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1.  Viral Interleukin-6: Role in Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus–Associated Malignancies 
Viral interleukin-6 (vIL-6) is a product of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) expressed in latently infected cells and to a higher degree during viral replication. A distinctive feature of vIL-6 is the ability to directly bind and activate gp130 signaling in the absence of other receptor subunits. Secretion of vIL-6 is generally poor, but vIL-6 can activate gp130 from inside the cell. Due to the wide cell distribution of gp130, vIL-6 has the potential to induce a wide range of biological effects. Expression of vIL-6 is variable in KSHV-associated Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD), and in a newly described MCD-like systemic inflammatory syndrome observed in human immunodeficiency virus-positive patients. PEL effusions usually contain vIL-6 at high concentrations; since vIL-6 induces vascular endothelial growth factor, vIL-6 likely contributes to vascular permeability and formation of PEL effusions. Lymph nodes affected with MCD contain vIL-6-positive cells, and vIL-6 levels rise in conjunction with flares of the disease and likely contribute to symptoms of inflammation. The development of vIL-6 inhibitors is a potentially important advance in the treatment of KSHV-associated malignancies where vIL-6 is expressed.
PMCID: PMC3216071  PMID: 21767154
2.  Strategies for manufacturing recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors for gene therapy applications exploiting baculovirus technology 
The development of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) gene therapy applications is hampered by the inability to produce rAAV in sufficient quantities to support pre-clinical and clinical trials. Contrasting with adherent cell cultures, suspension cultures provide a straightforward means for expansion, however, transiently expressing the necessary, but cytotoxic virus proteins remains the challenge for rAAV production. Both the expansion and expression issues are resolved by using the baculovirus expression vector (BEV) and insect cell culture system. This review addresses strategies for the production of rAAV exploiting baculovirus technology at different scales using different configurations of bioreactors as well as processing and product characterization issues. The yields obtained with these optimized processes exceed ~1 × 1014 vector particles per liter of cell culture suitable for pre-clinical and clinical trials and possible commercialization.
PMCID: PMC2562640  PMID: 18632744
adeno-associated vectors; gene therapy; large-scale production; baculovirus; insect cell
3.  Human Herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)-Encoded Cytokines Induce Expression of and Autocrine Signaling by Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in HHV-8-Infected Primary-Effusion Lymphoma Cell Lines and Mediate VEGF-Independent Antiapoptotic Effects† 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(22):10933-10940.
The potential roles of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) cytokines in HHV-8 pathogenesis were investigated by determining the expression of the HHV-8 chemokines viral macrophage inflammatory protein 1A (vMIP-1A) and vMIP-1B in primary effusion lymphoma (PEL)-derived cell lines and examining the signaling activities of these chemokines and HHV-8-encoded vIL-6 in these cells. Secreted vMIP-1A and vMIP-1B were detected in biologically significant concentrations following tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate treatment, which induces productive replication. vIL-6 and vMIP-1A, added exogenously to cultures of four different PEL cell lines, induced the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor type B (VEGF-B) and VEGF-A, respectively. These cells were found to express VEGF receptor 1 (Flt-1) protein, and signaling by recombinant VEGF-A165 was demonstrated for two of the PEL cell lines, indicating the potential for autocrine, as well as paracrine, effects of viral cytokine-induced VEGF. In addition, vMIP-1A and vMIP-1B, but not VEGF-A165, were found to inhibit chemically induced apoptosis in PEL cells. Our data suggest that vIL-6 and vMIP-1A may influence PEL through VEGF autocrine and paracrine signaling that promotes PEL cell growth and extravascular effusion and that vMIP-1A and vMIP-1B can act independently of VEGF as antiapoptotic factors.
PMCID: PMC114673  PMID: 11602733
4.  Intracellular Signaling Mechanisms and Activities of Human Herpesvirus 8 Interleukin-6 ▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;83(2):722-733.
Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)-encoded viral interleukin-6 (vIL-6) has been implicated as a key factor in virus-associated neoplasia because of its proproliferative and survival effects and also in view of its angiogenic properties. A major difference between vIL-6 and human IL-6 (hIL-6) is that vIL-6, uniquely, is largely retained and can signal intracellularly. While vIL-6 is generally considered to be a lytic gene, several reports have noted its low-level expression in latently infected primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cultures, in the absence of other lytic gene expression. Thus, intracellular autocrine signal transduction by the viral cytokine may be of particular relevance to the growth and survival of latently infected cells and to pathogenesis. Here we report that most intracellular vIL-6 is located in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), signals via the gp130 signal transducer in this compartment, and does so independently of the gp80 α-subunit of the IL-6 receptor, required for hIL-6 signal transduction. Signaling and biological assays incorporating ER-retained vIL-6 and hIL-6 confirmed vIL-6 activity, specifically, in this compartment. Knockdown of vIL-6 expression in PEL cells led to markedly reduced cell growth in normal culture, independently of extracellular cytokines. This could be reversed by reintroduction via virus vector of exclusively ER-retained vIL-6. These data indicate that in virus biology vIL-6 may act to support the growth and survival of cells latently infected with HHV-8 in an autocrine manner via intracrine signaling and that these activities may contribute to the maintenance of latently infected cells and to virus-induced neoplasia.
