Little is known about the role of the host defensive protein short palate, lung and nasal epithelium clone 1 (SPLUNC1) in the carcinogenesis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Here we report that SPLUNC1 plays a role at a very early stage of NPC carcinogenesis. SPLUNC1 regulates NPC cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis through miR-141, which in turn regulates PTEN and p27 expression. This signaling axis is negatively regulated by the EBV-coded gene LMP1. Therefore we propose that SPLUNC1 suppresses NPC tumor formation and its inhibition by LMP1 provides a route for NPC tumorigenesis.
Vector-pathogen dynamics play a central role in understanding tree health and forest dynamics. There is substantial evidence that bark beetles act as spore vectors for many species of fungi that cause ‘sapstain’ discolouration of damaged trees and timber. However, the direct quantitative link between vector-mediated spore dispersal and subsequent sapstain colonisation of wood is not fully understood. Here, we used caged versus uncaged experimental logs to test whether the exclusion of bark beetles quantitatively alters the distribution and intensity of sapstain fungal spread within damaged trees. Using generalised linear mixed models, we tested the effect of bark beetle exclusion on sapstain intensity within and among cut logs at two plantation forest sites. Overall, sapstain was found on all logs regardless of caging treatment, indicating that sapstain colonisation can occur (to some degree) without arthropod vectors, probably via wind, rain-splash and, potentially, latent endophytic development. This was supported by the dominance of Diplodia pinea in fungal isolations taken from trees felled at the site, as this fungal species is known to disperse independently of bark beetles. However, the intensity of sapstain within and among experimental logs was significantly greater in uncaged than in caged logs, where beetle colonisation was significantly greater. This appeared to be driven by a significant within-log association between the intensity of staining and the intensity of beetle, and other arthropod, tunnelling and feeding activities. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that the dominant mechanism underlying the role of bark beetles in sapstain development in this study system is not vector-mediated spore dispersal, per se, but rather the facilitation of spore entry and hyphal development through tunnelling and feeding activities. We discuss the implications of these findings for forest management and the effective salvage-harvest of trees damaged by stochastic climate events such as storm and fire damage.
Among Oceania's population of 35 million people, the greatest number living in poverty currently live in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. These impoverished populations are at high risk for selected NTDs, including Necator americanus hookworm infection, strongyloidiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), balantidiasis, yaws, trachoma, leprosy, and scabies, in addition to outbreaks of dengue and other arboviral infections including Japanese encephalitis virus infection. PNG stands out for having the largest number of cases and highest prevalence for most of these NTDs. However, Australia's Aboriginal population also suffers from a range of significant NTDs. Through the Pacific Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, enormous strides have been made in eliminating LF in Oceania through programs of mass drug administration (MDA), although LF remains widespread in PNG. There are opportunities to scale up MDA for PNG's major NTDs, which could be accomplished through an integrated package that combines albendazole, ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, and azithromycin, in a program of national control. Australia's Aboriginal population may benefit from appropriately integrated MDA into primary health care systems. Several emerging viral NTDs remain important threats to the region.
Prion diseases, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, are a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases that include scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. The ‘protein only hypothesis’ advocates that PrPSc, an abnormal isoform of the cellular protein PrPC, is the main and possibly sole component of prion infectious agents. Currently, no effective therapy exists for these diseases at the symptomatic phase for either humans or animals, though a number of compounds have demonstrated the ability to eliminate PrPSc in cell culture models. Of particular interest are synthetic polymers known as dendrimers which possess the unique ability to eliminate PrPSc in both an intracellular and in vitro setting. The efficacy and mode of action of the novel anti-prion dendrimer mPPIg5 was investigated through the creation of a number of innovative bio-assays based upon the scrapie cell assay. These assays were used to demonstrate that mPPIg5 is a highly effective anti-prion drug which acts, at least in part, through the inhibition of PrPC to PrPSc conversion. Understanding how a drug works is a vital component in maximising its performance. By establishing the efficacy and method of action of mPPIg5, this study will help determine which drugs are most likely to enhance this effect and also aid the design of dendrimers with anti-prion capabilities for the future.
