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1.  Unique N-Linked Glycosylation of CasBrE Env Influences Its Stability, Processing, and Viral Infectivity but Not Its Neurotoxicity 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(15):8372-8387.
The envelope protein (Env) from the CasBrE murine leukemia virus (MLV) can cause acute spongiform neurodegeneration analogous to that induced by prions. Upon central nervous system (CNS) infection, Env is expressed as multiple isoforms owing to differential asparagine (N)-linked glycosylation. Because N-glycosylation can affect protein folding, stability, and quality control, we explored whether unique CasBrE Env glycosylation features could influence neurovirulence. CasBrE Env possesses 6/8 consensus MLV glycosylation sites (gs) but is missing gs3 and gs5 and contains a putative site (gs*). Twenty-nine mutants were generated by modifying these three sites, individually or in combination, to mimic the amino acid sequence in the nonneurovirulent Friend 57 MLV. Three basic viral phenotypes were observed: replication defective (dead; titer < 1 focus-forming unit [FFU]/ml), replication compromised (RC) (titer = 102 to 105 FFU/ml); and wild-type-like (WTL) (titer > 105 FFU/ml). Env protein was undetectable in dead mutants, while RC and WTL mutants showed variations in Env expression, processing, virus incorporation, virus entry, and virus spread. The newly introduced gs3 and gs5 sites were glycosylated, whereas gs* was not. Six WTL mutants tested in mice showed no clear attenuation in disease onset or severity versus controls. Furthermore, three RC viruses tested by neural stem cell (NSC)-mediated brainstem dissemination also induced acute spongiosis. Thus, while unique N-glycosylation affected structural features of Env involved in protein stability, proteolytic processing, and virus assembly and entry, these changes had minimal impact on CasBrE Env neurotoxicity. These findings suggest that the Env protein domains responsible for spongiogenesis represent highly stable elements upon which the more variable viral functional domains have evolved.
PMCID: PMC3719805  PMID: 23698308
2.  Relationship between HER-2 overexpression and brain metastasis in esophageal cancer patients 
AIM: To study if HER-2 overexpression by locally advanced esophageal cancers increase the chance of brain metastasis following esophagectomy.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of esophageal cancer patients who underwent esophagectomy at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics between 2000 and 2010. Data analyzed consisted of demographic and clinical variables. The brain metastasis tissue was assayed for HER-2 overexpression utilizing the FDA approved DAKO Hercept Test®.
RESULTS: One hundred and forty two patients were reviewed. Median age was 64 years (36-86 years). Eighty eight patients (62%) received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Pathological complete and partial responses were achieved in 17 (19%) and 71 (81%) patients. Cancer relapsed in 43/142 (30%) patients. The brain was the first site of relapse in 9/43 patients (21%, 95% CI: 10%-36%). HER-2 immunohistochemistry testing of the brain metastasis tissue showed that 5/9 (56%) cases overexpressed HER-2 (3+ staining).
CONCLUSION: HER-2 overexpression might be associated with increased risk of brain metastasis in esophageal cancer patients following esophagectomy. Further studies will be required to validate this observation.
PMCID: PMC3360103  PMID: 22645633
Esophageal neoplasm; Esophageal cancer; HER-2; Genes, erbB-2; Brain Neoplasms; Brain metastasis
3.  Retrovirus-Induced Spongiform Neurodegeneration Is Mediated by Unique Central Nervous System Viral Targeting and Expression of Env Alone▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;85(5):2060-2078.
Certain murine leukemia viruses (MLVs) can induce progressive noninflammatory spongiform neurodegeneration similar to that caused by prions. The primary MLV determinants responsible have been mapped to within the env gene; however, it has remained unclear how env mediates disease, whether non-Env viral components are required, and what central nervous system (CNS) cells constitute the critical CNS targets. To address these questions, we examined the effect of transplanting engraftable C17.2 neural stem cells engineered to pseudotype, disseminate, and trans-complement neurovirulent (CasBrE, CasE, and CasES) or non-neurovirulent (Friend and SFF-FE) env sequences (SU or SU/TM) within the CNS using either the “non-neurovirulent” amphotropic helper virus, 4070A, or pgag-polgpt (a nonpackaged vector encoding Gag-Pol). These studies revealed that acute MLV-induced spongiosis results from two separable activities of Env. First, Env causes neuropathology through unique viral targeting within the CNS, which was efficiently mediated by ecotropic Envs (CasBrE and Friend), but not 4070A amphotropic Env. Second, Env induces spongiosis through a toxin activity that is MLV-receptor independent and does not require the coexpression of other viral structural proteins. CasBrE and 4070A Envs possess the toxin activity, whereas Friend Env does not. Although the identity of the critical viral target cell(s) remains unresolved, our results appear to exclude microglia and oligodendrocyte lineage cells, while implicating viral entry into susceptible neurons. Thus, MLV-induced disease parallels prionopathies in that a single protein, Env, mediates both the CNS targeting and the toxicity of the infectious agent that manifests itself as progressive vacuolar neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3067788  PMID: 21191010
4.  Immunocytochemical characterisation of cultures of human bladder mucosal cells 
BMC Urology  2011;11:5.
