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1.  Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis Induces a Unique Pulmonary Inflammatory Response: Role of Bacterial Gene Expression in Temporal Regulation of Host Defense Responses 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62412.
Pulmonary exposure to Francisella tularensis is associated with severe lung pathology and a high mortality rate. The lack of induction of classical inflammatory mediators, including IL1-β and TNF-α, during early infection has led to the suggestion that F. tularensis evades detection by host innate immune surveillance and/or actively suppresses inflammation. To gain more insight into the host response to Francisella infection during the acute stage, transcriptomic analysis was performed on lung tissue from mice exposed to virulent (Francisella tularensis ssp tularensis SchuS4). Despite an extensive transcriptional response in the lungs of animals as early as 4 hrs post-exposure, Francisella tularensis was associated with an almost complete lack of induction of immune-related genes during the initial 24 hrs post-exposure. This broad subversion of innate immune responses was particularly evident when compared to the pulmonary inflammatory response induced by other lethal (Yersinia pestis) and non-lethal (Legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa) pulmonary infections. However, the unique induction of a subset of inflammation-related genes suggests a role for dysregulation of lymphocyte function and anti-inflammatory pathways in the extreme virulence of Francisella. Subsequent activation of a classical inflammatory response 48 hrs post-exposure was associated with altered abundance of Francisella-specific transcripts, including those associated with bacterial surface components. In summary, virulent Francisella induces a unique pulmonary inflammatory response characterized by temporal regulation of innate immune pathways correlating with altered bacterial gene expression patterns. This study represents the first simultaneous measurement of both host and Francisella transcriptome changes that occur during in vivo infection and identifies potential bacterial virulence factors responsible for regulation of host inflammatory pathways.
PMCID: PMC3653966  PMID: 23690939
2.  Image-based feedback control for real-time sorting of microspheres in a microfluidic device 
Lab on a chip  2010;10(18):2402-2410.
We describe a control system to automatically distribute antibody-functionalized beads to addressable assay chambers within a PDMS microfluidic device. The system used real-time image acquisition and processing to manage the valve states required to sort beads with unit precision. The image processing component of the control system correctly counted the number of beads in 99.81% of images (2 689 of 2 694), with only four instances of an incorrect number of beads being sorted to an assay chamber, and one instance of inaccurately counted beads being improperly delivered to waste. Post-experimental refinement of the counting script resulted in one counting error in 2,694 images of beads (99.96% accuracy). We analyzed a range of operational variables (flow pressure, bead concentration, etc.) using a statistical model to characterize those that yielded optimal sorting speed and efficiency. The integrated device was able to capture, count, and deliver beads at a rate of approximately four per minute so that bead arrays could be assembled in 32 individually addressable assay chambers for eight analytical measurements in duplicate (512 beads total) within 2.5 hours. This functionality demonstrates the successful integration of a robust control system with precision bead handling that is the enabling technology for future development of a highly multiplexed bead-based analytical device.
PMCID: PMC2928395  PMID: 20593069
3.  Lethal Synergism of 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae Coinfection Is Associated with Loss of Murine Lung Repair Responses 
mBio  2011;2(5):e00172-11.
Secondary bacterial infections increase disease severity of influenza virus infections and contribute greatly to increased morbidity and mortality during pandemics. To study secondary bacterial infection following influenza virus infection, mice were inoculated with sublethal doses of 2009 seasonal H1N1 virus (NIH50) or pandemic H1N1 virus (Mex09) followed by inoculation with Streptococcus pneumoniae 48 h later. Disease was characterized by assessment of weight loss and survival, titration of virus and bacteria by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR), histopathology, expression microarray, and immunohistochemistry. Mice inoculated with virus alone showed 100% survival for all groups. Mice inoculated with Mex09 plus S. pneumoniae showed severe weight loss and 100% mortality with severe alveolitis, denuded bronchiolar epithelium, and widespread expression of apoptosis marker cleaved caspase 3. In contrast, mice inoculated with NIH50 plus S. pneumoniae showed increased weight loss, 100% survival, and slightly enhanced lung pathology. Mex09-S. pneumoniae coinfection also resulted in increased S. pneumoniae replication in lung and bacteremia late in infection. Global gene expression profiling revealed that Mex09-S. pneumoniae coinfection did not induce significantly more severe inflammatory responses but featured significant loss of epithelial cell reproliferation and repair responses. Histopathological examination for cell proliferation marker MCM7 showed significant staining of airway epithelial cells in all groups except Mex09-S. pneumoniae-infected mice. This study demonstrates that secondary bacterial infection during 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus infection resulted in more severe disease and loss of lung repair responses than did seasonal influenza viral and bacterial coinfection. Moreover, this study provides novel insights into influenza virus and bacterial coinfection by showing correlation of lethal outcome with loss of airway basal epithelial cells and associated lung repair responses.