PMCID: PMC2612405  PMID: 18987143
5.  HIV-1 Tat Promotes Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) vIL-6-Induced Angiogenesis and Tumorigenesis by Regulating PI3K/PTEN/AKT/GSK-3β Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53145.
Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is etiologically associated with KS, the most common AIDS-related malignancy. KS is characterized by vast angiogenesis and hyperproliferative spindle cells. We have previously reported that HIV-1 Tat can trigger KSHV reactivation and accelerate Kaposin A-induced tumorigenesis. Here, we explored Tat promotion of KSHV vIL-6-induced angiogenesis and tumorigenesis. Tat promotes vIL-6-induced cell proliferation, cellular transformation, vascular tube formation and VEGF production in culture. Tat enhances vIL-6-induced angiogenesis and tumorigenesis of fibroblasts and human endothelial cells in a chicken chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model. In an allograft model, Tat promotes vIL-6-induced tumorigenesis and expression of CD31, CD34, SMA, VEGF, b-FGF, and cyclin D1. Mechanistic studies indicated Tat activates PI3K and AKT, and inactivates PTEN and GSK-3β in vIL-6 expressing cells. LY294002, a specific inhibitor of PI3K, effectively impaired Tat’s promotion of vIL-6-induced tumorigenesis. Together, these results provide the first evidence that Tat might contribute to KS pathogenesis by synergizing with vIL-6, and identify PI3K/AKT pathway as a potential therapeutic target in AIDS-related KS patients.
PMCID: PMC3534639  PMID: 23301033
6.  Marek's Disease Virus-Encoded vIL-8 Gene Is Involved in Early Cytolytic Infection but Dispensable for Establishment of Latency 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(9):4753-4760.
Marek's disease, a lymphoproliferative disease of chickens, is caused by an alphaherpesvirus, Marek's disease virus (MDV). This virus encodes a virokine, vIL-8, with general homology to cellular CXC chemokines such as interleukin-8 (IL-8) and Gro-α. To study the function of vIL-8 gene, we deleted both copies of vIL-8 residing in the terminal repeat long and internal repeat long region of the viral genome and generated a mutant virus with vIL-8 deleted, rMd5/ΔvIL-8. Growth kinetics study showed that vIL-8 gene is dispensable for virus replication in cell culture. In vivo, the vIL-8 gene is involved in early cytolytic infections in lymphoid organs, as evidenced by limited viral antigen expression of rMd5/ΔvIL-8. However, the rMd5/ΔvIL-8 virus is unimpaired in virus replication in the feather follicle epithelium. vIL-8 does not appear to be important for establishment of latency, since rMd5/ΔvIL-8 and the wild-type virus have similar viremia titers at 14 days postinfection, a period when the virus titer comes primarily from reactivated latent genomes. Nevertheless, because of the impaired cytolytic infections, the overall transformation efficiency of the virus with vIL-8 deleted is much lower, as reflected by the reduced number of transformed cells at 5 weeks postinoculation and the presence of fewer gross tumors. Importantly, the revertant virus that restored the expression of vIL-8 gene also restored the wild-type phenotype, indicating the deficient phenotypes are results of vIL-8 deletion. One of the interesting differences between the MDV vIL-8 gene and its cellular counterpart is the presence of a DKR (Asp-Lys-Arg) motif instead of ELR (Glu-Leu-Arg) preceding the invariable CXC motif. To study the significance of this variation, we generated recombinant MDV, rMd5/vIL-8-ELR, carrying the ELR motif. Both in vitro and in vivo studies revealed that the DKR motif is as competent as ELR in pathogenesis of MDV.
PMCID: PMC387696  PMID: 15078957
7.  Transduced viral IL-10 is exocytosed from lacrimal acinar secretory vesicles in a myosin-dependent manner in response to carbachol 
Experimental eye research  2008;88(3):467-478.
