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author:("hilly, Martin")
1.  The oxidative potential of differently charged silver and gold nanoparticles on three human lung epithelial cell types 
Nanoparticle (NPs) functionalization has been shown to affect their cellular toxicity. To study this, differently functionalized silver (Ag) and gold (Au) NPs were synthesised, characterised and tested using lung epithelial cell systems.
Monodispersed Ag and Au NPs with a size range of 7 to 10 nm were coated with either sodium citrate or chitosan resulting in surface charges from −50 mV to +70 mV. NP-induced cytotoxicity and oxidative stress were determined using A549 cells, BEAS-2B cells and primary lung epithelial cells (NHBE cells). TEER measurements and immunofluorescence staining of tight junctions were performed to test the growth characteristics of the cells. Cytotoxicity was measured by means of the CellTiter-Blue ® and the lactate dehydrogenase assay and cellular and cell-free reactive oxygen species (ROS) production was measured using the DCFH-DA assay.
Different growth characteristics were shown in the three cell types used. A549 cells grew into a confluent mono-layer, BEAS-2B cells grew into a multilayer and NHBE cells did not form a confluent layer. A549 cells were least susceptible towards NPs, irrespective of the NP functionalization. Cytotoxicity in BEAS-2B cells increased when exposed to high positive charged (+65-75 mV) Au NPs. The greatest cytotoxicity was observed in NHBE cells, where both Ag and Au NPs with a charge above +40 mV induced cytotoxicity. ROS production was most prominent in A549 cells where Au NPs (+65-75 mV) induced the highest amount of ROS. In addition, cell-free ROS measurements showed a significant increase in ROS production with an increase in chitosan coating.
Chitosan functionalization of NPs, with resultant high surface charges plays an important role in NP-toxicity. Au NPs, which have been shown to be inert and often non-cytotoxic, can become toxic upon coating with certain charged molecules. Notably, these effects are dependent on the core material of the particle, the cell type used for testing and the growth characteristics of these cell culture model systems.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12951-014-0062-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4304186  PMID: 25592092
Human lung epithelial cells; Nanoparticles; Cytotoxicity; ROS production; Surface charge
2.  Structural Integrity of the Antigen Is a Determinant for the Induction of T-Helper Type-1 Immunity in Mice by Gene Gun Vaccines against E.coli Beta-Galactosidase 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102280.
The type of immune response is critical for successful protection and typically determined by pathogen-associated danger molecules. In contrast, protein antigens are usually regarded as passive target structures. Here, we provide evidence that the structure of the antigen can profoundly influence the type of response that is elicited under else identical conditions. In mice, gene gun vaccines induce predominantly Th2-biased immune reactions against most antigens. One exception is E. coli beta-galactosidase (βGal) that induces a balanced Th1/Th2 response. Because both, the delivered material (plasmid DNA-coated gold particles) as well as the procedure (biolistic delivery to the skin surface) is the same as for other antigens we hypothesized that Th1 induction could be a function of βGal protein expressed in transfected cells. To test this we examined gene gun vaccines encoding structural or functional variants of the antigen. Employing a series of gene gun vaccines encoding individual structural domains of βGal, we found that neither of them induced IgG2a antibodies. Even disruption of the homo-tetramer association of the native protein by deletion of a few N-terminal amino acids was sufficient to abrogate IgG2a production. However, enzymatically inactive βGal with only one point mutation in the catalytic center retained the ability to induce Th1 reactions. Thus, structural but not functional integrity of the antigen must be retained for Th1 induction. βGal is not a Th1 adjuvant in the classical sense because neither were βGal-transgenic ROSA26 mice particularly Th1-biased nor did co-administration of a βGal-encoding plasmid induce IgG2a against other antigens. Despite this, gene gun vaccines elicited Th1 reactions to antigens fused to the open reading frame of βGal. We interpret these findings as evidence that different skin-borne antigens may be differentially handled by the immune system and that the three-dimensional structure of an antigen is an important determinant for this.
PMCID: PMC4099185  PMID: 25025197
3.  Generation of hypoallergenic neoglycoconjugates for dendritic cell targeted vaccination: A novel tool for specific immunotherapy 
Journal of Controlled Release  2013;165(2):101-109.