Secondary bacterial pneumonias lead to increased disease severity and have resulted in a significant percentage of deaths during influenza pandemics. To understand the biological basis for the interaction of bacterial and viral infections, mice were infected with sublethal doses of 2009 seasonal H1N1 and pandemic H1N1 viruses followed by infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae 48 h later. Only infection with 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus and S. pneumoniae resulted in severe disease with a 100% fatality rate. Analysis of the host response to infection during lethal coinfection showed a significant loss of responses associated with lung repair that was not observed in any of the other experimental groups. This group of mice also showed enhanced bacterial replication in the lung. This study reveals that the extent of lung damage during viral infection influences the severity of secondary bacterial infections and may help explain some differences in mortality during influenza pandemics.
PMCID: PMC3175626  PMID: 21933918
5.  A microfluidic device for multiplexed protein detection in nano-liter volumes 
Analytical biochemistry  2008;386(1):30-35.
We describe a microfluidic immunoassay device that permits sensitive and quantitative multiplexed protein measurements on nanoliter-scale samples. The device exploits the combined power of integrated microfluidics and optically encoded microspheres to create an array of approximately 100 μm2 sensors functionalized with capture antibodies directed against distinct targets. This strategy overcomes the need for performing biochemical coupling of affinity reagents to the device substrate, permits multiple proteins to be detected in a nanoliter-scale sample, is scalable to large numbers of samples, and has the required sensitivity to measure the abundance of proteins derived from single mammalian cells. The sensitivity of the device is sufficient to detect 1000 copies of TNF in a volume of 4.7 nL.
PMCID: PMC2678059  PMID: 19133224
microfluidics; immunoassay
6.  Bright Field Microscopy as an Alternative to Whole Cell Fluorescence in Automated Analysis of Macrophage Images 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7497.
Fluorescence microscopy is the standard tool for detection and analysis of cellular phenomena. This technique, however, has a number of drawbacks such as the limited number of available fluorescent channels in microscopes, overlapping excitation and emission spectra of the stains, and phototoxicity.
We here present and validate a method to automatically detect cell population outlines directly from bright field images. By imaging samples with several focus levels forming a bright field -stack, and by measuring the intensity variations of this stack over the -dimension, we construct a new two dimensional projection image of increased contrast. With additional information for locations of each cell, such as stained nuclei, this bright field projection image can be used instead of whole cell fluorescence to locate borders of individual cells, separating touching cells, and enabling single cell analysis. Using the popular CellProfiler freeware cell image analysis software mainly targeted for fluorescence microscopy, we validate our method by automatically segmenting low contrast and rather complex shaped murine macrophage cells.
The proposed approach frees up a fluorescence channel, which can be used for subcellular studies. It also facilitates cell shape measurement in experiments where whole cell fluorescent staining is either not available, or is dependent on a particular experimental condition. We show that whole cell area detection results using our projected bright field images match closely to the standard approach where cell areas are localized using fluorescence, and conclude that the high contrast bright field projection image can directly replace one fluorescent channel in whole cell quantification. Matlab code for calculating the projections can be downloaded from the supplementary site:
PMCID: PMC2760782  PMID: 19847301
7.  Binding specificity of Toll-like receptor cytoplasmic domains 
European journal of immunology  2006;36(3):742-753.
