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Olli Vapalahti - Top 30 Publications

Global Distribution of Human Protoparvoviruses.

Development of next-generation sequencing and metagenomics has revolutionized detection of novel viruses. Among these viruses are 3 human protoparvoviruses: bufavirus, tusavirus, and cutavirus. These viruses have been detected in feces of children with diarrhea. In addition, cutavirus has been detected in skin biopsy specimens of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma patients in France and in 1 melanoma patient in Denmark. We studied seroprevalences of IgG against bufavirus, tusavirus, and cutavirus in various populations (n = 840), and found a striking geographic difference in prevalence of bufavirus IgG. Although prevalence was low in adult populations in Finland (1.9%) and the United States (3.6%), bufavirus IgG was highly prevalent in populations in Iraq (84.8%), Iran (56.1%), and Kenya (72.3%). Conversely, cutavirus IgG showed evenly low prevalences (0%-5.6%) in all cohorts, and tusavirus IgG was not detected. These results provide new insights on the global distribution and endemic areas of protoparvoviruses.

Semen inhibits Zika virus infection of cells and tissues from the anogenital region.

Zika virus (ZIKV) causes severe birth defects and can be transmitted via sexual intercourse. Semen from ZIKV-infected individuals contains high viral loads and may therefore serve as an important vector for virus transmission. Here we analyze the effect of semen on ZIKV infection of cells and tissues derived from the anogenital region. ZIKV replicates in all analyzed cell lines, primary cells, and endometrial or vaginal tissues. However, in the presence of semen, infection by ZIKV and other flaviviruses is potently inhibited. We show that semen prevents ZIKV attachment to target cells, and that an extracellular vesicle preparation from semen is responsible for this anti-ZIKV activity. Our findings suggest that ZIKV transmission is limited by semen. As such, semen appears to serve as a protector against sexual ZIKV transmission, despite the availability of highly susceptible cells in the anogenital tract and high viral loads in this bodily fluid.

Novel activities of safe-in-human broad-spectrum antiviral agents.

According to the WHO, there is an urgent need for better control of viral diseases. Re-positioning existing safe-in-human antiviral agents from one viral disease to another could play a pivotal role in this process. Here, we reviewed all approved, investigational and experimental antiviral agents, which are safe in man, and identified 59 compounds that target at least three viral diseases. We tested 55 of these compounds against eight different RNA and DNA viruses. We found novel activities for dalbavancin against echovirus 1, ezetimibe against human immunodeficiency virus 1 and Zika virus, as well as azacitidine, cyclosporine, minocycline, oritavancin and ritonavir against Rift valley fever virus. Thus, the spectrum of antiviral activities of existing antiviral agents could be expanded towards other viral diseases.

Taxonomy of the family Arenaviridae and the order Bunyavirales: update 2018.

In 2018, the family Arenaviridae was expanded by inclusion of 1 new genus and 5 novel species. At the same time, the recently established order Bunyavirales was expanded by 3 species. This article presents the updated taxonomy of the family Arenaviridae and the order Bunyavirales as now accepted by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) and summarizes additional taxonomic proposals that may affect the order in the near future.

Fatal Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus Infections Caused by Siberian and European Subtypes, Finland, 2015.

In most locations except for Russia, tick-borne encephalitis is mainly caused by the European virus subtype. In 2015, fatal infections caused by European and Siberian tick-borne encephalitis virus subtypes in the same Ixodes ricinus tick focus in Finland raised concern over further spread of the Siberian subtype among widespread tick species.

Prostaglandin D2 Receptor DP1 Antibodies Predict Vaccine-induced and Spontaneous Narcolepsy Type 1: Large-scale Study of Antibody Profiling.

Neuropathological findings support an autoimmune etiology as an underlying factor for loss of orexin-producing neurons in spontaneous narcolepsy type 1 (narcolepsy with cataplexy; sNT1) as well as in Pandemrix influenza vaccine-induced narcolepsy type 1 (Pdmx-NT1). The precise molecular target or antigens for the immune response have, however, remained elusive.

