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1.  Identification of Residues in the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus Fusion Protein That Modulate Fusion Activity and Pathogenesis 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(1):512-522.
Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract infection can result in inflammation and mucus plugging of airways. RSV strain A2-line19F induces relatively high viral load and mucus in mice. The line 19 fusion (F) protein harbors five unique residues compared to the non-mucus-inducing strains A2 and Long, at positions 79, 191, 357, 371, and 557. We hypothesized that differential fusion activity is a determinant of pathogenesis. In a cell-cell fusion assay, line 19 F was more fusogenic than Long F. We changed the residues unique to line 19 F to the corresponding residues in Long F and identified residues 79 and 191 together as responsible for high fusion activity. Surprisingly, mutation of residues 357 or 357 with 371 resulted in gain of fusion activity. Thus, we generated RSV F mutants with a range of defined fusion activity and engineered these into recombinant viruses. We found a clear, positive correlation between fusion activity and early viral load in mice; however, we did not detect a correlation between viral loads and levels of airway mucin expression. The F mutant with the highest fusion activity, A2-line19F-K357T/Y371N, induced high viral loads, severe lung histopathology, and weight loss but did not induce high levels of airway mucin expression. We defined residues 79/191 as critical for line 19 F fusion activity and 357/371 as playing a role in A2-line19F mucus induction. Defining the molecular basis of the role of RSV F in pathogenesis may aid vaccine and therapeutic strategies aimed at this protein.
IMPORTANCE Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most important lower respiratory tract pathogen of infants for which there is no vaccine. Elucidating mechanisms of RSV pathogenesis is important for rational vaccine and drug design. We defined specific amino acids in the fusion (F) protein of RSV strain line 19 critical for fusion activity and elucidated a correlation between fusion activity and viral load in mice. Further, we identified two distinct amino acids in F as contributing to the mucogenic phenotype of the A2-line19F virus. Taken together, these results illustrate a role for RSV F in virulence.
PMCID: PMC4301159  PMID: 25339762
2.  A respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine based on parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) 
Vaccine  2014;32(25):3050-3057.
Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a leading cause of severe respiratory disease and hospitalizations in infants and young children. It also causes significant morbidity and mortality in elderly and immune compromised individuals. No licensed vaccine currently exists. Parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) is a paramyxovirus that causes no known human illness and has been used as a platform for vector-based vaccine development. To evaluate the efficacy of PIV5 as a RSV vaccine vector, we generated two recombinant PIV5 viruses - one expressing the fusion (F) protein and the other expressing the attachment glycoprotein (G) of RSV strain A2 (RSV A2). The vaccine strains were used separately for single-dose vaccinations in BALB/c mice. The results showed that both vaccines induced RSV antigen-specific antibody responses, with IgG2a/IgG1 ratios similar to those seen in wild-type RSV A2 infection. After challenging the vaccinated mice with RSV A2, histopathology of lung sections showed that the vaccines did not exacerbate lung lesions relative to RSV A2-immunized mice. Importantly, both F and G vaccines induced protective immunity. Therefore, PIV5 presents an attractive platform for vector-based vaccines against RSV infection.
PMCID: PMC4039636  PMID: 24717150
3.  The L Gene of J Paramyxovirus Plays a Critical Role in Viral Pathogenesis 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(23):12990-12998.
