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1.  Acanthamoeba castellanii Genotype T4 Stimulates the Production of Interleukin-10 as Well as Proinflammatory Cytokines in THP-1 Cells, Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, and Human Monocyte-Derived Macrophages 
Infection and Immunity  2016;84(10):2953-2962.
Free-living amoebae of the genus Acanthamoeba can cause severe and chronic infections in humans, mainly localized in immune privileged sites, such as the brain and the eye. Monocytes/macrophages are thought to be involved in Acanthamoeba infections, but little is known about how these facultative parasites influence their functions. The aim of this work was to investigate the effects of Acanthamoeba on human monocytes/macrophages during the early phase of infection. Here, THP-1 cells, primary human monocytes isolated from peripheral blood, and human monocyte-derived macrophages were either coincubated with trophozoites of a clinical isolate of Acanthamoeba (genotype T4) or stimulated with amoeba-derived cell-free conditioned medium. Production of proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α], interleukin-6 [IL-6], and IL-12), anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10), and chemokine (IL-8) was evaluated at specific hours poststimulation (ranging from 1.5 h to 23 h). We showed that both Acanthamoeba trophozoites and soluble amoebic products induce an early anti-inflammatory monocyte-macrophage phenotype, characterized by significant production of IL-10; furthermore, challenge with either trophozoites or their soluble metabolites stimulate both proinflammatory cytokines and chemokine production, suggesting that this protozoan infection results from the early induction of coexisting, opposed immune responses. Results reported in this paper confirm that the production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines by monocytes and macrophages can play a role in the development of the inflammatory response during Acanthamoeba infections. Furthermore, we demonstrate for the first time that Acanthamoeba stimulates IL-10 production in human innate immune cells, which might both promote the immune evasion of Acanthamoeba and limit the induced inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC5038060  PMID: 27481240
2.  Extensive Genetic Diversity, Unique Population Structure and Evidence of Genetic Exchange in the Sexually Transmitted Parasite Trichomonas vaginalis 
Trichomonas vaginalis is the causative agent of human trichomoniasis, the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection world-wide. Despite its prevalence, little is known about the genetic diversity and population structure of this haploid parasite due to the lack of appropriate tools. The development of a panel of microsatellite makers and SNPs from mining the parasite's genome sequence has paved the way to a global analysis of the genetic structure of the pathogen and association with clinical phenotypes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we utilize a panel of T. vaginalis-specific genetic markers to genotype 235 isolates from Mexico, Chile, India, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Italy, Africa and the United States, including 19 clinical isolates recently collected from 270 women attending New York City sexually transmitted disease clinics. Using population genetic analysis, we show that T. vaginalis is a genetically diverse parasite with a unique population structure consisting of two types present in equal proportions world-wide. Parasites belonging to the two types (type 1 and type 2) differ significantly in the rate at which they harbor the T. vaginalis virus, a dsRNA virus implicated in parasite pathogenesis, and in their sensitivity to the widely-used drug, metronidazole. We also uncover evidence of genetic exchange, indicating a sexual life-cycle of the parasite despite an absence of morphologically-distinct sexual stages.
Our study represents the first robust and comprehensive evaluation of global T. vaginalis genetic diversity and population structure. Our identification of a unique two-type structure, and the clinically relevant phenotypes associated with them, provides a new dimension for understanding T. vaginalis pathogenesis. In addition, our demonstration of the possibility of genetic exchange in the parasite has important implications for genetic research and control of the disease.
Author Summary
The human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis causes trichomoniasis, the world's most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection. Research on T. vaginalis genetic diversity has been limited by a lack of appropriate genotyping tools. To address this problem, we recently published a panel of T. vaginalis-specific genetic markers; here we use these markers to genotype isolates collected from ten regions around the globe. We detect high levels of genetic diversity, infer a two-type population structure, identify clinically relevant differences between the two types, and uncover evidence of genetic exchange in what was believed to be a clonal organism. Together, these results greatly improve our understanding of the population genetics of T. vaginalis and provide insights into the possibility of genetic exchange in the parasite, with implications for the epidemiology and control of the disease. By taking into account the existence of different types and their unique characteristics, we can improve understanding of the wide range of symptoms that patients manifest and better implement appropriate drug treatment. In addition, by recognizing the possibility of genetic exchange, we are more equipped to address the growing concern of drug resistance and the mechanisms by which it may spread within parasite populations.
