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1.  HIV-1 Accessory Proteins: Vpu and Vif 
HIV-1 Vif and Vpu are accessory factors involved in late stages of viral replication. Vif regulates viral infectivity by preventing virion incorporation of APOBEC3G and other members of the family of cytidine deaminases, while Vpu causes degradation of CD4 and promotes virus release by functionally inactivating the host factor BST-2. This chapter described techniques used for the characterization of Vif and Vpu and their functional interaction with host factors. Many of the techniques are, however, applicable to the functional analysis of other viral proteins.
PMCID: PMC4151329  PMID: 24158820
Vif; Vpu; Accessory protein; Restriction factor; Virus–host interactions
2.  Details for Manuscript Number SSM-D-06-00290R2 “Internalized Stigma, Discrimination, and Depression among Men and Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Cape Town, South Africa” 
Social science & medicine (1982)  2007;64(9):1823-1831.
AIDS stigmas interfere with HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment and can become internalized by people living with HIV/AIDS. However, the effects of internalized AIDS stigmas have not been investigated in Africa, home to two-thirds of the more than 40 million people living with AIDS in the world. The current study examined the prevalence of discrimination experiences and internalized stigmas among 420 HIV positive men and 643 HIV positive women recruited from AIDS services in Cape Town, South Africa. The anonymous surveys found that 40% of persons with HIV/AIDS had experienced discrimination resulting from having HIV infection and one in five had lost a place to stay or a job because of their HIV status. More than one in three participants indicated feeling dirty, ashamed, or guilty because of their HIV status. A hierarchical regression model that included demographic characteristics, health and treatment status, social support, substance use, and internalized stigma significantly predicted cognitive-affective depression. Internalized stigma accounted for 4.8% of the variance in cognitive-affective depression scores over and above the other variables. These results indicate an urgent need for social reform to reduce AIDS stigmas and the design of interventions to assist people living with HIV/AIDS to adjust and adapt to the social conditions of AIDS in South Africa.
PMCID: PMC4271649  PMID: 17337318
Internalized stigma; AIDS; coping; South Africa; Discrimination; Depression
3.  HIV Accessory Proteins versus Host Restriction Factors 
Current opinion in virology  2013;3(6):10.1016/j.coviro.2013.08.004.
Primate immunodeficiency viruses, including HIV-1, are characterized by the presence of accessory genes such as vif, vpr, vpx, vpu, and nef. Current knowledge indicates that none of the primate lentiviral accessory proteins has enzymatic activity. Instead, these proteins interact with cellular ligands to either act as adapter molecules to redirect the normal function of host factors for virus-specific purposes or to inhibit a normal host function by mediating degradation or causing intracellular mislocalization/sequestration of the factors involved. This review aims at providing an update of our current understanding of how Vif, Vpu, and Vpx control the cellular restriction factors APOBEC3G, BST-2, and SAMHD1, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3855913  PMID: 24246762
4.  CBFβ Enhances De Novo Protein Biosynthesis of Its Binding Partners HIV-1 Vif and RUNX1 and Potentiates the Vif-Induced Degradation of APOBEC3G 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(9):4839-4852.
Vif is a lentiviral accessory protein that regulates viral infectivity in part by inducing proteasomal degradation of APOBEC3G (A3G). Recently, CBFβ was found to facilitate Vif-dependent degradation of A3G. However, the exact role of CBFβ remains unclear. Several studies noted reduced Vif expression in CBFβ knockdown cells while others saw no significant impact of CBFβ on Vif stability. Here, we confirmed that CBFβ increases Vif steady-state levels. CBFβ affected expression of neither viral Gag nor Vpu protein, indicating that CBFβ regulates Vif expression posttranscriptionally. Kinetic studies revealed effects of CBFβ on both metabolic stability and the rate of Vif biosynthesis. These effects were dependent on the ability of CBFβ to interact with Vif. Importantly, at comparable Vif levels, CBFβ further enhanced A3G degradation, suggesting that CBFβ facilitates A3G degradation by increasing the levels of Vif and by independently augmenting the ability of Vif to target A3G for degradation. CBFβ also increased expression of RUNX1 by enhancing RUNX1 biosynthesis. Unlike Vif, however, CBFβ had no detectable effect on RUNX1 metabolic stability. We propose that CBFβ acts as a chaperone to stabilize Vif during and after synthesis and to facilitate interaction of Vif with cellular cofactors required for the efficient degradation of A3G.
