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Subclinical infection of macaques and baboons with a baboon simartevirus

By Connor Buechler, Matthew W Semler, David A. Baker, Christina Newman, Joseph P. Cornish, Deborah Chavez, Bernadette Guerra, Robert Lanford, Kathy Brasky, Jens H. Kuhn, Reed F. Johnson, David H O'Connor, Adam L Bailey

Posted 22 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/397430 (published DOI: 10.3390/v10120701)

Simarteviruses (Arteriviridae: Simartevirus) are commonly found at high titers in the blood of African monkeys but do not cause overt disease in these hosts. In contrast, simarteviruses cause severe disease in Asian macaques upon accidental or experimental transmission. Here, we sought to better understand the host-dependent drivers of simartevirus pathogenesis by infecting olive baboons (n=4) and rhesus macaques (n=4) with the simartevirus Southwest baboon virus 1 (SWBV-1). Surprisingly, none of the animals in our study showed signs of disease following SWBV-1 inoculation. Three animals (two rhesus monkeys and one olive baboon) became infected and sustained high levels of SWBV-1 viremia for the duration of the study. The course of SWBV-1 infection was highly predictable: plasma viremia peaked between 1E7 and 1E8 vRNA copies/ml at 3-10 days post-inoculation, which was followed by a relative nadir and then establishment of a stable set-point between 1E6 and 1E7 vRNA copies/ml for the remainder of the study (56 days). We characterized cellular and antibody responses to SWBV-1 infection in these animals, demonstrating that macaques and baboons mount similar responses to SWBV-1 infection, yet these responses are ineffective at clearing SWBV-1 infection. SWBV-1 sequencing revealed the accumulation of non-synonymous mutations in a region of the genome that corresponds to an immunodominant epitope in the simartevirus major envelope glycoprotein GP5, which likely contribute to viral persistence by enabling escape from host antibodies.

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