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1.  The G Protein-Coupled Estrogen Receptor (GPER) Is Expressed in Two Different Subcellular Localizations Reflecting Distinct Tumor Properties in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83296.
Introduction
The G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) is a novel estrogen receptor that mediates proliferative effects induced by estrogen but also by tamoxifen. The aim of our study was to analyze the frequency of GPER in a large collective of primary invasive breast carcinomas, with special emphasis on the subcellular expression and to evaluate the association with clinicopathological parameters and patient overall survival.
Methods
The tissue microarrays from formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded samples of primary invasive breast carcinomas (n = 981) were analyzed for GPER expression using immunohistochemistry. Expression data were compared to the clinicopathological parameters and overall survival. GPER localization was also analyzed in two immortalized breast cancer cell lines T47D and MCF7 by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy.
Results
A predominantly cytoplasmic GPER expression was found in 189 carcinomas (19.3%), whereas a predominantly nuclear expression was observed in 529 cases (53.9%). A simultaneous comparable positive expression of both patterns was found in 32 of 981 cases (3.2%), and negative staining was detected in 295 cases (30%). Confocal microscopy confirmed the occurrence of cytoplasmic and nuclear GPER expression in T47D and MCF7. Cytoplasmic GPER expression was significantly associated with non-ductal histologic subtypes, low tumor stage, better histologic differentiation, as well as Luminal A and B subtypes. In contrast, nuclear GPER expression was significantly associated with poorly differentiated carcinomas and the triple-negative subtype. In univariate analysis, cytoplasmic GPER expression was associated with better overall survival (p = 0.012).
Conclusion
Our data suggest that predominantly cytoplasmic and/or nuclear GPER expression are two distinct immunohistochemical patterns in breast carcinomas and may reflect different biological features, reason why these patterns should be clearly distinguished in histological evaluations. Prospective studies will be needed to assess whether the expression status of GPER in breast carcinomas should be routinely observed by clinicians, for instance, before implementing endocrine breast cancer treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083296
PMCID: PMC3885421  PMID: 24421881
2.  Assessment of HER2 status in breast cancer: overall positivity rate and accuracy by fluorescence in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry in a single institution over 12 years: a quality control study 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:615.
Background
The gold standard of HER2 status assessment in breast cancer is still debated. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in-situ technology as fluorescent-labeled methodology (FISH) can be influenced by pre-analytical factors, assay-conditions and interpretation of test results. We retrospectively conducted this quality control study and analyzed HER2 test results in breast cancer within the routine diagnostic service in a single institution over a period of 12 years. We addressed the question how stable and concordant IHC and FISH methods are and whether HER2 positivity rate has changed over this period.
Methods
Data of 7714 consecutive HER2-FISH-assays in a period of 12 years (2001–2012) on breast cancer biopsies and excision specimens were retrospectively analyzed. From 2001 to 2004, FISH tests were performed from all cases with IHC score 3+ and 2+ (and in some tumors with IHC score 1+ and 0). From 2005–2010, HER2 status was only determined by FISH. From 2011–2012, all breast carcinomas were analyzed by both IHC and FISH. Scoring and cut-off-definition were done according to time-current ASCO-CAP and FDA-guidelines.
Results
Between 2001–2004, IHC score 3+ was diagnosed in 22% of cases, 69% of these 3+ cases were amplified by FISH. 6% of IHC score 0/1+ cases were amplified by FISH. There was a mean amplification rate of 15.8% (range 13 -19%) using FISH only HER2-assays (2005–2010). Starting 2008, a slight drop in the amplification rate from 17% to 14% was noticed due to the modified ASCO-criteria in 2007. From 2011–2012, 12% of cases were 3+ by IHC, 84% of them were amplified by FISH. Less than 1% of IHC score 0/1+ cases were amplified by FISH. Concordance between FISH and IHC increased from 83% to 97%.
Conclusions
Our quality control study demonstrates that HER2 positivity rate remained stable by FISH-technology but showed a significant variation by IHC over the analyzed 12 years. Improvement in concordance rate was due to standardization of pre-analytical factors, scoring and interpretation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-615
PMCID: PMC3879657  PMID: 24377754
HER2; Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH); Immunohistochemistry; Breast cancer
3.  Stability and prognostic value of Slug, Sox9 and Sox10 expression in breast cancers treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:695.
