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1.  Frequency and Fitness Consequences of Bacteriophage Φ6 Host Range Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113078.
Viruses readily mutate and gain the ability to infect novel hosts, but few data are available regarding the number of possible host range-expanding mutations allowing infection of any given novel host, and the fitness consequences of these mutations on original and novel hosts. To gain insight into the process of host range expansion, we isolated and sequenced 69 independent mutants of the dsRNA bacteriophage Φ6 able to infect the novel host, Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes. In total, we found at least 17 unique suites of mutations among these 69 mutants. We assayed fitness for 13 of 17 mutant genotypes on P. pseudoalcaligenes and the standard laboratory host, P. phaseolicola. Mutants exhibited significantly lower fitnesses on P. pseudoalcaligenes compared to P. phaseolicola. Furthermore, 12 of the 13 assayed mutants showed reduced fitness on P. phaseolicola compared to wildtype Φ6, confirming the prevalence of antagonistic pleiotropy during host range expansion. Further experiments revealed that the mechanistic basis of these fitness differences was likely variation in host attachment ability. In addition, using computational protein modeling, we show that host-range expanding mutations occurred in hotspots on the surface of the phage's host attachment protein opposite a putative hydrophobic anchoring domain.
PMCID: PMC4237377  PMID: 25409341
2.  A Potent Combination Microbicide that Targets SHIV-RT, HSV-2 and HPV 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94547.
Prevalent infection with human herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) or human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with increased human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. Microbicides that target HIV as well as these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may more effectively limit HIV incidence. Previously, we showed that a microbicide gel (MZC) containing MIV-150, zinc acetate (ZA) and carrageenan (CG) protected macaques against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-RT) infection and that a ZC gel protected mice against HSV-2 infection. Here we evaluated a modified MZC gel (containing different buffers, co-solvents, and preservatives suitable for clinical testing) against both vaginal and rectal challenge of animals with SHIV-RT, HSV-2 or HPV. MZC was stable and safe in vitro (cell viability and monolayer integrity) and in vivo (histology). MZC protected macaques against vaginal (p<0.0001) SHIV-RT infection when applied up to 8 hours (h) prior to challenge. When used close to the time of challenge, MZC prevented rectal SHIV-RT infection of macaques similar to the CG control. MZC significantly reduced vaginal (p<0.0001) and anorectal (p = 0.0187) infection of mice when 106 pfu HSV-2 were applied immediately after vaginal challenge and also when 5×103 pfu were applied between 8 h before and 4 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0248). Protection of mice against 8×106 HPV16 pseudovirus particles (HPV16 PsV) was significant for MZC applied up to 24 h before and 2 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0001) and also if applied 2 h before or after anorectal challenge (p<0.0006). MZC provides a durable window of protection against vaginal infection with these three viruses and, against HSV-2 and HPV making it an excellent candidate microbicide for clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3989196  PMID: 24740100
3.  Identification of Personal Lubricants That Can Cause Rectal Epithelial Cell Damage and Enhance HIV Type 1 Replication in Vitro 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2011;27(9):1019-1024.
Over-the-counter personal lubricants are used frequently during vaginal and anal intercourse, but they have not been extensively tested for biological effects that might influence HIV transmission. We evaluated the in vitro toxicity anti-HIV-1 activity and osmolality of popular lubricants. A total of 41 lubricants were examined and compared to Gynol II and Carraguard as positive and negative controls for toxicity, respectively. Cytotoxicity was assessed using the XTT assay. The MAGI assay with R5 and X4 HIV-1 laboratory strains was used to evaluate antiviral activity. The effect of the lubricants on differentiated Caco-2 cell monolayers (transepithelial electrical resistance, TEER) was also measured. None of the lubricants tested showed significant activity against HIV-1. Surprisingly, four of them, Astroglide Liquid, Astroglide Warming Liquid, Astroglide Glycerin & Paraben-Free Liquid, and Astroglide Silken Secret, significantly enhanced HIV-1 replication (p<0.0001). A common ingredient in three of these preparations is polyquaternium-15. In vitro testing of a chemically related compound (MADQUAT) confirmed that this similarly augmented HIV-1 replication. Most of the lubricants were found to be hyperosmolar and the TEER value dropped approximately 60% 2 h after exposure to all lubricants tested. Cells treated with Carraguard, saline, and cell controls maintained about 100% initial TEER value after 2–6 h. We have identified four lubricants that significantly increase HIV-1 replication in vitro. In addition, the epithelial damage caused by these and many other lubricants may have implications for enhancing HIV transmission in vivo. These data emphasize the importance of performing more rigorous safety testing on these products.
PMCID: PMC3161103  PMID: 21309617
4.  Zinc Acetate/Carrageenan Gels Exhibit Potent Activity In Vivo against High-Dose Herpes Simplex Virus 2 Vaginal and Rectal Challenge 
Topical microbicides that block the sexual transmission of HIV and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) are desperately needed to reduce the incidence of HIV infections worldwide. Previously we completed phase 3 testing of the carrageenan-based gel Carraguard. Although the trial did not show that Carraguard is effective in preventing HIV transmission during vaginal sex, it did show that Carraguard is safe when used weekly for up to 2 years. Moreover, Carraguard has in vitro activity against human papillomavirus (HPV) and HSV-2 and favorable physical and rheological properties, which makes it a useful vehicle to deliver antiviral agents such as zinc acetate. To that end, we previously reported that a prototype zinc acetate carrageenan gel protects macaques against vaginal challenge with combined simian-human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT). Herein, we report the safety and efficacy of a series of zinc acetate and/or carrageenan gels. The gels protected mice (75 to 85% survival; P < 0.001) against high-dose (106-PFU) HSV-2 vaginal or rectal challenge. In contrast, zinc acetate formulated in HEC (hydroxyethylcellulose; or the Universal Placebo) failed to protect mice against the high-dose vaginal HSV-2 challenge (similar to aqueous zinc acetate solution and the placebo controls). The gels were found to be effective spreading gels, exhibited limited toxicity in vitro, caused minimal damage to the architecture of the cervicovaginal and rectal mucosae in vivo, and induced no increased susceptibility to HSV-2 infection in a mouse model. Our results provide a strong rationale to further optimize and evaluate the zinc acetate/carrageenan gels for their ability to block the sexual transmission of HIV and HSV-2.
PMCID: PMC3256046  PMID: 22064530

Results 1-4 (4)