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1.  HIV Control through a Single Nucleotide on the HLA-B Locus 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(21):11493-11500.
Genetic variation within the HLA-B locus has the strongest impact on HIV disease progression of any polymorphisms within the human genome. However, identifying the exact mechanism involved is complicated by several factors. HLA-Bw4 alleles provide ligands for NK cells and for CD8 T cells, and strong linkage disequilibrium between HLA class I alleles complicates the discrimination of individual HLA allelic effects from those of other HLA and non-HLA alleles on the same haplotype. Here, we exploit an experiment of nature involving two recently diverged HLA alleles, HLA-B*42:01 and HLA-B*42:02, which differ by only a single amino acid. Crucially, they occur primarily on identical HLA class I haplotypes and, as Bw6 alleles, do not act as NK cell ligands and are therefore largely unconfounded by other genetic factors. We show that in an outbred cohort (n = 2,093) of HIV C-clade-infected individuals, a single amino acid change at position 9 of the HLA-B molecule critically affects peptide binding and significantly alters the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes targeted, measured directly ex vivo by gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay (P = 2 × 10−10) and functionally through CTL escape mutation (P = 2 × 10−8). HLA-B*42:01, which presents multiple Gag epitopes, is associated with a 0.52 log10 lower viral-load set point than HLA-B*42:02 (P = 0.02), which presents no p24 Gag epitopes. The magnitude of this effect from a single amino acid difference in the HLA-A*30:01/B*42/Cw*17:01 haplotype is equivalent to 75% of that of HLA-B*57:03, the most protective HLA class I allele in this population. This naturally controlled experiment represents perhaps the clearest demonstration of the direct impact of a particular HIV-specific CTL on disease control.
PMCID: PMC3486337  PMID: 22896606
2.  Role of Interleukin-1 and MyD88-Dependent Signaling in Rhinovirus Infection▿† 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(15):7912-7921.
Rhinoviral infection is an important trigger of acute inflammatory exacerbations in patients with underlying airway disease. We have previously established that interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is central in the communication between epithelial cells and monocytes during the initiation of inflammation. In this study we explored the roles of IL-1β and its signaling pathways in the responses of airway cells to rhinovirus-1B (RV-1B) and further determined how responses to RV-1B were modified in a model of bacterial coinfection. Our results revealed that IL-1β dramatically potentiated RV-1B-induced proinflammatory responses, and while monocytes did not directly amplify responses to RV-1B alone, they played an important role in the responses observed with our coinfection model. MyD88 is the essential signaling adapter for IL-1β and most Toll-like receptors. To examine the role of MyD88 in more detail, we created stable MyD88 knockdown epithelial cells using short hairpin RNA (shRNA) targeted to MyD88. We determined that IL-1β/MyD88 plays a role in regulating RV-1B replication and the inflammatory response to viral infection of airway cells. These results identify central roles for IL-1β and its signaling pathways in the production of CXCL8, a potent neutrophil chemoattractant, in viral infection. Thus, IL-1β is a viable target for controlling the neutrophilia that is often found in inflammatory airway disease and is exacerbated by viral infection of the airways.
PMCID: PMC3147909  PMID: 21593174
3.  Phylogeography and Evolutionary History of Reassortant H9N2 Viruses with Potential Human Health Implications ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(16):8413-8421.
Avian influenza viruses of the H9N2 subtype have seriously affected the poultry industry of the Far and Middle East since the mid-1990s and are considered one of the most likely candidates to cause a new influenza pandemic in humans. To understand the genesis and epidemiology of these viruses, we investigated the spatial and evolutionary dynamics of complete genome sequences of H9N2 viruses circulating in nine Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries from 1998 to 2010. We identified four distinct and cocirculating groups (A, B, C, and D), each of which has undergone widespread inter- and intrasubtype reassortments, leading to the generation of viruses with unknown biological properties. Our analysis also suggested that eastern Asia served as the major source for H9N2 gene segments in the Middle East and Central Asia and that in this geographic region within-country evolution played a more important role in shaping viral genetic diversity than migration between countries. The genetic variability identified among the H9N2 viruses was associated with specific amino acid substitutions that are believed to result in increased transmissibility in mammals, as well as resistance to antiviral drugs. Our study highlights the need to constantly monitor the evolution of H9N2 viruses in poultry to better understand the potential risk to human health posed by these viruses.
PMCID: PMC3147996  PMID: 21680519
4.  The Hepatitis C Virus Core Protein Contains a BH3 Domain That Regulates Apoptosis through Specific Interaction with Human Mcl-1 ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(19):9993-10006.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein is known to modulate apoptosis and contribute to viral replication and pathogenesis. In this study, we have identified a Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3) domain in the core protein that is essential for its proapoptotic property. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments showed that the core protein interacts specifically with the human myeloid cell factor 1 (Mcl-1), a prosurvival member of the Bcl-2 family, but not with other prosurvival members (Bcl-XL and Bcl-w). Moreover, the overexpression of Mcl-1 protects against core-induced apoptosis. By using peptide mimetics, core was found to release cytochrome c from isolated mitochondria when complemented with Bad. Thus, core is a bona fide BH3-only protein having properties similar to those of Noxa, a BH3-only member of the Bcl-2 family that binds preferentially to Mcl-1. There are three critical hydrophobic residues in the BH3 domain of the core protein, and they are essential for the proapoptotic property of the core protein. Furthermore, the genotype 1b core protein is more effective than the genotype 2a core protein in inducing apoptosis due to a single-amino-acid difference at one of these hydrophobic residues (residue 119). Replacing this residue in the J6/JFH-1 infectious clone (genotype 2a) with the corresponding amino acid in the genotype 1b core protein produced a mutant virus, J6/JFH-1(V119L), which induced significantly higher levels of apoptosis in the infected cells than the parental J6/JFH-1 virus. Furthermore, the core protein of J6/JFH-1(V119L), but not that of J6/JFH-1, interacted with Mcl-1 in virus-infected cells. Taken together, the core protein is a novel BH3-only viral homologue that contributes to the induction of apoptosis during HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC2748021  PMID: 19605477
5.  Proliferative Capacity of Epitope-Specific CD8 T-Cell Responses Is Inversely Related to Viral Load in Chronic Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;81(1):434-438.
