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1.  MHC Class II Derived Recombinant T Cell Receptor Ligands Protect DBA/1LacJ Mice from Collagen-Induced Arthritis1 
We previously demonstrated the therapeutic effects of MHC class II derived recombinant T cell receptor ligands (RTL), single-chain two domain complexes of the α1 and β1 domains of MHC class II molecules genetically linked with an immunodominant peptide, in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. In the current study, we produced a monomeric murine I-Aq-derived RTL construct covalently linked with bovine collagen type II peptide (bCII257–270) suitable for use in DBA/1LacJ mice that develop collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), an animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, after immunization with bCII protein in CFA. In this study, we demonstrate that the I-Aq-derived RTLs reduced the incidence of the disease, suppressed the clinical and histological signs of CIA and induced long-term modulation of T cells specific for arthritogenic Ags. Our results showed that the I-Aq/bCII257–270 molecule could systemically reduce proinflammatory IL-17 and IFN-γ production and significantly increase anti-inflammatory IL-10, IL-13, and FoxP3 gene expression in splenocytes. Moreover, I-Aq/bCII257–270 molecule could also selectively inhibit IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-23 expression in local joint tissue. This is the first report demonstrating effective prevention of joint inflammation and clinical signs of CIA with an I-Aq-derived RTL, thus supporting the possible clinical use of this approach for treating rheumatoid arthritis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3457790  PMID: 18178865
2.  Role of dihydrotestosterone in post-stroke peripheral immunosuppression after cerebral ischemia 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2011;25(4):685-695.
Stroke is a sexually dimorphic disease with male gender considered a disadvatage in terms of risk and disease outcome. In intact males, stroke induces peripheral immunosuppression, characterized by decreased splenocyte numbers and proliferation and altered percentages of viable T, B and CD11b+ cells. To investigate whether the potent androgen and known immunomodulator, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), exacerbates post-stroke immunosuppression in castrated male mice after focal stroke, we evaluated the effect of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) on peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) immune responses in castrated mice with or without controlled levels of DHT. MCAO reduced spleen cell numbers in both groups, but altered T cell and B cell percentages in remaining splenocytes and concomitantly increased the percentage of CD11b+ blood cells solely in DHT-replaced animals at 24 h. Furthermore, DHT-replacement reduced splenocyte proliferation which was accompanied by an increased percentage of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells relative to castrates 96 h post-MCAO. In brain, the percentages of immune cell populations in the ischemic hemisphere relative to the non-ischemic hemisphere were similar between castrated and DHT-replaced mice after MCAO. These data suggest DHT modulates peripheral immunosuppression after MCAO but with relatively little effect on early immune response of the recovering CNS.
PMCID: PMC3081425  PMID: 21262338
Ischemia; Stroke; Hormone; dihydrotestosterone; testosterone; Immunosuppression; regulatory T lymphocyte; neuroprotection
3.  GeneDB—an annotation database for pathogens 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D98-D108.
GeneDB ( is a genome database for prokaryotic and eukaryotic pathogens and closely related organisms. The resource provides a portal to genome sequence and annotation data, which is primarily generated by the Pathogen Genomics group at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. It combines data from completed and ongoing genome projects with curated annotation, which is readily accessible from a web based resource. The development of the database in recent years has focused on providing database-driven annotation tools and pipelines, as well as catering for increasingly frequent assembly updates. The website has been significantly redesigned to take advantage of current web technologies, and improve usability. The current release stores 41 data sets, of which 17 are manually curated and maintained by biologists, who review and incorporate data from the scientific literature, as well as other sources. GeneDB is primarily a production and annotation database for the genomes of predominantly pathogenic organisms.
PMCID: PMC3245030  PMID: 22116062
4.  Binding of recombinant T cell receptor ligands (RTL) to antigen presenting cells prevents upregulation of CD11b and inhibits T cell activation and transfer of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
Journal of neuroimmunology  2010;225(1-2):52-61.
