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Host-Pathogen Interactions - Top 30 Publications

Mechanisms of action of Coxiella burnetii effectors inferred from host-pathogen protein interactions.

Coxiella burnetii is an obligate Gram-negative intracellular pathogen and the etiological agent of Q fever. Successful infection requires a functional Type IV secretion system, which translocates more than 100 effector proteins into the host cytosol to establish the infection, restructure the intracellular host environment, and create a parasitophorous vacuole where the replicating bacteria reside. We used yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) screening of 33 selected C. burnetii effectors against whole genome human and murine proteome libraries to generate a map of potential host-pathogen protein-protein interactions (PPIs). We detected 273 unique interactions between 20 pathogen and 247 human proteins, and 157 between 17 pathogen and 137 murine proteins. We used orthology to combine the data and create a single host-pathogen interaction network containing 415 unique interactions between 25 C. burnetii and 363 human proteins. We further performed complementary pairwise Y2H testing of 43 out of 91 C. burnetii-human interactions involving five pathogen proteins. We used the combined data to 1) perform enrichment analyses of target host cellular processes and pathways, 2) examine effectors with known infection phenotypes, and 3) infer potential mechanisms of action for four effectors with uncharacterized functions. The host-pathogen interaction profiles supported known Coxiella phenotypes, such as adapting cell morphology through cytoskeletal re-arrangements, protein processing and trafficking, organelle generation, cholesterol processing, innate immune modulation, and interactions with the ubiquitin and proteasome pathways. The generated dataset of PPIs-the largest collection of unbiased Coxiella host-pathogen interactions to date-represents a rich source of information with respect to secreted pathogen effector proteins and their interactions with human host proteins.

Viral Factors Affecting the Clinical Outcomes of Chronic Hepatitis B.

Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) exhibits a variety of clinical outcomes, ranging from spontaneous resolution of hepatitis B to severe adverse consequences, including the development of cirrhosis, hepatic failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The heterogeneous clinical courses of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection reflect the complex host-virus interactions, and point to the difficulty and necessity of identifying the patients at risk. With the advance of HBV virology, several viral factors have been found to be associated with the long-term clinical outcomes of CHB patients. Different viral factors probe different aspects of CHB. Integration of these viral factors may help to determine the disease state of patients more accurately, and identify the patients who require timely antiviral therapy to prevent the development of detrimental clinical outcomes. In this article, we will introduce the conventional and emerging viral factors that are associated with clinical outcomes and discuss their utility in a clinical setting.

Shared Genomic Variants: Identification of Transmission Routes Using Pathogen Deep-Sequence Data.

Sequencing pathogen samples during a communicable disease outbreak is becoming an increasingly common procedure in epidemiologic investigations. Identifying who infected whom sheds considerable light on transmission patterns, high-risk settings and subpopulations, and the effectiveness of infection control. Genomic data shed new light on transmission dynamics and can be used to identify clusters of individuals likely to be linked by direct transmission. However, identification of individual routes of infection via single genome samples typically remains uncertain. We investigated the potential of deep sequence data to provide greater resolution on transmission routes, via the identification of shared genomic variants. We assessed several easily implemented methods to identify transmission routes using both shared variants and genetic distance, demonstrating that shared variants can provide considerable additional information in most scenarios. While shared-variant approaches identify relatively few links in the presence of a small transmission bottleneck, these links are highly accurate. Furthermore, we propose a hybrid approach that also incorporates phylogenetic distance to provide greater resolution. We applied our methods to data collected during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, identifying several likely routes of transmission. Our study highlights the power of data from deep sequencing of pathogens as a component of outbreak investigation and epidemiologic analyses.

Conservation of a microRNA cluster in parasitic nematodes and profiling of miRNAs in excretory-secretory products and microvesicles of Haemonchus contortus.

microRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that are important regulators of gene expression in a range of animals, including nematodes. We have analysed a cluster of four miRNAs from the pathogenic nematode species Haemonchus contortus that are closely linked in the genome. We find that the cluster is conserved only in clade V parasitic nematodes and in some ascarids, but not in other clade III species nor in clade V free-living nematodes. Members of the cluster are present in parasite excretory-secretory products and can be detected in the abomasum and draining lymph nodes of infected sheep, indicating their release in vitro and in vivo. As observed for other parasitic nematodes, H. contortus adult worms release extracellular vesicles (EV). Small RNA libraries were prepared from vesicle-enriched and vesicle-depleted supernatants from both adult worms and L4 stage larvae. Comparison of the miRNA species in the different fractions indicated that specific miRNAs are packaged within vesicles, while others are more abundant in vesicle-depleted supernatant. Hierarchical clustering analysis indicated that the gut is the likely source of vesicle-associated miRNAs in the L4 stage, but not in the adult worm. These findings add to the growing body of work demonstrating that miRNAs released from parasitic helminths may play an important role in host-parasite interactions.

