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1.  Isolation of biologically active and morphologically intact exosomes from plasma of patients with cancer 
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles  2016;5:10.3402/jev.v5.29289.
Isolation from human plasma of exosomes that retain functional and morphological integrity for probing their protein, lipid and nucleic acid content is a priority for the future use of exosomes as biomarkers. A method that meets these criteria and can be scaled up for patient monitoring is thus desirable.
Plasma specimens (1 mL) of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) or a head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) were differentially centrifuged, ultrafiltered and fractionated by size exclusion chromatography in small disposable columns (mini-SEC). Exosomes were eluted in phosphate-buffered saline and were evaluated by qNano for particle size and counts, morphology by transmission electron microscopy, protein content, molecular profiles by western blots, and for ability to modify functions of immune cells.
Exosomes eluting in fractions #3–5 had a diameter ranging from 50 to 200 nm by qNano, with the fraction #4 containing the bulk of clean, unaggregated exosomes. The exosome elution profiles remained constant for repeated runs of the same plasma. Larger plasma volumes could be fractionated running multiple mini-SEC columns in parallel. Particle concentrations per millilitre of plasma in #4 fractions of AML and HNSCC were comparable and were higher (p<0.003) than those in normal controls. Isolated AML exosomes co-incubated with normal human NK cells inhibited NKG2D expression levels (p<0.004), and HNSCC exosomes suppressed activation (p<0.01) and proliferation of activated T lymphocytes (p<0.03).
Mini-SEC allows for simple and reproducible isolation from human plasma of exosomes retaining structural integrity and functional activity. It enables molecular/functional analysis of the exosome content in serial specimens of human plasma for clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC4808740  PMID: 27018366
exosome isolation; mini size-exclusion column chromatography; human plasma; exosome morphology; exosome functions; human cancer
4.  Isolation of Biologically-Active Exosomes from Human Plasma 
Effects of exosomes present in human plasma on immune cells have not been examined in detail. Immunological studies with plasma-derived exosomes require their isolation by procedures involving ultracentrifugation. These procedures were largely developed using supernatants of cultured cells. To test biologic activities of plasma-derived exosomes, methods are necessary that ensure adequate recovery of exosome fractions free of contaminating larger vesicles, cell fragments and protein/nucleic acid aggregates. Here, an optimized method for exosome isolation from human plasma/serum specimens of normal controls (NC) or cancer patients and its advantages and pitfalls are described. To remove undesirable plasma-contaminating components, ultrafiltration of differentially-centrifuged plasma/serum followed by size-exclusion chromatography prior to ultracentrifugation facilitated the removal of contaminants. Plasma or serum was equally acceptable as a source of exosomes based on the recovered protein levels (in μg protein/mL plasma) and TEM image quality. Centrifugation on sucrose density gradients led to large exosome losses. Fresh plasma was the best source of morphologically-intact exosomes, while the use of frozen/thawed plasma decreased exosome purity but not their biologic activity. Treatments of frozen plasma with DNAse, RNAse or hyaluronidase did not improve exosome purity and are not recommended. Cancer patients’ plasma consistently yielded more isolated exosomes than did NCs’ plasma. Cancer patients’ exosomes also mediated higher immune suppression as evidenced by decreased CD69 expression on responder CD4+ T effector cells. Thus, the described procedure yields biologically-active, morphologically-intact exosomes that have reasonably good purity without large protein losses and can be used for immunological, biomarker and other studies.
PMCID: PMC4260336  PMID: 24952243
Exosome isolation; human plasma; size-exclusion chromatography; immunological studies; exosome characteristics
5.  Isolation and Characterization of CD34+ Blast-Derived Exosomes in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103310.
Exosomes are membrane-bound vesicles found in all biological fluids. AML patients' plasma collected at diagnosis contains elevated exosome levels relative to normal donor (ND) plasma. The molecular profile of AML exosomes changes in the course of therapy and may serve as a measure of disease progression or response to therapy. However, plasma contains a mix of exosomes derived from various cell types. To be able to utilize blast-derived exosomes as biomarkers for AML, we have developed an immunoaffinity-based capture method utilizing magnetic microbeads coated with anti-CD34 antibody (Ab). This Ab is specific for CD34, a unique marker of AML blasts. The capture procedure was developed using CD34+ exosomes derived from Kasumi-1 AML cell culture supernatants. The capture capacity of CD34microbeads was shown to linearly correlate with the input exosomes. A 10 uL aliquot of CD34 microbeads was able to capture all of CD34+ exosomes present in 100–1,000 uL of AML plasma. The levels of immunocaptured CD34+ exosomes correlated with the percentages of CD34+ blasts in the AML patients' peripheral blood. The immunocaptured exosomes had a typical cup-shaped morphology by transmission electron microscopy, and their molecular cargo was similar to that of parental blasts. These exosomes were biologically-active. Upon co-incubation with natural killer (NK) cells, captured blast-derived exosomes down-regulated surface NKG2D expression, while non-captured exosomes reduced expression levels of NKp46. Our data provide a proof-of-principle that blast-derived exosomes can be quantitatively recovered from AML patients' plasma, their molecular profile recapitulates that of autologous blasts and they retain the ability to mediate immune suppression. These data suggest that immunocaptured blast-derived exosomes might be useful in diagnosis and/or prognosis of AML in the future.