The functional role of the bladder urothelium has been the focus of much recent research. The bladder mucosa contains two significant cell types: urothelial cells that line the bladder lumen and suburothelial interstitial cells or myofibroblasts. The aims of this study were to culture these cell populations from human bladder biopsies and to perform immunocytochemical characterisation.
Primary cell cultures were established from human bladder biopsies (n = 10). Individual populations of urothelial and myofibroblast-like cells were isolated using magnetic activated cell separation (MACS). Cells were slow growing, needing 3 to 5 weeks to attain confluence.
Cytokeratin 20 positive cells (umbrella cells) were isolated at primary culture and also from patients' bladder washings but these did not proliferate. In primary culture, proliferating cells demonstrated positive immunocytochemical staining to cytokeratin markers (AE1/AE3 and A0575) as well fibroblasts (5B5) and smooth muscle (αSMA) markers. An unexpected finding was that populations of presumptive urothelial and myofibroblast-like cells, isolated using the MACS beads, stained for similar markers. In contrast, staining for cytokeratins and fibroblast or smooth muscle markers was not co-localised in full thickness bladder sections.
Our results suggest that, in culture, bladder mucosal cells may undergo differentiation into a myoepithelial cell phenotype indicating that urothelial cells have the capacity to respond to environmental changes. This may be important pathologically but also suggests that studies of the physiological function of these cells in culture may not give a reliable indicator of human physiology.
PMCID: PMC3104367  PMID: 21496348
urothelial cells; myofibroblasts; immunocytochemistry; human
5.  Misfolding of CasBrE SU is reversed by interactions with 4070A Env: implications for gammaretroviral neuropathogenesis 
Retrovirology  2010;7:93.
CasBrE is a neurovirulent murine leukemia virus (MLV) capable of inducing paralytic disease with associated spongiform neurodegeneration. The neurovirulence of this virus has been genetically mapped to the surface expressed subunit (SU) of the env gene. However, CasBrE SU synthesized in the absence of the transmembrane subunit (TM) does not retain ecotropic receptor binding activity, indicating that folding of the receptor binding domain (RBD) requires this domain. Using a neural stem cell (NSC) based viral trans complementation approach to examine whether misfolded CasBrE SU retained neurovirulence, we observed CasBrE SU interaction with the "non-neurovirulent" amphotropic helper virus, 4070A which restored functional activity of CasBrE SU.
Herein, we show that infection of NSCs expressing CasBrE SU with 4070A (CasES+4070A-NSCs) resulted in the redistribution of CasBrE SU from a strictly secreted product to include retention on the plasma membrane. Cell surface cross-linking analysis suggested that CasBrE SU membrane localization was due to interactions with 4070A Env. Viral particles produced from CasES+4070A-NSCS contained both CasBrE and 4070A gp70 Env proteins. These particles displayed ecotropic receptor-mediated infection, but were still 100-fold less efficient than CasE+4070A-NSC virus. Infectious center analysis showed CasBrE SU ecotropic transduction efficiencies approaching those of NSCs expressing full length CasBrE Env (CasE; SU+TM). In addition, CasBrE SU-4070A Env interactions resulted in robust ecotropic superinfection interference indicating near native intracellular SU interaction with its receptor, mCAT-1.
In this report we provided evidence that 4070A Env and CasBrE SU physically interact within NSCs leading to CasBrE SU retention on the plasma membrane, incorporation into viral particles, restoration of mCAT-1 binding, and capacity for initiation of TM-mediated fusion events. Thus, heterotropic Env-SU interactions facilitates CasBrE SU folding events that restore Env activity. These findings are consistent with the idea that one protein conformation acts as a folding scaffold or nucleus for a second protein of similar primary structure, a process reminiscent of prion formation. The implication is that template-based protein folding may represent an inherent feature of neuropathogenic proteins that extends to retroviral Envs.
PMCID: PMC2998453  PMID: 21054857
6.  Gene expression profiling of microglia infected by a highly neurovirulent murine leukemia virus: implications for neuropathogenesis 
Retrovirology  2006;3:26.
