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.
We earlier showed that 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid (GRA), a pentacyclic triterpenoid from licorice root, could completely cure visceral leishmaniasis in BALB/c mouse model. This was associated with induction of nitric oxide and proinflammatory cytokine production through the up regulation of NF-κB. In the present study we tried to decipher the underlying cellular mechanisms of the curative effect of GRA. Analysis of MAP kinase pathways revealed that GRA caused strong activation of p38 and to a lesser extent, ERK in bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM). Almost complete abrogation of GRA-induced cytokine production in presence of specific inhibitors of p38 and ERK1/2 confirmed the involvement of these MAP kinases in GRA-mediated responses. GRA induced mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase (MSK1) activity in a time-dependent manner suggested that GRA-mediated NF-κB transactivation is mediated by p38, ERK and MSK1 pathway. As kinase/phosphatase balance plays an important role in modulating infection, the effect of GRA on MAPK directed phosphatases (MKP) was studied. GRA markedly reduced the expression and activities of three phosphatases, MKP1, MKP3 and protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) along with a substantial reduction of p38 and ERK dephosphorylation in infected BMDM. Similarly in the in vivo situation, GRA treatment of L. donovani-infected BALB/c mice caused marked reduction of spleen parasite burden associated with concomitant decrease of individual phosphatase levels. However, activation of kinases also played an important role as the protective effect of GRA was significantly abrogated by pharmacological inhibition of p38 and ERK pathway. Curative effect of GRA may, therefore, be associated with restoration of proper cellular kinase/phosphatase balance, rather than modulation of either kinases or phosphatases.
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.
There is widespread interest in the use of innate immune modulators as a defense strategy against infectious pathogens. Using rotavirus as a model system, we developed a cell-based, moderate-throughput screening (MTS) assay to identify compounds that reduce rotavirus infectivity in vitro, toward a long-term goal of discovering immunomodulatory agents that enhance innate responses to viral infection.
A natural product library consisting of 280 compounds was screened in the assay and 15 compounds that significantly reduced infectivity without cytotoxicity were identified. Time course analysis of four compounds with previously characterized effects on inflammatory gene expression inhibited replication with pre-treatment times as minimal as 2 hours. Two of these four compounds, α-mangostin and 18-β-glycyrrhetinic acid, activated NFκB and induced IL-8 secretion. The assay is adaptable to other virus systems, and amenable to full automation and adaptation to a high-throughput format.
Identification of several compounds with known effects on inflammatory and antiviral gene expression that confer resistance to rotavirus infection in vitro suggests the assay is an appropriate platform for discovery of compounds with potential to amplify innate antiviral responses.
Toxoplasma gondii GRA10 expressed as a GFP-GRA10 fusion protein in HeLa cells moved to the nucleoli within the nucleus rapidly and entirely. GRA10 was concentrated specifically in the dense fibrillar component of the nucleolus morphologically by the overlap of GFP-GRA10 transfection image with IFA images by monoclonal antibodies against GRA10 (Tg378), B23 (nucleophosmin) and C23 (nucleolin). The nucleolar translocalization of GRA10 was caused by a putative nucleolar localizing sequence (NoLS) of GRA10. Interaction of GRA10 with TATA-binding protein associated factor 1B (TAF1B) in the yeast two-hybrid technique was confirmed by GST pull-down assay and immunoprecipitation assay. GRA10 and TAF1B were also co-localized in the nucleolus after co-transfection. The nucleolar condensation of GRA10 was affected by actinomycin D. Expressed GFP-GRA10 was evenly distributed over the nucleoplasm and the nucleolar locations remained as hollows in the nucleoplasm under a low dose of actinomycin D. Nucleolar localizing and interacting of GRA10 with TAF1B suggested the participation of GRA10 in rRNA synthesis of host cells to favor the parasitism of T. gondii.
