Latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) is encoded by the Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS)-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) open reading frame 73. LANA is expressed during latent KSHV infection of cells, including tumor cells, such as primary effusion lymphoma, KS and multicentric Castleman’s disease. Latently infected cells have multiple extrachromosomal copies of covalently closed circular KSHV genomes (episomes) that are stably maintained in proliferating cells. LANA’s best characterized function is that of mediating episome persistence. It does so by binding terminal repeat sequences to the chromosomal matrix, thus ensuring episome replication with each cell division and efficient DNA segregation to daughter nuclei after mitosis. To achieve these functions, LANA associates with different host cell proteins, including chromatin-associated proteins and proteins involved in DNA replication. In addition to episome maintenance, LANA has transcriptional regulatory effects and affects cell growth. LANA exerts these functions through interactions with different cell proteins.
AIDS; HIV; human herpesvirus 8; Kaposi’s sarcoma; lymphoma; viral latency
Malaria is a disease caused by infection with Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted by mosquito bite. Five different species of Plasmodium infect humans with severe disease, but human malaria is primarily caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The burden of malaria on the developing world is enormous, and a fully protective vaccine is still elusive. One of the biggest challenges in the quest for the development of new antimalarial drugs and vaccines is the lack of accessible animal models to study P. falciparum infection because the parasite is restricted to the great apes and human hosts. Here, we review the current state of research in this field and provide an outlook of the development of humanized small animal models to study P. falciparum infection that will accelerate fundamental research into human parasite biology and could accelerate drug and vaccine design in the future.
animal model; blood stage; humanized mice; infectious disease; liver stage; malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax
In this study, we investigate whether pH (low) insertion peptide (pHLIP) can target regions of lung injury associated with influenza infection.
Materials & methods
Fluorophore-conjugated pHLIP was injected intraperitoneally into mice infected with a sublethal dose of H1N1 influenza and visualized histologically.
pHLIP specifically targeted inflamed lung tissues of infected mice in the later stages of disease and at sites where alveolar type I and type II cells were depleted. Regions of pHLIP-targeted lung tissue were devoid of peroxiredoxin 6, the lung-abundant antioxidant enzyme, and were deficient in pneumocytes. Interestingly, a pHLIP variant possessing mutations that render it insensitive to pH changes was also able to target damaged lung tissue.
pHLIP holds potential for delivering therapeutics for lung injury during influenza infection. Furthermore, there may be more than one mechanism that enables pHLIP variants to target inflamed lung tissue.
delivery; inflammation; influenza; peptide; pHLIP
Many examples of the emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases involve the adaptation of zoonotic viruses to new amplification hosts or to humans themselves. These include several instances of simple mutational adaptations, often to hosts closely related to the natural reservoirs. However, based on theoretical grounds, arthropod-borne viruses, or arboviruses, may face several challenges for adaptation to new hosts. Here, we review recent findings regarding adaptive evolution of arboviruses and its impact on disease emergence. We focus on the zoonotic alphaviruses Venezuelan equine encephalitis and chikungunya viruses, which have undergone adaptive evolution that mediated recent outbreaks of disease, as well as the flaviviruses dengue and West Nile viruses, which have emerged via less dramatic adaptive mechanisms.
adaptation; alphavirus; emergence; evolution; fitness; flavivirus; mosquito; vector
Borrelia burgdorferi, a pathogen transmitted by Ixodes ticks, is responsible for a prevalent illness known as Lyme disease, and a vaccine for human use is unavailable. Recently, genome sequences of several B. burgdorferi strains and Ixodes scapularis ticks have been determined. In addition, remarkable progress has been made in developing molecular genetic tools to study the pathogen and vector, including their intricate relationship. These developments are helping unravel the mechanisms by which Lyme disease pathogens survive in a complex enzootic infection cycle. Notable discoveries have already contributed to understanding the spirochete gene regulation accounting for the temporal and spatial expression of B. burgdorferi genes during distinct phases of the lifecycle. A number of pathogen and vector gene products have also been identified that contribute to microbial virulence and/or persistence. These research directions will enrich our knowledge of vector-borne infections and contribute towards the development of preventative strategies against Lyme disease.
