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1.  Mutational and Structural Analysis of KIR3DL1 Reveals a Lineage-Defining Allotypic Dimorphism That Impacts Both HLA and Peptide Sensitivity 
Killer Ig-like receptors (KIRs) control the activation of human NK cells via interactions with peptide-laden HLAs. KIR3DL1 is a highly polymorphic inhibitory receptor that recognizes a diverse array of HLA molecules expressing the Bw4 epitope, a group with multiple polymorphisms incorporating variants within the Bw4 motif. Genetic studies suggest that KIR3DL1 variation has functional significance in several disease states, including HIV infection. However, owing to differences across KIR3DL1 allotypes, HLA-Bw4, and associated peptides, the mechanistic link with biological outcome remains unclear. In this study, we elucidated the impact of KIR3DL1 polymorphism on peptide-laden HLA recognition. Mutational analysis revealed that KIR residues involved in water-mediated contacts with the HLA-presented peptide influence peptide binding specificity. In particular, residue 282 (glutamate) in the D2 domain underpins the lack of tolerance of negatively charged C-terminal peptide residues. Allotypic KIR3DL1 variants, defined by neighboring residue 283, displayed differential sensitivities to HLA-bound peptide, including the variable HLA-B*57:01–restricted HIV-1 Gag-derived epitope TW10. Residue 283, which has undergone positive selection during the evolution of human KIRs, also played a central role in Bw4 subtype recognition by KIR3DL1. Collectively, our findings uncover a common molecular regulator that controls HLA and peptide discrimination without participating directly in peptide-laden HLA interactions. Furthermore, they provide insight into the mechanics of interaction and generate simple, easily assessed criteria for the definition of KIR3DL1 functional groupings that will be relevant in many clinical applications, including bone marrow transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3948114  PMID: 24563253
2.  Genome Sequences of Four Acinetobacter baumannii-A. calcoaceticus Complex Isolates from Combat-Related Infections Sustained in the Middle East 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(1):e00026-14.
Acinetobacter baumannii is among the most prevalent bacterial causes of combat-related infections on the battlefield. Antibiotic resistance and a poor understanding of the protective host immune responses make treatment difficult. Here, we report the genome sequences of four clinical Acinetobacter baumannii-A. calcoaceticus complex isolates exhibiting significant differences in virulence in a mouse sepsis model.
PMCID: PMC3916481  PMID: 24503987
3.  Mesenchymal Stem Cell Osteodifferentiation in Response to Alternating Electric Current 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2012;19(3-4):467-474.
The present study addressed adult human mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation toward the osteoblastic lineage in response to alternating electric current, a biophysical stimulus. For this purpose, MSCs (chosen because of their proven capability for osteodifferentiation in the presence of select bone morphogenetic proteins) were dispersed and cultured within electric-conducting type I collagen hydrogels, in the absence of supplemented exogenous dexamethasone and/or growth factors, and were exposed to either 10 or 40 μA alternating electric current for 6 h per day. Under these conditions, MSCs expressed both early- (such as Runx-2 and osterix) and late- (specifically, osteopontin and osteocalcin) osteogenic genes as a function of level, and duration of exposure to alternating electric current. Compared to results obtained after 7 days, gene expression of osteopontin and osteocalcin (late-osteogenic genes) increased at day 14. In contrast, expression of these osteogenic markers from MSCs cultured under similar conditions and time periods, but not exposed to alternating electric current, did not increase as a function of time. Most importantly, expression of genes pertinent to the either adipogenic (specifically, Fatty Acid Binding Protein-4) or chondrogenic (specifically, type II collagen) pathways was not detected when MSCs were exposed to the aforementioned alternating electric-current conditions tested in the present study. The present research study was the first to provide evidence that alternating electric current promoted the differentiation of adult human MSCs toward the osteogenic pathway. Such an approach has the yet untapped potential to provide critically needed differentiated cell supplies for cell-based assays and/or therapies for various biomedical applications.
PMCID: PMC3542886  PMID: 23083071
4.  Assessment of left ventricular volumes and primary mitral regurgitation severity by 2D echocardiography and cardiovascular magnetic resonance 
Two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2DTTE) remains the first-line diagnostic imaging tool to assess primary mitral regurgitation although cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) has proven to establish left ventricular function more accurately and might evaluate mitral regurgitation severity more reliably. We sought to compare routine evaluation of left ventricular function and mitral regurgitation severity by 2DTTE with assessment by CMR in moderate to severe primary mitral regurgitation without overt left ventricular dysfunction.
