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1.  The Kinase Inhibitory Region of SOCS-1 is Sufficient to Inhibit T-helper 17 and other Immune Functions in Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis 
Journal of neuroimmunology  2010;232(1-2):108-118.
Suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) negatively regulate the immune response, primarily by interfering with the JAK/STAT pathway. We have developed a small peptide corresponding to the kinase inhibitory region (KIR) sequence of SOCS-1, SOCS1-KIR, which inhibits kinase activity by binding to the activation loop of tyrosine kinases such as JAK2 and TYK2. Treatment of SJL/J mice with SOCS1-KIR beginning 12 days post-immunization with myelin basic protein (MBP) resulted in minimal symptoms of EAE, while most control treated mice developed paraplegia. SOCS1-KIR treatment suppressed interleukin-17A (IL-17A) production by MBP-specific lymphocytes, as well as MBP-induced lymphocyte proliferation. When treated with IL-23, a key cytokine in the terminal differentiation of IL-17-producing cells, MBP-sensitized cells produced IL-17A and IFNγ; SOCS1-KIR was able to inhibit the production of these cytokines. SOCS1-KIR also blocked IL-23 and IL-17A activation of STAT3. There is a deficiency of SOCS-1 and SOCS-3 mRNA expression in CD4+ T cells that infiltrate the CNS, reflecting a deficiency in regulation. Consistent with therapeutic efficacy, SOCS1-KIR reversed the cellular infiltration of the CNS that is associated with EAE. We have shown here that a SOCS-1 like effect can be obtained with a small functional region of the SOCS-1 protein that is easily produced.
PMCID: PMC3053067  PMID: 21131060
suppressors of cytokine signaling; experimental allergic encephalomyelitis; multiple sclerosis; mimetic peptide
2.  Differential expression and potential role of SOCS1 and SOCS3 in Wallerian degeneration in injured peripheral nerve 
Experimental neurology  2009;223(1):173-182.
Pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines play an important role in Wallerian degeneration (WD) after peripheral nerve injury. These pro-inflammatory signals are “turned-off” in a timely manner to ensure that the inflammatory response in the injured nerve is limited. The factors that regulate the turning-off of the pro-inflammatory state are not fully understood. The suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) proteins are potential candidates that could limit the inflammatory response by acting to regulate cytokine signaling at the intracellular level. In this work we show that the expression SOCS1 and SOCS3 proteins differ from each other during WD in the mouse sciatic nerve after cut/ligation and crush injuries. SOCS1 is mainly expressed by macrophages and its expression is inversely correlated with phosphorylation of JAK2 and STAT3 signaling proteins and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNFα. In addition, treatment of cut/ligated nerves, which express lower levels of SOCS1 as compared to crush injury, with a SOCS1 mimetic peptide leads to a decrease in macrophage numbers at 14 days post-injury and reduces IL-1β mRNA expression 1 day post-injury. In contrast, SOCS3 expression is restricted mainly to Schwann cells and is negatively correlated with the expression of IL-6 and LIF. These data suggest that SOCS1 and SOCS3 may play different roles in WD and provide a better understanding of some of the potential regulatory mechanisms that may control inflammation and regeneration in the injured peripheral nerve.
PMCID: PMC2849922  PMID: 19576891
SOCS; Macrophage; Cytokine; Inflammation; Wallerian degeneration; Peripheral nerve
3.  Beneficial effects of secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor after spinal cord injury 
Brain  2009;133(1):126-138.
Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor is a serine protease inhibitor produced by various cell types, including neutrophils and activated macrophages, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to promote wound healing in the skin and other non-neural tissues, however, its role in central nervous system injury was not known. We now report a beneficial role for secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor after spinal cord injury. After spinal cord contusion injury in mice, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor is expressed primarily by astrocytes and neutrophils but not macrophages. We show, using transgenic mice over-expressing secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, that this molecule has an early protective effect after spinal cord contusion injury. Furthermore, wild-type mice treated for the first week after spinal cord contusion injury with recombinant secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor exhibit sustained improvement in locomotor control and reduced secondary tissue damage. Recombinant secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor injected intraperitoneally localizes to the nucleus of circulating leukocytes, is detected in the injured spinal cord, reduces activation of nuclear factor-κB and expression of tumour necrosis factor-α. Administration of recombinant secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor might therefore be useful for the treatment of acute spinal cord injury.
PMCID: PMC2801328  PMID: 20047904
spinal cord injury; neuroinflammation; wound healing; neutrophil; astrocytes; macrophage
4.  Differing roles for members of the phospholipase A2 superfamily in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
Brain  2009;132(5):1221-1235.