Borrelia burgdorferi; Ixodes; ticks; Lyme disease; vector–pathogen interaction
Gene- and cell-based therapies hold great potential for the advancement of the personalized medicine movement. Gene therapy vectors have made dramatic leaps forward since their inception. Retroviral-based vectors were the first to gain clinical attention and still offer the best hope for the long-term correction of many disorders. The fear of nonspecific transduction makes targeting a necessary feature for most clinical applications. However, this remains a difficult feature to optimize, with specificity often coming at the expense of efficiency. The aim of this article is to discuss the various methods employed to retarget retroviral entry. Our focus will lie on the modification of gammaretroviral envelope proteins with an in-depth discussion of the creation and screening of envelope libraries.
DNA shuffling; FeLV; library screening; MLV; murine leukemia virus; pseudotyping; retroviral entry; sindbis Env; viral envelopes; viral receptors; viral retargeting
Members of the RTX family of protein toxins are functionally conserved among an assortment of bacterial pathogens. By disrupting host cell integrity through their pore-forming and cytolytic activities, this class of toxins allows pathogens to effectively tamper with normal host cell processes, promoting pathogenesis. Here, we focus on the biology of RTX toxins by describing salient properties of a prototype member, α-hemolysin, which is of ten encoded by strains of uropathogenic Escherichia coli. It has long been appreciated that RTX toxins can have distinct effects on host cells aside from outright lysis. Recently, advances in modeling and analysis of host–pathogen interactions have led to novel findings concerning the consequences of pore formation during host–pathogen interactions. We discuss current progress on longstanding questions concerning cell specificity and pore formation, new areas of investigation that involve toxin-mediated perturbations of host cell signaling cascades and perspectives on the future of RTX toxin investigation.
Akt; evolution; HlyA; host response; membrane repair; mesotrypsin; pore-forming toxin; UPEC; urinary tract infection; uropathogenic Escherichia coli
Respiratory syncytial virus is a single-stranded RNA virus in the Paramyxoviridae family that preferentially assembles and buds from the apical surface of polarized epithelial cells, forming filamentous structures that contain both viral proteins and the genomic RNA. Recent studies have described both viral and host factors that are involved in ribonucleoprotein assembly and trafficking of viral proteins to the cell surface. At the cell surface, viral proteins assemble into filaments that probably require interactions between viral proteins, host proteins and the cell membrane. Finally, a membrane scission event must occur to release the free virion. This article will review the recent literature describing the mechanisms that drive respiratory syncytial virus assembly and budding.
fusion proteins; paramyxovirus; respiratory syncytial viruses; virus assembly; virus filaments
While organized screening programs in industrialized countries have significantly reduced cervical cancer incidence, cytology-based screening has several limitations. Equivocal or mildly abnormal Pap tests require costly retesting or diagnostic work-up by colposcopy and biopsy. In low-resource countries, it has been difficult to establish and sustain cytology-based programs. Advances in understanding human papillomavirus biology and the natural history of human papillomavirus-related precancers and cancers have led to the discovery of a range of novel biomarkers in the past decade. In this article, we will discuss the potential role of new biomarkers for primary screening, triage and diagnosis in high-resource countries and their promise for prevention efforts in resource constrained settings.
accuracy; biomarkers; cervical cancer; HPV; prevention; risk prediction; screening
Burkholderia pseudomallei is the etiologic agent of melioidosis. This multifaceted disease is difficult to treat, resulting in high morbidity and mortality. Treatment of B. pseudomallei infections is lengthy and necessitates an intensive phase (parenteral ceftazidime, amoxicillin–clavulanic acid or meropenem) and an eradication phase (oral trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole). The main resistance mechanisms affecting these antibiotics include enzymatic inactivation, target deletion and efflux from the cell, and are mediated by chromosomally encoded genes. Overproduction and mutations in the class A PenA β-lactamase cause ceftazidime and amoxicillin–clavulanic acid resistance. Deletion of the penicillin binding protein 3 results in ceftazidime resistance. BpeEF–OprC efflux pump expression causes trimethoprim and trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole resistance. Although resistance is still relatively rare, therapeutic efficacies may be compromised by resistance emergence due to increased use of antibiotics in endemic regions. Novel agents and therapeutic strategies are being tested and, in some instances, show promise as anti-B. pseudomallei infectives.
