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1.  Involvement of Neutrophil Hyporesponse and the Role of Toll-Like Receptors in Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 Protection 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119844.
Neutrophils contribute to pathogen clearance through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) activation. However, the role of PRRs in neutrophils in both HIV-1-infected [HIV-1(+)] and HIV-1-exposed seronegative individuals (HESN) is unknown. Here, a study was carried out to evaluate the level of PRR mRNAs and cytokines produced after activation of neutrophils from HIV-1(+), HESN and healthy donors.
The neutrophils were stimulated with specific agonists for TLR2, TLR4 and TLR9 in the presence of HIV-1 particles. Pro-inflammatory cytokine production, expression of neutrophil activation markers and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production were analyzed in neutrophils from HESN, HIV-1(+) and healthy donors (controls).
We found that neutrophils from HESN presented reduced expression of PRR mRNAs (TLR4, TLR9, NOD1, NOD2, NLRC4 and RIG-I) and reduced expression of cytokine mRNAs (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-18, TNF-α and TGF-β). Moreover, neutrophils from HESN were less sensitive to stimulation through TLR4. Furthermore, neutrophils from HESN challenged with HIV-1 and stimulated with TLR2 and TLR4 agonists, produced significantly lower levels of reactive oxygen species, versus HIV-1(+).
A differential pattern of PRR expression and release of innate immune factors in neutrophils from HESN is evident. Our results suggest that lower neutrophil activation can be involved in protection against HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC4364960  PMID: 25785697
2.  HIV Type 1 Infection Up-Regulates TLR2 and TLR4 Expression and Function in Vivo and in Vitro 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(10):1313-1328.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in innate immunity against pathogens. Their stimulation induces the activation of NF-κB, an important inducer of HIV-1 replication. In recent years, an increasing number of studies using several cells types from HIV-infected patients indicate that TLRs play a key role in regulating the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and viral pathogenesis. In the present study, the effect of HIV-1 stimulation of monocyte-derived macrophage (MDM) and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) subpopulations from healthy donors on the expression and functions of TLR2 and TLR4 was examined. In addition, and to complete the in vitro study, the expression pattern of TLR2 and TLR4 in 49 HIV-1-infected patients, classified according to viral load and the use of HAART, was determined and compared with 25 healthy subjects. An increase of TLR expression and production of proinflammatory cytokines were observed in MDMs and PBMCs infected with HIV-1 in vitro and in response to TLR stimulation, compared to the mock. In addition, an association between TLR expression and up-regulation of CD80 in plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) was observed. The ex vivo analysis indicated increased expression of TLR2 and TLR4 in myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs), but only of TLR2 in monocytes obtained from HIV-1-infected patients, compared to healthy subjects. Remarkably, the expression was higher in cells from patients who do not use HAART. In monocytes, there was a positive correlation between both TLRs and viral load, but not CD4+ T cell numbers. Together, our in vitro and ex vivo results suggest that TLR expression and function can be up-regulated in response to HIV-1 infection and could affect the inflammatory response. We propose that modulation of TLRs represents a mechanism to promote HIV-1 replication or AIDS progression in HIV-1-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3482876  PMID: 22280204
3.  Differential Expression of Toll-like Receptors in Dendritic Cells of Patients with Dengue during Early and Late Acute Phases of the Disease 
Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is observed in individuals that have pre-existing heterotypic dengue antibodies and is associated with increased viral load and high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines early in infection. Interestingly, a recent study showed that dengue virus infection in the presence of antibodies resulted in poor stimulation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs), thereby facilitating virus particle production, and also suggesting that TLRs may contribute to disease pathogenesis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We evaluated the expression levels of TLR2, 3, 4 and 9 and the co-stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86 by flow cytometry. This was evaluated in monocytes, in myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (mDCs and pDCs) from 30 dengue patients with different clinical outcomes and in 20 healthy controls. Increased expression of TLR3 and TLR9 in DCs of patients with dengue fever (DF) early in infection was detected. In DCs from patients with severe manifestations, poor stimulation of TLR3 and TLR9 was observed. In addition, we found a lower expression of TLR2 in patients with DF compared to DHF. Expression levels of TLR4 were not affected. Furthermore, the expression of CD80 and CD86 was altered in mDCs and CD86 in pDCs of severe dengue cases. We show that interferon alpha production decreased in the presence of dengue virus after stimulation of PBMCs with the TLR9 agonist (CpG A). This suggests that the virus can affect the interferon response through this signaling pathway.
These results show that during dengue disease progression, the expression profile of TLRs changes depending on the severity of the disease. Changes in TLRs expression could play a central role in DC activation, thereby influencing the innate immune response.
