Susan M Knobel

Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN, United States

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Publications (6)15.33 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Congenital human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections can result in CNS abnormalities in newborn babies including vision loss, mental retardation, motor deficits, seizures, and hearing loss. Brain pericytes play an essential role in the development and function of the blood-brain barrier yet their unique role in HCMV dissemination and neuropathlogy has not been reported. Primary human brain vascular pericytes were exposed to a primary clinical isolate of HCMV designated 'SBCMV'. Infectivity was analyzed by microscopy, immunofluorescence, Western blot, and qRT-PCR. Microarrays were performed to identify proinflammatory cytokines upregulated after SBCMV exposure, and the results validated by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methodology. In situ cytokine expression of pericytes after exposure to HCMV was examined by ELISA and in vivo evidence of HCMV infection of brain pericytes was shown by dual-labeled immunohistochemistry. HCMV-infected human brain vascular pericytes as evidenced by several markers. Using a clinical isolate of HCMV (SBCMV), microscopy of infected pericytes showed virion production and typical cytomegalic cytopathology. This finding was confirmed by the expression of major immediate early and late virion proteins and by the presence of HCMV mRNA. Brain pericytes were fully permissive for CMV lytic replication after 72 to 96 hours in culture compared to human astrocytes or human brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVEC). However, temporal transcriptional expression of pp65 virion protein after SBCMV infection was lower than that seen with the HCMV Towne laboratory strain. Using RT-PCR and dual-labeled immunofluorescence, proinflammatory cytokines CXCL8/IL-8, CXCL11/ITAC, and CCL5/Rantes were upregulated in SBCMV-infected cells, as were tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Pericytes exposed to SBCMV elicited higher levels of IL-6 compared to both mock-infected as well as heat-killed virus controls. A 6.6-fold induction of IL-6 and no induction TNF-alpha was observed in SBCMV-infected cell supernatants at 24 hours postinfection. Using archival brain tissue from a patient coinfected with HCMV and HIV, we also found evidence of HCMV infection of pericytes using dual-label immunohistochemistry, as monitored by NG2 proteoglycan staining. HCMV lytic infection of primary human brain pericytes suggests that pericytes contribute to both virus dissemination in the CNS as well as neuroinflammation.
    Journal of Neuroinflammation 05/2012; 9:95. · 4.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common condition seen in premenopausal women, is associated with preterm labor, pelvic inflammatory disease, and delivery of low birth weight infants. Gardnerella vaginalis is the predominant bacterial species associated with BV, although its exact role in the pathology of BV is unknown. Using immunofluorescence, confocal and transmission electron microscopy, we found that VK2 vaginal epithelial cells take up G. vaginalis after exposure to the bacteria. Confocal microscopy also indicated the presence of internalized G. vaginalis within vaginal epithelial cells obtained from a subject with BV. Using VK2 cells and (35)S labeled bacteria in an invasion assay, we found that a 1 h uptake of G. vaginalis was 21.8-fold higher than heat-killed G. vaginalis, 84-fold compared to Lactobacillus acidophilus and 6.6-fold compared to Lactobacillus crispatus. Internalization was inhibited by pre-exposure of cells to cytochalasin-D. In addition, the cytoskeletal protein vimentin was upregulated in VK2 cells exposed to G. vaginalis, but there was no change in actin cytoskeletal polymerization/rearrangements or vimentin subcellular relocalization post exposure. Cytoskeletal protein modifications could represent a potential mechanism for G. vaginalis mediated internalization by vaginal epithelial cells. Finally, understanding vaginal bacteria/host interactions will allow us to better understand the underlying mechanisms of BV pathogenesis.
