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1.  Cryptococcus neoformans as a Model for Radioimmunotherapy of Infections 
There is an obvious and urgent need for novel approaches to treat infectious diseases. The use of monoclonal antibodies in therapy of infectious diseases is now experiencing renewed interest. During the last 5 years radioimmunotherapy (RIT), a modality previously developed only for cancer treatment, has been successfully adapted for the treatment of experimental fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. As our model organism for studying the efficacy, mechanisms, potential toxicity, and radioresistance to RIT, as well as for comparison of RIT with the existing antimicrobial therapies we have chosen the encapsulated yeast Cryptococcus neoformans (CN). The success of RIT approach in laboratory studies provides encouragement for feasibility of therapeutically targeting microbes with labeled antibodies. In addition, the creation of “panantibodies” for RIT which would recognize antigens shared by the whole class of pathogens such as fungi, for example, would facilitate the introduction of RIT into the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3124862  PMID: 21747848
2.  Radioimmunotherapy of Fungal Diseases: The Therapeutic Potential of Cytocidal Radiation Delivered by Antibody Targeting Fungal Cell Surface Antigens 
Radioimmunotherapy is the targeted delivery of cytocidal radiation to cells via specific antibody. Although mature for the treatment of cancer, RIT of infectious diseases is in pre-clinical development. However, as there is an obvious and urgent need for novel approaches to treat infectious diseases, RIT can provide us with a powerful approach to combat serious diseases, including invasive fungal infections. For example, RIT has proven more effective than standard amphotericin B for the treatment of experimental cryptococcosis. This review will discuss the concepts of RIT, its applications for infectious diseases, and the strides made to date to bring RIT of infectious diseases to fruition. Finally, we will discuss the potential of PAN-FUNGAL RIT, the targeting of conserved fungal cell surface antigens by RIT, as a treatment modality for fungi prior to the formal microbiological identification of the specific pathogen. In sum, RIT provides a mechanism for the targeted killing of drug susceptible or resistant fungi irrespective of the host immune status and may dramatically reduce the length of therapy currently required for many invasive fungal diseases.
PMCID: PMC3257868  PMID: 22275913
Histoplasma capsulatum; Cryptococcus neoformans; Candida albicans; antibody; heat shock protein 60; beta-glucan; melanin
3.  The Chp1-Tas3 core is a multifunctional platform critical for gene silencing by RITS 
Nature structural & molecular biology  2011;18(12):1351-1357.
RNA interference (RNAi) is critical for the assembly of heterochromatin at fission yeast centromeres. Central to this process is the RNA-induced Initiation of Transcriptional gene Silencing (RITS) complex, which physically anchors small non-coding RNAs to chromatin. RITS includes Ago1, the chromodomain protein Chp1, and Tas3, which bridges between Chp1 and Ago1. Chp1 is a large protein with, apart from its chromodomain, no recognizable domains. Here we describe how the structured C-terminal half of Chp1 binds the Tas3 N-terminal domain, revealing Chp1's tight embrace of Tas3. The structure also reveals a PIN domain at the C-terminal tip of Chp1 that controls subtelomeric transcripts through a post-transcriptional mechanism. We suggest that the Chp1-Tas3 complex provides a solid and versatile platform to recruit both RNAi-dependent and RNAi-independent gene-silencing pathways for locus-specific regulation of heterochromatin.
PMCID: PMC3230742  PMID: 22081013
4.  Antigen shedding may improve efficiencies for delivery of antibody-based anticancer agents in solid tumors 
Cancer research  2012;72(13):3143-3152.
Recombinant immunotoxins (RIT) are targeted anti-cancer agents that are composed of a targeting antibody fragment and a protein toxin fragment. SS1P is a RIT that targets mesothelin on the surface of cancer cells and is being evaluated in patients with mesothelioma. Mesothelin, like many other target antigens, is shed from the cell surface. However, whether antigen shedding positively or negatively affects the delivery of RIT remains unknown. In this study, we used experimental data with SS1P to develop a mathematical model that describes the relationship between tumor volume changes and the dose level of the administered RIT, while accounting for the potential effects of antigen shedding. We found that antigen shedding is a favorable biological process for targeted therapy of solid tumors. Shed antigens acted as a protective reservoir of RIT and buffered against the well-known binding site barrier effect, promoting a more uniform distribution of RIT in the tumor.
