[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For enveloped viruses, fusion of the viral envelope with a cellular membrane is critical for a productive infection to occur. This fusion process is mediated by at least three classes of fusion proteins (Class I, II, and III) based on the protein sequence and structure. For Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), the glycoprotein Gc (Class II fusion protein) mediates this fusion event following entry into the endocytic pathway, allowing the viral genome access to the cell cytoplasm. Here, we show that peptides analogous to the RVFV Gc stem region inhibited RVFV infectivity in cell culture by inhibiting the fusion process. Further, we show that infectivity can be inhibited for diverse, unrelated RNA viruses that have Class I (Ebola virus), Class II (Andes virus), or Class III (vesicular stomatitis virus) fusion proteins using this single peptide. Our findings are consistent with an inhibition mechanism similar to that proposed for stem peptide fusion inhibitors of dengue virus in which the RVFV inhibitory peptide first binds to both the virion and cell membranes, allowing it to traffic with the virus into the endocytic pathway. Upon acidification and rearrangement of Gc, the peptide is then able to specifically bind to Gc and prevent fusion of the viral and endocytic membranes, thus inhibiting viral infection. These results could provide novel insights into conserved features among the three classes of viral fusion proteins and offer direction for the future development of broadly active fusion inhibitors.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been treated with the combination of interferon alpha (IFN-α) and ribavirin (RBV) for over a decade, the mechanism of antiviral synergy is not well understood. We aimed to determine the synergistic antiviral mechanisms of IFN-α and RBV combination treatment using HCV cell culture.
The antiviral efficacy of IFN-α, RBV alone and in combination was quantitatively measured using HCV infected and replicon cell culture. Direct antiviral activity of these two drugs at the level of HCV internal ribosome entry site (IRES) mediated translation in Huh-7 cell culture was investigated. The synergistic antiviral effect of IFN-α and RBV combination treatment was verified using both the CalcuSyn Software and MacSynergy Software.
RBV combination with IFN-α efficiently inhibits HCV replication cell culture. Our results demonstrate that IFN-α, interferon lambda (IFN-λ) and RBV each inhibit the expression of HCV IRES-GFP and that they have a minimal effect on the expression of GFP in which the translation is not IRES dependent. The combination treatments of RBV along with IFN-α or IFN-λ were highly synergistic with combination indexes <1. We show that IFN-α treatment induce levels of PKR and eIF2α phosphorylation that prevented ribosome loading of the HCV IRES-GFP mRNA. Silencing of PKR expression in Huh-7 cells prevented the inhibitory effect of IFN-α on HCV IRES-GFP expression. RBV also blocked polyribosome loading of HCV-IRES mRNA through the inhibition of cellular IMPDH activity, and induced PKR and eIF2α phosphorylation. Knockdown of PKR or IMPDH prevented RBV induced HCV IRES-GFP translation.
We demonstrated both IFN-α and RBV inhibit HCV IRES through prevention of polyribosome formation. The combination of IFN-α and RBV treatment synergistically inhibits HCV IRES translation via using two different mechanisms involving PKR activation and depletion of intracellular guanosine pool through inhibition of IMPDH.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e72791. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness characterized by multi-organ failure and hemorrhagic manifestations. Lassa fever is most frequently diagnosed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, although sporadic cases have been recorded in other West African countries, including Mali. The etiological agent of Lassa fever is Lassa virus (LASV), an Arenavirus which is maintained in nature and frequently transmitted to humans by Mastomys natalensis. The purpose of this study was to better define the geographic distribution of LASV-infected rodents in sub-Saharan Mali.
Small mammals were live-trapped at various locations across Mali for the purpose of identifying potential zoonotic pathogens. Serological and molecular assays were employed and determined LASV infected rodents were exclusively found in the southern Mali near the border of Côte d'Ivoire. Overall, 19.4% of Mastomys natalensis sampled in this region had evidence of LASV infection, with prevalence rates for individual villages ranging from 0 to 52%. Full-length genomic sequences were determined using high throughput sequencing methodologies for LASV isolates generated from tissue samples of rodents collected in four villages and confirmed the phylogenetic clustering of Malian LASV with strain AV.
