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1.  Molecular Markers of Radiation Induced Attenuation in Intrahepatic Plasmodium falciparum Parasites 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(12):e0166814.
Experimental immunization with radiation attenuated sporozoites (RAS) and genetically attenuated sporozoites has proved to be a promising approach for malaria vaccine development. However, parasite biomarkers of growth attenuation and enhanced immune protection in response to radiation remain poorly understood. Here, we report on the effect of an attenuating dose of γ-irradiation (15 krad) on the Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite (PfSPZ) ultrastructure by electron microscopy, growth rate of liver stage P. falciparum in liver cell cultures, and genome-wide transcriptional profile of liver stage parasites by microarray. We find that γ-irradiation treated PfSPZ retained a normal cellular structure except that they were vacuous with a partially disrupted plasma membrane and inner membrane complex. A similar infection rate was observed by γ-irradiation-treated and untreated PfSPZ in human HCO-4 liver cells (0.47% versus 0.49%, respectively) on day 3 post-infection. In the microarray studies, cumulatively, 180 liver stage parasite genes were significantly transcriptionally altered on day 3 and/or 6 post-infection. Among the transcriptionally altered biomarkers, we identified a signature of seven candidate parasite genes that associated with functionally diverse pathways that may regulate radiation induced cell cycle arrest of the parasite within the hepatocyte. A repertoire of 14 genes associated with protein translation is transcriptionally overexpressed within the parasite by radiation. Additionally, 37 genes encode proteins expressed on the cell surface or exported into the host cell, 4 encode membrane associated transporters, and 10 encode proteins related to misfolding and stress-related protein processing. These results have significantly increased the repertoire of novel targets for 1) biomarkers of safety to define proper attenuation, 2) generating genetically attenuated parasite vaccine candidates, and 3) subunit candidate vaccines against liver stage malaria.
PMCID: PMC5135057  PMID: 27911910
2.  Poly(I:C) Induces Human Lung Endothelial Barrier Dysfunction by Disrupting Tight Junction Expression of Claudin-5 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(8):e0160875.
Viral infections are often accompanied by pulmonary microvascular leakage and vascular endothelial dysfunction via mechanisms that are not completely defined. Here, we investigated the effect of the Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) ligand polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid [Poly(I:C)], a synthetic analog of viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) commonly used to simulate viral infections, on the barrier function and tight junction integrity of primary human lung microvascular endothelial cells. Poly(I:C) stimulated IL-6, IL-8, TNFα, and IFNβ production in conjunction with the activation of NF-κB and IRF3 confirming the Poly(I:C)-responsiveness of these cells. Poly(I:C) increased endothelial monolayer permeability with a corresponding dose- and time-dependent decrease in the expression of claudin-5, a transmembrane tight junction protein and reduction of CLDN5 mRNA levels. Immunofluorescence experiments revealed disappearance of membrane-associated claudin-5 and co-localization of cytoplasmic claudin-5 with lysosomal-associated membrane protein 1. Chloroquine and Bay11-7082, inhibitors of TLR3 and NF-κB signaling, respectively, protected against the loss of claudin-5. Together, these findings provide new insight on how dsRNA-activated signaling pathways may disrupt vascular endothelial function and contribute to vascular leakage pathologies.
PMCID: PMC4978501  PMID: 27504984
3.  Expression, Purification, and Biological Characterization of Babesia microti Apical Membrane Antigen 1 
Infection and Immunity  2015;83(10):3890-3901.
