Vilela, J., M. A. Rohaim, and M. Munir, "Avian Orthoavulavirus Type-1 as Vaccine Vector against Respiratory Viral Pathogens in Animal and Human.", Vaccines, vol. 10, issue 2, 2022. Abstract

Avian orthoavulaviruses type-1 (AOaV-1) have recently transitioned from animal vaccine vector to a bona fide vaccine delivery vehicle in human. Owing to induction of robust innate and adaptive immune responses in mucus membranes in both birds and mammals, AOaVs offer an attractive vaccine against respiratory pathogens. The unique features of AOaVs include over 50 years of safety profile, stable expression of foreign genes, high infectivity rates in avian and mammalian hosts, broad host spectrum, limited possibility of recombination and lack of pre-existing immunity in humans. Additionally, AOaVs vectors allow the production of economical and high quantities of vaccine antigen in chicken embryonated eggs and several GMP-grade mammalian cell lines. In this review, we describe the biology of AOaVs and define protocols to manipulate AOaVs genomes in effectively designing vaccine vectors. We highlighted the potential and established portfolio of AOaV-based vaccines for multiple respiratory and non-respiratory viruses of veterinary and medical importance. We comment on the limitations of AOaV-based vaccines and propose mitigations strategies. The exploitation of AOaVs vectors is expanding at an exciting pace; thus, we have limited the scope to their use as vaccines against viral pathogens in both animals and humans.

Gerardi, V., M. A. Rohaim, R. E. F. Naggar, M. O. Atasoy, and M. Munir, "Deep Structural Analysis of Myriads of Omicron Sub-Variants Revealed Hotspot for Vaccine Escape Immunity.", Vaccines, vol. 11, issue 3, 2023. Abstract

The emergence of the Omicron variant has reinforced the importance of continued SARS-CoV-2 evolution and its possible impact on vaccine effectiveness. Specifically, mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) are critical to comprehend the flexibility and dynamicity of the viral interaction with the human agniotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) receptor. To this end, we have applied a string of deep structural and genetic analysis tools to map the substitution patterns in the S protein of major Omicron sub-variants (n = 51) with a primary focus on the RBD mutations. This head-to-head comparison of Omicron sub-variants revealed multiple simultaneous mutations that are attributed to antibody escape, and increased affinity and binding to hACE2. Our deep mapping of the substitution matrix indicated a high level of diversity at the N-terminal and RBD domains compared with other regions of the S protein, highlighting the importance of these two domains in a matched vaccination approach. Structural mapping identified highly variable mutations in the up confirmation of the S protein and at sites that critically define the function of the S protein in the virus pathobiology. These substitutional trends offer support in tracking mutations along the evolutionary trajectories of SAR-CoV-2. Collectively, the findings highlight critical areas of mutations across the major Omicron sub-variants and propose several hotspots in the S proteins of SARS-CoV-2 sub-variants to train the future design and development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Rohaim, M. A., M. Q. Al-Natour, R. F El Naggar, M. A. Abdelsabour, Y. M. Madbouly, K. A. Ahmed, and M. Munir, "Evolutionary Trajectories of and Vaccines Compatibilities in Poultry.", Vaccines, vol. 10, issue 11, 2022. Abstract

Newcastle disease virus (NDV) causes one of the highly infectious avian diseases in poultry leading to genuine financial misfortunes around the world. Recently, there has been an increasing trend in the number of ND-associated outbreaks in commercial Jordanian poultry flocks indicating a possible complex evolutionary dynamic of NDV infections in the country. To underpin the dynamics of circulating NDV strains and to assess the vaccine-escape potential, a total of 130 samples were collected from different poultry flocks in six Jordanian Governorates during 2019-2021. Twenty positive isolates, based on real-time reverse transcriptase PCR, were used for further genetic characterization and evolutionary analysis. Our results showed that there is a high evolutionary distance between the newly identified NDV strains (genotype VII.1.1) in this study and the commercially used vaccines (genotypes I and II), suggesting that circulating NDV field strains are under constant evolutionary pressure. These mutations may significantly affect flocks that have received vaccinations as well as flocks with insufficient immunity in terms of viral immunity and disease dynamics. To assess this further, we investigated the efficacy of the heterologous inactivated LaSota or homologous genotype VII.1.1 vaccine for their protection against virulent NDV in chicken. Vaccine-induced immunity was evaluated based on the serology, and protection efficacy was assessed based on clinical signs, survival rates, histopathology, and viral shedding. Chickens vaccinated with the inactivated genotype VII.1.1 based vaccine showed 100% protection with a significant reduction in virus shedding, and ameliorated histopathology lesions compared to LaSota vaccinated chicks that showed 60% protection. These results revealed that the usage of NDV inactivated vaccine from the circulating field strains can successfully ameliorate the clinical outcome and virus pathobiology in vaccinated chicks and will serve as an effective vaccine against the threat posed by commonly circulating NDV strains in the poultry industry.

