skip to main content

Title: Virus wars: using one virus to block the spread of another

The failure of traditional interventions to block and cure HIV infections has led to novel proposals that involve treating infections with therapeutic viruses–infectious viruses that specifically inhibit HIV propagation in the host. Early efforts in evaluating these proposals have been limited chiefly to mathematical models of dynamics, for lack of suitable empirical systems. Here we propose, develop and analyze an empirical system of a therapeutic virus that protects a host cell population against a lethal virus. The empirical system usesE. colibacteria as the host cell population, an RNA phage as the lethal virus and a filamentous phage as the therapeutic virus. Basic dynamic properties are established for each virus alone and then together. Observed dynamics broadly agree with those predicted by a computer simulation model, although some differences are noted. Two cases of dynamics are contrasted, differing in whether the therapeutic virus is introduced before the lethal virus or after the lethal virus. The therapeutic virus increases in both cases but by different mechanisms. With the therapeutic virus introduced first, it spreads infectiously without any appreciable change in host dynamics. With the therapeutic virus introduced second, host abundance is depressed at the time therapy is applied; following an initial period more » of therapeutic virus spread by infection, the subsequent rise of protection is through reproduction by hosts already protected. This latter outcome is due to inheritance of the therapeutic virus state when the protected cell divides. Overall, the work establishes the feasibility and robustness to details of a viral interference using a therapeutic virus.

« less
Authors:
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10017600
Journal Name:
PeerJ
Volume:
4
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
e2166
ISSN:
2167-8359
Publisher:
PeerJ
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Temperate phages are viruses of bacteria that can establish two types of infection: a lysogenic infection in which the virus replicates with the host cell without producing virions, and a lytic infection where the host cell is eventually destroyed, and new virions are released. While both lytic and lysogenic infections are routinely observed in the environment, the ecological and evolutionary processes regulating these viral dynamics are still not well understood, especially for uncultivated virus-host pairs. Here, we characterized the long-term dynamics of uncultivated viruses infecting green sulfur bacteria (GSB) in a model freshwater lake (Trout Bog Lake, TBL). As no GSB virus has been formally described yet, we first used two complementary approaches to identify new GSB viruses from TBL; one in vitro based on flow cytometry cell sorting, the other in silico based on CRISPR spacer sequences. We then took advantage of existing TBL metagenomes covering the 2005–2018 period to examine the interactions between GSB and their viruses across years and seasons. From our data, GSB populations in TBL were constantly associated with at least 2-8 viruses each, including both lytic and temperate phages. The dominant GSB population in particular was consistently associated with two prophages with amore »nearly 100% infection rate for >10 years. We illustrate with a theoretical model that such an interaction can be stable given a low, but persistent, level of prophage induction in low-diversity host populations. Overall, our data suggest that lytic and lysogenic viruses can readily co-infect the same host population, and that host strain-level diversity might be an important factor controlling virus-host dynamics including lytic/lysogeny switch.« less
  2. Abstract

    Drugs of abuse, such as opiates, have been widely associated with enhancing HIV replication, accelerating disease progression and diminishing host-immune responses, thereby making it harder to effectively manage HIV infection. It is thus important to study the effects of drugs of abuse on HIV-infection and immune responses. Here, we develop mathematical models that incorporate the effects of morphine-altered antibody responses on HIV/SIV dynamics. Based on fitting the model to experimental data from simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections in control and morphine-addicted macaques, we found that two of the most significant effects of virus specific antibodies are neutralizing viral particles and enhancing viral clearance. Using our model, we quantified how morphine alters virus-specific antibody responses, and how this alteration affects the key components of virus dynamics such as infection rate, virus clearance, viral load, CD4+T cell count, and CD4+T cell loss in SIV-infected macaques under conditioning with morphine. We found that in a subpopulation of SIV-infected morphine addicted macaques, the presence of drugs of abuse may cause significantly diminished antibody responses, resulting in more severe infection with increased SIV infectivity, a decreased viral clearance rate, increased viral load, and higher CD4+T cell loss.

