168 research outputs found

    The Involvement of IL-17A in the Murine Response to Sub-Lethal Inhalational Infection with Francisella tularensis

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    Background: Francisella tularensis is an intercellular bacterium often causing fatal disease when inhaled. Previous reports have underlined the role of cell-mediated immunity and IFNc in the host response to Francisella tularensis infection. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we provide evidence for the involvement of IL-17A in host defense to inhalational tularemia, using a mouse model of intranasal infection with the Live Vaccine Strain (LVS). We demonstrate the kinetics of IL-17A production in lavage fluids of infected lungs and identify the IL-17A-producing lymphocytes as pulmonary cd and Th17 cells. The peak of IL-17A production appears early during sub-lethal infection, it precedes the peak of immune activation and the nadir of the disease, and then subsides subsequently. Exogenous airway administration of IL-17A or of IL-23 had a limited yet consistent effect of delaying the onset of death from a lethal dose of LVS, implying that IL-17A may be involved in restraining the infection. The protective role for IL-17A was directly demonstrated by in vivo neutralization of IL-17A. Administration of anti IL-17A antibodies concomitantly to a sub-lethal airway infection with 0.16LD50 resulted in a fatal disease. Conclusion: In summary, these data characterize the involvement and underline the protective key role of the IL-17A axis in the lungs from inhalational tularemia

    Development of Functional and Molecular Correlates of Vaccine-Induced Protection for a Model Intracellular Pathogen, F. tularensis LVS

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    In contrast with common human infections for which vaccine efficacy can be evaluated directly in field studies, alternative strategies are needed to evaluate efficacy for slowly developing or sporadic diseases like tularemia. For diseases such as these caused by intracellular bacteria, serological measures of antibodies are generally not predictive. Here, we used vaccines varying in efficacy to explore development of clinically useful correlates of protection for intracellular bacteria, using Francisella tularensis as an experimental model. F. tularensis is an intracellular bacterium classified as Category A bioterrorism agent which causes tularemia. The primary vaccine candidate in the U.S., called Live Vaccine Strain (LVS), has been the subject of ongoing clinical studies; however, safety and efficacy are not well established, and LVS is not licensed by the U.S. FDA. Using a mouse model, we compared the in vivo efficacy of a panel of qualitatively different Francisella vaccine candidates, the in vitro functional activity of immune lymphocytes derived from vaccinated mice, and relative gene expression in immune lymphocytes. Integrated analyses showed that the hierarchy of protection in vivo engendered by qualitatively different vaccines was reflected by the degree of lymphocytes' in vitro activity in controlling the intramacrophage growth of Francisella. Thus, this assay may be a functional correlate. Further, the strength of protection was significantly related to the degree of up-regulation of expression of a panel of genes in cells recovered from the assay. These included IFN-γ, IL-6, IL-12Rβ2, T-bet, SOCS-1, and IL-18bp. Taken together, the results indicate that an in vitro assay that detects control of bacterial growth, and/or a selected panel of mediators, may ultimately be developed to predict the outcome of vaccine efficacy and to complement clinical trials. The overall approach may be applicable to intracellular pathogens in general

    Nasal Acai Polysaccharides Potentiate Innate Immunity to Protect against Pulmonary Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei Infections