J paramyxovirus (JPV) was first isolated from moribund mice with hemorrhagic lung lesions in Australia in the 1970s. Recent sequencing of JPV (JPV-LW) confirms that JPV is a paramyxovirus with several unique features. However, neither JPV-LW nor a recombinant JPV based on its sequence (rJPV-LW) caused obvious illness in mice. In this work, we analyzed a different JPV isolate (JPV-BH), which behaved differently from JPV-LW; JPV-BH grew more slowly in Vero cells and had less of a cytopathic effect on tissue culture cells but caused severe disease in mice. We have determined the whole genome sequence of JPV-BH. There were several nucleotide sequence differences between JPV-BH and JPV-LW, one in the leader sequence, one in the GX gene, and three in the L gene. The high sequence identity between JPV-BH and JPV-LW suggests that JPV-BH and JPV-LW are the same virus strain but were obtained at different passages from different laboratories. To understand the roles of these nucleotide sequence differences in pathogenicity in mice, we generated a recombinant JPV-BH strain (rJPV-BH) and hybrid rJPV-BH strains with sequences from the leader sequence (rJPV-BH-Le-LW), the GX gene (rJPV-BH-GX-LW), and the L gene (rJPV-BH-L-LW) of JPV-LW and compared their pathogenicities in mice. We have found that rJPV-BH-L-LW was attenuated in mice, indicating that nucleotide sequence differences in the L gene play a critical role in pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3838158  PMID: 24067956
4.  The Respiratory Syncytial Virus Fusion Protein and Neutrophils Mediate the Airway Mucin Response to Pathogenic Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(18):10070-10082.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of death due to a viral etiology in infants. RSV disease is characterized by epithelial desquamation, neutrophilic bronchiolitis and pneumonia, and obstructive pulmonary mucus. It has been shown that infection of BALB/cJ mice with RSV clinical isolate A2001/2-20 (2-20) results in a higher early viral load, greater airway necrosis, and higher levels of interleukin-13 (IL-13) and airway mucin expression than infection with RSV laboratory strain A2. We hypothesized that the fusion (F) protein of RSV 2-20 is a mucus-inducing viral factor. In vitro, the fusion activity of 2-20 F but not that of A2 F was enhanced by expression of RSV G. We generated a recombinant F-chimeric RSV by replacing the F gene of A2 with the F gene of 2-20, generating A2–2-20F. Similar to the results obtained with the parent 2-20 strain, infection of BALB/cJ mice with A2–2-20F resulted in a higher early viral load and higher levels of subsequent pulmonary mucin expression than infection with the A2 strain. A2–2-20F infection induced greater necrotic airway damage and neutrophil infiltration than A2 infection. We hypothesized that the neutrophil response to A2–2-20F infection is involved in mucin expression. Antibody-mediated depletion of neutrophils in RSV-infected mice resulted in lower tumor necrosis factor alpha levels, fewer IL-13-expressing CD4 T cells, and less airway mucin production in the lung. Our data are consistent with a model in which the F and attachment (G) glycoprotein functional interaction leads to enhanced fusion and F is a key factor in airway epithelium infection, pathogenesis, and subsequent airway mucin expression.
PMCID: PMC3753991  PMID: 23843644
5.  Infection of Mice, Ferrets, and Rhesus Macaques with a Clinical Mumps Virus Isolate 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(14):8158-8168.
In recent years, many mumps outbreaks have occurred in vaccinated populations worldwide. The reasons for these outbreaks are not clear. Animal models are needed to investigate the causes of outbreaks and to understand the pathogenesis of mumps virus (MuV). In this study, we have examined the infection of three animal models with an isolate of mumps virus from a recent outbreak (MuV-IA). We have found that while both ferrets and mice generated humoral and cellular immune responses to MuV-IA infection, no obvious signs of illness were observed in these animals; rhesus macaques were the most susceptible to MuV-IA infection. Infection of rhesus macaques via both intranasal and intratracheal routes with MuV-IA led to the typical clinical signs of mumps 2 weeks to 4 weeks postinfection. However, none of the infected macaques showed any fever or neurologic signs during the experimental period. Mumps viral antigen was detected in parotid glands by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Rhesus macaques represent the best animal model for the study of mumps virus pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3700206  PMID: 23678169
6.  Mycobacterial Trehalose Dimycolate Reprograms Macrophage Global Gene Expression and Activates Matrix Metalloproteinases 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(3):764-776.
Trehalose 6,6′-dimycolate (TDM) is a cell wall glycolipid and an important virulence factor of mycobacteria. In order to study the role of TDM in the innate immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, microarray analysis was used to examine gene regulation in murine bone marrow-derived macrophages in response to 90-μm-diameter polystyrene microspheres coated with TDM. A large number of genes, particularly those involved in the immune response and macrophage function, were up- or downregulated in response to these TDM-coated beads compared to control beads. Genes involved in the immune response were specifically upregulated in a myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88)-dependent manner. The complexity of the transcriptional response also increased greatly between 2 and 24 h. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) were significantly upregulated at both time points, and this was confirmed by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). Using an in vivo Matrigel granuloma model, the presence and activity of MMP-9 were examined by immunohistochemistry and in situ zymography (ISZ), respectively. We found that TDM-coated beads induced MMP-9 expression and activity in Matrigel granulomas. Macrophages were primarily responsible for MMP-9 expression, as granulomas from neutrophil-depleted mice showed staining patterns similar to that for wild-type mice. The relevance of these observations to human disease is supported by the similar induction of MMP-9 in human caseous tuberculosis (TB) granulomas. Given that MMPs likely play an important role in both the construction and breakdown of tuberculous granulomas, our results suggest that TDM may drive MMP expression during TB pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3584883  PMID: 23264051
7.  Vaccine-Elicited CD8+ T Cells Protect against Respiratory Syncytial Virus Strain A2-Line19F-Induced Pathogenesis in BALB/c Mice 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(23):13016-13024.
