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1.  Cytomegalovirus Infection Modulates Cellular Immunity in an Experimental Model for Autoimmune Diabetes 
Background: Viral infections are thought to play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes. In this study we investigated the effect of Rat Cytomegalovirus (RCMV) infection on cellular immunity in a well-defined animal model for diabetes, the Biobreeding (BB) rat.
Methods: Diabetes prone (DP)- and Diabetes resistant (DR)-BB rats were infected with 2 × 106 plaque forming units (pfu) RCMV. Diabetes development was monitored by frequent blood-glucose analysis. Effects of RCMV on CD4+, CD8+ and Vβ-TCR+ T-cell subsets were measured in vivo, and in vitro after restimulation with RCMV-infected fibroblasts. Proliferative capacity was determined by 3H-Thymidine incorporation.
Results: RCMV-infection resulted in a significant acceleration of diabetes onset in DP-BB rats ( p=0.003). Percentages CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells were not affected in vivo. In vitro, RCMV-restimulation resulted in a decreased CD4+/CD8+ blastoid T-cell ratio compared to ConA ( p=0.00028). Furthermore, RCMV-restimulation resulted in a strong RCMV-specific proliferation, which comprises about 50% of the response triggered by ConA. Vβ-TCR percentages did not change upon RCMV-infection or RCMV-restimulation.
Interpretation: RCMV-restimulation of splenic T-cells in vitro resulted in a strong RCMV-specific proliferation, probably also including autoreactive T-cells. In vivo, this polyclonal response might be involved in the observed accelerated diabetes development in DP-BB rats upon RCMV-infection.
PMCID: PMC2485415  PMID: 14768946
2.  Cytomegalovirus-Mediated Upregulation of Chemokine Expression Correlates with the Acceleration of Chronic Rejection in Rat Heart Transplants 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(3):2182-2194.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections have been shown to dramatically affect solid organ transplant graft survival in both human and animal models. Recently, it was demonstrated that rat CMV (RCMV) infection accelerates the development of transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) in both rat heart and small bowel graft transplants. However, the mechanisms involved in this process are still unclear. In the present study, we determined the kinetics of RCMV-accelerated TVS in a rat heart transplant model. Acute RCMV infection enhances the development of TVS in rat heart allografts, and this process is initiated between 21 and 24 days posttransplantation. The virus is consistently detected in the heart grafts from day 7 until day 35 posttransplantation but is rarely found at the time of graft rejection (day 45 posttransplantation). Grafts from RCMV-infected recipients had upregulation of chemokine expression compared to uninfected controls, and the timing of this increased expression paralleled that of RCMV-accelerated neointimal formation. In addition, graft vessels from RCMV-infected grafts demonstrate the increased infiltration of T cells and macrophages during periods of highest chemokine expression. These results suggest that CMV-induced acceleration of TVS involves the increased graft vascular infiltration of inflammatory cells through enhanced chemokine expression.
PMCID: PMC140920  PMID: 12525653
3.  Infection With Viruses From Several Families Triggers Autoimmune Diabetes in LEW.1WR1 Rats 
Diabetes  2009;59(1):110-118.
The contribution of antecedent viral infection to the development of type 1 diabetes in humans is controversial. Using a newer rat model of the disease, we sought to 1) identify viruses capable of modulating diabetes penetrance, 2) identify conditions that increase or decrease the diabetogenicity of infection, and 3) determine whether maternal immunization would prevent diabetes.
About 2% of LEW.1WR1 rats develop spontaneous autoimmune diabetes, but disease penetrance is much higher if weanling rats are exposed to environmental perturbants including Kilham rat virus (KRV). We compared KRV with other viruses for diabetogenic activity.
Both KRV and rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) induced diabetes in up to 60% of LEW.1WR1 rats, whereas H-1, vaccinia, and Coxsackie B4 viruses did not. Simultaneous inoculation of KRV and RCMV induced diabetes in 100% of animals. Pretreatment of rats with an activator of innate immunity increased the diabetogenicity of KRV but not RCMV and was associated with a moderate rate of diabetes after Coxsackie B4 and vaccinia virus infection. Inoculation of LEW.1WR1 dams with both KRV and RCMV prior to pregnancy protected weanling progeny from virus-induced diabetes in a virus-specific manner.
Exposure to viruses can affect the penetrance of autoimmune diabetes in genetically susceptible animals. The diabetogenicity of infection is virus specific and is modified by immunomodulation prior to inoculation. Maternal immunization protects weanlings from virus-induced diabetes, suggesting that modification of immune responses to infection could provide a means of preventing islet autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2797911  PMID: 19794063
4.  RCMV increases intimal hyperplasia by inducing inflammation, MCP-1 expression and recruitment of adventitial cells to intima 
Herpesviridae  2010;1:7.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection has been associated with accelerated transplant vasculopathy. In this study, we assessed the effects of acute rat CMV (RCMV) infection on vessel remodeling in transplant vasculopathy, focusing on allograft morphology, inflammation and contribution of adventitial cells to intimal hyperplasia.
Infrarenal aorta was locally infected with RCMV and transplanted from female F344 rats to male Lewis rats. Graft samples were collected 2 and 8 weeks after transplantation and analyzed for intimal hyperplasia, collagen degradation and inflammation. Transplantation of aorta followed by transplantation of RCMV infected and labeled isogenic adventitia were performed to study migration of adventitial cells towards the intima.
