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Publications (12)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play key roles in innate immune recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns of invading microbes. Among the 10 TLR family members identified in humans, TLR10 remains an orphan receptor without known agonist or function. TLR10 is a pseudogene in mice and mouse models are noninformative in this regard. Using influenza virus infection in primary human peripheral blood monocyte-derived macrophages and a human monocytic cell line, we now provide previously unidentified evidence that TLR10 plays a role in innate immune responses following viral infection. Influenza virus infection increased TLR10 expression and TLR10 contributed to innate immune sensing of viral infection leading to cytokine induction, including proinflammatory cytokines and interferons. TLR10 induction is more pronounced following infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus compared with a low pathogenic H1N1 virus. Induction of TLR10 by virus infection requires active virus replication and de novo protein synthesis. Culture supernatants of virus-infected cells modestly up-regulate TLR10 expression in nonvirus-infected cells. Signaling via TLR10 was activated by the functional RNA-protein complex of influenza virus leading to robust induction of cytokine expression. Taken together, our findings identify TLR10 as an important innate immune sensor of viral infection and its role in innate immune defense and immunopathology following viral and bacterial pathogens deserves attention.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2014 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Suki M.Y. Lee · W.W. Gai · Timothy K.W. Cheung · J.S.M. Peiris
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor has been previously shown to suppress the hyper-induced pro-inflammatory responses in H5N1 infected primary human cells. Here, we demonstrate that COX-2 inhibitors suppress H5N1 virus replication in human macrophages suggesting that H5N1 virus replication (more so than seasonal H1N1 virus) is dependent on activation of COX-2 dependent signaling pathways in host cells. COX-2 and its downstream signaling pathways deserve detailed investigation as a novel therapeutic target for treatment of H5N1 disease.
    Article · Sep 2011 · Antiviral research
  • Suki M Y Lee · Wei W Gai · Timothy K W Cheung · Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Highly pathogenic H5N1 virus continues to pose a serious threat to human health and appears to have the capacity to cause severe disease in previously healthy young children and adults. At present, antiviral therapy by oseltamivir remains the mainstay for managing H5N1 patients. While early treatment improves survival, approximately 50% of patients treated within 4 days of illness still succumb to the disease. In addition to the role of viral replication, there is good evidence that the host pro-inflammatory responses contributes to H5N1 pathogenesis. This suggests that both antiviral and immune-modulatory drugs may have a role in therapy. We previously demonstrated that cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) plays a regulatory role in H5N1 hyperinduced pro-inflammatory responses, and its inhibitor has potent effects at modulating this host response. Now we demonstrate that, in addition to its immune-modulatory effect, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, NS-398 has a direct antiviral effect against H5N1 infection. Materials and methods Human primary monocyte-derived macrophages or alveolar epithelial cells (A549) were pre-treated with NS-398 or drug-vehicle for 1 hour before H5N1 virus infection. H5N1 viruses at multipicity of infection (MOI) of 2 was used to infect the cells. Following virus adsorption for 30 mins, the virus inoculum was removed, and the cells were washed and incubated in corresponding medium with NS-398 or drug-vehicle as controls for 3, 6, 24, 48, and 72 hours post-infection. Cells were harvested for RNA isolation at 6 hours post-infection to study viral matrix (M) gene expression. Supernatants were collected for 50% tissue culture infection dose (TCID50) assay to determine the virus titers at 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after H5N1 infection. Results NS-398 was found to suppress virus gene transcription and infectious virus yield in H5N1-infected human cells. Conclusion We demonstrate that a selective COX-2 inhibitor, NS-398, shows an inhibitory effect on H5N1 viral replication in addition to its immune-modulatory effect that could counter the detrimental effects of excessive pro-inflammatory cytokine production. The findings suggest that selective COX-2 inhibitors may be a therapeutic target for treating H5N1 disease in combination with appropriate antiviral therapy.
