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1.  Host Genetic Factors and Dendritic Cell Responses Associated with the Outcome of Interferon/Ribavirin Treatment in HIV-1/HCV Co-Infected Individuals 
HIV-1/HCV co-infection is a significant health problem. Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) against HIV-1 has proved to be fairly successful. On the other hand, direct acting antiviral drugs against HCV have improved cure rates but high cost and development of drug resistance are important concerns. Therefore PEGylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) still remain essential components of HCV treatment, and identification of host factors that predict IFN/RBV treatment response is necessary for effective clinical management of HCV infection. Impaired dendritic cell (DC) and T cell responses are associated with HCV persistence. It has been shown that IFN/RBV treatment enhances HCV-specific T cell functions and it is likely that functional restoration of DCs is the underlying cause. To test this hypothesis, we utilized an antibody cocktail (consisting of DC maturation, adhesion and other surface markers) to perform comprehensive phenotypic characterization of myeloid DCs (mDCs) and plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) in a cohort of HIV-1/HCV co-infected individuals undergoing IFN/RBV treatment. Our results show that pre-treatment frequencies of mDCs are lower in non-responders (NRs) compared to responders (SVRs) and healthy controls. Although, the treatment was able to restore the frequency of mDCs in NRs, it downregulated the frequency of CCR7+, CD54+ and CD62L+ mDCs. Pre-treatment frequencies of pDCs were lower in NRs and decreased further upon treatment. Compared to SVRs, NRs exhibited higher ratio of PD-L1+/CD86+ pDCs prior to treatment; and this ratio remained high even after treatment. These findings demonstrate that enumeration and phenotypic assessment of DCs before/during therapy can help predict the treatment outcome. We also show that before treatment, PBMCs from SVRs secrete higher amounts of IFN-γ compared to controls and NRs. Upon genotyping IFNL3 polymorphisms rs12979860, rs4803217 and ss469415590, we found rs12979860 to be a better predictor of treatment outcome. Collectively, our study led to identification of important correlates of IFN/RBV treatment response in HIV-1/HCV co-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC4332701
Dendritic cells; Interferon-α; Ribavirin; human chronic viral infections; HIV-1; HCV; HIV-1/HCV co-infection
2.  Epigenetics, drugs of abuse, and the retroviral promoter 
Drug abuse alone has been shown to cause epigenetic changes in brain tissue that have been shown to play roles in addictive behaviors. In conjunction with HIV-1 infection, it can cause epigenetic changes at the viral promoter that can result in altered gene expression, and exacerbate disease progression overall. This review entails an in-depth look at research conducted on the epigenetic effects of three of the most widely abused drugs (cannabinoids, opioids, and cocaine), with a particular focus on the mechanisms through which these drugs interact with HIV-1 infection at the viral promoter. Here we discuss the impact of this interplay on disease progression from the point of view of the nature of gene regulation at the level of chromatin accessibility, chromatin remodeling, and nucleosome repositioning. Given the importance of chromatin remodeling and DNA methylation in controlling the retroviral promoter, and the high susceptibility of the drug abusing population of individuals to HIV infection, it would be beneficial to understand the way in which the host genome is modified and regulated by drugs of abuse.
PMCID: PMC3878082  PMID: 24218017
drug abuse; epigenetics; chromatin remodeling; HIV-1; LTR
3.  Lack of recall response to Tax in ATL and HAM/TSP patients but not in asymptomatic carriers of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 
Journal of clinical immunology  2013;33(7):1223-1239.
Purpose & methods
The immunopathogenic mechanisms responsible for debilitating neurodegenerative and oncologic diseases associated with human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) are not fully understood. In this respect, a patient cohort from HTLV-1 endemic region that included seronegative controls (controls), asymptomatic carriers (ACs), and patients with adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) or HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) was analyzed for CD8+ T cells polyfunctionality in response to the viral antigen Tax.
Compared to ACs, ATL and HAM/TSP patients had lower frequency and polyfunctionality of CTLs in response to Tax suggesting dysfunction of CD8+ T cells in these individuals. As an underlying mechanism, programmed death-1 (PD-1) receptor was found to be highly unregulated in Tax-responsive as well as total CD8+ T cells from ATL and HAM/TSP but not from ACs and directly correlated with the lack of polyfunctionality in these individuals. Further, PD-1 expression showed a direct whereas MIP-1α expression had an indirect correlation with the proviral load providing new insights about the immunopathogenesis of HTLV-associated diseases. Additionally, we identified key cytokine signatures defining the immune activation status of clinical samples by the luminex assay.
