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Andres Merits


Ph.D. in Virology, Moscow State University, Russia, 1994

Current position

Professor of Applied Virology, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Estonia

Publications (since 2005)

  1. Das, P. K., Merits, A. and Lulla, A. (2014). Functional cross-talk between distant domains of chikungunya virus non-structural protein 2 is decisive for its RNA-modulating activity. J Biol Chem 289(9): 5635-5653.
  2. Rathore, A. P., Haystead, T., Das, P. K., Merits, A., Ng, M. L. and Vasudevan, S. G. (2014). Chikungunya virus nsP3 & nsP4 interacts with HSP-90 to promote virus replication: HSP-90 inhibitors reduce CHIKV infection and inflammation in vivo. Antiviral Res 103: 7-16.
  3. Hallengard, D., Kakoulidou, M., Lulla, A., Kummerer, B. M., Johansson, D. X., Mutso, M., Lulla, V., Fazakerley, J. K., Roques, P., Le Grand, R., Merits, A. and Liljestrom, P. (2014). Novel attenuated Chikungunya vaccine candidates elicit protective immunity in C57BL/6 mice. J Virol 88(5): 2858-2866.
  4. Ratnik, K., Viru, L. and Merits, A. (2013). Control of the rescue and replication of Semliki Forest virus recombinants by the insertion of miRNA target sequences. PLoS One 8(9): e75802.
  5. Nikonov, A., Molder, T., Sikut, R., Kiiver, K., Mannik, A., Toots, U., Lulla, A., Lulla, V., Utt, A., Merits, A. and Ustav, M. (2013). RIG-I and MDA-5 detection of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity restricts positive-strand RNA virus replication. PLoS Pathog 9(9): e1003610.
  6. Glasker, S., Lulla, A., Lulla, V., Couderc, T., Drexler, J. F., Liljestrom, P., Lecuit, M., Drosten, C., Merits, A. and Kummerer, B. M. (2013). Virus replicon particle based Chikungunya virus neutralization assay using Gaussia luciferase as readout. Virol J 10: 235.
  7. Varjak, M., Saul, S., Arike, L., Lulla, A., Peil, L. and Merits, A. (2013). Magnetic fractionation and proteomic dissection of cellular organelles occupied by the late replication complexes of Semliki Forest virus. J Virol 87(18): 10295-10312
  8. Lulla, V., Karo-Astover, L., Rausalu, K., Merits, A. and Lulla, A. (2013). Presentation overrides specificity: probing the plasticity of alphaviral proteolytic activity through mutational analysis. J Virol 87(18): 10207-10220.
  9. Parn, K., Viru, L., Lehto, T., Oskolkov, N., Langel, U. and Merits, A. (2013). Transfection of infectious RNA and DNA/RNA layered vectors of semliki forest virus by the cell-penetrating peptide based reagent PepFect6. PLoS One 8(7): e69659.
  10. Teo, T. H., Lum, F. M., Claser, C., Lulla, V., Lulla, A., Merits, A., Renia, L. and Ng, L. F. (2013). A pathogenic role for CD4+ T cells during Chikungunya virus infection in mice. J Immunol 190(1): 259-269.
  11. Lulla, A., Lulla, V. and Merits, A. (2012). Macromolecular assembly-driven processing of the 2/3 cleavage site in the alphavirus replicase polyprotein. J Virol 86(1): 553-565.
  12. Kumar, S., Jaffar-Bandjee, M. C., Giry, C., Connen de Kerillis, L., Merits, A., Gasque, P. and Hoarau, J. J. (2012). Mouse macrophage innate immune response to Chikungunya virus infection. Virol J 9: 313.
  13. Panas, M. D., Varjak, M., Lulla, A., Eng, K. E., Merits, A., Karlsson Hedestam, G. B. and McInerney, G. M. (2012). Sequestration of G3BP coupled with efficient translation inhibits stress granules in Semliki Forest virus infection. Mol Biol Cell 23(24): 4701-4712.