PMCID: PMC3313929  PMID: 22479659
3.  Trichomonas vaginalis vast BspA-like gene family: evidence for functional diversity from structural organisation and transcriptomics 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:99.
Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common non-viral human sexually transmitted pathogen and importantly, contributes to facilitating the spread of HIV. Yet very little is known about its surface and secreted proteins mediating interactions with, and permitting the invasion and colonisation of, the host mucosa. Initial annotations of T. vaginalis genome identified a plethora of candidate extracellular proteins.
Data mining of the T. vaginalis genome identified 911 BspA-like entries (TvBspA) sharing TpLRR-like leucine-rich repeats, which represent the largest gene family encoding potential extracellular proteins for the pathogen. A broad range of microorganisms encoding BspA-like proteins was identified and these are mainly known to live on mucosal surfaces, among these T. vaginalis is endowed with the largest gene family. Over 190 TvBspA proteins with inferred transmembrane domains were characterised by a considerable structural diversity between their TpLRR and other types of repetitive sequences and two subfamilies possessed distinct classic sorting signal motifs for endocytosis. One TvBspA subfamily also shared a glycine-rich protein domain with proteins from Clostridium difficile pathogenic strains and C. difficile phages. Consistent with the hypothesis that TvBspA protein structural diversity implies diverse roles, we demonstrated for several TvBspA genes differential expression at the transcript level in different growth conditions. Identified variants of repetitive segments between several TvBspA paralogues and orthologues from two clinical isolates were also consistent with TpLRR and other repetitive sequences to be functionally important. For one TvBspA protein cell surface expression and antibody responses by both female and male T. vaginalis infected patients were also demonstrated.
The biased mucosal habitat for microbial species encoding BspA-like proteins, the characterisation of a vast structural diversity for the TvBspA proteins, differential expression of a subset of TvBspA genes and the cellular localisation and immunological data for one TvBspA; all point to the importance of the TvBspA proteins to various aspects of T. vaginalis pathobiology at the host-pathogen interface.
PMCID: PMC2843621  PMID: 20144183
4.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;315(5809):207-212.
We describe the genome sequence of the protist Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted human pathogen. Repeats and transposable elements comprise about two-thirds of the ~160-megabase genome, reflecting a recent massive expansion of genetic material. This expansion, in conjunction with the shaping of metabolic pathways that likely transpired through lateral gene transfer from bacteria, and amplification of specific gene families implicated in pathogenesis and phagocytosis of host proteins may exemplify adaptations of the parasite during its transition to a urogenital environment. The genome sequence predicts previously unknown functions for the hydrogenosome, which support a common evolutionary origin of this unusual organelle with mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC2080659  PMID: 17218520
5.  Chronic Exposure to Helicobacter pylori Impairs Dendritic Cell Function and Inhibits Th1 Development▿  
Infection and Immunity  2006;75(2):810-819.
Helicobacter pylori causes chronic gastric infection that affects the majority of the world's population. Despite generating an inflammatory response, the immune system usually fails to clear the infection. Since dendritic cells (DCs) play a pivotal role in shaping the immune response, we investigated the effects of H. pylori on DC function. We have demonstrated that H. pylori increased the expression of activation markers on DCs while upregulating the inhibitory B7 family molecule, PD-L1. Functionally, H. pylori-treated DCs resulted in the production of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and IL-23 but not of alpha interferon (IFN-α). While very little or no IL-12 was produced to H. pylori alone, simultaneous ligation of CD40 on DCs induced IL-12 release. We also demonstrated that DCs treated with H. pylori-induced IFN-γ production by allogeneic naive T cells. However, stimulation of DCs with H. pylori for an extended period of time impaired their ability to produce cytokines after CD40 ligation and limited their ability to promote IFN-γ release, suggesting that the DCs had become exhausted by the prolonged stimulation. The effect of chronic infection with H. pylori on DC function was further investigated by focusing on DC development. Demonstrating that monocytes differentiated into DCs in the presence of H. pylori exhibited an exhausted phenotype with an impaired ability to produce IL-12 and a downregulation of CD1a. Our results raise the possibility that in chronic H. pylori infection DCs become exhausted after prolonged antigen exposure leading to suboptimal Th1 development. This effect may contribute to persistence of H. pylori infection.
