Pathogens

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ISSN / EISSN : 2076-0817 / 2076-0817
Current Publisher: MDPI AG (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 2,537
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Published: 21 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060776

Abstract:
Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococci; GAS) is an exclusively human pathogen. It causes a variety of suppurative and non-suppurative diseases in people of all ages worldwide. Not all can be successfully treated with antibiotics. A licensed vaccine, in spite of its global importance, is not yet available. GAS express an arsenal of virulence factors responsible for pathological immune reactions. The transcription of all these virulence factors is under the control of three types of virulence-related regulators: (i) two-component systems (TCS), (ii) stand-alone regulators, and (iii) non-coding RNAs. This review summarizes major TCS and stand-alone transcriptional regulatory systems, which are directly associated with virulence control. It is suggested that this treasure of knowledge on the genetics of virulence regulation should be better harnessed for new therapies and prevention methods for GAS infections, thereby changing its global epidemiology for the better.
Published: 20 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060773

Abstract:
Persistent infection with the human papillomavirus 16 (HPV 16) is the cause of half of all cervical carcinomas (CC) cases. Moreover, mutations in the oncoproteins E6 and E7 are associated with CC development. In this study, E6/E7 variants circulating in southern Mexico and their association with CC and its precursor lesions were evaluated. In total, 190 DNA samples were obtained from scrapes and cervical biopsies of women with HPV 16 out of which 61 are from patients with CC, 6 from patients with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), 68 from patients with low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL), and 55 from patients without intraepithelial lesions. For all E7 variants found, the E7-C732/C789/G795 variant (with three silent mutations) was associated with the highest risk of CC (odd ratio (OR) = 3.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.46–9.85). The analysis of E6/E7 bicistron conferred to AA-a*E7-C732/C789/G795 variants revealed the greatest increased risk of CC (OR = 110, 95% CI = 6.04–2001.3), followed by AA-c*E7-C732/C789/G795 and A176/G350*E7-p. These results highlight the importance of analyzing the combinations of E6/E7 variants in HPV 16 infection and suggest that AA-a*E7-C732/C789/G795, AA-c*E7-C732/C789/G795, and A176/G350*E7-p can be useful markers for predicting CC development.
Published: 20 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060774

Abstract:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel coronavirus with a pandemic spread. So far, a total of 358,581 SARS-CoV-2 cases and 8152 deaths were reported in Croatia. We analyzed the seroprevalence and neutralizing (NT) antibody response in the Croatian general population after the first (May–July 2020) and second (December 2020–February 2021) pandemic wave. Initial serological testing was performed using a commercial ELISA, with confirmation of reactive samples by a virus neutralization test (VNT). A significant difference in the overall seroprevalence rate was found after the first (ELISA 2.2%, VNT 0.2%) and second waves (ELISA 25.1%, VNT 18.7%). Seropositive individuals were detected in all age groups, with significant differences according to age. The lowest prevalence of NT antibodies was documented in the youngest (<10 years; 16.1%) and the oldest (60–69/70+ years; 16.0% and 12.8%, respectively) age groups. However, these age groups showed the highest median NT titers (32–64). In other groups, seropositivity varied from 19.3% to 21.5%. A significant weak positive correlation between binding antibody level as detected by ELISA and VNT titer (rho = 0.439, p< 0.001) was observed. SARS-CoV-2 NT antibody titers seem to be age-related, with the highest NT activity in children under 10 years and individuals above 50 years.
Published: 20 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060775

Abstract:
Rabbits are increasingly farmed in Egypt for meat. They are, however, known reservoirs of infectious pathogens. Currently, no information is available on the genetic characteristics of Cryptosporidium spp. in rabbits in Egypt. To understand the prevalence and genetic identity of Cryptosporidium spp. in these animals, 235 fecal samples were collected from rabbits of different ages on nine farms in El-Dakahlia, El-Gharbia, and Damietta Provinces, Egypt during the period from July 2015 to April 2016. PCR-RFLP analysis of the small subunit rRNA gene was used to detect and genotype Cryptosporidium spp. The overall detection rate was 11.9% (28/235). All 28 samples were identified as Cryptosporidium cuniculus. The 16 samples successfully subtyped by the sequence analysis of the partial 60 kDa glycoprotein gene belonged to two subtypes, VbA19 (n = 1) and VbA33 (n = 15). As C. cuniculus is increasingly recognized as a cause of human cryptosporidiosis, Cryptosporidium spp. in rabbits from Egypt have zoonotic potential.
Published: 19 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060770