Structural basis of glycan specificity of P19 VP8*: Implications for rotavirus zoonosis and evolution.

Recognition of specific cell surface glycans, mediated by the VP8* domain of the spike protein VP4, is the essential first step in rotavirus (RV) infection. Due to lack of direct structural information of virus-ligand interactions, the molecular basis of ligand-controlled host ranges of the major human RVs (P[8] and P[4]) in P[II] genogroup remains unknown. Here, through characterization of a minor P[II] RV (P[19]) that can infect both animals (pigs) and humans, we made an important advance to fill this knowledge gap by solving the crystal structures of the P[19] VP8* in complex with its ligands. Our data showed that P[19] RVs use a novel binding site that differs from the known ones of other genotypes/genogroups. This binding site is capable of interacting with two types of glycans, the mucin core and type 1 histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) with a common GlcNAc as the central binding saccharide. The binding site is apparently shared by other P[II] RVs and possibly two genotypes (P[10] and P[12]) in P[I] as shown by their highly conserved GlcNAc-interacting residues. These data provide strong evidence of evolutionary connections among these human and animal RVs, pointing to a common ancestor in P[I] with a possible animal host origin. While the binding properties to GlcNAc-containing saccharides are maintained, changes in binding to additional residues, such as those in the polymorphic type 1 HBGAs may occur in the course of RV evolution, explaining the complex P[II] genogroup that mainly causes diseases in humans but also in some animals.

Loss of function JAK1 mutations occur at high frequency in cancers with microsatellite instability and are suggestive of immune evasion.

Immune evasion is a well-recognized hallmark of cancer and recent studies with immunotherapy agents have suggested that tumors with increased numbers of neoantigens elicit greater immune responses. We hypothesized that the immune system presents a common selective pressure on high mutation burden tumors and therefore immune evasion mutations would be enriched in high mutation burden tumors. The JAK family of kinases is required for the signaling of a host of immune modulators in tumor, stromal, and immune cells. Therefore, we analyzed alterations in this family for the hypothesized signature of an immune evasion mutation. Here, we searched a database of 61,704 unique solid tumors for alterations in the JAK family kinases (JAK1/2/3, TYK2). We used The Cancer Genome Atlas and Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia data to confirm and extend our findings by analyzing gene expression patterns. Recurrent frameshift mutations in JAK1 were associated with high mutation burden and microsatellite instability. These mutations occurred in multiple tumor types including endometrial, colorectal, stomach, and prostate carcinomas. Analyzing gene expression signatures in endometrial and stomach adenocarcinomas revealed that tumors with a JAK1 frameshift exhibited reduced expression of interferon response signatures and multiple anti-tumor immune signatures. Importantly, endometrial cancer cell lines exhibited similar gene expression changes that were expected to be tumor cell intrinsic (e.g. interferon response) but not those expected to be tumor cell extrinsic (e.g. NK cells). From these data, we derive two primary conclusions: 1) JAK1 frameshifts are loss of function alterations that represent a potential pan-cancer adaptation to immune responses against tumors with microsatellite instability; 2) The mechanism by which JAK1 loss of function contributes to tumor immune evasion is likely associated with loss of the JAK1-mediated interferon response.

Prediction of Host-Pathogen Interactions for Helicobacter pylori by Interface Mimicry and Implications to Gastric Cancer.

There is a strong correlation between some pathogens and certain cancer types. One example is Helicobacter pylori and gastric cancer. Exactly how they contribute to host tumorigenesis is, however, a mystery. Pathogens often interact with the host through proteins. To subvert defense, they may mimic host proteins at the sequence, structure, motif, or interface levels. Interface similarity permits pathogen proteins to compete with those of the host for a target protein and thereby alter the host signaling. Detection of host-pathogen interactions (HPIs) and mapping the re-wired superorganism HPI network-with structural details-can provide unprecedented clues to the underlying mechanisms and help therapeutics. Here, we describe the first computational approach exploiting solely interface mimicry to model potential HPIs. Interface mimicry can identify more HPIs than sequence or complete structural similarity since it appears more common than the other mimicry types. We illustrate the usefulness of this concept by modeling HPIs of H. pylori to understand how they modulate host immunity, persist lifelong, and contribute to tumorigenesis. H. pylori proteins interfere with multiple host pathways as they target several host hub proteins. Our results help illuminate the structural basis of resistance to apoptosis, immune evasion, and loss of cell junctions seen in H. pylori-infected host cells.