CD8+ T cells may contribute to vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Compared to CD8+ T cells responding to RSV infection, vaccine-elicited anti-RSV CD8+ T cells are less well defined. We used a peptide vaccine to test the hypothesis that vaccine-elicited RSV-specific CD8+ T cells are protective against RSV pathogenesis. BALB/c mice were treated with a mixture (previously termed TriVax) of an M282-90 peptide representing an immunodominant CD8 epitope, the Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonist poly(I·C), and a costimulatory anti-CD40 antibody. TriVax vaccination induced potent effector anti-RSV CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Mice were challenged with RSV strain A2-line19F, a model of RSV pathogenesis leading to airway mucin expression. Mice were protected against RSV infection and against RSV-induced airway mucin expression and cellular lung inflammation when challenged 6 days after vaccination. Compared to A2-line19F infection alone, TriVax vaccination followed by challenge resulted in effector CD8+ T cells with greater cytokine expression and the more rapid appearance of RSV-specific CD8+ T cells in the lung. When challenged 42 days after TriVax vaccination, memory CD8+ T cells were elicited with RSV-specific tetramer responses equivalent to TriVax-induced effector CD8+ T cells. These memory CD8+ T cells had lower cytokine expression than effector CD8+ T cells, and protection against A2-line19F was partial during the memory phase. We found that vaccine-elicited effector anti-RSV CD8+ T cells protected mice against RSV infection and pathogenesis, and waning protection correlated with reduced CD8+ T cell cytokine expression.
PMCID: PMC3497630  PMID: 23015695
8.  Genetic variants of MARCO are associated with susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis in a Gambian population 
BMC Medical Genetics  2013;14:47.
The two major class A scavenger receptors are scavenger receptor A (SRA), which is constitutively expressed on most macrophage populations, and macrophage receptor with collagenous structure (MARCO), which is constitutively expressed on a more restricted subset of macrophages, (e.g. alveolar macrophages) but whose expression increases on most macrophages during the course of infection. Although the primary role of SRA appears to be clearance of modified host proteins and lipids, mice defective in expression of either MARCO or SRA are immunocompromised in multiple models of infection and in vitro assays, the scavenger receptors have been demonstrated to bind bacteria and to enhance pro-inflammatory signalling to many bacterial lung pathogens; however their importance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, is less clear.
To determine whether polymorphisms in either SRA or MARCO were associated with tuberculosis, a case–control study of was performed. DNA samples from newly-detected, smear-positive, pulmonary tuberculosis cases were collected from The Gambia. Controls for this study consisted of DNA from cord bloods obtained from routine births at local Gambian health clinics. Informed written consent was obtained from patients or their parents or guardians. Ethical approval was provided by the joint The Gambian Government/MRC Joint Ethics Committee.
We studied the frequencies of 25 polymorphisms of MSR1 (SRA) and 22 in MARCO in individuals with tuberculosis (n=1284) and matched controls (n=1349). No SNPs within the gene encoding or within 1 kb of the promoter sequence of MSR1 were associated with either susceptibility or resistance to tuberculosis. Three SNPs in MARCO (rs4491733, Mantel-Haenszel 2x2 χ2 = 6.5, p = 0.001, rs12998782, Mantel-Haenszel 2x2 χ2 = 6.59, p = 0.001, rs13389814 Mantel-Haenszel 2x2 χ2 = 6.9, p = 0.0009) were associated with susceptibility to tuberculosis and one (rs7559955, Mantel-Haenszel 2x2 χ2 = 6.9, p = 0.0009) was associated with resistance to tuberculosis.