IMPORTANCE In this study, we show that CBFβ has a profound effect on the expression of the HIV-1 infectivity factor Vif and the cellular transcription factor RUNX1, two proteins that physically interact with CBFβ. Kinetic studies revealed that CBFβ increases the rate of Vif and RUNX1 biosynthesis at the level of translation. Mutants of Vif unable to physically interact with CBFβ were nonresponsive to CBFβ. Our data suggest that CBFβ exerts a chaperone-like activity (i) to minimize the production of defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) by binding to nascent protein to prevent premature termination and (ii) to stabilize mature protein conformation to ensure proper function of Vif and RUNX1. Thus, we identified a novel mechanism of protein regulation that affects both viral and cellular factors and thus has broad implications beyond the immediate HIV field.
PMCID: PMC3993832  PMID: 24522927
5.  Fever-Range Whole-body Thermotherapy Combined With Oxaliplatin: A Curative Regimen in a Preclinical Breast Cancer Model 
Studies were conducted to test whether fever-range whole body hyperthermia, rationally combined with oxaliplatin chemotherapy, would boost its efficacy without substantial toxicity.
Materials and Methods
The effect of heat on oxaliplatin cytotoxicity, cellular uptake, and platinum-DNA adduct formation was studied in vitro using the MTLn3 tumor cell line. In vivo, oxaliplatin was given with thermal therapy to rats bearing highly treatment-resistant MTLn3 mammary adenocarcinomas at various doses and times before, during, and after heating. Tumor growth, survival, and toxicity were measured to determine treatment outcome.
Heating for 6h at 40°C halved the oxaliplatin IC-50 dose for MTLn3 cells. Cellular uptake of platinum and platinum adducts increased by 34% and 36%, respectively, with heat. In vivo, 50% of all rats given 10 mg/kg oxaliplatin 24h before 6h of fever-range thermal therapy were completely, immunologically, cured while a further 11% regressed their primary tumor but ultimately succumbed to metastases, and 17% experienced a limited response with increased survival. The curative response occurred only in a narrow range of doses, with most cures at 10 mg/kg. Thermochemotherapy-treated, but uncured, animals had delayed incidence and slowed growth of metastases. Anti-tumor efficacy was greatest, and toxicity was least, when oxaliplatin was administered 12 or 24 hours before FR-WB-TT.
When properly dosed and scheduled, oxaliplatin thermochemotherapy achieved permanent eradication of all primary and metastatic tumors in 50% of animals, seemingly through an immune response. Successful clinical translation of this protocol would yield hitherto unseen cures and substantial improvement in quality of life.
PMCID: PMC4045248  PMID: 20707651
Hyperthermia; oxaliplatin; thermochemotherapy; tumor; cure
6.  Functional Antagonism of Rhesus Macaque and Chimpanzee BST-2 by HIV-1 Vpu Is Mediated by Cytoplasmic Domain Interactions 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13825-13836.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vpu enhances the release of viral particles from infected cells by interfering with the function of BST-2/tetherin, a cellular protein inhibiting virus release. The Vpu protein encoded by NL4-3, a widely used HIV-1 laboratory strain, antagonizes human BST-2 but not monkey or murine BST-2, leading to the conclusion that BST-2 antagonism by Vpu is species specific. In contrast, we recently identified several primary Vpu isolates, such as Vpu of HIV-1DH12, capable of antagonizing both human and rhesus BST-2. Here we report that while Vpu interacts with human BST-2 primarily through their respective transmembrane domains, antagonism of rhesus BST-2 by Vpu involved an interaction of their cytoplasmic domains. Importantly, a Vpu mutant carrying two mutations in its transmembrane domain (A14L and W22A), rendering it incompetent for interaction with human BST-2, was able to interact with human BST-2 carrying the rhesus BST-2 cytoplasmic domain and partially neutralized the ability of this BST-2 variant to inhibit viral release. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis to detect Vpu–BST-2 interactions suggested that the physical interaction of Vpu with rhesus or chimpanzee BST-2 involves a 5-residue motif in the cytoplasmic domain of BST-2 previously identified as important for the antagonism of monkey and great ape BST-2 by simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) Nef. Thus, our study identifies a novel mechanism of antagonism of monkey and great ape BST-2 by Vpu that targets the same motif in BST-2 used by SIV Nef and might explain the expanded host range observed for Vpu isolates in our previous study.