Daily rhythms and enrichment patterns in the transcriptome of the behavior-manipulating parasite Ophiocordyceps kimflemingiae.

Various parasite-host interactions that involve adaptive manipulation of host behavior display time-of-day synchronization of certain events. One example is the manipulated biting behavior observed in Carpenter ants infected with Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato. We hypothesized that biological clocks play an important role in this and other parasite-host interactions. In order to identify candidate molecular clock components, we used two general strategies: bioinformatics and transcriptional profiling. The bioinformatics approach was used to identify putative homologs of known clock genes. For transcriptional profiling, RNA-Seq was performed on 48 h time courses of Ophiocordyceps kimflemingiae (a recently named species of the O. unilateralis complex), whose genome has recently been sequenced. Fungal blastospores were entrained in liquid media under 24 h light-dark (LD) cycles and were harvested at 4 h intervals either under LD or continuous darkness. Of all O. kimflemingiae genes, 5.3% had rhythmic mRNAs under these conditions (JTK Cycle, ≤ 0.057 statistical cutoff). Our data further indicates that a significant number of transcription factors have a peaked activity during the light phase (day time). The expression levels of a significant number of secreted enzymes, proteases, toxins and small bioactive compounds peaked during the dark phase or subjective night. These findings support a model whereby this fungal parasite uses its biological clock for phase-specific activity. We further suggest that this may be a general mechanism involved in parasite-host interactions.

How to rewire the host cell: A home improvement guide for intracellular bacteria.

Intracellular bacterial pathogens have developed versatile strategies to generate niches inside the eukaryotic cells that allow them to survive and proliferate. Making a home inside the host offers many advantages; however, intracellular bacteria must also overcome many challenges, such as disarming innate immune signaling and accessing host nutrient supplies. Gaining entry into the cell and avoiding degradation is only the beginning of a successful intracellular lifestyle. To establish these replicative niches, intracellular pathogens secrete various virulence proteins, called effectors, to manipulate host cell signaling pathways and subvert host defense mechanisms. Many effectors mimic host enzymes, whereas others perform entirely novel enzymatic functions. A large volume of work has been done to understand how intracellular bacteria manipulate membrane trafficking pathways. In this review, we focus on how intracellular bacterial pathogens target innate immune signaling, the unfolded protein response, autophagy, and cellular metabolism and exploit these pathways to their advantage. We also discuss how bacterial pathogens can alter host gene expression by directly modifying histones or hijacking the ubiquitination machinery to take control of several host signaling pathways.

MMTV does not encode viral microRNAs but alters the levels of cancer-associated host microRNAs.

Mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) induces breast cancer in mice in the absence of known virally-encoded oncogenes. Tumorigenesis by MMTV is thought to occur primarily through insertional mutagenesis, leading to the activation of cellular proto-oncogenes and outgrowth of selected cells. Here we investigated whether MMTV encodes microRNAs (miRNAs) and/or modulates host miRNAs that could contribute to tumorigenesis. High throughput small RNA sequencing analysis of MMTV-infected cells and MMTV-induced mammary tumors demonstrates that MMTV does not encode miRNAs. However, infected tissues have altered levels of several host miRNAs, including increased expression of members of the oncogenic miRNA cluster, miR-17-92. Notably, similar changes in miRNA levels have been previously reported in human breast cancers. Combined, our results demonstrate that virally encoded miRNAs do not contribute to MMTV-mediated tumorigenesis, but that changes in specific host miRNAs in infected cells may contribute to virus replication and tumor biology.

"Omic" investigations of protozoa and worms for a deeper understanding of the human gut "parasitome".

The human gut has been continuously exposed to a broad spectrum of intestinal organisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites (protozoa and worms), over millions of years of coevolution, and plays a central role in human health. The modern lifestyles of Western countries, such as the adoption of highly hygienic habits, the extensive use of antimicrobial drugs, and increasing globalisation, have dramatically altered the composition of the gut milieu, especially in terms of its eukaryotic "citizens." In the past few decades, numerous studies have highlighted the composition and role of human intestinal bacteria in physiological and pathological conditions, while few investigations exist on gut parasites and particularly on their coexistence and interaction with the intestinal microbiota. Studies of the gut "parasitome" through "omic" technologies, such as (meta)genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, are herein reviewed to better understand their role in the relationships between intestinal parasites, host, and resident prokaryotes, whether pathogens or commensals. Systems biology-based profiles of the gut "parasitome" under physiological and severe disease conditions can indeed contribute to the control of infectious diseases and offer a new perspective of omics-assisted tropical medicine.