  3. Abstract Recombination has been shown to contribute to human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) evolution in vivo, but the underlying dynamics are extremely complex, depending on the nature of the fitness landscapes and of epistatic interactions. A less well-studied determinant of recombinant evolution is the mode of virus transmission in the cell population. HIV-1 can spread by free virus transmission, resulting largely in singly infected cells, and also by direct cell-to-cell transmission, resulting in the simultaneous infection of cells with multiple viruses. We investigate the contribution of these two transmission pathways to recombinant evolution, by applying mathematical models to in vitro experimental data on the growth of fluorescent reporter viruses under static conditions (where both transmission pathways operate), and under gentle shaking conditions, where cell-to-cell transmission is largely inhibited. The parameterized mathematical models are then used to extrapolate the viral evolutionary dynamics beyond the experimental settings. Assuming a fixed basic reproductive ratio of the virus (independent of transmission pathway), we find that recombinant evolution is fastest if virus spread is driven only by cell-to-cell transmission and slows down if both transmission pathways operate. Recombinant evolution is slowest if all virus spread occurs through free virus transmission. This is due to cell-to-cell transmissionmore »1, increasing infection multiplicity; 2, promoting the co-transmission of different virus strains from cell to cell; and 3, increasing the rate at which point mutations are generated as a result of more reverse transcription events. This study further resulted in the estimation of various parameters that characterize these evolutionary processes. For example, we estimate that during cell-to-cell transmission, an average of three viruses successfully integrated into the target cell, which can significantly raise the infection multiplicity compared to free virus transmission. In general, our study points towards the importance of infection multiplicity and cell-to-cell transmission for HIV evolution.« less
  4. ABSTRACT Theory, simulation, and experimental evolution demonstrate that diversified CRISPR-Cas immunity to lytic viruses can lead to stochastic virus extinction due to a limited number of susceptible hosts available to each potential new protospacer escape mutation. Under such conditions, theory predicts that to evade extinction, viruses evolve toward decreased virulence and promote vertical transmission and persistence in infected hosts. To better understand the evolution of host-virus interactions in microbial populations with active CRISPR-Cas immunity, we studied the interaction between CRISPR-immune Sulfolobus islandicus cells and immune-deficient strains that are infected by the chronic virus SSV9. We demonstrate that Sulfolobus islandicus cells infected with SSV9, and with other related SSVs, kill uninfected, immune strains through an antagonistic mechanism that is a protein and is independent of infectious virus. Cells that are infected with SSV9 are protected from killing and persist in the population. We hypothesize that this infection acts as a form of mutualism between the host and the virus by removing competitors in the population and ensuring continued vertical transmission of the virus within populations with diversified CRISPR-Cas immunity. IMPORTANCE Multiple studies, especially those focusing on the role of lytic viruses in key model systems, have shown the importance of virusesmore »in shaping microbial populations. However, it has become increasingly clear that viruses with a long host-virus interaction, such as those with a chronic lifestyle, can be important drivers of evolution and have large impacts on host ecology. In this work, we describe one such interaction with the acidic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus islandicus and its chronic virus Sulfolobus spindle-shaped virus 9. Our work expands the view in which this symbiosis between host and virus evolved, describing a killing phenotype which we hypothesize has evolved in part due to the high prevalence and diversity of CRISPR-Cas immunity seen in natural populations. We explore the implications of this phenotype in population dynamics and host ecology, as well as the implications of mutualism between this virus-host pair.« less
  5. Abstract The blooming cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and its viruses (EhVs) are a model for density-dependent virulent dynamics. EhVs commonly exhibit rapid viral reproduction and drive host death in high-density laboratory cultures and mesocosms that simulate blooms. Here we show that this system exhibits physiology-dependent temperate dynamics at environmentally relevant E. huxleyi host densities rather than virulent dynamics, with viruses switching from a long-term non-lethal temperate phase in healthy hosts to a lethal lytic stage as host cells become physiologically stressed. Using this system as a model for temperate infection dynamics, we present a template to diagnose temperate infection in other virus–host systems by integrating experimental, theoretical, and environmental approaches. Finding temperate dynamics in such an established virulent host–virus model system indicates that temperateness may be more pervasive than previously considered, and that the role of viruses in bloom formation and decline may be governed by host physiology rather than by host–virus densities.