Collectively, our findings suggest that reconstitution of fully functional CTLs, stimulation of MIP-1α expression, and/or blockade of the PD-1 pathway are potential approaches for immunotherapy and therapeutic vaccine against HTLV-mediated diseases.
PMCID: PMC3784618  PMID: 23888327
Chronic viral infections; Cytotoxic T cell; CD4+ T cell; CD8+ T cell; Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1; HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis; Tax
4.  An Altered Maturation and Adhesion Phenotype of Dendritic Cells in Diseased Individuals Compared to Asymptomatic Carriers of Human T Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(9):1273-1285.
The immunopathogenic mechanisms underlying human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-mediated diseases such as adult T cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) are not clearly understood. As critical effectors of antiviral immune response, dendritic cells (DCs) are implicated to play an important role in determining the outcome of HTLV-1 infection. However, a complete understanding of their role in any disease pathogenesis requires extensive assessment of the phenotypic and functional state of DCs. To enable this, we developed a polychromatic antibody cocktail comprising key phenotypic and functional markers of DCs and applied it in a patient cohort from the HTLV-1 endemic region, Jamaica, consisted of seronegative controls, asymptomatic carriers (ACs), ATL, and HAM/TSP patients. This ex vivo analyses included two major subsets of blood DCs, myeloid and plasmacytoid (mDCs and pDCs, respectively). The comparative analyses of results demonstrated a decreased pDC frequency in both ATL and HAM/TSP patients as compared to ACs and seronegative controls. Similarly, CD86 expression on both mDCs and pDCs was significantly higher in HAM/TSP (but not ATL) patients compared to ACs. Interestingly, HLA-DR expression was significantly lower on pDCs of patients as compared to carriers; however, for mDCs, only the HAM/TSP group had significantly lower expression of HLA-DR. Unlike HAM/TSP individuals, ATL individuals had higher HLA-ABC expression on mDCs compared to ACs. Finally, both mDCs and pDCs of HAM/TSP patients had significantly higher expression of the programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) compared to ACs. Overall, this study suggests that DCs exhibit a differential phenotypic and functional profile between patients (ATL and HAM/TSP) and carriers of HTLV-1 and could provide an important tool for understanding HTLV-1 immunopathogenesis during infection and disease.
PMCID: PMC3749709  PMID: 23750452
5.  α4β1 Integrin Mediates the Recruitment of Immature Dendritic Cells across the Blood-Brain Barrier during Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis 
Dendritic cells (DCs) within the CNS are recognized to play an important role in the effector phase and propagation of the immune response in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model for multiple sclerosis. However, the mechanisms regulating DC trafficking into the CNS still need to be characterized. In this study, we show by performing intravital fluorescence videomicroscopy of the inflamed spinal cord white-matter microvasculature in SJL mice with EAE that immature, and to a lesser extent, LPS-matured, bone marrow-derived DCs efficiently interact with the CNS endothelium by rolling, capturing, and firm adhesion. Immature but not LPS-matured DCs efficiently migrated across the wall of inflamed parenchymal microvessels into the CNS. Blocking α4 integrins interfered with the adhesion but not the rolling or capturing of immature and LPS-matured DCs to the CNS microvascular endothelium, inhibiting their migration across the vascular wall. Functional absence of β1 integrins but not of β7 integrins or α4β7 integrin similarly reduced the adhesion of immature DCs to the CNS microvascular endothelium, demonstrating that α4β1 but not α4β7 integrin mediates this step of immature DCs interaction with the inflamed blood-brain barrier during EAE. Our study shows that during EAE, especially immature DCs migrate into the CNS, where they may be crucial for the perpetuation of the CNS-targeted autoimmune response. Thus therapeutic targeting of α4 integrins affects DC trafficking into the CNS and may therefore lead to the resolution of the CNS autoimmune inflammation by reducing the number of CNS professional APCs.
