School of Biomedical Sciences - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 91
Nanocrystallography measurements of early stage synthetic malaria pigment
(INT UNION CRYSTALLOGRAPHY, 2017-10-01)
The recent availability of extremely intense, femtosecond X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) sources has spurred the development of serial femtosecond nanocrystallography (SFX). Here, SFX is used to analyze nanoscale crystals of β-hematin, the synthetic form of hemozoin which is a waste by-product of the malaria parasite. This analysis reveals significant differences in β-hematin data collected during SFX and synchrotron crystallography experiments. To interpret these differences two possibilities are considered: structural differences between the nanocrystal and larger crystalline forms of β-hematin, and radiation damage. Simulation studies show that structural inhomogeneity appears at present to provide a better fit to the experimental data. If confirmed, these observations will have implications for designing compounds that inhibit hemozoin formation and suggest that, for some systems at least, additional information may be gained by comparing structures obtained from nanocrystals and macroscopic crystals of the same molecule.
The BAFF receptor TACI controls IL-10 production by regulatory B cells and CLL B cells
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016-01-01)
Interleukin (IL)-10-producing B cells (B10 cells) have emerged as important regulatory elements with immunosuppressive roles. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) B cells also secrete IL-10 and share features of B10 cells, suggesting a possible contribution of CLL B cells to immunosuppression in CLL patients. Factors controlling the emergence of B10 cells are not known. B-cell-activating factor of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family (BAFF) is critical for B-cell maturation and survival, and is implicated in the development and progression of CLL. We sought to investigate the role of BAFF in the emergence of IL-10-producing regulatory B cells in healthy donors and CLL patients. Here, we report that BAFF signaling promotes IL-10 production by CLL B cells in a mouse model of CLL and in CLL patients. Moreover, BAFF-mediated IL-10 production by normal and CLL B cells is mediated via its receptor transmembrane activator and cyclophilin ligand interactor. Our work uncovered a major targetable pathway important for the generation of regulatory B cells that is detrimental to immunity in CLL.
Mycobacterium ulcerans low infectious dose and mechanical transmission support insect bites and puncturing injuries in the spread of Buruli ulcer
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2017-04-01)
Addressing the transmission enigma of the neglected disease Buruli ulcer (BU) is a World Health Organization priority. In Australia, we have observed an association between mosquitoes harboring the causative agent, Mycobacterium ulcerans, and BU. Here we tested a contaminated skin model of BU transmission by dipping the tails from healthy mice in cultures of the causative agent, Mycobacterium ulcerans. Tails were exposed to mosquito (Aedes notoscriptus and Aedes aegypti) blood feeding or punctured with sterile needles. Two of 12 of mice with M. ulcerans contaminated tails exposed to feeding A. notoscriptus mosquitoes developed BU. There were no mice exposed to A. aegypti that developed BU. Eighty-eight percent of mice (21/24) subjected to contaminated tail needle puncture developed BU. Mouse tails coated only in bacteria did not develop disease. A median incubation time of 12 weeks, consistent with data from human infections, was noted. We then specifically tested the M. ulcerans infectious dose-50 (ID50) in this contaminated skin surface infection model with needle puncture and observed an ID50 of 2.6 colony-forming units. We have uncovered a biologically plausible mechanical transmission mode of BU via natural or anthropogenic skin punctures.
A Dynamic Stress Model Explains the Delayed Drug Effect in Artemisinin Treatment of Plasmodium falciparum
(AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2017-12-01)
Artemisinin resistance constitutes a major threat to the continued success of control programs for malaria, particularly in light of developing resistance to partner drugs. Improving our understanding of how artemisinin-based drugs act and how resistance manifests is essential for the optimization of dosing regimens and the development of strategies to prolong the life span of current first-line treatment options. Recent short-drug-pulse in vitro experiments have shown that the parasite killing rate depends not only on drug concentration but also the exposure time, challenging the standard pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) paradigm in which the killing rate depends only on drug concentration. Here, we introduce a dynamic stress model of parasite killing and show through application to 3D7 laboratory strain viability data that the inclusion of a time-dependent parasite stress response dramatically improves the model's explanatory power compared to that of a traditional PK-PD model. Our model demonstrates that the previously reported hypersensitivity of early-ring-stage parasites of the 3D7 strain to dihydroartemisinin compared to other parasite stages is due primarily to a faster development of stress rather than a higher maximum achievable killing rate. We also perform in vivo simulations using the dynamic stress model and demonstrate that the complex temporal features of artemisinin action observed in vitro have a significant impact on predictions for in vivo parasite clearance. Given the important role that PK-PD models play in the design of clinical trials for the evaluation of alternative drug dosing regimens, our novel model will contribute to the further development and improvement of antimalarial therapies.