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    Pulmonary Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei infections are highly lethal in untreated patients, and current antibiotic regimens are not always effective. Activating the innate immune system provides an alternative means of treating infection and can also complement antibiotic therapies. Several natural agonists were screened for their ability to enhance host resistance to infection, and polysaccharides derived from the Acai berry (Acai PS) were found to have potent abilities as an immunotherapeutic to treat F. tularensis and B. pseudomallei infections. In vitro, Acai PS impaired replication of Francisella in primary human macrophages co-cultured with autologous NK cells via augmentation of NK cell IFN-γ. Furthermore, Acai PS administered nasally before or after infection protected mice against type A F. tularensis aerosol challenge with survival rates up to 80%, and protection was still observed, albeit reduced, when mice were treated two days post-infection. Nasal Acai PS administration augmented intracellular expression of IFN-γ by NK cells in the lungs of F. tularensis-infected mice, and neutralization of IFN-γ ablated the protective effect of Acai PS. Likewise, nasal Acai PS treatment conferred protection against pulmonary infection with B. pseudomallei strain 1026b. Acai PS dramatically reduced the replication of B. pseudomallei in the lung and blocked bacterial dissemination to the spleen and liver. Nasal administration of Acai PS enhanced IFN-γ responses by NK and γδ T cells in the lungs, while neutralization of IFN-γ totally abrogated the protective effect of Acai PS against pulmonary B. pseudomallei infection. Collectively, these results demonstrate Acai PS is a potent innate immune agonist that can resolve F. tularensis and B. pseudomallei infections, suggesting this innate immune agonist has broad-spectrum activity against virulent intracellular pathogens

    Effective, Broad Spectrum Control of Virulent Bacterial Infections Using Cationic DNA Liposome Complexes Combined with Bacterial Antigens

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    Protection against virulent pathogens that cause acute, fatal disease is often hampered by development of microbial resistance to traditional chemotherapeutics. Further, most successful pathogens possess an array of immune evasion strategies to avoid detection and elimination by the host. Development of novel, immunomodulatory prophylaxes that target the host immune system, rather than the invading microbe, could serve as effective alternatives to traditional chemotherapies. Here we describe the development and mechanism of a novel pan-anti-bacterial prophylaxis. Using cationic liposome non-coding DNA complexes (CLDC) mixed with crude F. tularensis membrane protein fractions (MPF), we demonstrate control of virulent F. tularensis infection in vitro and in vivo. CLDC+MPF inhibited bacterial replication in primary human and murine macrophages in vitro. Control of infection in macrophages was mediated by both reactive nitrogen species (RNS) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in mouse cells, and ROS in human cells. Importantly, mice treated with CLDC+MPF 3 days prior to challenge survived lethal intranasal infection with virulent F. tularensis. Similarly to in vitro observations, in vivo protection was dependent on the presence of RNS and ROS. Lastly, CLDC+MPF was also effective at controlling infections with Yersinia pestis, Burkholderia pseudomallei and Brucella abortus. Thus, CLDC+MPF represents a novel prophylaxis to protect against multiple, highly virulent pathogens

    The Fischer 344 Rat Reflects Human Susceptibility to Francisella Pulmonary Challenge and Provides a New Platform for Virulence and Protection Studies

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    Background: The pathogenesis of Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia, has been primarily characterized in mice. However, the high degree of sensitivity of mice to bacterial challenge, especially with the human virulent strains of F. tularensis, limits this animal model for screening of defined attenuated vaccine candidates for protection studies. Methods and Findings: We analyzed the susceptibility of the Fischer 344 rat to pulmonary (intratracheal) challenge with three different subspecies (subsp) of F. tularensis that reflect different levels of virulence in humans, and characterized the bacterial replication profile in rat bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM). In contrast to the mouse, Fischer 344 rats exhibit a broader range of sensitivity to pulmonary challenge with the human virulent subsp. tularensis and holarctica. Unlike mice, Fischer rats exhibited a high degree of resistance to pulmonary challenge with LVS (an attenuated derivative o

    Generation of a Convalescent Model of Virulent Francisella tularensis Infection for Assessment of Host Requirements for Survival of Tularemia

