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1.  Novel Cyclic di-GMP Effectors of the YajQ Protein Family Control Bacterial Virulence 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(10):e1004429.
Bis-(3′,5′) cyclic di-guanylate (cyclic di-GMP) is a key bacterial second messenger that is implicated in the regulation of many critical processes that include motility, biofilm formation and virulence. Cyclic di-GMP influences diverse functions through interaction with a range of effectors. Our knowledge of these effectors and their different regulatory actions is far from complete, however. Here we have used an affinity pull-down assay using cyclic di-GMP-coupled magnetic beads to identify cyclic di-GMP binding proteins in the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc). This analysis identified XC_3703, a protein of the YajQ family, as a potential cyclic di-GMP receptor. Isothermal titration calorimetry showed that the purified XC_3703 protein bound cyclic di-GMP with a high affinity (Kd∼2 µM). Mutation of XC_3703 led to reduced virulence of Xcc to plants and alteration in biofilm formation. Yeast two-hybrid and far-western analyses showed that XC_3703 was able to interact with XC_2801, a transcription factor of the LysR family. Mutation of XC_2801 and XC_3703 had partially overlapping effects on the transcriptome of Xcc, and both affected virulence. Electromobility shift assays showed that XC_3703 positively affected the binding of XC_2801 to the promoters of target virulence genes, an effect that was reversed by cyclic di-GMP. Genetic and functional analysis of YajQ family members from the human pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia showed that they also specifically bound cyclic di-GMP and contributed to virulence in model systems. The findings thus identify a new class of cyclic di-GMP effector that regulates bacterial virulence.
Author Summary
Cyclic di-GMP is a bacterial second messenger that acts to regulate a wide range of functions including those that contribute to the virulence of pathogens. Our knowledge of the different actions and receptors for this nucleotide is far from complete. An understanding of the action of these elements may be key to interference with the processes they control. Here we have used an affinity pull-down assay using cyclic di-GMP-coupled magnetic beads to identify cyclic di-GMP binding proteins in the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris. This analysis identified XC_3703, a protein of the YajQ family that was able to bind cyclic di-GMP with high affinity. Mutation of XC_3703 led to reduced virulence of X. campestris to plants and alteration in biofilm formation. Genetic and functional analysis of YajQ family members from the human pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia showed that they also specifically bound cyclic di-GMP and contributed to virulence in model systems. The findings thus identify a new class of cyclic di-GMP effector that regulates bacterial virulence and raise the possibility that other members of the YajQ family, which occur widely in bacteria, also act in cyclic di-GMP signalling pathways.
PMCID: PMC4199771  PMID: 25329577
2.  Communication, Cooperation, and Social Interactions: a Report from the Third Young Microbiologists Symposium on Microbe Signalling, Organisation, and Pathogenesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(20):3527-3533.
The third Young Microbiologists Symposium took place on the vibrant campus of the University of Dundee, Scotland, from the 2nd to 3rd of June 2014. The symposium attracted over 150 microbiologists from 17 different countries. The significant characteristic of this meeting was that it was specifically aimed at providing a forum for junior scientists to present their work. The meeting was supported by the Society for General Microbiology and the American Society for Microbiology, with further sponsorship from the European Molecular Biology Organization, the Federation of European Microbiological Societies, and The Royal Society of Edinburgh. In this report, we highlight some themes that emerged from the many exciting talks and poster presentations given by the young and talented microbiologists in the area of microbial gene expression, regulation, biogenesis, pathogenicity, and host interaction.
PMCID: PMC4187693  PMID: 25070739
3.  Intellectual Disability, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Risk for Dementia 
People with intellectual disability (ID) are living longer than ever before, raising concerns about old-age associated disorders. Dementia is among the most serious of these disorders, and theories relating cognitive reserve to risk predict that older adults with ID should be particularly vulnerable. Previous estimates of relative risk for dementia associated with ID have been inconsistent, and the present analyses examined the possible influence of variation in diagnostic criteria on findings. As expected, relaxation in the stringency of case definition for adults with ID increased relative risk, underscoring the importance of developing valid criteria for defining mild cognitive impairment, early dementia, and distinguishing between the two in adults with ID. Once available, these standards will contribute to more effective evidence-based planning.
PMCID: PMC3834861  PMID: 24273589
dementia; incidence; intellectual disability; mild cognitive impairment; relative risk
4.  Polybacterial human disease: the ills of social networking 
Trends in Microbiology  2014;22(9):508-516.
•Bacteria are typically found within complex microbial communities in nature.•Molecular interactions between co-infecting bacteria can profoundly affect disease prognosis and treatment.•In vivo models and genomic tools are providing new insights into interbacterial behavior during infection.•There is potential to target interbacterial interactions as part of a therapeutic strategy.
