[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pharmacologic stimulation of innate immune processes represents an attractive strategy to achieve multiple therapeutic outcomes including inhibition of virus replication, boosting antitumor immunity, and enhancing vaccine immunogenicity. In light of this we sought to identify small molecules capable of activating the type I interferon (IFN) response by way of the transcription factor IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3). A high throughput in vitro screen yielded 4-(2-chloro-6-fluorobenzyl)-N-(furan-2-ylmethyl)-3-oxo-3,4-dihydro-2H-benzo[b][1,4]thiazine-6-carboxamide (referred to herein as G10), which was found to trigger IRF3/IFN-associated transcription in human fibroblasts. Further examination of the cellular response to this molecule revealed expression of multiple IRF3-dependent antiviral effector genes as well as type I and III IFN subtypes. This led to the establishment of a cellular state that prevented replication of emerging Alphavirus species including Chikungunya virus, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus, and Sindbis virus. To define cellular proteins essential to elicitation of the antiviral activity by the compound we employed a reverse genetics approach that utilized genome editing via CRISPR/Cas9 technology. This allowed the identification of IRF3, the IRF3-activating adaptor molecule STING, and the IFN-associated transcription factor STAT1 as required for observed gene induction and antiviral effects. Biochemical analysis indicates that G10 does not bind to STING directly, however. Thus the compound may represent the first synthetic small molecule characterized as an indirect activator of human STING-dependent phenotypes. In vivo stimulation of STING-dependent activity by an unrelated small molecule in a mouse model of Chikungunya virus infection blocked viremia demonstrating that pharmacologic activation of this signaling pathway may represent a feasible strategy for combating emerging Alphaviruses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a positive-sense RNA virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. CHIKV is a reemerging Alphavirus that causes acute febrile illness and severe and debilitating polyarthralgia of the peripheral joints. Huge epidemics and the rapid spread of CHIKV seen in India and the Indian Ocean region established CHIKV as a global health concern. This concern was further solidified by the recent incursion of the virus into the Western hemisphere, a region without pre-existing immunity. Nonhuman primates (NHPs) serve as excellent animal models for understanding CHIKV pathogenesis and pre-clinical assessment of vaccines and therapeutics. NHPs present advantages over rodent models because they are a natural amplification host for CHIKV and they share significant genetic and physiological homology with humans. CHIKV infection in NHPs results in acute fever, rash, viremia and production of type I interferon. NHPs develop CHIKV-specific B and T-cells, generating neutralizing antibodies and CHIKV-specific CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ T-cells. CHIKV establishes a persistent infection in NHPs, particularly in cynomolgus macaques, because infectious virus could be recovered from spleen, liver, and muscle as late as 44 days post infection. NHPs are valuable models that are useful in preclinical testing of vaccines and therapeutics and uncovering the details of CHIKV pathogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cytosolic RIG-I (retinoic acid-inducible gene I) receptor plays a pivotal role in the initiation of the immune response against RNA virus infection by recognizing short 5'-triphosphate (5'ppp)-containing viral RNA and activating the host antiviral innate response. In the present study, we generated novel 5'ppp RIG-I agonists of varieous lengths, structures, and sequences and evaluated the generation of the antiviral and inflammatory responses in human epithelial A549 cells, human innate immune primary cells, and murine models of influenza and chikungunya viral pathogenesis. A 99-nucleotide, uridine-rich hairpin 5'pppRNA termed M8 stimulated an extensive and robust interferon response compared to other modified 5'pppRNA structures, RIG-I aptamers, or poly(I·C). Interestingly, manipulation of the primary RNA sequence alone was sufficient to modulate antiviral activity and inflammatory response, in a manner dependent exclusively on RIG-I and independent of MDA5 and TLR3. Both prophylactic and therapeutic administration of M8 effectively inhibited influenza virus and dengue virus replication in vitro. Furthermore, multiple strains of influenza virus that were resistant to oseltamivir, an FDA-approved therapeutic treatment for influenza, were highly sensitive to inhibition by M8. Finally, prophylactic M8 treatment in vivo prolonged survival and reduced lung viral titers of mice challenged with influenza virus, as well as reducing chikungunya virus-associated foot swelling and viral load. Altogether, these results demonstrate that 5'pppRNA can be rationally designed to achieve a maximal RIG-I-mediated protective antiviral response against human-pathogenic RNA viruses.
Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encodes multiple microRNAs (miRNAs) whose functions are just beginning to be uncovered. Using in silico approaches, we identified the Toll-Like Receptor (TLR) innate immunity pathway as a possible target of HCMV miRNAs. Luciferase reporter assay screens further identified TLR2 as a target of HCMV miR-UL112-3p. TLR2 plays a major role in innate immune response by detecting both bacterial and viral ligands, including HCMV envelope proteins gB and gH. TLR2 activates a variety of signal transduction routes including the NFκB pathway. Furthermore, TLR2 plays an important role in controlling CMV infection both in humans and in mice. Immunoblot analysis of cells transfected with a miR-UL112-3p mimic revealed that endogenous TLR2 is down-regulated by miR-UL112-3p with similar efficiency as a TLR2-targeting siRNA (siTLR2). We next found that TLR2 protein level decreases at late times during HCMV infection and correlates with miR-UL112-3p accumulation in fibroblasts and monocytic THP1 cells. Confirming direct miR-UL112-3p targeting, down-regulation of endogenous TLR2 was not observed in cells infected with HCMV mutants deficient in miR-UL112-3p expression, but transfection of miR-UL112-3p in these cells restored TLR2 down-regulation. Using a NFκB reporter cell line, we found that miR-UL112-3p transfection significantly inhibited NFκB-dependent luciferase activity with similar efficiency as siTLR2. Consistent with this observation, miR-UL112-3p transfection significantly reduced the expression of multiple cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8) upon stimulation with a TLR2 agonist. Finally, miR-UL112-3p transfection significantly inhibited the TLR2-induced post-translational activation of IRAK1, a kinase located in the upstream section of the TLR2/NFκB signaling axis. To our knowledge, this is the first identified mechanism of TLR2 modulation by HCMV and is the first report of functional targeting of TLR2 by a viral miRNA. These results provide a novel mechanism through which a HCMV miRNA regulates the innate immune response by down-regulating TLR-2 expression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes epidemics of debilitating polyarthritis in humans. A prior study identified two anti-CHIKV MAbs (CHK-152 and CHK-166) against the E2 and E1 structural proteins, which had therapeutic efficacy in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice. Combination MAb therapy was required as administration of a single MAb resulted in the rapid selection of neutralization escape variants and treatment failure in mice. Here, we initially evaluated the efficacy of combination MAb therapy in a non-human primate model of CHIKV infection. Treatment of rhesus macaques with CHK-152 and CHK-166 reduced viral spread and infection in distant tissue sites and also neutralized reservoirs of infectious virus. Escape viruses were not detected in the residual viral RNA present in tissues and organs of rhesus macaques. To evaluate the possible significance of MAb resistance, we engineered neutralization escape variant viruses (E1-K61T, E2-D59N, and E1-K61T + E2-D59N) that conferred resistance to CHK-152 and CHK-166 and tested them for fitness in mosquito cells, mammalian cells, mice, and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. In both cell culture and mosquitoes, the mutant viruses grew equivalently and did not revert to wild-type (WT) sequence. In mice, all escape variants showed evidence of mild clinical attenuation, with decreased musculoskeletal disease at early times after infection and a prolonged survival time in immunocompromised Ifnar1(-/-) mice. Unexpectedly, this was not associated with decreased infectivity, and consensus sequencing from tissues revealed no evidence of reversion or compensatory mutations. Competition studies with CHIKV WT also revealed no fitness compromise of the double mutant (E1-K61T + E2-D59N) neutralization escape variant in WT mice. Collectively, our study suggests that neutralization escape viruses selected during combination CHK-152 + CHK-166 MAb therapy retain fitness, cause less severe clinical disease, and likely would not be purified during the enzootic cycle.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) causes explosive epidemics of acute and chronic arthritis in humans in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia and recently has spread to the New World. As there are no approved vaccines or therapies for human use, the possibility of CHIKV-induced debilitating disease is high in many parts of the world. To this end, our laboratory recently generated a combination monoclonal antibody therapy that aborted lethal and arthritogenic disease in wild type and immunocompromised mice when administered as a single dose several days after infection. In this study, we show efficacy of the antibody combination in non-human primates and also evaluate the significance of possible neutralization escape mutations in mosquito and mammalian cells, mice, and Aedes albopictus vector mosquitoes. Our experiments show that escape viruses from combination antibody therapy cause less severe CHIKV clinical disease, retain fitness, and likely would not be purified by mosquito vectors.