The purpose of this study was to determine the intracellular trafficking and release pathways for the therapeutic protein, viral IL-10 (vIL-10), from transduced acinar epithelial cells from rabbit lacrimal gland. Primary cultured rabbit lacrimal gland acinar cells (LGACs) were transduced with adenovirus serotype 5 containing viral interleukin-10 (AdvIL-10). The distribution of vIL-10 was assessed by confocal fluorescence microscopy. Carbachol (CCH)-stimulated release of vIL-10 was quantified by ELISA. vIL-10 localization and exocytosis was probed in response to treatments with agents modulating actin- and myosin-based transport. vIL-10 immunoreactivity was detected in large intracellular vesicles in transduced LGAC. vIL-10 was partially co-localized with biosynthetic but not endosomal compartment markers. vIL-10 release was sensitive to CCH, and the kinetics of release showed an initial burst phase that was similar but not identical to that of the secretory protein, β-hexosaminidase. Disassembly of actin filaments with latrunculin B significantly increased CCH-stimulated vIL-10 secretion, suggesting that vIL-10 was released from stores sequestered beneath the subapical actin barrier. That release required the activity of actin-dependent myosin motors previously implicated in secretory vesicle exocytosis was confirmed by findings that CCH-stimulated vIL-10 release was reduced by inhibition of non-muscle myosin 2 and myosin 5c function, using ML-7 and overexpression of dominant negative myosin 5c, respectively. These results suggest that the majority of vIL-10 transgene product is packaged into a subpopulation of secretory vesicles that utilize actin-dependent myosin motors for aspects of actin coat assembly, compound fusion and exocytosis at the apical plasma membrane in response to CCH stimulation.
PMCID: PMC2656410  PMID: 19056381
lacrimal gland; ocular surface; gene therapy; cytokines; interleukin-10; myosin; Myo5c
8.  Ex vivo adenovirus mediated gene transfection of human conjunctival epithelium 
AIM—To investigate the efficacy of "ex vivo" adenoviral vector mediated gene transfection of human conjunctival epithelial cell as a possible route for gene therapy for the distribution of anti-inflammatory agents for the potential treatment of immune mediated ocular inflammatory disorders.
METHODS—Human conjunctival cells (HCs) were cultured with various concentrations of recombinant adenoviral vectors carrying a reporter gene LacZ, GFP, or an immunomodulating cytokine vIL-10. vIL-10 in culture supernatant was detected by sandwich ELISA and biological activity was assessed by suppression of ConA stimulated splenocyte proliferation. X-gal and GFP expression was assessed by histochemistry.
RESULTS—The extent of adenoviral vector mediated transfer of both reporter genes and vIL-10 was dose dependent. LacZ expression could be detected for at least 50 day after infection with multiple of infection (MOI) 200. Following AdCMVvIL-10 transduction, vIL-10 protein expression occurred between 4-6 days post-transduction, and was maintained at a detectable level for at least 1 month. Secreted vIL-10 showed biological activity, significantly inhibiting Con A induced splenocyte proliferation. Additionally, transfection of HCs with two Adv vectors, one carrying LacZ and the other carrying GFP, resulted in co-expression within a single cell.
CONCLUSION—These results confirm previous successful adenoviral vector mediated gene transfer to HCs and further show that expression can be maintained. Furthermore the data show HCs can secrete biologically active vIL-10 that could be developed as a strategy to suppress immune mediated disorders. The successful co-transduction of HCs as described for other tissues, opens avenues to develop a multiple target gene therapy locally.

PMCID: PMC1724046  PMID: 11423463
9.  RNA viral vectors for improved Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression of heterologous proteins in Nicotiana benthamiana cell suspensions and hairy roots 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:21.
Plant cell suspensions and hairy root cultures represent scalable protein expression platforms. Low protein product titers have thus far limited the application of transient protein expression in these hosts. The objective of this work was to overcome this limitation by harnessing A. tumefaciens to deliver replicating and non-replicating RNA viral vectors in plant tissue co-cultures.
Replicating vectors derived from Potato virus X (PVX) and Tobacco rattle virus (TRV) were modified to contain the reporter gene β-glucuronidase (GUS) with a plant intron to prevent bacterial expression. In cell suspensions, a minimal PVX vector retaining only the viral RNA polymerase gene yielded 6.6-fold more GUS than an analogous full-length PVX vector. Transient co-expression of the minimal PVX vector with P19 of Tomato bushy stunt virus or HC-Pro of Tobacco etch virus to suppress post-transcriptional gene silencing increased GUS expression by 44 and 83%, respectively. A non-replicating vector containing a leader sequence from Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV-HT) modified for enhanced translation led to 70% higher transient GUS expression than a control treatment. In hairy roots, a TRV vector capable of systemic movement increased GUS accumulation by 150-fold relative to the analogous PVX vector. Histochemical staining for GUS in TRV-infected hairy roots revealed the capacity for achieving even higher productivity per unit biomass.
For the first time, replicating PVX vectors and a non-replicating CPMV-HT vector were successfully applied toward transient heterologous protein expression in cell suspensions. A replicating TRV vector achieved transient GUS expression levels in hairy roots more than an order of magnitude higher than the highest level previously reported with a viral vector delivered by A. tumefaciens.
