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1.  Actinobaculum schaalii an emerging pediatric pathogen? 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:201.
Actinobaculum schaalii was first described as a causative agent for human infection in 1997. Since then it has mainly been reported causing urinary tract infections (UTI) in elderly individuals with underlying urological diseases. Isolation and identification is challenging and often needs molecular techniques. A. schaalii is increasingly reported as a cause of infection in humans, however data in children is very limited.
Case presentation
We present the case of an 8-month-old Caucasian boy suffering from myelomeningocele and neurogenic bladder who presented with a UTI. An ultrasound of the urinary tract was unremarkable. Urinalysis and microscopy showed an elevated leukocyte esterase test, pyuria and a high number of bacteria. Empiric treatment with oral co-trimoxazole was started.
Growth of small colonies of Gram-positive rods was observed after 48 h. Sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene confirmed an A. schaalii infection 9 days later. Treatment was changed to oral amoxicillin for 14 days. On follow-up urinalysis was normal and urine cultures were negative.
A.schaalii is an emerging pathogen in adults and children. Colonization and subsequent infection seem to be influenced by the age of the patient. In young children with high suspicion of UTI who use diapers or in children who have known abnormalities of their urogenital tract, infection with A. schaalii should be considered and empiric antimicrobial therapy chosen accordingly.
PMCID: PMC3457841  PMID: 22928807
Actinobaculum schaalii; Children; Emerging infection; Urinary tract infection; Gram-positive; Antimicrobial susceptibility
2.  Cell-Cell Transmission Enables HIV-1 to Evade Inhibition by Potent CD4bs Directed Antibodies 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002634.
HIV is known to spread efficiently both in a cell-free state and from cell to cell, however the relative importance of the cell-cell transmission mode in natural infection has not yet been resolved. Likewise to what extent cell-cell transmission is vulnerable to inhibition by neutralizing antibodies and entry inhibitors remains to be determined. Here we report on neutralizing antibody activity during cell-cell transmission using specifically tailored experimental strategies which enable unambiguous discrimination between the two transmission routes. We demonstrate that the activity of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and entry inhibitors during cell-cell transmission varies depending on their mode of action. While gp41 directed agents remain active, CD4 binding site (CD4bs) directed inhibitors, including the potent neutralizing mAb VRC01, dramatically lose potency during cell-cell transmission. This implies that CD4bs mAbs act preferentially through blocking free virus transmission, while still allowing HIV to spread through cell-cell contacts. Thus providing a plausible explanation for how HIV maintains infectivity and rapidly escapes potent and broadly active CD4bs directed antibody responses in vivo.
Author Summary
HIV is known to spread both in a cell-free state and from cell to cell, however the relative importance of the cell-cell transmission mode in natural infection has not yet been resolved. Design of vaccines attempt to inhibit HIV entry into target cells as do engineered entry inhibitors used as therapeutics. While these agents are known to block the entry of cell-free HIV particles into cells, to what extent cell-cell transmission is vulnerable to such inhibition is unclear. Here we report that the activity of neutralizing antibodies and inhibitors during cell-cell transmission varies depending on their mode of action. A prominent class of neutralizing antibodies directed to the CD4 binding site on the virus envelope very efficiently blocks binding of the virus to its primary receptor on target cells, the CD4 molecule. These types of antibodies are elicited in natural infection and once isolated from infected individuals have shown to be highly potent. Why HIV still replicates in the presence of such potent antibodies remains unclear. Here we show that these CD4 binding site antibodies are dramatically less potent inhibitors of cell-cell transmission, and therefore act preferentially by blocking free virus transmission while allowing HIV to spread through cell-cell contact.
PMCID: PMC3320602  PMID: 22496655
3.  MPER-specific antibodies induce gp120 shedding and irreversibly neutralize HIV-1 
Antibody-mediated gp120 shedding and HIV neutralization exhibit similar kinetics and thermodynamic requirements.
Interference with virus entry is known to be the principle mechanism of HIV neutralization by antibodies, including 2F5 and 4E10, which bind to the membrane-proximal external region (MPER) of the gp41 envelope protein. However, to date, the precise molecular events underlying neutralization by MPER-specific antibodies remain incompletely understood. In this study, we investigated the capacity of these antibodies to irrevocably sterilize HIV virions. Long-term effects of antibodies on virions can differ, rendering neutralization either reversible or irreversible. MPER-specific antibodies irreversibly neutralize virions, and this capacity is associated with induction of gp120 shedding. Both processes have similar thermodynamic properties and slow kinetics requiring several hours. Antibodies directed to the CD4 binding site, V3 loop, and the MPER can induce gp120 shedding, and shedding activity is detected with high frequency in plasma from patients infected with divergent genetic HIV-1 subtypes. Importantly, as we show in this study, induction of gp120 shedding is closely associated with MPER antibody inhibition, constituting either a primary event leading to virion neutralization or representing an immediate consequence thereof, and thus needs to be factored into the mechanistic processes underlying their activity.
PMCID: PMC3058584  PMID: 21357743
4.  CD4-Specific Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins Are Novel Potent HIV Entry Inhibitors with Unique Characteristics 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(7):e1000109.
Here, we describe the generation of a novel type of HIV entry inhibitor using the recently developed Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein (DARPin) technology. DARPin proteins specific for human CD4 were selected from a DARPin DNA library using ribosome display. Selected pool members interacted specifically with CD4 and competed with gp120 for binding to CD4. DARPin proteins derived in the initial selection series inhibited HIV in a dose-dependent manner, but showed a relatively high variability in their capacity to block replication of patient isolates on primary CD4 T cells. In consequence, a second series of CD4-specific DARPins with improved affinity for CD4 was generated. These 2nd series DARPins potently inhibit infection of genetically divergent (subtype B and C) HIV isolates in the low nanomolar range, independent of coreceptor usage. Importantly, the actions of the CD4 binding DARPins were highly specific: no effect on cell viability or activation, CD4 memory cell function, or interference with CD4-independent virus entry was observed. These novel CD4 targeting molecules described here combine the unique characteristics of DARPins—high physical stability, specificity and low production costs—with the capacity to potently block HIV entry, rendering them promising candidates for microbicide development.
Author Summary
There is an increasing need to develop inhibitors of HIV entry into target cells for both application in therapy and prevention. The development of specific HIV inhibitors as microbicides, agents that by topical application prevent infection, is considered particularly important in limiting the spread of HIV in the absence of effective vaccines. To derive highly potent and specific inhibitors of HIV entry for potential use as microbicide, we employed the recently developed Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein technology. Using this technique, Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins can be evolved that bind their target molecules as specifically and efficiently as antibodies. In the present study, we generated a panel of Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins that bind specifically to the cellular CD4 receptor, the main entry receptor of HIV. The obtained proteins are very potent and highly specific inhibitors of HIV entry and provide a broad reactivity against genetically different virus strains. Due to the high physical stability of Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins and their low cost production, these novel HIV entry inhibitors represent promising candidates for microbicide development.
PMCID: PMC2453315  PMID: 18654624

Results 1-4 (4)