School of Biomedical Sciences - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 129
Hypnotics with novel modes of action
Insomnia and, more generally, lack of sleep are on the rise. Traditionally treated by classical hypnotics, such as benzodiazepines and Z drugs, which both act on the GABAA receptor, and other modalities, including nondrug therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, there is a range of new hypnotics which are being developed or have recently received market approval. Suvorexant and the like target the orexin/hypocretin system: they should have less side effects in terms of drug-drug interactions with e.g. alcohol, less memory impairment and dependence potential compared to classical hypnotics.
Lipopeptide vaccines illustrate the potential role of subtype-crossreactive T cells in the control of highly virulent influenza
BACKGROUND: The best form of protection against influenza is high-titred virus-neutralizing antibody specific for the challenge strain. However, this is not always possible to achieve by vaccination due to the need for predicting the emerging virus, whether it be a drift variant of existing human endemic influenza type A subtypes or the next pandemic virus, for incorporation into the vaccine. By activating additional arms of the immune system to provide heterosubtypic immunity, that is immunity active against all viruses of type A influenza regardless of subtype or strain, it should be possible to provide significant benefit in situations where appropriate antibody responses are not achieved. Although current inactivated vaccines are unable to induce heterosubtypic CD8(+) T cell immunity, we have shown that lipopeptides are particularly efficient in this regard. OBJECTIVES: To examine the role of vaccine-induced CD8(+) T cells in altering the course of disease due to highly virulent H1N1 influenza virus in the mouse model. METHODS: The induction of influenza-specific CD8(+) T cells following intranasal inoculation with lipopeptide vaccine was assessed by intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) and the capacity of these cells to reduce viral loads in the lungs and to protect against death after viral challenge was determined. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: We show that CD8(+) T cells are induced by a single intranasal vaccination with lipopeptide, they remain at substantial levels in the lungs and are efficiently boosted upon challenge with virulent virus to provide late control of pulmonary viral loads. Vaccinated mice are not only protected from death but remain active, indicative of less severe disease despite significant weight loss.
From Knock-Out Phenotype to Three-Dimensional Structure of a Promising Antibiotic Target from Streptococcus pneumoniae
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-12-13)
Given the rise in drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae, there is an urgent need to discover new antimicrobials targeting this pathogen and an equally urgent need to characterize new drug targets. A promising antibiotic target is dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHDPS), which catalyzes the rate-limiting step in lysine biosynthesis. In this study, we firstly show by gene knock out studies that S. pneumoniae (sp) lacking the DHDPS gene is unable to grow unless supplemented with lysine-rich media. We subsequently set out to characterize the structure, function and stability of the enzyme drug target. Our studies show that sp-DHDPS is folded and active with a k(cat) = 22 s(-1), K(M)(PYR) = 2.55 ± 0.05 mM and K(M)(ASA) = 0.044 ± 0.003 mM. Thermal denaturation experiments demonstrate sp-DHDPS exhibits an apparent melting temperature (T(M)(app)) of 72 °C, which is significantly greater than Escherichia coli DHDPS (Ec-DHDPS) (T(M)(app) = 59 °C). Sedimentation studies show that sp-DHDPS exists in a dimer-tetramer equilibrium with a K(D)(4→2) = 1.7 nM, which is considerably tighter than its E. coli ortholog (K(D)(4→2) = 76 nM). To further characterize the structure of the enzyme and probe its enhanced stability, we solved the high resolution (1.9 Å) crystal structure of sp-DHDPS (PDB ID 3VFL). The enzyme is tetrameric in the crystal state, consistent with biophysical measurements in solution. Although the sp-DHDPS and Ec-DHDPS active sites are almost identical, the tetramerization interface of the s. pneumoniae enzyme is significantly different in composition and has greater buried surface area (800 Å(2)) compared to its E. coli counterpart (500 Å(2)). This larger interface area is consistent with our solution studies demonstrating that sp-DHDPS is considerably more thermally and thermodynamically stable than Ec-DHDPS. Our study describe for the first time the knock-out phenotype, solution properties, stability and crystal structure of DHDPS from S. pneumoniae, a promising antimicrobial target.
