Derek Elli

The Methodist Hospital System, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (11)52.61 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The current epidemic of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant Gram-positive bacteria requires the discovery of new drug targets and the development of new therapeutics. Lipoteichoic acid (LTA), a cell wall polymer of Gram-positive bacteria, consists of 1,3-polyglycerol-phosphate linked to glycolipid. LTA synthase (LtaS) polymerizes polyglycerol-phosphate from phosphatidylglycerol, a reaction that is essential for the growth of Gram-positive bacteria. We screened small molecule libraries for compounds inhibiting growth of Staphylococcus aureus but not of Gram-negative bacteria. Compound 1771 [2-oxo-2-(5-phenyl-1,3,4-oxadiazol-2-ylamino)ethyl 2-naphtho[2,1-b]furan-1-ylacetate] blocked phosphatidylglycerol binding to LtaS and inhibited LTA synthesis in S. aureus and in Escherichia coli expressing ltaS. Compound 1771 inhibited the growth of antibiotic-resistant Gram-positive bacteria and prolonged the survival of mice with lethal S. aureus challenge, validating LtaS as a target for the development of antibiotics.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2013; 110(9):3531-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacillus cereus strains harboring a pXO1-like virulence plasmid cause respiratory anthrax-like disease in humans, particularly in welders. We developed mouse models for intraperitoneal as well as aerosol challenge with spores of B. cereus G9241, harboring pBCXO1 and pBC218 virulence plasmids. Compared to wild-type B. cereus G9241, spores with a deletion of the pBCXO1 encoded protective antigen gene (pagA1) were severely attenuated, whereas spores with a deletion of the pBC218 encoded protective antigen homologue (pagA2) were not. Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) immunization raised antibodies that bound and neutralized the pagA1 encoded protective antigen (PA1), but not the PA2 orthologue encoded by pagA2. AVA immunization protected mice against a lethal challenge with spores from B. cereus G9241 or B. cereus Elc4, a strain that had been isolated from a fatal case of anthrax-like disease. As the pathogenesis of B. cereus anthrax-like disease in mice is dependent on pagA1 and PA-neutralizing antibodies provide protection, AVA immunization may also protect humans from respiratory anthrax-like death.
    Infection and immunity 01/2013; · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nonpigmented Yersinia pestis (pgm) strains are defective in scavenging host iron and have been used in live-attenuated vaccines to combat plague epidemics. Recently, a Y. pestis pgm strain was isolated from a researcher with hereditary hemochromatosis who died from laboratory-acquired plague. We used hemojuvelin-knockout (Hjv(-/-)) mice to examine whether iron-storage disease restores the virulence defects of nonpigmented Y. pestis. Unlike wild-type mice, Hjv(-/-) mice developed lethal plague when challenged with Y. pestis pgm strains. Immunization of Hjv(-/-) mice with a subunit vaccine that blocks Y. pestis type III secretion generated protection against plague. Thus, individuals with hereditary hemochromatosis may be protected with subunit vaccines but should not be exposed to live-attenuated plague vaccines.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 08/2012; 206(7):1050-8. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current efforts to develop plague vaccines focus on LcrV, a polypeptide that resides at the tip of type III secretion needles. LcrV-specific antibodies block Yersinia pestis type III injection of Yop effectors into host immune cells, thereby enabling phagocytes to kill the invading pathogen. Earlier work reported that antibodies against Y. pestis LcrV cannot block type III injection by Yersinia enterocolitica strains and suggested that lcrV polymorphisms may provide for escape from LcrV-mediated plague immunity. We show here that polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies raised against Y. pestis KIM D27 LcrV (LcrV(D27)) bind LcrV from Y. enterocolitica O:9 strain W22703 (LcrV(W22703)) or O:8 strain WA-314 (LcrV(WA-314)) but are otherwise unable to block type III injection by Y. enterocolitica strains. Replacing the lcrV gene on the pCD1 virulence plasmid of Y. pestis KIM D27 with either lcrV(W22703) or lcrV(WA-314) does not affect the ability of plague bacteria to secrete proteins via the type III pathway, to inject Yops into macrophages, or to cause lethal plague infections in mice. LcrV(D27)-specific antibodies blocked type III injection by Y. pestis expressing lcrV(W22703) or lcrV(WA-314) and protected mice against intravenous lethal plague challenge with these strains. Thus, although antibodies raised against LcrV(D27) are unable to block the type III injection of Y. enterocolitica strains, expression of lcrV(W22703) or lcrV(WA-314) in Y. pestis did not allow these strains to escape LcrV-mediated plague protective immunity in the intravenous challenge model.
