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Topic: Comparison of intra-host dynamics and evolution of Puumala virus (PUUV) in epidemiologically contrasted geographical areas: consequences on the excretion of the virus in the environment and on the risk of extension of Nephropathia epidemica in France
Thesis supervisor: N. Charbonnel
Funding: Inra/EFPA – ANSES
Dates : October 1st, 2017 – October 1st, 2020

The project aims to better evaluate the risks of emergence of Nephropathia epidemica in peri-endemic French regions. In this context, the project propose to improve our knowledge on the interactions between Puumala virus and its rodent host, the bank vole.

The major objective is to analyze the impact of these interactions on the dynamic of infection and on the genetic evolution of the virus from the contamination to the excretion in the environment. The combination of phylogenomic and experimental approaches will allow the study of the dynamic and evolution of the virus in its reservoir, in parallel with the immune response developed by the bank vole.

We will study in particular the distribution of the virus in the various tissues and cells of the vole and the genetic evolution of the virus during the infection by innovative sequencing technologies. Some viral variants could be associated with better replication, excretion and/or transmission, some characteristics that could be involved in the pathogenicity of the virus.

These results will be correlated with the production of neutralizing antibodies by the host, which can limit viral replication and intra-host evolution of PUUV. The comparison of the results obtained in natural conditions or after experimental infections of voles from endemic and peri-endemic areas will allow to test the existence of regional differences concerning the dynamic of infection, intrahost evolution and excretion of the virus.