PMCID: PMC3999618  PMID: 20483748
6.  Phase II Trial of Cetuximab and Conformal Radiotherapy Only in Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer with Concurrent Tissue Sampling Feasibility Study1 
Translational Oncology  2014;7(1):55-64.
BACKGROUND: Preclinical data have indicated the anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) agent cetuximab (Erbitux) as a radiosensitizer in pancreatic cancer, but this has not been specifically addressed in a clinical study. We report the results of an original study initiated in 2007, where cetuximab was tested with radiotherapy (RT) alone in locally advanced pancreatic cancer in a phase II trial (PACER). METHODS: Patients (n = 21) received cetuximab loading dose (400 mg/m2) and weekly dose (250 mg/m2) during RT (50.4 Gy in 28 fractions). Toxicity and disease response end point data were prospectively assessed. A feasibility study of on-trial patient blood and skin sampling was incorporated. RESULTS: Treatment was well tolerated, and toxicity was low; most patients (71%) experienced acute toxicities of grade 2 or less. Six months posttreatment, stable local disease was achieved in 90% of evaluable patients, but only 33% were free from metastatic progression. Median overall survival was 7.5 months, and actuarial survival was 33% at 1 year and 11% at 3 years, reflecting swift metastatic progression in some patients but good long-term control of localized disease in others. High-grade acneiform rash (P = .0027), posttreatment stable disease (P = .0059), and pretreatment cancer antigen 19.9 (CA19.9) level (P = .0042) associated with extended survival. Patient skin and blood samples yielded sufficient RNA and good quality protein, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that cetuximab inhibits EGFR-mediated radioresistance to achieve excellent local control with minimal toxicity but does not sufficiently control metastatic progression in all patients. Translational studies of patient tissue samples may yield molecular information that may enable individual treatment response prediction.
PMCID: PMC3998695  PMID: 24772208
13.  Proteomic identification of immunodominant chlamydial antigens in a mouse model 
Journal of proteomics  2012;77:176-186.
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted pathogen in the world. To identify new vaccine candidates a protein microarray was constructed by expressing the open reading frames (ORFs) from Chlamydia mouse pneumonitis (MoPn). C57BL/6, C3H/HeN and BALB/c mice were immunized either intranasally or intravaginally with live MoPn elementary bodies (EB). Two additional groups were immunized by the intramuscular plus subcutaneous routes with UV-treated EB, using CpG and Montanide as adjuvants to favor a Th1 response, or Alum, to elicit a Th2 response. Serum samples collected from the three strains of mice were tested in the microarray. The array included the expression of 909 proteins from the 921 ORFs of the MoPn genome and plasmid. A total of 530 ORFs were recognized by at least one serum sample. Of these, 36 reacted with sera from the three strains of mice immunized with live EB. These antigens included proteins that were previously described as immunogenic such as MOMP and HSP60. In addition, we uncovered new immunogens, including 11 hypothetical proteins. In summary, we have identified new immunodominant chlamydial proteins that can be tested for their ability to induce protection in animal models and subsequently in humans.
PMCID: PMC3575745  PMID: 22959960
Chlamydia; Antigens; Microarrays; Vaccine; Mouse model
14.  Vaccination with the Recombinant Major Outer Membrane Protein Elicits Antibodies to the Constant Domains and Induces Cross-Serovar Protection against Intranasal Challenge with Chlamydia trachomatis 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(5):1741-1750.