No preview · Article · May 2014 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most abundantly produced virion protein in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the immunodominant phosphoprotein 65 (pp65), which is frequently included in CMV vaccines. Although it is nonessential for in vitro CMV growth, pp65 displays immunomodulatory functions that support a potential role in primary and/or persistent infection. To determine the contribution of pp65 to CMV infection and immunity, we generated a rhesus CMV lacking both pp65 orthologs (RhCMVΔpp65ab). While deletion of pp65ab slightly reduced growth in vitro and increased defective particle formation, the protein composition of secreted virions was largely unchanged. Interestingly, pp65 was not required for primary and persistent infection in animals. Immune responses induced by RhCMVΔpp65ab did not prevent reinfection with rhesus CMV; however, reinfection with RhCMVΔUS2-11, which lacks viral-encoded MHC-I antigen presentation inhibitors, was prevented. Unexpectedly, induction of pp65b-specific T cells alone did not protect against RhCMVΔUS2-11 challenge, suggesting that T cells targeting multiple CMV antigens are required for protection. However, pp65-specific immunity was crucial for controlling viral dissemination during primary infection, as indicated by the marked increase of RhCMVΔpp65ab genome copies in CMV-naive, but not CMV-immune, animals. Our data provide rationale for inclusion of pp65 into CMV vaccines but also demonstrate that pp65-induced T cell responses alone do not recapitulate the protective effect of natural infection.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · The Journal of clinical investigation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytomegalovirus gene expression in highly permissive, cultured fibroblasts occurs in three kinetic classes known as immediate early, early, and late. Infection of these cells results in a predictable transcriptional program leading to high levels of virus production. Infection of other, so-called, nonpermissive cell types results in a transcriptional program that either fails to produce virus particles or production is substantially reduced compared to fibroblasts. We have found that CMV gene expression profiles in tissues from infected hosts differ greatly from those observed in infected tissue culture cells. The number of viral genes expressed in tissues is much more limited, and the number of highly active genes does not correlate with viral DNA load. Additionally, viral gene expression in vivo is tissue selective with no two tissues expressing the exact same viral gene profile. Thus, in vivo CMV gene expression appears to be governed by mechanisms that are still uncharacterized. Cytomegalovirus remains in a persistent phase for the lifetime of the host. During this phase only a limited number of host cells are infected, and it is very difficult to detect CMV gene expression in whole tissues without sub-fractionating infected vs. uninfected cells. Herein, we describe the development of a fluorescence-based laser capture microscopy technique coupled with small sample size microarray analysis to determine the viral gene expression in 50-100 infected cells isolated from frozen RCMV-infected tissue sections.
No preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and arginase II (ARG II) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. The effects of HCMV on ARG II are unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of HCMV on ARG II expression in endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) both in vitro and ex vivo. Endothelial and SMC were infected with either HCMV or UV-irradiated HCMV. Expression of ARG II, endothelial or inducible nitric oxide synthase (eNOS and iNOS, respectively) and viral immediate early (IE) was quantified using quantitative PCR. Ganciclovir and short interfering RNA were used to determine the viral gene mediating the effects on ARG II. Detection of viral antigens and ARG II expression was performed by immunofluorescence or immunohistochemistry. HCMV infection increased both ARG II mRNA and protein levels in the examined cells; this effect was mediated by the HCMV IE2-p86 protein. The upregulation of ARG II was accompanied by a downregulation of eNOS but an induction of iNOS in HCMV-infected endothelial cells. Both eNOS and iNOS expressions were induced in HCMV-infected SMC. ARG II was abundantly expressed in endothelial cells, foam cells and SMC and was importantly significantly upregulated in HCMV-immunoreactive human carotid atherosclerotic plaques. HCMV IE2-p86 mediates ARG II upregulation in vitro and ARG II is co-expressed with HCMV antigens in human carotid atherosclerotic plaques. We speculate that HCMV may contribute to endothelial dysfunction via ARG II induction and reduced eNOS production.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Archiv für Kreislaufforschung
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection remains a significant problem in the setting of peripheral blood stem cell transplant (PBSCT), including primary infection resulting from transmission from a seropositive donor to a seronegative recipient (D+/R-). The lack of an animal model suitable for studying HCMV transmission after PBSCT is a major barrier in understanding this process and, consequently, the development of novel interventions to prevent HCMV infection. Our previous work demonstrated that human CD34+ progenitor cell engrafted NOD-scid IL2Rγc(null) (NSG) mice support latent HCMV infection after direct inoculation, and reactivation after treatment with G-CSF. To more accurately recapitulate HCMV infection in the D+/R- PBSCT setting, granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) mobilized peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) from seropositive donors were used to engraft NSG mice. All recipient mice demonstrated evidence of HCMV infection in liver, spleen, and bone marrow. These observations validate the NSG mouse model as a means to study HCMV transmission during PBSCT.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Biology of blood and marrow transplantation: journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging mosquito-borne Alphavirus that causes a clinical disease involving fever, myalgia, nausea and rash. The distinguishing feature of CHIKV infection is the severe debilitating poly-arthralgia that may persist for several months after viral clearance. Since its re-emergence in 2004, CHIKV has spread from the Indian Ocean region to new locations including metropolitan Europe, Japan, and even the United States. The risk of importing CHIKV to new areas of the world is increasing due to high levels of viremia in infected individuals as well as the recent adaptation of the virus to the mosquito species Aedes albopictus. CHIKV re-emergence is also associated with new clinical complications including severe morbidity and, for the first time, mortality. In this study, we characterized disease progression and host immune responses in adult and aged Rhesus macaques infected with either the recent CHIKV outbreak strain La Reunion (LR) or the West African strain 37997. Our results indicate that following intravenous infection and regardless of the virus used, Rhesus macaques become viremic between days 1-5 post infection. While adult animals are able to control viral infection, aged animals show persistent virus in the spleen. Virus-specific T cell responses in the aged animals were reduced compared to adult animals and the B cell responses were also delayed and reduced in aged animals. Interestingly, regardless of age, T cell and antibody responses were more robust in animals infected with LR compared to 37997 CHIKV strain. Taken together these data suggest that the reduced immune responses in the aged animals promotes long-term virus persistence in CHIKV-LR infected Rhesus monkeys.