Toxoplasma gondii; GRA10; transfection; nucleolar localization; NoLS; TAF1B; rRNA synthesis
We report on an optimized method for the in vitro culture of tissue cyst-forming Neospora caninum bradyzoites in Vero cells and the separation of viable parasites from host cells. Treatment of tachyzoite-infected Vero cell cultures with 17 μM sodium nitroprusside for 8 days severely scaled down parasite proliferation, led to reduced expression of tachyzoite surface antigens, and induced the expression of the bradyzoite marker NcBAG1 and the cyst wall antigen recognized by the monoclonal antibody MAbCC2. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that intracellular parasites were located within parasitophorous vacuoles that were surrounded by a cyst wall-like structure, and the dense granule antigens NcGRA1, NcGRA2, and NcGRA7 were incorporated into the cyst wall. Adhesion-invasion assays employing purified tachyzoites and bradyzoites showed that tachyzoites adhered to, and invaded, Vero cells with higher efficiency than bradyzoites. However, removal of terminal sialic acid residues from either the host cell or the parasite surface increased the invasion of Vero cells by bradyzoites, but not tachyzoites.
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.
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.
The root of Glycyrrhiza glabra is a traditional medicine used mainly for the treatment of peptic ulcer, hepatitis C, pulmonary and skin diseases, although clinical and experimental studies suggest that it has several other useful pharmacological properties such as antiinflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antioxidative, anticancer activities, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective and cardioprotective effects. Glycyrrhizinic acid, a major component of licorice, has antiulcer effect by raising the local concentration of prostaglandins that promote mucous secretion and cell proliferation in the stomach. Glycyrrhizin shows hepatoprotective effect by preventing changes in cell membrane permeability, inhibiting phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and increasing survival rate of hepatocytes. Glabridin has effect in melanogenesis and inflammation by inhibiting the tyrosinase activity of melanocytes. α-glycyhrritinic acid exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting glucocorticoid metabolism. In present study ethanolic (95%) extract of root of Glycyrrhiza glabra and its fractions were investigated for its antidyslipidaemic activity on HFD induced dyslipidaemic hamsters. Ethanolic extract and its ethyl acetate soluble, water soluble and hexane soluble fractions decreased serum level of total cholesterol by 25.9, 38.0, 39.0 and 26.3%, respectively. On the other hand ethanolic extract, ethyl acetate soluble, water soluble and hexane soluble fraction increased the serum HDL-cholesterol level by 14.8, 34.3, 27.3 and 17.2%, respectively. Ethanolic extract, ethyl acetate fraction, aqueous fraction and hexane fraction decreased triglyceride level by 31.3, 37.2, 41.2 and 28.9%, respectively. The reduction in LDL-cholesterol level by ethanolic extract, ethyl acetate soluble fraction and water soluble fraction were 43.9, 31.0, 33.4 and 24.6%, respectively.
Glycyrrhiza glabra; Dyslipidaemia; High fructose diet
The objective of this work was to develop an antibody-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) avidity assay to discriminate between acute and latent phases of Toxoplasma gondii infection by using recombinant antigens. One hundred twenty-one serum samples from women who developed IgG antibodies against Toxoplasma during pregnancy were used. The IgG avidities of antibodies directed against epitopes carried by fragments of GRA3, GRA7, MIC3, and SAG1 antigens were measured by performing parallel enzyme immunoassays. The avidity index for Toxoplasma-specific antibodies against a homogeneous mixture of recombinant GRA3, GRA7, MIC3, and SAG1 antigens correlated closely with the IgG avidity of antibodies against lysed whole-cell T. gondii antigen. The avidity assay performed with the recombinant MIC3 antigen highlighted the presence of avidity low-antibodies IgG exclusively in sera collected within 2 months after primary infection. The presence of T. gondii-specific, low-avidity IgG antibodies against recombinant MIC3 antigen can be used to determine the point of infection with T. gondii within a 2-month time frame after infection.