antibiotics; Burkholderia pseudomallei; melioidosis; resistance; therapy
The new superbug Neisseria gonorrhoeae has retained resistance to antimicrobials previously recommended for first-line treatment and has now demonstrated its capacity to develop resistance to the extended-spectrum cephalosporin, ceftriaxone, the last remaining option for first-line empiric treatment of gonorrhea. An era of untreatable gonorrhea may be approaching, which represents an exceedingly serious public health problem. Herein, we review the evolution, origin and spread of antimicrobial resistance and resistance determinants (with a focus on extended-spectrum cephalosporins) in N. gonorrhoeae, detail the current situation regarding verified treatment failures with extended-spectrum cephalosporins and future treatment options, and highlight essential actions to meet the large public health challenge that arises with the possible emergence of untreatable gonorrhea. Essential actions include: implementing action/response plans globally and nationally; enhancing surveillance of gonococcal antimicrobial resistance, treatment failures and antimicrobial use/misuse; and improving prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of gonorrhea. Novel treatment strategies, antimicrobials (or other compounds) and, ideally, a vaccine must be developed.
action plan; antimicrobial resistance; cefixime; ceftriaxone; cephalosporins; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; penA; surveillance; treatment failure
Endolysins are enzymes used by bacteriophages at the end of their replication cycle to degrade the peptidoglycan of the bacterial host from within, resulting in cell lysis and release of progeny virions. Due to the absence of an outer membrane in the Gram-positive bacterial cell wall, endolysins can access the peptidoglycan and destroy these organisms when applied externally, making them interesting antimicrobial candidates, particularly in light of increasing bacterial drug resistance. This article reviews the modular structure of these enzymes, in which cell wall binding and catalytic functions are separated, as well as their mechanism of action, lytic activity and potential as antimicrobials. It particularly focuses on molecular engineering as a means of optimizing endolysins for specific applications, highlights new developments that may render these proteins active against Gram-negative and intracellular pathogens and summarizes the most recent applications of endolysins in the fields of medicine, food safety, agriculture and biotechnology.
antimicrobial; bacteriophage; detection; endolysin; lysis; peptidoglycan hydrolase; protein engineering
Pneumocystis jirovecii is the opportunistic fungal organism that causes Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) in humans. Similar to other opportunistic pathogens, Pneumocystis causes disease in individuals who are immunocompromised, particularly those infected with HIV. PCP remains the most common opportunistic infection in patients with AIDS. Incidence has decreased greatly with the advent of HAART. However, an increase in the non-HIV immunocompromised population, noncompliance with current treatments, emergence of drug-resistant strains and rise in HIV+ cases in developing countries makes Pneumocystis a pathogen of continued interest and a public health threat. A great deal of research interest has addressed therapeutic interventions to boost waning immunity in the host to prevent or treat PCP. This article focuses on research conducted during the previous 5 years regarding the host immune response to Pneumocystis, including innate, cell-mediated and humoral immunity, and associated immunotherapies tested against PCP.
adaptive immunity; chemokine; cytokine; fungal; HAART; HIV+; inflammatory response; innate immunity; Pneumocystis pneumonia
A major contributor to the emergence of antibiotic resistance in Gram-positive bacterial pathogens is the expansion of acquired, inducible genetic elements. Although acquired, inducible antibiotic resistance is not new, the interest in its molecular basis has been accelerated by the widening distribution and often ‘silent’ spread of the elements responsible, the diagnostic challenges of such resistance and the mounting limitations of available agents to treat Gram-positive infections. Acquired, inducible antibiotic resistance elements belong to the accessory genome of a species and are horizontally acquired by transformation/recombination or through the transfer of mobile DNA elements. The two key, but mechanistically very different, induction mechanisms are: ribosome-sensed induction, characteristic of the macrolide–lincosamide–streptogramin B antibiotics and tetracycline resistance, leading to ribosomal modifications or efflux pump activation; and resistance by cell surface-associated sensing of β-lactams (e.g., oxacillin), glycopeptides (e.g., vancomycin) and the polypeptide bacitracin, leading to drug inactivation or resistance due to cell wall alterations.
