[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The newly emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has infected at least 77 people with a fatality rate of more than 50%. Alarmingly, the virus demonstrates a capability of human-to-human transmission, raising the possibility of global spread and endangering world health and economy. Here we have identified the receptor-binding domain (RBD) from the MERS-CoV spike protein and determined its crystal structure. This study also presents the structural comparison of MERS-CoV RBD with other coronavirus RBDs, successfully positioning MERS-CoV on the landscape of coronavirus evolution and providing insights into receptor binding by MERS-CoV. Furthermore, we found that MERS-CoV RBD functions as an effective entry inhibitor of MERS-CoV. The identified MERS-CoV RBD may also serve as a potential candidate for MERS-CoV subunit vaccines. Overall, this study enhances our understanding of the evolution of coronavirus RBDs, provides insights into receptor recognition by MERS-CoV, and may help control the transmission of MERS-CoV in humans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Flagellin is recognized by both Toll-like receptor (TLR)5 and NAIP5/NLRC4 inflammasome receptors. We hypothesized that the flagellins derived from different bacteria might differentially activate TLR5 and/or NAIP5/NLRC4 signal pathways. To test this, the immune recognition of recombinant flagellins derived from pathogenic Salmonella Typhi (SF) and the nonpathogenic Escherichia coli K12 strain MG1655 (KF) were examined by the activation of TLR5 and NLRC4 pathways in various cell types. While flagellins SF and KF were not distinguishable in activating the TLR5 pathway, KF induced significantly less interleukin-1β production and pyroptotic cell death in peritoneal macrophages than SF, and showed markedly lower efficiency in activating caspase-1 through the NLRC4 pathway than SF. Macrophages may differentially recognize flagellins by intracellular sensors and thereby initiate the immune response to invading pathogenic bacteria. Our findings suggest an active role of flagellin as an important determinant in host differential immune recognition and for the control of bacteria infection.
Journal of Innate Immunity 06/2013; · 4.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Targeting early infection in mucosal sites is one of the primary goals for mucosal vaccines so as to prevent pathogen mucosal transmission and infection. The TLR5 agonist flagellin was deemed to be a mucosal adjuvant candidate for clinical usage. However, the high antigenicity of flagellin and the possible inflammatory injury induced by flagellin might restrict its clinical usage. Here HIV-1 p24 protein was selected as an antigen model and we replaced the main antigenicity region domains D2 and D3 of non-pathogenic E.coli-derived flagellin (KF). The derived soluble protein KFD-p24 3D was then compared with KF-p24, which fused p24 directly to the C-terminal of KF. In-vitro and ex-vivo experiments showed that KFD-p24 3D has lower TLR5 agonist efficacy and less immunocyte-activating efficacy. Interestingly, the production of KF- specific antibody was highly reduced, and KFD-p24 3D induced IgA-biased antibody responses in mucosal sites. Moreover, KFD-p24 3D induced far fewer systemic inflammatory responses and abrogated detectable inflammatory side effects on mice, even at the high dose. The properties of enhanced IgA generation and attenuated inflammatory responses broaden the safe-dose range of KFD-p24 3D flagellin, creating a potentially promising mucosal adjuvant.
Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics. 02/2013; 9(5).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An emerging respiratory infectious disease with high mortality, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), is caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and has now spread to eight countries. Development of effective therapeutics and vaccines is crucial to save lives and halt the spread of MERS-CoV. Here, we show that a recombinant protein containing a 212-amino acid fragment (residues 377-588) in the truncated receptor-binding domain (RBD: residues 367-606) of MERS-CoV spike (S) protein fused with human IgG Fc fragment (S377-588-Fc) is highly expressed in the culture supernatant of transfected 293T cells. The purified S377-588-Fc protein efficiently binds to dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), the receptor of MERS-CoV, and potently inhibited MERS-CoV infection, suggesting its potential to be further developed as a therapeutic modality for treating MERS-CoV infection and saving the patients' lives. The recombinant S377-588-Fc is able to induce in the vaccinated mice strong MERS-CoV S-specific antibodies, which blocks the binding of RBD to DPP4 receptor and effectively neutralizes MERS-CoV infection. These findings indicate that this truncated RBD protein shows promise for further development as an effective and safe vaccine for the prevention of MERS-CoV infection.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(12):e81587. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major obstacle thwarting preclinical development of microbicides is the lack of a validated biomarker of cervicovaginal inflammation. Therefore, the present study aims to identify novel noninvasive soluble markers in a murine model for assessment of microbicide mucosal safety. By performing cytokine antibody array analysis, we identified two adhesion molecules, L-selectin and P-selectin, which significantly increased when mucosal inflammation was triggered by nonoxynol-9 (N9), an anti-HIV-1 microbicide candidate that failed clinical trials, in a refined murine model of agent-induced cervicovaginal inflammation. We found that patterns of detection of L-selectin and P-selectin were obviously different from those of the two previously defined biomarkers of cervicovaginal inflammation, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). The levels of these two soluble selectins correlated better than those of MCP-1 and IL-6 with the duration and severity of mucosal inflammation triggered by N9 and two approved proinflammatory compounds, benzalkonium chloride (BZK) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), but not by two nonproinflammatory compounds, carboxymethyl celluose (CMC; microbicide excipients) and tenofovir (TFV; microbicide candidate). These data indicated that L-selectin and P-selectin can serve as additional novel cervicovaginal inflammation biomarkers for preclinical mucosal safety evaluation of candidate microbicides for the prevention of infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted pathogens.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 03/2012; 56(6):3121-32. · 4.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For over 30 years, HIV/AIDS has wreaked havoc in the world. In the absence of an effective vaccine for HIV, development of new anti-HIV agents is urgently needed. We previously identified the antiviral activities of the scorpion-venom-peptide-derived mucroporin-M1 for three RNA viruses (measles viruses, SARS-CoV, and H5N1). In this investigation, a panel of scorpion venom peptides and their derivatives were designed and chosen for assessment of their anti-HIV activities. A new scorpion venom peptide derivative Kn2-7 was identified as the most potent anti-HIV-1 peptide by screening assays with an EC(50) value of 2.76 µg/ml (1.65 µM) and showed low cytotoxicity to host cells with a selective index (SI) of 13.93. Kn2-7 could inhibit all members of a standard reference panel of HIV-1 subtype B pseudotyped virus (PV) with CCR5-tropic and CXCR4-tropic NL4-3 PV strain. Furthermore, it also inhibited a CXCR4-tropic replication-competent strain of HIV-1 subtype B virus. Binding assay of Kn2-7 to HIV-1 PV by Octet Red system suggested the anti-HIV-1 activity was correlated with a direct interaction between Kn2-7 and HIV-1 envelope. These results demonstrated that peptide Kn2-7 could inhibit HIV-1 by direct interaction with viral particle and may become a promising candidate compound for further development of microbicide against HIV-1.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e34947. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Measles virus (MV) is still an imposing threat to public health. The matrix (M) protein has been shown not only to function as a structure block in the assembled MV virions, but also to regulate viral RNA synthesis, playing an important role in MV's replication and assembly. In the present study, we generated a panel of IgG monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against M protein and successfully obtained one IgA MAb (5H7) from the IgG panel. Employing the polarized Vero cells grown in the two-chamber transwell model, we investigated whether M-specific 5H7 IgA MAb could suppress MV's replication and assembly. The data presented indicate that, while failing to show the activities of traditional neutralization and immune exclusion, M-specific IgA MAb was able to effectively inhibit viral replication by intracellular neutralization (78%), supporting the notion that the M protein is important for MV assembly and replication and implying that the M protein was an effective target antigen. The data also showed that MV had a long entry and assembly phase during viral replication, providing an extended window for IgA intervention. The colocalization of M proteins and M-specific 5H7 IgA MAbs demonstrated that the intracellular neutralization was due to the direct binding of the M-specific 5H7 IgA MAbs to the M proteins. In summary, the present study has added another example showing that IgA antibodies targeting internal viral antigens could proactively participate in mucosal immune protection by intracellular neutralization and has provided evidence that M protein might be included as a target antigen in future MV vaccine design.