In addition, our model reproduced the decrease in tumor size upon RIT treatment in animal experiments. Our findings therefore can be used to study the delivery efficacy of RITs and also antibody drug conjugates currently in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3408876  PMID: 22562466
mathematical model; antigen shedding; immunoconjugate delivery
5.  RNAi-Mediated Targeting of Heterochromatin by the RITS Complex 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2004;303(5658):672-676.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a widespread silencing mechanism that acts at both the posttranscriptional and transcriptional levels. Here, we describe the purification of an RNAi effector complex termed RITS (RNA-induced initiation of transcriptional gene silencing) that is required for heterochromatin assembly in fission yeast. The RITS complex contains Ago1 (the fission yeast Argonaute homolog), Chp1 (a heterochromatin-associated chromodomain protein), and Tas3 (a novel protein). In addition, the complex contains small RNAs that require the Dicer ribonuclease for their production. These small RNAs are homologous to centromeric repeats and are required for the localization of RITS to heterochromatic domains. The results suggest a mechanism for the role of the RNAi machinery and small RNAs in targeting of heterochromatin complexes and epigenetic gene silencing at specific chromosomal loci.
PMCID: PMC3244756  PMID: 14704433
6.  Rit Mutants Confirm Role of MEK/ERK Signaling in Neuronal Differentiation and Reveal Novel Par6 Interaction 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2007;1773(12):1793-1800.
Rit is a novel member of the Ras superfamily of small GTP-binding proteins that regulates signaling pathways controlling cellular fate determination. Constitutively activated mutants of Rit induce terminal differentiation of pheochromocytoma (PC6) cells resulting in a sympathetic neuron-like phenotype characterized by the development of highly-branched neurites. Rit signaling has been found to activate several downstream pathways including MEK/ERK, p38 MAPK, Ral-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), and Rit associates with the Par6 cell polarity machinery. In this study, a series of Rit effector loop mutants was generated to test the importance of these cellular targets to Rit-mediated neuronal differentiation. We find that Rit-mediated neuritogenesis is dependent upon MEK/ERK MAP kinase signaling but independent of RalGEF activation. In addition, in vivo binding studies identified a novel mechanism of Par6 interaction, suggesting that the cell polarity machinery may serve to spatially restrict Rit signaling.
PMCID: PMC2175081  PMID: 17976838
Neuronal differentiation; PC12 cell; Rit; GTPase; Ras; ERK MAP kinase; Par6
7.  High-throughput decoding of anti-trypanosomal drug efficacy and resistance 
Nature  2012;482(7384):232-236.
The concept of specific chemotherapy was developed a century ago by Paul Ehrlich and others. Dyes and arsenical compounds that displayed selectivity against trypanosomes were central to this work 1,2, and the drugs that emerged remain in use for treating Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) 3. Ehrlich recognised the importance of understanding the mechanisms underlying selective drug action and resistance for the development of improved HAT therapies, but these mechanisms have remained largely mysterious. Here, we use all five current HAT drugs for genome-scale RNA interference (RNAi) target sequencing (RIT-seq) screens in Trypanosoma brucei, revealing the transporters, organelles, enzymes and metabolic pathways that function to facilitate anti-trypanosomal drug action. RIT-seq profiling identifies both known drug importers 4,5 and the only known pro-drug activator 6, and links more than fifty additional genes to drug action. A specific bloodstream stage invariant surface glycoprotein (ISG75) family mediates suramin uptake while the AP-1 adaptin complex, lysosomal proteases and major lysosomal transmembrane protein, as well as spermidine and N-acetylglucosamine biosynthesis all contribute to suramin action. Further screens link ubiquinone availability to nitro-drug action, plasma membrane P-type H+-ATPases to pentamidine action, and trypanothione and multiple putative kinases to melarsoprol action. We also demonstrate a major role for aquaglyceroporins in pentamidine and melarsoprol cross-resistance. These advances in our understanding of mechanisms of anti-trypanosomal drug efficacy and resistance will aid the rational design of new therapies and help to combat drug resistance, and provide unprecedented levels of molecular insight into the mode of action of anti-trypanosomal drugs.
PMCID: PMC3303116  PMID: 22278056
DFMO; eflornithine; ISG75; nifurtimox; RNAi
8.  Radioimmunotherapy of infectious diseases 
Seminars in nuclear medicine  2009;39(2):146-153.
The need for novel approaches to treat infectious diseases is obvious and urgent. This situation has renewed interest in using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in therapy of infectious diseases. During the last 5 years radioimmunotherapy (RIT), a modality developed for cancer treatment, has been successfully adapted for the treatment of experimental fungal (C. neoformans and H. capsulatum), bacterial (S. pneumoniae and B. anthracis) and viral (HIV-1) infections. RIT produced none or only transient hematological toxicity in experimental animals. Investigation of radiobiological mechanisms of RIT of infections showed that microbial cells are killed by both "direct hit" and "cross-fire" radiation. MAbs radiolabeled with either alpha- or beta-emitters stimulated apoptosis-like cell death, while only mAbs radiolabeled with alpha-emitter 213Bi also decreased the metabolic activity of microbial cells. The success of this approach in laboratory studies combined with earlier nuclear medicine experience on pre-clinical and clinical studies utilizing radiolabeled organism-specific antibodies for imaging of infections provides encouragement for feasibility of therapeutically targeting microbes with labeled antibodies. We envision that first the organism-specific mAbs will be radiolabeled with imaging radionuclides such as 99mTc or 111In to localize the sites of infection with SPECT followed by RIT with 188Re- or 90Y-labeled mAb, respectively. Also, immunoPET might be utilized for imaging of infection before treatment if such positron-emitting radionuclides as 86Y (matching pair for 90Y) or 124I (matching pair for 131I) are available. It might be possible to create a so-called “pan-antibody” which would recognize an antigen shared by a particular class of human pathogens such as fungi, for example. The availability of such antibodies would eliminate the necessity of having antibodies specific for each particular microorganism and would enormously enhance the development of RIT of infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC2676918  PMID: 19187806
9.  An evolutionarily conserved Rit GTPase–p38 MAPK signaling pathway mediates oxidative stress resistance 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(17):3231-3241.
