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1.  Visualizing Vpr-Induced G2 Arrest and Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86840.
Vpr is an accessory protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) with multiple functions. The induction of G2 arrest by Vpr plays a particularly important role in efficient viral replication because the transcriptional activity of the HIV-1 long terminal repeat is most active in G2 phase. The regulation of apoptosis by Vpr is also important for immune suppression and pathogenesis during HIV infection. However, it is not known whether Vpr-induced apoptosis depends on the ability of Vpr to induce G2 arrest, and the dynamics of Vpr-induced G2 arrest and apoptosis have not been visualized. We performed time-lapse imaging to examine the temporal relationship between Vpr-induced G2 arrest and apoptosis using HeLa cells containing the fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator2 (Fucci2). The dynamics of G2 arrest and subsequent long-term mitotic cell rounding in cells transfected with the Vpr-expression vector were visualized. These cells underwent nuclear mis-segregation after prolonged mitotic processes and then entered G1 phase. Some cells subsequently displayed evidence of apoptosis after prolonged mitotic processes and nuclear mis-segregation. Interestingly, Vpr-induced apoptosis was seldom observed in S or G2 phase. Likewise, visualization of synchronized HeLa/Fucci2 cells infected with an adenoviral vector expressing Vpr clearly showed that Vpr arrests the cell cycle at G2 phase, but does not induce apoptosis at S or G2 phase. Furthermore, time-lapse imaging of HeLa/Fucci2 cells expressing SCAT3.1, a caspase-3-sensitive fusion protein, clearly demonstrated that Vpr induces caspase-3-dependent apoptosis. Finally, to examine whether the effects of Vpr on G2 arrest and apoptosis were reversible, we performed live-cell imaging of a destabilizing domain fusion Vpr, which enabled rapid stabilization and destabilization by Shield1. The effects of Vpr on G2 arrest and subsequent apoptosis were reversible. This study is the first to characterize the dynamics of the morphological changes that occur during Vpr-induced G2 arrest and apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3899331  PMID: 24466265
2.  Mechanisms of pathogenesis induced by bovine leukemia virus as a model for human T-cell leukemia virus 
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) make up a unique retrovirus family. Both viruses induce chronic lymphoproliferative diseases with BLV affecting the B-cell lineage and HTLV-1 affecting the T-cell lineage. The pathologies of BLV- and HTLV-induced infections are notably similar, with an absence of chronic viraemia and a long latency period. These viruses encode at least two regulatory proteins, namely, Tax and Rex, in the pX region located between the env gene and the 3′ long terminal repeat. The Tax protein is a key contributor to the oncogenic potential of the virus, and is also the key protein involved in viral replication. However, BLV infection is not sufficient for leukemogenesis, and additional events such as gene mutations must take place. In this review, we first summarize the similarities between the two viruses in terms of genomic organization, virology, and pathology. We then describe the current knowledge of the BLV model, which may also be relevant for the understanding of leukemogenesis caused by HTLV-1. In addition, we address our improved understanding of Tax functions through the newly identified BLV Tax mutants, which have a substitution between amino acids 240 and 265.
PMCID: PMC3820957  PMID: 24265629
BLV; HTLV-1; EBL; B-cell lymphoma; Tax; leukemogensis; transactivation; apoptosis
4.  Estimation of bovine leukemia virus (BLV) proviral load harbored by lymphocyte subpopulations in BLV-infected cattle at the subclinical stage of enzootic bovine leucosis using BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR 
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is associated with enzootic bovine leukosis (EBL), which is the most common neoplastic disease of cattle. BLV infection may remain clinically silent at the aleukemic (AL) stage, cause persistent lymphocytosis (PL), or, more rarely, B cell lymphoma. BLV has been identified in B cells, CD2+ T cells, CD3+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, γ/δ T cells, monocytes, and granulocytes in infected cattle that do not have tumors, although the most consistently infected cell is the CD5+ B cell. The mechanism by which BLV causes uncontrolled CD5+ B cell proliferation is unknown. Recently, we developed a new quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR, which enabled us to demonstrate that the proviral load correlates not only with BLV infection, as assessed by syncytium formation, but also with BLV disease progression. The present study reports the distribution of BLV provirus in peripheral blood mononuclear cell subpopulations isolated from BLV-infected cows at the subclinical stage of EBL as examined by cell sorting and BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR.