We prospectively included 38 patients (79% of male, age 57 ± 14 years) with at least moderate primary mitral regurgitation, a left ventricular ejection fraction ≥60% and a left ventricular end-systolic diameter ≤45 mm. Patients with evidence of coronary artery disease, arrhythmias or significant concomitant valvular disease were excluded. All patients were scheduled for 2DTTE and CMR.
Left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes were significantly underestimated by 2DTTE in comparison with CMR, although there was a strong correlation (Pearson r = 0.81, p < 0.00001 and r = 0.7, p < 0.00001, respectively). Measurement of the regurgitant orifice was similar between 2DTTE PISA method and planimetry by CMR (47 ± 24 vs. 42 ± 16 mm2, p = 0.12) with a strong correlation between both imaging techniques (Pearson r = 0.76, p < 0.0001). By contrast, assessment of the regurgitant volume by 2DTTE and by phase contrast velocity mapping by CMR showed poor agreement.
In moderate to severe primary mitral regurgitation without overt left ventricular dysfunction, 2DTTE significantly underestimates left ventricular remodelling in comparison to CMR. Measurement of the regurgitant orifice with planimetry by CMR shows good agreement with the PISA method by 2DTTE and thus may be a valuable alternative to assess mitral regurgitation severity.
PMCID: PMC3880971  PMID: 24373138
Valve; Mitral regurgitation; Left ventricular function; Echocardiography; Cardiac magnetic resonance
5.  Looking Like a Leader–Facial Shape Predicts Perceived Height and Leadership Ability 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80957.
Judgments of leadership ability from face images predict the outcomes of actual political elections and are correlated with leadership success in the corporate world. The specific facial cues that people use to judge leadership remain unclear, however. Physical height is also associated with political and organizational success, raising the possibility that facial cues of height contribute to leadership perceptions. Consequently, we assessed whether cues to height exist in the face and, if so, whether they are associated with perception of leadership ability. We found that facial cues to perceived height had a strong relationship with perceived leadership ability. Furthermore, when allowed to manually manipulate faces, participants increased facial cues associated with perceived height in order to maximize leadership perception. A morphometric analysis of face shape revealed that structural facial masculinity was not responsible for the relationship between perceived height and perceived leadership ability. Given the prominence of facial appearance in making social judgments, facial cues to perceived height may have a significant influence on leadership selection.
PMCID: PMC3851990  PMID: 24324651
6.  Degenerate recognition of MHC class I molecules with Bw4 and Bw6 motifs by a KIR3DL expressed by macaque natural killer cells 
The killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) expressed on the surface of natural killer (NK) cells recognize specific major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules and regulate NK cell activities against pathogen-infected cells and neoplasia. In human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, survival is linked to host KIR and MHC-I genotypes. In the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) macaque model, however, the role of NK cells is unclear due to the lack of information on KIR-MHC interactions. Here, we describe the first characterization of a KIR-MHC interaction in pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina). Initially, we identified three distinct subsets of macaque NK cells that stained ex vivo with macaque MHC-I tetramers loaded with SIV peptides. We then cloned cDNAs corresponding to 15 distinct KIR3D alleles. One of these, KIR049-4, was an inhibitory KIR3DL that bound MHC-I tetramers and prevented activation, degranulation and cytokine production by macaque NK cells after engagement with specific MHC-I molecules on the surface of target cells. Furthermore, KIR049-4 recognized a broad range of MHC-I molecules carrying not only the Bw4 motif but also Bw6 and non-Bw4/Bw6 motifs. This degenerate, yet peptide-dependent, MHC reactivity differs markedly from the fine specificity of human KIRs.
