The nature of “toxic” tau in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been unclear. During pathogenesis, the importance of tau oligomerization vs. tau phosphorylation is controversial and the investigation of both remains critical toward defining the “toxicity” of tau. The phosphorylation of tau on serines and/or threonines occurs early in the disease course and altering phosphorylation has been shown to disrupt neuropathogenesis. We have recently reported that in PC12-derived cells, tau had a role in signal transduction processes activated by NGF. By depleting tau, NGF-induced MAPK activation was attenuated and by restoring tau, MAPK activation was restored. Furthermore, the phosphorylation of tau on Thr231 was required for tau to potentiate MAPK activation. Here we report the effects of additional disease-related tau phosphorylation sites and tau isoform on the ability of tau to potentiate MAPK activation. Our findings, which tested three other sites of phosphorylation, showed that phosphorylation at these other sites mainly lessened MAPK activation; none potentiated MAPK activation. In comparing 0N3R tau to the other five brain tau isoforms, most showed a trend toward less MAPK activation, with only 2N4R tau showing significantly less activation. Since MAPK activation has been reported in AD brain and is characteristic of cell proliferation mechanisms, tau phosphorylation that promotes MAPK activation could promote cell cycle activation mechanisms. In neurons, the activation of the cell cycle leads to cell death, suggesting that abnormally phosphorylated tau can be a toxic species. The relationship between tau oligomerization and its ability to potentiate MAPK activation needs to be determined.
tau; MAPK activation; phosphorylation; signal transduction; NGF
Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common etiological agents of community-acquired skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI). Although the majority of S. aureus community-acquired SSTIs are uncomplicated and self-clearing in nature, some percentage of these cases progress into life-threatening invasive infections. Current animal models of S. aureus SSTI suffer from two drawbacks: these models are a better representation of hospital-acquired SSTI than community-acquired SSTI, and they involve methods that are difficult to replicate. For these reasons, we sought to develop a murine model of community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus SSTI (CA-MRSA SSTI) that can be consistently reproduced with a high degree of precision. We utilized this model to begin to characterize the host immune response to this type of infection. We infected mice via epicutaneous challenge of the skin on the outer ear pinna using Morrow-Brown allergy test needles coated in S. aureus USA300. When mice were challenged in this model, they developed small, purulent, self-clearing lesions with predictable areas of inflammation that mimicked a human infection. CFU in the ear pinna peaked at day 7 before dropping by day 14. The Th1 and Th17 cytokines gamma interferon (IFN-γ), interleukin-12 (IL-12) p70, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), IL-17A, IL-6, and IL-21 were all significantly increased in the draining lymph node of infected mice, and there was neutrophil recruitment to the infection site. In vivo neutrophil depletion demonstrated that neutrophils play a protective role in preventing bacterial dissemination and fatal invasive infection.
Tauopathies are neurodegenerative disorders characterized by aberrant intracellular aggregation of hyperphosphorylated tau. It has been shown that aggregated tau is phosphorylated at serine, threonine, and tyrosine residues. However, the occurrence of tyrosine phosphorylation on tau proteins at different states of tau aggregation has not been shown. In this report, we utilized the tauopathy mouse model JNPL3 that expresses human 0N4R tau isoform bearing the missense P301L mutation to study the occurrence of tau tyrosine phosphorylation in the course of the development of tau aggregation. These mice develop behavioral and motor deficits and form sarkosyl-insoluble hyperphosphorylated tau in an age-dependent manner. Mass spectrometry analyses of immunopurified brain tau proteins from JNPL3 and Alzheimer’s disease affected individual uncovered novel tau tyrosine-phosphorylated sites. Further studies demonstrated that the abundance of tyrosine-phosphorylated tau increases in an age-dependent manner in JNPL3 mice. Tyrosine-phosphorylated tau was detected in both soluble and sarkosyl-insoluble preparations derived from brain and spinal cord, and localized in neurons containing aggregated tau. The phosphorylation of tyrosine residues in tau appeared to occur along with that of serine and threonine residues and was not detectable in non-transgenic littermates and transgenic mice expressing 0N4R wild-type human tau. The results suggest that tyrosine phosphorylation is as important as phosphorylation of other residues in tauopathy.
