Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tick-borne lone star virus identified through new super-fast gene sequencing

Date:
May 2, 2013
Source:
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Summary:
The tick-borne Lone Star virus has been conclusively identified as part of a family of other tick-borne viruses called bunyaviruses, which often cause fever, respiratory problems and bleeding, according to new research.

This is Charles Chiu, M.D., Ph.D.
Credit: Susan Merrell/UCSF

The tick-borne Lone Star virus has been conclusively identified as part of a family of other tick-borne viruses called bunyaviruses, which often cause fever, respiratory problems and bleeding, according to new research led by scientists at UC San Francisco (UCSF).

What made the work especially promising, said principal investigator Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, was the speed at which the virus was definitively identified. The team used a new approach to gene sequencing that enabled them to completely reconstruct the virus' previously unknown genome in less than 24 hours -- significantly faster than conventional sequencing techniques, which can take days to weeks.

The technique, called ultra-rapid deep sequencing, combines deep sequencing -- an emerging technology that reconstructs an entire DNA sequence from a tiny snippet of DNA -- with advanced computational techniques and algorithms developed in the laboratories of Chiu and his research collaborators.

Chiu, an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, reported the results in a paper published in PloS ONE on April 29.

The team found that the Lone Star virus, which is carried by the Lone Star tick, Amblyomma americanum, is related to a group of human pathogens including Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus, which infected hundreds of farmers in China between 2008 and 2010; Bhanja virus, initially found in India; Palma virus, found in Portugal; and Heartland virus, an illness recently reported among farmers in Missouri.

"We did not show that Lone Star virus causes disease in humans," Chiu cautioned, "although the laboratory and sequencing data suggest that this is a distinct possibility."

He said the work may prove to be significant in light of the fact that nearly all emerging diseases discovered over the past two decades have originated in animals. While the causes of many human infectious diseases have been "pretty well characterized," he said, researchers have "only touched the tip of the iceberg" with respect to pathogens that have the potential to pass from animals to humans.

Chiu pointed to a number of serious and unexpected animal-to-human disease transmissions over the last 10 years, including SARS in 2003, the H1N1 influenza in 2009, and the current outbreak of H7N9 avian influenza, which already has resulted in more than 20 deaths in China.

"Nature is continually throwing us curveballs," Chiu said. "We will likely always be faced with the threat of novel outbreak viruses originating in animals or insects. It will be extremely important to identify and characterize those viruses as quickly as possible -- to get a head start on the development of diagnostic assays for surveillance and drugs, or vaccines for treatment -- before they have a chance to really spread."

In such circumstances, ultra-rapid deep sequencing will be "extremely useful," he said. "By the time SARS was identified and sequenced using conventional methods, more than a week of time had been lost. That kind of delay could be quite risky in a virus that spreads rapidly in human populations."

Chiu and his team plan to introduce a graphical user interface that will allow small laboratories to analyze and access ultra-rapid, deep-sequencing data through cloud computing over the Internet, even though they do not have access to advanced computers.

"This will mean that any remote laboratory in Asia or Africa -- where a lot of these recent outbreaks have occurred -- will be able to use a portable, field-ready benchtop sequencer hooked up to a smartphone or laptop with an Internet connection, to obtain a complete genetic sequence of a novel pathogen within hours," said Chiu. "Our hope is that these efforts will democratize the surveillance and investigation of infectious diseases."

The first author of the study is Andrea Swei, PhD, of San Francisco State University. Other co-authors include Brandy J. Russell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Samia N. Naccache, PhD, Beniwende Kabre and Narayanan Veeraraghavan, PhD, of UCSF; and Mark A. Pilgard and Barbara J.B. Johnson, PhD, of the CDC.

The study was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health (R56-AI089532 and RO1-HL105704), an Abbott Viral Discovery Award, the QB3 Swartz Foundation Lyme Disease Grant, the National Research Fund for Tick-borne Diseases, a UCSF Microbial Pathogenesis training grant and the CDC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Swei A, Russell BJ, Naccache SN, Kabre B, Veeraraghavan N, et al. The Genome Sequence of Lone Star Virus, a Highly Divergent Bunyavirus Found in the Amblyomma americanum Tick. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8(4): e62083 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062083

Cite This Page:

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Tick-borne lone star virus identified through new super-fast gene sequencing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502185255.htm>.
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). (2013, May 2). Tick-borne lone star virus identified through new super-fast gene sequencing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502185255.htm
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Tick-borne lone star virus identified through new super-fast gene sequencing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502185255.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins