Glycyrrhizin (GA) and primary metabolite 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA) are pharmacologically active components of the medicinal licorice root, and both have been shown to have antiviral and immunomodulatory properties. Although these properties are well established, the mechanisms of action are not completely understood. In this study, GA and GRA were tested for the ability to inhibit rotavirus replication in cell culture, toward a long term goal of discovering natural compounds that may complement existing vaccines.
Epithelial cells were treated with GA or GRA various times pre- or post-infection and virus yields were measured by immunofluorescent focus assay. Levels of viral proteins VP2, VP6, and NSP2 in GRA treated cells were measured by immunoblot to determine if there was an effect of GRA treatment on the accumulation of viral protein.
GRA treatment reduced rotavirus yields by 99% when added to infected cultures post-- virus adsorption, whereas virus yields in GA treated cultures were similar to mock treated controls. Time of addition experiments indicated that GRA-mediated replication inhibition likely occurs at a step or steps subsequent to virus entry. The amounts of VP2, VP6 and NSP2 were substantially reduced when GRA was added to cultures up to two hours post-entry.
GRA, but not GA, has significant antiviral activity against rotavirus replication in vitro, and studies to determine whether GRA attenuates rotavirus replication in vivo are underway.
Rotavirus; Licorice; 18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid; Antiviral
Glycyrrhizin, an abundant bioactive component of the medicinal licorice root is rapidly metabolized by gut commensal bacteria into 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA). Either or both of these compounds have been shown to have antiviral, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-ulcerative, anti-tumor, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory activity in vitro or in vivo. In this study, the ability of GRA to modulate immune responses at the small intestinal mucosa when delivered orally was investigated. Analysis of cytokine transcription in duodenal and ileal tissue in response to GRA treatment revealed a pattern of chemokine and chemokine receptor gene expression predictive of B cell recruitment to the gut. Consistent with this finding, GRA induced increases in CD19+ B cells in the lamina propria and B220+ B cell aggregates framed by CD11c+ dendritic cells in structures resembling isolated lymphoid follicles (ILF). Using a mouse model of rotavirus infection, GRA reduced the duration of viral antigen shedding, and endpoint serum antibody titers were higher in GRA-treated animals. Together the data suggest GRA delivered orally augments lymphocyte recruitment to the intestinal mucosa and induces maturation of B cell-rich ILF independently of ectopic antigenic stimulus. These results provide further support a role for dietary ligands in modulation of dynamic intestinal lymphoid tissue.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a major source of infection in hospitals and in the community. Increasing antibiotic resistance in S. aureus strains has created a need for alternative therapies to treat disease. A component of the licorice root Glycyrrhiza spp., 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA), has been shown to have antiviral, antitumor, and antibacterial activity. This investigation explores the in vitro and in vivo effects of GRA on MRSA pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) type USA300. GRA exhibited bactericidal activity at concentrations exceeding 0.223 μM. Upon exposure of S. aureus to sublytic concentrations of GRA, we observed a reduction in expression of key virulence genes, including saeR and hla. In murine models of skin and soft tissue infection, topical GRA treatment significantly reduced skin lesion size and decreased the expression of saeR and hla genes. Our investigation demonstrates that at high concentrations GRA is bactericidal to MRSA and at sublethal doses it reduces virulence gene expression in S. aureus both in vitro and in vivo.
GRAS genes are a large family of streptophyte specific transcription factors that function in a diverse set of physiological and developmental processes. GRAS proteins of the HAIRY MERISTEM (HAM) sub-family are required for maintenance of shoot and root indeterminacy. The transcriptional targets of HAM proteins and the signaling inputs regulating HAM activity are completely unknown. Understanding the relationship of HAM proteins to other members of the GRAS family may inform hypotheses relating to cellular level HAM functions. Here I report a phylogenetic analysis of GRAS proteins employing the complete set of known and probable GRAS proteins from the sequenced genomes of the flowering plants Arabidopsis and Rice, the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii, and the bryophyte Physcomitrella patens. HAM proteins are most closely related to DELLA proteins, key components of gibberellin perception. However, GRAS proteins diversified into a minimum of 12 discreet monophyletic lineages, including the HAM and DELLA subfamilies, prior to divergence of the moss and flowering plant lineages. Substantial diversification of GRAS proteins at so early a point in land plant evolution suggests that relative relatedness among GRAS protein sub-families may not substantially reflect shared protein function.
GRAS; transcription factor; HAIRY MERISTEM; phylogenetics; Selaginella; Physcomitrella; land plant evolution
The GraSR two-component system (TCS) controls cationic antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) resistance in Staphylococcus aureus through the synthesis of enzymes that increase bacterial cell surface positive charges, by d-alanylation of teichoic acids and lysylination of phosphatidylglycerol, leading to electrostatic repulsion of CAMPs. The GraS histidine kinase belongs to the “intramembrane-sensing kinases” subfamily, with a structure featuring a short amino-terminal sensing domain, and two transmembrane helices separated only by a short loop, thought to be buried in the cytoplasmic membrane. The GraSR TCS is in fact a multicomponent system, requiring at least one accessory protein, GraX, in order to function, which, as we show here, acts by signaling through the GraS kinase. The graXRS genes are located immediately upstream from genes encoding an ABC transporter, vraFG, whose expression is controlled by GraSR. We demonstrated that the VraFG transporter does not act as a detoxification module, as it cannot confer resistance when produced on its own, but instead plays an essential role by sensing the presence of CAMPs and signaling through GraS to activate GraR-dependent transcription. A bacterial two-hybrid approach, designed to identify interactions between the GraXSR and VraFG proteins, was carried out in order to understand how they act in detecting and signaling the presence of CAMPs. We identified many interactions between these protein pairs, notably between the GraS kinase and both GraX and the VraG permease, indicating the existence of an original five-component system involved in CAMP sensing and signal transduction to promote S. aureus resistance.
Modification of teichoic acids with D-alanine by the products of the dlt operon protects Gram-positive bacteria against major antimicrobial host defense molecules such as defensins, cathelicidins, myeloperoxidase or phospholipase. The graRS regulatory genes have recently been implicated in the control of D-alanylation in Staphylococcus aureus.
To determine the impact of the GraRS regulatory system on resistance to antimicrobial host defense mechanisms and virulence of S. aureus, we compared inactivation of S. aureus SA113 wild type and its isogenic graRS deletion mutant by the human cathelicidin LL-37 or human neutrophil granulocytes in vitro, and the ability to cause infection in vivo. We show here that graRS deletion considerably alters bacterial surface charge, increases susceptibility to killing by human neutrophils or the defense peptide LL-37, and attenuates virulence of S. aureus in a mouse infection model.
Our results indicate that S. aureus can regulate its surface properties in order to overcome innate host defenses.
Toxoplasma gondii transmission between intermediate hosts is dependent on the ingestion of walled cysts formed during the chronic phase of infection. Immediately following consumption, the parasite must ensure survival of the host by preventing adverse inflammatory responses and/or by limiting its own replication. Since the Toxoplasma secreted effectors rhoptry 16 kinase (ROP16) and dense granule 15 (GRA15) activate the JAK-STAT3/6 and NF-κB signaling pathways, respectively, we explored whether a particular combination of these effectors impacted intestinal inflammation and parasite survival in vivo. Here we report that expression of the STAT-activating version of ROP16 in the type II strain (strain II+ROP16I) promotes host resistance to oral infection only in the context of endogenous GRA15 expression. Protection was characterized by a lower intestinal parasite burden and dampened inflammation. Host resistance to the II+ROP16I strain occurred independently of STAT6 and the T cell coinhibitory receptors B7-DC and B7-H1, two receptors that are upregulated by ROP16. In addition, coexpression of ROP16 and GRA15 enhanced parasite susceptibility within tumor necrosis factor alpha/gamma interferon-stimulated macrophages in a STAT3/6-independent manner. Transcriptional profiling of infected STAT3- and STAT6-deficient macrophages and parasitized Peyer's patches from mice orally challenged with strain II+ROP16I suggested that ROP16 activated STAT5 to modulate host gene expression. Consistent with this supposition, the ROP16 kinase induced the sustained phosphorylation and nuclear localization of STAT5 in Toxoplasma-infected cells. In summary, only the combined expression of both GRA15 and ROP16 promoted host resistance to acute oral infection, and Toxoplasma may possibly target the STAT5 signaling pathway to generate protective immunity in the gut.
