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1.  Stoichiometry of Monoclonal Antibody Neutralization of T-Cell Line-Adapted Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(10):8364-8370.
In order to study the stoichiometry of monoclonal antibody (MAb) neutralization of T-cell line-adapted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in antibody excess and under equilibrium conditions, we exploited the ability of HIV-1 to generate mixed oligomers when different env genes are coexpressed. By the coexpression of Env glycoproteins that either can or cannot bind a neutralizing MAb in an env transcomplementation assay, virions were generated in which the proportion of MAb binding sites could be regulated. As the proportion of MAb binding sites in Env chimeric virus increased, MAb neutralization gradually increased. Virus neutralization by virion aggregation was minimal, as MAb binding to HIV-1 Env did not interfere with an AMLV Env-mediated infection by HIV-1(AMLV/HIV-1) pseudotypes of CD4− HEK293 cells. MAb neutralization of chimeric virions could be described as a third-order function of the proportion of Env antigen refractory to MAb binding. This scenario is consistent with the Env oligomer constituting the minimal functional unit and neutralization occurring incrementally as each Env oligomer binds MAb. Alternatively, the data could be fit to a sigmoid function. Thus, these data could not exclude the existence of a threshold for neutralization. However, results from MAb neutralization of chimeric virus containing wild-type Env and Env defective in CD4 binding was readily explained by a model of incremental MAb neutralization. In summary, the data indicate that MAb neutralization of T-cell line-adapted HIV-1 is incremental rather than all or none and that each MAb binding an Env oligomer reduces the likelihood of infection.
PMCID: PMC112854  PMID: 10482587
2.  Targeting of Conserved Gag-Epitopes in Early HIV Infection Is Associated with Lower Plasma Viral Load and Slower CD4+ T Cell Depletion 
Abstract
We aimed to investigate whether the character of the immunodominant HIV-Gag peptide (variable or conserved) targeted by CD8+ T cells in early HIV infection would influence the quality and quantity of T cell responses, and whether this would affect the rate of disease progression. Treatment-naive HIV-infected study subjects within the OPTIONS cohort at the University of California, San Francisco, were monitored from an estimated 44 days postinfection for up to 6 years. CD8+ T cells responses targeting HLA-matched HIV-Gag-epitopes were identified and characterized by multicolor flow cytometry. The autologous HIV gag sequences were obtained. We demonstrate that patients targeting a conserved HIV-Gag-epitope in early infection maintained their epitope-specific CD8+ T cell response throughout the study period. Patients targeting a variable epitope showed decreased immune responses over time, although there was no limitation of the functional profile, and they were likely to target additional variable epitopes. Maintained immune responses to conserved epitopes were associated with no or limited sequence evolution within the targeted epitope. Patients with immune responses targeting conserved epitopes had a significantly lower median viral load over time compared to patients with responses targeting a variable epitope (0.63 log10 difference). Furthermore, the rate of CD4+ T cell decline was slower for subjects targeting a conserved epitope (0.85% per month) compared to subjects targeting a variable epitope (1.85% per month). Previous studies have shown that targeting of antigens based on specific HLA types is associated with a better disease course. In this study we show that categorizing epitopes based on their variability is associated with clinical outcome.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0171
PMCID: PMC3581067  PMID: 23140171
3.  Evaluation of Whole Genome Sequencing for Outbreak Detection of Salmonella enterica 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87991.
Salmonella enterica is a common cause of minor and large food borne outbreaks. To achieve successful and nearly ‘real-time’ monitoring and identification of outbreaks, reliable sub-typing is essential. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) shows great promises for using as a routine epidemiological typing tool. Here we evaluate WGS for typing of S. Typhimurium including different approaches for analyzing and comparing the data. A collection of 34 S. Typhimurium isolates was sequenced. This consisted of 18 isolates from six outbreaks and 16 epidemiologically unrelated background strains. In addition, 8 S. Enteritidis and 5 S. Derby were also sequenced and used for comparison. A number of different bioinformatics approaches were applied on the data; including pan-genome tree, k-mer tree, nucleotide difference tree and SNP tree. The outcome of each approach was evaluated in relation to the association of the isolates to specific outbreaks. The pan-genome tree clustered 65% of the S. Typhimurium isolates according to the pre-defined epidemiology, the k-mer tree 88%, the nucleotide difference tree 100% and the SNP tree 100% of the strains within S. Typhimurium. The resulting outcome of the four phylogenetic analyses were also compared to PFGE reveling that WGS typing achieved the greater performance than the traditional method. In conclusion, for S. Typhimurium, SNP analysis and nucleotide difference approach of WGS data seem to be the superior methods for epidemiological typing compared to other phylogenetic analytic approaches that may be used on WGS. These approaches were also superior to the more classical typing method, PFGE. Our study also indicates that WGS alone is insufficient to determine whether strains are related or un-related to outbreaks. This still requires the combination of epidemiological data and whole genome sequencing results.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087991
PMCID: PMC3913712  PMID: 24505344
4.  Structural analysis of B-cell epitopes in antibody:protein complexes 
Molecular immunology  2012;53(1-2):24-34.