Rit knockout mice and D-Ric null Drosophila were used to identify the Rit/RIC subfamily of Ras-related GTPases as regulators of an evolutionarily conserved, p38-dependent signaling cascade that functions as a survival mechanism for cells in response to reactive oxygen species exposure.
Ras-related small GTP-binding proteins control a wide range of cellular processes by regulating a variety of effector pathways, including prominent roles in the control of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades. Although the regulatory role(s) for many Ras family GTPases are well established, the physiological function for the Rit/Rin subfamily has been lacking. Here, using both knockout mice and Drosophila models, we demonstrate an evolutionarily conserved role for Rit subfamily GTPases (mammalian Rit and Rin, and the Drosophila RIC homologue) in governing survival in response to oxidative stress. Primary embryonic fibroblasts derived from Rit knockout mice display increased apoptosis and selective disruption of MAPK signaling following reactive oxygen species (ROS) exposure but not in response to endoplasmic reticulum stress or DNA damage. These deficits include a reduction in ROS-mediated stimulation of a p38-MK2-HSP27 signaling cascade that controls Akt activation, directing Bad phosphorylation to promote cell survival. Furthermore, D-RIC null flies display increased susceptibility to environmental stresses and reduced stress-dependent p38 signaling, extending the Rit-p38 survival pathway to Drosophila. Together, our studies establish the Rit GTPases as critical regulators of an evolutionarily conserved, p38 MAPK–dependent signaling cascade that functions as an important survival mechanism for cells in response to oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3164468  PMID: 21737674
10.  A recombinant immunotoxin engineered for increased stability by adding a disulfide bond has decreased immunogenicity 
Recombinant immunotoxins (RITs) are anti-cancer agents that combine the Fv of an antibody against cancer cells with a protein toxin from bacteria or plants. Since RITs contain a non-human protein, immunogenicity can be an obstacle in their development. In this study, we have explored the hypothesis that increasing stability can reduce the immunogenicity of a RIT using HA22-LR, which is composed of an anti-CD22 Fv fused to domain III of Pseudomonas exotoxin A. We introduced a disulfide bond into domain III by identifying and mutating two structurally adjacent residues to cysteines at sites suggested by computer modeling. This RIT, HA22-LR-DB, displays a remarkable increase in thermal stability and an enhanced resistance to trypsin degradation. In addition, HA22-LR-DB retains cytotoxic and anti-tumor activity, while exhibiting significantly lower immunogenicity in mice. This study demonstrates that it is possible to design mutations in a protein molecule that will increase the stability of the protein and thereby reduce its immunogenicity.
PMCID: PMC3276307  PMID: 22101015
disulfide bond; immunotoxin; immunogenicity
11.  RNIE: genome-wide prediction of bacterial intrinsic terminators 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):5845-5852.
Bacterial Rho-independent terminators (RITs) are important genomic landmarks involved in gene regulation and terminating gene expression. In this investigation we present RNIE, a probabilistic approach for predicting RITs. The method is based upon covariance models which have been known for many years to be the most accurate computational tools for predicting homology in structural non-coding RNAs. We show that RNIE has superior performance in model species from a spectrum of bacterial phyla. Further analysis of species where a low number of RITs were predicted revealed a highly conserved structural sequence motif enriched near the genic termini of the pathogenic Actinobacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This motif, together with classical RITs, account for up to 90% of all the significantly structured regions from the termini of M. tuberculosis genic elements. The software, predictions and alignments described below are available from
PMCID: PMC3152330  PMID: 21478170
12.  Discrimination between initiation and elongation of protein biosynthesis in yeast: identity assured by a nucleotide modification in the initiator tRNA. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1993;21(24):5679-5683.