The potential of the dense granule antigens GRA1 and GRA6 of Toxoplasma gondii to be used as diagnosis reagents in a recombinant form was evaluated. Both proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli as glutathione-S-transferase (GST) fusions. The GST-GRA1 fusion comprises the entire GRA1 sequence devoid of its N-terminal signal peptide. Separate expression of the two N- and C-terminal hydrophilic regions of GRA6 showed that only the N-terminal hydrophilic part of the protein was recognized by a pool of positive human sera in an immunoblot. One hundred T. gondii-positive and 98 negative human sera were tested in two separate immunoglobulin G (IgG)-direct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using either GST-GRA1 or GST-GRA6-Nt recombinant protein. Whereas the sensitivity of the GST-GRA1 IgG ELISA was low (68%), the GST-GRA6-Nt IgG ELISA reached a sensitivity of 96%. The reactivity to GRA6-Nt was shown to be high even with human sera of low IgG titers. In addition, comparison of the optical density values for each serum revealed that GRA1 may complement GRA6-Nt to reach an overall sensitivity of 98%. Therefore, the GST-GRA6-Nt ELISA could be used together with another antigen like GRA1 for the development of a recombinant antigen-based test for serodiagnosis of toxoplasmosis.
The molecular mechanisms of plant growth and development have been analyzed in detail during the past years. The critical role of a plant-specific family of GRAS domain proteins in these processes has become apparent. In this review we highlight the importance of DELLA proteins in gibberellic acid (GA) and light signaling, the regulation of root patterning by SCR-SHR interactions and the requirement of two GRAS proteins from legumes, NSP1 and NSP2, for root nodule symbiosis. We discuss common and distinct molecular mechanisms underlying GRAS protein function and emphasise new discoveries regarding their function as transcription factors and the role of protein movement in refining their mode of action.
GRAS; transcription factor; signaling; gene expression; DELLA; gibberellin; SCR; SHR; protein movement; root development; NSP1; NSP2; nodulation; interaction
The present study examined the inhibitory effect of licorice compounds glycyrrhizin and a metabolite 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on the neurotoxicity of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in the mouse and on the 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced cell death in differentiated PC12 cells. MPTP treatment increased the activities of total superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase and the levels of malondialdehyde and carbonyls in the brain compared to control mouse brain. Co-administration of glycyrrhizin (16.8 mg/kg) attenuated the MPTP effect on the enzyme activities and formation of tissue peroxidation products. In vitro assay, licorice compounds attenuated the MPP+-induced cell death and caspase-3 activation in PC12 cells. Glycyrrhizin up to 100µM significantly attenuated the toxicity of MPP+. Meanwhile, 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid showed a maximum inhibitory effect at 10µM; beyond this concentration the inhibitory effect declined. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid attenuated the hydrogen peroxide- or nitrogen species-induced cell death. Results from this study indicate that glycyrrhizin may attenuate brain tissue damage in mice treated with MPTP through inhibitory effect on oxidative tissue damage. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may reduce the MPP+ toxicity in PC12 cells by suppressing caspase-3 activation. The effect seems to be ascribed to the antioxidant effect.
Glycyrrhizin; MPTP; MPP+; Brain tissue damage; Cell death; Inhibitory effect
We identified a gene cluster that is involved in the γ-resorcylate (2,6-dihydroxybenzoate) catabolism of the aerobic bacterium Rhizobium sp. strain MTP-10005. The cluster consists of the graRDAFCBEK genes, and graA, graB, graC, and graD were heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. Enzymological studies showed that graD, graA, graC, and graB encode the reductase (GraD) and oxygenase (GraA) components of a resorcinol hydroxylase (EC 1.14.13.x), a maleylacetate reductase (GraC) (EC 22.214.171.124), and a hydroxyquinol 1,2-dioxygenase (GraB) (EC 126.96.36.199). Bioinformatic analyses suggested that graE, graR, and graK encode a protein with an unknown function (GraE), a MarR-type transcriptional regulator (GraR), and a benzoate transporter (GraK). Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR of graF, which encodes γ-resorcylate decarboxylase, revealed that the maximum relative mRNA expression level ([5.93 ± 0.82] × 10−4) of graF was detected in the total RNA of the cells after one hour of cultivation when γ-resorcylate was used as the sole carbon source. Reverse transcription-PCR of graDAFCBE showed that these genes are transcribed as a single mRNA and that the transcription of the gene cluster is induced by γ-resorcylate. These results suggested that the graDAFCBE genes are responsible as an operon for the growth of Rhizobium sp. strain MTP-10005 on γ-resorcylate and are probably regulated by GraR at the transcriptional level. This is the first report of the γ-resorcylate catabolic pathway in an aerobic bacterium.
