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2.  Characterization of Reverse Genetics-Derived Cold-Adapted Master Donor Virus A/Leningrad/134/17/57 (H2N2) and Reassortants with H5N1 Surface Genes in a Mouse Model 
Live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) offer significant advantages over subunit or split inactivated vaccines to mitigate an eventual influenza pandemic, including simpler manufacturing processes and more cross-protective immune responses. Using an established reverse genetics (rg) system for wild-type (wt) A/Leningrad/134/1957 and cold-adapted (ca) A/Leningrad/134/17/1957 (Len17) master donor virus (MDV), we produced and characterized three rg H5N1 reassortant viruses carrying modified HA and intact NA genes from either A/Vietnam/1203/2004 (H5N1, VN1203, clade 1) or A/Egypt/321/2007 (H5N1, EG321, clade 2) virus. A mouse model of infection was used to determine the infectivity and tissue tropism of the parental wt viruses compared to the ca master donor viruses as well as the H5N1 reassortants. All ca viruses showed reduced replication in lungs and enhanced replication in nasal epithelium. In addition, the H5N1 HA and NA enhanced replication in lungs unless it was restricted by the internal genes of the ca MDV. Mice inoculated twice 4 weeks apart with the H5N1 reassortant LAIV candidate viruses developed serum hemagglutination inhibition HI and IgA antibody titers to the homologous and heterologous viruses consistent with protective immunity. These animals remained healthy after challenge inoculation with a lethal dose with homologous or heterologous wt H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses. The profiles of viral replication in respiratory tissues and the immunogenicity and protective efficacy characteristics of the two ca H5N1 candidate LAIV viruses warrant further development into a vaccine for human use.
PMCID: PMC4018889  PMID: 24648485
3.  Analytical reactivity of 13 commercially available rapid influenza diagnostic tests with H3N2v and recently circulating influenza viruses 
Rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) used widely in clinical practice are simple to use and provide results within 15 minutes; however, reported performance is variable, which causes concern when novel or variant viruses emerge. This study's goal was to assess the analytical reactivity of 13 RIDTs with recently circulating seasonal and H3N2v influenza viruses, using three different viral measures.
Virus stocks were characterized by infectious dose (ID50) and nucleoprotein (NP) concentration, diluted at half-log dilutions, and tested with each RIDT and real-time RT-PCR.
Strong correlation was observed between NP concentration and RIDT reactivity; however, only weak correlation was seen with ID50 or Ct values. Only four RIDTs detected viral NP at the lowest dilution for all influenza A viruses (IAV). Influenza A viruses not detected by more than one RIDT had lower NP levels. Of the 13 RIDTs, 9 had no significant differences in reactivity across IAV when compared to NP levels.
Previous reports of RIDT performance typically compare reactivity based on ID50 titers, which in this study correlated only weakly with proportional amounts of viral NP in prepared virus samples. In the context of the strong correlation of RIDT reactivity with NP concentration, H3N2v was found to be as reactive as seasonal circulating IAV. While these findings may not reflect clinical performance of these RIDTs, measuring NP concentration can be useful in the future to assess comparable reactivity of available RIDTs, or to assess reactivity with newly evolving or emerging viruses.
PMCID: PMC4181808  PMID: 24698134
Diagnostic; FDA; H3N2v; influenza; rapid
4.  New World Bats Harbor Diverse Influenza A Viruses 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003657.
Aquatic birds harbor diverse influenza A viruses and are a major viral reservoir in nature. The recent discovery of influenza viruses of a new H17N10 subtype in Central American fruit bats suggests that other New World species may similarly carry divergent influenza viruses. Using consensus degenerate RT-PCR, we identified a novel influenza A virus, designated as H18N11, in a flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. Serologic studies with the recombinant H18 protein indicated that several Peruvian bat species were infected by this virus. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that, in some gene segments, New World bats harbor more influenza virus genetic diversity than all other mammalian and avian species combined, indicative of a long-standing host-virus association. Structural and functional analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase indicate that sialic acid is not a ligand for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a unique mode of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important and likely ancient reservoir for a diverse pool of influenza viruses.
Author Summary
Previous studies indicated that a novel influenza A virus (H17N10) was circulating in fruit bats from Guatemala (Central America). Herein, we investigated whether similar viruses are present in bat species from South America. Analysis of rectal swabs from bats sampled in the Amazon rainforest region of Peru identified another new influenza A virus from bats that is phylogenetically distinct from the one identified in Guatemala. The genes that encode the surface proteins of the new virus from the flat-faced fruit bat were designated as new subtype H18N11. Serologic testing of blood samples from several species of Peruvian bats indicated a high prevalence of antibodies to the surface proteins. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that bat populations from Central and South America maintain as much influenza virus genetic diversity in some gene segments as all other mammalian and avian species combined. The crystal structures of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins indicate that sialic acid is not a receptor for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a novel mechanism of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. In summary, our findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important reservoir for influenza viruses.
