Microbiology & Immunology - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 2198
Homology blocks of Plasmodium falciparum var genes and clinically distinct forms of severe malaria in a local population
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2013-11-06)
Background The primary target of the human immune response to the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), is encoded by the members of the hyper-diverse var gene family. The parasite exhibits antigenic variation via mutually exclusive expression (switching) of the ~60 var genes within its genome. It is thought that different variants exhibit different host endothelial binding preferences that in turn result in different manifestations of disease. Results Var sequences comprise ancient sequence fragments, termed homology blocks (HBs), that recombine at exceedingly high rates. We use HBs to define distinct var types within a local population. We then reanalyze a dataset that contains clinical and var expression data to investigate whether the HBs allow for a description of sequence diversity corresponding to biological function, such that it improves our ability to predict disease phenotype from parasite genetics. We find that even a generic set of HBs, which are defined for a small number of non-local parasites: capture the majority of local sequence diversity; improve our ability to predict disease severity from parasite genetics; and reveal a previously hypothesized yet previously unobserved parasite genetic basis for two forms of severe disease. We find that the expression rates of some HBs correlate more strongly with severe disease phenotypes than the expression rates of classic var DBLα tag types, and principal components of HB expression rate profiles further improve genotype-phenotype models. More specifically, within the large Kenyan dataset that is the focus of this study, we observe that HB expression differs significantly for severe versus mild disease, and for rosetting versus impaired consciousness associated severe disease. The analysis of a second much smaller dataset from Mali suggests that these HB-phenotype associations are consistent across geographically distant populations, since we find evidence suggesting that the same HB-phenotype associations characterize this population as well. Conclusions The distinction between rosetting versus impaired consciousness associated var genes has not been described previously, and it could have important implications for monitoring, intervention and diagnosis. Moreover, our results have the potential to illuminate the molecular mechanisms underlying the complex spectrum of severe disease phenotypes associated with malaria—an important objective given that only about 1% of P. falciparum infections result in severe disease.
Association of house spraying with suppressed levels of drug resistance in Zimbabwe
BACKGROUND: Public health strategies are needed to curb antimalarial drug resistance. Theoretical argument points to an association between malaria transmission and drug resistance although field evidence remains limited. Field observations, made in Zimbabwe, on the relationship between transmission and multigenic drug resistance, typified by chloroquine, are reported here. METHODS: Periodic assessments of the therapeutic response of uncomplicated falciparum malaria to chloroquine in two selectively sprayed or unsprayed health centre catchments, from 1995 - 2003. Cross-sectional analysis of in vivo chloroquine failure events for five sites in relation to natural endemicity and spraying history. RESULTS: During selective house spraying, the chloroquine failure rate for the sprayed catchment decreased, such that, after four years, the odds of chloroquine failure were 4x lower than before start of spraying in the area (OR 0.2, 95% CI 0.07 - 0.75, p = 0.010, n = 100). Chloroquine failure odds for the sprayed area became 4x lower than contemporaneous failure odds for the unsprayed area (OR 0.2 95% CI 0.08 - 0.65, p = 0.003, n = 156), although the likelihood of failure was not significantly different for the two catchments before selective spraying started (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.21 - 1.32; p = 0.170, n = 88). When spraying ended, in 1999, the drug failure odds for the former sprayed area increased back 4 fold by 2003 (OR 4.2, 95%CI 1.49 - 11.78, p = 0.004, n = 146). High altitude areas with naturally lower transmission exhibited a 6x lower likelihood of drug failure than low-lying areas (OR 0.16 95% CI 0.068 - 0.353, -2 log likelihood change 23.239, p < 0.001, n = 465). Compared to sites under ongoing annual spraying, areas that were last sprayed 3-7 years ago experienced a 4-fold higher probability of chloroquine failure (OR 4.1, 95%CI 1.84 - 9.14, -2 log likelihood change 13.956, p < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Reduced transmission is associated with suppressed levels of resistance to chloroquine and presumably other regimens with multigenic drug resistance. It seems the adoption of transmission control alongside combination chemotherapy is a potent strategy for the future containment of drug-resistant malaria.