The synthetic polyether polyethylene glycol (PEG) with a molecular weight of 20,000 was anaerobically degraded in enrichment cultures inoculated with mud of limnic and marine origins. Three strains (Gra PEG 1, Gra PEG 2, and Ko PEG 2) of rod-shaped, gram-negative, nonsporeforming, strictly anaerobic bacteria were isolated in mineral medium with PEG as the sole source of carbon and energy. All strains degraded dimers, oligomers, and polymers of PEG up to a molecular weight of 20,000 completely by fermentation to nearly equal amounts of acetate and ethanol. The monomer ethylene glycol was not degraded. An ethylene glycol-fermenting anaerobe (strain Gra EG 12) isolated from the same enrichments was identified as Acetobacterium woodii. The PEG-fermenting strains did not excrete extracellular depolymerizing enzymes and were inhibited by ethylene glycol, probably owing to a blocking of the cellular uptake system. PEG, some PEG-containing nonionic detergents, 1,2-propanediol, 1,2-butanediol, glycerol, and acetoin were the only growth substrates utilized of a broad variety of sugars, organic acids, and alcohols. The isolates did not reduce sulfate, sulfur, thiosulfate, or nitrate and were independent of growth factors. In coculture with A. woodii or Methanospirillum hungatei, PEGs and ethanol were completely fermented to acetate (and methane). A marine isolate is described as the type strain of a new species, Pelobacter venetianus sp. nov. Its physiology and ecological significance, as well as the importance and possible mechanism of anaerobic polyether degradation, are discussed.
Interactions between GRA proteins of dense granules in Toxoplasma gondii and host cell proteins were analyzed by yeast two-hybrid technique. The cMyc-GRA fusion proteins expressed from pGBKT7 plasmid in Y187 yeast were bound to host cell proteins from pGADT7-Rec-HeLa cDNA library transformed to AH109 yeast by mating method. By the selection procedures, a total of 939 colonies of the SD/-AHLT culture, 348 colonies of the X-α-gal positive and PCR, 157 colonies of the X-β-gal assay were chosen for sequencing the cDNA and finally 90 colonies containing ORF were selected to analyze the interactions. GRA proteins interacted with a variety of host cell proteins such as enzymes, structural and functional proteins of organellar proteins of broad spectrum. Several specific bindings of each GRA protein to host proteins were discussed presumptively the role of GRA proteins after secreting into the parasitophorous vacuoles (PV) and the PV membrane in the parasitism of this parasite.
Toxoplasma gondii; GRA proteins; parasitophorous vacuole; parasitophorous vacuole membrane; secretion; yeast two-hybrid technique; GRA-host protein interaction; parasitism
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.
Proteinase inhibitor 9 (PI-9) is a human serpin present in the cytoplasm of cytotoxic lymphocytes and epithelial cells. It inhibits the cytotoxic lymphocyte granule proteinase granzyme B (graB) and is thought to protect cytotoxic lymphocytes and bystander cells from graB-mediated apoptosis. Following uptake into cells, graB promotes DNA degradation, rapidly translocating to the nucleus, where it binds a nuclear component. PI-9 should therefore be found in cytotoxic lymphocyte and bystander cell nuclei to ensure complete protection against graB. Here we demonstrate by microscopy and subcellular fractionation experiments that PI-9 is present in the nuclei of human cytotoxic cells, endothelial cells, and epithelial cells. We also show that the related serpins, PI-6, monocyte neutrophil elastase inhibitor (MNEI), PI-8, plasminogen activator inhibitor 2 (PAI-2), and the viral serpin CrmA exhibit similar nucleocytoplasmic distributions. Because these serpins lack classical nuclear localization signals and are small enough to diffuse through nuclear pores, we investigated whether import occurs actively or passively. Large (∼70 kDa) chimeric proteins comprising PI-9, PI-6, PI-8, MNEI, or PAI-2 fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP) show similar nucleocytoplasmic distributions to the parent proteins, indicating that nuclear import is active. By contrast, CrmA-GFP is excluded from nuclei, indicating that CrmA is not actively imported. In vitro nuclear transport assays show that PI-9 accumulates at a rate above that of passive diffusion, that it requires cytosolic factors but not ATP, and that it does not bind an intranuclear component. Furthermore, PI-9 is exported from nuclei via a leptomycin B-sensitive pathway, implying involvement of the export factor Crm1p. We conclude that the nucleocytoplasmic distribution of PI-9 and related serpins involves a nonconventional nuclear import pathway and Crm1p.
