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1.  HSV-2-Driven Increase in the Expression of α4β7 Correlates with Increased Susceptibility to Vaginal SHIVSF162P3 Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004567.
The availability of highly susceptible HIV target cells that can rapidly reach the mucosal lymphoid tissues may increase the chances of an otherwise rare transmission event to occur. Expression of α4β7 is required for trafficking of immune cells to gut inductive sites where HIV can expand and it is expressed at high level on cells particularly susceptible to HIV infection. We hypothesized that HSV-2 modulates the expression of α4β7 and other homing receptors in the vaginal tissue and that this correlates with the increased risk of HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive individuals. To test this hypothesis we used an in vivo rhesus macaque (RM) model of HSV-2 vaginal infection and a new ex vivo model of macaque vaginal explants. In vivo we found that HSV-2 latently infected RMs appeared to be more susceptible to vaginal SHIVSF162P3 infection, had higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in the vaginal tissue and higher expression of α4β7 and CD11c on vaginal DCs. Similarly, ex vivo HSV-2 infection increased the susceptibility of the vaginal tissue to SHIVSF162P3. HSV-2 infection increased the frequencies of α4β7high CD4+ T cells and this directly correlated with HSV-2 replication. A higher amount of inflammatory cytokines in vaginal fluids of the HSV-2 infected animals was similar to those found in the supernatants of the infected explants. Remarkably, the HSV-2-driven increase in the frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells directly correlated with SHIV replication in the HSV-2 infected tissues. Our results suggest that the HSV-2-driven increase in availability of CD4+ T cells and DCs that express high levels of α4β7 is associated with the increase in susceptibility to SHIV due to HSV-2. This may persists in absence of HSV-2 shedding. Hence, higher availability of α4β7 positive HIV target cells in the vaginal tissue may constitute a risk factor for HIV transmission.
Author Summary
Understanding the factors that correlate with an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection is key to identify new means of preventing HIV transmission. HSV-2 infection increases the risk of HIV transmission even in absence of visible lesions and inflammation. In order to explore HSV-2− associated factors that could explain this phenomenon, we used a model of asymptomatic HSV-2 infection in macaques and ex vivo cultures of biopsied vaginal tissue. We determined that HSV-2 infection is associated with an increase in subsets of immune cells that express high levels of α4β7, a molecule needed by the cells to reach the gut and the gut lymphoid tissues. The gut is an important site for HIV infection and pathogenesis and CD4+ T cells expressing high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high) are highly susceptible to the virus. We determined that the HSV-2-driven increase in these cells correlates with an increased susceptibility of the vaginal mucosa to SIV infection. Thus, our results suggest that an increased availability of α4β7high cells at the mucosal site of HIV exposure may constitute a risk factor for HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive and, possibly, negative individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004567
PMCID: PMC4270786  PMID: 25521298
2.  Semaphorin3a inhibits ureteric bud branching morphogenesis 
Mechanisms of development  2007;125(0):558-568.
Class 3 semaphorins are guidance proteins involved in axon pathfinding, vascular patterning and lung branching morphogenesis in the developing mouse embryo. Semaphorin3a (Sema3a) is expressed in renal epithelia throughout kidney development, including podocytes and ureteric bud cells. However, the role of Sema3a in ureteric bud branching is unknown. Here we demonstrate that Sema3a plays a role in patterning the ureteric bud tree in both metanephric organ cultures and Sema3a mutant mice. In vitro ureteric bud injection with Sema3a antisense morpholino resulted in increased branching, whereas recombinant SEMA3A inhibited ureteric bud branching and decreased the number of developing glomeruli. Additional studies revealed that SEMA3A effects on ureteric bud branching involve downregulation of glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) signaling, competition with vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and decreased activity of Akt survival pathways. Deletion of Sema3a in mice is associated with increased ureteric bud branching, confirming its inhibitory role in vivo. Collectively, these data suggest that Sema3a is an endogenous antagonist of ureteric bud branching and hence, plays a role in patterning the renal collecting system as a negative regulator.
doi:10.1016/j.mod.2007.12.003
PMCID: PMC3992265  PMID: 18249526
Sema3a; metanephric development; branching morphogenesis; plexins; GDNF/RET
3.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094547
PMCID: PMC3989196  PMID: 24740100
4.  The Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcription Inhibitor MIV-160 Delivered from an Intravaginal Ring, But Not from a Carrageenan Gel, Protects Against Simian/Human Immunodeficiency Virus-RT Infection 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(11):1467-1475.
