[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is responsible for substantial economic losses in livestock breeding each year, and the development of new strategies is needed to overcome the limitations of existing vaccines and antiviral drugs. In this study, we evaluated the antiviral potential of transgenic porcine cells and suckling mice that simultaneously expressed two short-hairpin RNA (shRNAs) targeting the conserved regions of the viral polymerase protein 3D and the non-structural protein 2B. First, two recombinant shRNA-expressing plasmids, PB-EN3D2B and PB-N3D2B, were constructed and the efficiency of the constructs for suppressing an artificial target was demonstrated in BHK-21 cells. We then integrated PB-EN3D2B into the genome of the porcine cell line IBRS-2 using the piggyBac transposon system, and stable monoclonal transgenic cell lines (MTCL) were selected. Of the 6 MTCL that were used in the antiviral assay, 3 exhibited significant resistance with suppressing ratios of more than 94% at 48 hours post-challenge (hpc) to both serotype O and serotype Asia 1 FMDV. MTCL IB-3D2B-6 displayed the strongest antiviral activity, which resulted in 100% inhibition of FMDV replication until 72 hpc. Moreover, the shRNA-expressing fragment of PB-N3D2B was integrated into the mouse genome by DNA microinjection to produce transgenic mice. When challenged with serotype O FMDV, the offspring of the transgenic mouse lines N3D2B-18 and N3D2B-81 exhibited higher survival rates of 19% to 27% relative to their non-transgenic littermates. The results suggest that these heritable shRNAs were able to suppress FMDV replication in the transgenic cell lines and suckling mice.
Veterinary Research 07/2013; 44(1):47. DOI:10.1186/1297-9716-44-47 · 2.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major health concern with more than two billion individuals currently infected worldwide. Because of the limited effectiveness of existing vaccines and drugs, development of novel antiviral strategies is urgently needed. Heat stress cognate 70 (Hsc70) is an ATP-binding protein of the heat stress protein 70 family. Hsc70 has been found to be required for HBV DNA replication. Here we report, for the first time, that combined siRNAs targeting viral gene and siHsc70 are highly effective in suppressing ongoing HBV expression and replication.
We constructed two plasmids (S1 and S2) expressing short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) targeting surface open reading frame of HBV(HBVS) and one plasmid expressing shRNA targeting Hsc70 (siHsc70), and we used the EGFP-specific siRNA plasmid (siEGFP) as we had previously described. First, we evaluated the gene-silencing efficacy of both shRNAs using an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter system and flow cytometry in HEK293 and T98G cells. Then, the antiviral potencies of HBV-specific siRNA (siHBV) in combination with siHsc70 in HepG2.2.15 cells were investigated. Moreover, type I IFN and TNF-α induction were measured by quantitative real-time PCR and ELISA.
Cotransfection of either S1 or S2 with an EGFP plasmid produced an 80%–90% reduction in EGFP signal relative to the control. This combinational RNAi effectively and specifically inhibited HBV protein, mRNA and HBV DNA, resulting in up to a 3.36 log10 reduction in HBV load in the HepG2.2.15 cell culture supernatants. The combined siRNAs were more potent than siHBV or siHsc70 used separately, and this approach can enhance potency in suppressing ongoing viral gene expression and replication in HepG2.2.15 cells while forestalling escape by mutant HBV. The antiviral synergy of siHBV used in combination with siHsc70 produced no cytotoxicity and induced no production of IFN-α, IFN-β and TNF-α in transfected cells.