Background
Expression of transcription-factors as Slug and Sox9 was recently described to determine mammary stem-cell state. Sox10 was previously shown to be present also in breast cancer. Protein overexpression of Slug, Sox9 and Sox10 were associated with poor overall survival and with triple-negative phenotype in breast cancer. In this study we tested the stability of Slug, Sox9 and Sox10 expression during chemotherapy and addressed their prognostic role of in neoadjuvant treated primary breast-cancer and their correlation to pathological-response and overall survival.
Methods
We analyzed immunohistochemical expression of Slug, Sox9 and Sox10 in tissue microarrays of 96 breast cancers prior to and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Expression was evaluated in invasive tumor cells and in tumor stroma and scored as 0, 1+, 2+ 3+. Expression-profile prior to and after chemotherapy was correlated to overall survival (Kaplan Meier) and with established clinico-pathological parameter.
Results
Sox9, Sox10 and Slug were expressed in 82–96% of the tumor cells prior to chemotherapy. Slug was expressed in 97% of the cases in tumor stroma before therapy. Change in expression-profile after chemotherapy occurred only in Slug expression in tumor-cells (decreased from 82 to 51%, p = 0.0001, Fisher’s exact test). The other markers showed no significant change after chemotherapy. Stromal Sox9 expression (0 to 2+) correlated to better overall survival after chemotherapy (p = 0.004) and reached almost statistical significance prior to chemotherapy (p = 0.065). There was no correlation between Sox9 and hormone-receptor expression. In multivariate-analysis, the stromal Sox9 expression after chemotherapy proved to be an independent and better prognostic marker than hormone-receptor status. Other clinico-pathological parameter (as HER2-status or pathological-stage) showed no correlation to the analyzed markers.
Conclusion
Strong stromal Sox9 expression in breast cancer after chemotherapy was found to bear negative prognostic information and was associated with shortened overall survival. Slug expression was significantly changed (reduced) in samples after neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-695
PMCID: PMC3879394  PMID: 24404438
Stem cells; Transcription factors; Stability; Chemotherapy; Prognosis; Breast cancer
4.  Correction: Comparison of EndoPredict and Oncotype DX Test Results in Hormone Receptor Positive Invasive Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):10.1371/annotation/f715f38e-7aee-4d2b-8bbf-da0411dc6ef3.
doi:10.1371/annotation/f715f38e-7aee-4d2b-8bbf-da0411dc6ef3
PMCID: PMC3806972  PMID: 24204486
5.  Comparison of EndoPredict and Oncotype DX Test Results in Hormone Receptor Positive Invasive Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58483.
Aim
Several multigene expression-based tests offering prognostic and predictive information in hormone-receptor positive early breast cancer were established during the last years. These tests provide prognostic information on distant recurrences and can serve as an aid in therapy decisions. We analyzed the recently validated reverse-transcription-quantitative-real-time PCR-based multigene-expression Endopredict (EP)-test on 34 hormone-receptor positive breast-cancer cases and compared the EP scores with the Oncotype DX Recurrence-scores (RS) obtained from the same cancer samples.
Methods
Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded invasive breast-cancer tissues from 34 patients were analyzed by the EP-test. Representative tumor blocks were analyzed with Oncotype DX prior to this study. Tumor tissue was removed from unstained slides, total-RNA was isolated and EP-analysis was performed blinded to Oncotype DX results.
Results
Extraction of sufficient amounts of RNA and generation of valid EP-scores were possible for all 34 samples. EP classified 11 patients as low-risk and 23 patients as high-risk. RS Score defined 15 patients as low-risk, 10 patients as intermediate-risk in and 9 patients as high-risk. Major-discrepancy occurred in 6 of 34 cases (18%): Low-risk RS was classified as high-risk by EP in 6 cases. Combining the RS intermediate-risk and high-risk groups to a common group, the concordance between both tests was 76%. Correlation between continuous EP and RS-scores was moderate (Pearson-coefficient: 0.65 (p<0.01).
