Clinical and Virological Characteristics of Human metapneumovirus

Kevin Jacob (2009). Clinical and Virological Characteristics of Human metapneumovirus PhD Thesis, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland.

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Author Kevin Jacob
Thesis Title Clinical and Virological Characteristics of Human metapneumovirus
School, Centre or Institute School of Medicine
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor A/Prof Michael Nissen
A/Prof Theo Sloots
Total pages 272– two hundred and seventy two
Total colour pages 62
Total black and white pages 210
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary HMPV was first reported in Australia by Nissen et al in 2002 from a group of 200 nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) specimens collected throughout 2001 from children presenting to the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane. These specimens, previously negative for all common viral pathogens, were screened for hMPV by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay based on known sequences. Molecular diagnostic assays including conventional reverse transcriptase PCR assay (RT-PCR) and real-time RT-PCR assays were subsequently developed, and molecular characterisation studies in our laboratory identified four genetic groups of hMPV. At the start of this project, little information were available regarding the virological characteristics of hMPV such as the isolation and replication kinetics of the virus in eukaryotic cells, molecular assays capable of detecting all virus subtypes, quantitation of viral load, genotyping and molecular epidemiology, correlation between virus subtypes and disease severity, and clinical spectrum of the infection. This project was designed to elucidate the virological features of hMPV that had not been explained by earlier studies on this virus. The project was limited to retrospective studies utilising the sera and nucleic acids obtained from positive subjects presenting to our hospital. The project provided relevant data in these areas, which helped in the early detection of infection and treatment, and also provided information for future research on antibody profiles and vaccine development. The study examined specific areas related to clinical and virological characteristics of hMPV with the aim of applying the results in patient management. During the project, five areas of hMPV research were undertaken, addressing each through detailed studies. An outline of the project aims and the conclusions derived from those experimental chapters is described below: 1. Isolation of the virus from clinical specimens obtained from infected subjects An optimised tissue culture protocol was successfully developed for isolating hMPV from positive nasopharyngeal aspirates, using LLC-MK2 cell lines. Viral stocks were prepared and maintained at stable conditions for future experiments. The demonstration of virus infection in the eukaryotic cells and titration of the infectious virions were performed using immunological assays developed and optimised in our laboratory, during the course of this study. 2. The complete genome sequence of an Australian hMPV isolate In this study, we described the ‘13,333 base pair’ complete genome sequence of the Queensland hMPV type-A strain, designated as AUS-001. Phylogenetic analyses of individual genes were used to generate ‘topological trees’ for systematic comparison of our local hMPV strain to that of international sequences. 3. A quantitative PCR assay (q.PCR) for hMPV A quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR assay (qrt.RT-PCR) was developed for the simultaneous detection and quantification of hMPV in clinical samples. Serial dilutions of a synthetic RNA control were amplified after determining the absolute RNA copy numbers, and a standard curve was derived based on the cycle thresholds (Ct) values of the respective dilutions. Quantification of the hMPV RNA in clinical specimens was performed by extrapolating this data with Ct values of specimen dilutions obtained from the real-time assay. The dynamic range of the assay for hMPV genotypes A and B was determined. Validation of the inter- and intra- assay variations was completed using negative and positive controls along with a second assay targeting a different gene. 4. Determine the molecular epidemiology of hMPV genotypes This component of the project was designed to determine the molecular epidemiology of Queensland hMPV strains, using a selected ‘specimen population of hMPV positives’ representing the period 2001 to 2004. An RT-PCR assay based on P gene regions of hMPV was developed for the molecular typing of the above panel. Analyses of nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequences confirmed the heterogeneity of hMPV strains. In our study group, two genotypes (A and B) further classified into four subtypes (A1, A2, B1 and B2), were found to co-circulate during this period. General epidemiological features of the hMPV infections including seasonality, co-infections, incidence and prevalence in different age groups and in general population were described. 5. Clinical characteristics of hMPV infections The aim of this analysis was to illustrate the clinical spectrum of hMPV infections in a Queensland study population. We described the hMPV incidence pattern in different age groups and investigated the clinical severity scores of hMPV genotypes based on reported clinical features. We also undertook to identify any correlations between disease severity and other factors, including genotype, co-infections and viral load. Summary On completion, this PhD study provided valuable data on the isolation, molecular detection, epidemiological pattern and clinical severity of hMPV infections in Queensland. Overall hMPV was determined to be a serious respiratory pathogen in Queensland children. Data from this thesis will contribute to improved patient management and reduce the burden of hMPV-related disease in Queensland. These studies also formed the basis of further research involving respiratory viral pathogens in our laboratory and nationally.
Keyword HMPV, virus isolation, in-vitro culture, real-time RT-PCR, genome sequencing, qrt.RT-PCR, RNA standards, semi-quantification of RNA, molecular epidemiology, phylogenetic analysis, clinical characteristics.
Additional Notes Page numbers to be printed in colour: 3,5,6,9,12,14,24,38,39,41 – 45, 52,57,66,69, 76, 80 – 89, 91 – 93, 106,107, 110, 116 – 118, 120, 138 – 142, 155,158, 172, 220 – 234. Page numbers to be printed in landscape: 14, 52, 57, 72, 80 – 86, 88, 89, 92, 106, 120, 131, 158.

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