Our combinational RNAi was sequence-specific, effective against wild-type and mutant drug-resistant HBV strains, without triggering interferon response or producing any side effects. These findings indicate that combinational RNAi has tremendous promise for developing innovative therapy against viral infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interferon-δ (IFN-δ) belongs to type I IFN. It was first identified by Lefevre in 1993. The porcine interferon-δ (PoIFN-δ)-related sequences were reported in 2009. The IFN-δ-related sequences have not been studied as closely as IFN-α and IFN-β. In this study, we identified 11 functional genes and 7 pseudogenes of the PoIFN-δ-related subtypes from the porcine genome database. Three of these genes were cloned, expressed, and functionally studied. PoIFN-δ-related subtypes can bind to the type I IFN receptors, activate the Janus kinase-signal transduce and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling pathway, induce IFN stimulate genes, and other cytokines. The antiviral activity of PoIFN-δ-related subtypes varies a lot in different subtypes. Among all the PoIFN-δ subtypes detected, PoIFN-δ8 has the strongest antiviral and immunomodulatory activities.
Journal of interferon & cytokine research: the official journal of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research 07/2012; 32(8):378-85. DOI:10.1089/jir.2011.0095 · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, specific sequences within three genes (3D, VP4 and 2B) of the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) genome were determined to be effective RNAi targets. These sequences are highly conserved among different serotype viruses based on sequence analysis. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-expressing plasmids (p3D-NT19, p3D-NT56, pVP4-NT19, pVP4-NT65 and p2B-NT25) were constructed to express siRNA targeting 3D, VP4 and 2B, respectively. The antiviral potential of these siRNA for various FMDV isolates was investigated in baby hamster kidney (BHK-21) cells and suckling mice. The results show that these siRNA inhibited virus yield 10- to 300-fold for different FMDV isolates of serotype O and serotype Asia I at 48 h post infection in BHK-21 cells compared to control cells. In suckling mice, p3D-NT56 and p2B-NT25 delayed the death of mice. Twenty percent to 40% of the animals that received a single siRNA dose survived 5 days post infection with serotype O or serotype Asia I. We used an attenuated Salmonella choleraesuis (C500) vaccine strain, to carry the plasmid that expresses siRNA directed against the polymerase gene 3D (p3D-NT56) of FMDV. We used guinea pigs to evaluate the inhibitory effects of recombinant S. cho (p3D-NT56/S. cho) on FMDV infection. The results show that 80% of guinea pigs inoculated with 10(9) CFU of p3D-NT56/S. cho and challenged 36 h later with 50 ID(50) of homologous FMDV were protected. We also measured the antiviral activity of p3D-NT56/S. cho in swine. The results indicate that 100% of the animals treated with 5 x 10(9) CFU of p3D-NT56/S. cho were protected in 9 days.
Veterinary Research 05/2010; 41(3):30. DOI:10.1051/vetres/2010002 · 2.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease that afflicts cloven-hoofed animals. The etiological agent of FMD is foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). The VP1 gene of FMDV is essential during the life cycle of the virus and plays a key role in the attachment of the virus to susceptible cells. We constructed a plasmid, pCWN11, that expresses siRNAs multiple-targeting the VP1 genes of FMDV. We evaluated the gene silencing efficiency of the plasmid using an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter system in BHK-21 cells. The antiviral potential of the plasmid in BHK-21 cells and suckling mice were investigated. The results indicate that cotransfection of pCWN11 with any one of three serotypes VP1-EGFP plasmids resulted in a reduction in the EGFP signal relative to the control. Moreover, the antiviral potential induced by pCWN11 was evident during challenge with one FMDV isolate of either serotype O (HKN/2002) or serotype Asia I (YNBS/58), and the inhibition extended to almost 40 h. Furthermore, subcutaneous injection of pCWN11 in the neck made suckling mice significantly less susceptible to FMDV serotype O and Asia I.