PMCID: PMC3838249  PMID: 24109238
7.  Restriction of Virus Infection but Not Catalytic dNTPase Activity Is Regulated by Phosphorylation of SAMHD1 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(21):11516-11524.
SAMHD1 is a host protein responsible, at least in part, for the inefficient infection of dendritic, myeloid, and resting T cells by HIV-1. Interestingly, HIV-2 and SIVsm viruses are able to counteract SAMHD1 by targeting it for proteasomal degradation using their Vpx proteins. It has been proposed that SAMHD1 is a dGTP-dependent deoxynucleoside triphosphohydrolase (dNTPase) that restricts HIV-1 by reducing cellular dNTP levels to below that required for reverse transcription. However, nothing is known about SAMHD1 posttranslational modifications and their potential role in regulating SAMHD1 function. We used 32P labeling and immunoblotting with phospho-specific antibodies to identify SAMHD1 as a phosphoprotein. Several amino acids in SAMHD1 were identified to be sites of phosphorylation using direct mass spectrometry. Mutation of these residues to alanine to prevent phosphorylation or to glutamic acid to mimic phosphorylation had no effect on the nuclear localization of SAMHD1 or its sensitivity to Vpx-mediated degradation. Furthermore, neither alanine nor glutamic acid substitutions had a significant effect on SAMHD1 dNTPase activity in an in vitro assay. Interestingly, however, we found that a T592E mutation, mimicking constitutive phosphorylation at a main phosphorylation site, severely affected the ability of SAMHD1 to restrict HIV-1 in a U937 cell-based restriction assay. In contrast, a T592A mutant was still capable of restricting HIV-1. These results indicate that SAMHD1 phosphorylation may be a negative regulator of SAMHD1 restriction activity. This conclusion is supported by our finding that SAMHD1 is hyperphosphorylated in monocytoid THP-1 cells under nonrestrictive conditions.
PMCID: PMC3807338  PMID: 23966382
8.  Hypertonic stress promotes autophagy and microtubule-dependent autophagosomal clusters 
Autophagy  2013;9(4):550-567.
Osmotic homeostasis is fundamental for most cells, which face recurrent alterations of environmental osmolality that challenge cell viability. Protein damage is a consequence of hypertonic stress, but whether autophagy contributes to the osmoprotective response is unknown. Here, we investigated the possible implications of autophagy and microtubule organization on the response to hypertonic stress. We show that hypertonicity rapidly induced long-lived protein degradation, LC3-II generation and Ptdlns3K-dependent formation of LC3- and ATG12-positive puncta. Lysosomotropic agents chloroquine and bafilomycin A1, but not nutrient deprivation or rapamycin treatment, further increased LC3-II generation, as well as ATG12-positive puncta, indicating that hypertonic stress increases autophagic flux. Autophagy induction upon hypertonic stress enhanced cell survival since cell death was increased by ATG12 siRNA-mediated knockdown and reduced by rapamycin. We additionally showed that hypertonicity induces fast reorganization of microtubule networks, which is associated with strong reorganization of microtubules at centrosomes and fragmentation of Golgi ribbons. Microtubule remodeling was associated with pericentrosomal clustering of ATG12-positive autolysosomes that colocalized with SQSTM1/p62 and ubiquitin, indicating that autophagy induced by hypertonic stress is at least partly selective. Efficient autophagy by hypertonic stress required microtubule remodeling and was DYNC/dynein-dependent as autophagosome clustering was enhanced by paclitaxel-induced microtubule stabilization and was reduced by nocodazole-induced tubulin depolymerization as well as chemical (EHNA) or genetic [DCTN2/dynactin 2 (p50) overexpression] interference of DYNC activity. The data document a general and hitherto overlooked mechanism, where autophagy and microtubule remodeling play prominent roles in the osmoprotective response.
PMCID: PMC3627670  PMID: 23380587
autophagy; osmotic stress; microtubule; tubulin; apoptosis; rapamycin; ATG12; MAP1LC3/LC3; SQSTM1/p62; ubiquitin; MAPRE1/EB1; dynein; lysosome; proteasome; Golgi apparatus; MTOC
9.  Activation of HIV-1 from Latent Infection via Synergy of RUNX1 Inhibitor Ro5-3335 and SAHA 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(3):e1003997.
