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1.  Synthesis and Toll-Like Receptor 4 (TLR4) Activity of Phosphatidylinositol Dimannoside Analogues 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2011;54(20):7268-7279.
A series of five PIM2 analogues were synthesized and tested for their ability to activate primary macrophages and modulate LPS signaling. Structural changes included replacement of the fatty acid esters of the phosphatidyl moiety of PIM2 with the corresponding ether or amide. An AcPIM2 analogue possessing an ether linkage was also prepared. The synthetic methodology utilized an orthogonally protected chiral myo-inositol starting material that was conveniently prepared from myo-inositol in just two steps. Important steps in the synthetic protocols included the regio- and α-selective glycosylation of inositol O-6 and introduction of the phosphodiester utilizing phosphoramidite chemistry. Replacement of the inositol core with a glycerol moiety gave compounds described as phosphatidylglycerol dimannosides (PGM2). Biological testing of these PIM compounds indicated that the agonist activity was TLR4 dependent. An ether linkage increased agonist activity, removal of the inositol ring enhanced antagonist activity and the presence of an additional lipid chain enhanced LPS-induced cytokine production in primary macrophages. Furthermore, the interruption of the LPS-induced TLR4/MD-2 2:2 signaling complex formation by PIM2 represents a previously unidentified mechanism involved in the bioactivity of PIM molecules.
PMCID: PMC3280216  PMID: 21936536
2.  Analysis of the CD1 Antigen Presenting System in Humanized SCID Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21701.
CD1 molecules are glycoproteins that present lipids and glycolipids for recognition by T cells. CD1-dependent immune activation has been implicated in a wide range of immune responses, however, our understanding of the role of this pathway in human disease remains limited because of species differences between humans and other mammals: whereas humans express five different CD1 gene products (CD1a, CD1b, CD1c, CD1d, and CD1e), muroid rodents express only one CD1 isoform (CD1d). Here we report that immune deficient mice engrafted with human fetal thymus, liver, and CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells develop a functional human CD1 compartment. CD1a, b, c, and d isoforms were highly expressed by human thymocytes, and CD1a+ cells with a dendritic morphology were present in the thymic medulla. CD1+ cells were also detected in spleen, liver, and lungs. APCs from spleen and liver were capable of presenting bacterial glycolipids to human CD1-restricted T cells. ELISpot analyses of splenocytes demonstrated the presence of CD1-reactive IFN-γ producing cells. CD1d tetramer staining directly identified human iNKT cells in spleen and liver samples from engrafted mice, and injection of the glycolipid antigen α-GalCer resulted in rapid elevation of human IFN-γ and IL-4 levels in the blood indicating that the human iNKT cells are biologically active in vivo. Together, these results demonstrate that the human CD1 system is present and functionally competent in this humanized mouse model. Thus, this system provides a new opportunity to study the role of CD1-related immune activation in infections to human-specific pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3128084  PMID: 21738769
3.  The Vα14 invariant natural killer T cell TCR forces microbial glycolipids and CD1d into a conserved binding mode 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2010;207(11):2383-2393.
The first crystal structures of iNKT cell TCRs bound to complexes of CD1d and microbe-derived glycolipids provide insight into the structural basis of iNKT cell microbial antigen recognition.
Invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT cells) rapidly produce effector cytokines. In this study, we report the first crystal structures of the iNKT cell T cell receptor (TCR) bound to two natural, microbial glycolipids presented by CD1d. Binding of the TCR induced CDR3-α–dependent structural changes in the F′ roof of CD1d; these changes resemble those occurring in the absence of TCR engagement when the highly potent synthetic antigen α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) binds CD1d. Furthermore, in the Borrelia burgdorferi α–galactosyl diacylglycerol–CD1d complex, TCR binding caused a marked repositioning of the galactose sugar into an orientation that closely resembles α-GalCer. The TCR-dependent reorientation of the sugar, together with the induced CD1d fit, may explain the weaker potency of the microbial antigens compared with α-GalCer. We propose that the TCR of iNKT cells binds with a conserved footprint onto CD1d, regardless of the bound glycolipid antigen, and that for microbial antigens this unique binding mode requires TCR-initiated conformational changes.
PMCID: PMC2964572  PMID: 20921281
4.  Primary deficiency of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein in human abetalipoproteinemia is associated with loss of CD1 function 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(8):2889-2899.