Journal of Virology 08/2011; 85(21):11090-7. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Outbreaks of SARS-CoV, influenza A (H5N1, H1N1) and measles viruses in recent years have raised serious concerns about the measures available to control emerging and re-emerging infectious viral diseases. Effective antiviral agents are lacking that specifically target RNA viruses such as measles, SARS-CoV and influenza H5N1 viruses, and available vaccinations have demonstrated variable efficacy. Therefore, the development of novel antiviral agents is needed to close the vaccination gap and silence outbreaks. We previously identified mucroporin, a cationic host defense peptide from scorpion venom, which can effectively inhibit standard bacteria. The optimized mucroporin-M1 can inhibit gram-positive bacteria at low concentrations and antibiotic-resistant pathogens. In this investigation, we further tested mucroporin and the optimized mucroporin-M1 for their antiviral activity. Surprisingly, we found that the antiviral activities of mucroporin-M1 against measles, SARS-CoV and influenza H5N1 viruses were notably increased with an EC₅₀ of 7.15 μg/ml (3.52 μM) and a CC₅₀ of 70.46 μg/ml (34.70 μM) against measles virus, an EC₅₀ of 14.46 μg/ml (7.12 μM) against SARS-CoV and an EC₅₀ of 2.10 μg/ml (1.03 μM) against H5N1, while the original peptide mucroporin showed no antiviral activity against any of these three viruses. The inhibition model could be via a direct interaction with the virus envelope, thereby decreasing the infectivity of virus. This report provides evidence that host defense peptides from scorpion venom can be modified for antiviral activity by rational design and represents a practical approach for developing broad-spectrum antiviral agents, especially against RNA viruses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The induction of a strong mucosal immune response is essential to building successful HIV vaccines. Highly attenuated recombinant HIV vaccinia virus can be administered mucosally, but even high doses of immunization have been found unable to induce strong mucosal antibody responses. In order to solve this problem, we studied the interactions of recombinant HIV vaccinia virus Tiantan strain (rVTT-gagpol) in mucosal epithelial cells (specifically Caco-2 cell layers) and in BALB/c mice. We evaluated the impact of this virus on HIV antigen delivery and specific immune responses. The results demonstrated that rVTT-gagpol was able to infect Caco-2 cell layers and both the nasal and lung epithelia in BALB/c mice. The progeny viruses and expressed p24 were released mainly from apical surfaces. In BALB/c mice, the infection was limited to the respiratory system and was not observed in the blood. This showed that polarized distribution limited antigen delivery into the whole body and thus limited immune response. To see if this could be improved upon, we stimulated unpolarized budding of the virus and HIV antigens by treating both Caco-2 cells and BALB/c mice with colchicine. We found that, in BALB/c mice, the degree of infection and antigen expression in the epithelia went up. As a result, specific immune responses increased correspondingly. Together, these data suggest that polarized budding limits antigen delivery and immune responses, but unpolarized distribution can increase antigen expression and delivery and thus enhance specific immune responses. This conclusion can be used to optimize mucosal HIV vaccine strategies.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e24296. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Flagellin contains conserved N/C domains for TLR5 binding to activate innate immunity and a middle hypervariable domain harboring the major antigenic epitopes. However, conflict results existed in the previous studies as to whether the hypervariable domain was involved in the cytokine production and adjuvancy of flagellin. Here we constructed three flagellin variants (designated as FliCDelta190-278, FliCDelta220-320, and FliCDelta180-400) with deletions in the hypervariable domain. Our data demonstrated that all deletion variants lost substantial antigenicity but not mucosal adjuvancy. Surprisingly, the variant with deletion of amino acids 220-320 (FliCDelta220-320) induced higher production of IL-8, MCP-1, and TNF-alpha, and showed higher mucosal adjuvancy than full-length FliC flagellin. Our data supported the notion that the hypervariable domain was involved in the cytokine production by flagellin and more importantly demonstrated that the hypervariable domain was important for the mucosal adjuvancy of flagellin.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 02/2010; 392(4):582-7. · 2.28 Impact Factor