A major barrier to the elimination of HIV-1 infection is the presence of a pool of long-lived, latently infected CD4+ memory T-cells. The search for treatments to re-activate latent HIV to aid in clearance is hindered by the incomplete understanding of the mechanisms that lead to transcriptional silencing of viral gene expression in host cells. Here we identify a previously unknown role for RUNX1 in HIV-1 transcriptional latency. The RUNX proteins, in combination with the co-factor CBF-β, are critical transcriptional regulators in T-cells. RUNX1 strongly modulates CD4 expression and contributes to CD4+ T-cell function. We show that RUNX1 can bind DNA sequences within the HIV-1 LTR and that this binding represses transcription. Using patient samples we show a negative correlation between RUNX1 expression and viral load. Furthermore, we find that pharmacologic inhibition of RUNX1 by a small molecule inhibitor, Ro5-3335, synergizes with the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor SAHA (Vorinostat) to enhance the activation of latent HIV-1 in both cell lines and PBMCs from patients. Our findings indicate that RUNX1 and CBF-β cooperate in cells to modulate HIV-1 replication, identifying for the first time RUNX1 as a cellular factor involved in HIV-1 latency. This work highlights the therapeutic potential of inhibitors of RUNX1 to re-activate virus and aid in clearance of HIV-1.
Author Summary
Since it was first discovered in the early 1980s, Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1), the causative agent of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), has been the focus of intense research. In untreated individuals, the number of CD4+ T-cells in the blood slowly drops over time and the patient eventually succumbs to an opportunistic infection. Although current therapies are capable of managing the virus; they do not represent a true cure. As a retrovirus, HIV-1 incorporates itself into the host genome and survives in the long-lived population of memory T-cells found in the human host. In this study, we examine the roll of a T-cell specific transcription factor (RUNX1) in the control of HIV-1 replication. Through various molecular studies, we show that RUNX1 represses HIV-1 replication in T-cells. By examining samples from patients with HIV-1, we are able to show a negative correlation between viral replication and RUNX1 expression. Finally, we show that an inhibitor of RUNX1 synergizes with Vorinostat, a current lead compound in the quest to re-active HIV-1 and purge the latent pool.
PMCID: PMC3961356  PMID: 24651404
10.  Conscientious objection and its impact on abortion service provision in South Africa: a qualitative study 
Reproductive Health  2014;11:16.
Despite abortion being legally available in South Africa after a change in legislation in 1996, barriers to accessing safe abortion services continue to exist. These barriers include provider opposition to abortion often on the grounds of religious or moral beliefs including the unregulated practice of conscientious objection. Few studies have explored how providers in South Africa make sense of, or understand, conscientious objection in terms of refusing to provide abortion care services and the consequent impact on abortion access.
A qualitative approach was used which included 48 in-depth interviews with a purposively selected population of abortion related health service providers, managers and policy influentials in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.
The ways in which conscientious objection was interpreted and practiced, and its impact on abortion service provision was explored. In most public sector facilities there was a general lack of understanding concerning the circumstances in which health care providers were entitled to invoke their right to refuse to provide, or assist in abortion services. Providers seemed to have poor understandings of how conscientious objection was to be implemented, but were also constrained in that there were few guidelines or systems in place to guide them in the process.
Exploring the ways in which conscientious objection was interpreted and applied by differing levels of health care workers in relation to abortion provision raised multiple and contradictory issues. From providers’ accounts it was often difficult to distinguish what constituted confusion with regards to the specifics of how conscientious objection was to be implemented in terms of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, and what was refusal of abortion care based on opposition to abortion in general. In order to disentangle what is resistance to abortion provision in general, and what is conscientious objection on religious or moral grounds, clear guidelines need to be provided including what measures need to be undertaken in order to lodge one’s right to conscientious objection. This would facilitate long term contingency plans for overall abortion service provision.
PMCID: PMC3996040  PMID: 24571633
11.  Emergence of gp120 V3 Variants Confers Neutralization Resistance in an R5 Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Macaque Elite Neutralizer That Targets the N332 Glycan of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Glycoprotein 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(15):8798-8804.
