James A Gregory

University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States

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Publications (8)39.08 Total impact

  • James A Gregory, Stephen P Mayfield
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria is a parasitic, mosquito-borne, infectious disease that threatens nearly half of the global population. The last decade has seen a dramatic drop in the number of malaria-related deaths because of vector control methods and anti-malarial drugs. Unfortunately, this strategy is not sustainable because of the emergence of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and drug-resistant Plasmodium parasites. Eradication of malaria will ultimately require low-cost easily administered vaccines that work in concert with current control methods. Low cost and ease of administration will be essential components of any vaccine, because malaria endemic regions are poor and often lack an adequate healthcare infrastructure. Recently, several groups have begun addressing these issues using inexpensive photosynthetic organisms for producing vaccine antigens and exploring oral delivery strategies. Immune responses from plant-based injectable malaria vaccines are promising, but attempts to adapt these for oral delivery suggest we are far from a feasible strategy. Here, we review examples of these technologies and discuss the progress and potential of this research, as well as the obstacles ahead.
    Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 01/2014; · 3.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infectious diseases disproportionately affect indigent regions and are the greatest cause of childhood mortality in developing countries. Practical, low-cost vaccines for use in these countries are paramount to reducing disease burdens and concomitant poverty. Algae are a promising low-cost system for producing vaccines that can be orally delivered, thereby avoiding expensive purification and injectable delivery. We engineered the chloroplast of the eukaryotic alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to produce a chimeric protein consisting of the 25kDa Plasmodium falciparum surface protein (Pfs25) fused to the β subunit of the cholera toxin (CtxB) to investigate an algae-based whole cell oral vaccine. Pfs25 is a promising malaria transmission blocking vaccine candidate that has been difficult to produce in traditional recombinant systems due to its structurally complex tandem repeats of epidermal growth factor-like domains. The non-catalytic CtxB domain of the cholera holotoxin assembles into a pentameric structure and acts as a mucosal adjuvant by binding GM1 ganglioside receptors on gut epithelial cells. We demonstrate that CtxB-Pfs25 accumulates as a soluble, properly-folded and functional protein within algal chloroplasts and is stable in freeze-dried algae cells at ambient temperatures. In mice, oral vaccination using freeze-dried CtxB-Pfs25 expressing algae elicited CtxB specific serum IgG antibodies and both CtxB and Pfs25 specific secretory IgA antibodies. These data suggest that algae are a promising system for production and oral delivery of vaccine antigens, but as an orally delivered adjuvant, CtxB is best-suited for eliciting secretory IgA antibodies for vaccine antigens against pathogens that invade mucosal surfaces using this strategy.
    Applied and environmental microbiology 04/2013; · 3.69 Impact Factor
  • Microscopy and Microanalysis 07/2012; 18(S2):672-673. · 2.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria is a widespread and infectious disease that is a leading cause of death in many parts of the world. Eradication of malaria has been a major world health goal for decades, but one that still remains elusive. Other diseases have been eradicated using vaccination, but traditional vaccination methods have thus far been unsuccessful for malaria. Infection by Plasmodium species, the causative agent of malaria, is currently treated with drug-based therapies, but an increase in drug resistance has led to the need for new methods of treatment. A promising strategy for malaria treatment is to combine transmission blocking vaccines (TBVs) that prevent spread of disease with drug-based therapies to treat infected individuals. TBVs can be developed against surface protein antigens that are expressed during parasite reproduction in the mosquito. When the mosquito ingests blood from a vaccinated individual harboring the Plasmodium parasite, the antibodies generated by vaccination prevent completion of the parasites life-cycle. Animal studies have shown that immunization with Pfs48/45 results in the production of malaria transmission blocking antibodies; however, the development of this vaccine candidate has been hindered by poor expression in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic hosts. Recently, the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has been used to express complex recombinant proteins. In this study, we show that the C-terminal antigenic region of the Pfs48/45 antigen can be expressed in the chloroplast of the green algae C. reinhardtii and that this recombinant protein has a conformation recognized by known transmission blocking antibodies. Production of this protein in algae has the potential to scale to the very large volumes required to meet the needs of millions at risk for contracting malaria.
    Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 05/2012; · 3.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Subunit vaccines are significantly more expensive to produce than traditional vaccines because they are based primarily on recombinant proteins that must be purified from the expression system. Despite the increased cost, subunit vaccines are being developed because they are safe, effective, and can elicit antibodies that confer protection against diseases that are not currently vaccine-preventable. Algae are an attractive platform for producing subunit vaccines because they are relatively inexpensive to grow, genetically tractable, easily scaled to large volumes, have a short generation time, and are devoid of inflammatory, viral, or prion contaminants often present in other systems. We tested whether algal chloroplasts can produce malaria transmission blocking vaccine candidates, Plasmodium falciparum surface protein 25 (Pfs25) and 28 (Pfs28). Antibodies that recognize Pfs25 and Pfs28 disrupt the sexual development of parasites within the mosquito midgut, thus preventing transmission of malaria from one human host to the next. These proteins have been difficult to produce in traditional recombinant systems because they contain tandem repeats of structurally complex epidermal growth factor-like domains, which cannot be produced in bacterial systems, and because they are not glycosylated, so they must be modified for production in eukaryotic systems. Production in algal chloroplasts avoids these issues because chloroplasts can fold complex eukaryotic proteins and do not glycosylate proteins. Here we demonstrate that algae are the first recombinant system to successfully produce an unmodified and aglycosylated version of Pfs25 or Pfs28. These antigens are structurally similar to the native proteins and antibodies raised to these recombinant proteins recognize Pfs25 and Pfs28 from P. falciparum. Furthermore, antibodies to algae-produced Pfs25 bind the surface of in-vitro cultured P. falciparum sexual stage parasites and exhibit transmission blocking activity. Thus, algae are promising organisms for producing cysteine-disulfide-containing malaria transmission blocking vaccine candidate proteins.