Recombinant T cell ligands (RTLs) ameliorate experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in antigen specific manner. We evaluated effects of RTL401 (I-As α1β1 + PLP-139-151) on splenocytes from mice with EAE to study RTL- T cell-tolerance-inducing mechanisms. RTLs bound to B, macrophages and DCs, through RTL-MHC-α1β1 moiety. RTL binding reduced CD11b expression on splenic macrophages/DC, and RTL401-conditioned macrophages/DC, not B cells, inhibited T cell activation. Reduced ability of RTL- incubated splenocytes to transfer EAE was likely mediated through macrophages/DC, since B cells were unnecessary for RTL treatment of EAE. These results demonstrate novel pathway of T cell regulation by RTL bound APCs.
PMCID: PMC2924959  PMID: 20546940
EAE; RTLs; tolerance; APCs
5.  Structure of 3-ketoacyl-(acyl-carrier-protein) reductase from Rickettsia prowazekii at 2.25 Å resolution 
The R. prowazekii 3-ketoacyl-(acyl-carrier-protein) reductase is similar to those from other prokaryotic pathogens but differs significantly from the mammalian orthologue, strengthening its case as a potential drug target.
Rickettsia prowazekii, a parasitic Gram-negative bacterium, is in the second-highest biodefense category of pathogens of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but only a handful of structures have been deposited in the PDB for this bacterium; to date, all of these have been solved by the SSGCID. Owing to its small genome (about 800 protein-coding genes), it relies on the host for many basic biosynthetic processes, hindering the identification of potential antipathogenic drug targets. However, like many bacteria and plants, its metabolism does depend upon the type II fatty-acid synthesis (FAS) pathway for lipogenesis, whereas the predominant form of fatty-acid biosynthesis in humans is via the type I pathway. Here, the structure of the third enzyme in the FAS pathway, 3-­ketoacyl-(acyl-carrier-protein) reductase, is reported at a resolution of 2.25 Å. Its fold is highly similar to those of the existing structures from some well characterized pathogens, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Burkholderia pseudomallei, but differs significantly from the analogous mammalian structure. Hence, drugs known to target the enzymes of pathogenic bacteria may serve as potential leads against Rickettsia, which is responsible for spotted fever and typhus and is found throughout the world.
PMCID: PMC3169412  PMID: 21904060
Rickettsia prowazekii; 3-oxoacyl-(acyl-carrier-protein) reductase; FabG; epidemic typhus; infectious diseases; SSGCID
6.  Structure of fumarate hydratase from Rickettsia prowazekii, the agent of typhus and suspected relative of the mitochondria 
Fumarate hydratase is an enzyme of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, one of the metabolic pathways characteristic of the mitochondria. The structure of R. prowazekii class II fumarate hydratase is reported at 2.4 Å resolution and is compared with the available structure of the human homolog.
Rickettsiae are obligate intracellular parasites of eukaryotic cells that are the causative agents responsible for spotted fever and typhus. Their small genome (about 800 protein-coding genes) is highly conserved across species and has been postulated as the ancestor of the mitochondria. No genes that are required for glycolysis are found in the Rickettsia prowazekii or mitochondrial genomes, but a complete set of genes encoding components of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the respiratory-chain complex is found in both. A 2.4 Å resolution crystal structure of R. prowazekii fumarate hydratase, an enzyme catalyzing the third step of the tricarboxylic acid cycle pathway that ultimately converts phospho­enolpyruvate into succinyl-CoA, has been solved. A structure alignment with human mitochondrial fumarate hydratase highlights the close similarity between R. prowazekii and mitochondrial enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3169413  PMID: 21904061
tricarboxylic acid cycle; mitochondria; Rickettsia; typhus; fumarate hydratases; lyases
7.  Estradiol and G1 Reduce Infarct Size and Improve Immunosuppression after Experimental Stroke 
Reduced risk and severity of stroke in adult females is thought to depend on normal endogenous levels of estrogen, a well-known neuroprotectant and immunomodulator. In male mice, experimental stroke induces immunosuppression of the peripheral immune system, characterized by a reduction in spleen size and cell numbers and decreased cytokine and chemokine expression. However, stroke-induced immunosuppression has not been evaluated in female mice. To test the hypothesis that estradiol (E2) deficiency exacerbates immunosuppression after focal stroke in females, we evaluated the effect of middle cerebral artery occlusion on infarct size and peripheral and CNS immune responses in ovariectomized mice with or without sustained, controlled levels of 17-β–E2 administered by s.c. implant or the putative membrane estrogen receptor agonist, G1. Both E2- and G1-replacement decreased infarct volume and partially restored splenocyte numbers. Moreover, E2-replacement increased splenocyte proliferation in response to stimulation with anti-CD3/CD28 Abs and normalized aberrant mRNA expression for cytokines, chemokines, and chemokine receptors and percentage of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ T regulatory cells observed in E2-deficient animals. These beneficial changes in peripheral immunity after E2 replacement were accompanied by a profound reduction in expression of the chemokine, MIP-2, and a 40-fold increased expression of CCR7 in the lesioned brain hemisphere. These results demonstrate for the first time that E2 replacement in ovariectomized female mice improves stroke-induced peripheral immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3142781  PMID: 20304826
8.  RTL551 Treatment of EAE Reduces CD226 and T-bet+ CD4 T Cells in Periphery and Prevents Infiltration of T-bet+ IL-17, IFN-γ Producing T Cells into CNS 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21868.