The evaluation of Toxoplasma gondii isolates obtained from geographical environments other than Europe and North America revealed the existence of atypical strains that are not included in the three archetypal clonal lineages (lineages I, II, and III). GRA6 and GRA7 are polymorphic genes that have been used for the genotyping of Toxoplasma. The coding regions of GRA6 and GRA7 from 49 nonarchetypal strains were sequenced and compared with the sequences of type I, II, and III reference strains. Eighteen and 10 different amino acid sequences were found for GRA6 and GRA7, respectively. The polymorphisms found between the different sequences were analyzed, with the objective of defining peptides to be used for the serotyping of Toxoplasma infections. Two peptides specific for clonal lineages I and III (peptides GRA7I and GRA7III, respectively) were selected from the GRA7 locus. Three peptides specific for some atypical strains (peptides Am6, Af6, and Am7) were selected from both the GRA6 and the GRA7 loci. Serum samples from humans infected with Toxoplasma strains of known genotypes were serotyped with the selected peptides. Peptide GRA7III seems to be a good candidate for the serotyping of infections caused by type III strains. Peptide GRA7I had a very low sensitivity. Peptides Am6 and Af6 had low specificities, since they reacted with serum samples from patients infected with strains belonging to the three archetypal lineages. Although peptide Am7 was specific, it had low sensitivity.
Pentavalent antimony complexes, such as sodium stibogluconate and sodium antimony gluconate (SAG), are still the first choice for chemotherapy against various forms of leishmaniasis, including visceral leishmaniasis, or kala-azar. Although the requirement of a somewhat functional immune system for the antileishmanial action of antimony was reported previously, the cellular and molecular mechanism of action of SAG was not clear. Herein, we show that SAG induces extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK-1) and ERK-2 phosphorylation through phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), protein kinase C, and Ras activation and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation through PI3K and Akt activation. ERK-1 and ERK-2 activation results in an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) 3 to 6 h after SAG treatment, while p38 MAPK activation and subsequent tumor necrosis factor alpha release result in the production of nitric oxide (NO) 24 h after SAG treatment. Thus, this study has provided the first evidence that SAG treatment induces activation of some important components of the intracellular signaling pathway, which results in an early wave of ROS-dependent parasite killing and a stronger late wave of NO-dependent parasite killing. This opens up the possibility of this metalloid chelate being used in the treatment of various diseases either alone or in combination with other drugs and vaccines.
Methyl 2-cyano-3,11-dioxo-18β-olean-1,12-dien-30-oate (CDODA-Me) is a synthetic triterpenoid derived from glycyrrhetinic acid, a bioactive phytochemical in licorice, CDODA-Me inhibits growth of Panc1 and Panc28 pancreatic cancer cell lines and activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ)-dependent transactivation in these cells. CDODA-Me also induced p21 and p27 protein expression and downregulates cyclin D1; however, these responses were receptor-independent. CDODA-Me induced apoptosis in Panc1 and Panc28 cells, and this was accompanied by receptor-independent induction of the proapoptotic proteins early growth response-1 (Egr-1), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-activated gene-1 (NAG-1), and activating transcription factor-3 (ATF3). Induction of NAG-1 and Egr-1 by CDODA-Me was dependent on activation of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-K) and/or p42 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways but there were differences between Panc28 and Panc1 cells. Induction of NAG-1 in Panc28 cells was p38-MAPK- and PI3-K-dependent but Egr-1-independent, whereas induction in Panc1 cells was associated with activation of p38-MAPK, PI3-K and p42-MAPK and was only partially Egr-1-dependent. This is the first report of the induction of the proapoptotic protein NAG-1 in pancreatic cancer cells.
CDODA-Me; pancreatic cancer; apoptosis
Bacillus subtilis 168GR10 was shown to contain a mutation, gra-10, which allowed normal temporal activation of alpha-amylase synthesis in the presence of a concentration of glucose that is inhibitory to activation of amylase synthesis in the parent strain, 168. The gra-10 mutation was mapped by phage PBS-1-mediated transduction and by transformation to a site between lin-2 and aroI906, very tightly linked to amyE, the alpha-amylase structural gene. The gra-10 mutation did not pleiotropically affect catabolite repression of sporulation or of the synthesis of extracellular proteases or RNase and was unable to confer glucose-resistance to the synthesis of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase encoded by the cat-86 gene driven by the amyE promoter region (amyR1) inserted into the promoter-probe plasmid pPL603B. It therefore appears that gra-10 defines a cis-regulatory site for catabolite repression, but not for temporal activation, of amyE expression. The evidence shows that temporal activation and glucose-mediated repression of alpha-amylase synthesis in B. subtilis 168 are distinct phenomena that can be separated by mutation.
Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites were isolated from an ocular patient in the Republic of Korea and maintained in the laboratory (designated KI-1). In the present study, its genotype was determined by analyzing dense granule antigen 6 (GRA6) gene and surface antigen 2 (SAG2) gene as typing markers. Digestion of the amplification products of GRA6 and of the 5' and 3' ends of SAG2, respectively, with Mse I, Sau3A I, and Hha I, revealed that KI-1 is included in the genotype I, which includes the worldwide virulent RH strain. In addition, when the whole sequences of the coding regions of SAG1, rhoptry antigen 1 (ROP1), and GRA8 genes of KI-1 were compared with those of RH, minor nucleotide polymorphisms and amino acid substitutions were identified. These results show that KI-1 is a new geographical strain of T. gondii that can be included in the genotype I.
Toxoplasma gondii; Korean isolate-1 (KI-1); PCR-RFLP; sequence
In response to infection by fungal pathogens, the innate immune system recognises specific fungal pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) via pattern recognition receptors including the C-type lectin dectin-1 and members of the Toll Like Receptor (TLR) family. Stimulation of these receptors leads to the induction of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The protein kinases MSK1 and 2 are known to be important in limiting inflammatory cytokine production by macrophages in response to the TLR4 agonist LPS. In this study we show that MSKs are also activated in macrophages by the fungal derived ligand zymosan, as well as the dectin-1 specific agonists curdlan and depleted zymosan, via the ERK1/2 and p38α MAPK pathways. Furthermore, we show that MSKs regulate dectin-1 induced IL-10 production, and that this regulation is dependent on the ability of MSKs to phosphorylate the transcription factor CREB. IL-10 secreted in response to zymosan was able to promote STAT3 phosphorylation via an autocrine feedback loop. Consistent with the decreased IL-10 secretion in MSK1/2 knockout macrophages, these cells also had decreased STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation relative to wild type controls after stimulation with zymosan. We further show that the reduction in IL-10 production in the MSK1/2 macrophages results in increased secretion of IL-12p40 in response to zymosan relative to wild type controls. The production of high levels of IL-10 but low levels of IL-12 has previously been associated with an M2b or ‘regulatory’ macrophage phenotype, which was initially described in macrophages stimulated with a combination of immune complexes and LPS. We found that zymosan, via dectin-1 activation, also leads to the expression of SphK1 and LIGHT, markers of a regulatory like phenotype in mouse macrophages. The expression of these makers was further reinforced by the high level of IL-10 secreted in response to zymosan stimulation.
The two-component regulatory system, GraRS, appears to be involved in staphylococcal responses to cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs). However, the mechanism(s) by which GraRS is induced, regulated, and modulated remain undefined. In this study, we used two well-characterized MRSA strains (Mu50 and COL) and their respective mutants of graR and vraG (encoding the ABC transporter-dependent efflux pump immediately downstream of graRS), and show that (i) the expression of two key determinants of net positive surface charge (mprF and dlt) is dependent on the cotranscription of both graR and vraG, (ii) reduced expression of mprF and dlt in graR mutants was phenotypically associated with reduced surface-positive charge, (iii) this net reduction in surface-positive charge in graR and vraG mutants, in turn, correlated with enhanced killing by a range of CAPs of diverse structure and origin, including those from mammalian platelets (tPMPs) and neutrophils (hNP-1) and from bacteria (polymyxin B), and (iv) the synthesis and translocation of membrane lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (an mprF-dependent function) was substantially lower in graR and vraG mutants than in parental strains. Importantly, the inducibility of mprF and dlt transcription via the graRS-vraFG pathway was selective, with induction by sublethal exposure to the CAPs, RP-1 (platelets), and polymyxin B, but not by other cationic molecules (hNP-1, vancomycin, gentamicin, or calcium-daptomycin). Although graR regulates expression of vraG, the expression of graR was codependent on an intact downstream vraG locus. Collectively, these data support an important role of the graRS and vraFG loci in the sensing of and response to specific CAPs involved in innate host defenses.