Veterinary Research Communications 04/2010; 34(4):335-46. DOI:10.1007/s11259-010-9360-y · 1.24 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interferon-omega is a member of the type I interferon family. In this work, 8 functional porcine interferon-omega genes and 4 pseudogenes present on porcine chromosome 1 were identified in the porcine genome database by BLAST scanning. Their genetic and genomic characteristics were investigated using bioinformatics tools. Then the PoIFN-omega functional subtype genes were isolated and expressed in BHK-21 cells. The PoIFN-omega subtypes possessed about 10(4) to 10(5) units of antiviral activity per milliliter. PoIFN-omega 7 had the highest antiviral activity, about 20 times that of PoIFN-omega 4, which had the lowest antiviral activity. Differential expression of the subtypes was detected in PK15 cells and porcine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in response to pseudorabies virus and poly(I).poly(C). Expression of PoIFN-omega 2/-omega 6 was up-regulated to the greatest extent by virus infection.
Journal of interferon & cytokine research: the official journal of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research 10/2009; 29(10):687-93. DOI:10.1089/jir.2008.0060 · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most of our knowledge of helical cytokine-like molecules in invertebrates relies on functional assays and similarities at the physicochemical level. It is hard to predict helical cytokines in invertebrates based on sequences from mammals and vertebrates, because of their long evolutionary divergence. In this article, we collected 12 kinds of fish cytokines and constructed their respective consensus sequences using hidden Markov models; then, the conserved domains region of each consensus sequence were further extracted by the SMART tool, and used as the query sequence for PSI-BLAST analysis in Drosophila melanogaster. After two filtering processes based on the properties of helical cytokines, we obtained one protein named CG14629, which shares 25% identities/46% positives to fish M17 cytokine in the half length of the N-terminus. Considering the homology between M17 and LIF/CNTF (leukemia inhibitory factor/ciliary neurotrophic factor), and the close relationship between Dome, the putative cytokine receptor in Drosophila cells, and LIFR/CNTFR (LIF receptor/CNTF receptor), the results suggest that CG14629 is a good candidate for the helical cytokine ortholog in D. melanogaster.
Journal of interferon & cytokine research: the official journal of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research 07/2009; 29(8):461-8. DOI:10.1089/jir.2008.0078 · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The adjuvant effect of porcine interferon-alpha (PoIFN-α) was examined in swine vaccinated with a recombinant FMD protein vaccine named IgG-FMDV, which contains the swine IgG single heavy chain constant region and an immunogenic peptide of serotype O FMDV. The PoIFN-α gene was cloned into pcDNA3 vector and the recombinant plasmid was incorporated into cationic liposomes by a dehydration and rehydration procedure to use as an adjuvant, injected together with low-dose IgG-FMDV. This procedure resulted in strong induction of FMDV-specific neutralizing antibody and significant T-cell-mediated immune responses, whereas only a modest humoral and cellular response was observed with low-dose vaccine alone. As an adjuvant for the protein vaccine, PoIFN-α induced strong inflammatory cytokines production in vivo and the results denoted that IFN-adjuvant and our vaccines could drive the immune response toward Th1 type responses. The data of ELISA suggests that the recombinant protein vaccine synergizes with the IFN-adjuvant to produce endogenous IFN in vivo. In response to viral challenge, all control animals developed viremia and lesions, whereas all animals received IFN-adjuvant + IgG-FMDV were protected and nonstructural protein antibody in this group could not be detected by 14 days post-challenge (dpc). Our studies indicate that porcine IFN-α is a powerful adjuvant for recombinant FMD protein vaccine and could aid in vaccination against FMDV in swine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The porcine interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) multigene family is a new IFN-alpha system in recent research. Characterization of the PoIFN-alpha multigene family has been described in our previous work, and 14 functional PoIFN-alpha genes were detected in the porcine genome. In this study, we designed subtype-specific primers and consensus primers for PoIFN-alpha. The expression of PoIFN-alpha was detected using the two PCR strategies in three systems, namely, poly(I).poly(C)-DEAE-dextran-induced PK15 cells, pseudorabies virus-infected PK15 cells, and infected PK15 cells with an attenuated strain of swine fever virus, respectively. In poly(I).poly(C)-DEAE-dextran-induced PK15 cells, the expression of IFN-alpha2, -alpha3, -alpha4, -alpha8, and -alpha9 after 6-h/24-h inducement in PK15 cells were observed. In pseudorabies virus-infected PK15 cells, the expression of PoIFN-alpha2, -alpha3, -alpha8, -alpha9, -alpha10, and -alpha13 was observed after 6-h/24-h infection, and in the attenuated strain of swine fever virus-infected PK15 cells, upregulation of PoIFN-alpha2, -alpha3, -alpha4, -alpha8, -alpha9, and -alpha10 was detected. The results of realtime quantitative PCR analysis suggested that the expression was time-dependent in pseudorabies virus/poly(I).poly(C)-DEAE-dextran-induced PK15 cells, but in the attenuated swine fever virus-infected PK15 system, the expression level of IFN-alpha subtypes was not obviously time dependent.
Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research 08/2007; 27(7):579-87. DOI:10.1089/jir.2006.0126 · 2.00 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The availability of data on the pig genome sequence prompted us to characterize the porcine IFN-alpha (PoIFN-alpha) multigene family. Fourteen functional PoIFN-alpha genes and two PoIFN-alpha pseudogenes were detected in the porcine genome. Multiple sequence alignment revealed a C-terminal deletion of eight residues in six subtypes. A phylogenetic tree of the porcine IFN-alpha gene family defined the evolutionary relationship of the various subtypes. In addition, analysis of the evolutionary rate and the effect of positive selection suggested that the C-terminal deletion is a strategy for preservation in the genome. Eight PoIFN-alpha subtypes were isolated from the porcine liver genome and expressed in BHK-21 cells line. We detected the level of transcription by real-time quantitative RT-PCR analysis. The antiviral activities of the products were determined by WISH cells/Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) and PK 15 cells/Pseudorabies Virus (PRV) respectively. We found the antiviral activities of intact PoIFN-alpha genes are approximately 2-50 times higher than those of the subtypes with C-terminal deletions in WISH cells and 15-55 times higher in PK 15 cells. There was no obvious difference between the subtypes with and without C-terminal deletion on acid susceptibility.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A recombinant strain of Salmonella choleraesuis C500, containing a eukaryotic expression plasmid pBO1 with the immune-dominant epitope of foot-and-mouth disease virus, was
constructed. Specific immune response to this recombinant strain was evaluated by oral administration of the recombinant live
bacteria pBO1/S. cho in rabbits. Results showed that T cell response and specific antibody production were elicited. This
approach may present a general strategy for eliciting immune responses with DNA vaccine delivered by live bacterial vectors.
The stimulated indexes of T lymphoproliferation by specific antigens of FMDV in rabbits, can reach up to 11.0 and an antibody
titer of 1/32 as detected in the erum with liquid block ELISA.
Frontiers of Biology in China 06/2006; 1(2):110-114. DOI:10.1007/s11515-006-0020-0
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) infection is responsible for the heavy economic losses in stockbreeding each year. Because
of the limited effectiveness of existing vaccines and antiviral drugs, the development of new strategies is needed. RNA interference
(RNAi) is an effective means of suppressing virus replication in vitro. Here we demonstrate that treatment with recombinant,
replication-defective human adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) expressing short-hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) directed against either structural
protein 1D (Ad5-NT21) or polymerase 3D (Ad5-POL) of FMDV totally protects swine IBRS-2 cells from homologous FMDV infection,
whereas only Ad5-POL inhibits heterologous FMDV replication. Moreover, delivery of these shRNAs significantly reduces the
susceptibility of guinea pigs and swine to FMDV infection. Three of five guinea pigs inoculated with 106 PFU of Ad5-POL and challenged 24 h later with 50 50% infectious doses (ID50) of homologous virus were protected from the major clinical manifestation of disease: the appearance of vesicles on the feet.
