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2.  Preclinical safety, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and biodistribution studies with Ad35K++ protein: a novel rituximab cotherapeutic 
Rituximab is a mouse/human chimeric monoclonal antibody targeted toward CD20. It is efficient as first-line therapy of CD20-positive B-cell malignancies. However, a large fraction of treated patients relapse with rituximab-resistant disease. So far, only modest progress has been made in treatment options for rituximab refractory patients. One of the mechanisms for rituximab resistance involves the upregulation of CD46, which is a key cell surface protein that blocks the activation of complement. We have recently developed a technology that depletes CD46 from the cell surface and thereby sensitizes tumor cells to complement-dependent cytotoxicity. This technology is based on a small recombinant protein, Ad35K++ that binds with high affinity to CD46. In preliminary studies using a 6 × histidinyl tagged protein, we had demonstrated that intravenous Ad35K++ injection in combination with rituximab was safe and increased rituximab-mediated killing of CD20-positive target cells in mice and nonhuman primates (NHPs). The presence of the tag, while allowing for easy purification by Ni-NTA chromatography, has the potential to increase the immunogenicity of the recombinant protein. For clinical application, we therefore developed an Ad35K++ protein without His-tag. In the present study, we performed preclinical studies in two animal species (mice and NHPs) with this protein demonstrating its safety and efficacy. These studies estimated the Ad35K++ dose range and treatment regimen to be used in patients. Furthermore, we showed that intravenous Ad35K++ injection triggers the shedding of the CD46 extracellular domain in xenograft mouse tumor models and in macaques. Shed serum CD46 can be measured in the serum and can potentially be used as a pharmacodynamic marker for monitoring Ad35K++ activity in patient undergoing treatment with this agent. These studies create the basis for an investigational new drug application for the use of Ad35K++ in combination with rituximab in the treatment of patients with B-cell malignancies.
PMCID: PMC4813608  PMID: 27069950
3.  Measles Virus Defective Interfering RNAs Are Generated Frequently and Early in the Absence of C Protein and Can Be Destabilized by Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA-1-Like Hypermutations 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(15):7735-7747.
Defective interfering RNAs (DI-RNAs) of the viral genome can form during infections of negative-strand RNA viruses and outgrow full-length viral genomes, thereby modulating the severity and duration of infection. Here we document the frequent de novo generation of copy-back DI-RNAs from independent rescue events both for a vaccine measles virus (vac2) and for a wild-type measles virus (IC323) as early as passage 1 after virus rescue. Moreover, vaccine and wild-type C-protein-deficient (C-protein-knockout [CKO]) measles viruses generated about 10 times more DI-RNAs than parental virus, suggesting that C enhances the processivity of the viral polymerase. We obtained the nucleotide sequences of 65 individual DI-RNAs, identified breakpoints and reinitiation sites, and predicted their structural features. Several DI-RNAs possessed clusters of A-to-G or U-to-C transitions. Sequences flanking these mutation sites were characteristic of those favored by adenosine deaminase acting on RNA-1 (ADAR1), which catalyzes in double-stranded RNA the C-6 deamination of adenosine to produce inosine, which is recognized as guanosine, a process known as A-to-I RNA editing. In individual DI-RNAs the transitions were of the same type and occurred on both sides of the breakpoint. These patterns of mutations suggest that ADAR1 edits unencapsidated DI-RNAs that form double-strand RNA structures. Encapsidated DI-RNAs were incorporated into virus particles, which reduced the infectivity of virus stocks. The CKO phenotype was dominant: DI-RNAs derived from vac2 with a CKO suppressed the replication of vac2, as shown by coinfections of interferon-incompetent lymphatic cells with viruses expressing different fluorescent reporter proteins. In contrast, coinfection with a C-protein-expressing virus did not counteract the suppressive phenotype of DI-RNAs.
IMPORTANCE Recombinant measles viruses (MVs) are in clinical trials as cancer therapeutics and as vectored vaccines for HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases. The efficacy of MV-based vectors depends on their replication proficiency and immune activation capacity. Here we document that copy-back defective interfering RNAs (DI-RNAs) are generated by recombinant vaccine and wild-type MVs immediately after rescue. The MV C protein interferes with DI-RNA generation and may enhance the processivity of the viral polymerase. We frequently detected clusters of A-to-G or U-to-C transitions and noted that sequences flanking individual mutations contain motifs favoring recognition by the adenosine deaminase acting on RNA-1 (ADAR1). The consistent type of transitions on the DI-RNAs indicates that these are direct substrates for editing by ADAR1. The ADAR1-mediated biased hypermutation events are consistent with the protein kinase R (PKR)-ADAR1 balancing model of innate immunity activation. We show by coinfection that the C-defective phenotype is dominant.
