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1.  Functions of Liver Natural Killer Cells Are Dependent on the Severity of Liver Inflammation and Fibrosis in Chronic Hepatitis C 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95614.
During chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, the role of intra-hepatic (IH) natural killer (NK) cells is still controversial. To clarify their functions, we investigated anti-viral and cytotoxic activity of NK cells in human fresh liver biopsies. We compared the functions of IH-NK cells in HCV-infected and NASH patients in physiological conditions as well as after stimulation using flow cytometric and immunohistochemical analyses. Interestingly, few IH-NK cells produced anti-viral cytokine IFN-γ in HCV-infected patients similarly as in non-infected individuals. Spontaneous degranulation activity was extremely low in peripheral NK cells compared to IH-NK cells, and was significantly higher in IH-NK cells from HCV-infected patients compared to non-infected individuals. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that perforin granules were polarized at the apical pole of IH-NK cells. The presence of CD107a and perforin in IH-NK cells demonstrated that NK cells exerted a cytolytic activity at the site of infection. Importantly, IH-NK cell functions from HCV-infected patients were inducible by specific exogenous stimulations. Upon ex vivo K562 target cell stimulations, the number of degranulating NK cells was significantly increased in the pool of IH-NK cells compared to circulating NK cells. Interestingly, after stimulation, the frequency of IFN-γ-producing IH-NK cells in HCV-infected patients was significantly higher at early stage of inflammation whereas the spontaneous IH-NK cell degranulation activity was significantly impaired in patients with highest inflammation and fibrosis Metavir scores. Our study highlights that some IH-NK cells in HCV-infected patients are able to produce INF-γ and degranulate and that those two activities depend on liver environment including the severity of liver injury. Thus, we conclude that critical roles of IH-NK cells have to be taken into account in the course of the liver pathogenesis associated to chronic HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC3997478  PMID: 24759660
2.  The Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase and the Small GTPase Rab 2 Are Crucial for Brucella Replication 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(6):e1000487.
The intracellular pathogen Brucella abortus survives and replicates inside host cells within an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived replicative organelle named the “Brucella-containing vacuole” (BCV). Here, we developed a subcellular fractionation method to isolate BCVs and characterize for the first time the protein composition of its replicative niche. After identification of BCV membrane proteins by 2 dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, we focused on two eukaryotic proteins: the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the small GTPase Rab 2 recruited to the vacuolar membrane of Brucella. These proteins were previously described to localize on vesicular and tubular clusters (VTC) and to regulate the VTC membrane traffic between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi. Inhibition of either GAPDH or Rab 2 expression by small interfering RNA strongly inhibited B. abortus replication. Consistent with this result, inhibition of other partners of GAPDH and Rab 2, such as COPI and PKC ι, reduced B. abortus replication. Furthermore, blockage of Rab 2 GTPase in a GDP-locked form also inhibited B. abortus replication. Bacteria did not fuse with the ER and instead remained in lysosomal-associated membrane vacuoles. These results reveal an essential role for GAPDH and the small GTPase Rab 2 in B. abortus virulence within host cells.
Author Summary
A key determinant for intracellular pathogenic bacteria to ensure their virulence within host cells is their ability to bypass the endocytic pathway and to reach a safe replication niche. Brucella bacteria reach the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to create their replicating niche called the Brucella-containing vacuole (BCV). The ER is a suitable strategic place for pathogenic Brucella. Bacteria can be hidden from host cell defences to persist within the host, and can take advantage of the membrane reservoir delivered by the ER to replicate. Interactions between BCV and the ER lead to the presence of ER proteins on the BCV membrane. Currently, no other proteins (eukaryotic or prokaryotic) have yet been associated with the BCV membrane. Here we show that non-ER related proteins are also present on the BCV membrane, in particular, the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the small GTPase Rab 2 known to be located on secretory vesicles that traffic between the ER and the Golgi apparatus. GAPDH and the small GTPase Rab 2 are involved in Brucella replication at late post-infection. Similarly, integrity of secretory vesicle trafficking is also necessary for Brucella replication. Here, we show that recruitment of the two eukaryotic proteins GAPDH and Rab 2 on BCV membranes is necessary for the establishment of the replicative niche by sustaining interactions between the ER and secretory membrane vesicles.
PMCID: PMC2695806  PMID: 19557163
3.  Brucella Control of Dendritic Cell Maturation Is Dependent on the TIR-Containing Protein Btp1 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(2):e21.
Brucella is an intracellular pathogen able to persist for long periods of time within the host and establish a chronic disease. We show that soon after Brucella inoculation in intestinal loops, dendritic cells from ileal Peyer's patches become infected and constitute a cell target for this pathogen. In vitro, we found that Brucella replicates within dendritic cells and hinders their functional activation. In addition, we identified a new Brucella protein Btp1, which down-modulates maturation of infected dendritic cells by interfering with the TLR2 signaling pathway. These results show that intracellular Brucella is able to control dendritic cell function, which may have important consequences in the development of chronic brucellosis.
Author Summary
A key determinant for intracellular pathogenic bacteria to induce infectious diseases is their ability to avoid recognition by the host immune system. Although most microorganisms internalized by host cells are efficiently cleared, Brucella behave as a Trojan horse causing a zoonosis called brucellosis that affects both humans and animals. Here we show that pathogenic Brucella are able to target host cell defense mechanisms by controlling the function of the sentinels of the immune system, the dendritic cells. In particular, the Brucella TIR-containing protein (Btp1) targets the Toll-like receptor 2 activation pathway, which is a major host response system involved in bacterial recognition. Btp1 is involved in the inhibition of dendritic cell maturation. The direct consequence is a control of inflammatory cytokine secretion and antigen presentation to T lymphocytes. These bacterial proteins are not specific for Brucella and have been identified in other pathogens and may be part of a general virulence mechanism used by several intracellular pathogens to induce disease.
PMCID: PMC2233671  PMID: 18266466

Results 1-3 (3)