The binding of antigens to antibodies is one of the key events in an immune response against foreign molecules and is a critical element of several biomedical applications including vaccines and immunotherapeutics. For development of such applications, the identification of antibody binding sites (B-cell epitopes) is essential. However experimental epitope mapping is highly cost-intensive and computer-aided methods do in general have moderate performance. One major reason for this moderate performance is an incomplete understanding of what characterizes an epitope. To fill this gap, we here developed a novel framework for comparing and superimposing B-cell epitopes and applied it on a dataset of 107 non-similar antigen:antibody structures extracted from the PDB database. With the presented framework, we were able to describe the general B-cell epitope as a flat, oblong, oval shaped volume consisting of predominantly hydrophobic amino acids in the center flanked by charged residues. The average epitope was found to be made up of ~15 residues with one linear stretch of 5 or more residues constituting more than half of the epitope size. Furthermore, the epitope area is predominantly constrained to a plane above the antibody tip, in which the epitope is orientated in a −30 to 60 degree angle relative to the light to heavy chain antibody direction. Contrary to previously findings, we did not find a significant deviation between the amino acid composition in epitopes and the composition of equally exposed parts of the antigen surface. Our results, in combination with previously findings, give a detailed picture of the B-cell epitope that may be used in development of improved B-cell prediction methods.
doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2012.06.001
PMCID: PMC3461403  PMID: 22784991
Antibody; Antigen; Epitope; Structure; Amino acid distribution
5.  Rapid Whole-Genome Sequencing for Detection and Characterization of Microorganisms Directly from Clinical Samples 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(1):139-146.
Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is becoming available as a routine tool for clinical microbiology. If applied directly on clinical samples, this could further reduce diagnostic times and thereby improve control and treatment. A major bottleneck is the availability of fast and reliable bioinformatic tools. This study was conducted to evaluate the applicability of WGS directly on clinical samples and to develop easy-to-use bioinformatic tools for the analysis of sequencing data. Thirty-five random urine samples from patients with suspected urinary tract infections were examined using conventional microbiology, WGS of isolated bacteria, and direct sequencing on pellets from the urine samples. A rapid method for analyzing the sequence data was developed. Bacteria were cultivated from 19 samples but in pure cultures from only 17 samples. WGS improved the identification of the cultivated bacteria, and almost complete agreement was observed between phenotypic and predicted antimicrobial susceptibilities. Complete agreement was observed between species identification, multilocus sequence typing, and phylogenetic relationships for Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis isolates when the results of WGS of cultured isolates and urine samples were directly compared. Sequencing directly from the urine enabled bacterial identification in polymicrobial samples. Additional putative pathogenic strains were observed in some culture-negative samples. WGS directly on clinical samples can provide clinically relevant information and drastically reduce diagnostic times. This may prove very useful, but the need for data analysis is still a hurdle to clinical implementation. To overcome this problem, a publicly available bioinformatic tool was developed in this study.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02452-13
PMCID: PMC3911411  PMID: 24172157
6.  Low-Bandwidth and Non-Compute Intensive Remote Identification of Microbes from Raw Sequencing Reads 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83784.