Phenotypic characterization of five BLV-infected but clinically normal cattle with a proviral load of > 100 copies per 1 × 105 cells identified a high percentage of CD5+ IgM+ cells (but not CD5- IgM+ B cells, CD4+ T cells, or CD8+T cells). These lymphocyte subpopulations were purified from three out of five cattle by cell sorting or using magnetic beads, and the BLV proviral load was estimated using BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR. The CD5+ IgM+ B cell population in all animals harbored a higher BLV proviral load than the other cell populations. The copy number of proviruses infecting CD5- IgM+ B cells, CD4+ cells, and CD8+ T cells (per 1 ml of blood) was 1/34 to 1/4, 1/22 to 1/3, and 1/31 to 1/3, respectively, compared with that in CD5+ IgM+ B cells. Moreover, the BLV provirus remained integrated into the genomic DNA of CD5+ IgM+ B cells, CD5- IgM+ B cells, CD4+ T cells, and CD8+ T cells, even in BLV-infected cattle with a proviral load of <100 copies per 105 cells.
The results of the recent study showed that, although CD5+ IgM+ B cells were the main cell type targeted in BLV-infected but clinically normal cattle, CD5- IgM+ B cells, CD4+ cells, and CD8+ T cells were infected to a greater extent than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3648496  PMID: 23641811
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV); Proviral load; BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR; CD5+IgM+ B cell; Cell sorting; Flow cytometry
5.  The pH-Sensitive Fusogenic 3-Methyl-Glutarylated Hyperbranched Poly(Glycidol)-Conjugated Liposome Induces Antigen-Specific Cellular and Humoral Immunity 
We examined the ability of a novel liposome, surface modified by 3-methyl-glutarylated hyperbranched poly(glycidol) (MGlu-HPG), to enhance antigen-specific immunity in vitro and in vivo and to function as a vaccine carrier. Murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells took up ovalbumin (OVA) encapsulated in MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes more effectively than free OVA or OVA encapsulated in unmodified liposomes. Immunization of mice with OVA-containing MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes induced antigen-specific splenocyte proliferation and production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) more strongly than did immunization with free OVA or OVA encapsulated in unmodified liposomes. The immune responses induced by OVA encapsulated in MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes were significantly suppressed by addition of anti-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II monoclonal antibodies, indicating the involvement of antigen presentation via MHC class I and II. Furthermore, delayed-type hypersensitivity responses and OVA-specific antibodies were induced more effectively in mice immunized with OVA encapsulated by MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes than with unencapsulated OVA or OVA encapsulated in unmodified liposomes. These results suggested that MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes effectively induced both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses. Collectively, this study is the first to demonstrate the induction of both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses in vivo by MGlu-HPG-modified liposomes.
PMCID: PMC3428382  PMID: 22815149
6.  Importin α3/Qip1 Is Involved in Multiplication of Mutant Influenza Virus with Alanine Mutation at Amino Acid 9 Independently of Nuclear Transport Function 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55765.
The nucleoprotein (NP) of influenza A virus is transported into the nucleus via the classical importin α/β pathway, and proceeds via nuclear localization signals (NLSs) recognized by importin α molecules. Although NP binds to importin α isoforms Rch1, Qip1 and NPI-1, the role of each individual isoform during the nuclear transport of NP and replication of the influenza virus remains unknown. In this study, we examined the contribution of importin α isoforms for nuclear localization of NP and viral growth using a panel of NP mutants containing serial alanine replacements within an unconventional NLS of NP. Alanine mutation at amino acid 8 (R8A) caused a significant reduction in the nuclear localization and binding to the three importin isoforms. The R8A NP mutant virus did not generate by reverse-genetics approach. This indicates that position 8 is the main site that mediates nuclear localization via interactions with Rch1, Qip1 and NPI-1, and subsequent viral production. This was confirmed by the finding that the conservation of amino acid 8 in human- and avian-origin influenza virus NP was necessary for virus propagation. By contrast, another mutant, S9A NP, which localized in the nucleus, caused a reduction in viral growth and vRNA transcription, suggesting that the unconventional NLS within NP may be associated with nuclear transport, vRNA transcription and viral replication through independent pathways. Interestingly, the N-terminal 110-amino acid region, which contained the unconventional NLS with S9A mutation, mainly bound to Qip1. Furthermore, activities of vRNA transcription and replication of S9A NP mutants were decreased by silencing Qip1 in without changing nuclear localization, indicating that Qip1 involves in multiplication of S9A mutant virus independently of nuclear transport function. Collectively, our results demonstrate the unconventional NLS within NP might have the additional ability to regulate the viral replication that is independent of nuclear localization activity via interactions with Qip1.