  14. Rodriguez-Andres, J., Rani, S., Varjak, M., Chase-Topping, M. E., Beck, M. H., Ferguson, M. C., Schnettler, E., Fragkoudis, R., Barry, G., Merits, A., Fazakerley, J. K., Strand, M. R. and Kohl, A. (2012). Phenoloxidase activity acts as a mosquito innate immune response against infection with Semliki Forest virus. PLoS Pathog 8(11): e1002977.
  15. Teng, T. S., Foo, S. S., Simamarta, D., Lum, F. M., Teo, T. H., Lulla, A., Yeo, N. K., Koh, E. G., Chow, A., Leo, Y. S., Merits, A., Chin, K. C. and Ng, L. F. (2012). Viperin restricts chikungunya virus replication and pathology. J Clin Invest 122(12): 4447-4460.
  16. Karelson, M., Dobchev, D. A., Karelson, G., Tamm, T., Tamm, K., Nikonov, A., Mutso, M. and Merits, A. (2012). Fragment-based development of HCV protease inhibitors for the treatment of hepatitis C. Curr Comput Aided Drug Des 8(1): 55-61.
  17. Ausmees, K., Selyutina, A., Kutt, K., Lippur, K., Pehk, T., Lopp, M., Zusinaite, E., Merits, A. and Kanger, T. (2011). Synthesis and biological activity of bimorpholine and its carbanucleoside. Nucleosides Nucleotides Nucleic Acids 30(11): 897-907.
  18. Pohjala, L., Utt, A., Varjak, M., Lulla, A., Merits, A., Ahola, T. and Tammela, P. (2011). Inhibitors of alphavirus entry and replication identified with a stable Chikungunya replicon cell line and virus-based assays. PLoS One 6(12): e28923.
  19. Viru, L., Heller, G., Lehto, T., Parn, K., El Andaloussi, S., Langel, U. and Merits, A. (2011). Novel viral vectors utilizing intron splice-switching to activate genome rescue, expression and replication in targeted cells. Virol J 8: 243.
  20. Siu, R. W., Fragkoudis, R., Simmonds, P., Donald, C. L., Chase-Topping, M. E., Barry, G., Attarzadeh-Yazdi, G., Rodriguez-Andres, J., Nash, A. A., Merits, A., Fazakerley, J. K. and Kohl, A. (2011). Antiviral RNA interference responses induced by Semliki Forest virus infection of mosquito cells: characterization, origin, and frequency-dependent functions of virus-derived small interfering RNAs. J Virol 85(6): 2907-2917.
  21. Karo-Astover, L., Sarova, O., Merits, A. and Zusinaite, E. (2010). The infection of mammalian and insect cells with SFV bearing nsP1 palmitoylation mutations. Virus Res 153(2): 277-287.
  22. Paju, A., Pari, M., Selyutina, A., Zusinaite, E., Merits, A., Pehk, T., Siirde, K., Muurisepp, A. M., Kailas, T. and Lopp, M. (2010). Synthesis of novel acyclic nucleoside analogues with anti-retroviral activity. Nucleosides Nucleotides Nucleic Acids 29(9): 707-720.
  23. Barry, G., Fragkoudis, R., Ferguson, M. C., Lulla, A., Merits, A., Kohl, A. and Fazakerley, J. K. (2010). Semliki forest virus-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress accelerates apoptotic death of mammalian cells. J Virol 84(14): 7369-7377.
  24. Varjak, M., Zusinaite, E. and Merits, A. (2010). Novel functions of the alphavirus nonstructural protein nsP3 C-terminal region. J Virol 84(5): 2352-2364.
  25. Lippur, K.; Merits, A.; Lopp, M.; Kanger, T. (2010). Synthesis of 2,2’-bimorpholines and their biological activity. Balticum Organicum Syntheticum 2010, Riga, 27-30 June 2010. , 2010.
  26. Rausalu, K., Iofik, A., Ulper, L., Karo-Astover, L., Lulla, V. and Merits, A. (2009). Properties and use of novel replication-competent vectors based on Semliki Forest virus. Virol J 6: 33.
  27. Attarzadeh-Yazdi, G., Fragkoudis, R., Chi, Y., Siu, R. W., Ulper, L., Barry, G., Rodriguez-Andres, J., Nash, A. A., Bouloy, M., Merits, A., Fazakerley, J. K. and Kohl, A. (2009). Cell-to-cell spread of the RNA interference response suppresses Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infection of mosquito cell cultures and cannot be antagonized by SFV. J Virol 83(11): 5735-5748.