Author Summary
Dengue virus (DENV) infections cause a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from self-limited fever to severe disease, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) that can be fatal. The pathogenesis of severe dengue is associated with an inadequate immune response characterized by the over-production of cytokines and other inflammatory components. However, little is known about the role of the innate immune response in the progression to hemorrhagic manifestations. TLRs are among the most important components of innate immunity and are responsible for initiating a response against a variety of pathogens, including viruses. Recent studies suggest that TLRs may contribute to disease pathogenesis. Here we aimed to explore the role of these receptors in dengue disease progression. To this end, we examined the expression of several TLRs and of co-stimulatory molecules in monocytes and DCs from dengue patients. A link between TLRs expression and the severity of dengue was observed: patients with dengue fever express higher levels of TLR3 and TLR9 than patients with DHF. This could be crucial for the host defense against dengue virus or disease progression. In addition, expression of CD80 and CD86 was altered in DCs of severe dengue cases. We show that interferon type I production is also altered in vitro through TLR9. This suggests that dengue virus affects the interferon response through this signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3585035  PMID: 23469297
4.  Up-Regulation of TLR2 and TLR4 in Dendritic Cells in Response to HIV Type 1 and Coinfection with Opportunistic Pathogens 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2011;27(10):1099-1109.
The ability to trigger an innate immune response against opportunistic pathogens associated with HIV-1 infection is an important aspect of AIDS pathogenesis. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in innate immunity against pathogens, but in HIV-1 patients coinfected with opportunistic infections, the regulation of TLR expression has not been studied. In this context, we have evaluated the expression of TLR2 and TLR4 in monocytes, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and myeloid dendritic cells of HIV-1 patients with or without opportunistic infections. Forty-nine HIV-1-infected individuals were classified according to viral load, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and the presence or absence of opportunistic infections, and 21 healthy subjects served as controls. Increased expression of TLR2 and TLR4 was observed in myeloid dendritic cells of HIV-1 patients coinfected with opportunistic infections (without HAART), while TLR4 increased in plasmacytoid dendritic cells, compared to both HIV-1 without opportunistic infections and healthy subjects. Moreover, TLR2 expression was higher in patients with opportunistic infections without HAART and up-regulation of TLR expression in HIV-1 patients coinfected with opportunistic infections was more pronounced in dendritic cells derived from individuals coinfected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The results indicate that TLR expression in innate immune cells is up-regulated in patients with a high HIV-1 load and coinfected with opportunistic pathogens. We suggest that modulation of TLRs expression represents a mechanism that promotes HIV-1 replication and AIDS pathogenesis in patients coinfected with opportunistic pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3482873  PMID: 21406030
5.  Intronic RNAs constitute the major fraction of the non-coding RNA in mammalian cells 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:504.
The function of RNA from the non-coding (the so called “dark matter”) regions of the genome has been a subject of considerable recent debate. Perhaps the most controversy is regarding the function of RNAs found in introns of annotated transcripts, where most of the reads that map outside of exons are usually found. However, it has been reported that the levels of RNA in introns are minor relative to those of the corresponding exons, and that changes in the levels of intronic RNAs correlate tightly with that of adjacent exons. This would suggest that RNAs produced from the vast expanse of intronic space are just pieces of pre-mRNAs or excised introns en route to degradation.
We present data that challenges the notion that intronic RNAs are mere by-standers in the cell. By performing a highly quantitative RNAseq analysis of transcriptome changes during an inflammation time course, we show that intronic RNAs have a number of features that would be expected from functional, standalone RNA species. We show that there are thousands of introns in the mouse genome that generate RNAs whose overall abundance, which changes throughout the inflammation timecourse, and other properties suggest that they function in yet unknown ways.
So far, the focus of non-coding RNA discovery has shied away from intronic regions as those were believed to simply encode parts of pre-mRNAs. Results presented here suggest a very different situation – the sequences encoded in the introns appear to harbor a yet unexplored reservoir of novel, functional RNAs. As such, they should not be ignored in surveys of functional transcripts or other genomic studies.
PMCID: PMC3507791  PMID: 23006825
6.  Production of HIV Particles Is Regulated by Altering Sub-Cellular Localization and Dynamics of Rev Induced by Double-Strand RNA Binding Protein 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16686.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 encoded Rev is essential for export from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, of unspliced and singly spliced transcripts coding for structural and nonstructural viral proteins. This process is spatially and temporally coordinated resulting from the interactions between cellular and viral proteins. Here we examined the effects of the sub-cellular localization and dynamics of Rev on the efficiency of nucleocytoplasmic transport of HIV-1 Gag transcripts and virus particle production. Using confocal microscopy and fluorescence recovery after bleaching (FRAP), we report that NF90ctv, a cellular protein involved in Rev function, alters both the sub-cellular localization and dynamics of Rev in vivo, which drastically affects the accumulation of the viral protein p24. The CRM1–dependent nuclear export of Gag mRNA linked to the Rev Response Element (RRE) is dependent on specific domains of the NF90ctv protein. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the appropriate intracellular localization and dynamics of Rev could regulate Gag assembly and HIV-1 replication.
PMCID: PMC3043055  PMID: 21364984
7.  Propagation of kinetic uncertainties through a canonical topology of the TLR4 signaling network in different regions of biochemical reaction space 
Signal transduction networks represent the information processing systems that dictate which dynamical regimes of biochemical activity can be accessible to a cell under certain circumstances. One of the major concerns in molecular systems biology is centered on the elucidation of the robustness properties and information processing capabilities of signal transduction networks. Achieving this goal requires the establishment of causal relations between the design principle of biochemical reaction systems and their emergent dynamical behaviors.