Abetalipoproteinemia (ABL) is a rare Mendelian disorder of lipid metabolism due to genetic deficiency in microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP). It is associated with defects in MTP-mediated lipid transfer onto apolipoprotein B (APOB) and impaired secretion of APOB-containing lipoproteins. Recently, MTP was shown to regulate the CD1 family of lipid antigen-presenting molecules, but little is known about immune function in ABL patients. Here, we have shown that ABL is characterized by immune defects affecting presentation of self and microbial lipid antigens by group 1 (CD1a, CD1b, CD1c) and group 2 (CD1d) CD1 molecules. In dendritic cells isolated from ABL patients, MTP deficiency was associated with increased proteasomal degradation of group 1 CD1 molecules. Although CD1d escaped degradation, it was unable to load antigens and exhibited functional defects similar to those affecting the group 1 CD1 molecules. The reduction in CD1 function resulted in impaired activation of CD1-restricted T and invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells and reduced numbers and phenotypic alterations of iNKT cells consistent with central and peripheral CD1 defects in vivo. These data highlight MTP as a unique regulator of human metabolic and immune pathways and reveal that ABL is not only a disorder of lipid metabolism but also an immune disease involving CD1.
PMCID: PMC2912200  PMID: 20592474
5.  Role of Phosphatidylinositol Mannosides in the Interaction between Mycobacteria and DC-SIGN▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(10):4538-4547.
The C-type lectin dendritic cell (DC)-specific intercellular adhesion molecule 3-grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN) is the major receptor on DCs for mycobacteria of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Recently, we have shown that although the mannose caps of the mycobacterial surface glycolipid lipoarabinomannan (ManLAM) are essential for the binding to DC-SIGN, genetic removal of these caps did not diminish the interaction of whole mycobacteria with DC-SIGN and DCs. Here we investigated the role of the structurally related glycolipids phosphatidylinositol mannosides (PIMs) as possible ligands for DC-SIGN. In a binding assay with both synthetic and natural PIMs, DC-SIGN exhibited a high affinity for hexamannosylated PIM6, which contains terminal α(1→2)-linked mannosyl residues identical to the mannose cap on ManLAM, but not for di- and tetramannosylated PIM2 and PIM4, respectively. To determine the role of PIM6 in the binding of whole mycobacteria to DC-SIGN, a mutant strain of M. bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin deficient in the production of PIM6 (ΔpimE) was created, as well as a double knockout deficient in the production of both PIM6 and the mannose caps on LAM (ΔpimE ΔcapA). Compared to the wild-type strain, both mutant strains bound similarly well to DC-SIGN and DCs. Furthermore, the wild-type and mutant strains induced comparable levels of interleukin-10 and interleukin-12p40 when used to stimulate DCs. Hence, we conclude that, like ManLAM, PIM6 represents a bona fide DC-SIGN ligand but that other, as-yet-unknown, ligands dominate in the interaction between mycobacteria and DCs.
PMCID: PMC2747922  PMID: 19651855
6.  Soluble CD36 Ectodomain Binds Negatively Charged Diacylglycerol Ligands and Acts as a Co-Receptor for TLR2 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7411.
Cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36) is a transmembrane glycoprotein involved in many biological processes, such as platelet biology, angiogenesis and in the aetiopathology of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are one of the most important receptors of the innate immune system. Their main function is the recognition of conserved structure of microorganisms. This recognition triggers signaling pathways that activate transcription of cytokines and co-stimulatory molecules which participate in the generation of an immune response against microbes. In particular, TLR2 has been shown to recognize a broad range of ligands. Recently, we showed that CD36 serves as a co-receptor for TLR2 and enhances recognition of specific diacylglycerides derived from bacteria.
Methodology/ Principal Findings
Here, we investigate the mechanism by which CD36 contributes to ligand recognition and activation of TLR2 signaling pathway. We show that the ectodomain of murine CD36 (mCD36ED) directly interacts with negatively charged diacylglycerol ligands, which explains the specificity and selectivity of CD36 as a TLR2 co-receptor. We also show that mCD36ED amplifies the pro-inflammatory response to lipoteichoic acid in macrophages of wild-type mice and restores the pro-inflammatory response of macrophages from mice deficient in CD36 (oblivious), but not from mice deficient in cluster of differentiation 14 (CD14) (heedless).
Conclusion/ Significance
These data indicate that the CD36 ectodomain is the only relevant domain for activation of TLR2 signaling pathway and that CD36 and CD14 have a non-redundant role for loading ligands onto TLR2 in the plasma-membrane. The pro-inflammatory role of soluble CD36 can be relevant in the activation of the immune response against pathogens, as well as in the progression of chronic diseases. Therefore, an increased level of soluble forms of CD36, which has been reported to be increased in type II diabetic patients, could accelerate atherosclerosis by increasing the pro-inflammatory response to diacylglycerol ligands.