Intimal hyperplasia was increased threefold in infected allografts. RCMV induced apoptosis in the media, expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2, and decreased collagen deposits. Macrophage infiltration was increased in the infected allografts and resulted in increased production of MCP-1. RCMV-infected macrophages were observed in the adventitia and intima. Cells derived from infected adventitia migrated towards the intima of the allograft.
RCMV enhances infiltration of macrophages to the allografts, and thereby increases MCP-1 production and inflammation, followed by recruitment of adventitial cells to the intima and accelerated intimal hyperplasia.
PMCID: PMC3063229  PMID: 21429242
Virology  2009;388(1):78-90.
While cytomegalovirus (CMV) infects and replicates in a multitude of cell types, the ability of the virus to replicate in antigen presenting cells (APCs) is believed to play a critical role in the viral dissemination and latency. CMV infection of APCs and manipulation of their function is an important area of investigation. CMV down regulation of MHC II is reportedly mediated by the HCMV proteins US2, US3, UL83, UL111a (vIL10) or through the induction of cellular IL10. In this study, we demonstrate that rat CMV (RCMV) significantly reduces MHC II expression by mechanisms that do not involve orthologues of the known HCMV genes nor by an increase in cellular IL10. Rat bone marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDC) were highly susceptible to infection with RCMV and a recombinant RCMV expressing eGFP. RCMV infection of BMDCs depleted both surface and intracellular MHC II to nearly undetectable levels as well as reduced surface expression of MHC I. The effect on MHC II only occurred in the infected GFP positive cells and is mediated by an immediate early or early viral gene product. Furthermore, treatment of uninfected immature DCs with virus-free conditioned supernatants from infected cells failed to down regulate MHC II. RCMV depletion of MHC II was sensitve to treatment with lysosomal inhibitors but not proteasomal inhibitors suggesting that the mechanism of RCMV mediated down-regulation of MHC II occurs through endocytic degradation. Since RCMV does not encode homologues of US2, US3, UL83 or UL111a, these data indicate a novel mechanism for RCMV depletion of MHC II.
PMCID: PMC2749604  PMID: 19349057
6.  Cytomegalovirus CC Chemokine Promotes Immune Cell Migration 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(21):11833-11844.
Cytomegaloviruses manipulate the host chemokine/receptor axis by altering cellular chemokine expression and by encoding multiple chemokines and chemokine receptors. Similar to human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) encodes multiple CC chemokine-analogous proteins, including r129 (HCMV UL128 homologue) and r131 (HCMV UL130 and MCMV m129/130 homologues). Although these proteins play a role in CMV entry, their function as chemotactic cytokines remains unknown. In the current study, we examined the role of the RCMV chemokine r129 in promoting cellular migration and in accelerating transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) in our rat heart transplant model. We determined that r129 protein is released into culture supernatants of infected cells and is expressed with late viral gene kinetics during RCMV infection and highly expressed in heart and salivary glands during in vivo rat infections. Using the recombinant r129 protein, we demonstrated that r129 induces migration of lymphocytes isolated from rat peripheral blood, spleen, and bone marrow and from a rat macrophage cell line. Using antibody-mediated cell sorting of rat splenocytes, we demonstrated that r129 induces migration of naïve/central memory CD4+ T cells. Through ligand-binding assays, we determined that r129 binds rat CC chemokine receptors CCR3, CCR4, CCR5, and CCR7. In addition, mutational analyses identified functional domains of r129 resulting in recombinant proteins that fail to induce migration (r129-ΔNT and -C31A) or alter the chemotactic ability of the chemokine (r129-F43A). Two of the mutant proteins (r129-C31A and -ΔNT) also act as dominant negatives by inhibiting migration induced by wild-type r129. Furthermore, infection of rat heart transplant recipients with RCMV containing the r129-ΔNT mutation prevented CMV-induced acceleration of TVS. Together our findings indicate that RCMV r129 is highly chemotactic, which has important implications during RCMV infection and reactivation and acceleration of TVS.
PMCID: PMC3486311  PMID: 22915808
7.  Cytomegalovirus Latency Promotes Cardiac Lymphoid Neogenesis and Accelerated Allograft Rejection in CMV Naïve Recipients 
Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is associated with the acceleration of transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) and chronic allograft rejection (CR). HCMV-negative recipients of latently HCMV infected donor grafts are at highest risk for developing CMV-disease. Using a rat heart transplant CR model, we have previously shown that acute rat CMV (RCMV) infection following transplantation significantly accelerates both TVS and CR. Here, we report that RCMV-naïve recipients of heart allografts from latently RCMV-infected donors undergo acceleration of CR with similar kinetics as acutely infected recipients. In contrast to acutely infected recipients, treatment of recipients of latently infected donor hearts with ganciclovir did not prevent CR or TVS. We observed the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLOs) containing macrophages and T-cells in latently infected hearts prior to transplantation but not in uninfected rats. Moreover, pathway analysis of gene expression data from allografts from latently infected donors, indicated an early and sustained production of TLO-associated genes compared to allografts from uninfected donors. We conclude that RCMV-induced TLO formation and alteration of donor tissue T-cell profiles prior to transplantation in part mediate the ganciclovir-insensitive rejection of latently infected donor allografts transplanted into naïve recipients by providing a scaffold for immune activation.