Tau; Tyrosine phosphorylation; Tauopathy; Transgenic mice
Adaptive behavior rating scales are frequently used to gather information on the adaptive functioning of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs), yet little is known about the extent to which these measures yield comparable results. This study was conducted to (a) document the parent-rated VABS-II, BASC-2, and ABAS-II adaptive behavior profiles of 6- to 11-year-olds with HFASDs (including relative strengths and weaknesses); (b) examine the extent to which these measures yielded similar scores on comparable scales; and (c) assess potential discrepancies between cognitive ability and adaptive behavior across the measures. All three adaptive measures revealed significant deficits overall for the sample, with the VABS-II and ABAS-II indicating relative weaknesses in social skills and strengths in academic-related skills. Cross-measure comparisons indicated significant differences in the absolute magnitude of scores. In general, the VABS-II yielded significantly higher scores than the BASC-2 and ABAS-II. However, the VABS-II and ABAS-II yielded scores that did not significantly differ for adaptive social skills which is a critical area to assess for children with HFASDs. Results also indicated significant discrepancies between the children's average IQ score and their scores on the adaptive domains and composites of the three adaptive measures.
This study examined (1) the prevalence of psychotropic medication use for a sample of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs), (2) the extent to which psychotropic agents were linked to targeted symptoms, and (3) predictors of psychotropic use. A total of 115 children, ages 6–13, with HFASDs who were enrolled in psychosocial treatment trials were included in this study. Parents completed extensive background and rating forms prior to treatment that included data on demographic characteristics, child health, child medication use, and child ASD-related symptoms. Results indicated that 33% (n = 38) of the sample was taking psychotropic medication with the most common being stimulants (25%; n = 29), antidepressants (10%; n = 12), and neuroleptics (6%; n = 7). All children taking stimulants had target symptoms that were appropriate for stimulant medication, whereas 57% of those taking neuroleptics and 42% of those taking antidepressants did not have targeted symptoms consistent with the medication. Logistic regression for the major psychotropic drug categories indicated that lower IQ was a significant predictor of increased antidepressant and neuroleptic use. A higher level of ASD-related symptoms was related to the likelihood of stimulant use.
Tauopathies are age-related neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by the presence of aggregates of abnormally phosphorylated tau. As tau was originally discovered as a microtubule-associated protein, it has been hypothesized that neurodegeneration results from a loss of the ability of tau to associate with microtubules. However, tau has been found to have other functions aside from the promotion and stabilization of microtubule assembly. It is conceivable that such functions may be affected by the abnormal phosphorylation of tau and might have consequences for neuronal function or viability. This chapter provides an overview of tau structure, functions, and its involvement in neurodegenerative diseases.
Tau; Alzheimer’s disease; tauopathies; phosphorylation; SH3 domain; microtubule
Inhalational anthrax is caused by the sporulating bacterium Bacillus anthracis. A current model for progression in mammalian hosts includes inhalation of bacterial spores, phagocytosis of spores in the nasal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) and lungs by macrophages and dendritic cells, trafficking of phagocytes to draining lymph nodes, germination of spores and multiplication of vegetative bacteria in the NALT and lymph nodes, and dissemination of bacteria via the bloodstream to multiple organs. In previous studies, the kinetics of infection varied greatly among mice, leading us to hypothesize the existence of a bottleneck past which very few spores (perhaps only one) progress to allow the infection to proceed. To test this hypothesis, we engineered three strains of B. anthracis Sterne, each marked with a different fluorescent protein, enabling visual differentiation of strains grown on plates. Mice were infected with a mixture of the three strains, the infection was allowed to proceed, and the strains colonizing the organs were identified. Although the inoculum consisted of approximately equal numbers of each of the three strains, the distal organs were consistently colonized by a majority of only one of the three strains, with the dominant strain varying among animals. Such dominance of one strain over the other two was also found at early time points in the cervical lymph nodes but not in the mediastinal lymph nodes. These results support the existence of a bottleneck in the infectious process.
It has been postulated that castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) commonly remains hormone dependent. Abiraterone acetate is a potent, selective, and orally available inhibitor of CYP17, the key enzyme in androgen and estrogen biosynthesis.