The intraerythrocytic apicomplexan Babesia microti, the primary causative agent of human babesiosis, is a major public health concern in the United States and elsewhere. Apicomplexans utilize a multiprotein complex that includes a type I membrane protein called apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) to invade host cells. We have isolated the full-length B. microti AMA1 (BmAMA1) gene and determined its nucleotide sequence, as well as the amino acid sequence of the AMA1 protein. This protein contains an N-terminal signal sequence, an extracellular region, a transmembrane region, and a short conserved cytoplasmic tail. It shows the same domain organization as the AMA1 orthologs from piroplasm, coccidian, and haemosporidian apicomplexans but differs from all other currently known piroplasmida, including other Babesia and Theileria species, in lacking two conserved cysteines in highly variable domain III of the extracellular region. Minimal polymorphism was detected in BmAMA1 gene sequences of parasite isolates from six babesiosis patients from Nantucket. Immunofluorescence microscopy studies showed that BmAMA1 is localized on the cell surface and cytoplasm near the apical end of the parasite. Native BmAMA1 from parasite lysate and refolded recombinant BmAMA1 (rBmAMA1) expressed in Escherichia coli reacted with a mouse anti-BmAMA1 antibody using Western blotting. In vitro binding studies showed that both native BmAMA1 and rBmAMA1 bind to human red blood cells (RBCs). This binding is trypsin and chymotrypsin treatment sensitive but neuraminidase independent. Incubation of B. microti parasites in human RBCs with a mouse anti-BmAMA1 antibody inhibited parasite growth by 80% in a 24-h assay. Based on its antigenically conserved nature and potential role in RBC invasion, BmAMA1 should be evaluated as a vaccine candidate.
PMCID: PMC4567623  PMID: 26195550
4.  Genetically Modified Live Attenuated Leishmania donovani Parasites Induce Innate Immunity through Classical Activation of Macrophages That Direct the Th1 Response in Mice 
Infection and Immunity  2015;83(10):3800-3815.
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) causes significant mortality and there is no effective vaccine. Previously, we have shown that genetically modified Leishmania donovani parasites, here described as live attenuated parasites, induce a host protective adaptive immune response in various animal models. In this study, we demonstrate an innate immune response upon infection with live attenuated parasites in macrophages from BALB/c mice both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro infection of macrophages with live attenuated parasites (compared to that with wild-type [WT] L. donovani parasites) induced significantly higher production of proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α], interleukin-12 [IL-12], gamma interferon [IFN-γ], and IL-6), chemokines (monocyte chemoattractant protein 1/CCL-2, macrophage inflammatory protein 1α/CCL-3, and IP-10), reactive oxygen species (ROS), and nitric oxide, while concomitantly reducing anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 and arginase-1 activities, suggesting a dominant classically activated/M1 macrophage response. The classically activated response in turn helps in presenting antigen to T cells, as observed with robust CD4+ T cell activation in vitro. Similarly, parasitized splenic macrophages from live attenuated parasite-infected mice also demonstrated induction of an M1 macrophage phenotype, indicated by upregulation of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-12, and inducible nitric oxide synthase 2 and downregulation of genes associated with the M2 phenotype, i.e., the IL-10, YM1, Arg-1, and MRC-1 genes, compared to WT L. donovani-infected mice. Furthermore, an ex vivo antigen presentation assay showed macrophages from live attenuated parasite-infected mice induced higher IFN-γ and IL-2 but significantly less IL-10 production by ovalbumin-specific CD4+ T cells, resulting in proliferation of Th1 cells. These data suggest that infection with live attenuated parasites promotes a state of classical activation (M1 dominant) in macrophages that leads to the generation of protective Th1 responses in BALB/c mice.
PMCID: PMC4567628  PMID: 26169275
5.  Control of Francisella tularensis Intracellular Growth by Pulmonary Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0138565.
