain tumor
Online: 30 August 2020 (11:17:24 CEST)
Glioma tumors are one of the most devastating cancer types. Of the different glioma tumors, glioblastoma is the most advanced stage with the worst prognosis. Current therapies are still unable to provide an effective cure. Recent advantages in oncolytic immunotherapy have generated great expectations in the cancer therapy field. The use of oncolytic viruses (OV) in cancer treatment is one of those immune-therapeutic alternatives. OV have a double oncolytic action by both, directly destroying the cancer cells, sparing the patient’s life, and stimulating a tumor specific immune response to revert the ability of tumors to escape the control of the immune system. OV are one promising alternative to conventional therapies in glioma tumor treatment. Several clinical trials have proven the feasibility to use some viruses to specifically infect tumors eluding undesired toxic effects in the patient. Here we have revisited the literature in order to describe the main OV proposed so far as therapeutic alternatives to destroy glioma cells in vitro and trigger tumor destruction in vivo. Some clinical trials are exploring the use of this therapy as an alternative were other approaches provide limited hope.
CONCEPT PAPER | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0648.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Covid-19; case fatality rate; infection fatality rate; evolution of virulence; evolutionary medicine
Online: 30 August 2020 (10:26:58 CEST)
In the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in the global data on the case fatality ratio and other indices reflecting death rate, there is a consistent downward trend from mid-April to mid-August. The downward trend can be an illusion caused by biases and limitations of data or it could faithfully reflect a declining death rate. A variety of explanations for this trend are possible, but a systematic analysis of the testable predictions of the alternative hypotheses has not yet been attempted. We state six testable alternative hypotheses, analyse their testable predictions using public domain data and evaluate their relative contributions to the downward trend. We show that a decline in the death rate is real; changing age structure of the infected population and evolution of the virus towards reduced virulence are the most supported hypotheses and together contribute to major part of the trend. The testable predictions from other explanations including altered testing efficiency, time lag, improved treatment protocols and herd immunity are not consistently supported, or do not appear to make a major contribution to this trend although they may influence some other patterns of the epidemic.
Wed, 26 August 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0165.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Conserved signature indels (CSIs) specific for SARS and SARS-CoV-2-related viruses. Molecular markers distinguishing different clades of Sarbecovirus, Evolutionary relationships between SARS and SARS-CoV-2-related viruses, Origin of SARS-CoV-2 and Pangolin CoV_MP789 viruses, Novel sequence and structural features of spike and nucleocapsid proteins. Genetic recombination.
Online: 26 August 2020 (10:17:16 CEST)
Both SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and SARS coronaviruses (CoVs) are members of the subgenus Sarbecovirus. To understand the origin of SARS-CoV-2, protein sequences from sarbecoviruses were analyzed to identify highly-specific molecular markers consisting of conserved inserts or deletions (termed CSIs) in the spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins that are specific for either particular clusters/lineages of these viruses or are commonly shared by specific lineages. Three novel CSIs in the N-terminal domain of the spike protein S1-subunit (S1-NTD) are uniquely shared by the SARS-CoV-2, BatCoV-RaTG13 and most pangolin CoVs, distinguishing this cluster of viruses (SARS-CoV-2r) from all others. In the same positions, where these CSIs are found, related CSIs are also present in two other sarbecoviruses (viz. CoVZXC21 and CoVZC45 forming CoVZC cluster), which form an out group of the SARS-CoV-2r cluster. These three CSIs are not found in the SARS-CoVs. However, both SARS and SARS-CoV-2r CoVs contain two large CSIs in the C-terminal domain of S1 (S1-CTD), which binds the human ACE-2 receptor, that are absent in the CoVZC cluster of CoVs. These results indicate that while the S1-NTD of the SARS-CoV-2r viruses possesses the sequence characteristics of the CoVZC cluster of CoVs, their S1-CTD resembles the SARS viruses. Thus, the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2r viruses has likely originated from a recombination event between the S1-NTD of the CoVZC viruses and the S1-CTD of SARS viruses. This inference is also supported by the amino acid sequence similarity of the S1-NTD and S1-CTD from SARS-CoV-2 compared to the CoVZC and SARS CoVs. We also present evidence that one of the pangolin-CoV_MP789, whose receptor-binding domain is most similar to the SARS-CoV-2, is also derived by a recent recombination between the S1-NTD of the CoVZC CoVs and the S1-CTD of a SARS-CoV-2 related virus. Several other identified CSIs are specific for others clusters of sarbecoviruses including a clade consisting of bat SARS-CoVs (BM48-31/BGR/2008 and SARS_BtKY72). Structural mappings studies show that the identified CSIs are located within surface-exposed loops and form distinct patches on the surface of the spike protein. These surface loops/patches are predicted to interact with other host components and play important role in the biology/pathology of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Lastly, the CSIs specific for the SARS-CoV-2r clade provide novel means for development of new diagnostic and therapeutic targets for these viruses.
Mon, 24 August 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0501.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: circoviridae; circoviruses; bobcat; lynx rufus; Sonoran desert; Sonoran felid associated (Sonfela) circoviruses
Online: 24 August 2020 (03:09:36 CEST)
Sonoran felids are threatened by drought and habitat fragmentation. Vector range expansion and anthropogenic factors such as habitat encroachment and climate change are altering viral evolutionary dynamics and exposure. However, little is known about the diversity of viruses present in these populations. Small felid populations with lower genetic diversity are likely to be most threatened with extinction by emerging diseases, as with other selective pressures, due to having less adaptive potential. We used a metagenomic approach to identify novel circoviruses, which may have a negative impact on the population viability, from confirmed bobcat (Lynx rufus) and puma (Puma concolor) scats collected in Sonora, Mexico. Given some circoviruses are known to cause disease in their hosts, such as porcine and avian circoviruses, we took a non-invasive approach using scat to identify circoviruses in free-roaming bobcats and puma. Three circovirus genomes were determined, and, based on the current species demarcation, they represent two novel species. Phylogenetic analyses reveal that one circovirus species is more closely related to rodent associated circoviruses and the other to bat associated circoviruses, sharing the highest genome-wide pairwise identity of approximately 70% and 63%, respectively. At this time, it is unknown whether these scat-derived circoviruses infect felids, their prey, or another organism that might have had contact with the scat in the environment. Further studies should be conducted to elucidate the host of these viruses and assess health impacts in felids.
Fri, 21 August 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0478.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Antarctica; coronavirus; COVID-19; mitigation measures; reverse zoonoses; risk assessment; SARS-CoV-2; wildlife
Online: 21 August 2020 (09:21:25 CEST)
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has spread rapidly to most parts of the world, causing high numbers of deaths and significant social and economic impacts. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus with a suggested zoonotic origin and with the potential for cross-species transmission among animals. Antarctica can be considered the only continent free of SARS-CoV-2 although at the end of the 2019-2020 tourist season, at least one SARS-CoV-2 positive tourist visited the Antarctic Peninsula. Therefore, concerns have been expressed regarding the potential human introduction of this virus to the continent through the activities of research or tourism with potential effects including those related to human health, but also the potential for virus transmission to Antarctic wildlife. This reverse-zoonotic transmission risk to Antarctic wildlife is assessed considering the available information on host susceptibility, dynamics of the infection in humans, and contact interactions between humans and Antarctic wildlife. Measures to reduce the risk are proposed as well as the identification of knowledge gaps related to this issue.
Thu, 20 August 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0447.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: spike protein; SARS-CoV-2; mutation; drug repurposing; digitoxin
Online: 20 August 2020 (08:24:41 CEST)
Novel SARS-CoV-2, a bat based virus originated in Wuhan, China that caused a global pandemic in December, 2019 belongs to the Betacorona virus family and contains single stranded genome of ~29Kbp. The host cell invasion of SARS-CoV-2 is facilitated by interaction of C-Terminal Domain (CTD) of Spike (S) protein of virus and host ACE2 receptor in the presence of TMPRSS seine protease secreted by the host cell. In this study the mutation hotspots of S-protein will be identified and the impact of such mutation in the binding affinity will be studied. Additionally, the lead molecule which can bind to the mutated protein also will be identified. Multiple sequence alignment of the spike protein sequence of SARS-CoV-2 shows the number of single amino acid mutation hotspots such as L5F, R214L, R408I, G476S, V483A, H519Q, A520S, T572I, D614G and H655Y. Among these mutations D614G has 57.5% occurrence and G476S, V483A has 7.5% occurrence. The mutated proteins were modelled based on wild type homolog and docked to ACE2 receptor. When the mutated S protein is docked, the ∆G (binding free energy) value is very minimal in mutated protein showed the stability of variants. By the drug repurposing method, 1000 FDA approved drugs were virtually screened for its binding to RBD of S1 domain. Among these drugs Digitoxin, Gliquidone and Zorubicin Hcl binds to spike proteins with higher docking score (lesser than -8.5 Kcal/mol) to both wild type and mutants.
HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0426.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: enveloped virus, coronavirus, inactivation, persistence, surface, mechanisms
Online: 20 August 2020 (05:38:38 CEST)
The Covid-19 coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is inactivated much faster on paper (3h) than on plastic (7d). By classifying materials according to virus stability on their surface, the following list is obtained (from long to short stability): polypropylene (mask), plastic, glass, stainless steel, pig skin, cardboard, banknote, cotton, wood, paper, tissue, copper. These observations and other studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may be inactivated by dryness on water absorbent porous materials but sheltered by long-persisting micro-droplets of water on waterproof surfaces. If such physical phenomenons were confirmed by direct evidence, the persistence of the virus on any surface could be predicted, and new porous objects could be designed to eliminate the virus faster.
Wed, 19 August 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0408.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: covid-19 antibody; coronavirus; immunoglobulin; police officer; quality of life; SARS-CoV-2
Online: 19 August 2020 (09:55:16 CEST)
The coronavirus of severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2), known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly around the world, leading to social detachment and the home office replacing face-to-face work. The performance of police officers faces limitations to the new requirements, while recognizing the need to ensure health and quality of life. Thus, the present study aimed to verify the panorama of the spread of COVID-19 among federal police officers by analyzing the presence of symptoms, individual protection measures (IPM), suspect screening measures (SSM) and examination for total antibodies (IgA, IgG and IgM). For this, data were collected through a questionnaire customized for this situation, blood for serological testing and measurements of clinical data from 56 federal police officers in the municipality of Marília (São Paulo, Brazil). There was no positive result in the Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serological test in any sample participant. The mean value of the Body Mass Index (27.2 ± 5.4 kg / m2) suggests overweight and obesity, in addition to the presence of hypertension in 16.1%, diabetes in 3.6%, asthma in 3.6 % and obesity by 25%, which represents an important risk of complications for COVID-19. The use of a mask is the most frequent IPM (96.4%) and most of the sample has used a cloth or home mask (90.9%). However, 47.3% have not performed the correct cleaning of the masks and 5.5% have not taken any care with mask hygiene. It can be concluded that care in relation to the professional activities of federal police to date has prevented the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and that they must be maintained or increased because risk factors, which involve quality of life and worsening of the contamination condition, were detected in the participants.