Abstract
We previously showed that a carrageenan (CG) gel containing 50 μM MIV-150 (MIV-150/CG) reduced vaginal simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)-RT infection of macaques (56%, p>0.05) when administered daily for 2 weeks with the last dose given 8 h before challenge. Additionally, when 100 mg of MIV-150 was loaded into an intravaginal ring (IVR) inserted 24 h before challenge and removed 2 weeks after challenge, >80% protection was observed (p<0.03). MIV-160 is a related NNRTI with a similar IC50, greater aqueous solubility, and a shorter synthesis. To objectively compare MIV-160 with MIV-150, herein we evaluated the antiviral effects of unformulated MIV-160 in vitro as well as the in vivo protection afforded by MIV-160 delivered in CG (MIV-160/CG gel) and in an IVR under regimens used with MIV-150 in earlier studies. Like MIV-150, MIV-160 exhibited potent antiviral activity against SHIV-RT in macaque vaginal explants. However, formulated MIV-160 exhibited divergent effects in vivo. The MIV-160/CG gel offered no protection compared to CG alone, whereas the MIV-160 IVRs protected significantly. Importantly, the results of in vitro release studies of the MIV-160/CG gel and the MIV-160 IVR suggested that in vivo efficacy paralleled the amount of MIV-160 released in vitro. Hundreds of micrograms of MIV-160 were released daily from IVRs while undetectable amounts of MIV-160 were released from the CG gel. Our findings highlight the importance of testing different modalities of microbicide delivery to identify the optimal formulation for efficacy in vivo.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0080
PMCID: PMC3484820  PMID: 22816564
5.  Acute Podocyte Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF-A) Knockdown Disrupts alphaVbeta3 Integrin Signaling in the Glomerulus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40589.
Podocyte or endothelial cell VEGF-A knockout causes thrombotic microangiopathy in adult mice. To study the mechanism involved in acute and local injury caused by low podocyte VEGF-A we developed an inducible, podocyte-specific VEGF-A knockdown mouse, and we generated an immortalized podocyte cell line (VEGFKD) that downregulates VEGF-A upon doxycycline exposure. Tet-O-siVEGF:podocin-rtTA mice express VEGF shRNA in podocytes in a doxycycline-regulated manner, decreasing VEGF-A mRNA and VEGF-A protein levels in isolated glomeruli to ∼20% of non-induced controls and urine VEGF-A to ∼30% of control values a week after doxycycline induction. Induced tet-O-siVEGF:podocin-rtTA mice developed acute renal failure and proteinuria, associated with mesangiolysis and microaneurisms. Glomerular ultrastructure revealed endothelial cell swelling, GBM lamination and podocyte effacement. VEGF knockdown decreased podocyte fibronectin and glomerular endothelial alphaVbeta3 integrin in vivo. VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2) interacts with beta3 integrin and neuropilin-1 in the kidney in vivo and in VEGFKD podocytes. Podocyte VEGF knockdown disrupts alphaVbeta3 integrin activation in glomeruli, detected by WOW1-Fab. VEGF silencing in cultured VEGFKD podocytes downregulates fibronectin and disrupts alphaVbeta3 integrin activation cell-autonomously. Collectively, these studies indicate that podocyte VEGF-A regulates alphaVbeta3 integrin signaling in the glomerulus, and that podocyte VEGF knockdown disrupts alphaVbeta3 integrin activity via decreased VEGFR2 signaling, thereby damaging the three layers of the glomerular filtration barrier, causing proteinuria and acute renal failure.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040589
PMCID: PMC3396653  PMID: 22808199
6.  Measles Virus-Specific Antibody Levels in Individuals in Argentina Who Received a One-Dose Vaccine 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(8):2733-2738.
In spite of active measles virus (MV) vaccination strategies, reemergence continues to occur, impairing global eradication programs. The immune status against measles was evaluated in 350 vaccinated healthy Argentine children and teenagers who received a single dose of the MV Schwarz strain Lirugen vaccine (Aventis Pasteur). Sera were assessed for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies by a commercial enzyme immunoassay (EIA) (Enzygnost; Behring), an in-house EIA, and neutralization EIA. Results obtained with these methods showed a marked decline in IgG level with increasing age. At 1 to 4 years of age, 84% of children had IgG antibodies above 200 mIU/ml, conventionally accepted as protective levels, whereas only 32% of older children and teenagers had antibody levels exceeding 200 mIU/ml. Moreover, the MV IgG content in the teenage group was significantly lower than the IgG antibody level of the group of younger children (P < 0.0001). In contrast, screening for IgG antibody levels to inactivated tetanus vaccine showed that, on average, 80% of this population was fully protected and that this high level of protection remained through the teenage years. This study suggests that within this population a considerable proportion of individuals had low measles antibody levels that may be insufficient to protect against reinfections or clinical disease.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00980-05
PMCID: PMC1594608  PMID: 16891485

Results 1-6 (6)