PMCID: PMC3559588  PMID: 23383277
7.  Positively charged cholesterol–recombinant human gelatins foster the cellular uptake of proteins and murine immune reactions 
Recombinant human gelatins with defined molecular weights were modified with cholesterol to make them amphiphilic in nature. We investigated the feasibility of these modified human gelatins acting as a carrier of antigenic proteins for inducing cellular immunity. The aim of this study was to synthesize novel and effective compounds for vaccine delivery in vivo.
Two types of cholesterol-modified gelatin micelles, anionic cholesterol-modified gelatin (aCMG) and cationic-cholesterol modified gelatin (cCMG), were synthesized using different cholesterol derivatives such as the cholesterol-isocyanate (Ch-I) for aCMG and amino-modified cholesterol for cCMG. One was anionic and the other cationic, and therefore they differed in terms of their zeta potential. The aCMG and cCMG were characterized for their size, zeta potential, and in their ability to form micelles. Cytotoxicity was also evaluated. The modified human gelatins were then investigated as a carrier of antigenic proteins for inducing cellular immunity both in vitro in DC 2.4 cells, a murine dendritic cell line, as well as in vivo. The mechanism of entry of the polymeric micelles into the cells was also evaluated.
It was found that only cCMG successfully complexed with the model antigenic protein, fluorescein-isothiocyanate ovalbumin (OVA) and efficiently delivered and processed proteins in DC 2.4 cells. It was hypothesized that cCMG enter the cells predominantly by a caveolae-mediated pathway that required tyrosine kinase receptors on the cell surface. Animal testing using mice showed that the cationic cholesterol-modified gelatin complexed with OVA produced significantly high antibody titers against OVA: 2580-fold higher than in mice immunized with free OVA.
Conclusively, cCMG has shown to be very effective in stimulating an immune response due to its high efficiency, stability, and negligible cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3471541  PMID: 23091385
recombinant human gelatin; cholesterol; micelle; protein delivery; caveolae pathway; receptor-mediated endocytosis
8.  BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR: a useful tool for evaluating bovine leukemia virus infection status 
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is associated with enzootic bovine leukosis, which is the most common neoplastic disease of cattle. BLV infects cattle worldwide, imposing a severe economic impact on the dairy cattle industry. Recently, we developed a new quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method using Coordination of Common Motifs (CoCoMo) primers to measure the proviral load of known and novel BLV variants in BLV-infected animals. Indeed, the assay was highly effective in detecting BLV in cattle from a range of international locations. This assay enabled us to demonstrate that proviral load correlates not only with BLV infection capacity as assessed by syncytium formation, but also with BLV disease progression. In this study, we compared the sensitivity of our BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR method for detecting BLV proviruses with the sensitivities of two real-time PCR systems, and also determined the differences of proviral load with serotests.
BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR was found to be highly sensitive when compared with the real-time PCR-based TaqMan MGB assay developed by Lew et al. and the commercial TaKaRa cycleave PCR system. The BLV copy number determined by BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR was only partially correlated with the positive rate for anti-BLV antibody as determined by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, passive hemagglutination reaction, or agar gel immunodiffusion. This result indicates that, although serotests are widely used for the diagnosis of BLV infection, it is difficult to detect BLV infection with confidence by using serological tests alone. Two cattle were experimentally infected with BLV. The kinetics of the provirus did not precisely correlate with the change in anti-BLV antibody production. Moreover, both reactions were different in cattle that carried different bovine leukocyte antigen (BoLA)-DRB3 genotypes.