Inhibition of cathepsin proteases attenuates migration and sensitizes aggressive N-Myc amplified human neuroblastoma cells to doxorubicin
(IMPACT JOURNALS LLC, 2015-05-10)
Neuroblastoma arises from the sympathetic nervous system and accounts for 15% of childhood cancer mortality. Amplification of the oncogene N-Myc is reported to occur in more than 20% of patients. While N-Myc amplification status strongly correlates with higher tumour aggression and resistance to treatment, the role of N-Myc in the aggressive progression of the disease is poorly understood. N-Myc being a transcription factor can modulate the secretion of key proteins that may play a pivotal role in tumorigenesis. Characterising the soluble secreted proteins or secretome will aid in understanding their role in the tumour microenvironment, such as promoting cancer cell invasion and resistance to treatment. The aim of this study is to characterise the secretome of human malignant neuroblastoma SK-N-BE2 (N-Myc amplified, more aggressive) and SH-SY5Y (N-Myc non-amplified, less aggressive) cells. Conditioned media from SK-N-BE2 and SH-SY5Y cell lines were subjected to proteomics analysis. We report a catalogue of 894 proteins identified in the secretome isolated from the two neuroblastoma cell lines, SK-N-BE2 and SH-SY5Y. Functional enrichment analysis using FunRich software identified enhanced secretion of proteins implicated in cysteine peptidase activity in the aggressive N-Myc amplified SK-N-BE2 secretome compared to the less tumorigenic SH-SY5Y cells. Protein-protein interaction-based network analysis highlighted the enrichment of cathepsin and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition sub-networks. For the first time, inhibition of cathepsins by inhibitors sensitized the resistant SK-N-BE2 cells to doxorubicin as well as decreased its migratory potential. The dataset of secretome proteins of N-Myc amplified (more aggressive) and non-amplified (less aggressive) neuroblastoma cells represent the first inventory of neuroblastoma secretome. The study also highlights the prominent role of cathepsins in the N-Myc amplified neuroblastoma pathogenesis. As N-Myc amplification correlates with aggressive neuroblastoma and chemotherapy-based treatment failure, co-treatment with cathepsin inhibitors might be a better avenue for disease management.
Friedreich's ataxia induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes display electrophysiological abnormalities and calcium handling deficiency
(IMPACT JOURNALS LLC, 2017-05-01)
We sought to identify the impacts of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) on cardiomyocytes. FRDA is an autosomal recessive degenerative condition with neuronal and non-neuronal manifestations, the latter including progressive cardiomyopathy of the left ventricle, the leading cause of death in FRDA. Little is known about the cellular pathogenesis of FRDA in cardiomyocytes. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were derived from three FRDA individuals with characterized GAA repeats. The cells were differentiated into cardiomyocytes to assess phenotypes. FRDA iPSC- cardiomyocytes retained low levels of FRATAXIN (FXN) mRNA and protein. Electrophysiology revealed an increased variation of FRDA- cardiomyocyte beating rates which was prevented by addition of nifedipine, suggestive of a calcium handling deficiency. Finally, calcium imaging was performed and we identified small amplitude, diastolic and systolic calcium transients confirming a deficiency in calcium handling. We defined a robust FRDA cardiac-specific electrophysiological profile in patient-derived iPSCs which could be used for high throughput compound screening. This cell-specific signature will contribute to the identification and screening of novel treatments for this life-threatening disease.
