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1.  The Human papillomavirus type 16 E7 oncoprotein induces a transcriptional repressor complex on the Toll-like receptor 9 promoter 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(7):1369-1387.
HPV16-positive cervical cancer lesions contain NFκB–ERα nuclear complexes to repress the TLR9 promoter.
Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) and other oncogenic viruses have been reported to deregulate immunity by suppressing the function of the double-stranded DNA innate sensor TLR9. However, the mechanisms leading to these events remain to be elucidated. We show that infection of human epithelial cells with HPV16 promotes the formation of an inhibitory transcriptional complex containing NF-κBp50–p65 and ERα induced by the E7 oncoprotein. The E7-mediated transcriptional complex also recruited the histone demethylase JARID1B and histone deacetylase HDAC1. The entire complex bound to a specific region on the TLR9 promoter, which resulted in decreased methylation and acetylation of histones upstream of the TLR9 transcriptional start site. The involvement of NF-κB and ERα in the TLR9 down-regulation by HPV16 E7 was fully confirmed in cervical tissues from human patients. Importantly, we present evidence that the HPV16-induced TLR9 down-regulation affects the interferon response which negatively regulates viral infection. Our studies highlight a novel HPV16-mediated mechanism that combines epigenetic and transcriptional events to suppress a key innate immune sensor.
PMCID: PMC3698525  PMID: 23752229
2.  Innate immune recognition of an AT-rich stem-loop DNA motif in the Plasmodium falciparum genome 
Immunity  2011;35(2):194-207.
Although Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) has been implicated in regulating cytokine and type I interferon (IFN) production during malaria in humans and mice, the high AT content of the Plasmodium falciparum genome prompted us to examine the possibility that malarial DNA triggered TLR9-independent DNA sensing pathways. Over 6000 ATTTTTAC (“AT-rich”) motifs are present in the genome of P. falciparum, which we show here potently induce type I IFNs. Parasite DNA, parasitized erythrocytes and oligonucleotides containing the AT-r motif induce type I IFNs via a pathway that did not involve previously described sensors including TLR9, DAI, RNA polymerase-III or IFI16/p204. Rather, AT-rich DNA sensing involved an unknown receptor that coupled to STING, TBK1 and IRF3-IRF7 signaling pathway. Mice lacking both IRF3 and IRF7, the kinase TBK1 or the type I IFN receptor were resistant to otherwise lethal cerebral malaria. Collectively, these observations implicate AT-rich DNA sensing via STING, TBK1 and IRF3-IRF7 in P. falciparum malaria.
PMCID: PMC3162998  PMID: 21820332
3.  Cell-type specific recognition of human Metapneumoviruses by RIG-I and TLR7 and viral interference of RIG-I ligand recognition by HMPVB1 Phosphoprotein 
Human Metapneumoviruses (HMPV) are recently identified Paramyxoviridae that contribute to respiratory tract infections in children. No effective treatments or vaccines are available. Successful defense against virus infection relies on early detection by germline encoded pattern recognition receptors and activation of cytokine and type I interferon genes. Recently, the RNA helicase Retinoic acid inducible gene (RIG-I) has been shown to sense HMPV. In this study, we investigated the ability of two prototype strains of HMPV (A1 [NL\1\00] and B1 [NL\1\99]) to activate RIG-I and induce type I interferons (IFN). Despite the ability of both HMPV-A1 and B1 to infect and replicate in cell lines and primary cells, only the HMPV-A1 strain triggered RIG-I to induce IFNA/B gene transcription. The failure of the HMPV-B1 strain to elicit type I IFN production was dependent on the B1 phosphoprotein, which specifically prevented RIG-I-mediated sensing of HMPV viral 5’ triphosphate RNA. In contrast to most cell types, plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) displayed a unique ability to sense both the A1 and B1 strains and in this case sensing was via Toll-like receptor (TLR)-7 rather than RIG-I. Collectively, these data reveal differential mechanisms of sensing for two closely related viruses, which operate in cell-type specific manners.
PMCID: PMC2834787  PMID: 20042593
Viral; Signal Transduction; Knockout mouse
4.  Memory T-Cell-Mediated Immune Responses Specific to an Alternative Core Protein in Hepatitis C Virus Infection 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(19):10460-10469.
In vitro studies have described the synthesis of an alternative reading frame form of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein that was named F protein or ARFP (alternative reading frame protein) and includes a domain coded by the +1 open reading frame of the RNA core coding region. The expression of this protein in HCV-infected patients remains controversial. We have analyzed peripheral blood from 47 chronically or previously HCV-infected patients for the presence of T lymphocytes and antibodies specific to the ARFP. Anti-ARFP antibodies were detected in 41.6% of the patients infected with various HCV genotypes. Using a specific ARFP 99-amino-acid polypeptide as well as four ARFP predicted class I-restricted 9-mer peptides, we show that 20% of the patients display specific lymphocytes capable of producing gamma interferon, interleukin-10, or both cytokines. Patients harboring three different viral genotypes (1a, 1b, and 3) carried T lymphocytes reactive to genotype 1b-derived peptides. In longitudinal analysis of patients receiving therapy, both core and ARFP-specific T-cell- and B-cell-mediated responses were documented. The magnitude and kinetics of the HCV antigen-specific responses differed and were not linked with viremia or therapy outcome. These observations provide strong and new arguments in favor of the synthesis, during natural HCV infection, of an ARFP derived from the core sequence. Moreover, the present data provide the first demonstration of the presence of T-cell-mediated immune responses directed to this novel HCV antigen.
PMCID: PMC516386  PMID: 15367612

Results 1-4 (4)