Our results suggest that the quantitative measurement of proviral load by BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR is useful tool for evaluating the progression of BLV-induced disease. BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR allows us to monitor the spread of BLV infection in different viewpoint compared with classical serotest.
PMCID: PMC3489618  PMID: 22995575
Bovine leukemia virus; Real-time PCR; Proviral load; Serological test; Experimental infection
9.  Visualizing spatiotemporal dynamics of apoptosis after G1 arrest by human T cell leukemia virus type 1 Tax and insights into gene expression changes using microarray-based gene expression analysis 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:275.
Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Tax is a potent activator of viral and cellular gene expression that interacts with a number of cellular proteins. Many reports show that Tax is capable of regulating cell cycle progression and apoptosis both positively and negatively. However, it still remains to understand why the Tax oncoprotein induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, or whether Tax-induced apoptosis is dependent upon its ability to induce G1 arrest. The present study used time-lapse imaging to explore the spatiotemporal patterns of cell cycle dynamics in Tax-expressing HeLa cells containing the fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator, Fucci2. A large-scale host cell gene profiling approach was also used to identify the genes involved in Tax-mediated cell signaling events related to cellular proliferation and apoptosis.
Tax-expressing apoptotic cells showed a rounded morphology and detached from the culture dish after cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase. Thus, it appears that Tax induces apoptosis through pathways identical to those involved in G1 arrest. To elucidate the mechanism(s) by which Tax induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, regulation of host cellular genes by Tax was analyzed using a microarray containing approximately 18,400 human mRNA transcripts. Seventeen genes related to cell cycle regulation were identified as being up or downregulated > 2.0-fold in Tax-expressing cells. Several genes, including SMAD3, JUN, GADD45B, DUSP1 and IL8, were involved in cellular proliferation, responses to cellular stress and DNA damage, or inflammation and immune responses. Additionally, 23 pro- and anti-apoptotic genes were deregulated by Tax, including TNFAIP3, TNFRS9, BIRC3 and IL6. Furthermore, the kinetics of IL8, SMAD3, CDKN1A, GADD45A, GADD45B and IL6 expression were altered following the induction of Tax, and correlated closely with the morphological changes observed by time-lapse imaging.
Taken together, the results of this study permit a greater understanding of the biological events affected by HTLV-1 Tax, particularly the regulation of cellular proliferation and apoptosis. Importantly, this study is the first to demonstrate the dynamics of morphological changes during Tax-induced apoptosis after cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase.
PMCID: PMC3537563  PMID: 22726420
10.  Identification of bovine leukemia virus tax function associated with host cell transcription, signaling, stress response and immune response pathway by microarray-based gene expression analysis 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:121.
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is associated with enzootic bovine leukosis and is closely related to human T-cell leukemia virus type I. The Tax protein of BLV is a transcriptional activator of viral replication and a key contributor to oncogenic potential. We previously identified interesting mutant forms of Tax with elevated (TaxD247G) or reduced (TaxS240P) transactivation effects on BLV replication and propagation. However, the effects of these mutations on functions other than transcriptional activation are unknown. In this study, to identify genes that play a role in the cascade of signal events regulated by wild-type and mutant Tax proteins, we used a large-scale host cell gene-profiling approach.
Using a microarray containing approximately 18,400 human mRNA transcripts, we found several alterations after the expression of Tax proteins in genes involved in many cellular functions such as transcription, signal transduction, cell growth, apoptosis, stress response, and immune response, indicating that Tax protein has multiple biological effects on various cellular environments. We also found that TaxD247G strongly regulated more genes involved in transcription, signal transduction, and cell growth functions, contrary to TaxS240P, which regulated fewer genes. In addition, the expression of genes related to stress response significantly increased in the presence of TaxS240P as compared to wild-type Tax and TaxD247G. By contrast, the largest group of downregulated genes was related to immune response, and the majority of these genes belonged to the interferon family. However, no significant difference in the expression level of downregulated genes was observed among the Tax proteins. Finally, the expression of important cellular factors obtained from the human microarray results were validated at the RNA and protein levels by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and western blotting, respectively, after transfecting Tax proteins into bovine cells and human HeLa cells.