The virulence of F. tularensis is often associated with its ability to grow in macrophages, although recent studies show that Francisella proliferates in multiple host cell types, including pulmonary epithelial cells. Thus far little is known about the requirements for killing of F. tularensis in the non-macrophage host cell types that support replication of this organism. Here we sought to address this question through the use of a murine lung epithelial cell line (TC-1 cells). Our data show that combinations of the cytokines IFN-γ, TNF, and IL-17A activated murine pulmonary epithelial cells to inhibit the intracellular growth of the F. tularensis Live Vaccine Strain (LVS) and the highly virulent F. tularensis Schu S4 strain. Although paired combinations of IFN-γ, TNF, and IL-17A all significantly controlled LVS growth, simultaneous treatment with all three cytokines had the greatest effect on LVS growth inhibition. In contrast, Schu S4 was more resistant to cytokine-induced growth effects, exhibiting significant growth inhibition only in response to all three cytokines. Since one of the main antimicrobial mechanisms of activated macrophages is the release of reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI) via the activity of iNOS, we investigated the role of RNI and iNOS in Francisella growth control by pulmonary epithelial cells. NOS2 gene expression was significantly up-regulated in infected, cytokine-treated pulmonary epithelial cells in a manner that correlated with LVS and Schu S4 growth control. Treatment of LVS-infected cells with an iNOS inhibitor significantly reversed LVS killing in cytokine-treated cultures. Further, we found that mouse pulmonary epithelial cells produced iNOS during in vivo respiratory LVS infection. Overall, these data demonstrate that lung epithelial cells produce iNOS both in vitro and in vivo, and can inhibit Francisella intracellular growth via reactive nitrogen intermediates.
PMCID: PMC4575024  PMID: 26379269
6.  Inhibition of Hepatitis C Virus by the Cyanobacterial Protein MVL: mechanistic differences between the high-mannose specific lectins MVL, CV-N, and GNA 
Molecular pharmaceutics  2013;10(12):4590-4602.
Plant or microbial lectins are known to exhibit potent antiviral activities against viruses with glycosylated surface proteins, yet the mechanism(s) by which these carbohydrate-binding proteins exert their antiviral activities is not fully understood. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is known to possess glycosylated envelope proteins (gpE1E2), and to be potently inhibited by lectins. Here, we tested in detail the antiviral properties of the newly discovered Microcystis viridis lectin (MVL) along with cyanovirin N (CV-N) and Galanthus nivalis agglutinin (GNA) against cell culture HCV, as well as their binding properties towards viral particles, target cells, and recombinant HCV glycoproteins. Using infectivity assays, CV-N, MVL and GNA inhibited HCV with IC50 values of 0.6 nM, 30.4 nM, and 11.1 nM, respectively. Biolayer interferometry analysis demonstrated a higher affinity of GNA to immobilized recombinant HCV glycoproteins compared to CV–N and MVL. Complementary studies, including FACS analysis, confocal microscopy and pre and post virus binding assays, showed a complex mechanism of inhibition for CV-N and MVL that includes both viral and cell association; while GNA functions by binding directly to the viral particle. Combinations of GNA with CV-N or MVL in HCV infection studies revealed synergistic inhibitory effects, which can be explained by different glycan recognition profiles of the mainly high-mannoside specific lectins, and supports the hypothesis that these lectins inhibit through different and complex modes of action. Our findings provide important insights into the mechanisms by which lectins inhibit HCV infection. Overall, the data suggest MVL and CV-N have the potential for toxicity due to interactions with cellular proteins while GNA may be a better therapeutic agent due to specificity for the HCV gpE1E2.
PMCID: PMC3907190  PMID: 24152340
hepatitis C; antiviral lectin; HCV entry inhibitor; cyanovirin-N (CV-N); HCVcc; biolayer interferometry
7.  The Use of a Stably Expressed FRET Biosensor for Determining the Potency of Cancer Drugs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107010.
Many cancer drugs are intended to kill cancer cells by inducing apoptosis. However, the potency assays used for measuring the bioactivity of these products are generally cell viability assays which do not distinguish between cell death and growth inhibition. Here we describe a cell-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensor designed to measure the bioactivity of apoptosis inducing cancer drugs. The biosensor contains cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) linked via caspase 3 and caspase 8 specific cleavage recognition sequences to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). Upon caspase activation, as in the case of apoptosis induction, the linker is cleaved abolishing the cellular FRET signal. This assay closely reflects the mechanism of action of cancer drugs, in killing cancer cells and therefore can function as a potency test for different cancer drugs. We rigorously demonstrate this through characterization of a class of proteins targeting the death receptors. The one-step assay appears to be superior to other apoptosis-based assays because of its simplicity, convenience, and robustness.