Patients and Methods
This was a phase I/II study of abiraterone acetate in castrate, chemotherapy-naive CRPC patients (n = 54) with phase II expansion at 1,000 mg (n = 42) using a two-stage design to reject the null hypothesis if more than seven patients had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) decline of ≥ 50% (null hypothesis = 0.1; alternative hypothesis = 0.3; α = .05; β = .14). Computed tomography scans every 12 weeks and circulating tumor cell (CTC) enumeration were performed. Prospective reversal of resistance at progression by adding dexamethasone 0.5 mg/d to suppress adrenocorticotropic hormone and upstream steroids was pursued.
A decline in PSA of ≥ 50% was observed in 28 (67%) of 42 phase II patients, and declines of ≥ 90% were observed in eight (19%) of 42 patients. Independent radiologic evaluation reported partial responses (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors) in nine (37.5%) of 24 phase II patients with measurable disease. Decreases in CTC counts were also documented. The median time to PSA progression (TTPP) on abiraterone acetate alone for all phase II patients was 225 days (95% CI, 162 to 287 days). Exploratory analyses were performed on all 54 phase I/II patients; the addition of dexamethasone at disease progression reversed resistance in 33% of patients regardless of prior treatment with dexamethasone, and pretreatment serum androgen and estradiol levels were associated with a probability of ≥ 50% PSA decline and TTPP on abiraterone acetate and dexamethasone.
CYP17 blockade by abiraterone acetate results in declines in PSA and CTC counts and radiologic responses, confirming that CRPC commonly remains hormone driven.
Pertussis is a highly contagious, acute respiratory illness caused by the bacterial pathogen Bordetella pertussis. Despite nearly universal vaccine coverage, pertussis rates in the United States have been rising steadily over the last 20 years. Our failure to comprehend and counteract this important public health concern is due in large part to gaps in our knowledge of the disease and the mechanisms of vaccine-mediated protection. Important questions about pertussis pathogenesis and mechanisms of vaccine effectiveness remain unanswered due to the lack of an animal model that replicates the full spectrum of human disease. Because current animal models do not meet these needs, we set out to develop a nonhuman primate model of pertussis. We inoculated rhesus macaques and olive baboons with wild-type B. pertussis strains and evaluated animals for clinical disease. We found that only 25% of rhesus macaques developed pertussis. In contrast, 100% of inoculated baboons developed clinical pertussis. A strong anamnestic response was observed when convalescent baboons were infected 6 months following recovery from a primary infection. Our results demonstrate that the baboon provides an excellent model of clinical pertussis that will allow researchers to investigate pertussis pathogenesis and disease progression, evaluate currently licensed vaccines, and develop improved vaccines and therapeutics.
The prevalence of genetically engineered mice in medical research has led to ever increasing storage costs. Trehalose has a significant beneficial effect in preserving the developmental potential of mouse sperm following partial desiccation and storage at temperatures above freezing. Using multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry, we are able to image and measure trehalose in individual spermatozoa. We provide the first evidence that trehalose penetrates the nucleus of a mammalian cell, permitting tolerance to desiccation. These results have broad implications for long-term storage of mammalian cells.
With the fast advancement in the genetics and bio-medical fields, the vast number of valuable transgenic and rare genetic mouse models need to be preserved. Preservation of mouse sperm by convective drying and subsequent storing at above freezing temperatures could dramatically reduce the cost and facilitate shipping. Mouse sperm were convectively dried under nitrogen gas in the Na-EGTA solution containing 100 mmol/L 3-O-methyl-D-glucose and stored in LiCl sorption jars (Relative Humidity, RH, 12%) at 4°C and 22°C for up to one year. The functionality of these sperm samples after storage was tested by intracytoplasmic injection into mouse oocytes. The percentages of blastocysts produced from sperm stored at 4°C for 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12 months were 62.6%, 53.4%, 39.6%, 33.3%, and 30.4%, respectively, while those stored at 22°C for 1, 2, and 3 months were 28.8%, 26.6%, and 12.2%, respectively. Transfer of 38 two- to four-cell embryos from sperm stored at 4°C for 1 year produced two live pups while 59 two- to four-cell embryos from sperm stored at 22°C for 3 months also produced two live pups. Although all the pups looked healthy at 3 weeks of age, normality of offspring produced using convectively dried sperm needs further investigation. The percentages of blastocyst from sperm stored in the higher relative humidity conditions of NaBr and MgCl2 jars and driest condition of P2O5 jars at 4°C and 22°C were all lower. A simple method of mouse sperm preservation is demonstrated. Three-O-methyl-D-glucose, a metabolically inactive derivative of glucose, offers significant protection for dried mouse sperm at above freezing temperatures without the need for poration of cell membrane.
