J T August

Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (191)1010.39 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We have previously demonstrated that a DNA vaccine encoding HIV-p55gag in association with the lysosomal associated membrane protein-1 (LAMP-1) elicited a greater Gag-specific immune response, in comparison to a DNA encoding the native gag. In vitro studies have also demonstrated that LAMP/Gag was highly expressed and was present in MHCII containing compartments in transfected cells. In this study, the mechanisms involved in these processes and the relative contributions of the increased expression and altered traffic for the enhanced immune response were addressed. Cells transfected with plasmid DNA constructs containing p55gag attached to truncated sequences of LAMP-1 showed that the increased expression of gag mRNA required p55gag in frame with at least 741 bp of the LAMP-1 luminal domain. LAMP luminal domain also showed to be essential for Gag traffic through lysosomes and, in this case, the whole sequence was required. Further analysis of the trafficking pathway of the intact LAMP/Gag chimera demonstrated that it was secreted, at least in part, associated with exosome-like vesicles. Immunization of mice with LAMP/gag chimeric plasmids demonstrated that high expression level alone can induce a substantial transient antibody response, but targeting of the antigen to the endolysosomal/secretory pathways was required for establishment of cellular and memory response. The intact LAMP/gag construct induced polyfunctional CD4+ T cell response, which presence at the time of immunization was required for CD8+ T cell priming. LAMP-mediated targeting to endolysosomal/secretory pathway is an important new mechanistic element in LAMP-mediated enhanced immunity with applications to the development of novel anti-HIV vaccines and to general vaccinology field.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(6):e99887. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The rapid mutation of human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) and the limited characterization of the composition and incidence of the variant population are major obstacles to the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine. This issue was addressed by a comprehensive analysis of over 58,000 clade B HIV-1 protein sequences reported over at least 26 years. The sequences were aligned and the 2,874 overlapping nonamer amino acid positions of the viral proteome, each a possible core binding domain for human leukocyte antigen molecules and T-cell receptors, were quantitatively analyzed for four patterns of sequence motifs: (1) "index", the most prevalent sequence; (2) "major" variant, the most common variant sequence; (3) "minor" variants, multiple different sequences, each with an incidence less than that of the major variant; and (4) "unique" variants, each observed only once in the alignment. The collective incidence of the major, minor, and unique variants at each nonamer position represented the total variant population for the position. Positions with more than 50% total variants contained correspondingly reduced incidences of index and major variant sequences and increased minor and unique variants. Highly diverse positions, with 80 to 98% variant nonamer sequences, were present in each protein, including 5% of Gag, and 27% of Env and Nef, each. The multitude of different variant nonamer sequences (i.e. nonatypes; up to 68%) at the highly diverse positions, represented by the major, multiple minor, and multiple unique variants likely supported variants function both in immune escape and as altered peptide ligands with deleterious T-cell responses. The patterns of mutational change were consistent with the sequences of individual HXB2 and C1P viruses and can be considered applicable to all HIV-1 viruses. This characterization of HIV-1 protein mutation provides a foundation for the design of peptide-based vaccines and therapeutics.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(4):e59994. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Anti-dengue T-cell responses have been implicated in both protection and immunopathology. However, most of the T-cell studies for dengue include few epitopes, with limited knowledge of their inter-serotype variation and the breadth of their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) affinity. In order to expand our knowledge of HLA-restricted dengue epitopes, we screened T-cell responses against 477 overlapping peptides derived from structural and non-structural proteins of the dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV3) by use of HLA class I and II transgenic mice (TgM): A2, A24, B7, DR2, DR3 and DR4. TgM were inoculated with peptides pools and the T-cell immunogenic peptides were identified by ELISPOT. Nine HLA class I and 97 HLA class II novel DENV3 epitopes were identified based on immunogenicity in TgM and their HLA affinity was further confirmed by binding assays analysis. A subset of these epitopes activated memory T-cells from DENV3 immune volunteers and was also capable of priming naïve T-cells, ex vivo, from dengue IgG negative individuals. Analysis of inter- and intra-serotype variation of such an epitope (A02-restricted) allowed us to identify altered peptide ligands not only in DENV3 but also in other DENV serotypes. These studies also characterized the HLA promiscuity of 23 HLA class II epitopes bearing highly conserved sequences, six of which could bind to more than 10 different HLA molecules representing a large percentage of the global population. These epitope data are invaluable to investigate the role of T-cells in dengue immunity/pathogenesis and vaccine design.
    PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 01/2013; 7(10):e2497. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phylogenetic relatedness and cocirculation of several major human pathogen flaviviruses are recognized as a possible cause of deleterious immune responses to mixed infection or immunization and call for a greater understanding of the inter-Flavivirus protein homologies. This study focused on the identification of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-restricted West Nile virus (WNV) T-cell ligands and characterization of their distribution in reported sequence data of WNV and other flaviviruses. H-2-deficient mice transgenic for either A2, A24, B7, DR2, DR3, or DR4 HLA alleles were immunized with overlapping peptides of the WNV proteome, and peptide-specific T-cell activation was measured by gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISpot) assays. Approximately 30% (137) of the WNV proteome peptides were identified as HLA-restricted T-cell ligands. The majority of these ligands were conserved in ∼≥88% of analyzed WNV sequences. Notably, only 51 were WNV specific, and the remaining 86, chiefly of E, NS3, and NS5, shared an identity of nine or more consecutive amino acids with sequences of 64 other flaviviruses, including several major human pathogens. Many of the shared ligands had an incidence of >50% in the analyzed sequences of one or more of six major flaviviruses. The multitude of WNV sequences shared with other flaviviruses as interspecies variants highlights the possible hazard of defective T-cell activation by altered peptide ligands in the event of dual exposure to WNV and other flaviviruses, by either infection or immunization. The data suggest the possible preferred use of sequences that are pathogen specific with minimum interspecies sequence homology for the design of Flavivirus vaccines.
    Journal of Virology 05/2012; 86(14):7616-24. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A number of strategies have been used to improve the efficacy of the DNA vaccine for the treatment of tumors. These strategies, ranging from activating CD4+ T cell, manipulating antigen presentation and/or processing to anti-angiogenesis, focus on one certain aspect in the functioning of the vaccine. Therefore, their combination is necessary for rational DNA vaccines design by synergizing different regimens and overcoming the limitations of each strategy. A DNA fragment (HSV) encoding the C terminal 37 amino acids of human chorionic gonadotropin β chain (hCGβ), 5 different HLA-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes from human survivin and the third and fourth extracellular domains of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) was inserted into the sequence between the luminal and transmembrane domain of human lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 cDNA for the construction of a novel DNA vaccine. This novel vaccine, named p-L/HSV, has a potent antitumor effect on the LL/2 lung carcinoma model in syngeneic C57BL/6 mice. The immunologic mechanism involved in the antitumor effect referred to the activation of both cellular and humoral immune response. In addition, the tumor vasculature was abrogated as observed by immunohistochemistry in p-L/HSV immunized mice. Furthermore, the immunized mice received an additional boost with p-L/HSV 6 months later and showed a strong immune recall response. The present study indicates that the strategies of combining antitumor with antiangiogenesis and targeting the tumor antigen to the major histocompatibility complex class II pathway cooperate well. Such a study may shed new light on designing vaccine for cancer in the future.
