Xianzhu Wu

Pennsylvania State University, University Park, MD, United States

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Publications (8)29.91 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The scavenger receptor CD36 plays important roles in malaria, including the sequestration of parasite-infected erythrocytes in microvascular capillaries, control of parasitemia through phagocytic clearance by macrophages, and immunity. Although the role of CD36 in the parasite sequestration and clearance has been extensively studied, how and to what extent CD36 contributes to malaria immunity remains poorly understood. In this study, to determine the role of CD36 in malaria immunity, we assessed the internalization of CD36-adherent and CD36-nonadherent Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells (IRBCs) and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by DCs, and the ability of DCs to activate NK, and T cells. Human DCs treated with anti-CD36 antibody and CD36 deficient murine DCs internalized lower levels of CD36-adherent IRBCs and produced significantly decreased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines compared to untreated human DCs and wild type mouse DCs, respectively. Consistent with these results, wild type murine DCs internalized lower levels of CD36-nonadherent IRBCs and produced decreased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines than wild type DCs treated with CD36-adherent IRBCs. Further, the cytokine production by NK and T cells activated by IRBC-internalized DCs was significantly dependent on CD36. Thus, our results demonstrate that CD36 contributes significantly to the uptake of IRBCs and pro-inflammatory cytokine responses by DCs, and the ability of DCs to activate NK and T cells to produce IFN-γ. Given that DCs respond to malaria parasites very early during infection and influence development of immunity, and that CD36 contributes substantially to the cytokine production by DCs, NK and T cells, our results suggest that CD36 plays an important role in immunity to malaria. Furthermore, since the contribution of CD36 is particularly evident at low doses of infected erythrocytes, the results imply that the effect of CD36 on malaria immunity is imprinted early during infection when parasite load is low.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e77604. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Effective resolution of malaria infection by avoiding pathogenesis requires regulated pro- to anti-inflammatory responses and the development of protective immunity. TLRs are known to be critical for initiating innate immune responses, but their roles in the regulation of immune responses and development of protective immunity to malaria remain poorly understood. In this study, using wild-type, TLR2(-/-), TLR4(-/-), TLR9(-/-), and MyD88(-/-) mice infected with Plasmodium yoelii, we show that TLR9 and MyD88 regulate pro/anti-inflammatory cytokines, Th1/Th2 development, and cellular and humoral responses. Dendritic cells from TLR9(-/-) and MyD88(-/-) mice produced significantly lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines and higher levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines than dendritic cells from wild-type mice. NK and CD8(+) T cells from TLR9(-/-) and MyD88(-/-) mice showed markedly impaired cytotoxic activity. Furthermore, mice deficient in TLR9 and MyD88 showed higher Th2-type and lower Th1-type IgGs. Consequently, TLR9(-/-) and MyD88(-/-) mice exhibited compromised ability to control parasitemia and were susceptible to death. Our data also show that TLR9 and MyD88 distinctively regulate immune responses to malaria infection. TLR9(-/-) but not MyD88(-/-) mice produced significant levels of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β and IL-18, by other TLRs/inflammasome- and/or IL-1R/IL-18R-mediated signaling. Thus, whereas MyD88(-/-) mice completely lacked cell-mediated immunity, TLR9(-/-) mice showed low levels of cell-mediated immunity and were slightly more resistant to malaria infection than MyD88(-/-) mice. Overall, our findings demonstrate that TLR9 and MyD88 play central roles in the immune regulation and development of protective immunity to malaria, and have implications in understanding immune responses to other pathogens.
    The Journal of Immunology 04/2012; 188(10):5073-85. · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • Parasite Immunology 01/2012; · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) have been proposed as malaria pathogenic factors based on their ability to induce proinflammatory responses in macrophages and malaria-like symptoms in mice. Parasite GPIs induce the production of inflammatory cytokines by activating the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and NF-κB signaling pathways. Importantly, inhibition of the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway upregulates a subset of cytokines, including IL-12. We investigated the role of nuclear transcription factor, IκB-ζ, in the GPI-induced dysregulated expression of IL-12 on inhibition of the ERK pathway. GPIs efficiently induced the expression of IκB-ζ in macrophages regardless of whether cells were pretreated or untreated with ERK inhibitors, indicating that ERK has no role in IκB-ζ expression. However, on ERK inhibition followed by stimulation with GPIs, NF-κB binding to Il12b promoter κB site was markedly increased, suggesting that the ERK pathway regulates Il12b transcription. Knockdown of IκB-ζ using siRNA markedly reduced the GPI-induced IL-12 production and abrogated the dysregulated IL-12 production in ERK inhibited cells. Together these results demonstrate that ERK modulates IL-12 expression by regulating IκB-ζ-dependent binding of NF-κB transcription factors to Il12b gene promoter. Additionally, our finding that IκB-ζ can be knocked down efficiently in primary macrophages is valuable for studies aimed at gaining further insights into IκB-ζ function.
    International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Life 11/2011; 64(2):187-93. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ligand specificity of TLRs and the details of signaling pathways that are activated by ligand-receptor engagements have been studied extensively. However, it is not known whether the signaling events initiated by defined doses of ligand are uniformly effective in producing various cytokines. In this study, we investigated the dose requirement for the saturated production of representative inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-12, by DCs stimulated with Plasmodium falciparum merozoites/protein-DNA complex or a CpG ODN TLR9 ligand. The data demonstrate that the ligand doses required for the maximal expression of TNF-α and IL-6 are substantially higher than those required for the maximal production of IL-12. The data also demonstrate that the uptake capacity of malaria parasite by plasmacytoid DCs is markedly lower than that of myeloid DCs, and that, like myeloid DCs, plasmacytoid DCs produce significant levels of TNF-α and IL-12 when the uptake of malarial DNA is facilitated by carrier molecules such as polylysine or cationic lipids. These results have implications for enhancing the effectiveness of vaccine against malaria by modulating the innate immune responses of plasmacytoid DCs to malaria parasites.
