[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huanglongbing (HLB) constitutes the most destructive disease of citrus worldwide, yet no established efficient management measures exist for it. Brassinosteroids, a family of plant steroidal compounds, are essential for plant growth, development and stress tolerance. As a possible control strategy for HLB, epibrassinolide was applied to as a foliar spray to citrus plants infected with the causal agent of HLB, 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus'. The bacterial titers were reduced after treatment with epibrassinolide under both greenhouse and field conditions but were stronger in the greenhouse. Known defense genes were induced in leaves by epibrassinolide. With the SuperSAGE technology combined with next generation sequencing, induction of genes known to be associated with defense response to bacteria and hormone transduction pathways were identified. The results demonstrate that epibrassinolide may provide a useful tool for the management of HLB.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: B23/NPM is a multifunctional nucleolar protein frequently overexpressed, mutated, or rearranged in neoplastic tissues. B23/NPM is involved in diverse biological processes and is mainly regulated by heteroligomer association and posttranslational modification, phosphorylation being a major posttranslational event. While the role of B23/NPM in supporting and/or driving malignant transformation is widely recognized, the particular relevance of its CK2-mediated phosphorylation remains unsolved. Interestingly, the pharmacologic inhibition of such phosphorylation event by CIGB-300, a clinical-grade peptide drug, was previously associated to apoptosis induction in tumor cell lines. In this work, we sought to identify the biological processes modulated by CIGB-300 in a lung cancer cell line using subtractive suppression hybridization and subsequent functional annotation clustering. Our results indicate that CIGB-300 modulates a subset of genes involved in protein synthesis (ES = 8.4, p < 0.001), mitochondrial ATP metabolism (ES = 2.5, p < 0.001), and ribosomal biogenesis (ES = 1.5, p < 0.05). The impairment of these cellular processes by CIGB-300 was corroborated at the molecular and cellular levels by Western blot (P-S6/P-4EBP1, translation), confocal microscopy (JC-1, mitochondrial potential), qPCR (45SrRNA/p21, ribosome biogenesis), and electron microscopy (nucleolar structure, ribosome biogenesis). Altogether, our findings provide new insights on the potential relevance of the CK2-mediated phosphorylation of B23/NPM in cancer cells, revealing at the same time the potentialities of its pharmacological manipulation for cancer therapy. Finally, this work also suggests several candidate gene biomarkers to be evaluated during the clinical development of the anti-CK2 peptide CIGB-300.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Growth hormone releasing peptide, GHRP-6, a hexapeptide (His-(D-Trp)-Ala-Trp-(D-Phe)-Lys-NH2, MW = 872.44 Da) that belongs to a class of synthetic growth hormone secretagogues, can stimulate growth hormone secretion from somatotrophs in several species including humans. In the present study, we demonstrate that GHRP-6 dispersed in aqueous solution, at pH 7.0, room temperature of 22 oC, is able to form long nanotubes by combining small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), transmission electron microscopy and molecular dynamic simulation results. Such nanotubes possess inner and outer cross-sections equal to 6.7(2) nm and 13.4(5) nm, respectively. The mechanism of peptide self-assembling was determined by molecular dynamic simulations revealing that the peptides self-assemble like amphiphilic molecules in aqueous solution in a partially interdigitated structure. In this case, the position of the positively charged amino termini is located at the peptide water interface, whereas the neutral NH2-capped carboxi termini remains buried at the hydrophobic core. On the contrary, the long side chain of Lys-6 stretches out of the hydrophobic core positioning their positive charge near the cylinder surface. The peptide configuration in the nanotube wall comes from the interplay between the hydrophobic interactions of the aromatic side chains of the GHRP-6 and the electrostatic repulsion of its cationic charges. Increasing the peptide concentration, the long nanotubes self-arrange in solution displaying a bi-dimensional hexagonal-like packing in the SAXS curves, with a center-to-center distance of ~ 15 nm. Further, we also show that the nanostructure formed in solution is quite stable being preserved following transfer to solid support.