To determine the ability of the major outer membrane protein (MOMP) to elicit cross-serovar protection, groups of mice were immunized by the intramuscular (i.m.) and subcutaneous (s.c.) routes with recombinant MOMP (rMOMP) from Chlamydia trachomatis serovars D (UW-3/Cx), E (Bour), or F (IC-Cal-3) or Chlamydia muridarum strain Nigg II using CpG-1826 and Montanide ISA 720 VG as adjuvants. Negative-control groups were immunized i.m. and s.c. with Neisseria gonorrhoeae recombinant porin B (Ng-rPorB) or i.n. with Eagle's minimal essential medium (MEM-0). Following vaccination, the mice developed antibodies not only against the homologous serovar but also against heterologous serovars. The rMOMP-vaccinated animals also mounted cell-mediated immune responses as assessed by a lymphoproliferative assay. Four weeks after the last immunization, mice were challenged i.n. with 104 inclusion-forming units (IFU) of C. muridarum. The mice were weighed for 10 days and euthanized, and the number of IFU in their lungs was determined. At 10 days postinfection (p.i.), mice immunized with the rMOMP of C. muridarum or C. trachomatis D, E, or F had lost 4%, 6%, 8%, and 8% of their initial body weight, respectively, significantly different from the negative-control groups (Ng-rPorB, 13%; MEM-0, 19%; P < 0.05). The median number of IFU recovered from the lungs of mice immunized with C. muridarum rMOMP was 0.13 × 106. The median number of IFU recovered from mice immunized with rMOMP from serovars D, E, and F were 0.38 × 106, 7.56 × 106, and 11.94 × 106 IFU, respectively. All the rMOMP-immunized animals had significantly less IFU than the Ng-rPorB (40 × 106)- or MEM-0 (70 × 106)-immunized mice (P < 0.05). In conclusion, vaccination with rMOMP can elicit protection against homologous and heterologous Chlamydia serovars.
PMCID: PMC3648024  PMID: 23478318
15.  Mechanisms of Dendritic Cell Trafficking Across the Blood–brain Barrier 
Although the central nervous system (CNS) is considered to be an immunoprivileged site, it is susceptible to a host of autoimmune as well as neuroinflammatory disorders owing to recruitment of immune cells across the blood–brain barrier into perivascular and parenchymal spaces. Dendritic cells (DCs), which are involved in both primary and secondary immune responses, are the most potent immune cells in terms of antigen uptake and processing as well as presentation to T cells. In light of the emerging importance of DC traficking into the CNS, these cells represent good candidates for targeted immunotherapy against various neuroinflammatory diseases. This review focuses on potential physiological events and receptor interactions between DCs and the microvascular endothelial cells of the brain as they transmigrate into the CNS during degeneration and injury. A clear understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in DC migration may advance the development of new therapies that manipulate these mechanistic properties via pharmacologic intervention. Furthermore, therapeutic validation should be in concurrence with the molecular imaging techniques that can detect migration of these cells in vivo. Since the use of noninvasive methods to image migration of DCs into CNS has barely been explored, we highlighted potential molecular imaging techniques to achieve this goal. Overall, information provided will bring this important leukocyte population to the forefront as key players in the immune cascade in the light of the emerging contribution of DCs to CNS health and disease.
PMCID: PMC3276728  PMID: 21822588
Dendritic cell trafficking; Lectins and integrins; Blood–brain barrier; Molecular imaging; Neuroinflammation; Microvascular endothelial cells
16.  Dendritic Cells in HIV-1 and HCV Infection: Can They Help Win the Battle? 
Virology  2013;4:1-25.
Persistent infections with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. As sentinels of our immune system, dendritic cells (DCs) play a central role in initiating and regulating a potent antiviral immune response. Recent advances in our understanding of the role of DCs during HIV-1 and HCV infection have provided crucial insights into the mechanisms employed by these viruses to impair DC functions in order to evade an effective immune response against them. Modulation of the immunological synapse between DC and T-cell, as well as dysregulation of the crosstalk between DCs and natural killer (NK) cells, are emerging as two crucial mechanisms. This review focuses on understanding the interaction of HIV-1 and HCV with DCs not only to understand the immunopathogenesis of chronic HIV-1 and HCV infection, but also to explore the possibilities of DC-based immunotherapeutic approaches against them. Host genetic makeup is known to play major roles in infection outcome and rate of disease progression, as well as response to anti-viral therapy in both HIV-1 and HCV-infected individuals. Therefore, we highlight the genetic variations that can potentially affect DC functions, especially in the setting of chronic viral infection. Altogether, we address if DCs’ potential as critical effectors of antiviral immune response could indeed be utilized to combat chronic infection with HIV-1 and HCV.
PMCID: PMC4222345  PMID: 25512691
dendritic cells; HIV-1; HCV; HIV-1/HCV co-infection; human chronic viral infections; DC-NK cell crosstalk; innate immune response; antigen-specific immune response
17.  Induction of protective immunity by vaccination against Chlamydia trachomatis using the major outer membrane protein adjuvanted with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide coupled to the nontoxic B subunit of cholera toxin 
Vaccine  2009;27(44):6239-6246.