PMCID: PMC3403893  PMID: 22559055
Plant tissue culture; Gene silencing; Viral vectors; Hairy roots; Plant cell suspensions; Potato virus X; Tobacco rattle virus; Transient protein expression; Agrobacterium tumefaciens
10.  Structural Requirements for gp80 Independence of Human Herpesvirus 8 Interleukin-6 (vIL-6) and Evidence for gp80 Stabilization of gp130 Signaling Complexes Induced by vIL-6 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(19):9811-9821.
Human herpesvirus 8 interleukin-6 (vIL-6) displays 25% amino acid identity with human IL-6 (hIL-6) and shares an overall four-helix-bundle structure and gp130-mediated STAT/mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling with its cellular counterpart. However, vIL-6 is distinct in that it can signal through gp130 alone, in the absence of the nonsignaling gp80 α-subunit of the IL-6 receptor. To investigate the structural requirements for gp80 independence of vIL-6, a series of expression vectors encoding vIL-6/hIL-6 chimeric and site-mutated IL-6 proteins was generated. The replacement of hIL-6 residues with three vIL-6-specific tryptophans implicated in gp80 independence from crystallographic studies or the A and C helices containing these residues did not confer gp80 independence to hIL-6. The N- and C-terminal regions of vIL-6 could be substituted with hIL-6 sequences with the retention of gp80-independent signaling, but substitutions of other regions of vIL-6 (helix A, A/B loop, helix B, helix C, and proximal half of helix D) with equivalent sequences of hIL-6 abolished gp80 independence. Interestingly, the B helix of vIL-6 was absolutely required for gp80 independence, despite the fact that this region contains no receptor-binding residues. Point mutational analysis of helix C, which contains residues involved in physical and functional interactions with gp130 domains 2 and 3 (cytokine-binding homology region), identified a variant, VI120EE, that was able to signal and dimerize gp130 only in the presence of gp80. gp80 was also found to stabilize gp130:g130 dimers induced by a distal D helix variant of vIL-6 that was nonetheless able to signal independently of gp80. Together, our data reveal the crucial importance of overall vIL-6 structure and conformation for gp80-independent signaling and provide functional and physical evidence of the stabilization of vIL-6-induced gp130 signaling complexes by gp80.
PMCID: PMC1617266  PMID: 16973585
11.  Marek's Disease Viral Interleukin-8 Promotes Lymphoma Formation through Targeted Recruitment of B Cells and CD4+ CD25+ T Cells 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(16):8536-8545.
Marek's disease virus (MDV) is a cell-associated and highly oncogenic alphaherpesvirus that infects chickens. During lytic and latent MDV infection, a CXC chemokine termed viral interleukin-8 (vIL-8) is expressed. Deletion of the entire vIL-8 open reading frame (ORF) was shown to severely impair disease progression and tumor development; however, it was unclear whether this phenotype was due to loss of secreted vIL-8 or of splice variants that fuse exons II and III of vIL-8 to certain upstream open reading frames, including the viral oncoprotein Meq. To specifically examine the role of secreted vIL-8 in MDV pathogenesis, we constructed a recombinant virus, vΔMetvIL-8, in which we deleted the native start codon from the signal peptide encoding exon I. This mutant lacked secreted vIL-8 but did not affect Meq–vIL-8 splice variants. Loss of secreted vIL-8 resulted in highly reduced disease and tumor incidence in animals infected with vΔMetvIL-8 by the intra-abdominal route. Although vΔMetvIL-8 was still able to spread to naïve animals by the natural route, infection and lymphomagenesis in contact animals were severely impaired. In vitro assays showed that purified recombinant vIL-8 efficiently binds to and induces chemotaxis of B cells, which are the main target for lytic MDV replication, and also interacts with CD4+ CD25+ T cells, known targets of MDV transformation. Our data provide evidence that vIL-8 attracts B and CD4+ CD25+ T cells to recruit targets for both lytic and latent infection.
PMCID: PMC3421702  PMID: 22647701
12.  Role of Notch Signal Transduction in Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Gene Expression 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(22):14371-14382.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) RTA transcription factor is recruited to its responsive elements through interaction with a Notch-mediated transcription factor, RBP-Jκ, indicating that RTA mimics cellular Notch signal transduction to activate viral lytic gene expression. To test whether cellular Notch signal transduction and RTA are functionally exchangeable for viral gene expression, human Notch intracellular (hNIC) domain that constitutively activates RBP-Jκ transcription factor activity was expressed in KSHV-infected primary effusion lymphoma BCBL1 cells (TRExBCBL1-hNIC) in a tetracycline-inducible manner. Gene expression profiling showed that like RTA, hNIC robustly induced expression of a number of viral genes, including viral interleukin 6 (vIL-6), K3, and K5. Unlike RTA, however, hNIC was not capable of evoking the full repertoire of lytic viral gene expression and thereby lytic replication. To further understand the role of Notch signal transduction in KSHV gene expression, vIL-6 growth factor and K5 immune modulator genes were selected for detailed analysis. Despite the presence of multiple RBP-Jκ binding sites, hNIC targeted the specific RBP-Jκ binding sites of vIL-6 and K5 promoter regions to regulate their gene expression. These results indicate that cellular Notch signal transduction not only is partially exchangeable with RTA in regard to activation of viral lytic gene expression but also provides a novel expression profile of KSHV growth and immune deregulatory genes that is likely different from that of RTA-independent standard latency program as well as RTA-dependent lytic reproduction program.