PMCID: PMC3794996  PMID: 24130481
5.  Long-Term Exposure to Cigarette Smoke Extract Induces Hypomethylation at the RUNX3 and IGF2-H19 Loci in Immortalized Human Urothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e65513.
Cigarette smoking is the single most important epidemiological risk factor for bladder cancer but it is not known whether exposure of urothelial cells to the systemic soluble contents of cigarette smoke is directly causative to bladder cancer and the associated epigenetic changes such as tumor suppressor gene hypermethylation. We undertook this study to investigate if long-term treatment of human urothelial cells with cigarette smoke extract (CSE) results in tumor suppressor gene hypermethylation, a phenotype that was previously associated with long-term constant CSE treatment of airway epithelial cells. We chronically treated an immortalized human urothelial cell line UROtsa with CSE using a cyclic daily regimen but the cells were cultured in CSE-free medium between daily treatments. Bisulfite sequencing and real-time PCR array-based methylation profiling were employed to evaluate methylation changes at tumor suppressor gene loci in the chronically CSE-treated cells versus the passage-matched untreated control cells. The RUNX3 tumor suppressor gene promoter was hypomethylated with a significant increase in proportion of the completely unmethylated haplotype after the long-term CSE treatment; whereas RUNX3 promoter hypermethylation was previously reported for bladder cancers of smokers. Hypomethylation induced by the long-term CSE treatment was also observed for the IGF2-H19 locus. The methylation status at the PRSS8/prostasin and 16 additional loci however, was unaffected by the chronic CSE treatment. Transient CSE treatment over 1 daily regimen resulted in transcriptional down-regulation of RUNX3 and H19, but only the H19 transcription was down-regulated in the chronically CSE-treated urothelial cells. Transcription of a key enzyme in one-carbon metabolism, dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) was greatly reduced by the long-term CSE treatment, potentially serving as a mechanism for the hypomethylation phenotype via a reduced supply of methyl donor. In conclusion, chronic cyclic CSE treatment of urothelial cells induced hypomethylation rather than hypermethylation at specific loci.
PMCID: PMC3665628  PMID: 23724145
6.  Characterization of Cross-Linked Porous Gelatin Carriers and Their Interaction with Corneal Endothelium: Biopolymer Concentration Effect 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54058.
Cell sheet-mediated tissue regeneration is a promising approach for corneal reconstruction. However, the fragility of bioengineered corneal endothelial cell (CEC) monolayers allows us to take advantage of cross-linked porous gelatin hydrogels as cell sheet carriers for intraocular delivery. The aim of this study was to further investigate the effects of biopolymer concentrations (5–15 wt%) on the characteristic and safety of hydrogel discs fabricated by a simple stirring process combined with freeze-drying method. Results of scanning electron microscopy, porosity measurements, and ninhydrin assays showed that, with increasing solid content, the pore size, porosity, and cross-linking index of carbodiimide treated samples significantly decreased from 508±30 to 292±42 µm, 59.8±1.1 to 33.2±1.9%, and 56.2±1.6 to 34.3±1.8%, respectively. The variation in biopolymer concentrations and degrees of cross-linking greatly affects the Young’s modulus and swelling ratio of the gelatin carriers. Differential scanning calorimetry measurements and glucose permeation studies indicated that for the samples with a highest solid content, the highest pore wall thickness and the lowest fraction of mobile water may inhibit solute transport. When the biopolymer concentration is in the range of 5–10 wt%, the hydrogels have high freezable water content (0.89–0.93) and concentration of permeated glucose (591.3–615.5 µg/ml). These features are beneficial to the in vitro cultivation of CECs without limiting proliferation and changing expression of ion channel and pump genes such as ATP1A1, VDAC2, and AQP1. In vivo studies by analyzing the rabbit CEC morphology and count also demonstrate that the implanted gelatin discs with the highest solid content may cause unfavorable tissue-material interactions. It is concluded that the characteristics of cross-linked porous gelatin hydrogel carriers and their triggered biological responses are in relation to biopolymer concentration effects.
PMCID: PMC3559727  PMID: 23382866
7.  Targeting zymogen activation to control the matriptase-prostasin proteolytic cascade 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(21):7567-7578.
Membrane-associated serine protease matriptase has been implicated in human diseases, and might be a drug target. In the present study, a novel class of matriptase inhibitors targeting zymogen activation is developed by a combination of the screening of compound library using a cell-based matriptase activation assay and a computer-aided search of commercially available analogs of a selected compound. Four structurally related compounds are identified that can inhibit matriptase activation with IC50 at low μM in both intact-cell and cell-free systems, suggesting that these inhibitors target the matriptase autoactivation machinery rather than the intracellular signaling pathways. These activation inhibitors can also inhibit prostasin activation, a downstream event that occurs in lockstep with matriptase activation. In contrast, the matriptase catalytic inhibitor CVS-3983 at a concentration 300-fold higher than its Ki fails to inhibit activation of either protease. Our results suggest that inhibiting matriptase activation is an efficient way to control matriptase function.