PMCID: PMC4122364  PMID: 25093329
6.  Plasma Exosomes as Markers of Therapeutic Response in Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Purpose: Exosomes isolated from the plasma of newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients have elevated protein and transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1) contents and inhibit natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity (Haematologica 96, p. 1302, 2011). A potential role of exosomes in predicting responses to chemotherapy (CT) was evaluated in AML patients undergoing treatment.
Experimental Design: Plasma was obtained from AML patients at diagnosis (n = 16); post-induction CT (n = 9); during consolidation CT (n = 10); in long-term remission (Lt-CR, n = 5); and from healthy volunteers (n = 7). Exosomes were isolated by size-exclusion chromatography and ultracentrifugation. The exosomal protein, soluble TGFβ-1 levels (ELISA), and the TGF-β1 profiles (western blots) were compared among patients’ cohorts. The results were correlated with the patients’ cytogenetic profile, percentage of leukemic blast, and outcome.
Results: At diagnosis, protein and TGF-β1 levels were higher (p < 0.009 and p < 0.004) in AML than control exosomes. These values decreased after induction CT (p < 0.05 and p < 0.004), increased during consolidation CT (p < 0.02 and p < 0.005), and normalized in Lt-CR. While TGF-β1 and protein levels tracked one another, TGF-β1 pro-peptide, latency-associated peptide (LAP), or mature TGF-β1 differentially decorated exosomes isolated before, during, and after CT. Only TGF-β1 pro-peptide was seen in exosomes of controls or Lt-CR patients. During consolidation CT, exosomes carried TGF-β1 pro-peptide, LAP, and low levels of mature TGF-β1. NK cell co-incubation with AML exosomes carrying all three TGF-β1 forms induced down-regulation of NKG2D expression.
Conclusion: Changes in exosomal protein and/or TGF-β1 content may reflect responses to CT. The exosomal profile may suggest the presence of residual disease in patients considered to have achieved complete remission.
PMCID: PMC3989594  PMID: 24782865
acute myelogenous leukemia; exosomes; TGF-β1; protein levels; chemotherapy
7.  Inhibition of Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in Glioblastoma Cells by Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus 
Advances in Virology  2012;2012:815465.
Successful oncolytic virus treatment of malignant glioblastoma multiforme depends on widespread tumor-specific lytic virus replication and escape from mitigating innate immune responses to infection. Here we characterize a new HSV vector, JD0G, that is deleted for ICP0 and the joint sequences separating the unique long and short elements of the viral genome. We observed that JD0G replication was enhanced in certain glioblastoma cell lines compared to HEL cells, suggesting that a vector backbone deleted for ICP0 may be useful for treatment of glioblastoma. The innate immune response to virus infection can potentially impede oncolytic vector replication in human tumors. Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is expressed in response to interferon γ (IFNγ) and has been linked to both antiviral functions and to the immune escape of tumor cells. We observed that IFNγ treatment of human glioblastoma cells induced the expression of IDO and that this expression was quelled by infection with both wild-type and JD0G viruses. The role of IDO in inhibiting virus replication and the connection of this protein to the escape of tumor cells from immune surveillance suggest that IDO downregulation by HSV infection may enhance the oncolytic activity of vectors such as JD0G.
PMCID: PMC3424635  PMID: 22924042
8.  Ectopic Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 Expression in Human Brain Tumor Cells Enhances Oncolytic HSV Vector Infection 
Gene therapy  2010;17(10):1200-1205.
Oncolytic HSV (oHSV) vectors have shown promise in the treatment of patients with recurrent brain tumors although few complete responses have accrued. Impediments to effective therapy include limited vector distribution on delivery, a consequence of injected virion particle trapping in the tumor extracellular matrix (ECM). To enhance virus delivery and spread, we investigated the use of the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) as a means to degrade collagen type IV, a major component of the ECM and basement membranes of gliomas that is absent in normal brain tissue. SK-N-AS neuroblastoma cells were transduced for constitutive, elevated expression of MMP9, which did not enhance tumor cell migration in vitro or tumor progression in a murine xenograft brain tumor model. MMP9 expression afforded increased distribution of oHSV vector-infected tumor cell spheroids and afforded vector infection over larger areas of brain tumors in vivo. These results suggest that vector delivery and distribution in vivo can be improved by compromising the ECM, potentially enhancing oncolytic efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3228315  PMID: 20463757
9.  Serine 129 Phosphorylation Reduces the Ability of α-Synuclein to Regulate Tyrosine Hydroxylase and Protein Phosphatase 2A in Vitro and in Vivo* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(23):17648-17661.
