[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clostridium difficile, a Gram-positive, spore-forming anaerobic bacterium, is the leading cause of infectious diarrhea among hospitalized patients. C. difficile is frequently associated with antibiotic treatment, and causes diseases ranging from antibiotic-associated diarrhea to life-threatening pseudomembranous colitis. The severity of C. difficile infections is exacerbated by the emergence of hypervirulent and multidrug-resistant strains, which are difficult to treat and are often associated with increased mortality rates. Alanine racemase (Alr) is a pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the reversible racemization of L- and D-alanine. Since D-alanine is an essential component of the bacterial cell-wall peptidoglycan, and there are no known Alr homologs in humans, this enzyme is being tested as an antibiotic target. Cycloserine is an antibiotic that inhibits Alr. In this study, the catalytic properties and crystal structures of recombinant Alr from the virulent and multidrug-resistant C. difficile strain 630 are presented. Three crystal structures of C. difficile Alr (CdAlr), corresponding to the complex with PLP, the complex with cycloserine and a K271T mutant form of the enzyme with bound PLP, are presented. The structures are prototypical Alr homodimers with two active sites in which the cofactor PLP and cycloserine are localized. Kinetic analyses reveal that the K271T mutant CdAlr has the highest catalytic constants reported to date for any Alr. Additional studies are needed to identify the basis for the high catalytic activity. The structural and activity data presented are first steps towards using CdAlr for the development of structure-based therapeutics for C. difficile infections.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ixodes scapularis, the black-legged tick, vectors several human pathogens including Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease in North America. Pathogen transmission to the vertebrate host occurs when infected ticks feed on the mammalian host to obtain a blood meal. Efforts to understand how the tick confronts host hemostatic mechanisms and imbibes a fluid blood meal have largely focused on the anticoagulation strategies of tick saliva. The blood meal that enters the tick gut remains in a fluid state for several days during the process of feeding, and the role of the tick gut in maintaining the blood-meal fluid is not understood. We now demonstrate that the tick gut produces a potent inhibitor of thrombin, a key enzyme in the mammalian coagulation cascade. Chromatographic fractionation of engorged tick gut proteins identified one predominant thrombin inhibitory activity associated with an approximately 18 kDa protein, henceforth referred to as Ixophilin. The ixophilin gene was preferentially transcribed in the guts of feeding nymphs. Expression began after 24 hours of feeding, coincident with the flow of host blood into the tick gut. Immunity against Ixophilin delayed tick feeding, and decreased feeding efficiency significantly. Surprisingly, immunity against Ixophilin resulted in increased Borrelia burgdorferi transmission to the host, possibly due to delayed feeding and increased transmission opportunity. These observations illuminate the potential drawbacks of targeting individual tick proteins in a functional suite. They also underscore the need to identify the "anticoagulome" of the tick gut, and to prioritize a critical subset of anticoagulants that could be targeted to efficiently thwart tick feeding, and block pathogen transmission to the vertebrate host.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The genus Mycobacterium includes non-pathogenic species such as M. smegmatis, and pathogenic species such as M. tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). Treatment of TB requires a lengthy regimen of several antibiotics, whose effectiveness has been compromised by the emergence of resistant strains. New antibiotics that can shorten the treatment course and those that have not been compromised by bacterial resistance are needed. In this study, we report that thiadiazolidinones, a relatively little-studied heterocyclic class, inhibit the activity of mycobacterial alanine racemase, an essential enzyme that converts L-alanine to D-alanine for peptidoglycan synthesis. Twelve members of the thiadiazolidinone family were evaluated for inhibition of M. tuberculosis and M. smegmatis alanine racemase activity and bacterial growth. Thiadiazolidinones inhibited M. tuberculosis and M. smegmatis alanine racemases to different extents with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) ranging from <0.03 to 28μM and 23 to >150μM, respectively. The compounds also inhibited the growth of these bacteria, including multidrug resistant strains of M. tuberculosis. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC) for drug-susceptible M. tuberculosis and M. smegmatis ranged from 6.25μg/ml to 100μg/ml, and from 1.56 to 6.25μg/ml for drug-resistant M. tuberculosis. The in vitro activities of thiadiazolidinones suggest that this family of compounds might represent starting points for medicinal chemistry efforts aimed at developing novel antimycobacterial agents.
Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Biochemical pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Semaphorin 7A (Sema7A) is a membrane-associated/secreted protein that plays an essential role in connecting the vertebrate neuronal and immune systems. However, the role of Sema7A has not been elucidated in viral pathogenesis. In this study, we show that abrogation of Sema7A protects mice from lethal West Nile virus (WNV) infection. Mice lacking Sema7A showed increased survival, reduced viral burden, and less blood-brain barrier permeability upon WNV infection. Increased Sema7A levels were evident in murine tissues, as well as in murine cortical neurons and primary human macrophages upon WNV infection. Treatment with Sema7A Ab blocked WNV infection in both of these cell types. Furthermore, Sema7A positively regulates the production of TGF-β1 and Smad6 to facilitate WNV pathogenesis in mice. Collectively, these data elucidate the role of Sema7A in shared signaling pathways used by the immune and nervous systems during viral pathogenesis that may lead to the development of Sema7A-blocking therapies for WNV and possibly other flaviviral infections.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · The Journal of Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a catalytic cytokine and an upstream mediator of the inflammatory pathway. MIF has broad regulatory properties, dysregulation of which has been implicated in the pathology of multiple immunological diseases. Inhibition of MIF activity with small molecules has proven beneficial in a number of disease models. Known small molecule MIF inhibitors typically bind in the tautomerase site of the MIF trimer, often covalently modifying the catalytic proline. Allosteric MIF inhibitors, particularly those that associate with the protein by noncovalent interactions, could reveal novel ways to block MIF activity for therapeutic benefit and serve as chemical probes to elucidate the structural basis for the diverse regulatory properties of MIF. In this study, we report the identification and functional characterization of a novel allosteric MIF inhibitor. Identified from a high throughput screening effort, this sulfonated azo compound termed p425 strongly inhibited the ability of MIF to tautomerize 4-hydroxyphenyl pyruvate. Furthermore, p425 blocked the interaction of MIF with its receptor, CD74, and interfered with the pro-inflammatory activities of the cytokine. Structural studies revealed a unique mode of binding for p425, with a single molecule of the inhibitor occupying the interface of two MIF trimers. The inhibitor binds MIF mainly on the protein surface through hydrophobic interactions that are stabilized by hydrogen bonding with four highly specific residues from three different monomers. The mode of p425 binding reveals a unique way to block the activity of the cytokine for potential therapeutic benefit in MIF-associated diseases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a human pathogen and a major cause of hospital-acquired infections. New antibacterial agents that have not been compromised by bacterial resistance are needed to treat MRSA-related infections. We chose the S. aureus cell wall synthesis enzyme, alanine racemase (Alr) as the target for a high-throughput screening effort to obtain novel enzyme inhibitors, which inhibit bacterial growth. Among the 'hits' identified was a thiadiazolidinone with chemical properties attractive for lead development. This study evaluated the mode of action, antimicrobial activities, and mammalian cell cytotoxicity of the thiadiazolidinone family in order to assess its potential for development as a therapeutic agent against MRSA. The thiadiazolidones inhibited Alr activity with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC₅₀) ranging from 0.36 to 6.4 μM, and they appear to inhibit the enzyme irreversibly. The series inhibited the growth of S. aureus, including MRSA strains, with minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) ranging from 6.25 to 100 μg/ml. The antimicrobial activity showed selectivity against Gram-positive bacteria and fungi, but not Gram-negative bacteria. The series inhibited human HeLa cell proliferation. Lead development centering on the thiadiazolidinone series would require additional medicinal chemistry efforts to enhance the antibacterial activity and minimize mammalian cell toxicity.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Biochemical pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human glioma pathogenesis-related protein 1 (GLIPR1) is a membrane protein that is highly upregulated in brain cancers but is barely detectable in normal brain tissue. GLIPR1 is composed of a signal peptide that directs its secretion, a conserved cysteine-rich CAP (cysteine-rich secretory proteins, antigen 5 and pathogenesis-related 1 proteins) domain and a transmembrane domain. GLIPR1 is currently being investigated as a candidate for prostate cancer gene therapy and for glioblastoma targeted therapy. Crystal structures of a truncated soluble domain of the human GLIPR1 protein (sGLIPR1) solved by molecular replacement using a truncated polyalanine search model of the CAP domain of stecrisp, a snake-venom cysteine-rich secretory protein (CRISP), are presented. The correct molecular-replacement solution could only be obtained by removing all loops from the search model. The native structure was refined to 1.85 Å resolution and that of a Zn2+ complex was refined to 2.2 Å resolution. The latter structure revealed that the putative binding cavity coordinates Zn2+ similarly to snake-venom CRISPs, which are involved in Zn2+-dependent mechanisms of inflammatory modulation. Both sGLIPR1 structures have extensive flexible loop/turn regions and unique charge distributions that were not observed in any of the previously reported CAP protein structures. A model is also proposed for the structure of full-length membrane-bound GLIPR1.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2011 · Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In an effort to discover new drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB) we chose alanine racemase as the target of our drug discovery efforts. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB, alanine racemase plays an essential role in cell wall synthesis as it racemizes L-alanine into D-alanine, a key building block in the biosynthesis of peptidoglycan. Good antimicrobial effects have been achieved by inhibition of this enzyme with suicide substrates, but the clinical utility of this class of inhibitors is limited due to their lack of target specificity and toxicity. Therefore, inhibitors that are not substrate analogs and that act through different mechanisms of enzyme inhibition are necessary for therapeutic development for this drug target.