PMCID: PMC3214968  PMID: 21966950
8.  Proteasome Inhibition Augments Cigarette Smoke-Induced GM-CSF Expression in Trophoblast Cells via the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43042.
Maternal cigarette smoking has adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes. The granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is an essential cytokine for a normal pregnancy. We investigated the impact of cigarette smoke extract (CSE) on GM-CSF expression in human cytotrophoblast cells and suggested a cellular mechanism underlying the CSE-induced GM-CSF expression. An immortalized normal human trophoblast cell line (B6Tert-1) was treated with CSE. The viability and proliferation of the CSE-treated B6Tert-1 cells were evaluated, and the expression of GM-CSF in these cells was quantified at the mRNA and the protein levels by means of reverse-transcription and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR); and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. Human trophoblast cells treated with CSE had an increased expression of GM-CSF at both the mRNA and the protein levels. The CSE-induced GM-CSF expression was synergistically enhanced by the addition of the proteasome inhibitor MG-132, but inhibited by AG-1478, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase. Furthermore, CSE treatment increased the phosphorylation of the extracellular-signal regulated kinases (ERK1/2) in the trophoblast cells. The expression of other growth factors such as heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was also evaluated. Our data suggested that cigarette smoking and proteasome inhibition synergistically up-regulate GM-CSF cytokine expression by activating the EGFR signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3422336  PMID: 22912784
9.  Adaptation of a Duck Influenza A Virus in Quail 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(3):1411-1420.
Quail are thought to serve as intermediate hosts of influenza A viruses between aquatic birds and terrestrial birds, such as chickens, due to their high susceptibility to aquatic-bird viruses, which then adapt to replicate efficiently in their new hosts. However, does replication of aquatic-bird influenza viruses in quail similarly result in their efficient replication in humans? Using sialic acid-galactose linkage-specific lectins, we found both avian (sialic acid-α2-3-galactose [Siaα2-3Gal] linkages on sialyloligosaccharides)- and human (Siaα2-6Gal)-type receptors on the tracheal cells of quail, consistent with previous reports. We also passaged a duck H3N2 virus in quail 19 times. Sequence analysis revealed that eight mutations accumulated in hemagglutinin (HA) during these passages. Interestingly, many of the altered HA amino acids found in the adapted virus are present in human seasonal viruses, but not in duck viruses. We also found that stepwise stalk deletion of neuraminidase occurred during passages, resulting in reduced neuraminidase function. Despite some hemagglutinin mutations near the receptor binding pocket, appreciable changes in receptor specificity were not detected. However, reverse-genetics-generated viruses that possessed the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase of the quail-passaged virus replicated significantly better than the virus possessing the parent HA and neuraminidase in normal human bronchial epithelial cells, whereas no significant difference in replication between the two viruses was observed in duck cells. Further, the quail-passaged but not the original duck virus replicated in human bronchial epithelial cells. These data indicate that quail can serve as intermediate hosts for aquatic-bird influenza viruses to be transmitted to humans.
PMCID: PMC3264366  PMID: 22090115
10.  Virus-Like Particle Vaccine Containing Hemagglutinin Confers Protection against 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Influenza ▿ 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2011;18(12):2010-2017.
Immunization of the world population before an influenza pandemic such as the 2009 H1N1 virus spreads globally is not possible with current vaccine production platforms. New influenza vaccine technologies, such as virus-like-particles (VLPs), offer a promising alternative. Here, we tested the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a VLP vaccine containing hemagglutinin (HA) and M1 from the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (H1N1pdm) in ferrets and compared intramuscular (i.m.) and intranasal (i.n.) routes of immunization. Vaccination of ferrets with VLPs containing the M1 and HA proteins from A/California/04/2009 (H1N1pdm) induced high antibody titers and conferred significant protection against virus challenge. VLP-vaccinated animals lost less weight, shed less virus in nasal washes, and had markedly lower virus titers in all organs tested than naïve controls. A single dose of VLPs, either i.m. or i.n., induced higher levels of antibody than did two doses of commercial split vaccine. Ferrets vaccinated with split vaccine were incompletely protected against challenge; these animals had lower virus titers in olfactory bulbs, tonsils, and intestines, but lost weight and shed virus in nasal washes to a similar extent as naïve controls. Challenge with heterologous A/Brisbane/59/07 (H1N1) virus revealed that the VLPs conferred minimal cross-protection to heterologous infection, as revealed by the lack of reduction in nasal wash and lung virus titers and slightly higher weight loss relative to controls. In summary, these experiments demonstrate the strong immunogenicity and protective efficacy of VLPs compared to the split vaccine and show that i.n. vaccination with VLPs has the potential for highly efficacious vaccination against influenza.