Bacterial manganese(II) oxidation impacts the redox cycling of Mn, other elements, and compounds in the environment; therefore, it is important to understand the mechanisms of and enzymes responsible for Mn(II) oxidation. In several Mn(II)-oxidizing organisms, the identified Mn(II) oxidase belongs to either the multicopper oxidase (MCO) or the heme peroxidase family of proteins. However, the identity of the oxidase in Pseudomonas putida GB-1 has long remained unknown. To identify the P. putida GB-1 oxidase, we searched its genome and found several homologues of known or suspected Mn(II) oxidase-encoding genes (mnxG, mofA, moxA, and mopA). To narrow this list, we assumed that the Mn(II) oxidase gene would be conserved among Mn(II)-oxidizing pseudomonads but not in nonoxidizers and performed a genome comparison to 11 Pseudomonas species. We further assumed that the oxidase gene would be regulated by MnxR, a transcription factor required for Mn(II) oxidation. Two loci met all these criteria: PputGB1_2447, which encodes an MCO homologous to MnxG, and PputGB1_2665, which encodes an MCO with very low homology to MofA. In-frame deletions of each locus resulted in strains that retained some ability to oxidize Mn(II) or Mn(III); loss of oxidation was attained only upon deletion of both genes. These results suggest that PputGB1_2447 and PputGB1_2665 encode two MCOs that are independently capable of oxidizing both Mn(II) and Mn(III). The purpose of this redundancy is unclear; however, differences in oxidation phenotype for the single mutants suggest specialization in function for the two enzymes.
In this study we developed and evaluated a Brugia Hha I repeat loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay for the rapid detection of Brugia genomic DNA. Amplification was detected using turbidity or fluorescence as readouts. Reactions generated a turbidity threshold value or a clear visual positive within 30 minutes using purified genomic DNA equivalent to one microfilaria. Similar results were obtained using DNA isolated from blood samples containing B. malayi microfilariae. Amplification was specific to B. malayi and B. timori, as no turbidity was observed using DNA from the related filarial parasites Wuchereria bancrofti, Onchocerca volvulus or Dirofilaria immitis, or from human or mosquito. Furthermore, the assay was most robust using a new strand-displacing DNA polymerase termed Bst 2.0 compared to wild-type Bst DNA polymerase, large fragment. The results indicate that the Brugia Hha I repeat LAMP assay is rapid, sensitive and Brugia-specific with the potential to be developed further as a field tool for diagnosis and mapping of brugian filariasis.
Brugian filariasis is a debilitating neglected tropical disease caused by infection with the filarial parasites Brugia malayi or Brugia timori. Adult worms live in the lymphatic system and produce large numbers of microfilariae that predominantly circulate in the blood at night. Bloodsucking mosquitoes spread the disease by ingesting microfilariae that develop into infective stage larvae in the insect. In rural areas, diagnosis still relies largely on microscopic examination of night blood and morphological assessment of stained microfilariae. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is a technique that can amplify DNA with high specificity, sensitivity and rapidity under isothermal conditions. The operational simplicity, versatility and low-cost of the technique make it particularly appealing for use in diagnosis and geographical mapping of neglected tropical diseases. In the present study, we have developed and evaluated a Brugia Hha I repeat LAMP assay for the rapid detection of B. malayi and B. timori genomic DNA. The results indicate that the Brugia Hha I repeat LAMP diagnostic assay is sensitive and rapid, detecting a single microfilariae in blood within 30 minutes, and Brugia-specific. The test has the potential to be developed further as a field tool for use in the implementation and management of mass drug administration programs for brugian filariasis.
Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 (CSPG4), a transmembrane proteoglycan originally identified as a highly immunogenic tumor antigen on the surface of melanoma cells, is associated with melanoma tumor formation and poor prognosis in certain melanomas and several other tumor types. The complex mechanisms by which CSPG4 affects melanoma progression have started to be defined, in particular the association with other cell surface proteins and receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and its central role in modulating the function of these proteins. CSPG4 is essential to the growth of melanoma tumors through its modulation of integrin function and enhanced growth factor receptor-regulated pathways including sustained activation of ERK 1,2. This activation of integrin, RTK, and ERK 1,2 function by CSPG4 modulates numerous aspects of tumor progression. CSPG4 expression has further been correlated to resistance of melanoma to conventional chemotherapeutics. This review outlines recent advances in our understanding of CSPG4-associated cell signaling, describing the central role it plays in melanoma tumor cell growth, motility, and survival, and explores how modifying CSPG4 function and protein–protein interactions may provide us with novel combinatorial therapies for the treatment of advanced melanoma.
CSPG4; melanoma chondroitin sulfateproteoglycan; NG2; HMW-MAA; melanoma; therapeutics
The antiretroviral protease inhibitors (APIs) ritonavir, saquinavir, and lopinavir, used to treat HIV infection, inhibit the growth of Plasmodium falciparum at clinically relevant concentrations. Moreover, it has been reported that these APIs potentiate the activity of chloroquine (CQ) against this parasite in vitro. The mechanism underlying this effect is not understood, but the degree of chemosensitization varies between the different APIs and, with the exception of ritonavir, appears to be dependent on the parasite exhibiting a CQ-resistant phenotype. Here we report a study of the role of the P. falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter (PfCRT) in the interaction between CQ and APIs, using transgenic parasites expressing different PfCRT alleles and using the Xenopus laevis oocyte system for the heterologous expression of PfCRT. Our data demonstrate that saquinavir behaves as a CQ resistance reverser and that this explains, at least in part, its ability to enhance the effects of CQ in CQ-resistant P. falciparum parasites.
Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) represent important tools to diagnose malaria infection. To improve understanding of the variable performance of RDTs that detect the major target in Plasmodium falciparum, namely, histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2), and to inform the design of better tests, we undertook detailed mapping of the epitopes recognized by eight HRP-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). To investigate the geographic skewing of this polymorphic protein, we analyzed the distribution of these epitopes in parasites from geographically diverse areas. To identify an ideal amino acid motif for a MAb to target in HRP2 and in the related protein HRP3, we used a purpose-designed script to perform bioinformatic analysis of 448 distinct gene sequences from pfhrp2 and from 99 sequences from the closely related gene pfhrp3. The frequency and distribution of these motifs were also compared to the MAb epitopes. Heat stability testing of MAbs immobilized on nitrocellulose membranes was also performed. Results of these experiments enabled the identification of MAbs with the most desirable characteristics for inclusion in RDTs, including copy number and coverage of target epitopes, geographic skewing, heat stability, and match with the most abundant amino acid motifs identified. This study therefore informs the selection of MAbs to include in malaria RDTs as well as in the generation of improved MAbs that should improve the performance of HRP-detecting malaria RDTs.
The tumor suppressor candidate gene RASSF1A encodes a microtubule-associated protein that is implicated in the regulation of cell proliferation, migration, and apoptosis. Several studies indicate that down-regulation of RASSF1A resulting from promoter hypermethylation is a frequent epigenetic abnormality in malignant melanoma. In this study, we report that compared with melanocytes in normal skins or benign skin lesions, RASSF1A is down-regulated in melanoma tissues as well as cell lines, and its expression negatively correlates with lymph node metastasis. Following ectopic expression in RASSF1A–deficient melanoma A375 cell line, RASSF1A reduces cell viability, suppresses cell cycle progression but enhances apoptotic cell death. In vivo, RASSF1A expression inhibits the tumorigenic potential of A375 cells in nude mice, which also correlates with decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. On the molecular level, ectopic RASSF1A expression leads to differential expression of 209 genes, including 26 down-regulated and 183 up-regulated ones. Among different signaling pathways, activation of the apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1)/p38 MAP kinase signaling is essential for RASSF1A-induced mitochondrial apoptosis, and the inhibition of the Akt/p70S6 kinase/eIF4E signaling is also important for RASSF1A-mediated apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. This is the first study exploring the biological functions and the underlying mechanisms of RASSF1A during melanoma development. It also identifies potential targets for further diagnosis and clinical therapy.