Fri, 14 August 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0321.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; coronavirus; pandemic; food; hygiene
Online: 14 August 2020 (11:16:44 CEST)
The outbreak of COVID-19 started in mainland China and has rapidly spread to more than 200 countries and territories around the world (WHO, 2020). The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus and its transmission is known to occur by upper respiratory secretions, including airborne droplets after coughing or sneezing. There is no evidence to support the role of food in the transmission of COVID-19. However, sharing food in public places is not encouraged. Furthermore, standard operating procedures of food safety like thorough washing, avoid cross contamination, keeping raw and cooked foods separated, refrigeration and heating are highly suggested. The pandemic has dramatically increased food insecurity across the countries and threatens the food security and nutrition of millions of people. The review presents information about SARS-CoV-2 with respect to food, including a brief history of coronavirus, its classification and transmission. It further presents the role of food as a carrier of the virus, which looks unlikely so far but cannot be fully ruled out, food contamination and handling followed by prevention and safety measures as per the standard guidelines, and conclusive remarks.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0312.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19); + ssRNA; ribosomal – framshift; Pseudoknot; replication; model; drug; vaccine
Online: 14 August 2020 (08:26:31 CEST)
SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, a new seventh human corona virus, has out-broken in Wuhan, China since 31st December 2019, and quickly escalated to take the form of pandemic which killed many human beings throughout almost all countries across continents. The rapidity of its transmission from human to human is far greater than all previous human corona viruses which came into existence like SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, etc. The nucleotide sequence of SARS-CoV-2 (isolates Wuhan-Hu-1) is 29,875 bp in ss-RNA. Symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infected pneumonia include from asymptomatic to high fever and/or respiratory illnesses. Coronavirus virion (spherical/round /elliptical in shape) consists of three parts- outer membrane or envelope, nucleocapsid and genome (RNA). SARS-CoV-2 was shown to use receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) for attachment to the cells through its surface spike (S) protein (S1), and the virion enters into the host cell through two routes- direct membrane fusion and endocytotic pathway. The RNA of SARS-CoV acts directly as mRNA and here minus(-) 1 programmed ribosomal frameshift (-1PRF) is being operated by slippery sequence and pseudoknot, so it translates 16 nonstructural proteins including RNA dependent RNA replicase. Then genomic RNA replicated continuously on – strand RNA template and subgenomic RNA transcribed discontinuously on –RNA template to sgmRNA. Subgenomic RNAs/sgmRNAs synthesize all structural proteins. This article takes into consideration the details of established theories of viral structure, viral attachment, mode of entry into human cells, different models of replication and transcription of virus genome proposed by eminent scientists over the years, and makes an in depth examination highlighting meaningful points or important target cites of viral propagation or synthesis, which are conserved, for prompt development of potent drugs or vaccine to counter COVID-19 for which human race is anxiously and eagerly waiting.
Wed, 12 August 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0285.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: FMDV; Egypt; full-genome sequencing; interserotypic recombination; vaccine composition analysis; frozen evolution
Online: 12 August 2020 (11:56:33 CEST)
In addition to the risk of vaccine failure caused by strain mismatch, the production of inactivated FMD vaccines is dangerous if adequate biosafety cannot be maintained. Using a high-throughput sequencing protocol optimized for short nucleic acid fragments, the composition of a local inactivated vaccine was analyzed in depth. The serotype O strain identified in the vaccine was genetically identical to viruses found in recent FMD outbreaks in Egypt.
Wed, 5 August 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0133.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: epidemic; viral sequences; genomics; metadata; data harmonization; integration and search
Online: 5 August 2020 (10:58:27 CEST)
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease, the research community is producing unprecedented efforts dedicated to better understand and mitigate the affects of the pandemic. In this context, we review the data integration efforts required for accessing and searching genome sequences and metadata of SARS-CoV2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease, which have been deposited into the most important repositories of viral sequences. Organizations that were already present in the virus domain are now dedicating special interest to the emergence of COVID-19 pandemics, by emphasizing specific SARS-CoV2 data and services. At the same time, novel organizations and resources were born in this critical period to serve specifically the purposes of COVID-19 mitigation, while setting the research ground for contrasting possible future pandemics. Accessibility and integration of viral sequence data, possibly in conjunction with the human host genotype and clinical data, are paramount to better understand the COVID-19 disease and mitigate its effects.
Tue, 4 August 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0032.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Coronaviruses; HIV; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; MERS-CoV; immunosuppression; immune response; coinfection
Online: 4 August 2020 (07:36:38 CEST)
Seven human coronaviruses (hCoVs) are known to infect humans. The most recent one, SARS-CoV-2, was isolated and identified in January 2020 from a patient presenting with severe respiratory illness in Wuhan, China. Even though viral coinfections have the potential to influence the resultant disease pattern in the host, very few studies have looked at the disease outcomes in patients infected with both HIV and hCoVs. Groups are now reporting that even though HIV-positive patients can be infected with hCoVs, the likelihood of developing severe CoV-related diseases in these patients is often similar to what is seen in the general population. This review aimed to summarize the current knowledge of coinfections reported for HIV and hCoVs. Moreover, based on the available data, this review aimed to theorize why HIV-positive patients do not frequently develop severe CoV-related diseases.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0475.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Mathematical model; SARS; COVID-19; Superspreaders; Viral outbreaks; H7N9; Influenza; zoonotic
Online: 4 August 2020 (04:53:24 CEST)
Despite great advances in understanding the dynamics of viral epidemics, the emergence of rapidly spreading, highly pathogenic viruses remains a realistic and catastrophic possibility, which current health systems may not be able to fully contain. An intriguing feature in many recent zoonotic viral outbreaks is the presence of superspreaders, which are infected individuals that cause dramatically more new cases than the average. Here I study the effect of superspreaders on the early dynamics of emerging viruses that have not gained the capacity for efficient human-to-human transmission, i.e viruses with R0 < 1. I show that superspreaders have a higher chance of rapid extinction, but under crowded conditions can lead to outbreaks, causing far more cases than regular viruses. I suggest that outbreaks of highly pathogenic superspreaders are more likely when they coincide in time and space with an unrelated outbreak leading to increased hospital admission rates. These superspreader outbreaks may be difficult to detect, especially in the context of a different epidemic in progress, and can significantly affect mortality patterns observed in affected areas.
Mon, 3 August 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0069.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; zoonoses; anthroponosis; veterinarian; OIE and animals
Online: 3 August 2020 (10:12:55 CEST)
Coronavirus disease is the current cause of global concern. The massive outbreak of COVID-19 has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare this as a pandemic situation. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARSCoV-2) is responsible for COVID-19 leading to acute respiratory distress and substantial mortality in humans. However, the first laboratory confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in a pet dog in Hong Kong has shown the possibility of human-to-animal transmission (zooanthroponotic) of the virus. Thereafter, many animals including cat, tiger, lion and mink have also been reported to acquire the virus in several countries. In this situation the role of veterinarian assumes important in treating the animals, helping in food security, disease diagnosis, surveillance and boosting the economy of livestock stakeholders at the grassroot level. In the absence of any selective vaccine or drug against SARS-CoV-2, the world is anticipated to triumph over this pandemic with collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach linking human, animal and environmental health. This article gives an insight into the confirmed SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in animals, including the factors behind the shuffling of the virus among variety of species and also emphasizes on the role of veterinarian in managing and safeguarding public health so as to pave the way for adopting one health approach in order to conserve biodiversity.
Sun, 2 August 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0032.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; immunosuppression; malnutrition; cytokine storm; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus
Online: 2 August 2020 (13:02:10 CEST)
Seven human coronaviruses are known to infect humans. The most recent one, SARS-CoV-2, was isolated and identified in January 2020 from a patient presenting with severe respiratory illness in Wuhan, China. Even though viral coinfections have the potential to influence the resultant disease pattern in the host, very few studies have looked at the disease outcomes in patients infected with both HIV and hCoVs. Groups are now reporting that even though HIV-positive patients can be infected with hCoVs, the likelihood of developing severe CoV-related diseases in these patients is often similar to what is seen in the general population. This review aimed to summarize the current knowledge of coinfections reported for the HIV and hCoVs. Also, based on the available data, this review aimed to theorize why HIV-positive patients do not frequently develop severe CoV-related diseases.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0369.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; spike protein; ACE1; ACE2; host-virus interaction; drug repurposing
Online: 2 August 2020 (09:23:18 CEST)
Respiratory transmission is the primary route of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the known receptor of SARS-CoV-2 surface spike glycoprotein for entry into human cells. A recent study reported absent to low expression of ACE2 in a variety of human lung epithelial cell samples. Three bioprojects (PRJEB4337, PRJNA270632 and PRJNA280600) invariably found abundant expression of ACE1 (a homolog of ACE2 and also known as ACE) in human lungs compared to very low expression of ACE2. In fact, ACE1 has a wider and more abundant tissue distribution compared to ACE2. Although it is not obvious from the primary sequence alignment of ACE1 and ACE2, comparison of X-ray crystallographic structures show striking similarities in the regions of the peptidase domains (PD) of these proteins, which is known (for ACE2) to interact with the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Critical amino acids in ACE2 that mediate interaction with the viral spike protein are present and organized in the same order in the PD of ACE1. In silico analysis predicts comparable interaction of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein with ACE1 and ACE2. In addition, this study predicts from a list of 1263 already approved drugs that may interact with ACE2 and/or ACE1, potentially interfere with the entry of SARS-CoV-2 inside the host cells and alleviate the symptoms of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Fri, 31 July 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0749.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Bovine coronavirus; intersititial pneumonia; phylogenetic analysis; Real time PCR
Online: 31 July 2020 (13:46:21 CEST)
An outbreak of winter disease, complicated by severe respiratory syndrome, occurred in January 2020 in a high production dairy cow herd located in a hilly area of the Calabria region. Of the 52 animals belonging to the farm, 5 (9.6%) died with severe respiratory distress, death occurring 3-4 days after the appearance of the respiratory signs (caught and gasping breath). Microbiological analysis revealed absence of pathogenic bacteria whilst Real-time PCR identified the presence of RNA from Bovine Coronavirus (BCoV) in several organs: lungs, small intestine (jejunum), mediastinal lymph nodes, liver and placenta. Since being the only pathogen identified, BCoV was hypothesized to be the cause of the lethal pulmonary infection. Like the other CoVs, BCoV is able to cause different syndromes. Its role in calfhood diarrhoea and in mild respiratory disease is well known: we report instead the involvement of this virus in a severe and fatal respiratory disorder, with symptoms and disease evolution resembling that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes (SARS).
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0747.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: African swine fever virus; virulence; pathology; wild boar; domestic pig; macroscopy; histopathology; immunology
Online: 31 July 2020 (13:01:32 CEST)
Endemically infected European wild boar are considered a major reservoir of African swine fever virus in Europe. While high lethality was observed in the majority of field cases, strains of moderate virulence occurred in the Baltic States. One of these, “Estonia 2014”, led to a higher number of clinically healthy, antibody-positive animals in the hunting bag of North-Eastern Estonia. Experimental characterization showed high virulence in wild boar but moderate virulence in domestic pigs. Putative pathogenic differences between wild boar and domestic pigs are unresolved and comparative pathological studies are limited. We here report on a kinetic experiment in both subspecies. Three animals each were euthanized at 4, 7 and 10 days post infection (dpi). Clinical data confirmed higher virulence in wild boar although macroscopy and viral genome load in blood and tissues were comparable in both subspecies. The percentage of viral antigen positive myeloid cells tested by flow cytometry did not differ significantly in most tissues. Only immunohistochemistry revealed consistently higher viral antigen loads in wild boar tissues in particular 7 dpi, whereas domestic pigs already eliminated the virus. The moderate virulence in domestic pigs could be explained by a more effective viral clearance.