Differential host mortality explains the effect of high temperature on the prevalence of a marine pathogen.

Infectious diseases threaten marine populations, and the extent of their impacts is often assessed by prevalence of infection (the proportion of infected individuals). Changes in prevalence are often attributed to altered rates of transmission, although the rates of birth, recovery, and mortality also determine prevalence. The parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium perezi causes a severe, often fatal disease in blue crabs. It has been speculated that decreases in prevalence associated with high temperatures result from lower rates of infection. We used field collections, environmental sensor data, and high-temperature exposure experiments to investigate the factors that change prevalence of infections in blue crab megalopae (post-larvae). These megalopae migrate from offshore waters, where temperatures are moderate, to marshes where temperatures may be extremely high. Within a few days of arriving in the marsh, the megalopae metamorphose into juvenile crabs. We found a strong negative association between prevalence of Hematodinium infection in megalopae and the cumulative time water temperatures in the marsh exceeded 34°C over the preceding two days. Temperatures this high are known to be lethal for blue crabs, suggesting that higher mortality of infected megalopae could be the cause of reduced prevalence. Experimental exposure of megalopae from the marsh to a temperature of 34°C resulted in higher mortality for infected than uninfected individuals, and decreased the prevalence of infection among survivors from 18% to 3%.

Inhibition of apoptosis in BHV-1-infected cells depends on Us3 serine/threonine kinase and its enzymatic activity.

Us3 protein is a serine/threonine kinase conserved within the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily of herpesviruses. The Us3 homologs of herpes simplex virus, pseudorabies virus, and bovine herpesvirus type 5 have been shown to block apoptosis triggered by viral infection or exogenous inducers. To determine whether these characteristics are shared by bovine herpesvirus type 1 Us3, we constructed two viral mutants: BHV-1 Us3 deletion mutant (BHV-1ΔUs3) and a kinase-dead mutant (BHV-1KD). Flow cytometry analysis and TUNEL assay clearly demonstrated, that only BHV-1 wild type virus suppressed infection-induced apoptosis and protected cells from apoptosis triggered by exogenous factors: sorbitol or staurosporine. Us3 of BHV-1 was directly capable of blocking apoptosis without the presence of other viral proteins. The presence of Us3 correlated with phosphorylation of BAD, a pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member. Our results clearly indicate that BHV-1 Us3 is necessary for efficient blocking of apoptosis triggered by viral infection and exogenous factors.

The GYF domain protein PSIG1 dampens the induction of cell death during plant-pathogen interactions.

The induction of rapid cell death is an effective strategy for plants to restrict biotrophic and hemi-biotrophic pathogens at the infection site. However, activation of cell death comes at a high cost, as dead cells will no longer be available for defense responses nor general metabolic processes. In addition, necrotrophic pathogens that thrive on dead tissue, take advantage of cell death-triggering mechanisms. Mechanisms by which plants solve this conundrum remain described. Here, we identify PLANT SMY2-TYPE ILE-GYF DOMAIN-CONTAINING PROTEIN 1 (PSIG1) and show that PSIG1 helps to restrict cell death induction during pathogen infection. Inactivation of PSIG1 does not result in spontaneous lesions, and enhanced cell death in psig1 mutants is independent of salicylic acid (SA) biosynthesis or reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Moreover, PSIG1 interacts with SMG7, which plays a role in nonsense-mediated RNA decay (NMD), and the smg7-4 mutant allele mimics the cell death phenotype of the psig1 mutants. Intriguingly, the psig1 mutants display enhanced susceptibility to the hemi-biotrophic bacterial pathogen. These findings point to the existence and importance of the SA- and ROS-independent cell death constraining mechanism as a part of the plant immune system.

The parasite Toxoplasma sequesters diverse Rab host vesicles within an intravacuolar network.

Many intracellular pathogens subvert host membrane trafficking pathways to promote their replication. Toxoplasma multiplies in a membrane-bound parasitophorous vacuole (PV) that interacts with mammalian host organelles and intercepts Golgi Rab vesicles to acquire sphingolipids. The mechanisms of host vesicle internalization and processing within the PV remain undefined. We demonstrate that Toxoplasma sequesters a broad range of Rab vesicles into the PV. Correlative light and electron microscopy analysis of infected cells illustrates that intravacuolar Rab1A vesicles are surrounded by the PV membrane, suggesting a phagocytic-like process for vesicle engulfment. Rab11A vesicles concentrate to an intravacuolar network (IVN), but this is reduced in Δgra2 and Δgra2Δgra6 parasites, suggesting that tubules stabilized by the TgGRA2 and TgGRA6 proteins secreted by the parasite within the PV contribute to host vesicle sequestration. Overexpression of a phospholipase TgLCAT, which is localized to the IVN, results in a decrease in the number of intravacuolar GFP-Rab11A vesicles, suggesting that TgLCAT controls lipolytic degradation of Rab vesicles for cargo release.