    Infection and immunity 01/2012; 80(4):1572-82. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis causes plague, a disease with high mortality in humans that can be transmitted by fleabite or aerosol. A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-licensed plague vaccine is currently not available. Vaccine developers have focused on two subunits of Y. pestis: LcrV, a protein at the tip of type III secretion needles, and F1, the fraction 1 pilus antigen. F1-V, a hybrid generated via translational fusion of both antigens, is being developed for licensure as a plague vaccine. The rV10 vaccine is a non-toxigenic variant of LcrV lacking residues 271-300. Here we developed Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) protocols for rV10. Comparison of clinical grade rV10 with F1-V did not reveal significant differences in plague protection in mice, guinea pigs or cynomolgus macaques. We also developed cGMP protocols for rV10-2, a variant of rV10 with an altered affinity tag. Immunization with rV10-2 adsorbed to aluminum hydroxide elicited antibodies against LcrV and conferred pneumonic plague protection in mice, rats, guinea pigs, cynomolgus macaques and African Green monkeys. The data support further development of rV10-2 for FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) authorization review and clinical testing.
    Vaccine 09/2011; 29(38):6572-83. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human pneumonic plague is a devastating and transmissible disease for which a Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine is not available. Suitable animal models may be adopted as a surrogate for human plague to fulfill regulatory requirements for vaccine efficacy testing. To develop an alternative to pneumonic plague in nonhuman primates, we explored guinea pigs as a model system. On intranasal instillation of a fully virulent strain, Yersinia pestis CO92, guinea pigs developed lethal lung infections with hemorrhagic necrosis, massive bacterial replication in the respiratory system, and blood-borne dissemination to other organ systems. Expression of the Y. pestis F1 capsule was not required for the development of pulmonary infection; however, the capsule seemed to be important for the establishment of bubonic plague. The mean lethal dose (MLD) for pneumonic plague in guinea pigs was estimated to be 1000 colony-forming units. Immunization of guinea pigs with the recombinant forms of LcrV, a protein that resides at the tip of Yersinia type III secretion needles, or F1 capsule generated robust humoral immune responses. Whereas LcrV immunization resulted in partial protection against pneumonic plague challenge with 250 MLD Y. pestis CO92, immunization with recombinant F1 did not. rV10, a vaccine variant lacking LcrV residues 271-300, elicited protection against pneumonic plague, which seemed to be based on conformational antibodies directed against LcrV.
    American Journal Of Pathology 03/2011; 178(4):1689-700. · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: LcrV, a protein that resides at the tip of the type III secretion needles of Yersinia pestis, is the single most important plague protective antigen. Earlier work reported monoclonal antibody MAb 7.3, which binds a conformational epitope of LcrV and protects experimental animals against lethal plague challenge. By screening monoclonal antibodies directed against LcrV for their ability to protect immunized mice against bubonic plague challenge, we examined here the possibility of additional protective epitopes. MAb BA5 protected animals against plague, neutralized the Y. pestis type III secretion pathway and promoted opsonophagocytic clearance of bacteria in blood. LcrV residues 196-225 were necessary and sufficient for MAb BA5 binding. Compared to full-length LcrV, a variant lacking its residues 196-225 retained the ability of eliciting plague protection. These results identify LcrV residues 196-225 as a linear epitope that is recognized by the murine immune system to confer plague protection.
    Vaccine 12/2009; 28(7):1870-6. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis is perhaps the most feared infectious agent due to its ability to cause epidemic outbreaks of plague disease in animals and humans with high mortality. Plague infections elicit strong humoral immune responses against the capsular antigen (fraction 1 [F1]) of Y. pestis, and F1-specific antibodies provide protective immunity. Here we asked whether Y. pestis generates mutations that enable bacterial escape from protective immunity and isolated a variant with an IS1541 insertion in caf1A encoding the F1 outer membrane usher. The caf1A::IS1541 insertion prevented assembly of F1 pili and provided escape from plague immunity via F1-specific antibodies without a reduction in virulence in mouse models of bubonic or pneumonic plague. F1-specific antibodies interfere with Y. pestis type III transport of effector proteins into host cells, an inhibitory effect that was overcome by the caf1A::IS1541 insertion. These findings suggest a model in which IS1541 insertion into caf1A provides for reversible changes in envelope structure, enabling Y. pestis to escape from adaptive immune responses and plague immunity.