To obtain non-substrate alanine racemase inhibitors, we developed a high-throughput screening platform and screened 53,000 small molecule compounds for enzyme-specific inhibitors. We examined the 'hits' for structural novelty, antimicrobial activity against M. tuberculosis, general cellular cytotoxicity, and mechanism of enzyme inhibition. We identified seventeen novel non-substrate alanine racemase inhibitors that are structurally different than any currently known enzyme inhibitors. Seven of these are active against M. tuberculosis and minimally cytotoxic against mammalian cells.
This study highlights the feasibility of obtaining novel alanine racemase inhibitor lead compounds by high-throughput screening for development of new anti-TB agents.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioma pathogenesis-related protein 1 (GLIPR1) is a member of the CAP superfamily that includes proteins from a wide range of eukaryotic organisms. The biological functions of most CAP proteins, including GLIPR1, are unclear. GLIPR1 is up-regulated in aggressive glioblastomas and contributes to the invasiveness of cultured glioblastoma cells. In contrast, decreased GLIPR1 expression is associated with advanced prostate cancer. Forced GLIPR1 overexpression is pro-apoptotic in prostate cancer cells and is being tested in clinical trials as an experimental prostate-cancer therapy. Human GLIPR1 was expressed as a truncated soluble protein (sGLIPR1), purified and crystallized. Useful X-ray data have been collected to beyond 1.9 Å resolution from a crystal that belonged to the orthorhombic space group P2(1)2(1)2 with average unit-cell parameters a = 85.1, b = 79.5, c = 38.9 Å and either a monomer or dimer in the asymmetric unit.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · Acta Crystallographica Section F Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile virus is an emerging pathogen that can cause fatal neurological disease. A recombinant human mAb, mAb11, has been described as a candidate for the prevention and treatment of West Nile disease. Using a yeast surface display epitope mapping assay and neutralization escape mutant, we show that mAb11 recognizes the fusion loop, at the distal end of domain II of the West Nile virus envelope protein. Ab mAb11 cross-reacts with all four dengue viruses and provides protection against dengue (serotypes 2 and 4) viruses. In contrast to the parental West Nile virus, a neutralization escape variant failed to cause lethal encephalitis (at higher infectious doses) or induce the inflammatory responses associated with blood-brain barrier permeability in mice, suggesting an important role for the fusion loop in viral pathogenesis. Our data demonstrate that an intact West Nile virus fusion loop is critical for virulence, and that human mAb11 targeting this region is efficacious against West Nile virus infection. These experiments define the molecular determinant on the envelope protein recognized by mAb11 and demonstrate the importance of this region in causing West Nile encephalitis.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · The Journal of Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile virus (WNV) is an emerging human pathogen for which specific antiviral therapy has not been developed. The therapeutic potential of RNA interference (RNAi) as a sequence-specific inhibitor of WNV has been well demonstrated. Although multiple siRNA targets have been identified within the genomic coding region, targets within the untranslated regions (UTR), which encode cis-acting regulatory elements, remain relatively unknown. In WNV and other flaviviruses, UTRs are located at the genomic termini. These regions form complex secondary structures, which pose difficulty when designing effective siRNA targets. In this study, we report the identification of siRNA targets in the WNV 3' UTR. These targets were selected by siRNA predictor algorithms, and synthesized as short hairpin RNA sequences from a plasmid-based expression system. Vero cells stably expressing these sequences had greatly diminished ability to support WNV replication but not the related dengue virus, demonstrating that the siRNAs were effective and suppressed WNV viral replication in a sequence-specific manner. The siRNAs developed in this study could function as potential antiviral therapeutics and as genetic tools to investigate the role of 3' UTR in WNV pathogenesis.