PMCID: PMC4505647  PMID: 25972541
4.  The Nectin-4/Afadin Protein Complex and Intercellular Membrane Pores Contribute to Rapid Spread of Measles Virus in Primary Human Airway Epithelia 
Journal of Virology  2015;89(14):7089-7096.
The discovery that measles virus (MV) uses the adherens junction protein nectin-4 as its epithelial receptor provides a new vantage point from which to characterize its rapid spread in the airway epithelium. We show here that in well-differentiated primary cultures of airway epithelial cells from human donors (HAE), MV infectious centers form rapidly and become larger than those of other respiratory pathogens: human respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus 5, and Sendai virus. While visible syncytia do not form after MV infection of HAE, the cytoplasm of an infected cell suddenly flows into an adjacent cell, as visualized through wild-type MV-expressed cytoplasmic green fluorescent protein (GFP). High-resolution video microscopy documents that GFP flows through openings that form on the lateral surfaces between columnar epithelial cells. To assess the relevance of the protein afadin, which connects nectin-4 to the actin cytoskeleton, we knocked down its mRNA. This resulted in more-limited infectious-center formation. We also generated a nectin-4 mutant without the afadin-binding site in its cytoplasmic tail. This mutant was less effective than wild-type human nectin-4 at promoting MV infection in primary cultures of porcine airway epithelia. Thus, in airway epithelial cells, MV spread requires the nectin-4/afadin complex and is based on cytoplasm transfer between columnar cells. Since the viral membrane fusion apparatus may open the passages that allow cytoplasm transfer, we refer to them as intercellular membrane pores. Virus-induced intercellular pores may contribute to extremely efficient measles contagion by promoting the rapid spread of the virus through the upper respiratory epithelium.
IMPORTANCE Measles virus (MV), while targeted for eradication, still causes about 120,000 deaths per year worldwide. The recent reemergence of measles in insufficiently vaccinated populations in Europe and North America reminds us that measles is extremely contagious, but the processes favoring its spread in the respiratory epithelium remain poorly defined. Here we characterize wild-type MV spread in well-differentiated primary cultures of human airway epithelial cells. We observed that viral infection promotes the flow of cytoplasmic contents from infected to proximal uninfected columnar epithelial cells. Cytoplasm flows through openings that form on the lateral surfaces. Infectious-center growth is facilitated by afadin, a protein connecting the adherens junction and the actin cytoskeleton. The viral fusion apparatus may open intercellular pores, and the cytoskeleton may stabilize them. Rapid homogenization of cytoplasmic contents in epithelial infectious centers may favor rapid spread and contribute to the extremely contagious nature of measles.
PMCID: PMC4473566  PMID: 25926640
5.  Different Roles of the Three Loops Forming the Adhesive Interface of Nectin-4 in Measles Virus Binding and Cell Entry, Nectin-4 Homodimerization, and Heterodimerization with Nectin-1 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(24):14161-14171.
Many viruses utilize cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily as receptors. In particular, viruses of different classes exploit nectins. The large DNA viruses, herpes simplex and pseudorabies viruses, use ubiquitous nectins 1 and 2. The negative-strand RNA virus measles virus (MeV) uses tissue-specific nectin-4, and the positive-strand RNA virus poliovirus uses nectin-like 5 (necl-5), also known as poliovirus receptor. These viruses contact the BC, C′C″, and FG loops on the upper tip of their receptor's most membrane-distal domain. This location corresponds to the newly defined canonical adhesive interface of nectins, but how viruses utilize this interface has remained unclear. Here we show that the same key residues in the BC and FG loops of nectin-4 govern binding to the MeV attachment protein hemagglutinin (H) and cell entry, nectin-4 homodimerization, and heterodimerization with nectin-1. On the other hand, residues in the C′C″ loop necessary for homo- and heterotypic interactions are dispensable for MeV-induced fusion and cell entry. Remarkably, the C′C″ loop governs dissociation of the nectin-4 and H ectodomains. We provide formal proof that H can interfere with the formation of stable nectin-1/nectin-4 heterodimers. Finally, while developing an alternative model to study MeV spread, we observed that polarized primary pig airway epithelial sheets cannot be infected. We show that a single amino acid variant in the BC loop of pig nectin-4 fully accounts for restricted MeV entry. Thus, the three loops forming the adhesive interface of nectin-4 have different roles in supporting MeV H association and dissociation and MeV-induced fusion.
