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1.  Full Inactivation of Human Influenza Virus by High Hydrostatic Pressure Preserves Virus Structure and Membrane Fusion While Conferring Protection to Mice against Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80785.
Whole inactivated vaccines (WIVs) possess greater immunogenicity than split or subunit vaccines, and recent studies have demonstrated that WIVs with preserved fusogenic activity are more protective than non-fusogenic WIVs. In this work, we describe the inactivation of human influenza virus X-31 by high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) and analyze the effects on the structure by spectroscopic measurements, light scattering, and electron microscopy. We also investigated the effects of HHP on the glycoprotein activity and fusogenic activity of the viral particles. The electron microscopy data showed pore formation on the viral envelope, but the general morphology was preserved, and small variations were seen in the particle structure. The activity of hemagglutinin (HA) during the process of binding and fusion was affected in a time-dependent manner, but neuraminidase (NA) activity was not affected. Infectious activity ceased after 3 hours of pressurization, and mice were protected from infection after being vaccinated. Our results revealed full viral inactivation with overall preservation of viral structure and maintenance of fusogenic activity, thereby conferring protection against infection. A strong response consisting of serum immunoglobulin IgG1, IgG2a, and serum and mucosal IgA was also detected after vaccination. Thus, our data strongly suggest that applying hydrostatic pressure may be an effective method for developing new vaccines against influenza A as well as other viruses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080785
PMCID: PMC3840014  PMID: 24282553
2.  The Structural Dynamics of the Flavivirus Fusion Peptide–Membrane Interaction 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47596.
Membrane fusion is a crucial step in flavivirus infections and a potential target for antiviral strategies. Lipids and proteins play cooperative roles in the fusion process, which is triggered by the acidic pH inside the endosome. This acidic environment induces many changes in glycoprotein conformation and allows the action of a highly conserved hydrophobic sequence, the fusion peptide (FP). Despite the large volume of information available on the virus-triggered fusion process, little is known regarding the mechanisms behind flavivirus–cell membrane fusion. Here, we evaluated the contribution of a natural single amino acid difference on two flavivirus FPs, FLAG (98DRGWGNGCGLFGK110) and FLAH (98DRGWGNHCGLFGK110), and investigated the role of the charge of the target membrane on the fusion process. We used an in silico approach to simulate the interaction of the FPs with a lipid bilayer in a complementary way and used spectroscopic approaches to collect conformation information. We found that both peptides interact with neutral and anionic micelles, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations showed the interaction of the FPs with the lipid bilayer. The participation of the indole ring of Trp appeared to be important for the anchoring of both peptides in the membrane model, as indicated by MD simulations and spectroscopic analyses. Mild differences between FLAG and FLAH were observed according to the pH and the charge of the target membrane model. The MD simulations of the membrane showed that both peptides adopted a bend structure, and an interaction between the aromatic residues was strongly suggested, which was also observed by circular dichroism in the presence of micelles. As the FPs of viral fusion proteins play a key role in the mechanism of viral fusion, understanding the interactions between peptides and membranes is crucial for medical science and biology and may contribute to the design of new antiviral drugs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047596
PMCID: PMC3477123  PMID: 23094066
3.  Indocyanine green angiography findings in patients with long-standing Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Ophthalmology  2012;12:40.
Background
To investigate indocyanine green angiography (ICGA) findings in patients with long-standing Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease and their correlation with disease activity on clinical examination as well as with systemic corticosteroid therapy.
Methods
Twenty-eight patients (51 eyes) with long-standing (≥6 months from disease onset) VKH disease whose treatment was tapered based only in clinical features were prospectively included at a single center in Brazil. All patients underwent standardized clinical evaluation, which included fundus photography, fluorescein angiography and ICGA. Clinical disease activity was determined based in the Standardization in Uveitis Nomenclature Working Group. Fisher exact test and logistic regression models were used for statistical analysis.
Results
Disease-related choroidal inflammation on ICGA was observed in 72.5% (31 of 51 eyes). Angiographic findings suggestive of (choroidal and/or retinal) disease activity were not observed on FA. Clinically active disease based on clinical evaluation was observed in 41.2% (21 of 51 eyes). In these 21 eyes, disease-related choroidal inflammation on ICGA was observed in 76.2% (16 of 21 eyes); in the remaining eyes (without clinical active disease) disease-related choroidal inflammation on ICGA was observed in 70.0% (21 of 30 eyes). In respect to systemic corticosteroid therapy, 10 patients (18 of 51 eyes) were under treatment with prednisone. In these 10 (18 of 51 eyes) patients, disease-related choroidal inflammation on ICGA was observed in 83.3% (15 of 18 eyes); in the remaining patients (33 of 51 eyes) disease-related choroidal inflammation on ICGA was observed in 66.7% (22 of 33 eyes).
Conclusion
ICGA findings suggestive of disease-related choroidal inflammation were observed in a considerable proportion of patients with long-standing VKH disease, independent of the inflammatory status of the disease on clinical examination or current use of systemic corticosteroid. Therefore, the current study reinforces the crucial role of ICGA to assist the management and treatment of patients with long-standing VKH disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2415-12-40
PMCID: PMC3480878  PMID: 22889440
Angiography; Indocyanine green; Choroid; Diagnosis; Inflammation; Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada
4.  The p53 Core Domain Is a Molten Globule at Low pH 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;285(4):2857-2866.
p53 is a transcription factor that maintains genome integrity, and its function is lost in 50% of human cancers. The majority of p53 mutations are clustered within the core domain. Here, we investigate the effects of low pH on the structure of the wild-type (wt) p53 core domain (p53C) and the R248Q mutant. At low pH, the tryptophan residue is partially exposed to the solvent, suggesting a fluctuating tertiary structure. On the other hand, the secondary structure increases, as determined by circular dichroism. Binding of the probe bis-ANS (bis-8-anilinonaphthalene-1-sulfonate) indicates that there is an increase in the exposure of hydrophobic pockets for both wt and mutant p53C at low pH. This behavior is accompanied by a lack of cooperativity under urea denaturation and decreased stability under pressure when p53C is in acidic pH. Together, these results indicate that p53C acquires a partially unfolded conformation (molten-globule state) at low pH (5.0). The hydrodynamic properties of this conformation are intermediate between the native and denatured conformation. 1H-15N HSQC NMR spectroscopy confirms that the protein has a typical molten-globule structure at acidic pH when compared with pH 7.2. Human breast cells in culture (MCF-7) transfected with p53-GFP revealed localization of p53 in acidic vesicles, suggesting that the low pH conformation is present in the cell. Low pH stress also tends to favor high levels of p53 in the cells. Taken together, all of these data suggest that p53 may play physiological or pathological roles in acidic microenvironments.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M109.075861
PMCID: PMC2807339  PMID: 19933157
Diseases/Cancer; Methods/Fluorescence; Methods/NMR; Protein/Conformation; Protein/Folding; Protein/Stability; Tumor/Suppressor/p53

Results 1-4 (4)