Xiao, S., S. Wang, D. Jiang, X. Cheng, X. Zhu, F. Lin, B. Yu, H. Dong, X. Wang, M. Munir, et al., "VP2 virus-like particles elicit protective immunity against duckling short beak and dwarfism syndrome in ducks.", Transboundary and emerging diseases, vol. 69, issue 2, pp. 570-578, 2022. Abstract

Duckling short beak and dwarfism syndrome virus (SBDSV), an emerging goose parvovirus, has caused short beak and dwarfism syndrome (SBDS) in Chinese duck flocks since 2015. Presently, there is no commercial vaccine against SBDS. In the present study, a virus-like particle (VLP)-based candidate vaccine was developed against this disease. A baculovirus expression system was used to express the SBDSV VP2 protein in Sf9 cells. Immunofluorescence assay, sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Western blotting were used to confirm protein expression. Furthermore, transmission electron microscopy was used to observe the formation of VLPs. VLPs were formulated into an oil-adjuvanted maternal vaccine to evaluate humoral responses in breeding ducks via latex particle agglutination inhibition assay (LPAI) and microneutralization assay. The offspring were challenged with SBDSV to test the protective efficacy. A single dose of SBDSV was able to induce the high level of LPAI antibodies in ducks, with LPAI and neutralization peak titres of 4.9 ± 1.20 log2 and 7.1 ± 1.20 log2, respectively, at 4 weeks post-vaccination (wpv). The average LPAI titre of yolk antibodies in duck eggs receiving 2 doses (first and boost doses) of the vaccine was 5.3 ± 1.09 log2 at 4 weeks post-boost. The protective efficacy of the maternal vaccine was 87.5%-100%. These results indicate that SBDSV VLPs can be a promising vaccine candidate for controlling SBDS.

Rohaim, M. A., M. Q. Al-Natour, M. A. Abdelsabour, R. F El Naggar, Y. M. Madbouly, K. A. Ahmed, and M. Munir, "Transgenic Chicks Expressing Interferon-Inducible Transmembrane Protein 1 (IFITM1) Restrict Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Influenza Viruses.", International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 22, issue 16, 2021. Abstract

Mammalian cells utilize a wide spectrum of pathways to antagonize the viral replication. These pathways are typically regulated by antiviral proteins and can be constitutively expressed but also exacerbated by interferon induction. A myriad of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) have been identified in mounting broad-spectrum antiviral responses. Members of the interferon-induced transmembrane (IFITM) family of proteins are unique among these ISGs due to their ability to prevent virus entry through the lipid bilayer into the cell. In the current study, we generated transgenic chickens that constitutively and stably expressed chicken IFITM1 (chIFITM1) using the avian sarcoma-leukosis virus (RCAS)-based gene transfer system. The challenged transgenic chicks with clinical dose 10 egg infective dose 50 (EID) of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) subtype H5N1 (clade showed 100% protection and significant infection tolerance. Although challenged transgenic chicks displayed 60% protection against challenge with the sub-lethal dose (EID 10), the transgenic chicks showed delayed clinical symptoms, reduced virus shedding, and reduced histopathologic alterations compared to non-transgenic challenged control chickens. These finding indicate that the sterile defense against H5N1 HPAIV offered by the stable expression of chIFITM1 is inadequate; however, the clinical outcome can be substantially ameliorated. In conclusion, chIFITM proteins can inhibit influenza virus replication that can infect various host species and could be a crucial barrier against zoonotic infections.