    Article · May 2011 · Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pandemic influenza H1N1 (pdmH1N1) virus causes mild disease in humans but occasionally leads to severe complications and even death, especially in those who are pregnant or have underlying disease. Cytokine responses induced by pdmH1N1 viruses in vitro are comparable to other seasonal influenza viruses suggesting the cytokine dysregulation as seen in H5N1 infection is not a feature of the pdmH1N1 virus. However a comprehensive gene expression profile of pdmH1N1 in relevant primary human cells in vitro has not been reported. Type I alveolar epithelial cells are a key target cell in pdmH1N1 pneumonia. We carried out a comprehensive gene expression profiling using the Affymetrix microarray platform to compare the transcriptomes of primary human alveolar type I-like alveolar epithelial cells infected with pdmH1N1 or seasonal H1N1 virus. Overall, we found that most of the genes that induced by the pdmH1N1 were similarly regulated in response to seasonal H1N1 infection with respect to both trend and extent of gene expression. These commonly responsive genes were largely related to the interferon (IFN) response. Expression of the type III IFN IL29 was more prominent than the type I IFN IFNβ and a similar pattern of expression of both IFN genes was seen in pdmH1N1 and seasonal H1N1 infection. Genes that were significantly down-regulated in response to seasonal H1N1 but not in response to pdmH1N1 included the zinc finger proteins and small nucleolar RNAs. Gene Ontology (GO) and pathway over-representation analysis suggested that these genes were associated with DNA binding and transcription/translation related functions. Both seasonal H1N1 and pdmH1N1 trigger similar host responses including IFN-based antiviral responses and cytokine responses. Unlike the avian H5N1 virus, pdmH1N1 virus does not have an intrinsic capacity for cytokine dysregulation. The differences between pdmH1N1 and seasonal H1N1 viruses lay in the ability of seasonal H1N1 virus to down regulate zinc finger proteins and small nucleolar RNAs, which are possible viral transcriptional suppressors and eukaryotic translation initiation factors respectively. These differences may be biologically relevant and may represent better adaptation of seasonal H1N1 influenza virus to the host.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2010 · Respiratory research
  • Y.P. Ng · S.M.Y. Lee · T.K.W. Cheung · [...] · N.Y. Ip
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has previously been reported that the avian H5N1 type of influenza A virus can be detected in neurons and astrocytes of human brains in autopsy cases. However, the underlying neuropathogenicity remains unexplored. In this study, we used differentiated human astrocytic and neuronal cell lines as models to examine the effect of H5N1 influenza A viral infection on the viral growth kinetics and immune responses of the infected cells. We found that the influenza virus receptors, sialic acid-alpha2,3-galactose and sialic acid-alpha2,6-galactose, were expressed on differentiated human astrocytic and neuronal cells. Both types of cells could be infected with H5N1 influenza A viruses, but progeny viruses were only produced from infected astrocytic cells but not neuronal cells. Moreover, increased expression of interleukin (IL)-6 and/or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) mRNA was detected in both astrocytic and neuronal cells at 6 and 24 h post-infection. To examine the biological consequences of such enhanced cytokine expression, differentiated astrocytic and neuronal cells were directly treated with these two cytokines. TNF-alpha treatment induced apoptosis, as well as proinflammatory cytokine, chemokine and inflammatory responses in differentiated astrocytic and neuronal cells. Taken together, our findings reveal that avian influenza H5N1 viruses can infect human astrocytic and neuronal cells, resulting in the induction of direct cellular damage and proinflammatory cytokine cascades. Our observations suggest that avian influenza H5N1 infection can trigger profound CNS injury, which may play an important role in the influenza viral pathogenesis.
    Article · Jul 2010 · Neuroscience
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    Timothy K W Cheung · Alex W H Chin · Kwok H Chan · [...] · Leo L M Poon
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent emergence of a novel H1N1 influenza A virus in humans caused the first influenza pandemic of this century. Many clinical diagnostic laboratories are overwhelmed by the testing demands related to the infection. Three novel H1N1-specific primer-probe sets reported during the early phase of the pandemic were tested in three commercial real-time RT-PCR mixtures. The amplification efficiencies and detection limits of these assays were determined. A ready-to-use premixed RT-PCR stored in a lyophilized format was developed. The detection limits of the studied assays were highly variable, ranging from 1.68E-01 to 1.68E-05 TCID(50) per reaction. The detection limit of the lyophilized reaction mixture was found to be 1.68E-05 TCID(50) per reaction, but the amplification efficiency of the assay was lower than those deduced from the other assays. All respiratory samples from infected patients and all control nasopharyngeal aspirates were positive and negative, respectively, in the newly developed assay. The results highlighted that, to enhance the sensitivity of an assay, it is essential to evaluate a primer-probe set with different commercial RT-PCR assays. This study also demonstrated the feasibility of using lyophilized reaction mixtures for the molecular diagnosis of novel H1N1.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2010 · Journal of virological methods
  • Dataset: Table S1
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Summary of gene expression in response to influenza A virus infection. Fold change of gene expression in response to H1N1 and H5N1 compared to mock infection at 1, 3 and 6 h post-infection time were shown. The “-” and no sign before the number indicates the down- and up-regulation of the gene respectively in influenza A infected cells compared to mock. HGNC Gene Symbol is HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee approved gene symbol. *Ratio [H5N1,6 h]/[H1N1,6 h] indicates the fold change of gene expression in response to H5N1 compared to H1N1 infection at 6 h post-infection time. **IFN-Related? indicates if the gene is related to the IFN response. (0.05 MB XLS)