IMPORTANCE Different viruses utilize nectins as receptors. Nectins are immunoglobulin superfamily glycoproteins that mediate cell-cell adhesion in vertebrate tissues. They interact through an adhesive interface located at the top of their membrane-distal domain. How viruses utilize the three loops forming this interface has remained unclear. We demonstrate that while nectin-nectin interactions require residues in all three loops, the association of nectin-4 with the measles virus hemagglutinin requires only the BC and FG loops. However, we discovered that residues in the C′C″ loop modulate the dissociation of nectin-4 from the viral hemagglutinin. Analogous mechanisms may support cell entry of other viruses that utilize nectins or other cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily as receptors.
PMCID: PMC4249131  PMID: 25275122
6.  Structural basis of efficient contagion: measles variations on a theme by parainfluenza viruses 
A quartet of attachment proteins and a trio of fusion protein subunits play the cell entry concert of parainfluenza viruses. While many of these viruses bind sialic acid to enter cells, wild type measles binds exclusively two tissue-specific proteins, the lymphatic receptor signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM), and the epithelial receptor nectin-4. SLAM binds near the stalk-head junction of the hemagglutinin. Nectin-4 binds a hydrophobic groove located between blades 4 and 5 of the hemagglutinin β-propeller head. The mutated vaccine strain hemagglutinin binds in addition the ubiquitous protein CD46, which explains attenuation. The measles virus entry concert has four movements. Andante misterioso: the virus takes over the immune system. Allegro con brio: it rapidly spreads in the upper airway’s epithelia. “Targeting” fugue: the versatile orchestra takes off. Presto furioso: the virus exits the host with thunder. Be careful: music is contagious.
PMCID: PMC4028398  PMID: 24492202
7.  Nuclear reprogramming with a non-integrating human RNA virus 
Advances in the field of stem cells have led to novel avenues for generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from differentiated somatic cells. iPSCs are typically obtained by the introduction of four factors—OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and cMYC—via integrating vectors. Here, we report the feasibility of a novel reprogramming process based on vectors derived from the non-integrating vaccine strain of measles virus (MV).
We produced a one-cycle MV vector by substituting the viral attachment protein gene with the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene. This vector was further engineered to encode for OCT4 in an additional transcription unit.
After verification of OCT4 expression, we assessed the ability of iPSC reprogramming. The reprogramming vector cocktail with the OCT4-expressing MV vector and SOX2-, KLF4-, and cMYC-expressing lentiviral vectors efficiently transduced human skin fibroblasts and formed iPSC colonies. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunostaining confirmed induction of endogenous pluripotency-associated marker genes, such as SSEA-4, TRA-1-60, and Nanog. Pluripotency of derived clones was confirmed by spontaneous differentiation into three germ layers, teratoma formation, and guided differentiation into beating cardiomyocytes.
MV vectors can induce efficient nuclear reprogramming. Given the excellent safety record of MV vaccines and the translational capabilities recently developed to produce MV-based vectors now used for cancer clinical trials, our MV vector system provides an RNA-based, non-integrating gene transfer platform for nuclear reprogramming that is amenable for immediate clinical translation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13287-015-0035-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4415226  PMID: 25889591
8.  Sequence of Events in Measles Virus Replication: Role of Phosphoprotein-Nucleocapsid Interactions 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(18):10851-10863.
The genome of nonsegmented negative-strand RNA viruses is tightly embedded within a nucleocapsid made of a nucleoprotein (N) homopolymer. To ensure processive RNA synthesis, the viral polymerase L in complex with its cofactor phosphoprotein (P) binds the nucleocapsid that constitutes the functional template. Measles virus P and N interact through two binding sites. While binding of the P amino terminus with the core of N (NCORE) prevents illegitimate encapsidation of cellular RNA, the interaction between their C-terminal domains, PXD and NTAIL is required for viral RNA synthesis. To investigate the binding dynamics between the two latter domains, the PXD F497 residue that makes multiple hydrophobic intramolecular interactions was mutated. Using a quantitative mammalian protein complementation assay and recombinant viruses, we found that an increase in PXD-to-NTAIL binding strength is associated with a slower transcript accumulation rate and that abolishing the interaction renders the polymerase nonfunctional. The use of a newly developed system allowing conditional expression of wild-type or mutated P genes, revealed that the loss of the PXD-NTAIL interaction results in reduced transcription by preformed transcriptases, suggesting reduced engagement on the genomic template. These intracellular data indicate that the viral polymerase entry into and progression along its genomic template relies on a protein-protein interaction that serves as a tightly controlled dynamic anchor.