The relationship between the function of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD8 T-cell responses and viral load has not been defined. In this study, we used a panel of major histocompatibility complex class I tetramers to examine responses to frequently targeted CD8 T-cell epitopes in a large cohort of antiretroviral-therapy-naïve HIV type 1 clade C virus-infected persons in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. In terms of effector functions of proliferation, cytokine production, and degranulation, only proliferation showed a significant correlation with viral load. This robust inverse relationship provides an important functional correlate of viral control relevant to both vaccine design and evaluation.
PMCID: PMC1797250  PMID: 17050606
6.  Cellular Immune Responses in Seronegative Sexual Contacts of Acute Hepatitis C Patients 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(22):12252-12258.
Acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) is typically defined as new viremia and antibody seroconversion. Rates and immunologic correlates of hepatitis C clearance have therefore been based on clearance of viremia only in individuals who initially had an antibody response. We sought to characterize the immunological correlates of clearance in patients with acute hepatitis C and their sexual contacts. We prospectively determined CD4+ and CD8+ cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses in index patients with acute HCV and their sexual contacts who developed acute infection, either with or without spontaneous clearance, as well as those contacts who never developed viremia. Responses were measured using proliferation and ELISpot assays for CD4+ and CD8+ responses. We demonstrate in this prospective study that cellular immune responses can develop in exposed but persistently aviremic and antibody-negative individuals as well as those individuals with spontaneous clearance of acute HCV. These findings lend further credence to the importance of cellular immune responses in recovery from HCV and suggest that low exposure to HCV may lead to development of HCV-specific immune responses without ongoing HCV replication. This finding has important implications for HCV vaccine and therapeutic development.
PMCID: PMC525051  PMID: 15507612
7.  Use of Intron-Disrupted Polyadenylation Sites To Enhance Expression and Safety of Retroviral Vectors 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(1):199-204.
Normal mRNA polyadenylation signals are composed of an AAUAAA motif and G/U box spaced 20 to 30 bp apart. If this spacing is increased further, then polyadenylation is disrupted. Previously it has been demonstrated that insertion of an intron will similarly disrupt this signal even though such introns are removed during a nuclear splicing reaction (X. Liu and J. Mertz, Nucleic Acids Res. 21:5256–5263, 1993). This observation has led to the suggestion that polyadenylation site selection is undertaken prior to intron excision. We now present results that both support and extend these observations and in doing so create a novel class of retroviral expression vector with improved qualities. We found that when an intron-disrupted polyadenylation signal is inserted within a retroviral expression vector, such a signal, although reformed in the producer cell, remains benign until transduction, where it is then preferentially used. Thus, we demonstrate that upon transduction these vectors now produce a majority of shortened subgenomic species and as a consequence have a reduced tendency for subsequent mobilization from transduced cells. In addition, we demonstrate that the use of this internal signal leads to enhanced expression from such vectors and that this is achieved without any loss in titer. Therefore, split polyadenylation signals confer enhanced performance and improved safety upon retroviral expression vectors into which they are inserted. Such split signals may prove useful for the future optimization of retroviral vectors in gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC113913  PMID: 11119589
8.  Split-Intron Retroviral Vectors: Enhanced Expression with Improved Safety 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(5):2365-2371.
The inclusion of retrovirus-derived introns within retrovirus-based expression vectors leads to a fraction of the resulting transcripts being spliced. Such splicing has been shown to markedly improve expression (W. J. Krall et al., Gene Ther. 3:37–48, 1996). One way to improve upon this still further might involve the use of more efficient introns instead of those from the provirus. Currently, however, incorporation of such introns remains self-defeating since they are removed in the nucleus of the producer cell. In the past, elaborate ways to overcome this problem have included the use of alphaviruses to make the vector transcripts within the cytoplasm, thus avoiding the nuclear splicing machinery during vector production (K. J. Li and H. Garoff, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95:3650–3654, 1998). We now present a novel design for the inclusion of introns within a retroviral vector. In essence, this is achieved by exploiting the retroviral replication process to copy not only the U3 promoter but also a synthetic splice donor to the 5′-long-terminal-repeat position during reverse transcription. Once copied, synthesized transcripts then contain a splice donor at their 5′ end capable of interacting with a consensus splice acceptor engineered downstream of the packaging signal. Upon transduction, we demonstrate these vectors to produce enhanced expression from near fully spliced (and thus packaging signal minus) transcripts. The unique design of these high titer and high-expression retroviral vectors may be of use in a number of gene therapy applications.
PMCID: PMC111718  PMID: 10666267
9.  Cell surface T antigen in cells infected with simian virus 40 or an adenovirus-simian virus 40 hybrid, Ad2+D2. 
Journal of Virology  1981;40(2):615-619.
Cell surface T antigen, detected by a radioimmune assay that uses 125I-labeled Staphylococcus aureus protein A and antibodies against either authentic T antigen or D2 hybrid T antigen, was found in simian virus 40-transformed and -infected cells and in cells infected with an adenovirus-simian virus 40 hybrid, Ad2+D2. In simian virus 40 lytic infection, the surface T antigen appeared at the same time as the nuclear T antigen.
PMCID: PMC256668  PMID: 6275109

Results 1-9 (9)