Thu, 30 July 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0712.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Group-B Enterovirus; RNA domain-I; viral ribonucleoprotein complexes; Enterovirus replication; 5’ terminally deleted viral forms; antiviral innate immune response; type I Interferon
Online: 30 July 2020 (10:00:13 CEST)
Group-B enteroviruses (EV-B) are ubiquitous naked single-stranded positive RNA viral pathogens that are responsible for common acute or persistent human infections. Their genome is composed in the 5'end by a non-coding region, which is crucial for the initiation of the viral replication and translation processes. RNA domain-I secondary structures can interact with viral or cellular proteins to form viral ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes regulating viral genomic replication, whereas RNA domains-II to -VII (IRES) are known to interact with cellular ribosomal subunits to initiate the viral translation process. Natural 5’ terminally deleted viral forms lacking some genomic RNA domain-I secondary structures have been described in EV-B induced murine or human infections. Recent in vitro studies have evidenced that the loss of some viral RNP complexes in the RNA domain-I can modulate the viral replication and infectivity levels in EV-B infections. Moreover, the disruption of secondary structures of RNA domain-I could impair viral RNA sensing by RIG-I or MDA5 receptors, a way to overcome antiviral innate immune response. Overall, natural 5′ terminally deleted viral genomes resulting in the loss of various structures in the RNA domain-I could be major key players of host-cell interactions driving the development of acute or persistent EV-B infections.
Wed, 29 July 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Tap water; human adenovirus; enteroviruses; rotavirus; viral gastroenteritis
Online: 29 July 2020 (17:42:52 CEST)
Drinking water supplies in the developing world often serve as a biosphere for various organisms. Viral gastroenteritis is a neglected area of research in Pakistan, there is no data for the prevalence of enteric viruses in drinking water of the largest city of Karachi. The present study aimed to provide a survey of the existence of enteric viruses: human adenovirus (HAdV), human enteroviruses (hEV), and genotype A rotavirus (GARV) in tap water. Using a simple PCR approach, we detected 20%, 43%, and 23% of HAdV, hEV, and GARV in tap water respectively. We have also shown an overall quality of tap water at the pumping station and consumer tap. Moreover, we assessed the efficiency of small-scale water treatment methods for the removal of viruses.
Fri, 24 July 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0587.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; SARS-CoV; Accessory Protein; ORF8; ORF8ab
Online: 24 July 2020 (13:51:12 CEST)
COVID-19 pandemic in first seven months has led to more than 15 million confirmed infected cases and 600,000 deaths. SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for COVID-19 has proved a great challenge for its ability to spread in asymptomatic stages and a diverse disease spectrum it has generated. This has created a challenge of unimaginable magnitude not only affecting human health and life but also potentially generating a long-lasting socioeconomic impact. Both medical sciences and biomedical research have also been challenged consequently leading to a large number of clinical trials and vaccine initiatives. While known proteins of pathobiological importance are targets for these therapeutic approaches, it is imperative to explore other factors of viral significance. Accessory proteins are one such trait that have diverse roles in coronavirus pathobiology. Here we analyze certain genomic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 accessory protein ORF8, predict upon its protein features and review current available literature regarding its function. We have also undertaken review of ORF8 homolog ORF8ab from SARS-CoV with a purpose of developing holistic understanding of these proteins for reason that coronaviruses have been infecting humans repeatedly and might continue to do so. Despite low nucleotide and protein identity and differentiating genome level characteristics, there appears to be significant structural integrity and functional proximity between these proteins pointing towards their high significance. There is further need for comprehensive genomics and structural-functional studies to lead towards definitive conclusions regarding their criticality and that can eventually define their relevance to therapeutics development.
Thu, 23 July 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0551.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Coronavirus; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; SARS-CoV; MERS-CoV; Antiviral therapy
Online: 23 July 2020 (11:43:46 CEST)
Background: To prioritize the development of antiviral compounds, it is necessary to compare their relative preclinical activity and clinical efficacy. Methods: We reviewed in vitro, animal model, and clinical studies of candidate anti-coronavirus compounds and placed extracted data in an online relational database. Results: As of July 2020, the Coronavirus Antiviral Research Database (CoV-RDB; covdb.stanford.edu) contained >2,400 cell culture, entry assay and biochemical experiments, 240 animal model studies, and 56 clinical studies from >300 published papers. SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV account for approximately 85% of the data. Approximately 75% of experiments involved compounds with a known or likely mechanism of action, including receptor binding inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies (20%); viral protease inhibitors (18%); polymerase inhibitors (9%); interferons (8%); fusion inhibitors (8%); host endosomal trafficking inhibitors (7%); and host protease inhibitors (5%). For 724 compounds with a known or likely mechanism, 95 (13%) are licensed in the US for other indications, 72 (10%) are licensed outside the US or are in human trials, and 557 (77%) are pre-clinical investigational compounds. Conclusion: CoV-RDB facilitates comparisons between different candidate antiviral compounds, thereby helping scientists, clinical investigators, public health officials, and funding agencies prioritize the most promising compounds and repurposed drugs for further development.
Tue, 21 July 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0475.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Mathematical model; SARS; COVID-19; Superspreaders; Viral outbreaks; H7N9; Influenza; zoonotic
Online: 21 July 2020 (10:48:12 CEST)
Despite great advances in understanding the dynamics of viral epidemics, the emergence of rapidly spreading, highly pathogenic viruses remains a realistic and catastrophic possibility, which current health systems may not be able to fully contain. An intriguing feature in many recent zoonotic viral outbreaks is the presence of ‘superspreaders’, which are infected individuals that cause dramatically more new cases than the average. Here I study the effect of superspreaders on the early dynamics of emerging viruses that have not gained the capacity for efficient human-to-human transmission, i.e viruses with R0 < 1. I show that superspreaders have a higher chance of rapid extinction, but under ‘crowded’ conditions can lead to ‘outbreaks’, causing far more cases than regular viruses. Hence I suggest that outbreaks of highly pathogenic superspreaders are more likely when they coincide in time and space with an unrelated outbreak leading to increased hospital admission rates. These superspreader outbreaks may be difficult to detect, especially in the context of a different epidemic in progress, and can significantly affect mortality patterns observed in affected areas.
Mon, 20 July 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0471.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: bathing waters; coronavirus; environmental transmission; faecal-oral route; infection risk; waterborne illness
Online: 20 July 2020 (12:02:45 CEST)
The recent detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in feces has led to speculation that it can be transmitted via the fecal-oral/ocular route. This review aims to critically evaluate the incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, the quantity and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 in feces and urine, and whether these pose an infection risk in sanitary settings, sewage networks, wastewater treatment plants, and the wider environment (e.g. rivers, lakes and marine waters). Overall, severe GI dysfunction is only evident in a small number of COVID-19 cases, with 11 ± 2% exhibiting diarrhea and 12 ± 3% exhibiting vomiting and nausea. In addition to these cases, SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in feces from some asymptomatic, mildly- and pre-symptomatic individuals. Fecal shedding of the virus peaks in the symptomatic period and can persist for several weeks, but with declining abundances in the post-symptomatic phase. SARS-CoV-2 RNA is occasionally detected in urine, but reports in fecal samples are more frequent. The abundance of the virus genetic material in both urine (ca. 102-105 gc/ml) and feces (ca. 102-107 gc/ml) is much lower than in nasopharyngeal fluids (ca. 105-1011 gc/ml). There is strong evidence of multiplication of SARS-CoV-2 in the GI tract and infectious virus has occasionally been recovered from both urine and stool samples. The level and infectious capability of SARS-CoV-2 in vomit remain unknown. In comparison to enteric viruses transmitted via the fecal-oral route (e.g. norovirus, adenovirus), the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 being transmitted via feces or urine appears lower due to the lower relative amounts of virus present in feces/urine. The biggest risk of transmission will occur in clinical and care home settings where secondary handling of people and urine/fecal matter occurs. In addition, while SARS-CoV-2 RNA genetic material can be detected by in wastewater, this signal is greatly reduced by conventional treatment. Our analysis also suggests the likelihood of infection due to contact with sewage-contaminated water (e.g. swimming, surfing, angling) or food (e.g. salads, shellfish) is extremely low or negligible based on very low predicted abundances and limited environmental survival of SARS-CoV-2. These conclusions are corroborated by the fact that over eight million global cases of COVID-19 have occurred, but exposure to feces or wastewater has never been implicated as a transmission vector.
Sun, 19 July 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0410.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Chikungunya virus; invasion; transmission dynamics; Aedes aegypti; Aedes albopictus; mathematical model
Online: 19 July 2020 (14:40:22 CEST)
: Arboviruses transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus have been introduced to Florida on many occasions. Infrequently, these introductions lead to sporadic local transmission and, more rarely, sustained local transmission. Both mosquito species are present in Florida, with spatio-temporal variation in population composition. We developed a 2-vector compartmental, deterministic model to investigate factors influencing Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) establishment. The model includes a non-linear, temperature-dependent mosquito mortality function based on minimum mortality in a central temperature region. Latin Hypercube sampling was used to generate parameter sets used to simulate transmission dynamics, following the introduction of one infected human. The analysis was repeated for 3 values of the mortality function central temperature. Mean annual temperature was consistently important in the likelihood of epidemics, and epidemics increased as the central temperature increased. Ae. albopictus recruitment was influential at the lowest central temperature while Ae. aegypti recruitment was influential at higher central temperatures. Our results indicate that the likelihood of CHIKV establishment may vary, but overall Florida is permissive for introductions. Model outcomes were sensitive to the specifics of mosquito mortality. Mosquito biology parameters are variable, and improved understanding of this variation will improve our ability to predict the outcome of introductions.
Fri, 17 July 2020
CASE REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0398.v1
Online: 17 July 2020 (16:02:28 CEST)
The pandemic respiratory disease COVID-19, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), emerged in Wuhan in December 2019 and then spread throughout the world; Italy was the most affected European country. Despite the close pet-human contact, little is known about the predisposition of pets to SARS-CoV-2. Among these, felines are the most susceptible. In this study, a domestic cat with clear symptoms of pneumonia, confirmed by Rx imaging, was found to be infected by SARS-CoV-2 using quantitative RT–qPCR from a nasal swab. This is the first Italian study reporting on the request of the scientific community to focus attention on the possible role of pets as a SARS-CoV-2 reservoir. An important question remains unanswered: did the cat die from SARS-CoV-2 infection?
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0363.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Ebola virus; filovirus; lipid binding; matrix protein; VP24
Online: 17 July 2020 (06:00:08 CEST)
Viral protein 24 (VP24) from Ebola virus (EBOV) was first recognized as a minor matrix protein that associates with cellular membranes. However, more recent studies shed light on its roles in inhibiting viral genome transcription and replication, facilitating nucleocapsid assembly and transport, and interfering with immune responses in host cells through downregulation of interferon (IFN)-activated genes. Thus, whether VP24 is a peripheral protein with lipid binding ability for matrix layer recruitment has not been explored. Here we examined the lipid binding ability of VP24 with a number of lipid binding assays. The results indicated that VP24 lacked the ability to associate with lipids tested regardless of VP24 posttranslational modifications. We further demonstrate that the presence of the EBOV major matrix protein VP40 did not promote VP24 membrane association in vitro or in cells. Further, no protein-protein interactions between VP24 and VP40 were detected by co-immunoprecipitation. Confocal imaging and cellular membrane fractionation analyses in human cells suggested VP24 did not specifically localize at the plasma membrane inner leaflet. Overall, we provide evidence that EBOV VP24 is not a lipid binding protein and its presence in the viral matrix layer is likely not dependent on direct lipid interactions.
