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Host-Pathogen Interactions - Top 30 Publications

Genetic Profiling and Comorbidities of Zika Infection.

The difficulty in distinguishing infection by Zika virus (ZIKV) from other flaviviruses is a global health concern, particularly given the high risk of neurologic complications (including Guillain-Barré syndrome [GBS]) with ZIKV infection.

Histone Methyltransferase SET8 Epigenetically Reprograms Host Immune Responses to Assist Mycobacterial Survival.

NQO1 and TRXR1 are important host reductases implicated in the regulation of inflammation and apoptosis. Although the transcriptional machinery governing these processes have been extensively investigated, the associated epigenetic regulatory events remain unclear. Here, we report that SET8, a histone H4 lysine 20 monomethylase (H4K20me1), is highly induced during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection that orchestrates immune evasion strategies through the induction of NQO1 and TRXR1 in vivo. SET8, along with FoxO3a, mediates an active NQO1-PGC1-α complex, which promotes the anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage phenotype, and assists TRXR1-regulated arrest of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-induced apoptosis. Strikingly, the loss-of-function analysis in an in vivo mouse tuberculosis model further corroborated the pivotal role of SET8-responsive NQO1 and TRXR1 in mycobacterial survival. Thus, augmenting host immune responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis by harnessing the SET8-NQO1/TRXR1 axis with its specific and potent inhibitors could lead to promising host-directed therapeutic adjuvants for tuberculosis treatment.

Analysis of nuclear and organellar genomes of Plasmodium knowlesi in humans reveals ancient population structure and recent recombination among host-specific subpopulations.

The macaque parasite Plasmodium knowlesi is a significant concern in Malaysia where cases of human infection are increasing. Parasites infecting humans originate from genetically distinct subpopulations associated with the long-tailed (Macaca fascicularis (Mf)) or pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina (Mn)). We used a new high-quality reference genome to re-evaluate previously described subpopulations among human and macaque isolates from Malaysian-Borneo and Peninsular-Malaysia. Nuclear genomes were dimorphic, as expected, but new evidence of chromosomal-segment exchanges between subpopulations was found. A large segment on chromosome 8 originating from the Mn subpopulation and containing genes encoding proteins expressed in mosquito-borne parasite stages, was found in Mf genotypes. By contrast, non-recombining organelle genomes partitioned into 3 deeply branched lineages, unlinked with nuclear genomic dimorphism. Subpopulations which diverged in isolation have re-connected, possibly due to deforestation and disruption of wild macaque habitats. The resulting genomic mosaics reveal traits selected by host-vector-parasite interactions in a setting of ecological transition.

Influence of Host Quality and Temperature on the Biology of Diaeretiella rapae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae, Aphidiinae).

Biological features of Diaeretiella rapae (McIntosh), an aphid parasitoid, are conditioned by temperature and host. However, studies of host quality changes due to temperature adaptability have not been performed previously. Therefore, this study evaluated the adaptability of Lipaphis pseudobrassicae (Davis) and Myzus persicae (Sulzer) to high temperature, high temperature effect on their quality as hosts for D. rapae, and on parasitoid's thermal threshold. Aphid development, survivorship, fecundity, and longevity were compared at 19 °C and 28 °C. Host quality in different temperatures was determined through evaluation of parasitoid biology. Thermal threshold of D. rapae was determined using development time data. At 28 °C, development time, rate of immature survival, and total fecundity rates were greater in L. pseudobrassicae than in M. persicae. Development time of D. rapae in L. pseudobrassicae was shorter than that in M. persicae at 28 °C and 31 °C for females and at 31 °C for males. The thermal threshold of D. rapae was 6.38 °C and 3.33 °C for females and 4.45 °C and 3.63 °C for males developed on L. pseudobrassicae and M. persicae, respectively. Diaeretiella rapae size gain was greater in L. pseudobrassicae than that in M. persicae at 25 °C and 28 °C. Lipaphis pseudobrassicae showed better adaptation than M. persicae to elevated temperatures, which resulted in a better quality host for D. rapae at temperatures of 28 °C and 31 °C and a higher lower thermal threshold when the parasitoid developed within L. pseudobrassicae. The host's adaptation to high temperatures is a determinant of host quality for the parasitoid at that same climatic condition.

Similar levels of gene content variation observed for Pseudomonas syringae populations extracted from single and multiple host species.