PMCID: PMC3232700  PMID: 22030367
11.  Role of Position 627 of PB2 and the Multibasic Cleavage Site of the Hemagglutinin in the Virulence of H5N1 Avian Influenza Virus in Chickens and Ducks 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30960.
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses have caused major disease outbreaks in domestic and free-living birds with transmission to humans resulting in 59% mortality amongst 564 cases. The mutation of the amino acid at position 627 of the viral polymerase basic-2 protein (PB2) from glutamic acid (E) in avian isolates to lysine (K) in human isolates is frequently found, but it is not known if this change affects the fitness and pathogenicity of the virus in birds. We show here that horizontal transmission of A/Vietnam/1203/2004 H5N1 (VN/1203) virus in chickens and ducks was not affected by the change of K to E at PB2-627. All chickens died between 21 to 48 hours post infection (pi), while 70% of the ducks survived infection. Virus replication was detected in chickens within 12 hours pi and reached peak titers in spleen, lung and brain between 18 to 24 hours for both viruses. Viral antigen in chickens was predominantly in the endothelium, while in ducks it was present in multiple cell types, including neurons, myocardium, skeletal muscle and connective tissues. Virus replicated to a high titer in chicken thrombocytes and caused upregulation of TLR3 and several cell adhesion molecules, which may explain the rapid virus dissemination and location of viral antigen in endothelium. Virus replication in ducks reached peak values between 2 and 4 days pi in spleen, lung and brain tissues and in contrast to infection in chickens, thrombocytes were not involved. In addition, infection of chickens with low pathogenic VN/1203 caused neuropathology, with E at position PB2-627 causing significantly higher infection rates than K, indicating that it enhances virulence in chickens.
PMCID: PMC3283584  PMID: 22363523
12.  The Virulence of 1997 H5N1 Influenza Viruses in the Mouse Model Is Increased by Correcting a Defect in Their NS1 Proteins ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(14):7048-7058.
The NS1 protein of human influenza A viruses binds the 30-kDa subunit of the cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor (CPSF30), a protein required for 3′ end processing of cellular pre-mRNAs, thereby inhibiting production of beta interferon (IFN-β) mRNA. The NS1 proteins of pathogenic 1997 H5N1 viruses contain the CPSF30-binding site but lack the consensus amino acids at positions 103 and 106, F and M, respectively, that are required for the stabilization of CPSF30 binding, resulting in nonoptimal CPSF30 binding in infected cells. Here we have demonstrated that strengthening CPSF30 binding, by changing positions 103 and 106 in the 1997 H5N1 NS1 protein to the consensus amino acids, results in a remarkable 300-fold increase in the lethality of the virus in mice. Unexpectedly, this increase in virulence is not associated with increased lung pathology but rather is characterized by faster systemic spread of the virus, particularly to the brain, where increased replication and severe pathology occur. This increased spread is associated with increased cytokine and chemokine levels in extrapulmonary tissues. We conclude that strengthening CPSF30 binding by the NS1 protein of 1997 H5N1 viruses enhances virulence in mice by increasing the systemic spread of the virus from the lungs, particularly to the brain.
PMCID: PMC3126612  PMID: 21593152
13.  The Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Is Proteolytically Modified by the Matriptase-Prostasin Serine Protease Cascade in Cultured Epithelial Cells 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2007;1783(5):896-903.
Prostasin is expressed at the apical surface of normal epithelial cells and suppresses in vitro invasion of cancer cells. Prostasin re-expression in the PC-3 prostate carcinoma cells down-regulated the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein expression and EGF-induced phosphorylation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinases (Erk1/2). We report here that prostasin and its activating enzyme matriptase are capable of inducing proteolytic cleavages in the EGFR extracellular domain (ECD) when co-expressed in the FT-293 cells, generating two amino-terminally truncated fragments EGFR135 and EGFR110, at 135 and 110 kDa. Prostasin’s role in EGFR cleavage is dependent on the serine active site but not the GPI-anchor. The modifications of EGFR were confirmed to be on the primary structure by deglycosylation. EGFR135 and EGFR110 are not responsive to EGF stimulation, indicating loss of the ligand-binding domains. EGFR110 is constitutively phosphorylated and in its presence Erk1/2 phosphorylation is increased in the absence of EGF. The protease-induced EGFR cleavages are not dependent on EGFR phosphorylation. The EGFR ECD proteolytic modification by matriptase-prostasin is also observed in the BEAS-2B normal lung epithelial cells, the BPH-1 benign prostate hyperplasia and the MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines; and represents a novel mechanism for epithelial cells to modulate EGF-EGFR signaling.