    Dataset · Dec 2009
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human disease caused by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 can lead to a rapidly progressive viral pneumonia leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is increasing evidence from clinical, animal models and in vitro data, which suggests a role for virus-induced cytokine dysregulation in contributing to the pathogenesis of human H5N1 disease. The key target cells for the virus in the lung are the alveolar epithelium and alveolar macrophages, and we have shown that, compared to seasonal human influenza viruses, equivalent infecting doses of H5N1 viruses markedly up-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines in both primary cell types in vitro. Whether this H5N1-induced dysregulation of host responses is driven by qualitative (i.e activation of unique host pathways in response to H5N1) or quantitative differences between seasonal influenza viruses is unclear. Here we used microarrays to analyze and compare the gene expression profiles in primary human macrophages at 1, 3, and 6 h after infection with H5N1 virus or low-pathogenic seasonal influenza A (H1N1) virus. We found that host responses to both viruses are qualitatively similar with the activation of nearly identical biological processes and pathways. However, in comparison to seasonal H1N1 virus, H5N1 infection elicits a quantitatively stronger host inflammatory response including type I interferon (IFN) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha genes. A network-based analysis suggests that the synergy between IFN-beta and TNF-alpha results in an enhanced and sustained IFN and pro-inflammatory cytokine response at the early stage of viral infection that may contribute to the viral pathogenesis and this is of relevance to the design of novel therapeutic strategies for H5N1 induced respiratory disease.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2009 · PLoS ONE
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    Stella S F Ng · Olive T W Li · Timothy K W Cheung · [...] · Leo L M Poon
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The initiation of transcription and replication of influenza A virus requires the 5' and 3' ends of vRNA. Here, the role of segment-specific non-coding sequences of influenza A virus on viral RNA synthesis was studied. Recombinant viruses, with the nonstructural protein (NS) segment-specific non-coding sequences replaced by the corresponding sequences of the neuraminidase (NA) segment, were characterized. The NS and NA vRNA levels in cells infected with these mutants were much higher than those of the wild type, whereas the NS and NA mRNA levels of the mutants were comparable to the wild-type levels. By contrast, the PB2 vRNA and mRNA levels of all the tested viruses were similar, indicating that vRNA with heterologous segment-specific non-coding sequences was not affected by the mutations. The observations suggested that, with the cooperation between the homologous 5' and 3'segment-specific sequences, the introduced mutations could specifically enhance the replication of NA and NS vRNA.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2008 · Virology Journal
  • Timothy K W Cheung · Leo L M Poon
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The outbreaks of avian influenza A virus in poultry and humans over the last decade posed a pandemic threat to human. Here, we discuss the basic classification and the structure of influenza A virus. The viral genome contains eight RNA viral segments and the functions of viral proteins encoded by this genome are described. In addition, the RNA transcription and replication of this virus are reviewed.
    Article · May 2007 · Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
  • T K W Cheung · Y Guan · S S F Ng · [...] · L L M Poon
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to inhibit influenza virus M2 protein expression by mutating the splicing signal of the M gene. Mutations were introduced into the GU dinucleotide sequence at the 5'-proximal splicing site of the M gene (corresponding to nt 52-53 of M cRNA). Transfected cells expressing mutated M viral ribonucleoproteins failed to generate M2 mRNA. Interestingly, recombinant viruses with mutations at the dinucleotide sequence were viable, albeit attenuated, in cell culture. These recombinants failed to express M2 mRNA and M2 protein. These observations demonstrated that the GU invariant dinucleotide sequence at the 5'-proximal splicing site of M gene is essential for M2 mRNA synthesis. These results also indicated that the M2 ion-channel protein is critical, but not essential, for virus replication in cell culture. This approach may provide a new way of producing attenuated influenza A virus.
    Article · Jun 2005 · Journal of General Virology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A novel coronavirus (CoV) was recently identified as the agent for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). We compared the abilities of conventional and real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assays to detect SARS CoV in clinical specimens. RNA samples isolated from nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA; n = 170) and stool (n = 44) were reverse-transcribed and tested by our in-house conventional RT-PCR assay. We selected 98 NPA and 37 stool samples collected at different times after the onset of disease and tested them in a real-time quantitative RT-PCR specific for the open reading frame (ORF) 1b region of SARS CoV. Detection rates for the conventional and real-time quantitative RT-PCR assays were compared. To investigate the nature of viral RNA molecules in these clinical samples, we determined copy numbers of ORF 1b and nucleocapsid (N) gene sequences of SARS CoV. The quantitative real-time RT-PCR assay was more sensitive than the conventional RT-PCR assay for detecting SARS CoV in samples collected early in the course of the disease. Real-time assays targeted at the ORF 1b region and the N gene revealed that copy numbers of ORF 1b and N gene sequences in clinical samples were similar. NPA and stool samples can be used for early diagnosis of SARS. The real-time quantitative RT-PCR assay for SARS CoV is potentially useful for early detection of SARS CoV. Our results suggest that genomic RNA is the predominant viral RNA species in clinical samples.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2004 · Clinical Chemistry