Abstract:
Babesia bovis, an etiological agent of bovine babesiosis, causes a significant burden to the cattle industry worldwide. The most efficient method to mitigate bovine babesiosis is a live vaccine produced by serial passage in splenectomized cattle. However, there are several concerns regarding live vaccine production, including variation between batches and the use of many animals. In this study, we report a B. bovis-SF strain continuously cultured in a medium free of components of animal origin enriched with a chemically defined lipid mixture (CD lipid mixture) and the use of a perfusion bioreactor to harvest a large amount of B. bovis. Six culture media were compared, including VP-SFM, CD-CHO, CD-Hydrolyzed, CD-CHO, SFM, and ADMEM/F12. We found that the VP-SFM medium performed the best for B. bovis growth, with a maximum percentage of parasitized erythrocytes (PPE) of 8.6%. The effect of six dilutions of a commercial mixture of CD lipids added to VP-SFM showed that the CD lipid mixture at a dilution of 1:100 had the best B. bovis growth curve, with a maximum PPE of 13.9%. Propagation of the in vitro B. bovis culture was scaled up in a perfusion bioreactor using VP-SFM with a CD lipid mixture, and the PPE reached over 32%. The continuous in vitro B. bovis culture in a medium free of animal origin components could potentially reduce and replace the use of animals to produce a reagent for diagnostics and live vaccines to control bovine babesiosis.
Published: 19 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060772

Abstract:
Several human papillomaviruses (HPV) are associated with the development of cervical carcinoma. HPV DNA synthesis is increased during the differentiation of infected host keratinocytes as they migrate from the basal layer of the epithelium to the spinous layer, but the molecular mechanism is unclear. Nucleosome positioning affects various cellular processes such as DNA replication and repair by permitting the access of transcription factors to promoters to initiate transcription. In this study, nucleosome positioning on virus chromatin was investigated in normal immortalized keratinocytes (NIKS) stably transfected with HPV16 or HPV18 genomes to determine if there is an association with the viral life cycle. Micrococcal nuclease-treated DNA analyzed by Southern blotting using probes against HPV16 and HPV18 and quantified by nucleosome scanning analysis using real-time PCR revealed mononucleosomal-sized fragments of 140–200 base pairs that varied in their location within the viral genome according to whether the cells were undergoing proliferation or differentiation. Notably, changes in the regions around nucleotide 110 in proliferating and differentiating host cells were common to HPV16 and HPV18. Our findings suggest that changes in nucleosome positions on viral DNA during host cell differentiation is an important regulatory event in the viral life cycle.
Published: 19 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060771

Abstract:
Alphaviruses are positive-sense RNA arboviruses that are capable of causing severe disease in otherwise healthy individuals. There are many aspects of viral infection that determine pathogenesis and major efforts regarding the identification and characterization of virulence determinants have largely focused on the roles of the nonstructural and structural proteins. Nonetheless, the viral RNAs of the alphaviruses themselves play important roles in regard to virulence and pathogenesis. In particular, many sequences and secondary structures within the viral RNAs play an important part in the development of disease and may be considered important determinants of virulence. In this review article, we summarize the known RNA-based virulence traits and host:RNA interactions that influence alphaviral pathogenesis for each of the viral RNA species produced during infection. Overall, the viral RNAs produced during infection are important contributors to alphaviral pathogenesis and more research is needed to fully understand how each RNA species impacts the host response to infection as well as the development of disease.
Published: 18 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060768

