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1.  Increased Survival in B-Cell-Deficient Mice during Experimental Cerebral Malaria Suggests a Role for Circulating Immune Complexes 
mBio  2014;5(2):e00949-14.
The pathogenesis of malaria, an insect-borne disease that takes millions of lives every year, is still not fully understood. Complement receptor 1 (CR1) has been described as a receptor for Plasmodium falciparum, which causes cerebral malaria in humans. We investigated the role of CR1 in an experimental model of cerebral malaria. Transgenic mice expressing human CR1 (hCR1+) on erythrocytes were infected with Plasmodium berghei ANKA and developed cerebral malaria. No difference in survival was observed in hCR1+ mice compared to wild-type mice following infection with P. berghei ANKA; however, hCR1 detection was significantly diminished on erythrocytes between days 7 and 10 postinfection. hCR1 levels returned to baseline by day 17 postinfection in surviving animals. Immunoblot assays revealed that total erythrocyte hCR1 levels were diminished, confirming that immune complexes in association with erythrocyte hCR1 were likely removed from erythrocytes in vivo by clearance following immune adherence. Decreases in hCR1 were completely dependent on C3 expression, as mice treated with cobra venom factor (which consumes and depletes C3) retained hCR1 on erythrocytes during C3 depletion through day 7; erythrocyte hCR1 decreases were observed only when C3 levels recovered on day 9. B-cell-deficient mice exhibit a marked increase in survival following infection with P. berghei ANKA, which suggests that immune complexes play a central role in the pathogenesis of experimental cerebral malaria. Together, our findings highlight the importance of complement and immune complexes in experimental cerebral malaria.
Cerebral malaria is a deadly complication of infection with Plasmodium falciparum. Despite its high prevalence, relatively little is understood about its pathogenesis. We have determined that immune complexes are generated and deposited on erythrocytes specifically expressing human complement receptor 1 in a mouse model of cerebral malaria. We also provide evidence demonstrating the importance of immunoglobulins in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria in mice. These findings may have important implications in human cerebral malaria.
PMCID: PMC3967524  PMID: 24643866
2.  Role of Specific Innate Immune Responses in Herpes Simplex Virus Infection of the Central Nervous System 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(4):2273-2281.
Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) causes a spectrum of disease, including herpes labialis, herpes keratitis, and herpes encephalitis, which can be lethal. Viral recognition by pattern recognition receptors plays a central role in cytokine production and in the generation of antiviral immunity. The relative contributions of different Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the innate immune response during central nervous system infection with HSV-1 have not been fully characterized. In this study, we investigate the roles of TLR2, TLR9, UNC93B1, and the type I interferon (IFN) receptor in a murine model of HSV-1 encephalitis. TLR2 is responsible for detrimental inflammatory cytokine production following intracranial infection with HSV-1, and the absence of TLR2 expression leads to increased survival in mice. We prove that inflammatory cytokine production by microglial cells, astrocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes is mediated predominantly by TLR2. We also demonstrate that type I IFNs are absolutely required for survival following intracranial HSV-1 infection, as mice lacking the type I IFN receptor succumb rapidly following infection and have high levels of HSV in the brain. However, the absence of TLR9 does not impact survival, type I IFN levels, or viral replication in the brain following infection. The absence of UNC93B1 leads to a survival disadvantage but does not impact viral replication or type I IFN levels in the brain in HSV-1-infected mice. These results illustrate the complex but important roles that innate immune receptors play in host responses to HSV-1 during infection of the central nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3302371  PMID: 22171256
3.  LPLUNC1 Modulates Innate Immune Responses to Vibrio cholerae 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(9):1349-1357.
Background. Recent studies demonstrate that long palate, lung, and nasal epithelium clone 1 protein (LPLUNC1) is involved in immune responses to Vibrio cholerae, and that variations in the LPLUNC1 promoter influence susceptibility to severe cholera in humans. However, no functional role for LPLUNC1 has been identified.
Metods. We investigated the role of LPLUNC1 in immune responses to V. cholerae, assessing its affect on bacterial growth and killing and on innate inflammatory responses to bacterial outer membrane components, including purified lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and outer membrane vesicles. We performed immunostaining for LPLUNC1 in duodenal biopsies from cholera patients and uninfected controls.
Results. LPLUNC1 decreased proinflammatory innate immune responses to V. cholerae and Escherichia coli LPS. The effect of LPLUNC1 was dose-dependent and occurred in a TLR4-dependent manner. LPLUNC1 did not affect lipoprotein-mediated TLR2 activation. Immunostaining demonstrated expression of LPLUNC1 in Paneth cells in cholera patients and controls.