Bacterial strains of the same species collected from different hosts frequently exhibit differences in gene content. In the ubiquitous plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae, more than 30% of genes encoded by each strain are not conserved among strains colonizing other host species. Although they are often implicated in host specificity, the role of this large fraction of the genome in host-specific adaptation is largely unexplored. Here, we sought to relate variation in gene content between strains infecting different species to variation that persists between strains on the same host. We fully sequenced a collection of P. syringae strains collected from wild Arabidopsis thaliana populations in the Midwestern United States. We then compared patterns of variation observed in gene content within these A. thaliana-isolated strains to previously published P. syringae sequence from strains collected on a diversity of crop species. We find that strains collected from the same host, A. thaliana, differ in gene content by 21%, 2/3 the level of gene content variation observed across strains collected from different hosts. Furthermore, the frequency with which specific genes are present among strains collected within the same host and among strains collected from different hosts is highly correlated. This implies that most gene content variation is maintained irrespective of host association. At the same time, we identify specific genes whose presence is important for P. syringae's ability to flourish within A. thaliana. Specifically, the A. thaliana strains uniquely share a genomic island encoding toxins active against plants and surrounding microbes, suggesting a role for microbe-microbe interactions in dictating the abundance within this host. Overall, our results demonstrate that while variation in the presence of specific genes can affect the success of a pathogen within its host, the majority of gene content variation is not strongly associated with patterns of host use.

Identification of host plant use of adults of a long-distance migratory insect, Mythimna separata.

Adults of many insect species often become contaminated with pollen grains when feeding. Identification of plant hosts for M. separata moths could increase our understanding of their geographic origin and the coevolution of M. separata moths and their host plants. However, identifying the diet of noctuid moths using traditional direct observation is limited by their nocturnal and flight habits. In this study, we used core barcode markers and pollen morphology to identify pollen species. We found pollen from 13 plant species belonging to nine families on trapped M. separata moths, mainly from Angiosperm, Dicotyledoneae. Pollen was found on 14.4% and 12.3% of females and males, respectively, and the amount of pollen transported varied with the body part, with the most pollen on the proboscis. We were able to determine from this that the moths visited woody plants more than herbaceous plants, but not significantly so, and that they carried more pollen earlier in the migration season. In this study, we clarified the species and frequencies of pollen deposition on M. separata moths. These findings improve our understanding of the coevolution of the moths and their host plants. Identification of plant hosts for adult moths provides a new means of studying noctuid moth-host plant interactions, and informs the development of more efficient management practices for M. separata.

From fish to frogs and beyond: Impact and host range of emergent ranaviruses.

Ranaviruses are pathogens of ectothermic vertebrates, including amphibians. We reviewed patterns of host range and virulence of ranaviruses in the context of virus genotype and postulate that patterns reflect significant variation in the historical and current host range of three groups of Ranavirus: FV3-like, CMTV-like and ATV-like ranaviruses. Our synthesis supports previous hypotheses about host range and jumps: FV3s are amphibian specialists, while ATVs are predominantly fish specialists that switched once to caudate amphibians. The most recent common ancestor of CMTV-like ranaviruses and FV3-like forms appears to have infected amphibians but CMTV-like ranaviruses may circulate in both amphibian and fish communities independently. While these hypotheses are speculative, we hope that ongoing efforts to describe ranavirus genetics, increased surveillance of host species and targeted experimental assays of susceptibility to infection and/or disease will facilitate better tests of the importance of hypothetical evolutionary drivers of ranavirus virulence and host range.

The replication initiator protein of a geminivirus interacts with host monoubiquitination machinery and stimulates transcription of the viral genome.

Geminiviruses constitute a group of plant viruses, with a ssDNA genome, whose replication in the nucleus of an infected cell requires the function of geminivirus-encoded replication initiator protein (Rep). Our results suggest that monoubiquitinated histone 2B (H2B-ub) promotes tri-methylation of histone 3 at lysine 4 (H3-K4me3) on the promoter of Chilli leaf curl virus (ChiLCV). We isolated homologues of two major components of the monoubiquitination machinery: UBIQUITIN-CONJUGATING ENZYME2 (NbUBC2) and HISTONE MONOUBIQUITINATION1 (NbHUB1) from N. benthamiana. ChiLCV failed to cause disease in NbUBC2-, and NbHUB1-silenced plants, at the same time, H2B-ub and H3-K4me3 modifications were decreased, and the occupancy of RNA polymerase II on the viral promoter was reduced as well. In further investigations, Rep protein of ChiLCV was found to re-localize NbUBC2 from the cytoplasm to the nucleoplasm, like NbHUB1, the cognate partner of NbUBC2. Rep was observed to interact and co-localize with NbHUB1 and NbUBC2 in the nuclei of the infected cells. In summary, the current study reveals that the ChiLCV Rep protein binds the viral genome and interacts with NbUBC2 and NbHUB1 for the monoubiquitination of histone 2B that subsequently promotes trimethylation of histone 3 at lysine 4 on ChiLCV mini-chromosomes and enhances transcription of the viral genes.

Primate lentiviruses use at least three alternative strategies to suppress NF-κB-mediated immune activation.