    The Journal of Gene Medicine 03/2012; 14(5):353-62. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infants born to HIV-infected mothers are at high risk of becoming infected during gestation or the breastfeeding period. A search is thus warranted for vaccine formulations that will prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. The LAMP/gag DNA chimeric vaccine encodes the HIV-1 p55gag fused to the lysosome-associated membrane protein-1 (LAMP-1) and has been shown to enhance anti-Gag antibody (Ab) and cellular immune responses in adult and neonatal mice; such a vaccine represents a new concept in antigen presentation. In this study, we evaluated the effect of LAMP/gag DNA immunization on neonates either before conception or during pregnancy. LAMP/gag immunization of BALB/c mice before conception by the intradermal route led to the transfer of anti-Gag IgG1 Ab through the placenta and via breastfeeding. Furthermore, there were an increased percentage of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+T cells in the spleens of neonates. When offspring were immunized with LAMP/gag DNA, the anti-Gag Ab response and the Gag-specific IFN-γ-secreting cells were decreased. Inhibition of anti-Gag Ab production and cellular responses were not observed six months after immunization, indicating that maternal immunization did not interfere with the long-lasting memory response in offspring. Injection of purified IgG in conjunction with LAMP/gag DNA immunization decreased humoral and cytotoxic T-cell responses. LAMP/gag DNA immunization by intradermal injection prior to conception promoted the transfer of Ab, leading to a diminished response to Gag without interfering with the development of anti-Gag T- and B-cell memory. Finally, we assessed responses after one intravenous injection of LAMP/gag DNA during the last five days of pregnancy. The intravenous injection led to in utero immunization. In conclusion, DNA vaccine enconding LAMP-1 with Gag and other HIV-1 antigens should be considered in the development of a protective vaccine for the maternal/fetal and newborn periods.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(2):e31608. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccines capable of inducing mucosal immunity in early postnatal life until adulthood, protecting early sexual initiation, should be considered as strategies to vaccination against HIV. The HIV-1 GAG protein as a chimera with the lysosome-associated membrane protein (LAMP/gag), encoded by a DNA vaccine, is targeted to the endosomal/lysosomal compartment that contains class II MHC molecules and has been shown to be immunogenic in adult mice. Assuming that one such strategy could help to overcome the immunological immaturity in the early postnatal period, we have evaluated the systemic and mucosal immunogenicity of LAMP/gag immunization in neonatal mice. Intranasal immunization with LAMP/gag vaccine induced higher levels of sIgA and IgG anti-GAG antibodies in intestinal washes than did the gag vaccine. The combination of ID injections and the IN protocol with the chimeric vaccine promoted the increase of Ab levels in sera. Both vaccines induced splenic IFN-γ- secreting cells against GAG peptide pools, as well as in vivo cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) function, and increased the percentage of CD8+ T cells to the immunodominant class I peptide in gut and spleen. However, only the chimeric vaccine was able to enhance Th1/Th2 cytokine secretion in response to class II GAG peptide and to enhance IL-4-secreting cells against GAG peptides and p24 protein stimuli. Long-lasting humoral and cellular responses were detected until adult age, following neonatal immunization with the chimeric vaccine. The LAMP/gag vaccination was able to induce potent GAG-specific T and B cell immune responses in early life which are essential to elicit sustained and long-lasting mucosal and systemic humoral response.
    Immunobiology 04/2011; 216(4):505-12. · 2.81 Impact Factor
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    Paul Thiamjoo Tan, Asif M Khan, J Thomas August
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccines are the only proven effective method for prevention of human infectious diseases. Almost all traditional vaccines require activating immunological memory B cells to secrete neutralizing antibodies against invading pathogens. The complication with influenza viruses is the high viral mutation rate that results in immune escape through modification of the B cell epitopes. Studies of T-cell immunity to influenza infection provide an alternative vaccine strategy based on highly conserved T-cell epitopes. In this review, we discuss the importance of T cell-mediated immunity in influenza infection and the need for a targeted vaccine approach focused on highly conserved T-cell epitopes to mitigate immune escape. We propose 15 highly conserved pan-influenza sequences as possible T cell epitopes-based vaccine targets for broad protection and lasting immunity against variant influenza strains.