Certain murine leukemia viruses (MLVs) are capable of inducing progressive spongiform motor neuron disease in susceptible mice upon infection of the central nervous system (CNS). The major CNS parenchymal target of these neurovirulent retroviruses (NVs) are the microglia, whose infection is largely coincident with neuropathological changes. Despite this close association, the role of microglial infection in disease induction is still unknown. In this paper, we investigate the interaction of the highly virulent MLV, FrCasE, with microglia ex vivo to evaluate whether infection induces specific changes that could account for neurodegeneration. Specifically, we compared microglia infected with FrCasE, a related non-neurovirulent virus (NN) F43/Fr57E, or mock-infected, both at a basic virological level, and at the level of cellular gene expression using quantitative real time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Afffymetrix 430A mouse gene chips.
Basic virological comparison of NN, NV, and mock-infected microglia in culture did not reveal differences in virus expression that provided insight into neuropathogenesis. Therefore, microglial analysis was extended to ER stress gene induction based on previous experiments demonstrating ER stress induction in NV-infected mouse brains and cultured fibroblasts. Analysis of message levels for the ER stress genes BiP (grp78), CHOP (Gadd153), calreticulin, and grp58 in cultured microglia, and BiP and CHOP in microglia enriched fractions from infected mouse brains, indicated that FrCasE infection did not induce these ER stress genes either in vitro or in vivo. To broadly identify physiological changes resulting from NV infection of microglia in vitro, we undertook a gene array screen of more than 14,000 well-characterized murine genes and expressed sequence tags (ESTs). This analysis revealed only a small set of gene expression changes between infected and uninfected cells (<18). Remarkably, gene array comparison of NN- and NV-infected microglia revealed only 3 apparent gene expression differences. Validation experiments for these genes by Taqman real-time RT-PCR indicated that only single Ig IL-1 receptor related protein (SIGIRR) transcript was consistently altered in culture; however, SIGIRR changes were not observed in enriched microglial fractions from infected brains.
The results from this study indicate that infection of microglia by the highly neurovirulent virus, FrCasE, does not induce overt physiological changes in this cell type when assessed ex vivo. In particular, NV does not induce microglial ER stress and thus, FrCasE-associated CNS ER stress likely results from NV interactions with another cell type or from neurodegeneration directly. The lack of NV-induced microglial gene expression changes suggests that FrCasE either affects properties unique to microglia in situ, alters the expression of microglial genes not represented in this survey, or affects microglial cellular processes at a post-transcriptional level. Alternatively, NV-infected microglia may simply serve as an unaffected conduit for persistent dissemination of virus to other neural cells where they produce acute neuropathogenic effects.
PMCID: PMC1475625  PMID: 16696860
7.  Differential Glycosylation of the Cas-Br-E Env Protein Is Associated with Retrovirus-Induced Spongiform Neurodegeneration 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(3):1558-1565.
The wild mouse ecotropic retrovirus, Cas-Br-E, induces progressive, noninflammatory spongiform neurodegenerative disease in susceptible mice. Functional genetic analysis of the Cas-Br-E genome indicates that neurovirulence maps to the env gene, which encodes the surface glycoprotein responsible for binding and fusion of virus to host cells. To understand how the envelope protein might be involved in the induction of disease, we examined the regional and temporal expression of Cas-Br-E Env protein in the central nervous systems (CNS) of mice infected with the highly neurovirulent chimeric virus FrCasE. We observed that multiple isoforms of Cas-Br-E Env were expressed in the CNS, with different brain regions exhibiting unique patterns of processed Env glycoprotein. Specifically, the expression of gp70 correlated with regions showing microglial infection and spongiform neurodegeneration. In contrast, regions high in neuronal infection and without neurodegenerative changes (the cerebellum and olfactory bulb) were characterized by a gp65 Env protein isoform. Sedimentation analysis of brain region extracts indicated that gp65 rather than gp70 was incorporated into virions. Biochemical analysis of the Cas-Br-E Env isoforms indicated that they result from differential processing of N-linked sugars. Taken together, these results indicate that differential posttranslational modification of the Cas-Br-E Env is associated with a failure to incorporate certain Env isoforms into virions in vivo, suggesting that defective viral assembly may be associated with the induction of spongiform neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC111494  PMID: 10627570
8.  Neural Stem Cells as Engraftable Packaging Lines Can Mediate Gene Delivery to Microglia: Evidence from Studying Retroviral env-Related Neurodegeneration 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(8):6841-6851.