Cytoplasmic initiator tRNAs from plants and fungi possess an unique 2'-phosphoribosyl residue at position 64 of their sequence. In yeast tRNA(iMet), this modified nucleotide located in the T-stem of the tRNA is a 2'-1''-(beta-O-ribofuranosyl-5''-phosphoryl)-adenosine. The phosphoribosyl residue of this modified nucleoside was removed chemically by treatment involving periodate oxidation of tRNA(iMet) and regeneration of the 3'-terminal adenosine with ATP (CTP):tRNA nucleotidyl transferase. The role of phosphoribosylation at position 64 for interaction with elongation factor eEF-1 alpha and initiation factor 2 (eIF-2) was investigated in the homologous yeast system. Whereas the 5'-phosphoribosyl residue prevents the binding of Met-tRNA(iMet) to eEF-1 alpha, it does not influence the interaction with eIF-2. After removal of the ribosyl group, the demodified initiator tRNA showed binding to eEF-1 alpha, but no change was detected with respect to the interaction with the initiation factor eIF-2. This observation is interpreted to mean that a single modification of an eucaryotic initiator tRNA in yeast serves as a negative discriminant for eEF-1 alpha, thus preventing the initiator tRNA(iMet) from entering the elongation cycle of protein biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC310535  PMID: 8284215
13.  Continuous Requirement for the Clr4 Complex But Not RNAi for Centromeric Heterochromatin Assembly in Fission Yeast Harboring a Disrupted RITS Complex 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(10):e1001174.
Formation of centromeric heterochromatin in fission yeast requires the combined action of chromatin modifying enzymes and small RNAs derived from centromeric transcripts. Positive feedback mechanisms that link the RNAi pathway and the Clr4/Suv39h1 histone H3K9 methyltransferase complex (Clr-C) result in requirements for H3K9 methylation for full siRNA production and for siRNA production to achieve full histone methylation. Nonetheless, it has been proposed that the Argonaute protein, Ago1, is the key initial trigger for heterochromatin assembly via its association with Dicer-independent “priRNAs.” The RITS complex physically links Ago1 and the H3-K9me binding protein Chp1. Here we exploit an assay for heterochromatin assembly in which loss of silencing by deletion of RNAi or Clr-C components can be reversed by re-introduction of the deleted gene. We showed previously that a mutant version of the RITS complex (Tas3WG) that biochemically separates Ago1 from Chp1 and Tas3 proteins permits maintenance of heterochromatin, but prevents its formation when Clr4 is removed and re-introduced. Here we show that the block occurs with mutants in Clr-C, but not mutants in the RNAi pathway. Thus, Clr-C components, but not RNAi factors, play a more critical role in assembly when the integrity of RITS is disrupted. Consistent with previous reports, cells lacking Clr-C components completely lack H3K9me2 on centromeric DNA repeats, whereas RNAi pathway mutants accumulate low levels of H3K9me2. Further supporting the existence of RNAi–independent mechanisms for establishment of centromeric heterochromatin, overexpression of clr4+ in clr4Δago1Δ cells results in some de novo H3K9me2 accumulation at centromeres. These findings and our observation that ago1Δ and dcr1Δ mutants display indistinguishable low levels of H3K9me2 (in contrast to a previous report) challenge the model that priRNAs trigger heterochromatin formation. Instead, our results indicate that RNAi cooperates with RNAi–independent factors in the assembly of heterochromatin.
Author Summary
Centromeres are the chromosomal regions that promote chromosome movement during cell division. They consist of repetitive DNA sequences that are packaged into heterochromatin. Disruption of centromeric heterochromatin leads to chromosome loss that can result in miscarriages and genetic disorders. We have sought to define the precise steps leading to heterochromatin assembly using fission yeast as the model system. To accomplish this we employed our novel Tas3WG mutant strain that can propagate preassembled heterochromatin but cannot support its de novo establishment. Current models suggest that small RNAs initiate heterochromatin assembly by targeting the RNAi machinery and subsequently the Clr-C chromatin-modifying complex to the centromere. Here, we demonstrate that transient depletion of components of the RNAi pathway that generate or bind small RNAs does not perturb heterochromatin assembly in our Tas3WG strain. Instead, transient depletion of the Clr-C complex blocks heterochromatin assembly, suggesting a critical role for continuous Clr-C activity during heterochromatin assembly in Tas3WG cells. We have directly tested whether Clr-C can target centromeres when expressed in cells deficient for RNAi and Clr-C. We find that RNAi–independent recruitment of Clr-C can occur and likely contributes to the critical initiating mechanisms of heterochromatin assembly.
PMCID: PMC2965749  PMID: 21060862
14.  Stc1: A Critical Link between RNAi and Chromatin Modification Required for Heterochromatin Integrity 
Cell  2010;140(5):666-677.
In fission yeast, RNAi directs heterochromatin formation at centromeres, telomeres, and the mating type locus. Noncoding RNAs transcribed from repeat elements generate siRNAs that are incorporated into the Argonaute-containing RITS complex and direct it to nascent homologous transcripts. This leads to recruitment of the CLRC complex, including the histone methyltransferase Clr4, promoting H3K9 methylation and heterochromatin formation. A key question is what mediates the recruitment of Clr4/CLRC to transcript-bound RITS. We have identified a LIM domain protein, Stc1, that is required for centromeric heterochromatin integrity. Our analyses show that Stc1 is specifically required to establish H3K9 methylation via RNAi, and interacts both with the RNAi effector Ago1, and with the chromatin-modifying CLRC complex. Moreover, tethering Stc1 to a euchromatic locus is sufficient to induce silencing and heterochromatin formation independently of RNAi. We conclude that Stc1 associates with RITS on centromeric transcripts and recruits CLRC, thereby coupling RNAi to chromatin modification.