In this study, efforts were focused in the construction of a relatively well informed, deterministic, non-linear dynamic model, accounting for reaction mechanisms grounded on standard mass action and Hill saturation kinetics, of the canonical reaction topology underlying Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-mediated signaling events. This signaling mechanism has been shown to be deployed in macrophages during a relatively short time window in response to lypopolysaccharyde (LPS) stimulation, which leads to a rapidly mounted innate immune response. An extensive computational exploration of the biochemical reaction space inhabited by this signal transduction network was performed via local and global perturbation strategies. Importantly, a broad spectrum of biologically plausible dynamical regimes accessible to the network in widely scattered regions of parameter space was reconstructed computationally. Additionally, experimentally reported transcriptional readouts of target pro-inflammatory genes, which are actively modulated by the network in response to LPS stimulation, were also simulated. This was done with the main goal of carrying out an unbiased statistical assessment of the intrinsic robustness properties of this canonical reaction topology.
Our simulation results provide convincing numerical evidence supporting the idea that a canonical reaction mechanism of the TLR4 signaling network is capable of performing information processing in a robust manner, a functional property that is independent of the signaling task required to be executed. Nevertheless, it was found that the robust performance of the network is not solely determined by its design principle (topology), but this may be heavily dependent on the network's current position in biochemical reaction space. Ultimately, our results enabled us the identification of key rate limiting steps which most effectively control the performance of the system under diverse dynamical regimes.
Overall, our in silico study suggests that biologically relevant and non-intuitive aspects on the general behavior of a complex biomolecular network can be elucidated only when taking into account a wide spectrum of dynamical regimes attainable by the system. Most importantly, this strategy provides the means for a suitable assessment of the inherent variational constraints imposed by the structure of the system when systematically probing its parameter space.
PMCID: PMC2907738  PMID: 20230643
8.  Nucleolus: the fascinating nuclear body 
Histochemistry and Cell Biology  2007;129(1):13-31.
Nucleoli are the prominent contrasted structures of the cell nucleus. In the nucleolus, ribosomal RNAs are synthesized, processed and assembled with ribosomal proteins. RNA polymerase I synthesizes the ribosomal RNAs and this activity is cell cycle regulated. The nucleolus reveals the functional organization of the nucleus in which the compartmentation of the different steps of ribosome biogenesis is observed whereas the nucleolar machineries are in permanent exchange with the nucleoplasm and other nuclear bodies. After mitosis, nucleolar assembly is a time and space regulated process controlled by the cell cycle. In addition, by generating a large volume in the nucleus with apparently no RNA polymerase II activity, the nucleolus creates a domain of retention/sequestration of molecules normally active outside the nucleolus. Viruses interact with the nucleolus and recruit nucleolar proteins to facilitate virus replication. The nucleolus is also a sensor of stress due to the redistribution of the ribosomal proteins in the nucleoplasm by nucleolus disruption. The nucleolus plays several crucial functions in the nucleus: in addition to its function as ribosome factory of the cells it is a multifunctional nuclear domain, and nucleolar activity is linked with several pathologies. Perspectives on the evolution of this research area are proposed.
PMCID: PMC2137947  PMID: 18046571
Nucleolus; Cell cycle control; Assembly; Dynamics; Nucleolar structure; PNB; Virus; Cancer
9.  Nuclear Factor 90, a cellular dsRNA binding protein inhibits the HIV Rev-export function 
Retrovirology  2006;3:83.
The HIV Rev protein is known to facilitate export of incompletely spliced and unspliced viral transcripts to the cytoplasm, a necessary step in virus life cycle. The Rev-mediated nucleo-cytoplasmic transport of nascent viral transcripts, dependents on interaction of Rev with the RRE RNA structural element present in the target RNAs. The C-terminal variant of dsRNA-binding nuclear protein 90 (NF90ctv) has been shown to markedly attenuate viral replication in stably transduced HIV-1 target cell line. Here we examined a mechanism of interference of viral life cycle involving Rev-NF90ctv interaction.
Since Rev:RRE complex formations depend on protein:RNA and protein:protein interactions, we investigated whether the expression of NF90ctv might interfere with Rev-mediated export of RRE-containing transcripts. When HeLa cells expressed both NF90ctv and Rev protein, we observed that NF90ctv inhibited the Rev-mediated RNA transport. In particular, three regions of NF90ctv protein are involved in blocking Rev function. Moreover, interaction of NF90ctv with the RRE RNA resulted in the expression of a reporter protein coding sequences linked to the RRE structure. Moreover, Rev influenced the subcellular localization of NF90ctv, and this process is leptomycin B sensitive.
The dsRNA binding protein, NF90ctv competes with HIV Rev function at two levels, by competitive protein:protein interaction involving Rev binding to specific domains of NF90ctv, as well as by its binding to the RRE-RNA structure. Our results are consistent with a model of Rev-mediated HIV-1 RNA export that envisions Rev-multimerization, a process interrupted by NF90ctv.
PMCID: PMC1713252  PMID: 17125513

Results 1-9 (9)