The incidence of allergic disorders and asthma continuously increased over the past decades, consuming a considerable proportion of the health care budget. Allergen-specific subcutaneous immunotherapy represents the only intervention treating the underlying causes of type I allergies, but still suffers from unwanted side effects and low compliance. There is an urgent need for novel approaches improving safety and efficacy of this therapy. In the present study we investigated carbohydrate-mediated targeting of allergens to dermal antigen-presenting cells and its influence on immunogenicity and allergenicity. Mannan, high (40 kDa) and low (6 kDa) molecular weight dextran, and maltodextrin were covalently attached to ovalbumin and papain via mild carbohydrate oxidation resulting in neoglycocomplexes of various sizes. In particular, mannan-conjugates were efficiently taken up by dendritic cells in vivo leading to elevated humoral immune responses against the protein moiety and a shift from IgE to IgG. Beyond providing an adjuvant effect, papain glycocomplexes also proved to mask B-cell epitopes, thus rendering the allergen derivative hypoallergenic.
The present data demonstrate that carbohydrate-modified allergens combine targeting of antigen presenting cells with hypoallergenicity, offering the potential for low dose allergen-specific immunotherapy while concomitantly reducing the risk of side effects.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC3550522  PMID: 23147517
Targeting; C type lectin receptors; Carbohydrates; Hypoallergen; Specific immunotherapy
4.  Response to Detection and analysis of unusual features in the structural model and structure-factor data of a birch pollen allergen  
A response to the article by Rupp (2012), Acta Cryst. F68, 366–376.
The authors of J. Immunol. 184, 725–735 respond to the article by Rupp (2012), Acta Cryst. F68, 366–376.
PMCID: PMC3325801  PMID: 22505401
response; protein structure; Bet V 1 birch pollen allergen
5.  Physicochemical and biological characterization of 1E10 Anti-Idiotype vaccine 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:112.
1E10 monoclonal antibody is a murine anti-idiotypic antibody that mimics N-glycolyl-GM3 gangliosides. This antibody has been tested as an anti-idiotypic cancer vaccine, adjuvated in Al(OH)3, in several clinical trials for melanoma, breast, and lung cancer. During early clinical development this mAb was obtained in vivo from mice ascites fluid. Currently, the production process of 1E10 is being transferred from the in vivo to a bioreactor-based method.
Here, we present a comprehensive molecular and immunological characterization of 1E10 produced by the two different production processes in order to determine the impact of the manufacturing process in vaccine performance. We observed differences in glycosylation pattern, charge heterogeneity and structural stability between in vivo-produced 1E10 and bioreactor-obtained 1E10. Interestingly, these modifications had no significant impact on the immune responses elicited in two different animal models.
Changes in 1E10 primary structure like glycosylation; asparagine deamidation and oxidation affected 1E10 structural stability but did not affect the immune response elicited in mice and chickens when compared to 1E10 produced in mice.
PMCID: PMC3238287  PMID: 22108317
6.  Basophil Activation Test for Investigation of IgE-Mediated Mechanisms in Drug Hypersensitivity 
Hypersensitivity reactions against non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like propyphenazone (PP) and diclofenac (DF) can manifest as Type I-like allergic reactions 1. In clinical practice, diagnosis of drug hypersensitivity is mainly performed by patient history, as skin testing is not reliable and oral provocation testing bears life-threatening risks for the patient 2. Hence, evidence for an underlying IgE-mediated pathomechanism is hard to obtain.
Here, we present an in vitro method based on the use of human basophils derived from drug-hypersensitive patients that mimics the allergic effector reaction in vivo. As basophils of drug-allergic patients carry IgE molecules specific for the culprit drug, they become activated upon IgE receptor crosslinking and release allergic effector molecules. The activation of basophils can be monitored by the determination of the upregulation of CD63 surface expression using flow cytometry 3.
In the case of low molecular weight drugs, conjugates are designed to enable IgE receptor crosslinking on basophils. As depicted in Figure 1, two representatives of NSAIDs, PP and DF, are covalently bound to human serum albumin (HSA) via a carboxyl group reacting with the primary amino group of lysine residues. DF carries an intrinsic carboxyl group and, thus, can be used directly 4, whereas a carboxyl group-containing derivative of PP had to be organochemically synthesized prior to the study 1.
The coupling degree of the low molecular weight compounds on the protein carrier molecule and their spatial distribution is important to guarantee crosslinking of two IgE receptor molecules. The here described protocol applies high performance-size exclusion chromatography (HPSEC) equipped with a sequential refractive index (RI) and ultra violet (UV) detection system for determination of the coupling degree.
As the described methodology may be applied for other drugs, the basophil activation test (BAT) bears the potential to be used for the determination of IgE-mediated mechanisms in drug hypersensitivity. Here, we determine PP hypersensitivity as IgE-mediated and DF hypersensitivity as non-IgE-mediated by BAT.
PMCID: PMC3230192  PMID: 21946858
7.  Mechanisms of Allergen-Antibody Interaction of Cockroach Allergen Bla g 2 with Monoclonal Antibodies That Inhibit IgE Antibody Binding 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22223.