PMCID: PMC1280196  PMID: 16254371
13.  Abrogation of Viral Interleukin-6 (vIL-6)-Induced Signaling by Intracellular Retention and Neutralization of vIL-6 with an Anti-vIL-6 Single-Chain Antibody Selected by Phage Display 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(17):8510-8520.
Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) encodes several putative oncogenes, which are homologues to cellular host genes known to function in cell cycle regulation, control of apoptosis, and cytokine signaling. Viral interleukin (vIL-6) is believed to play an important role in the pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma as well as primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease. Therefore, vIL-6 is a promising target for novel therapies directed against HHV-8-associated diseases. By phage display screening of human synthetic antibody libraries, we have selected a specific recombinant antibody, called monoclonal anti-vIL-6 (MAV), binding to vIL-6. The epitope recognized by MAV was localized on the top of the D helix of the vIL-6 protein, which is a part of receptor binding site III. Consequently, MAV specifically inhibits vIL-6-mediated growth of the primary effusion lymphoma-derived cell line BCBL-1 and blocks STAT3 phosphorylation in the human hepatoma cell line HepG2. Since it was previously found that vIL-6 can also induce signals from within the cell, presumably within the endoplasmic reticulum, we fused the recombinant antibody MAV with the endoplasmic retention sequence KDEL (MAV-KDEL). As a result, COS-7 cells expressing MAV-KDEL and synthesizing vIL-6 ceased to secrete the cytokine. Moreover, we observed that vIL-6 that was bound to MAV-KDEL and retained in the endoplasmic reticulum did not induce STAT3 phosphorylation in HepG2 cells. We conclude that the activity of the intracellularly retained vIL-6 protein is neutralized by MAV-KDEL. Our results might represent a novel therapeutic strategy to neutralize virally encoded growth factors or oncogenes.
PMCID: PMC1563863  PMID: 16912301
14.  Expression of hemagglutinin protein from the avian influenza virus H5N1 in a baculovirus/insect cell system significantly enhanced by suspension culture 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:16.
Prevention of a possible avian influenza pandemic necessitates the development of rapid diagnostic tests and the eventual production of a vaccine.
For vaccine production, hemagglutinin (HA1) from avian influenza H5N1 was expressed from a recombinant baculovirus. Recombinant HA1 was expressed in monolayer or suspension culture insect cells by infection with the recombinant baculovirus. The yield of rHA1 from the suspension culture was 68 mg/l, compared to 6 mg/l from the monolayer culture. Immunization of guinea pigs with 50 μg of rHA1 yielded hemagglutinin inhibition and virus neutralization titers of 1:160 after two times vaccination with rHA1 protein.
Thus, the production of rHA1 using an insect suspension cell system provides a promising basis for economical production of a H5 antigen.
PMCID: PMC1397843  PMID: 16504108
15.  Daedalus: a robust, turnkey platform for rapid production of decigram quantities of active recombinant proteins in human cell lines using novel lentiviral vectors 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(21):e143.
A key challenge for the academic and biopharmaceutical communities is the rapid and scalable production of recombinant proteins for supporting downstream applications ranging from therapeutic trials to structural genomics efforts. Here, we describe a novel system for the production of recombinant mammalian proteins, including immune receptors, cytokines and antibodies, in a human cell line culture system, often requiring <3 weeks to achieve stable, high-level expression: Daedalus. The inclusion of minimized ubiquitous chromatin opening elements in the transduction vectors is key for preventing genomic silencing and maintaining the stability of decigram levels of expression. This system can bypass the tedious and time-consuming steps of conventional protein production methods by employing the secretion pathway of serum-free adapted human suspension cell lines, such as 293 Freestyle. Using optimized lentiviral vectors, yields of 20–100 mg/l of correctly folded and post-translationally modified, endotoxin-free protein of up to ~70 kDa in size, can be achieved in conventional, small-scale (100 ml) culture. At these yields, most proteins can be purified using a single size-exclusion chromatography step, immediately appropriate for use in structural, biophysical or therapeutic applications.
PMCID: PMC3241668  PMID: 21911364
16.  Multi-Host Expression System for Recombinant Production of Challenging Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68674.