Cheap DNA sequencing may soon become routine not only for human genomes but also for practically anything requiring the identification of living organisms from their DNA: tracking of infectious agents, control of food products, bioreactors, or environmental samples. We propose a novel general approach to the analysis of sequencing data where a reference genome does not have to be specified. Using a distributed architecture we are able to query a remote server for hints about what the reference might be, transferring a relatively small amount of data. Our system consists of a server with known reference DNA indexed, and a client with raw sequencing reads. The client sends a sample of unidentified reads, and in return receives a list of matching references. Sequences for the references can be retrieved and used for exhaustive computation on the reads, such as alignment. To demonstrate this approach we have implemented a web server, indexing tens of thousands of publicly available genomes and genomic regions from various organisms and returning lists of matching hits from query sequencing reads. We have also implemented two clients: one running in a web browser, and one as a python script. Both are able to handle a large number of sequencing reads and from portable devices (the browser-based running on a tablet), perform its task within seconds, and consume an amount of bandwidth compatible with mobile broadband networks. Such client-server approaches could develop in the future, allowing a fully automated processing of sequencing data and routine instant quality check of sequencing runs from desktop sequencers. A web access is available at http://tapir.cbs.dtu.dk. The source code for a python command-line client, a server, and supplementary data are available at http://bit.ly/1aURxkc.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083784
PMCID: PMC3877093  PMID: 24391826
7.  Correction: PathogenFinder - Distinguishing Friend from Foe Using Bacterial Whole Genome Sequence Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):10.1371/annotation/b84e1af7-c127-45c3-be22-76abd977600f.
doi:10.1371/annotation/b84e1af7-c127-45c3-be22-76abd977600f
PMCID: PMC3865336
8.  PathogenFinder - Distinguishing Friend from Foe Using Bacterial Whole Genome Sequence Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77302.
Although the majority of bacteria are harmless or even beneficial to their host, others are highly virulent and can cause serious diseases, and even death. Due to the constantly decreasing cost of high-throughput sequencing there are now many completely sequenced genomes available from both human pathogenic and innocuous strains. The data can be used to identify gene families that correlate with pathogenicity and to develop tools to predict the pathogenicity of newly sequenced strains, investigations that previously were mainly done by means of more expensive and time consuming experimental approaches. We describe PathogenFinder (http://cge.cbs.dtu.dk/services/PathogenFinder/), a web-server for the prediction of bacterial pathogenicity by analysing the input proteome, genome, or raw reads provided by the user. The method relies on groups of proteins, created without regard to their annotated function or known involvement in pathogenicity. The method has been built to work with all taxonomic groups of bacteria and using the entire training-set, achieved an accuracy of 88.6% on an independent test-set, by correctly classifying 398 out of 449 completely sequenced bacteria. The approach here proposed is not biased on sets of genes known to be associated with pathogenicity, thus the approach could aid the discovery of novel pathogenicity factors. Furthermore the pathogenicity prediction web-server could be used to isolate the potential pathogenic features of both known and unknown strains.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077302
PMCID: PMC3810466  PMID: 24204795
9.  SigniSite: Identification of residue-level genotype-phenotype correlations in protein multiple sequence alignments 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(Web Server issue):W286-W291.
Identifying which mutation(s) within a given genotype is responsible for an observable phenotype is important in many aspects of molecular biology. Here, we present SigniSite, an online application for subgroup-free residue-level genotype–phenotype correlation. In contrast to similar methods, SigniSite does not require any pre-definition of subgroups or binary classification. Input is a set of protein sequences where each sequence has an associated real number, quantifying a given phenotype. SigniSite will then identify which amino acid residues are significantly associated with the data set phenotype. As output, SigniSite displays a sequence logo, depicting the strength of the phenotype association of each residue and a heat-map identifying ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ regions. SigniSite was benchmarked against SPEER, a state-of-the-art method for the prediction of specificity determining positions (SDP) using a set of human immunodeficiency virus protease-inhibitor genotype–phenotype data and corresponding resistance mutation scores from the Stanford University HIV Drug Resistance Database, and a data set of protein families with experimentally annotated SDPs. For both data sets, SigniSite was found to outperform SPEER. SigniSite is available at: http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/SigniSite/.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt497
PMCID: PMC3692133  PMID: 23761454
10.  Reliable B Cell Epitope Predictions: Impacts of Method Development and Improved Benchmarking 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(12):e1002829.