Neutralization-resistant simian-human immunodeficiency virus AD8 (SHIVAD8) variants that emerged in an infected macaque elite neutralizer targeting the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp120 N332 glycan acquired substitutions of critical amino acids in the V3 region rather than losing the N332 glycosylation site. One of these resistant variants, carrying the full complement of gp120 V3 changes, was also resistant to the potent anti-HIV-1 monoclonal neutralizing antibodies PGT121 and 10-1074, both of which are also dependent on the presence of the gp120 N332 glycan.
PMCID: PMC3719840  PMID: 23720719
13.  Think globally, act locally: the role of local demographics and vaccination coverage in the dynamic response of measles infection to control 
The global reduction of the burden of morbidity and mortality owing to measles has been a major triumph of public health. However, the continued persistence of measles infection probably not only reflects local variation in progress towards vaccination target goals, but may also reflect local variation in dynamic processes of transmission, susceptible replenishment through births and stochastic local extinction. Dynamic models predict that vaccination should increase the mean age of infection and increase inter-annual variability in incidence. Through a comparative approach, we assess national-level patterns in the mean age of infection and measles persistence. We find that while the classic predictions do hold in general, the impact of vaccination on the age distribution of cases and stochastic fadeout are mediated by local birth rate. Thus, broad-scale vaccine coverage goals are unlikely to have the same impact on the interruption of measles transmission in all demographic settings. Indeed, these results suggest that the achievement of further measles reduction or elimination goals is likely to require programmatic and vaccine coverage goals that are tailored to local demographic conditions.
PMCID: PMC3720039  PMID: 23798689
measles; elimination; vaccination; mean age at infection
14.  Hydrodynamic and Functional Analysis of HIV-1 Vif Oligomerization 
Biochemistry  2012;51(10):2078-2086.
HIV-1 Vif is an accessory protein that induces the proteasomal degradation of the host restriction factor, apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like 3G (APOBEC3G). The N-terminal half of Vif binds to APOBEC3G and the C-terminal half binds to subunits of a cullin-5-based ubiquitin ligase. This Vif-directed ubiquitin ligase induces the degradation of APOBEC3G (a cytidine deaminase), and thereby protects the viral genome from mutation. A conserved PPLP motif near the C terminus of Vif is essential for Vif function and is also involved in Vif oligomerization. However, the mechanism and functional significance of Vif oligomerization is unclear. We employed analytical ultracentrifugation to examine the oligomeric properties of Vif in solution. Contrary to previous reports, we find that Vif oligomerization does not require the conserved PPLP motif. Instead, our data suggest a more complex mechanism involving interactions between the HCCH motif, BC box, and downstream residues in Vif. Mutation of residues near the PPLP motif (S165 and V166) affected the oligomeric properties of Vif and reduced the ability of Vif to bind and induce the degradation of APOBEC3G. We propose that Vif oligomerization may represent a mechanism to regulate interactions with APOBEC3G.
PMCID: PMC3302947  PMID: 22369580
15.  Daily Pomegranate Intake Has No Impact on PSA Levels in Patients with Advanced Prostate Cancer - Results of a Phase IIb Randomized Controlled Trial 
Journal of Cancer  2013;4(7):597-605.
Pomegranate has been shown to prolong PSA doubling time in early prostate cancer, but no data from a placebo controlled trial has been published yet. The objective of this study was to prospectively evaluate the impact of pomegranate juice in patients with prostate cancer.
We conducted a phase IIb, double blinded, randomized placebo controlled trial in patients with histologically confirmed prostate cancer. Only patients with a PSA value ≥ 5ng/ml were included. The subjects consumed 500 ml of pomegranate juice or 500 ml of placebo beverage every day for a 4 week period. Thereafter, all patients received 250 ml of the pomegranate juice daily for another 4 weeks. PSA values were taken at baseline, day 14, 28 and on day 56. The primary endpoint was the detection of a significant difference in PSA serum levels between the groups after one month of treatment. Pain scores and adherence to intervention were recorded using patient diaries.
102 patients were enrolled. The majority of patients had castration resistant prostate cancer (68%). 98 received either pomegranate juice or placebo between October 2008 and May 2011. Adherence to protocol was good, with 94 patients (96%) completing the first period and 87 patients (89%) completing both periods. No grade 3 or higher toxicities occurred within the study. No differences were detected between the two groups with regard to PSA kinetics and pain scores.
Consumption of pomegranate juice as an adjunct intervention in men with advanced prostate cancer does not result in significant PSA declines compared to placebo.
