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1.  Epigenetic Modulations in Activated Cells Early after HIV-1 Infection and Their Possible Functional Consequences 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0119234.
Epigenetic modifications refer to a number of biological processes which alter the structure of chromatin and its transcriptional activity such as DNA methylation and histone post-translational processing. Studies have tried to elucidate how the viral genome and its products are affected by epigenetic modifications imposed by cell machinery and how it affects the ability of the virus to either, replicate and produce a viable progeny or be driven to latency. The purpose of this study was to evaluate epigenetic modifications in PBMCs and CD4+ cells after HIV-1 infection analyzing three approaches: (i) global DNA- methylation; (ii) qPCR array and (iii) western blot. HIV-1 infection led to methylation increases in the cellular DNA regardless the activation status of PBMCs. The analysis of H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 suggested a trend towards transcriptional repression in activated cells after HIV-1 infection. Using a qPCR array, we detected genes related to epigenetic processes highly modulated in activated HIV-1 infected cells. SETDB2 and RSK2 transcripts showed highest up-regulation levels. SETDB2 signaling is related to transcriptional silencing while RSK2 is related to either silencing or activation of gene expression depending on the signaling pathway triggered down-stream. In addition, activated cells infected by HIV-1 showed lower CD69 expression and a decrease of IL-2, IFN-γ and metabolism-related factors transcripts indicating a possible functional consequence towards global transcriptional repression found in HIV-1 infected cells. Conversely, based on epigenetic markers studied here, non-stimulated cells infected by HIV-1, showed signs of global transcriptional activation. Our results suggest that HIV-1 infection exerts epigenetic modulations in activated cells that may lead these cells to transcriptional repression with important functional consequences. Moreover, non-stimulated cells seem to increase gene transcription after HIV-1 infection. Based on these observations, it is possible to speculate that the outcome of viral infections may be influenced by the cellular activation status at the moment of infection.
PMCID: PMC4395311  PMID: 25875202
2.  Prevalence of transmitted HIV-1 antiretroviral resistance among patients initiating antiretroviral therapy in Brazil: a surveillance study using dried blood spots 
In Brazil, the use of antiretrovirals is widespread: more than 260,000 individuals are currently undergoing treatment. We conducted a survey targeting antiretroviral-naïve individuals who were initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) according to local guidelines. This survey covered five Brazilian regions.
The HIV Threshold Survey methodology (HIV-THS) of the World Health Organization was utilized, and subjects were selected from seven highly populated cities representative of all Brazilian macro-regions. Dried blood spots (DBS) were collected on SS903 collection cards and were transported by regular mail at room temperature to a single central laboratory for genotyping.
We analysed samples from 329 individuals initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), 39 (11.8%) of whom were harbouring transmitted drug resistance (TDR). The mean CD4+ T cell count was 253 cells/µL, and the mean viral load was 142,044 copies/mL. The regional prevalence of resistance was 17.0% in the Northeast, 12.8% in the Southeast, 10.6% in the Central region, 8.5% in the North and 8.5% in the South. The inhibitor-specific TDR prevalence was 6.9% for nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, 4.9% for non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and 3.9% for protease inhibitors; 3.6% of individuals presented resistance to more than one class of inhibitors. Overall, there were trends towards higher prevalences of subtype C towards the South and subtype F towards the North. Of the DBS samples collected, 9.3% failed to provide reliable results.
We identified variable TDR prevalence, ranging from intermediate to high levels, among individuals in whom HIV disease progressed, thus implying that resistance testing before initiating ART could be effective in Brazil. Our results also indicate that the use of DBS might be especially valuable for providing access to testing in resource-limited and remote settings.
PMCID: PMC4172689  PMID: 25249214
transmitted drug resistance; dried blood spots; Brazil; genotyping; antiretroviral therapy; HIV subtype
3.  A Recombinant Protein Based on Trypanosoma cruzi P21 Enhances Phagocytosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51384.
P21 is a secreted protein expressed in all developmental stages of Trypanosoma cruzi. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of the recombinant protein based on P21 (P21-His6) on inflammatory macrophages during phagocytosis.
Our results showed that P21-His6 acts as a phagocytosis inducer by binding to CXCR4 chemokine receptor and activating actin polymerization in a way dependent onthe PI3-kinase signaling pathway.
Thus, our results shed light on the notion that native P21 is a component related to T. cruzi evasion from the immune response and that CXCR4 may be involved in phagocytosis. P21-His6 represents an important experimental control tool to study phagocytosis signaling pathways of different intracellular parasites and particles.
PMCID: PMC3519637  PMID: 23251513
4.  Differential Persistence of Transmitted HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutation Classes 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(8):1174-1181.
Background. Transmitted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug resistance (TDR) mutations can become replaced over time by emerging wild-type viral variants with improved fitness. The impact of class-specific mutations on this rate of mutation replacement is uncertain.
Methods. We studied participants with acute and/or early HIV infection and TDR in 2 cohorts (San Francisco, California, and São Paulo, Brazil). We followed baseline mutations longitudinally and compared replacement rates between mutation classes with use of a parametric proportional hazards model.
Results. Among 75 individuals with 195 TDR mutations, M184V/I became undetectable markedly faster than did nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) mutations (hazard ratio, 77.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 14.7–408.2; P < .0001), while protease inhibitor and NNRTI replacement rates were similar. Higher plasma HIV-1 RNA level predicted faster mutation replacement, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio, 1.71 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, .90–3.25 log10 copies/mL; P = .11). We found substantial person-to-person variability in mutation replacement rates not accounted for by viral load or mutation class (P < .0001).
Conclusions. The rapid replacement of M184V/I mutations is consistent with known fitness costs. The long-term persistence of NNRTI and protease inhibitor mutations suggests a risk for person-to-person propagation. Host and/or viral factors not accounted for by viral load or mutation class are likely influencing mutation replacement and warrant further study.
PMCID: PMC3107558  PMID: 21451005

Results 1-4 (4)