Thu, 16 July 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; low-virulence; high-virulence; pandemic; T-cell; immunity; virus; SARS-CoV-2
Online: 16 July 2020 (13:02:40 CEST)
Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic is thought to began in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Mobility analysis identified East-Asia and Oceania countries to be highly-exposed to COVID-19 spread, consistent with the earliest spread occurring in these regions. However, here we show that while a strong positive correlation between case-numbers and exposure level could be seen early-on as expected, at later times the infection-level is found to be negatively correlated with exposure-level. Moreover, the infection level is positively correlated with the population size, which is puzzling since it has not reached the level necessary for population-size to affect infection-level through herd immunity. These issues are resolved if a low-virulence Corona-strain (LVS) began spreading earlier in China outside of Wuhan, and later globally, providing immunity from the later appearing high-virulence strain (HVS). Following its spread into Wuhan, cumulative mutations gave rise to the emergence of an HVS, known as SARS-CoV-2, starting the COVID-19 pandemic. We model the co-infection by an LVS and an HVS, and show that it can explain the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the non-trivial dependence on the exposure level to China and the population-size in each country. We find that the LVS began its spread a few months before the onset of the HVS, and that its spread doubling-time is times slower than the HVS. Although more slowly spreading, its earlier onset allowed the LVS to spread globally before the emergence of the HVS. In particular, in countries exposed earlier to the LVS and/or having smaller population-size, the LVS could achieve herd-immunity earlier, and quench the later-spread HVS at earlier stages. We find our two-parameter (the spread-rate and the initial onset time of the LVS) can accurately explain the current infection levels (R^2; correlation p-value (p) of 5x10^-13). Furthermore, countries exposed early should have already achieved herd-immunity. We predict that in those countries cumulative infection levels could rise by no more than 2-3 times the current level through local-outbreaks, even in the absence of any containment measures. We suggest several tests and predictions to further verify the double-strain co-infection model and discuss the implications of identifying the LVS.
Wed, 15 July 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: epidemic; caseload management; partial unlock; social distancing; overshoot; COVID-19; coronavirus; economic impact; ventilator utilization; SARS-CoV-2
Online: 15 July 2020 (03:14:33 CEST)
Background: A large percentage of deaths in an epidemic or pandemic can be due to overshoot of population (herd) immunity, either from the initial peak or from planned or unplanned exit from lockdown or social distancing conditions. Objectives: We study partial unlock or reopening interaction with seasonal effects in a managed epidemic to quantify overshoot effects on small and large unlock steps and discover robust strategies for reducing overshoot. Methods: We simulate partial unlock of social distancing for epidemics over a range of replication factor, immunity duration and seasonality factor for strategies targeting immunity thresholds using overshoot optimization. Results: Seasonality change must be taken into account as one of the steps in an easing sequence, and a two step unlock, including seasonal effects, minimizes overshoot and deaths. It may cause undershoot, which causes rebounds and assists survival of the pathogen. Conclusions: Partial easing levels, even low levels for economic relief while waiting on a vaccine, have population immunity thresholds based on the reduced replication rates and may experience overshoot as well. We further find a two step strategy remains highly sensitive to variations in case ratio, replication factor, seasonality and timing. We demonstrate a three or more step strategy is more robust, and conclude that the best possible approach minimizes deaths under a range of likely actual conditions which include public response.
Thu, 9 July 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0194.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID19; Airborne transmission; Droplet transmission; Aerosol transmission; SARS-CoV-2; Heat Inactivation; Infection Prevention; Ventilation system
Online: 9 July 2020 (12:32:42 CEST)
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has been confirmed in over 10,000,000 individuals worldwide and has resulted in more than 500,000 deaths in a few months since it first surfaced. With such a rapid spread it is no surprise that there has been a massive effort around the world to collectively elucidate the mechanism by which the virus is transmitted. Despite this, there is still no definitive consensus regarding droplet versus airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Public health officials around the world have introduced guidelines within the scope of droplet transmission. However, increasing evidence and comparative analysis with similar coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-1) and middle eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS), suggest that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 cannot be effectively ruled out. As the data supporting COVID-19 airborne transmission grows, there needs to be an increased effort in terms of technical and policy measures to mitigate the spread of viral aerosols. These measures can be in the form of broader social distancing and facial covering guidelines, exploration of thermal inactivation in clinical settings, low-dose UV-C light implementation, and greater attention to ventilation and airflow control systems. This review summarizes the current evidence available about airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, available literature about airborne transmission of similar viruses, and finally the methods that are already available or can be easily adapted to deal with a virus capable of airborne transmission.
Wed, 8 July 2020
COMMUNICATION | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0159.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; herd immunity; pandemic; pathogenesis; SARS-CoV-2; WHO
Online: 8 July 2020 (18:33:41 CEST)
Herd immunity happens when a relatively large proportion of a population becomes infected by an agent, subsequently recovers, and attains immunity against the same agent. That proportion thus indirectly protects the naïve population by preventing the spread of the infection. Herd immunity has been suggested to interrupt and control the COVID-19 pandemic. However, relying on establishing herd immunity can be catastrophic considering the virulence and lethality of SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile our understanding of the pathogenesis, case-fatality rate, transmission routes, and antiviral therapy for COVID-19 remains limited now. Interrupting or slowing the COVID-19 transmission seems more opportune than vaccination, antiviral therapy, or herd immunity, all of which will take some time to yield. Thus, social distancing, face-masking, and hygiene are the most appropriate immediate countermeasures. Because the social fabrics, economic implications, and local demands of various nations are unique, early relaxation of restrictions may seem hasty particularly when fatality rates are high, or when the healthcare systems could be inadequate or become inundated. Conclusively, avoiding any overwhelmingly risky approach in fighting the pandemic is prudent.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0144.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: phylodynamic analyses; SARS-CoV2 circulation in Italy; molecular tracing; Whole Genome Sequencing
Online: 8 July 2020 (11:00:19 CEST)
The aim of this study is the characterization and genomic tracing by phylogenetic analyses of 59 new SARS-CoV-2 Italian isolates obtained from patients attending clinical centres in North and Central Italy until the end of April 2020. All but one of the newly characterized genomes belonged to the lineage B.1, the most frequently identified in European countries, including Italy. Only a single sequence was found to belong to lineage B. A mean of 6 nucleotide substitutions per viral genome was observed, without significant differences between synonymous and non-synonymous mutations, indicating genetic drift as a major source for virus evolution. tMRCA estimation confirmed the probable origin of the epidemic between the end of January and the beginning of February with a rapid increase in the number of infections between the end of February and mid-March. Since early February, an effective reproduction number (Re) greater than 1 was estimated, which then increased reaching the peak of 2.3 in early March, confirming the circulation of the virus before the first COVID-19 cases were documented. Continuous use of state-of-the-art methods for molecular surveillance is warranted to trace virus circulation and evolution and inform effective prevention and containment of future SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks.
Tue, 7 July 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0105.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Zika virus; yellow fever virus; cross-reactivity; neutralization; enhancement; zika congenital syndrome; stem cells
Online: 7 July 2020 (02:29:39 CEST)
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus that originated in Africa but emerged in Latin America in 2015. In this region, other flaviviruses such as Dengue (DENV), West Nile, and Yellow Fever Virus (YFV) also circulate, allowing for possible antigenic cross-reactivity to impact viral infections and immune responses. Studies have found antibody mediated enhancement between DENV and ZIKV, but the impact of YFV antibodies on ZIKV infection has not been fully explored. ZIKV infections cause congenital syndromes, such as microcephaly, necessitating further research into ZIKV vertical transmission through the placental barrier. Recent advancements in biomedical engineering have generated co-culture methods that allow for in vitro recapitulation of the maternal: fetal interface. This study utilized a transwell assay, which is a co-culture model utilizing human placental syncytiotrophoblasts, fetal umbilical cells, and a differentiating embryoid body to replicate the maternal: fetal axis. To determine if cross reactive YFV vaccine antibodies impact the pathogenesis of ZIKV across the maternal fetal axis, maternal syncytiotrophoblasts were inoculated with ZIKV or ZIKV incubated with YFV vaccine anti-sera, and viral load was measured 72 hours post inoculation. Here we report that BeWo and HUVEC cells are permissive to ZIKV and that the impact of YFV post-vaccination antibodies on ZIKV replication is cell line dependent. Embryoid bodies are also permissive to ZIKV and the presence of YFV antibodies collected 1 to 6 months post vaccination enhances ZIKV infection. Our data show that each of the cell lines and EBs have a unique response to ZIKV complexed with post-vaccination serum suggesting there may be cell-specific mechanisms that impact congenital ZIKV infections. Since ZIKV infections can cause severe congenital syndromes, it is crucial to understand any potential enhancement or protection offered from cross-reactive, post-vaccination antibodies.
Mon, 6 July 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; ambient temperature; risk level; mortality
Online: 6 July 2020 (10:25:09 CEST)
COVID-19 is a pandemic with no cure. There is an urgent need for low-cost interventions. Macroclimate work through affecting microclimate. In many situations, man-made microclimate, such as air conditioning, may override the effect of natural macroclimate in determining SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity. Ambient temperature (AT) has been roughly associated to SARS-CoV-2 transmission. To translate into a feasible practice in controlling COVID-19 pandemic, in-depth and implementable knowledge of AT role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission should be unveiled. This study aimed to determine if there is a ‘safe’ temperature that is comfortable to human beings while significantly inhibitory for SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity. Data on monthly new deaths or new cases per million population (MDPM or MCPM) and monthly cumulated days with more cases than the previous day (DI) from March 2 to June 30, 2020 were collected from all 118 countries with population over five million. Monthly average AT negatively correlated with the transmission parameters. A significant decrease in transmission was observed when AT reached above 20 ºC. Monthly average (not average high) AT of countries with MDPM <2, MCPM<10, or DI<=7 was found to be between 24.54 and 26.89 ºC (25.18 ºC on average) with average standard error of 4.81. Thus, average AT <20, 20-25, >25 ºC were considered as high, medium, and low risk AT. Furthermore, MDPM in countries with AT <20 ºC were 80.93, 50.23, 13.52, and 5.05 times of those in countries with AT >25 ºC in March, April, May, and June, respectively. MDPM low-risk rates (<2) in countries with AT >25 ºC were 100, 83.33, 52.73, and 52.46%, respectively. In countries with AT <20 ºC, the trends were opposite. Setting indoor temperature to 25 ºC could decrease the need of social distancing for containing SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Ventilation and sanitizing the air with ultraviolet light in nonbusiness hours may be additionally effective. Cooling indoor temperature too low may be a reason of COVID-19 outbreak in some high AT countries. Authorities and the general population can evaluate COVID-19 risk level and manipulate microclimate to reduce the risk anywhere anytime based on local day average AT.
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; Quinine; Hydroxy-Chloroquine; Chloroquine; COVID-19; antiviral
Online: 6 July 2020 (09:19:06 CEST)
Since there is no vaccine or regulatory approved therapy available for treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the medical need to prevent the transition of a mild into the severe COVID-19 stage of infection is of outmost importance. Among several drug candidates, Chloroquine (CQN) and Hydroxy-Chloroquine (H-CQN) have been tested most intensively. However, the therapeutic effect of H-CQN and CQN has been discussed controversially in the light of severe side effects. Originally, H-CQN descended from the natural substance Quinine, a medicinal product used since the Middle Ages and is now regulatory approved for various indications. We hypothesized that Quinine also exerts anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity. First, virus production in Vero B4 cells was analyzed by Western blot, showing that Quinine exerts antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 that at 10 µM was even stronger than that of H-CQN or CQN. Second, fluorescence end-point and time lapse analysis of SARS-CoV-2-mNeonGreen-infected Caco-2 cells could confirm a similar antiviral effect of Quinine in a human-derived cell line. Thereby, our in vitro studies revealed, that the antiviral effect appears to be specific, since in Vero cells Quinine impacted cell viability at approximately 50-fold higher concentration, while the therapeutic window of H-CQN and CQN was approximately 10-fold lower. In Caco-2 cells no toxic effect was observed while complete block of infection occurred between 50 and 100 µM at high MOIs. In conclusion, our data indicate that Quinine would have the potential of a well tolerable and widely used treatment option for SARS-CoV-2 infections, with a predictable and significantly better toxicological profile when compared to H-CQN or CQN.