PMCID: PMC3214967  PMID: 18054338
ErbB Receptor Tyrosine Kinases; GPI-anchor; Transmembrane Glycoprotein; Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinases; MT-SP1; PRSS8
14.  IFITM3 Inhibits Influenza A Virus Infection by Preventing Cytosolic Entry 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(10):e1002337.
To replicate, viruses must gain access to the host cell's resources. Interferon (IFN) regulates the actions of a large complement of interferon effector genes (IEGs) that prevent viral replication. The interferon inducible transmembrane protein family members, IFITM1, 2 and 3, are IEGs required for inhibition of influenza A virus, dengue virus, and West Nile virus replication in vitro. Here we report that IFN prevents emergence of viral genomes from the endosomal pathway, and that IFITM3 is both necessary and sufficient for this function. Notably, viral pseudoparticles were inhibited from transferring their contents into the host cell cytosol by IFN, and IFITM3 was required and sufficient for this action. We further demonstrate that IFN expands Rab7 and LAMP1-containing structures, and that IFITM3 overexpression is sufficient for this phenotype. Moreover, IFITM3 partially resides in late endosomal and lysosomal structures, placing it in the path of invading viruses. Collectively our data are consistent with the prediction that viruses that fuse in the late endosomes or lysosomes are vulnerable to IFITM3's actions, while viruses that enter at the cell surface or in the early endosomes may avoid inhibition. Multiple viruses enter host cells through the late endocytic pathway, and many of these invaders are attenuated by IFN. Therefore these findings are likely to have significance for the intrinsic immune system's neutralization of a diverse array of threats.
Author Summary
Influenza epidemics exact a great toll on world health. Thus research to identify new anti-influenza virus strategies would be useful. Each of our cells contains antiviral factors that work to inhibit infection. A large component of this antiviral program is regulated by the interferon family of signaling molecules. Here, we seek to better understand how one of these antiviral factors, IFITM3, contributes to both baseline, as well as interferon-induced, antagonism of influenza A viral infection. We found that interferon prevents influenza A virus from entering our cells by blocking the virus' fusion with the cellular membrane. Furthermore, we learned that IFITM3 is required for this antiviral action of interferon, and that high levels of IFITM3 alone can produce a similar viral inhibition. Together, these results improve our understanding of how IFITM3 serves to defend us against viral invasion at a very early stage of infection.
PMCID: PMC3203188  PMID: 22046135
15.  Protective immunity against H5N1 influenza virus by a single dose vaccination with virus-like particles 
Virology  2010;405(1):165-175.
We generated influenza virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the wild type (WT) H5 hemagglutinin (HA) from A/Viet Nam/1203/04 virus or a mutant H5 HA with a deletion of the multibasic cleavage motif. VLPs containing mutant H5 HA were found to be as immunogenic as VLPs containing WT HA. A single intramuscular vaccination with either type of H5 VLPs provided complete protection against lethal challenge. In contrast, the recombinant H5 HA vaccine was less immunogenic and vaccination even with 5 fold high dose did not induce protective immunity. VLP vaccines were superior to the recombinant HA in inducing T helper type 1 immune responses, hemagglutination inhibition titers, and antibody secreting cells, which significantly contribute to inducing protective immunity after a single dose vaccination. This study provides insights into the potential mechanisms of improved immunogenicity by H5 VLP vaccines as an approach to improve the protective efficacy against potential pandemic viruses.
PMCID: PMC2925114  PMID: 20580392
Virus like particles; subunit vaccine; influenza virus; H5N1; protection; memory immune responses
17.  Microneedle Delivery of H5N1 Influenza Virus-Like Particles to the Skin Induces Long-Lasting B- and T-Cell Responses in Mice ▿  
A simple method suitable for self-administration of vaccine would improve mass immunization, particularly during a pandemic outbreak. Influenza virus-like particles (VLPs) have been suggested as promising vaccine candidates against potentially pandemic influenza viruses, as they confer long-lasting immunity but are not infectious. We investigated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of influenza H5 VLPs containing the hemagglutinin (HA) of A/Vietnam/1203/04 (H5N1) virus delivered into the skin of mice using metal microneedle patches and also studied the response of Langerhans cells in a human skin model. Prime-boost microneedle vaccinations with H5 VLPs elicited higher levels of virus-specific IgG1 and IgG2a antibodies, virus-specific antibody-secreting cells, and cytokine-producing cells up to 8 months after vaccination compared to the same antigen delivered intramuscularly. Both prime-boost microneedle and intramuscular vaccinations with H5 VLPs induced similar hemagglutination inhibition titers and conferred 100% protection against lethal challenge with the wild-type A/Vietnam/1203/04 virus 16 weeks after vaccination. Microneedle delivery of influenza VLPs to viable human skin using microneedles induced the movement of CD207+ Langerhans cells toward the basement membrane. Microneedle vaccination in the skin with H5 VLPs represents a promising approach for a self-administered vaccine against viruses with pandemic potential.