RASSF1A; tumor suppressor gene; melanoma; apoptosis; cell cycle
HIV-1 protease inhibitors (PIs) have antimalarial activity in vitro and in murine models. The potential beneficial effect of HIV-1 PIs on malaria has not been studied in clinical settings. We used data from Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group A5208 sites where malaria is endemic to compare the incidence of clinically diagnosed malaria among HIV-infected adult women randomized to either lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r)-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) or to nevirapine (NVP)-based ART. We calculated hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals. We conducted a recurrent events analysis that included both first and second clinical malarial episodes and also conducted analyses to assess the sensitivity of results to outcome misclassification. Among the 445 women in this analysis, 137 (31%) received a clinical diagnosis of malaria at least once during follow-up. Of these 137, 72 (53%) were randomized to LPV/r-based ART. Assignment to the LPV/r treatment group (n = 226) was not consistent with a large decrease in the hazard of first clinical malarial episode (hazard ratio = 1.11 [0.79 to 1.56]). The results were similar in the recurrent events analysis. Sensitivity analyses indicated the results were robust to reasonable levels of outcome misclassification. In this study, the treatment with LPV/r compared to NVP had no apparent beneficial effect on the incidence of clinical malaria among HIV-infected adult women. Additional research concerning the effects of PI-based therapy on the incidence of malaria diagnosed by more specific criteria and among groups at a higher risk for severe disease is warranted.
Relapsing Plasmodium vivax infection results in significant morbidity for the individual and is a key factor in transmission. Primaquine remains the only licensed drug for prevention of relapse. To minimize relapse rates, treatment guidelines have recently been revised to recommend an increased primaquine dose, aiming to achieve a cumulative dose of ≥6 mg/kg, i.e. ≥420 mg in a 70 kg patient. The aims of this study were to characterize the epidemiology of P. vivax infection imported into Queensland Australia, to determine the rates of relapse, to investigate the use of primaquine therapy, and its efficacy in the prevention of relapse.
A retrospective study was undertaken of laboratory confirmed P. vivax infection presenting to the two major tertiary hospitals in Queensland, Australia between January 1999 and January 2011.
Primaquine dosing was classified as no dose, low dose (<420 mg), high dose (≥420 mg), or unknown. The dose of primaquine prescribed to patients who subsequently relapsed that prescribed to patients who did not relapse.
Twenty relapses occurred following 151 primary episodes of P. vivax infection (13.2%). Relapses were confirmed among 3/21 (14.2%), 9/50 (18.0%), 1/54 (1.9%) and 7/18 (38.9%) of patients administered no dose, low dose, high dose and unknown primaquine dose respectively. High dose primaquine therapy was associated with a significantly lower rate of relapse compared to patients who were prescribed low dose therapy (OR 11.6, 95% CI 1.5-519, p = 0.005).
Relapse of P. vivax infection is more likely in patients who received low dose primaquine therapy. This study supports the recommendations that high dose primaquine therapy is necessary to minimize relapse of P. vivax malaria.