The yeast form of the fungus Candida albicans promotes persistence in the gut of gnotobiotic mice.

Many microorganisms that cause systemic, life-threatening infections in humans reside as harmless commensals in our digestive tract. Yet little is known about the biology of these microbes in the gut. Here, we visualize the interface between the human commensal and pathogenic fungus Candida albicans and the intestine of mice, a surrogate host. Because the indigenous mouse microbiota restricts C. albicans settlement, we compared the patterns of colonization in the gut of germ free and antibiotic-treated conventionally raised mice. In contrast to the heterogeneous morphologies found in the latter, we establish that in germ free animals the fungus almost uniformly adopts the yeast cell form, a proxy of its commensal state. By screening a collection of C. albicans transcription regulator deletion mutants in gnotobiotic mice, we identify several genes previously unknown to contribute to in vivo fitness. We investigate three of these regulators-ZCF8, ZFU2 and TRY4-and show that indeed they favor the yeast form over other morphologies. Consistent with this finding, we demonstrate that genetically inducing non-yeast cell morphologies is detrimental to the fitness of C. albicans in the gut. Furthermore, the identified regulators promote adherence of the fungus to a surface covered with mucin and to mucus-producing intestinal epithelial cells. In agreement with this result, histology sections indicate that C. albicans dwells in the murine gut in close proximity to the mucus layer. Thus, our findings reveal a set of regulators that endows C. albicans with the ability to endure in the intestine through multiple mechanisms.

Macavirus latency-associated protein evades immune detection through regulation of protein synthesis in cis depending upon its glycin/glutamate-rich domain.

Alcelaphine herpesvirus 1 (AlHV-1) is a γ-herpesvirus (γ-HV) belonging to the macavirus genus that persistently infects its natural host, the wildebeest, without inducing any clinical sign. However, cross-transmission to other ruminant species causes a deadly lymphoproliferative disease named malignant catarrhal fever (MCF). AlHV-1 ORF73 encodes the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA)-homolog protein (aLANA). Recently, aLANA has been shown to be essential for viral persistence in vivo and induction of MCF, suggesting that aLANA shares key properties of other γ-HV genome maintenance proteins. Here we have investigated the evasion of the immune response by aLANA. We found that a glycin/glutamate (GE)-rich repeat domain was sufficient to inhibit in cis the presentation of an epitope linked to aLANA. Although antigen presentation in absence of GE was dependent upon proteasomal degradation of aLANA, a lack of GE did not affect protein turnover. However, protein self-synthesis de novo was downregulated by aLANA GE, a mechanism directly associated with reduced antigen presentation in vitro. Importantly, codon-modification of aLANA GE resulted in increased antigen presentation in vitro and enhanced induction of antigen-specific CD8+ T cell responses in vivo, indicating that mRNA constraints in GE rather than peptidic sequence are responsible for cis-limitation of antigen presentation. Nonetheless, GE-mediated limitation of antigen presentation in cis of aLANA was dispensable during MCF as rabbits developed the disease after virus infection irrespective of the expression of full-length or GE-deficient aLANA. Altogether, we provide evidence that inhibition in cis of protein synthesis through GE is likely involved in long-term immune evasion of AlHV-1 latent persistence in the wildebeest natural host, but dispensable in MCF pathogenesis.

Co-opting ATP-generating glycolytic enzyme PGK1 phosphoglycerate kinase facilitates the assembly of viral replicase complexes.

The intricate interactions between viruses and hosts include exploitation of host cells for viral replication by using many cellular resources, metabolites and energy. Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV), similar to other (+)RNA viruses, induces major changes in infected cells that lead to the formation of large replication compartments consisting of aggregated peroxisomal and ER membranes. Yet, it is not known how TBSV obtains the energy to fuel these energy-consuming processes. In the current work, the authors discovered that TBSV co-opts the glycolytic ATP-generating Pgk1 phosphoglycerate kinase to facilitate the assembly of new viral replicase complexes. The recruitment of Pgk1 into the viral replication compartment is through direct interaction with the viral replication proteins. Altogether, we provide evidence that the ATP generated locally within the replication compartment by the co-opted Pgk1 is used to fuel the ATP-requirement of the co-opted heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) chaperone, which is essential for the assembly of new viral replicase complexes and the activation of functional viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. The advantage of direct recruitment of Pgk1 into the virus replication compartment could be that the virus replicase assembly does not need to intensively compete with cellular processes for access to ATP. In addition, local production of ATP within the replication compartment could greatly facilitate the efficiency of Hsp70-driven replicase assembly by providing high ATP concentration within the replication compartment.