PMCID: PMC2944468  PMID: 20631330
18.  Receptor Specificity of Influenza A H3N2 Viruses Isolated in Mammalian Cells and Embryonated Chicken Eggs ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(16):8287-8299.
Isolation of human subtype H3N2 influenza viruses in embryonated chicken eggs yields viruses with amino acid substitutions in the hemagglutinin (HA) that often affect binding to sialic acid receptors. We used a glycan array approach to analyze the repertoire of sialylated glycans recognized by viruses from the same clinical specimen isolated in eggs or cell cultures. The binding profiles of whole virions to 85 sialoglycans on the microarray allowed the categorization of cell isolates into two groups. Group 1 cell isolates displayed binding to a restricted set of α2-6 and α2-3 sialoglycans, whereas group 2 cell isolates revealed receptor specificity broader than that of their egg counterparts. Egg isolates from group 1 showed binding specificities similar to those of cell isolates, whereas group 2 egg isolates showed a significantly reduced binding to α2-6- and α2-3-type receptors but retained substantial binding to specific O- and N-linked α2-3 glycans, including α2-3GalNAc and fucosylated α2-3 glycans (including sialyl Lewis x), both of which may be important receptors for H3N2 virus replication in eggs. These results revealed an unexpected diversity in receptor binding specificities among recent H3N2 viruses, with distinct patterns of amino acid substitution in the HA occurring upon isolation and/or propagation in eggs. These findings also suggest that clinical specimens containing viruses with group 1-like receptor binding profiles would be less prone to undergoing receptor binding or antigenic changes upon isolation in eggs. Screening cell isolates for appropriate receptor binding properties might help focus efforts to isolate the most suitable viruses in eggs for production of antigenically well-matched influenza vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2916524  PMID: 20519409
19.  HIV-1 Enhancing Effect of Prostatic Acid Phosphatase Peptides Is Reduced in Human Seminal Plasma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16285.
We recently reported that HIV-1 infection can be inhibited by innate antimicrobial components of human seminal plasma (SP). Conversely, naturally occurring peptidic fragments from the SP-derived prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) have been reported to form amyloid fibrils called “SEVI” and enhance HIV-1 infection in vitro. In order to understand the biological consequence of this proviral effect, we extended these studies in the presence of human SP. PAP-derived peptides were agitated to form SEVI and incubated in the presence or absence of SP. While PAP-derived peptides and SEVI alone were proviral, the presence of 1% SP ablated their proviral activity in several different anti-HIV-1 assays. The anti-HIV-1 activity of SP was concentration dependent and was reduced following filtration. Supraphysiological concentrations of PAP peptides and SEVI incubated with diluted SP were degraded within hours, with SP exhibiting proteolytic activity at dilutions as high as 1∶200. Sub-physiological concentrations of two prominent proteases of SP, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and matriptase, could degrade physiological and supraphysiological concentrations of PAP peptides and SEVI. While human SP is a complex biological fluid, containing both antiviral and proviral factors, our results suggest that PAP peptides and SEVI may be subject to naturally occurring proteolytic components capable of reducing their proviral activity.
PMCID: PMC3024420  PMID: 21283773
20.  Establishment and Characterization of a Madin-Darby Canine Kidney Reporter Cell Line for Influenza A Virus Assays▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(7):2515-2523.
Influenza virus diagnosis has traditionally relied on virus isolation in chicken embryo or cell cultures. Many laboratories have adopted rapid molecular methods for detection of influenza viruses and discontinued routine utilization of the relatively slow viral culture methods. We describe an influenza A virus reporter cell line that contributes to more efficient viral detection in cell culture. Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells were engineered to constitutively produce an influenza virus genome-like luciferase reporter RNA driven by the canine RNA polymerase I promoter. Induction of a high level of luciferase activity was detected in the Luc9.1 cells upon infection with various strains of influenza A virus, including 2009 H1N1 pandemic and highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. In contrast, infection with influenza B virus or human adenovirus type 5 did not induce significant levels of reporter expression. The reporter Luc9.1 cells were evaluated in neutralizing antibody assays with convalescent H3N2 ferret serum, yielding a neutralization titer comparable to that obtained by the conventional microneutralization assay, suggesting that the use of the reporter cell line might simplify neutralization assays by facilitating the establishment of infectious virus endpoints. Luc9.1 cells were also used to determine the susceptibility of influenza A viruses to a model antiviral drug. The equivalence to conventional antiviral assay results indicated that the Luc9.1 cells could provide an alternative cell-based platform for high-throughput drug discovery screens. In summary, the MDCK-derived Luc9.1 reporter cell line is highly permissive for influenza A virus replication and provides a very specific and sensitive approach for simultaneous detection and isolation of influenza A viruses as well as functional evaluation of antibodies and antiviral molecules.