antimicrobial resistance; Gram-positive bacteria; inducible resistance; mobile genetic elements; ribosomal stalling; transposon
Environmental pathogens – organisms that survive in the outside environment but maintain the capacity to cause disease in mammals – navigate the challenges of life in habitats that range from water and soil to the cytosol of host cells. The bacterium Listeria monocytogenes has served for decades as a model organism for studies of host–pathogen interactions and for fundamental paradigms of cell biology. This ubiquitous saprophy te has recently become a model for understanding how an environmental bacterium switches to life within human cells. This review describes how L. monocytogenes balances life in disparate environments with the help of a critical virulence regulator known as PrfA. Understanding L. monocytogenes survival strategies is important for gaining insight into how environmental microbes become pathogens.
environmental pathogen; GASP; intracellular pathogen; PrfA
Existing drugs have limited efficacy against the rising threat of drug-resistant TB, have significant side effects, and must be given in combinations of four to six drugs for at least 6 months for drug-sensitive TB and up to 24 months for drug-resistant TB. The long treatment duration has led to increased patient noncompliance with therapy. This, in turn, drives the development of additional drug resistance in a spiral that has resulted in some forms of TB being currently untreatable by existing drugs. New antitubercular drugs in development, particularly those with mechanisms of action that are different from existing first- and second-line TB drugs, are anticipated to be effective against both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB. SQ109 is a new TB drug candidate with a novel mechanism of action that was safe and well tolerated in Phase I and early Phase II clinical trials. We describe herein the identification, development and characterization of SQ109 as a promising new antitubercular drug.
antitubercular agent; clinical trial; drug discovery; drug resistance; MDR-TB; pharmacology; tuberculosis; XDR-TB
Anaplasma phagocytophilum is an obligate intracellular rickettsial pathogen transmitted by ixodid ticks. This bacterium colonizes myeloid and nonmyeloid cells and causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis – an important immunopathological vector-borne disease in the USA, Europe and Asia. Recent studies uncovered novel insights into the mechanisms of A. phagocytophilum pathogenesis and immunity. Here, we provide an overview of the underlying events by which the immune system responds to A. phagocytophilum infection, how this pathogen counteracts host immunity and the contribution of the tick vector for microbial transmission. We also discuss current scientific gaps in the knowledge of A. phagocytophilum biology for the purpose of exchanging research perspectives.
Bacterial meningitis is among the top ten causes of infectious disease-related deaths worldwide, with up to half of the survivors left with permanent neurological sequelae. The blood–brain barrier (BBB), composed mainly of specialized brain microvascular endothelial cells, maintains biochemical homeostasis in the CNS by regulating the passage of nutrients, molecules and cells from the blood to the brain. Despite its highly restrictive nature, certain bacterial pathogens are able to gain entry into the CNS resulting in serious disease. In recent years, important advances have been made in understanding the molecular and cellular events that are involved in the development of bacterial meningitis. In this review, we summarize the progress made in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of bacterial BBB-crossing, highlighting common themes of host–pathogen interaction, and the potential role of the BBB in innate defense during infection.
blood–brain barrier; Escherichia coli K1; group B Streptococcus; Haemophilus influenzae type B; meningitis; Neisseria meningitidis; neutrophil; Streptococcus pneumoniae; tight/adherens junction
Many bacterial pathogens employ multicomponent protein complexes to deliver macromolecules directly into their eukaryotic host cell to promote infection. Some Gram-negative pathogens use a versatile type IV secretion system (T4SS) that can translocate DNA or proteins into host cells. T4SSs represent major bacterial virulence determinants and have recently been the focus of intense research efforts designed to better understand and combat infectious diseases. Interestingly, although the two major classes of T4SSs function in a similar manner to secrete proteins, the translocated “effectors” vary substantially from one organism to another. In fact, differing effector repertoires likely contribute to organism-specific host cell interactions and disease outcomes. In this review, we discuss the current state of T4SS research, with an emphasis on intracellular bacterial pathogens of humans and the diverse array of translocated effectors used to manipulate host cells.