A method for quantifying pulmonary Legionella pneumophila infection in mouse lungs by flow cytometry.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2012-08-20)
BACKGROUND: Pulmonary load of Legionella pneumophila in mice is normally determined by counting serial dilutions of bacterial colony forming units (CFU) on agar plates. This process is often tedious and time consuming. We describe a novel, rapid and versatile flow cytometric method that detects bacteria phagocytosed by neutrophils. FINDINGS: Mice were infected with L. pneumophila via intratracheal or intranasal administration. At various times after bacteria inoculation, mouse lungs were harvested and analysed concurrently for bacterial load by colony counting and flow cytometry analysis. The number of L. pneumophila-containing neutrophils correlated strongly with CFU obtained by bacteriological culture. CONCLUSIONS: This technique can be utilised to determine pulmonary bacterial load and may be used in conjunction with other flow cytometric based analyses of the resulting immune response.
Crystal, Solution and In silico Structural Studies of Dihydrodipicolinate Synthase from the Common Grapevine
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-06-25)
Dihydrodipicolinate synthase (DHDPS) catalyzes the rate limiting step in lysine biosynthesis in bacteria and plants. The structure of DHDPS has been determined from several bacterial species and shown in most cases to form a homotetramer or dimer of dimers. However, only one plant DHDPS structure has been determined to date from the wild tobacco species, Nicotiana sylvestris (Blickling et al. (1997) J. Mol. Biol. 274, 608-621). Whilst N. sylvestris DHDPS also forms a homotetramer, the plant enzyme adopts a 'back-to-back' dimer of dimers compared to the 'head-to-head' architecture observed for bacterial DHDPS tetramers. This raises the question of whether the alternative quaternary architecture observed for N. sylvestris DHDPS is common to all plant DHDPS enzymes. Here, we describe the structure of DHDPS from the grapevine plant, Vitis vinifera, and show using analytical ultracentrifugation, small-angle X-ray scattering and X-ray crystallography that V. vinifera DHDPS forms a 'back-to-back' homotetramer, consistent with N. sylvestris DHDPS. This study is the first to demonstrate using both crystal and solution state measurements that DHDPS from the grapevine plant adopts an alternative tetrameric architecture to the bacterial form, which is important for optimizing protein dynamics as suggested by molecular dynamics simulations reported in this study.
A Convenient Model of Severe, High Incidence Autoimmune Gastritis Caused by Polyclonal Effector T Cells and without Perturbation of Regulatory T Cells
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-11-09)
Autoimmune gastritis results from the breakdown of T cell tolerance to the gastric H(+)/K(+) ATPase. The gastric H(+)/K(+) ATPase is responsible for the acidification of gastric juice and consists of an α subunit (H/Kα) and a β subunit (H/Kβ). Here we show that CD4(+) T cells from H/Kα-deficient mice (H/Kα(-/-)) are highly pathogenic and autoimmune gastritis can be induced in sublethally irradiated wildtype mice by adoptive transfer of unfractionated CD4(+) T cells from H/Kα(-/-) mice. All recipient mice consistently developed the most severe form of autoimmune gastritis 8 weeks after the transfer, featuring hypertrophy of the gastric mucosa, complete depletion of the parietal and zymogenic cells, and presence of autoantibodies to H(+)/K(+) ATPase in the serum. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the disease significantly affected stomach weight and stomach pH of recipient mice. Depletion of parietal cells in this disease model required the presence of both H/Kα and H/Kβ since transfer of H/Kα(-/-) CD4(+) T cells did not result in depletion of parietal cells in H/Kα(-/-) or H/Kβ(-/-) recipient mice. The consistency of disease severity, the use of polyclonal T cells and a specific T cell response to the gastric autoantigen make this an ideal disease model for the study of many aspects of organ-specific autoimmunity including prevention and treatment of the disease.