The phospholipase A2 (PLA2) superfamily hydrolyzes phospholipids to release free fatty acids and lysophospholipids, some of which can mediate inflammation and demyelination, hallmarks of the CNS autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. The expression of two of the intracellular PLA2s (cPLA2 GIVA and iPLA2 GVIA) and two of the secreted PLA2s (sPLA2 GIIA and sPLA2 GV) are increased in different stages of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis. We show using small molecule inhibitors, that cPLA2 GIVA plays a role in the onset, and iPLA2 GVIA in the onset and progression of EAE. We also show a potential role for sPLA2 in the later remission phase. These studies demonstrate that selective inhibition of iPLA2 can ameliorate disease progression when treatment is started before or after the onset of symptoms. The effects of these inhibitors on lesion burden, chemokine and cytokine expression as well as on the lipid profile provide insights into their potential modes of action. iPLA2 is also expressed by macrophages and other immune cells in multiple sclerosis lesions. Our results therefore suggest that iPLA2 might be an excellent target to block for the treatment of CNS autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2677793  PMID: 19218359
EAE; multiple sclerosis; Phospholipase A2; fatty acids; chemokines; cytokines
5.  Patterned Neuroprotection in the Inpp4awbl Mutant Mouse Cerebellum Correlates with the Expression of Eaat4 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8270.
The weeble mutant mouse has a frame shift mutation in inositol polyphosphate 4-phosphatase type I (Inpp4a). The phenotype is characterized by an early onset cerebellar ataxia and neurodegeneration, especially apparent in the Purkinje cells. Purkinje cell loss is a common pathological finding in many human and mouse ataxic disorders. Here we show that in the Inpp4awbl mutant, Purkinje cells are lost in a specific temporal and spatial pattern. Loss occurs early in postnatal development; however, prior to the appearance of climbing fibers in the developing molecular layer, the mutant has a normal complement of Purkinje cells and they are properly positioned. Degeneration and reactive gliosis are present at postnatal day 5 and progress rapidly in a defined pattern of patches; however, Inpp4a is expressed uniformly across Purkinje cells. In late stage mutants, patches of surviving Purkinje cells appear remarkably normal with the exception that the climbing fibers have been excessively eliminated. Surviving Purkinje cells express Eaat4, a glutamate transporter that is differentially expressed in subsets of Purkinje cells during development and into adult stages. Prior to Purkinje cell loss, reactive gliosis and dendritic atrophy can be seen in Eaat4 negative stripes. Our data suggest that Purkinje cell loss in the Inpp4awbl mutant is due to glutamate excitotoxicity initiated by the climbing fiber, and that Eaat4 may exert a protective effect.
PMCID: PMC2788419  PMID: 20011524
6.  Intracellular phospholipase A2 group IVA and group VIA play important roles in Wallerian degeneration and axon regeneration after peripheral nerve injury 
Brain  2008;131(10):2620-2631.
We provide evidence that two members of the intracellular phospholipase A2 family, namely calcium-dependent group IVA (cPLA2 GIVA) and calcium-independent group VIA (iPLA2 GVIA) may play important roles in Wallerian degeneration in the mouse sciatic nerve. We assessed the roles of these PLA2s in cPLA2 GIVA−/− mice, and mice treated with a selective inhibitor of iPLA2 GVIA (FKGK11). Additionally, the effects of both these PLA2s were assessed by treating cPLA2 GIVA−/− mice with the iPLA2 inhibitor. Our data suggest that iPLA2 GVIA may play more of a role in the early stages of myelin breakdown, while cPLA2 GIVA may play a greater role in myelin clearance by macrophages. Our results also show that the delayed myelin clearance and Wallerian degeneration after sciatic nerve crush injury in mice lacking cPLA2 and iPLA2 activities is accompanied by a delay in axon regeneration, target re-innervation and functional recovery. These results indicate that the intracellular PLA2s (cPLA2 GIVA and iPLA2 GVIA) contribute significantly to various aspects of Wallerian degeneration in injured peripheral nerves, which is then essential for successful axon regeneration. This work has implications for injury responses and recovery after peripheral nerve injuries in humans, as well as for understanding the slow clearance of myelin after CNS injury and its potential consequences for axon regeneration.
PMCID: PMC2860706  PMID: 18718965
axon regeneration; myelin; macrophage; phagocytosis; phospholipase A2; sciatic nerve injury
7.  Genes Involved in the Balance between Neuronal Survival and Death during Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(3):e310.
Glucocorticoids are potent regulators of the innate immune response, and alteration in this inhibitory feedback has detrimental consequences for the neural tissue. This study profiled and investigated functionally candidate genes mediating this switch between cell survival and death during an acute inflammatory reaction subsequent to the absence of glucocorticoid signaling. Oligonucleotide microarray analysis revealed that following lipopolysaccharide (LPS) intracerebral administration at striatum level, more modulated genes presented transcription impairment than exacerbation upon glucocorticoid receptor blockage. Among impaired genes we identified ceruloplasmin (Cp), which plays a key role in iron metabolism and is implicated in a neurodegenative disease. Microglial and endothelial induction of Cp is a natural neuroprotective mechanism during inflammation, because Cp-deficient mice exhibited increased iron accumulation and demyelination when exposed to LPS and neurovascular reactivity to pneumococcal meningitis. This study has identified genes that can play a critical role in programming the innate immune response, helping to clarify the mechanisms leading to protection or damage during inflammatory conditions in the CNS.