Recombinant production of complex eukaryotic proteins for structural analyses typically requires a profound screening process to identify suitable constructs for the expression of ample amounts of properly folded protein. Furthermore, the evaluation of an optimal expression host has a major impact on protein yield and quality as well as on actual cost of the production process. Here we present a novel fast expression system for multiple hosts based on a single donor vector termed pFlp-Bac-to-Mam. The range of applications of pFlp-Bac-to-Mam comprises highly efficient transient transfection of HEK293-6E in serum-free suspension culture and subsequent large-scale production of challenging proteins expressing in mg per Liter level using either the baculoviral expression vector system or stable CHO production cell lines generated by Flp-mediated cassette exchange. The success of the multi-host expression vector to identify the optimal expression strategy for efficient production of high quality protein is demonstrated in a comparative expression study of three model proteins representing different protein classes: intracellular expression using a fluorescent protein, secretion of a single-chain-Fv-hIgG1Fc fusion construct and production of a large amount of highly homogeneous protein sample of the extracellular domain of a Toll-like receptor. The evaluation of the production efficiency shows that the pFlp-Bac-to-Mam system allows a fast and individual optimization of the expression strategy for each protein class.
PMCID: PMC3714276  PMID: 23874717
17.  High-level production of human interleukin-10 fusions in tobacco cell suspension cultures 
Plant Biotechnology Journal  2013;11(5):535-545.
The production of pharmaceutical proteins in plants has made much progress in recent years with the development of transient expression systems, transplastomic technology and humanizing glycosylation patterns in plants. However, the first therapeutic proteins approved for administration to humans and animals were made in plant cell suspensions for reasons of containment, rapid scale-up and lack of toxic contaminants. In this study, we have investigated the production of human interleukin-10 (IL-10) in tobacco BY-2 cell suspension and evaluated the effect of an elastin-like polypeptide tag (ELP) and a green fluorescent protein (GFP) tag on IL-10 accumulation. We report the highest accumulation levels of hIL-10 obtained with any stable plant expression system using the ELP fusion strategy. Although IL-10-ELP has cytokine activity, its activity is reduced compared to unfused IL-10, likely caused by interference of ELP with folding of IL-10. Green fluorescent protein has no effect on IL-10 accumulation, but examining the trafficking of IL-10-GFP over the cell culture cycle revealed fluorescence in the vacuole during the stationary phase of the culture growth cycle. Analysis of isolated vacuoles indicated that GFP alone is found in vacuoles, while the full-size fusion remains in the whole-cell extract. This indicates that GFP is cleaved off prior to its trafficking to the vacuole. On the other hand, IL-10-GFP-ELP remains mostly in the ER and accumulates to high levels. Protein bodies were observed at the end of the culture cycle and are thought to arise as a consequence of high levels of accumulation in the ER.
PMCID: PMC3712471  PMID: 23297698
interleukin-10; tobacco BY-2 cells; elastin-like polypeptide; molecular farming; protein fusions; protein bodies
18.  Achlorhydria by ezrin knockdown 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;169(1):21-28.
Loss of gastric acid secretion is pathologically known as achlorhydria. Acid-secreting parietal cells are characterized by abundant expression of ezrin (Vil2), one of ezrin/radixin/moesin proteins, which generally cross-link actin filaments with plasma membrane proteins. Here, we show the direct in vivo involvement of ezrin in gastric acid secretion. Ezrin knockout (Vil2−/−) mice did not survive >1.5 wk after birth, making difficult to examine gastric acid secretion. We then generated ezrin knockdown (Vil2kd/kd) mice by introducing a neomycin resistance cassette between exons 2 and 3. Vil2kd/kd mice born at the expected Mendelian ratio exhibited growth retardation and a high mortality. Approximately 7% of Vil2kd/kd mice survived to adulthood. Ezrin protein levels in Vil2kd/kd stomachs decreased to <5% of the wild-type levels without compensatory up-regulation of radixin or moesin. Adult Vil2kd/kd mice suffered from severe achlorhydria. Immunofluorescence and electron microscopy revealed that this achlorhydria was caused by defects in the formation/expansion of canalicular apical membranes in gastric parietal cells.
