Understanding the alphaviruses: Recent research on important emerging pathogens and progress towards their control
Gould, E.A., Coutard, B., Malet, H., Morin, B., Jamal, S., Weaver, S., Gorbalenya, A., Moureau, G., Baronti, C., Delogu, I., Forrester, N., Khasnatinov, M., Gritsun, T., de Lamballarie, X. and Canard, B. (2009) Understanding the alphaviruses: Recent research on important emerging pathogens and progress towards their control. Antiviral Research, 87 (2). 111-124 . ISSN 0166-3542
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2009.07.007
The alphaviruses were amongst the first arboviruses to be isolated, characterized and assigned a taxonomic status. They are globally very widespread, infecting a large variety of terrestrial animals, insects and even fish, and circulate both in the sylvatic and urban/peri-urban environment, causing considerable human morbidity and mortality. Nevertheless, despite their obvious importance as pathogens, there are currently no effective antiviral drugs with which to treat humans or animals infected by any of these viruses. The EU-supported project—VIZIER (Comparative Structural Genomics of Viral Enzymes Involved in Replication, FP6 Project: 2004-511960) was instigated with an ultimate view of contributing to the development of antiviral therapies for RNA viruses, including the alphaviruses [Coutard, B., Gorbalenya, A.E., Snijder, E.J., Leontovich, A.M., Poupon, A., De Lamballerie, X., Charrel, R., Gould, E.A., Gunther, S., Norder, H., Klempa, B., Bourhy, H., Rohayemj, J., L’hermite, E., Nordlund, P., Stuart, D.I., Owens, R.J., Grimes, J.M., Tuckerm, P.A., Bolognesi, M., Mattevi, A., Coll, M., Jones, T.A., Åqvist, J., Unger, T., Hilgenfeld, R., Bricogne, G., Neyts, J., La Colla, P., Puerstinger, G., Gonzalez, J.P., Leroy, E., Cambillau, C., Romette, J.L., Canard, B., 2008. The VIZIER project: preparedness against pathogenic RNA viruses. Antiviral Res. 78, 37–46]. This review highlights some of the major features of alphaviruses that have been investigated during recent years. After describing their classification, epidemiology and evolutionary history and the expanding geographic distribution of Chikungunya virus, we review progress in understanding the structure and function of alphavirus replicative enzymes achieved under the VIZIER programme and the development of new disease control strategies.
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