PMCID: PMC1828488  PMID: 17101659
6.  Long-Term Survival and Intracellular Replication of Mycoplasma hominis in Trichomonas vaginalis Cells: Potential Role of the Protozoon in Transmitting Bacterial Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(2):1180-1186.
The existence of a symbiotic relationship between Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma hominis, which is the first reported example of symbiosis between two obligate human pathogens, has been recently reported by our research group. In this work, we examined the cellular location of M. hominis in respect to T. vaginalis. By using gentamicin protection assays, double immunofluorescence, and confocal microscopy, we obtained strong evidence that M. hominis is located within protozoan cells. 5-Bromodeoxyuridine incorporation assays showed that intracellularly located mycoplasmas actively synthesize DNA. Our results demonstrate that M. hominis has the capability of entering trichomonad cells and of replicating inside the protozoon. These findings suggest that symbiosis might provide the bacteria, during human infection, with the capability to resist to environmental stresses, such as host defense mechanisms and pharmacological therapies.
PMCID: PMC546971  PMID: 15664961
7.  Host and Tissue Specificity of Trichomonas vaginalis Is Not Mediated by Its Known Adhesion Proteins 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(7):4358-4360.
Adhesion of Trichomonas vaginalis is believed to be dependent on four adhesion proteins, which are thought to bind to vaginal epithelial cells in a specific manner with a ligand-receptor type of interaction. However, the specific receptors on the host cell have not yet been identified. In this work, the ability of the T. vaginalis adhesins to bind to cells of different histologic derivations and from different species has been studied. HeLa, CHO, and Vero cell lines; erythrocytes from different species; and a prokaryote without a cell wall, Mycoplasma hominis, were employed in order to investigate the cell specificity of the T. vaginalis adhesins. We observed that the T. vaginalis adhesins are able to bind to the different cell types to the same extent, suggesting that the host and tissue specificity of T. vaginalis adhesion should not be due to specificity of the parasite adhesins. Our results suggest that the data published to date on the subject are probably artifactual and that the experiments reported in the literature are not appropriate for identification of protozoan adhesins.
PMCID: PMC101769  PMID: 10858260
8.  Brucella abortus Infection Acquired in Microbiology Laboratories 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(5):2005-2006.
We report an outbreak of laboratory-acquired Brucella abortus infection originating in the accidental breakage of a centrifuge tube. A total of 12 laboratory workers were infected (attack rate of 31%), with an incubation time ranging from 6 weeks to 5 months. Antibody titers were evaluated weekly in all personnel exposed, allowing the diagnosis of the infection in most cases before the onset of clinical symptoms, so that specific therapy could be administrated.
PMCID: PMC86653  PMID: 10790142
9.  Development of a Nested PCR for Detection of Cryptococcus neoformans in Cerebrospinal Fluid 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(11):3438-3440.
We report the development of a nested-PCR-based assay for the detection of Cryptococcus neoformans in cerebrospinal fluid. The specificity and sensitivity of the test were assessed. The technique was then applied to 40 cerebrospinal fluid samples. We obtained positive reactions for all 21 clinical samples from patients who had been previously diagnosed as having cryptococcal meningitis by conventional techniques and negative reactions for all 19 negative controls. Nested PCR is here compared with other diagnostic methods currently used in patients’ follow-up exams during anticryptococcal therapy.
PMCID: PMC105354  PMID: 9774618
10.  Cloning and Molecular Characterization of a cDNA Clone Coding for Trichomonas vaginalis Alpha-Actinin and Intracellular Localization of the Protein 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(10):4924-4931.
We have identified and sequenced a cDNA clone coding for Trichomonas vaginalis alpha-actinin. Analysis of the obtained sequence revealed that the 2,857-nucleotide-long cDNA contained an open reading frame encoding 849 amino acids which showed consistent homology with alpha-actinins of different species. Such homology was particularly significant in regions which have been reported to represent the actin-binding and Ca2+-binding domains in other alpha-actinins. The deduced protein was also characterized by the presence of a divergent central region thought to play a role in its high immunogenicity. A study of protein localization performed by immunofluorescence revealed that the protein is diffusely distributed throughout the T. vaginalis cytoplasm when the cell is pear shaped. When parasites adhere and transform into the amoeboid morphology, the protein is located only in areas close to the cytoplasmic membrane and colocalizes with actin. Concomitantly with transformation into the amoeboid morphology, alpha-actinin mRNA expression is upregulated.
PMCID: PMC108609  PMID: 9746598

Results 1-10 (10)