PMCID: PMC2171884  PMID: 15809309
19.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus ORF57 Promotes Escape of Viral and Human Interleukin-6 from MicroRNA-Mediated Suppression▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(6):2620-2630.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) lytic infection increases the expression of viral and human interleukin-6 (vIL-6 and hIL-6, respectively), an important factor for cell growth and pathogenesis. Here, we report genome-wide analysis of viral RNA targets of KSHV ORF57 by a novel UV-cross-linking and immunoprecipitation (CLIP) assay. We identified 11 viral transcripts as putative ORF57 targets and demonstrate that vIL-6 mRNA is an authentic target of ORF57. Disrupting the ORF57 gene in the KSHV genome leads to inefficient expression of vIL-6. With transient transfection, the expression of vIL-6 could be enhanced greatly in the presence of ORF57 in a dose-dependent manner. We found that the open reading frame (ORF) region of vIL-6 RNA contains an MRE (MTA [ORF57]-responsive element) composed of two motifs, MRE-A and MRE-B, and binding of ORF57 to these two motifs stabilizes vIL-6 RNA and promotes vIL-6 translation. We demonstrate that vIL-6 MRE-B bears an miR-1293 binding site and that, mechanistically, ORF57 competes with miR-1293 for the same binding site to interact with vIL-6 RNA, thereby preventing vIL-6 RNA from association with the miR-1293-specified RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). Consistent with this, ORF57 also interacts with an miR-608 binding site in the hIL-6 ORF and prevents miR-608 repression of hIL-6. Collectively, our results identify a novel function of ORF57 in being responsible for stabilization of viral and human IL-6 RNAs and the corresponding enhancement of RNA translation. In addition, our data provide the first evidence that a tumor virus may use a viral protein to interfere with microRNA (miRNA)-mediated repression of an miRNA target to induce cell proliferation and tumorigenesis during virus infection.
PMCID: PMC3067933  PMID: 21209110
20.  Blockade of Viral Interleukin 6 Expression of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(3):712-720.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8, is associated with several malignant disorders, including Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) and multicentric Castleman's disease. An early lytic gene of KSHV encodes vIL-6, a viral homolog of the pro-inflammatory cytokine and an autocrine/paracrine growth factor human interleukin 6. In this study, we examined the effects of suppressing vIL-6 expression in PEL cells with antisense peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PPMO). PPMO are single-stranded DNA analogues that have a modified backbone and enter cells readily. Treatment of PEL cells with a PPMO designed against vIL-6 mRNA led to a marked reduction in the proportion of vIL-6-positive cells detected by immunofluorescence assay. Analysis by Western blot confirmed a specific reduction in the vIL-6 protein level, and demonstrated that the reduction was dependent on the dose of vIL-6 PPMO. PEL cells treated with the vIL-6 PPMO exhibited reduced levels of cellular growth, IL-6 expression and KSHV DNA, as well as an elevated level of p21 protein. Treatment of PEL cells with a combination of two vIL-6 PPMO compounds targeting different sequences in the vIL-6 mRNA led to an inhibitory effect that was greater than that achieved with either PPMO alone. These results demonstrate that PPMO targeting vIL-6 mRNA can potently reduce vIL-6 protein translation, and indicate that further exploration of these compounds in an animal model for potential clinical application is warranted.
PMCID: PMC2377409  PMID: 18347156
KSHV; vIL-6; PPMO; Antisense
21.  Unraveling Viral Interleukin-6 Binding to gp130 and Activation of STAT-Signaling Pathways Independently of the Interleukin-6 Receptor▿ ‡  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(10):5117-5126.
Human herpesvirus 8 encodes a viral version of interleukin-6 (vIL-6) which shows 25% sequence homology with human IL-6. In contrast to human IL-6, which first binds to the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) and only subsequently associates with the signal transducing receptor subunit gp130, vIL-6 has been shown to directly bind to gp130 without the need of IL-6R. As a functional consequence, vIL-6 can activate far more target cells in the body since all cells express gp130, but only cells such as hepatocytes and some leukocytes express IL-6R. We sought to understand which amino acid sequences within the vIL-6 protein were responsible for its ability to bind and activate gp130 independent of IL-6R. As a first approach, we constructed chimeric IL-6 proteins in which all known gp130 interacting sites (sites II and III) were sequentially transferred from vIL-6 into the human IL-6 protein. To our surprise, human IL-6 carrying all gp130 interacting sites from vIL-6 did not show IL-6R-independent gp130 activation. Even more surprisingly, the loop between helix B and C of vIL-6, clearly shown in the crystal structure not to be in contact with gp130, is indispensable for direct binding to and activation of gp130. This points to an IL-6R induced change of site III conformation in human IL-6, which is already preformed in vIL-6. These data indicate a novel activation mechanism of human IL-6 by the IL-6R that will be important for the construction of novel hyperactive cytokine variants.
PMCID: PMC2682076  PMID: 19264784
22.  Development of a Serum-free Suspension Process for the Production of a Conditionally Replicating Adenovirus using A549 Cells 
Cytotechnology  2006;49(2-3):161-171.
Conditionally replicating adenoviruses (CRAVs) are a group of recombinant human adenoviruses genetically engineered to replicate in selected tissues, such as tumors. These viruses could potentially offer significant medicinal benefits, since the restrictive replication of these viral vectors leads to the lysis of target cells without harm to the surrounding tissues. The in vitro propagation and amplification of the CRAV vectors often requires special host cells with deregulated growth control pathways. In order to develop an efficient cell culture process for the scaleable production of a CRAV vector, A549 cells, a human lung carcinoma cell line normally cultured in adherent culture, were adapted to suspension culture. CRAV production was demonstrated with the suspension-adapted A549 cells and a baseline production process was developed in shake flasks. The ability to scale-up virus production was confirmed in stirred tank bioreactors. Molecular characterization of the suspension-adapted A549 cells indicates no significant changes in cellular mechanisms related to adenovirus infection.
