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1.  A Ubiquitin-specific Protease Possesses a Decisive Role for Adenovirus Replication and Oncogene-mediated Transformation 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(3):e1003273.
Adenoviral replication depends on viral as well as cellular proteins. However, little is known about cellular proteins promoting adenoviral replication. In our screens to identify such proteins, we discovered a cellular component of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway interacting with the central regulator of adenoviral replication. Our binding assays mapped a specific interaction between the N-terminal domains of both viral E1B-55K and USP7, a deubiquitinating enzyme. RNA interference-mediated downregulation of USP7 severely reduced E1B-55K protein levels, but more importantly negatively affected adenoviral replication. We also succeeded in resynthesizing an inhibitor of USP7, which like the knockdown background reduced adenoviral replication. Further assays revealed that not only adenoviral growth, but also adenoviral oncogene-driven cellular transformation relies on the functions of USP7. Our data provide insights into an intricate mechanistic pathway usurped by an adenovirus to promote its replication and oncogenic functions, and at the same time open up possibilities for new antiviral strategies.
Author Summary
Adenoviral infections can result in severe outcomes leading to mortality especially in children undergoing immunosuppressive therapies. Unfortunately, no specific anti-adenoviral treatments are available to treat disseminated adenoviral infections. We have set out to identify host factors promoting adenoviral growth and could identify the cellular protein Ubiquitin-specific protease 7 (USP7) being central to adenoviral infection. Here we show that USP7 interacts with the viral protein E1B-55K, a central regulator of adenoviral replication and adenoviral oncogene-mediated cellular transformation. We demonstrate that USP7 ensures stability and/or proper expression levels of adenoviral proteins at early and late time points of infection. Consistent with this, small-molecule inhibitors of USP7 showed efficient reduction of capsid protein levels and viral progeny numbers. Thus, USP7 inhibition might be a useful treatment option in the context of disseminated adenoviral infections. Moreover, we were also able to show that adenoviral oncogene-mediated cellular transformation can be hampered by USP7 disruption. In summary, this study shows that two different adenoviral disease mechanisms can be inhibited by targeting one host cellular factor.
PMCID: PMC3610741  PMID: 23555268
2.  The Nucleoside Analog D-carba T Blocks HIV-1 Reverse Transcription 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(17):5356-5364.
A major pathway for HIV-1 resistance to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) involves reverse transcriptase (RT) mutations that enhance ATP-dependent pyrophosphorolysis, which excises NRTIs from the end of viral DNA. We analyzed novel NRTIs for their ability to inhibit DNA synthesis of excision-proficient HIV-1 RT mutants. D-carba T is a carbocyclic nucleoside that has a 3′ hydroxyl on the pseudosugar. The 3′ hydroxyl group allows RT to incorporate additional dNTPs, which should protect D-carba TMP from excision. D-carba T can be converted to the triphosphate form by host cell kinases with moderate efficiency. D-carba T-TP is efficiently incorporated by HIV-1 RT; however, the next dNTP is added slowly to a D-carba TMP at the primer terminus. D-carba T effectively inhibits viral vectors that replicate using NRTI-resistant HIV-1 RTs, and there is no obvious toxicity in cultured cells. NRTIs based on the carbocyclic pseudosugar may offer an effective approach for the treatment of HIV-1 infections.
PMCID: PMC2756836  PMID: 19678643
HIV-1; Reverse Transcriptase; NRTI; Resistance; Kinase
3.  Anti-BK Virus Activity of Nucleoside Analogs▿  
Polyomavirus BK is an important pathogen in transplant recipients with no effective therapy. This study demonstrates that alkoxyalkyl esters of (S)-9-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)adenine and fatty acid derivatives of 9-[2-(phosphonomethyoxy)ethyl]adenine (P393 and P405) are potent and selective inhibitors of BK virus replication in vitro, with a 50% effective concentration in the micromolar-to-nanomolar range.
PMCID: PMC2292553  PMID: 18285481
4.  Metabolic Syndrome features and risk of neural tube defects 
Maternal obesity and pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus, features of the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn), are individual risk factors for neural tube defects (NTD). Whether they, in combination with additional features of MetSyn, alter this risk is not known. We evaluated the risk of NTD in association with maternal features of the MetSyn.
We used a population-based case-control study design in the province of Ontario, Canada. Cases and controls were derived from women who underwent antenatal maternal screening (MSS) at 15 to 20 weeks' gestation. There were 89 maternal cases with, and 434 controls without, an NTD-affected singleton pregnancy. Maternal features of MetSyn were defined by the presence of pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus, body weight ≥ 90th centile among controls, non-white ethnicity and/or serum highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) ≥ 75th centile of controls. Since hsCRP naturally increases in pregnancy, analyses were performed with, and without, the inclusion of hsCRP in the model.
Mean hsCRP concentrations were exceptionally high among study cases and controls (6.1 and 6.4 mg/L, respectively). When hsCRP was excluded from the model, the adjusted odds ratios for NTD were 1.9 (95% confidence interval 1.1–3.4) in the presence 1 feature of MetSyn, and 6.1 (1.1–32.9) in the presence of 2 or more features. When hsCRP was included, the respective risk estimates were attenuated to 1.6 (0.88–2.8) and 3.1 (1.2–8.3).
We found about 2-fold and 6-fold higher risk for NTD in the presence 1, and 2 or more features, of the metabolic syndrome, respectively. It is not clear whether this risk is altered by the presence of a high serum hsCRP concentration.
PMCID: PMC2039731  PMID: 17880716
5.  Maternal ethnicity and risk of neural tube defects: a population-based study 
Maternal body mass and the presence of diabetes mellitus are probable risk factors for neural tube defects (NTDs). The association between maternal ethnicity and the risk of NTDs remains poorly understood, however.
We performed a retrospective population-based study and included all women in Ontario who underwent antenatal maternal screening (MSS) at 15 to 20 weeks' gestation between 1994 and late 2000. Self-declared maternal date of birth, ethnicity and weight and the presence of pregestational diabetes mellitus were recorded in a standardized fashion on the MSS requisition sheet. NTDs were detected antenatally by ultrasonography or fetal autopsy and postnatally by considering all live and stillborn affected infants beyond 20 weeks' gestation. The risk of open NTD was evaluated across the 5 broad ethnic groups used for MSS, with white ethnicity as the referent.
Compared with white women (n = 290 799), women of First Nations origin (n = 1551) were at increased associated risk of an NTD-affected pregnancy (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 5.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.1–12.9). Women of other ethnic origins were not at increased associated risk compared with white women (women of Asian origin [n = 75 590]: adjusted OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.6–1.3; black women [n = 25 966]: adjusted OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.3–1.1; women of “other” ethnic origin [n = 10 009]: adjusted OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.02–0.9).
The associated risk of NTD-affected pregnancies was higher among women of First Nations origin than among women of other ethnic origins. The mechanisms for this discrepancy should be explored.
PMCID: PMC509047  PMID: 15313993

Results 1-5 (5)