IMPORTANCE Mononegavirales have a unique machinery to replicate RNA. Processivity of their polymerase is only achieved when the genome template is entirely embedded into a helical homopolymer of nucleoproteins that constitutes the nucleocapsid. The polymerase binds to the nucleocapsid template through the phosphoprotein. How the polymerase complex enters and travels along the nucleocapsid template to ensure uninterrupted synthesis of up to ∼6,700-nucleotide messenger RNAs from six to ten consecutive genes is unknown. Using a quantitative protein complementation assay and a biGene-biSilencing system allowing conditional expression of two P genes copies, the role of the P-to-N interaction in polymerase function was further characterized. We report here a dynamic protein anchoring mechanism that differs from all other known polymerases that rely only onto a sustained and direct binding to their nucleic acid template.
PMCID: PMC4178853  PMID: 25008930
9.  The Measles Virus Hemagglutinin Stalk: Structures and Functions of the Central Fusion Activation and Membrane-Proximal Segments 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(11):6158-6167.
The measles virus (MeV) membrane fusion apparatus consists of a fusion protein trimer and an attachment protein tetramer. To trigger membrane fusion, the heads of the MeV attachment protein, hemagglutinin (H), bind cellular receptors while the 96-residue-long H stalk transmits the triggering signal. Structural and functional studies of the triggering mechanism of other paramyxoviruses suggest that receptor binding to their hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) results in signal transmission through the central segments of their stalks. To gain insight into H-stalk structure and function, we individually replaced its residues with cysteine. We then assessed how stable the mutant proteins are, how efficiently they can be cross-linked by disulfide bonds, whether cross-linking results in loss of function, and, in this case, whether disulfide bond reduction restores function. While many residues in the central segment of the stalk and in the spacer segment above it can be efficiently cross-linked by engineered disulfide bonds, we report here that residues 59 to 79 cannot, suggesting that the 20 membrane-proximal residues are not engaged in a tetrameric structure. Rescue-of-function studies by disulfide bond reduction resulted in the redefinition and extension of the central fusion-activation segment as covering residues 84 to 117. In particular, we identified four residues located between positions 92 and 99, the function of which cannot be restored by disulfide bond reduction after cysteine mutagenesis. These mutant H proteins reached the cell surface as complex oligomers but could not trigger membrane fusion. We discuss these observations in the context of the stalk exposure model of membrane fusion triggering by paramyxoviruses.
IMPORTANCE Measles virus, while being targeted for eradication, still causes significant morbidity and mortality. Here, we seek to understand how it enters cells by membrane fusion. Two viral integral membrane glycoproteins (hemagglutinin tetramers and fusion protein trimers) mediate the concerted receptor recognition and membrane fusion processes. Since previous studies have suggested that the hemagglutinin stalk transmits the triggering signal to the fusion protein trimer, we completed an analysis of its structure and function by systematic Cys mutagenesis. We report that while certain residues of the central stalk segment confer specificity to the interaction with the fusion protein trimer, others are necessary to allow folding of the H-oligomer in a standard conformation conducive to fusion triggering, and still other residues sustain the conformational change that transmits the fusion-triggering signal.
PMCID: PMC4093900  PMID: 24648460
10.  Morbillivirus Control of the Interferon Response: Relevance of STAT2 and mda5 but Not STAT1 for Canine Distemper Virus Virulence in Ferrets 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(5):2941-2950.
The V proteins of paramyxoviruses control the innate immune response. In particular, the V protein of the genus Morbillivirus interferes with the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1), STAT2, and melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (mda5) signaling pathways. To characterize the contributions of these pathways to canine distemper virus (CDV) pathogenesis, we took advantage of the knowledge about the mechanisms of interaction between the measles virus V protein with these key regulators of innate immunity. We generated recombinant CDVs with V proteins unable to properly interact with STAT1, STAT2, or mda5. A virus with combined STAT2 and mda5 deficiencies was also generated, and available wild-type and V-protein-knockout viruses were used as controls. Ferrets infected with wild-type and STAT1-blind viruses developed severe leukopenia and loss of lymphocyte proliferation activity and succumbed to the disease within 14 days. In contrast, animals infected with viruses with STAT2 or mda5 defect or both STAT2 and mda5 defects developed a mild self-limiting disease similar to that associated with the V-knockout virus. This study demonstrates the importance of interference with STAT2 and mda5 signaling for CDV immune evasion and provides a starting point for the development of morbillivirus vectors with reduced immunosuppressive properties.
IMPORTANCE The V proteins of paramyxoviruses interfere with the recognition of the virus by the immune system of the host. For morbilliviruses, the V protein is known to interact with the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) and STAT2 and the melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (mda5), which are involved in interferon signaling. Here, we examined the contribution of each of these signaling pathways to the pathogenesis of the carnivore morbillivirus canine distemper virus. Using viruses selectively unable to interfere with the respective signaling pathway to infect ferrets, we found that inhibition of STAT2 and mda5 signaling was critical for lethal disease. Our findings provide new insights in the mechanisms of morbillivirus immune evasion and may lead to the development of new vaccines and oncolytic vectors.