Sun, 5 July 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0049.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Sars-CoV-2; proteome; mutation; ORF3a; Nucleoprotein; Nsp2
Online: 5 July 2020 (06:54:01 CEST)
The Sars-CoV-2 is the causative agent of the current coronavirus disease pandemic. To effectively fight this pathogen, it is important to understand its evolution and the mechanism of adaptation to the host. A software workflow has been utilized to scan 26,016 Sars-CoV-2 genomes available in GISAID databank to analyse the distribution and frequency of mutations in the corresponding proteomes. A filtering procedure has been applied to remove data inconsistencies and redundancies. The number of observed mutations appears proportional to protein sequence length except for ORF3a, Nucleocapsid and Nsp2 that seem to accept more mutations than expected. The most pervasive mutations of the three proteins have been reported and the most variable and conservative regions mapped onto the respective sequences. The results suggest that these proteins may have a role in the adaptation of virus to new hosts and influence its pathogenicity and replication. These considerations prompt the experimental study and characterization of the three proteins.
Fri, 3 July 2020
Online: 3 July 2020 (09:45:43 CEST)
The novel respiratory disease COVID-19 has reached the status of worldwide pandemic and large efforts are currently being undertaken in molecularly characterizing the virus causing it, SARS-CoV-2. The genomic variability of SARS-CoV-2 specimens scattered across the globe can underly geographically specific etiological effects. In the present study, we gather the 48,635 SARS-CoV-2 complete genomes currently available thanks to the collection endeavor of the GISAID consortium and thousands of contributing laboratories. We analyze and annotate all SARS-CoV-2 mutations compared with the reference Wuhan genome NC_045512.2, observing an average of 7.23 mutations per sample. Our analysis shows the prevalence of single nucleotide transitions as the major mutational type across the world. There exist at least three clades characterized by geographic and genomic specificity. In particular, the clade G, prevalent in Europe, carries a D614G mutation in the Spike protein, which is responsible for the initial interaction of the virus with the host human cell. Our analysis may drive local modulation of antiviral strategies based on the molecular specificities of this novel virus.
Tue, 30 June 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0373.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; ambient temperature; risk level; mortality
Online: 30 June 2020 (13:10:27 CEST)
COVID-19 is a pandemic with no cure. There is an urgent need for low-cost interventions. Macroclimate work through microclimate. In many situations, man-made microclimate, such as air conditioning, may override the effect of natural macroclimate in determining the pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2. This study aimed to determine if there is a ‘safe’ temperature that is comfortable to human beings while significantly inhibitory for SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity. Data on monthly new deaths or new cases per million population (MDPM or MCPM) and monthly cumulated days with more cases than the previous day (DI) from March 2 to June 15, 2020 were collected from all 118 countries with population over five million. Monthly average AT negatively correlated with the transmission parameters. A significant decrease in transmission was observed when AT reached above 20 ºC. Monthly average (not average high) AT of countries with MDPM <2, MCPM<10, or DI<=7 was found to be between 24.54 and 25.90 ºC (25.00 ºC on average) with average standard error of 4.97. Thus, average AT <20, 20-25, >25 ºC were considered as high, medium, and low risk AT. Furthermore, MDPM in countries with AT <20 ºC were 80.93, 50.23, 13.52, and 7.72 times of those in countries with AT >25 ºC in March, April, May, and June 1-15, respectively. MDPM high-risk rates in countries with AT >25 ºC were 0, 6.25, 14.55, and 9.84%, and the low-risk rates were 100, 83.33, 52.73, and 81.97%, respectively. In countries with AT <20 ºC, the trends were opposite. Setting indoor temperature to 25 ºC could decrease the need of social distancing for containing SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Cooling indoor temperature too low may be a reason of COVID-19 outbreak in some high AT countries. Authorities and the general population can evaluate COVID-19 risk level and manipulate microclimate to reduce the risk anywhere anytime based on local day average AT.
Mon, 29 June 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0352.v1
Online: 29 June 2020 (10:40:07 CEST)
Mitochondria are classically termed as powerhouse of a mammalian cell. Most of the cellular chemical energy in the form of adenosine tri phosphate (ATP) is generated by mitochondria and dysregulation of mitochondrial functions thus can be potentially fatal of cellular homeostasis and health. Acute respiratory distress has been earlier linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. SARS-CoV-2 infection severity leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and can be fatal. We tried to investigate possible connection between SARS-CoV-2, ARDS and mitochondria. Here, we report identification of SARS-CoV-2 non-structural proteins (particularly Nsp12 and 13) that have recognition sequence with respect to mitochondrial entry. We also report that these proteins can potentially shuttle between cytoplasm and mitochondria based on the localization signals and help in downstream maintenance of the virus. Their properties to use ATP for enzymatic activities may cause ATP scavenging allowing viral RNA functions in lieu of host cell health.
Sun, 28 June 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; ancestral reconstruction; clonality; source of entry; dispersal routes
Online: 28 June 2020 (09:21:49 CEST)
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was officially declared a pandemic on the 11th March 2020. It is caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), impacting the lower respiratory tract. International travel to Australia during the early stages of the pandemic prior to border closure provided avenues for this virus to spread into Australia. There is little understanding of the clonality of SARS-CoV-2 isolates in Australia, and where they originated. This study aimed to investigate the clonality and ancestral sources of SARS-CoV-2 isolates in Australia using in silico methods. We retrieved 1,346 complete genomes from Australia along with 153 genomes from other countries from the NCBI nucleotide database and Global Initiative On Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). We then constructed a representative population of 270 sequences for downstream phylogenetic analysis and ancestral area reconstruction. Overall, two major clusters, one stemming from Europe and another from Asia, especially East Asia, were observed, implying at least two major transmission events with subsequent clades confirming the multiclonality of Australian isolates. We also identified three potential dissemination routes of SARS-CoV-2 into Australia. This study supports the hypothesis of multiple clonality and dispersals of SARS-CoV-2 isolates into Australia.
Thu, 18 June 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0216.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-coronavirus; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome; COVID-19; Stool; Urine; Wastewater; Wastewater-based epidemiology
Online: 18 June 2020 (09:29:00 CEST)
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many knowledge gaps with implications toward the speed and nature of our response to contain, assess and mitigate risk. The routine discharge of treated and untreated wastewater into rivers and coastal waters has placed SARS-CoV-2 viability in wastewater at the centre of an emerging hazard and potential risk to water industry workers and the public who come into contact with sewage-impacted water. Here we provide a review of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus primary literature that presents the evidence base pertaining to the key questions of whether the SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 is shed in stool and urine, is recoverable, and infectious in wastewater. We discuss the challenges posed by the current literature base and the extent to which the current evidence is fit for the purpose of informing robust human and environmental risk assessments.
SHORT NOTE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0225.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; web application; virus genome; lineage assignment; amino acids
Online: 18 June 2020 (06:24:20 CEST)
Summary CoV-GLUE is an online web application for the interpretation and analysis of SARS-CoV-2 virus genome sequences, with a focus on amino acid sequence variation. It is based on the GLUE data-centric bioinformatics environment and provides a browsable database of amino acid replacements and coding region indels that have been observed in sequences from the pandemic. Users may also analyse their own SARS-CoV-2 sequences by submitting them to the web application to receive an interactive report containing visualisations of phylogenetic classification and highlighting genomic variation of potentially high impact, for example linked to primer mismatches.Availability and implementation Available at http://cov-glue.cvr.gla.ac.uk. Implemented using GLUE, an open source framework for the development of virus sequence data resources. Contact [email protected]
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0505.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; Viral Co-infection; SARS-CoV-2; Influenza A virus; Human Immunodeficiency virus
Online: 18 June 2020 (04:57:14 CEST)
In December 2019, pneumonia caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection emerged in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Early in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new name for the 2019-nCoV-caused epidemic disease: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and declared COVID-19 to be the sixth international public health emergency. Cellular co-infection is a critical determinant of both viral fitness and infection outcome and plays a crucial role in shaping the host immune response to infections. In this study, sixty-eight public next-generation sequencing libraries from SARS-CoV-2 infected patients were retrieved from the NCBI Sequence Read Archive database using SRA-Toolkit. Using an alignment-free method based on K-mer mapping and extension, SARS-CoV-2 was identified in all except three patients. Influenza A H7N9 (3/68), Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (1/68), rhabdovirus isolate (3/68), Human metapneumovirus (1/68), coronaviruses NL63 (1/68), Parvovirus (1/68), Simian virus 40 (1/68), and hepatitis virus (1/68) genome sequences were detected in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.
Wed, 17 June 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0216.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome; COVID-19; Stool; Urine; Wastewater; Wastewater-based epidemiology
Online: 17 June 2020 (13:09:06 CEST)
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many knowledge gaps with implications toward the speed and nature of our response to contain, assess risk, and mitigate. The routine discharge of treated and untreated wastewater into rivers and coastal waters has placed SARS-CoV-2 viability in wastewater at the centre of an emerging hazard and potential risk to water industry workers and the public who come into contact with sewage-impacted water. Here we provide a review of the SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 primary literature that presents the evidence base pertaining to the key questions of whether the virus is shed in stool and urine, is recoverable, and infectious in wastewater and sludge. We discuss the challenges posed by the current literature base and the extent to which the current evidence is fit for the purpose of informing robust human and environmental risk assessments.