PMCID: PMC3454525  PMID: 21199347
Cytomegalovirus; Chronic Rejection; Transplant Vascular Sclerosis; Latency
8.  Cytomegalovirus infection enhances smooth muscle cell proliferation and intimal thickening of rat aortic allografts. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1993;92(2):549-558.
Inbred DA (AG-B4, RT1a) and WF (AG-B2, RT1v) rats were used as donors and recipients of aortic allografts. The recipient rats were inoculated i.p. either on day 1 (early infection) or on day 60 (late infection) with 10(5) plaque-forming units of rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV). The control rats were left noninfected. The presence of viral infection was demonstrated by plaque assays from biopsies of the salivary glands, liver, and spleen at sacrifice. The rats received 300 microCi[3H]thymidine by i.v. injection 3 h before sacrifice, and the grafts were removed at various time points for histology, immunohistochemistry, and autoradiography. RCMV infection significantly enhanced the generation of allograft arteriosclerosis. Infection at the time of transplantation had two important effects. First, the infection was associated with an early, prominent inflammatory episode and proliferation of inflammatory cells in the allograft adventitia. Second, the viral infection doubled the proliferation rate of smooth muscle cells and the arteriosclerotic alterations in the intima. In late infection the impact of RCMV infection on the allograft histology was nearly nonexistent. RCMV infection showed no effect in syngeneic grafts. These results suggest that early infection is more important to the generation of accelerated allograft arteriosclerosis than late infection, and that an acute alloimmune response must be associated with virus infection, to induce accelerated allograft arteriosclerosis. RCMV-infected aortic allografts, as described here, provide the first experimental model to investigate the interaction between the virus and the vascular wall of the transplant.
PMCID: PMC294886  PMID: 8394384
9.  Tumor necrosis factor alpha promotes replication and pathogenicity of rat cytomegalovirus. 
Journal of Virology  1994;68(4):2297-2304.
We investigated the role of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in the pathogenesis of rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) infection. TNF-alpha levels found in the sera of radiation-immunosuppressed rats in the course of infection (> 350 pg/ml) correlated with the development of RCMV disease. Administration of anti-TNF-alpha antibodies strongly reduced the severity of pneumonia and led to a reduction in virus titers. In immunocompetent rats, anti-TNF-alpha antibodies also significantly suppressed viral replication. Conversely, administration of TNF-alpha augmented RCMV replication and aggravated the disease signs. In vitro, TNF-alpha enhanced RCMV replication in the macrophage, whereas a reduction of viral replication was observed in fibroblasts, indicating that the effect on viral replication is cell type specific. Besides activation of viral replication and exacerbation of RCMV disease, TNF-alpha also favored lymphoid and hematopoietic tissue reconstitution after irradiation, which may contribute to antiviral resistance and survival. This finding demonstrates the protean nature of TNF-alpha, with both beneficial and adverse effects for the host. Our results suggest that TNF-alpha plays an important role in modulating the pathogenesis of RCMV infection.
PMCID: PMC236705  PMID: 8139014
10.  The r144 Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I-Like Gene of Rat Cytomegalovirus Is Dispensable for both Acute and Long-Term Infection in the Immunocompromised Host 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(2):1045-1050.
The rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) r144 gene encodes a polypeptide homologous to major histocompatibility complex class I heavy chains. To study the role of r144 in virus replication, an RCMV r144 null mutant strain (RCMVΔr144) was generated. This strain replicated with efficiency similar to that of wild-type (WT) RCMV in vitro. Additionally, WT RCMV and RCMVΔr144 were found not to differ in their replication characteristics in vivo. First, the survival rate was similar among groups of immunosuppressed rats infected with either RCMVΔr144 or WT RCMV. Second, the dissemination of virus did not differ in either RCMVΔr144- or WT RCMV-infected, immunosuppressed rats, either in the acute phase of infection or approximately 1 year after infection. These data indicate that the RCMV r144 gene is essential neither for virus replication in the acute phase of infection nor for long-term infection in immunocompromised rats. Interestingly, in a local infection model in which footpads of immunosuppressed rats were inoculated with virus, a significantly higher number of infiltrating macrophage cells as well as of CD8+ T cells was observed in WT RCMV-infected paws than in RCMVΔr144-infected paws. This suggests that r144 might function in the interaction with these leukocytes in vivo.
PMCID: PMC111630  PMID: 10623772
11.  Deletion of the R78 G Protein-Coupled Receptor Gene from Rat Cytomegalovirus Results in an Attenuated, Syncytium-Inducing Mutant Strain 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(9):7218-7230.
The rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) R78 gene belongs to an uncharacterized class of viral G protein-coupled receptor (GCR) genes. The predicted amino acid sequence of the R78 open reading frame (ORF) shows 25 and 20% similarity with the gene products of murine cytomegalovirus M78 and human cytomegalovirus UL78, respectively. The R78 gene is transcribed throughout the early and late phases of infection in rat embryo fibroblasts (REF) in vitro. Transcription of R78 was found to result in three different mRNAs: (i) a 1.8-kb mRNA containing the R78 sequence, (ii) a 3.7-kb mRNA containing both R77 and R78 sequences, and (iii) a 5.7-kb mRNA containing at least ORF R77 and ORF R78 sequences. To investigate the function of the R78 gene, we generated two different recombinant virus strains: an RCMV R78 null mutant (RCMVΔR78a) and an RCMV mutant encoding a GCR from which the putative intracellular C terminus has been deleted (RCMVΔR78c). These recombinant viruses replicated with a 10- to 100-fold-lower efficiency than wild-type (wt) virus in vitro. Interestingly, unlike wt virus-infected REF, REF infected with the recombinants develop a syncytium-like appearance. A striking difference between wt and recombinant viruses was also seen in vivo: a considerably higher survival was seen among recombinant virus-infected rats than among RCMV-infected rats. We conclude that the RCMV R78 gene encodes a novel GCR-like polypeptide that plays an important role in both RCMV replication in vitro and the pathogenesis of viral infection in vivo.
PMCID: PMC104246  PMID: 10438809
12.  Rotavirus Activates Lymphocytes from Non-Obese Diabetic Mice by Triggering Toll-Like Receptor 7 Signaling and Interferon Production in Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(3):e1003998.
It has been proposed that rotavirus infection promotes the progression of genetically-predisposed children to type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease marked by infiltration of activated lymphocytes into pancreatic islets. Non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice provide a model for the human disease. Infection of adult NOD mice with rhesus monkey rotavirus (RRV) accelerates diabetes onset, without evidence of pancreatic infection. Rather, RRV spreads to the pancreatic and mesenteric lymph nodes where its association with antigen-presenting cells, including dendritic cells, induces cellular maturation. RRV infection increases levels of the class I major histocompatibility complex on B cells and proinflammatory cytokine expression by T cells at these sites. In autoimmunity-resistant mice and human mononuclear cells from blood, rotavirus-exposed plasmacytoid dendritic cells contribute to bystander polyclonal B cell activation through type I interferon expression. Here we tested the hypothesis that rotavirus induces bystander activation of lymphocytes from NOD mice by provoking dendritic cell activation and proinflammatory cytokine secretion. NOD mouse splenocytes were stimulated with rotavirus and assessed for activation by flow cytometry. This stimulation activated antigen-presenting cells and B cells independently of virus strain and replicative ability. Instead, activation depended on virus dose and was prevented by blockade of virus decapsidation, inhibition of endosomal acidification and interference with signaling through Toll-like receptor 7 and the type I interferon receptor. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells were more efficiently activated than conventional dendritic cells by RRV, and contributed to the activation of B and T cells, including islet-autoreactive CD8+ T cells. Thus, a double-stranded RNA virus can induce Toll-like receptor 7 signaling, resulting in lymphocyte activation. Our findings suggest that bystander activation mediated by type I interferon contributes to the lymphocyte activation observed following RRV infection of NOD mice, and may play a role in diabetes acceleration by rotavirus.
Author Summary
Understanding how viruses contribute to type 1 diabetes development is vital for disease prevention. Infection of children at-risk of diabetes with the gastrointestinal pathogen rotavirus is associated with increased immune responses to pancreatic islets, leading to the proposal that rotavirus infection may accelerate progression to diabetes. In a mouse model, we showed previously that rotavirus accelerates diabetes onset, in conjunction with virus spread to the lymph nodes, draining the intestine and pancreas. At these sites, rotavirus associates with antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, including dendritic cells, leading to their maturation, and induces the activation of B and T cells. Here we use this mouse model to define the contribution of rotavirus-exposed antigen-presenting cells to the activation of neighboring B and T cells. We found that rotavirus-exposed dendritic cells induce B and T cell activation through secretion of type I interferon. Activation of these dendritic cells depends on recognition of viral RNA by Toll-like receptor 7. Our studies suggest that this mechanism of B and T cell activation may occur in RRV-infected mice and contribute to their accelerated diabetes development. A similar mechanism may be involved in the enhanced islet autoantibody responses of children following rotavirus infection.
PMCID: PMC3968122  PMID: 24676425
13.  Comparative activity of (S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)cytosine and 9-(1,3-dihydroxy-2-propoxymethyl)guanine against rat cytomegalovirus infection in vitro and in vivo. 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1991;35(11):2262-2266.
Two antiviral compounds, (S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)cytosine [HPMPC] and 9-(1,3-dihydroxy-2-propoxymethyl)guanine [DHPG], were evaluated for their inhibitory effects on human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) replication in human embryonal fibroblasts and on rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) replication in rat embryonal fibroblasts. The concentrations of HPMPC or DHPG required to inhibit HCMV plaque formation by 50% were 0.1 and 0.6 micrograms/ml, respectively. For RCMV, these values were 1.1 and 25 micrograms/ml, respectively. For HCMV, the selectivity indices of HPMPC and DHPG, as determined by the ratio of the 50% inhibitory concentration for cell growth to the 50% inhibitory concentration for virus plaque formation, were 1,250 and 140, respectively, and for RCMV, they were 500 and 76, respectively. HPMPC was far more active than DHPG against RCMV infection in vivo as measured by mortality, histopathological changes, and virus titers in organs of immunocompromised RCMV-infected rats. The minimal effective dosage required to prevent mortality from RCMV infection was a single dose of HPMPC at 2 mg/kg of body weight compared with DHPG therapy twice daily at 20 mg/kg/day for 5 days. Furthermore, HPMPC was more effective than DHPG in reducing virus titers in internal organs (P less than 0.01) and in RCMV-induced histopathologic lesions. In contrast to DHPG, which did not show activity when administered 1 day before infection, HPMPC was effective even when administered 7 days before RCMV infection.