The present study was undertaken to test the efficacy of immunization with the native major outer membrane protein (nMOMP) of C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) serovar in combination with a novel immunostimulatory adjuvant consisting of CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) linked to the nontoxic B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB-CpG) to elicit a protective immune response to C. trachomatis. High levels of Chlamydia specific IgG antibodies were detected in the sera from BALB/c mice immunized intramuscularly and subcutaneously (i.m.+s.c.) with the nMOMP/CTB-CpG vaccine or with nMOMP adjuvanted with a mixture of CT and CpG ODN (CT + CpG). Further, these immunization schemes gave rise to significant T-cell mediated Chlamydia-specific immune responses. No Chlamydia-specific humoral or cell-mediated immune responses were detected in the control mice vaccinated with ovalbumin together with either CTB-CpG or CT + CpG. Following an intranasal challenge with C. trachomatis the groups of mice immunized with nMOMP plus CTB-CpG, CT + CpG or live C. trachomatis were found to be protected based on their change in body weight and lung weight as well as number of inclusion forming unit recovered from the lungs, as compared with control groups immunized with ovalbumin plus either adjuvants. Interestingly, IFN-γ-producing CD4+, but not CD8+, T-cells showed a significant correlation with the outcomes of the challenge. In conclusion, nMOMP in combination with the novel adjuvant CTB-CpG elicited a significant antigen specific antibody and cell-mediated immune responses as well as protection against a pulmonary challenge with C. trachomatis.
PMCID: PMC3566636  PMID: 19686693
Chlamydia trachomatis; vaccine; CTB-CpG adjuvant
18.  Dendritic cell CNS recruitment correlates with disease severity in EAE via CCL2 chemotaxis at the blood–brain barrier through paracellular transmigration and ERK activation 
Transmigration of circulating dendritic cells (DCs) into the central nervous system (CNS) across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) has not thus far been investigated. An increase in immune cell infiltration across the BBB, uncontrolled activation and antigen presentation are influenced by chemokines. Chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) is a potent chemoattractant known to be secreted by the BBB but has not been implicated in the recruitment of DCs specifically at the BBB.
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) was induced in C57BL/6 mice by injection of MOG35–55 peptide and pertussis toxin intraperitoneally. Animals with increasing degree of EAE score were sacrificed and subjected to near-infrared and fluorescence imaging analysis to detect and localize the accumulation of CD11c+-labeled DCs with respect to CCL2 expression. To further characterize the direct effect of CCL2 in DC trafficking at the BBB, we utilized an in vitro BBB model consisting of human brain microvascular endothelial cells to compare migratory patterns of monocyte-derived dendritic cells, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Further, this model was used to image transmigration using fluorescence microcopy and to assess specific molecular signaling pathways involved in transmigration.
Near-infrared imaging of DC transmigration correlated with the severity of inflammation during EAE. Ex vivo histology confirmed the presence of CCL2 in EAE lesions, with DCs emerging from perivascular spaces. DCs exhibited more efficient transmigration than T cells in BBB model studies. These observations correlated with transwell imaging, which indicated a paracellular versus transcellular pattern of migration by DCs and T cells. Moreover, at the molecular level, CCL2 seems to facilitate DC transmigration in an ERK1/2-dependent manner.
CNS recruitment of DCs correlates with disease severity in EAE via CCL2 chemotaxis and paracellular transmigration across the BBB, which is facilitated by ERK activation. Overall, these comprehensive studies provide a state-of-the-art view of DCs within the CNS, elucidate their path across the BBB, and highlight potential mechanisms involved in CCL2-mediated DC trafficking.