The risk of human infections with LASV is greatest in villages in southern Mali. Lassa fever should be considered in the differential diagnosis for febrile individuals and appropriate diagnostic techniques need to be established to determine the incidence of infection and disease in these regions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vaccines are the most efficient and cost-effective means of preventing infectious disease. However, traditional vaccine approaches have thus far failed to provide protection against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis, malaria, and many other diseases. New approaches to vaccine development are needed to address some of these intractable problems. In this report, we review the literature identifying stimulatory effects of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) on immune responses and explore the potential for MSC as a novel, universal vaccination platform. MSC are unique bone marrow-derived multipotent progenitor cells that are presently being exploited as gene therapy vectors for a variety of conditions, including cancer and autoimmune diseases. Although MSC are predominantly known for anti-inflammatory properties during allogeneic MSC transplant, there is evidence that MSC can actually promote adaptive immunity under certain settings. MSC have also demonstrated some success in anti-cancer therapeutic vaccines and anti-microbial prophylactic vaccines, as we report, for the first time, the ability of modified MSC to express and secrete a viral antigen that stimulates antigen-specific antibody production in vivo. We hypothesize that the unique properties of modified MSC may enable MSC to serve as an unconventional but innovative, vaccine platform. Such a platform would be capable of expressing hundreds of proteins, thereby generating a broad array of epitopes with correct post-translational processing, mimicking natural infection. By stimulating immunity to a combination of epitopes, it may be possible to develop prophylactic and even therapeutic vaccines to tackle major health problems including those of non-microbial and microbial origin, including cancer, or an infectious disease like HIV, where traditional vaccination approaches have failed.
Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 01/2012; 2:140.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Common warts (verruca vulgaris) are benign epithelial proliferations associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Salicylic acid and cryotherapy are the most frequent treatments for common warts, but can be painful and cause scarring, and have high failure and recrudescence rates. Topical vitamin A has been shown to be a successful treatment of common warts in prior informal studies.
The subject is a healthy, physically-active 30 old female with a 9 year history of common warts on the back of the right hand. The warts resisted treatment with salicylic acid, apple cider vinegar and an over-the-counter blend of essential oils marketed for the treatment of warts. Daily topical application of natural vitamin A derived from fish liver oil (25,000 IU) led to replacement of all the warts with normal skin. Most of the smaller warts had been replaced by 70 days. A large wart on the middle knuckle required 6 months of vitamin A treatment to resolve completely.
Retinoids should be further investigated in controlled studies to determine their effectiveness in treating common warts and the broad range of other benign and cancerous lesions induced by HPVs.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dengue virus infects approximately 100 million people annually, but there is no available therapeutic treatment. The mimetic peptide, DN59, consists of residues corresponding to the membrane interacting, amphipathic stem region of the dengue virus envelope (E) glycoprotein. This peptide is inhibitory to all four serotypes of dengue virus, as well as other flaviviruses. Cryo-electron microscopy image reconstruction of dengue virus particles incubated with DN59 showed that the virus particles were largely empty, concurrent with the formation of holes at the five-fold vertices. The release of RNA from the viral particle following incubation with DN59 was confirmed by increased sensitivity of the RNA genome to exogenous RNase and separation of the genome from the E protein in a tartrate density gradient. DN59 interacted strongly with synthetic lipid vesicles and caused membrane disruptions, but was found to be non-toxic to mammalian and insect cells. Thus DN59 inhibits flavivirus infectivity by interacting directly with virus particles resulting in release of the genomic RNA.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(11):e50995. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The HIV surface glycoprotein gp120 (SU, gp120) and the Plasmodium vivax Duffy binding protein (PvDBP) bind to chemokine receptors during infection and have a site of amino acid sequence similarity in their binding domains that often includes a heparin binding motif (HBM). Infection by either pathogen has been found to be inhibited by polyanions.
Specific polyanions that inhibit HIV infection and bind to the V3 loop of X4 strains also inhibited DBP-mediated infection of erythrocytes and DBP binding to the Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC). A peptide including the HBM of PvDBP had similar affinity for heparin as RANTES and V3 loop peptides, and could be specifically inhibited from heparin binding by the same polyanions that inhibit DBP binding to DARC. However, some V3 peptides can competitively inhibit RANTES binding to heparin, but not the PvDBP HBM peptide. Three other members of the DBP family have an HBM sequence that is necessary for erythrocyte binding, however only the protein which binds to DARC, the P. knowlesi alpha protein, is inhibited by heparin from binding to erythrocytes. Heparitinase digestion does not affect the binding of DBP to erythrocytes.