Patterns of specificity and diversity in species of Paraorygmatobothrium Ruhnke, 1994 (Cestoda: Phyllobothriidae) in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia, with the description of four new species.

A survey of tapeworms of galeomorph sharks from Moreton Bay (Queensland, Australia) identified a complex of species of Paraorygmatobothrium Ruhnke, 1994 infecting 11 carcharhiniform and two orectolobiform species. Combined morphological and multi-locus molecular analyses (based on the 28S nuclear ribosomal RNA and partial mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 1 genes) revealed the presence of 12 species of Paraorygmatobothrium; four species (Paraorygmatobothrium christopheri n. sp., P. harti n. sp., P. sinclairtaylori n. sp. and P. ullmanni n. sp.) are considered to be new to science and are formally described, four represent known species, and four lack sufficient morphological data to allow definitive identification. In contrast to previous records for the genus, four of the species found in this study exhibited low host specificity [P. orectolobi (Butler, 1987) Ruhnke, 2011, P. sinclairtaylori, P. ullmanni and Paraorygmatobothrium sp. 3], three stenoxenic species were each found in two closely-related sharks (P. orectolobi, P. ullmanni and Paraorygmatobothrium sp. 3) and one euryxenic species was found in five species from two shark families (P. sinclairtaylori). One species was found to exhibit mild morphologically plasticity (P. orectolobi), with size range being associated with different shark species. Conversely, collections of almost morphologically indistinguishable specimens from single shark species were found to represent multiple species of Paraorygmatobothrium. The findings of this study indicate that the description of species of this genus on the basis of morphological data alone is problematic and that the inclusion of multi-locus molecular data is essential for future work on Paraorygmatobothrium. Host specificity, morphology and phylogenetic relatedness of species of Paraorygmatobothrium are explored.

Transcriptomic responses of Biomphalaria pfeifferi to Schistosoma mansoni: Investigation of a neglected African snail that supports more S. mansoni transmission than any other snail species.

Biomphalaria pfeifferi is highly compatible with the widespread human-infecting blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni and transmits more cases of this parasite to people than any other snail species. For these reasons, B. pfeifferi is the world's most important vector snail for S. mansoni, yet we know relatively little at the molecular level regarding the interactions between B. pfeifferi and S. mansoni from early-stage sporocyst transformation to the development of cercariae.

Putative endogenous filovirus VP35-like protein potentially functions as an IFN antagonist but not a polymerase cofactor.

It has been proposed that some non-retroviral RNA virus genes are integrated into vertebrate genomes. Endogenous filovirus-like elements (EFLs) have been discovered in some mammalian genomes. However, their potential roles in ebolavirus infection are unclear. A filovirus VP35-like element (mlEFL35) is found in the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) genome. Putative mlEFL35-derived protein (mlEFL35p) contains nearly full-length amino acid sequences corresponding to ebolavirus VP35. Ebola virus VP35 has been shown to bind double-stranded RNA, leading to inhibition of type I interferon (IFN) production, and is also known as a viral polymerase cofactor that is essential for viral RNA transcription/replication. In this study, we transiently expressed mlEFL35p in human kidney cells and investigated its biological functions. We first found that mlEFL35p was coimmunoprecipitated with itself and ebolavirus VP35s but not with the viral nucleoprotein. Then the biological functions of mlEFL35p were analyzed by comparing it to ebolavirus VP35s. We found that the expression of mlEFL35p significantly inhibited human IFN-β promoter activity as well as VP35s. By contrast, expression of mlEFL35p did not support viral RNA transcription/replication and indeed slightly decrease the reporter gene expression in a minigenome assay. These results suggest that mlEFL35p potentially acts as an IFN antagonist but not a polymerase cofactor.

Characterization of the Zika virus induced small RNA response in Aedes aegypti cells.

