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Publications 9

Highlights • We found four novels NoV GII recombinant strains isolated in Uruguay. • The recombinant strains were classified as NoV GII.P7/GII.6. • The recombination event occurred in the ORF1/ORF2 junction of NoV genome. • Reveal the circulation of a GII.P7/GII.6 recombinant variant in the natural populations. • This is the first report in the Americas about this specific genetic variant. Noroviruses (NoV) are one of the major etiological agent of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) outbreaks worldwide. Distinct NoV genotypes have been associated with different transmission patterns and disease severity in humans. Therefore, it is important to identify genetically different NoV genotypes circulating in a particular region. However, genotyping has become a challenge due to recombination events occurring mainly nearby ORF1/ORF2 junction of NoV genome, leading to distinct genotypes with polymerase and capsid regions derived from parenteral strains. Taking this into account, ORF1/ORF2 sequences were obtained from NoV strains collected from patients with AGE in Uruguay. This study reveals in silico evidences of recombination events taking place in four out of six strains analyzed for which its polymerase gene and its capsid region correspond to GII.P7 and to GII.6 genotype, respectively. These results also reveal the circulation of a GII.P7/GII.6 recombinant variant in the natural populations of NoV strains in the northwestern region of Uruguay. As far as we know this is the first report about the circulation of a NoV GII.P7/GII.6 recombinant variant in the Americas.

To know the epidemiological context of hand‐foot‐and‐mouth disease (HFMD) in a region of Uruguay and to identify the Enterovirus responsible for an outbreak in a rural childcare center in 2018. Swab samples from skin lesions and/or stools samples were collected from children suffering HFMD during an outbreak in a rural childcare center. Samples were subject to viral RNA extraction and reverse‐transcription polymerase chain reaction towards VP1 coding segment, to identify the Enterovirus type by sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. Total of 149 cases of HFMD affecting 98 boys and 51 girls were reported in Salto Province‐Uruguay in 2018. Total 60% of the cases were originated from outbreaks, which occurred in ten educative and childcare institutions from both urban and rural areas. Coxsackievirus‐6 (CV‐A6) was identified as responsible for one of the rural outbreaks. Uruguayan strains were more related to strains reported in Russia, Turkey, and Germany (2014‐2017) than to strains reported in Brazil and Argentina from 2015 to 2016. This is the first report of CV‐A6‐associated HFMD in Uruguay, evidencing a wide geographic range of the virus in the Latin American region. Our report also warns about CV‐A6‐associated HFMD during winter, contrarily to most reports that register HFMD during summer and fall seasons.

Bovine coronavirus (BCoV) is a recognized cause of severe neonatal calf diarrhea, with a negative impact on animal welfare, leading to economic losses to the livestock industry. Cattle production is one of the most important economic sectors in Uruguay. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of BCoV infections and their genetic diversity in Uruguayan calves and to describe the evolutionary history of the virus in South America. The overall detection rate of BCoV in Uruguay was 7.8% (64/824): 7.7% (60/782) in dairy cattle and 9.5% (4/42) in beef cattle. The detection rate of BCoV in samples from deceased and live calves was 10.0% (6/60) and 7.6% (58/763), respectively. Interestingly, there was a lower frequency of BCoV detection in calves born to vaccinated dams (3.3%, 8/240) than in calves born to unvaccinated dams (12.2%, 32/263) (OR: 4.02, 95%CI: 1.81–8.90; p = 0.00026). The frequency of BCoV detection was higher in colder months (11.8%, 44/373) than in warmer months (1.5%, 3/206) (OR: 9.05, 95%CI: 2.77–29.53, p = 0.000013). Uruguayan strains grouped together in two different lineages: one with Argentinean strains and the other with Brazilian strains. Both BCoV lineages were estimated to have entered Uruguay in 2013: one of them from Brazil (95%HPD interval: 2011–2014) and the other from Argentina (95%HPD interval: 2010–2014). The lineages differed by four amino acid changes, and both were divergent from the Mebus reference strain. Surveillance should be maintained to detect possible emerging strains that can clearly diverge at the antigenic level from vaccine strains.

The aim of this study was to determine the origin (human, bovine or porcine) and the concentration of the fecal sources of contamination in waters from Santa Lucía basin and Uruguay River in Uruguay by using host-specific viral markers (adenoviruses and polyomaviruses) as microbial source tracking (MST). Between June 2015 and May 2016, monthly collections of surface water samples were performed in six sites in Santa Lucía basin and four sites in Uruguay River ( n = 120 samples). Viral concentration was carried out using an absorption-elution method. Detection and quantification of human and porcine adenovirus (HAdV and PAdV, respectively) and human and bovine polyomavirus (HPyV and BoPyV, respectively) were performed by quantitative PCR (qPCR). To evaluate the infectivity of circulating HAdV, an integrated cell culture-qPCR (ICC-qPCR) was used. A logistic regression analysis was carried out to estimate the influence of environmental variables on the virus presence in surface waters. Overall, HAdV was the prevalent (18%; 21/120) followed by BoPyV (11%; 13/120) and HPyV (3%; 3/120), whereas PAdV was not detected in this study. The mean concentration ranged from 1.5 × 10 4 genomic copies/L (gc/L) for HAdV to 1.8 × 10 2 gc/L for HPyV. Infective HAdVs were observed in two out of ten analyzed samples. A significant effect of environmental temperature ( p = 0.001) and river ( p = 0.012) on the presence of human viruses was found. These results suggest that fecal contamination could affect the water quality of these rivers, showing deficiencies in the procedure of sewage discharge from regional cities, livestock and dairy farms.

