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1.  Role of Pathogenicity Determinant Protein C (PdpC) in Determining the Virulence of the Francisella tularensis Subspecies tularensis SCHU 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89075.
Francisella tularensis subspecies tularensis, the etiological agent of tularemia, is highly pathogenic to humans and animals. However, the SCHU strain of F. tularensis SCHU P0 maintained by passaging in artificial media has been found to be attenuated. To better understand the molecular mechanisms behind the pathogenicity of F. tularensis SCHU, we attempted to isolate virulent bacteria by serial passages in mice. SCHU P5 obtained after 5th passages in mice remained avirulent, while SCHU P9 obtained after 9th passages was completely virulent in mice. Moreover, SCHU P9 grew more efficiently in J774.1 murine macrophages compared with that in the less pathogenic SCHU P0 and P5. Comparison of the nucleotide sequences of the whole genomes of SCHU P0, P5, and P9 revealed only 1 nucleotide difference among P0, P5 and P9 in 1 of the 2 copies of pathogenicity determinant protein C (pdpC) gene. An adenine residue deletion was observed in the pdpC1 gene of SCHU P0, P5, and P9 and in the pdpC2 gene of SCHU P0, and P5, while P9 was characterized by the wild type pdpC2 gene. Thus, SCHU P0 and P5 expressed only truncated forms of PdpC protein, while SCHU P9 expressed both wild type and truncated versions. To validate the pathogenicity of PdpC, both copies of the pdpC gene in SCHU P9 have been inactivated by Targetron mutagenesis. SCHU P9 mutants with inactivated pdpC gene showed low intracellular growth in J774.1 cells and did not induce severe disease in experimentally infected mice, while virulence of the mutants was restored by complementation with expression of the intact PdpC. These results demonstrate that PdpC is crucial in determining the virulence of F. tularensis SCHU.
PMCID: PMC3928404  PMID: 24558472
2.  Altered specificity of single-chain antibody fragments bound to pandemic H1N1-2009 influenza virus after conversion of the phage-bound to the soluble form 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:483.
In 2009, a novel influenza A/H1N1 virus (H1N1pdm) quickly spread worldwide and co-circulated with then-existing seasonal H1N1 virus (sH1N1). Distinguishing between these 2 viruses was necessary to better characterize the epidemiological properties of the emergent virus, including transmission patterns, pathogenesis, and anti-influenza drug resistance. This situation prompted us to develop a point-of-care virus differentiation system before entering the 2009–2010 influenza season. Aiming to establish H1N1pdm-specific detection tools rapidly, we employed phage display libraries to select H1N1pdm-specific single-chain variable fragments (scFvs).
Human single-fold scFv libraries (Tomlinson I + J) underwent selection for the ability to bind H1N1pdm virus particles. Three rounds of panning brought 1152 phage-bound scFvs, of which 58 clones reacted with H1N1pdm specifically or preferentially over sH1N1 in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). After conversion of the scFvs to soluble form, 7 clones demonstrating high/stable expression were finally obtained. However, all the soluble scFvs except No. 29 were found to have lost their specificity/preference for H1N1pdm in ELISA. The specificity/preference of No. 29 was also confirmed by immunofluorescence assay and immunoprecipitation, and the viral nucleoprotein was identified by ELISA as its target protein. The change in specificity associated with scFv conversion from phage-bound to soluble form could be due to loss of phage scaffold pIII protein, which likely provides structural support for the scFv antigen-binding site. It is also possible that the similar antigenic properties of H1N1pdm and sH1N1 led to the observed alterations in scFv specificity.
Using a phage display library, we obtained 7 soluble scFv clones reactive against H1N1pdm; however, only 1 showed specificity/preference toward H1N1pdm. Our results confirmed that using phage display libraries was highly advantageous for the rapid development of molecules to detect target antigens. However, our results also indicated that this strategy might not have been effective for selecting H1N1pdm-specific antibodies during the 2009 pandemic, where the co-circulating sH1N1 virus shared similar antigenic properties. This suggests that it might be advisable to use a synthetic scFv phage display library by strategically considering the characteristics of target antigens and the potential situations.
PMCID: PMC3492028  PMID: 22943792
Influenza; Pandemic; Diagnosis; Single-chain variable fragment (scFv); Altered specificity

Results 1-2 (2)