Polybacterial diseases involve multiple organisms that act collectively to facilitate disease progression. Although this phenomenon was highlighted early in the 20th century, recent technological advances in diagnostics have led to the appreciation that many infections are far more complex than originally believed. Furthermore, it is apparent that although most treatments focus on the dominant bacterial species in an infection, other microbes, including commensals, can have a profound impact on both the response to therapy and virulence. Very little is known about the molecular mechanisms that underpin interactions between bacteria during such infections. Here, we discuss recent studies identifying and characterizing mechanisms of bacterial interaction and the biological processes they govern during certain diseases. We also highlight how possible strategies for targeting these interbacterial interactions may afford a route towards development of new therapies, with consequences for disease control.
PMCID: PMC4158425  PMID: 24938173
polybacterial disease; synergy; infection; metatranscriptomics; cell–cell signaling; polymicrobial infection
5.  Progression of GFR reduction determined in conscious Dahl S hypertensive rats 
Hypertension  2013;62(1):85-90.
Sequential changes in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) during development of hypertension in the conscious Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rat were determined using a new method for measurement. Utilizing a miniaturized device, disappearance curves of fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-sinistrin were measured by transcutaneous excitation and real time detection of the emitted light through the skin. Rats with implanted femoral venous catheters (dye injection and sampling) and carotid catheters (mean arterial pressure (MAP) by telemetry) were studied while maintained on a 0.4% NaCl diet and on days 2,5,7,14 and 21 after switching to 4.0% (HS) diet. A separate group of rats were maintained on 0.4% for 21 days as a time control. MAP rose progressively from the last day of 0.4% (130±2 mmHg) reaching significance by day 5 of HS and averaged 162±7 mmHg by day 21. Urine albumin excretion was significantly elevated (3×) by day 7 of HS in SS rats. GFR became reduced on day 14 of HS falling from 1.53±0.06 ml/min/100g bwgt to 1.27±0.04. By day 21, GFR had fallen 28% to 1.1±0.04 ml/min/100g bwgt (t1/2 28.4±1.1 min.) No significant reductions of creatinine clearance (Ccre) were observed throughout the study in response to HS demonstrating the insensitivity of Ccre measurements even with creatinine measured using mass spectrometry. We conclude that the observed reduction of GFR was a consequence and not a cause of the hypertension and that this non-invasive approach could be used in these conscious SS rats for a longitudinal assessment of renal function.
PMCID: PMC3806646  PMID: 23630946
GFR; Dahl S rat; salt-sensitive hypertension; creatinine clearance
6.  ApoE enhances nanodisk-mediated curcumin delivery to glioblastoma multiforme cells 
Nanomedicine (London, England)  2013;9(6):763-771.
To evaluate the effect of incorporating the polyphenol, curcumin, into nanodisk (ND) particles on its biological activity.
Materials & methods
Curcumin-NDs formulated with different scaffold proteins were incubated with cultured glioblastoma multiforme cells.
When ApoE was employed as the ND scaffold protein, enhanced curcumin uptake was observed. Furthermore, ApoE curcumin-NDs induced greater cell death than either free curcumin or ApoAI curcumin-NDs. A total of 1 h after exposure of glioblastoma multiforme cells to ApoE curcumin-NDs, significant curcumin uptake was detected while ApoE was localized at the cell surface. After 2 h, a portion of the curcumin had migrated to the nucleus, giving rise to enhanced fluorescence intensity in discrete intranuclear sites.
ApoE-mediated interaction of curcumin-NDs with glioblastoma multiforme cells leads to enhanced curcumin uptake and increased biological activity.
PMCID: PMC3904962  PMID: 23879635
ApoE; apoptosis; confocal fluorescence microscopy; curcumin; glioblastoma; nanodisk
7.  Cationic lipid nanodisks as an siRNA delivery vehicle 
The term nanodisk (ND) describes reconstituted high-density lipoprotein particles that contain one or more exogenous bioactive agents. In the present study ND were assembled from apolipoprotein A-I, the zwitterionic glycerophospholipid, dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) and the synthetic cationic lipid, dimyristoyltrimethylaminopropane (DMTAP). ND formulated at a 70:30 weight ratio of DMPC to DMTAP were soluble in aqueous media. The particles generated were polydisperse, with diameters ranging from ~20 to <50 nm. In nucleic acid binding studies, agarose gel retardation assays revealed that a synthetic 23mer double-stranded oligonucleotide (dsOligo) bound to DMTAP containing ND but not to ND formulated with DMPC alone. Sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation studies provided additional evidence for stable dsOligo binding to DMTAP-ND. Incubation of cultured hepatoma cells with DMTAP-ND complexed with a small interfering (si) RNA directed against glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase showed 60 % knockdown efficiency. Thus, incorporation of synthetic cationic lipid (i.e. DMTAP) to ND confers an ability to bind siRNA and the resulting complexes possess target gene knockdown activity in a cultured cell model.