The interaction between antibodies and antigens is one of the most important immune system mechanisms for clearing infectious organisms from the host. Antibodies bind to antigens at sites referred to as B-cell epitopes. Identification of the exact location of B-cell epitopes is essential in several biomedical applications such as; rational vaccine design, development of disease diagnostics and immunotherapeutics. However, experimental mapping of epitopes is resource intensive making in silico methods an appealing complementary approach. To date, the reported performance of methods for in silico mapping of B-cell epitopes has been moderate. Several issues regarding the evaluation data sets may however have led to the performance values being underestimated: Rarely, all potential epitopes have been mapped on an antigen, and antibodies are generally raised against the antigen in a given biological context not against the antigen monomer. Improper dealing with these aspects leads to many artificial false positive predictions and hence to incorrect low performance values. To demonstrate the impact of proper benchmark definitions, we here present an updated version of the DiscoTope method incorporating a novel spatial neighborhood definition and half-sphere exposure as surface measure. Compared to other state-of-the-art prediction methods, Discotope-2.0 displayed improved performance both in cross-validation and in independent evaluations. Using DiscoTope-2.0, we assessed the impact on performance when using proper benchmark definitions. For 13 proteins in the training data set where sufficient biological information was available to make a proper benchmark redefinition, the average AUC performance was improved from 0.791 to 0.824. Similarly, the average AUC performance on an independent evaluation data set improved from 0.712 to 0.727. Our results thus demonstrate that given proper benchmark definitions, B-cell epitope prediction methods achieve highly significant predictive performances suggesting these tools to be a powerful asset in rational epitope discovery. The updated version of DiscoTope is available at www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/DiscoTope-2.0.
Author Summary
The human immune system has an incredible ability to fight pathogens (bacterial, fungal and viral infections). One of the most important immune system events involved in clearing infectious organisms is the interaction between the antibodies and antigens (molecules such as proteins from the pathogenic organism). Antibodies bind to antigens at sites known as B-cell epitopes. Hence, identification of areas on the surface antigens capable of binding to antibodies (also known as B-cell epitopes) may aid the development of various immune related applications (e.g. vaccines and immunotherapeutic). However, experimental identification of B-cell epitopes is a resource intensive task, thereby making computer-aided methods an appealing complementary approach. Previously reported performances of methods for B cell epitope predictive have been moderate. Here, we present an updated version of the B-cell epitope prediction method; DiscoTope, that on the basis of a protein structure and epitope propensity scores predicts residues likely to be involved in B-cell epitopes. We demonstrate that the low performances to some extent can be explained by poorly defined benchmarks, and that inclusion of additional biological information greatly enhances the predictive performance. This suggests that, given proper benchmark definitions, state-of-the-art B cell epitope prediction methods perform significantly better than generally assumed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002829
PMCID: PMC3531324  PMID: 23300419
11.  Porcine major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules and analysis of their peptide-binding specificities 
Immunogenetics  2011;63(12):821-834.
In all vertebrate animals, CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are controlled by major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules. These are highly polymorphic peptide receptors selecting and presenting endogenously derived epitopes to circulating CTLs. The polymorphism of the MHC effectively individualizes the immune response of each member of the species. We have recently developed efficient methods to generate recombinant human MHC-I (also known as human leukocyte antigen class I, HLA-I) molecules, accompanying peptide-binding assays and predictors, and HLA tetramers for specific CTL staining and manipulation. This has enabled a complete mapping of all HLA-I specificities (“the Human MHC Project”). Here, we demonstrate that these approaches can be applied to other species. We systematically transferred domains of the frequently expressed swine MHC-I molecule, SLA-1*0401, onto a HLA-I molecule (HLA-A*11:01), thereby generating recombinant human/swine chimeric MHC-I molecules as well as the intact SLA-1*0401 molecule. Biochemical peptide-binding assays and positional scanning combinatorial peptide libraries were used to analyze the peptide-binding motifs of these molecules. A pan-specific predictor of peptide–MHC-I binding, NetMHCpan, which was originally developed to cover the binding specificities of all known HLA-I molecules, was successfully used to predict the specificities of the SLA-1*0401 molecule as well as the porcine/human chimeric MHC-I molecules. These data indicate that it is possible to extend the biochemical and bioinformatics tools of the Human MHC Project to other vertebrate species.
doi:10.1007/s00251-011-0555-3
PMCID: PMC3214623  PMID: 21739336
Recombinant MHC; Peptide specificity; Binding predictions
12.  MULTIPRED2: a computational system for large-scale identification of peptides predicted to bind to HLA supertypes and alleles 
Journal of immunological methods  2010;374(1-2):53-61.