PMCID: PMC3507536  PMID: 23041569
Natural Killer cells; comparative immunology/evolution; macaque; MHC; NK cell receptor
8.  Preclinical Characterization of GS-9669, a Thumb Site II Inhibitor of the Hepatitis C Virus NS5B Polymerase 
GS-9669 is a highly optimized thumb site II nonnucleoside inhibitor of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA polymerase, with a binding affinity of 1.35 nM for the genotype (GT) 1b protein. It is a selective inhibitor of HCV RNA replication, with a mean 50% effective concentration (EC50) of ≤11 nM in genotype 1 and 5 replicon assays, but lacks useful activity against genotypes 2 to 4. The M423T mutation is readily generated clinically upon monotherapy with the thumb site II inhibitors filibuvir and lomibuvir, and it is notable that GS-9669 exhibited only a 3-fold loss in potency against this variant in the genotype 1b replicon. Rather than M423T, resistance predominantly tracks to residues R422K and L419M and residue I482L in GT 1b and 1a replicons, respectively. GS-9669 exhibited at least additive activity in combination with agents encompassing four other direct modes of action (NS3 protease, NS5A, NS5B via an alternative allosteric binding site, and NS5B nucleotide) as well as with alpha interferon or ribavirin in replicon assays. It exhibited high metabolic stability in in vitro human liver microsomal assays, which, in combination with its pharmacokinetic profiles in rat, dog, and two monkey species, is predictive of good human pharmacokinetics. GS-9669 is well suited for combination with other orally active, direct-acting antiviral agents in the treatment of genotype 1 chronic HCV infection. (This study has been registered at under registration number NCT01431898.)
PMCID: PMC3553741  PMID: 23183437
9.  Killer Immunoglobulin Receptor 3DL1-mediated recognition of Human Leukocyte Antigen B 
Nature  2011;479(7373):401-405.
Members of the Killer Immunoglobulin-Like Receptor (KIR) family, a large group of polymorphic receptors expressed on Natural Killer (NK) cells, recognise particular peptide-laden Human Leukocyte Antigen (pHLA) class I molecules and play a pivotal role in innate immune responses1. Allelic variation and extensive polymorphism within the three-domain KIR family (KIR3D, domains D0–D1–D2) affects pHLA binding specificity and is linked to the control of viral replication and the treatment outcome of certain haematological malignancies1–3. We describe the structure of the KIR3DL1 receptor, bound to HLA-B*5701 complexed with a self-peptide. KIR3DL1 clamped around the C-terminal end of the HLA-B*5701 antigen (Ag)-binding cleft, resulting in two discontinuous footprints on the pHLA. Firstly, the D0 domain, a distinguishing feature of the KIR3D family, extended towards β2-microglobulin and abutted a region of the HLA molecule that exhibited limited polymorphism, thereby acting as an “innate HLA sensor” domain. Secondly, while the D2-HLA-B*5701 interface exhibited a high degree of complementarity, the D1-pHLA-B*5701 contacts were sub-optimal and accommodated a degree of sequence variation both within the peptide and the polymorphic region of the HLA molecule. While the two-domain KIR (KIR2D) and KIR3DL1 docked similarly onto HLA-C4,5 and HLA-B respectively, the corresponding D1-mediated interactions differed markedly, thereby providing insight into the specificity of KIR3DL1 for discrete HLA-A and HLA-B allotypes. Collectively, in association with extensive mutagenesis studies at the KIR3DL1-pHLA B*5701 interface, we provide a framework for understanding the intricate interplay between peptide variability, KIR3D and HLA polymorphism in determining the specificity requirements of this essential innate interaction that is conserved across primate species.
PMCID: PMC3723390  PMID: 22020283
10.  Mast cell toll-like receptor 2 signaling is crucial for effective killing of Francisella tularensis1 
Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling is critical for early host defense against pathogens, but the contribution of mast cell TLR-mediated mechanisms and subsequent effector functions during pulmonary infection is largely unknown. We have previously demonstrated that mast cells, through the production of IL-4, effectively control Francisella tularensis replication. In this study, the highly human virulent strain of F. tularensis SCHU S4 and the Live Vaccine Strain (LVS) were utilized to investigate the contribution of mast cell-TLR regulation of Francisella. Mast cells required TLR2 for effective bacterial killing, regulation of the hydrolytic enzyme cathepsin L, and for coordination and trafficking of MHCII and lysosomal associated membrane protein 2 (LAMP2). Infected TLR2−/− mast cells, in contrast to WT and TLR4−/−, lacked detectable IL-4 and displayed increased cell death with a 2–3 log increase of F. tularensis replication, but could be rescued with recombinant IL-4 treatment. Importantly, MHCII and LAMP2 localization with labeled F. tularensis in the lungs was greater in WT than in TLR2−/− mice. These results provide evidence for the important effector contribution of mast cells and TLR2-mediated signaling on early innate processes in the lung following pulmonary F. tularensis infection and provide additional insight into possible mechanisms by which intracellular pathogens modulate respiratory immune defenses.