The Golgi apparatus in the endomembrane-rich gastric parietal cells exist as functional stable mini-stacks dispersed throughout the cytoplasm
(PORTLAND PRESS LTD, 2011-12-01)
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Acid-secreting gastric parietal cells are polarized epithelial cells that harbour highly abundant and specialized, H+,K+ ATPase-containing, tubulovesicular membranes in the apical cytoplasm. The Golgi apparatus has been implicated in the biogenesis of the tubulovesicular membranes; however, an unanswered question is how a typical Golgi organization could regulate normal membrane transport within the membrane-dense cytoplasm of parietal cells. RESULTS: Here, we demonstrate that the Golgi apparatus of parietal cells is not the typical juxta-nuclear ribbon of stacks, but rather individual Golgi units are scattered throughout the cytoplasm. The Golgi membrane structures labelled with markers of both cis- and trans-Golgi membrane, indicating the presence of intact Golgi stacks. The parietal cell Golgi stacks were closely aligned with the microtubule network and were shown to participate in both anterograde and retrograde transport pathways. Dispersed Golgi stacks were also observed in parietal cells from H+,K+ ATPase-deficient mice that lack tubulovesicular membranes. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that the unusual organization of individual Golgi stacks dispersed throughout the cytoplasm of these terminally differentiated cells is likely to be a developmentally regulated event.
Timing of Immune Escape Linked to Success or Failure of Vaccination
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2010-09-16)
Successful vaccination against HIV should limit viral replication sufficiently to prevent the emergence of viral immune escape mutations. Broadly directed immunity is likely to be required to limit opportunities for immune escape variants to flourish. We studied the emergence of an SIV Gag cytotoxic T cell immune escape variant in pigtail macaques expressing the Mane-A*10 MHC I allele using a quantitative RT-PCR to measure viral loads of escape and wild type variants. Animals receiving whole Gag expressing vaccines completely controlled an SIV(mac251) challenge, had broader CTL responses and exhibited minimal CTL escape. In contrast, animals vaccinated with only a single CTL epitope and challenged with the same SIV(mac251) stock had high levels of viral replication and rapid CTL escape. Unvaccinated naïve animals exhibited a slower emergence of immune escape variants. Thus narrowly directed vaccination against a single epitope resulted in rapid immune escape and viral levels equivalent to that of naïve unvaccinated animals. These results emphasize the importance of inducing broadly directed HIV-specific immunity that effectively quashes early viral replication and limits the generation of immune escape variants. This has important implications for the selection of HIV vaccines for expanded human trials.
Prevention and Treatment of Influenza with Hyperimmune Bovine Colostrum Antibody
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2010-10-26)
BACKGROUND: Despite the availability of specific vaccines and antiviral drugs, influenza continues to impose a heavy toll on human health worldwide. Passive transfer of specific antibody (Ab) may provide a useful means of preventing or treating disease in unvaccinated individuals or those failing to adequately seroconvert, especially now that resistance to antiviral drugs is on the rise. However, preparation of appropriate Ab in large scale, quickly and on a yearly basis is viewed as a significant logistical hurdle for this approach to control seasonal influenza. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study, bovine colostrum, which contains approximately 500 g of IgG per milking per animal, has been investigated as a source of polyclonal antibody for delivery to the respiratory tract. IgG and F(ab')2 were purified from the hyperimmune colostrum of cows vaccinated with influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8) vaccine and were shown to have high hemagglutination-inhibitory and virus-neutralizing titers. In BALB/c mice, a single administration of either IgG or F(ab')2 could prevent the establishment of infection with a sublethal dose of PR8 virus when given as early as 7 days prior to exposure to virus. Pre-treated mice also survived an otherwise lethal dose of virus, the IgG- but not the F(ab')2-treated mice showing no weight loss. Successful reduction of established infection with this highly virulent virus was also observed with a single treatment 24 hr after virus exposure. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These data suggest that a novel and commercially-scalable technique for preparing Ab from hyperimmune bovine colostrum could allow production of a valuable substitute for antiviral drugs to control influenza with the advantage of eliminating the need for daily administration.