    Experimental Parasitology 01/2011; 127(1):202-7. · 2.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The systemic clinical symptoms of Plasmodium falciparum infection such as fever and chills correspond to the proinflammatory cytokines produced in response to the parasite components released during the synchronized rupture of schizonts. We recently demonstrated that, among the schizont-released products, merozoites are the predominant components that activate dendritic cells (DCs) by TLR9-specific recognition to induce the maturation of cells and to produce proinflammatory cytokines. We also demonstrated that DNA is the active constituent and that formation of a DNA-protein complex is essential for the entry of parasite DNA into cells for recognition by TLR9. However, the nature of endogenous protein-DNA complex in the parasite is not known. In this study, we show that parasite nucleosome constitute the major protein-DNA complex involved in the activation of DCs by parasite nuclear material. The parasite components were fractionated into the nuclear and non-nuclear materials. The nuclear material was further fractionated into chromatin and the proteins loosely bound to chromatin. Polynucleosomes and oligonucleosomes were prepared from the chromatin. These were tested for their ability to activate DCs obtained by the FLT3 ligand differentiation of bone marrow cells from the wild type, and TLR2(-/-), TLR9(-/-) and MyD88(-/-) mice. DCs stimulated with the nuclear material and polynucleosomes as well as mono- and oligonucleosomes efficiently induced the production of proinflammatory cytokines in a TLR9-dependent manner, demonstrating that nucleosomes (histone-DNA complex) represent the major TLR9-specific DC-immunostimulatory component of the malaria parasite nuclear material. Thus, our data provide a significant insight into the activation of DCs by malaria parasites and have important implications for malaria vaccine development.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e20398. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DCs) play a crucial role in the development of protective immunity to malaria. However, it remains unclear how malaria parasites trigger immune responses in DCs. In this study, we purified merozoites, food vacuoles, and parasite membrane fragments released during the Plasmodium falciparum schizont burst to homogeneity and tested for the activation of bone marrow-derived DCs from wild-type and TLR2(-/-), TLR4(-/-), TLR9(-/-), and MyD88(-/-) C57BL/6J mice. The results demonstrate that a protein-DNA complex is the exclusive parasite component that activates DCs by a TLR9-dependent pathway to produce inflammatory cytokines. Complex formation with proteins is essential for the entry of parasite DNA into DCs for TLR9 recognition and, thus, proteins convert inactive DNA into a potent immunostimulatory molecule. Exogenous cationic polymers, polylysine and chitosan, can impart stimulatory activity to parasite DNA, indicating that complex formation involves ionic interactions. Merozoites and DNA-protein complex could also induce inflammatory cytokine responses in human blood DCs. Hemozoin is neither a TLR9 ligand for DCs nor functions as a carrier of DNA into cells. Additionally, although TLR9 is critical for DCs to induce the production of IFN-gamma by NK cells, this receptor is not required for NK cells to secret IFN-gamma, and cell-cell contact among myeloid DCs, plasmacytoid DCs, and NK cells is required for IFN-gamma production. Together, these results contribute substantially toward the understanding of malaria parasite-recognition mechanisms. More importantly, our finding that proteins and carbohydrate polymers are able to confer stimulatory activity to an otherwise inactive parasite DNA have important implications for the development of a vaccine against malaria.
    The Journal of Immunology 03/2010; 184(8):4338-48. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Proinflammatory responses induced by Plasmodium falciparum glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) are thought to be involved in malaria pathogenesis. In this study, we investigated the role of MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) in the regulation of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin (IL)-12, two of the major inflammatory cytokines produced by macrophages stimulated with GPIs. We show that MK2 differentially regulates the GPI-induced production of TNF-α and IL-12. Although TNF-α production was markedly decreased, IL-12 expression was increased by 2–3-fold in GPI-stimulated MK2−/− macrophages compared with wild type (WT) cells. MK2−/− macrophages produced markedly decreased levels of TNF-α than WT macrophages mainly because of lower mRNA stability and translation. In the case of IL-12, mRNA was substantially higher in MK2−/− macrophages than WT. This enhanced production is due to increased NF-κB binding to the gene promoter, a markedly lower level expression of the transcriptional repressor factor c-Maf, and a decreased binding of GAP-12 to the gene promoter in MK2−/− macrophages. Thus, our data demonstrate for the first time the role of MK2 in the transcriptional regulation of IL-12. Using the protein kinase inhibitors SB203580 and U0126, we also show that the ERK and p38 pathways regulate TNF-α and IL-12 production, and that both inhibitors can reduce phosphorylation of MK2 in response to GPIs and other toll-like receptor ligands. These results may have important implications for developing therapeutics for malaria and other infectious diseases.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2009; 284(23):15750-15761. · 4.65 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

110 Citations
29.91 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2012
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      University Park, MD, United States
  • 2011
    • Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine
      • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States