Sun, 14 June 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0086.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; Genome organisation and expression; Polyproteins; Prevention strategies
Online: 14 June 2020 (16:49:10 CEST)
COVID-19 manifests regarding extreme acute respiratory conditions caused by a novel beta coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which is reported to be the seventh coronavirus to infect humans. Like other SARS-CoVs it has a large positive-stranded RNA genome. But specific furin site in the spike protein, mutation prone and phylogenetically mess Orf1ab separates SARS-CoV-2 from other RNA viruses. Since, the outbreak (February - March 2020) which originated in China, researchers, scientists, and medical professionals are inspecting all possible facts from every possible aspect including its replication, detection, and prevention strategies. This led to the prompt identification of its basic biology, genome characterization, structural based functional information of proteins, and strategies to prevent its spread. Due to the rapid mutation rate, the functional characterization of a few proteins is still lagging. This review summarizes the recent updates on the basic molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2 and prevention strategies undertaken worldwide to tackle COVID-19. This recent information can be implemented for the development and designing of therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0176.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Simple Sequence Repeats; Polyomaviridae; Prevalence, Distribution; Virus Host; Evolution
Online: 14 June 2020 (14:35:24 CEST)
The simple sequence repeats (SSRs) are small 1-6bp tandem repeat elements present across diverse genomes and involved in gene regulation and evolution. Presently we analyzed SSRs in genomes of 98 species of family Polyomaviridae across four genera. The genome size ranged from 3962bp (BM87) to 7369bp (BM85) but maximum genomes were in the range of 5 to 5.5 kb. The GC% had an average of 42% and ranged between 34.69 (BM95) to 52.35 (BM81). A total of 3036 SSRs and 223 cSSRs were extracted using IMEx with incident frequency from 18 to 56 and 0 to 7 respectively. The most prevalent mono-nucleotide repeat motif was “T” (48.95%) followed by “A” (33.48%). “AT/TA” was the most prevalent dinucleotide motif closely followed by “CT/TC”. The distribution was expectedly more in coding region with 77.6% SSRs of which nearly half were in Large T Antigen (LTA) gene. Notably, most viruses with humans, apes and related species as host exhibited exclusivity of mono-nucleotide repeats in AT region, a proposed predictive marker for determination of humans as host in virus in course of its evolution. Each genome has a unique SSR signature which is pivotal for viral evolution particularly in terms of host divergence.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0165.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: conserved signature indels specific for SARS and SARS-CoV-2 viruses; DNA and Protein markers distinguishing different clades of Sarbecoviruses; evolutionary origin of SARS and SARS-CoV-2 viruses
Online: 14 June 2020 (04:09:39 CEST)
Both SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and SARS coronaviruses (CoVs) are members of the subgenus Sarbecovirus. To understand the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and its relation to other viruses, protein sequences from sarbecoviruses were analyzed to identify conserved inserts or deletions (termed CSIs) demarcating either particular clusters/lineages of sarbecoviruses or those shared by specific lineages shedding light on their interrelationships. We report several clade-specific CSIs in the spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins that reliably demarcate distinct sarbecoviruses clades providing important insights into the origin and evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Two CSIs in the N-terminal domain (NTD) of S-protein are uniquely shared by SARS-CoV-2, BatCoV-RaTG13 and most pangolin CoVs (SARS-CoV-2r cluster); another CSI supports a closer relationship of SARS-CoV-2 to BatCov-RaTG13. Three additional CSIs in the NTD are specific for two Bat-SARS-like CoVs (viz. CoVZXC21 and CoVZC45; CoVZC cluster) which form an outgroup of the SARS-CoV-2r cluster. Interestingly, one of the pangolin-CoV-MP789 also shares these CSIs but lack the CSIs specific for the SARS-CoV-2r cluster. The N-terminal sequence (aa 1-320) of the S-protein for pangolin-CoV-MP789 shows highest similarity (85.94%) to the CoVZC cluster, while its C-terminal region including the receptor binding domain (RBD) is most similar (97-98% identity) to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These observations indicate that the spike protein sequence for the strain MP789 is of chimeric origin. Multiple CSIs described here also distinguish two bat SARS-CoVs strains (BM48-31/BGR/2008 and SARS_BtKY72) from all others. Our work also clarifies that two large CSIs (5 aa and 13 aa) found in the RBD of S-protein are mainly specific for the SARS and SARS-CoV-2r clusters of CoVs. The surface loops formed by these CSIs are predicted to be important in the binding of S-protein with the human ACE-2 receptor. Lastly, we have mapped the locations of different CSIs in the structure of the S-protein. These studies reveal that the three CSIs specific for the SARS-CoV-2r cluster form distinct surface-exposed loops/patches on the S-protein. As the surface-exposed loops play important roles in mediating novel interactions, the novel lobes/patches formed by the SARS-CoV-2-specific CSIs in the spike protein are predicted to play important roles in the interaction of this protein with other surface-exposed components in the host cells thereby enhancing the binding/infectivity of this virus to humans.
Fri, 12 June 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0145.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Exosome; Extracellular Vesicle; Diagnostics; Vaccine; Treatment
Online: 12 June 2020 (09:01:02 CEST)
Our first modern global pandemic is caused by a nanosized lipid vesicle, called SARS-CoV-2. Its molecular structure and biogenesis have remarkable similarities with Extracellular Vesicles (EVs, most notably exosomes) that are constantly shed by all cells during their life. Their resemblance may not be a coincidence. Growing body of evidence has shown that EVs have significant roles in various biological processes, including viral infection, transmission and anti-viral response. Drawing comparison with the virus might shed light on how we could fight the COVID-19 disease. This may include novel EV research and diagnostics technologies as well as novel EV-based treatments.
Sun, 7 June 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0086.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; Genome organisation and expression; Polyproteins; Prevention strategies
Online: 7 June 2020 (11:57:52 CEST)
COVID-19 manifests regarding extreme acute respiratory conditions caused by a novel beta coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which is reported to be the seventh coronavirus to infect humans. Like other SARS-CoVs it has a large positive-stranded RNA genome. But specific furin site in the spike protein, mutation prone and phylogenetically mess Orf1ab separates SARS-CoV-2 from other RNA viruses. Since, the outbreak (February - March 2020) which originated in China, researchers, scientists, and medical professionals are inspecting all possible facts from every possible aspects including its replication, detection and prevention strategies. This led to the prompt identification of its basic biology, genome characterization, structural based functional information of proteins and strategies to prevent its spread. Due to rapid mutation rate, functional characterization of few proteins is still lagging. This review summarizes the recent updates on basic molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2 and prevention strategies undertaken worldwide to tackle COVID-19. This recent information can be implemented for the development and designing of therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0073.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Epidemiology; SARS-CoV-2; Multivariable regression; Tuberculosis; Demography; Coronavirus; MMR vaccine
Online: 7 June 2020 (09:25:55 CEST)
COVID-19 pandemic that started in China has spread within 3 months to the entire globe. We tested the hypothesis that the vaccination against tuberculosis by BCG correlates with a better outcome for COVID-19 patients. Our analysis covers 55 countries complying with predetermined thresholds on the population size and number of deaths per million (DPM). We found a strong negative correlation between the years of BCG administration and the DPM along with the progress of the pandemic, corroborated by permutation tests. The results from multivariable regression tests with 23 economic, demographic, health-related, and pandemic restriction quantitative properties, substantiate the dominant contribution of BCG years to the COVID-19 outcomes. The analysis of countries according to an age-group partition reveals that the strongest correlation is attributed to the coverage in BCG vaccination of the young population (0-24 years). Furthermore, a strong correlation and statistical significance are associated with the degree of BCG coverage for the most recent 15 years, but no association was observed in these years for other broadly used vaccination protocols for measles and rubella. We propose that BCG immunization coverage, especially among the most recently vaccinated contributes to attenuation of the spread and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sun, 31 May 2020
BRIEF REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0515.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Covid-19; Herd Immunity Threshold; Corona Virus; Innate immunity; flattening the curve; serological survey
Online: 31 May 2020 (21:14:05 CEST)
We have analysed the death and recovery rate of Covid-19 disease progression. From the analysis, we have argued that the pandemic is over in certain countries (labelled as group-A) and for other countries (labelled as group-B) the disease appears to remain as endemic. Taking into account the serological survey (sero-survey) test results obtained by certain groups and comparing it with herd immunity threshold value one can infer that the low number of infection for group-B is either due to acquired immunity by some previous infection by other coronavirus or due to innate immunity towards this infection. This effect is stronger for group-B to slow the progress of the disease to such an extent resulting in flattening of the disease progression curve compared to group-A.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0505.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; Viral Co-infection; SARS-CoV-2; Influenza A virus; Human Immunodeficiency virus
Online: 31 May 2020 (20:36:28 CEST)
In December 2019, pneumonia caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection emerged in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Early in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new name for the 2019-nCoV-caused epidemic disease: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and declared COVID-19 to be the sixth international public health emergency. Cellular co-infection is a critical determinant of both viral fitness and infection outcome and plays a crucial role in shaping the host immune response to infections. In this study, sixty-eight public next-generation sequencing libraries from SARS-CoV-2 infected patients were retrieved from the NCBI Sequence Read Archive database using SRA-Toolkit. Using an alignment-free method based on K-mer mapping and extension, SARS-CoV-2 was identified in all except three patients. Influenza A H7N9 (3/68), Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (1/68), Spodoptera frugiperda rhabdovirus isolate (3/68), Human metapneumovirus (1/68), coronaviruses NL63 (1/68), Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus (1/68), Indian cassava mosaic virus (1/68), Parvovirus (1/68), Simian virus 40 (1/68), Woodchuck hepatitis virus (1/68), Saccharomyces 20S RNA narnavirus (2/68), and Autographa californica nucleopolyhedrovirus (2/68) genome sequences were detected in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients.
HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0480.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: endothelial; infection; basement membrane; fibroblast; fibrosis; nsp7; hypothesis; pathogenesis; COVID-19; SARS-CoV2
Online: 31 May 2020 (16:28:19 CEST)
Severe COVID-19 is associated with viraemia and multiple organ disease. Similar clinicopathological features have been previously seen in SARS and MERS. Clinically, the severity of SARS, MERS and COVID-19 has been associated with the presence of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV or SARS-CoV2 viraemia in affected patients. In vitro work has looked at the pattern of viral entry and release from polarised epithelial cells infected by coronaviruses. This work has demonstrated a correlation between the severity of a coronavirus infection and the ability of the virus to reach and infect the basal surface of host cells. It has been postulated that this ability helps the virus invade the bloodstream of the host, resulting in a systemic infection with multiple organ involvement. Here we propose that basal surface release and entry of COVID-19 into and out of cells at epithelial-endothelial interface plays a key pathogenic role in severe COVID-19 disease.
Fri, 29 May 2020
BRIEF REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0466.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; variant; low pathogenicity; Singapore
Online: 29 May 2020 (12:47:07 CEST)
Number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 exceeded 5 million as of May 21, 2020. Global average of the case fatality rate of COVID-19 is about 7% so far. There exist variations in case fatality rates among countries. Particularly, Singapore and Qatar have exceptionally low case fatality rates with 0.1% while France’s rate is almost 20%. Since no magic bullet treatment for COVID-19 exists, we investigated SARS-CoV-2 strains specific to Singapore in this study to identify a clade with low pathogenicity. Variant analysis revealed that a clade with variants ORF1ab L3606F, A4489V, S2015R, T2016K, and N P13L is common in Singapore. Based on our analysis of variants and historical case statistics, the clade is dominant in a recent surge. Therefore, we suggest that low case fatality rate of Singapore possibly is attributed to the clade. Although contribution of each variant to the low pathogenicity is not clear, L3606F alone does not accomplish such low pathogenicity from the comparison with case fatality data from Japan, where L3606F is dominant. Further investigation is necessary to conclude to validate this finding.
Wed, 27 May 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0448.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: betacoronaviruses; genomics; SARS-CoV; MERS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19
Online: 27 May 2020 (08:50:46 CEST)
In the 21st century, three highly pathogenic betacoronaviruses have emerged, with an alarming rate of human morbidity and case fatality. Genomic information has been widely used to understand the pathogenesis, animal origin and mode of transmission of betacoronaviruses in the aftermath of the 2002-03 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreaks. Furthermore, genome sequencing and bioinformatic analysis have had an unprecedented relevance in the battle against the 2019-20 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the newest and most devastating outbreak caused by a coronavirus in the history of mankind, allowing the follow up of disease spread and transmission dynamics in near real time. Here, we review how genomic information has been used to tackle outbreaks caused by emerging, highly pathogenic, betacoronavirus strains, emphasizing on SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.