PMCID: PMC3958063  PMID: 24371065
11.  The measles virus phosphoprotein interacts with the linker domain of STAT1 
Virology  2013;444(0):250-256.
The measles virus (MV) phosphoprotein (P) and V proteins block the interferon (IFN) response by impeding phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) by the Janus kinase 1 (JAK1). We characterized how STAT1 mutants interact with P and JAK1 phosphorylation. Certain mutants of the linker, the Src-homology 2 domain (SH2), or the transactivation domain had reduced or abolished phosphorylation through JAK1 after IFN treatment. Other mutants, mainly localized in the linker, failed to interact with P as documented by the lack of interference with nuclear translocation. Thus the functional footprint of P on STAT1 localizes mainly to the linker domain; there is also some overlap with the STAT1 phosphorylation functional footprint on the SH2 domain. Based on these observations, we discuss how the MV-P might operate to inhibit the JAK/STAT pathway.
PMCID: PMC3775481  PMID: 23856440
measles virus; phosphoprotein; STAT1; innate immunity; interferon signaling
12.  Measles Virus C Protein Impairs Production of Defective Copyback Double-Stranded Viral RNA and Activation of Protein Kinase R 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(1):456-468.
Measles virus (MV) lacking expression of C protein (CKO) is a potent activator of the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase (PKR), whereas the isogenic parental virus expressing C protein is not. Here, we demonstrate that significant amounts of dsRNA accumulate during CKO mutant infection but not following parental virus infection. dsRNA accumulated during late stages of infection and localized with virus replication sites containing N and P proteins. PKR autophosphorylation and stress granule formation correlated with the timing of dsRNA appearance. Phospho-PKR localized to dsRNA-containing structures as revealed by immunofluorescence. Production of dsRNA was sensitive to cycloheximide but resistant to actinomycin D, suggesting that dsRNA is a viral product. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses revealed reduced viral RNA synthesis and a steepened transcription gradient in CKO virus-infected cells compared to those in parental virus-infected cells. The observed alterations were further reflected in lower viral protein expression levels and reduced CKO virus infectious yield. RNA deep sequencing confirmed the viral RNA expression profile differences seen by qPCR between CKO mutant and parental viruses. After one subsequent passage of the CKO virus, defective interfering RNA (DI-RNA) with a duplex structure was obtained that was not seen with the parental virus. We conclude that in the absence of C protein, the amount of PKR activator RNA, including DI-RNA, is increased, thereby triggering innate immune responses leading to impaired MV growth.
PMCID: PMC3911759  PMID: 24155404
13.  New viruses for cancer therapy: meeting clinical needs 
Nature reviews. Microbiology  2013;12(1):23-34.
Early-stage clinical trials of oncolytic virotherapy have reported the safety of several virus platforms, and viruses from three families have progressed to advanced efficacy trials. In addition, preclinical studies have established proof-of-principle for many new genetic engineering strategies. Thus, the virotherapy field now has available a diverse collection of viruses that are equipped to address unmet clinical needs owing to improved systemic administration, greater tumour specificity and enhanced oncolytic efficacy. The current key challenge for the field is to develop viruses that replicate with greater efficiency within tumours while achieving therapeutic synergy with currently available treatments.
PMCID: PMC4002503  PMID: 24292552
14.  Reprogrammed viruses as cancer therapeutics: targeted, armed and shielded 
Nature reviews. Microbiology  2008;6(7):529-540.
Virotherapy is currently undergoing a renaissance, based on our improved understanding of virus biology and genetics and our better knowledge of many different types of cancer. Viruses can be reprogrammed into oncolytic vectors by combining three types of modification: targeting, arming and shielding. Targeting introduces multiple layers of cancer specificity and improves safety and efficacy; arming occurs through the expression of prodrug convertases and cytokines; and coating with polymers and the sequential usage of different envelopes or capsids provides shielding from the host immune response. Virus-based therapeutics are beginning to find their place in cancer clinical practice, in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.
PMCID: PMC3947522  PMID: 18552863
15.  Hydrophobic and Charged Residues in the Central Segment of the Measles Virus Hemagglutinin Stalk Mediate Transmission of the Fusion-Triggering Signal 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(18):10401-10404.
The pH-independent measles virus membrane fusion process begins when the attachment protein H binds to a receptor. Knowing that the central segment of the tetrameric H stalk transmits the signal to the fusion protein trimer, we investigated how. We document that exact conservation of most residues in the 92 through 99 segment is essential for function. In addition, hydrophobic and charged residues in the 104 through 125 segment, arranged with helical periodicity, are critical for F protein interactions and signal transmission.