Recombinant T cell receptor ligands (RTLs) that target encephalitogenic T-cells can reverse clinical and histological signs of EAE, and are currently in clinical trials for treatment of multiple sclerosis. To evaluate possible regulatory mechanisms, we tested effects of RTL therapy on expression of pathogenic and effector T-cell maturation markers, CD226, T-bet and CD44, by CD4+ Th1 cells early after treatment of MOG-35-55 peptide-induced EAE in C57BL/6 mice. We showed that 1–5 daily injections of RTL551 (two-domain I-Ab covalently linked to MOG-35-55 peptide), but not the control RTL550 (“empty” two-domain I-Ab without a bound peptide) or Vehicle, reduced clinical signs of EAE, prevented trafficking of cells outside the spleen, significantly reduced the frequency of CD226 and T-bet expressing CD4+ T-cells in blood and inhibited expansion of CD44 expressing CD4+ T-cells in blood and spleen. Concomitantly, RTL551 selectively reduced CNS inflammatory lesions, absolute numbers of CNS infiltrating T-bet expressing CD4+ T-cells and IL-17 and IFN-γ secretion by CNS derived MOG-35-55 reactive cells cultured ex vivo. These novel results demonstrate that a major effect of RTL therapy is to attenuate Th1 specific changes in CD4+ T-cells during EAE and prevent expansion of effector T-cells that mediate clinical signs and CNS inflammation in EAE.
PMCID: PMC3130056  PMID: 21750737
9.  Recombinant TCR ligand reverses clinical signs and CNS damage of EAE induced by recombinant human MOG1 
Increasing evidence suggests that in addition to T cell dependent effector mechanisms, autoantibodies are also involved in the pathogenesis of MS, including demyelinating antibodies specific for myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). Our previous studies have demonstrated that recombinant T cell receptor ligands (RTLs) are very effective for treating T cell mediated experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). In order to expand the scope of RTL therapy in MS patients, it was of interest to study RTL treatment of EAE involving a demyelinating antibody component. Therefore, we evaluated the therapeutic effects of RTL551, specific for T cells reactive to mouse (m)MOG-35-55 peptide, on EAE induced with recombinant human (rh)MOG in C57BL/6 mice. We report that RTL551 therapy can reverse disease progression and reduce demyelination and axonal damage induced by rhMOG without suppressing the anti-MOG antibody response. This result suggests that T cell mediated inflammation and associated blood-brain barrier dysfunction are the central contributors to EAE pathogenesis, and that successful regulation of these key players restricts potential damage by demyelinating antibodies. The results of our study lend support for the use of RTL therapy for treatment of MS subjects whose disease includes inflammatory T cells as well as those with an additional antibody component.
PMCID: PMC2866769  PMID: 19789980
EAE; MS; recombinant human MOG; CNS damage
10.  CCR6: A biomarker for Alzheimer's-like disease in a triple transgenic mouse model 
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  2010;22(2):619-629.