α-Synuclein (a-Syn), a protein implicated in Parkinson disease, contributes significantly to dopamine metabolism. a-Syn binding inhibits the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine synthesis. Phosphorylation of TH stimulates its activity, an effect that is reversed by protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). In cells, a-Syn overexpression activates PP2A. Here we demonstrate that a-Syn significantly inhibited TH activity in vitro and in vivo and that phosphorylation of a-Syn serine 129 (Ser-129) modulated this effect. In MN9D cells, a-Syn overexpression reduced TH serine 19 phosphorylation (Ser(P)-19). In dopaminergic tissues from mice overexpressing human a-Syn in catecholamine neurons only, TH-Ser-19 and TH-Ser-40 phosphorylation and activity were also reduced, whereas PP2A was more active. Cerebellum, which lacks excess a-Syn, had PP2A activity identical to controls. Conversely, a-Syn knock-out mice had elevated TH-Ser-19 phosphorylation and activity and less active PP2A in dopaminergic tissues. Using an a-Syn Ser-129 dephosphorylation mimic, with serine mutated to alanine, TH was more inhibited, whereas PP2A was more active in vitro and in vivo. Phosphorylation of a-Syn Ser-129 by Polo-like-kinase 2 in vitro reduced the ability of a-Syn to inhibit TH or activate PP2A, identifying a novel regulatory role for Ser-129 on a-Syn. These findings extend our understanding of normal a-Syn biology and have implications for the dopamine dysfunction of Parkinson disease.
PMCID: PMC2878529  PMID: 20356833
Enzyme Catalysis; Neurological Diseases; Neuron; Neurotransmitters; PP2A; Dopamine; MN9D Cells; Lentivirus; Null Mice; Transgenic Mice
Neuroscience letters  2008;435(1):24-29.
Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate limiting enzyme in catecholamine synthesis, is frequently used as a marker of dopaminergic neuronal loss in animal models of Parkinson’s disease (PD). We have been exploring the normal function of the PD-related protein α-synuclein (α-Syn) with regard to dopamine synthesis. TH is activated by the phosphorylation of key seryl residues in the TH-regulatory-domain. Using in vitro models, our laboratory discovered that α-Syn inhibits TH by acting to reduce TH phosphorylation, which then reduces dopamine synthesis [31, 33]. We recently began exploring the impact of α-Syn on TH in vivo, by transducing dopaminergic neurons in α-Syn knockout mouse (ASKO) olfactory bulb using wild type human α-Syn lentivirus. At 3.5 – 21 days after viral delivery, α-Syn expression was transduced in periglomerular dopaminergic neurons. Cells with modest levels of α-Syn consistently co-labeled for Total-TH. However, cells bearing aggregated α-Syn, as revealed by proteinase K or Thioflavin-S treatment had significantly reduced Total-TH immunoreactivity, but high phosphoserine-TH labeling. On immunoblots, we noted that Total-TH immunoreactivity was equivalent in all conditions, although tissues with α-Syn aggregates again had higher phosphoserine-TH levels. This suggests that aggregated α-Syn is no longer able to inhibit TH. Although the reason(s) underlying reduced Total-TH immunoreactivity on tissue sections await(s) confirmation, the dopaminergic phenotype was easily verified using phosphorylation-state-specific TH antibodies. These findings have implications not only for normal α-Syn function in TH regulation, but also for measuring cell loss that is associated with synucleinopathy.
PMCID: PMC2440662  PMID: 18314273
Parkinson’s disease; lentivirus; knockout mice; transduction
11.  The Stable 2.0-Kilobase Intron of the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Latency-Associated Transcript Does Not Function as an Antisense Repressor of ICP0 in Nonneuronal Cells 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(6):3516-3530.
During latency, herpes simplex virus expresses a unique set of latency-associated transcripts (LATs). As the 2.0-kb LAT intron is complementary to, and overlaps, the 3′ end of the ICP0 transcript, it has been suggested that the stable LAT intron might function as an antisense repressor of ICP0 expression. We tested this hypothesis in cell culture by dissociating cis- and trans-acting effects of the 2.0-kb LAT, using a series of complementary strategies. Initially, we constructed 293T cell lines that stably express the nuclear 2.0-kb LAT intron to determine whether LAT accumulation in trans affects ICP0 expression. ICP0 mRNA and protein expression profiles were studied (i) following infections with a viral mutant containing wild-type LAT and ICP0 sequences but having deletions of other immediate-early (IE) genes, thus preventing the progression of viral early gene expression, (ii) at early time points after infection with wild-type virus, before viral LAT expression, and (iii) by plasmid transfections. Northern and Western blot analysis showed that trans expression of the 2.0-kb LAT intron does not affect ICP0 mRNA expression, stability, accumulation, splicing, or translation. In addition, suppression of viral replication by overexpression of the 2.0-kb LAT, which has been detected previously in neuronal cell lines, was not found in these nonneuronal cell lines. However, deletion of the latency-active promoter (LAP) region of the virus resulted in overexpression of IE genes, which occurred soon after infection, before viral LAT expression had commenced. This was not complemented by the expression of LAT in trans, suggesting that the LAP deletion affected transcriptional regulation of the IE genes in cis. We conclude that the function of the highly conserved LAT intron is unlikely to involve a direct-acting anti-ICP0 antisense mechanism but that the LAT region could affect ICP0 mRNA expression from the viral genome.
PMCID: PMC149500  PMID: 12610127

Results 1-11 (11)