Conclusions. Our results demonstrate that LPLUNC1 is expressed in Paneth cells and likely plays a role in modulating host inflammatory responses to V. cholerae infection. Attenuation of innate immune responses to LPS by LPLUNC1 may have implications for the maintenance of immune homeostasis in the intestine.
PMCID: PMC3182310  PMID: 21900486
4.  Plasmacytoid dendritic cell interferon-α production to R-848 stimulation is decreased in male infants 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:35.
Sex differences in response to microbial infections, especially viral ones, may be associated with Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated responses by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs).
In this study, we identified sex differences in human infant pDC interferon-α production following challenge with the TLR7/8 agonist R-848. Male pDC responses were significantly lower than those of females during early infancy. This difference may be attributed to the androgen surge experienced by males during the early infancy period. Pretreatment of human pDCs with dihydrotestosterone produced a significant reduction in interferon-α production following R-848 challenge.
Androgen-mediated regulation of pDC TLR7-driven innate immune responses may contribute to the observed sex differences in response to infections during early infancy.
PMCID: PMC3411434  PMID: 22769054
pDC; IFN-α; TNF-α; Infant; TLR7
5.  A non-redundant role for plasmacytoid dendritic cells in host defense against the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus 
Cell host & microbe  2011;9(5):415-424.
While plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), a natural type I interferon (IFN) producing cell type, are regarded as critical for innate immunity to viruses, their role in defense against fungal infections remains unknown. We examined the interactions of pDCs with hyphae of the invasive human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Human pDCs spread over hyphae and inhibited their growth. Antifungal activity was retained in pDC lysates, did not require direct fungal contact, and was partially reversed by zinc. Incubation with hyphae resulted in pDC cytotoxicity, partly due to fungal gliotoxin secretion. Following hyphal stimulation, pDCs released proinflammatory cytokines via a TLR9-independent mechanism. Pulmonary challenge of mice with A. fumigatus resulted in a substantial influx of pDCs into lungs and pDC-depleted mice were hypersusceptible to invasive aspergillosis. These data demonstrate the antifungal activity of pDCs against A. fumigatus and establish their non-redundant role in host defenses against invasive aspergillosis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3100664  PMID: 21575912
6.  Contributions of the MyD88-Dependent Receptors IL-18R, IL-1R, and TLR9 to Host Defenses following Pulmonary Challenge with Cryptococcus neoformans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26232.
Signaling via the adapter protein, MyD88, is important in the host defense against Cryptococcus neoformans infection. While certain Toll-like receptors (TLRs) can enhance the clearance of Cryptococcus, the contributions of MyD88-dependent, TLR-independent pathways have not been fully investigated. We examined the roles of IL-1R and IL-18R in vivo by challenging C57BL/6 mice with a lethal strain of Cryptococcus. We found that the absence of IL-18R, but not IL-1R, causes a shift in the survival curve following pulmonary delivery of a virulent strain of C. neoformans (H99). Specifically, IL-18R-deficient mice have significantly shorter median survival times compared to wild-type mice following infection. Cytokine analysis of lung homogenates revealed that deficiency of IL-IR, IL-18R, or MyD88 is associated with diminished lung levels of IL-1β. In order to compare these findings with those related to TLR-deficiency, we studied the effects of TLR9-deficiency and found that deficiency of TLR9 also affects the survival curve of mice following challenge with C. neoformans. Yet the lungs from infected TLR9-deficient mice have robust levels of IL-1β. In summary, we found that multiple signaling components can contribute the MyD88-dependent host responses to cryptococcal infection in vivo and each drives distinct pulmonary responses.
PMCID: PMC3198470  PMID: 22039448
7.  Complement Receptor 1 Expression on Mouse Erythrocytes Mediates Clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae by Immune Adherence ▿  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(7):3129-3135.