These findings identify MARCO as a potentially important receptor in the host response to tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3652798  PMID: 23617307
Scavenger receptors; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Single nucleotide polymorphisms; Case control study; MARCO
9.  An adjuvanted respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein induces protection in aged BALB/c mice 
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) causes significant disease in the elderly, in part, because immunosenescence impairs protective immune responses to infection in this population. Despite previous and current efforts, there is no RSV vaccine currently licensed in infants or elderly adults. Adjuvanted RSV subunit vaccines have the potential to boost waning immune responses and reduce the burden of RSV disease in the elderly population.
We used an aged BALB/c mouse model to evaluate immune responses to RSV Fusion (F) protein in the absence and presence of an alum adjuvant. We demonstrate that aged BALB/c mice immunized with alum-adjuvanted RSV F protein had significantly reduced lung viral titers at day 4 following challenge with wild-type (wt) RSV. Serum neutralizing antibody titers measured on day 27 correlated with protection in both young and aged vaccinated mice, although the magnitude of antibody titers was lower in aged mice. Unlike young mice, in aged mice, alum-adjuvanted RSV F did not induce lung TH2-type cytokines or eosinophil infiltration compared to non-adjuvanted F protein following wt RSV challenge.
Our studies demonstrate that neutralizing anti-RSV antibody titers correlate with protection in both young and aged BALB/c mice vaccinated with RSV F protein vaccines. The F + alum formulation mediated greater protection compared to the non-adjuvanted F protein in both young and aged mice. However, while alum can boost F-specific antibody responses in aged mice, it does not completely overcome the reduced ability of a senescent immune system to respond to the RSV F antigen. Thus, our data suggest that a stronger adjuvant may be required for the prevention of RSV disease in immunosenescent populations, to achieve the appropriate balance of protective neutralizing antibodies and effective TH1-type cytokine response along with minimal lung immunopathology.
PMCID: PMC3534329  PMID: 23031690
Respiratory Syncytial Virus; Immunosenescence; Alum; Adjuvant; Aged mice
10.  TLR9 is important for protection against intestinal damage and for intestinal repair 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:574.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are innate receptors critical for host defense, and play a role in normal biological processes. For example, host DNA, a TLR9 ligand, stimulates epithelial repair following skin wounding. TLR signaling also plays a crucial role in regulating intestinal homeostasis. We therefore asked whether TLR9 is important for intestinal wound repair using a dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced intestinal damage and repair model. We showed that TLR9-deficient mice are more susceptible to DSS, and exhibited delayed wound repair at both the clinical and histologic levels. TLR9-deficient mice showed reduced gene expression of hairy enhancer of split 1, an intestinal progenitor cell differentiation factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor, a growth factor important for epithelial cell restitution. Therefore, we conclude that TLR stimulation may play a normal role in regulating intestinal homeostasis and could potentially be a novel therapeutic target to enhance intestinal wound repair in inflammatory bowel diseases.
PMCID: PMC3418518  PMID: 22893852
11.  Multifunctional role of dextran sulfate sodium for in vivo modeling of intestinal diseases 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:41.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are chronic, relapsing disorders that affect the gastrointestinal tract of millions of people and continue to increase in incidence each year. While several factors have been associated with development of IBDs, the exact etiology is unknown. Research using animal models of IBDs is beginning to provide insights into how the different factors contribute to disease development. Oral administration of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) to mice induces a reproducible experimental colitis that models several intestinal lesions associated with IBDs. The murine DSS colitis model can also be adapted to quantify intestinal repair following injury. Understanding the mechanistic basis behind intestinal repair is critical to development of new therapeutics for IBDs because of their chronic relapsing nature.
The murine DSS colitis model was adapted to provide a system enabling the quantification of severe intestinal injury with impaired wound healing or mild intestinal injury with rapid restoration of mucosal integrity, by altering DSS concentrations and including a recovery phase. We showed that through a novel format for presentation of the clinical disease data, the temporal progression of intestinal lesions can be quantified on an individual mouse basis. Additionally, parameters for quantification of DSS-induced alterations in epithelial cell populations are included to provide insights into mechanisms underlying the development of these lesions. For example, the use of the two different model systems showed that toll-like receptor 9, a nucleic acid-sensing pattern recognition receptor, is important for protection only following mild intestinal damage and suggests that this model is superior for identifying proteins necessary for intestinal repair.