Graphical Abstract
► Stc1 is required for RNAi-dependent heterochromatin formation in fission yeast ► Stc1 associates with both RNAi and chromatin modification subunits ► Stc1 localizes to centromeric heterochromatin, dependent on RNAi ► Tethering Stc1 to DNA induces heterochromatin formation independently of RNAi
PMCID: PMC2875855  PMID: 20211136
15.  Radioimmunotherapy based conditioning regimens for stem cell transplantation 
Seminars in hematology  2008;45(2):118-125.
Radioimmunotherapy (RIT) combines the mechanism of action and targeting capability of monoclonal antibodies with the tumoricidal effect of radiation and has shown promising results in the treatment of various hematologic malignancies. Based on RIT’s efficacy and safety profile, many investigators have evaluated its use in transplant conditioning regimens with the goal of improving long-term disease control with limited toxicity. In lymphoma, two basic transplant approaches targeting CD20 have emerged: 1. Myeloablative doses of RIT with or without chemotherapy, and 2. Standard non-myeloablative doses of RIT combined with high-dose chemotherapy. Myeloablative RIT has been shown to be feasible and efficacious using escalated doses of I-131-Tositumomab (Bexxar), Y-90-ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin), and I-131-rituximab with or without chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). The second approach predominantly has used standard doses of Y-90-ibritumomab tiuxetan or I-131 Tositumomab plus BEAM chemotherapy followed ASCT. RIT targeting CD-45, CD-33 and CD-66 prior to allogeneic transplantation has also been evaluated for the treatment of acute leukemia. Overall RIT-based transplant conditioning for lymphoma and leukemia has been shown to be safe, effective, and feasible with ongoing randomized trials currently underway to definitively establish its place in the treatment of hematologic malignancies.
PMCID: PMC2460561  PMID: 18381107
Radioimmunotherapy; stem cell transplantation; CD20; CD45; I-131; Y-90
16.  The La antigen is over-expressed in lung cancer and is a selective dead cancer cell target for radioimmunotherapy using the La-specific antibody APOMAB® 
EJNMMI Research  2014;4:2.
The lupus-associated (La)-specific murine monoclonal antibody DAB4 (APOMAB®) specifically binds dead cancer cells. Using DAB4, we examined La expression in human lung cancer samples to assess its suitability as a cancer-selective therapeutic target. We evaluated the safety and effectiveness of radioimmunotherapy (RIT) using DAB4 radiolabeled with Lutetium-177 (177Lu) in the murine Lewis Lung (LL2) carcinoma model, and determined whether combining RIT with DNA-damaging cisplatin-based chemotherapy, a PARP inhibitor (PARPi), or both alters treatment responses.
The expression of La mRNA in human lung cancer samples was analysed using the online database Oncomine, and the protein expression of La was examined using a TissueFocus Cancer Survey Tissue Microarray. The binding of DAB4 to cisplatin-treated LL2 cells was assessed in vitro. LL2 tumour-bearing mice were administered escalating doses of 177Lu-DAB4 alone or in combination with chemotherapy, and tumour growth and survival measured. Biodistribution analysis was used to determine tissue uptake of 177Lu-DAB4 or its isotype control (177Lu-Sal5), when delivered alone or after chemotherapy. PARPi (rucaparib; AG-014699) was combined with chemotherapy and the effects of combined treatment on tumour growth, tumour cell DNA damage and death, and intratumoural DAB4 binding were also analysed. The effect of the triple combination of PARPi, chemotherapy and 177Lu-DAB4 on tumour growth and survival of LL2 tumour-bearing mice was tested.
La was over-expressed at both mRNA and protein levels in surgical specimens of human lung cancer and the over-expression of La mRNA conferred a poorer prognosis. DAB4 bound specifically to cisplatin-induced dead LL2 cells in vitro. An anti-tumour dose response was observed when escalating doses of 177Lu-DAB4 were delivered in vivo, with supra-additive responses observed when chemotherapy was combined with 177Lu-DAB4. Combining PARPi with chemotherapy was more effective than chemotherapy alone with increased tumour cell DNA damage and death, and intratumoural DAB4 binding. The combination of PARPi, chemotherapy and 177Lu-DAB4 was well-tolerated and maximised tumour growth delay.