Tau protein is a prominent component of paired helical filaments in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tauopathies. While the abnormal phosphorylation of tau on serine and threonine has been well established in the disease process, its phosphorylation on tyrosine has only recently been described. We previously showed that the Src family non-receptor tyrosine kinases (SFKs) Fyn and Src phosphorylate tau on Tyr18 and that phospho-Tyr18-tau was present in AD brain. In this study, we have investigated the appearance of phospho-Tyr18-tau, activated-SFK, and Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) during disease progression in a mouse model of human tauopathy.
We have used JNPL3, which expresses human tau with P301L mutation, and antibodies specific for phospho-Tyr18-tau (9G3), ser/thr phosphorylated tau (AT8), activated-SFK, and PCNA. Antibody staining was viewed by either epifluorescence or confocal microscopy.
Phospho-Tyr18-tau appeared concurrently with AT8-reactive tau as early as 4 months in JNPL3. Some 9G3-positive cells also contained activated-SFKs and PCNA. We also investigated the triple transgenic mouse model of AD and found that unlike the JNPL3 model, the appearance of 9G3 reactivity did not coincide with AT8 in the hippocampus, suggesting that the presence of APP/presenilin influences tau phosphorylation. Also, thioflavin-S positive plaques were 9G3 negative, suggesting that phospho-Tyr18 tau is absent from the dystrophic neurites of the mouse triple transgenic brain.
Our results provide evidence for the association of tyrosine-phosphorylated tau with mechanisms of neuropathogenesis and indicate that SFK activation and cell cycle activation are also involved in JNPL3.
tyrosine-phosphorylated tau; Src family tyrosine kinases; tauopathy mouse model; AT8; Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen; tau hyperphosphorylation
Abiraterone acetate is a prodrug of abiraterone, a selective inhibitor of CYP17, the enzyme catalyst for two essential steps in androgen biosynthesis. In castration-resistant prostate cancers (CRPCs), extragonadal androgen sources may sustain tumor growth despite a castrate environment. This phase I dose-escalation study of abiraterone acetate evaluated safety, pharmacokinetics, and effects on steroidogenesis and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men with CPRC with or without prior ketoconazole therapy.
Patients and Methods
Thirty-three men with chemotherapy-naïve progressive CRPC were enrolled. Nineteen patients (58%) had previously received ketoconazole for CRPC. Bone metastases were present in 70% of patients, and visceral involvement was present in 18%. Three patients (9%) had locally advanced disease without distant metastases. Fasted or fed cohorts received abiraterone acetate doses of 250, 500, 750, or 1,000 mg daily. Single-dose pharmacokinetic analyses were performed before continuous daily dosing.
Adverse events were predominantly grade 1 or 2. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed. Hypertension (grade 3, 12%) and hypokalemia (grade 3, 6%; grade 4, 3%) were the most frequent serious toxicities and responded to medical management. Confirmed ≥ 50% PSA declines at week 12 were seen in 18 (55%) of 33 patients, including nine (47%) of 19 patients with prior ketoconazole therapy and nine (64%) of 14 patients without prior ketoconazole therapy. Substantial declines in circulating androgens and increases in mineralocorticoids were seen with all doses.
Abiraterone acetate was well tolerated and demonstrated activity in CRPC, including in patients previously treated with ketoconazole. Continued clinical study is warranted.
The principal objective of this trial was to evaluate the antitumor activity of abiraterone acetate, an oral, specific, irreversible inhibitor of CYP17 in docetaxel-treated patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).
Patients and Methods
In this multicenter, two-stage, phase II study, abiraterone acetate 1,000 mg was administered once daily continuously. The primary end point was achievement of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) decline of ≥ 50% in at least seven of 35 patients. Per an attained phase II design, more than 35 patients could be enrolled if the primary end point was met. Secondary objectives included: PSA declines of ≥ 30% and ≥ 90%; rate of RECIST (Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors) responses and duration on study; time to PSA progression; safety and tolerability; and circulating tumor cell (CTC) enumeration.