The molecular tweezer CLR01 inhibits Ebola and Zika virus infection.

Ebola (EBOV) and Zika viruses (ZIKV) are responsible for recent global health threats. As no preventive vaccines or antiviral drugs against these two re-emerging pathogens are available, we evaluated whether the molecular tweezer CLR01 may inhibit EBOV and ZIKV infection. This small molecule has previously been shown to inactivate HIV-1 and herpes viruses through a selective interaction with lipid-raft-rich regions in the viral envelope, which results in membrane disruption and loss of infectivity. We found that CLR01 indeed blocked infection of EBOV and ZIKV in a dose-dependent manner. The tweezer inhibited infection of epidemic ZIKV strains in cells derived from the anogenital tract and the central nervous system, and remained antivirally active in the presence of semen, saliva, urine and cerebrospinal fluid. Our findings show that CLR01 is a broad-spectrum inhibitor of enveloped viruses with prospects as a preventative microbicide or antiviral agent.

Dobrava hantavirus variants found in Apodemus flavicollis mice in Kırklareli Province, Turkey.

Hantaviruses infect humans via inhalation of viral particles within secretions of infected rodents or rarely through direct contact with infected rodents. Determining the prevalence of hantavirus infections among rodent populations is of vital importance to obtain information on hantavirus-related cases and to predict possible outbreaks. We hypothesized that DOBV strains circulating in the Thrace Region in Turkey would be related to other Balkan DOBV strains. In this study, hantavirus infections in the rodent population of the Kırklareli-İğneada Region (north-western Turkey, near the Bulgarian border) were investigated. This region is of particular importance, as it is located in the south-eastern margin of the European continent and was used as an entrance point of Asian faunal elements into Europe. DOBV infection was detected in eight of 73 rodents; all were of the Apodemus flavicollis species. Partial sequences of the viral S-, M-, and L-genome segments were recovered and compared with previously reported DOBV sequences. The newly characterized Turkish strains were similar to other DOBV variants. Silent nucleotide mutations were dominant. The hantavirus prevalence in the İğneada region was similar to what has been reported in Greece and Bulgaria. For the first time, the M-segment sequences of DOBV from Turkey were recovered and genetic data of hantaviruses from Thrace region of Turkey were obtained.

Evolution and postglacial colonization of Seewis hantavirus with Sorex araneus in Finland.

Hantaviruses have co-existed with their hosts for millions of years. Seewis virus (SWSV), a soricomorph-borne hantavirus, is widespread in Eurasia, ranging from Central Siberia to Western Europe. To gain insight into the phylogeography and evolutionary history of SWSV in Finland, lung tissue samples of 225 common shrews (Sorex araneus) trapped from different parts of Finland were screened for the presence of SWSV RNA. Forty-two of the samples were positive. Partial small (S), medium (M) and large (L) segments of the virus were sequenced, and analyzed together with all SWSV sequences available in Genbank. The phylogenetic analysis of the partial S-segment sequences suggested that all Finnish SWSV strains shared their most recent common ancestor with the Eastern European strains, while the L-segment suggested multiple introductions. The difference between the L- and S-segment phylogenies implied that reassortment events play a role in the evolution of SWSV. Of the Finnish strains, variants from Eastern Finland occupied the root position in the phylogeny, and had the highest genetic diversity, supporting the hypothesis that SWSV reached Finland first form the east. During the spread in Finland, the virus has formed three separate lineages, identified here by correlation analysis of genetic versus geographic distance combined with median-joining network analysis. These results support the hypothesis that Finnish SWSV recolonized Finland with its host, the common shrew, from east after the last ice age 12,000-8000years ago, and then subsequently spread along emerging land bridges towards west or north with the migration and population expansion of its host.

Seroprevalence of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and Ljungan virus in Finnish patients with suspected neurological infections.