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dengue is currently one of the most important arthropod-borne diseases, causing up to 25,000 deaths annually. There is currently no vaccine to prevent dengue virus infection, which needs a tetravalent vaccine approach. In this work, we describe the cloning and expression in Escherichia coli of envelope domain III-capsid chimeric proteins (DIIIC) of the four dengue serotypes as a tetravalent dengue vaccine candidate that is potentially able to generate humoral and cellular immunity. The recombinant proteins were purified to more than 85 % purity and were recognized by anti-dengue mouse and human sera. Mass spectrometry analysis verified the identity of the proteins and the correct formation of the intracatenary disulfide bond in the domain III region. The chimeric DIIIC proteins were also serotype-specific, and in the presence of oligonucleotides, they formed aggregates that were visible by electron microscopy. These results support the future use of DIIIC recombinant chimeric proteins in preclinical studies in mice for assessing their immunogenicity and efficacy.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Archives of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic T-cell mediated autoimmune disease that affects primarily the joints and results in their progressive destruction. The induction of immune tolerance through antigen-specific therapies for the blockade of pathogenic CD4+ T cells constitutes a current focus of research. In this focus it is attempted to simultaneously activate multiple regulatory mechanisms, such as: apoptosis, anergy and bystander suppression mediated by regulatory T cells (Tregs). APL-1 is an altered peptide ligand derived from a novel CD4+ T-cell epitope of human heat-shock protein of 60kDa, an autoantigen involved in various aspects of the pathogenesis of RA. Previously, we have reported that APL-1 induces CD4+ CD25(high)Foxp3+ Tregs in several systems. Here, we investigated the ability of APL-1 in inducing apoptosis in PBMCs from RA patients, who were classified as active or inactive according to their DAS28 score. APL-1 decreased the viability of PBMCs from active but not from inactive RA patients. DNA fragmentation assays and typical morphological features clearly demonstrated that APL-1 induced apoptosis in these cells. Activated CD4+ CD25+ T cells but not resting CD4+ CD25- T cells were identified as targets of APL-1, which suggests its high specificity as a possible therapeutic drug. Furthermore, CD4+ T-cell responses to APL-1 were found to be dependent on antigen presentation via the HLA-DR molecule. Thus, APL-1 is a regulatory CD4+ T cell epitope which might modulate inflammatory immune responses in PBMCs from RA patients by inducing CD4+ CD25(high)Foxp3+ Tregs and apoptosis in activated CD4+ T cells. These results support further investigation of this candidate drug for the treatment of RA.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · International immunopharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract
Recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) are attractive candidates for vaccine design since
they resemble native viroids in size and morphology, but they are non-infectious due to the
absence of a viral genome. The visualization of surface morphologies and structures can be
used to deepen the understanding of physical, chemical, and biological phenomena. Atomic
force microscopy (AFM) is a useful tool for the visualization of soft biological samples in a
nanoscale resolution. In this work we have investigated the morphology of recombinant
surface antigens of hepatitis B (rHBsAg) VLPs from Cuban vaccine against hepatitis B. The
rHBsAg VLPs sizes estimated by AFM between 15 and 30 nm are similar to those reported on
previous transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies.
Keywords: hepatitis B, AFM, rHBsAg, virus-like particles
Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Advances in Natural Sciences: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The existing vaccines are mainly limited to the microorganisms we are able to culture and produce and/or to those whose killing is mediated by humoral response (antibody mediated). It has been more difficult to develop vaccines capable of inducing a functional cellular response needed to prevent or cure chronic diseases. New strategies should be taken into account in the improvement of cell-based immune responses in order to prevent and control the infections and eventually clear the virus. Preclinical and clinical results with vaccine candidates developed as a vaccine platform based on virus-like particles (VLPs) evidenced their ability to stimulate mucosal as well as systemic immunity. Particles based on envelope, membrane or nucleocapsid microbial proteins induce a strong immune response after nasal or parenteral administration in mice, non-human primates and humans. In addition, the immune response obtained was modulated in a Th1 sense. The VLPs were also able to immunoenhance the humoral and cellular immune responses against several viral pathogens. Studies in animals and humans with nasal and systemic formulations evidenced that it is possible to induce functional immune response against HBV, HCV, HIV and dengue virus.