PMCID: PMC4054820  PMID: 24840721
Nanodisk; dimyristoyltrimethylaminopropane; cationic lipid; siRNA; apolipoprotein; delivery and HepG2 cells
8.  Impact of Apolipoprotein E on Alzheimer’s Disease 
Current Alzheimer research  2013;10(8):809-817.
A key feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is deposition of extracellular amyloid plaque comprised chiefly of the amyloid β (Aβ) peptide. Studies of Aβ have shown that it may be catabolized by proteolysis or cleared from brain via members of the low-density lipoprotein receptor family. Alternatively, Aβ can undergo a conformational transition from α-helix to β-sheet, a conformer that displays a propensity to self-associate, oligomerize and form fibrils. Furthermore, β-sheet conformers catalyze conversion of other α-helical Aβ peptides to β-sheet, feeding the oligomer and fibril assembly process. A factor that influences the fate of Aβ in the extracellular space is apolipoprotein (apo) E. Polymorphism at position 112 or 158 in apoE give rise to three major isoforms. One isoform in particular, apoE4 (Arg at 112 and 158), has generated considerable interest since the discovery that it is the major genetic risk factor for development of late onset AD. Despite this striking correlation, the molecular mechanism underlying apoE4’s association with AD remains unclear. A tertiary structural feature distinguishing apoE4 from apoE2 and apoE3, termed domain interaction, is postulated to affect the conformation and orientation of its’ two independently folded domains. This feature has the potential to influence apoE4’s interaction with Aβ, its sensitivity to proteolysis or its lipid accrual and receptor binding activities. Thus, domain interaction may constitute the principal molecular feature of apoE4 that predisposes carriers to late onset AD. By understanding the contribution of apoE4 to AD at the molecular level new therapeutic or prevention strategies will emerge.
PMCID: PMC3995977  PMID: 23919769
Alzheimer’s disease; apolipoprotein E; isoform; domain interaction; amyloid beta peptide
9.  Increased Proliferative Cells in the Medullary Thick Ascending Limb of the Loop of Henle in the Dahl Salt-Sensitive Rat 
Hypertension  2012;61(1):208-215.
Studies of transcriptome profiles have provided new insights into mechanisms underlying the development of hypertension. Cell type heterogeneity in tissue samples, however, has been a significant hindrance in these studies. We performed a transcriptome analysis in medullary thick ascending limbs of the loop of Henle isolated from Dahl salt-sensitive rats. Genes differentially expressed between Dahl salt-sensitive rats and salt-insensitive consomic SS.13BN rats on either 0.4% or 7 days of 8% NaCl diet (n=4) were highly enriched for genes located on chromosome 13, the chromosome substituted in the SS.13BN rat. A pathway involving cell proliferation and cell cycle regulation was identified as one of the most highly ranked pathways based on differentially expressed genes and by a Bayesian model analysis. Immunofluorescent analysis indicated that just one week of a high salt diet resulted in a several fold increase in proliferative medullary thick ascending limb cells in both rat strains and that Dahl salt-sensitive rats exhibited significantly greater proportion of medullary thick ascending limb cells in a proliferative state than in SS.13BN rats (15.0% ± 1.4% vs. 10.1% ± 0.6%, n=7–9, P<0.05). The total number of cells per medullary thick ascending limb section analyzed was not different between the two strains. The study revealed alterations in regulatory pathways in Dahl salt-sensitive rats in tissues highly enriched for a single cell type, leading to the unexpected finding of a greater increase in the number of proliferative medullary thick ascending limb cells in Dahl salt-sensitive rats on a high-salt diet.
PMCID: PMC3760736  PMID: 23184381
Kidney; gene expression; physiological genomics; cell cycle; salt intake
10.  Microbiota and Metabolite Profiling Reveal Specific Alterations in Bacterial Community Structure and Environment in the Cystic Fibrosis Airway during Exacerbation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82432.
Chronic polymicrobial infections of the lung are the foremost cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The composition of the microbial flora of the airway alters considerably during infection, particularly during patient exacerbation. An understanding of which organisms are growing, their environment and their behaviour in the airway is of importance for designing antibiotic treatment regimes and for patient prognosis. To this end, we have analysed sputum samples taken from separate cohorts of CF and non-CF subjects for metabolites and in parallel, and we have examined both isolated DNA and RNA for the presence of 16S rRNA genes and transcripts by high-throughput sequencing of amplicon or cDNA libraries. This analysis revealed that although the population size of all dominant orders of bacteria as measured by DNA- and RNA- based methods are similar, greater discrepancies are seen with less prevalent organisms, some of which we associated with CF for the first time. Additionally, we identified a strong relationship between the abundance of specific anaerobes and fluctuations in several metabolites including lactate and putrescine during patient exacerbation. This study has hence identified organisms whose occurrence within the CF microbiome has been hitherto unreported and has revealed potential metabolic biomarkers for exacerbation.