Hyperglucagonemia is implicated in the pathophysiology of hyperglycemia. Antagonism of the glucagon receptor (GCGR) thus represents a potential approach to diabetes treatment. Herein we report the characterization of GRA1, a novel small-molecule GCGR antagonist that blocks glucagon binding to the human GCGR (hGCGR) and antagonizes glucagon-induced intracellular accumulation of cAMP with nanomolar potency. GRA1 inhibited glycogenolysis dose-dependently in primary human hepatocytes and in perfused liver from hGCGR mice, a transgenic line of mouse that expresses the hGCGR instead of the murine GCGR. When administered orally to hGCGR mice and rhesus monkeys, GRA1 blocked hyperglycemic responses to exogenous glucagon. In several murine models of diabetes, acute and chronic dosing with GRA1 significantly reduced blood glucose concentrations and moderately increased plasma glucagon and glucagon-like peptide-1. Combination of GRA1 with a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor had an additive antihyperglycemic effect in diabetic mice. Hepatic gene-expression profiling in monkeys treated with GRA1 revealed down-regulation of numerous genes involved in amino acid catabolism, an effect that was paralleled by increased amino acid levels in the circulation. In summary, GRA1 is a potent glucagon receptor antagonist with strong antihyperglycemic efficacy in preclinical models and prominent effects on hepatic gene-expression related to amino acid metabolism.
Protective immunity against Toxoplasma gondii is known to be mediated mainly by T lymphocytes and gamma interferon (IFN-γ). The contribution of CD4+ and CD8+ T-lymphocyte subsets to protective immune responses against T. gondii infection, triggered by a GRA1 (p24) DNA vaccine, was assessed in this study. In vitro T-cell depletion experiments indicated that both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets produced IFN-γ upon restimulation with a T. gondii lysate. In addition, the GRA1 DNA vaccine elicited CD8+ T cells that were shown to have cytolytic activity against parasite-infected target cells and a GRA1-transfected cell line. C3H mice immunized with the GRA1 DNA vaccine showed 75 to 100% protection, while 0 to 25% of the mice immunized with the empty control vector survived challenge with T. gondii cysts. In vivo T-cell depletion experiments indicated that CD8+ T cells were essential for the survival of GRA1-vaccinated C3H mice during the acute phase of T. gondii infection, while depletion of CD4+ T cells led to an increase in brain cyst burden during the chronic phase of infection.
Replication of the rotavirus genome involves two steps: (i) transcription and extrusion of transcripts and (ii) minus-strand RNA synthesis in viral complexes containing plus-strand RNA. In this study, we showed evidence for the importance of the viral nonstructural protein of rotavirus, NSP2, in the replication of viral RNAs. RNA-binding properties of NSP2 were tested by UV cross-linking in vivo (in rotavirus-infected MA104 cells and recombinant baculovirus-expressing NSP2-infected Sf9 cells). In rotavirus-infected cells, NSP2 is bound to the 11 double-stranded RNA genomic segments of rotavirus. Quantitative analysis (using hydrolysis by RNase A) is consistent with NSP2 being directly bound to partially replicated viral RNA. Using various monoclonal antibodies and specific antisera against the structural (VP1, VP2, and VP6) and nonstructural (NSP1, NSP2, NSP3, and NSP5) proteins, we developed a solid-phase assay for the viral replicase. In this test, we recovered a viral RNA-protein complex with replicase activity only with a monoclonal antibody directed against NSP2. Our results indicated that these viral complexes contain the structural proteins VP1, VP2, and VP6 and the nonstructural protein NSP2. Our results show that NSP2 is closely associated in vivo with the viral replicase.
