Gabriele Blahnik

University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, WA, United States

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Publications (4)41.14 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The actions of the RIG-I like receptor (RLR) and type I interferon (IFN) signaling pathways are essential for a protective innate immune response against the emerging flavivirus West Nile virus (WNV). In mice lacking RLR or IFN signaling pathways, WNV exhibits enhanced tissue tropism, indicating that specific host factors of innate immune defense restrict WNV infection and dissemination in peripheral tissues. However, the immune mechanisms by which the RLR and IFN pathways coordinate and function to impart restriction of WNV infection are not well defined. Using a systems biology approach, we defined the host innate immune response signature and actions that restrict WNV tissue tropism. Transcriptional profiling and pathway modeling to compare WNV-infected permissive (spleen) and nonpermissive (liver) tissues showed high enrichment for inflammatory responses, including pattern recognition receptors and IFN signaling pathways, that define restriction of WNV replication in the liver. Assessment of infected livers from Mavs(-/-)×Ifnar(-/-) mice revealed the loss of expression of several key components within the natural killer (NK) cell signaling pathway, including genes associated with NK cell activation, inflammatory cytokine production, and NK cell receptor signaling. In vivo analysis of hepatic immune cell infiltrates from WT mice demonstrated that WNV infection leads to an increase in NK cell numbers with enhanced proliferation, maturation, and effector action. In contrast, livers from Mavs(-/-)×Ifnar(-/-) infected mice displayed reduced immune cell infiltration, including a significant reduction in NK cell numbers. Analysis of cocultures of dendritic and NK cells revealed both cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic roles for the RLR and IFN signaling pathways to regulate NK cell effector activity. Taken together, these observations reveal a complex innate immune signaling network, regulated by the RLR and IFN signaling pathways, that drives tissue-specific antiviral effector gene expression and innate immune cellular processes that control tissue tropism to WNV infection.
    PLoS Pathogens 02/2013; 9(2):e1003168. · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: West Nile virus (WNV) is an emerging flavivirus capable of infecting the central nervous system (CNS) and mediating neuronal cell death and tissue destruction. The processes that promote inflammation and encephalitis within the CNS are important for control of WNV disease but, how inflammatory signaling pathways operate to control CNS infection is not defined. Here, we identify IL-1β signaling and the NLRP3 inflammasome as key host restriction factors involved in viral control and CNS disease associated with WNV infection. Individuals presenting with acute WNV infection displayed elevated levels of IL-1β in their plasma over the course of infection, suggesting a role for IL-1β in WNV immunity. Indeed, we found that in a mouse model of infection, WNV induced the acute production of IL-1β in vivo, and that animals lacking the IL-1 receptor or components involved in inflammasome signaling complex exhibited increased susceptibility to WNV pathogenesis. This outcome associated with increased accumulation of virus within the CNS but not peripheral tissues and was further associated with altered kinetics and magnitude of inflammation, reduced quality of the effector CD8(+) T cell response and reduced anti-viral activity within the CNS. Importantly, we found that WNV infection triggers production of IL-1β from cortical neurons. Furthermore, we found that IL-1β signaling synergizes with type I IFN to suppress WNV replication in neurons, thus implicating antiviral activity of IL-1β within neurons and control of virus replication within the CNS. Our studies thus define the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway and IL-1β signaling as key features controlling WNV infection and immunity in the CNS, and reveal a novel role for IL-1β in antiviral action that restricts virus replication in neurons.
    PLoS Pathogens 11/2012; 8(11):e1003039. · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) signal innate immune defenses upon RNA virus infection, but their roles in adaptive immunity have not been clearly defined. Here, we showed that the RLR LGP2 was not essential for induction of innate immune defenses, but rather was required for controlling antigen-specific CD8(+) T cell survival and fitness during peripheral T cell-number expansion in response to virus infection. Adoptive transfer and biochemical studies demonstrated that T cell-receptor signaling induced LGP2 expression wherein LGP2 operated to regulate death-receptor signaling and imparted sensitivity to CD95-mediated cell death. Thus, LGP2 promotes an essential prosurvival signal in response to antigen stimulation to confer CD8(+) T cell-number expansion and effector functions against divergent RNA viruses, including West Nile virus and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus.
    Immunity 07/2012; 37(2):235-48. · 19.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the generation of West Nile virus (WNV) infectious clones for the pathogenic lineage 1 Texas-HC2002 and nonpathogenic lineage 2 Madagascar-AnMg798 strains. The infectious clones exhibited biological properties similar to those of the parental virus isolates. We generated chimeric viruses and found that viral factors within the structural and nonstructural regions of WNV-TX contribute to the control of type I interferon defenses. These infectious clones provide new reagents to study flavivirus immune regulation and pathogenesis.
    Journal of Virology 05/2012; 86(14):7704-9. · 5.08 Impact Factor