Conclusion
We observed a significant but moderate concordance (76%) and moderate correlation (0.65) between RS and EP Score. Differences in results can be explained by different weighting of biological motives covered by the two tests. Further studies are needed to explore the clinical relevance of discrepant test results with respect of outcome.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058483
PMCID: PMC3591350  PMID: 23505515
6.  The potential prognostic value of connexin 26 and 46 expression in neoadjuvant-treated breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:50.
Background
Several classification systems are available to assess pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer, but reliable biomarkers to predict the efficiency of primary systemic therapy (PST) are still missing. Deregulation of gap junction channel forming connexins (Cx) has been implicated in carcinogenesis and tumour progression through loss of cell cycle control. In this study we correlated Cx expression and cell proliferation with disease survival and pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancers using existing classification systems.
Methods
The expression of Cx26, Cx32, Cx43, Cx46 and Ki67 was evaluated in 96 breast cancer patients prior to and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy using duplicate cores in tissue microarrays (TMA). Cx plaques of <1μm were detected with multilayer, multichannel fluorescence digital microscopy. Current classifications to assess residual tumour burden after primary systemic therapy included the EWGBSP, CPS-EG, Miller-Payne, Sataloff and NSABP systems.
Results
In our cohort dominated by hormone receptor (ER/PR) positive and HER2 negative cases, only the CPS-EG classification showed prognostic relevance: cases with scores 1–2 had significantly better overall survival (p=0.015) than cases with scores 3–5. Pre-chemotherapy Cx43 expression correlated positively with hormone receptor status both before and after chemotherapy and had a negative correlation with HER2 expression pre-chemotherapy. There was a positive correlation between Cx32 and HER2 expression pre-chemotherapy and between Cx32 and Ki67 expression post-chemotherapy. A negative correlation was found between post-chemotherapy Cx46 and Ki67 expression. Decreased post-chemotherapy Cx26 expression (<5%) statistically correlated with better overall survival (p=0.011). Moderate or higher Cx46 expression (>20%) pre- and post-chemotherapy correlated with significantly better survival in the intermediate prognostic subgroups of EWGBSP TR2b (ppre-chemo=0.006; Sataloff TB (ppre-chemo=0.005; ppost-chemo=0.029) and in Miller-Payne G3 (ppre-chemo=0.002; ppost-chemo=0.012) classifications. Pre-chemotherapy, Cx46 expression was the only marker that correlated with overall survival within these subgroups.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that Cx46 and Cx26 expression in breast cancer may improve the assessment of pathological response and refine intermediate prognostic subgroups of residual tumour classifications used after neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-50
PMCID: PMC3583680  PMID: 23374644
Breast cancer; Connexin; Gap junction; Preoperative chemotherapy; Prognosis
7.  Influenza Virus Protein PB1-F2 Inhibits the Induction of Type I Interferon by Binding to MAVS and Decreasing Mitochondrial Membrane Potential 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(16):8359-8366.
PB1-F2 is a small, 87- to 90-amino-acid-long protein encoded by the +1 alternate open reading frame of the PB1 gene of most influenza A virus strains. It has been shown to contribute to viral pathogenicity in a host- and strain-dependent manner, and we have previously discovered that a serine at position 66 (66S) in the PB1-F2 protein increases virulence of the 1918 and H5N1 pandemic viruses. Recently, we have shown that PB1-F2 inhibits the induction of type I interferon (IFN) at the level of the MAVS adaptor protein. However, the molecular mechanism for the IFN antagonist function of PB1-F2 has remained unclear. In the present study, we demonstrated that the C-terminal portion of the PB1-F2 protein binds to MAVS in a region that contains the transmembrane domain. Strikingly, PB1-F2 66S was observed to bind to MAVS more efficiently than PB1-F2 66N. We also tested the effect of PB1-F2 on the IFN antagonist functions of the polymerase proteins PB1, PB2, and PA and observed enhanced IFN inhibition by the PB1 and PB2 proteins in combination with PB1-F2 but not by the PA protein. Using a flow cytometry-based assay, we demonstrate that the PB1-F2 protein inhibits MAVS-mediated IFN synthesis by decreasing the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). Interestingly, PB1-F2 66S affected the MMP more efficiently than wild-type PB1-F2. In summary, the results of our study identify the molecular mechanism by which the influenza virus PB1-F2 N66S protein increases virulence.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01122-12
PMCID: PMC3421771  PMID: 22674996
8.  The influenza A virus protein PB1-F2 
Virulence  2011;2(6):542-546.