The HBMs of DBPs that bind to DARC have similar heparin binding affinities as some V3 loop peptides and chemokines, are responsible for specific sulfated polysaccharide inhibition of parasite binding and invasion of red blood cells, and are more likely to bind to negative charges on the receptor than cell surface glycosaminoglycans.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT: Correction After publication of this work [Branco et al: Virology Journal 2011, 8:404], we noted that we inadvertently failed to include the complete list of all coauthors. The full list of authors has now been added and the Authors' contributions and Competing interests section modified accordingly. Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Authors' contributions Conceived and designed the experiments: LMB, MLB, KGA, RFG. Performed the experiments: LMB, MLB, KGA, EMZ. Analyzed the data/critical review of manuscript: LMB, MLB, KGA, JNG, JSS, JER, DSG, VNR, PCS, RFG. Contributed reagents/materials: IJM, LAH. Provided medical/outreach/case investigation support in Sierra Leone: LMM, JJB, DSG, VNR, MF. Wrote the manuscript: LMB, MLB, KGA, JNG, RFG. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lassa fever (LF) is a devastating viral disease prevalent in West Africa. Efforts to take on this public health crisis have been hindered by lack of infrastructure and rapid field deployable diagnosis in areas where the disease is prevalent. Recent capacity building at the Kenema Government Hospital Lassa Fever Ward (KGH LFW) in Sierra Leone has lead to a major turning point in the diagnosis, treatment and study of LF. Herein we present the first comprehensive rapid diagnosis and real time characterization of an acute hemorrhagic LF case at KGH LFW. This case report focuses on a third trimester pregnant Sierra Leonean woman from the historically non-endemic Northern district of Tonkolili who survived the illness despite fetal demise. Employed in this study were newly developed recombinant LASV Antigen Rapid Test cassettes and dipstick lateral flow immunoassays (LFI) that enabled the diagnosis of LF within twenty minutes of sample collection. Deregulation of overall homeostasis, significant hepatic and renal system involvement, and immunity profiles were extensively characterized during the course of hospitalization. Rapid diagnosis, prompt treatment with a full course of intravenous (IV) ribavirin, IV fluids management, and real time monitoring of clinical parameters resulted in a positive maternal outcome despite admission to the LFW seven days post onset of symptoms, fetal demise, and a natural still birth delivery. These studies solidify the growing rapid diagnostic, treatment, and surveillance capabilities at the KGH LF Laboratory, and the potential to significantly improve the current high mortality rate caused by LF. As a result of the growing capacity, we were also able to isolate Lassa virus (LASV) RNA from the patient and perform Sanger sequencing where we found significant genetic divergence from commonly circulating Sierra Leonean strains, showing potential for the discovery of a newly emerged LASV strain with expanded geographic distribution. Furthermore, recent emergence of LF cases in Northern Sierra Leone highlights the need for superior diagnostics to aid in the monitoring of LASV strain divergence with potentially increased geographic expansion.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lassa fever is a neglected tropical disease with a significant impact on the health care system of endemic West African nations. To date, case reports of Lassa fever have focused on laboratory characterisation of serological, biochemical and molecular aspects of the disease imported by infected individuals from Western Africa to the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and Israel. Our report presents the first comprehensive real time diagnosis and characterization of a severe, hemorrhagic Lassa fever case in a Sierra Leonean individual admitted to the Kenema Government Hospital Lassa Fever Ward. Fever, malaise, unresponsiveness to anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs, followed by worsening symptoms and onset of haemorrhaging prompted medical officials to suspect Lassa fever. A recombinant Lassa virus protein based diagnostic was employed in diagnosing Lassa fever upon admission. This patient experienced a severe case of Lassa hemorrhagic fever with dysregulation of overall homeostasis, significant liver and renal system involvement, the interplay of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines during the course of hospitalization and an eventual successful outcome. These studies provide new insights into the pathophysiology and management of this viral illness and outline the improved infrastructure, research and real-time diagnostic capabilities within LASV endemic areas.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the most prevalent congenital viral infection in the United States and Europe causing significant morbidity and mortality to both mother and child. HCMV is also an opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised individuals, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)- infected patients with AIDS, and solid organ and allogeneic stem cell transplantation recipients. Current treatments for HCMV-associated diseases are insufficient due to the emergence of drug-induced resistance and cytotoxicity, necessitating novel approaches to limit HCMV infection. The aim of this study was to develop therapeutic peptides targeting glycoprotein B (gB), a major glycoprotein of HCMV that is highly conserved across the Herpesviridae family, that specifically inhibit fusion of the viral envelope with the host cell membrane preventing HCMV entry and infection.