PMCID: PMC3866110  PMID: 24358183
11.  Genomic Survey of Pathogenicity Determinants and VNTR Markers in the Cassava Bacterial Pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. Manihotis Strain CIO151 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79704.
Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis (Xam) is the causal agent of bacterial blight of cassava, which is among the main components of human diet in Africa and South America. Current information about the molecular pathogenicity factors involved in the infection process of this organism is limited. Previous studies in other bacteria in this genus suggest that advanced draft genome sequences are valuable resources for molecular studies on their interaction with plants and could provide valuable tools for diagnostics and detection. Here we have generated the first manually annotated high-quality draft genome sequence of Xam strain CIO151. Its genomic structure is similar to that of other xanthomonads, especially Xanthomonas euvesicatoria and Xanthomonas citri pv. citri species. Several putative pathogenicity factors were identified, including type III effectors, cell wall-degrading enzymes and clusters encoding protein secretion systems. Specific characteristics in this genome include changes in the xanthomonadin cluster that could explain the lack of typical yellow color in all strains of this pathovar and the presence of 50 regions in the genome with atypical nucleotide composition. The genome sequence was used to predict and evaluate 22 variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) loci that were subsequently demonstrated as polymorphic in representative Xam strains. Our results demonstrate that Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis strain CIO151 possesses ten clusters of pathogenicity factors conserved within the genus Xanthomonas. We report 126 genes that are potentially unique to Xam, as well as potential horizontal transfer events in the history of the genome. The relation of these regions with virulence and pathogenicity could explain several aspects of the biology of this pathogen, including its ability to colonize both vascular and non-vascular tissues of cassava plants. A set of 16 robust, polymorphic VNTR loci will be useful to develop a multi-locus VNTR analysis scheme for epidemiological surveillance of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3838355  PMID: 24278159
12.  Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis of the Burkholderia cepacia Tyrosine Kinase bceF Mutant Reveals a Role in Tolerance to Stress, Biofilm Formation, and Virulence 
The bacterial tyrosine-kinase (BY-kinase) family comprises the major group of bacterial enzymes endowed with tyrosine kinase activity. We previously showed that the BceF protein from Burkholderia cepacia IST408 belongs to this BY-kinase family and is involved in the biosynthesis of the exopolysaccharide cepacian. However, little is known about the extent of regulation of this protein kinase activity. In order to examine this regulation, we performed a comparative transcriptome profile between the bceF mutant and wild-type B. cepacia IST408. The analyses led to identification of 630 genes whose expression was significantly changed. Genes with decreased expression in the bceF mutant were related to stress response, motility, cell adhesion, and carbon and energy metabolism. Genes with increased expression were related to intracellular signaling and lipid metabolism. Mutation of bceF led to reduced survival under heat shock and UV light exposure, reduced swimming motility, and alteration in biofilm architecture when grown in vitro. Consistent with some of these phenotypes, the bceF mutant demonstrated elevated levels of cyclic-di-GMP. Furthermore, BceF contributed to the virulence of B. cepacia for larvae of the Greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella. Taken together, BceF appears to play a considerable role in many cellular processes, including biofilm formation and virulence. As homologues of BceF occur in a number of pathogenic and plant-associated Burkholderia strains, the modulation of bacterial behavior through tyrosine kinase activity is most likely a widely occurring phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3623129  PMID: 23435894
13.  Influence of apolipoprotein A-V on hepatocyte lipid droplet formation 
Apolipoprotein A-V (apoA-V) is postulated to modulate intra-hepatic triglyceride (TG) trafficking. Stably transfected McA-RH7777 hepatocarcinoma cells expressing human apoA-V displayed enhanced neutral lipid staining while conditioned media from these cells had 40 ± 8 % less TG than cells transfected with a control vector. To obtain homogeneous cell lines expressing different amounts of apoA-V, a strategy of clonal selection was pursued. Immunoblot analysis of two distinct apoA-V stable cell lines yielded one that expresses low amounts of apoA-V and another that expresses higher amounts. Confocal fluorescence microscopy of control cells and cells expressing low levels of apoA-V had similar numbers of lipid droplets while cells expressing higher amounts of apoA-V had twice as many lipid droplets, on average. Thus, apoA-V expression promotes lipid droplet accumulation in these cells.