PB1-F2 is a 90 amino acid protein that is expressed from the +1 open reading frame in the PB1 gene of some influenza A viruses. The PB1-F2 protein has been shown to contribute to viral pathogenicity, but the molecular mechanisms for mediating virulence have been unclear. Previous reports demonstrate that PB1-F2 promotes cell death, causes immunopathology and increases pro-inflammatory responses. Our group has identified a single point mutation from asparagine (N) to serine (S) at position 66 in the PB1-F2 protein that dramatically increases the virulence of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses and of the 1918 pandemic strain. In search for the mechanism by which PB1-F2 N66S increases pathogenicity, we have identified and characterized a novel function of PB1-F2, i.e., interferon antagonism, both in vitro and in the mouse model. Here, we discuss a hypothesis for a possible molecular link between the pro-apoptotic and anti-interferon functions of PB1-F2.
doi:10.4161/viru.2.6.17812
PMCID: PMC3260547  PMID: 21971186
PB1-F2; PB1-F2 N66S; influenza virus; interferon antagonism; MAVS; antiviral signaling; apoptosis; pathogenicity
9.  How Reliable Is Ki-67 Immunohistochemistry in Grade 2 Breast Carcinomas? A QA Study of the Swiss Working Group of Breast- and Gynecopathologists 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37379.
Adjuvant chemotherapy decisions in breast cancer are increasingly based on the pathologist's assessment of tumor proliferation. The Swiss Working Group of Gyneco- and Breast Pathologists has surveyed inter- and intraobserver consistency of Ki-67-based proliferative fraction in breast carcinomas.
Methods
Five pathologists evaluated MIB-1-labeling index (LI) in ten breast carcinomas (G1, G2, G3) by counting and eyeballing. In the same way, 15 pathologists all over Switzerland then assessed MIB-1-LI on three G2 carcinomas, in self-selected or pre-defined areas of the tumors, comparing centrally immunostained slides with slides immunostained in the different laboratoires. To study intra-observer variability, the same tumors were re-examined 4 months later.
Results
The Kappa values for the first series of ten carcinomas of various degrees of differentiation showed good to very good agreement for MIB-1-LI (Kappa 0.56–0.72). However, we found very high inter-observer variabilities (Kappa 0.04–0.14) in the read-outs of the G2 carcinomas. It was not possible to explain the inconsistencies exclusively by any of the following factors: (i) pathologists' divergent definitions of what counts as a positive nucleus (ii) the mode of assessment (counting vs. eyeballing), (iii) immunostaining technique, and (iv) the selection of the tumor area in which to count. Despite intensive confrontation of all participating pathologists with the problem, inter-observer agreement did not improve when the same slides were re-examined 4 months later (Kappa 0.01–0.04) and intra-observer agreement was likewise poor (Kappa 0.00–0.35).
Conclusion
Assessment of mid-range Ki-67-LI suffers from high inter- and intra-observer variability. Oncologists should be aware of this caveat when using Ki-67-LI as a basis for treatment decisions in moderately differentiated breast carcinomas.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037379
PMCID: PMC3360682  PMID: 22662150
10.  Decentral gene expression analysis for ER+/Her2− breast cancer: results of a proficiency testing program for the EndoPredict assay 
Virchows Archiv  2012;460(3):251-259.
Gene expression profiles provide important information about the biology of breast tumors and can be used to develop prognostic tests. However, the implementation of quantitative RNA-based testing in routine molecular pathology has not been accomplished, so far. The EndoPredict assay has recently been described as a quantitative RT-PCR-based multigene expression test to identify a subgroup of hormone–receptor-positive tumors that have an excellent prognosis with endocrine therapy only. To transfer this test from bench to bedside, it is essential to evaluate the test–performance in a multicenter setting in different molecular pathology laboratories. In this study, we have evaluated the EndoPredict (EP) assay in seven different molecular pathology laboratories in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. A set of ten formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumors was tested in the different labs, and the variance and accuracy of the EndoPredict assays were determined using predefined reference values. Extraction of a sufficient amount of RNA and generation of a valid EP score was possible for all 70 study samples (100%). The EP scores measured by the individual participants showed an excellent correlation with the reference values, respectively, as reflected by Pearson correlation coefficients ranging from 0.987 to 0.999. The Pearson correlation coefficient of all values compared to the reference value was 0.994. All laboratories determined EP scores for all samples differing not more than 1.0 score units from the pre-defined references. All samples were assigned to the correct EP risk group, resulting in a sensitivity and specificity of 100%, a concordance of 100%, and a kappa of 1.0. Taken together, the EndoPredict test could be successfully implemented in all seven participating laboratories and is feasible for reliable decentralized assessment of gene expression in luminal breast cancer.