PHOTOAFFINITY-LABELING OF CHLOROQUINE-BINDING PROTEINS IN PLASMODIUM-FALCIPARUM
(AMER SOC BIOCHEMISTRY MOLECULAR BIOLOGY INC, 1994-03-04)
A photoreactive analog of chloroquine, N-(4-(4-diethylamino-1-methylbutylamino)quinolin-6-yl)-4- azi do-2- hydroxybenzamide (referred to as ASA-Q), has been synthesized and shown to mimic the action of chloroquine in possessing substantial antimalarial activity against a chloroquine-sensitive strain of Plasmodium falciparum. As for chloroquine, ASA-Q is less effective at killing drug-resistant strains of malaria, and the resistance can be modulated using the reagent verapamil. ASA-Q has been radiolabeled with Na125I and used as a photoaffinity probe for labeling chloroquine-binding proteins in malaria-infected erythrocytes. Two proteins have been identified with apparent molecular masses of 42 and 33 kDa in both chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria. Photoaffinity labeling of the two proteins by iodo-ASA-Q was competitively inhibited by an excess of unlabeled chloroquine. The structurally related antimalarials amodiaquine and quinine also inhibited labeling of the two proteins, while verapamil and doxycycline had no effect. We suggest that the two labeled proteins are the macromolecular targets of chloroquine action in malaria parasites.
The peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma agonist pioglitazone increases functional expression of the glutamate transporter excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) in human glioblastoma cells
(IMPACT JOURNALS LLC, 2015-08-28)
Glioma cells release glutamate through expression of system xc-, which exchanges intracellular glutamate for extracellular cysteine. Lack of the excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) expression maintains high extracellular glutamate levels in the glioma microenvironment, causing excitotoxicity to surrounding parenchyma. Not only does this contribute to the survival and proliferation of glioma cells, but is involved in the pathophysiology of tumour-associated epilepsy (TAE). We investigated the role of the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) agonist pioglitazone in modulating EAAT2 expression in glioma cells. We found that EAAT2 expression was increased in a dose dependent manner in both U87MG and U251MG glioma cells. Extracellular glutamate levels were reduced with the addition of pioglitazone, where statistical significance was reached in both U87MG and U251MG cells at a concentration of ≥ 30 μM pioglitazone (p < 0.05). The PPARγ antagonist GW9662 inhibited the effect of pioglitazone on extracellular glutamate levels, indicating PPARγ dependence. In addition, pioglitazone significantly reduced cell viability of U87MG and U251MG cells at ≥ 30 μM and 100 μM (p < 0.05) respectively. GW9662 also significantly reduced viability of U87MG and U251MG cells with 10 μM and 30 μM (p < 0.05) respectively. The effect on viability was partially dependent on PPARγ activation in U87MG cells but not U251MG cells, whereby PPARγ blockade with GW9662 had a synergistic effect. We conclude that PPARγ agonists may be therapeutically beneficial in the treatment of gliomas and furthermore suggest a novel role for these agents in the treatment of tumour associated seizures through the reduction in extracellular glutamate.
The relation between cesarean birth and child cognitive development
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-09-13)
This is the first detailed study of the relation between cesarean birth and child cognitive development. We measure differences in child cognitive performance at 4 to 9 years of age between cesarean-born and vaginally-born children (n = 3,666) participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). LSAC is a nationally representative birth cohort surveyed biennially. Using multivariate regression, we control for a large range of confounders related to perinatal risk factors and the socio-economic advantage associated with cesarean-born children. Across several measures, we find that cesarean-born children perform significantly below vaginally-born children, by up to a tenth of a standard deviation in national numeracy test scores at age 8-9. Estimates from a low-risk sub-sample and lower-bound analysis suggest that the relation is not spuriously related to unobserved confounding. Lower rates of breastfeeding and adverse child and maternal health outcomes that are associated with cesarean birth are found to explain less than a third of the cognitive gap, which points to the importance of other mechanisms such as disturbed gut microbiota. The findings underline the need for a precautionary approach in responding to requests for a planned cesarean when there are no apparent elevated risks from vaginal birth.