MULTIPRED2 is a computational system for facile prediction of peptide binding to multiple alleles belonging to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and class II DR molecules. It enables prediction of peptide binding to products of individual HLA alleles, combination of alleles, or HLA supertypes. NetMHCpan and NetMHCIIpan are used as prediction engines. The 13 HLA Class I supertypes are A1, A2, A3, A24, B7, B8, B27, B44, B58, B62, C1, and C4. The 13 HLA Class II DR supertypes are DR1, DR3, DR4, DR6, DR7, DR8, DR9, DR11, DR12, DR13, DR14, DR15, and DR16. In total, MULTIPRED2 enables prediction of peptide binding to 1077 variants representing 26 HLA supertypes. MULTIPRED2 has visualization modules for mapping promiscuous T-cell epitopes as well as those regions of high target concentration – referred to as T-cell epitope hotspots. Novel graphic representations are employed to display the predicted binding peptides and immunological hotspots in an intuitive manner and also to provide a global view of results as heat maps. Another function of MULTIPRED2, which has direct relevance to vaccine design, is the calculation of population coverage. Currently it calculates population coverage in five major groups in North America. MULTIPRED2 is an important tool to complement wet-lab experimental methods for identification of T-cell epitopes. It is available at http://cvc.dfci.harvard.edu/multipred2/.
doi:10.1016/j.jim.2010.11.009
PMCID: PMC3090484  PMID: 21130094
T-cell epitope hotspots; HLA; HLA supertype; Human Leukocyte Antigen; promiscuous binding peptide; vaccine design
13.  Prediction of epitopes using neural network based methods 
Journal of immunological methods  2010;374(1-2):26-34.
In this paper, we describe the methodologies behind three different aspects of the NetMHC family for prediction of MHC class I binding, mainly to HLAs. We we have updated the prediction servers servers, NetMHC-3.2, NetMHCpan-2.2, and a new consensus method, NetMHCcons, which, in their previous versions, have been evaluated to be among the very best performing MHC:peptide binding predictors available. Here we describe the background for these methods, and the rationale behind the different optimisation steps implemented in the methods. We go through the practical use of the methods, which are publicly available in the form of relatively fast and simple web interfaces. Furthermore, we will review results optained in actual epitope discovery projects where previous implementations of the described methods have been used in the initial selection of potential epitopes. Selected potential epitopes were all evaluated experimentally using ex vivo assays.
doi:10.1016/j.jim.2010.10.011
PMCID: PMC3134633  PMID: 21047511
14.  ChemProt-2.0: visual navigation in a disease chemical biology database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(D1):D464-D469.
ChemProt-2.0 (http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/ChemProt-2.0) is a public available compilation of multiple chemical–protein annotation resources integrated with diseases and clinical outcomes information. The database has been updated to >1.15 million compounds with 5.32 millions bioactivity measurements for 15 290 proteins. Each protein is linked to quality-scored human protein–protein interactions data based on more than half a million interactions, for studying diseases and biological outcomes (diseases, pathways and GO terms) through protein complexes. In ChemProt-2.0, therapeutic effects as well as adverse drug reactions have been integrated allowing for suggesting proteins associated to clinical outcomes. New chemical structure fingerprints were computed based on the similarity ensemble approach. Protein sequence similarity search was also integrated to evaluate the promiscuity of proteins, which can help in the prediction of off-target effects. Finally, the database was integrated into a visual interface that enables navigation of the pharmacological space for small molecules. Filtering options were included in order to facilitate and to guide dynamic search of specific queries.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks1166
PMCID: PMC3531079  PMID: 23185041
15.  Predictions versus high-throughput experiments in T-cell epitope discovery: competition or synergy? 
Expert Review of Vaccines  2012;11(1):43-54.
Prediction methods as well as experimental methods for T-cell epitope discovery have developed significantly in recent years. High-throughput experimental methods have made it possible to perform full-length protein scans for epitopes restricted to a limited number of MHC alleles. The high costs and limitations regarding the number of proteins and MHC alleles that are feasibly handled by such experimental methods have made in silico prediction models of high interest. MHC binding prediction methods are today of a very high quality and can predict MHC binding peptides with high accuracy. This is possible for a large range of MHC alleles and relevant length of binding peptides. The predictions can easily be performed for complete proteomes of any size. Prediction methods are still, however, dependent on good experimental methods for validation, and should merely be used as a guide for rational epitope discovery. We expect prediction methods as well as experimental validation methods to continue to develop and that we will soon see clinical trials of products whose development has been guided by prediction methods.