A comparative analysis of wild-type and mutant Tax proteins indicates that Tax protein exerts a significant impact on cellular functions as diverse as transcription, signal transduction, cell growth, stress response and immune response. Importantly, our study is the first report that shows the extent to which BLV Tax regulates the innate immune response.
PMCID: PMC3441221  PMID: 22455445
11.  The 5′ Flanking Region and Intron1 of the Bovine Prion Protein Gene (PRNP) Are Responsible for Negative Feedback Regulation of the Prion Protein 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32870.
Transcription factors regulate gene expression by controlling the transcription rate. Some genes can repress their own expression to prevent over production of the corresponding protein, although the mechanism and significance of this negative feedback regulation remains unclear. In the present study, we describe negative feedback regulation of the bovine prion protein (PrP) gene PRNP in Japanese Black cattle. The PrP-expressing plasmid pEF-boPrP and luciferase-expressing plasmids containing the partial promoter fragment of PRNP incorporating naturally occurring single-nucleotide or insertion/deletion polymorphisms were transfected into N2a cells. Transfection of pEF-boPrP induced PrP overexpression and decreased the promoter activity of PRNP in the wild-type haplotype (23-bp Del, 12-bp Del, and −47C). Reporter gene assays further demonstrated that the 12- and 23-bp Ins/Del polymorphisms, which are thought to be associated with Sp1 (Specific protein 1) and RP58 (Repressor Protein with a predicted molecular mass of 58 kDa), in intron1 and the upstream region, respectively, and an additional polymorphism (−47C→A) in the Sp1-binding site responded differently to PrP overexpression. With the −47C SNP, the presence of the Del in either the 23-bp Ins/Del or the 12-bp Ins/Del allele was essential for the negative feedback caused by PrP overexpression. Furthermore, deletion mutants derived from the wild-type haplotype showed that nucleotides −315 to +2526, which include the 5′-flanking region and exon1, were essential for the response. These results indicate that certain negative feedback response elements are located in these sequences, suggesting that regulation by transcription factors such as Sp1 and RP58 may contribute to the negative feedback mechanism of PRNP.
PMCID: PMC3296761  PMID: 22412936
12.  Nuclear Exportin Receptor CAS Regulates the NPI-1–Mediated Nuclear Import of HIV-1 Vpr 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27815.
Vpr, an accessory protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1, is a multifunctional protein that plays an important role in viral replication. We have previously shown that the region between residues 17 and 74 of Vpr (VprN17C74) contained a bona fide nuclear localization signal and it is targeted VprN17C74 to the nuclear envelope and then imported into the nucleus by importin α (Impα) alone. The interaction between Impα and Vpr is important not only for the nuclear import of Vpr but also for HIV-1 replication in macrophages; however, it was unclear whether full-length Vpr enters the nucleus in a manner similar to VprN17C74. This study investigated the nuclear import of full-length Vpr using the three typical Impα isoforms, Rch1, Qip1 and NPI-1, and revealed that full-length Vpr is selectively imported by NPI-1, but not Rch1 and Qip1, after it makes contact with the perinuclear region in digitonin-permeabilized cells. A binding assay using the three Impα isoforms showed that Vpr bound preferentially to the ninth armadillo repeat (ARM) region (which is also essential for the binding of CAS, the export receptor for Impα) in all three isoforms. Comparison of biochemical binding affinities between Vpr and the Impα isoforms using surface plasmon resonance analysis demonstrated almost identical values for the binding of Vpr to the full-length isoforms and to their C-terminal domains. By contrast, the data showed that, in the presence of CAS, Vpr was released from the Vpr/NPI-1 complex but was not released from Rch1 or Qip1. Finally, the NPI-1–mediated nuclear import of Vpr was greatly reduced in semi-intact CAS knocked-down cells and was recovered by the addition of exogenous CAS. This report is the first to show the requirement for and the regulation of CAS in the functioning of the Vpr-Impα complex.
PMCID: PMC3218035  PMID: 22110766
17.  BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR: Quantitation of bovine leukemia virus proviral load using the CoCoMo algorithm 
Retrovirology  2010;7:91.