Cockroach allergy is strongly associated with asthma, and involves the production of IgE antibodies against inhaled allergens. Reports of conformational epitopes on inhaled allergens are limited. The conformational epitopes for two specific monoclonal antibodies (mAb) that interfere with IgE antibody binding were identified by X-ray crystallography on opposite sites of the quasi-symmetrical cockroach allergen Bla g 2.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mutational analysis of selected residues in both epitopes was performed based on the X-ray crystal structures of the allergen with mAb Fab/Fab′ fragments, to investigate the structural basis of allergen-antibody interactions. The epitopes of Bla g 2 for the mAb 7C11 or 4C3 were mutated, and the mutants were analyzed by SDS-PAGE, circular dichroism, and/or mass spectrometry. Mutants were tested for mAb and IgE antibody binding by ELISA and fluorescent multiplex array. Single or multiple mutations of five residues from both epitopes resulted in almost complete loss of mAb binding, without affecting the overall folding of the allergen. Preventing glycosylation by mutation N268Q reduced IgE binding, indicating a role of carbohydrates in the interaction. Cation-π interactions, as well as electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions, were important for mAb and IgE antibody binding. Quantitative differences in the effects of mutations on IgE antibody binding were observed, suggesting heterogeneity in epitope recognition among cockroach allergic patients.
Analysis by site-directed mutagenesis of epitopes identified by X-ray crystallography revealed an overlap between monoclonal and IgE antibody binding sites and provided insight into the B cell repertoire to Bla g 2 and the mechanisms of allergen-antibody recognition, including involvement of carbohydrates.
PMCID: PMC3137622  PMID: 21789239
8.  Glutaraldehyde-Modified Recombinant Fel d 1: A Hypoallergen With Negligible Biological Activity But Retained Immunogenicity 
Recombinant allergens are under investigation for replacing allergen extracts in immunotherapy. Site-directed mutagenesis has been suggested as a strategy to develop hypoallergenic molecules that will reduce the risk of side effects. For decades, chemically modified allergen extracts have been used for the same reason.
To evaluate whether glutaraldehyde modification is a good strategy to produce hypoallergenic recombinant allergens with retained immunogenicity.
Fel d 1 was cloned as a single construct linking both chains of the molecule and expressed in Escherichia coli and Pichia pastoris. After physicochemical purification, recombinant Fel d 1 (rFel d 1) was chemically modified using glutaraldehyde. The effect of modification on immune reactivity was evaluated using radioallergosorbent test, CAP-inhibition, competitive radioimmunoassay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, basophil histamine release, and T-cell proliferation assays. Both natural Fel d 1 and recombinant unmodified Fel d 1 were used as controls.
rFel d 1 demonstrated similar IgE binding and biological activity as its natural counterpart. Upon modification, IgE-binding potency decreased to >1000-fold, which was translated into a >106-fold reduction in the biological activity assessed by basophil histamine release. In contrast, the modified recombinant did not show a decreased but even a moderately increased capacity (1.5-fold) to stimulate proliferation of T cells (P < 0.01). Finally, it induced specific IgG antibodies in rabbits that recognized the unmodified allergen.
Chemical modification is a practical and highly effective approach for achieving hypoallergenicity of recombinant allergens with retained immunogenicity.
PMCID: PMC3488918  PMID: 23268458
allergoid; Felis domesticus; hypoallergen; immunotherapy; rFel d 1
9.  Production of recombinant allergens in plants 
A large percentage of allergenic proteins are of plant origin. Hence, plant-based expression systems are considered ideal for the recombinant production of certain allergens. First attempts to establish production of plant-derived allergens in plants focused on transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana infected with recombinant viral vectors. Accordingly, allergens from birch and mugwort pollen, as well as from apple have been expressed in plants. Production of house dust mite allergens has been achieved by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of tobacco plants. Beside the use of plants as production systems, other approaches have focused on the development of edible vaccines expressing allergens or epitopes thereof, which bypasses the need of allergen purification. The potential of this approach has been convincingly demonstrated for transgenic rice seeds expressing seven dominant human T cell epitopes derived from Japanese cedar pollen allergens. Parallel to efforts in developing recombinant-based diagnostic and therapeutic reagents, different gene-silencing approaches have been used to decrease the expression of allergenic proteins in allergen sources. In this way hypoallergenic ryegrass, soybean, rice, apple, and tomato were developed.