Mon, 25 May 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: human coronavirus; SARS-CoV; MERS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; envelope protein; immunopathology
Online: 25 May 2020 (17:54:57 CEST)
Since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, human coronaviruses (hCoVs) have been identified as causative agents of severe acute respiratory tract infections. Two more hCoV outbreaks have since occurred, the most recent being SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The clinical presentation of SARS and MERS is remarkably similar to COVID-19, with hyperinflammation causing a severe form of the disease in some patients. Previous studies show that the expression of the SARS-CoV E protein is associated with the hyperinflammatory response that could culminate in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a potentially fatal complication. This immune-mediated damage is largely caused by a cytokine storm, which is induced by significantly elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1beta and IL-6, which are partly mediated by the expression of the SARS-CoV E protein. The interaction between the SARS-CoV E protein and the host protein, syntenin, as well as the viroporin function of SARS-CoV E, are linked to this cytokine dysregulation. This review aims to compare the clinical presentation of virulent hCoVs with a specific focus on the cause of the immunopathology. The review also proposes that inhibition of IL-1beta and IL-6 in severe cases can improve patient outcome.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0413.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; nucleocapsid (N); genomics; coronavirus; Wuhan; Pandemic
Online: 25 May 2020 (17:45:40 CEST)
Severe acute respiratory syndrome novel coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused the global pandemic as COVID-19, which is the most notorious global public health crisis in the last 100 years. SARS-CoV-2 is composed of four structural proteins and several non-structured proteins. The multi-facet nucleocapsid (N) protein is the major component of structural proteins of CoVs, However, there are no dedicated genomic, sequences and structural analyses focusing on potential roles of N protein. Hence, there is an urgent requirement of a detailed study on N protein of SARS-CoV-2. Herein, we are presenting a comprehensive study on N protein from SARS-CoV-2. We have identified seven motifs conserved in the three major domains namely N-terminal domain, linker regions and the C-terminal domains. Out of seven motifs, six motifs are conserved across different members of coronaviridae, while motif4 is specific for SARS CoVs with potential amyloidogenic properties. Additionally, we report this protein has large patches of disordered regions flanking with these seven motifs. These motifs are hubs of epitopes with 67 experimentally verified epitopes from related viruses. We report the presence of three nuclear localization signals (NLS1-NLS3 mapped to 36-41, 256-26, and 363-389 residues, respectively) and two nuclear export signals (NES1-NLS2 from 151-161 and 217-230 residues, respectively) in the N protein of SARS-CoV-2. These deciphered two Q-patches as Q-patch1 and Q-patch2, mapped in the regions of 266-306, and 361-418 residues, which potentially help in the aggregation of the viral proteins along with 219LALLLLDR226 patch. Additionally, we have identified 14 antiviral drugs potentially binding to seven motifs of N-proteins using docking-based drug discovery methods.
Sun, 24 May 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0407.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; spike protein; D614G mutation; genotype distribution; furin cleavage site; secondary structure; sequence analysis; homology modeling
Online: 24 May 2020 (20:31:16 CEST)
We analyzed the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein amino acid sequence extracted from 11,542 viral genomic sequences submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database through April 27, 2020. Consistent with prior reports, we found a major S protein mutation, D614 to G614, that was represented in 56% of all the analyzed sequences. All other mutations combined were less than 10%. After parsing the data geographically, we found most of the Chinese patient samples showed D614 (97%). By contrast, most patient samples in many European countries showed G614 (51 to 88%). In the United States, the genotypic distribution in California and Washington was similar to Asian countries, while the distribution in other US states was comparable to Europe. We observed a dramatic increase in the frequency of G614 over time in multiple regions, surpassing D614 when both were present, suggesting G614 S protein virus outcompetes D614 S protein virus. To gain insight into the consequences of the D614G mutation, homology modeling using a multi-template threading mechanism with ab initio structural refinement was performed for a region of the S protein (S591 to N710) spanning the D614G mutation and the S1 furin cleavage site. Molecular models of this region containing D614 or G614 revealed a major difference in secondary structure at the furin domain (RRARS, R682 to S686). The D614 model predicted a random coil structure in the furin domain whereas the G614 model predicted an alpha helix. Critical residues in the cleavage domain of G614 model were found to better align with the PDB structure of a furin inhibitor. Thus, homology modeling studies suggest a potential mechanism whereby the D614G mutation may confer a competitive advantage at the furin binding domain that may contribute to the rise of the D614G SARS-CoV-2 mutant.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0396.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; coronavirus; variant analysis; phylogenetic analysis; viral evolution
Online: 24 May 2020 (18:25:47 CEST)
The severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral genome is an RNA virus consisting of approximately 30,000 bases. As part of testing efforts, whole genome sequencing of human isolates has resulted in over 1,600 complete genomes publicly available from GenBank. We have performed a comparative phylogenetic analysis of the sequences, in order to detect common mutations within the population. Analysis of variants occurring within the assembled genomes yields 417 variants occurring in at least 1% of the completed genomes, including 229 within the 5’ untranslated region (UTR), 152 within the 3’UTR, 2 within intergenic regions and 34 within coding sequences.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0390.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Zika; Yellow fever; cross reactive; flavivirus; congenital infection; enhancement
Online: 24 May 2020 (17:12:58 CEST)
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus that originated in Africa but emerged in Latin America in 2015. In this region, other flaviviruses such as Dengue (DENV), West Nile, and Yellow Fever Virus (YFV) also circulate, allowing for possible antigenic cross-reactivity to impact viral infections and immune responses. Studies have found antibody mediated enhancement between DENV and ZIKV, but the impact of YFV antibodies on ZIKV infection has not been fully explored. ZIKV infections cause congenital syndromes, such as microcephaly, necessitating further research into ZIKV vertical transmission through the placental barrier. Recent advancements in biomedical engineering have generated co-culture methods that allow for in vitro recapitulation of the maternal: fetal interface. This study utilized a transwell assay, which is a co-culture model utilizing human placental syncytiotrophoblasts, fetal umbilical cells, and a differentiating embryoid body to replicate the maternal: fetal axis. To determine if cross reactive YFV vaccine antibodies impact the pathogenesis of ZIKV across the maternal fetal axis, maternal syncytiotrophoblasts were inoculated with ZIKV or ZIKV incubated with YFV vaccine anti-sera, and viral load was measured 72 hours post inoculation. The data show that the impact of YFV on ZIKV replication is cell line dependent. In differentiating embryoids, the presence of YFV antibodies enhanced ZIKV infection. Since viral pathogenesis, and the impact of antigenic cross-reactive antibodies, is cell line specific at the maternal-fetal axis, this suggests there may be discreet mechanisms that impact congenital ZIKV infections.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0389.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Asian citrus psyllid; citrus greening bacterium; huanglongbing; transcriptomics; virus-vector relationship; vitellogenin; cytoskeleton; endocytotic pathway
Online: 24 May 2020 (17:03:45 CEST)
Citrus greening disease or huanglongbing (HLB) caused by Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) limits the citrus production worldwide. CLas is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) in a persistent-propagative manner. Application of insecticides to manage the psyllid vectors and disease is the most common practice. Understanding the molecular interaction between CLas and ACP and interrupting the interrelationship can provide an alternative to insecticides for managing citrus greening disease. Transcriptome analysis of ACP in response to CLas showed differential expression of 3911 genes (2196 up-regulated, and 1715 down-regulated) including the key genes of ACP involved in cytoskeleton synthesis and nutrition-related proteins. Majority of the differentially expressed genes were categorized under molecular function followed by cellular components and biological processes. KEGG pathway analysis showed differential regulation of carbohydrate, nucleotide and energy metabolic pathways, the endocytotic pathway and the defense-related pathways. Differential regulation of genes associated with the key pathways might favors CLas to become systemic and propagate in its insect vector. The study provides an understanding of genes involved in circulation of CLas in ACP. The candidate genes involved in key physiological processes and CLas transmission by ACP would be potential targets for sustainable management of ACP and CLas.
Sat, 23 May 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0379.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Coronaviruses; MERS-CoV; SARS-CoV-2; Serological assay; VSV pseudovirus
Online: 23 May 2020 (16:46:15 CEST)
Emerging highly pathogenic human coronaviruses (CoVs) represent a serious ongoing threat to the public health worldwide. The spike (S) proteins of CoVs are surface glycoproteins that facilitate viral entry into host cells via attachment to their respective cellular receptors. The S protein is believed to be a major immunogenic component of CoVs and a target for neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) and most candidate vaccines. Development of a safe and convenient assay is thus urgently needed to determine the prevalence of CoVs nAbs in the population, to study immune response in infected individuals, and to aid in vaccines and viral entry inhibitors evaluation. While live virus-based neutralization assays are used as gold standard serological methods to detect and measure nAbs, handling of highly pathogenic live CoVs requires strict bio-containment conditions in biosafety level-3 laboratories. On the other hand, use of replication-incompetent pseudoviruses bearing CoVs S proteins could represent a safe and useful method to detect nAbs in serum samples under biosafety level-2 conditions. Here, we describe a detailed protocol of a safe and convenient assay to generate vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based pseudoviruses to evaluate and measure nAbs against highly pathogenic CoVs. The protocol covers methods to produce VSV pseudovirus bearing the S protein of the Middle East respiratory syndrome-CoV (MERS-CoV) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome-CoV-2 (SARS-CoV-2), pseudovirus titration, and pseudovirus neutralizing assay. Such assay could be adapted by different laboratories and researchers working on highly pathogenic CoVs without the need to handle live viruses in biosafety level-3 environment.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0376.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: virus bioinformatics; SARS-CoV-2; sequencing; epidemiology; drug design; tools
Online: 23 May 2020 (11:01:11 CEST)
SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is a novel virus of the family Coronaviridae. The virus causes the infectious disease COVID-19. The biology of coronaviruses has been studied for many years. However, bioinformatics tools designed explicitly for SARS-CoV-2 have only recently been developed as a rapid reaction to the need for fast detection, understanding, and treatment of COVID-19. To control the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is of utmost importance to get insight into the evolution and pathogenesis of the virus. In this review, we cover bioinformatics workflows and tools for the routine detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the reliable analysis of sequencing data, the tracking of the COVID-19 pandemic and evaluation of containment measures, the study of coronavirus evolution, the discovery of potential drug targets and development of therapeutic strategies. For each tool, we briefly describe its use case and how it advances research specifically for SARS-CoV-2. All tools are freely available online, either through web applications or public code repositories.
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: anti-viral; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; autophagy; chloroquine; hydroxychloroquine; immunology; infection; inflammation; lysophagy; microbiology; Plaquenil; SARS; virophagy
Online: 23 May 2020 (10:45:40 CEST)
At a time when the world faces an emotional breakdown, crushing our dreams if not taking our lives, we realize that together we must fight the war against the COVID-19 outbreak even if almost the majority of the scientific community finds itself confined to home. Every day, like everyone else, we, scientists, listen to the latest news with its promises and announcements. Across the world, a surge of clinical trials trying to cure or slow down the coronavirus pandemic has been launched to bring hope instead of fear and despair. One first proposed clinical trial has drawn worldwide hype to the benefit of chloroquine (CQ), a well-known and broadly used anti-malarial drug, in the treatment of patients infected by the recently emerged deadly coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). We should consider this information in the light of the long-standing anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties of CQ-related drugs. Yet, none of the articles promoting the use of CQ in the current pandemic evoked a possible molecular or cellular mechanism of action that could account for any efficacy. Here, given the interaction of viruses with macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy), a CQ-sensitive anti-viral safeguard pathway, we would like to discuss the pros, but also the cons concerning the current therapeutic options targeting this process.
HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0359.v1
Online: 23 May 2020 (05:26:13 CEST)
Severe Covid-19 disease is associated with endothelial infection, viraemia, and multi-organ dysfunction. The process through which SARS-CoV2 causes severe disease is yet to be determined. Here, we propose that in severe Covid-19 infection, SARS-CoV2 reaches the host bloodstream by infecting endothelial cells through their basal surface. This occurs, independently of ACE2, through CD147, a putative SARS-CoV2 receptor. The pathway proposed here encourages research on the mechanisms mediating endothelial cell infection in Covid-19.