PMCID: PMC2897469  PMID: 20504984
21.  The influence of the multi-basic cleavage site of the H5 hemagglutinin on the attenuation, immunogenicity and efficacy of a live attenuated influenza A H5N1 cold-adapted vaccine virus 
Virology  2009;395(2):280-288.
A recombinant live attenuated influenza virus ΔH5N1 vaccine with a modified hemagglutinin (HA) and intact neuraminidase genes from A/Vietnam/1203/04 (H5N1) and six remaining genome segments from A/Ann Arbor/6/60 (H2N2) cold-adapted (AA ca) virus was previously shown to be attenuated in chickens, mice and ferrets. Evaluation of the recombinant H5N1 viruses in mice indicated that three independent factors contributed to the attenuation of the ΔH5N1 vaccine: the attenuating mutations specified by the AA ca loci had the greatest influence, followed by the deletion of the H5 HA multi-basic cleavage site (MBS), and the constellation effects of the AA genes acting in concert with the H5N1 glycoproteins. Restoring the MBS in the H5 HA of the vaccine virus improved its immunogenicity and efficacy, likely as a consequence of increased virus replication, indicating that removal of the MBS had a deleterious effect on the immunogenicity and efficacy of the ΔH5N1 vaccine in mice.
PMCID: PMC2787913  PMID: 19833372
influenza; H5N1; HA cleavability; attenuation; pandemic; immunogenicity; A/VietNam/1203/04; live vaccine; multi-basic cleavage site
22.  Structures of Receptor Complexes of a North American H7N2 Influenza Hemagglutinin with a Loop Deletion in the Receptor Binding Site 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001081.
Human infections with subtype H7 avian influenza viruses have been reported as early as 1979. In 1996, a genetically stable 24-nucleotide deletion emerged in North American H7 influenza virus hemagglutinins, resulting in an eight amino acid deletion in the receptor-binding site. The continuous circulation of these viruses in live bird markets, as well as its documented ability to infect humans, raises the question of how these viruses achieve structural stability and functionality. Here we report a detailed molecular analysis of the receptor binding site of the North American lineage subtype H7N2 virus A/New York/107/2003 (NY107), including complexes with an avian receptor analog (3′-sialyl-N-acetyllactosamine, 3′SLN) and two human receptor analogs (6′-sialyl-N-acetyllactosamine, 6′SLN; sialyllacto-N-tetraose b, LSTb). Structural results suggest a novel mechanism by which residues Arg220 and Arg229 (H3 numbering) are used to compensate for the deletion of the 220-loop and form interactions with the receptor analogs. Glycan microarray results reveal that NY107 maintains an avian-type (α2-3) receptor binding profile, with only moderate binding to human-type (α2-6) receptor. Thus despite its dramatically altered receptor binding site, this HA maintains functionality and confirms a need for continued influenza virus surveillance of avian and other animal reservoirs to define their zoonotic potential.
Author Summary
Influenza virus adaptation to different hosts usually results in a switch in receptor specificity of the viral surface coat protein, hemagglutinin. Indeed, the hemagglutinin subtypes from the last two human influenza pandemics of the 20th Century (H2 in 1957 and H3 1968) both adapted successfully to human-type receptor specificity through only two amino acid mutations in the receptor binding pocket (Glutamine226→Leucine and Glycine228→Serine). The recent human infections reported with other avian subtypes such as H5, H7 and H9 have raised public health concerns and focused efforts on identifying potential subtypes from which a future pandemic strain may emerge. Since 1996, H7 viruses of the North American lineage have been circulating in regional live bird markets, containing an eight amino acid deletion in the receptor-binding site of HA. Here we report a detailed structural analysis of the receptor binding site of a hemagglutinin from the North American lineage of H7N2 viruses, in complex with avian and human receptor analogs, to understand how these viruses have adapted to such a dramatic structural change in the binding site while remaining one of the predominant circulating viral strains.
PMCID: PMC2932715  PMID: 20824086
23.  Attenuated Strains of Influenza A Viruses Do Not Induce Degradation of RNA Polymerase II▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(21):11166-11174.
