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1.  A Fusion Protein between Streptavidin and the Endogenous TLR4 Ligand EDA Targets Biotinylated Antigens to Dendritic Cells and Induces T Cell Responses In Vivo 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:864720.
The development of tools for efficient targeting of antigens to antigen presenting cells is of great importance for vaccine development. We have previously shown that fusion proteins containing antigens fused to the extra domain A from fibronectin (EDA), an endogenous TLR4 ligand, which targets antigens to TLR4-expressing dendritic cells (DC), are highly immunogenic. To facilitate the procedure of joining EDA to any antigen of choice, we have prepared the fusion protein EDAvidin by linking EDA to the N terminus of streptavidin, allowing its conjugation with biotinylated antigens. We found that EDAvidin, as streptavidin, forms tetramers and binds biotin or biotinylated proteins with a Kd ~ 2.6 × 10−14 mol/L. EDAvidin favours the uptake of biotinylated green fluorescent protein by DC. Moreover, EDAvidin retains the proinflammatory properties of EDA, inducing NF-κβ by TLR4-expressing cells, as well as the production of TNF-α by the human monocyte cell line THP1 and IL-12 by DC. More importantly, immunization of mice with EDAvidin conjugated with the biotinylated nonstructural NS3 protein from hepatitis C virus induces a strong anti-NS3 T cell immune response. These results open a new way to use the EDA-based delivery tool to target any antigen of choice to DC for vaccination against infectious diseases and cancer.
doi:10.1155/2013/864720
PMCID: PMC3777173  PMID: 24093105
2.  Searching for the Achilles Heel of FOXP3 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:294.
FOXP3 is a multifaceted transcription factor with a major role in the control of immune homeostasis mediated by T regulatory cells (Treg). The immunoregulatory function of FOXP3 may hinder the induction of immune responses against cancer and infectious agents, and thus, development of inhibitors of its functions might give new therapeutic opportunities for these diseases. But also, FOXP3 is an important tumor suppressor factor in some types of cancers, and therefore, understanding the structure and function of FOXP3 is crucial to gaining insights into the development of FOXP3-targeted therapeutic strategies. FOXP3 homodimerize and likely form supramolecular complexes which might include hundreds of proteins which constitute the FOXP3 interactome. Many of the functions of FOXP3 are clearly regulated by the interactions with these cofactors contributing importantly on the establishment of Treg-cell signature. We summarize here the structural/functional information on this FOXP3 complex, to identify potential opportunities for the development of new strategies to modulate FOXP3 activity.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2013.00294
PMCID: PMC3847665  PMID: 24350059
foxp3; FOXP3 interactome; Treg; drug discovery; immunosuppression
3.  Upregulation of Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase in Hepatitis C Virus Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(7):3662-3666.
Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is induced by proinflammatory cytokines and by CTLA-4-expressing T cells and constitutes an important mediator of peripheral immune tolerance. In chronic hepatitis C, we found upregulation of IDO expression in the liver and an increased serum kynurenine/tryptophan ratio (a reflection of IDO activity). Huh7 cells supporting hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication expressed higher levels of IDO mRNA than noninfected cells when stimulated with gamma interferon or when cocultured with activated T cells. In infected chimpanzees, hepatic IDO expression decreased in animals that cured the infection, while it remained high in those that progressed to chronicity. For both patients and chimpanzees, hepatic expression of IDO and CTLA-4 correlated directly. Induction of IDO may dampen T-cell reactivity to viral antigens in chronic HCV infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02248-06
PMCID: PMC1866047  PMID: 17229698
4.  Caspase-dependent immunogenicity of doxorubicin-induced tumor cell death 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2005;202(12):1691-1701.