    Human vaccines 04/2011; 7(4):402-9. · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Increasing levels of plasmid vector-mediated activation of innate immune signaling pathways is an approach to improve DNA vaccine-induced adaptive immunity for infectious disease and cancer applications. Retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) is a critical cytoplasmic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) pattern receptor required for innate immune activation in response to viral infection. Activation of RIG-I leads to type I interferon (IFN) and inflammatory cytokine production through interferon promoter stimulator 1 (IPS-1)-mediated activation of interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) and NF-κB signaling. DNA vaccines coexpressing antigen and an expressed RNA (eRNA) RIG-I agonist were made, and the effect of RIG-I activation on antigen-specific immune responses to the encoded antigen was determined. Plasmid vector backbones expressing various RIG-I ligands from RNA polymerase III promoters were screened in a cell culture assay for RIG-I agonist activity, and optimized, potent RIG-I ligands were developed. One of these, eRNA41H, combines (i) eRNA11a, an immunostimulatory dsRNA expressed by convergent transcription, with (ii) adenovirus VA RNAI. eRNA41H was integrated into the backbone of DNA vaccine vectors expressing H5N1 influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA). The resultant eRNA vectors potently induced type 1 IFN production in cell culture through RIG-I activation and combined high-level HA antigen expression with RNA-mediated type I IFN activation in a single plasmid vector. The eRNA vectors induced increased HA-specific serum antibody binding avidity after naked DNA intramuscular prime and boost delivery in mice. This demonstrates that DNA vaccine potency may be augmented by the incorporation of RIG-I-activating immunostimulatory RNA into the vector backbone.
    Journal of Virology 02/2011; 85(3):1370-83. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1). · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This report describes the identification and bioinformatics analysis of HLA-DR4-restricted HIV-1 Gag epitope peptides, and the application of dendritic cell mediated immunization of DNA plasmid constructs. BALB/c (H-2d) and HLA-DR4 (DRA1*0101, DRB1*0401) transgenic mice were immunized with immature dendritic cells transfected by a recombinant DNA plasmid encoding the lysosome-associated membrane protein-1/HIV-1 Gag (pLAMP/gag) chimera antigen. Three immunization protocols were compared: 1) primary subcutaneous immunization with 1x10(5) immature dendritic cells transfected by electroporation with the pLAMP/gag DNA plasmid, and a second subcutaneous immunization with the naked pLAMP/gag DNA plasmid; 2) primary immunization as above, and a second subcutaneous immunization with a pool of overlapping peptides spanning the HIV-1 Gag sequence; and 3) immunization twice by subcutaneous injection of the pLAMP/gag DNA plasmid. Primary immunization with pLAMP/gag-transfected dendritic cells elicited the greatest number of peptide specific T-cell responses, as measured by ex vivo IFN-gamma ELISpot assay, both in BALB/c and HLA-DR4 transgenic mice. The pLAMP/gag-transfected dendritic cells prime and naked DNA boost immunization protocol also resulted in an increased apparent avidity of peptide in the ELISpot assay. Strikingly, 20 of 25 peptide-specific T-cell responses in the HLA-DR4 transgenic mice contained sequences that corresponded, entirely or partially to 18 of the 19 human HLA-DR4 epitopes listed in the HIV molecular immunology database. Selection of the most conserved epitope peptides as vaccine targets was facilitated by analysis of their representation and variability in all reported sequences. These data provide a model system that demonstrates a) the superiority of immunization with dendritic cells transfected with LAMP/gag plasmid DNA, as compared to naked DNA, b) the value of HLA transgenic mice as a model system for the identification and evaluation of epitope-based vaccine strategies, and c) the application of variability analysis across reported sequences in public databases for selection of historically conserved HIV epitopes as vaccine targets.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1):e8574. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The immune-related evolution of influenza viruses is exceedingly complex and current vaccines against influenza must be reformulated for each influenza season because of the high degree of antigenic drift among circulating influenza strains. Delay in vaccine production is a serious problem in responding to a pandemic situation, such as that of the current H1N1 strain. Immune escape is generally attributed to reduced antibody recognition of the viral hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins whose rate of mutation is much greater than that of the internal non-structural proteins. As a possible alternative, vaccines directed at T cell epitope domains of internal influenza proteins, that are less