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytomegaloviruses manipulate the host chemokine/receptor axis by altering cellular chemokine expression and by encoding multiple chemokines and chemokine receptors. Similar to human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), rat cytomegalovirus (RCMV) encodes multiple CC chemokine-analogous proteins, including r129 (HCMV UL128 homologue) and r131 (HCMV UL130 and MCMV m129/130 homologues). Although these proteins play a role in CMV entry, their function as chemotactic cytokines remains unknown. In the current study, we examined the role of the RCMV chemokine r129 in promoting cellular migration and in accelerating transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) in our rat heart transplant model. We determined that r129 protein is released into culture supernatants of infected cells and is expressed with late viral gene kinetics during RCMV infection and highly expressed in heart and salivary glands during in vivo rat infections. Using the recombinant r129 protein, we demonstrated that r129 induces migration of lymphocytes isolated from rat peripheral blood, spleen, and bone marrow and from a rat macrophage cell line. Using antibody-mediated cell sorting of rat splenocytes, we demonstrated that r129 induces migration of naïve/central memory CD4(+) T cells. Through ligand-binding assays, we determined that r129 binds rat CC chemokine receptors CCR3, CCR4, CCR5, and CCR7. In addition, mutational analyses identified functional domains of r129 resulting in recombinant proteins that fail to induce migration (r129-ΔNT and -C31A) or alter the chemotactic ability of the chemokine (r129-F43A). Two of the mutant proteins (r129-C31A and -ΔNT) also act as dominant negatives by inhibiting migration induced by wild-type r129. Furthermore, infection of rat heart transplant recipients with RCMV containing the r129-ΔNT mutation prevented CMV-induced acceleration of TVS. Together our findings indicate that RCMV r129 is highly chemotactic, which has important implications during RCMV infection and reactivation and acceleration of TVS.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical strains of HCMV encode 20 putative ORFs within a region of the genome termed ULb' that are postulated to encode functions related to persistence or immune evasion. We have previously identified ULb'-encoded pUL138 as necessary, but not sufficient, for HCMV latency in CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) infected in vitro. pUL138 is encoded on polycistronic transcripts that also encode 3 additional proteins, pUL133, pUL135, and pUL136, collectively comprising the UL133-UL138 locus. This work represents the first characterization of these proteins and identifies a role for this locus in infection. Similar to pUL138, pUL133, pUL135, and pUL136 are integral membrane proteins that partially co-localized with pUL138 in the Golgi during productive infection in fibroblasts. As expected of ULb' sequences, the UL133-UL138 locus was dispensable for replication in cultured fibroblasts. In CD34+ HPCs, this locus suppressed viral replication in HPCs, an activity attributable to both pUL133 and pUL138. Strikingly, the UL133-UL138 locus was required for efficient replication in endothelial cells. The association of this locus with three context-dependent phenotypes suggests an exciting role for the UL133-UL138 locus in modulating the outcome of viral infection in different contexts of infection. Differential profiles of protein expression from the UL133-UL138 locus correlated with the cell-type dependent phenotypes associated with this locus. We extended our in vitro findings to analyze viral replication and dissemination in a NOD-scid IL2Rγ(c) (null)-humanized mouse model. The UL133-UL138(NULL) virus exhibited an increased capacity for replication and/or dissemination following stem cell mobilization relative to the wild-type virus, suggesting an important role in viral persistence and spread in the host. As pUL133, pUL135, pUL136, and pUL138 are conserved in virus strains infecting higher order primates, but not lower order mammals, the functions encoded likely represent host-specific viral adaptations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic α-herpesvirus that causes chickenpox during primary infection and establishes latency in sensory ganglia. Reactivation of VZV results in herpes zoster and other neurological complications. Our understanding of the VZV transcriptome during acute and latent infection in immune competent individuals remains incomplete. Infection of rhesus macaques with the homologous simian varicella virus (SVV) recapitulates the hallmarks of VZV infection. We therefore characterized the SVV transcriptome by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR during acute infection in bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and during latency in sensory ganglia obtained from the same rhesus macaques. During acute infection, all known SVV open reading frames (ORFs) were detected, and the most abundantly expressed ORFs are involved in virus replication and assembly such as the transcriptional activator ORF 63 and the structural proteins ORF 41 and ORF 49. In contrast, latent SVV gene expression is highly restricted. ORF 61, a viral transactivator and latency-associated transcript, is the most prevalent transcript detected in sensory ganglia. We also detected ORFs A, B, 4, 10, 63, 64, 65, 66, and 68 though significantly less frequently than ORF 61. This comprehensive analysis has revealed genes that potentially play a role in the establishment and/or maintenance of SVV latency.