Directly-transmitted rodent-borne zoonotic viruses, such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) can cause nervous system infections. Rodent-borne Ljungan virus (LV) is considered potentially zoonotic possibly causing neurological symptoms. Our objective was to understand the role of these two viruses compared to other pathogens in causing neurological infections in Finnish patients. Routine screening data were available for 400 patients aged 5-50 years, collected from December 2013 to December 2014 with suspected neurological infection. Depending on symptoms, patients were variously tested for herpesviruses, enteroviruses, varicella zoster virus, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, while those suspected of tick bite were further tested for Borrelia spp. and tick-borne encephalitis virus using antibody and/or nucleic acid tests. For 380 patients, we also screened the RNA and antibody prevalence of LCMV and LV in order to test if either of these viruses were the causative agent. Data collected indicated that the causative microbial agent was confirmed in only 15.5% of all Finnish patients with neurological symptoms, with M. pneumoniae (26 cases) being the most common causative agent found in sera, whereas Borrelia spp. (15), herpes simplex viruses (7), and enteroviruses (5) were the most common agents confirmed in the CSF. The seroprevalences for LV and LCMV were 33.8% and 5.0%, respectively, but no samples were PCR-positive. In this study, M. pneumoniae and Borrelia spp. were the most common causative agents of neurological infections in Finland. No LCMV or LV infections were detected. We conclude there was no association of LV with neurological diseases in this patient cohort.

Antiviral Properties of Chemical Inhibitors of Cellular Anti-Apoptotic Bcl-2 Proteins.

Viral diseases remain serious threats to public health because of the shortage of effective means of control. To combat the surge of viral diseases, new treatments are urgently needed. Here we show that small-molecules, which inhibit cellular anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins (Bcl-2i), induced the premature death of cells infected with different RNA or DNA viruses, whereas, at the same concentrations, no toxicity was observed in mock-infected cells. Moreover, these compounds limited viral replication and spread. Surprisingly, Bcl-2i also induced the premature apoptosis of cells transfected with viral RNA or plasmid DNA but not of mock-transfected cells. These results suggest that Bcl-2i sensitizes cells containing foreign RNA or DNA to apoptosis. A comparison of the toxicity, antiviral activity, and side effects of six Bcl-2i allowed us to select A-1155463 as an antiviral lead candidate. Thus, our results pave the way for the further development of Bcl-2i for the prevention and treatment of viral diseases.

Compensating for cross-reactions using avidity and computation in a suspension multiplex immunoassay for serotyping of Zika versus other flavivirus infections.

The recent spread of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas and Asia necessitates an increased preparedness for improved maternal and perinatal health and blood safety. However, serological cross-reactions, especially to Dengue virus (DENV), complicate ZIKV antibody serodiagnosis. A novel "pan-Flavi" suspension multiplex immunoassay (PFSMIA) using 25 antigens, whole virus (WV), non-structural protein 1 (NS1), and envelope (E) proteins, from 7 zoonotic flaviviruses for specific detection of ZIKV and DENV IgM and IgG was developed. Patterns of antibody cross-reactivity, avidity, and kinetics were established in 104 sera from returning travelers with known ZIKV and DENV infections. PFSMIA gave IgM- and IgG-sensitivities for both viruses of 96-100%, compared to an immunofluorescence assay. Main IgM cross-reactions were to NS1, for IgG to the E and WV antigens. Infecting virus yielded reactivity to several antigens of the homologous virus, while cross-reactions tended to occur only to a single antigen from heterologous virus(es). A specificity-enhancing computer procedure took into account antibody isotype, number of antibody-reactive antigens per virus, avidity, average degree of cross-reactivity to heterologous flavivirus antigens, and reactivity changes in serial sera. It classified all 50 cases correctly. Applied to sera from 200 pregnant women and 173 blood donors from Sweden, one blood donor was found ZIKV NS1 IgM positive, and another as ZIKV NS1 IgG positive. These samples did not react with other ZIKV antigens and were thereby judged as false-positives. PFSMIA provided sensitive and specific ZIKV and DENV serology, warranting high-throughput serological surveillance and a minimized need for laborious and expensive virus neutralization assays.

Serogrouping and seroepidemiology of North European hantaviruses using a novel broadly targeted synthetic nucleoprotein antigen array.

Introduction