Docetaxel-treated patients with CRPC (N = 47) were enrolled. PSA declines of ≥ 30%, ≥ 50% and ≥ 90% were seen in 68% (32 of 47), 51% (24 of 47), and 15% (seven of 47) of patients, respectively. Partial responses (by RECIST) were reported in eight (27%) of 30 patients with measurable disease. Median time to PSA progression was 169 days (95% CI, 113 to 281 days). The median number of weeks on study was 24, and 12 (25.5%) of 47 patients remained on study ≥ 48 weeks. CTCs were enumerated in 34 patients; 27 (79%) of 34 patients had at least five CTCs at baseline. Eleven (41%) of 27 patients had a decline from at least five to less than 5 CTCs, and 18 (67%) of 27 had a ≥ 30% decline in CTCs after starting treatment with abiraterone acetate. Abiraterone acetate was well tolerated.
Abiraterone acetate has significant antitumor activity in post-docetaxel patients with CRPC. Randomized, phase III trials of abiraterone acetate are underway to define the future role of this agent.
It has been shown in the past that mouse spermatozoa could be dried under a stream of nitrogen gas at ambient temperature and stored at 4ºC or 22 ºC for up to 3 months and was capable of generating live-born offspring. In previous desiccation work, dried sperm were stored in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag placed in a vacuum-packed Mylar bag. However, dried specimens stored in this way often lost moisture, particularly in samples stored at higher temperatures (22°C) compared to lower temperatures (4°C). The present report describes a method which minimizes this water loss from the dried sperm samples. Its use is described in a preliminary study on the effect of supplementing the trehalose with glycerol. The results have demonstrated that mouse sperm can be stored at 4°C over saturated NaBr without the uptake of water which occurs when they are stored in Mylar packages. In addition, we were able to get some survival of sperm (9–15%) at room temperature storage after three months. The addition of glycerol to trehalose had little effect on the survival of dried mouse sperm stored over NaBr for 1 and 3 months.
Evaporative drying; desiccation; mouse sperm; glycerol; trehalose; intracytoplasmic injection; mammalian cells; preservation; temperature; long-term storage
Anthrax toxins significantly contribute to anthrax disease pathogenesis, and mechanisms by which the toxins affect host cellular responses have been identified with purified toxins. However, the contribution of anthrax toxin proteins to dissemination, disease progression, and subsequent immunity after aerosol infection with spores has not been clearly elucidated. To better understand the role of anthrax toxins in pathogenesis in vivo and to investigate the contribution of antibody to toxin proteins in protection, we completed a series of in vivo experiments using a murine aerosol challenge model and a collection of in-frame deletion mutants lacking toxin components. Our data show that after aerosol exposure to Bacillus anthracis spores, anthrax lethal toxin was required for outgrowth of bacilli in the draining lymph nodes and subsequent progression of infection beyond the lymph nodes to establish disseminated disease. After pulmonary exposure to anthrax spores, toxin expression was required for the development of protective immunity to a subsequent lethal challenge. However, immunoglobulin (immunoglobulin G) titers to toxin proteins, prior to secondary challenge, did not correlate with the protection observed upon secondary challenge with wild-type spores. A correlation was observed between survival after secondary challenge and rapid anamnestic responses directed against toxin proteins. Taken together, these studies indicate that anthrax toxins are required for dissemination of bacteria beyond the draining lymphoid tissue, leading to full virulence in the mouse aerosol challenge model, and that primary and anamnestic immune responses to toxin proteins provide protection against subsequent lethal challenge. These results provide support for the utility of the mouse aerosol challenge model for the study of inhalational anthrax.
Terminal erythroid differentiation in vertebrates is characterized by progressive heterochromatin formation, chromatin condensation and, in mammals, culminates in nuclear extrusion. To date, although mechanisms regulating avian erythroid chromatin condensation have been identified, little is known regarding this process during mammalian erythropoiesis. To elucidate the molecular basis for mammalian erythroblast chromatin condensation, we used Friend virus-infected murine spleen erythroblasts that undergo terminal differentiation in vitro. Chromatin isolated from early and late stage erythroblasts had similar levels of linker and core histones, only a slight difference in nucleosome repeats, and no significant accumulation of known developmentally-regulated architectural chromatin proteins. However, histone H3(K9) dimethylation markedly increased while histone H4(K12) acetylation dramatically decreased and became segregated from the histone methylation as chromatin condensed. One histone deacetylase, HDAC5, was significantly upregulated during the terminal stages of Friend virus-infected erythroblast differentiation. Treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A, blocked both chromatin condensation and nuclear extrusion. Based on our data, we propose a model for a unique mechanism in which extensive histone deacetylation at pericentromeric heterochromatin mediates heterochromatin condensation in vertebrate erythroblasts that would otherwise be mediated by developmentally-regulated architectural proteins in nucleated blood cells.