PMCID: PMC245369  PMID: 1666493
14.  Rat cytomegalovirus-induced pneumonitis after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation: effective treatment with (S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonyl-methoxypropyl)cytosine. 
Two antiviral compounds, (S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)cytosine (HPMPC) and 9-(1,3-dihydroxy-2-propoxymethyl)guanine (DHPG), were evaluated for their effects on rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV)-induced interstitial pneumonitis after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMTx). Eight-week-old Brown Norway rats immunosuppressed by a lethal dose of total body irradiation were inoculated with RCMV and received allogeneic bone marrow cells from Lewis rats. Animals were treated with either HPMPC (20 mg/kg of body weight as a single dose) or DHPG (20 mg/kg as two daily doses for 5 days). The effect of antiviral therapy was monitored by measuring RCMV titers in different organs and the histopathologic changes in lungs at 8 to 10 days postinfection. In RCMV-infected allogeneic BMTx recipients, severe diffuse thickening of alveolar septa (6.02 microns) with a diffuse infiltration of mononuclear cells occurred, whereas in the noninfected allogeneic BMTx recipients, the septal width was on the order of 2 microns (P < 0.01). Treatment with DHPG (20 mg/kg in two daily doses for 5 days) resulted in a decrease in virus titers (log10 PFU per gram of tissue) in lungs and spleens from 3.81 +/- 0.34 and 4.29 +/- 1.07 (untreated animals) to 1.26 +/- 0.53 and 3.22 +/- 0.27 (treated animals), respectively. Treatment with HPMPC (20 mg/kg as a single dose) resulted in a complete reduction of virus titers in all organs to below the detection level (P < 0.01). Furthermore, antiviral treatment resulted in a reduction of the alveolar septal width from 6.02 +/- 1.59 microns (untreated animals) to 4.67 +/- 1.70 and 3.32 +/- 0.63 microns after DHPG and HPMPC treatment, respectively. Treatment with HPMPC (20 mg/kg as a single dose) resulted in a complete reduction of virus titers in all organs to below the detection level (P <0.01). Furthermore, antiviral treatment resulted in a reduction of the alveolar septal width from 6.02 +/- 1.59 micrometre (untreated animals) to 4.67 +/- 0.63 micrometre after DHPG and HPMPC treatment, respectively. Furthermore, the influx of mononuclear cells in the alveolar septa was significantly impaired after treatment with HPMPC (P <0.01). We conclude that in the described rat model, HPMPC is highly effective in suppressing RCMV-induced interstitial pneumonitis after allogeneic BMTx.
PMCID: PMC187642  PMID: 8383939
15.  Haptoglobin is an Early Serum Biomarker of Virus-Induced Autoimmune Type 1 Diabetes in BBDR and LEW1.WR1 Rats 
Proteomic profiling of serum is a powerful technique to identify differentially expressed proteins that can serve as biomarkers predictive of disease onset. In this study, we utilized 2D gel analysis followed by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry analysis to identify putative serum biomarkers for autoimmune type 1 diabetes (T1D) in BioBreeding Diabetes Resistant (BBDR) rats induced to express disease. Treatment with toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) ligand, polyinosinic:polycytidilic acid (pIC), plus infection with Kilham rat virus (KRV), a rat parvovirus, results in nearly 100% of young BBDR rats becoming diabetic within 11–21 days. Sera collected from pre-diabetic rats at early time points following treatment with pIC + KRV were analyzed by 2D gel electrophoresis and compared with sera from control rats treated with PBS, pIC alone, or pIC + H1, a non-diabetogenic parvovirus. None of the latter three control treatments precipitates T1D. 2D gel analysis revealed that haptoglobin, an acute phase and hemoglobin scavenger protein, was differentially expressed in the sera of rats treated with pIC + KRV relative to control groups. These results were confirmed by Western blot and ELISA studies that further validated haptoglobin levels as being differentially increased in the sera of pIC + KRV treated rats relative to controls during the first week following infection. Early elevations in serum haptoglobin were also observed in LEW1.WR1 rats that became diabetic following infection with rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV). The identification and validation of haptoglobin as a putative serum biomarker for autoimmune T1D in rats now affords us the opportunity to test the validity of this protein as a biomarker for human T1D, particularly in those situations where viral infection is believed to precede onset of disease.
PMCID: PMC4172443  PMID: 20975081
BBDR rat; biomarker; haptoglobin; KRV; type 1 diabetes
16.  Rat Cytomegalovirus Major Immediate-Early Enhancer Switching Results in Altered Growth Characteristics 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(11):5076-5083.