Complement-containing immune complexes can be presented to phagocytes by human erythrocytes bearing complement receptor 1 (CR1). Although this has long been assumed to be a mechanism by which humans are able to protect themselves from “extracellular” bacteria such as pneumococci, there is little direct evidence. In these studies we have investigated this question by comparing results for erythrocytes from transgenic mice expressing human CR1 on their erythrocytes to the results for wild-type mouse erythrocytes that do not express CR1. We demonstrate that human CR1 expression on murine erythrocytes allows immune adherence to beads opsonized with either mouse or human serum as a source of complement. The role of CR1 in immune adherence was supported by studies showing that it was blocked by the addition of antibody to human CR1. Furthermore, human CR1 expression enhances the immune adherence of opsonized pneumococci to erythrocytes in vitro, and the pneumococci attached to erythrocytes via CR1 can be transferred in vitro to live macrophages. Even more importantly, we observed that if complement-opsonized pneumococci are injected intravenously with CR1+ mouse erythrocytes into wild-type mice (after a short in vitro incubation), they are cleared faster than opsonized pneumococci similarly injected with wild-type mouse erythrocytes. Finally, we have shown that the intravenous (i.v.) injection of pneumococci into CR1+ mice also results in more rapid blood clearance than in wild-type mice. These data support that immune adherence via CR1 on erythrocytes likely plays an important role in the clearance of opsonized bacteria from human blood.
PMCID: PMC2897369  PMID: 20439480
8.  MDA5 and MAVS Mediate Type I Interferon Responses to Coxsackie B Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;84(1):254-260.
Coxsackie B viruses (CVB) are enteroviruses that have been associated with a variety of human diseases, including myocarditis. In the present study, we found that MDA5 and its adaptor molecule MAVS are critical for type I interferon responses to CVB, since the absence of either MAVS or MDA5 leads to deficient type I interferon production and early mortality in mice infected with CVB. Pancreatic and hepatic necrosis were observed on histopathological examination of MAVS and MDA5 knockout mice infected with CVB. Inflammatory cytokine production in response to systemic CVB infection was independent of MAVS. Surprisingly, virus titers were not elevated in MAVS-deficient mice, despite significant reductions in type I interferon levels. These data highlight the importance of type I interferon in host defense and provide insight on the mechanisms of innate immune responses following coxsackievirus infection.
PMCID: PMC2798442  PMID: 19846534
9.  Influenza Virus Drug Resistance: A Time-Sampled Population Genetics Perspective 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(2):e1004185.
The challenge of distinguishing genetic drift from selection remains a central focus of population genetics. Time-sampled data may provide a powerful tool for distinguishing these processes, and we here propose approximate Bayesian, maximum likelihood, and analytical methods for the inference of demography and selection from time course data. Utilizing these novel statistical and computational tools, we evaluate whole-genome datasets of an influenza A H1N1 strain in the presence and absence of oseltamivir (an inhibitor of neuraminidase) collected at thirteen time points. Results reveal a striking consistency amongst the three estimation procedures developed, showing strongly increased selection pressure in the presence of drug treatment. Importantly, these approaches re-identify the known oseltamivir resistance site, successfully validating the approaches used. Enticingly, a number of previously unknown variants have also been identified as being positively selected. Results are interpreted in the light of Fisher's Geometric Model, allowing for a quantification of the increased distance to optimum exerted by the presence of drug, and theoretical predictions regarding the distribution of beneficial fitness effects of contending mutations are empirically tested. Further, given the fit to expectations of the Geometric Model, results suggest the ability to predict certain aspects of viral evolution in response to changing host environments and novel selective pressures.
Author Summary
In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the evolution of drug resistance in the influenza A H1N1 strain. As a major annual cause of morbidity and mortality, combined with the rapid global spread of drug resistance, influenza remains as one of the most important global health concerns. Our work here focuses on a novel multi-faceted population-genetic approach utilizing unique whole-genome multi-time point experimental datasets in both the presence and absence of drug treatment. In addition, we present novel theoretical results and two newly developed and widely applicable statistical methodologies for utilizing time-sampled data – with a focus on distinguishing the relative contribution of genetic drift from that of positive and purifying selection. Results illustrate the available mutational paths to drug resistance, and offer important insights in to the mode and tempo of adaptation in a viral population.
PMCID: PMC3937227  PMID: 24586206
10.  Distinct Patterns of Dendritic Cell Cytokine Release Stimulated by Fungal β-Glucans and Toll-Like Receptor Agonists▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(5):1774-1781.