Using the Wimley-White Interfacial Hydrophobicity Scale (WWIHS), several regions within gB were identified that display a high potential to interact with lipid bilayers of cell membranes and hydrophobic surfaces within proteins. The ability of synthetic peptides analogous to WWIHS-positive sequences of HCMV gB to inhibit viral infectivity was evaluated. Human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF) were infected with the Towne-GFP strain of HCMV (0.5 MOI), preincubated with peptides at a range of concentrations (78 nm to 100 μM), and GFP-positive cells were visualized 48 hours post-infection by fluorescence microscopy and analyzed quantitatively by flow cytometry. Peptides that inhibited HCMV infection demonstrated different inhibitory concentration curves indicating that each peptide possesses distinct biophysical properties. Peptide 174-200 showed 80% inhibition of viral infection at a concentration of 100 μM, and 51% and 62% inhibition at concentrations of 5 μM and 2.5 μM, respectively. Peptide 233-263 inhibited infection by 97% and 92% at concentrations of 100 μM and 50 μM, respectively, and 60% at a concentration of 2.5 μM. While peptides 264-291 and 297-315, individually failed to inhibit viral infection, when combined, they showed 67% inhibition of HCMV infection at a concentration of 0.125 μM each.
Peptides designed to target putative fusogenic domains of gB provide a basis for the development of novel therapeutics that prevent HCMV infection.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lassa fever (LF) is a devastating hemorrhagic viral disease that is endemic to West Africa and responsible for thousands of human deaths each year. Analysis of humoral immune responses (IgM and IgG) by antibody-capture ELISA (Ab-capture ELISA) and Lassa virus (LASV) viremia by antigen-capture ELISA (Ag-capture ELISA) in suspected patients admitted to the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) Lassa Fever Ward (LFW) in Sierra Leone over the past five years is reshaping our understanding of acute LF.
Analyses in LF survivors indicated that LASV-specific IgM persists for months to years after initial infection. Furthermore, exposure to LASV appeared to be more prevalent in historically non-endemic areas of West Africa with significant percentages of reportedly healthy donors IgM and IgG positive in LASV-specific Ab-capture ELISA. We found that LF patients who were Ag positive were more likely to die than suspected cases who were only IgM positive. Analysis of metabolic and immunological parameters in Ag positive LF patients revealed a strong correlation between survival and low levels of IL-6, -8, -10, CD40L, BUN, ALP, ALT, and AST. Despite presenting to the hospital with fever and in some instances other symptoms consistent with LF, the profiles of Ag negative IgM positive individuals were similar to those of normal donors and nonfatal (NF) LF cases, suggesting that IgM status cannot necessarily be considered a diagnostic marker of acute LF in suspected cases living in endemic areas of West Africa.
Only LASV viremia assessed by Ag-capture immunoassay, nucleic acid detection or virus isolation should be used to diagnose acute LASV infection in West Africans. LASV-specific IgM serostatus cannot be considered a diagnostic marker of acute LF in suspected cases living in endemic areas of West Africa. By applying these criteria, we identified a dysregulated metabolic and pro-inflammatory response profile conferring a poor prognosis in acute LF. In addition to suggesting that the current diagnostic paradigm for acute LF should be reconsidered, these studies present new opportunities for therapeutic interventions based on potential prognostic markers in LF.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The surface glycoprotein (SU, gp120) of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) must bind to a chemokine receptor, CCR5 or CXCR4, to invade CD4+ cells. Plasmodium vivax uses the Duffy Binding Protein (DBP) to bind the Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC) and invade reticulocytes.
Variable loop 3 (V3) of HIV-1 SU and domain 1 of the Plasmodium vivax DBP share a sequence similarity. The site of amino acid sequence similarity was necessary, but not sufficient, for DARC binding and contained a consensus heparin binding site essential for DARC binding. Both HIV-1 and P. vivax can be blocked from binding to their chemokine receptors by the chemokine, RANTES and its analog AOP-RANTES. Site directed mutagenesis of the heparin binding motif in members of the DBP family, the P. knowlesi alpha, beta and gamma proteins abrogated their binding to erythrocytes. Positively charged residues within domain 1 are required for binding of P. vivax and P. knowlesi erythrocyte binding proteins.
