Maryland Pathogen Research Institute

College Park, MD, United States

Maryland Pathogen Research Institute

College Park, MD, United States
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Achuthan V.,University of Maryland University College | Achuthan V.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Singh K.,University of Missouri | DeStefano J.J.,University of Maryland University College | DeStefano J.J.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute
Biochemistry | Year: 2017

Reverse transcriptases (RTs) are typically assayed in vitro with 5-10 mM Mg2+, whereas the free Mg2+ concentration in cells is much lower. Artificially high Mg2+ concentrations used in vitro can misrepresent different properties of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RT, including fidelity, catalysis, pausing, and RNase H activity. Here, we analyzed nucleoside (NRTIs) and non-nucleoside RT inhibitors (NNRTIs) in primer extension assays at different concentrations of free Mg2+. At low concentrations of Mg2+, NRTIs and dideoxynucleotides (AZTTP, ddCTP, ddGTP, and 3TCTP) inhibited HIV-1 and HIV-2 RT synthesis less efficiently than they did with large amounts of Mg2+, whereas inhibition by the "translocation-defective RT inhibitor" EFdA (4'-ethynyl-2-fluoro-2'-deoxyadenosine) was unaffected by Mg2+ concentrations. Steady-state kinetic analyses revealed that the reduced level of inhibition at low Mg2+ concentrations resulted from a 3-9-fold (depending on the particular nucleotide and inhibitor) less efficient incorporation (based on kcat/Km) of these NRTIs under this condition compared to incorporation of natural dNTPs. In contrast, EFdATP was incorporated with an efficiency similar to that of its analogue dATP at low Mg2+ concentrations. Unlike NRTIs, NNRTIs (nevirapine, efavirenz, and rilviripine), were approximately 4-fold (based on IC50 values) more effective at low than at high Mg2+ concentrations. Drug-resistant HIV-1 RT mutants also displayed the Mg2+-dependent difference in susceptibility to NRTIs and NNRTIs. In summary, analyzing the efficiency of inhibitors under more physiologically relevant low-Mg2+ conditions yielded results dramatically different from those from measurements using commonly employed high-Mg2+ in vitro conditions. These results also emphasize differences in Mg2+ sensitivity between the translocation inhibitor EFdATP and other NRTIs.

Ferreira-Bravo I.A.,University of Maryland University College | Ferreira-Bravo I.A.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Cozens C.,University of Cambridge | Holliger P.,University of Cambridge | And 2 more authors.
Nucleic Acids Research | Year: 2015

Using a Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX) protocol capable of selecting xeno-nucleic acid (XNA) aptamers, a 2′-deoxy-2′-fluoroarabinonucleotide (FANA) aptamer (referred to as FA1) to HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (HIV-1 RT) was selected. FA1 bound HIV-1 RT with KD,app values in the low pM range under different ionic conditions. Comparisons to published HIV-1 RT RNA and DNA aptamers indicated that FA1 bound at least as well as these aptamers. FA1 contained a 20 nucleotide 5′ DNA sequence followed by a 57 nucleotide region of FANA nucleotides. Removal of the fourteen 5′ DNA nucleotides did not affect binding. FA1's predicted structure was composed of four stems and four loops. All stem nucleotides could be modified to G-C base pairs (14 total changes) with a small effect on binding. Eliminating or altering most loop sequences reduced or abolished tight binding. Overall, results suggested that the structure and the sequence of FA1 were important for binding. FA1 showed strong inhibition of HIV-1 RT in extension assays while no specific binding to avian myeloblastosis or Moloney murine leukemia RTs was detected. A complete DNA version of FA1 showed low binding to HIV-1 RT, emphasizing the unique properties of FANA in HIV-1 RT binding. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.