Primate lentiviruses have evolved sophisticated strategies to suppress the immune response of their host species. For example, HIV-2 and most simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) use their accessory protein Nef to prevent T cell activation and antiviral gene expression by downmodulating the T cell receptor CD3. This Nef function was lost in HIV-1 and other vpu-encoding viruses suggesting that the acquisition of Vpu-mediated NF-κB inhibition reduced the selection pressure for inhibition of T cell activation by Nef. To obtain further insights into the modulation of NF-κB activity by primate lentiviral accessory factors, we analyzed 32 Vpr proteins from a large panel of divergent primate lentiviruses. We found that those of SIVcol and SIVolc infecting Colobinae monkeys showed the highest efficacy in suppressing NF-κB activation. Vpr-mediated inhibition of NF-κB resulted in decreased IFNβ promoter activity and suppressed type I IFN induction in virally infected primary cells. Interestingly, SIVcol and SIVolc differ from all other primate lentiviruses investigated by the lack of both, a vpu gene and efficient Nef-mediated downmodulation of CD3. Thus, primate lentiviruses have evolved at least three alternative strategies to inhibit NF-κB-dependent immune activation. Functional analyses showed that the inhibitory activity of SIVolc and SIVcol Vprs is independent of DCAF1 and the induction of cell cycle arrest. While both Vprs target the IKK complex or a factor further downstream in the NF-κB signaling cascade, only SIVolc Vpr stabilizes IκBα and inhibits p65 phosphorylation. Notably, only de-novo synthesized but not virion-associated Vpr suppressed the activation of NF-κB, thus enabling NF-κB-dependent initiation of viral gene transcription during early stages of the replication cycle, while minimizing antiviral gene expression at later stages. Our findings highlight the key role of NF-κB in antiviral immunity and demonstrate that primate lentiviruses follow distinct evolutionary paths to modulate NF-κB-dependent expression of viral and antiviral genes.

Rhinovirus induction of fractalkine (CX3CL1) in airway and peripheral blood mononuclear cells in asthma.

Rhinovirus infection is associated with the majority of asthma exacerbations. The role of fractalkine in anti-viral (type 1) and pathogenic (type 2) responses to rhinovirus infection in allergic asthma is unknown. To determine whether (1) fractalkine is produced in airway cells and in peripheral blood leucocytes, (2) rhinovirus infection increases production of fractalkine and (3) levels of fractalkine differ in asthmatic compared to non-asthmatic subjects. Fractalkine protein and mRNA levels were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from non-asthmatic controls (n = 15) and mild allergic asthmatic (n = 15) subjects. Protein levels of fractalkine were also measured in macrophages polarised ex vivo to give M1 (type 1) and M2 (type 2) macrophages and in BAL fluid obtained from mild (n = 11) and moderate (n = 14) allergic asthmatic and non-asthmatic control (n = 10) subjects pre and post in vivo rhinovirus infection. BAL cells produced significantly greater levels of fractalkine than PBMCs. Rhinovirus infection increased production of fractalkine by BAL cells from non-asthmatic controls (P<0.01) and in M1-polarised macrophages (P<0.05), but not in BAL cells from mild asthmatics or in M2 polarised macrophages. Rhinovirus induced fractalkine in PBMCs from asthmatic (P<0.001) and healthy control subjects (P<0.05). Trends towards induction of fractalkine in moderate asthmatic subjects during in vivo rhinovirus infection failed to reach statistical significance. Fractalkine may be involved in both immunopathological and anti-viral immune responses to rhinovirus infection. Further investigation into how fractalkine is regulated across different cell types and into the effect of stimulation including rhinovirus infection is warranted to better understand the precise role of this unique dual adhesion factor and chemokine in immune cell recruitment.

Effects of Storage at Suboptimal Temperatures on the In Vitro-Reared Parasitoid Exorista larvarum (Diptera: Tachinidae).

Exorista larvarum (L.) is a tachinid parasitoid native to the Palearctic region, known as an antagonist of lepidopterous defoliators. This species is suitable to be cultured in vitro, and yields of fecund adults, approaching those usually attained in host larvae, have been previously achieved on artificial media. Direct oviposition by E. larvarum on media has not yet been obtained, and the eggs for the in vitro rearing are routinely removed from parasitized host larvae. However, many eggs are usually laid throughout the cage by captive females and can be retrieved by placing them on artificial media. Storage at low temperatures provides a method for prolonging the development of insects and stockpile them when not needed immediately. We studied the effects of storage at 20 °C (for 5 d or until pupation) or 15 °C (for 5 d or until egg hatching) on the in vitro development of E. larvarum. Lower temperatures were excluded, because previous studies showed a strong negative impact on hatching when the eggs were stored at 5 °C or 10 °C. For the experiments, eggs were removed from hosts and placed on an artificial medium. The results suggested that it is possible to delay the development of the in vitro-reared E. larvarum, which eventually reached the adult stage, although some negative effects on fly quality (i.e., longevity and fecundity) were also observed. Because quality is not an absolute concept, all the situations tested in this study could be appropriate according to the current requirements.