doi:10.1586/erv.11.160
PMCID: PMC3297080  PMID: 22149708
CTL; epitope; HLA; MHC; prediction; T cell; vaccine
16.  Integrating Genome-based Informatics to Modernize Global Disease Monitoring, Information Sharing, and Response 
The rapid advancement of genome technologies holds great promise for improving the quality and speed of clinical and public health laboratory investigations and for decreasing their cost. The latest generation of genome DNA sequencers can provide highly detailed and robust information on disease-causing microbes, and in the near future these technologies will be suitable for routine use in national, regional, and global public health laboratories. With additional improvements in instrumentation, these next- or third-generation sequencers are likely to replace conventional culture-based and molecular typing methods to provide point-of-care clinical diagnosis and other essential information for quicker and better treatment of patients. Provided there is free-sharing of information by all clinical and public health laboratories, these genomic tools could spawn a global system of linked databases of pathogen genomes that would ensure more efficient detection, prevention, and control of endemic, emerging, and other infectious disease outbreaks worldwide.
doi:10.3201/eid/1811.120453
PMCID: PMC3559169  PMID: 23092707
genome-based informatics; disease monitoring; information sharing; point-of-care clinical diagnosis; genomic tools; emerging diseases; infectious diseases; outbreaks; bacteria; viruses; parasites; pathogens
17.  The Cancer Exome Generated by Alternative mRNA Splicing Dilutes Predicted HLA Class I Epitope Density 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e38670.
Several studies have shown that cancers actively regulate alternative splicing. Altered splicing mechanisms in cancer lead to cancer-specific transcripts different from the pool of transcripts occurring only in healthy tissue. At the same time, altered presentation of HLA class I epitopes is frequently observed in various types of cancer. Down-regulation of genes related to HLA class I antigen processing has been observed in several cancer types, leading to fewer HLA class I antigens on the cell surface. Here, we use a peptidome wide analysis of predicted alternative splice forms, based on a publicly available database, to show that peptides over-represented in cancer splice variants comprise significantly fewer predicted HLA class I epitopes compared to peptides from normal transcripts. Peptides over-represented in cancer transcripts are in the case of the three most common HLA class I supertype representatives consistently found to contain fewer predicted epitopes compared to normal tissue. We observed a significant difference in amino acid composition between protein sequences associated with normal versus cancer tissue, as transcripts found in cancer are enriched with hydrophilic amino acids. This variation contributes to the observed significant lower likelihood of cancer-specific peptides to be predicted epitopes compared to peptides found in normal tissue.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038670
PMCID: PMC3458037  PMID: 23049726
18.  Identification of acquired antimicrobial resistance genes 
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy  2012;67(11):2640-2644.
Objectives
Identification of antimicrobial resistance genes is important for understanding the underlying mechanisms and the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance. As the costs of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) continue to decline, it becomes increasingly available in routine diagnostic laboratories and is anticipated to substitute traditional methods for resistance gene identification. Thus, the current challenge is to extract the relevant information from the large amount of generated data.
Methods
We developed a web-based method, ResFinder that uses BLAST for identification of acquired antimicrobial resistance genes in whole-genome data. As input, the method can use both pre-assembled, complete or partial genomes, and short sequence reads from four different sequencing platforms. The method was evaluated on 1862 GenBank files containing 1411 different resistance genes, as well as on 23 de-novo-sequenced isolates.
Results
When testing the 1862 GenBank files, the method identified the resistance genes with an ID = 100% (100% identity) to the genes in ResFinder. Agreement between in silico predictions and phenotypic testing was found when the method was further tested on 23 isolates of five different bacterial species, with available phenotypes. Furthermore, ResFinder was evaluated on WGS chromosomes and plasmids of 30 isolates. Seven of these isolates were annotated to have antimicrobial resistance, and in all cases, annotations were compatible with the ResFinder results.
Conclusions
A web server providing a convenient way of identifying acquired antimicrobial resistance genes in completely sequenced isolates was created. ResFinder can be accessed at www.genomicepidemiology.org. ResFinder will continuously be updated as new resistance genes are identified.
doi:10.1093/jac/dks261
PMCID: PMC3468078  PMID: 22782487
antibiotic resistance; genotype; ResFinder; resistance gene identification
19.  Characterization of HIV-Specific CD4+ T Cell Responses against Peptides Selected with Broad Population and Pathogen Coverage 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39874.