It has been hypothesized that the major immediate-early (MIE) enhancer of cytomegalovirus (CMV) is important in determining virus tropism and latency because of its essential role in initiating the cascade of early gene expression necessary for virus replication. Although rat CMV (RCMV) and murine CMV (MCMV) exhibit extreme species specificity in vivo, they differ in their ability to replicate in tissue culture. MCMV can replicate in a rat embryo fibroblast (REF) cell line while RCMV does not grow in murine fibroblasts. The tropism is not due to a block in virus entry into the cell. We have constructed a recombinant RCMV in which the RCMV MIE enhancer has been replaced with that of MCMV. Growth of the recombinant virus in tissue culture remains restricted to rat cells, suggesting that other viral and/or host factors are more important in determining in vitro tropism. Unlike findings using recombinant MCMV in which the human CMV (HCMV) MIE enhancer substitutes for the native one (A. Angulo, M. Messerle, U. H. Koszinowski, and P. Ghazal, J. Virol. 72:8502–8509, 1998), infection with our recombinant virus at a low multiplicity of infection resulted in a substantial decrease in virus replication. This occurred despite comparable or increased MIE transcription from the recombinant virus. In vivo experiments showed that the recombinant virus replicates normally in the spleen during acute infection. Notably, the recombinant virus appears to be deficient in spreading to the salivary gland, suggesting a role for the MIE enhancer in tropism for certain tissues involved in virus dissemination. Four months after infection, recombinant virus with the foreign MIE enhancer was reactivated from spleen explants.
PMCID: PMC114912  PMID: 11333888
17.  The R33 G Protein-Coupled Receptor Gene of Rat Cytomegalovirus Plays an Essential Role in the Pathogenesis of Viral Infection 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(3):2352-2363.
We have identified a rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) gene that encodes a G-protein-coupled receptor (GCR) homolog. This gene (R33) belongs to a family that includes the human cytomegalovirus UL33 gene. R33 was found to be transcribed during the late phase of RCMV infection in rat embryo fibroblasts. Unlike the mRNAs from all the other members of the UL33 family that have been studied to date, the R33 mRNA is not spliced. To study the function of the R33 gene, we constructed an RCMV strain in which the R33 open reading frame is disrupted. The mutant strain (RCMVΔR33) did not show differences in replication from wild-type RCMV upon infection of several rat cell types in vitro. However, marked differences were seen between the mutant and wild-type strain in the pathogenesis of infection in immunocompromised rats. First, the mutant strain induced a significantly lower mortality than the wild-type virus did. Second, in contrast to wild-type RCMV, the mutant strain did not efficiently replicate in the salivary gland epithelial cells of immunocompromised rats. Although viral DNA was detected in salivary glands of RCMVΔR33-infected rats up to 14 days postinfection, it could not be detected at later time points. This indicates that although the strain with R33 deleted is probably transported to the salivary glands in a similar fashion to that for wild-type virus, the mutant virus is not able to either enter or replicate in salivary gland epithelial cells. We conclude that the RCMV R33 gene plays a vital role in the pathogenesis of infection.
PMCID: PMC109535  PMID: 9499096
18.  Mechanisms of Cytomegalovirus-Accelerated Vascular Disease: Induction of Paracrine Factors That Promote Angiogenesis and Wound Healing 
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is associated with the acceleration of a number of vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, restenosis, and transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS). All of these diseases are the result of either mechanical or immune-mediated injury followed by inflammation and subsequent smooth muscle cell (SMC) migration from the vessel media to the intima and proliferation that culminates in vessel narrowing. A number of epidemiological and animal studies have demonstrated that CMV significantly accelerates TVS and chronic rejection (CR) in solid organ allografts. In addition, treatment of human recipients and animals alike with the antiviral drug ganciclovir results in prolonged survival of the allograft indicating that CMV replication is a requirement for acceleration of disease. However, although virus persists in the allograft throughout the course of disease, the number of directly infected cells does not account for the global effects that the virus has on the acceleration of TVS and CR. Recent investigations of up- and down-regulated cellular genes in infected allografts in comparison to native heart has demonstrated that Rat-CMV (RCMV) up-regulates genes involved in wound healing (WH) and angiogenesis (AG). Consistent with this result, we have found that supernatants from HCMV infected cells (HCMV secretome) induce WH and AG using in vitro models. Taken together these findings suggest that one mechanism for HCMV acceleration of TVS is mediated through induction of secreted cytokines and growth factors from virus-infected cells that promote WH and AG in the allograft, resulting in the acceleration of TVS. We review here the ability of CMV infection to alter the local environment by producing cellular factors that act in a paracrine fashion to enhance WH and AG processes associated with the development of vascular disease, which accelerates chronic allograft rejection.
PMCID: PMC2699259  PMID: 18637518
19.  Cytomegalovirus MicroRNA Expression Is Tissue Specific and Is Associated with Persistence ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(1):378-389.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small noncoding RNAs involved in posttranscriptional regulation. miRNAs are utilized in organisms ranging from plants to higher mammals, and data have shown that DNA viruses also use this method for host and viral gene regulation. Here, we report the sequencing of the small RNAs in rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV)-infected fibroblasts and persistently infected salivary glands. We identified 24 unique miRNAs that mapped to hairpin structures found within the viral genome. While most miRNAs were detected in both samples, four were detected exclusively in the infected fibroblasts and two were specific for the infected salivary glands. The RCMV miRNAs are distributed across the viral genome on both the positive and negative strands, with clusters of miRNAs at a number of locations, including near viral genes r1 and r111. The RCMV miRNAs have a genomic positional orientation similar to that of the miRNAs described for mouse cytomegalovirus, but they do not share any substantial sequence conservation. Similar to other reported miRNAs, the RCMV miRNAs had considerable variation at their 3′ and 5′ ends. Interestingly, we found a number of specific examples of differential isoform usage between the fibroblast and salivary gland samples. We determined by real-time PCR that expression of the RCMV miRNA miR-r111.1-2 is highly expressed in the salivary glands and that miR-R87-1 is expressed in most tissues during the acute infection phase. Our study identified the miRNAs expressed by RCMV in vitro and in vivo and demonstrated that expression is tissue specific and associated with a stage of viral infection.