doi:10.1007/s00428-012-1204-4
PMCID: PMC3306560  PMID: 22371223
Breast cancer; Prognosis; mRNA; Quality control
11.  Differential Contribution of PB1-F2 to the Virulence of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Influenza A Virus in Mammalian and Avian Species 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(8):e1002186.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses (HPAIV) of the H5N1 subtype occasionally transmit from birds to humans and can cause severe systemic infections in both hosts. PB1-F2 is an alternative translation product of the viral PB1 segment that was initially characterized as a pro-apoptotic mitochondrial viral pathogenicity factor. A full-length PB1-F2 has been present in all human influenza pandemic virus isolates of the 20th century, but appears to be lost evolutionarily over time as the new virus establishes itself and circulates in the human host. In contrast, the open reading frame (ORF) for PB1-F2 is exceptionally well-conserved in avian influenza virus isolates. Here we perform a comparative study to show for the first time that PB1-F2 is a pathogenicity determinant for HPAIV (A/Viet Nam/1203/2004, VN1203 (H5N1)) in both mammals and birds. In a mammalian host, the rare N66S polymorphism in PB1-F2 that was previously described to be associated with high lethality of the 1918 influenza A virus showed increased replication and virulence of a recombinant VN1203 H5N1 virus, while deletion of the entire PB1-F2 ORF had negligible effects. Interestingly, the N66S substituted virus efficiently invades the CNS and replicates in the brain of Mx+/+ mice. In ducks deletion of PB1-F2 clearly resulted in delayed onset of clinical symptoms and systemic spreading of virus, while variations at position 66 played only a minor role in pathogenesis. These data implicate PB1-F2 as an important pathogenicity factor in ducks independent of sequence variations at position 66. Our data could explain why PB1-F2 is conserved in avian influenza virus isolates and only impacts pathogenicity in mammals when containing certain amino acid motifs such as the rare N66S polymorphism.
Author Summary
Influenza A viruses can infect avian and mammalian hosts. Human infections with seasonal influenza virus strains are usually confined to the respiratory tract and are cleared within days by the immune system. In contrast, highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses can spread throughout the whole body, usually resulting in multi-organ failure and even death in immune competent hosts. Here, we investigated the species-specific function of an influenza A virus protein, PB1-F2, that is highly conserved in avian influenza virus strains but which is lost in many isolates from mammalian hosts. Our data indicate that PB1-F2 allows successful spreading of the virus throughout the body in experimentally infected ducks. In contrast, PB1-F2 does not contribute to the severity of HPAIV infections in mice. Nevertheless, a polymorphism at position 66 of PB1-F2 (N66S) that was found in the devastating 1918 pandemic virus and in several early H5N1 HPAIV isolates clearly increased pathogenicity of a HPAIV influenza virus in mice. Our findings might explain why the whole PB1-F2 ORF is conserved in avian influenza viruses, since it contributes to viral dissemination and pathogenicity, but can be lost in mammalian hosts as it has minimal effects on virulence.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002186
PMCID: PMC3154844  PMID: 21852950
12.  Post-infection immunocomplex glomerulonephritis and Legionnaires' disease in a patient with adult Still's disease during treatment with interleukin 1 receptor antagonist anakinra: a case report 
Introduction
Legionellosis is a systemic disease that primarily affects the lungs. However, dysfunction in many organ systems, including the kidneys, has also been described. There are only a few reported cases of renal dysfunction in patients with legionellosis.