Diagnosis of Toxoplasma gondii (T.gondii) infection is of great medical importance especially for pregnant women and immunosuppressed patients. Numerous studies have shown that the recombinant production of several toxoplasma antigens, including dense granule antigens (GRAs) has a great potential as diagnostic reagents. Previous studies reported expression of amino terminal GRA8 protein in fusion with large tags. In the present study, we produced truncated GRA8 (GRA8), excluded from the signal peptide and C-terminal transmembrane domain, with a short fusion tag in Escherichia coli (E.coli). GRA8 was purified using an optimized single-step Immobilized Metal ion Affinity Chromatography (IMAC). The purity and yield of GRA8 was highest at pH = 9.25. At this pH, 13.6 mg of GRA8 was obtained with the purity of 97.97%. Immunogenicity of the protein was evaluated in Western blot analysis showing the serum sample from a rabbit immunized with GRA8 recognized a single antigen of T.gondii tachyzoite at the expected molecular weight of native GRA8. To diagnosis acute toxoplasma infection in pregnant women, an indirect immunoglobulin M (IgM) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed using GRA8 resulting in a test specificity and sensitivity of 97.1% and 60.6%, respectively. These results demonstrated that immunogenic GRA8 can be produced in fusion with a short tag and purified near to homogeneity using an optimized IMAC. GRA8-IgM-ELISA was useful for detection of acute toxoplasma infection.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; Gene expression; GRA8 protein; Immunoglobulin M; Toxoplasma gondii
Granzyme B (GraB) induces apoptosis in the presence of perforin. Perforin polymerizes in the cell membrane to form a nonspecific ion pore, but it is not known where GraB acts to initiate the events that ultimately lead to apoptosis. It has been hypothesized that GraB enters the target cell through a perforin channel and then initiates apoptosis by cleaving and activating members of the ICE/Ced-3 family of cell death proteases. To determine if GraB can enter the cell, we treated YAC-1 or HeLa cells with FITC-labeled GraB and measured intracellular fluorescence with a high sensitivity CCD camera and image analyzer. GraB was internalized and found diffusely dispersed in the cell cytoplasm within 10 min. Uptake was inhibited at low temperature (4°C) and by pretreatment with metabolic inhibitors, NaF and DNP, or cytochalasin B, a drug that both blocks microfilament formation, and FITC-GraB remained on the cell membrane localized in patches. With the simultaneous addition of perforin and FITC-GraB, no significant increase in cytoplasmic fluorescence was observed over that found in cells treated only with FITC-GraB. However, FITC-GraB was now detected in the nucleus of apoptotic cells labeling apoptotic bodies and localized areas within and along the nuclear membrane. The ability of GraB to enter cells in the absence of perforin was reexamined using anti-GraB antibody immunogold staining of ultrathin cryosections of cells incubated with GraB. Within 15 min, gold particles were detected both on the plasma membrane and in the cytoplasm of cells with some gold staining adjacent to the nuclear envelope but not in the nucleus. Cells internalizing GraB in the absence of perforin appeared morphologically normal by Hoechst staining and electron microscopy. GraB directly microinjected into the cytoplasm of B16 melanoma cells induced transient plasma membrane blebbing and nuclear coarsening but the cells did not become frankly apoptotic unless perforin was added. We conclude that GraB can enter cells autonomously but that perforin initiates the apoptotic process and the entry of GraB into the nucleus.
Host defense against the parasite Toxoplasma gondii requires the cytokine interferon-gamma (IFNγ). However, Toxoplasma inhibits the host cell transcriptional response to IFNγ, which is thought to allow the parasite to establish a chronic infection. It is not known whether all strains of Toxoplasma block IFNγ-responsive transcription equally and whether this inhibition occurs solely through the modulation of STAT1 activity or whether other transcription factors are involved. We find that strains from three North American/European clonal lineages of Toxoplasma, types I, II, and III, can differentially modulate specific aspects of IFNγ signaling through the polymorphic effector proteins ROP16 and GRA15. STAT1 tyrosine phosphorylation is activated in the absence of IFNγ by the Toxoplasma kinase ROP16, but this ROP16-activated STAT1 is not transcriptionally active. Many genes induced by STAT1 can also be controlled by other transcription factors and therefore using these genes as specific readouts to determine Toxoplasma inhibition of STAT1 activity might be inappropriate. Indeed, GRA15 and ROP16 modulate the expression of subsets of IFNγ responsive genes through activation of the NF-κB/IRF1 and STAT3/6 transcription factors, respectively. However, using a stable STAT1-specific reporter cell line we show that strains from the type I, II, and III clonal lineages equally inhibit STAT1 transcriptional activity. Furthermore, all three of the clonal lineages significantly inhibit global IFNγ induced gene expression.