The La antigen represents a dead cancer cell-specific target in lung cancer, and DAB4 specifically targeted tumour tissue in vivo, particularly after chemotherapy. Tumour uptake of DAB4 increased further after the combination of PARPi and chemotherapy, which generated new dead tumour cell-binding targets. Consequently, combining 177Lu-DAB4 with PARPi and chemotherapy produced the greatest anti-tumour response. Therefore, the triple combination of PARPi, chemotherapy and RIT may have broad clinical utility.
PMCID: PMC3882100  PMID: 24387284
APOMAB®; La/SSB antigen; Lewis lung carcinoma; PARP inhibitor; Lutetium-177; Bystander killing
17.  Regulation of Iron Transport in Streptococcus pneumoniae by RitR, an Orphan Response Regulator 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(23):8123-8136.
RitR (formerly RR489) is an orphan two-component signal transduction response regulator in Streptococcus pneumoniae that has been shown to be required for lung pathogenicity. In the present study, by using the rough strain R800, inactivation of the orphan response regulator gene ritR by allele replacement reduced pathogenicity in a cyclophosphamide-treated mouse lung model but not in a thigh model, suggesting a role for RitR in regulation of tissue-specific virulence factors. Analysis of changes in genome-wide transcript mRNA levels associated with the inactivation of ritR compared to wild-type cells was performed by the use of high-density DNA microarrays. Genes with a change in transcript abundance associated with inactivation of ritR included piuB, encoding an Fe permease subunit, and piuA, encoding an Fe carrier-binding protein. In addition, a dpr ortholog, encoding an H2O2 resistance protein that has been shown to reduce synthesis of reactive oxygen intermediates, was activated in the wild-type (ritR+) strain. Microarray experiments suggested that RitR represses Fe uptake in vitro by negatively regulating the Piu hemin-iron transport system. Footprinting experiments confirmed site-specific DNA-binding activity for RitR and identified three binding sites that partly overlap the +1 site for transcription initiation upstream of piuB. Transcripts belonging to other gene categories found to be differentially expressed in our array studies include those associated with (i) H2O2 resistance, (ii) repair of DNA damage, (iii) sugar transport and capsule biosynthesis, and (iv) two-component signal transduction elements. These observations suggest that RitR is an important response regulator whose primary role is to maintain iron homeostasis in S. pneumoniae. The name ritR (repressor of iron transport) for the orphan response regulator gene, rr489, is proposed.
PMCID: PMC529065  PMID: 15547286
18.  An Alpha Motif at Tas3 C Terminus Mediates RITS cis Spreading and Promotes Heterochromatic Gene Silencing 
Molecular cell  2009;34(2):155-167.
RNA interference (RNAi) plays a pivotal role in the formation of heterochromatin at the fission yeast centromeres. The RNA-induced transcriptional silencing (RITS) complex, composed of heterochromatic small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), the siRNA-binding protein Ago1, the chromodomain protein Chp1, and the Ago1/Chp1-interacting protein Tas3, provides a physical tether between the RNAi and heterochromatin assembly pathways. Here, we report the structural and functional characterization of a C-terminal Tas3 α-helical motif (TAM), which self-associates into a helical polymer and is required for cis spreading of RITS in centromeric DNA regions. Site-directed mutations of key residues within the hydrophobic monomer-monomer interface disrupt Tas3-TAM polymeric self-association in vitro and result in loss of gene silencing, spreading of RITS, and a dramatic reduction in centromeric siRNAs in vivo. These results demonstrate that, in addition to the chromodomain of Chp1 and siRNA-loaded Ago1, Tas3 self-association is required for RITS spreading and efficient heterochromatic gene silencing at centromeric repeat regions.
PMCID: PMC2756231  PMID: 19394293
19.  A Comparison Between Radioimmunotherapy and Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Peritoneal Carcinomatosis of Colonic Origin in Rats 
Annals of Surgical Oncology  2007;14(11):3274-3282.
Cytoreductive surgery (CS) followed by heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is considered the standard of care for the treatment of patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC) of colorectal cancer (CRC). These surgical procedures result in a median survival of 2 years at the cost of considerable morbidity and mortality. In preclinical studies, radioimmunotherapy (RIT) improved survival after CS in a model of induced PC of colonic origin.
In the present studies we aimed to compare the efficacy and toxicity of CS followed by adjuvant RIT in experimental PC to the standard of care, HIPEC.
PC was induced by intraperitoneal inoculation of CC-531 colon carcinoma cells in three groups of Wag/Rij rats. Treatment comprised CS only, CS + RIT or CS + HIPEC, immediately after surgery. RIT consisted of intraperitoneal administration of 74 MBq Lutetium-177 labeled MG1. HIPEC was performed by a closed abdomen perfusion technique using mitomycin C (16 mg/L during 60 minutes). The primary endpoint was survival.
CS only or combined with RIT was well tolerated. Rats receiving CS + HIPEC were lethargic, suffered from diarrhea, and lost significantly more weight in the first postoperative week. Median survival of rats treated with CS + RIT was significantly longer than after CS alone (97 and 57 days, respectively, P < .004), whereas survival after CS + HIPEC or CS alone were not significantly different (76 and 57 days, respectively, P = .17).