Case presentation
A 27-year-old Caucasian woman with known adult Still's disease was admitted to our hospital for community-acquired pneumonia, due to Legionella infection, with acute renal failure. Although her respiratory symptoms responded well to antibiotic treatment, her renal function worsened, with severe proteinuria and edema. A renal biopsy showed extracapillary and endocapillary proliferative glomerulonephritis with accompanying chronic and acute interstitial nephritis. This was consistent with a post-infection immunocomplex glomerulonephritis. After initiation of steroid therapy, her renal function improved. Additionally, therapy with diuretics and an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor was initiated because of persistent proteinuria. Under this treatment regimen, her severe edema and proteinuria disappeared.
Conclusion
To the best of our knowledge, there is only a handful of reported cases of post-infection glomerulonephritis with a nephrotic syndrome in a patient with legionellosis. Our findings suggest that, in patients with Legionnaires' disease with renal failure, post-infection immunocomplex glomerulonephritis should be considered and steroid therapy may be an effective modality to treat the renal complication.
doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-299
PMCID: PMC3224531  PMID: 21740588
13.  A Single N66S Mutation in the PB1-F2 Protein of Influenza A Virus Increases Virulence by Inhibiting the Early Interferon Response In Vivo▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(2):652-662.
The PB1-F2 protein of influenza A virus can contribute to viral pathogenesis of influenza virus strains. Of note, an N66S amino acid mutation in PB1-F2 has been shown to increase the pathogenesis associated with H5N1 Hong Kong/1997 and H1N1 Brevig Mission/1918 influenza viruses. To identify the mechanism of enhanced immunopathology, we evaluated the host response to two isogenic viruses that differ by a single amino acid at position 66 of the PB1-F2 protein. Various components of the adaptive immune response were ruled out as factors contributing to pathogenesis through knockout mouse studies. Transcriptional profiling of lungs from PB1-F2 66S-infected mice revealed an early delay in innate immune responses. In particular, enhanced activation of type I interferon (IFN) pathway genes, including IFN-β, RIG-I, and numerous interferon-inducible genes, was not observed until day 3 postinfection. The N66S mutant virus caused increased cellularity in the lungs, as a result of monocyte and neutrophil infiltration. Furthermore, numerous cytokines and chemokines related to monocyte and neutrophil migration and maturation were upregulated. The cellular infiltration and increased cytokine expression corresponded to increased PB1-F2 66S titer. These data suggest that PB1-F2 N66S may contribute to the delay of innate immune responses, allowing for unchecked viral growth and ultimately severe immunopathology observed in the lungs.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01987-10
PMCID: PMC3020033  PMID: 21084483
14.  The Influenza Virus Protein PB1-F2 Inhibits the Induction of Type I Interferon at the Level of the MAVS Adaptor Protein 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(6):e1002067.
PB1-F2 is a 90 amino acid protein that is expressed from the +1 open reading frame in the PB1 gene of some influenza A viruses and has been shown to contribute to viral pathogenicity. Notably, a serine at position 66 (66S) in PB1-F2 is known to increase virulence compared to an isogenic virus with an asparagine (66N) at this position. Recently, we found that an influenza virus expressing PB1-F2 N66S suppresses interferon (IFN)-stimulated genes in mice. To characterize this phenomenon, we employed several in vitro assays. Overexpression of the A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (PR8) PB1-F2 protein in 293T cells decreased RIG-I mediated activation of an IFN-β reporter and secretion of IFN as determined by bioassay. Of note, the PB1-F2 N66S protein showed enhanced IFN antagonism activity compared to PB1-F2 wildtype. Similar observations were found in the context of viral infection with a PR8 PB1-F2 N66S virus. To understand the relationship between NS1, a previously described influenza virus protein involved in suppression of IFN synthesis, and PB1-F2, we investigated the induction of IFN when NS1 and PB1-F2 were co-expressed in an in vitro transfection system. In this assay we found that PB1-F2 N66S further reduced IFN induction in the presence of NS1. By inducing the IFN-β reporter at different levels in the signaling cascade, we found that PB1-F2 inhibited IFN production at the level of the mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS). Furthermore, immunofluorescence studies revealed that PB1-F2 co-localizes with MAVS. In summary, we have characterized the anti-interferon function of PB1-F2 and we suggest that this activity contributes to the enhanced pathogenicity seen with PB1-F2 N66S- expressing influenza viruses.
