The high incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) persistence raises the question of how HCV interferes with host immune responses. Studying a single-source HCV outbreak, we identified an HCV mutation that impaired correct carboxyterminal cleavage of an immunodominant HLA-A2–restricted CD8 cell epitope that is frequently recognized by recovered patients. The mutation, a conservative HCV nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) tyrosine to phenylalanine substitution, was absent in 54 clones of the infectious source, but present in 15/21 (71%) HLA-A2–positive and in 11/24 (46%) HLA-A2–negative patients with chronic hepatitis C. In order to analyze whether the mutation affected the processing of the HLA-A2–restricted CD8 cell epitope, mutant and wild-type NS3 polypeptides were digested in vitro with 20S constitutive proteasomes and with immunoproteasomes. The presence of the mutation resulted in impaired carboxyterminal cleavage of the epitope. In order to analyze whether impaired epitope processing affected T cell priming in vivo, HLA-A2–transgenic mice were infected with vaccinia viruses encoding either wild-type or mutant HCV NS3. The mutant induced fewer epitope-specific, IFN-γ;–producing and fewer tetramer+ cells than the wild type. These data demonstrate how a conservative mutation in the flanking region of an HCV epitope impairs the induction of epitope-specific CD8+ T cells and reveal a mechanism that may contribute to viral sequence evolution in infected patients.
Ulrike Seifert, Heike Liermann, Vito Racanelli, Anne Halenius, Manfred Wiese, Heiner Wedemeyer, Thomas Ruppert, Kay Rispeter, Peter Henklein, Alice Sijts, Hartmut Hengel, Peter-M. Kloetzel, Barbara Rehermann
Hyperactivation of immune cells by bacterial products through toll-like receptors (TLRs) is thought of as a causative mechanism of septic shock pathology. Infections with Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria provide TLR2-specific agonists and are the major cause of severe sepsis. In order to intervene in TLR2-driven toxemia, we raised mAb’s against the extracellular domain of TLR2. Surface plasmon resonance analysis showed direct and specific interaction of TLR2 and immunostimulatory lipopeptide, which was blocked by T2.5 in a dose-dependent manner. Application of mAb T2.5 inhibited cell activation in experimental murine models of infection. T2.5 also antagonized TLR2-specific activation of primary human macrophages. TLR2 surface expression by murine macrophages was surprisingly weak, while both intra- and extracellular expression increased upon systemic microbial challenge. Systemic application of T2.5 upon lipopeptide challenge inhibited release of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α and prevented lethal shock-like syndrome in mice. Twenty milligrams per kilogram of T2.5 was sufficient to protect mice, and administration of 40 mg/kg of T2.5 was protective even 3 hours after the start of otherwise lethal challenge with Bacillus subtilis. These results indicate that epitope-specific binding of exogenous ligands precedes specific TLR signaling and suggest therapeutic application of a neutralizing anti-TLR2 antibody in acute infection.
Guangxun Meng, Mark Rutz, Matthias Schiemann, Jochen Metzger, Alina Grabiec, Ralf Schwandner, Peter B. Luppa, Frank Ebel, Dirk H. Busch, Stefan Bauer, Hermann Wagner, Carsten J. Kirschning
Pre–B cell colony-enhancing factor (PBEF) is a highly conserved 52-kDa protein, originally identified as a growth factor for early stage B cells. We show here that PBEF is also upregulated in neutrophils by IL-1β and functions as a novel inhibitor of apoptosis in response to a variety of inflammatory stimuli. Induction of PBEF occurs 5–10 hours after LPS exposure. Prevention of PBEF translation with an antisense oligonucleotide completely abrogates the inhibitory effects of LPS, IL-1, GM-CSF, IL-8, and TNF-α on neutrophil apoptosis. Immunoreactive PBEF is detectable in culture supernatants from LPS-stimulated neutrophils, and a recombinant PBEF fusion protein inhibits neutrophil apoptosis. PBEF is also expressed in neutrophils from critically ill patients with sepsis in whom rates of apoptosis are profoundly delayed. Expression occurs at higher levels than those seen in experimental inflammation, and a PBEF antisense oligonucleotide significantly restores the normal kinetics of apoptosis in septic polymorphonuclear neutrophils. Inhibition of apoptosis by PBEF is associated with reduced activity of caspases-8 and -3, but not caspase-9. These data identify PBEF as a novel inflammatory cytokine that plays a requisite role in the delayed neutrophil apoptosis of clinical and experimental sepsis.