PMCID: PMC3753981  PMID: 23864629
16.  Targeted Cell Entry of Lentiviral Vectors 
Retargeting of lentiviral vector entry to cell types of interest is a key factor in improving the safety and efficacy of gene transfer. In this study we show that the retargetable envelope glycoproteins of measles virus (MV), namely, the hemagglutinin (H) responsible for receptor recognition and the fusion protein (F), can pseudotype human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) vectors when their cytoplasmic tails are truncated. We then pseudotyped HIV-1 vectors with MV glycoproteins displaying on H either the epidermal growth factor or a single-chain antibody directed against CD20, but without the ability to recognize their native receptors. Gene transfer into cells that expressed the targeted receptor was several orders of magnitude more efficient than into cells that did not. High-target versus nontarget cell discrimination was demonstrated in mixed cell populations, where the targeting vector selectively eliminated CD20-positive cells after suicide gene transfer. Remarkably, primary human CD20-positive B lymphocytes were transduced more efficiently by the CD20-targeted vector than by a vector pseudo-typed with the vesicular stomatitis virus G (VSV-G) protein. In addition, the CD20-targeted vector was able to transduce even unstimulated primary B cells, whereas VSV-G pseudotyped vectors were unable to do so. Because MV enters cells through direct fusion at the cell membrane, this novel targeting system should be widely applicable.
PMCID: PMC3927321  PMID: 18578012
17.  The Measles Virus Hemagglutinin β-Propeller Head β4-β5 Hydrophobic Groove Governs Functional Interactions with Nectin-4 and CD46 but Not Those with the Signaling Lymphocytic Activation Molecule 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(16):9208-9216.
Wild-type measles virus (MV) strains use the signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM; CD150) and the adherens junction protein nectin-4 (poliovirus receptor-like 4 [PVRL4]) as receptors. Vaccine MV strains have adapted to use ubiquitous membrane cofactor protein (MCP; CD46) in addition. Recently solved cocrystal structures of the MV attachment protein (hemagglutinin [H]) with each receptor indicate that all three bind close to a hydrophobic groove located between blades 4 and 5 (β4-β5 groove) of the H protein β-propeller head. We used this structural information to focus our analysis of the functional footprints of the three receptors on vaccine MV H. We mutagenized this protein and tested the ability of individual mutants to support cell fusion through each receptor. The results highlighted a strong overlap between the functional footprints of nectin-4 and CD46 but not those of SLAM. A soluble form of nectin-4 abolished vaccine MV entry in nectin-4- and CD46-expressing cells but only reduced entry through SLAM. Analyses of the binding kinetics of an H mutant with the three receptors revealed that a single substitution in the β4-β5 groove drastically reduced nectin-4 and CD46 binding while minimally altering SLAM binding. We also generated recombinant viruses and analyzed their infections in cells expressing individual receptors. Introduction of a single substitution into the hydrophobic pocket affected entry through both nectin-4 and CD46 but not through SLAM. Thus, while nectin-4 and CD46 interact functionally with the H protein β4-β5 hydrophobic groove, SLAM merely covers it. This has implications for vaccine and antiviral strategies.
PMCID: PMC3754078  PMID: 23760251
18.  Nectin-4-Dependent Measles Virus Spread to the Cynomolgus Monkey Tracheal Epithelium: Role of Infected Immune Cells Infiltrating the Lamina Propria 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(5):2526-2534.
After the contagion measles virus (MV) crosses the respiratory epithelium within myeloid cells that express the primary receptor signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM), it replicates briskly in SLAM-expressing cells in lymphatic organs. Later, the infection spreads to epithelia expressing nectin-4, an adherens junction protein expressed preferentially in the trachea, but how it gets there is not understood. To characterize the mechanisms of spread, we infected groups of 5 or 6 cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) with either a wild-type MV or its “N4-blind” derivative, which is unable to enter nectin-4-expressing cells because of the targeted mutation of two hemagglutinin residues. As expected, both viruses caused similar levels of immunosuppression, as monitored by reductions in white blood cell counts and lymphocyte proliferation activity. However, monkeys infected with the N4-blind MV cleared infection more rapidly. Wild-type virus-infected monkeys secreted virus, while marginal virus titers were detected in tracheal lavage fluid cells of N4-blind MV-infected hosts. Analyses of tracheal rings obtained at necropsy (day 12) documented widespread infection of individual cells or small cell clusters in the subepithelial lamina propria of monkeys infected with either virus. However, only wild-type MV spread to the epithelium, forming numerous infectious centers comprised of many contiguous columnar cells. Infected CD11c+ myeloid (macrophage or dendritic) cells were frequently observed in the lamina propria below epithelial infectious centers. Thus, MV may use myeloid cells as vehicles not only immediately after contagion but also to infect epithelia of tissues expressing nectin-4, including the trachea.
