Michal writes:

Dear TWIV crew,

First, I’d like to thank all of you extremely likeable hosts for a great podcast and fascinating discussions.

One of the interesting topics in 2018 in my mind was the discussion in TWIV 498 about m6A modifications on viral RNAs and I thought you might be interested in this cool work, from the lab I work in, published in Nature Immunology which shows that m6A modification controls the innate immune response to viral infections: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41590-018-0275-z

Similar findings were reported also in this paper in Genes and Development: http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/32/23-24/1472.long

Happy New Year!


Staff scientist at the Department of Molecular Genetics

Weizmann Institute of Science

Bill Spindler writes:

Totally not virology related so I didn’t think this was worth an official TWIV email and sent this to my sister Kathy. But she thought otherwise. So, as a retired construction engineer (power plants and refineries, not bridges), here’s my take.


I guess to show that I’m now caught up on TWIV, I just heard this discussion. Not worth an official TWIV email, but…

I get several construction magazines and newsletters, so I was following along with the bridge construction and demolition.

I estimate that 95+% of the old bridge was/is being demolished piecemeal. Perhaps the best general reference for this is this Wikipedia article.


But, part of the eastern approach exhibited structural instability that actually delayed the opening of the second span of the replacement bridge last summer.

Finally it was determined that one span of the eastern approach was too structurally unstable to allow for piecemeal demolition to be done safely, so the explosive option was selected. I’ve attached one article. I think the “thousands of tons of concrete and steel” describes the total demolition of the entire bridge, not just the section that was dropped with explosives–that is only one truss section and 4 piers/caissons.

Here’s a good video by the company that did the demo.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFSxJUdyD_4

They did plan to remove the steel from the river.

I last went across the old bridge in July 2016 when I drove from Virginia to Maine. The new bridge was well under construction then.






Bill Spindler’s Antarctica

Anthony writes:

Al Jazeera — Distrust of polio vaccine plagues Afghanistan

Video at the Link.


Many parents in rural areas suspect that polio vaccines are used for spying or contain questionable ingredients.


Origin of measles virus: divergence from rinderpest virus between the 11th and 12th centuries


I’d been under the impression that the spillover occurred during the domestication of cattle thousands of years ago.

# # #

Dr. Barker’s Immunology Course


Injurious denial of established fact


Holocaust Deniers have been sued.  Why not anti-vaxxers?

Ritesh writes:

I enjoyed listening to the episode 531 of TWiV where Dr. Patrick Moore talked about circular RNAs in KSHV and EBV. I think it’s one of the most interesting emerging topics in herpesvirology or virology in general. I just wanted to point out that Dr. Moore mentioned “RNA is encapsidated in herpes virions”. I think a better word to use would be “packaged” instead of “encapsidated” because it is still debatable whether RNA (host and/or viral) is present inside capsids or in the tegument as argued by Dr. Roizman in this article:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC115055/ (See point iv on p8115).

Thanks and regards,


— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Ritesh Tandon, PhD, FAHA

Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216

Joint Assistant Professor, BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS 38655

Paul Young writes:

Dear TWiVers

Greetings from Brisbane, Australia – muggy, very muggy here after some much needed rain (virtually no rain in all of January). I have no memory of how we managed before air-con! Temperatures have been in the mid-30s although southern states in Australia have been suffering with temperatures in the mid 40s with some outback areas breaking the 50s – and I may need to remind you, that’s 50 degrees centigrade!

I’ve been catching up on my TWiV podcasts so I am a week behind. I was listening, on my way in to work today, to the group’s comprehensive discussion around African Swine Fever virus. Illuminating as usual.

However, I would like to pick up on a passing comment, by Alan I believe, who highlighted the difference in disease outcome between infection of wild versus domesticated pigs and the possibility that perhaps one could engineer into domesticated pigs, the same resistance to severe disease. Vincent commented that he wasn’t sure the genetics underlying the difference was known.

Well, this has actually been done. By the same Institute that is famous for Dolly the sheep – The Roslin Institute. The work to generate genetically-modified resistant domestic pigs was published in early 2016, so we have had the capacity to affect the impact of this disease for some time. While the science behind this is fascinating – it was centred on the identification and initial in vitro characterization, in 2011, of polymorphic variation between wild and domesticated pigs in REL-A (v-rel reticuloendotheliosis viral oncogene homolog A), the major component of the NF-κB transcription factor, a key component in the upregulation of immune regulatory genes. The polymorphic variation is a 3 amino acid difference (one of which appears key). Substitution of the domestic pig gene sequence for the wild pig gene sequence renders pigs resistant to ASFV. The transgenic pigs were generated by older technology but I imagine CRISPR would simplify the process.

The real problem is not the science. It’s the fact that these transgenic pigs are, of course, genetically modified – enter politics and hysteria, particularly in Europe with their fundamental, unscientific hatred of all that is GMO (yes, I have nailed my colours to the wall!).

The initial aim of researchers at the Roslin was to provide some assistance to pig farmers in Africa – at the frontline of the devastating effects that ASFV can have on domestic pig populations in areas of regular viral spread. As you pointed out in the podcast, there aren’t a lot of options other than quarantine and destruction of affected populations. But the GMO status of such animals has been a regulatory/political hurdle. I’m not up to date with where this is now at but can only hope that sense will ultimately prevail and solutions that are evidence-based are followed through to policy and implementation – I know, naïve huh?!!

Still enjoying the evidence-based discussions and insights you bring to the virology community and the broader interested public. Keep up the great work!


Some links provided. The first from that eminent publication – The National Hog Farmer


The second to the paper detailing the approach:


The approach was based on their earlier (2011) identification of differences in the RELA gene that appeared to define resistance in wild pigs:


Best regards


Professor Paul R Young | Head of School |

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences (SCMB) | The University of Queensland | Brisbane | Queensland | Australia |Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre (AID) |The University of Queensland | Brisbane | Queensland | Australia |

Anthony writes:

BBC Poll — Turing “chosen as the greatest scientist in a category that included Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Tu Youyou.”


“It is thought that Turing and his fellow code-breakers shortened the war by several years.”


Spotify splashes out millions of dollars for podcasts


Peter writes:

Greetings TWiV team, I have a science pick for you, though it is probably better suited for TWiM.

I have taken early retirement due to poor health and looking for a hobby (in addition to listening to Microbe.tv podcasts) decided that I would get back into microscopy. I found an informative source of information which I thought I would share you and your listeners:

Microbehunter.com is an online microscopy magazine/blog, forum and YouTube channel, it is targeted mainly at amateur microscopists, teachers and students. It was founded by and is run by  Oliver Kim an Austrian science teacher.

Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/microbehunter

Blog and magazine: http://www.microbehunter.com

Forum: http://www.microbehunter.com/microscopy-forum