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is closely related to human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV) and is the etiological agent of enzootic bovine leukosis, a disease characterized by a highly extended course that often involves persistent lymphocytosis and culminates in B-cell lymphomas. BLV provirus remains integrated in cellular genomes, even in the absence of detectable BLV antibodies. Therefore, to understand the mechanism of BLV-induced leukemogenesis and carry out the selection of BLV-infected animals, a detailed evaluation of changes in proviral load throughout the course of disease in BLV-infected cattle is required. The aim of this study was to develop a new quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method using Coordination of Common Motifs (CoCoMo) primers to measure the proviral load of known and novel BLV variants in clinical animals.
Degenerate primers were designed from 52 individual BLV long terminal repeat (LTR) sequences identified from 356 BLV sequences in GenBank using the CoCoMo algorithm, which has been developed specifically for the detection of multiple virus species. Among 72 primer sets from 49 candidate primers, the most specific primer set was selected for detection of BLV LTR by melting curve analysis after real-time PCR amplification. An internal BLV TaqMan probe was used to enhance the specificity and sensitivity of the assay, and a parallel amplification of a single-copy host gene (the bovine leukocyte antigen DRA gene) was used to normalize genomic DNA. The assay is highly specific, sensitive, quantitative and reproducible, and was able to detect BLV in a number of samples that were negative using the previously developed nested PCR assay. The assay was also highly effective in detecting BLV in cattle from a range of international locations. Finally, this assay enabled us to demonstrate that proviral load correlates not only with BLV infection capacity as assessed by syncytium formation, but also with BLV disease progression.
Using our newly developed BLV-CoCoMo-qPCR assay, we were able to detect a wide range of mutated BLV viruses. CoCoMo algorithm may be a useful tool to design degenerate primers for quantification of proviral load for other retroviruses including HTLV and human immunodeficiency virus type 1.
PMCID: PMC2988707  PMID: 21044304
18.  The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vpr protein and its carboxy-terminally truncated form induce apoptosis in tumor cells 
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) accessory protein Vpr induces apoptosis after cell cycle arrest at the G2 phase in primate cells. We have reported previously that C81, a carboxy-terminally truncated form of Vpr, interferes with cell proliferation and results in apoptosis without G2 arrest. Here, we investigated whether this property of Vpr and C81 could be exploited for use as a potential anticancer agent. First, we demonstrated that C81 induced G1 arrest and apoptosis in all tumor cells tested. In contrast, Vpr resulted in G2 arrest and apoptosis in HeLa and 293 T cells. Vpr also suppressed the damaged-DNA-specific binding protein 1 (DDB1) in HepG2 cells, thereby inducing apoptosis without G2 arrest. G2 arrest was restored when DDB1 was overexpressed in cells that also expressed Vpr. Surprisingly, C81 induced G2 arrest when DDB1 was overexpressed in HepG2 cells, but not in HeLa or 293 T cells. Thus, the induction of Vpr- and C81-mediated cell cycle arrest appears to depend on the cell type, whereas apoptosis was observed in all tumor cells tested. Overall, Vpr and C81 have potential as novel therapeutic agents for treatment of cancer.
PMCID: PMC2735735  PMID: 19674438
19.  Novel Nuclear Import of Vpr Promoted by Importin α Is Crucial for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Replication in Macrophages▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(10):5284-5293.
Monocytes/macrophages are major targets of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. The viral preintegration complex (PIC) of HIV-1 enters the nuclei of monocyte-derived macrophages, but very little PIC migrates into the nuclei of immature monocytes. Vpr, one of the accessory gene products of HIV-1, is essential for the nuclear import of PIC in these cells, although the role of Vpr in the entry mechanism of PIC remains to be clarified. We have shown previously that Vpr is targeted to the nuclear envelope and then transported into the nucleus by importin α alone, in an importin β-independent manner. Here we demonstrate that the nuclear import of Vpr is strongly promoted by the addition of cytoplasmic extract from macrophages but not of that from monocytes and that the nuclear import activity is lost with immunodepletion of importin α from the cytoplasmic extract. Immunoblot analysis and real-time PCR demonstrate that immature monocytes express importin α at low levels, whereas the expression of three major importin α isoforms markedly increases upon their differentiation into macrophages, indicating that the expression of importin α is required for nuclear import of Vpr. Furthermore, interaction between importin α and the N-terminal α-helical domain of Vpr is indispensable, not only for the nuclear import of Vpr but also for HIV-1 replication in macrophages. This study suggests the possibility that the binding of Vpr to importin α, preceding a novel nuclear import process, is a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC1900242  PMID: 17344301
20.  DNA Vaccine Construct Incorporating Intercellular Trafficking and Intracellular Targeting Motifs Effectively Primes and Induces Memory B- and T-Cell Responses in Outbred Animals▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2007;14(3):304-311.