PMCID: PMC3571369  PMID: 23255790
19.  Development of measles virus-based shielded oncolytic vectors: suitability of other paramyxovirus glycoproteins 
Cancer gene therapy  2013;20(2):109-116.
Antibody-mediated neutralization may interfere with the efficacy of measles virus (MV) oncolysis. To circumvent vector neutralization, we sought to exchange the envelope glycoproteins, hemagglutinin (H) and fusion (F), with those from the non-cross reactive Tupaia paramyxovirus (TPMV). To sustain efficient particle assembly, we generated hybrid glycoproteins with the MV cytoplasmic tails and the TPMV ectodomains. Hybrid F-proteins that partially retained fusion function, and hybrid H-proteins that retained fusion support activity, were generated. However, when used in combination, the hybrid proteins did not support membrane fusion. An alternative strategy was developed based on a hybrid F protein and a truncated H protein that supported cell-cell fusion. A hybrid virus expressing these two proteins was rescued, and was able to spread by cell fusion, however was only capable of producing minimal amounts of particles. Lack of specific interactions between the matrix and the H-protein, in combination with sub-optimal F-protein processing and inefficient glycoprotein transport in the rescue cells, accounted for inefficient particle production. Ultimately, this interferes with applications for oncolytic virotherapy. Alternative strategies for the generation of shielded MV are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3573219  PMID: 23306608
Tupaia paramyxovirus; measles virus; glycoprotein modification; vector shielding
20.  Broadly Neutralizing Immune Responses against Hepatitis C Virus Induced by Vectored Measles Viruses and a Recombinant Envelope Protein Booster 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(21):11558-11566.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains a serious public health problem worldwide. Treatments are limited, and no preventive vaccine is available. Toward developing an HCV vaccine, we engineered two recombinant measles viruses (MVs) expressing structural proteins from the prototypic HCV subtype 1a strain H77. One virus directs the synthesis of the HCV capsid (C) protein and envelope glycoproteins (E1 and E2), which fold properly and form a heterodimer. The other virus expresses the E1 and E2 glycoproteins separately, with each one fused to the cytoplasmic tail of the MV fusion protein. Although these hybrid glycoproteins were transported to the plasma membrane, they were not incorporated into MV particles. Immunization of MV-susceptible, genetically modified mice with either vector induced neutralizing antibodies to MV and HCV. A boost with soluble E2 protein enhanced titers of neutralizing antibody against the homologous HCV envelope. In animals primed with MV expressing properly folded HCV C-E1-E2, boosting also induced cross-neutralizating antibodies against two heterologous HCV strains. These results show that recombinant MVs retain the ability to induce MV-specific humoral immunity while also eliciting HCV neutralizing antibodies, and that anti-HCV immunity can be boosted with a single dose of purified E2 protein. The use of MV vectors could have advantages for pediatric HCV vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3486281  PMID: 22896607
21.  Targeted Entry of Enveloped Viruses: Measles and Herpes Simplex Virus I 
Current Opinion in Virology  2011;2(1):43-49.
We compare the receptor-based mechanisms that a small RNA virus and a larger DNA virus have evolved to drive the fusion of viral and cellular membranes. Both systems rely on tight control over triggering the concerted refolding of a trimeric fusion protein. While measles virus entry depends on a receptor-binding protein and a fusion protein only, the herpes simplex virus is more complex and requires four viral proteins. Nevertheless, in both viruses a receptor-binding protein is required for triggering the membrane fusion process. Moreover, specificity domains can be appended to these receptor-binding proteins to target virus entry to cells expressing a designated receptor. We discuss how principles established with measles and herpes simplex virus can be applied to targeting other enveloped viruses, and alternatively how retargeted envelopes can be fitted on foreign capsids.
PMCID: PMC3311990  PMID: 22440965
22.  Canine Distemper Virus Epithelial Cell Infection Is Required for Clinical Disease but Not for Immunosuppression 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(7):3658-3666.