Survival after CS was significantly improved by RIT with Lutetium-177-MG1 in rats with PC of colorectal origin. Adjuvant HIPEC did not improve survival and was more toxic than adjuvant RIT.
PMCID: PMC2039838  PMID: 17653591
Radioimmunotherapy; Cytoreductive surgery; Heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy; Peritoneal carcinomatosis; Colon cancer; Adjuvant
20.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor–Targeted Radioimmunotherapy of Human Head and Neck Cancer Xenografts Using 90Y-Labeled Fully Human Antibody Panitumumab 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(8):2297-2308.
Panitumumab (ABX-EGF or Vectibix), the first fully human monoclonal antibody targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Here, we report for the first time the radioimmunotherapy (RIT) of EGFR-positive human head and neck cancer in a nude mouse model using pure β− emitter 90Y-labeled panitumumab. Biodistribution and planar γ-imaging studies were carried out with 111In-DOTA-panitumumab. The RIT efficacy of 90Y-DOTA-panitumumab was evaluated in UM-SCC-22B tumor model. CD31, Ki67, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated dUTP nick end labeling, and H&E staining were done on UM-SCC-22B tumor sections after treatment. The tumor uptake of 111In-DOTA-panitumumab in UM-SCC-22B tumor-bearing nude mice was 26.10 ± 4.93, 59.11 ± 7.22, 44.57 ± 9.80, 40.38 ± 7.76, and 14.86 ± 7.23 % injected dose per gram of tissue at 4, 24, 72, 120, and 168 hours after injection, respectively. Immunotherapy with cold panitumumab (four doses of 10 mg/kg) did not cause significant antitumor effect. RIT with a single dose of 100 μCi 90Y-DOTA-panitumumab caused significant tumor growth delay and improved the survival in UM-SCC-22B tumor model. A single dose of 200 μCi 90Y-DOTA-panitumumab led to almost complete tumor regression (tumor volumes were 34.83 ± 11.11 mm3 and 56.02 ± 39.95 mm3 on days 0 and 46 after treatment, respectively). Histopathologic analysis of tumors and normal organs further validated the therapeutic efficacy and limited systemic toxicity of 90Y-DOTA-panitumumab. The high tumor uptake and prolonged tumor retention, as well as effective therapy, reveal that 90Y-DOTA-panitumumab may be a promising radioimmunotherapeutic agent to treat EGFR-positive solid tumors.
PMCID: PMC3629966  PMID: 20682654
21.  Radioimmunotherapy Combined with Maintenance Anti-CD20 Antibody May Trigger Long-Term Protective T Cell Immunity in Follicular Lymphoma Patients 
Growing evidence suggests that the patient's immune response may play a major role in the long-term efficacy of antibody therapies of follicular lymphoma (FL). Particular long-lasting recurrence free survivals have been observed after first line, single agent rituximab or after radioimmunotherapy (RIT). Rituximab maintenance, furthermore, has a major efficacy in prolonging recurrence free survival after chemotherapy. On the other hand, RIT as a single step treatment showed a remarkable capacity to induce complete and partial remissions when applied in recurrence and as initial treatment of FL or given for consolidation. These clinical results strongly suggest that RIT combined with rituximab maintenance could stabilize the high percentages of patients with CR and PR induced by RIT. While the precise mechanisms of the long-term efficacy of these 2 treatments are not elucidated, different observations suggest that the patient's T cell immune response could be decisive. With this review, we discuss the potential role of the patient's immune system under rituximab and RIT and argue that the T cell immunity might be particularly promoted when combining the 2 antibody treatments in the early therapy of FL.
PMCID: PMC3858978  PMID: 24371449
22.  Oligomerization of the hydrophobic heptad repeat of gp41. 
Journal of Virology  1995;69(5):2745-2750.
The transmembrane protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) contains a leucine zipper-like (hydrophobic heptad) repeat which has been predicted to form an amphipathic alpha helix. To evaluate the potential of the hydrophobic heptad repeat to induce protein oligomerization, this region of gp41 has been cloned into the bacterial expression vector pRIT2T. The resulting plasmid, pRIT3, expresses a fusion protein consisting of the Fc binding domain of monomeric protein A, a bacterial protein, and amino acids 538 to 593 of HIV-1 gp41. Gel filtration chromatography demonstrated the presence of oligomeric forms of the fusion protein, and analytical centrifugation studies confirmed that the chimeric protein formed a higher-order multimer that was greater than a dimer. Thus, we have identified a region of HIV-1 gp41 which is capable of directing the oligomerization of a fusion protein containing monomeric protein A. Point mutations, previously shown to inhibit the biological activity of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein, have been engineered into the segment of gp41 contained in the fusion protein, and expressed mutant proteins were purified and analyzed via fast protein liquid chromatography. A point mutation in the heptad repeat, which changed the central isoleucine to an alanine, caused a significant (> 60%) decrease in oligomerization, whereas changing the central isoleucine to aspartate or proline resulted in almost a complete loss of oligomerization. Deletions of one, two, or three amino acids following the first isoleucine also resulted in a profound decrease in oligomerization. The inhibitory effects of the mutations on oligomer formation correlated with the effects of the same mutations on envelope glycoprotein-mediated fusion. A possible role of the leucine zipper-like region in the fusion process and in an oligomerization event distinct from assembly of the envelope glycoprotein complex is discussed.