Uric Acid Is a Mediator of the Plasmodium falciparum-Induced Inflammatory Response
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2009-04-17)
BACKGROUND: Malaria triggers a high inflammatory response in the host that mediates most of the associated pathologies and contributes to death. The identification of pro-inflammatory molecules derived from Plasmodium is essential to understand the mechanisms of pathogenesis and to develop targeted interventions. Uric acid derived from hypoxanthine accumulated in infected erythrocytes has been recently proposed as a mediator of inflammation in rodent malaria. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We found that human erythrocytes infected with Plasmodium falciparum gradually accumulate hypoxanthine in their late stages of development. To analyze the role of hypoxanthine-derived uric acid induced by P. falciparum on the inflammatory cytokine response from human blood mononuclear cells, cultures were treated with allopurinol, to inhibit uric acid formation from hypoxanthine, or with uricase, to degrade uric acid. Both treatments significantly reduce the secretion of TNF, IL-6, IL-1beta and IL-10 from human cells. CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE: Uric acid is a major contributor of the inflammatory response triggered by P. falciparum in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Since the inflammatory reaction induced by P. falciparum is considered a major cause of malaria pathogenesis, identifying the mechanisms used by the parasite to induce the host inflammatory response is essential to develop urgently needed therapies against this disease.
Population structuring of multi-copy, antigen-encoding genes in Plasmodium falciparum
(ELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2012-12-18)
The coexistence of multiple independently circulating strains in pathogen populations that undergo sexual recombination is a central question of epidemiology with profound implications for control. An agent-based model is developed that extends earlier 'strain theory' by addressing the var gene family of Plasmodium falciparum. The model explicitly considers the extensive diversity of multi-copy genes that undergo antigenic variation via sequential, mutually exclusive expression. It tracks the dynamics of all unique var repertoires in a population of hosts, and shows that even under high levels of sexual recombination, strain competition mediated through cross-immunity structures the parasite population into a subset of coexisting dominant repertoires of var genes whose degree of antigenic overlap depends on transmission intensity. Empirical comparison of patterns of genetic variation at antigenic and neutral sites supports this role for immune selection in structuring parasite diversity.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00093.001.
Molecular Imprint of Exposure to Naturally Occurring Genetic Variants of Human Cytomegalovirus on the T cell Repertoire
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2014-02-10)
Exposure to naturally occurring variants of herpesviruses in clinical settings can have a dramatic impact on anti-viral immunity. Here we have evaluated the molecular imprint of variant peptide-MHC complexes on the T-cell repertoire during human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and demonstrate that primary co-infection with genetic variants of CMV was coincident with development of strain-specific T-cell immunity followed by emergence of cross-reactive virus-specific T-cells. Cross-reactive CMV-specific T cells exhibited a highly conserved public T cell repertoire, while T cells directed towards specific genetic variants displayed oligoclonal repertoires, unique to each individual. T cell recognition foot-print and pMHC-I structural analyses revealed that the cross-reactive T cells accommodate alterations in the pMHC complex with a broader foot-print focussing on the core of the peptide epitope. These findings provide novel molecular insight into how infection with naturally occurring genetic variants of persistent human herpesviruses imprints on the evolution of the anti-viral T-cell repertoire.
Quantifying Susceptibility of CD4(+) Stem Memory T-Cells to Infection by Laboratory Adapted and Clinical HIV-1 Strains
(MDPI AG, 2014-02-01)
CD4+ T cells are principal targets for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. CD4+ T cell subsets are heterogeneous cell populations, divided by functional and phenotypic differences into naïve and memory T cells. The memory CD4+ T cells are further segregated into central, effector and transitional memory cell subsets by functional, phenotypic and homeostatic characteristics. Defining the distribution of HIV-1 infection in different T cell subsets is important, as this can play a role in determining the size and composition of the viral reservoir. Both central memory and transitional memory CD4+ T cells have been described as long-lived viral reservoirs for HIV. Recently, the newly described stem memory T cell subset has also been implicated as a long-lived HIV reservoir. Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter strains of HIV-1 and multi parameter flow cytometry, we developed an assay to simultaneously quantify the susceptibility of stem memory (TSCM), central memory, effector memory, transitional memory and naïve CD4+ T cell subsets, to HIV-1 infection in vitro. We show that TSCM are susceptible to infection with laboratory adapted and clinical HIV-1 strains. Our system facilitates the quantitation of HIV-1 infection in alternative T cell subsets by CCR5- and CXCR4-using viruses across different HIV-1 subtypes, and will be useful for studies of HIV-1 pathogenesis and viral reservoirs.