The cAMP and ERK/MAP kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathways are critical for hippocampus-dependent memory, a process that depends on CREB-mediated transcription. However, the extent of crosstalk between these pathways and the downstream CREB kinase activated during memory formation have not been elucidated. Here we report that PKA, MAPK, and MSK1, a CREB kinase, are co-activated in a subset of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons following contextual fear conditioning. Activation of PKA, MAPK, MSK1, and CREB is absolutely dependent on Ca2+-stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity. We conclude that adenylyl cyclase activity supports the activation of MAPK, and that MSK1 is the major CREB kinase activated during training for contextual memory.
Transcription of the mast cell growth factor SCF (stem cell factor) is upregulated in inflammatory conditions, and this is dependent upon NF-κB, as well as the MAP kinases p38 and ERK activation. We show here that the MAPK downstream nuclear kinase MSK1 induces NF-κB p65 Ser276 phosphorylation upon IL-1ß treatment, which was inhibited in cells transfected with a MSK1 kinase-dead (KD) mutant compared to the WT control. In addition, we show by ChIP experiments that MSK1 as well as MAPK inhibition abolishes binding of p65, of its coactivator CBP, and of MSK1 itself to the κB intronic enhancer site of the SCF gene. We show that interaction between NF-κB and CBP is prevented in cells transfected by a p65 S276C mutant. Finally, we demonstrate that both transfections of MSK1-KD and MSK1 siRNA - but not the WT MSK1 or control siRNA - downregulate the expression of SCF induced by IL-1ß. Our study provides therefore a direct link between MSK1-mediated phosphorylation of Ser276 p65 of NF-κB, allowing its binding to the SCF intronic enhancer, and pathophysiological SCF expression in inflammation.
The present study demonstrates that the subcutaneous administration of Neospora caninum dense granule protein 7 (NcGRA7) entrapped in liposomes coated with mannotriose strongly induces the parasite-specific T-helper type 1 immune response and humoral antibody in mice. Although anti-NcGRA7 immunoglobulin G1 antibody production was induced in mice injected with NcGRA7 alone, the dams and offspring were never protected from N. caninum infection. The immunization of mice with liposome-entrapped NcGRA7 before pregnancy resulted in increased offspring survival and decreased the infection rates in the brains of dams after parasite infection at 6 to 9 days of gestation. In conclusion, oligomannose-coated liposome-entrapped NcGRA7 can be used as a new type of effective vaccine to control neosporosis.
Toxoplasma gondii is distributed worldwide and infects most species of warm-blooded animals, including humans. The heavy incidence and severe or lethal damage caused by T. gondii infection clearly indicates the need for the development of a vaccine. To evaluate the protective efficacy of a multiantigenic DNA vaccine expressing GRA7 and ROP1 of T. gondii with or without a plasmid encoding murine interleukin-12 (pIL12), we constructed DNA vaccines using the eukaryotic plasmids pGRA7, pROP1, and pGRA7-ROP1. Mice immunized with pGRA7, pROP1, or pGRA7-ROP1 showed significantly increased serum IgG2a titers; production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α); in vitro T cell proliferation; and survival, as well as decreased cyst burdens in the brain, compared to mice immunized with either the empty plasmid, pIL12, or vector with pIL12 (vector+pIL12). Moreover, mice immunized with the multiantigenic DNA vaccine pGRA7-ROP1 had higher IgG2a titers, production of IFN-γ and TNF-α, survival time, and cyst reduction rate compared to those of mice vaccinated with either pGRA7 or pROP1 alone. Furthermore, mice immunized with either a pGRA7-ROP1+pIL12 or a single-gene vaccine combined with pIL12 showed greater Th1 immune response and protective efficacy than the single-gene-vaccinated groups. Our data suggest that the multiantigenic DNA antigen pGRA7-ROP1 was more effective in stimulating host protective immune responses than separately injected single antigens, and that IL-12 serves as a good DNA adjuvant.