susceptible to antigenic variation, have been investigated. HLA transgenic mouse strains expressing HLA class I A*0201, A*2402, and B*0702, and class II DRB1*1501, DRB1*0301 and DRB1*0401 were immunized with 196 influenza H1N1 peptides that contained residues of highly conserved proteome sequences of the human H1N1, H3N2, H1N2, H5N1, and avian influenza A strains. Fifty-four (54) peptides that elicited 63 HLA-restricted peptide-specific T cell epitope responses were identified by IFN-gamma ELISpot assay. The 54 peptides were compared to the 2007-2009 human H1N1 sequences for selection of sequences in the design of a new candidate H1N1 vaccine, specifically targeted to highly-conserved HLA-restricted T cell epitopes. Seventeen (17) T cell epitopes in PB1, PB2, and M1 were selected as vaccine targets based on sequence conservation over the past 30 years, high functional avidity, non-identity to human peptides, clustered localization, and promiscuity to multiple HLA alleles. These candidate vaccine antigen sequences may be applicable to any avian or human influenza A virus.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1):e8754. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is widespread concern that H5N1 avian influenza A viruses will emerge as a pandemic threat, if they become capable of human-to-human (H2H) transmission. Avian strains lack this capability, which suggests that it requires important adaptive mutations. We performed a large-scale comparative analysis of proteins from avian and human strains, to produce a catalogue of mutations associated with H2H transmissibility, and to detect their presence in avian isolates. We constructed a dataset of influenza A protein sequences from 92,343 public database records. Human and avian sequence subsets were compared, using a method based on mutual information, to identify characteristic sites where human isolates present conserved mutations. The resulting catalogue comprises 68 characteristic sites in eight internal proteins. Subtype variability prevented the identification of adaptive mutations in the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins. The high number of sites in the ribonucleoprotein complex suggests interdependence between mutations in multiple proteins. Characteristic sites are often clustered within known functional regions, suggesting their functional roles in cellular processes. By isolating and concatenating characteristic site residues, we defined adaptation signatures, which summarize the adaptive potential of specific isolates. Most adaptive mutations emerged within three decades after the 1918 pandemic, and have remained remarkably stable thereafter. Two lineages with stable internal protein constellations have circulated among humans without reassorting. On the contrary, H5N1 avian and swine viruses reassort frequently, causing both gains and losses of adaptive mutations. Human host adaptation appears to be complex and systemic, involving nearly all influenza proteins. Adaptation signatures suggest that the ability of H5N1 strains to infect humans is related to the presence of an unusually high number of adaptive mutations. However, these mutations appear unstable, suggesting low pandemic potential of H5N1 in its current form. In addition, adaptation signatures indicate that pandemic H1N1/09 strain possesses multiple human-transmissibility mutations, though not an unusually high number with respect to swine strains that infected humans in the past. Adaptation signatures provide a novel tool for identifying zoonotic strains with the potential to infect humans.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(2):e9025. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An accurate molecular diagnosis for viral pathogens is highly dependent on pre-analytical procedures. The efficiencies of two viral RNA extraction methods (liquid phase partition and silica-based adsorption chromatography) and the effects of handling and storage on the stability of RNA isolated from dengue virus (DENV) were studied. Viral RNA extracted from spiked sera or clinical samples characterized with DENV infection were quantified by TaqMan real-time PCR. The presence of high serum proteins severely affected the recovery of DENV RNA by the liquid phase partition, but not the silica-based method. The recovery with Trizol liquid phase partition method was significantly improved by a concomitant addition of a co-precipitant and the reduction of sera proteins, resulting in recoveries similar to that of the silica-based methods. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles did not affect the recovery of viral RNA. While intact DENV was found to be stable in serum for up to 2 hour at 25 degrees C, recovery of viral RNA from sera stored in the lysis/binding buffer was stable for up to 5 days. These data indicate that the choice of viral RNA extraction methods, the conditions for handling, and storing of clinical sera critically affect the quantification of viral nucleic acid from clinical samples. This will impact the accuracy and reproducibility of DENV diagnosis by PCR-based assays.