The activity of phenoloxidase in haemolymph plasma is not a predictor of Lymantria dispar resistance to its baculovirus.

Host innate immunity is one of the factors that determines the resistance of insects to their entomopathogens. In the research reported here we studied whether or not phenoloxidase (PO), a key enzyme in the melanogenesis component of humoral immunity of insects, plays a role in the protection of Lymantria dispar larvae from infection by L. dispar multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus. We studied two types of viral infection: overt and covert. The following lines of investigation were tested: i) the intravital individual estimation of baseline PO activity in haemolymph plasma followed by virus challenging; ii) the specific inhibition of PO activity in vivo by peroral treatment of infected larvae with phenylthiourea (PTU), a competitive inhibitor of PO; iii) the evaluation of PO activity in the haemolymph plasma after larval starvation. Starvation is a stress that activates the covert infection to an overt form. All of these experiments did not show a relationship between PO activity in haemolymph plasma of L. dispar larvae and larval susceptibility to baculovirus. Moreover, starvation-induced activation of covert viral infection to an overt form occurred in 70 percent of virus-carrying larvae against the background of a dramatic increase of PO activity in haemolymph plasma in the insects studied. Our conclusion is that in L. dispar larvae PO activity is not a predictor of host resistance to baculovirus.

The innate immune receptor MDA5 limits rotavirus infection but promotes cell death and pancreatic inflammation.

Melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (MDA5) mediates the innate immune response to viral infection. Polymorphisms in IFIH1, the gene coding for MDA5, correlate with the risk of developing type 1 diabetes (T1D). Here, we demonstrate that MDA5 is crucial for the immune response to enteric rotavirus infection, a proposed etiological agent for T1D. MDA5 variants encoded by minor IFIH1 alleles associated with lower T1D risk exhibit reduced activity against rotavirus infection. We find that MDA5 activity limits rotavirus infection not only through the induction of antiviral interferons and pro-inflammatory cytokines, but also by promoting cell death. Importantly, this MDA5-dependent antiviral response is specific to the pancreas of rotavirus-infected mice, similar to the autoimmunity associated with T1D. These findings imply that MDA5-induced cell death and inflammation in the pancreas facilitate progression to autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β-cells.

ORF73 LANA homologs of RRV and MneRV2 contain an extended RGG/RG-rich nuclear and nucleolar localization signal that interacts directly with importin β1 for non-classical nuclear import.

The latency-associated nuclear antigens (LANA) of KSHV and macaque RFHVMn, members of the RV1 rhadinovirus lineage, are closely related with conservation of complex nuclear localization signals (NLS) containing bipartite KR-rich motifs and RG-rich domains, which interact distinctly with importins α and ß1 for nuclear import via classical and non-classical pathways, respectively. RV1 LANAs are expressed in the nucleus of latently-infected cells where they inhibit replication and establish a dominant RV1 latency. Here we show that LANA homologs of macaque RRV and MneRV2 from the more distantly-related RV2 lineage, lack the KR-rich NLS, and instead have a large RG-rich NLS with multiple RG dipeptides and a conserved RGG motif. The RG-NLS interacts uniquely with importin β1, which mediates nuclear import and accumulation of RV2 LANA in the nucleolus. The alternative nuclear import and localization of RV2 LANA homologs may contribute to the dominant RV2 lytic replication phenotype.

Structural studies demonstrating a bacteriophage-like replication cycle of the eukaryote-infecting Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus-1.

A fundamental stage in viral infection is the internalization of viral genomes in host cells. Although extensively studied, the mechanisms and factors responsible for the genome internalization process remain poorly understood. Here we report our observations, derived from diverse imaging methods on genome internalization of the large dsDNA Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus-1 (PBCV-1). Our studies reveal that early infection stages of this eukaryotic-infecting virus occurs by a bacteriophage-like pathway, whereby PBCV-1 generates a hole in the host cell wall and ejects its dsDNA genome in a linear, base-pair-by-base-pair process, through a membrane tunnel generated by the fusion of the virus internal membrane with the host membrane. Furthermore, our results imply that PBCV-1 DNA condensation that occurs shortly after infection probably plays a role in genome internalization, as hypothesized for the infection of some bacteriophages. The subsequent perforation of the host photosynthetic membranes presumably enables trafficking of viral genomes towards host nuclei. Previous studies established that at late infection stages PBCV-1 generates cytoplasmic organelles, termed viral factories, where viral assembly takes place, a feature characteristic of many large dsDNA viruses that infect eukaryotic organisms. PBCV-1 thus appears to combine a bacteriophage-like mechanism during early infection stages with a eukaryotic-like infection pathway in its late replication cycle.

Interaction of 2A proteinase of human rhinovirus genetic group A with eIF4E is required for eIF4G cleavage during infection.