PMCID: PMC188967  PMID: 7707497
23.  Pentostatin Plus Cyclophosphamide Safely and Effectively Prevents Immunotoxin Immunogenicity in Murine Hosts 
The success of immunotoxin therapy of cancer is limited by host production of neutralizing antibodies, which are directed toward the Pseudomonas exotoxin A (PE) component. In this proof-of-principle study using a well-established murine model, we hypothesized that a newly developed immune depletion regimen consisting of pentostatin plus cyclophosphamide would abrogate anti-immunotoxin reactivity.
Experimental Design
BALB/c hosts were injected weekly with recombinant immunotoxin (RIT) SS1P, which is an anti-mesothelin Fv antibody fragment genetically fused to a 38 kDa portion of PE, and has been evaluated in clinical trials. Experimental cohorts received induction chemotherapy consisting of pentostatin (P) plus cyclophosphamide (C) prior to initial RIT exposure; some cohorts received further maintenance PC therapy of varying intensity just prior to each weekly RIT challenge. Cohorts were monitored for T, B, and myeloid cell depletion and for total anti-SS1P antibody (Ab) formation.
Controls uniformly developed anti-SS1P Ab after the third RIT exposure. Induction PC therapy reduced the frequency of hosts with anti-SS1P Ab. Abrogation of antibody generation was improved by maintenance PC therapy: nearly 100% of recipients of intensive PC maintenance were free of anti-SS1P Ab after 9 weekly RIT doses. The most effective PC regimen yielded the greatest degree of host B cell depletion, moderate T cell depletion, and minimal myeloid cell depletion.
Induction and maintenance PC chemotherapy safely prevented anti-immunotoxin antibody formation with uniform efficacy. These data suggest that immunotoxin therapy might be used in combination with pentostatin plus cyclophosphamide chemotherapy to improve the targeted therapy of cancer.
PMCID: PMC3107891  PMID: 21521777
adjuvant chemotherapy; combination chemotherapy; pentostatin; cyclophosphamide; immunotoxin
24.  Heterochromatin and RNAi Are Required to Establish CENP-A Chromatin at Centromeres 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2008;319(5859):94-97.
Heterochromatin is defined by distinct posttranslational modifications on histones, such as methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9), which allows heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1)–related chromodomain proteins to bind. Heterochromatin is frequently found near CENP-A chromatin, which is the key determinant of kinetochore assembly. We have discovered that the RNA interference (RNAi)–directed heterochromatin flanking the central kinetochore domain at fission yeast centromeres is required to promote CENP-ACnp1 and kinetochore assembly over the central domain. The H3K9methyltransferase Clr4 (Suv39); the ribonuclease Dicer, which cleaves heterochromatic double-stranded RNA to small interfering RNA (siRNA); Chp1, a component of the RNAi effector complex (RNA-induced initiation of transcriptional gene silencing; RITS); and Swi6 (HP1) are required to establish CENP-ACnp1 chromatin on naïve templates. Once assembled, CENP-ACnp1 chromatin is propagated by epigenetic means in the absence of heterochromatin. Thus, another, potentially conserved, role for centromeric RNAi-directed heterochromatin has been identified.
PMCID: PMC2586718  PMID: 18174443
25.  How to slice: snapshots of Argonaute in action 
Silence  2010;1:3.
Argonaute is the principal protein component of the mechanisms of RNA silencing, providing anchor sites for the small guide RNA strand and the 'slicer' activity for cleavage of target mRNAs or short passenger RNA strands. Argonaute is the core constituent of the silencing effector complexes RISC (RNA-induced silencing complex) and the RITS complex (RNA-induced initiation of transcriptional gene silencing complex), interacting directly or indirectly with Dicer proteins, R2D2/Loquacious/TRBP and GW182 family proteins in the former, and Chp1 and Tas3 in the latter. In a breakthrough series of papers, Patel et al. provide a set of 'molecular snapshots' of the catalytic cycle of Argonaute, exploiting mismatches and mutants to capture and visualize by X-ray crystallography Argonaute from Thermus thermophilus with guide and target strands at various stages of the silencing process. The structural studies, coupled to structure-directed biochemical analysis, together with other thermodynamic and kinetic studies, provide insights into Argonaute with implications for the mechanisms of RNA silencing in eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2835997  PMID: 20226069

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