PMCID: PMC3358431  PMID: 22529298
11.  Development of Neurological Disease Is Associated with Increased Immune Activation in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(24):13795-13799.
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of macaques can result in central nervous system disorders, such as meningitis and encephalitis. We studied 10 animals inoculated with brain-derived virus from animals with SIV encephalitis. Over half of the macaques developed SIV-induced neurologic disease. Elevated levels of systemic immune activation were observed to correlate with viral RNA in the cerebral spinal fluid but not with plasma viral load, consistent with a role for SIV in the pathogenesis of neurologic disease.
PMCID: PMC3503031  PMID: 23035225
12.  Identification of the peptide-binding motif recognized by the pigtail macaque class I MHC molecule Mane-A1*082:01 (Mane A*0301) 
Immunogenetics  2012;64(6):461-468.
Rhesus and pigtail macaques have proven to be valuable animal models for several important human diseases, including HIV, where they exhibit similar pathology and disease progression. Because rhesus macaques have been extensively characterized in terms of their major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I alleles, their demand has soared, making them increasingly difficult to obtain for research purposes. This problem has been exacerbated by a continued export ban in place since 1978. Pigtail macaques represent a potential alternative animal model. However, because their MHC class I alleles have not been characterized in detail, their use has been hindered. To address this, in the present study, we have characterized the peptide binding specificity of the pigtail macaque class I allele Mane-A1*082:01 (formerly known as Mane A*0301), representative of the second most common MHC class I antigen detected across several cohorts. The motif was defined on the basis of binding studies utilizing purified MHC protein and panels of single amino acid substitution analog peptides, as well as sequences of peptide ligands eluted from Mane- A1*082:01. Based on these analyses, Mane-A1*082:01 was found to recognize a motif with H in position 2 and the aromatic residues F and Y, or the hydrophobic/aliphatic residue M, at the C-terminus. Finally, analysis of the binding of a combinatorial peptide library allowed the generation of a detailed quantitative motif that proved effective in the prediction of a set of high-affinity binders derived from chimeric SIV/HIV, an important model virus for studying HIV infection in humans.
PMCID: PMC3626442  PMID: 22278177
MHC; Macaques; Peptide binding motif; T cell epitope; Class I
13.  Intranasal Vaccination with Chlamydia pneumoniae Induces Cross-Species Immunity against Genital Chlamydia muridarum Challenge in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64917.
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the world and specifically in the United States, with the highest incidence in age-groups 14–19 years. In a subset of females, the C. trachomatis genital infection leads to serious pathological sequelae including pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Chlamydia pneumoniae, another member of the same genus, is a common cause of community acquired respiratory infection with significant number of children aged 5–14 yr displaying sero-conversion. Since these bacteriae share several antigenic determinants, we evaluated whether intranasal immunization with live C. pneumoniae (1×106 inclusion forming units; IFU) in 5 week old female C57BL/6 mice would induce cross-species protection against subsequent intravaginal challenge with Chlamydia muridarum (5×104 IFU), which causes a similar genital infection and pathology in mice as C. trachomatis in humans. Mice vaccinated intranasally with live C. pneumoniae, but not mock (PBS) immunized animals, displayed high levels of splenic cellular antigen-specific IFN-γ production and serum antibody response against C. muridarum and C. trachomatis. Mice vaccinated with C. pneumoniae displayed a significant reduction in the vaginal C. muridarum shedding as early as day 12 after secondary i.vag. challenge compared to PBS (mock) immunized mice. At day 19 after C. muridarum challenge, 100% of C. pneumoniae vaccinated mice had cleared the infection compared to none (0%) of the mock immunized mice, which cleared the infection by day 27. At day 80 after C. muridarum challenge, C. pneumoniae vaccinated mice displayed a significant reduction in the incidence (50%) and degree of hydrosalpinx compared to mock immunized animals (100%). These results suggest that respiratory C. pneumoniae infection induces accelerated chlamydial clearance and reduction of oviduct pathology following genital C. muridarum challenge, and may have important implications to the C. trachomatis-induced reproductive disease in humans.
PMCID: PMC3669087  PMID: 23741420
14.  Dried Plum’s Unique Capacity to Reverse Bone Loss and Alter Bone Metabolism in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60569.