The efficacy of vaccination with Toxoplasma gondii recombinant GRA4 (rGRA4) and ROP2 (rRPO2) proteins and a mix of both combined with alum were evaluated in C57BL/6 and C3H mice. In C57BL/6 mice, rGRA4 and rGRA4-rROP2 immunizations generated similar levels of immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgG2a isotypes against GRA4, whereas immunizations with rROP2 and the mix induced a predominant IgG1 production against ROP2. All groups of C3H vaccinated mice exhibited higher levels of IgG1 than IgG2a. rGRA4-stimulated splenocytes from vaccinated mice produced primarily gamma interferon while those stimulated with rROP2 produced interleukin-4. Challenge of rGRA4- or rGRA4-rROP2-vaccinated mice from both strains with ME49 cysts resulted in fewer brain cysts than the controls, whereas vaccination with rROP2 alone only conferred protection to C3H mice. Immunization with a plasmid carrying the entire open reading frame of GRA4 showed a protective level similar to that of rGRA4 combined with alum. These results suggest that GRA4 can be a good candidate for a multiantigen anti-T. gondii vaccine based on the use of alum as an adjuvant.
The intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii resides within a specialized compartment, the parasitophorous vacuole (PV), that resists fusion with host cell endocytic and lysosomal compartments. The PV is extensively modified by secretion of parasite proteins, including the dense granule protein GRA5 that is specifically targeted to the delimiting membrane of the PV (PVM). We show here that GRA5 is present both in a soluble form and in hydrophobic aggregates. GRA5 is secreted as a soluble form into the PV after which it becomes stably associated with the PVM. Topological studies demonstrated that GRA5 was inserted into the PVM as a transmembrane protein with its N-terminal domain extending into the cytoplasm and its C terminus in the vacuole lumen. Deletion of 8 of the 18 hydrophobic amino acids of the single predicted transmembrane domain resulted in the failure of GRA5 to associate with the PVM; yet it remained correctly packaged in the dense granules and was secreted as a soluble protein into the PV. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that the secretory pathway in Toxoplasma is unusual in two regards; it allows soluble export of proteins containing typical transmembrane domains and provides a mechanism for their insertion into a host cell membrane after secretion from the parasite.
Triterpenoids are used for medicinal purposes in many countries. Some, such as oleanolic and glycyrrhetinic acids, are known to be anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic. However, the biological activities of these naturally occurring molecules against their particular targets are weak, so the synthesis of new synthetic analogues with enhanced potency is needed. By combining modifications to both the A and C rings of 18βH-glycyrrhetinic acid, the novel synthetic derivative methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxo-18βH-olean-9(11),1(2)-dien-30-oate was obtained. This derivative displays high antiproliferative activity in cancer cells, including a cell line with a multidrug-resistance phenotype. It causes cell death by inducing the intrinsic caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway.
antitumor agents; apoptosis; biological activity; glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives; medicinal chemistry
Although some reports have been published on the protective effect of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii surface membrane proteins, few address the inhibitory activity of antibodies to dense granular proteins (GRA proteins). Therefore, we performed a series of experiments to evaluate the inhibitory effects of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to GRA proteins (GRA2, 28 kDa; GRA6, 32 kDa) and surface membrane protein (SAG1, 30 kDa) on the invasion of T. gondii tachyzoites. Passive immunization of mice with one of three mAbs following challenge with a lethal dose of tachyzoites significantly increased survival compared with results for mice treated with control ascites. The survival times of mice challenged with tachyzoites pretreated with anti-GRA6 or anti-SAG1 mAb were significantly increased. Mice that received tachyzoites pretreated with both mAb and complement had longer survival times than those that received tachyzoites pretreated with mAb alone. Invasion of tachyzoites into fibroblasts and macrophages was significantly inhibited in the anti-GRA2, anti-GRA6 or anti-SAG1 mAb pretreated group. Pretreatment with mAb and complement inhibited invasion of tachyzoites in both fibroblasts and macrophages. These results suggest that specific antibodies to dense-granule molecules may be useful for controlling infection with T. gondii.
Toxoplasma gondii; monoclonal antibody; dense-granule molecules; complement; major surface protein; host cell invasion