β-Glucans derived from fungal cell walls have potential uses as immunomodulating agents and vaccine adjuvants. Yeast glucan particles (YGPs) are highly purified Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell walls composed of β1,6-branched β1,3-d-glucan and free of mannans. YGPs stimulated secretion of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in wild-type murine bone marrow-derived myeloid dendritic cells (BMDCs) but did not stimulate interleukin-12p70 (IL-12p70) production. A purified soluble β1,6-branched β1,3-d-glucan, scleroglucan, also stimulated TNF-α in BMDCs. These two β-glucans failed to stimulate TNF-α in Dectin-1 (β-glucan receptor) knockout BMDCs. Costimulation of wild-type BMDCs with β-glucans and specific Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands resulted in greatly enhanced TNF-α production but decreased IL-12p70 production compared with TLR agonists alone. The upregulation of TNF-α and downregulation of IL-12p70 required Dectin-1, but not IL-10. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) priming did not overcome IL-12p70 reduction by β-glucans. Similar patterns of cytokine regulation were observed in human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs) costimulated with YGPs and the TLR4 ligand lipopolysaccharide. Finally, costimulation of BMDCs with YGPs and either the TLR9 ligand, CpG, or the TLR2/1 ligand, Pam3CSK4, resulted in upregulated secretion of IL-1α and IL-10 and downregulated secretion of IL-1β, IL-6, and IFN-γ-inducible protein 10 but had no significant effects on IL-12p40, keratinocyte-derived chemokine, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, or macrophage inflammatory protein α, compared with the TLR ligand alone. Thus, β-glucans have distinct effects on cytokine responses following DC stimulation with different TLR agonists. These patterns of response might contribute to the skewing of immune responses during mycotic infections and have implications for the design of immunomodulators and vaccines containing β-glucans.
PMCID: PMC2681737  PMID: 19273561
11.  Toll-Like Receptor 9-Dependent Immune Activation by Unmethylated CpG Motifs in Aspergillus fumigatus DNA▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(5):2123-2129.
Phagocytic defenses are critical for effective host defenses against the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Previous studies found that following challenge with A. fumigatus, Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) knockout mice survived longer than wild-type mice. However, the mechanism responsible was not defined. Here we demonstrate that A. fumigatus contains unmethylated CpG sequences, the natural ligands for TLR9. A. fumigatus DNA and synthetic CpG-rich oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) containing sequences found in the A. fumigatus genome potently stimulated the production of proinflammatory cytokines in mouse bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) and human plasmacytoid dendritic cells. The response was decreased when the fungal DNA was treated with a CpG methylase or with CpG-specific endonucleases. A role for TLR9 was demonstrated as cytokine production was abolished in BMDCs from TLR9-deficient mice. Moreover, transfection of HEK293 cells with human TLR9 conferred responsiveness to synthetic CpG-rich ODNs containing sequences found in A. fumigatus DNA. Taken together, these data demonstrate that TLR9 detects A. fumigatus DNA, resulting in the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, which may contribute to the immune response to the pathogen.
PMCID: PMC2346696  PMID: 18332208
12.  Cooperative Stimulation of Dendritic Cells by Cryptococcus neoformans Mannoproteins and CpG Oligodeoxynucleotides 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e2046.
While mannosylation targets antigens to mannose receptors on dendritic cells (DC), the resultant immune response is suboptimal. We hypothesized that the addition of toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands would enhance the DC response to mannosylated antigens. Cryptococcus neoformans mannoproteins (MP) synergized with CpG-containing oligodeoxynucleotides to stimulate enhanced production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines from murine conventional and plasmacytoid DC. Synergistic stimulation required the interaction of mannose residues on MP with the macrophage mannose receptor (MR), CD206. Moreover, synergy with MP was observed with other TLR ligands, including tripalmitoylated lipopeptide (Pam3CSK4), polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (pI:C), and imiquimod. Finally, CpG enhanced MP-specific MHC II-restricted CD4+ T-cell responses by a mechanism dependent upon DC expression of CD206 and TLR9. These data suggest a rationale for vaccination strategies that combine mannosylated antigens with TLR ligands and imply that immune responses to naturally mannosylated antigens on pathogens may be greatly augmented if TLR and MR are cooperatively stimulated.
PMCID: PMC2297515  PMID: 18446192
13.  Varicella-Zoster Virus Activates Inflammatory Cytokines in Human Monocytes and Macrophages via Toll-Like Receptor 2 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(20):12658-12666.
The pattern recognition receptor Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) has been implicated in the response to several human viruses, including herpes simplex viruses (types 1 and 2) and cytomegalovirus. We demonstrated that varicella-zoster virus (VZV) activates inflammatory cytokine responses via TLR2. VZV specifically induced interleukin-6 (IL-6) in human monocytes via TLR2-dependent activation of NF-κB, and small interfering RNA designed to suppress TLR2 mRNA reduced the IL-6 response to VZV in human monocyte-derived macrophages. Unlike other herpesviruses, the cytokine response to VZV was species specific. VZV did not induce cytokines in murine embryonic fibroblasts or in a mouse cell line, although VZV did activate NF-κB in a human cell line expressing a murine TLR2 construct. Together, these results suggest that TLR2 may play a role in the inflammatory response to VZV infection.