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    Francisella tularensis is a facultative intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of tularemia. Development of novel vaccines and therapeutics for tularemia has been hampered by the lack of understanding of which immune components are required to survive infection. Defining these requirements for protection against virulent F. tularensis, such as strain SchuS4, has been difficult since experimentally infected animals typically die within 5 days after exposure to as few as 10 bacteria. Such a short mean time to death typically precludes development, and therefore assessment, of immune responses directed against virulent F. tularensis. To enable identification of the components of the immune system that are required for survival of virulent F. tularensis, we developed a convalescent model of tularemia in C57Bl/6 mice using low dose antibiotic therapy in which the host immune response is ultimately responsible for clearance of the bacterium. Using this model we demonstrate αβTCR+ cells, γδTCR+ cells, and B cells are necessary to survive primary SchuS4 infection. Analysis of mice deficient in specific soluble mediators shows that IL-12p40 and IL-12p35 are essential for survival of SchuS4 infection. We also show that IFN-γ is required for survival of SchuS4 infection since mice lacking IFN-γR succumb to disease during the course of antibiotic therapy. Finally, we found that both CD4+ and CD8+ cells are the primary producers of IFN-γand that γδTCR+ cells and NK cells make a minimal contribution toward production of this cytokine throughout infection. Together these data provide a novel model that identifies key cells and cytokines required for survival or exacerbation of infection with virulent F. tularensis and provides evidence that this model will be a useful tool for better understanding the dynamics of tularemia infection

    Evasion of IFN-γ Signaling by Francisella novicida Is Dependent upon Francisella Outer Membrane Protein C

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    Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative facultative intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of the lethal disease tularemia. An outer membrane protein (FTT0918) of F. tularensis subsp. tularensis has been identified as a virulence factor. We generated a F. novicida (F. tularensis subsp. novicida) FTN_0444 (homolog of FTT0918) fopC mutant to study the virulence-associated mechanism(s) of FTT0918.The ΔfopC strain phenotype was characterized using immunological and biochemical assays. Attenuated virulence via the pulmonary route in wildtype C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice, as well as in knockout (KO) mice, including MHC I, MHC II, and µmT (B cell deficient), but not in IFN-γ or IFN-γR KO mice was observed. Primary bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDM) prepared from C57BL/6 mice treated with rIFN-γ exhibited greater inhibition of intracellular ΔfopC than wildtype U112 strain replication; whereas, IFN-γR KO macrophages showed no IFN-γ-dependent inhibition of ΔfopC replication. Moreover, phosphorylation of STAT1 was downregulated by the wildtype strain, but not the fopC mutant, in rIFN-γ treated macrophages. Addition of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, an NOS inhibitor, led to an increase of ΔfopC replication to that seen in the BMDM unstimulated with rIFN-γ. Enzymatic screening of ΔfopC revealed aberrant acid phosphatase activity and localization. Furthermore, a greater abundance of different proteins in the culture supernatants of ΔfopC than that in the wildtype U112 strain was observed.F. novicida FopC protein facilitates evasion of IFN-γ-mediated immune defense(s) by down-regulation of STAT1 phosphorylation and nitric oxide production, thereby promoting virulence. Additionally, the FopC protein also may play a role in maintaining outer membrane stability (integrity) facilitating the activity and localization of acid phosphatases and other F. novicida cell components

    Binding Free Energy Landscape of Domain-Peptide Interactions

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    Peptide recognition domains (PRDs) are ubiquitous protein domains which mediate large numbers of protein interactions in the cell. How these PRDs are able to recognize peptide sequences in a rapid and specific manner is incompletely understood. We explore the peptide binding process of PDZ domains, a large PRD family, from an equilibrium perspective using an all-atom Monte Carlo (MC) approach. Our focus is two different PDZ domains representing two major PDZ classes, I and II. For both domains, a binding free energy surface with a strong bias toward the native bound state is found. Moreover, both domains exhibit a binding process in which the peptides are mostly either bound at the PDZ binding pocket or else interact little with the domain surface. Consistent with this, various binding observables show a temperature dependence well described by a simple two-state model. We also find important differences in the details between the two domains. While both domains exhibit well-defined binding free energy barriers, the class I barrier is significantly weaker than the one for class II. To probe this issue further, we apply our method to a PDZ domain with dual specificity for class I and II peptides, and find an analogous difference in their binding free energy barriers. Lastly, we perform a large number of fixed-temperature MC kinetics trajectories under binding conditions. These trajectories reveal significantly slower binding dynamics for the class II domain relative to class I. Our combined results are consistent with a binding mechanism in which the peptide C terminal residue binds in an initial, rate-limiting step