MyD88 participates in signal transduction by binding to the cytoplasmic Toll/IL-1 receptor (TIR) domains of activated Toll-like receptors (TLR). Yeast two-hybrid experiments reveal that the TIR domains of human TLR differ in their ability to associate with MyD88: The TIR of TLR2 binds to MyD88 but the TIR of the closely related TLR1, 6, or 10 do not. Using chimeric TIR domains, we define the critical region responsible for differential MyD88 binding, and use a computational analysis of the critical region to reveal the amino acids that differ between MyD88 binders and non-binders. Remarkably, a single missense mutation created in TLR1 (N672D) confers on it the ability to bind MyD88, without affecting its association with other proteins. Mutations identified as critical for MyD88 binding also affect signaling of TLR pairs in mammalian cells. To investigate the difference between MyD88 binders and non-binders,we identify novel interacting proteins for each cytoplasmic domain of TLR1, 2, 6, and 10. For example, heat shock protein (HSP) 60 binds to TLR1 but not to TLR2, and HSP60 and MyD88 appear to bind the same region of the TIR domain. In summary, interactions between the TLR, MyD88, and novel associated proteins have been characterized.
PMCID: PMC2762736  PMID: 16482509
Gain-of-function; Protein interaction; Toll-like receptor
8.  Resolving Cell Population Heterogeneity: Real-Time PCR for Simultaneous Multiplexed Gene Detection in Multiple Single-Cell Samples 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6326.
Decoding the complexity of multicellular organisms requires analytical procedures to overcome the limitations of averaged measurements of cell populations, which obscure inherent cell-cell heterogeneity and restrict the ability to distinguish between the responses of individual cells within a sample. For example, defining the timing, magnitude and the coordination of cytokine responses in single cells is critical for understanding the development of effective immunity. While approaches to measure gene expression from single cells have been reported, the absolute performance of these techniques has been difficult to assess, which likely has limited their wider application. We describe a straightforward method for simultaneously measuring the expression of multiple genes in a multitude of single-cell samples using flow cytometry, parallel cDNA synthesis, and quantification by real-time PCR. We thoroughly assess the performance of the technique using mRNA and DNA standards and cell samples, and demonstrate a detection sensitivity of ∼30 mRNA molecules per cell, and a fractional error of 15%. Using this method, we expose unexpected heterogeneity in the expression of 5 immune-related genes in sets of single macrophages activated by different microbial stimuli. Further, our analyses reveal that the expression of one ‘pro-inflammatory’ cytokine is not predictive of the expression of another ‘pro-inflammatory’ cytokine within the same cell. These findings demonstrate that single-cell approaches are essential for studying coordinated gene expression in cell populations, and this generic and easy-to-use quantitative method is applicable in other areas in biology aimed at understanding the regulation of cellular responses.
PMCID: PMC2711328  PMID: 19633712
9.  A Common Dominant TLR5 Stop Codon Polymorphism Abolishes Flagellin Signaling and Is Associated with Susceptibility to Legionnaires' Disease 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2003;198(10):1563-1572.
Although Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are critical mediators of the immune response to pathogens, the influence of polymorphisms in this gene family on human susceptibility to infection is poorly understood. We demonstrated recently that TLR5 recognizes flagellin, a potent inflammatory stimulus present in the flagellar structure of many bacteria. Here, we show that a common stop codon polymorphism in the ligand-binding domain of TLR5 (TLR5392STOP) is unable to mediate flagellin signaling, acts in a dominant fashion, and is associated with susceptibility to pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila, a flagellated bacterium. We also show that flagellin is a principal stimulant of proinflammatory cytokine production in lung epithelial cells. Together, these observations suggest that TLR5392STOP increases human susceptibility to infection through an unusual dominant mechanism that compromises TLR5's essential role as a regulator of the lung epithelial innate immune response.
PMCID: PMC2194120  PMID: 14623910
inflammation; immunity; genetic predisposition to disease; genetic markers; bacterial infections
10.  Involvement of the AP-1 Adaptor Complex in Early Steps of Phagocytosis and Macropinocytosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(2):861-869.