Inhibition of Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (ABCG2) in Human Myeloid Dendritic Cells Induces Potent Tolerogenic Functions during LPS Stimulation
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2014-08-11)
Breast cancer resistance protein (ABCG2), a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporters has been identified as a major determinant of multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells, but ABC transporter inhibition has limited therapeutic value in vivo. In this research, we demonstrated that inhibition of efflux transporters ABCG2 induced the generation of tolerogenic DCs from human peripheral blood myeloid DCs (mDCs). ABCG2 expression was present in mDCs and was further increased by LPS stimulation. Treatment of CD1c+ mDCs with an ABCG2 inhibitor, Ko143, during LPS stimulation caused increased production of IL-10 and decreased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased expression of CD83 and CD86. Moreover, inhibition of ABCG2 in monocyte-derived DCs (MDDCs) abrogated the up-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in these cells in response to LPS. Furthermore, CD1c+ mDCs stimulated with LPS plus Ko143 inhibited the proliferation of allogeneic and superantigen-specific syngenic CD4+ T cells and promoted expansion of CD25+FOXP3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells in an IL-10-dependent fashion. These tolerogenic effects of ABCG2 inhibition could be abolished by ERK inhibition. Thus, we demonstrated that inhibition of ABCG2 in LPS-stimulated mDCs can potently induce tolerogenic potentials in these cells, providing crucial new information that could lead to development of better strategies to combat MDR cancer.
Whole Genome Comparisons Suggest Random Distribution of Mycobacterium ulcerans Genotypes in a Buruli Ulcer Endemic Region of Ghana
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-03-01)
Efforts to control the spread of Buruli ulcer--an emerging ulcerative skin infection caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans--have been hampered by our poor understanding of reservoirs and transmission. To help address this issue, we compared whole genomes from 18 clinical M. ulcerans isolates from a 30 km2 region within the Asante Akim North District, Ashanti region, Ghana, with 15 other M. ulcerans isolates from elsewhere in Ghana and the surrounding countries of Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Contrary to our expectations of finding minor DNA sequence variations among isolates representing a single M. ulcerans circulating genotype, we found instead two distinct genotypes. One genotype was closely related to isolates from neighbouring regions of Amansie West and Densu, consistent with the predicted local endemic clone, but the second genotype (separated by 138 single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs] from other Ghanaian strains) most closely matched M. ulcerans from Nigeria, suggesting another introduction of M. ulcerans to Ghana, perhaps from that country. Both the exotic genotype and the local Ghanaian genotype displayed highly restricted intra-strain genetic variation, with less than 50 SNP differences across a 5.2 Mbp core genome within each genotype. Interestingly, there was no discernible spatial clustering of genotypes at the local village scale. Interviews revealed no obvious epidemiological links among BU patients who had been infected with identical M. ulcerans genotypes but lived in geographically separate villages. We conclude that M. ulcerans is spread widely across the region, with multiple genotypes present in any one area. These data give us new perspectives on the behaviour of possible reservoirs and subsequent transmission mechanisms of M. ulcerans. These observations also show for the first time that M. ulcerans can be mobilized, introduced to a new area and then spread within a population. Potential reservoirs of M. ulcerans thus might include humans, or perhaps M. ulcerans-infected animals such as livestock that move regularly between countries.
Low levels of ribosomal RNA partly account for the very high photosynthetic phosphorus-use efficiency of Proteaceae species.
Proteaceae species in south-western Australia occur on phosphorus- (P) impoverished soils. Their leaves contain very low P levels, but have relatively high rates of photosynthesis. We measured ribosomal RNA (rRNA) abundance, soluble protein, activities of several enzymes and glucose 6-phosphate (Glc6P) levels in expanding and mature leaves of six Proteaceae species in their natural habitat. The results were compared with those for Arabidopsis thaliana. Compared with A. thaliana, immature leaves of Proteaceae species contained very low levels of rRNA, especially plastidic rRNA. Proteaceae species showed slow development of the photosynthetic apparatus (‘delayed greening’), with young leaves having very low levels of chlorophyll and Calvin-Benson cycle enzymes. In mature leaves, soluble protein and Calvin-Benson cycle enzyme activities were low, but Glc6P levels were similar to those in A. thaliana. We propose that low ribosome abundance contributes to the high P efficiency of these Proteaceae species in three ways: (1) less P is invested in ribosomes; (2) the rate of growth and, hence, demand for P is low; and (3) the especially low plastidic ribosome abundance in young leaves delays formation of the photosynthetic machinery, spreading investment of P in rRNA. Although Calvin-Benson cycle enzyme activities are low, Glc6P levels are maintained, allowing their effective use.