    Immunoproteomics Analysis of the Murine Antibody Response to Vaccination with an Improved Francisella tularensis Live Vaccine Strain (LVS)

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    Background: Francisella tularensis subspecies tularensis is the causative agent of a spectrum of diseases collectively known as tularemia. An attenuated live vaccine strain (LVS) has been shown to be efficacious in humans, but safety concerns have prevented its licensure by the FDA. Recently, F. tularensis LVS has been produced under Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP guidelines). Little is known about the immunogenicity of this new vaccine preparation in comparison with extensive studies conducted with laboratory passaged strains of LVS. Thus, the aim of the current work was to evaluate the repertoire of antibodies produced in mouse strains vaccinated with the new LVS vaccine preparation. Methodology/Principal Findings: In the current study, we used an immunoproteomics approach to examine the repertoire of antibodies induced following successful immunization of BALB/c versus unsuccessful vaccination of C57BL/6 mice with the new preparation of F. tularensis LVS. Successful vaccination of BALB/c mice elicited antibodies to nine identified proteins that were not recognized by antisera from vaccinated but unprotected C57BL/6 mice. In addition, the CGMP formulation of LVS stimulated a greater repertoire of antibodies following vaccination compared to vaccination with laboratory passaged ATCC LVS strain. A total of 15 immunoreactive proteins were identified in both studies, however, 16 immunoreactive proteins were uniquely reactive with sera from the new formulation of LVS. Conclusions/Significance: This is the first report characterising the antibody based immune response of the new formulation of LVS in the widely used murine model of tularemia. Using two mouse strains, we show that successfully vaccinated mice can be distinguished from unsuccessfully vaccinated mice based upon the repertoire of antibodies generated. This opens the door towards downselection of antigens for incorporation into tularemia subunit vaccines. In addition, this work also highlights differences in the humoral immune response to vaccination with the commonly used laboratory LVS strain and the new vaccine formulation of LVS.Peer reviewed: YesNRC publication: Ye

    Identification of Genes Contributing to the Virulence of Francisella tularensis SCHU S4 in a Mouse Intradermal Infection Model

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    Background: Francisella tularensis is a highly virulent human pathogen. The most virulent strains belong to subspecies tularensis and these strains cause a sometimes fatal disease. Despite an intense recent research effort, there is very limited information available that explains the unique features of subspecies tularensis strains that distinguish them from other F. tularensis strains and that explain their high virulence. Here we report the use of targeted mutagenesis to investigate the roles of various genes or pathways for the virulence of strain SCHU S4, the type strain of subspecies tularensis. Methodology/Principal Findings: The virulence of SCHU S4 mutants was assessed by following the outcome of infection after intradermal administration of graded doses of bacteria. By this route, the LD\u2085\u2080 of the SCHU S4 strain is one CFU. The virulence of 20 in-frame deletion mutants and 37 transposon mutants was assessed. A majority of the mutants did not show increased prolonged time to death, among them notably \u394pyrB and \u394recA. Of the remaining, mutations in six unique targets, tolC, rep, FTT0609, FTT1149c, ahpC, and hfq resulted in significantly prolonged time to death and mutations in nine targets, rplA, wbtI, iglB, iglD, purL, purF, ggt, kdtA, and glpX, led to marked attenuation with an LD\u2085\u2080 of >10\ub3 CFU. In fact, the latter seven mutants showed very marked attenuation with an LD\u2085\u2080 of 6510\u2077 CFU. Conclusions/Significance: The results demonstrate that the characterization of targeted mutants yielded important information about essential virulence determinants that will help to identify the so far little understood extreme virulence of F. tularensis subspecies tularensis.Peer reviewed: YesNRC publication: Ye
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