PMCID: PMC3024541  PMID: 21258627
Allergy; Expression system; Green biotechnology; Molecular farming; Recombinant protein
10.  Antigen Aggregation Decides the Fate of the Allergic Immune Response 
Previously, defined naturally occurring isoforms of allergenic proteins were classified as hypoallergens and therefore suggested as an agent for immunotherapy in the future. In this paper, we report for the first time the molecular background of hypoallergenicity by comparing the immunological behavior of hyperallergenic Betula verrucosa major Ag 1a (Bet v 1a) and hypoallergenic Bet v 1d, two isoforms of the major birch pollen allergen Betula verrucosa 1. Despite their cross-reactivity, Bet v 1a and Bet v 1d differ in their capacity to induce protective Ab responses in BALB/c mice. Both isoforms induced similar specific IgE levels, but only Bet v 1d expressed relevant titers of serum IgGs and IgAs. Interestingly, hypoallergenic Bet v 1d activated dendritic cells more efficiently, followed by the production of increased amounts of Th1- as well as Th2-type cytokines. Surprisingly, compared with Bet v 1a, Bet v 1d-immunized mice showed a decreased proliferation of regulatory T cells. Crystallographic studies and dynamic light scattering revealed that Bet v 1d demonstrated a high tendency to form disulfide-linked aggregates due to a serine to cysteine exchange at residue 113. We conclude that aggregation of Bet v 1d triggers the establishment of a protective Ab titer and supports a rationale for Bet v 1d being a promising candidate for specific immunotherapy of birch pollen allergy.
PMCID: PMC2968749  PMID: 19995902
11.  Diclofenac Hypersensitivity: Antibody Responses to the Parent Drug and Relevant Metabolites 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13707.
Hypersensitivity reactions against nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like diclofenac (DF) can manifest as Type I-like allergic reactions including systemic anaphylaxis. However, except for isolated case studies experimental evidence for an IgE-mediated pathomechanism of DF hypersensitivity is lacking. In this study we aimed to investigate the possible involvement of drug- and/or metabolite-specific antibodies in selective DF hypersensitivity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
DF, an organochemically synthesized linkage variant, and five major Phase I metabolites were covalently coupled to carrier proteins. Drug conjugates were analyzed for coupling degree and capacity to crosslink receptor-bound IgE antibodies from drug-sensitized mice. With these conjugates, the presence of hapten-specific IgE antibodies was investigated in patients' samples by ELISA, mediator release assay, and basophil activation test. Production of sulfidoleukotrienes by drug conjugates was determined in PBMCs from DF-hypersensitive patients. All conjugates were shown to carry more than two haptens per carrier molecule. Immunization of mice with drug conjugates induced drug-specific IgE antibodies capable of triggering mediator release. Therefore, the conjugates are suitable tools for detection of drug-specific antibodies and for determination of their anaphylactic activity. Fifty-nine patients were enrolled and categorized as hypersensitive either selectively to DF or to multiple NSAIDs. In none of the patients' samples evidence for drug/metabolite-specific IgE in serum or bound to allergic effector cells was found. In contrast, a small group of patients (8/59, 14%) displayed drug/metabolite-specific IgG.
We found no evidence for an IgE-mediated effector mechanism based on haptenation of protein carriers in DF-hypersensitive patients. Furthermore, a potential involvement of the most relevant metabolites in DF hypersensitivity reactions could be excluded.
PMCID: PMC2965666  PMID: 21060839
12.  The Influence of Recombinant Production on the Immunologic Behavior of Birch Pollen Isoallergens 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8457.
Allergic reactions towards the birch major pollen allergen Bet v 1 are among the most common causes of spring pollinosis in the temperate climate zone of the Northern hemisphere. Natural Bet v 1 is composed of a complex mixture of different isoforms. Detailed analysis of recombinant Bet v 1 isoforms revealed striking differences in immunologic as well as allergenic properties of the molecules, leading to a classification of Bet v 1 isoforms into high, medium, and low IgE binding proteins. Especially low IgE binding Bet v 1 isoforms have been described as ideal candidates for desensitizing allergic patients with allergen specific immunotherapy (SIT). Since diagnosis and therapy of allergic diseases are highly dependent on recombinant proteins, continuous improvement of protein production is an absolute necessity.
Therefore, two different methods for recombinant production of a low IgE binding Bet v 1 isoform were applied; one based on published protocols, the other by implementing latest innovations in protein production. Both batches of Bet v 1.0401 were extensively characterized by an array of physicochemical as well as immunological methods to compare protein primary structure, purity, quantity, folding, aggregation state, thermal stability, and antibody binding capacity.
The experiments demonstrated that IgE antibody binding properties of recombinant isoallergens can be significantly influenced by the production method directly affecting possible clinical applications of the molecules.
PMCID: PMC2795169  PMID: 20041109

Results 1-12 (12)