UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory Research Collection

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  • Publication
    Genomic epidemiological analysis of SARS-CoV-2 household transmission
    Family clusters have contributed significantly to the onward spread of SARS-CoV-2. However, the dynamics of viral transmission in this setting remain incompletely understood. We describe the clinical and viral-phylogenetic characteristics of a family cluster of SARS-CoV-2 infections with a high attack rate, and explore how whole-genome sequencing (WGS) can inform outbreak investigations in this context. In this cluster, the first symptomatic case was a 22-month-old infant who developed rhinorrhoea and sneezing 2 days prior to attending a family gathering. Subsequently, seven family members in attendance at this event were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infections, including the infant described. WGS revealed indistinguishable SARS-CoV-2 genomes recovered from the adults at the gathering, which were closely related genetically to B.1 lineage viruses circulating in the local community. However, a divergent viral sub-lineage was recovered from the infant and another child, each harbouring a distinguishing spike substitution (N30S). This suggested that the infant was unlikely to be the primary case, despite displaying symptoms first, and additional analysis of her nasopharyngeal swab revealed a picornavirus co-infection to account for her early symptoms. Our findings demonstrate how WGS can elucidate the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infections within household clusters and provide useful information to support outbreak investigations. Additionally, our description of SARS-CoV-2 viral lineages and notable variants circulating in Ireland to date provides an important genomic-epidemiological baseline in the context of vaccine introduction.
      89
  • Publication
    Plasma EBV microRNAs in paediatric renal transplant recipients
    Background: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was the first human virus identified to express microRNA (miRNA). To date, 44mature miRNAs are encoded for within the EBV genome. EBV miRNAs have not been profiled in paediatric renal transplant recipients. In this study, we investigated circulating EBV miRNA profiles as novel biomarkers in paediatric renal transplant patients. Methods: Forty-two microRNAs encoded within 2 EBV open reading frames (BART and BHRF) were examined in renal transplant recipients who resolved EBV infection (REI) or maintained chronic high viral loads (CHL), and in non-transplant patients with acute infectious mononucleosis (IM). Results: Plasma EBV-miR-BART2-5p was present in higher numbers of IM (7/8) and CHL (7/10) compared to REI (7/12)patients. A trend was observed between the numbers of plasma EBV miRNAs expressed and EBV viral load (p < 0.07).Several EBV-miRs including BART7-3p, 15, 9-3p, 11-3p, 1-3p and 3-3p were detected in IM and CHL patients only. Thelytic EBV-miRs, BHRF1-2-3p and 1-1, indicating active viral replication, were detected in IM patients only. One CHL patient developed post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) after several years and analysis of 10 samples over a 30-month period showed an average 24-fold higher change in plasma EBV-miR-BART2-5p compared to the CHL group and 110-fold higher change compared to the REI group.Conclusions Our results suggest that EBV-miR-BART2-5p, which targets the stress-induced immune ligand MICB to escape recognition and elimination by NK cells, may have a role in sustaining high EBV viral loads in CHL paediatric kidney transplant recipients.
      438Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    Cytomegalovirus Infection in Ireland: Seroprevalence, HLA Class I Alleles, and Implications
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections occur worldwide and primary infection usually occurs in early childhood and is often asymptomatic whereas primary infection in adults may result in symptomatic illness. CMV establishes a chronic latent infection with intermittent periods of reactivation. Primary infection or reactivation associate with increased mortality and morbidity in those who are immunocompromised. Transplacental transmission may result in significant birth defects or long-term sensorineural hearing loss. We performed a study to determine the CMV seroprevalence and the association between HLA Class I alleles and frequency of CMV infection in Ireland. The presence of CMV IgG, a marker of previous CMV infection, was determined for a cohort of 1849 HLA typed solid organ transplant donors between 1990 and 2013. The presence of CMV IgG was correlated with HLA type. The CMV seroprevalence in solid organ transplant donors was 33.4% (range 22–48% per annum) over the time period 1990 to 2013. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that both age and HLA alleles were associated with CMV seropositivity. A significant and positive relationship between age and CMV seropositivity was observed (OR = 1.013, P < 0.001, CI [1.007, 1.019]). Chi-square analysis revealed that the female gender was independently associated with CMV seropositivity (P < 0.01). Seroprevalence in women of reproductive age (20–39 years) was significantly higher than men of the same age (37% vs 26%, P < 0.01). The frequencies of HLA-A1, HLA-A2, and HLA-A3 in our cohort were 40.8%, 48.8%, and 25.9%, respectively. Logistic regression analysis showed that the presence of HLA-A1 but not HLA-A2 or HLA-A3 was independently associated with CMV seronegativity (P < 0.01). Interestingly, individuals who co-expressed HLA-A2 and HLA-A3 alleles were significantly more likely to be CMV seropositive (P < 0.02). The frequencies of HLA-B5, HLA-B7, and HLA-B8 in our cohort were 6.1%, 31.2%, and 30.8%, respectively. The presence of the most common inherited haplotype in the Irish population, HLA-A1, B8 was significantly associated with CMV seronegativity (OR = 1.278, P < 0.001, CI [1.049, 1.556]). CMV seroprevalence is lower in Ireland compared with other countries. The high frequency of HLA-A1 in the Irish population may, in part, have a role in the reduced susceptibility to CMV infection.
      299Scopus© Citations 16