Interest in dried plum has increased over the past decade due to its promise in restoring bone and preventing bone loss in animal models of osteoporosis. This study compared the effects of dried plum on bone to other dried fruits and further explored the potential mechanisms of action through which dried plum may exert its osteoprotective effects. Adult osteopenic ovariectomized (OVX) C57BL/6 mice were fed either a control diet or a diet supplemented with 25% (w/w) dried plum, apple, apricot, grape or mango for 8 weeks. Whole body and spine bone mineral density improved in mice consuming the dried plum, apricot and grape diets compared to the OVX control mice, but dried plum was the only fruit to have an anabolic effect on trabecular bone in the vertebra and prevent bone loss in the tibia. Restoration of biomechanical properties occurred in conjunction with the changes in trabecular bone in the spine. Compared to other dried fruits in this study, dried plum was unique in its ability to down-regulate osteoclast differentiation coincident with up-regulating osteoblast and glutathione (GPx) activity. These alterations in bone metabolism and antioxidant status compared to other dried fruits provide insight into dried plum’s unique effects on bone.
PMCID: PMC3612052  PMID: 23555991
15.  Australian Diabetes Foot Network: practical guideline on the provision of footwear for people with diabetes 
Trauma, in the form of pressure and/or friction from footwear, is a common cause of foot ulceration in people with diabetes. These practical recommendations regarding the provision of footwear for people with diabetes were agreed upon following review of existing position statements and clinical guidelines. The aim of this process was not to re-invent existing guidelines but to provide practical guidance for health professionals on how they can best deliver these recommendations within the Australian health system. Where information was lacking or inconsistent, a consensus was reached following discussion by all authors. Appropriately prescribed footwear, used alone or in conjunction with custom-made foot orthoses, can reduce pedal pressures and reduce the risk of foot ulceration. It is important for all health professionals involved in the care of people with diabetes to both assess and make recommendations on the footwear needs of their clients or to refer to health professionals with such skills and knowledge. Individuals with more complex footwear needs (for example those who require custom-made medical grade footwear and orthoses) should be referred to health professionals with experience in the prescription of these modalities and who are able to provide appropriate and timely follow-up. Where financial disadvantage is a barrier to individuals acquiring appropriate footwear, health care professionals should be aware of state and territory based equipment funding schemes that can provide financial assistance. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people living in rural and remote areas are likely to have limited access to a broad range of footwear. Provision of appropriate footwear to people with diabetes in these communities needs be addressed as part of a comprehensive national strategy to reduce the burden of diabetes and its complications on the health system.
PMCID: PMC3599221  PMID: 23442978
Footwear; Diabetes; Foot; Guideline; Australia
17.  Vaginal chlamydial clearance following primary or secondary infection in mice occurs independently of TNF-α 
The role of TNF-α in chlamydial clearance is uncertain. Antibody-mediated depletion of TNF-α in mice and guinea pigs has been shown not to significantly affect chlamydial clearance, whereas production of TNF-α in addition to IFN-γ from T cells has been shown to correlate with enhanced clearance. The aim of our study is to evaluate the mechanistic role of TNF-α in clearance of primary and secondary chlamydial infection from the genital tract (GT) using C57BL/6 TNF-α deficient (TNF-α−/−) and wild type (WT) mice. Chlamydial shedding from the lower GT was evaluated following primary and secondary intravaginal challenge. Also, antibody and antigen specific cytokine responses were analyzed from the infected GT and spleens, and oviduct pathology determined to analyze the role of TNF-α in upper GT pathological sequelae. MHC II−/− mice, known to display muted adaptive immune responses and failure to resolve genital chlamydial infections, were used as a negative control. Following both primary and secondary genital chlamydial infection, TNF-α−/− mice exhibited elevated granzyme B production, but similar IFN-γ and antibody responses. Importantly, absence of TNF-α did not significantly alter the resolution of infection. However, TNF-α−/− mice displayed significantly reduced upper genital tract (UGT) pathology compared to WT mice. This study demonstrates mechanistically that optimal chlamydial clearance following primary and secondary chlamydial genital infection can occur in the complete absence of TNF-α, and considered with the reduction of upper GT pathology in TNF-α−/− mice, suggests that targeted induction of anti-chlamydial TNF-α responses by vaccination may be unnecessary, and moreover could be potentially pathogenic.