Thu, 21 May 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0239.v5
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: epidemic; caseload management; partial unlock; social distancing; overshoot; COVID-19; coronavirus; eco-nomic impact; ventilator utilization; SARS-CoV-2
Online: 21 May 2020 (04:13:13 CEST)
Objectives: We study partial unlock or reopening interaction with seasonal effects in a managed epidemic to quantify overshoot effects on small and large unlock steps and discover robust strategies for reducing overshoot. Methods: We simulate partial unlock of social distancing for epidemics over a range of replication factor, immunity duration and seasonality factor for strategies targeting immunity thresholds using overshoot optimization. Results: Seasonality change must be taken into account as one of the steps in an easing sequence, and a two step unlock, including seasonal effects, minimizes overshoot and deaths. It may cause undershoot, which causes rebounds and assists survival of the pathogen. Conclusions: Partial easing levels, even low levels for economic relief while waiting on a vaccine, have population immunity thresholds based on the reduced replication rates and may experience overshoot as well. We further find a two step strategy remains highly sensitive to variations in case ratio, replication factor, seasonality and timing. We demonstrate a three or more step strategy is more robust, and conclude that the best possible approach minimizes deaths under a range of likely actual conditions which include public response.
Wed, 20 May 2020
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0316.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: RT-PCR; seroconversion; serum biomarkers; SARS-CoV2; neutralizing antibodies
Online: 20 May 2020 (04:10:24 CEST)
The progression of the recent COVID-19 pandemic surprised political authorities as well as scientists. The possibility to design powerful strategies for health care and preserving economic and social activities strongly relies on the capacity to monitor correctly the virus spreading and the immune response in the symptomatic and asymptomatic population. The available data relative to the first pandemic months indicate that the test reliability was progressively improved but also that the extremely variable methodologies used in the diagnostic studies generated data that are often not comparable. This condition prevents a simple metadata analysis for the identification of reliable diagnostics guidelines. Nevertheless, there are converging evidences that combinations of complementary approaches may enable more precise identification of virus infection. Furthermore, it appears that the similarities between SARS-CoV2 and the related types SARS-CoV1 and MERS that caused outbreaks in the last 20 years can be exploited to infer some information for which no direct evidence is still available
Sun, 17 May 2020
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: ACE2; Spike protein; SARS-CoV2; death rate; polymorphism; isoform variant; CD157, sankramikogenomics
Online: 17 May 2020 (14:51:39 CEST)
The 2019-Novel Coronavirus has currently gripped the world in terror, affecting 210 countries and territories. Originating from Wuhan, Hubei province, China, the virus has spread so rapidly throughout the world and has already claimed 308,927 lives and is currently afflicting 4.6 million people. The US has over 1.48 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, followed by Spain, Italy, France, UK, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Iran, and China. On careful inspection of the COVID-19 statistics, a peculiar unsettling trend becomes apparent. Western European countries and the US appear to have difficulties in overcoming the catastrophe. In contrast, countries in East Asia, Middle East and mid-Europe have sorted out the situation. Here, we will highlight this trend and propose the importance of infection-genomics (sankramikogenomics), in understanding the susceptibility to COVID-19 and the severity of disease progress. More detailed, systematic evaluation may also identify more susceptible populations. We will also highlight mere 12-fold lower affinity is insufficient to ignore CD147, as interactions occur between tens of spike proteins and equal number of cell surface ACE2 and/or CD147. Thus, both receptors are important to understand sankramikogenomics and severity of COVID-19. The observed ethnic differences in COVID severities may be due to variations in structure or tissue-specific expression (alternate splicing and accessibility) of both the target receptors. Research on both receptors may help in designing improved therapeutic strategies to fight COVID-19. Similar to pharmacogenomics to drug development and precision medicine, Sankramikogenomics will become an important field in other infectious diseases and pathogenicity.
Sat, 16 May 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0171.v2
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: protein functional domains; short linear motifs; coronaviruses; COVID-19; severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus; 2019-nCoV; virus outbreak
Online: 16 May 2020 (18:54:17 CEST)
Although phylogenetic analysis shows coronaviruses (CoV) share similar genome sequences, CoVs encode different number of proteins (5 to 14), which has implication on viral pathogenicity and infection. Here, we aimed to identify (in-silico) the similarities between different members of coronavirus family. The analysis included 50 coronavirus proteomes, including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), to find the variation of the number of protein functional motifs and domain in each coronavirus. For this role, we used the experimentally validated domain (motif) that known to be crucial for viral infection. Although human CoVs are classified within one genus, we found variations among them. SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV encode different type of domains, which has implications on the molecular interactions triggered by each virus within human cells. Secondly, we used functional motifs to reconstruct the potential molecular pathways or interactions triggered by SARS-CoV-2 proteins within human cell.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0271.v1
Online: 16 May 2020 (17:07:43 CEST)
Currently, with a large number of fatality rates, coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as a potential threat to human health worldwide. It has been well-known that severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for COVID-19 and World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed the contagious disease as a global pandemic. Researchers from different parts of the world amalgamate together inquest of remedies for this deadly virus. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the spike glycoprotein (SGP) of SARS-CoV-2 is the mediator behind the entrance into the host cells. Our group has comprehensibly analyzed the SGP of SARS-CoV-2 through multiple sequence analysis along with the phylogenetic analysis. Further, this research work predicted the most immunogenic epitopes for both B-cell and T-cell. Notably, we focused mainly on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I potential peptides and predicted two epitopes; WTAGAAAYY and GAAAYYVGY, that bind with the MHC class I alleles which are further validated by molecular docking analysis. Furthermore, this study also proposed that the selected epitopes were shown availability in a greater range of the population. Hence, our study comes up with a strong base for the implementation of designing novel vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2, however adequate laboratory works will need to be conducted for the appropriate application.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0239.v4
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: epidemic; caseload management; partial unlock; social distancing; overshoot; COVID-19; coronavirus; eco-nomic impact; ventilator utilization; SARS-CoV-2
Online: 16 May 2020 (16:13:16 CEST)
This paper accounts in lives-saved partial unlock strategies that may be used to facilitate reopening economies that have been shut down due to an epidemic or pandemic. For this purpose it introduces a new approach to simulation using an internal SIR engine with seasonality, and external behavior forcing calibrated with case data to account for initial human behavior under social distancing. The overall method relies on public goal setting and both professional and public feedback behavior. In this way it avoids much of the chaotic sensitivity to parameters and divergence of predictions and behavior which undermine the public image of epidemiology models and create rebounds. We study reducing the total cases by controlling threshold overshoot as economies reopen, controlling medical resource utilization, and reducing economic shutdown duration, all of these across significant scenario variation. We provide a quantitative analysis of overshoot and demonstrate a two-step manual method as well as the feedback method of avoiding it. We show goal-managed partial unlock to manage critical resources has the consequential effects of reducing economic downtime and bringing the cumulative cases down about 9%-27%, thereby saving lives with some degree of certainty. The optimization of overshoot does leave some risk of creating a residual small infection existing on birth rate and migration, and we provide some guidelines for minimizing the risk. Effectiveness is demonstrated using COVID-19 actual data and parameters for other diseases with replication factors up to 15.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0264.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: plaque assay; neutralization; SARS; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; Avicel; methylcellulose; COVID
Online: 16 May 2020 (15:51:52 CEST)
When working with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 during a pandemic response, having a rapid, reproducible and reliable assay for infectious virus quantitation and utilization for evaluation of potential therapeutics is critical. Compared to traditional agarose overlay plaques visualized with neutral red, assays performed with Avicel R RC-591 semi-solid overlay provide a simplified format for rapid and easy detection and neutralization testing. The method is easily modified for higher throughput using dispensers or automated processing. Fixation using formalin provides flexibility when dealing with pathogenic agents such as SARS-CoV-2 where tissue culture plates might be removed from biocontainment for staining. Although plaque assays are considered straightforward in principle, having an easily reproducible, consistent plaque assay is an invaluable tool.
Mon, 11 May 2020
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0198.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: de-MARylation; interferon-stimulated gene; inflammation; PARP14; ACE2; coronavirus
Online: 11 May 2020 (13:11:43 CEST)
As more cases of COVID-19 are studied and treated world-wide, it had become apparent that lethal and most severe cases of pneumonia are due to an out-of-control inflammatory response to the SARS-CoV2 virus. I explored the putative causes of this specific feature through a detailed genomic comparison with the closest SARS-CoV-2 relatives isolated from bats, as well as previous coronavirus strains responsible for the previous epidemics (SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV). The high variability region of the nsp3 protein was confirmed to exhibit the most variations between closest strains. It was then studied in the context of physiological and molecular data available in the literature. A number of convergent findings point out de-mono-ADP-ribosylation (de-MARylation) of STAT1 by the SARS-CoV-2 nsp3 as a likely cause of the cytokine storm observed in the most severe cases of COVID-19. This may suggest new therapeutic approaches and an assay to predict the virulence of naturally circulating SARS-like animal coronaviruses.
Sun, 10 May 2020
CONCEPT PAPER | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0182.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Coronavirus Nsp proteins; ribosomal proteins homology; inhibition of ribosome turn over; rRNA methyltransferase; protein synthesis inhibition; low ATP formation; blood clotting; low blood pressure and coma
Online: 10 May 2020 (18:14:55 CEST)
Multi-Alignment method coupled with phylogenetic analysis we disclosed the Nsp9 and Nsp10 non-structural proteins of Corona Virus as rRNA RlmH/K methyltransferases with similarities with bin recombinase and int-core integrase fold. Further, Nsp9 has similarities to S8 ribosomal protein and Nap10 has similarity to S10 ribosomal protein. Previously, we showed Nsp13, Nsp14, Nsp15 and Nsp16 are also different types of rRNA RlmE/N and Cfr-like methyltransferases-ribonuclease with RNA helicase domains. Two domains of Nsp13 astonishingly have similarities to ribosomal proteins L6 and L9. Taken together, Nsp9/10 and Nsp13-16 proteins could mimic host ribosome assembly and also could methylate rRNA of mitobibosome preventing mitochondrial protein synthesis and oxidative phosphorylation. Low ATP synthesis causes lowering blood pressure following coma but very ATP concentration (1-10nM) surely induces platelets aggregation through vWA, collagen and GpIIb/IIIa proteins followed by fibrin formation and blood clotting as recently have seen in the lung of many Corona virus infected patients. We have also postulated that two polyproteins itself resemble like 28S and 38S mitoribosome subunits and compete with rRNAs inhibiting the ribosome turnover and new protein synthesis due to their similarities with many ribosomal proteins. Such finding may be valuable in computer-based novel drug design against Corona virus.
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: coronavirus; COVID-19; pandemic; model; partial unlock; social distancing; economic impact; ventilator utilization; SARS-CV-2; overshoot
Online: 10 May 2020 (15:14:11 CEST)
This paper analyzes the stability and usefulness of a caseload management method for COVID-19 or similar epidemics and pandemics. It reduces the total cases by controlling overshoot as groups cross the herd immunity threshold, balances medical resource utilization, and subject to those two constraints reduces economic shutdown duration across significant scenario variation. A quantitative analysis of overshoot is provided. An SIR-type model was used with clear parameters suitable for public information with tracking and predictive capabilities is used. It contains a simulation of a decision-maker for select-day partial unlock so that many scenarios can be quickly and impartially analyzed. Using certain days of the week, already practiced by some countries, is not a necessary part of the method, but was used in the simulation to give a highly quantified unlock scheme. While the model shows total cumulative cases, and therefore deaths, declining initially with flattening, when flattening begins to produce large rebounds the death rate goes back up. Partial unlock to manage critical resources had the consequential effects of reducing economic downtime and bringing the cumulative cases down about 8-12% between now and the second half of 2021, thereby saving lives with some degree of certainty. The optimization of overshoot does leave some risk of creating a residual small infection existing on birth rate and migration, and we provide some guidelines for minimizing the risk.
Fri, 8 May 2020
BRIEF REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202005.0143.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: Covid-19; Epidemiology; Chronic diseases; Serious or critical cases; Brazil; Coronavirus
Online: 8 May 2020 (12:33:24 CEST)