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Journal of NeuroVirology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection has been associated with the acceleration of vascular disease including atherosclerosis and transplant associated vasculopathy in solid organ transplants. HCMV promotes vascular disease at many of the different stages of the disease development. These include the initial injury phase, enhancing the response to injury and inflammation, as well as by increasing SMC hyperplasia and foamy macrophage cell formation. Angiogenesis is a critical process involved in the development of vascular diseases. Recently, HCMV has been shown to induce angiogenesis and this process is thought to contribute to HCMV-accelerated vascular disease and may also be important for HCMV-enhanced tumor formation. This review will highlight the role of HCMV in promoting angiogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is associated with the acceleration of transplant vascular sclerosis (TVS) and chronic allograft rejection (CR). HCMV-negative recipients of latently HCMV infected donor grafts are at highest risk for developing CMV disease. Using a rat heart transplant CR model, we have previously shown that acute rat CMV (RCMV) infection following transplantation significantly accelerates both TVS and CR. Here, we report that RCMV-naïve recipients of heart allografts from latently RCMV-infected donors undergo acceleration of CR with similar kinetics as acutely infected recipients. In contrast to acutely infected recipients, treatment of recipients of latently infected donor hearts with ganciclovir did not prevent CR or TVS. We observed the formation of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLOs) containing macrophages and T cells in latently infected hearts prior to transplantation but not in uninfected rats. Moreover, pathway analysis of gene expression data from allografts from latently infected donors indicated an early and sustained production of TLO-associated genes compared to allografts from uninfected donors. We conclude that RCMV-induced TLO formation and alteration of donor tissue T cell profiles prior to transplantation in part mediate the ganciclovir-insensitive rejection of latently infected donor allografts transplanted into naïve recipients by providing a scaffold for immune activation.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · American Journal of Transplantation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has been implicated in the acceleration of vascular disease and chronic allograft rejection. Recently, the virus has been associated with glioblastoma and other tumors. We have previously shown that the HCMV-encoded chemokine receptor pUS28 mediates smooth muscle cell (SMC) and macrophage motility and this activity has been implicated in the acceleration of vascular disease. pUS28 induced SMC migration involves the activation of the protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) Src and Focal adhesion kinase as well as the small GTPase RhoA. The PTK Pyk2 has been shown to play a role in cellular migration and formation of cancer, especially glioblastoma. The role of Pyk2 in pUS28 signaling and migration are unknown.
In the current study, we examined the involvement of the PTK Pyk2 in pUS28-induced cellular motility. We utilized in vitro migration of SMC to determine the requirements for Pyk2 in pUS28 pro-migratory signaling. We performed biochemical analysis of Pyk2 signaling in response to pUS28 activation to determine the mechanisms involved in pUS28 migration. We performed mass spectrometric analysis of Pyk2 complexes to identify novel Pyk2 binding partners.
Expression of a mutant form of Pyk2 lacking the autophosphorylation site (Tyr-402) blocks pUS28-mediated SMC migration in response to CCL5, while the kinase-inactive Pyk2 mutant failed to elicit the same negative effect on migration. pUS28 stimulation with CCL5 results in ligand-dependent and calcium-dependent phosphorylation of Pyk2 Tyr-402 and induced the formation of an active Pyk2 kinase complex containing several novel Pyk2 binding proteins. Expression of the autophosphorylation null mutant Pyk2 F402Y did not abrogate the formation of an active Pyk2 kinase complex, but instead prevented pUS28-mediated activation of RhoA. Additionally, pUS28 activated RhoA via Pyk2 in the U373 glioblastoma cells. Interestingly, the Pyk2 kinase complex in U373 contained several proteins known to participate in glioma tumorigenesis.
These findings represent the first demonstration that pUS28 signals through Pyk2 and that this PTK participates in pUS28-mediated cellular motility via activation of RhoA. Furthermore, these results provide a potential mechanistic link between HCMV-pUS28 and glioblastoma cell activation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gene therapy is a potentially powerful treatment approach that targets molecular remedies for disease. Among other challenges it remains difficult to monitor gene delivery and its downstream metabolic consequences. Approaches to MRI gene reporters have been reported but few have the potential for translation beyond isolated cell systems. Herein, we report a polycationic polymer MRI contrast agent that binds to DNA in a ratio of one monomer unit per phosphate group of DNA. Significantly, this binding event diminishes the MR contrast signal from the agent itself potentially providing a platform for imaging delivery and release of a gene into cells and tissues. Importantly, we demonstrate here the proof of concept that a positively charged polymeric contrast agent can also act as a transfection agent, delivering the gene for encoding green fluorescent protein into cells. These observations provide support for the radical, new idea of creating a combined transfection/imaging agent for monitoring gene delivery in real time by MRI.