Plasmodium vivax; Relapse; Primaquine; Imported; Epidemiology; Australia; Oceania
A disproportionate burden of helminthiases in human populations occurs in marginalised, low-income, and resource-constrained regions of the world, with over 1 billion people in developing areas of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas infected with one or more helminth species. The morbidity caused by such infections imposes a substantial burden of disease, contributing to a vicious circle of infection, poverty, decreased productivity, and inadequate socioeconomic development. Furthermore, helminth infection accentuates the morbidity of malaria and HIV/AIDS, and impairs vaccine efficacy. Polyparasitism is the norm in these populations, and infections tend to be persistent. Hence, there is a great need to reduce morbidity caused by helminth infections. However, major deficiencies exist in diagnostics and interventions, including vector control, drugs, and vaccines. Overcoming these deficiencies is hampered by major gaps in knowledge of helminth biology and transmission dynamics, platforms from which to help develop such tools. The Disease Reference Group on Helminths Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), was given the mandate to review helminthiases research and identify research priorities and gaps. In this review, we provide an overview of the forces driving the persistence of helminthiases as a public health problem despite the many control initiatives that have been put in place; identify the main obstacles that impede progress towards their control and elimination; and discuss recent advances, opportunities, and challenges for the understanding of the biology, epidemiology, and control of these infections. The helminth infections that will be discussed include: onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiasis, food-borne trematodiases, and taeniasis/cysticercosis.
Human helminthiases are of considerable public health importance in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The acknowledgement of the disease burden due to helminth infections, the availability of donated or affordable drugs that are mostly safe and moderately efficacious, and the implementation of viable mass drug administration (MDA) interventions have prompted the establishment of various large-scale control and elimination programmes. These programmes have benefited from improved epidemiological mapping of the infections, better understanding of the scope and limitations of currently available diagnostics and of the relationship between infection and morbidity, feasibility of community-directed or school-based interventions, and advances in the design of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) protocols. Considerable success has been achieved in reducing morbidity or suppressing transmission in a number of settings, whilst challenges remain in many others. Some of the obstacles include the lack of diagnostic tools appropriate to the changing requirements of ongoing interventions and elimination settings; the reliance on a handful of drugs about which not enough is known regarding modes of action, modes of resistance, and optimal dosage singly or in combination; the difficulties in sustaining adequate coverage and compliance in prolonged and/or integrated programmes; an incomplete understanding of the social, behavioural, and environmental determinants of infection; and last, but not least, very little investment in research and development (R&D). The Disease Reference Group on Helminth Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), was given the mandate to undertake a comprehensive review of recent advances in helminthiases research, identify research gaps, and rank priorities for an R&D agenda for the control and elimination of these infections. This review presents the processes undertaken to identify and rank ten top research priorities; discusses the implications of realising these priorities in terms of their potential for improving global health and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); outlines salient research funding needs; and introduces the series of reviews that follow in this PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases collection, “A Research Agenda for Helminth Diseases of Humans.”
Mathematical modelling of helminth infections has the potential to inform policy and guide research for the control and elimination of human helminthiases. However, this potential, unlike in other parasitic and infectious diseases, has yet to be realised. To place contemporary efforts in a historical context, a summary of the development of mathematical models for helminthiases is presented. These efforts are discussed according to the role that models can play in furthering our understanding of parasite population biology and transmission dynamics, and the effect on such dynamics of control interventions, as well as in enabling estimation of directly unobservable parameters, exploration of transmission breakpoints, and investigation of evolutionary outcomes of control. The Disease Reference Group on Helminth Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), was given the mandate to review helminthiases research and identify research priorities and gaps. A research and development agenda for helminthiasis modelling is proposed based on identified gaps that need to be addressed for models to become useful decision tools that can support research and control operations effectively. This agenda includes the use of models to estimate the impact of large-scale interventions on infection incidence; the design of sampling protocols for the monitoring and evaluation of integrated control programmes; the modelling of co-infections; the investigation of the dynamical relationship between infection and morbidity indicators; the improvement of analytical methods for the quantification of anthelmintic efficacy and resistance; the determination of programme endpoints; the linking of dynamical helminth models with helminth geostatistical mapping; and the investigation of the impact of climate change on human helminthiases. It is concluded that modelling should be embedded in helminth research, and in the planning, evaluation, and surveillance of interventions from the outset. Modellers should be essential members of interdisciplinary teams, propitiating a continuous dialogue with end users and stakeholders to reflect public health needs in the terrain, discuss the scope and limitations of models, and update biological assumptions and model outputs regularly. It is highlighted that to reach these goals, a collaborative framework must be developed for the collation, annotation, and sharing of databases from large-scale anthelmintic control programmes, and that helminth modellers should join efforts to tackle key questions in helminth epidemiology and control through the sharing of such databases, and by using diverse, yet complementary, modelling approaches.