The inflammatory status of the brain in patients as well as animal models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been extensively studied. Accumulation of activated microglia producing TNF-α and MCP-1 contribute to the pathology of the disease. However, little is known about the changes in the spleen and associated peripheral immunity that might contribute to AD pathology. The goal of this study was to characterize phenotypic and functional changes in spleen, blood and brain cell populations that contribute to development of an AD-like disease in a triple transgenic (3xTg-AD) mouse model. The 3xTg-AD mice had increased percentages of brain Gr-1+ granulocytes, dendritic cells and macrophages, spleen and blood derived CD8+Ly6C+ memory T cells and CCR6+ B cells, as well as increased levels of secreted IL-6. Brain tissue from older 12 month old symptomatic 3xTg-AD female mice exhibited highly elevated mRNA expression of CCR6 compared to WT mice. Importantly, this pronounced increase in expression of CCR6 was also detected in brain and spleen tissue from pre-symptomatic 5-6 month old 3xTg-AD females and males. Our data demonstrate increased expression of CCR6 in the brain and peripheral immune organs of both pre-symptomatic and symptomatic 3xTg-AD mice, strongly suggesting an ongoing inflammatory process that precedes onset of clinical AD-like disease.
PMCID: PMC2988888  PMID: 20847401
Alzheimer's disease; CCR6; 3xTg-AD mice; inflammation
11.  Recombinant T Cell Receptor Ligand (RTL) Treats Experimental Stroke 
Background and Purpose
Experimental stroke induces a biphasic effect on the immune response that involves early activation of peripheral leukocytes followed by severe immunodepression and atrophy of spleen and thymus. In tandem, the developing infarct is exacerbated by influx of numerous inflammatory cell types, including T and B lymphocytes. These features of stroke prompted our use of Recombinant T Cell Receptor Ligands (RTL), partial MHC class II molecules covalently bound to myelin peptides. We tested the hypothesis that RTL would improve ischemic outcome in brain without exacerbating defects in peripheral immune system function.
Four daily doses of RTL were administered subcutaneously to C57BL/6 mice after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), and lesion size and cellular composition were assessed in brain, and cell numbers were assessed in spleen and thymus.
Treatment with RTL551 (I-Ab molecule linked to MOG-35−55 peptide) reduced cortical and total stroke lesion size by ∼50%, inhibited the accumulation of inflammatory cells, particularly macrophages/activated microglial cells and dendritic cells, and mitigated splenic atrophy. Treatment with RTL1000 (HLA-DR2 moiety linked to human MOG-35−55 peptide) similarly reduced the stroke lesion size in HLA-DR2 transgenic mice. In contrast, control RTL with a non-neuroantigen peptide or a mismatched MHC class II moiety had no effect on stroke lesion size.
These data are the first to demonstrate successful treatment of experimental stroke using a neuroantigen specific immunomodulatory agent administered after ischemia, suggesting therapeutic potential in human stroke.
PMCID: PMC2704258  PMID: 19443805
Stroke; autoreactive T cells; recombinant TCR ligands; immunotherapy
12.  Cytokine Switch and Bystander Suppression of Autoimmune Responses to Multiple Antigens in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by a Single Recombinant T-Cell Receptor Ligand 
Recombinant T-cell receptor ligands (RTLs) can reverse clinical and histological signs of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in an antigen-specific manner, and are currently in clinical trials for treatment of subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS). Antigen specificity of RTL raises the question as to whether this treatment would be successful in MS patients where target antigens are unknown. Using spinal cord homogenate or combinations of two different peptides to induce disease,we found that treatment with single RTL could reverse EAE as long as targeted T-cells were present. Therapy with three different RTLs each caused a significant reduction in IL-17 and increases in IL-10 and IL-13 in peptide-activated splenocytes, reduced proliferation of both cognate and bystander specificities of lymph node cells, and reduced inflammatory lesions and secreted IL-17 and IL-2 from peptide-activated spinal cord cells. These results show that treatment with single RTLs can induce a cytokine switch in cognate T-cells that inhibits both the target and bystander T-cells, providing new evidence for the potential applicability of RTL therapy in MS.
PMCID: PMC2705654  PMID: 19321778
13.  TriTrypDB: a functional genomic resource for the Trypanosomatidae 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(Database issue):D457-D462.