We developed a vaccine construct in which a BVP22 domain and an invariant-chain major histocompatibility complex class II-targeting motif capable of enhancing dendritic cell antigen uptake and presentation were fused to a sequence encoding a B- and T-cell antigen from the Anaplasma marginale major surface protein 1a and tested whether this construct would prime and expand immune responses in outbred calves. A single inoculation with this construct effectively primed the immune responses, as demonstrated by a significant enhancement of CD4+ T-cell proliferation compared to that in calves identically inoculated but inoculated with a DNA construct lacking the targeting domains and compared to that in calves inoculated with an empty vector. These proliferative responses were mirrored by priming and expansion of gamma interferon-positive CD4+ T cells and immunoglobulin G responses against the linked B-cell epitope. Priming by the single immunization induced memory that underwent rapid recall following reexposure to the antigen. These results demonstrate that DNA vaccines targeting key intercellular and intracellular events significantly enhance priming and expansion and support the feasibility of single-dose DNA immunization in outbred populations.
PMCID: PMC1828862  PMID: 17215335
21.  Importin-α Promotes Passage through the Nuclear Pore Complex of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Vpr 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(6):3557-3564.
Viral protein R (Vpr) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 has potent karyophilic properties, but details of the mechanism by which it enters the nucleus remain to be clarified. We reported previously that two regions, located between residues 17 and 34 (αH1) and between residues 46 and 74 (αH2), are indispensable for the nuclear localization of Vpr. Here, we reveal that a chimeric protein composed of the nuclear localization signal of Vpr, glutathione S-transferase, and green fluorescent protein was localized at the nuclear envelope and then entered the nucleus upon addition of importin-α. An in vitro transport assay using a series of derivatives of importin-α demonstrated that the carboxyl terminus was required for this nuclear import process. We also showed that Vpr interacts with importin-α through αH1 and αH2; only the interaction via αH1 is indispensable for the nuclear entry of Vpr. These observations indicate that importin-α functions as a mediator for the nuclear entry of Vpr.
PMCID: PMC1075686  PMID: 15731250
22.  Latency of Viral Expression In Vivo Is Not Related to CpG Methylation in the U3 Region and Part of the R Region of the Long Terminal Repeat of Bovine Leukemia Virus 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(7):4423-4430.
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is silent in most cells detectable in vivo, and the repression of its expression allows BLV to evade the host's immune response. In this study, we examined whether CpG methylation of DNA might be involved in the regulation of the expression of BLV in vivo. To investigate the effects of CpG methylation on the activity of the long terminal repeat (LTR) of BLV, we measured the transactivation activity of this region after treatment with the CpG methyltransferase SssI by using a luciferase reporter system. The activity of methylated LTR was significantly lower than that of nonmethylated LTR. Therefore, we examined the extent of CpG methylation of the U3 region and part of the R region of the LTR in BLV-infected cattle and in experimentally BLV-infected sheep at various clinical stages by the bisulfite genomic sequencing method. We detected no or minimal CpG methylation at all stages examined in cattle and sheep, and our results indicate that CpG methylation probably does not participate in the silencing of BLV in vivo.
PMCID: PMC150652  PMID: 12634400
23.  A Mutant Form of the Tax Protein of Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV), with Enhanced Transactivation Activity, Increases Expression and Propagation of BLV In Vitro but Not In Vivo 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(3):1894-1903.