CD4+ T cells orchestrate immunity against viral infections, but their importance in HIV infection remains controversial. Nevertheless, comprehensive studies have associated increase in breadth and functional characteristics of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells with decreased viral load. A major challenge for the identification of HIV-specific CD4+ T cells targeting broadly reactive epitopes in populations with diverse ethnic background stems from the vast genomic variation of HIV and the diversity of the host cellular immune system. Here, we describe a novel epitope selection strategy, PopCover, that aims to resolve this challenge, and identify a set of potential HLA class II-restricted HIV epitopes that in concert will provide optimal viral and host coverage. Using this selection strategy, we identified 64 putative epitopes (peptides) located in the Gag, Nef, Env, Pol and Tat protein regions of HIV. In total, 73% of the predicted peptides were found to induce HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses. The Gag and Nef peptides induced most responses. The vast majority of the peptides (93%) had predicted restriction to the patient’s HLA alleles. Interestingly, the viral load in viremic patients was inversely correlated to the number of targeted Gag peptides. In addition, the predicted Gag peptides were found to induce broader polyfunctional CD4+ T cell responses compared to the commonly used Gag-p55 peptide pool. These results demonstrate the power of the PopCover method for the identification of broadly recognized HLA class II-restricted epitopes. All together, selection strategies, such as PopCover, might with success be used for the evaluation of antigen-specific CD4+ T cell responses and design of future vaccines.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039874
PMCID: PMC3390319  PMID: 22792193
20.  Immune epitope database analysis resource 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(Web Server issue):W525-W530.
The immune epitope database analysis resource (IEDB-AR: http://tools.iedb.org) is a collection of tools for prediction and analysis of molecular targets of T- and B-cell immune responses (i.e. epitopes). Since its last publication in the NAR webserver issue in 2008, a new generation of peptide:MHC binding and T-cell epitope predictive tools have been added. As validated by different labs and in the first international competition for predicting peptide:MHC-I binding, their predictive performances have improved considerably. In addition, a new B-cell epitope prediction tool was added, and the homology mapping tool was updated to enable mapping of discontinuous epitopes onto 3D structures. Furthermore, to serve a wider range of users, the number of ways in which IEDB-AR can be accessed has been expanded. Specifically, the predictive tools can be programmatically accessed using a web interface and can also be downloaded as software packages.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks438
PMCID: PMC3394288  PMID: 22610854
21.  NetMHCpan, a method for MHC class I binding prediction beyond humans 
Immunogenetics  2008;61(1):1-13.
Binding of peptides to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules is the single most selective step in the recognition of pathogens by the cellular immune system. The human MHC genomic region (called HLA) is extremely polymorphic comprising several thousand alleles, each encoding a distinct MHC molecule. The potentially unique specificity of the majority of HLA alleles that have been identified to date remains uncharacterized. Likewise, only a limited number of chimpanzee and rhesus macaque MHC class I molecules have been characterized experimentally. Here, we present NetMHCpan-2.0, a method that generates quantitative predictions of the affinity of any peptide–MHC class I interaction. NetMHCpan-2.0 has been trained on the hitherto largest set of quantitative MHC binding data available, covering HLA-A and HLA-B, as well as chimpanzee, rhesus macaque, gorilla, and mouse MHC class I molecules. We show that the NetMHCpan-2.0 method can accurately predict binding to uncharacterized HLA molecules, including HLA-C and HLA-G. Moreover, NetMHCpan-2.0 is demonstrated to accurately predict peptide binding to chimpanzee and macaque MHC class I molecules. The power of NetMHCpan-2.0 to guide immunologists in interpreting cellular immune responses in large out-bred populations is demonstrated. Further, we used NetMHCpan-2.0 to predict potential binding peptides for the pig MHC class I molecule SLA-1*0401. Ninety-three percent of the predicted peptides were demonstrated to bind stronger than 500 nM. The high performance of NetMHCpan-2.0 for non-human primates documents the method's ability to provide broad allelic coverage also beyond human MHC molecules. The method is available at http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/NetMHCpan.
doi:10.1007/s00251-008-0341-z
PMCID: PMC3319061  PMID: 19002680
MHC class I; Binding specificity; Non-human primates; Artificial neural networks; CTL epitopes
22.  Multilocus Sequence Typing of Total-Genome-Sequenced Bacteria 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(4):1355-1361.