A heparin binding site motif in members of the DBP family may form part of a conserved erythrocyte receptor binding pocket.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanisms underlying the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) resistance to interferon alpha (IFN-α) are not fully understood. We used IFN-α resistant HCV replicon cell lines and an infectious HCV cell culture system to elucidate the mechanisms of IFN-α resistance in cell culture. The IFN-α resistance mechanism of the replicon cells were addressed by a complementation study that utilized the full-length plasmid clones of IFN-α receptor 1 (IFNAR1), IFN-α receptor 2 (IFNAR2), Jak1, Tyk2, Stat1, Stat2 and the ISRE-luciferase reporter plasmid. We demonstrated that the expression of the full-length IFNAR1 clone alone restored the defective Jak-Stat signaling as well as Stat1, Stat2 and Stat3 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation and antiviral response against HCV in all IFN-α resistant cell lines (R-15, R-17 and R-24) used in this study. Moreover RT-PCR, Southern blotting and DNA sequence analysis revealed that the cells from both R-15 and R-24 series of IFN-α resistant cells have 58 amino acid deletions in the extracellular sub domain 1 (SD1) of IFNAR1. In addition, cells from the R-17 series have 50 amino acids deletion in the sub domain 4 (SD4) of IFNAR1 protein leading to impaired activation of Tyk2 kinase. Using an infectious HCV cell culture model we show here that viral replication in the infected Huh-7 cells is relatively resistant to exogenous IFN-α. HCV infection itself induces defective Jak-Stat signaling and impairs Stat1 and Stat2 phosphorylation by down regulation of the cell surface expression of IFNAR1 through the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress mechanisms. The results of this study suggest that expression of cell surface IFNAR1 is critical for the response of HCV to exogenous IFN-α.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To gain a more complete understanding of hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry, we initially assessed the rate at which HCV initiates productive attachment/infection in vitro and discovered it to be slower than most viruses. Since HCV, including cell culture-derived HCV (HCVcc), exhibits a broad-density profile (1.01-1.16 g/ml), we hypothesized that the varying densities of the HCVcc particles present in the inoculum may be responsible for this prolonged entry phenotype. To test this hypothesis, we show that during infection, particles of high density disappeared from the viral inoculum sooner and initiated productive infection faster than virions of low density. Moreover, we could alter the rate of attachment/infection initiation by increasing or decreasing the density of the cell culture medium. Together, these findings demonstrate that the relationship between the density of HCVcc and the density of the extracellular milieu can significantly impact the rate at which HCVcc productively interacts with target cells in vitro.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lassa hemorrhagic fever (LHF) is a neglected tropical disease with significant impact on the health care system, society, and economy of Western and Central African nations where it is endemic. With a high rate of infection that may lead to morbidity and mortality, understanding how the virus interacts with the host's immune system is of great importance for generating vaccines and therapeutics. Previous work by our group identified a soluble isoform of the Lassa virus (LASV) GP1 (sGP1) in vitro resulting from the expression of the glycoprotein complex (GPC) gene [1, 2]. Though no work has directly been done to demonstrate the function of this soluble isoform in arenaviral infections, evidence points to immunomodulatory effects against the host's immune system mediated by a secreted glycoprotein component in filoviruses, another class of hemorrhagic fever-causing viruses. A significant fraction of shed glycoprotein isoforms during viral infection and biogenesis may attenuate the host's inflammatory response, thereby enhancing viral replication and tissue damage. Such shed glycoprotein mediated effects were previously reported for Ebola virus (EBOV), a filovirus that also causes hemorrhagic fever with nearly 90 percent fatality rates [3 - 5]. The identification of an analogous phenomenon in vivo could establish a new correlate of LHF infection leading to the development of sensitive diagnostics targeting the earliest molecular events of the disease. Additionally, the reversal of potentially untoward immunomodulatory functions mediated by sGP1 could potentiate the development of novel therapeutic intervention. To this end, we investigated the presence of sGP1 in the serum of suspected LASV patients admitted to the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) Lassa Fever Ward (LFW), in Kenema, Sierra Leone that tested positive for viral antigen or displayed classical signs of Lassa fever.
It is reasonable to expect that a narrow window exists for detection of sGP1 as the sole protein shed during early arenaviral biogenesis. This phenomenon was clearly distinguishable from virion-associated GP1 only prior to the emergence of de novo viral particles. Despite this restricted time frame, in 2/46 suspected cases in two studies performed in late 2009 and early 2010, soluble glycoprotein component shedding was identified. Differential detection of viral antigens GP1, GP2, and NP by western blot yielded five different scenarios: whole LASV virions (GP1, GP2, NP; i.e. active viremia), different combinations of these three proteins, sGP1 only, NP only, and absence of all three proteins. Four additional samples showed inconclusive evidence for sGP1 shedding due to lack of detection of GP2 and NP in western blot; however, a sensitive LASV NP antigen capture ELISA generated marginally positive signals.
During a narrow window following active infection with LASV, soluble GP1 can be detected in patient sera. This phenomenon parallels other VHF infection profiles, with the actual role of a soluble viral glycoprotein component in vivo remaining largely speculative. The expenditure of energy and cellular resources toward secretion of a critical protein during viral biogenesis without apparent specific function requires further investigation. Future studies will be aimed at systematically identifying the role of LASV sGP1 in the infection process and outcome in vitro and in vivo.