A blood-based biomarker panel indicates IL-10 and IL-12/23p40 are jointly associated as predictors of beta-amyloid load in an AD cohort
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-10-25)
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, characterised by extracellular amyloid deposition as plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein. As no current clinical test can diagnose individuals at risk of developing AD, the aim of this project is to evaluate a blood-based biomarker panel to identify individuals who carry this risk. We analysed the levels of 22 biomarkers in clinically classified healthy controls (HC), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's participants from the well characterised Australian Imaging, Biomarker and Lifestyle (AIBL) study of aging. High levels of IL-10 and IL-12/23p40 were significantly associated with amyloid deposition in HC, suggesting that these two biomarkers might be used to detect at risk individuals. Additionally, other biomarkers (Eotaxin-3, Leptin, PYY) exhibited altered levels in AD participants possessing the APOE ε4 allele. This suggests that the physiology of some potential biomarkers may be altered in AD due to the APOE ε4 allele, a major risk factor for AD. Taken together, these data highlight several potential biomarkers that can be used in a blood-based panel to allow earlier identification of individuals at risk of developing AD and/or early stage AD for which current therapies may be more beneficial.
The molecular bases of delta/alpha beta T cell-mediated antigen recognition
(ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2014-12-15)
αβ and γδ T cells are disparate T cell lineages that can respond to distinct antigens (Ags) via the use of the αβ and γδ T cell Ag receptors (TCRs), respectively. Here we characterize a population of human T cells, which we term δ/αβ T cells, expressing TCRs comprised of a TCR-δ variable gene (Vδ1) fused to joining α and constant α domains, paired with an array of TCR-β chains. We demonstrate that these cells, which represent ∼50% of all Vδ1(+) human T cells, can recognize peptide- and lipid-based Ags presented by human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and CD1d, respectively. Similar to type I natural killer T (NKT) cells, CD1d-lipid Ag-reactive δ/αβ T cells recognized α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer); however, their fine specificity for other lipid Ags presented by CD1d, such as α-glucosylceramide, was distinct from type I NKT cells. Thus, δ/αβTCRs contribute new patterns of Ag specificity to the human immune system. Furthermore, we provide the molecular bases of how δ/αβTCRs bind to their targets, with the Vδ1-encoded region providing a major contribution to δ/αβTCR binding. Our findings highlight how components from αβ and γδTCR gene loci can recombine to confer Ag specificity, thus expanding our understanding of T cell biology and TCR diversity.
Identification of phenotypically and functionally heterogeneous mouse mucosal-associated invariant T cells using MR1 tetramers
(ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2015-06-29)
Studies on the biology of mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells) in mice have been hampered by a lack of specific reagents. Using MR1-antigen (Ag) tetramers that specifically bind to the MR1-restricted MAIT T cell receptors (TCRs), we demonstrate that MAIT cells are detectable in a broad range of tissues in C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. These cells include CD4(-)CD8(-), CD4(-)CD8(+), and CD4(+)CD8(-) subsets, and their frequency varies in a tissue- and strain-specific manner. Mouse MAIT cells have a CD44(hi)CD62L(lo) memory phenotype and produce high levels of IL-17A, whereas other cytokines, including IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, IL-13, and GM-CSF, are produced at low to moderate levels. Consistent with high IL-17A production, most MAIT cells express high levels of retinoic acid-related orphan receptor γt (RORγt), whereas RORγt(lo) MAIT cells predominantly express T-bet and produce IFN-γ. Most MAIT cells express the promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger (PLZF) transcription factor, and their development is largely PLZF dependent. These observations contrast with previous reports that MAIT cells from Vα19 TCR transgenic mice are PLZF(-) and express a naive CD44(lo) phenotype. Accordingly, MAIT cells from normal mice more closely resemble human MAIT cells than previously appreciated, and this provides the foundation for further investigations of these cells in health and disease.