erythroid differentiation; enucleation; chromatin condensation; heterochromatin; histone deacetylation
Improved vaccines and adjuvants are being developed to reduce the threat posed by a terrorist attack involving aerosolized anthrax spores. Nevertheless, uncertainty persists concerning the relative benefits of inducing mucosal vs systemic immunity to host survival following inhalational exposure to anthrax spores. This work examines the effect of delivering the licensed human vaccine (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed, AVA) combined with a CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) adjuvant intraperitoneally or intranasally to A/J mice. Results indicate that protection from inhalational anthrax correlates with the induction of a strong systemic rather than mucosal immune response, and demonstrate that protection is significantly improved and accelerated by the addition of CpG ODN.
Anthrax; vaccine; protection
The threat of bioterrorist use of Bacillus anthracis has focused urgent attention on the efficacy and mechanisms of protective immunity induced by available vaccines. However, the mechanisms of infection-induced immunity have been less well studied and defined. We used a combination of complement depletion along with immunodeficient mice and adoptive transfer approaches to determine the mechanisms of infection-induced protective immunity to B. anthracis. B- or T-cell-deficient mice lacked the complete anamnestic protection observed in immunocompetent mice. In addition, T-cell-deficient mice generated poor antibody titers but were protected by the adoptive transfer of serum from B. anthracis-challenged mice. Adoptively transferred sera were protective in mice lacking complement, Fc receptors, or both, suggesting that they operate independent of these effectors. Together, these results indicate that antibody-mediated neutralization provides significant protection in B. anthracis infection-induced immunity.
The availability of relevant and useful animal models is critical for progress in the development of effective vaccines and therapeutics. The infection of rabbits and non-human primates with fully virulent Bacillus anthracis spores provides two excellent models of anthrax disease. However, the high cost of procuring and housing these animals and the specialized facilities required to deliver fully virulent spores limit their practical use in early stages of product development. Conversely, the small size and low cost associated with using mice makes this animal model more practical for conducting experiments in which large numbers of animals are required. In addition, the availability of knockout strains and well-characterized immunological reagents makes it possible to perform studies in mice that cannot be performed easily in other species. Although we, along with others, have used the mouse aerosol challenge model to examine the outcome of B. anthracis infection, a detailed characterization of the disease is lacking. The current study utilizes a murine aerosol challenge model to investigate disease progression, innate cytokine responses, and histological changes during the course of anthrax after challenge with aerosolized spores. Our results show that anthrax disease progression in a complement-deficient mouse after challenge with aerosolized Sterne spores is similar to that described for other species, including rabbits and non-human primates, challenged with fully virulent B. anthracis. Thus, the murine aerosol challenge model is both useful and relevant and provides a means to further investigate the host response and mechanisms of B. anthracis pathogenesis.
Bacillus anthracis is a spore-forming, gram-positive organism that is the causative agent of the disease anthrax. Recognition of Bacillus anthracis by the host innate immune system likely plays a key protective role following infection. In the present study, we examined the role of TLR2, TLR4, and MyD88 in the response to B. anthracis. Heat-killed Bacillus anthracis stimulated TLR2, but not TLR4, signaling in HEK293 cells and stimulated tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production in C3H/HeN, C3H/HeJ, and C57BL/6J bone marrow-derived macrophages. The ability of heat-killed B. anthracis to induce a TNF-α response was preserved in TLR2−/− but not in MyD88−/− macrophages. In vivo studies revealed that TLR2−/− mice and TLR4-deficient mice were resistant to challenge with aerosolized Sterne strain spores but MyD88−/− mice were as susceptible as A/J mice. We conclude that, although recognition of B. anthracis occurs via TLR2, additional MyD88-dependent pathways contribute to the host innate immune response to anthrax infection.