Hoover L.I.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Hoover L.I.,University of Maryland University College | Fredericksen B.L.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Fredericksen B.L.,University of Maryland University College
Viruses | Year: 2014

Although dermal fibroblasts are one of the first cell types exposed to West Nile virus (WNV) during a blood meal by an infected mosquito, little is known about WNV replication within this cell type. Here, we demonstrate that neuroinvasive, WNV-New York (WNV-NY), and nonneuroinvasive, WNV-Australia (WNV-AUS60) strains are able to infect and replicate in primary human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs). However, WNV-AUS60 replication and spread within HDFs was reduced compared to that of WNV-NY due to an interferon (IFN)-independent reduction in viral infectivity early in infection. Additionally, replication of both strains was constrained late in infection by an IFN-β-dependent reduction in particle infectivity. Overall, our data indicates that human dermal fibroblasts are capable of supporting WNV replication; however, the low infectivity of particles produced from HDFs late in infection suggests that this cell type likely plays a limited role as a viral reservoir in vivo. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Cohen H.B.,University of Maryland University College | Cohen H.B.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Cohen H.B.,EMD Serono, Inc. | Ward A.,University of Maryland University College | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Immunology | Year: 2015

The priming of macrophages with IFN-γ prior to TLR stimulation results in enhanced and prolonged inflammatory cytokine production. In this study, we demonstrate that, following TLR stimulation, macrophages upregulate the adenosine 2b receptor (A2bR) to enhance their sensitivity to immunosuppressive extracellular adenosine. This upregulation of A2bR leads to the induction of macrophages with an immunoregulatory phenotype and the downregulation of inflammation. IFN-γ priming of macrophages selectively prevents the induction of the A2bR in macrophages to mitigate sensitivity to adenosine and to prevent this regulatory transition. IFN-γ-mediated A2bR blockade leads to a prolonged production of TNF-a and IL-12 in response to TLR ligation. The pharmacologic inhibition or the genetic deletion of the A2bR results in a hyperinflammatory response to TLR ligation, similar to IFN-γ treatment of macrophages. Conversely, the overexpression of A2bR on macrophages blunts the IFN-γ effects and promotes the development of immunoregulatory macrophages. Thus, we propose a novel mechanism whereby IFN-γ contributes to host defense by desensitizing macrophages to the immunoregulatory effects of adenosine. This mechanism overcomes the transient nature of TLR activation, and prolongs the antimicrobial state of the classically activated macrophage. This study may offer promising new targets to improve the clinical outcome of inflammatory diseases in which macrophage activation is dysregulated. Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.

Stauder M.,University of Genoa | Huq A.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Pezzati E.,University of Genoa | Grim C.J.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Microbiology Reports | Year: 2012

Summary: Vibrio cholerae N-acetyl glucosamine-binding protein A (GbpA) is a chitin binding protein and a virulence factor involved in the colonization of human intestine. We investigated the distribution and genetic variations of gbpA in 488 V.cholerae strains of environmental and clinical origin, belonging to different serogroups and biotypes. We found that the gene is consistently present and highly conserved including an environmental V.cholerae-related strain of ancestral origin. The gene was also consistently expressed in a number of representative V.cholerae strains cultured in laboratory aquatic microcosms under conditions simulating those found in temperate marine environments. Functional analysis carried out on V.cholerae O1 El Tor N16961 showed that GbpA is not involved in adhesion to inorganic surfaces but promotes interaction with environmental biotic substrates (plankton and bivalve hepatopancreas cells) representing known marine reservoir or host for the bacterium. It is suggested that the ability of GbpA to colonize human intestinal cells most probably originated from its primary function in the aquatic environment. © 2012 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Madsen C.,George Mason University | Hooper I.,George Mason University | Lundberg L.,George Mason University | Shafagati N.,George Mason University | And 10 more authors.
Antiviral Research | Year: 2014

Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is classified as a Category B Select Agent and potential bioterror weapon for its severe disease course in humans and equines and its potential for aerosol transmission. There are no current FDA licensed vaccines or specific therapies against VEEV, making identification of potential therapeutic targets a priority. With this aim, our research focuses on the interactions of VEEV with host microRNA (miRNA) machinery. miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that act as master regulators of gene expression by downregulating or degrading messenger RNA, thus suppressing production of the resultant proteins. Recent publications implicate miRNA interactions in the pathogenesis of various viral diseases. To test the importance of miRNA processing for VEEV replication, cells deficient in Ago2, an important component of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and cells treated with known Ago2 inhibitors, notably acriflavine (ACF), were utilized. Both conditions caused decreased viral replication and capsid expression. ACF treatment promoted increased survival of neuronal cells over a non-treated, infected control and reduced viral titers of fully virulent VEEV as well as Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis Viruses and West Nile Virus, but not Vesicular Stomatitis Virus. ACF treatment of VEEV TC-83 infected mice resulted in increased in vivo survival, but did not affect survival or viral loads when mice were challenged with fully virulent VEEV TrD. These results suggest that inhibition of Ago2 results in decreased replication of encephalitic alphaviruses in vitro and this pathway may be an avenue to explore for future therapeutic development. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Hondorp E.R.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Hou S.C.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Hempstead A.D.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Hause L.L.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
Molecular Microbiology | Year: 2012