Rohaim, M. A., R. E. F. Naggar, M. A. Abdelsabour, B. A. Ahmed, M. M. Hamoud, K. A. Ahmed, O. K. Zahran, and M. Munir, "Insights into the Genetic Evolution of Duck Hepatitis A Virus in Egypt.", Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, vol. 11, issue 9, 2021. Abstract

Duck hepatitis virus (DHV) is one of the commercially important diseases of ducklings worldwide. It is an acute and highly infectious disease of ducklings caused by three different serotypes (1-3) of duck hepatitis A virus (DHAV), and serotype 1 is the most common in poultry. To date, little is known about the prevalence and genetic characterisation of DHAV-1 in Egypt. In the current study, isolation and complete genomic analyses of DHAVs circulating in commercial duck farms in different Egyptian governorates were conducted. A total of eighteen samples were collected from six Egyptian governorates of 3-11 days old ducklings (Pekin and Mullard) with a history of nervous signs and high mortality rates. Five out of eighteen (5/18) samples were screened positive for the DHAV-1 based on the VP1 gene. These samples were individually used for virus isolation in embryonated duck embryos (EDE), followed by complete genome sequencing. Phylogenomic analyses showed that DHAV serotype I; genotype I were diversified into four different groups (1-4). Most of the recent circulating Egyptian DHAV strains are clustered within group 4, while isolates characterised within this study were clustered within group 1. Recombination analyses revealed that the emergence of a new recombinant virus-DHAV-1 strain Egypt-10/2019-through recombination. Likewise, the selective pressure analyses showed the existence, inside or near areas of the viral attachment or related functions, of positive scores highlighting the importance of natural selection and viral evolution mechanism at different protein domains. The findings of this study provide updated information on the epidemiological and genetic features of DHAV-1 strains and underscore the importance of DHAV surveillance as well as re-evaluation for currently used vaccines.

Park, J. - G., F. S. Oladunni, M. A. Rohaim, J. Whittingham-Dowd, J. Tollitt, M. D. J. Hodges, N. Fathallah, M. B. Assas, W. Alhazmi, A. Almilaibary, et al., "Immunogenicity and protective efficacy of an intranasal live-attenuated vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.", iScience, vol. 24, issue 9, pp. 102941, 2021. Abstract

Global deployment of an effective and safe vaccine is necessary to curtail the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Here, we evaluated a Newcastle disease virus (NDV)-based vectored-vaccine in mice and hamsters for its immunogenicity, safety, and protective efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. Intranasal administration of recombinant (r)NDV-S vaccine expressing spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 to mice induced high levels of SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG2a antibodies and T-cell-mediated immunity. Hamsters immunized with two doses of vaccine showed complete protection from lung infection, inflammation, and pathological lesions following SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Importantly, administration of two doses of intranasal rNDV-S vaccine significantly reduced the SARS-CoV-2 shedding in nasal turbinate and lungs in hamsters. Collectively, intranasal vaccination has the potential to control infection at the site of inoculation, which should prevent both clinical disease and virus transmission to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rohaim, M. A., R. F El Naggar, Y. Madbouly, M. A. Abdelsabour, K. A. Ahmed, and M. Munir, "Comparative infectivity and transmissibility studies of wild-bird and chicken-origin highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses H5N8 in chickens.", Comparative immunology, microbiology and infectious diseases, vol. 74, pp. 101594, 2021. Abstract