PMCID: PMC3014154  PMID: 20980502
20.  Pathogenesis and vertical transmission of a transplacental rat cytomegalovirus 
Virology Journal  2006;3:42.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) congenital infection is the major viral cause of well-documented birth defects in human. Because CMV is species-specific, the main obstacle to developing animal models for congenital infection is the difference in placental architecture, which preludes virus transmission across the placenta. The rat placenta, resembling histologically to that of human, could therefore facilitate the study of CMV congenital infection in human.
In this report, we present clear evidences of the transplacental property of a new rat CMV (RCMV), namely ALL-03, which had been isolated from placenta and uterus of the house rat. Our study signifies the detection of infectious virus, virus particles, viral protein and DNA as well as immune response to demonstrate a natural model of acute CMV infection including the immunocompetent and immunocompromised host associated with or without pregnancy. It is characterized by a full range of CMV related clinical signs; lesions and anatomical virus distribution to uterus, placenta, embryo, fetus, neonate, lung, kidney, spleen, liver and salivary gland of the infected rats in addition to the virus-specific seroconversion. The preference of the virus for different organs mimics the situation in immunocompromised man. Most interestingly, the placenta was observed to be involved in the maternofetal infection and hence confirmed the hypothesis that the RCMV strain ALL-03 is capable to cross the placenta and infect the offsprings congenitally.
The maternal viremia leading to uterine infection which subsequently infecting to the fetus through the placenta is the most likely phenomenon of CMV vertical transmission in our study.
PMCID: PMC1500997  PMID: 16737550
21.  Regenerating 1 and 3b Gene Expression in the Pancreas of Type 2 Diabetic Goto-Kakizaki (GK) Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e90045.
Regenerating (REG) proteins are associated with islet development, β-cell damage, diabetes and pancreatitis. Particularly, REG-1 and REG-3-beta are involved in cell growth/survival and/or inflammation and the Reg1 promoter contains interleukin-6 (IL-6)-responsive elements. We showed by transcriptome analysis that islets of Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats, a model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes, overexpress Reg1, 3α, 3β and 3γ, vs Wistar islets. Goto-Kakizaki rat islets also exhibit increased cytokine/chemokine expression/release, particularly IL-6. Here we analyzed Reg1 and Reg3β expression and REG-1 immuno-localization in the GK rat pancreas in relationship with inflammation. Isolated pancreatic islets and acinar tissue from male adult Wistar and diabetic GK rats were used for quantitative RT-PCR analysis. REG-1 immunohistochemistry was performed on paraffin sections with a monoclonal anti-rat REG-1 antibody. Islet cytokine/chemokine release was measured after 48 h-culture. Islet macrophage-positive area was quantified on cryostat sections using anti-CD68 and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antibodies. Pancreatic exocrine-to-endocrine Reg1 and Reg3β mRNA ratios were markedly increased in Wistar vs GK rats. Conversely, both genes were upregulated in isolated GK rat islets. These findings were unexpected, because Reg genes are expressed in the pancreatic acinar tissue. However, we observed REG-1 protein labeling in acinar peri-ductal tissue close to islets and around large, often disorganized, GK rat islets, which may retain acinar cells due to their irregular shape. These large islets also showed peri-islet macrophage infiltration and increased release of various cytokines/chemokines, particularly IL-6. Thus, IL-6 might potentially trigger acinar REG-1 expression and secretion in the vicinity of large diabetic GK rat islets. This increased acinar REG-1 expression might reflect an adaptive though unsuccessful response to deleterious microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3936001  PMID: 24587207
22.  Enterovirus Infection, CXC Chemokine Ligand 10 (CXCL10), and CXCR3 Circuit 
Diabetes  2009;58(10):2285-2291.
Fulminant type 1 diabetes is characterized by the rapid onset of severe hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis, with subsequent poor prognosis of diabetes complications. Causative mechanisms for accelerated β-cell failure are unclear.
Subjects comprised three autopsied patients who died from diabetic ketoacidosis within 2–5 days after onset of fulminant type 1 diabetes. We examined islet cell status, including the presence of enterovirus and chemokine/cytokine/major histocompatibility complex (MHC) expressions in the pancreata using immunohistochemical analyses and RT-PCR.
Immunohistochemical analysis revealed the presence of enterovirus-capsid protein in all three affected pancreata. Extensive infiltration of CXCR3 receptor–bearing T-cells and macrophages into islets was observed. Dendritic cells were stained in and around the islets. Specifically, interferon-γ and CXC chemokine ligand 10 (CXCL10) were strongly coexpressed in all subtypes of islet cells, including β-cells and α-cells. No CXCL10 was expressed in exocrine pancreas. Serum levels of CXCL10 were increased. Expression of MHC class II and hyperexpression of MHC class I was observed in some islet cells.