In enteroviruses, the inhibition of protein synthesis from capped host cell mRNA is catalyzed by the virally encoded 2A proteinase (2A(pro)), which cleaves eukaryotic initiation factors (eIF) 4GI and 4GII. Despite much investigation, the exact mechanism of 2A(pro) cleavage remains however unclear. Here, we identify the domains responsible for the eIF4E/HRV2 2A(pro) interaction using molecular modelling and describe mutations that impair this interaction and delay in vitro cleavage of eIF4G isoforms. Furthermore, we produced HRV1A viruses bearing the mutation L17R, Y32A or Y86A in the 2A(pro) sequence. All three viruses showed reduced yield and were appreciably delayed during infection in eIF4GI cleavage. Thus, we propose for genetic group A HRVs that the eIF4E/2A(pro) interaction is essential for successful viral replication. In contrast, HRV4 2A(pro) and coxsackievirus B4 2A(pro) failed to form complexes with eIF4E, suggesting that the mechanism of eIF4G isoform cleavage in these and related viruses is different.

Nuclease escape elements protect messenger RNA against cleavage by multiple viral endonucleases.

During lytic Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection, the viral endonu- clease SOX promotes widespread degradation of cytoplasmic messenger RNA (mRNA). However, select mRNAs, including the transcript encoding interleukin-6 (IL-6), escape SOX-induced cleavage. IL-6 escape is mediated through a 3' UTR RNA regulatory element that overrides the SOX targeting mechanism. Here, we reveal that this protective RNA element functions to broadly restrict cleavage by a range of homologous and non-homologous viral endonucleases. However, it does not impede cleavage by cellular endonucleases. The IL-6 protective sequence may be representative of a larger class of nuclease escape elements, as we identified a similar protective element in the GADD45B mRNA. The IL-6 and GADD45B-derived elements display similarities in their sequence, putative structure, and several associated RNA binding proteins. However, the overall composition of their ribonucleoprotein complexes appears distinct, leading to differences in the breadth of nucleases restricted. These findings highlight how RNA elements can selectively control transcript abundance in the background of widespread virus-induced mRNA degradation.

Herpes simplex virus 1 infection of T cells causes VP11/12-dependent phosphorylation and degradation of the cellular protein Dok-2.

Previous studies have shown that HSV-1 infection of lymphocytes induces the tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins that might correspond to viral or host proteins. VP11/12, a viral tegument protein, is the major HSV-induced tyrosine phosphorylated protein identified thus far. In this report, we demonstrated that the cellular adaptor proteins Dok-2 and Dok-1 are tyrosine phosphorylated upon HSV-1 infection. In addition, HSV-1 induced the selective degradation of Dok-2. Finally, we provide evidence that Dok-2 interacts with VP11/12, and that HSV-induced tyrosine phosphorylation and degradation of Dok-2 require VP11/12. Inactivation of either the Src Family Kinases binding motifs or the SHC binding motif of VP11/12 eliminated the interaction of Dok-2 with VP11/12. Elimination of the binding of Dok-2 to VP11/12 prevented Dok-2 phosphorylation and degradation. We propose that HSV-induced Dok phosphorylation and Dok-2 degradation is an immune evasion mechanism to inactivate T cells that might play an important role in HSV pathogenesis.

The Unique Microbiology and Molecular Pathogenesis of Mycoplasma genitalium.

Mycoplasma genitalium is increasingly appreciated as a common cause of sexually transmitted disease syndromes, including urethritis in men and cervicitis, endometritis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and possibly preterm birth, tubal factor infertility, and ectopic pregnancy in women. Despite these disease associations, which parallel those of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the mechanisms by which this pathogen elicits inflammation, causes cellular damage, and persists in its only natural host (humans) are unique and are not fully understood. The purpose of this review is to briefly provide a historical background on the discovery, microbiology, and recognition of M. genitalium as a pathogen, and then summarize the recent advances in our understanding of the molecular biology and pathogenesis of this unique urogenital organism. Collectively, the basic scientific discussions herein should provide a framework for understanding the clinical and epidemiological outcomes described in the accompanying articles in this supplemental issue.

The macrophage cytoskeleton acts as a contact sensor upon interaction with Entamoeba histolytica to trigger IL-1β secretion.