    The Journal of molecular diagnostics: JMD 10/2009; 11(6):537-42. · 3.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In our previous study by Gupta et al, dominant T-cell epitopes of SARS CoV-N(N) protein were predicted by software. The spectrum of interferon (IFN)-gamma responses of Balb/c mice immunized against two different forms of SARS CoV-N plasmid was then analyzed. A cluster of dominant T-cell epitopes of SARS CoV-N protein was found in the N-terminus (amino acids 76-114). On the basis of this study, four different plasmids were constructed: (i) DNA encoding the unmodified N (p-N) or N(70-122) (p-N(70-122)) as an endogenous cytoplasmic protein or (ii) DNA encoding a lysosome-associated membrane protein (LAMP) chimera with N (p-LAMP/N) or N(70-122) (p-LAMP/N(70-122)). The immune responses of mice to these four constructs were evaluated. The results showed marked differences in the responses of the immunized mice. A single priming immunization with the p-LAMP/N construct was sufficient to elicit an antibody response. Enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) assay indicated that p-LAMP/N(70-122) and p-LAMP/N plasmids both elicited a greater IFN-gamma response than p-N. p-N and p-N(70-122) constructs induced low or undetectable levels of cytokine secretion. We also found that the p-LAMP/N(70-122) construct promoted a long-lasting T-cell memory response without an additional boost 6 months after three immunizations. These findings show that DNA vaccines, even epitope-based DNA vaccines using LAMP as chimera, can elicit both humoral and cellular immune responses.
    Gene therapy 10/2009; 16(11):1353-62. · 4.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Optimized DNA expression vectors encoding the native HIV-1 Gag or a fusion of Gag with the lysosomal membrane associated protein 1 (LAMP) were compared for immunogenicity upon intramuscular DNA delivery in rhesus macaques. Both vaccines elicited CD4(+) T-cell responses, but with significant differences in the phenotype of the Gag-specific cells: the native Gag induced CD4(+) responses with a phenotype of central memory-like T cells (CD28(+) CD45RA(-)), whereas the LAMP/Gag chimera induced CD4(+) responses with effector memory phenotype (CD28(-) CD45RA(-)). Antigen-specific T cells producing both IFN-gamma and TNFalpha were found in the animals receiving the native Gag, whereas the LAMP/Gag chimera induced humoral responses faster. These results demonstrate that modification of intracellular Gag trafficking results in the induction of distinct immune responses. Combinations of DNA vectors encoding both forms of antigen may be more potent in eliciting anti-HIV-1 immunity.
    Vaccine 07/2009; 27(35):4840-9. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: West Nile virus (WNV) has emerged globally as an increasingly important pathogen for humans and domestic animals. Studies of the evolutionary diversity of the virus over its known history will help to elucidate conserved sites, and characterize their correspondence to other pathogens and their relevance to the immune system. We describe a large-scale analysis of the entire WNV proteome, aimed at identifying and characterizing evolutionarily conserved amino acid sequences. This study, which used 2,746 WNV protein sequences collected from the NCBI GenPept database, focused on analysis of peptides of length 9 amino acids or more, which are immunologically relevant as potential T-cell epitopes. Entropy-based analysis of the diversity of WNV sequences, revealed the presence of numerous evolutionarily stable nonamer positions across the proteome (entropy value of < or = 1). The representation (frequency) of nonamers variant to the predominant peptide at these stable positions was, generally, low (< or = 10% of the WNV sequences analyzed). Eighty-eight fragments of length 9-29 amino acids, representing approximately 34% of the WNV polyprotein length, were identified to be identical and evolutionarily stable in all analyzed WNV sequences. Of the 88 completely conserved sequences, 67 are also present in other flaviviruses, and several have been associated with the functional and structural properties of viral proteins. Immunoinformatic analysis revealed that the majority (78/88) of conserved sequences are potentially immunogenic, while 44 contained experimentally confirmed human T-cell epitopes. This study identified a comprehensive catalogue of completely conserved WNV sequences, many of which are shared by other flaviviruses, and majority are potential epitopes. The complete conservation of these immunologically relevant sequences through the entire recorded WNV history suggests they will be valuable as components of peptide-specific vaccines or other therapeutic applications, for sequence-specific diagnosis of a wide-range of Flavivirus infections, and for studies of homologous sequences among other flaviviruses.