We showed that using a murine DSS-induced experimental colitis model system, and presenting data in a longitudinal manner on a per mouse basis, enhanced the usefulness of this model, and provided novel insights into the role of an innate immune receptor in intestinal repair. By elucidating the mechanistic basis of intestinal injury and repair, we can begin to understand the etiology of IBDs, enabling development of novel therapeutics or prophylactics.
PMCID: PMC3488029  PMID: 22853702
Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammatory bowel disease; Intestinal repair; Toll-like receptor 9
12.  Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Analogues of AKT (Protein Kinase B) Inhibitor-IV 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2011;54(5):1126-1139.
Inhibitors of the PI3-kinase/AKT (protein kinase B) pathway are under investigation as anticancer and antiviral agents. The benzimidazole derivative AKT inhibitor-IV (ChemBridge 5233705) affects this pathway and exhibits potent anticancer and antiviral activity. To probe its biological activity, we synthesized AKT inhibitor-IV and 21 analogues using a novel six-step route based on ZrCl4-catalyzed cyclization of 1,2-arylenediamines with α,β-unsaturated aldehydes. We examined effects on viability of HeLa carcinoma cells, viability of normal human cells (NHBE), replication of recombinant parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) in HeLa cells, and replication of the intracellular bacterium Mycobacterium fortuitum in HeLa cells. Replacement of the benzimidazole N-ethyl substitutent of AKT inhibitor-IV with N-hexyl and N-dodecyl groups enhanced antiviral activity and cytotoxicity against the cancer cell line, but these compounds showed substantially lower toxicity (from 6-fold to >20-fold) against NHBE cells, and no effect on M. fortuitum, suggesting inhibition of one or more host protein(s) required for proliferation of cancer cells and PIV5. The key structural elements identified here may facilitate identification of targets of this highly biologically active scaffold.
PMCID: PMC3053254  PMID: 21319800
13.  Differential Pathogenesis of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Clinical Isolates in BALB/c Mice▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(12):5782-5793.
Airway mucus is a hallmark of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract illness. Laboratory RSV strains differentially induce airway mucus production in mice. Here, we tested the hypothesis that RSV strains differ in pathogenesis by screening six low-passage RSV clinical isolates for mucogenicity and virulence in BALB/cJ mice. The RSV clinical isolates induced variable disease severity, lung interleukin-13 (IL-13) levels, and gob-5 levels in BALB/cJ mice. We chose two of these clinical isolates for further study. Infection of BALB/cJ mice with RSV A2001/2-20 (2-20) resulted in greater disease severity, higher lung IL-13 levels, and higher lung gob-5 levels than infection with RSV strains A2, line 19, Long, and A2001/3-12 (3-12). Like the line 19 RSV strain, the 2-20 clinical isolate induced airway mucin expression in BALB/cJ mice. The 2-20 and 3-12 RSV clinical isolates had higher lung viral loads than laboratory RSV strains at 1 day postinfection (p.i.). This increased viral load correlated with higher viral antigen levels in the bronchiolar epithelium and greater histopathologic changes at 1 day p.i. The A2 RSV strain had the highest peak viral load at day 4 p.i. RSV 2-20 infection caused epithelial desquamation, bronchiolitis, airway hyperresponsiveness, and increased breathing effort in BALB/cJ mice. We found that RSV clinical isolates induce variable pathogenesis in mice, and we established a mouse model of clinical isolate strain-dependent RSV pathogenesis that recapitulates key features of RSV disease.
PMCID: PMC3126300  PMID: 21471228
14.  Function of the Small Hydrophobic Protein of J Paramyxovirus ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(1):32-42.