PMCID: PMC3492953  PMID: 23000161
triacylglycerol; lipid droplet; apolipoprotein A-V; flow cytometry; confocal fluorescence microscopy
14.  A cyclic GMP-dependent signalling pathway regulates bacterial phytopathogenesis 
The EMBO Journal  2013;32(18):2430-2438.
Cyclic guanosine 3′,5′-monophosphate (cyclic GMP) is a second messenger whose role in bacterial signalling is poorly understood. A genetic screen in the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris (Xcc) identified that XC_0250, which encodes a protein with a class III nucleotidyl cyclase domain, is required for cyclic GMP synthesis. Purified XC_0250 was active in cyclic GMP synthesis in vitro. The linked gene XC_0249 encodes a protein with a cyclic mononucleotide-binding (cNMP) domain and a GGDEF diguanylate cyclase domain. The activity of XC_0249 in cyclic di-GMP synthesis was enhanced by addition of cyclic GMP. The isolated cNMP domain of XC_0249 bound cyclic GMP and a structure–function analysis, directed by determination of the crystal structure of the holo-complex, demonstrated the site of cyclic GMP binding that modulates cyclic di-GMP synthesis. Mutation of either XC_0250 or XC_0249 led to a reduced virulence to plants and reduced biofilm formation in vitro. These findings describe a regulatory pathway in which cyclic GMP regulates virulence and biofilm formation through interaction with a novel effector that directly links cyclic GMP and cyclic di-GMP signalling.
A cyclic GMP-dependent signalling pathway regulates bacterial phytopathogenesis
In the plant pathogen X. campestris, the second messenger cGMP controls bacterial virulence and biofilm formation through direct regulation of XC_0249, a novel diguanylate cyclase that synthesises the signalling molecule cyclic di-GMP.
PMCID: PMC3770947  PMID: 23881098
biofilm; cyclic di-GMP; signal transduction; virulence; Xanthomonas campestris
15.  Tweaking the cholesterol efflux capacity of reconstituted HDL 
Mechanisms to increase plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or to promote egress of cholesterol from cholesterol-loaded cells (e.g., foam cells from atherosclerotic lesions) remain an important target to regress heart disease. Reconstituted HDL (rHDL) serves as a valuable vehicle to promote cellular cholesterol efflux in vitro and in vivo. rHDL were prepared with wild type apolipoprotein (apo) A-I and the rare variant, apoA-I Milano (M), and each apolipoprotein was reconstituted with phosphatidylcholine (PC) or sphingomyelin (SM). The four distinct rHDL generated were incubated with CHO cells, J774 macrophages, and BHK cells in cellular cholesterol efflux assays. In each cell type, apoA-I(M) SM-rHDL promoted the greatest cholesterol efflux. In BHK cells, the cholesterol efflux capacities of all four distinct rHDL were greatly enhanced by increased expression of ABCG1. Efflux to PC-containing rHDL was stimulated by transfection of a nonfunctional ABCA1 mutant (W590S), suggesting that binding to ABCA1 represents a competing interaction. This interpretation was confirmed by binding experiments. The data show that cholesterol efflux activity is dependent upon the apoA-I protein employed, as well as the phospholipid constituent of the rHDL. Future studies designed to optimize the efflux capacity of therapeutic rHDL may improve the value of this emerging intervention strategy.
PMCID: PMC3697153  PMID: 22607224
apolipoprotein; ABCA1; ABCG1; reverse cholesterol transport; macrophage
16.  Cyclic di-GMP signalling and the regulation of bacterial virulence 
Microbiology  2013;159(Pt 7):1286-1297.
Signal transduction pathways involving the second messenger cyclic di-GMP [bis-(3′-5′)-cyclic di-guanosine monophosphate] occur widely in bacteria where they act to link perception of environmental or intracellular cues and signals to specific alterations in cellular function. Such alterations can contribute to bacterial lifestyle transitions including biofilm formation and virulence. The cellular levels of the nucleotide are controlled through the opposing activities of diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) and phosphodiesterases (PDEs). The GGDEF domain of DGCs catalyses the synthesis of cyclic di-GMP from GTP, whereas EAL or HD-GYP domains in different classes of PDE catalyse cyclic di-GMP degradation to pGpG and GMP. We are now beginning to understand how alterations in cyclic di-GMP exert a regulatory action through binding to diverse receptors or effectors that include a small ‘adaptor’ protein domain called PilZ, transcription factors and riboswitches. The regulatory action of enzymically active cyclic di-GMP signalling proteins is, however, not restricted to an influence on the level of nucleotide. Here, I will discuss our recent findings that highlight the role that protein–protein interactions involving these signalling proteins have in regulating functions that contribute to bacterial virulence.