Neuroinflammation and copper in Alzheimer's disease.
(Hindawi Limited, 2013)
Inflammation is the innate immune response to infection or tissue damage. Initiation of proinflammatory cascades in the central nervous system (CNS) occurs through recognition of danger associated molecular patterns by cognate immune receptors expressed on inflammatory cells and leads to rapid responses to remove the danger stimulus. The presence of activated microglia and astrocytes in the vicinity of amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and mouse models implicates inflammation as a contributor to AD pathogenesis. Activated microglia play a critical role in amyloid clearance, but chronic deregulation of CNS inflammatory pathways results in secretion of neurotoxic mediators that ultimately contribute to neurodegeneration in AD. Copper (Cu) homeostasis is profoundly affected in AD, and accumulated extracellular Cu drives A β aggregation, while intracellular Cu deficiency limits bioavailable Cu required for CNS functions. This review presents an overview of inflammatory events that occur in AD in response to A β and highlights recent advances on the role of Cu in modulation of beneficial and detrimental inflammatory responses in AD.
Detection of HCV-Specific IFN-gamma Responses in HCV Antibody and HCV RNA Negative Injecting Drug Users
(KOWSAR PUBL, 2014-01-01)
BACKGROUND: Detectable HCV-specific cellular immune responses in HCV antibody and RNA negative people who inject drugs (PWID) raise the question of whether some are resistant to HCV infection. Immune responses from people who have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and remain anti-HCV negative are of interest for HCV vaccine development; however, limited research addresses this area. OBJECTIVES: In a cohort of HCV antibody and RNA negative PWID, we assessed whether the presence of HCV-specific IFN-γ responses or genetic associations provide any evidence of protection from HCV infection. PATIENTS AND METHODS: One hundred and ninety-eight participants were examined longitudinally for clinical, behavioral, social, environmental and genetic characteristics (IFNL3 genotype [formally IL-28B] and HLA type). Sixty-one of the 198 participants were HCV antibody and RNA negative, with 53 able to be examined longitudinally for HCV-specific IFN-γ ELISpot T cell responses. RESULTS: Ten of the 53 HCV antibody and RNA negative participants had detectable HCV-specific IFN-γ responses at baseline (18%). The magnitude of IFN-γ responses averaged 131 +/- 96 SFC/106 PBMC and the breadth was mean 1 +/- 1 pool positive. The specificity of responses were mainly directed to E2, NS4b and NS5b. Participants with (10) and without (43) HCV-specific IFN-γ responses did not differ in behavioral, clinical or genetic characteristics (P > 0.05). There was a larger proportion sharing needles (with 70%, without 49%, P = 0.320) and a higher incidence of HCV (with 35.1 per 100 py, 95% CI 14.6, 84.4, without 16.0 per 100 py, 95% CI 7.2, 35.6, P = 0.212) in those with IFN-γ responses, although not statistically significant. Half the participants with baseline IFN-γ responses became HCV RNA positive (5/10), with one of these participants spontaneously clearing HCV. The spontaneous clearer had high magnitude and broad Th1 responses, favorable IFNL3 genotype and favorable HLA types. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated the detection of HCV-specific IFN-γ responses in HCV antibody and RNA negative individuals, with a tendency for HCV-specific IFN-γ responses to be associated with HCV exposure. The potential role of HCV-specific IFN-γ responses in those who remained HCV RNA negative is of value for the development of novel HCV therapeutics.