PMCID: PMC3781990  PMID: 24069070
Pomegranate juice; PSA; prostate cancer; nutraceutical; ellagig acids; polyphenols.
16.  Insights into the Dual Activity of SIVmac239 Vif against Human and African Green Monkey APOBEC3G 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48850.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vif is essential for viral evasion of the host antiviral protein APOBEC3G (APO3G). The Vif protein from a distantly related African green monkey (Agm) simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVagm) is unable to suppress the antiviral activity of human APO3G but is active against Agm APO3G. SIVmac Vif on the other hand, possesses antiviral activity against both human and Agm APO3G. In this study, we were interested in mapping domains in SIVmac Vif that are responsible for its dual activity against human and Agm APO3G. We constructed a series of Vif chimeras by swapping domains in SIVmac Vif with equivalent regions from SIVagm Vif and determined their activity against human and Agm APO3G. We found that replacing any region in SIVmac Vif by corresponding fragments from SIVagm Vif only moderately reduced the activity of the chimeras against Agm APO3G but in all cases resulted in a severe loss of activity against human APO3G. These results suggest that the domains in SIVmac Vif required for targeting human and Agm APO3G are distinct and cannot be defined as linear amino acid motifs but rather appear to depend on the overall structure of full-length SIVmac Vif.
PMCID: PMC3506583  PMID: 23189135
17.  Effect of age on intraoperative cerebrovascular autoregulation and near-infrared spectroscopy-derived cerebral oxygenation 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2011;107(5):742-748.
Age is an important risk factor for perioperative cerebral complications such as stroke, postoperative cognitive dysfunction, and delirium. We explored the hypothesis that intraoperative cerebrovascular autoregulation is less efficient and brain tissue oxygenation lower in elderly patients, thus, increasing the vulnerability of elderly brains to systemic insults such as hypotension.
We monitored intraoperative cerebral perfusion in 50 patients aged 18–40 and 77 patients >65 yr at two Swiss university hospitals. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) was measured continuously using a plethysmographic method. An index of cerebrovascular autoregulation (Mx) was calculated based on changes in transcranial Doppler flow velocity due to changes in MAP. Cerebral oxygenation was assessed by the tissue oxygenation index (TOI) using near-infrared spectroscopy. End-tidal CO2, O2, and sevoflurane concentrations and peripheral oxygen saturation were recorded continuously. Standardized anaesthesia was administered in all patients (thiopental, sevoflurane, fentanyl, atracurium).
Autoregulation was less efficient in patients aged >65 yr [by 0.10 (se 0.04; P=0.020)] in a multivariable linear regression analysis. This difference was not attributable to differences in MAP, end-tidal CO2, or higher doses of sevoflurane. TOI was not significantly associated with age, sevoflurane dose, or Mx but increased with increasing flow velocity [by 0.09 (se 0.04; P=0.028)] and increasing MAP [by 0.11 (se 0.05; P=0.043)].
Our results do not support the hypothesis that older patients' brains are more vulnerable to systemic insults. The difference of autoregulation between the two groups was small and most likely clinically insignificant.
PMCID: PMC3192482  PMID: 21835838
age groups; anaesthesia; cerebrovascular circulation
18.  Identification and characterization of naturally occurring splice variants of SAMHD1 
Retrovirology  2012;9:86.
Sterile Alpha Motif and HD domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) is a recently identified host factor that restricts HIV-1 replication in dendritic and myeloid cells. SAMHD1 is a dNTPase that presumably reduces the cellular dNTP levels to levels too low for retroviral reverse transcription to occur. However, HIV-2 and SIV encoded Vpx counteracts the antiviral effects of SAMHD1 by targeting the protein for proteasomal degradation. SAMHD1 is encoded by a multiply spliced mRNA and consists of 16 coding exons.
Here, we identified two naturally occurring splice variants lacking exons 8–9 and 14, respectively. Like wildtype SAMHD1, both splice variants localize primarily to the nucleus, interact with Vpx, and retain some sensitivity to Vpx-dependent degradation. However, the splice variants differ from full-length SAMHD1 in their metabolic stability and catalytic activity. While full-length SAMHD1 is metabolically stable in uninfected cells, both splice variants were inherently metabolically unstable and were rapidly degraded even in the absence of Vpx. Vpx strongly increased the rate of degradation of full-length SAMHD1 and further accelerated the degradation of the splice variants. However, the effect of Vpx on the splice variants was more modest due to the inherent instability of these proteins. Analysis of dNTPase activity indicates that neither splice variant is catalytically active.