PMCID: PMC2760212  PMID: 19847289
7.  2-Benzyl-myo-inositol monohydrate 
The title structure, C13H18O6·H2O, contains two independent 2-benzyl-myo-inositol and water mol­ecules. In the crystal, the mol­ecules are strongly hydrogen bonded into an infinite two dimensional network utilizing all OH protons.
PMCID: PMC2971447  PMID: 21578375
8.  Enhanced Protection against Bovine Tuberculosis after Coadministration of Mycobacterium bovis BCG with a Mycobacterial Protein Vaccine-Adjuvant Combination but Not after Coadministration of Adjuvant Alone▿  
Current efforts are aimed at optimizing the protective efficacy of Mycobacterium bovis BCG by the use of vaccine combinations. We have recently demonstrated that the protection afforded by BCG alone is enhanced by vaccinating cattle with a combination of vaccines comprising BCG and a protein tuberculosis vaccine, namely, culture filtrate proteins (CFPs) from M. bovis plus an adjuvant. In the current study, three different adjuvant systems were compared. The CFP was formulated with a depot adjuvant, dimethyldioctadecyl ammonium bromide (DDA), together with one of three different immunostimulants: monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), a synthetic mycobacterial phosphatidylinositol mannoside-2 (PIM2), and a synthetic lipopeptide (Pam3Cys-SKKKK [Pam3CSK4]). Groups of cattle (n = 10/group) were vaccinated with BCG-CFP-DDA-PIM2, BCG-CFP-DDA-MPL, or BCG-CFP-DDA-Pam3CSK4. Two additional groups (n = 10) were vaccinated with BCG alone or BCG-adjuvant (DDA-MPL), and a control group was left unvaccinated. Protection was assessed by challenging the cattle intratracheally with M. bovis. Groups of cattle vaccinated with BCG-CFP-DDA-PIM2, BCG-CFP-DDA-MPL, BCG-CFP-DDA-Pam3CSK4, and BCG alone showed significant reductions in three, three, five, and three pathological and microbiological disease parameters, respectively, compared to the results for the nonvaccinated group. Vaccination with the combination of BCG and the DDA-MPL adjuvant alone abrogated the protection conferred by BCG alone. The profiling of cytokine gene expression following vaccination, prior to challenge, did not illuminate significant differences which could explain the latter result. Vaccination of cattle with a combination of BCG and protein tuberculosis vaccine enhances protection against tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC2394838  PMID: 18337375
9.  Steady-State and Pre-Steady-State Kinetic Analysis of Mycobacterium smegmatis Cysteine Ligase (MshC) 
Biochemistry  2007;46(40):11421-11429.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis and many other members of the Actinomycetes family produce mycothiol, i.e., 1-D-myo-inosityl-2-(N-acetyl-L-cysteinyl)amido-2-deoxy-α-D-glucopyranoside (MSH or AcCys-GlcN-Ins), to act against oxidative and antibiotic stress. The biosynthesis of MSH is essential for cell growth, and has been proposed to proceed via a biosynthetic pathway involving four key enzymes, MshA-D. The MSH biosynthetic enzymes present potential targets for inhibitor design. With this as a long-term goal, we have carried out a kinetic and mechanistic characterization, using steady state and pre-steady state approaches, of the recombinant Mycobacterium smegmatis MshC. MshC catalyzes the ATP-dependent condensation of GlcN-Ins and cysteine to form Cys-GlcN-Ins. Initial velocity and inhibition studies show that the steady state kinetic mechanism of MshC is a Bi Uni Uni Bi Ping Pong mechanism, with ATP binding followed by cysteine binding, release of PPi, binding of GlcN-Ins, followed by the release of Cys-GlcN-Ins and AMP. The steady state kinetic parameters were determined to be: kcat equal to 3.15 s−1, and Km values of 1.8, 0.1, and 0.16 mM for ATP, cysteine, and GlcN-Ins, respectively. A stable bisubstrate analog, 5′-O-[N-(L-cysteinyl)sulfamonyl]adenosine, exhibits competitive inhibition versus ATP and non-competitive inhibition versus cysteine, with an inhibition constant of ~306 nM versus ATP. Single-turnover reactions of the first and second half reactions were determined using rapid quench techniques, giving rates of ~9.4 s−1 and ~5.2 s−1, respectively, consistent with the cysteinyl adenylate being a kinetically competent intermediate in the reaction by MshC.
PMCID: PMC2526253  PMID: 17848100
Mycobacterium; mycothiol; cysteine ligase

Results 1-9 (9)