Systemic anticancer chemotherapy is immunosuppressive and mostly induces nonimmunogenic tumor cell death. Here, we show that even in the absence of any adjuvant, tumor cells dying in response to anthracyclins can elicit an effective antitumor immune response that suppresses the growth of inoculated tumors or leads to the regression of established neoplasia. Although both antracyclins and mitomycin C induced apoptosis with caspase activation, only anthracyclin-induced immunogenic cell death was immunogenic. Caspase inhibition by Z-VAD-fmk or transfection with the baculovirus inhibitor p35 did not inhibit doxorubicin (DX)-induced cell death, yet suppressed the immunogenicity of dying tumor cells in several rodent models of neoplasia. Depletion of dendritic cells (DCs) or CD8+T cells abolished the immune response against DX-treated apoptotic tumor cells in vivo. Caspase inhibition suppressed the capacity of DX-killed cells to be phagocytosed by DCs, yet had no effect on their capacity to elicit DC maturation. Freshly excised tumors became immunogenic upon DX treatment in vitro, and intratumoral inoculation of DX could trigger the regression of established tumors in immunocompetent mice. These results delineate a procedure for the generation of cancer vaccines and the stimulation of anti-neoplastic immune responses in vivo.
doi:10.1084/jem.20050915
PMCID: PMC2212968  PMID: 16365148
5.  Inhibition of Macroautophagy Triggers Apoptosis† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(3):1025-1040.
Mammalian cells were observed to die under conditions in which nutrients were depleted and, simultaneously, macroautophagy was inhibited either genetically (by a small interfering RNA targeting Atg5, Atg6/Beclin 1-1, Atg10, or Atg12) or pharmacologically (by 3-methyladenine, hydroxychloroquine, bafilomycin A1, or monensin). Cell death occurred through apoptosis (type 1 cell death), since it was reduced by stabilization of mitochondrial membranes (with Bcl-2 or vMIA, a cytomegalovirus-derived gene) or by caspase inhibition. Under conditions in which the fusion between lysosomes and autophagosomes was inhibited, the formation of autophagic vacuoles was enhanced at a preapoptotic stage, as indicated by accumulation of LC3-II protein, ultrastructural studies, and an increase in the acidic vacuolar compartment. Cells exhibiting a morphology reminiscent of (autophagic) type 2 cell death, however, recovered, and only cells with a disrupted mitochondrial transmembrane potential were beyond the point of no return and inexorably died even under optimal culture conditions. All together, these data indicate that autophagy may be cytoprotective, at least under conditions of nutrient depletion, and point to an important cross talk between type 1 and type 2 cell death pathways.
doi:10.1128/MCB.25.3.1025-1040.2005
PMCID: PMC543994  PMID: 15657430
6.  Abnormal Priming of CD4+ T Cells by Dendritic Cells Expressing Hepatitis C Virus Core and E1 Proteins 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(10):5062-5070.
Patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) have an impaired response against HCV antigens while keeping immune competence for other antigens. We hypothesized that expression of HCV proteins in infected dendritic cells (DC) might impair their antigen-presenting function, leading to a defective anti-HCV T-cell immunity. To test this hypothesis, DC from normal donors were transduced with an adenovirus coding for HCV core and E1 proteins and these cells (DC-CE1) were used to stimulate T lymphocytes. DC-CE1 were poor stimulators of allogeneic reactions and of autologous primary and secondary proliferative responses. Autologous T cells stimulated with DC-CE1 exhibited a pattern of incomplete activation characterized by enhanced CD25 expression but reduced interleukin 2 production. The same pattern of incomplete lymphocyte activation was observed in CD4+ T cells responding to HCV core in patients with chronic HCV infection. However, CD4+ response to HCV core was normal in patients who cleared HCV after alpha interferon therapy. Moreover, a normal CD4+ response to tetanus toxoid was found in both chronic HCV carriers and patients who had eliminated the infection. Our results suggest that expression of HCV structural antigens in infected DC disturbs their antigen-presenting function, leading to incomplete activation of anti-HCV-specific T cells and chronicity of infection. However, presentation of unrelated antigens by noninfected DC would allow normal T-cell immunity to other pathogens.
doi:10.1128/JVI.76.10.5062-5070.2002
PMCID: PMC136154  PMID: 11967322

Results 1-6 (6)