Concerns regarding safety and control of virulent Bacillus anthracis have created substantial hurdles to the study of anthrax. The Sterne strain is considered relatively safe to study, but this acapsular strain has a defect in normal mice and is often studied in A/J mice. A/J mice are highly susceptible to the Sterne strain, due to a defect in the Hc locus, which encodes complement factor 5 (C5). Here we show that normally resistant C57BL/6 mice become highly susceptible to the Sterne strain upon complement depletion with cobra venom factor. This generalizable approach should allow the virulence of anthrax to be studied under relatively safe conditions and using a wide variety of mouse strains.
Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, is a gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium. The inhalational form of anthrax is the most severe and is associated with rapid progression of the disease and the outcome is frequently fatal. Transfer from the respiratory epithelium to regional lymph nodes appears to be an essential early step in the establishment of infection. This transfer is believed to occur by means of carriage within alveolar macrophages following phagocytosis. Therefore, the ability of B. anthracis to transit through the host macrophage or dendritic cell appears to be an early and critical step in B. anthracis pathogenesis. In this work, we examined the cytokine responses to spore infection in mouse primary peritoneal macrophages, in primary human dendritic cells, and during a spore aerosol infection model utilizing the susceptible A/J mouse strain. We demonstrated that both mouse peritoneal macrophages and human dendritic cells exhibited significant intracellular bactericidal activity during the first hours following uptake, providing the necessary time to mount a cytokine response prior to cell lysis. Strong tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) responses were seen in mouse peritoneal macrophages. In addition to TNF-α and IL-6, human dendritic cells produced the cytokines IL-1β, IL-8, and IL-12. A mixture of Th1 and Th2 cytokines were detected in sera obtained from infected animals. In this study, we provide further evidence of an acute cytokine response when cells in culture and mice are infected with B. anthracis spores.
A diverse family of protein 4.1R isoforms is encoded by a complex gene on human chromosome 1. Although the prototypical 80-kDa 4.1R in mature erythrocytes is a key component of the erythroid membrane skeleton that regulates erythrocyte morphology and mechanical stability, little is known about 4.1R function in nucleated cells. Using gene knockout technology, we have generated mice with complete deficiency of all 4.1R protein isoforms. These 4.1R-null mice were viable, with moderate hemolytic anemia but no gross abnormalities. Erythrocytes from these mice exhibited abnormal morphology, lowered membrane stability, and reduced expression of other skeletal proteins including spectrin and ankyrin, suggesting that loss of 4.1R compromises membrane skeleton assembly in erythroid progenitors. Platelet morphology and function were essentially normal, indicating that 4.1R deficiency may have less impact on other hematopoietic lineages. Nonerythroid 4.1R expression patterns, viewed using histochemical staining for lacZ reporter activity incorporated into the targeted gene, revealed focal expression in specific neurons in the brain and in select cells of other major organs, challenging the view that 4.1R expression is widespread among nonerythroid cells. The 4.1R knockout mice represent a valuable animal model for exploring 4.1R function in nonerythroid cells and for determining pathophysiological sequelae to 4.1R deficiency.
The erythroid membrane cytoskeletal protein 4.1 is the prototypical member of a genetically and topologically complex family that is generated by combinatorial alternative splicing pathways and is localized at diverse intracellular sites including the nucleus. To explore the molecular determinants for nuclear localization, we transfected COS-7 cells with epitope-tagged versions of natural red cell protein 4.1 (4.1R) isoforms as well as mutagenized and truncated derivatives. Two distant topological sorting signals were required for efficient nuclear import of the 4.1R80 isoform: a basic peptide, KKKRER, encoded by alternative exon 16 and acting as a weak core nuclear localization signal (4.1R NLS), and an acidic peptide, EED, encoded by alternative exon 5. 4.1R80 isoforms lacking either of these two exons showed decreased nuclear import. Fusion of various 4.1R80 constructs to the cytoplasmic reporter protein pyruvate kinase confirmed a requirement for both motifs for full NLS function. 4.1R80 was efficiently imported in the nuclei of digitonin-permeabilized COS-7 cells in the presence of recombinant Rch1 (human importin α2), importin β, and GTPase Ran. Quantitative analysis of protein–protein interactions using a resonant mirror detection technique showed that 4.1R80 bound to Rch1 in vitro with high affinity (KD = 30 nM). The affinity decreased at least 7- and 20-fold, respectively, if the EED motif in exon 5 or if 4.1R NLS in exon 16 was lacking or mutated, confirming that both motifs were required for efficient importin-mediated nuclear import of 4.1R80.