Arenaviruses

Abstract

The arenaviruses are a large and diverse group of enveloped ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses that merit significant attention as powerful experimental models and important human pathogens. The prototypic arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) has been instrumental in many landmark studies on virus–host interaction and antiviral immunity. Several arenaviruses, including Lassa virus and Lujo virus in Africa and the South American arenaviruses such as Junin virus, Guanarito virus, Machupo virus, Sabia virus and Chapare virus, cause severe viral haemorrhagic fevers in humans and represent serious public health problems. Arenavirus haemorrhagic fevers are among the most devastating emerging human diseases with high fatality rates in hospitalised patients and a limited therapeutic repertoire available. Moreover, compelling evidence indicates that the worldwide‐distributed LCMV is a neglected human pathogen of clinical significance, especially in cases of congenital infection and immunocompromised individuals, as tragically illustrated by fatal cases of transplant‐associated infections.

Key Concepts

  • Arenaviruses are emerging zoonotic viruses that are carried in nature by persistent infection of rodent hosts.
  • Current arenavirus diversity is the result of long‐term coevolution of the viruses and their reservoir hosts.
  • Some arenaviruses cause severe haemorrhagic fevers with high mortality in man.
  • Arenavirus haemorrhagic fevers represent important public health problems in affected regions of the world.
  • Arenaviruses were instrumental for the discovery of fundamental concepts in virus–host interaction and antiviral immunity.
  • Arenavirus reverse genetics helped dissect the mechanisms of arenavirus replication, gene expression and assembly, as well as virus–host interactions.
  • Arenavirus–receptor interactions and cell entry are crucial determinants for the ecology, epidemiology and human disease potential of arenaviruses.
  • Haemorrhagic arenaviruses efficiently suppress the host's immune defence mechanisms, which is a key to their virulence.
  • Several arenavirus candidate vaccines and drugs are under development.

Keywords: arenavirus; emerging diseases; haemorrhagic fevers; viral persistence; zoonosis

Figure 1. Schematic representation of arenavirus particle structure (a) and genome organization (b). For details see text.
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Further Reading

Borrow P, Martinez‐Sobrido L and de la Torre JC (2010) Inhibition of the type I interferon antiviral response during arenavirus infection. Viruses 2: 2443–2480.

Choe H, Jemielity S, Abraham J, Radoshitzky SR and Farzan M (2011) Transferrin receptor 1 in the zoonosis and pathogenesis of New World hemorrhagic fever arenaviruses. Current Opinion in Microbiology 14: 476–482.

Emonet SF, de la Torre JC, Domingo E and Sevilla N (2009) Arenavirus genetic diversity and its biological implications. Infection, Genetics and Evolution 9: 417–429.

Emonet SE, Urata S and de la Torre JC (2011) Arenavirus reverse genetics: new approaches for the investigation of arenavirus biology and development of antiviral strategies. Virology 411: 416–425.

Hastie KM, Bale S, Kimberlin CR and Saphire EO (2012) Hiding the evidence: two strategies for innate immune evasion by hemorrhagic fever viruses. Current Opinion in Virology 2: 151–156.

Olschlager S and Flatz L (2013) Vaccination strategies against highly pathogenic arenaviruses: the next steps toward clinical trials. PLoS Pathogens 9: e1003212.

Pasquato A, Burri DJ and Kunz S (2012) Current drug discovery strategies against arenavirus infections. Expert Review of Anti‐Infective Therapy 10: 1297–1309.

Shao J, Liang Y and Ly H (2015) Human hemorrhagic fever causing arenaviruses: molecular mechanisms contributing to virus virulence and disease pathogenesis. Pathogens 4: 283–306.

Urata S and de la Torre JC (2011) Arenavirus budding. Advances in Virology 2011: 180326.

Yun NE and Walker DH (2012) Pathogenesis of Lassa fever. Viruses 4: 2031–2048.

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How to Cite close
Kunz, Stefan(Sep 2015) Arenaviruses. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001004.pub3]