    Infection and immunity 03/2009; 77(5):1807-16. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Brown Norway rat was recently described as a bubonic plague model that closely mimics human disease. We therefore evaluated the Brown Norway rat as an alternative small animal model for pneumonic plague and characterized both the efficacy and potency of vaccine candidates. When infected by intranasal instillation, these rats rapidly developed fatal pneumonic plague within 2 to 4 days of infection. Plague disease was characterized by severe alveolar edema and vascular hemorrhage in the lung in addition to fulminant necrotizing pneumonia caused by massive bacterial replication and inflammation. Twenty-four hours before death, animals developed systemic disease with an apparent delayed inflammatory response. We evaluated the ability of the protective antigen, LcrV, and a mutant derivative, V10, to protect these rats from pneumonic plague. Both were highly effective vaccines because complete protection was observed at challenge doses of 7500 LD(50). Antibody analyses suggested stronger potency of V10 immune sera compared with LcrV in the passive transfer of immunity to bubonic plague, with multiple neutralizing epitopes in LcrV. Taken together, these data demonstrate the effectiveness of inhibiting type III secretion in the prevention of pneumonic plague in rats and reveal critical contributions from both the cellular and humoral immune systems. Thus, the Brown Norway rat is an appealing alternative small animal model for the study of pneumonic plague pathogenesis and immunity.
    American Journal Of Pathology 02/2009; 174(3):910-21. · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Vaccine and therapeutic strategies that prevent infections with Yersinia pestis have been sought for over a century. Immunization with live attenuated (nonpigmented) strains and immunization with subunit vaccines containing recombinant low-calcium-response V antigen (rLcrV) and recombinant F1 (rF1) antigens are considered effective in animal models. Current antiplague subunit vaccines in development for utilization in humans contain both antigens, either as equal concentrations of the two components (rF1 plus rLcrV) or as a fusion protein (rF1-rLcrV). Here, we show that immunization with either purified rLcrV (a protein at the tip of type III needles) or a variant of this protein, recombinant V10 (rV10) (lacking amino acid residues 271 to 300), alone or in combination with rF1, prevented pneumonic lesions and disease pathogenesis. In addition, passive immunization studies showed that specific antibodies of macaques immunized with rLcrV, rV10, or rF1, either alone or in combination, conferred protection against bubonic plague challenge in mice. Finally, we found that when we compared the reactivities of anti-rLcrV and anti-rV10 immune sera from cynomolgus macaques, BALB/c mice, and brown Norway rats with LcrV-derived peptides, rV10, but not rLcrV immune sera, lacked antibodies recognizing linear LcrV oligopeptides.
    Infection and immunity 10/2008; 76(12):5588-97. · 4.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Yersinia pestis, the highly virulent agent of plague, is a biological weapon. Strategies that prevent plague have been sought for centuries, and immunization with live, attenuated (nonpigmented) strains or subunit vaccines with F1 (Caf1) antigen is considered effective. We show here that immunization with live, attenuated strains generates plague-protective immunity and humoral immune responses against F1 pilus antigen and LcrV. Y. pestis variants lacking caf1 (F1 pili) are not only fully virulent in animal models of bubonic and pneumonic plague but also break through immune responses generated with live, attenuated strains or F1 subunit vaccines. In contrast, immunization with purified LcrV, a protein at the tip of type III needles, generates protective immunity against the wild-type and the fully virulent caf1 mutant strain, in agreement with the notion that LcrV can elicit vaccine protection against both types of virulent plague strains.
    Infection and immunity 06/2008; 76(5):2025-36. · 4.16 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

176 Citations
52.61 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • The Methodist Hospital System
      • Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2012–2013
    • Argonne National Laboratory
      Lemont, Illinois, United States
  • 2008–2013
    • University of Chicago
      • Department of Microbiology
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
    • Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute
      Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Missouri
      • Department of Veterinary Pathobiology
      Columbia, MO, United States