PMCID: PMC3593625  PMID: 23483844
TNF-α; Chlamydia; granzyme; primary and secondary genital infection; upper genital tract pathology
18.  Skeletal unloading induced insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) non-responsiveness is not shared by platelet-derived growth factor: the selective role of integrins in IGF-I signaling 
Integrin receptors bind extracellular matrix proteins, and this link between the cell membrane and the surrounding matrix may translate skeletal loading to biologic activity in osteoprogenitor cells. The interaction between integrin and growth factor receptors allows for mechanically induced regulation of growth factor signaling. Skeletal unloading leads to decreased bone formation and osteoblast proliferation that can be explained in part by a failure of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) to activate its signaling pathways in unloaded bone. The aim of this study is to determine whether unloading induced resistance is specific for IGF-I or common to other skeletal growth factors, and to examine the regulatory role of integrins in IGF-I signaling. Bone marrow osteoprogenitor (BMOp) cells were isolated from control or hindlimb suspended rats. Unloaded BMOp cells treated with IGF-I failed to respond with increased proliferation, receptor phosporylation, or signaling activation in the setting of intact ligand binding; whereas the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) response was fully intact. Pre-treatment of control BMOp cells with an integrin inhibitor, echistatin, failed to disrupt PDGF signaling, but blocked IGF-I signaling. Recovery of IGF-I signaling in unloaded BMOp cells followed the recovery of marked reduction in integrin expression induced by skeletal unloading. Selective targeting of integrin subunits with siRNA oligonucleotides revealed that integrin β1 and β3 are required for normal IGF-I receptor phosphorylation. We conclude that integrins, in particular integrin β3, are regulators of IGF-I, but not PDGF, signaling in osteoblasts, suggesting that PDGF could be considered for investigation in prevention and/or treatment of bone loss during immobilization and other forms of skeletal unloading.
PMCID: PMC3222734  PMID: 21932337
skeletal unloading; insulin-like growth factor; platelet-derived growth factor; osteoblast; integrin
19.  Perforin- and Granzyme-Mediated Cytotoxic Effector Functions Are Essential for Protection against Francisella tularensis following Vaccination by the Defined F. tularensis subsp. novicida ΔfopC Vaccine Strain 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(6):2177-2185.
A licensed vaccine against Francisella tularensis is currently not available. Two Francisella tularensis subsp. novicida (herein referred to by its earlier name, Francisella novicida) attenuated strains, the ΔiglB and ΔfopC strains, have previously been evaluated as potential vaccine candidates against pneumonic tularemia in experimental animals. F. novicida ΔiglB, a Francisella pathogenicity island (FPI) mutant, is deficient in phagosomal escape and intracellular growth, whereas F. novicida ΔfopC, lacking the outer membrane lipoprotein FopC, which is required for evasion of gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-mediated signaling, is able to escape and replicate in the cytosol. To dissect the difference in protective immune mechanisms conferred by these two vaccine strains, we examined the efficacy of the F. novicida ΔiglB and ΔfopC mutants against pulmonary live-vaccine-strain (LVS) challenge and found that both strains provided comparable protection in wild-type, major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) knockout, and MHC II knockout mice. However, F. novicida ΔfopC-vaccinated but not F. novicida ΔiglB-vaccinated perforin-deficient mice were more susceptible and exhibited greater bacterial burdens than similarly vaccinated wild-type mice. Moreover, perforin produced by natural killer (NK) cells and release of granzyme contributed to inhibition of LVS replication within macrophages. This NK cell-mediated LVS inhibition was enhanced with anti-F. novicida ΔfopC immune serum, suggesting antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in F. novicida ΔfopC-mediated protection. Overall, this study provides additional immunological insight into the basis for protection conferred by live attenuated F. novicida strains with different phenotypes and supports further investigation of this organism as a vaccine platform for tularemia.
PMCID: PMC3370591  PMID: 22493083
20.  Mucosal Immunization with Live Attenuated Francisella novicida U112ΔiglB Protects against Pulmonary F. tularensis SCHU S4 in the Fischer 344 Rat Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47639.