PMCID: PMC3533869  PMID: 23102113
MCP-1; Chemokine ligand 2; Dendritic cell central nervous system trafficking; Blood–brain barrier; Near-infrared fluorescence imaging; Neuroinflammation; Brain microvascular endothelial cells
19.  Investigation of Plasma Biomarkers in HIV-1/HCV Mono- and Coinfected Individuals by Multiplex iTRAQ Quantitative Proteomics 
The analysis of plasma samples from HIV-1/HCV mono- and coinfected individuals by quantitative proteomics is an efficient strategy to investigate changes in protein abundances and to characterize the proteins that are the effectors of cellular functions involved in viral pathogenesis. In this study, the infected and healthy plasma samples (in triplicate) were treated with ProteoMiner beads to equalize protein concentrations and subjected to 4-plex iTRAQ labeling and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis. A total of 70 proteins were identified with high confidence in the triplicate analysis of plasma proteins and 65% of the proteins were found to be common among the three replicates. Apolipoproteins and complement proteins are the two major classes of proteins that exhibited differential regulation. The results of quantitative analysis revealed that APOA2, APOC2, APOE, C3, HRG proteins were upregulated in the plasma of all the three HIV-1 mono-, HCV mono-, and coinfected patient samples compared to healthy control samples. Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) of the upregulated proteins revealed that they are implicated in the hepatic lipid metabolism, inflammation, and acute-phase response signaling pathways. Thus, we identified several differentially regulated proteins in HIV-1/HCV mono and coinfected plasma samples that may be potential biomarkers for liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3243494  PMID: 21978398
20.  Unique and differential protein signatures within the mononuclear cells of HIV-1 and HCV mono-infected and co-infected patients 
Clinical proteomics  2012;9(1):11.
Pathogenesis of liver damage in patients with HIV and HCV co-infection is complex and multifactorial. Although global awareness regarding HIV-1/HCV co-infection is increasing little is known about the pathophysiology that mediates the rapid progression to hepatic disease in the co-infected individuals.
In this study, we investigated the proteome profiles of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-1 mono-, HCV mono-, and HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients. The results of high-resolution 2D gel electrophoresis and PD quest software quantitative analysis revealed that several proteins were differentially expressed in HIV-1, HCV, and HIV-1/HCV co-infection. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and Mascot database matching (LC-MS/MS analysis) successfully identified 29 unique and differentially expressed proteins. These included cytoskeletal proteins (tropomyosin, gelsolin, DYPLSL3, DYPLSL4 and profilin-1), chaperones and co-chaperones (HSP90-beta and stress-induced phosphoprotein), metabolic and pre-apoptotic proteins (guanosine triphosphate [GTP]-binding nuclear protein Ran, the detoxifying enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST) and Rho GDP-dissociation inhibitor (Rho-GDI), proteins involved in cell prosurvival mechanism, and those involved in matrix synthesis (collagen binding protein 2 [CBP2]). The six most significant and relevant proteins were further validated in a group of mono- and co-infected patients (n = 20) at the transcriptional levels.
The specific pro- and anti- apoptotic protein signatures revealed in this study could facilitate the understanding of apoptotic and protective immune-mediated mechanisms underlying HIV-1 and HCV co-infection and their implications on liver disease progression in co-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3582525  PMID: 22958358
HIV-1; HCV; HIV-1/HCV; 2D-GE; Mass spectrometry; Pro- and anti-apoptotic fingerprinting; Proteomics
21.  A TLR2 agonist is a more effective adjuvant for a Chlamydia major outer membrane protein vaccine than ligands to other TLR and NOD receptors 
Vaccine  2011;29(38):6641-6649.
Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen in the World and there is an urgent need for a vaccine to prevent these infections. To determine what type of adjuvant can better enhance the immunogenicity of a Chlamydia vaccine, we formulated the recombinant major outer membrane protein (Ct-rMOMP) with several ligands for Toll-like receptor (TLR) and the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD) including Pam2CSK4 (TLR2/TLR6), Poly (I:C) (TLR3), monophosphoryl lipid A (TLR4), flagellin (TLR5), imiquimod R837 (TLR7), imidazoquinoline R848 (TRL7/8), CpG-1826 (TLR9), M-Tri-DAP (NOD1/NOD2) and muramyldipeptide (NOD2). Groups of female BALB/c mice were immunized intramuscularly (i.m.) three times with the Ct-rMOMP and each one of those adjuvants. Four weeks after the last immunization the mice were challenged intranasally (i.n.) with 104 C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis (MoPn) inclusion forming units (IFU). As negative antigen controls mice were immunized with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae recombinant porin B (Ng-rPorB) and the same adjuvants. As a positive vaccine control mice were inoculated i.n. with 104 IFU of MoPn. The humoral and cell mediated immune responses were determined the day before the challenge. Following the challenge the mice were weighed daily and, at 10 days post-challenge (p.c.), they were euthanized, their lungs weighted and the number of IFU in the lungs counted. As determined by the IgG2a/IgG1 ratio in the sera, mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP + Pam2CSK4 showed a strong Th2 biased humoral immune response. Furthermore, these mice develop a robust cellular immune response with high Chlamydia-specific T cell proliferation and levels of IFN-γ production. In addition, based on changes in body weight, weight of the lungs and number of IFU recovered from the lungs, the mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP + Pam2CSK4, were better protected against the i.n. challenge than any group of mice immunized with Ct-rMOMP and the other adjuvants. In conclusion, Pam2CSK4 should be evaluated as a candidate adjuvant for a C. trachomatis vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3156873  PMID: 21742006
Chlamydia trachomatis; vaccine; mice; immunization; Toll-like receptors; Pam2CSK4
22.  HTLV-1 Infection and Its Associated Diseases 
PMCID: PMC3504284  PMID: 23198149
23.  HTLV-1 Tax Mediated Downregulation of miRNAs Associated with Chromatin Remodeling Factors in T Cells with Stably Integrated Viral Promoter 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34490.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural cellular mechanism to silence gene expression and is predominantly mediated by microRNAs (miRNAs) that target messenger RNA. Viruses can manipulate the cellular processes necessary for their replication by targeting the host RNAi machinery. This study explores the effect of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) transactivating protein Tax on the RNAi pathway in the context of a chromosomally integrated viral long terminal repeat (LTR) using a CD4+ T-cell line, Jurkat. Transcription factor profiling of the HTLV-1 LTR stably integrated T-cell clone transfected with Tax demonstrates increased activation of substrates and factors associated with chromatin remodeling complexes. Using a miRNA microarray and bioinformatics experimental approach, Tax was also shown to downregulate the expression of miRNAs associated with the translational regulation of factors required for chromatin remodeling. These observations were validated with selected miRNAs and an HTLV-1 infected T cells line, MT-2. miR-149 and miR-873 were found to be capable of directly targeting p300 and p/CAF, chromatin remodeling factors known to play critical role in HTLV-1 pathogenesis. Overall, these results are first in line establishing HTLV-1/Tax-miRNA-chromatin concept and open new avenues toward understanding retroviral latency and/or replication in a given cell type.
PMCID: PMC3319589  PMID: 22496815
24.  Cotranscriptional Chromatin Remodeling by Small RNA Species: An HTLV-1 Perspective 
Cell type specificity of human T cell leukemia virus 1 has been proposed as a possible reason for differential viral outcome in primary target cells versus secondary. Through chromatin remodeling, the HTLV-1 transactivator protein Tax interacts with cellular factors at the chromosomally integrated viral promoter to activate downstream genes and control viral transcription. RNA interference is the host innate defense mechanism mediated by short RNA species (siRNA or miRNA) that regulate gene expression. There exists a close collaborative functioning of cellular transcription factors with miRNA in order to regulate the expression of a number of eukaryotic genes including those involved in suppression of cell growth, induction of apoptosis, as well as repressing viral replication and propagation. In addition, it has been suggested that retroviral latency is influenced by chromatin alterations brought about by miRNA. Since Tax requires the assembly of transcriptional cofactors to carry out viral gene expression, there might be a close association between miRNA influencing chromatin alterations and Tax-mediated LTR activation. Herein we explore the possible interplay between HTLV-1 infection and miRNA pathways resulting in chromatin reorganization as one of the mechanisms determining HTLV-1 cell specificity and viral fate in different cell types.
PMCID: PMC3504244  PMID: 23213554
25.  Training Experimental Biologists in Bioinformatics 
Advances in Bioinformatics  2012;2012:672749.
Bioinformatics, for its very nature, is devoted to a set of targets that constantly evolve. Training is probably the best response to the constant need for the acquisition of bioinformatics skills. It is interesting to assess the effects of training in the different sets of researchers that make use of it. While training bench experimentalists in the life sciences, we have observed instances of changes in their attitudes in research that, if well exploited, can have beneficial impacts in the dialogue with professional bioinformaticians and influence the conduction of the research itself.
PMCID: PMC3286881  PMID: 22400026

Results 1-25 (50)