Keywords: VLPs, hepatitis, HBV, HCV, human immunodeficiency virus, Th1
Classification numbers: 2.05, 5.08
Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Advances in Natural Sciences: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A fusion protein comprising a cell penetrating and immunostimulatory peptide corresponding to residues 32 to 51 of the Limulus polyphemus protein linked to human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 E7 antigen (LALF32-51-E7) was expressed in E. coli BL21 (DE3) cells. The recombinant protein in E. coli accounted for approximately 18% of the total cellular protein and purified with a single affinity chromatographic step. Yields of approximately 38 mg purified LALF32-51-E7 per liter of induced culture was obtained with an overall 52% recovery and constitutes a promising setting for the future production and scaling-up. Purified protein was characterized as soluble aggregates with molecular weight larger than 670 kDa, which is considered an important property to increase the immunogenicity of an antigen preparation. The recombinant fusion protein LALF32-51-E7 will be a promising vaccine candidate for the treatment of HPV-16 related malignancies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dengue virus is the most significant virus transmitted by arthropods worldwide and may cause a potentially fatal systemic disease named dengue hemorrhagic fever. In this work, dengue virus serotype 4 was detected in the tissues of one fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever case using electron immunomicroscopy and molecular methods. This is the first report of dengue virus polypeptides findings by electron immunomicroscopy in human samples. In addition, not-previously-documented virus-like particles visualized in spleen, hepatic, brain, and pulmonary tissues from a dengue case are discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, we evaluate in mice a novel formulation containing nucleocapsid-like particles of dengue-2 virus (recNLP) co-immunized with a chimeric protein composed of the dengue-4 envelope domain III fused twice within the meningococcal P64k protein of Neisseria meningitidis (PD24). The animals receiving the PD24-recNLP mixture showed the highest levels of antiviral antibodies. Similar results were obtained for IFNγ secretion levels, indicating a functional Th1 cellular response. Consistently, the percentage of mice surviving after viral challenge was significantly higher for those immunized with the mixture than for those inoculated with PD24 protein alone. In addition, in vivo depletion experiments demonstrated the decisive role of CD4(+) and CD8(+) cells in the protection conferred by immunization with PD24-recNLP. In conclusion, this report demonstrates for the first time the adjuvant capacity of dengue-2 virus recNLP. Additionally, the evidence presented highlights the potential of these particles for enhancing the immune response against heterologous recombinant proteins.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Archives of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by loss of spinal motor neurons, for which no effective treatment exists. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) and growth hormone releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6) have been considered as good candidates for the treatment of this disease, due to their well documented effects in eliciting pleiotrophic and cell survival mechanisms. The aim of the present work was to evaluate the separate and combined effects of both peptides in an experimental animal model of ALS, the proximal axonopathy induced by 1,2 diacetylbenzene (1,2 DAB) in mice. The evaluations were conducted by means of behavioral tests (trapeze, tail suspension, gait pattern, and open field) and by recording the complex muscle action potential (CMAP) in three different hind limb segments: proximal S1, medial S2, and distal S3. Intraperitoneal daily administration of 1,2 DAB produced significant reduction in body weight, muscle strength, extensor reflex, spontaneous activity, and changes in gait pattern parameters. In parallel 1,2 DAB produced significant prolongation of onset latency and decrease in amplitude of CMAP and in the integrated complex action potential index. Daily administration of the separate compounds did not accelerate the recovery of the affected parameters, except for the gait pattern. The combined treatment produced significant improvement in behavioral parameters, as well as in electrophysiological recovery, particularly in the proximal segment of CMAP. The latter results confirm the proximal character of 1,2 DAB neuropathy, and suggest that combined therapy with EGF and GHRP-6 might be a good therapeutic strategy for the treatment of ALS.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2010 · Neurotoxicity Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Novel therapeutic peptides are increasingly making their way into clinical application. The cationic and amphipathic properties of certain peptides allow them to cross biological membranes in a non-disruptive way without apparent toxicity increasing drug bioavailability. By modifying the primary structure of the Limulus-derived LALF(32-51) peptide we designed a novel peptide, L-2, with antineoplastic effect and cell-penetrating capacity. Interestingly, L-2 induced cellular cytotoxicity in a variety of tumor cell lines and systemic injection into immunocompetent and nude mice bearing established solid tumor, resulted in substantial regression of the tumor mass and apoptosis. To isolate the gene transcripts specifically regulated by L-2 in tumor cells, we conducted suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH) analysis and identified a set of genes involved in biological processes relevant to cancer biology. Our findings describe a novel peptide that modifies the gene expression of the tumor cells and exhibits antitumor effect in vivo, indicating that peptide L-2 is a potential candidate for anticancer therapy.