Despite the recent advances in avian influenza viruses surveillance and genomic data, fundamental questions concerning the ecology and evolution of these viruses remain elusive. In Egypt, H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIVs) are co-circulating simultaneously with HPAIVs of subtypes H5N1 and low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIVs) of subtype H9N2 in both commercial and backyard poultry. In order to isolate AIVs from wild birds and to assess their potential in causing infection in commercial poultry, a total of thirty-four cloacal swab samples were collected from apparently healthy migratory wild birds (Anas acuta, Anas crecca, Rallus aquaticus, and Bubulcus ibis) from four Egyptian Governorates (Giza, Menoufia, Gharbia, and Dakahlia). Based on matrix (M) gene-targeting real-time reverse transcriptase PCR and subsequent genetic characterization, our results revealed two positive isolates (2/34) for H5N8 whereas no H5N1 and H9N2 subtypes were detected. Genetic characterization of the full-length haemagglutinin (HA) genes revealed the clustering of two reported isolates within genotype 5 of clade The potential of a wild bird-origin H5N8 virus isolated from a cattle egret for its transmission capability within and between chickens was investigated in compare to chicken origin H5N8 AIV. Chickens inoculated with cattle egret isolate showed varying clinical signs and detection of virus shedding. In contrast, the contact chickens showed less levels of virus secretion indicating efficient virus inter/intra-species transmission. These results demonstrated the possibility for spreading of wild bird origin H5N8 viruses between chicken. In conclusion, our study highlights the need for continuous and frequent monitoring of the genetic diversity of H5N8 AIVs in wild birds as well as commercial poultry sectors for better understanding and determining the genetic nature of these viruses, which is fundamental to predict any future threat through virus reassortment with the potential to threaten human and animal health. Likewise, an assessment of coverage and efficacy of different vaccines and or vaccination regimes in the field conditions should be reconsidered along with strict biosecurity measures.

Abdel-Sabour, M. A., M. A. Rohaim, O. J. A. Salman, Samah E Abodalal, F. F. Mohammad, M. S. Madkour, N. A. Abdel-Wanis, and M. Munir, "Immunogenicity and efficacy of a bivalent vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus.", Comparative immunology, microbiology and infectious diseases, vol. 77, pp. 101670, 2021. Abstract

Infectious bronchitis (IB) is a highly contagious viral disease and is responsible for considerable economic losses in the poultry industry, worldwide. To mitigate the IB-associated losses, multiple vaccines are being applied in the sector with variable successes and thus necessitating the development of a potent vaccine to protect against the IB in the poultry. In the present study, we investigated a bivalent live attenuated vaccine consisting of IB virus (IBV) strain H120 (GI-1 lineage) and D274 (GI-12 lineage) to evaluate its protection against heterologous variant of IBV (GI-23 lineage) in chicken. Protection efficacy was evaluated based on the serology, clinical signs, survival rates, tracheal and kidney histopathology and the viral shedding. Results demonstrated that administering live H120 and D274 (named here Classivar®) vaccine in one day-old and 14 days-old provided 100 % protection. We observed a significant increase in the mean antibody titers, reduced virus shedding, and ameliorated histopathology lesions compared to routinely used vaccination regimes. These results revealed that usage of different IBV vaccines combination can successfully ameliorate the clinical outcome and pathology in vaccinated chicks especially after booster vaccination regime using Classivar®. In conclusions, our data indicate that Classivar® vaccine is safe in chicks and may serve as an effective vaccine against the threat posed by commonly circulating IBV strains in the poultry industry.

Naggar, R. E. F., M. A. Rohaim, and M. Munir, "Potential reverse spillover of infectious bursal disease virus at the interface of commercial poultry and wild birds.", Virus genes, vol. 56, issue 6, pp. 705-711, 2020. Abstract

Recently, multiple spillover events between domesticated poultry and wild birds have been reported for several avian viruses. This phenomenon highlights the importance of the livestock-wildlife interface in the possible emergence of novel viruses. The aim of the current study was to investigate the potential spillover and epidemiological links of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) between wild birds and domestic poultry. To this end, twenty-eight cloacal swabs were collected from four species of free-living Egyptian wild birds (i.e. mallard duck, bean goose, white-fronted goose and black-billed magpie). Genetic and phylogenetic analysis of three positive isolates revealed that the IBDV/USC-1/2019 strain clustered with previously reported very virulent IBDV (vvIBDV) Egyptian isolates. Interestingly, two other wild bird-origin isolates (i.e. IBDV/USC-2/2019 and IBDV/USC-3/2019) grouped with a vaccine strain that is being used in commercial poultry. In conclusion, our results revealed the molecular detection of vaccine and vvIBDV-like strains in Egyptian wild birds and highlighted the potential role of wild birds in IBDV epidemiology in disease-endemic regions.