Two of three swine inoculated with an Ad5-NT21-Ad5-POL mixture containing 2 × 109 PFU each and challenged 24 h later with 100 ID50 of homologous virus were protected from the major clinical disease, but treatment with a higher dose of adenovirus mixture
cannot promote protection of animals. The inhibition was rapid and specific because treatment with a control adenovirus construct
(Ad5-LacZ) expressing Escherichia coli galactosidase-specific shRNA showed no marked antiviral activity. Our data highlight the in vivo potential of RNAi technology
in the case of FMD.
Journal of Virology 05/2006; 80(7):3559-66. DOI:10.1128/JVI.80.7.3559-3566.2006 · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) is the process by which double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) directs sequence-specific degradation of messenger RNA in animal and plant cells. In mammalian cells, RNAi can be triggered by 21-23 nucleotide duplexes of small interfering RNA (siRNA). Strategies to inhibit RNA virus multiplication based on the use of siRNAs have to consider the high genetic polymorphism exhibited by this group of virus. Here we described a significant cross-inhibition of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus (FMDV) replication in BHK-21 cells by siRNAs targeted to various conserved regions (5'NCR, VP4, VPg, POL, and 3'NCR) of the viral genome. The results showed that siRNAs generated in vitro by human recombinant dicer enzyme gave an inhibition of 10- to 1000-fold in virus yield of both homologous (HKN/2002) and heterologous (CHA/99) isolates of FMDV serotype O at 48 h post-infection (hpi). The inhibition extended to at least 6 days post-infection. For serotype Asia1, the virus yield in YNBS/58-infected cells examined at 12, 24, and 48 hpi decreased by approximately 10-fold in cells pretreated with HKN/2002-specific siRNAs, but there was no significant decrease at 60 hpi. The inhibition was specific to FMDV replication, as no reduction was observed in virus yield of pseudorabies virus, an unrelated virus. Moreover, we also demonstrated an enhanced viral suppression could be achieved in BHK-21 cells with siRNA transfection after an infection had been established. These results suggested that siRNAs directed to several conserved regions of the FMDV genome could inhibit FMDV replication in a cross-resistance manner, providing a strategy candidate to treat high genetic variability of FMDV.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sequence-specific gene silencing by double-strand RNA has been observed in many eukaryotes. Accumulating data suggest that it is the major antiviral defense mechanism in plants and invertebrates. The discovery that this cellular mechanism is also highly conserved though somewhat impaired in mammals has stimulated debate about the evolution of antiviral systems. Here we suggest that the existence of the interferon response as an evolutionary intermediate could account for both the relative decline of RNA silencing and the development of protein-based immune systems in vertebrates. In addition, we emphasize the opportunities presented by RNA silencing and the deeper understanding of vertebrate antiviral systems that is needed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previously, we demonstrated that a fusion protein (Gal-FMDV) consisting of beta-galactosidase and an immunogenic peptide, amino acids (141-160)-(21-40)-(141-160), of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) VP1 protein induced protective immune responses in guinea pigs and swine. We now designed a new potential recombinant protein vaccine against FMDV in swine. The immunogenic peptide, amino acids (141-160)-(21-40)-(141-160) from the VP1 protein of serotype O FMDV, was fused to the carboxy terminus of a swine immunoglobulin G single heavy chain constant region and expressed in Escherichia coli. The expressed fusion protein (IgG-FMDV) was purified and emulsified with oil adjuvant. Vaccination twice at an interval of 3 weeks with the emulsified IgG-FMDV fusion protein induced an FMDV-specific spleen proliferative T-cell response in guinea pigs and elicited high levels of neutralizing antibody in guinea pigs and swine. All of the immunized animals were efficiently protected against FMDV challenge. There was no significant difference between IgG-FMDV and Gal-FMDV in eliciting immunity after vaccination twice in swine. However, when evaluating the efficacy of a single inoculation of the fusion proteins, we found that IgG-FMDV could elicit a protective immune response in swine, while Gal-FMDV only elicited a weak neutralizing activity and could not protect the swine against FMDV challenge. Our results suggest that the IgG-FMDV fusion protein is a promising vaccine candidate for FMD in swine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful tool to silence gene expression posttranscriptionally. In this study, we evaluated the antiviral potential of small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting VP1 of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), which is essential during the life cycle of the virus and plays a key role in virus attachment to susceptible cells. We investigated in vivo the inhibitory effect of VP1-specific siRNAs on FMDV replication in BHK-21 cells and suckling mice, a commonly used small animal model. The results showed that transfection of siRNA-expressing plasmids gave an 80 to 90% reduction in the expression of FMDV VP1 in BHK-21 cells. Moreover, BHK-21 cells transiently transfected with siRNA-expressing plasmids were specifically resistant to FMDV infection when exposed to 100 50% tissue culture infective doses of virus, and the antiviral effects extended to almost 48 h postinfection. Furthermore, subcutaneous injection of siRNA-expressing plasmids in the neck made suckling mice significantly less susceptible to FMDV. In conclusion, our data suggests that RNAi may provide a viable therapeutic approach to treat FMDV infection.