Entamoeba histolytica (Eh) is the causative agent of amebiasis, one of the major causes of dysentery-related morbidity worldwide. Recent studies have underlined the importance of the intercellular junction between Eh and host cells as a determinant in the pathogenesis of amebiasis. Despite the fact that direct contact and ligation between Eh surface Gal-lectin and EhCP-A5 with macrophage α5β1 integrin are absolute requirements for NLRP3 inflammasome activation and IL-1β release, many other undefined molecular events and downstream signaling occur at the interface of Eh and macrophage. In this study, we investigated the molecular events at the intercellular junction that lead to recognition of Eh through modulation of the macrophage cytoskeleton. Upon Eh contact with macrophages key cytoskeletal-associated proteins were rapidly post-translationally modified only with live Eh but not with soluble Eh proteins or fragments. Eh ligation with macrophages rapidly activated caspase-6 dependent cleavage of the cytoskeletal proteins talin, Pyk2 and paxillin and caused robust release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, IL-1β. Macrophage cytoskeletal cleavages were dependent on Eh cysteine proteinases EhCP-A1 and EhCP-A4 but not EhCP-A5 based on pharmacological blockade of Eh enzyme inhibitors and EhCP-A5 deficient parasites. These results unravel a model where the intercellular junction between macrophages and Eh form an area of highly interacting proteins that implicate the macrophage cytoskeleton as a sensor for Eh contact that leads downstream to subsequent inflammatory immune responses.

Cardiomyocyte oxidants production may signal to T. cruzi intracellular development.

Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, presents a variable clinical course, varying from asymptomatic to serious debilitating pathologies with cardiac, digestive or cardio-digestive impairment. Previous studies using two clonal T. cruzi populations, Col1.7G2 (T. cruzi I) and JG (T. cruzi II) demonstrated that there was a differential tissue distribution of these parasites during infection in BALB/c mice, with predominance of JG in the heart. To date little is known about the mechanisms that determine this tissue selection. Upon infection, host cells respond producing several factors, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), cytokines, among others. Herein and in agreement with previous data from the literature we show that JG presents a higher intracellular multiplication rate when compared to Col1.7G2. We also showed that upon infection cardiomyocytes in culture may increase the production of oxidative species and its levels are higher in cultures infected with JG, which expresses lower levels of antioxidant enzymes. Interestingly, inhibition of oxidative stress severely interferes with the intracellular multiplication rate of JG. Additionally, upon H2O2-treatment increase in intracellular Ca2+ and oxidants were observed only in JG epimastigotes. Data presented herein suggests that JG and Col1.7G2 may sense extracellular oxidants in a distinct manner, which would then interfere differently with their intracellular development in cardiomyocytes.

ChimericSeq: An open-source, user-friendly interface for analyzing NGS data to identify and characterize viral-host chimeric sequences.

Identification of viral integration sites has been important in understanding the pathogenesis and progression of diseases associated with particular viral infections. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has enabled researchers to understand the impact that viral integration has on the host, such as tumorigenesis. Current computational methods to analyze NGS data of virus-host junction sites have been limited in terms of their accessibility to a broad user base. In this study, we developed a software application (named ChimericSeq), that is the first program of its kind to offer a graphical user interface, compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems, and optimized for effectively identifying and annotating virus-host chimeric reads within NGS data. In addition, ChimericSeq's pipeline implements custom filtering to remove artifacts and detect reads with quantitative analytical reporting to provide functional significance to discovered integration sites. The improved accessibility of ChimericSeq through a GUI interface in both Windows and Mac has potential to expand NGS analytical support to a broader spectrum of the scientific community.

Host regulation of liver fibroproliferative pathology during experimental schistosomiasis via interleukin-4 receptor alpha.

Interleukin-4 receptor (IL-4Rα) is critical for the initiation of type-2 immune responses and implicated in the pathogenesis of experimental schistosomiasis. IL-4Rα mediated type-2 responses are critical for the control of pathology during acute schistosomiasis. However, type-2 responses tightly associate with fibrogranulomatous inflammation that drives host pathology during chronic schistosomiasis. To address such controversy on the role of IL-4Rα, we generated a novel inducible IL-4Rα-deficient mouse model that allows for temporal knockdown of il-4rα gene after oral administration of Tamoxifen. Interrupting IL-4Rα mediated signaling during the acute phase impaired the development of protective type-2 immune responses, leading to rapid weight loss and premature death, confirming a protective role of IL-4Rα during acute schistosomiasis. Conversely, IL-4Rα removal at the chronic phase of schistosomiasis ameliorated the pathological fibro-granulomatous pathology and reversed liver scarification without affecting the host fitness. This amelioration of the morbidity was accompanied by a reduced Th2 response and increased frequencies of FoxP3+ Tregs and CD1dhiCD5+ Bregs. Collectively, these data demonstrate that IL-4Rα mediated signaling has two opposing functions during experimental schistosomiasis depending on the stage of advancement of the disease and indicate that interrupting IL-4Rα mediated signaling is a viable therapeutic strategy to ameliorate liver fibroproliferative pathology in diseases like chronic schistosomiasis.

Host population structure impedes reversion to drug sensitivity after discontinuation of treatment.