No preview · Article · Feb 2009 · Antiviral research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, a recombinant truncated West Nile virus envelope protein antigen (rWNV-E) was produced in serum-free cultures of the expresSF+ insect cell line via baculovirus infection. This production system was selected based on its use in the production of candidate human and animal vaccine antigens. A defined fermentation and purification process for the rWNV-E antigen was established to control for purity and immunogenicity of each protein batch. The material formulated with aluminum hydroxide was stable for greater than 8months at 4 degrees C. The recombinant vaccine candidate was evaluated for immunogenicity and protective efficacy in several animal models. In mouse and hamster WNV challenge models, the vaccine candidate induced viral protection that correlated with anti-rWNV-E immunogenicity and WNV neutralizing antibody titers. The rWNV-E vaccine candidate was used to boost horses previously immunized with the Fort Dodge inactivated WNV vaccine and also to induce WNV neutralizing titers in naïve foals that were at least 14weeks of age. Furthermore, the vaccine candidate was found safe when high doses were injected into rats, with no detectable treatment-related clinical adverse effects. These observations demonstrate that baculovirus-produced rWNV-E can be formulated with aluminum hydroxide to produce a stable and safe vaccine which induces humoral immunity that can protect against WNV infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A polyvalent ELISA and plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNTs) were used to measure serum antibodies to West Nile virus (WNV) in horses naturally exposed to or vaccinated against this flavivirus in Connecticut and New York State, USA. Relying on a PRNT as a 'gold standard', the main objective was to validate a modified ELISA containing a recombinant WNV envelope protein antigen. It was also important to assess specificity by testing sera from horses that had other, undiagnosed illnesses. Sera for the latter study were obtained from 43 privately owned horses during 1995-1996. Analyses by an ELISA and a PRNT confirmed the presence of WNV antibodies in 21 (91%) of 23 sera from naturally exposed horses and in 85% of the 20 vaccinated subjects; overall results for both study groups were highly concordant (91% agreement). Humoral responses of naturally exposed and immunized horses were similar. Both serological tests were useful in confirming past infections with WNV, but there was no evidence that horses with undiagnosed illnesses were exposed to WNV prior to a 1999 outbreak in Connecticut, USA.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2008 · Journal of Medical Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile virus (WNV), and related flaviviruses such as tick-borne encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever and dengue viruses, constitute a significant global human health problem. However, our understanding of the molecular interaction of such flaviviruses with mammalian host cells is limited. WNV encodes only 10 proteins, implying that it may use many cellular proteins for infection. WNV enters the cytoplasm through pH-dependent endocytosis, undergoes cycles of translation and replication, assembles progeny virions in association with endoplasmic reticulum, and exits along the secretory pathway. RNA interference (RNAi) presents a powerful forward genetics approach to dissect virus-host cell interactions. Here we report the identification of 305 host proteins that affect WNV infection, using a human-genome-wide RNAi screen. Functional clustering of the genes revealed a complex dependence of this virus on host cell physiology, requiring a wide variety of molecules and cellular pathways for successful infection. We further demonstrate a requirement for the ubiquitin ligase CBLL1 in WNV internalization, a post-entry role for the endoplasmic-reticulum-associated degradation pathway in viral infection, and the monocarboxylic acid transporter MCT4 as a viral replication resistance factor. By extending this study to dengue virus, we show that flaviviruses have both overlapping and unique interaction strategies with host cells. This study provides a comprehensive molecular portrait of WNV-human cell interactions that forms a model for understanding single plus-stranded RNA virus infection, and reveals potential antiviral targets.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The flavivirus envelope (E) protein mediates cellular attachment and fusion with host cell membranes and is recognized by
virus-neutralizing antibodies.Weraised antibodies against a broad range of epitopes by immunizing a horse with recombinant
West Nile virus (WNV) E protein. To define epitopes recognized by protective antibodies, we selected, by affinity chromatography,
immunoglobulins against immobilized linear peptides derived from parts of the E protein. Immunoglobulins binding 9 different
peptides from domains I, II, and III of the E protein neutralizedWNVin vitro. This indicates that multiple protective epitopes
can be found in the E protein. Immunoglobulins recognizing 3 peptides derived from domains I and II of E protein protected
mice against a lethal challenge withWNV.These immunoglobulins recognized theEproteins of related flaviviruses, demonstrating
that antibodies targeting specific E protein epitopes could be developed for prevention and treatment of multiple flavivirus
Preview · Article · Jan 2008 · The Journal of Infectious Diseases
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tick Ixodes scapularis is an efficient vector for microbes, including the Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks engorging on vertebrates induce recruitment of inflammatory cells to the bite site. For efficient transmission to the vector, pathogens have to traffic through this complex feeding site while avoiding the deleterious effects of immune cells. We show that a tick protein, Salp25D, plays a critical role-in the mammalian host-for acquisition of Borrelia burgdorferi by the vector. Silencing salp25D in tick salivary glands impaired spirochete acquisition by ticks engorging on B. burgdorferi-infected mice. Immunizing mice against Salp25D also decreased Borrelia acquisition by I. scapularis. Salp25D detoxified reactive oxygen species at the vector-pathogen-host interface, thereby providing a survival advantage to B. burgdorferi at the tick feeding site in mice. These data demonstrate that pathogens can exploit arthropod molecules to defuse mammalian responses in order to successfully enter the vector.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile virus (WNV) can cause fatal murine and human encephalitis. The viral envelope protein interacts with host cells.