To characterize the importance of infection of epithelial cells for morbillivirus pathogenesis, we took advantage of the severe disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV) in ferrets. To obtain a CDV that was unable to enter epithelial cells but retained the ability to enter immune cells, we transferred to its attachment (H) protein two mutations shown to interfere with the interaction of measles virus H with its epithelial receptor, human nectin-4. As expected for an epithelial receptor (EpR)-blind CDV, this virus infected dog and ferret epithelial cells inefficiently and did not cause cell fusion or syncytium formation. On the other hand, the EpR-blind CDV replicated in cells expressing canine signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM), the morbillivirus immune cell receptor, with similar kinetics to those of wild-type CDV. While ferrets infected with wild-type CDV died within 12 days after infection, after developing severe rash and fever, animals infected with the EpR-blind virus showed no clinical signs of disease. Nevertheless, both viruses spread rapidly and efficiently in immune cells, causing similar levels of leukopenia and inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation activity, two indicators of morbillivirus immunosuppression. Infection was documented for airway epithelia of ferrets infected with wild-type CDV but not for those of animals infected with the EpR-blind virus, and only animals infected with wild-type CDV shed virus. Thus, epithelial cell infection is necessary for clinical disease and efficient virus shedding but not for immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3302517  PMID: 22278252
23.  Adherens junction protein nectin-4 (PVRL4) is the epithelial receptor for measles virus 
Nature  2011;480(7378):530-533.
Measles (MV) is an aerosol-transmitted virus that affects more than 10 million children each year and accounts for approximately 120,000 deaths1,2. While it was long believed to replicate in the respiratory epithelium before disseminating, it was recently shown to initially infect macrophages and dendritic cells of the airways using the signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM, CD150) as receptor3-6. These cells then cross the respiratory epithelium and ferry the infection to lymphatic organs where MV replicates vigorously7. How and where the virus crosses back into the airways has remained unknown. Based on functional analyses of surface proteins preferentially expressed on virus-permissive epithelial cell lines, we identified nectin-48 (poliovirus-receptor-like-4) as a candidate host exit receptor. This adherens junction protein of the immunoglobulin superfamily interacts with the viral attachment protein with high affinity through its membrane-distal domain. Nectin-4 sustains MV entry and non-cytopathic lateral spread in well-differentiated primary human airway epithelial sheets infected basolaterally. It is down-regulated in infected epithelial cells, including those of macaque tracheas. While other viruses use receptors to enter hosts or transit through their epithelial barriers, we suggest that MV targets nectin-4 to emerge in the airways. Nectin-4 is a cellular marker of several types of cancer9-11, which has implications for ongoing MV-based clinical trials of oncolysis12.
PMCID: PMC3245798  PMID: 22048310
24.  The heads of the measles virus attachment protein move to transmit the fusion-triggering signal 
The measles virus entry system, constituted of attachment (hemagglutinin, H) and fusion proteins, operates based on a variety of natural and targeted receptors. However, the mechanism triggering fusion of the viral envelope with the plasma membrane is not understood. Here we tested a model considering that the two heads of an H-dimer, which are covalently linked at their base, after binding two receptor molecules, move relative to each other to transmit the fusion-triggering signal. Indeed, stabilizing the H-dimer interface by additional inter-molecular disulfide bonds prevented membrane fusion, an effect reversed by a reducing agent. Moreover, a membrane-anchored designated receptor efficiently triggered fusion, provided it engaged the H-dimer at locations proximal to where the natural receptors bind, and distal to the H-dimer interface. We discuss how receptors may force H-heads to switch partners and transmit the fusion-triggering signal.
PMCID: PMC3059746  PMID: 21217701
25.  A Recombinant Measles Virus Unable To Antagonize STAT1 Function Cannot Control Inflammation and Is Attenuated in Rhesus Monkeys▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(1):348-356.
Measles remains a leading cause of death worldwide among children because it suppresses immune function. The measles virus (MV) P gene encodes three proteins (P, V, and C) that interfere with innate immunity, controlling STAT1, STAT2, mda5, and perhaps other key regulators of immune function. We identified here three residues in the shared domain of the P and V proteins—tyrosine 110, valine 112, and histidine 115—that function to retain STAT1 in the cytoplasm and inhibit interferon transcription. This information was used to generate a recombinant measles virus unable to antagonize STAT1 function (STAT1-blind MV) differing only in these three residues from a wild-type strain of well-defined virulence. This virus was used to assess the relevance of P and V interactions with STAT1 for virulence in primates. When a group of six rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) was inoculated intranasally with STAT1-blind MV, viremia was short-lived, and the skin rash and other clinical signs observed with wild-type MV were absent. The STAT1-blind virus less efficiently controlled the inflammatory response, as measured by enhanced transcription of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from infected hosts. Importantly, neutralizing antibody titers and MV-specific T-cell responses were equivalent in hosts infected with either virus. These findings indicate that efficient MV interactions with STAT1 are required to sustain virulence in a natural host by controlling the inflammatory response against the virus. They also suggest that selectively STAT1-blind MV may have utility as vectors for targeted oncolysis and vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3014164  PMID: 20980517

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