Abstract:
The understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms and the clinicopathological forms caused by currently circulating African swine fever virus (ASFV) isolates is incomplete. So far, most of the studies have been focused on isolates classified within genotypes I and II, the only genotypes that have circulated outside of Africa. However, less is known about the clinical presentations and lesions induced by isolates belonging to the other twenty-two genotypes. Therefore, the early clinicopathological identification of disease outbreaks caused by isolates belonging to, as yet, not well-characterised ASFV genotypes may be compromised, which might cause a delay in the implementation of control measures to halt the virus spread. To improve the pathological characterisation of disease caused by diverse isolates, we have refined the macroscopic and histopathological evaluation protocols to standardise the scoring of lesions. Domestic pigs were inoculated intranasally with different doses (high, medium and low) of ASFV isolate Ken05/Tk1 (genotype X). To complement previous studies, the distribution and severity of macroscopic and histopathological lesions, along with the amount and distribution of viral antigen in tissues, were characterised by applying the new scoring protocols. The intranasal inoculation of domestic pigs with high doses of the Ken05/Tk1 isolate induced acute forms of ASF in most of the animals. Inoculation with medium doses mainly induced acute forms of disease. A less severe but longer clinical course, typical of subacute forms, characterised by the presence of more widespread and severe haemorrhages and oedema, was observed in one pig inoculated with the medium dose. The severity of vascular lesions (haemorrhages and oedema) induced by high and medium doses was not associated with the amount of virus antigen detected in tissues, therefore these might be attributed to indirect mechanisms not evaluated in the present study. The absence of clinical signs, lesions and detectable levels of virus genome or antigen in blood from the animals inoculated with the lowest dose ruled out the existence of possible asymptomatic carriers or persistently infected pigs, at least for the 21 days period of the study. The results corroborate the moderate virulence of the Ken05/Tk1 isolate, as well as its capacity to induce both the acute and, occasionally, subacute forms of ASF when high and medium doses were administered intranasally.
Published: 18 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060767

Abstract:
Currently, the diagnosis of Lyme disease is based mostly on two-tiered serologic testing. In the new generation of immunoenzymatic assays, antigens comprise whole-cell lysates of members of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) species complex, with the addition of selected recombinant proteins. Due to the high diversity of members of the B. burgdorferi s.l. genospecies and the low degree of conservation among the amino acid sequences of their proteins, serodiagnostic methods currently in use are not sufficient for the correct diagnosis of borreliosis. Two divalent chimeric proteins (BmpA-BBK32 and BmpA-BBA64) were expressed in Escherichia coli. Following purification by one-step metal-affinity chromatography, preparations were obtained containing milligram levels of chimeric protein exhibiting electrophoretic purity in excess of 98%. Reactivity of the new chimeric proteins with specific human IgG antibodies was preliminarily determined by Western blot. For this purpose, 20 negative sera and 20 positive sera was used. The new chimeric proteins were highly reactive with IgG antibodies contained in the serum of patients suffering from borreliosis. Moreover, no immunoreactivity of chimeric proteins was observed with antibodies in the sera of healthy people. These promising results suggest that new chimeric proteins have the potential to discriminate between positive and negative sera.
Published: 18 June 2021
Pathogens, Volume 10; doi:10.3390/pathogens10060769

Abstract:
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV, Nairoviridae family) and Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV, Phenuiviridae family) are zoonotic vector-borne pathogens with clinical relevance worldwide. Our study aimed to determine seroprevalences of these viruses and potential risk factors among livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) in Tunisia. Sera were tested for antibodies against CCHFV (n = 879) and RVFV (n = 699) using various enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and indirect immunofluorescence assays (IIFA). The overall seroprevalence of IgG antibodies was 8.6% (76/879) and 2.3% (16/699) against CCHFV and RVFV, respectively. For CCHF seropositivity bioclimatic zones and breed were potential risk factors for the three tested animal species; while the season was associated with cattle and sheep seropositivity, tick infestation was associated with cattle and goats seropositivity and age as a risk factor was only associated with cattle seropositivity. Age and season were significantly associated with RVFV seropositivity in sheep. Our results confirm the circulation of CCHFV and RVFV in Tunisia and identified the principal risk factors in ruminants. This knowledge could help to mitigate the risk of ruminant infections and subsequently also human infections.
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