At 18,954 nucleotides, the J paramyxovirus (JPV) genome is one of the largest in the family Paramyxoviridae, consisting of eight genes in the order 3′-N-P/V/C-M-F-SH-TM-G-L-5′. To study the function of novel paramyxovirus genes in JPV, a plasmid containing a full-length cDNA clone of the genome of JPV was constructed. In this study, the function of the small hydrophobic (SH) protein of JPV was examined by generating a recombinant JPV lacking the coding sequence of the SH protein (rJPVΔSH). rJPVΔSH was viable and had no growth defect in tissue culture cells. However, more tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) was produced during rJPVΔSH infection, suggesting that SH plays a role in inhibiting TNF-α production. rJPVΔSH induced more apoptosis in tissue culture cells than rJPV. Virus-induced apoptosis was inhibited by neutralizing antibody against TNF-α, suggesting that TNF-α contributes to JPV-induced apoptosis in vitro. The expression of JPV SH protein inhibited TNF-α-induced NF-κB activation in a reporter gene assay, suggesting that JPV SH protein can inhibit TNF-α signaling in vitro. Furthermore, infection of mice with rJPVΔSH induced more TNF-α expression, indicating that SH plays a role in blocking TNF-α expression in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3014192  PMID: 20980504
15.  Fibrinogen Regulates the Cytotoxicity of Mycobacterial Trehalose Dimycolate but Is Not Required for Cell Recruitment, Cytokine Response, or Control of Mycobacterial Infection▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;78(3):1004-1011.
During inflammatory responses and wound healing, the conversion of soluble fibrinogen to fibrin, an insoluble extracellular matrix, long has been assumed to create a scaffold for the migration of leukocytes and fibroblasts. Previous studies concluded that fibrinogen is a necessary cofactor for mycobacterial trehalose 6,6′-dimycolate-induced responses, because trehalose dimycolate-coated beads, to which fibrinogen was adsorbed, were more inflammatory than those to which other plasma proteins were adsorbed. Herein, we investigate roles for fibrin(ogen) in an in vivo model of mycobacterial granuloma formation and in infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. In wild-type mice, the subcutaneous injection of trehalose dimycolate-coated polystyrene microspheres, suspended within Matrigel, elicited a pyogranulomatous response during the course of 12 days. In fibrinogen-deficient mice, neutrophils were recruited but a more suppurative lesion developed, with the marked degradation and disintegration of the matrix. Compared to that in wild-type mice, the early formation of granulation tissue in fibrinogen-deficient mice was edematous, hypocellular, and disorganized. These deficiencies were complemented by the addition of exogenous fibrinogen. The absence of fibrinogen had no effect on cell recruitment or cytokine production in response to trehalose dimycolate, nor was there a difference in lung histopathology or overall bacterial burden in mice infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In this model, fibrin(ogen) was not required for cell recruitment, cytokine response, or response to infection, but it promoted granulation tissue formation and suppressed leukocyte necrosis.
PMCID: PMC2825938  PMID: 20028811
16.  MARCO, TLR2, and CD14 Are Required for Macrophage Cytokine Responses to Mycobacterial Trehalose Dimycolate and Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(6):e1000474.
Virtually all of the elements of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) pathogenesis, including pro-inflammatory cytokine production, granuloma formation, cachexia, and mortality, can be induced by its predominant cell wall glycolipid, trehalose 6,6′-dimycolate (TDM/cord factor). TDM mediates these potent inflammatory responses via interactions with macrophages both in vitro and in vivo in a myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88)-dependent manner via phosphorylation of the mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs), implying involvement of toll-like receptors (TLRs). However, specific TLRs or binding receptors for TDM have yet to be identified. Herein, we demonstrate that the macrophage receptor with collagenous structure (MARCO), a class A scavenger receptor, is utilized preferentially to “tether” TDM to the macrophage and to activate the TLR2 signaling pathway. TDM-induced signaling, as measured by a nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)-luciferase reporter assay, required MARCO in addition to TLR2 and CD14. MARCO was used preferentially over the highly homologous scavenger receptor class A (SRA), which required TLR2 and TLR4, as well as their respective accessory molecules, in order for a slight increase in NF-κB signaling to occur. Consistent with these observations, macrophages from MARCO−/− or MARCO−/−SRA−/− mice are defective in activation of extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and subsequent pro-inflammatory cytokine production in response to TDM. These results show that MARCO-expressing macrophages secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines in response to TDM by cooperation between MARCO and TLR2/CD14, whereas other macrophage subtypes (e.g. bone marrow–derived) may rely somewhat less effectively on SRA, TLR2/CD14, and TLR4/MD2. Macrophages from MARCO−/− mice also produce markedly lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in response to infection with virulent Mtb. These observations identify the scavenger receptors as essential binding receptors for TDM, explain the differential response to TDM of various macrophage populations, which differ in their expression of the scavenger receptors, and identify MARCO as a novel component required for TLR signaling.
