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Publications 22

We report for the first time in South America an HFMD case associated with Coxsackievirus A10. The viral strain belongs to a lineage involved in important European outbreaks and probably entered Uruguay after 2017 with a Greek origin. These findings call for strengthening the regional surveillance of HFMD. Keywords: Phylogeny, Coxsackievirus, HFMD, Enterovirus, Epidemic, Ancestral character reconstruction

Viral infections affecting cattle lead to economic losses to the livestock industry worldwide, but little is known about the circulation, pathogenicity and genetic diversity of enteric bovine astrovirus (BoAstV) in America. The aim of this work was to describe the prevalence and genetic diversity of enteric BoAstV in dairy cattle in Uruguay. A total of 457 fecal and 43 intestinal contents from dairy calves were collected between July 2015 and May 2017 and tested by RT-PCR, followed by sequencing and phylogenetic analyses of the polymerase and capsid regions. Twenty-six percent (128/500) of the samples were positive. Three different species within the Mamastrovirus genus were identified, including Mamastrovirus 28, Mamastrovirus 33 (3 samples each) and an unclassified Mamastrovirus species (19 samples). The unclassified species was characterized as a novel Mamastrovirus species. BoAstV circulates in Uruguayan dairy cattle with a high genetic diversity. The eventual clinicopathological significance of enteric BoAstV infection in cattle needs further investigation.

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.

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is a major pathogen worldwide, causing significant economic losses to the livestock sector. In Uruguay, BVDV seroprevalence at the farm level is >80%. In this work, 2546 serum, blood or tissue samples collected from animals suspected of being affected by BVD between 2015 and 2017 were analyzed by reverse transcription PCR and sequencing. Analysis of the BVDV genomic regions 5’UTR/N pro , N pro and E2 revealed that BVDV-1a, 1i and 2b circulate in the country, with BVDV-1a being the most prevalent subtype. Population dynamics studies revealed that BVDV-1a has been circulating in our herds since ~1990. This subtype began to spread and evolve, accumulating point mutations at a rate of 3.48 × 10 −3 substitutions/site/year, acquiring specific genetic characteristics that gave rise to two local genetic lineages of BVDV-1a. These lineages are divergent from those circulating worldwide, as well as the vaccine strain currently used in Uruguay. The most notable differences between field and vaccine strains were found in the E2 glycoprotein, suggesting that the amino acid substitutions could result in failure of cross-protection/neutralization after vaccination. This is the first study that compares Uruguayan BVDV field and vaccine strains with other BVDV strains from throughout the world. The results obtained in this study will be very useful for developing a suitable immunization program for BVDV in Uruguay by identifying local field strains as candidates for vaccine development.

In the southern cone of South America different haplotypes of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl) have been detected in Ixodes spp. from Argentina, southern Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. So far, Lyme borreliosis has not been diagnosed in Uruguay and the medical relevance of the genus Ixodes in South America is uncertain. However, the growing number of new genospecies of Bbsl in the southern cone region and the scarce information about its pathogenicity, reservoirs and vectors, highlights the importance of further studies about spirochetes present in Uruguay and the region. The aim of this study was to determine the presence of Bbsl in Ixodes auritulus ticks collected from birds and vegetation in two localities of southeastern Uruguay. In total 306 I. auritulus were collected from 392 passerine birds sampled and 1110 ticks were collected by flagging in vegetation. Nymphs and females were analyzed for Borrelia spp. by PCR targeting the flagellin ( fla ) gene and the rrfA - rrlB intergenic spacer region (IGS). The phylogenetic analysis of Borrelia spp. positive samples from passerine birds and vegetation revealed the presence of four fla haplotypes that form a clade within the Bbsl complex. They were closely related to isolates of Borrelia sp. detected in I. auritulus from Argentina and Canada.

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.

Abstract


Bovine parainfluenza virus-3 (BPIV-3) is a recognized respiratory pathogen of cattle, and it has also been identified in aborted fetuses. However, little is known of this agent as a reproductive pathogen and detailed descriptions of fetal pathology on natural cases are lacking in the scientific literature. This article describes and illustrates lesions in a fetus spontaneously aborted by a first-calving Holstein heifer, naturally infected with BPIV-3 genotype A, broadening the current knowledge on fetal pathology by this virus. Fetal autopsy revealed diffusely reddened, rubbery and unexpanded lungs. Histologically, there was necrotizing bronchiolitis/alveolitis with intraluminal fibrin exudate and syncytial cells in the bronchiolar/alveolar spaces, and non-suppurative peribronchiolitis and perivascular interstitial pneumonia. In the small intestine there was multifocal necrotizing cryptitis and occasional necrotic syncytial enterocytes. Intralesional and extralesional BPIV-3 antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry in the lung and small intestine, and BPIV-3a was identified in fetal tissues by RT-PCR and sequencing.

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.

Type I interferon is an integral component of the antiviral response, and its production is tightly controlled at the levels of transcription and translation. The eukaryotic translation-initiation factor eIF4E is a rate-limiting factor whose activity is regulated by phosphorylation of Ser209. Here we found that mice and fibroblasts in which eIF4E cannot be phosphorylated were less susceptible to virus infection. More production of type I interferon, resulting from less translation of Nfkbia mRNA (which encodes the inhibitor IκBα), largely explained this phenotype. The lower abundance of IκBα resulted in enhanced activity of the transcription factor NF-κB, which promoted the production of interferon-β (IFN-β). Thus, regulated phosphorylation of eIF4E has a key role in antiviral host defense by selectively controlling the translation of an mRNA that encodes a critical suppressor of the innate antiviral response.