Song Hui Jia, Yue Li, Jean Parodo, Andras Kapus, Lingzhi Fan, Ori D. Rotstein, John C. Marshall
TNF-α has long been regarded as a proimmune cytokine involved in antimicrobial type 1 immunity. However, the precise role of TNF-α in antimicrobial type 1 immunity remains poorly understood. We found that TNF-α–deficient (TNF–/–) mice quickly succumbed to respiratory failure following lung infection with replication-competent mycobacteria, because of apoptosis and necrosis of granuloma and lung structure. Tissue destruction was a result of an uncontrolled type 1 immune syndrome characterized by expansion of activated CD4 and CD8 T cells, increased frequency of antigen-specific T cells, and overproduction of IFN-γ and IL-12. Depletion of CD4 and CD8 T cells decreased IFN-γ levels, prevented granuloma and tissue necrosis, and prolonged the survival of TNF–/– hosts. Early reconstitution of TNF-α by gene transfer reduced the frequency of antigen-specific T cells and improved survival. TNF-α controlled type 1 immune activation at least in part by suppressing T cell proliferation, and this suppression involved both TNF receptor p55 and TNF receptor p75. Heightened type 1 immune activation also occurred in TNF–/– mice treated with dead mycobacteria, live replication-deficient mycobacteria, or mycobacterial cell wall components. Our study thus identifies TNF-α as a type 1 immunoregulatory cytokine whose primary role, different from those of other type 1 cytokines, is to keep an otherwise detrimental type 1 immune response in check.
Anna Zganiacz, Michael Santosuosso, Jun Wang, Tony Yang, Lihao Chen, Maria Anzulovic, Scott Alexander, Brigitte Gicquel, Yonghong Wan, Jonathan Bramson, Mark Inman, Zhou Xing
An antibiotic efflux gene cluster that confers resistance to chloramphenicol, trimethoprim, and ciprofloxacin has been identified in Burkholderia cenocepacia (genomovar III), an important cystic fibrosis pathogen. Five open reading frames have been identified in the cluster. There is apparently a single transcriptional unit, with llpE encoding a lipase-like protein, ceoA encoding a putative periplasmic linker protein, ceoB encoding a putative cytoplasmic membrane protein, and opcM encoding a previously described outer membrane protein. A putative LysR-type transcriptional regulatory gene, ceoR, is divergently transcribed upstream of the structural gene cluster. Experiments using radiolabeled chloramphenicol and salicylate demonstrated active efflux of both compounds in the presence of the gene cluster. Salicylate is an important siderophore produced by B. cepacia complex isolates, and both extrinsic salicylate and iron starvation appear to upregulate ceoR promoter activity, as does chloramphenicol. These results suggest that salicylate is a natural substrate for the efflux pump in B. cenocepacia and imply that the environment of low iron concentration in the cystic fibrosis lung can induce efflux-mediated resistance, even in the absence of antibiotic selective pressure.
Bindu M. Nair, K-John Cheung Jr., Adam Griffith, Jane L. Burns
Outer surface protein C (OspC) is a differentially expressed major surface lipoprotein of Borrelia burgdorferi. ospC is swiftly upregulated when spirochetes leave the Ixodes scapularis tick gut, migrate to the salivary gland, and exit the arthropod vector. Here we show that OspC strongly binds to the tick salivary gland, suggesting a role for OspC in spirochete adherence to this tissue. In vivo studies using a murine model of Lyme borreliosis showed that while OspC F(ab)2 fragments did not influence either the viability of spirochetes or ospC gene expression, they did interfere with B. burgdorferi invasion of tick salivary glands. We then generated ospC knockout spirochetes in an infectious clone of B. burgdorferi and examined them within the vector. OspC-deficient or wild-type spirochetes persisted equally within the gut of unfed ticks and multiplied during the tick engorgement; however, unlike wild-type B. burgdorferi, the mutants were unable to invade salivary glands. Salivary gland colonization of OspC-deficient spirochetes was completely restored when this mutant was complemented in trans with a plasmid harboring the wild-type ospC gene. These studies conclusively demonstrate the importance of OspC in the invasion of tick salivary glands by B. burgdorferi, a critical step in the transmission of spirochetes from the arthropod vector to the mammalian host.