Norovirus (NoV) infections are a major cause of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks around the world. In Brazil, the surveillance system for acute diarrhoea does not include the diagnosis of NoV, precluding the ability to assess its impact on public health. The present study assessed the circulation of NoV genotypes in different Brazilian states by partial nucleotide sequencing analysis of the genomic region coding for the major capsid viral protein. NoV genogroup II genotype 4 (GII.4) was the prevalent (78%) followed by GII.6, GII.7, GII.12, GII.16 and GII.17, demonstrating the great diversity of NoV genotypes circulating in Brazil. Thus, this paper highlights the importance of a virological surveillance system to detect and characterize emerging strains of NoV and their spreading potential.

Human bocavirus (HBoV) infections are related to respiratory and gastroenteric diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of HBoV in both sewage and surface waters in Uruguay. Sixty-eight sewage samples from the cities of Salto, Paysandú, Bella Unión, Fray Bentos, Treinta y Tres and Melo and 36 surface water samples from the cities of Salto, Florida and Santa Lucía were studied. HBoV was screened by multiplex qPCR for the detection of the four subtypes, followed by monoplex qPCRs for the independent quantification of each subtype. A qualitative PCR followed by DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis was carried out for molecular characterization of HBoV strains. HBoV was present in a high frequency (69%) in sewage and only one positive sample (3%) was found in surface water. Concerning sewage samples, HBoV1 was detected in 11 (23%) out of the 47 positives samples, with a mean concentration of 8.2 × 10 4 genomic copies/Liter (gc/L), HBoV3 was detected in 35 (74%) of the positive samples with a mean concentration of 4.1 × 10 6 gc/L and subtypes 2 and/or 4 were detected in 39 (83%) of the positive samples with a mean concentration of 7.8 × 10 6 gc/L. After the phylogenetic analysis performed by a Bayesian approach, the four HBoV subtypes were confirmed. This is the first study determining a high frequency of HBoV and the presence of the four HBoV subtypes in aquatic matrices in Latin America, mainly in sewage. Although HBoV was scarcely detected in surface water, a waterborne transmission is likely to occur if people enter in contact with polluted surface waters for recreational activities such as fishing or swimming since an elevated frequency of HBoV was detected in raw sewage which is usually directly discharged into surface waters.

Abstract Background Bovine coronavirus (BCoV) belong to the genus Betacoronavirus of the family Coronaviridae. BCoV are widespread around the world and cause enteric or respiratory infections among cattle, leading to important economic losses to the beef and dairy industry worldwide. To study the relation of codon usage among viruses and their hosts is essential to understand host-pathogen interaction, evasion from host’s immune system and evolution. Methods We performed a comprehensive analysis of codon usage and composition of BCoV. Results The global codon usage among BCoV strains is similar. Significant differences of codon preferences in BCoV genes in relation to codon usage of Bos taurus host genes were found. Most of the highly frequent codons are U-ending. G + C compositional constraint and dinucleotide composition also plays a role in the overall pattern of BCoV codon usage. Conclusions The results of these studies revealed that mutational bias is a leading force shaping codon usage in this virus. Additionally, relative dinucleotide frequencies, geographical distribution, and evolutionary processes also influenced the codon usage pattern.

Noroviruses (NoVs) are the major cause of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks, and, despite a wide genetic diversity, genotype II.4 is the most prevalent strain worldwide. Mutations and homologous recombination have been proposed as mechanisms driving the epochal evolution of the GII.4, with the emergence of new variants in 1-3-year intervals causing global epidemics. There are no data reporting the dynamics of GII.4 variants along a specific period in Brazil. Therefore, to improve the understanding of the comportment of these variants in the country, the aim of this study was to evaluate the circulation of NoV GII.4 variants during a 9-year period in 3 out of 5 Brazilian regions. A total of 147 samples were sequenced, and a phylogenetic analysis of subdomain P2 demonstrated the circulation of six GII.4 variants, Asia_2003, Hunter_2004, Den Haag_2006b, Yerseke_2006a, New Orleans_2009, and Sydney_2012, during this period. The most prevalent variant was Den Haag_2006b, circulating in different Brazilian regions from 2006 to 2011. A Bayesian coalescent analysis was used to calculate the mean evolutionary rate of subdomain P2 as 7.3 × 10(-3) (5.85 × 10(-3) -8.82 × 10(-3)) subst./site/year. These analyses also demonstrated that clade Den Haag_2006b experienced a rapid expansion in 2005 and another in 2008 after a period of decay. The evaluation of the temporal dynamics of NoV GII.4 in Brazil revealed a similar pattern, with few exceptions, to the worldwide observation. These data highlight the importance of surveillance for monitoring the emergence of new strains of NoV GII.4 and its impact on cases of acute gastroenteritis.

Abstract

Background

Discrete RNA structures such as cis-acting replication elements (cre) in the coding region of RNA virus genomes create characteristic suppression of synonymous site variability (SSSV). Different phylogenetic methods have been developed to predict secondary structures in RNA viruses, for high-resolution thermodynamic scanning and for detecting SSSV. These approaches have been successfully in predicting cis-acting signals in different members of the family Picornaviridae and Caliciviridae. In order to gain insight into the identification of cis-acting signals in viruses whose mechanisms of replication are currently unknown, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of complete genome sequences from 49 Human Norovirus (NoV) strains.

Findings

The complete coding sequences of NoV ORF1 were obtained from the DDBJ database and aligned. Shannon entropy calculations and RNAalifold consensus RNA structure prediction identified a discrete, conserved, invariant sequence region with a characteristic AAACG cre motif at positions 240 through 291 of the RNA dependant RNA polymerase (RdRp) sequence (relative to strain [EMBL:EU794713]). This sequence region has a high probability to conform a stem-loop.

Conclusion

A new predicted stem-loop has been identified near the 5' end of the RdRp of Human NoV genome. This is the same location recently reported for Hepatovirus cre stem-loop.