The identification of SAMHD1 splice variants exposes a potential regulatory mechanism that could enable the cell to control its dNTPase activity on a post-transcriptional level.
PMCID: PMC3503569  PMID: 23092512
Vpx; SAMHD1; Splicing; Gene regulation
19.  A Noncanonical mu-1A-Binding Motif in the N Terminus of HIV-1 Nef Determines Its Ability To Downregulate Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I in T Lymphocytes 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(7):3944-3951.
Downregulation of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) by HIV-1 Nef protein is indispensable for evasion of protective immunity by HIV-1. Though it has been suggested that the N-terminal region of Nef contributes to the function by associating with a mu-1A subunit of adaptor protein 1, the structural basis of the interaction between Nef and mu-1A remains elusive. We found that a tripartite hydrophobic motif (Trp13/Val16/Met20) in the N terminus of Nef was required for the MHC-I downregulation. Importantly, the motif functioned as a noncanonical mu-1A-binding motif for the interaction with the tyrosine motif-binding site of the mu-1A subunit. Our findings will help understanding of how HIV-1 evades the antiviral immune response by selectively redirecting the cellular protein trafficking system.
PMCID: PMC3302484  PMID: 22301137
20.  A Long-Lasting Measles Epidemic in Maroua, Cameroon 2008–2009: Mass Vaccination as Response to the Epidemic 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(Suppl 1):S243-S251.
Background. A measles outbreak occurred in Maroua, Cameroon, from January 2008 to April 2009. In accordance with recent World Health Organization guidelines, an outbreak-response immunization (ORI) was conducted in January 2009. The aim of this study was to investigate the causes of the epidemic in order to guide vaccination strategies.
Methods. We performed a stratified household-based survey using cluster sampling to determine measles vaccination coverage in children aged 9 months to 15 years. We defined 3 strata based on measles incidence. Next, we performed a case–control study to measure vaccine effectiveness (VE). Cases were obtained from health center registries. Controls were selected among respondents to the coverage survey.
Results. The vaccination-coverage survey included 2963 children in total. The overall routine vaccination coverage was 74.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 70.0%–78.3%). Measles incidence was inversely proportional to routine vaccination coverage, with high incidence associated with coverage of 71% and low incidence associated with coverage of 84%. The overall VE was 94% (95% CI, 86.7%–97.4%). After the ORI in January 2009, the coverage was >90% in all strata and measles incidence declined rapidly.
Discussion. Our results confirm that insufficient vaccination coverage was the main reason for this epidemic. The ORI conducted in January 2009 contributed both to control the epidemic and to increase the vaccination coverage to desirable levels.
PMCID: PMC3991083  PMID: 21666169
21.  Biological Feasibility of Measles Eradication 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(Suppl 1):S47-S53.
Recent progress in reducing global measles mortality has renewed interest in measles eradication. Three biological criteria are deemed important for disease eradication: (1) humans are the sole pathogen reservoir; (2) accurate diagnostic tests exist; and (3) an effective, practical intervention is available at reasonable cost. Interruption of transmission in large geographical areas for prolonged periods further supports the feasibility of eradication. Measles is thought by many experts to meet these criteria: no nonhuman reservoir is known to exist, accurate diagnostic tests are available, and attenuated measles vaccines are effective and immunogenic. Measles has been eliminated in large geographical areas, including the Americas. Measles eradication is biologically feasible. The challenges for measles eradication will be logistical, political, and financial.
PMCID: PMC3112320  PMID: 21666201
22.  Antibody-Mediated Enhancement of HIV-1 and HIV-2 Production from BST-2/Tetherin-Positive Cells▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(22):11981-11994.