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(5):e37179. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The assembly of the cell division machinery at midcell is a critical step of cytokinesis. Many rod-shaped bacteria position septa using nucleoid occlusion, which prevents division over the chromosome, and the Min system, which prevents division near the poles. Here we examined the in vivo assembly of the Bacillus subtilis MinCD targeting proteins DivIVA, a peripheral membrane protein that preferentially localizes to negatively curved membranes and resembles eukaryotic tropomyosins, and MinJ, which recruits MinCD to DivIVA. We used structured illumination microscopy to demonstrate that both DivIVA and MinJ localize as double rings that flank the septum and first appear early in septal biosynthesis. The subsequent recruitment of MinCD to these double rings would separate the Min proteins from their target, FtsZ, spatially regulating Min activity and allowing continued cell division. Curvature-based localization would also provide temporal regulation, since DivIVA and the Min proteins would localize to midcell after the onset of division. We use time-lapse microscopy and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching to demonstrate that DivIVA rings are highly stable and are constructed from newly synthesized DivIVA molecules. After cell division, DivIVA rings appear to collapse into patches at the rounded cell poles of separated cells, with little or no incorporation of newly synthesized subunits. Thus, changes in cell architecture mediate both the initial recruitment of DivIVA to sites of cell division and the subsequent collapse of these rings into patches (or rings of smaller diameter), while curvature-based localization of DivIVA spatially and temporally regulates Min activity. IMPORTANCE: The Min systems of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis both inhibit FtsZ assembly, but one key difference between these two species is that whereas the E. coli Min proteins localize to the poles, the B. subtilis proteins localize to nascent division sites by interaction with DivIVA and MinJ. It is unclear how MinC activity at midcell is regulated to prevent it from interfering with FtsZ engaged in medial cell division. We used superresolution microscopy to demonstrate that DivIVA and MinJ, which localize MinCD, assemble double rings that flank active division sites and septa. This curvature-based localization mechanism holds MinCD away from the FtsZ ring at midcell, and we propose that this spatial organization is the primary mechanism by which MinC activity is regulated to allow division at midcell. Curvature-based localization also conveys temporal regulation, since it ensures that MinC localizes after the onset of division.
    mBio 01/2011; 2(6). · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We constructed a transposon (transposon assisted gene insertion technology, or TAGIT) that allows the random insertion of gfp (or other genes) into chromosomal loci without disrupting operon structure or regulation. TAGIT is a modified Tn5 transposon that uses Kan(R) to select for insertions on the chromosome or plasmid, beta-galactosidase to identify in-frame gene fusions, and Cre recombinase to excise the kan and lacZ genes in vivo. The resulting gfp insertions maintain target gene reading frame (to the 5' and 3' of gfp) and are integrated at the native chromosomal locus, thereby maintaining native expression signals. Libraries can be screened to identify GFP insertions that maintain target protein function at native expression levels, allowing more trustworthy localization studies. We here use TAGIT to generate a library of GFP insertions in the Escherichia coli lactose repressor (LacI). We identified fully functional GFP insertions and partially functional insertions that bind DNA but fail to repress the lacZ operon. Several of these latter GFP insertions localize to lacO arrays integrated in the E. coli chromosome without producing the elongated cells frequently observed when functional LacI-GFP fusions are used in chromosome tagging experiments. TAGIT thereby faciliates the isolation of fully functional insertions of fluorescent proteins into target proteins expressed from the native chromosomal locus as well as potentially useful partially functional proteins.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1):e8731. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    James A Gregory, Eric C Becker, Kit Pogliano
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    ABSTRACT: Division site selection in rod-shaped bacteria depends on nucleoid occlusion, which prevents division over the chromosome and MinCD, which prevent division at the poles. MinD is thought to localize MinC to the cell poles where it prevents FtsZ assembly. Time-lapse microscopy demonstrates that in Bacillus subtilis transient polar FtsZ rings assemble adjacent to recently completed septa and that in minCD strains these persist and are used for division, producing a minicell. This suggests that MinC acts when division proteins are released from newly completed septa to prevent their immediate reassembly at new cell poles. The minCD mutant appears to uncouple FtsZ ring assembly from cell division and thus shows a variable interdivisional time and a rapid loss of cell cycle synchrony. Functional MinC-GFP expressed from the chromosome minCD locus is dynamic. It is recruited to active division sites before septal biogenesis, rotates around the septum, and moves away from completed septa. Thus high concentrations of MinC are found primarily at the septum and, more transiently, at the new cell pole. DivIVA and MinD recruit MinC to division sites, rather than mediating the stable polar localization previously thought to restrict MinC activity to the pole. Together, our results suggest that B. subtilis MinC does not inhibit FtsZ assembly at the cell poles, but rather prevents polar FtsZ rings adjacent to new cell poles from supporting cell division.
    Genes & Development 01/2009; 22(24):3475-88. · 12.44 Impact Factor