type IV secretion; effector; Dot/Icm substrate; intracellular pathogen
Porphyromonas gingivalis, a black-pigmented, Gram-negative anaerobe, is an important etiologic agent of periodontal disease. The harsh inflammatory condition of the periodontal pocket implies that this organism has properties that will facilitate its ability to respond and adapt to oxidative stress. Because the stress response in the pathogen is a major determinant of its virulence, a comprehensive understanding of its oxidative stress resistance strategy is vital. We discuss multiple mechanisms and systems that clearly work in synergy to defend and protect P. gingivalis against oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species. The involvement of multiple hypothetical proteins and/or proteins of unknown function in this process may imply other unique mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets.
7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine; antioxidant protein; gingipain; oxidative stress; Porphyromonas gingivalis; reactive oxygen species; ROS
A number of viruses in the family Arenaviridae cause severe illness in humans. Lassa virus in West Africa and a number of agents in South America produce hemorrhagic fever (HF) in persons exposed to aerosolized excretions of the pathogens’ rodent hosts. Because arenaviruses are not transmitted by arthropods, and person-to-person spread is rare, human infections occur singly and sporadically, and are usually not diagnosed until the patient is severely ill. Because the arenaviruses are naturally transmitted by the airborne route, they also pose a potential threat as aerosolized bioterror weapons. The broad-spectrum antiviral drug ribavirin was shown to reduce mortality from Lassa fever, and has been tested against Argentine HF, but it is not an approved treatment for either disease. Human immune convalescent plasma was proven to be effective for Argentine HF in a controlled trial. New treatments are needed to block viral replication without causing toxicity and to prevent the increased vascular permeability that is responsible for hypotension and shock. In this paper, we review current developments in the experimental therapy of severe arenaviral infections, focusing on drugs that have been tested in animal models, and provide a perspective on future research.
arenavirus; viral hemorrhagic fever; Lassa fever; Argentine hemorrhagic fever; Machupo virus; Junín virus; Guanarito virus; Sabia virus; antiviral therapy
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause diseases ranging from benign warts to invasive tumours. A subset of these viruses termed “high risk” infects the cervix where persistent infection can lead to cervical cancer. Although many HPV genomes have been sequenced, knowledge of virus gene expression and its regulation is still incomplete. This is due in part to lack, until recently, of suitable systems for virus propagation in the laboratory. HPV gene expression is polycistronic initiating from multiple promoters. Gene regulation occurs at transcriptional, but particularly post-transcriptional levels, including RNA processing, nuclear export, mRNA stability and translation. A close association between the virus replication cycle and epithelial differentiation adds a further layer of complexity. Understanding HPV mRNA expression and its regulation in the different diseases associated with infection may lead to development of novel diagnostic approaches and will reveal key viral and cellular targets for development of novel antiviral therapies.
Human papillomavirus; gene expression; transcription; RNA processing; translation; diagnostics; antiviral therapy
Nasopharyngeal colonization provides bacteria with a place of residence, a platform for person-to-person transmission and for many opportunistic pathogens it is a prerequisite event towards the development of invasive disease. Therefore, how host factors within the nasopharynx contribute to, inhibit or otherwise shape biofilm formation, the primary mode of existence for colonizing bacteria, and how biofilm bacteria subvert the acute inflammatory response that facilitates clearance, are important topics for future microbiological research. This review proposes the examination of host components as bridging molecules for bacterial interactions during biofilm formation, altered virulence determinant production and cell wall modification as a mechanism for immunoquiescence, and the role of host factors as signals and co-opted mechanisms for bacterial dissemination, together providing an opportunity for disease.
asymptomatic carriage; bacteria; biofilm; colonization; nasopharynx; persistence