  28. Lulla, V., Sawicki, D. L., Sawicki, S. G., Lulla, A., Merits, A. and Ahola, T. (2008). Molecular defects caused by temperature-sensitive mutations in Semliki Forest virus nsP1. J Virol 82(18): 9236-9244.
  29. Tamm, K., Merits, A. and Sarand, I. (2008). Mutations in the nuclear localization signal of nsP2 influencing RNA synthesis, protein expression and cytotoxicity of Semliki Forest virus. J Gen Virol 89(Pt 3): 676-686.
  30. Kiiver, K., Tagen, I., Zusinaite, E., Tamberg, N., Fazakerley, J. K. and Merits, A. (2008). Properties of non-structural protein 1 of Semliki Forest virus and its interference with virus replication. J Gen Virol 89(Pt 6): 1457-1466.
  31. Tamm, K., Merits, A. and Sarand, I. (2008). Mutations in the nuclear localization signal of nsP2 influencing RNA synthesis, protein expression and cytotoxicity of Semliki Forest virus. J Gen Virol 89(Pt 3): 676-686.
  32. Ulper, L., Sarand, I., Rausalu, K. and Merits, A. (2008). Construction, properties, and potential application of infectious plasmids containing Semliki Forest virus full-length cDNA with an inserted intron. J Virol Methods 148(1-2): 265-270.
  33. Kiiver, K., Merits, A. and Sarand, I. (2008). Novel vectors expressing anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 to study cell death in Semliki Forest virus-infected cells. Virus Res 131(1): 54-64.
  34. Kont, V., Laan, M., Kisand, K., Merits, A., Scott, H. S. and Peterson, P. (2008). Modulation of Aire regulates the expression of tissue-restricted antigens. Mol Immunol 45(1): 25-33.
  35. Fragkoudis, R., Breakwell, L., McKimmie, C., Boyd, A., Barry, G., Kohl, A., Merits, A. and Fazakerley, J. K. (2007). The type I interferon system protects mice from Semliki Forest virus by preventing widespread virus dissemination in extraneural tissues, but does not mediate the restricted replication of avirulent virus in central nervous system neurons. J Gen Virol 88(Pt 12): 3373-3384.
  36. Tamberg, N., Lulla, V., Fragkoudis, R., Lulla, A., Fazakerley, J. K. and Merits, A. (2007). Insertion of EGFP into the replicase gene of Semliki Forest virus results in a novel, genetically stable marker virus. J Gen Virol 88(Pt 4): 1225-1230.
  37. Zusinaite, E., Tints, K., Kiiver, K., Spuul, P., Karo-Astover, L., Merits, A. and Sarand, I. (2007). Mutations at the palmitoylation site of non-structural protein nsP1 of Semliki Forest virus attenuate virus replication and cause accumulation of compensatory mutations. J Gen Virol 88(Pt 7): 1977-1985.
  38. Spuul, P., Salonen, A., Merits, A., Jokitalo, E., Kaariainen, L. and Ahola, T. (2007). Role of the amphipathic peptide of Semliki forest virus replicase protein nsP1 in membrane association and virus replication. J Virol 81(2): 872-883.
  39. Lulla, V., Merits, A., Sarin, P., Kaariainen, L., Keranen, S. and Ahola, T. (2006). Identification of mutations causing temperature-sensitive defects in Semliki Forest virus RNA synthesis. J Virol 80(6): 3108-3111.
  40. Kiiver, K., Merits, A., Ustav, M. and Zusinaite, E. (2006). Complex formation between hepatitis C virus NS2 and NS3 proteins. Virus Res 117(2): 264-272.
  41. Lulla, A., Lulla, V., Tints, K., Ahola, T. and Merits, A. (2006). Molecular determinants of substrate specificity for Semliki Forest virus nonstructural protease. J Virol 80(11): 5413-5422.
Protocols by Andres Merits
  1. IFN-α/β Detection Assay Using Sensor Cell Lines