Accurate strain identification is essential for anyone working with bacteria. For many species, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) is considered the “gold standard” of typing, but it is traditionally performed in an expensive and time-consuming manner. As the costs of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) continue to decline, it becomes increasingly available to scientists and routine diagnostic laboratories. Currently, the cost is below that of traditional MLST. The new challenges will be how to extract the relevant information from the large amount of data so as to allow for comparison over time and between laboratories. Ideally, this information should also allow for comparison to historical data. We developed a Web-based method for MLST of 66 bacterial species based on WGS data. As input, the method uses short sequence reads from four sequencing platforms or preassembled genomes. Updates from the MLST databases are downloaded monthly, and the best-matching MLST alleles of the specified MLST scheme are found using a BLAST-based ranking method. The sequence type is then determined by the combination of alleles identified. The method was tested on preassembled genomes from 336 isolates covering 56 MLST schemes, on short sequence reads from 387 isolates covering 10 schemes, and on a small test set of short sequence reads from 29 isolates for which the sequence type had been determined by traditional methods. The method presented here enables investigators to determine the sequence types of their isolates on the basis of WGS data. This method is publicly available at www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/MLST.
doi:10.1128/JCM.06094-11
PMCID: PMC3318499  PMID: 22238442
24.  NNAlign: A Web-Based Prediction Method Allowing Non-Expert End-User Discovery of Sequence Motifs in Quantitative Peptide Data 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26781.
Recent advances in high-throughput technologies have made it possible to generate both gene and protein sequence data at an unprecedented rate and scale thereby enabling entirely new “omics”-based approaches towards the analysis of complex biological processes. However, the amount and complexity of data that even a single experiment can produce seriously challenges researchers with limited bioinformatics expertise, who need to handle, analyze and interpret the data before it can be understood in a biological context. Thus, there is an unmet need for tools allowing non-bioinformatics users to interpret large data sets. We have recently developed a method, NNAlign, which is generally applicable to any biological problem where quantitative peptide data is available. This method efficiently identifies underlying sequence patterns by simultaneously aligning peptide sequences and identifying motifs associated with quantitative readouts. Here, we provide a web-based implementation of NNAlign allowing non-expert end-users to submit their data (optionally adjusting method parameters), and in return receive a trained method (including a visual representation of the identified motif) that subsequently can be used as prediction method and applied to unknown proteins/peptides. We have successfully applied this method to several different data sets including peptide microarray-derived sets containing more than 100,000 data points.
NNAlign is available online at http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/NNAlign.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026781
PMCID: PMC3206854  PMID: 22073191
25.  Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Class I Restricted Epitope Discovery in Yellow Fewer and Dengue Viruses: Importance of HLA Binding Strength 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26494.
Epitopes from all available full-length sequences of yellow fever virus (YFV) and dengue fever virus (DENV) restricted by Human Leukocyte Antigen class I (HLA-I) alleles covering 12 HLA-I supertypes were predicted using the NetCTL algorithm. A subset of 179 predicted YFV and 158 predicted DENV epitopes were selected using the EpiSelect algorithm to allow for optimal coverage of viral strains. The selected predicted epitopes were synthesized and approximately 75% were found to bind the predicted restricting HLA molecule with an affinity, KD, stronger than 500 nM. The immunogenicity of 25 HLA-A*02:01, 28 HLA-A*24:02 and 28 HLA-B*07:02 binding peptides was tested in three HLA-transgenic mice models and led to the identification of 17 HLA-A*02:01, 4 HLA-A*2402 and 4 HLA-B*07:02 immunogenic peptides. The immunogenic peptides bound HLA significantly stronger than the non-immunogenic peptides. All except one of the immunogenic peptides had KD below 100 nM and the peptides with KD below 5 nM were more likely to be immunogenic. In addition, all the immunogenic peptides that were identified as having a high functional avidity had KD below 20 nM. A*02:01 transgenic mice were also inoculated twice with the 17DD YFV vaccine strain. Three of the YFV A*02:01 restricted peptides activated T-cells from the infected mice in vitro. All three peptides that elicited responses had an HLA binding affinity of 2 nM or less. The results indicate the importance of the strength of HLA binding in shaping the immune response.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026494
PMCID: PMC3198402  PMID: 22039500

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