The induction of spongiform myeloencephalopathy by murine leukemia viruses is mediated primarily by infection of central nervous system (CNS) microglia. In this regard, we have previously shown that CasBrE-induced disease requires late, rather than early, virus replication events in microglial cells (W. P. Lynch et al., J. Virol. 70:8896–8907, 1996). Furthermore, neurodegeneration requires the presence of unique sequences within the viral env gene. Thus, the neurodegeneration-inducing events could result from microglial expression of retroviral envelope protein alone or from the interaction of envelope protein with other viral structural proteins in the virus assembly and maturation process. To distinguish between these possible mechanisms of disease induction, we engineered the engraftable neural stem cell line C17-2 into packaging/producer cells in order to deliver the neurovirulent CasBrE env gene to endogenous CNS cells. This strategy resulted in significant CasBrE env expression within CNS microglia without the appearance of replication competent virus. CasBrE envelope expression within microglia was accompanied by increased expression of activation markers F4/80 and Mac-1 (CD11b) but failed to induce spongiform neurodegenerative changes. These results suggest that envelope expression alone within microglia is not sufficient to induce neurodegeneration. Rather, microglia-mediated disease appears to require neurovirulent Env protein interaction with other viral proteins during assembly or maturation. More broadly, the results presented here prove the efficacy of a novel method by which neural stem cell biology may be harnessed for genetically manipulating the CNS, not only for studying neurodegeneration but also as a paradigm for the disseminated distribution of retroviral vector-transduced genes.
PMCID: PMC112769  PMID: 10400782
9.  A Sensitive Nested Reverse Transcriptase PCR Assay To Detect Viable Cells of the Fish Pathogen Renibacterium salmoninarum in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) 
A nested reverse transcriptase (RT) PCR assay detected mRNA of the salmonid pathogen Renibacterium salmoninarum in samples of RNA extracts of between 1 and 10 cells. Total RNA was extracted from cultured bacteria, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) kidney tissue and ovarian fluid seeded with the pathogen, and kidney tissue from both experimentally challenged and commercially raised fish. Following DNase treatment, extracted RNA was amplified by both RT PCR and PCR by using primers specific for the gene encoding the major protein antigen of R. salmoninarum. A 349-bp amplicon was detected by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and silver stain. Inactivation of cultured bacteria by rifampin or erythromycin produced a loss of nested RT PCR mRNA detection corresponding to a loss of bacterial cell viability determined from plate counts but no loss of DNA detection by PCR. In subclinically diseased fish, nested RT PCR identified similar levels of infected fish as determined by viable pathogen culture. Higher percentages of fish testing positive were generated by PCR, particularly in samples from fish previously subjected to antibiotic chemotherapy where 93% were PCR positive, but only 7% were nested RT PCR and culture positive. PCR can generate false-positive data from amplification of target DNA from nonviable pathogen cells. Therefore, nested RT PCR may prove useful for monitoring cultured Atlantic salmon for the presence of viable R. salmoninarum within a useful time frame, particularly samples from broodstock where antibiotic chemotherapy is used prior to spawning to reduce vertical pathogen transmission.
PMCID: PMC91454  PMID: 10388701
10.  Quality of life valuations of HPV-associated cancer health states by the general population 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2012;88(7):517-521.
To obtain health-related quality of life valuations (ie, utilities) for human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancer health states of vulval, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancers for use in modelling cost-effectiveness of prophylactic HPV vaccination.
Written case descriptions of each HPV-associated cancer describing the ‘average’ patient surviving after the initial cancer diagnosis and treatment were developed in consultation with oncology clinicians. A general overview, standard gamble questionnaire for each health state and a quiz was conducted in 120 participants recruited from the general population.
In the included population sample (n=99), the average age was 43 years (range = 18–70 years) with 54% men, 44% never married/43% married, 76% education beyond year 12 and 39% employed full-time. The utility values for the five health states were 0.57 (95% CI 0.52 to 0.62) for anal cancer, 0.58 (0.53 to 0.63) for oropharyngeal cancer, 0.59 (0.54 to 0.64) for vaginal cancer, 0.65 (0.60 to 0.70) for vulval cancer and 0.79 (0.74 to 0.84) for penile cancer. Participants demonstrated a very good understanding of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of these cancers with a mean score of 9 (SD=1.1) on a 10-item quiz.
This study provides utility estimates for the specific HPV-related cancers of vulval, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancers valued by a general population sample using standard gamble. The results demonstrate considerable quality of life impact associated with surviving these cancers that will be important to incorporate into modelling cost-effectiveness of prophylactic HPV vaccination in different populations.
PMCID: PMC3595496  PMID: 22645393
Anogenital cancer; HPV; attitudes; oncology; oral cavity; oral sex; vaccination

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