Recognising the burden helminth infections impose on human populations, and particularly the poor, major intervention programmes have been launched to control onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiasis, and cysticercosis. The Disease Reference Group on Helminth Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), was given the mandate to review helminthiases research and identify research priorities and gaps. A summary of current helminth control initiatives is presented and available tools are described. Most of these programmes are highly dependent on mass drug administration (MDA) of anthelmintic drugs (donated or available at low cost) and require annual or biannual treatment of large numbers of at-risk populations, over prolonged periods of time. The continuation of prolonged MDA with a limited number of anthelmintics greatly increases the probability that drug resistance will develop, which would raise serious problems for continuation of control and the achievement of elimination. Most initiatives have focussed on a single type of helminth infection, but recognition of co-endemicity and polyparasitism is leading to more integration of control. An understanding of the implications of control integration for implementation, treatment coverage, combination of pharmaceuticals, and monitoring is needed. To achieve the goals of morbidity reduction or elimination of infection, novel tools need to be developed, including more efficacious drugs, vaccines, and/or antivectorial agents, new diagnostics for infection and assessment of drug efficacy, and markers for possible anthelmintic resistance. In addition, there is a need for the development of new formulations of some existing anthelmintics (e.g., paediatric formulations). To achieve ultimate elimination of helminth parasites, treatments for the above mentioned helminthiases, and for taeniasis and food-borne trematodiases, will need to be integrated with monitoring, education, sanitation, access to health services, and where appropriate, vector control or reduction of the parasite reservoir in alternative hosts. Based on an analysis of current knowledge gaps and identification of priorities, a research and development agenda for intervention tools considered necessary for control and elimination of human helminthiases is presented, and the challenges to be confronted are discussed.
Diagnostic tools appropriate for undertaking interventions to control helminth infections are key to their success. Many diagnostic tests for helminth infection have unsatisfactory performance characteristics and are not well suited for use in the parasite control programmes that are being increasingly implemented. Although the application of modern laboratory research techniques to improve diagnostics for helminth infection has resulted in some technical advances, uptake has not been uniform. Frequently, pilot or proof of concept studies of promising diagnostic technologies have not been followed by much needed product development, and in many settings diagnosis continues to rely on insensitive and unsatisfactory parasitological or serodiagnostic techniques. In contrast, PCR-based xenomonitoring of arthropod vectors, and use of parasite recombinant proteins as reagents for serodiagnostic tests, have resulted in critical advances in the control of specific helminth parasites. The Disease Reference Group on Helminths Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) was given the mandate to review helminthiases research and identify research priorities and gaps. In this review, the diagnostic technologies relevant to control of helminth infections, either available or in development, are reviewed. Critical gaps are identified and opportunities to improve needed technologies are discussed.
HIV protease inhibitors (PIs) show antimalarial activity in vitro and in animals. Whether this translates into a clinical benefit in HIV-infected patients residing in malaria-endemic regions is unknown. We studied the incidence of malaria, as defined by blood smear positivity or a positive Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 antigen test, among 444 HIV-infected women initiating antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the OCTANE trial (A5208; ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00089505). Participants were randomized to treatment with PI-containing vs. PI-sparing ART, and were followed prospectively for ≥48 weeks; 73% also received cotrimoxazole prophylaxis. PI-containing treatment was not associated with protection against malaria in this study population.
Effective diagnosis of malaria is a major component of case management. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) based on Plasmodium falciparumhistidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) are popular for diagnosis of this most virulent malaria infection. However, concerns have been raised about the longevity of the PfHRP2 antigenaemia following curative treatment in endemic regions.