PMCID: PMC3449904
Adenovirus; Recombinant adenovirus; Gene therapy; A549 cells; Serum-free; Suspension; Conditionally replicating adenoviruses (CRAVs)
23.  Transgenic Expression of VEGF in Intestinal Epithelium Drives Mesenchymal Cell Interactions and Epithelial Neoplasia 
Gastroenterology  2008;136(2):596-606.e4.
Background & Aims
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is expressed robustly in human colon neoplasia and is a major new ‘rational’ target of therapy for cancers of the colon and other organs. Nonetheless, the mechanism(s) of action of VEGF-targeted therapies and the biological roles of VEGF in tumorigenesis have not been well defined. We used a transgenic approach to directly test the hypothesis that augmented VEGF expression can drive progression of intestinal neoplasia.
Transgenic mouse lines were generated with moderate (vilVEGF1) and high (vilVEGF2) VEGF expression from the intestinal epithelium. vilVEGF1 mice were bred to Min mice (Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) +/-). Colon epithelial cells from an APC patient were co-cultured with endothelial cells and fibroblasts.
vilVEGF mice were generally healthy but displayed red small intestines. Vessels were larger and more numerous in the submucosa but not the mucosa. The mucosa showed striking stromal and epithelial hypercellularity, with increased epithelial proliferation. Many crypts formed cysts composed of relatively undifferentiated epithelial cells surrounded by cells with endothelial and myofibroblast markers. Compared to Min controls, vilVEGF1-Min mice developed 6-fold more intestinal adenomas of all sizes, with more advanced histological features. Polycystic masses were also observed. Co-culture of human colonocytes with endothelial cells and fibroblasts directly stimulated colonocyte proliferation.
Augmented VEGF expression from intestinal epithelium potently stimulated crosstalk with mesenchymal cells and proliferation of normal and neoplastic epithelium. These effects of VEGF, largely occurring prior to the canonical angiogenic switch in tumors, may be in part independent of angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2824597  PMID: 19056388
24.  EB66 cell line, a duck embryonic stem cell-derived substrate for the industrial production of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies with enhanced ADCC activity 
mAbs  2011;2(4):405-415.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) represent the fastest growing class of therapeutic proteins. The increasing demand for mAb manufacturing and the associated high production costs call for the pharmaceutical industry to improve its current production processes or develop more efficient alternative production platforms. The experimental control of IgG fucosylation to enhance antibody dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity constitutes one of the promising strategies to improve the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies and to potentially reduce the therapeutic cost. We report here that the EB66 cell line derived from duck embryonic stem cells can be efficiently genetically engineered to produce mAbs at yields beyond a 1 g/L, as suspension cells grown in serum-free culture media. EB66 cells display additional attractive growth characteristics such as a very short population doubling time of 12–14 h, a capacity to reach very high cell density (>30 million cells/mL) and a unique metabolic profile resulting in low ammonium and lactate accumulation and low glutamine consumption, even at high cell densities. Furthermore, mAbs produced on EB66 cells display a naturally reduced fucose content resulting in strongly enhanced ADCC activity. The EB66 cells have therefore the potential to evolve as a novel cellular platform for the production of high potency therapeutic antibodies.
PMCID: PMC3180087  PMID: 20562528
duck; embryonic stem cells; monoclonal antibody; fucose; ADCC
25.  The KSHV viral interleukin-6 is not essential for latency or lytic replication in BJAB cells 
Virology  2006;359(2):425-435.
Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus encodes a homolog of the human cellular interleukin-6 that may play a formative role in many KSHV-related diseases. While the viral IL-6 can signal similarly to its human counterpart little is known about the role of vIL-6 during KSHV infection. Using homologous recombination and selection in eukaryotic cells, a KSHV isolate was purified that does not express vIL-6 as was a control recombinant that left vIL-6 intact. The two viruses establish and maintain latency to similar levels in BJAB B-cells, reactivate to similar levels in B-cells and Monkey kidney cells and have very similar KSHV gene expression patterns. BJAB cells expressing KSHV survive better than the parental BJAB cells in low serum and the vIL-6 deletion does not abrogate this growth advantage. Thus vIL-6 is not essential for establishment, maintenance, or reactivation from latency in cell culture and is not involved in the survival of infected BJAB B-cells in low serum.
PMCID: PMC3124245  PMID: 17074378
KSHV; Interleukin 6; IL-6; vIL-6; Kaposi’s Sarcoma

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