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1.  S100A9 Induced Inflammatory Responses Are Mediated by Distinct Damage Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMP) Receptors In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0115828.
Release of endogenous damage associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), including members of the S100 family, are associated with infection, cellular stress, tissue damage and cancer. The extracellular functions of this family of calcium binding proteins, particularly S100A8, S100A9 and S100A12, are being delineated. They appear to mediate their functions via receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE) or TLR4, but there remains considerable uncertainty over the relative physiological roles of these DAMPs and their pattern recognition receptors. In this study, we surveyed the capacity of S100 proteins to induce proinflammatory cytokines and cell migration, and the contribution RAGE and TLR4 to mediate these responses in vitro. Using adenoviral delivery of murine S100A9, we also examined the potential for S100A9 homodimers to trigger lung inflammation in vivo. S100A8, S100A9 and S100A12, but not the S100A8/A9 heterodimer, induced modest levels of TLR4-mediated cytokine production from human PBMC. In contrast, for most S100s including S100A9, RAGE blockade inhibited S100-mediated cell migration of THP1 cells and major leukocyte populations, whereas TLR4-blockade had no effect. Intranasal administration of murine S100A9 adenovirus induced a specific, time-dependent predominately macrophage infiltration that coincided with elevated S100A9 levels and proinflammatory cytokines in the BAL fluid. Inflammatory cytokines were markedly ablated in the TLR4-defective mice, but unexpectedly the loss of TLR4 signaling or RAGE-deficiency did not appreciably impact the S100A9-mediated lung pathology or the inflammatory cell infiltrate in the alveolar space. These data demonstrate that physiological levels of S100A9 homodimers can trigger an inflammatory response in vivo, and despite the capacity of RAGE and TLR4 blockade to inhibit responses in vitro, the response is predominately independent of both these receptors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115828
PMCID: PMC4338059  PMID: 25706559
2.  RAGE inhibits human respiratory syncytial virus syncytium formation by interfering with F-protein function 
The Journal of General Virology  2013;94(Pt 8):1691-1700.
Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of severe lower respiratory tract infection. Infection is critically dependent on the RSV fusion (F) protein, which mediates fusion between the viral envelope and airway epithelial cells. The F protein is also expressed on infected cells and is responsible for fusion of infected cells with adjacent cells, resulting in the formation of multinucleate syncytia. The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) is a pattern-recognition receptor that is constitutively highly expressed by type I alveolar epithelial cells. Here, we report that RAGE protected HEK cells from RSV-induced cell death and reduced viral titres in vitro. RAGE appeared to interact directly with the F protein, but, rather than inhibiting RSV entry into host cells, virus replication and budding, membrane-expressed RAGE or soluble RAGE blocked F-protein-mediated syncytium formation and sloughing. These data indicate that RAGE may contribute to protecting the lower airways from RSV by inhibiting the formation of syncytia, viral spread, epithelial damage and airway obstruction.
doi:10.1099/vir.0.049254-0
PMCID: PMC3749528  PMID: 23559480
3.  Characterization of the Hypercitrullination Reaction in Human Neutrophils and Other Leukocytes 
Mediators of Inflammation  2015;2015:236451.
Autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins are diagnostic for rheumatoid arthritis. However, the molecular mechanisms driving protein citrullination in patients with rheumatoid arthritis remain poorly understood. Using two independent western blotting methods, we report that agents that trigger a sufficiently large influx of extracellular calcium ions induced a marked citrullination of multiple proteins in human neutrophils, monocytes, and, to a lesser extent, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells, but not B lymphocytes or dendritic cells. This response required 250–1,000 μM extracellular calcium and was prevented by EDTA. Other neutrophil activating stimuli, such as formyl-peptides, GM-CSF, IL-6, IL8, TNFα, or phorbol ester, did not induce any detectable increase in protein citrullination, suggesting that receptor-induced calcium mobilization is insufficient to trigger hypercitrullination. We conclude that loss of membrane integrity and subsequent influx of high levels of calcium, which can be triggered by perforin released from cytotoxic cells or complement mediated formation of membrane attack complexes in the joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients, are sufficient to induce extensive protein citrullination in immune cells, notably neutrophils. This mechanism may provide the citrullinated autoantigens that drive autoimmunity in this devastating disease.
doi:10.1155/2015/236451
PMCID: PMC4452437  PMID: 26078491
5.  RAGE is a nucleic acid receptor that promotes inflammatory responses to DNA 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(11):2447-2463.
Receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) detects nucleic acids and promotes DNA uptake into endosomes, which in turn lowers the immune recognition threshold for TLR9 activation.
Recognition of DNA and RNA molecules derived from pathogens or self-antigen is one way the mammalian immune system senses infection and tissue damage. Activation of immune signaling receptors by nucleic acids is controlled by limiting the access of DNA and RNA to intracellular receptors, but the mechanisms by which endosome-resident receptors encounter nucleic acids from the extracellular space are largely undefined. In this study, we show that the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) promoted DNA uptake into endosomes and lowered the immune recognition threshold for the activation of Toll-like receptor 9, the principal DNA-recognizing transmembrane signaling receptor. Structural analysis of RAGE–DNA complexes indicated that DNA interacted with dimers of the outermost RAGE extracellular domains, and could induce formation of higher-order receptor complexes. Furthermore, mice deficient in RAGE were unable to mount a typical inflammatory response to DNA in the lung, indicating that RAGE is important for the detection of nucleic acids in vivo.
doi:10.1084/jem.20120201
PMCID: PMC3804942  PMID: 24081950
6.  Opposing Roles of Membrane and Soluble Forms of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products in Primary Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(8):1311-1320.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory pathogen in infants and the older population, causes pulmonary inflammation and airway occlusion that leads to impairment of lung function. Here, we have established a role for receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) in RSV infection. RAGE-deficient (ager−/−) mice were protected from RSV-induced weight loss and inflammation. This protection correlated with an early increase in type I interferons, later decreases in proinflammatory cytokines, and a reduction in viral load. To assess the contribution of soluble RAGE (sRAGE) to RSV-induced disease, wild-type and ager−/− mice were given doses of sRAGE following RSV infection. Of interest, sRAGE treatment prevented RSV-induced weight loss and neutrophilic inflammation to a degree similar to that observed in ager−/− mice. Our work further elucidates the roles of RAGE in the pathogenesis of respiratory infections and highlights the opposing roles of membrane and sRAGE in modulating the host response to RSV infection.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir826
PMCID: PMC3308901  PMID: 22262795
7.  Genomic-Based High Throughput Screening Identifies Small Molecules That Differentially Inhibit the Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Effects of IFN-α 
Molecular Medicine  2008;14(7-8):374-382.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that inhibition of Type I Interferons, including IFN-α, may provide a therapeutic benefit for autoimmune diseases. Using a chemical genomics approach integrated with cellular and in vivo assays, we screened a small compound library to identify modulators of IFN-α biological effects. A genomic fingerprint was developed from both ex vivo patient genomic information and in vitro gene modulation from IFN-α cell-based stimulation. A high throughput genomic-based screen then was applied to prioritize 268 small molecule inhibitors targeting 41 different intracellular signaling pathways. Active compounds were profiled further for their ability to inhibit the activation and differentiation of human monocytes using disease-related stimuli. Inhibitors targeting NF-κB or Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling emerged as “dissociated inhibitors” because they did not modulate IFN-α anti-viral effects against HSV-1 but potently inhibited other immune-related functions. This work describes a novel strategy to identify small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.
doi:10.2119/2008-00028.Chen
PMCID: PMC2376640  PMID: 18475307

Results 1-8 (8)