    PLoS ONE 01/2009; 4(4):e5352. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Immunology - CLIN IMMUNOL. 01/2009; 131.
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    ABSTRACT: We used optimized DNA expression vectors to compare two gene delivery methodologies in rhesus macaques, namely direct DNA injection and in vivo adaptive constant-current electroporation via the intramuscular route. The use of in vivo electroporation increased levels of gene expression and immune responses. We used an optimized HIV gag expression plasmid to show the development of new cellular immune responses in SIV-infected animals controlling viremia. Furthermore, after vaccination with SIV expression plasmids the recall responses to the SIV antigens were very high, indicating that DNA is a strong boost in the presence of antiretroviral treatment in SIV-infected animals. There was substantial animal-to-animal variability in DNA expression, revealed by plasma measurements of IL-15 produced by co-injected IL-15 DNA. IL-15 expression levels correlated with peak immune responses. Electroporation led to an expansion of antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells of both central and effector memory phenotype. These results indicate that improved gene delivery and expression by electroporation dramatically increases immunogenicity of DNA vaccines. Electroporation is thus an important method to improve the effectiveness of DNA vaccination.
    Vaccine 05/2008; 26(40):5223-9. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: T-cell epitopes that promiscuously bind to multiple alleles of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) supertype are prime targets for development of vaccines and immunotherapies because they are relevant to a large proportion of the human population. The presence of clusters of promiscuous T-cell epitopes, immunological hotspots, has been observed in several antigens. These clusters may be exploited to facilitate the development of epitope-based vaccines by selecting a small number of hotspots that can elicit all of the required T-cell activation functions. Given the large size of pathogen proteomes, including of variant strains, computational tools are necessary for automated screening and selection of immunological hotspots. Hotspot Hunter is a web-based computational system for large-scale screening and selection of candidate immunological hotspots in pathogen proteomes through analysis of antigenic diversity. It allows screening and selection of hotspots specific to four common HLA supertypes, namely HLA class I A2, A3, B7 and class II DR. The system uses Artificial Neural Network and Support Vector Machine methods as predictive engines. Soft computing principles were employed to integrate the prediction results produced by both methods for robust prediction performance. Experimental validation of the predictions showed that Hotspot Hunter can successfully identify majority of the real hotspots. Users can predict hotspots from a single protein sequence, or from a set of aligned protein sequences representing pathogen proteome. The latter feature provides a global view of the localizations of the hotspots in the proteome set, enabling analysis of antigenic diversity and shift of hotspots across protein variants. The system also allows the integration of prediction results of the four supertypes for identification of hotspots common across multiple supertypes. The target selection feature of the system shortlists candidate peptide hotspots for the formulation of an epitope-based vaccine that could be effective against multiple variants of the pathogen and applicable to a large proportion of the human population. Hotspot Hunter is publicly accessible at http://antigen.i2r.a-star.edu.sg/hh/. It is a new generation computational tool aiding in epitope-based vaccine design.
    BMC Bioinformatics 02/2008; 9 Suppl 1:S19. · 3.02 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

6k Citations
1,010.39 Total Impact Points


  • 2003–2014
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      • Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2013
    • University of Pittsburgh
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 1977–2013
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • • Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Department of Pathology
      • • Department of Biomedical Engineering
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2011
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Immunology
      Seattle, WA, United States
  • 2010
    • University of Oxford
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      • Vaccine Branch
      Maryland, United States
  • 2006–2009
    • National University of Singapore
      • Department of Biochemistry
      Singapore, Singapore
  • 2004–2007
    • Institute for Infocomm Research
      Tumasik, Singapore
    • Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
      • Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas Filho (IBCCF)
      Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    • Fukuyama University
      • Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
      Hukuyama, Hiroshima, Japan
  • 2001
    • National Cancer Center, Japan
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 1989
    • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
      Maryland, United States
  • 1985
    • National Institutes of Health
      Maryland, United States
  • 1965–1977
    • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
      New York City, New York, United States