Intense use of antibiotics for the treatment of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, Staphylococcus aureus or gonorrhea has led to rapidly increasing population levels of drug resistance. This has generally necessitated a switch to new drugs and the discontinuation of older ones, after which resistance often only declines slowly or even persists indefinitely. These long-term effects are usually ascribed to low fitness costs of resistance in absence of the drug. Here we show that structure in the host population, in particular heterogeneity in number of contacts, also plays an important role in the reversion dynamics. Host contact structure acts both during the phase of intense treatment, leading to non-random distributions of the resistant strain among the infected population, and after the discontinuation of the drug, by affecting the competition dynamics resulting in a mitigation of fitness advantages. As a consequence, we observe both a lower rate of reversion and a lower probability that reversion to sensitivity on the population level occurs after treatment is stopped. Our simulations show that the impact of heterogeneity in the host structure is maximal in the biologically most plausible parameter range, namely when fitness costs of resistance are small.

Structural analysis of P. falciparum KAHRP and PfEMP1 complexes with host erythrocyte spectrin suggests a model for cytoadherent knob protrusions.

Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1) and Knob-associated Histidine-rich Protein (KAHRP) are directly linked to malaria pathology. PfEMP1 and KAHRP cluster on protrusions (knobs) on the P. falciparum-infected erythrocyte surface and enable pathogenic cytoadherence of infected erythrocytes to the host microvasculature, leading to restricted blood flow, oxygen deprivation and damage of tissues. Here we characterize the interactions of PfEMP1 and KAHRP with host erythrocyte spectrin using biophysical, structural and computational approaches. These interactions assist knob formation and, thus, promote cytoadherence. We show that the folded core of the PfEMP1 cytosolic domain interacts broadly with erythrocyte spectrin but shows weak, residue-specific preference for domain 17 of α spectrin, which is proximal to the erythrocyte cytoskeletal junction. In contrast, a protein sequence repeat region in KAHRP preferentially associates with domains 10-14 of β spectrin, proximal to the spectrin-ankyrin complex. Structural models of PfEMP1 and KAHRP with spectrin combined with previous microscopy and protein interaction data suggest a model for knob architecture.

Fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 mediates internalization of pathogenic spotted fever rickettsiae into host endothelium.

Rickettsial infections continue to cause serious morbidity and mortality in severe human cases around the world. Host cell adhesion and invasion is an essential requisite for intracellular growth, replication, and subsequent dissemination of pathogenic rickettsiae. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans [HSPGs] facilitate the interactions between fibroblast growth factor(s) and their tyrosine kinase receptors resulting in receptor dimerization/activation and have been implicated in bacterial adhesion to target host cells. In the present study, we have investigated the contributions of fibroblast growth factor receptors [FGFRs] in rickettsial entry into the host cells. Inhibition of HSPGs by heparinase and FGFRs by AZD4547 (a selective small-molecule inhibitor) results in significant reduction in rickettsial internalization into cultured human microvascular endothelial cells (ECs), which represent the primary targets of pathogenic rickettsiae during human infections. Administration of AZD4547 during R. conorii infection in a murine model of endothelial-target spotted fever rickettsiosis also diminishes pulmonary rickettsial burden in comparison to mock-treated controls. Silencing of FGFR1 expression using a small interfering RNA also leads to similar inhibition of R. rickettsii invasion into ECs. Consistent with these findings, R. rickettsii infection of ECs also results in phosphorylation of tyrosine 653/654, suggesting activation of FGFR1. Using isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation [iTRAQ]-based proteomics approach, we further demonstrate association of β-peptide of rickettsial outer membrane protein OmpA with FGFR1. Mechanistically, FGFR1 binds to caveolin-1 and mediates bacterial entry via caveolin-1 dependent endocytosis. Together, these results identify host cell FGFR1 and rickettsial OmpA as another novel receptor-ligand pair contributing to the internalization of pathogenic rickettsiae into host endothelial cells and the potential application of FGFR-inhibitor drugs as adjunct therapeutics against spotted fever rickettsioses.

Characterization of novel bangle lectin from Photorhabdus asymbiotica with dual sugar-binding specificity and its effect on host immunity.

Photorhabdus asymbiotica is one of the three recognized species of the Photorhabdus genus, which consists of gram-negative bioluminescent bacteria belonging to the family Morganellaceae. These bacteria live in a symbiotic relationship with nematodes from the genus Heterorhabditis, together forming a complex that is highly pathogenic for insects. Unlike other Photorhabdus species, which are strictly entomopathogenic, P. asymbiotica is unique in its ability to act as an emerging human pathogen. Analysis of the P. asymbiotica genome identified a novel fucose-binding lectin designated PHL with a strong sequence similarity to the recently described P. luminescens lectin PLL. Recombinant PHL exhibited high affinity for fucosylated carbohydrates and the unusual disaccharide 3,6-O-Me2-Glcβ1-4(2,3-O-Me2)Rhaα-O-(p-C6H4)-OCH2CH2NH2 from Mycobacterium leprae. Based on its crystal structure, PHL forms a seven-bladed β-propeller assembling into a homo-dimer with an inter-subunit disulfide bridge. Investigating complexes with different ligands revealed the existence of two sets of binding sites per monomer-the first type prefers l-fucose and its derivatives, whereas the second type can bind d-galactose. Based on the sequence analysis, PHL could contain up to twelve binding sites per monomer. PHL was shown to interact with all types of red blood cells and insect haemocytes. Interestingly, PHL inhibited the production of reactive oxygen species induced by zymosan A in human blood and antimicrobial activity both in human blood, serum and insect haemolymph. Concurrently, PHL increased the constitutive level of oxidants in the blood and induced melanisation in haemolymph. Our results suggest that PHL might play a crucial role in the interaction of P. asymbiotica with both human and insect hosts.