PMCID: PMC4154796  PMID: 25188024
8.  Accumulation of autophagosomes in breast cancer cells induces TRAIL resistance through downregulation of surface expression of death receptors 4 and 5 
Oncotarget  2013;4(9):1349-1364.
TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induces apoptosis through death receptors (DRs) 4 and/or 5 expressed on the surface of target cells. We have previously shown that deficiency of DR4 and DR5 on the surface membrane is a critical mechanism of cancer cell resistance to the recombinant human TRAIL and its receptor agonistic antibodies, which are being evaluated clinically for treating cancers. In certain cancer cells, DR4 and DR5 were found to be mislocalized in intracellular compartments yet to be characterized. Here, we report a novel role of autophagy in the regulation of dynamics of TRAIL death receptors. We first assessed basal levels of autophagosomes in a panel of 11 breast cancer cell lines using complementary approaches (LC3 immunoblotting, RFP-LC3 fluorescence microscopy, and electron microscopy). We found high levels of basal autophagosomes in TRAIL resistant breast cancer cell lines (e.g. BT474 and AU565) and relevant mouse xenograft models under nutrition-rich conditions. Notably, DR4 and DR5 co-localized with LC3-II in the autophagosomes of TRAIL-resistant cells. Disruption of basal autophagosomes successfully restored the surface expression of the death receptors which was accompanied by sensitization of TRAIL-resistant cells to TRAIL induced apoptosis. By contrast, TRAIL-sensitive cell lines (MDA-MB-231) are characterized by high levels of surface DR4/DR5 and an absence of basal autophagosomes. Inhibition of lysosomal activity induced an accumulation of autophagosomes and a decrease in surface DR4 and DR5, and the cells became less sensitive to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. These findings demonstrate a novel role for the basal autophagosomes in the regulation of TRAIL death receptors. Further studies are warranted to explore the possibility of using autophagosome markers such as LC3-II/LC3-I ratios for prediction of tumor resistance to TRAIL related therapies. The results also provide a rationale for future non-clinical and clinical studies testing TRAIL agonists in combination with agents that directly inhibit autophagosome assembly.
PMCID: PMC3824535  PMID: 23988408
TRAIL resistance; basal autophagosomes; death receptors; cell surface expression
9.  Defective Ribosomal Products Are the Major Source of Antigenic Peptides Endogenously Generated from Influenza A Virus Neuraminidase 
The defective ribosomal product (DRiP) hypothesis of endogenous Ag processing posits that rapidly degraded forms of nascent proteins are a major source of peptide ligands for MHC class I molecules. Although there is broad experimental support for the DRiP hypothesis, careful kinetic analysis of the generation of defined peptide class I complexes has been limited to studies of recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing genes derived from other organisms. In this study, we show that insertion of the SIIN-FEKL peptide into the stalk of influenza A virus neuraminidase (NA) does not detectably modify NA folding, degradation, transport, or sp. act. when expressed in its natural context of influenza A virus infection. Using the 25-D1.16 mAb specific for Kb-SIINFEKL to precisely quantitate cell surface complexes by flow cytometry, we demonstrate that SIINFEKL is generated in complete lockstep with initiation and abrogation of NA biosynthesis in both L-Kb fibroblast cells and DC2.4 dendritic/monocyte cells. SIINFEKL presentation requires active proteasomes and TAP, consistent with its generation from a cytosolic DRiP pool. From the difference in the shutoff kinetics of Kb-SIINFEKL complex expression following protein synthesis versus proteasome inhibition, we estimate that the t1/2 of the biosynthetic source of NA peptide is ~5 min. These observations extend the relevance of the DRiP hypothesis to viral proteins generated in their natural context.
