Research Highlights: A Robust Human Norovirus Replication Model in Zebrafish Larvae

The high-resolution cryo-EM structures of three different forms of the human norovirus shells (Credit: James Jung) Source:

Original Article:

  • Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) are the most common cause of foodborne illness, with a societal cost of $60 billion and 219,000 deaths/year.
  • Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
  • HuNoVs are non-enveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense, RNA viruses belonging to the Caliciviridae family.
  • The lack of robust small animal models has significantly created difficulties in understanding the norovirus biology and the development of effective therapeutics.
  • Zebrafish is a small freshwater fish that is an extensively studied vertebrate model organism.
  • It can be bred rapidly in large numbers, is amenable to genetics, and has a clear embryo, making it attractive to study vertebrate development, physiology and disease.
  • A study report that HuNoV GI and GII replicate to high titers in zebrafish larvae.
  • Replication peaks at day 2 post infection and is detectable for at least 6 days.
  • The virus (HuNoV GII.4) could be moved through from larva to larva two consecutive times.
  • HuNoV is detected in cells of the hematopoietic lineage and the intestine, supporting the notion of a dual tropism.
  • Hematopoietic stem cells are the stem cells that give rise to other blood cells.
  • Tropism refers to the growth response in a non-motile organism elicited by an external stimulus, and either toward the stimulus or away from it.
  • Antiviral treatment reduces HuNoV replication by >2 log10, showing that this model is suited for antiviral studies.

Zebrafish larvae constitute a simple and robust replication model that will largely facilitate studies of human norovirus biology and the development of antiviral strategies.


Keywords: norovirus, define norovirus, treatment for norovirus, norovirus studies, norovirus research

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