We have previously shown that infection with laboratory-passaged strains of influenza virus causes both specific degradation of the largest subunit of the RNA polymerase II complex (RNAP II) and inhibition of host cell transcription. When infection with natural human and avian isolates belonging to different antigenic subtypes was examined, we observed that all of these viruses efficiently induce the proteolytic process. To evaluate whether this process is a general feature of nonattenuated viruses, we studied the behavior of the influenza virus strains A/PR8/8/34 (PR8) and the cold-adapted A/Ann Arbor/6/60 (AA), which are currently used as the donor strains for vaccine seeds due to their attenuated phenotype. We have observed that upon infection with these strains, degradation of the RNAP II does not occur. Moreover, by runoff experiments we observe that PR8 has a reduced ability to inhibit cellular mRNA transcription. In addition, a hypervirulent PR8 (hvPR8) variant that multiplies much faster than standard PR8 (lvPR8) in infected cells and is more virulent in mice than the parental PR8 virus, efficiently induces RNAP II degradation. Studies with reassortant viruses containing defined genome segments of both hvPR8 and lvPR8 indicate that PA and PB2 subunits individually contribute to the ability of influenza virus to degrade the RNAP II. In addition, recently it has been reported that the inclusion of PA or PB2 from hvPR8 in lvPR8 recombinant viruses, highly increases their pathogenicity. Together, the data indicate that the capacity of the influenza virus to degrade RNAP II and inhibit the host cell transcription machinery is a feature of influenza A viruses that might contribute to their virulence.
PMCID: PMC2772756  PMID: 19692472
24.  Reassortment between Avian H5N1 and Human H3N2 Influenza Viruses in Ferrets: a Public Health Risk Assessment▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(16):8131-8140.
This study investigated whether transmissible H5 subtype human-avian reassortant viruses could be generated in vivo. To this end, ferrets were coinfected with recent avian H5N1 (A/Thailand/16/04) and human H3N2 (A/Wyoming/3/03) viruses. Genotype analyses of plaque-purified viruses from nasal secretions of coinfected ferrets revealed that approximately 9% of recovered viruses contained genes from both progenitor viruses. H5 and H3 subtype viruses, including reassortants, were found in airways extending toward and in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets. However, only parental H5N1 genotype viruses were found in lung tissue. Approximately 34% of the recovered reassortant viruses possessed the H5 hemagglutinin (HA) gene, with five unique H5 subtypes recovered. These H5 reassortants were selected for further studies to examine their growth and transmissibility characteristics. Five H5 viruses with representative reassortant genotypes showed reduced titers in nasal secretions of infected ferrets compared to the parental H5N1 virus. No transmission by direct contact between infected and naïve ferrets was observed. These studies indicate that reassortment between H5N1 avian influenza and H3N2 human viruses occurred readily in vivo and furthermore that reassortment between these two viral subtypes is likely to occur in ferret upper airways. Given the relatively high incidence of reassortant viruses from tissues of the ferret upper airway, it is reasonable to conclude that continued exposure of humans and animals to H5N1 alongside seasonal influenza viruses increases the risk of generating H5 subtype reassortant viruses that may be shed from upper airway secretions.
PMCID: PMC2715755  PMID: 19493997
25.  Novel Pandemic Influenza A(H1N1) Viruses Are Potently Inhibited by DAS181, a Sialidase Fusion Protein 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7788.
The recent emergence of a novel pandemic influenza A(H1N1) strain in humans exemplifies the rapid and unpredictable nature of influenza virus evolution and the need for effective therapeutics and vaccines to control such outbreaks. However, resistance to antivirals can be a formidable problem as evidenced by the currently widespread oseltamivir- and adamantane-resistant seasonal influenza A viruses (IFV). Additional antiviral approaches with novel mechanisms of action are needed to combat novel and resistant influenza strains. DAS181 (Fludase™) is a sialidase fusion protein in early clinical development with in vitro and in vivo preclinical activity against a variety of seasonal influenza strains and highly pathogenic avian influenza strains (A/H5N1). Here, we use in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models to evaluate the activity of DAS181 against several pandemic influenza A(H1N1) viruses.
Methods and Findings
The activity of DAS181 against several pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus isolates was examined in MDCK cells, differentiated primary human respiratory tract culture, ex-vivo human bronchi tissue and mice. DAS181 efficiently inhibited viral replication in each of these models and against all tested pandemic influenza A(H1N1) strains. DAS181 treatment also protected mice from pandemic influenza A(H1N1)-induced pathogenesis. Furthermore, DAS181 antiviral activity against pandemic influenza A(H1N1) strains was comparable to that observed against seasonal influenza virus including the H274Y oseltamivir-resistant influenza virus.
The sialidase fusion protein DAS181 exhibits potent inhibitory activity against pandemic influenza A(H1N1) viruses. As inhibition was also observed with oseltamivir-resistant IFV (H274Y), DAS181 may be active against the antigenically novel pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus should it acquire the H274Y mutation. Based on these and previous results demonstrating DAS181 broad-spectrum anti-IFV activity, DAS181 represents a potential therapeutic agent for prevention and treatment of infections by both emerging and seasonal strains of IFV.
PMCID: PMC2770640  PMID: 19893747

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