The need for an efficacious vaccine against Francisella tularensis is a consequence of its low infectious dose and high mortality rate if left untreated. This study sought to characterize a live attenuated subspecies novicida-based vaccine strain (U112ΔiglB) in an established second rodent model of pulmonary tularemia, namely the Fischer 344 rat using two distinct routes of vaccination (intratracheal [i.t.] and oral). Attenuation was verified by comparing replication of U112ΔiglB with wild type parental strain U112 in F344 primary alveolar macrophages. U112ΔiglB exhibited an LD50>107 CFU compared to the wild type (LD50 = 5×106 CFU i.t.). Immunization with 107 CFU U112ΔiglB by i.t. and oral routes induced antigen-specific IFN-γ and potent humoral responses both systemically (IgG2a>IgG1 in serum) and at the site of mucosal vaccination (respiratory/intestinal compartment). Importantly, vaccination with U112ΔiglB by either i.t. or oral routes provided equivalent levels of protection (50% survival) in F344 rats against a subsequent pulmonary challenge with ∼25 LD50 (1.25×104 CFU) of the highly human virulent strain SCHU S4. Collectively, these results provide further evidence on the utility of a mucosal vaccination platform with a defined subsp. novicida U112ΔiglB vaccine strain in conferring protective immunity against pulmonary tularemia.
PMCID: PMC3484155  PMID: 23118885
21.  Comparison between single- and multi-level patients: clinical and radiological outcomes 2 years after cervical disc replacement 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(9):1417-1426.
In cervical multi-level degenerative pathology, considering the morbidity of the extensive fusion techniques, some authors advocate for the multilevel disc replacement. This study compared the safety and efficacy of disc replacement with an unconstrained prosthesis in multi- versus single-level patients. A total of 231 patients with cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD) who were treated with cervical disc replacement and completed their 24 months follow-up were analyzed prospectively: 175 were treated at one level, 56 at 2 levels or more. Comparison between both groups was based on usual clinical and radiological outcomes [Neck Disability Index (NDI), Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Range of Motion, satisfaction]. Safety assessments, including complication and subsequent surgeries, were also documented and compared. Mean NDI and VAS scores for neck and arm pain were improved in both groups similarly. Improvement of mobility at treated segments was also similar. Nevertheless, in the multi-level group, analgesic use was significantly higher and occurrence of Heterotopic Ossification significantly lower than in the single-level group. Subject satisfaction was nearly equal, as 94.2% of single-level group patients would undergo the surgery again versus 94.5% in the multi-level group. The overall success rate did not differ significantly. Multi-level DDD is a challenging indication in the cervical spine. This study showed no major significant clinical difference between the two groups. We need further studies to know more about the impact of multi-level arthroplasty, especially on the adjacent segments, but these results demonstrate initial safety and effectiveness in this patient sample.
PMCID: PMC3175911  PMID: 21336970
Multi-level degenerative disc disease; Cervical disc replacement; Clinical study; Unconstrained cervical disc prosthesis
22.  Non FcεR-bearing Mast Cells Secrete Sufficient Interleukin-4 to Control Francisella tularensis Replication within Macrophages 
Cytokine  2011;55(2):211-220.
Mast cells have classically been implicated in the triggering of allergic and anaphylactic reactions. However, recent findings have elucidated the ability of these cells to selectively release a variety of cytokines leading to bacterial clearance through neutrophil and dendritic cell mobilization, and suggest an important role in innate host defenses. Our laboratory has established a primary bone marrow derived mast cell-macrophage co-culture system and found that mast cells mediated a significant inhibition of Francisella tularensis LVS uptake and replication within macrophages through contact and the secreted product interleukin-4 (IL-4). In this study, we utilized P815 mast cells and J774 macrophages to further investigate whether mast cell activation by non-FcεR driven signals could produce IL-4 and control intramacrophage LVS replication. P815 supernatants collected upon activation by the mast cell activating peptide MP7, as well as P815 cells co-cultured with J774 macrophages, exhibited marked inhibition of bacterial uptake and replication, which correlated with the production of IL-4. The inhibition noted in vitro was titratable and preserved at ratios relevant to cellular infiltration events following pulmonary challenge. Collectively, our data suggest that both primary mast cell and P815 mast cell (lacking FcεR) secreted IL-4 can control intramacrophage Francisella replication.