A murine brain cDNA phage display library was therefore probed with WNV envelope protein, resulting in the identification
of several adherent peptides. Of these, peptide 1 prevented WNV infection in vitro with a 50% inhibition concentration of
67 μM and also inhibited infection of a related flavivirus, dengue virus. Peptide 9, a derivative of peptide 1, was a particularly
potent inhibitor of WNV in vitro, with a 50% inhibition concentration of 2.6 μM. Moreover, mice challenged with WNV that had
been incubated with peptide 9 had reduced viremia and fatality compared with control animals. Peptide 9 penetrated the murine
blood-brain barrier and was found in the brain parenchyma, implying that it may have antiviral activity in the central nervous
system. These short peptides serve as the basis for developing new therapeutics for West Nile encephalitis and, potentially,
Full-text · Article · Mar 2007 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile virus, a member of the Flavivirus genus, causes fever that can progress to life-threatening encephalitis. The major envelope glycoprotein, E, of these viruses
mediates viral attachment and entry by membrane fusion. We have determined the crystal structure of a soluble fragment of
West Nile virus E. The structure adopts the same overall fold as that of the E proteins from dengue and tick-borne encephalitis
viruses. The conformation of domain II is different from that in other prefusion E structures, however, and resembles the
conformation of domain II in postfusion E structures. The epitopes of neutralizing West Nile virus-specific antibodies map
to a region of domain III that is exposed on the viral surface and has been implicated in receptor binding. In contrast, we
show that certain recombinant therapeutic antibodies, which cross-neutralize West Nile and dengue viruses, bind a peptide
from domain I that is exposed only during the membrane fusion transition. By revealing the details of the molecular landscape
of the West Nile virus surface, our structure will assist the design of antiviral vaccines and therapeutics.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2006 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A hallmark of the immune system is the ability to ignore self-antigens. In attempts to bypass normal immune tolerance, a post-translational protein modification was introduced into self-antigens to break T and B cell tolerance. We demonstrate that immune tolerance is bypassed by immunization with a post-translationally modified melanoma antigen. In particular, the conversion of an aspartic acid to an isoaspartic acid within the melanoma antigen tyrosinase-related protein (TRP)-2 peptide-(181-188) makes the otherwise immunologically ignored TRP-2 antigen immunogenic. Tetramer analysis of iso-Asp TRP-2 peptide-immunized mice demonstrated that CD8+ T cells not only recognized the isoaspartyl TRP-2 peptide but also the native TRP-2 peptide. These CD8+ T cells functioned as cytotoxic T lymphocytes, as they effectively lysed TRP-2 peptide-pulsed targets both in vitro and in vivo. Potentially, post-translational protein modification can be utilized to trigger strong immune responses to either tumor proteins or potentially weakly immunogenic pathogens.
Preview · Article · Nov 2006 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile (WN) virus causes fatal meningoencephalitis in laboratory mice, and gammadelta T cells are involved in the protective immune response against viral challenge. We have now examined whether gammadelta T cells contribute to the development of adaptive immune responses that help control WN virus infection. Approximately 15% of TCRdelta(-/-) mice survived primary infection with WN virus compared with 80-85% of the wild-type mice. These mice were more susceptible to secondary challenge with WN virus than the wild-type mice that survived primary challenge with the virus. Depletion of gammadelta T cells in wild-type mice that survived the primary infection, however, does not affect host susceptibility during secondary challenge with WN virus. Furthermore, gammadelta T cells do not influence the development of Ab responses during primary and at the early stages of secondary infection with WN virus. Adoptive transfer of CD8(+) T cells from wild-type mice that survived primary infection with WN virus to naive mice afforded partial protection from lethal infection. In contrast, transfer of CD8(+) T cells from TCRdelta(-/-) mice that survived primary challenge with WN virus failed to alter infection in naive mice. This difference in survival correlated with the numeric and functional reduction of CD8 memory T cells in these mice. These data demonstrate that gammadelta T cells directly link innate and adaptive immunity during WN virus infection.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2006 · The Journal of Immunology