Journal of Virology 08/2004; 78(13):6900-7. DOI:10.1128/JVI.78.13.6900-6907.2004 · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The complete nucleotide sequence of a novel cryptic plasmid pXZ608 from Corynebacterium glutamicum 227 was determined. pXZ608 was 5949 bp with six open reading frames (ORF1-6). The predicted ORF1 gene product was homologous to replication proteins of rolling circle replication plasmids. The conserved single- and double-stranded origins of rolling circle replication were found, and interestingly, the two origins were both located on ORF1, which indicated that the Rep protein encoded by ORF1 could bind to its own gene region. Deletion analysis revealed that the minimal replicon was located on the 2.14-kb SacI-BstEII fragment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The nucleotide sequence of a small plasmid, designated pSFD10, is isolated from the vaccine strain Salmonella choleraesuis C500 in China, has been determined. This plasmid is 4091 bp long with a total G+C content of 51.4%, which is in the range of Salmonella genomic DNA. Analysis of the complete nucleotide sequence reveals that pSFD10 has a high degree of similarity to ColE1-type plasmid, having the possible cer and rom genes, and a putative mobilization origin of ColE1-type. Plasmid pSFD10 possesses six main open reading frames (ORFs), five of which have a very high degree of amino acid identity to ColE1-type plasmid gene products involved in mobilization and copy number control. The other ORF (ORF6) encodes a putative protein, which has 49% homology to the invasion plasmid antigen J protein (IpaJ) secreted by the type III secretion apparatus of Shigella flexneri. In addition, pSFD10 belongs to a different incompatibility group than ColE1-type and pMB1-type to which it is related. Plasmid pSFD10 can be mobilized by the plasmid RP4 in E. coli.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CpG DNA is DNA sequence that has immune stimulatory effects. Several lines of investigation over the past few years indicate
that CpG DNA plays an important role in the induction of immune responses to DNA vaccines. In this study, CpG DNA-containing
synthetic oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG-ODN) was cloned into the eukaryotic expression plasmid encoding a fusion protein containing
β-galactosidase fromE. coli and immunogenic epitopes of foot- and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) type O, and the immune responses induced by the plasmid
were assayed. The results showed that guinea pigs immunized with the recombinant plasmid containing CpG-ODN generated a higher
level of FMDV-neutralizing antibody and a stronger T cell proliferative response and protection against viral challenge than
those receiving the plasmid containing no CpG-ODN. Our study demonstrated that it is an effective route to enhance the efficacy
of DNA vaccines by inserting exogenous CpG DNA into the plasmids, and the DNA vaccine developed here is a promising candidate
to prevent FMDV infection.
KeywordsCpG DNA-DNA vaccine-foot-and-mouth disease virus-immnostimulatory sequence
Chinese Science Bulletin 08/2001; 46(16):1376-1379. DOI:10.1007/BF03183393 · 1.58 Impact Factor