TriTrypDB ( is an integrated database providing access to genome-scale datasets for kinetoplastid parasites, and supporting a variety of complex queries driven by research and development needs. TriTrypDB is a collaborative project, utilizing the GUS/WDK computational infrastructure developed by the Eukaryotic Pathogen Bioinformatics Resource Center ( to integrate genome annotation and analyses from GeneDB and elsewhere with a wide variety of functional genomics datasets made available by members of the global research community, often pre-publication. Currently, TriTrypDB integrates datasets from Leishmania braziliensis, L. infantum, L. major, L. tarentolae, Trypanosoma brucei and T. cruzi. Users may examine individual genes or chromosomal spans in their genomic context, including syntenic alignments with other kinetoplastid organisms. Data within TriTrypDB can be interrogated utilizing a sophisticated search strategy system that enables a user to construct complex queries combining multiple data types. All search strategies are stored, allowing future access and integrated searches. ‘User Comments’ may be added to any gene page, enhancing available annotation; such comments become immediately searchable via the text search, and are forwarded to curators for incorporation into the reference annotation when appropriate.
PMCID: PMC2808979  PMID: 19843604
14.  T- and B-cell-deficient mice with experimental stroke have reduced lesion size and inflammation 
Stroke induction in immunologically competent mice not only produces local ischemia and brain damage, but also induces early inflammatory changes in brain and peripheral immune responses. Although immune elements clearly are activated after brain vascular occlusion, the relative contribution of T and B lymphocytes to the developing lesion has not been quantified. We evaluated effects 22 h after middle cerebral artery occlusion (90 mins) on histologic injury and peripheral immune activation in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice lacking T and B cells. Cortical and total infarct volumes were strikingly reduced in male SCID mice (n = 14, 33±4% of contralateral cortex, n = 10, 52±3% of contralateral hemisphere) versus immunologically intact C57BL/6 mice (wild type, n=9, 57±5% of contralateral cortex, 57±4% of contralateral hemisphere) (P < 0.01). Striatal infarction was not altered (77±7% of contralateral striatum in SCID, 84±7% in wild type), suggesting that the core of the evolving ischemic lesion was not impacted by lack of T and B cells. As expected, inflammatory factors from immune cells in ischemic SCID brains were essentially absent, with the exception of interleukin-1β increase in both SCID and wild type tissue. Spleen cell numbers were low in SCID mice, but were further reduced 22 h after stroke, with substantial reduction in most inflammatory factors except for increased expression of interferon-γ and macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2. These data quantify the damaging effect of T and B lymphocytes on early, evolving ischemic brain injury, and further implicate interleukin-1β in brain and interferon-γ and MIP-2 in spleen as inflammatory factors produced by cells other than T and B cells.
PMCID: PMC2592689  PMID: 17392692
cerebral ischemia; chemokines; cytokines; spleen; T/B-deficient mice
15.  Splenic Atrophy in Experimental Stroke Is Accompanied by Increased Regulatory T Cells and Circulating Macrophages1 
Induction of stroke not only produces local ischemia and brain damage, but also has profound effects on peripheral immune responses. In the current study, we evaluated effects on spleen and blood cells 4 days after stroke induction. Surprisingly, there was a less inflammatory cytokine profile in the middle cerebral artery occlusion-affected right brain hemisphere at 96 h compared with earlier time points. Moreover, our results demonstrate that stroke leads to splenic atrophy characterized by a reduction in organ size, a drastic loss of splenocyte numbers, and induction of annexin V+ and TUNEL+ cells within the spleen that are in the late stages of apoptosis. The consequence of this process was to reduce T cell proliferation responses and secretion of inflammatory cytokines, resulting in a state of profound immunosuppression. These changes produced a drastic reduction in B cell numbers in spleen and blood, and a novel increase in CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells. Moreover, we detected a striking increase in the percentage of nonapoptotic CD11b+ VLA-4-negative macrophages/monocytes in blood. Immunosuppression in response to brain injury may account for the reduction of inflammatory factors in the stroke-affected brain, but also potentially could curtail protective immune responses in the periphery. These findings provide new evidence to support the contention that damage to the brain caused by cerebral ischemia provides a powerful negative signal to the peripheral immune system that ultimately induces a drastic state of immunosuppression caused by cell death as well as an increased presence of CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells.
PMCID: PMC2570354  PMID: 17845917

Results 1-15 (15)