PMCID: PMC3749722  PMID: 23704785
17.  Expressed protein ligation-mediated template protein extension 
Expressed protein ligation (EPL) was performed to investigate sequence requirements for a variant human apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) to adopt a folded structure. A C-terminal truncated apoA-I, corresponding to residues 1–172, was expressed and isolated from E. coli. Compared to full length apoA-I (243 amino acids), apoA-I(1-172) displayed less α-helix secondary structure and lower stability in solution. To determine if extension of this polypeptide would confer secondary structure content and/or stability, 20 residues were added to the C-terminus of apoA-I(1-172) by EPL, creating apoA-IMilano(1-192). The EPL product displayed biophysical properties similar to full-length apoA-IMilano. The results provide a general protein engineering strategy to modify the length of a recombinant template polypeptide using synthetic peptides as well as a convenient, cost effective way to investigate the structure / function relations in apolipoprotein fragments or domains of different size.
PMCID: PMC3361518  PMID: 22487214
Expressed protein ligation; apolipoprotein A-I; Milano; Protein stability; Intein
18.  Insights on GRACE (Gender, Race, And Clinical Experience) from the Patient's Perspective: GRACE Participant Survey 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2013;27(6):352-362.
The Gender, Race And Clinical Experience (GRACE) study was conducted between October 2006 and December 2008 to evaluate sex- and race-based differences in outcomes after treatment with a darunavir/ritonavir-based antiretroviral regimen. Between June 2010 and June 2011, former participants of the GRACE trial at participating sites were asked to complete a 40-item questionnaire as part of the GRACE Participant Survey study, with a primary objective of assessing patients' characteristics, experiences, and opinions about participation in GRACE. Of 243 potential survey respondents, 151 (62%) completed the survey. Respondents were representative of the overall GRACE population and were predominantly female (64%); fewer were black, and more reported recreational drug use compared with nonrespondents (55% vs. 62% and 17% vs. 10%, respectively). Access to treatment (41%) and too many blood draws (26%) were reported as the best and worst part of GRACE, respectively. Support from study site staff was reported as the most important factor in completing the study (47%). Factors associated with nonadherence, study discontinuation, and poor virologic response in univariate analyses were being the primary caregiver for children, unemployment, and transportation difficulties, respectively. Patients with these characteristics may be at risk of poor study outcomes and may benefit from additional adherence and retention strategies in future studies and routine clinical care.
PMCID: PMC3696933  PMID: 23701200
19.  Gene Transfer of Apolipoprotein A-V Improves the Hypertriglyceridemic Phenotype of apoa5 (−/−) Mice 
Apolipoprotein (apo) A-V is a low abundance protein with a profound influence on plasma triacylglycerol levels. In human populations, single nucleotide polymorphisms and mutations in APOA5 positively correlate with hypertriglyceridemia. As an approach to preventing the deleterious effects of chronic hypertriglyceridemia, apoA-V gene therapy has been pursued.
Methods and Results
Recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2/8 harboring the coding sequence for human apoA-V or a control AAV2/8 was transduced into hypertriglyceridemic apoa5 (−/−) mice. After injection of 1×1012 viral genome AAV2/8-apoA-V, maximal plasma levels of apoA-V protein were achieved at 3 to 4 weeks, after which the concentration slowly declined. Complementing the appearance of apoA-V was a decrease (50±6%) in plasma triacylglycerol content compared with apoa5 (−/−) mice treated with AAV2/8-β-galactosidase. After 8 weeks the mice were euthanized and plasma lipoproteins separated. AAV2/8-apoA-V–transduced mice displayed a dramatic reduction in very low–density lipoprotein triacylglycerol content. Vector generated apoA-V in plasma associated with both very low–density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein fractions.
Taken together, the data show that gene transfer of apoA-V improves the severe hypertriglyceridemia phenotype of apoa5 (−/−) mice. Given the prevalence of hypertriglyceridemia, apoA-V gene therapy offers a potential strategy for maintenance of plasma triacylglycerol homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3658105  PMID: 23329134
apolipoprotein A-V; gene therapy; lipoprotein; triacylglycerol
20.  Apolipoprotein A-V dependent modulation of plasma triacylglycerol: A puzzlement☆,☆☆ 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2011;1821(5):795-799.