Transcriptional activation of cytokines, such as type-I interferons (interferon (IFN)-α and IFN-β), constitutes the first line of antiviral defence. Here we show that translational control is critical for induction of type-I IFN production. In mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking the translational repressors 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2, the threshold for eliciting type-I IFN production is lowered. Consequently, replication of encephalomyocarditis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, influenza virus and Sindbis virus is markedly suppressed. Furthermore, mice with both 4E- and 4E-BP2 genes (also known as Eif4ebp1 and Eif4ebp2, respectively) knocked out are resistant to vesicular stomatitis virus infection, and this correlates with an enhanced type-I IFN production in plasmacytoid dendritic cells and the expression of IFN-regulated genes in the lungs. The enhanced type-I IFN response in 4E-BP1-/- 4E-BP2-/- double knockout mouse embryonic fibroblasts is caused by upregulation of interferon regulatory factor 7 (Irf7) messenger RNA translation. These findings highlight the role of 4E-BPs as negative regulators of type-I IFN production, via translational repression of Irf7 mRNA.

Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) is a major pathogen affecting citrus trees worldwide. However, few studies have focused on CTV’s evolutionary history and geographic behavior. CTV is locally dispersed by an aphid vector and long distance dispersion due to transportation of contaminated material. With the aim to delve deeper into the CTV-NC (New Clade) genotype evolution, we estimated an evolution rate of 1.19 × 10−3 subs/site/year and the most common recent ancestor in 1977. Furthermore, the place of origin of the genotype was in the United States, and a great expansion of the population was observed in Uruguay. This expansion phase could be a consequence of the increment in the number of naïve citrus trees in Uruguayan orchards encompassing citrus industry growth in the past years.

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.

Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV) is the most economically important virus of citrus worldwide. Genetic diversity and population structure of CTV isolates from all citrus growing areas from Uruguay were analyzed by RT-PCR and cloning of the three RNA silencing suppressor genes (p25, p20 and p23). Bayesian phylogenetic analysis revealed the circulation of three known genotypes (VT, T3, T36) in the country, and the presence of a new genetic lineage composed by isolates from around the world, mainly from South America. Nucleotide and amino acid identity values for this new genetic lineage were both higher than 97% for the three analyzed regions. Due to incongruent phylogenetic relationships, recombination analysis was performed using Genetic Algorithms for Recombination Detection (GARD) and SimPlot software. Recombination events between previously described CTV isolates were detected. High intra-sample variation was found, confirming the co-existence of different genotypes into the same plant. This is the first report describing: (1) the genetic diversity of Uruguayan CTV isolates circulating in the country and (2) the circulation of a novel CTV genetic lineage, highly present in the South American region. This information may provide assistance to develop an effective cross-protection program.

Genetic deletion of both 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2 was found to protect cells against viral infections. Here we demonstrate that the individual loss of either 4E-BP1 or 4E-BP2 in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) is sufficient to confer viral resistance. shRNA-mediated silencing of 4E-BP1 or 4E-BP2 renders MEFs resistant to viruses, and compared to wild type cells, MEFs knockout for either 4E-BP1 or 4E-BP2 exhibit enhanced translation of Irf-7 and consequently increased innate immune response to viruses. Accordingly, the replication of vesicular stomatitis virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, influenza virus and Sindbis virus is markedly suppressed in these cells. Importantly, expression of either 4E-BP1 or 4E-BP2 in double knockout or respective single knockout cells diminishes their resistance to viral infection. Our data show that loss of 4E-BP1 or 4E-BP2 potentiates innate antiviral immunity. These results provide further evidence for translational control of innate immunity and support targeting translational effectors as an antiviral strategy.

Abstract

Background

A sudden emergence of Influenza A Virus (IAV) infections with a new pandemic H1N1 IAV is taking place since April of 2009. In order to gain insight into the mode of evolution of these new H1N1 strains, we performed a Bayesian coalescent Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) analysis of full-length neuraminidase (NA) gene sequences of 62 H1N1 IAV strains (isolated from March 30th to by July 28th, 2009).

Results

The results of these studies revealed that the expansion population growth model was the best to fit the sequence data. A mean of evolutionary change of 7.84 × 10-3 nucleotide substitutions per site per year (s/s/y) was obtained for the NA gene. A significant contribution of first codon position to this mean rate was observed. Maximum clade credibility trees revealed a rapid diversification of NA genes in different genetic lineages, all of them containing Oseltamivir-resistant viruses of very recent emergence. Mapping of naturally occurring amino acid substitutions in the NA protein from 2009 H1N1 IAV circulating in 62 different patients revealed that substitutions are distributed all around the surface of the molecule, leaving the hydrophobic core and the catalytic site essentially untouched.

Conclusion

High evolutionary rates and fast population growth have contributed to the initial transmission dynamics of 2009 H1N1 IAV. Naturally occurring substitutions are preferentially located at the protein surface and do not interfere with the NA active site. Antigenic regions relevant for vaccine development can differ from previous vaccine strains and vary among patients.

Abstract

Background/Aim

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in patients affected by hereditary bleeding disorders. HCV, as others RNA virus, exploit all possible mechanisms of genetic variation to ensure their survival, such as recombination and mutation. In order to gain insight into the genetic variability of HCV virus strains circulating in hemophiliac patients, we have performed a phylogenetic analysis of HCV strains isolated from 10 patients with this kind of pathology.

Methods

Putative recombinant sequence was identified with the use of GARD program. Statistical support for the presence of a recombination event was done by the use of LARD program.

Results

A new intragenotypic recombinant strain (1b/1a) was detected in 1 out of the 10 hemophiliac patient studied. The recombination event was located at position 387 of the HCV genome (relative to strain AF009606, sub-type 1a) corresponding to the core gene region.

Conclusion

Although recombination may not appear to be common among natural populations of HCV it should be considered as a possible mechanism for generating genetic diversity in hemophiliacs patients.

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.