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1.  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
2.  IL-9 Governs Allergen-induced Mast Cell Numbers in the Lung and Chronic Remodeling of the Airways 
Rationale
IL-9 is a pleiotropic cytokine that has multiple effects on structural as well as numerous hematopoietic cells, which are central to the pathogenesis of asthma.
Objectives
The contribution of IL-9 to asthma pathogenesis has thus far been unclear, due to conflicting reports in the literature. These earlier studies focused on the role of IL-9 in acute inflammatory models; here we have investigated the effects of IL-9 blockade during chronic allergic inflammation.
Methods
Mice were exposed to either prolonged ovalbumin or house dust mite allergen challenge to induce chronic inflammation and airway remodeling.
Measurements and Main Results
We found that IL-9 governs allergen-induced mast cell (MC) numbers in the lung and has pronounced effects on chronic allergic inflammation. Anti–IL-9 antibody–treated mice were protected from airway remodeling with a concomitant reduction in mature MC numbers and activation, in addition to decreased expression of the profibrotic mediators transforming growth factor-β1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor-2 in the lung. Airway remodeling was associated with impaired lung function in the peripheral airways and this was reversed by IL-9 neutralization. In human asthmatic lung tissue, we identified MCs as the main IL-9 receptor expressing population and found them to be sources of vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2.
Conclusions
Our data suggest an important role for an IL-9-MC axis in the pathology associated with chronic asthma and demonstrate that an impact on this axis could lead to a reduction in chronic inflammation and improved lung function in patients with asthma.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200909-1462OC
PMCID: PMC3385369  PMID: 20971830
IL-9; mast cells; asthma; airway remodeling; AHR
3.  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
4.  Isolation and Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies Which Neutralize Human Metapneumovirus In Vitro and In Vivo 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(16):7799-7806.
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is a recently described member of the Paramyxoviridae family/Pneumovirinae subfamily and shares many common features with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), another member of the same subfamily. hMPV causes respiratory tract illnesses that, similar to human RSV, occur predominantly during the winter months and have symptoms that range from mild to severe cough, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia. Like RSV, the hMPV virus can be subdivided into two genetic subgroups, A and B. With RSV, a single monoclonal antibody directed at the fusion (F) protein can prevent severe lower respiratory tract RSV infection. Because of the high level of sequence conservation of the F protein across all the hMPV subgroups, this protein is likely to be the preferred antigenic target for the generation of cross-subgroup neutralizing antibodies. Here we describe the generation of a panel of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies that bind to the hMPV F protein. A subset of these antibodies has the ability to neutralize prototypic strains of both the A and B hMPV subgroups in vitro. Two of these antibodies exhibited high-affinity binding to the F protein and were shown to protect hamsters against infection with hMPV. The data suggest that a monoclonal antibody could be used prophylactically to prevent lower respiratory tract disease caused by hMPV.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00318-06
PMCID: PMC1563801  PMID: 16873237
5.  Use of a Whole Genome Approach To Identify Vaccine Molecules Affording Protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(3):1593-1598.
Microbial targets for protective humoral immunity are typically surface-localized proteins and contain common sequence motifs related to their secretion or surface binding. Exploiting the whole genome sequence of the human bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, we identified 130 open reading frames encoding proteins with secretion motifs or similarity to predicted virulence factors. Mice were immunized with 108 of these proteins, and 6 conferred protection against disseminated S. pneumoniae infection. Flow cytometry confirmed the surface localization of several of these targets. Each of the six protective antigens showed broad strain distribution and immunogenicity during human infection. Our results validate the use of a genomic approach for the identification of novel microbial targets that elicit a protective immune response. These new antigens may play a role in the development of improved vaccines against S. pneumoniae.
doi:10.1128/IAI.69.3.1593-1598.2001
PMCID: PMC98061  PMID: 11179332
6.  Identification and Characterization of a Novel Family of Pneumococcal Proteins That Are Protective against Sepsis 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(2):949-958.
Four pneumococcal genes (phtA, phtB, phtD, and phtE) encoding a novel family of homologous proteins (32 to 87% identity) were identified from the Streptococcus pneumoniae genomic sequence. These open reading frames were selected as potential vaccine candidates based upon their possession of hydrophobic leader sequences which presumably target these proteins to the bacterial cell surface. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences of these gene products revealed the presence of a histidine triad motif (HxxHxH), termed Pht (pneumococcal histidine triad) that is conserved and repeated several times in each of the four proteins. The four pht genes (phtA, phtB, phtD, and a truncated version of phtE) were expressed in Escherichia coli. A flow cytometry-based assay confirmed that PhtA, PhtB, PhtD and, to a lesser extent, PhtE were detectable on the surface of intact bacteria. Recombinant PhtA, PhtB, and PhtD elicited protection against certain pneumococcal capsular types in a mouse model of systemic disease. These novel pneumococcal antigens may serve as effective vaccines against the most prevalent pneumococcal serotypes.
doi:10.1128/IAI.69.2.949-958.2001
PMCID: PMC97974  PMID: 11159990
7.  Role of Lipopolysaccharide Phase Variation in Susceptibility of Haemophilus influenzae to Bactericidal Immunoglobulin M Antibodies in Rabbit Sera 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(5):2804-2807.
The effect of phase variation of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) structure on the susceptibility of Haemophilus influenzae to complement-dependent killing by normal human sera and normal rat sera has been described previously. The phase-variable structure phosphorylcholine (ChoP) confers susceptibility to human serum, since ChoP on the bacterial cell surface binds to serum C-reactive protein and activates complement. In contrast, expression of galα1,4gal, a second phase-variable epitope that is also found on human glycoconjugates, confers resistance to human serum. We studied the role of phase variation of these structures in the susceptibilities of H. influenzae KW20 (Rd) and a clinical isolate of nontypeable H. influenzae to killing by rabbit sera, which often possess naturally acquired complement-dependent bactericidal activity for unencapsulated H. influenzae. Expression of ChoP increased the resistance of strain KW20 to killing by bactericidal rabbit sera. In contrast, the serum resistance of a clinical isolate, H233, was unaffected by ChoP expression but was reduced by galα1,4gal expression. The rabbit sera with bactericidal activity (but not the nonbactericidal sera) all contained immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies able to bind to the surface of H. influenzae bacteria, as detected by flow cytometry, and contained IgM antibodies to LPS purified from strain KW20. Preincubation of sera with LPS reduced their bactericidal activity. Bactericidal activity was recovered quantitatively in an IgM-enriched fraction of sera. It is concluded that naturally occuring bactericidal activity for unencapsulated H. influenzae is largely due to IgM antibodies directed against phase-variable structures of the LPS.
PMCID: PMC97491  PMID: 10768976

Results 1-7 (7)