PMCID: PMC3155945  PMID: 21565523
mast cells; Gram negative bacteria; IL-4; respiratory infection; Francisella tularensis; innate immunity
23.  Early Short-Term Antiretroviral Therapy Is Associated with a Reduced Prevalence of CD8+FoxP3+ T Cells in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Controller Rhesus Macaques 
Regulatory T cells contain a mix of CD4 and CD8 T cell subsets that can suppress immune activation and at the same time suppress immune responses, thereby contributing to disease progression. Recent studies have shown that an increased prevalence of CD8+FoxP3+ T regulatory cells was associated with immune suppression and diminished viral control in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus macaques. Preventing an increase in the prevalence of CD8 T regulatory subsets is likely to lead to a better long-term outcome. Here we show that short-term antiretroviral therapy initiated within 1 week after SIV infection was associated with lower viral set point and immune activation after withdrawal of therapy as compared to untreated animals. Early short-term treated controller animals were found to have better SIV-specific immune responses and a significantly lower prevalence of immunosuppressive CD8+FoxP3+ T cells. Lower levels of CD8+FoxP3+ T cells coincided with preservation of CD4+FoxP3+ T cells at homeostatic levels, and significantly correlated with lower immune activation, suggesting a role for viral infection-driven immune activation in the expansion of CD8+FoxP3+ T cells. Interestingly, initiation of continuous therapy later in infection did not reduce the increased prevalence of CD8+FoxP3+ T cells to homeostatic levels. Taken together, our results suggest that early antiretroviral therapy preserves the integrity of the immune system leading to a lower viral set point in controller animals, and prevents alterations in the homeostatic balance between CD4+ and CD8+ T regulatory cells that could aid in better long-term outcome.
PMCID: PMC3123528  PMID: 21142402
24.  Dynamics of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac239 Infection in Pigtail Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(2):1203-1213.
Pigtail macaques (PTM) are an excellent model for HIV research; however, the dynamics of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) SIVmac239 infection in PTM have not been fully evaluated. We studied nine PTM prior to infection, during acute and chronic SIVmac239 infections, until progression to AIDS. We found PTM manifest clinical AIDS more rapidly than rhesus macaques (RM), as AIDS-defining events occurred at an average of 42.17 weeks after infection in PTM compared to 69.56 weeks in RM (P = 0.0018). However, increased SIV progression was not associated with increased viremia, as both peak and set-point plasma viremias were similar between PTM and RM (P = 0.7953 and P = 0.1006, respectively). Moreover, this increased disease progression was not associated with rapid CD4+ T cell depletion, as CD4+ T cell decline resembled other SIV/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) models. Since immune activation is the best predictor of disease progression during HIV infection, we analyzed immune activation by turnover of T cells by BrdU decay and Ki67 expression. We found increased levels of turnover prior to SIV infection of PTM compared to that observed with RM, which may contribute to their increased disease progression rate. These data evaluate the kinetics of SIVmac239-induced disease progression and highlight PTM as a model for HIV infection and the importance of immune activation in SIV disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3255820  PMID: 22090099
25.  A quantitative model of the initiation of DNA replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae predicts the effects of system perturbations 
BMC Systems Biology  2012;6:78.
Eukaryotic cell proliferation involves DNA replication, a tightly regulated process mediated by a multitude of protein factors. In budding yeast, the initiation of replication is facilitated by the heterohexameric origin recognition complex (ORC). ORC binds to specific origins of replication and then serves as a scaffold for the recruitment of other factors such as Cdt1, Cdc6, the Mcm2-7 complex, Cdc45 and the Dbf4-Cdc7 kinase complex. While many of the mechanisms controlling these associations are well documented, mathematical models are needed to explore the network’s dynamic behaviour. We have developed an ordinary differential equation-based model of the protein-protein interaction network describing replication initiation.
The model was validated against quantified levels of protein factors over a range of cell cycle timepoints. Using chromatin extracts from synchronized Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell cultures, we were able to monitor the in vivo fluctuations of several of the aforementioned proteins, with additional data obtained from the literature. The model behaviour conforms to perturbation trials previously reported in the literature, and accurately predicts the results of our own knockdown experiments. Furthermore, we successfully incorporated our replication initiation model into an established model of the entire yeast cell cycle, thus providing a comprehensive description of these processes.
This study establishes a robust model of the processes driving DNA replication initiation. The model was validated against observed cell concentrations of the driving factors, and characterizes the interactions between factors implicated in eukaryotic DNA replication. Finally, this model can serve as a guide in efforts to generate a comprehensive model of the mammalian cell cycle in order to explore cancer-related phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3439281  PMID: 22738223

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