PMCID: PMC2940057  PMID: 20038640
10.  Cutting Edge: Sympathetic Nervous System Increases Proinflammatory Cytokines and Exacerbates Influenza A Virus Pathogenesis 
Although the sympathetic nervous system innervates the lung, little is known about its participation in host immunity to pulmonary pathogens. In this study, we show that peripheral sympathectomy reduces mouse morbidity and mortality from influenza A virus-induced pneumonia due to reduced inflammatory influx of monocytes, neutrophils, and NK cells. Mortality was also delayed by treating mice with an α-adrenergic antagonist. Sympathectomy diminished the immediate innate cytokine responses, particularly IL-1, which was profoundly reduced. These findings demonstrate an unexpected role for the sympathetic nervous system in innate antiviral immunity and in exacerbating the pathology of a virus of great significance to human and animal health.
PMCID: PMC2941093  PMID: 20018617
11.  Conditional Ablation of Nonmuscle Myosin II-B Delineates Heart Defects in Adult Mice 
Circulation research  2009;105(11):1102-1109.
Germline ablation of the cytoskeletal protein nonmuscle myosin II-B (NMII-B) results in embryonic lethality with defects in both the brain and heart. Tissue specific ablation of NMII-B by a Cre-recombinase strategy should avoid embryonic lethality and permit study of the function of NMII-B in adult hearts.
To understand the function of NMII-B in adult mouse hearts and to see if the brain defects found in germline ablated mice influence cardiac development.
Methods and Results
We used a loxP/Cre-recombinase strategy to specifically ablate NMII-B in the brains or hearts of mice. Mice ablated for NMII-B in neural tissues, die between postnatal day 12 and 22 without showing cardiac defects. Mice deficient in NMII-B only in cardiac myocytes (BαMHC/BαMHC mice) do not show brain defects. However BαMHC/BαMHC mice display novel cardiac defects not seen in NMII-B germline ablated mice. Most of the BαMHC/BαMHC mice are born with enlarged cardiac myocytes some of which are multinucleated, reflecting a defect in cytokinesis. Between 6–10 months they develop a cardiomyopathy which includes interstitial fibrosis and infiltration of the myocardium and pericardium with inflammatory cells. Four of five BαMHC/BαMHC hearts develop marked widening of intercalated discs.
By avoiding the embryonic lethality found in germline-ablated mice we were able to study the function of NMII-B in adult mice and show that absence of NMII-B in cardiac myocytes results in cardiomyopathy in the adult heart. We also define a role for NMII-B in maintaining the integrity of intercalated discs.
PMCID: PMC2792753  PMID: 19815823
Nonmuscle myosin II-B; Cardiomyopathy; Intercalated discs
12.  The Exception that Reinforces the Rule: Cross-Priming by Cytosolic Peptides that Escape Degradation 
Immunity  2008;28(6):787-798.
The nature of cross-priming immunogens for CD8+ T cell responses is highly controversial. Using a panel of T cell receptor-like antibodies specific for viral peptides bound to mouse Db major histocompatibility complex class I molecules, we show that an exceptional peptide (PA224-233) expressed as a viral minigene product formed a sizeable cytosolic pool continuously presented for hours after protein synthesis was inhibited. PA224-233 pool formation required active cytosolic heat shock protein 90 but not ER g96, and uniquely enabled cross-priming by this peptide. These findings demonstrate that exceptional class I binding oligopeptides that escape proteolytic degradation are potent cross-priming agents. Thus, the feeble immunogenicity of natural proteasome products in cross-priming can be attributed to their evanescence in donor cells, and not an absolute inability of cytosolic oligopeptides to be transferred to and presented by professional antigen presenting cells..
PMCID: PMC2587262  PMID: 18549799
13.  Role for Mitochondrial Oxidants as Regulators of Cellular Metabolism 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(19):7311-7318.