The discovery of apolipoprotein A-V (apoA-V) in 2001 has raised a number of intriguing questions about role in lipid transport and triglyceride (TG) homeostasis. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have consistently identified APOA5 as a contributor to plasma TG levels. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) with-in the APOA5 gene locus have been shown to correlate with elevated plasma TG. Furthermore, transgenic and knockout mouse models support the view that apoA-V plays a critical role in maintenance of plasma TG levels. The present review describes recent concepts pertaining to apoA-V SNP analysis and their association with elevated plasma TG. The interaction of apoA-V with glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored high-density lipoprotein binding protein 1 (GPIHBP1) is discussed relative to its postulated role in TG-rich lipoprotein catabolism. The potential role of intracellular apoA-V in regulation of TG homeostasis, as a function of its ability to associate with cytosolic lipid droplets, is reviewed. While some answers are emerging, numerous mysteries remain with regard to this low abundance, yet potent, modulator of TG homeostasis. Given the strong correlation between elevated plasma TG and heart disease, there is great scientific and public interest in deciphering the numerous biological riddles presented by apoA-V. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Triglyceride Metabolism and Disease.
PMCID: PMC3319174  PMID: 22209939
Apolipoprotein A-V; Triglyceride; Lipid droplet; Genome wide association study; Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored high-density lipoprotein binding protein 1; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
21.  Bacterial cis-2-unsaturated fatty acids found in the cystic fibrosis airway modulate virulence and persistence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
The ISME Journal  2011;6(5):939-950.
There is an increasing appreciation of the polymicrobial nature of many bacterial infections such as those associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) and of the potentially important role for interspecies interactions in influencing both bacterial virulence and response to therapy. Patients with CF are often co-infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other pathogens including Burkholderia cenocepacia and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. These latter bacteria produce signal molecules of the diffusible signal factor (DSF) family, which are cis-2-unsaturated fatty acids. We have previously shown by in vitro studies that DSF from S. maltophilia leads to altered biofilm formation and increased resistance to antibiotics by P. aeruginosa; these responses of P. aeruginosa require the sensor kinase PA1396. Here we show that DSF signals are present in sputum taken from patients with CF. Presence of these DSF signals was correlated with patient colonization by S. maltophilia and/or B. cenocepacia. Analysis of 50 clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa showed that each responded to the presence of synthetic DSF by increased antibiotic resistance and these strains demonstrated little sequence variation in the PA1396 gene. In animal experiments using CF transmembrane conductance regulator knockout mice, the presence of DSF promoted P. aeruginosa persistence. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance of P. aeruginosa biofilms grown on human airway epithelial cells was enhanced in the presence of DSF. Taken together, these data provide substantial evidence that interspecies DSF-mediated bacterial interactions occur in the CF lung and may influence the efficacy of antibiotic treatment, particularly for chronic infections involving persistence of bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3329111  PMID: 22134647
interspecies signaling; diffusible signal factor; biofilm formation; virulence; cystic fibrosis; next-generation sequencing
22.  The exopolysaccharide gene cluster Bcam1330–Bcam1341 is involved in Burkholderia cenocepacia biofilm formation, and its expression is regulated by c-di-GMP and Bcam1349 
MicrobiologyOpen  2012;2(1):105-122.
In Burkholderia cenocepacia, the second messenger cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) has previously been shown to positively regulate biofilm formation and the expression of cellulose and type-I fimbriae genes through binding to the transcriptional regulator Bcam1349. Here, we provide evidence that cellulose and type-I fimbriae are not involved in B. cenocepacia biofilm formation in flow chambers, and we identify a novel Bcam1349/c-di-GMP-regulated exopolysaccharide gene cluster which is essential for B. cenocepacia biofilm formation. Overproduction of Bcam1349 in trans promotes wrinkly colony morphology, pellicle, and biofilm formation in B. cenocepacia. A screen for transposon mutants unable to respond to the overproduction of Bcam1349 led to the identification of a 12-gene cluster, Bcam1330–Bcam1341, the products of which appear to be involved in the production of a putative biofilm matrix exopolysaccharide and to be essential for flow-chamber biofilm formation. We demonstrate that Bcam1349 binds to the promoter region of genes in the Bcam1330–Bcam1341 cluster and that this binding is enhanced by the presence of c-di-GMP. Furthermore, we demonstrate that overproduction of both c-di-GMP and Bcam1349 leads to increased transcription of these genes, indicating that c-di-GMP and Bcam1349 functions together in regulating exopolysaccharide production from the Bcam1330–Bcam1341 gene cluster. Our results suggest that the product encoded by the Bcam1330–Bcam1341 gene cluster is a major exopolysaccharide that provides structural stability to the biofilms formed by B. cenocepacia, and that its production is regulated by c-di-GMP through binding to and promotion of the activity of the transcriptional regulator Bcam1349.
PMCID: PMC3584217  PMID: 23281338
Biofilm; Burkholderia cenocepacia; c-di-GMP; exopolysaccharide
23.  RsmA Regulates Biofilm Formation in Xanthomonas campestris through a Regulatory Network Involving Cyclic di-GMP and the Clp Transcription Factor 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52646.