Characterization of the yehUT Two-Component Regulatory System of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi and Typhimurium
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-12-30)
Proteins exhibiting hyper-variable sequences within a bacterial pathogen may be associated with host adaptation. Several lineages of the monophyletic pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) have accumulated non-synonymous mutations in the putative two-component regulatory system yehUT. Consequently we evaluated the function of yehUT in S. Typhi BRD948 and S. Typhimurium ST4/74. Transcriptome analysis identified the cstA gene, encoding a carbon starvation protein as the predominantly yehUT regulated gene in both these serovars. Deletion of yehUT had no detectable effect on the ability of these mutant Salmonella to invade cultured epithelial cells (S. Typhi and S. Typhimurium) or induce colitis in a murine model (S. Typhimurium only). Growth, metabolic and antimicrobial susceptibility tests identified no obvious influences of yehUT on these phenotypes.
The Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) Tir Effector Inhibits NF-kappa B Activity by Targeting TNF alpha Receptor-Associated Factors
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-12-01)
Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) disease depends on the transfer of effector proteins into epithelia lining the human small intestine. EPEC E2348/69 has at least 20 effector genes of which six are located with the effector-delivery system genes on the Locus of Enterocyte Effacement (LEE) Pathogenicity Island. Our previous work implied that non-LEE-encoded (Nle) effectors possess functions that inhibit epithelial anti-microbial and inflammation-inducing responses by blocking NF-κB transcription factor activity. Indeed, screens by us and others have identified novel inhibitory mechanisms for NleC and NleH, with key co-operative functions for NleB1 and NleE1. Here, we demonstrate that the LEE-encoded Translocated-intimin receptor (Tir) effector has a potent and specific ability to inhibit NF-κB activation. Indeed, biochemical, imaging and immunoprecipitation studies reveal a novel inhibitory mechanism whereby Tir interaction with cytoplasm-located TNFα receptor-associated factor (TRAF) adaptor proteins induces their proteasomal-independent degradation. Infection studies support this Tir-TRAF relationship but reveal that Tir, like NleC and NleH, has a non-essential contribution in EPEC's NF-κB inhibitory capacity linked to Tir's activity being suppressed by undefined EPEC factors. Infections in a disease-relevant intestinal model confirm key NF-κB inhibitory roles for the NleB1/NleE1 effectors, with other studies providing insights on host targets. The work not only reveals a second Intimin-independent property for Tir and a novel EPEC effector-mediated NF-κB inhibitory mechanism but also lends itself to speculations on the evolution of EPEC's capacity to inhibit NF-κB function.
Proteasome-independent Degradation of Canonical NF kappa B Complex Components by the NleC Protein of Pathogenic Escherichia coli
(AMER SOC BIOCHEMISTRY MOLECULAR BIOLOGY INC, 2011-02-18)
The NFκB transcription factor is a key component of immune and inflammatory signaling as its activation induces the expression of antimicrobial reagents, chemokines, cytokines, and anti-apoptotic factors. Many pathogens encode effector proteins that target factors regulating NFκB activity and can provide novel insights on regulatory mechanisms. Given the link of NFκB dysfunction with inflammatory diseases and some cancers, these effectors have therapeutic potential. Here, screening enteropathogenic Escherichia coli proteins for those implicated in suppressing NFκB function revealed that eGFP-NleC, unlike eGFP, strongly inhibited basal and TNFα-induced NFκB reporter activity to prevent secretion of the chemokine, IL-8. Work involving NleC variants, chemical inhibitors, and immunoprecipitation studies support NleC being a zinc metalloprotease that degrades NFκB-IκBα complexes. The findings are consistent with features between residues 33-65 recruiting NFκB for proteasomal-independent degradation by a mechanism inhibited by metalloprotease inhibitors or disruption of a consensus zinc metalloprotease motif spanning NleC residues 183-187. This raises the prospect that mammalian cells, or other pathogens, employ a similar mechanism to modulate NFκB activity. Moreover, NleC represents a novel tool for validating NFκB as a therapeutic target and, indeed, as a possible therapeutic reagent.