Utpal Pal, Xiaofeng Yang, Manchuan Chen, Linda K. Bockenstedt, John F. Anderson, Richard A. Flavell, Michael V. Norgard, Erol Fikrig
Kaposi sarcoma–associated (KS-associated) herpesvirus (KSHV) infection is linked to the development of both KS and several lymphoproliferative diseases. In all cases, the resulting tumor cells predominantly display latent viral infection. KS tumorigenesis requires ongoing lytic viral replication as well, however, for reasons that are unclear but have been suggested to involve the production of angiogenic or mitogenic factors by lytically infected cells. Here we demonstrate that proliferating cells infected with KSHV in vitro display a marked propensity to segregate latent viral genomes, with only a variable but small subpopulation being capable of stable episome maintenance. Stable maintenance is not due to the enhanced production of viral or host trans-acting factors, but is associated with cis-acting, epigenetic changes in the viral chromosome. These results indicate that acquisition of stable KSHV latency is a multistep process that proceeds with varying degrees of efficiency in different cell types. They also suggest an additional role for lytic replication in sustaining KS tumorigenesis: namely, the recruitment of new cells to latency to replace those that have segregated the viral episome.
Adam Grundhoff, Don Ganem
Invasive aspergillosis is a severe pneumonia that is usually fatal despite currently available therapy. The disease disproportionately afflicts immunocompromised patients, indicating the critical importance of the immune status of the host in this infection, but the defense mechanisms against this pathogen remain incompletely understood. In the current study, we hypothesized that the chemokine ligand monocyte chemotactic protein-1, also designated CC chemokine ligand-2 (MCP-1/CCL2) is necessary for effective host defense against invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised hosts. We found a rapid and marked induction of MCP-1/CCL2 in the lungs of neutropenic mice with invasive aspergillosis. Neutralizing MCP-1/CCL2 resulted in twofold greater mortality and greater than threefold increase in pathogen burden in the lungs. Neutralization of MCP-1/CCL2 also resulted in reduced recruitment of NK cells to the lungs at early time points, but did not affect the number of other leukocyte effector cells in the lungs. Ab-mediated depletion of NK cells similarly resulted in impaired defenses against the infection, resulting in a greater than twofold increase in mortality and impaired clearance of the pathogen from the lungs. These data establish MCP-1/CCL2–mediated recruitment of NK cells to the lungs as a critical early host defense mechanism in invasive aspergillosis and demonstrate NK cells to be an important and previously unrecognized effector cell in this infection.
Brad E. Morrison, Stacy J. Park, Jill M. Mooney, Borna Mehrad
A protective role for antibodies has not previously been described for host defense against the pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum (Hc). Mouse mAb’s were generated from mice immunized with Hc yeast that binds the cell surface of Hc. Administration of mAb’s before Hc infection reduced fungal burden, decreased pulmonary inflammation, and prolonged survival in a murine infection model. Protection mediated by mAb’s was associated with enhanced levels of IL-4, IL-6, and IFN-γ in the lungs of infected mice. The mAb’s increased phagocytosis of yeast by J774.16 cells through a CR3-dependent process. Ingestion of mAb-opsonized Hc by J774.16 macrophage-like cells was associated with yeast cell growth inhibition and killing. The mAb’s bound to a 17-kDa antigen expressed on the surface of Hc. The antigen was identified as a histone H2B–like protein. This study establishes that mAb’s to a cell surface protein of Hc alter the intracellular fate of the fungus and mediate protection in a murine model of lethal histoplasmosis, and it suggests a new candidate antigen for vaccine development.
Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Judith N. Steenbergen, Li Shi, George S. Deepe Jr., Arturo Casadevall
Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungal pathogen that, after inhalation, can disseminate to the brain. Host alveolar macrophages (AMs) represent the first defense against the fungus. Once phagocytosed by AMs, fungal cells are killed by a concerted mechanism, involving the host-cellular response. If the cellular response is impaired, phagocytosis of the fungus may be detrimental for the host, since C. neoformans can grow within macrophages. Here, we identified a novel cryptococcal gene encoding antiphagocytic protein 1 (App1). App1 is a cryptococcal cytoplasmic protein that is secreted extracellularly and found in the serum of infected patients. App1 does not affect melanin production, capsule formation, or growth of C. neoformans. Treatment with recombinant App1 inhibited phagocytosis of fungal cells through a complement-mediated mechanism, and Δapp1 mutant is readily phagocytosed by AMs. Interestingly, the Δapp1 mutant strain showed a decreased virulence in mice deficient for complement C5 (A/Jcr), but it was hypervirulent in mice deficient for T and NK cells (Tgε26). This study identifies App1 as a novel regulator of virulence for C. neoformans, and it highlights that internalization of fungal cells by AMs increases the dissemination of C. neoformans when the host cellular response is impaired.
Chiara Luberto, Beatriz Martinez-Mariño, Daniel Taraskiewicz, Benjamin Bolaños, Pasquale Chitano, Dena L. Toffaletti, Gary M. Cox, John R. Perfect, Yusuf A. Hannun, Edward Balish, Maurizio Del Poeta
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