RNA interference (RNAi) controls arbovirus infections in mosquitoes. Two different RNAi pathways are involved in antiviral responses: the PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) and exogenous short interfering RNA (exo-siRNA) pathways, which are characterized by the production of virus-derived small RNAs of 25-29 and 21 nucleotides, respectively. The exo-siRNA pathway is considered to be the key mosquito antiviral response mechanism. In Aedes aegypti-derived cells, Zika virus (ZIKV)-specific siRNAs were produced and loaded into the exo-siRNA pathway effector protein Argonaute 2 (Ago2); although the knockdown of Ago2 did not enhance virus replication. Enhanced ZIKV replication was observed in a Dcr2-knockout cell line suggesting that the exo-siRNA pathway is implicated in the antiviral response. Although ZIKV-specific piRNA-sized small RNAs were detected, these lacked the characteristic piRNA ping-pong signature motif and were bound to Ago3 but not Piwi5 or Piwi6. Silencing of PIWI proteins indicated that the knockdown of Ago3, Piwi5 or Piwi6 did not enhance ZIKV replication and only Piwi4 displayed antiviral activity. We also report that the expression of ZIKV capsid (C) protein amplified the replication of a reporter alphavirus; although, unlike yellow fever virus C protein, it does not inhibit the exo-siRNA pathway. Our findings elucidate ZIKV-mosquito RNAi interactions that are important for understanding its spread.

Human babesiosis: Indication of a molecular mimicry between thrombospondin domains from a novel Babesia microti BmP53 protein and host platelets molecules.

Human babesiosis is caused by the apicomplexan parasite Babesia microti, which is of major public health concern in the United States and elsewhere, resulting in malaise and fatigue, followed by a fever and hemolytic anemia. In this paper we focus on the characterization of a novel B. microti thrombospondin domain (TSP1)-containing protein (BmP53) from the new annotation of the B. microti genome (locus 'BmR1_04g09041'). This novel protein (BmP53) had a single TSP1 and a transmembrane domain, with a short cytoplasmic tail containing a sub-terminal glutamine residue, but no signal peptide and Von Willebrand factor type A domains (VWA), which are found in classical thrombospondin-related adhesive proteins (TRAP). Co-localization assays of BmP53 and Babesia microti secreted antigen 1 (BmSA1) suggested that BmP53 might be a non-secretory membranous protein. Molecular mimicry between the TSP1 domain from BmP53 and host platelets molecules was indicated through different measures of sequence homology, phylogenetic analysis, 3D structure and shared epitopes. Indeed, hamster isolated platelets cross-reacted with mouse anti-BmP53-TSP1. Molecular mimicry are used to help parasites to escape immune defenses, resulting in immune evasion or autoimmunity. Furthermore, specific host reactivity was also detected against the TSP1-free part of BmP53 in infected hamster sera. In conclusion, the TSP1 domain mimicry might help in studying the mechanisms of parasite-induced thrombocytopenia, with the TSP1-free truncate of the protein representing a potential safe candidate for future vaccine studies.

Shape of a Virus Changes When Invading a Host Cell.

Why is there no impact of the host species on the cold tolerance of a generalist parasitoid?

For generalist parasitoids such as those belonging to the Genus Aphidius, the choice of host species can have profound implications for the emerging parasitoid. Host species is known to affect a variety of life history traits. However, the impact of the host on thermal tolerance has never been studied. Physiological thermal tolerance, enabling survival at unfavourable temperatures, is not a fixed trait and may be influenced by a number of external factors including characteristics of the stress, of the individual exposed to the stress, and of the biological and physical environment. As such, the choice of host species is likely to also have implications for the thermal tolerance of the emerging parasitoid. The current study aimed to investigate the effect of cereal aphid host species (Sitobion avenae, Rhopalosiphum padi and Metopolophium dirhodum) on adult thermal tolerance, in addition to sex and size, of the aphid parasitoids Aphidius avenae, Aphidius matricariae and Aphidius rhopalosiphi. Results revealed no effect of host species on the cold tolerance of the emerging parasitoid, as determined by CTmin and Chill Coma, for all parasitoid species. Host species significantly affected the size of the emerging parasitoid for A. rhopalosiphi only, with individuals emerging from R. padi being significantly larger than those emerging from S. avenae, although this did not correspond to a difference in thermal tolerance. Furthermore, a significant difference in the size of male and female parasitoids was observed for A. avenae and A. matricariae, although, once again this did not correspond to a difference in cold tolerance. It is suggested that potential behavioural thermoregulation via host manipulation may act to influence the thermal environment experienced by the wasp and thus wasp thermal tolerance and, in doing so, may negate physiological thermal tolerance or any impact of the aphid host.

Productive replication of avian influenza viruses in chicken endothelial cells is determined by hemagglutinin cleavability and is related to innate immune escape.