A model of PfHRP2 production and decay was developed to mimic the kinetics of PfHRP2 antigenaemia during infections. Data from two human infection studies was used to fit the model, and to investigate PfHRP2 kinetics. Four malaria RDTs were assessed in the laboratory to determine the minimum detectable concentration of PfHRP2.
Fitting of the PfHRP2 dynamics model indicated that in malaria naïve hosts, P. falciparum parasites of the 3D7 strain produce 1.4 × 10-13 g of PfHRP2 per parasite per replication cycle. The four RDTs had minimum detection thresholds between 6.9 and 27.8 ng/mL. Combining these detection thresholds with the kinetics of PfHRP2, it is predicted that as few as 8 parasites/μL may be required to maintain a positive RDT in a chronic infection.
The results of the model indicate that good quality PfHRP2-based RDTs should be able to detect parasites on the first day of symptoms, and that the persistence of the antigen will cause the tests to remain positive for at least seven days after treatment. The duration of a positive test result following curative treatment is dependent on the duration and density of parasitaemia prior to treatment and the presence and affinity of anti-PfHRP2 antibodies.
Histidine-rich protein; Rapid diagnostic tests; Plasmodium falciparum
Cysteine proteinases perform multiple functions in seeds, including participation in remodelling polypeptides and recycling amino acids during maturation and germination. Currently, few details exist concerning these genes and proteins in coffee. Furthermore, there is limited information on the cysteine proteinase inhibitors which influence the activities of these proteinases.
Two cysteine proteinase (CP) and four cysteine proteinase inhibitor (CPI) gene sequences have been identified in coffee with significant expression during the maturation and germination of coffee grain. Detailed expression analysis of the cysteine proteinase genes CcCP1 and CcCP4 in Robusta using quantitative RT-PCR showed that these transcripts accumulate primarily during grain maturation and germination/post germination. The corresponding proteins were expressed in E. coli and purified, but only one, CcCP4, which has a KDDL/KDEL C-terminal sequence, was found to be active after a short acid treatment. QRT-PCR expression analysis of the four cysteine proteinase inhibitor genes in Robusta showed that CcCPI-1 is primarily expressed in developing and germinating grain and CcCPI-4 is very highly expressed during the late post germination period, as well as in mature, but not immature leaves. Transcripts corresponding to CcCPI-2 and CcCPI-3 were detected in most tissues examined at relatively similar, but generally low levels.
Several cysteine proteinase and cysteine proteinase inhibitor genes with strong, relatively specific expression during coffee grain maturation and germination are presented. The temporal expression of the CcCP1 gene suggests it is involved in modifying proteins during late grain maturation and germination. The expression pattern of CcCP4, and its close identity with KDEL containing CP proteins, implies this proteinase may play a role in protein and/or cell remodelling during late grain germination, and that it is likely to play a strong role in the programmed cell death associated with post-germination of the coffee grain. Expression analysis of the cysteine proteinase inhibitor genes suggests that CcCPI-1 could primarily be involved in modulating the activity of grain CP activity; while CcCPI-4 may play roles modulating grain CP activity and in the protection of the young coffee seedlings from insects and pathogens. CcCPI-2 and CcCPI-3, having lower and more widespread expression, could be more general "house-keeping" CPI genes.