Biofilm formation and dispersal in the black rot pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pathovar campestris (Xcc) is influenced by a number of factors. The extracellular mannanase ManA has been implicated in biofilm dispersal whereas biofilm formation requires a putative glycosyl transferase encoded by the xag gene cluster. Previously we demonstrated that the post-transcriptional regulator RsmA exerts a negative regulatory influence on biofilm formation in Xcc. Here we address the mechanisms by which RsmA exerts this action. We show that RsmA binds to the transcripts of three genes encoding GGDEF domain diguanylate cyclases to influence their expression. Accordingly, mutation of rsmA leads to an increase in cellular levels of cyclic di-GMP. This effect is associated with a down-regulation of transcription of manA, but an upregulation of xag gene transcription. Mutation of clp, which encodes a cyclic di-GMP-responsive transcriptional regulator of the CRP-FNR family, has similar divergent effects on the expression of manA and xag. Nevertheless Clp binding to manA and xag promoters is inhibited by cyclic di-GMP. The data support the contention that, in common with other CRP-FNR family members, Clp can act as both an activator and repressor of transcription of different genes to influence biofilm formation as a response to cyclic di-GMP.
PMCID: PMC3528676  PMID: 23285129
24.  Modelling Co-Infection of the Cystic Fibrosis Lung by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia Reveals Influences on Biofilm Formation and Host Response 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52330.
The Gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia are opportunistic human pathogens that are responsible for severe nosocomial infections in immunocompromised patients and those suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). These two bacteria have been shown to form biofilms in the airways of CF patients that make such infections more difficult to treat. Only recently have scientists begun to appreciate the complicated interplay between microorganisms during polymicrobial infection of the CF airway and the implications they may have for disease prognosis and response to therapy.
To gain insight into the possible role that interaction between strains of P. aeruginosa and B. cenocepacia may play during infection, we characterised co-inoculations of in vivo and in vitro infection models. Co-inoculations were examined in an in vitro biofilm model and in a murine model of chronic infection. Assessment of biofilm formation showed that B. cenocepacia positively influenced P. aeruginosa biofilm development by increasing biomass. Interestingly, co-infection experiments in the mouse model revealed that P. aeruginosa did not change its ability to establish chronic infection in the presence of B. cenocepacia but co-infection did appear to increase host inflammatory response.
Taken together, these results indicate that the co-infection of P. aeruginosa and B. cenocepacia leads to increased biofilm formation and increased host inflammatory response in the mouse model of chronic infection. These observations suggest that alteration of bacterial behavior due to interspecies interactions may be important for disease progression and persistent infection.
PMCID: PMC3528780  PMID: 23284990
25.  Metabolic Effects of Darunavir/Ritonavir Versus Atazanavir/Ritonavir in Treatment-Naive, HIV Type 1-Infected Subjects over 48 Weeks 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(10):1184-1195.
We assessed metabolic changes for darunavir/ritonavir (DRV/r) once daily (qd) versus atazanavir/ritonavir (ATV/r) qd with fixed-dose tenofovir/emtricitabine. This was a phase 4, multicenter, open-label, randomized exploratory study. Treatment-naive, HIV-1-infected adults received DRV/r 800/100 mg qd or ATV/r 300/100 mg qd, both with emtricitabine/tenofovir 200/300 mg qd. Primary end point: change in triglyceride levels from baseline to week 12. Secondary end points: week 12 and week 48 changes in lipid parameters, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory/coagulation/bacterial translocation biomarkers, viral load, CD4+ cell count, and week 48 changes in adipose tissue distribution and subjects' perceptions of body changes. In the DRV/r arm, 32/34 and 29/34 subjects completed weeks 12 and 48, respectively; in the ATV/r arm, 30/31 and 25/31 subjects completed weeks 12 and 48, respectively. Small changes in lipid parameters from baseline to weeks 12 and 48 were observed in both arms. Differences were noted between arms in mean changes in total cholesterol (DRV/r, 20.3 mg/dl; ATV/r, 4.6 mg/dl) and apolipoprotein A1 (DRV/r, 10.7 mg/dl; ATV/r, –0.7 mg/dl) at week 12. At week 48, no clinically relevant differences between arms were noted for changes in any lipid parameter, fasting glucose, or insulin sensitivity. Biomarkers generally decreased and efficacy parameters improved in both arms over 48 weeks. Changes in adipose tissue were small and comparable between arms. Subjects' perceptions of body changes generally improved in both study arms. This first pilot comparison in HIV-1-infected subjects suggests that DRV/r has a metabolic profile similar to ATV/r over 48 weeks of treatment. Further randomized studies are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3448095  PMID: 22352336

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