In a previous study, we identified an interesting mutant form of the Tax protein of bovine leukemia virus (BLV), designated D247G. This mutant protein strongly transactivated the long terminal repeat of BLV and was also able to transactivate the cellular proto-oncogene c-fos. This finding suggested that BLV that encode the mutant protein might propagate and induce lymphoma more efficiently than wild-type BLV. To characterize the effects of the strong transactivation activity of the mutant Tax protein, we constructed an infectious molecular clone of BLV that encoded D247G and examined the replication and propagation of the virus in vitro and in vivo. Cultured cells were transfected with the wild-type and mutant BLV, and then levels of viral proteins and particles and the propagation of viruses were compared. As expected, in vitro, mutant BLV produced more viral proteins and particles and was transmitted very effectively. We injected the wild-type and mutant BLV into sheep, which are easily infected with BLV, and monitored the proportion of BLV-positive cells in the blood and the expression of BLV RNA for 28 weeks. By contrast to the results of our analyses in vitro, we found no significant difference in the viral load or the expression of viral RNA between sheep inoculated with wild-type or mutant BLV. Our observations indicate that the mutant D247G Tax protein does not enhance the expansion of BLV and that there might be a dominant mechanism for regulation of the expression of BLV in vivo.
PMCID: PMC140974  PMID: 12525624
24.  Mutant Tax Protein from Bovine Leukemia Virus with Enhanced Ability To Activate the Expression of c-fos 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(5):2557-2562.
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is the etiologic agent of enzootic bovine leukosis. We previously identified several mutants of the BLV Tax protein with an ability to transactivate transcription via the BLV enhancer that is significantly greater than that of the wild-type Tax protein. Moreover, the mutant proteins also activated other viral enhancers, such as the enhancer of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, which cannot be activated by wild-type BLV Tax. In this study, we demonstrated that the mutant proteins but not wild-type protein activate the upstream sequence of the human c-fos gene, which contains two major cis-acting elements, the CArG box and cyclic AMP-responsive element (CRE) motif. The mutant protein also strongly increased levels of endogenous c-fos mRNA in both human and bovine cell lines. On the other hand, the wild-type Tax protein has no activity to activate the expression of human c-fos, indicating that wild-type BLV Tax might discriminate between human and bovine c-fos promoter sequences. Deletion and point-mutational analysis of the cis-acting elements revealed that both the CArG box and the CRE motif were indispensable for the activation of c-fos by the mutant BLV Tax protein. Our results suggest that the mutant BLV Tax proteins might not only have the ability to enhance the production of virus particles but might also have increased ability to induce leukemia.
PMCID: PMC135937  PMID: 11836435
25.  The Region between Amino Acids 245 and 265 of the Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) Tax Protein Restricts Transactivation Not Only via the BLV Enhancer but Also via Other Retrovirus Enhancers 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(23):10939-10949.
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is associated with enzootic bovine leukosis and is closely related to human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). The Tax protein of BLV acts through the 5′ long terminal repeat (LTR) of BLV and activates the transcription of BLV. In this study, we amplified tax genes from BLV-infected cattle using PCR. We cloned the genes and monitored the transcriptional activities of the products. Seven independent mutant Tax proteins, with at least one amino acid substitution between residues 240 and 265, exhibited a markedly stronger ability to stimulate the viral LTR-directed transcription than the wild-type Tax protein. Analysis of chimeric Tax proteins derived from wild-type and mutant Tax proteins clearly demonstrated that a single substitution between residue 240 and 265 might be critical for the higher activities of the Tax mutant proteins. Furthermore, it appeared that transient expression of a Tax mutant protein was better able to increase the production of viral proteins and particles from a defective recombinant proviral clone of BLV than was wild-type Tax. Analysis of mutations within the U3 region of the LTR revealed that a cyclic AMP-responsive element in Tax-responsive element 2 might be sufficient for the enhanced activation mediated by the mutant proteins. In addition to the LTR of BLV, other viral enhancers, such as the enhancers of HTLV-1 and of mouse mammary tumor virus, which cannot be activated by wild-type BLV Tax protein, were activated by a Tax mutant protein. Our observations suggest that the transactivation activity and target sequence specificity of BLV Tax might be limited or negatively regulated by the region of the protein between amino acids 240 and 265.
PMCID: PMC113173  PMID: 11069988

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