PMCID: PMC1819560  PMID: 17375196
8.  Molecular Identification of a Malaria Merozoite Surface Sheddase 
PLoS Pathogens  2005;1(3):e29.
Proteolytic shedding of surface proteins during invasion by apicomplexan parasites is a widespread phenomenon, thought to represent a mechanism by which the parasites disengage adhesin-receptor complexes in order to gain entry into their host cell. Erythrocyte invasion by merozoites of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum requires the shedding of ectodomain components of two essential surface proteins, called MSP1 and AMA1. Both are released by the same merozoite surface “sheddase,” but the molecular identity and mode of action of this protease is unknown. Here we identify it as PfSUB2, an integral membrane subtilisin-like protease (subtilase). We show that PfSUB2 is stored in apical secretory organelles called micronemes. Upon merozoite release it is secreted onto the parasite surface and translocates to its posterior pole in an actin-dependent manner, a trafficking pattern predicted of the sheddase. Subtilase propeptides are usually selective inhibitors of their cognate protease, and the PfSUB2 propeptide is no exception; we show that recombinant PfSUB2 propeptide binds specifically to mature parasite-derived PfSUB2 and is a potent, selective inhibitor of MSP1 and AMA1 shedding, directly establishing PfSUB2 as the sheddase. PfSUB2 is a new potential target for drugs designed to prevent erythrocyte invasion by the malaria parasite.
Malaria causes immense suffering and loss of life across the globe. In the face of growing resistance to available drugs and no licensed vaccine, new approaches are urgently required to tackle its control. Fundamental to these is an improved understanding of the basic biology of the malaria parasite. The parasite invades and replicates within red blood cells. During invasion a number of important proteins need to be shed from the parasite surface, probably in order to disengage the adhesive interactions that enable initial binding. Shedding of these surface proteins is achieved by a parasite enzyme called a protease, and compounds or antibodies that block the action of this protease prevent invasion, killing the parasite. Here the authors identify this protease as PfSUB2, a large, membrane-bound member of the subtilisin-like protease superfamily. They find that PfSUB2 is secreted from apical organelles called micronemes at the point of invasion to migrate rearwards over the surface of the parasite, and that a protein designed to be a specific inhibitor of PfSUB2 potently prevents shedding of parasite surface proteins. This work sets the scene for the development of inhibitors of PfSUB2 as a new generation of antimalarial drugs.
PMCID: PMC1291349  PMID: 16322767
9.  Vibrio cholerae Infection of Drosophila melanogaster Mimics the Human Disease Cholera 
PLoS Pathogens  2005;1(1):e8.
Cholera, the pandemic diarrheal disease caused by the gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae, continues to be a major public health challenge in the developing world. Cholera toxin, which is responsible for the voluminous stools of cholera, causes constitutive activation of adenylyl cyclase, resulting in the export of ions into the intestinal lumen. Environmental studies have demonstrated a close association between V. cholerae and many species of arthropods including insects. Here we report the susceptibility of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to oral V. cholerae infection through a process that exhibits many of the hallmarks of human disease: (i) death of the fly is dependent on the presence of cholera toxin and is preceded by rapid weight loss; (ii) flies harboring mutant alleles of either adenylyl cyclase, Gsα, or the Gardos K+ channel homolog SK are resistant to V. cholerae infection; and (iii) ingestion of a K+ channel blocker along with V. cholerae protects wild-type flies against death. In mammals, ingestion of as little as 25 μg of cholera toxin results in massive diarrhea. In contrast, we found that ingestion of cholera toxin was not lethal to the fly. However, when cholera toxin was co-administered with a pathogenic strain of V. cholerae carrying a chromosomal deletion of the genes encoding cholera toxin, death of the fly ensued. These findings suggest that additional virulence factors are required for intoxication of the fly that may not be essential for intoxication of mammals. Furthermore, we demonstrate for the first time the mechanism of action of cholera toxin in a whole organism and the utility of D. melanogaster as an accurate, inexpensive model for elucidation of host susceptibility to cholera.
Cholera, the pandemic diarrheal disease caused by the gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae, continues to be a major public health challenge in the developing world. Environmental studies have demonstrated a close association between V. cholerae and many species of arthropods, and insects have previously been implicated as vectors of this disease. Here researchers report the susceptibility of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to oral V. cholerae infection through a process that exhibits many of the hallmarks of human disease. Furthermore, although ingestion of cholera toxin results in massive diarrhea in mammals, these researchers have found that ingestion of purified cholera toxin is not lethal to the fly. However, when co-ingested with a pathogenic strain of V. cholerae carrying a deletion of the cholera toxin genes, cholera toxin is lethal. These findings not only demonstrate the utility of D. melanogaster as an accurate, inexpensive model for elucidation of the host-pathogen interaction and identification of inhibitors of the action of cholera toxin; they also suggest that V. cholerae carries additional virulence factors that enable intoxication of an arthropod host. Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that the fly or a related arthropod may be a true host of V. cholerae in nature.
PMCID: PMC1238743  PMID: 16201020

Results 1-9 (9)