These results strongly suggest the presence of a circuit for the destruction of β-cells in fulminant type 1 diabetes. Enterovirus infection of the pancreas initiates coexpression of interferon-γ and CXCL10 in β-cells. CXCL10 secreted from β-cells activates and attracts autoreactive T-cells and macrophages to the islets via CXCR3. These infiltrating autoreactive T-cells and macrophages release inflammatory cytokines including interferon-γ in the islets, not only damaging β-cells but also accelerating CXCL10 generation in residual β-cells and thus further activating cell-mediated autoimmunity until all β-cells have been destroyed.
PMCID: PMC2750208  PMID: 19641142
23.  Rotavirus Infection Accelerates Type 1 Diabetes in Mice with Established Insulitis▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(13):6139-6149.
Infection modulates type 1 diabetes, a common autoimmune disease characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing islet β cells in the pancreas. Childhood rotavirus infections have been associated with exacerbations in islet autoimmunity. Nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice develop lymphocytic islet infiltration (insulitis) and then clinical diabetes, whereas NOD8.3 TCR mice, transgenic for a T-cell receptor (TCR) specific for an important islet autoantigen, show more rapid diabetes onset. Oral infection of infant NOD mice with the monkey rotavirus strain RRV delays diabetes development. Here, the effect of RRV infection on diabetes development once insulitis is established was determined. NOD and NOD8.3 TCR mice were inoculated with RRV aged ≥12 and 5 weeks, respectively. Diabetes onset was significantly accelerated in both models (P < 0.024), although RRV infection was asymptomatic and confined to the intestine. The degree of diabetes acceleration was related to the serum antibody titer to RRV. RRV-infected NOD mice showed a possible trend toward increased insulitis development. Infected males showed increased CD8+ T-cell proportions in islets. Levels of β-cell major histocompatibility complex class I expression and islet tumor necrosis factor alpha mRNA were elevated in at least one model. NOD mouse exposure to mouse rotavirus in a natural experiment also accelerated diabetes. Thus, rotavirus infection after β-cell autoimmunity is established affects insulitis and exacerbates diabetes. A possible mechanism involves increased exposure of β cells to immune recognition and activation of autoreactive T cells by proinflammatory cytokines. The timing of infection relative to mouse age and degree of insulitis determines whether diabetes onset is delayed, unaltered, or accelerated.
PMCID: PMC2447104  PMID: 18417562
24.  Suppression of rat cytomegalovirus replication by antibodies against gamma interferon. 
Journal of Virology  1994;68(4):2305-2312.
The role of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) in the resolution of rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) infection was investigated. In the spleen, IFN-gamma-producing cells reached maximum numbers on day 7 after infection. Prophylactic treatment with high doses of recombinant rat IFN-gamma exerted antiviral activity in fibroblasts and protected immunosuppressed rats against a lethal RCMV challenge. Remarkably, in immunocompetent rats, neutralization of endogenous IFN-gamma activity significantly reduced the numbers of RCMV antigen-expressing cells in the spleen, the predominant site of viral replication. Moreover, protection of radiation-immunosuppressed infected rats by transferred immune T cells was enhanced by coinjection of IFN-gamma neutralizing antibodies. The observations were paralleled by in vitro findings: low concentrations of IFN-gamma enhanced viral replication in both macrophages and fibroblasts. These data suggest that IFN-gamma can play different and even opposite roles in the regulation of RCMV replication in vivo; T lymphocytes may contribute to the progression of RCMV infection by secreting IFN-gamma.
PMCID: PMC236706  PMID: 8139015
25.  Chemokine Receptor CCR8 Is Required for Lipopolysaccharide-Triggered Cytokine Production in Mouse Peritoneal Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94445.
Chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 8 (CCR8), the chemokine receptor for chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 1 (CCL1), is expressed in T-helper type-2 lymphocytes and peritoneal macrophages (PMφ) and is involved in various pathological conditions, including peritoneal adhesions. However, the role of CCR8 in inflammatory responses is not fully elucidated. To investigate the function of CCR8 in macrophages, we compared cytokine secretion from mouse PMφ or bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMMφ) stimulated with various Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands in CCR8 deficient (CCR8-/-) and wild-type (WT) mice. We found that CCR8-/- PMφ demonstrated attenuated secretion of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-10 when stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In particular, LPS-induced IL-10 production absolutely required CCR8. CCR8-dependent cytokine secretion was characteristic of PMφ but not BMMφ. To further investigate this result, we selected the small molecule compound R243 from a library of compounds with CCR8-antagonistic effects on CCL1-induced Ca2+ flux and CCL1-driven PMφ aggregation. Similar to CCR8-/- PMφ, R243 attenuated secretion of TNF-α, IL-6, and most strikingly IL-10 from WT PMφ, but not BMMφ. CCR8-/- PMφ and R243-treated WT PMφ both showed suppressed c-jun N-terminal kinase activity and nuclear factor-κB signaling after LPS treatment when compared with WT PMφ. A c-Jun signaling pathway inhibitor also produced an inhibitory effect on LPS-induced cytokine secretion that was similar to that of CCR8 deficiency or R243 treatment. As seen in CCR8-/- mice, administration of R243 attenuated peritoneal adhesions in vivo. R243 also prevented hapten-induced colitis. These results are indicative of cross talk between signaling pathways downstream of CCR8 and TLR-4 that induces cytokine production by PMφ. Through use of CCR8-/- mice and the new CCR8 inhibitor, R243, we identified a novel macrophage innate immune response pathway that involves a chemokine receptor.
PMCID: PMC3979852  PMID: 24714157

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