Author Summary
The causative agent of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has a lipid-rich cell wall that contains a high percentage of mycolic acids. These mycolic acids contribute to both the impermeable nature of the cell wall and to the immunostimulatory properties of the bacterium. Indeed, it has been known for over 50 years that trehalose 6,6′-dimycolate (TDM/cord factor) is the major immunogenic lipid of M. tuberculosis, which induces potent pro-inflammatory responses from macrophages, although the receptor has not been identified. We have demonstrated that the toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway is required for pro-inflammatory cytokine production in response to TDM; however, the TLRs alone, or in conjunction with known co-receptors, are not sufficient to induce a response. We demonstrate that the macrophage receptor MARCO, a scavenger receptor, is utilized preferentially to “tether” TDM to the macrophage and activate the TLR2 signaling pathway, and is used preferentially over the related SRA. Macrophages from MARCO−/− mice are defective in activation of TDM-induced signaling and subsequent pro-inflammatory cytokine production in response to both TDM-coated beads and virulent M. tuberculosis. By identifying the macrophage receptors involved in initial recognition we can now explain variable responses to TDM between different macrophage populations (which differ in scavenger receptor expression), and have identified a novel co-receptor that may be involved in lipid presentation to TLRs.
PMCID: PMC2688075  PMID: 19521507
17.  CCL3 and Viral Chemokine-Binding Protein gG Modulate Pulmonary Inflammation and Virus Replication during Equine Herpesvirus 1 Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(4):1714-1722.
CCL3 is a proinflammatory chemokine that mediates many of the cellular changes occurring in pulmonary disease. Here, CCL3−/− mice were used to investigate the role of this chemokine during respiratory herpesvirus infection. Compared to wild-type mice, CCL3−/− mice infected with the alphaherpesvirus equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) displayed reduced body weight loss but had higher pulmonary viral loads. Lungs from infected CCL3−/− mice suffered a milder interstitial pneumonia, and fewer immune cells were recovered from the pulmonary airways after infection. We could also demonstrate that herpesvirus-encoded chemokine-binding glycoprotein G (gG) was capable of inhibiting the chemotactic functions of CCL3. This CCL3-mediated chemotaxis, however, was restored in the presence of gG-specific antibodies, which puts into question the advertised use of gG deletion mutants as marker vaccines. In summary, we concluded that CCL3 is a major player in controlling herpesvirus replication in the target organ, the lung, and does so by evoking a strong inflammatory response. The immunomodulatory activity of CCL3 is balanced by the expression of viral gG, whose chemokine-binding activity is mitigated in secondary infections by the production of anti-gG antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2258710  PMID: 18077722
18.  A Novel Nitrate/Nitrite Permease in the Marine Cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. Strain PCC 7002 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(23):7363-7372.
The nrtP and narB genes, encoding nitrate/nitrite permease and nitrate reductase, respectively, were isolated from the marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002 and characterized. NrtP is a member of the major facilitator superfamily and is unrelated to the ATP-binding cassette-type nitrate transporters that previously have been described for freshwater strains of cyanobacteria. However, NrtP is similar to the NRT2-type nitrate transporters found in diverse organisms. An nrtP mutant strain consumes nitrate at a 4.5-fold-lower rate than the wild type, and this mutant grew exponentially on a medium containing 12 mM nitrate at a rate approximately 2-fold lower than that of the wild type. The nrtP mutant cells could not consume nitrite as rapidly as the wild type at pH 10, suggesting that NrtP also functions in nitrite uptake. A narB mutant was unable to grow on a medium containing nitrate as a nitrogen source, although this mutant could grow on media containing urea or nitrite with rates similar to those of the wild type. Exogenously added nitrite enhanced the in vivo activity of nitrite reductase in the narB mutant; this suggests that nitrite acts as a positive effector of nitrite reductase. Transcripts of the nrtP and narB genes were detected in cells grown on nitrate but were not detected in cells grown on urea or ammonia. Transcription of the nrtP and narB genes is probably controlled by the NtcA transcription factor for global nitrogen control. The discovery of a nitrate/nitrite permease in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002 suggests that significant differences in nutrient transporters may occur in marine and freshwater cyanobacteria.
PMCID: PMC103701  PMID: 10572142

Results 1-18 (18)