    Microbes and Infection 12/2011; 14(6):500-8. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Kaposi's sarcoma is an angioproliferative tumor caused by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection of vascular endothelial cells. Fibulins, proteins that associate with extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, may have both tumor-suppressive and oncogenic activities. We found that the expression of fibulin-2 protein and mRNA were decreased 50-fold and 26-fold, respectively, in 10-day KSHV-infected dermal microvascular endothelial cells (DMVEC). Using quantitative RT-PCR, we found a fivefold and 25-fold decrease of fibulin-2 extracellular matrix binding partners, fibronectin and tropoelastin, respectively. Time-course transcriptional analyses over 10 days showed that in addition to that of fibulin-2, expression of fibulins 3 and 5 was decreased in KSHV-infected DMVEC, fibulins 1C/1D were increased, and fibulins 4, 6, and 7 were unchanged. KSHV latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) transcription levels rose consistently over the same period. Addition of recombinant fibulin-3 or -5 for 48 hours to 10-day KSHV-infected cells caused a suppression of KSHV-induced vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein and mRNA levels. Recombinant fibulin-3 also significantly reduced VEGF receptor 3 expression. In pleural effusion lymphoma cell lines that express variable levels of KSHV lytic replication, we observed no detectable fibulin-2 or -5 expression. Finally, fibulin-2 expression was decreased in tissue microarrays from KSHV-infected, LANA-positive patient cells as compared to that in patient nontumor controls. Understanding the interactions between KSHV and the fibulins may lead to the development of novel therapies for treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma.
    American Journal Of Pathology 09/2011; 179(3):1443-54. · 4.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Galectins are a family of proteins that share an affinity for beta-galactoside containing glycoconjugates. In prostate, ovarian and breast cancer, downregulation of galectin-3 is associated with malignancy and tumor progression. Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is characterized as an angioproliferative tumor of vascular endothelial cells and produces rare B cell lymphoproliferative diseases in the form of primary effusion lymphomas and some forms of multicentric Castleman's disease. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of KS. We found reduced levels of galectin-3 expression in a significant fraction of latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA)-positive spindle cell regions in human archival KS tissue and as measured in KS tissue microarrays. Here we demonstrate that galectin-3 protein expression is downregulated 10-fold in 10-day KSHV-infected dermal microvascular endothelial cells (DMVEC) accompanied by downregulation of message. There is loss of galectin-3 staining in KSHV-infected DMVEC by dual labeled immunohistochemistry in LANA-positive spindle cells. We observed a consistent downregulation of galectin-3 by time-course transcriptional analysis. Of the galectins assayed, only galectin-1 was also downregulated in KSHV-infected DMVEC. We examined 86 KS tumors; 19 were LANA positive (22%) and 67 LANA negative (78%). All 86 tumors were found to be galectin-3 positive; 11 of 19 showed reduced expression of galectin-3 in LANA-positive spindle cell regions. Our data suggest that KSHV vFLIP and LANA are the viral genes targeting galectin-3 downregulation. The contribution of host factors to the pathogenesis of KS is essential for early detection and development of innovative therapies for treatment.
    Glycobiology 05/2010; 20(5):521-32. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    Donald Alcendor, Susan Knobel
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    ABSTRACT: Currently KS is the most predominant HIV/AIDS related malignancy in Southern Africa and hence the world. It is characterized as an angioproliferative tumor of vascular endothelial cells and produces rare B cell lymphoproliferative diseases in the form of pleural effusion lymphomas (PEL) and some forms of multicentric Castleman's disease. Only 1-5% of cells in KS lesions actively support lytic replication of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the etiological agent associated with KS, and it is clear that cellular factors must interact with viral factors in the process of oncogenesis and tumor progression. Identifying novel host-factor determinants which contribute to KS pathology is essential for developing prognostic markers for tumor progression and metastasis as well as for developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of KS. The accompanying video details the methods we use to identify host cell gene expression programs altered in dermal microvascular endothelial cells (DMVEC) after KSHV infection and in KS tumor tissue. Once dysregulated genes are identified by microarray analysis, changes in protein expression are confirmed by immunoblot and dual labeled immunofluorescence. Changes in transcriptional expression of dysregulated genes are confirmed in vitro by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Validation of in vitro findings using archival KS tumor tissue is also performed by dual labeled immunochemistry and tissue microarrays. Our approach to identifying dysregulated genes in the KS tumor tissue microenvironment will allow the development of in vitro and subsequently in vivo model systems for discovery and evaluation of potential novel therapeutic for the treatment of KS.
    Journal of Visualized Experiments 01/2010;
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    Infectious Agents and Cancer 01/2010;