Author Summary
Influenza viruses can cause global pandemics and are thus a major health concern. The novel H1N1 pandemic virus infected a large number of people, but resulted in relatively mild symptoms in the majority of cases. In contrast, the avian H5N1 viruses are associated with a high mortality rate, but are not transmitted from human to human. Understanding the viral and host factors that play a role in causing disease is crucial in developing effective vaccines and therapeutics. Furthermore, finding viral markers for high virulence may help predict the impact of newly emerging pandemic influenza viruses. We have previously established that a single amino acid substitution (N66S) in the viral PB1-F2 protein causes increased virulence in an H5N1 and the 1918 pandemic virus. Here we show that PB1-F2 N66S reduces the induction of interferon (IFN), a potent antiviral molecule secreted by cells in response to infection. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the inhibition of IFN by PB1-F2 N66S occurs at the level of the mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), a key player in the IFN production pathway. Our work here characterizes a new function for the PB1-F2 protein and how this function can lead to increased disease severity.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002067
PMCID: PMC3111539  PMID: 21695240
15.  Filamin A regulates focal adhesion disassembly and suppresses breast cancer cell migration and invasion 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2010;207(11):2421-2437.
The actin cross-linking protein filamin A reduces migration, invasion, and metastasis of breast cancer cells.
The actin cross-linking protein filamin A (FLNa) functions as a scaffolding protein and couples cell cytoskeleton to extracellular matrix and integrin receptor signaling. In this study, we report that FLNa suppresses invasion of breast cancer cells and regulates focal adhesion (FA) turnover. Two large progression tissue microarrays from breast cancer patients revealed a significant decrease of FLNa levels in tissues from invasive breast cancer compared with benign disease and in lymph node–positive compared with lymph node–negative breast cancer. In breast cancer cells and orthotopic mouse breast cancer models, down-regulation of FLNa stimulated cancer cell migration, invasion, and metastasis formation. Time-lapse microscopy and biochemical assays after FLNa silencing and rescue with wild-type or mutant protein resistant to calpain cleavage revealed that FLNa regulates FA disassembly at the leading edge of motile cells. Moreover, FLNa down-regulation enhanced calpain activity through the mitogen-activated protein kinase–extracellular signal-regulated kinase cascade and stimulated the cleavage of FA proteins. These results document a regulation of FA dynamics by FLNa in breast cancer cells.
doi:10.1084/jem.20100433
PMCID: PMC2964581  PMID: 20937704
16.  PB1-F2 Expression by the 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus Has Minimal Impact on Virulence in Animal Models▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(9):4442-4450.
Unlike previous pandemic viruses, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza virus does not code for the virulence factor PB1-F2. The genome of the 2009 H1N1 virus contains three stop codons preventing PB1-F2 expression; however, PB1-F2 production could occur following genetic mutation or reassortment. Thus, it is of great interest to understand the impact that expression of the PB1-F2 protein might have in the context of the 2009 pandemic influenza virus, A/California/04/2009 (Cal/09). We have addressed this question by generating two Cal/09 viruses with productive PB1-F2 open reading frames containing either an asparagine at position 66 of PB1-F2 (66N) or a serine at position 66 (66S): this N66S change has previously been shown to be associated with increased virulence in mice. We used these viruses to investigate the effect on virulence conferred by expression of the 66N or the 66S PB1-F2 protein in both in vitro and in vivo systems. Our results show enhanced replication of the 66S virus in A549 cells, while studies of BALB/c and DBA/2 mice and ferrets revealed no significant differences in symptoms of infection with wild-type Cal/09 versus the 66N or 66S virus variant. Also, coinfection of mice with Streptococcus pneumoniae and the different viruses (recombinant wild-type [rWT] Cal/09 and the 66N and 66S viruses) did not result in significant differences in mortality. Mice infected with either PB1-F2-expressing virus did demonstrate altered protein levels of proinflammatory cytokines; differences were observed to be greater in infection caused by the 66S virus. In summary, our study demonstrates that PB1-F2 expression by the Cal/09 virus modulates the immune response to infection while having a minimal effect on virus virulence in two mammalian models.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02717-09
PMCID: PMC2863736  PMID: 20181699

Results 1-16 (16)