BST-2/CD317/HM1.24/tetherin is a B-cell antigen overexpressed on the surface of myeloma cell lines and on neoplastic plasma cells of patients with multiple myeloma. Antibodies to BST-2 are in clinical trial for the treatment of multiple myeloma and are considered for the treatment of solid tumors with high BST-2 antigen levels. Functionally, BST-2 restricts the secretion of retroviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1, as well as members of the herpesvirus, filovirus, and arenavirus families, presumably by tethering nascent virions to the cell surface. Here we report that BST-2 antibody treatment facilitates virus release from BST-2+ cells by interfering with the tethering activity of BST-2. BST-2 antibodies were unable to release already tethered virions and were most effective when added early during virus production. BST-2 antibody treatment did not affect BST-2 dimerization and did not reduce the cell surface expression of BST-2. Interestingly, BST-2 antibody treatment reduced the nonspecific shedding of BST-2 and limited the encapsidation of BST-2 into virions. Finally, flotation analyses indicate that BST-2 antibodies affect the distribution of BST-2 within membrane rafts. Our data suggest that BST-2 antibody treatment may enhance virus release by inducing a redistribution of BST-2 at the cell surface, thus preventing it from accumulating at the sites of virus budding.
PMCID: PMC3209280  PMID: 21917971
23.  Some Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Vpu Proteins Are Able To Antagonize Macaque BST-2 In Vitro and In Vivo: Vpu-Negative Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Viruses Are Attenuated In Vivo ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(19):9708-9715.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vpu enhances the release of viral particles from infected cells by targeting BST-2/tetherin, a cellular protein inhibiting virus release. The widely used HIV-1NL4-3 Vpu functionally inactivates human BST-2 but not murine or monkey BST-2, leading to the notion that Vpu antagonism is species specific. Here we investigated the properties of the CXCR4-tropic simian-human immunodeficiency virus DH12 (SHIVDH12) and the CCR5-tropic SHIVAD8, each of which carries vpu genes derived from different primary HIV-1 isolates. We found that virion release from infected rhesus peripheral blood mononuclear cells was enhanced to various degrees by the Vpu present in both SHIVs. Transfer of the SHIVDH12 Vpu transmembrane domain to the HIV-1NL4-3 Vpu conferred antagonizing activity against macaque BST-2. Inactivation of the SHIVDH12 and SHIVAD8 vpu genes impaired virus replication in 6 of 8 inoculated rhesus macaques, resulting in lower plasma viral RNA loads, slower losses of CD4+ T cells, and delayed disease progression. The expanded host range of the SHIVDH12 Vpu was not due to adaptation during passage in macaques but was an intrinsic property of the parental HIV-1DH12 Vpu protein. These results demonstrate that the species-specific inhibition of BST-2 by HIV-1NL4-3 Vpu is not characteristic of all HIV-1 Vpu proteins; some HIV-1 isolates encode a Vpu with a broader host range.
PMCID: PMC3196440  PMID: 21775449
24.  The Interferon-Inducible Host Factor Bone Marrow Stromal Antigen 2/Tetherin Restricts Virion Release, but Is It Actually a Viral Restriction Factor? 
Viruses face a variety of obstacles when infecting a new host. The past few years have brought exciting new insights into the function of restriction factors, which form part of the host's innate immune system. One of the most recently identified restriction factors is bone marrow stromal antigen 2 (BST-2)/tetherin. BST-2 is an interferon-inducible gene whose expression dramatically reduces the release of viruses from infected cells. This effect of BST-2 is not specific to human immunodeficiency virus but affects a broad range of enveloped viruses. Since the identification of BST-2 as a restriction factor in 2008, much progress has been made in understanding the molecular properties and functional characteristics of this host factor. The goal of this review was to provide an update on our current understanding of the role of BST-2 in regulating virus release and to discuss its role in controlling virus spread during productive infection with special emphasis on human immunodeficiency virus-1.
PMCID: PMC3021358  PMID: 21166593
25.  HIV-1 Vpu targets cell surface markers CD4 and BST-2 through distinct mechanisms 
Molecular aspects of medicine  2010;31(5):407-417.
Vpu is a small integral membrane protein encoded by HIV-1 and some SIV isolates. The protein is known to induce degradation of the viral receptor molecule CD4 and to enhance the release of newly formed virions from the cell surface. Vpu accomplishes these two functions through two distinct mechanisms. In the case of CD4, Vpu acts as a molecular adaptor to connect CD4 to an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex resulting in CD4 degradation by cellular proteasomes. This requires signals located in Vpu's cytoplasmic domain. Enhancement of virus release on the other hand involves the neutralization of a cellular host factor, BST-2 (also known as CD317, HM1.24, or tetherin) and requires Vpu's TM domain. The current review discusses recent advances on the role of Vpu in controlling degradation of CD4 and in regulating virus release.
PMCID: PMC2967615  PMID: 20858517

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