Multi-functional mechanisms of immune evasion by the streptococcal complement inhibitor C5a peptidase.

The complement cascade is crucial for clearance and control of invading pathogens, and as such is a key target for pathogen mediated host modulation. C3 is the central molecule of the complement cascade, and plays a vital role in opsonization of bacteria and recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection. Streptococcal species have evolved multiple mechanisms to disrupt complement-mediated innate immunity, among which ScpA (C5a peptidase), a C5a inactivating enzyme, is widely conserved. Here we demonstrate for the first time that pyogenic streptococcal species are capable of cleaving C3, and identify C3 and C3a as novel substrates for the streptococcal ScpA, which are functionally inactivated as a result of cleavage 7 amino acids upstream of the natural C3 convertase. Cleavage of C3a by ScpA resulted in disruption of human neutrophil activation, phagocytosis and chemotaxis, while cleavage of C3 generated abnormally-sized C3a and C3b moieties with impaired function, in particular reducing C3 deposition on the bacterial surface. Despite clear effects on human complement, expression of ScpA reduced clearance of group A streptococci in vivo in wildtype and C5 deficient mice, and promoted systemic bacterial dissemination in mice that lacked both C3 and C5, suggesting an additional complement-independent role for ScpA in streptococcal pathogenesis. ScpA was shown to mediate streptococcal adhesion to both human epithelial and endothelial cells, consistent with a role in promoting bacterial invasion within the host. Taken together, these data show that ScpA is a multi-functional virulence factor with both complement-dependent and independent roles in streptococcal pathogenesis.

The poly-proline tail of SIVmac Vpx provides gain of function for resistance to a cryptic proteasome-dependent degradation pathway.

The lentiviral accessory protein Vpx is critical for viral infection of myeloid cells and acts by hijacking CRL4(DCAF1) E3 ubiquitin ligase to induce the degradation of the host restriction factor SAMHD1. It has been observed that the sequences from HIV-2 and SIVsmm/SIVmac Vpx contain a poly-proline tail which is distinct from other SIV Vpx proteins. However, the role of this region in Vpx function is controversial. Herein, we found proteasome-dependent degradation of a Vpx mutant lacking the poly-proline tail in the nucleus in a CRL4(DCAF1) E3 ligase-independent fashion. Unlike wild-type Vpx, the poly-proline tail mutant Vpx is partly defective in enhancing viral infection in macrophages. Our findings suggest that during Vpx evolution, Vpx of the HIV-2/SIVsm/SIVmac lineage is targeted by a CRL4(DCAF1) E3 ligase-independent ubiquitination pathway, and have gained this interesting region, allowing them to maintain nuclear accumulation as part of their adaptation to host cell regulation.

CX3CR1 knockout aggravates Coxsackievirus B3-induced myocarditis.

Studies on inflammatory disorders elucidated the pivotal role of the CX3CL1/CX3CR1 axis with respect to the pathophysiology and diseases progression. Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3)-induced myocarditis is associated with severe cardiac inflammation, which may progress to heart failure. We therefore investigated the influence of CX3CR1 ablation in the model of acute myocarditis, which was induced by inoculation with 5x105 plaque forming units of CVB3 (Nancy strain) in either CX3CR1-/- or C57BL6/j (WT) mice. Seven days after infection, myocardial inflammation, remodeling, and titin expression and phosphorylation were examined by immunohistochemistry, real-time PCR and Pro-Q diamond stain. Cardiac function was assessed by tip catheter. Compared to WT CVB3 mice, CX3CR1-/- CVB3 mice exhibited enhanced left ventricular expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which was associated with an increase of immune cell infiltration/presence. This shift towards a pro-inflammatory immune response further resulted in increased cardiac fibrosis and cardiomyocyte apoptosis, which was reflected by an impaired cardiac function in CX3CR1-/- CVB3 compared to WT CVB3 mice. These findings demonstrate a cardioprotective role of CX3CR1 in CVB3-infected mice and indicate the relevance of the CX3CL1/CX3CR1 system in CVB3-induced myocarditis.