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Napoli, Italy

Porotto M.,Cornell University | Rockx B.,National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases | Yokoyama C.C.,Cornell University | Talekar A.,Cornell University | And 8 more authors.
PLoS Pathogens

In the paramyxovirus cell entry process, receptor binding triggers conformational changes in the fusion protein (F) leading to viral and cellular membrane fusion. Peptides derived from C-terminal heptad repeat (HRC) regions in F have been shown to inhibit fusion by preventing formation of the fusogenic six-helix bundle. We recently showed that the addition of a cholesterol group to HRC peptides active against Nipah virus targets these peptides to the membrane where fusion occurs, dramatically increasing their antiviral effect. In this work, we report that unlike the untagged HRC peptides, which bind to the postulated extended intermediate state bridging the viral and cell membranes, the cholesterol tagged HRC-derived peptides interact with F before the fusion peptide inserts into the target cell membrane, thus capturing an earlier stage in the F-activation process. Furthermore, we show that cholesterol tagging renders these peptides active in vivo: the cholesterol-tagged peptides cross the blood brain barrier, and effectively prevent and treat in an established animal model what would otherwise be fatal Nipah virus encephalitis. The in vivo efficacy of cholesterol-tagged peptides, and in particular their ability to penetrate the CNS, suggests that they are promising candidates for the prevention or therapy of infection by Nipah and other lethal paramyxoviruses. Source

Valentino T.,University of Naples Federico II | Palmieri D.,University of Naples Federico II | Vitiello M.,University of Naples Federico II | Simeone A.,CEINGE | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Cellular Physiology

PATZ1 is an emerging cancer-related gene coding for a POZ/AT-hook/kruppel Zinc finger transcription factor, which is lost or misexpressed in human neoplasias. Here, we investigated its role in development exploring wild-type and Patz1-knockout mice during embryogenesis. We report that the Patz1 gene is ubiquitously expressed at early stages of development and becomes more restricted at later stages, with high levels of expression in actively proliferating neuroblasts belonging to the ventricular zones of the central nervous system (CNS). The analysis of embryos in which Patz1 was disrupted revealed the presence of severe defects in the CNS and in the cardiac outflow tract, which eventually lead to a pre-mature in utero death during late gestation or soon after birth. Moreover, the Patz1-null mice showed a general growth retardation, which was consistent with the slower growth rate and the increased susceptibility to senescence of Patz1-/- mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) compared to wild-type controls. Therefore, these results indicate a critical role of PATZ1 in the control of cell growth and embryonic development. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

Cavaliere P.,University of Naples Federico II | Cavaliere P.,Institute Pasteur Paris | Pagano B.,University of Naples Federico II | Granata V.,CEINGE | And 4 more authors.
Nucleic Acids Research

Prion protein (PrP) is involved in lethal neurodegenerative diseases, and many issues remain unclear about its physio-pathological role. Quadruplex-forming nucleic acids (NAs) have been found to specifically bind to both PrP cellular and pathological isoforms. To clarify the relevance of these interactions, thermodynamic, kinetic and structural studies have been performed, using isothermal titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance and circular dichroism methodologies. Three quadruplex-forming sequences, d(TGGGGT), r(GGAGGAGGAGGA), d(GGAGGAGGAGGA), and various forms of PrP were selected for this study. Our results showed that these quadruplexes exhibit a high affinity and specificity toward PrP, with KD values within the range 62÷630 nM, and a weaker affinity toward a PrP-β oligomer, which mimics the pathological isoform. We demonstrated that the NA quadruplex architecture is the structural determinant for the recognition by both PrP isoforms. Furthermore, we spotted both PrP N-terminal and C-terminal domains as the binding regions involved in the interaction with DNA/RNAs, using several PrP truncated forms. Interestingly, a reciprocally induced structure loss was observed upon PrP-NA interaction. Our results allowed to surmise a quadruplex unwinding-activity of PrP, that may have a feedback in vivo. © 2012 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press. Source

Bucci C.,University of Salerno | Zingone F.,University of Salerno | Russo I.,University of Salerno | Morra I.,University of Salerno | And 5 more authors.
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Background & Aims: Nonceliac gluten-sensitive (NCGS) patients report intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms shortly after ingesting gluten; these symptoms disappear on gluten-free diets, although these patients have no serologic markers of celiac disease or intestinal damage. In fact, there is no evidence for mucosal or serologic modifications in those individuals. We investigated immunologic responses of duodenal mucosa samples and peripheral blood basophils, isolated from NCGS patients, after exposure to gliadin. Methods: Participants underwent a complete clinical evaluation to exclude celiac disease while on a gluten-containing diet, a skin prick test to exclude wheat allergy, and upper endoscopy (n= 119) at 2 tertiary medical centers in Italy. Patients were considered to have NCGS based on their symptoms and the current definition of the disorder. Subjects were assigned to the following groups: patients with celiac disease on gluten-free diets (n= 34), untreated patients with celiac disease (n= 35), patients with NCGS (n= 16), or controls (n= 34). Duodenal biopsy samples collected during endoscopy were incubated with gliadin peptides, and levels of inflammatory markers were assessed. Peripheral blood basophils were extracted and incubated with gliadin peptides or a mix of wheat proteins; activation was assessed based on levels of CD203c, CD63, and CD45. Results: Duodenal mucosa samples collected from 69 patients with celiac disease showed markers of inflammation after incubation with gliadin. Some, but not all, markers of inflammation were detected weakly in biopsy samples from 3 controls and 3 NCGS patients ( P= .00 for all markers). There were no significant increases in the levels of CD63 and CD203c in NCGS patients. Conclusions: Unlike the duodenal mucosa from patients with celiac disease, upon incubation with gliadin, mucosa from patients with NCGS does not express markers of inflammation, and their basophils are not activated by gliadin. The in vitro gliadin challenge therefore should not be used to diagnose NCGS. © 2013 AGA Institute. Source

Lacek K.,CEINGE | Vercauteren K.,Ghent University | Grzyb K.,University of Gdansk | Naddeo M.,CEINGE | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Hepatology

Background & Aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced end-stage liver disease is currently the major indication for liver transplantation in the Western world. After transplantation, the donor liver almost inevitably becomes infected by the circulating virus and disease progression is accelerated in immune suppressed transplant patients. The current standard therapy, based on pegylated interferon and ribavirin, induces severe side effects and is often ineffective in this population. Therefore, new strategies to prevent graft re-infection are urgently needed. We have previously shown that monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against the HCV co-receptor scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI/Cla1) inhibit infection by different HCV genotypes in cell culture. Methods: Using phage display libraries, we have generated a large set of novel human mAbs against SR-BI and evaluated their effectiveness in preventing HCV infection and direct cell-to-cell spread in vitro and in vivo using uPA-SCID mice with a humanized liver. Results: Eleven human monoclonal antibodies were generated that specifically recognize SR-BI. Two antibodies, mAb8 and mAb151, displayed the highest binding and inhibitory properties and also interfered with direct cell-to-cell spread in vitro. Studies in humanized mice showed that both antibodies were capable of preventing HCV infection and could block intrahepatic spread and virus amplification when administered 3 days after infection. Interestingly, anti-SR-BI therapy was effective against an HCV variant that escaped the control of the adaptive immune response in a liver transplant patient. Conclusions: The anti-SR-BI mAbs generated in this study may represent novel therapeutic tools to prevent HCV re-infection of liver allografts. © 2012 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Source

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