Leakage of mitochondrial oxidants contributes to a variety of harmful conditions ranging from neurodegenerative diseases to cellular senescence. We describe here, however, a physiological and heretofore unrecognized role for mitochondrial oxidant release. Mitochondrial metabolism of pyruvate is demonstrated to activate the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). This metabolite-induced rise in cytosolic JNK1 activity is shown to be triggered by increased release of mitochondrial H2O2. We further demonstrate that in turn, the redox-dependent activation of JNK1 feeds back and inhibits the activity of the metabolic enzymes glycogen synthase kinase 3β and glycogen synthase. As such, these results demonstrate a novel metabolic regulatory pathway activated by mitochondrial oxidants. In addition, they suggest that although chronic oxidant production may have deleterious effects, mitochondrial oxidants can also function acutely as signaling molecules to provide communication between the mitochondria and the cytosol.
PMCID: PMC86285  PMID: 10982848
14.  Gene dosage affects the cardiac and brain phenotype in nonmuscle myosin II-B–depleted mice 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2000;105(5):663-671.
Complete ablation of nonmuscle myosin heavy chain II-B (NMHC-B) in mice resulted in cardiac and brain defects that were lethal during embryonic development or on the day of birth. In this paper, we report on the generation of mice with decreased amounts of NMHC-B. First, we generated BΔI/BΔI mice by replacing a neural-specific alternative exon with the PGK-Neo cassette. This resulted in decreased amounts of NMHC-B in all tissues, including a decrease of 88% in the heart and 65% in the brain compared with B+/B+ tissues. BΔI/BΔI mice developed cardiac myocyte hypertrophy between 7 months and 11 months of age, at which time they reexpressed the cardiac β-MHC. Serial sections of BΔI/BΔI brains showed abnormalities in neural cell migration and adhesion in the ventricular wall. Crossing BΔI/BΔI with B+/B– mice generated BΔI/B– mice, which showed a further decrease of approximately 55% in NMHC-B in the heart and brain compared with BΔI/BΔI mice. Five of 8 BΔI/B– mice were born with a membranous ventricular septal defect. Moreover, 5 of 5 BΔI/B– mice developed myocyte hypertrophy by 1 month; BΔI/B– mice also reexpressed the cardiac β-MHC. More than 60% of BΔI/B– mice developed overt hydrocephalus and showed more severe defects in neural cell migration and adhesion than did BΔI/BΔI mice. These data on BΔI/BΔI and BΔI/B– mice demonstrate a gene dosage effect of the amount of NMHC-B on the severity and time of onset of the defects in the heart and brain.
PMCID: PMC289177  PMID: 10712438
15.  Adult Murine Skeletal Muscle Contains Cells That Can Differentiate into Beating Cardiomyocytes In Vitro 
PLoS Biology  2005;3(4):e87.
It has long been held as scientific fact that soon after birth, cardiomyocytes cease dividing, thus explaining the limited restoration of cardiac function after a heart attack. Recent demonstrations of cardiac myocyte differentiation observed in vitro or after in vivo transplantation of adult stem cells from blood, fat, skeletal muscle, or heart have challenged this view. Analysis of these studies has been complicated by the large disparity in the magnitude of effects seen by different groups and obscured by the recently appreciated process of in vivo stem-cell fusion. We now show a novel population of nonsatellite cells in adult murine skeletal muscle that progress under standard primary cell-culture conditions to autonomously beating cardiomyocytes. Their differentiation into beating cardiomyocytes is characterized here by video microscopy, confocal-detected calcium transients, electron microscopy, immunofluorescent cardiac-specific markers, and single-cell patch recordings of cardiac action potentials. Within 2 d after tail-vein injection of these marked cells into a mouse model of acute infarction, the marked cells are visible in the heart. By 6 d they begin to differentiate without fusing to recipient cardiac cells. Three months later, the tagged cells are visible as striated heart muscle restricted to the region of the cardiac infarct.
A population of primitive cells from adult murine skeletal muscle can develop into beating cardiomyocytes in vitro and can contribute to the repair of damaged heart in vivo
PMCID: PMC1064849  PMID: 15757365

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