Cysteine proteinase; Cysteine proteinase inhibitor; Proteinase activity; Coffee
Phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) is the first entry enzyme of the phenylpropanoid pathway producing phenolics, widespread constituents of plant foods and beverages, including chlorogenic acids, polyphenols found at remarkably high levels in the coffee bean and long recognized as powerful antioxidants. To date, whereas PAL is generally encoded by a small gene family, only one gene has been characterized in Coffea canephora (CcPAL1), an economically important species of cultivated coffee. In this study, a molecular- and bioinformatic-based search for CcPAL1 paralogues resulted successfully in identifying two additional genes, CcPAL2 and CcPAL3, presenting similar genomic structures and encoding proteins with close sequences. Genetic mapping helped position each gene in three different coffee linkage groups, CcPAL2 in particular, located in a coffee genome linkage group (F) which is syntenic to a region of Tomato Chromosome 9 containing a PAL gene. These results, combined with a phylogenetic study, strongly suggest that CcPAL2 may be the ancestral gene of C. canephora. A quantitative gene expression analysis was also conducted in coffee tissues, showing that all genes are transcriptionally active, but they present distinct expression levels and patterns. We discovered that CcPAL2 transcripts appeared predominantly in flower, fruit pericarp and vegetative/lignifying tissues like roots and branches, whereas CcPAL1 and CcPAL3 were highly expressed in immature fruit. This is the first comprehensive study dedicated to PAL gene family characterization in coffee, allowing us to advance functional studies which are indispensable to learning to decipher what role this family plays in channeling the metabolism of coffee phenylpropanoids.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00425-012-1613-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Chlorogenic acids; Coffea; Gene expression; Gene structure; Mapping; Phenylalanine ammonia lyase
The most common treatments for scabies in human and veterinary settings are topical 5% permethrin or systemic treatment with ivermectin. However, these treatments have very little activity against arthropod eggs, and therefore repeated treatment is frequently required. In-vitro, biochemical and molecular studies have demonstrated that human mites are becoming increasingly resistant to both acaricides. To identify alternate acaricides, we undertook a pilot study of the in vivo activity of the benzoylphenyl urea inhibitor of chitin synthesis, fluazuron, in pigs with sarcoptic mange.
Pigs (n = 5) were infested with S. scabei var suis, and randomised to treatment at the start of peak infestation with fluazuron at a dose of 10 mg/kg/day per os for 7 days (n = 3) or no treatment (n = 2). Clinical scores, skin scrapings for mite counts and blood sampling for pharmacokinetic analysis were undertaken. Fluazuron was well absorbed in treated pigs with measureable blood levels up to 4 weeks post treatment. No adverse effects were observed. Modest acaricidal activity of the compound was observed, with a reduction in severity of skin lesions in treated pigs, as well as a reduction in number of scabies mite's early life stages.
The moderate efficacy of fluazuron against scabies mites indicates a lead to the development of alternate treatments for scabies, such as combination therapies that maybe applicable for human use in the future.
scabies alternative treatment; acarine growth inhibitor; fluazuron
The mucosal cytokine response of healthy humans to parasitic helminths has never been reported. We investigated the systemic and mucosal cytokine responses to hookworm infection in experimentally infected, previously hookworm naive individuals from non-endemic areas. We collected both peripheral blood and duodenal biopsies to assess the systemic immune response, as well as the response at the site of adult worm establishment. Our results show that experimental hookworm infection leads to a strong systemic and mucosal Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-9 and IL-13) and regulatory (IL-10 and TGF-β) response, with some evidence of a Th1 (IFN-γ and IL-2) response. Despite upregulation after patency of both IL-15 and ALDH1A2, a known Th17-inducing combination in inflammatory diseases, we saw no evidence of a Th17 (IL-17) response. Moreover, we observed strong suppression of mucosal IL-23 and upregulation of IL-22 during established hookworm infection, suggesting a potential mechanism by which Th17 responses are suppressed, and highlighting the potential that hookworms and their secreted proteins offer as therapeutics for human inflammatory diseases.
Parasitic worms reside in the gastrointestinal tracts of billions of humans in developing countries. Despite the enormous disease burdens associated with these infections, very little is known about the immune response in the gut tissue of humans to these parasites. We conducted a clinical trial where we obtained gut biopsies from people experimentally infected with hookworms and present here the first report of the immune response by healthy human gut tissue to a parasitic worm. We show that hookworms suppress the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and promote the expression of anti-inflammatory and wound healing molecules in the gut, providing a potential mechanism by which parasitic worms reside for long periods in their human hosts and suppress inflammation associated with auto-immune diseases.