Dense granule protein 7 (GRA7) of Toxoplasma gondii was expressed in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein. The leader peptide contained a 25-amino-acid mouse tumor necrosis factor fragment and six histidyl residues. After purification by metal chelate affinity chromatography, the antigen was evaluated in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for detection of immunoglobulin G (IgG). For two sets of IgG-positive human serum samples, obtained from routine screening, an overall sensitivity of 81% was obtained. For chronic-phase sera, the sensitivity of detection was 79%, but chronic-phase sera with low titers were more difficult to detect (65% sensitivity for sera with immunofluorescence titer of 1/64). When GRA7 was combined with Tg34AR (rhoptry protein 2 C-terminal fragment), the sensitivity rose to 96%. For a set of acute-phase serum samples tested on GRA7, the sensitivity of detection was 94%, and high-titer IgM-positive sera were detected at an especially high rate. In contrast, when Tg34AR was used, the sensitivity was only 85% for this latter set of serum samples. Three truncated GRA7 fragments containing the same leader peptide as that of recombinant GRA7 were produced. The shortest fragment (97 N-terminal amino acids) was not reactive with human sera or with a specific anti-GRA7 monoclonal antibody, while the two larger fragments were reactive. The most important antigenic domain of GRA7 for human sera was localized between residues 97 and 146. The epitope for the specific monoclonal antibody could be further narrowed down by the use of synthetic peptides, but this epitope is not recognized by sera from T. gondii-infected humans. These results indicate that GRA7 may be considered as an additional tool for studying the immune response to T. gondii.
Amitriptyline is frequently used to treat patients with IC/PBS. The evidence to support this practice is derived mainly from a small single site clinical trial and case reports.
We conducted a multi-center, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of amitriptyline in subjects with IC/PBS who were naive to therapy. Study participants in both treatment arms received a standardized education and behavioral modification program (EBMP). The drug dose was increased over a six-week period from 10 mg up to 75 mg once daily. The primary outcome was a patient-reported global response assessment (GRA) of symptom improvement evaluated after 12 weeks of treatment.
A total of 271 subjects were randomized and 231 (85%) provided a GRA at 12 weeks of follow-up. Study participants were primarily women (83%), Caucasian (74%) with a median age of 38 years. In an intention-to-treat analysis (n=271), the rate of response of subjects reporting either moderately or markedly improved from baseline in the amitriptyline and placebo groups was 55% and 45% respectively (p=0.12). Among the subgroup of subjects (n=207) who achieved a drug dose of at least 50 mg, a significantly higher response rate was observed in the amitriptyline group (66%) compared to placebo (47%) (p=0.01).
When all randomized subjects were considered, amitriptyline in combination with an EBMP did not significantly improve symptoms in patients with IC/PBS who are treatment naïve. Amitriptyline, however, may be beneficial in persons who can achieve a daily dose of 50 mg or greater, although this subgroup comparison was not specified in advance.
C57BL/6, C3H, and BALB/c mice were vaccinated with plasmids encoding Toxoplasma gondii antigens GRA1, GRA7, and ROP2, previously described as strong inducers of immunity. Seroconversion for the relevant antigen was obtained in the majority of the animals. T. gondii lysate stimulated specific T-cell proliferation and secretion of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in spleen cell cultures from vaccinated BALB/c and C3H mice but not in those from control mice. Although not proliferating, stimulated splenocytes from DNA-vaccinated C57BL/6 mice also produced IFN-γ. No interleukin-4 was detected in the supernatants of lysate-stimulated splenocytes from DNA-vaccinated mice in any of the mouse strains evaluated. As in infected animals, a high ratio of specific immunoglobulin G2a (IgG2a) to IgG1 antibodies was found in DNA-vaccinated C3H mice, suggesting that a Th1-type response had been induced. For BALB/c mice, the isotype ratio of the antibody response to DNA vaccination was less polarized. The protective potential of DNA vaccination was demonstrated in C3H mice. C3H mice vaccinated with plasmid encoding GRA1, GRA7, or ROP2 were partially protected against a lethal oral challenge with cysts of two different T. gondii strains: survival rates increased from 10% in controls to at least 70% after vaccination in one case and from 50% to at least 90% in the other. In vaccinated C3H mice challenged with a nonlethal T. gondii dose, the number of brain cysts was significantly lower than in controls. DNA vaccination did not protect BALB/c or C57BL/6 mice. Our results demonstrate for the first time in an animal model a partially protective effect of DNA vaccination against T. gondii.