Endotheliotropism is a hallmark of gallinaceous poultry infections with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses and a feature that distinguishes HPAI from low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses. Here, we used chicken aortic endothelial cells (chAEC) as a novel in vitro infection model to assess the susceptibility, permissiveness, and host response of chicken endothelial cells (EC) to infections with avian influenza (AI) viruses. Our data show that productive replication of AI viruses in chAEC is critically determined by hemagglutinin cleavability, and is thus an exclusive trait of HPAI viruses. However, we provide evidence for a link between limited (i.e. trypsin-dependent) replication of certain LPAI viruses, and the viruses' ability to dampen the antiviral innate immune response in infected chAEC. Strikingly, this cell response pattern was also detected in HPAI virus-infected chAEC, suggesting that viral innate immune escape might be a prerequisite for robust AI virus replication in chicken EC.

Crosstalk between PKA and PKG controls pH-dependent host cell egress of Toxoplasma gondii.

Toxoplasma gondii encodes three protein kinase A catalytic (PKAc1-3) and one regulatory (PKAr) subunits to integrate cAMP-dependent signals. Here, we show that inactive PKAc1 is maintained at the parasite pellicle by interacting with acylated PKAr. Either a conditional knockdown of PKAr or the overexpression of PKAc1 blocks parasite division. Conversely, down-regulation of PKAc1 or stabilisation of a dominant-negative PKAr isoform that does not bind cAMP triggers premature parasite egress from infected cells followed by serial invasion attempts leading to host cell lysis. This untimely egress depends on host cell acidification. A phosphoproteome analysis suggested the interplay between cAMP and cGMP signalling as PKAc1 inactivation changes the phosphorylation profile of a putative cGMP-phosphodiesterase. Concordantly, inhibition of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase G (PKG) blocks egress induced by PKAc1 inactivation or environmental acidification, while a cGMP-phosphodiesterase inhibitor circumvents egress repression by PKAc1 or pH neutralisation. This indicates that pH and PKAc1 act as balancing regulators of cGMP metabolism to control egress. These results reveal a crosstalk between PKA and PKG pathways to govern egress in T. gondii.

Modulation of the NF-κB signaling pathway by the HIV-2 envelope glycoprotein and its incomplete BST-2 antagonism.

The HIVs have evolved by selecting means to hijack numerous host cellular factors. HIVs exploit the transcription factor NF-κB to ensure efficient LTR-driven gene transcription. However, NF-κB is primarily known to act as a key regulator of the proinflammatory and antiviral responses. Interestingly, retroviruses activate NF-κB during early stages of infection to initiate proviral genome expression while suppressing it at later stages to restrain expression of antiviral genes. During HIV-1 infection, diverse viral proteins such as Env, Nef and Vpr have been proposed to activate NF-κB activity, whereas Vpu has been shown to inhibit NF-κB activation. It is still unclear how HIV-2 regulates NF-κB signaling pathway during its replication cycle. Here we confirm that human BST-2 and HIV-1 Env proteins can trigger potent activation of NF-κB. Importantly, we demonstrate for the first time that the HIV-2 Env induces NF-κB activation in HEΚ293T cells. Furthermore, the anti-BST-2 activity of the HIV-2 Env is not sufficient to completely inhibit NF-κB activity.

Differential interaction between human and murine Crm1 and lentiviral Rev proteins.

Mice have multiple obstacles to HIV replication, including a block of unspliced and partially spliced viral mRNA nuclear export. In human, Rev binds to the Rev-response element and human (h) Crm1, facilitating nuclear export of RRE-containing viral RNAs. Murine (m) Crm1 is less functional than hCrm1 in this regard. Here we demonstrated that in biochemical experiments mCrm1 failed to interact with HIV Rev whereas hCrm1 did. In genetic experiments in human cells, we observed a modest but significant differential effect between mCrm1 and hCrm1, which was also true of other lentiviral Revs tested. Triple mutant hCrm1 P411T-M412V-F414S behaved similarly to mCrm1, whereas mCrm1 with T411P-V412M-S414F regained some activity, although contribution of additional residues to its function can not be excluded. Similar results were observed in murine cells. This suggests a differential interaction between hCrm1 and mCrm1 and many lentiviral Revs, which may partially explain the HIV replicative defect in mice.

Germline Genome Protection on an Evolutionary Treadmill.

Preservation of genome integrity is a conserved, essential function, yet genome defense machinery evolves rapidly. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Parhad et al. (2017) harness an evolution-guided approach to define the genetic determinants of genome defense and to reveal the molecular and cellular mechanisms shaped by adaptive evolution.