PMCID: PMC1235827  PMID: 16188968
14.  The Combination of Early and Rapid Type I IFN, IL-1α, and IL-1β Production Are Essential Mediators of RNA-Like Adjuvant Driven CD4+ Th1 Responses 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29412.
There is a growing need for novel vaccine adjuvants that can provide safe and potent T-helper type 1 (Th1) activity. RNA-like immune response modifiers (IRMs) are candidate T-cell adjuvants that skew acquired immune responses towards a Th1 phenotype. We set out to delineate the essential signaling pathways by which the RNA-like IRMs, resiquimod (R-848) and polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), augment CD4+ T-helper 1 (Th1) responses. Highly purified murine conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) and conventional CD4+ T-cells were co-cultured in allogeneic and MHC congenic mixed leukocyte reactions. The activation of CD4+ Th1 cells was examined utilizing cells from mice deficient in specific RNA-sensing pattern recognition receptors and signaling mediators. R-848 and poly I:C stimulation of Type I interferon production and signaling in cDCs was essential but not sufficient for driving CD4+ Th1 responses. The early and rapid production of IL-1α and IL-1β was equally critical for the optimal activation of Th1 CD4+ T-cells. R-848 activation of Toll-like receptor 7/MyD88-dependent signaling in cDCs led to a rapid upregulation of pro-IL-1α and pro-IL-1β production compared to poly I:C activation of MyD88-independent signaling pathways. The in vitro data show that CD4+ T-cell adjuvant activity of RNA-like IRMs is mediated by a critical combination of early and rapid Type I interferon, IL-1α and IL-1β production. These results provide important insights into the key signaling pathways responsible for RNA-like IRM CD4+ Th1 activation. A better understanding of the critical signaling pathways by which RNA-like IRMs stimulate CD4+ Th1 responses is relevant to the rational design of improved vaccine adjuvants.
PMCID: PMC3242790  PMID: 22206014
15.  The Cell Adhesion Molecule “CAR” and Sialic Acid on Human Erythrocytes Influence Adenovirus In Vivo Biodistribution 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(1):e1000277.
Although it has been known for 50 years that adenoviruses (Ads) interact with erythrocytes ex vivo, the molecular and structural basis for this interaction, which has been serendipitously exploited for diagnostic tests, is unknown. In this study, we characterized the interaction between erythrocytes and unrelated Ad serotypes, human 5 (HAd5) and 37 (HAd37), and canine 2 (CAV-2). While these serotypes agglutinate human erythrocytes, they use different receptors, have different tropisms and/or infect different species. Using molecular, biochemical, structural and transgenic animal-based analyses, we found that the primary erythrocyte interaction domain for HAd37 is its sialic acid binding site, while CAV-2 binding depends on at least three factors: electrostatic interactions, sialic acid binding and, unexpectedly, binding to the coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR) on human erythrocytes. We show that the presence of CAR on erythrocytes leads to prolonged in vivo blood half-life and significantly reduced liver infection when a CAR-tropic Ad is injected intravenously. This study provides i) a molecular and structural rationale for Ad–erythrocyte interactions, ii) a basis to improve vector-mediated gene transfer and iii) a mechanism that may explain the biodistribution and pathogenic inconsistencies found between human and animal models.
Author Summary
In most cases, adenoviruses are thought to initially enter the host via contact with epithelial cells and spread within the host via an unknown mechanism. Most adenovirus serotypes use a cell adhesion molecule dubbed “CAR” to attach to cells. To assess, predict and understand adenovirus biology and vectorology, many in vivo studies use mice and monkeys. These animal models have been considered reliable models in the realm of viral pathogenesis and gene transfer. One of the implications of our study suggests that the rat may be a more appropriate model during intravenous adenovirus delivery because like humans, and unlike mice and monkeys, they also express CAR on their erythrocytes. The identification of CAR on human erythrocytes explains a 50-year-old enigma of adenovirus hemagglutination, helps us better understand adenovirus in vivo biology and may open new avenues to understand the role of cell adhesion molecules during erythropoiesis.
PMCID: PMC2607015  PMID: 19119424

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