The best described function of the adaptor complex-1 (AP-1) is to participate in the budding of clathrin-coated vesicles from the trans-Golgi network and endosomes. Here, we show that AP-1 is also localized to phagocytic cups in murine macrophages as well as in Dictyostelium amoebae. AP-1 is recruited to phagosomal membranes at this early stage of phagosome formation and rapidly dissociates from maturing phagosomes. To establish the role of AP-1 in phagocytosis, we made used of Dictyostelium mutant cells (apm1- cells) disrupted for AP-1 medium chain. In this mutant, phagocytosis drops by 60%, indicating that AP-1 is necessary for efficient phagocytosis. Furthermore, phagocytosis in apm1- cells is more affected for large rather than small particles, and cells exhibiting incomplete engulfment are then often observed. This suggests that AP-1 could participate in the extension of the phagocytic cup. Interestingly, macropinocytosis, a process dedicated to fluid-phase endocytosis and related to phagocytosis, is also impaired in apm1- cells. In summary, our data suggest a new role of AP-1 at an early stage of phagosome and macropinosome formation.
PMCID: PMC329399  PMID: 14617812
11.  Differential Role of MyD88 in Macrophage-Mediated Responses to Opportunistic Fungal Pathogens  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(9):5280-5286.
Toll-like receptors mediate macrophage recognition of microbial ligands, inducing expression of microbicidal molecules and cytokines via the adapter protein MyD88. We investigated the role of MyD88 in regulating murine macrophage responses to a pathogenic yeast (Candida albicans) and mold (Aspergillus fumigatus). Macrophages derived from bone marrow of MyD88-deficient mice (MyD88−/−) demonstrated impaired phagocytosis and intracellular killing of C. albicans compared to wild-type (MyD88+/+) macrophages. In contrast, ingestion and killing of A. fumigatus conidia was MyD88 independent. Cytokine production by MyD88−/− macrophages in response to C. albicans yeasts and hyphae was substantially decreased, but responses to A. fumigatus hyphae were preserved. These results provide evidence that MyD88 signaling is involved in phagocytosis and killing of live C. albicans, but not A. fumigatus. The differential role of MyD88 may represent one mechanism by which macrophages regulate innate responses specific to different pathogenic fungi.
PMCID: PMC187297  PMID: 12933875
12.  Macrophages exposed continuously to lipopolysaccharide and other agonists that act via toll-like receptors exhibit a sustained and additive activation state 
BMC Immunology  2001;2:11.
Macrophages sense microorganisms through activation of members of the Toll-like receptor family, which initiate signals linked to transcription of many inflammation associated genes. In this paper we examine whether the signal from Toll-like receptors [TLRs] is sustained for as long as the ligand is present, and whether responses to different TLR agonists are additive.
RAW264 macrophage cells were doubly-transfected with reporter genes in which the IL-12p40, ELAM or IL-6 promoter controls firefly luciferase, and the human IL-1β promoter drives renilla luciferase. The resultant stable lines provide robust assays of macrophage activation by TLR stimuli including LPS [TLR4], lipopeptide [TLR2], and bacterial DNA [TLR9], with each promoter demonstrating its own intrinsic characteristics. With each of the promoters, luciferase activity was induced over an 8 hr period, and thereafter reached a new steady state. Elevated expression required the continued presence of agonist. Sustained responses to different classes of agonist were perfectly additive. This pattern was confirmed by measuring inducible cytokine production in the same cells. While homodimerization of TLR4 mediates responses to LPS, TLR2 appears to require heterodimerization with another receptor such as TLR6. Transient expression of constitutively active forms of TLR4 or TLR2 plus TLR6 stimulated IL-12 promoter activity. The effect of LPS, a TLR4 agonist, was additive with that of TLR2/6 but not TLR4, whilst that of lipopeptide, a TLR2 agonist, was additive with TLR4 but not TLR2/6. Actions of bacterial DNA were additive with either TLR4 or TLR2/6.
These findings indicate that maximal activation by any one TLR pathway does not preclude further activation by another, suggesting that common downstream regulatory components are not limiting. Upon exposure to a TLR agonist, macrophages enter a state of sustained activation in which they continuously sense the presence of a microbial challenge.
PMCID: PMC58839  PMID: 11686851

Results 1-12 (12)