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2010 · Journal of Peptide Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biological control of nematodes is a valuable alternative to the use of chemical nematicides in agriculture, because of the high negative impact generated by such chemicals in agroecosystems. From the Gram positive bacterium Tsukamurella paurometabola C-924, the bionematicide HeberNem-L™ has been developed, which is presented as a liquid formulation; nevertheless its stability is still low at 4 °C, with a shelf-life time of 6 months. One way to improve the stability of this bioproduct could be the desiccation of the cells, keeping the viability upon rehydration. Considering this aspect, the aim of our work was to obtain anhydrobiotic cells of the strain C-924 using freeze-drying and spray-drying technologies. One of the main results was the obtaining of anhydrobiotic cells of T. paurometabola C-924, with survival rates higher than 60%. In addition, it was shown that anhydrobiotic cells are more stable vacuum-stored at 4 °C, the rehydrated cells having nematicidal activity in field trials; therefore the powder formulation constitutes a good bionematocide candidate for agricultural use. Furthermore, a new methodology and also a mathematical model were developed to evaluate and predict the stability of desiccated bacterial cells.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Biotecnologia Aplicada
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Based on the immunogenicity of domain III from the Envelope protein of dengue virus as well as the proven protective capacity of the capsid antigen, we have designed a novel domain III-capsid chimeric protein with the goal of obtaining a molecule potentially able to induce both humoral and cell-mediated immunity (CMI). After expression of the recombinant gene in Escherichia coli, the domain III moiety retained its antigenicity as evaluated with anti-dengue sera. In order to explore alternatives for modulating the immunogenicity of the protein, it was mixed with oligodeoxynucleotides in order to obtain particulated aggregates and then immunologically evaluated in mice in comparison with non-aggregated controls. Although the humoral immune response induced by both forms of the protein was equivalent, the aggregated variant resulted in a much stronger CMI as measured by in vitro IFN-gamma secretion and protection experiments, mediated by CD4(+) and CD8(+) cells. The present work provides additional evidence in support for a crucial role of CMI in protection against dengue virus and describes a novel vaccine candidate against the disease based on a recombinant protein that can stimulate both arms of the acquired immune system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the present work, immunogenicity of recombinant in vitro assembled hepatitis C virus core particles, HCcAg.120-VLPs, either alone or in combination with different adjuvants was evaluated in BALB/c mice. HCcAg.120-VLPs induced high titers of anti-HCcAg.120 antibodies and virus-specific cellular immune responses. Particularly, HCcAg.120-VLPs induced specific delayed type hypersensitivity, and generated a predominant T helper 1 cytokine pro file in immunized mice. In addition, HCcAg.120-VLPs prime splenocytes proliferate in vitro against different HCcAg.120-specific peptides, depending on either the immunization route or the adjuvant used. Remarkably, immunization with HCcAg.120-VLPs/Montanide ISA888 formulation resulted in a significant control of vaccinia virus titer in mice after challenge with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing HCV core protein, vvCore. Animals immunized with this formulation had a marked increase in the number of IFN-gamma producing spleen cells, after stimulation with P815 cells infected with vvCore. These results suggest the use of recombinant HCV core particles as components of therapeutic or preventive vaccine candidates against HCV.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · Biological research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The capsid protein is one of the three structural proteins of flaviviruses and is the building block of the nucleocapsid. It has also a predominant role in the replication of dengue virus. To obtain nucleocapsid-like particles from recombinant dengue-2 capsid protein produced in E. coli, a purification process using cation exchange chromatography was established. The purified protein exhibited a molecular mass corresponding to a dimer; therefore, similar to that reported for alphaviruses, an in vitro assembly reaction using single-stranded DNA was performed. In all cases, particles were obtained independently of the specificity and the length of the oligonucleotides used. The present work is the first report of in vitro assembly of the recombinant dengue capsid protein, which could constitute a powerful tool in the development of vaccine candidates.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2009 · Archives of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein Kinase CK2 is a serine-threonine kinase frequently deregulated in many human tumors. Here, we hypothesized that a peptide binder to the CK2 phosphoacceptor site could exhibit anticancer properties in vitro, in tumor animal models, and in cancer patients. By screening a random cyclic peptide phage display library, we identified the CIGB-300 (formerly P15-Tat), a cyclic peptide which abrogates the CK2 phosphorylation by blocking recombinant substrates in vitro. Interestingly, synthetic CIGB-300 led to a dose-dependent antiproliferative effect in a variety of tumor cell lines and induced apoptosis as evidenced by rapid caspase activation. Importantly, CIGB-300 elicited significant antitumor effect both by local and systemic administration in murine syngenic tumors and human tumors xenografted in nude mice. Finally, we performed a First-in-Man trial with CIGB 300 in patients with cervical malignancies. The peptide was found to be safe and well tolerated in the dose range studied. Likewise, signs of clinical benefit were clearly identified after the CIGB-300 treatment as evidenced by significant decrease of the tumor lesion area and histological examination. Our results provide an early proof-of-principle of clinical benefit by using an anti-CK2 approach in cancer. Furthermore, this is the first clinical trial where an investigational drug has been used to target the CK2 phosphorylation domain.