Summary: The Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a strict human pathogen that causes a broad spectrum of illnesses. One of the key regulators of virulence in GAS is the transcriptional activator Mga, which co-ordinates the early stages of infection. Although the targets of Mga have been well characterized, basic biochemical analyses have been limited due to difficulties in obtaining purified protein. In this study, high-level purification of soluble Mga was achieved, enabling the first detailed characterization of the protein. Fluorescence titrations coupled with filter-binding assays indicate that Mga binds cognate DNA with nanomolar affinity. Gel filtration analyses, analytical ultracentrifugation and co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that Mga forms oligomers in solution. Moreover, the ability of the protein to oligomerize in solution was found to correlate with transcriptional activation; DNA binding appears to be necessary but insufficient for full activity. Truncation analyses reveal that the uncharacterized C-terminal region of Mga, possessing similarity to phosphotransferase system EIIB proteins, plays a critical role in oligomerization and in vivo activity. Mga from a divergent serotype was found to behave similarly, suggesting that this study describes a general mechanism for Mga regulation of target virulence genes within GAS and provides insight into related regulators in other Gram-positive pathogens. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Lieberman O.J.,University of Maryland College Park | Lieberman O.J.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | Orr M.W.,University of Maryland College Park | Orr M.W.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | And 3 more authors.
ACS Chemical Biology | Year: 2014

The rise of bacterial resistance to traditional antibiotics has motivated recent efforts to identify new drug candidates that target virulence factors or their regulatory pathways. One such antivirulence target is the cyclic-di-GMP (cdiGMP) signaling pathway, which regulates biofilm formation, motility, and pathogenesis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen that utilizes cdiGMPregulated polysaccharides, including alginate and pellicle polysaccharide (PEL), to mediate virulence and antibiotic resistance. CdiGMP activates PEL and alginate biosynthesis by binding to specific receptors including PelD and Alg44. Mutations that abrogate cdiGMP binding to these receptors prevent polysaccharide production. Identification of small molecules that can inhibit cdiGMP binding to the allosteric sites on these proteins could mimic binding defective mutants and potentially reduce biofilm formation or alginate secretion. Here, we report the development of a rapid and quantitative high-throughput screen for inhibitors of protein-cdiGMP interactions based on the differential radial capillary action of ligand assay (DRaCALA). Using this approach, we identified ebselen as an inhibitor of cdiGMP binding to receptors containing an RxxD domain including PelD and diguanylate cyclases (DGC). Ebselen reduces diguanylate cyclase activity by covalently modifying cysteine residues. Ebselen oxide, the selenone analogue of ebselen, also inhibits cdiGMP binding through the same covalent mechanism. Ebselen and ebselen oxide inhibit cdiGMP regulation of biofilm formation and flagella-mediated motility in P. aeruginosa through inhibition of diguanylate cyclases. The identification of ebselen provides a proof-of-principle that a DRaCALA high-throughput screening approach can be used to identify bioactive agents that reverse regulation of cdiGMP signaling by targeting cdiGMPbinding domains. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

Lieberman O.J.,University of Maryland College Park | Lieberman O.J.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | DeStefano J.J.,University of Maryland College Park | DeStefano J.J.,Maryland Pathogen Research Institute | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Bacterial signaling networks control a wide variety of cellular processes including growth, metabolism, and pathogenesis. Bis-(3′-5′)-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (cdiGMP) is a secondary signaling nucleotide that controls cellulose synthesis, biofilm formation, motility and virulence in a wide range of Gram-negative bacterial species. CdiGMP is a dynamic molecule that forms different tertiary structures in vitro, including a trans-monomer, cis-monomer, cis-dimer and G-octaplex (G8). Although the monomer and dimer have been shown to be physiologically relevant in modulating protein activity and transcription, the biological effects of the cdiGMP G8 has not yet been described. Here, we have developed a TLC-based assay to detect radiolabeled cdiGMP G8 formation. Utilizing the radiolabeled cdiGMP G8, we have also shown a novel inhibitory interaction between the cdiGMP G8 and HIV-1 reverse transcriptase and that the cdiGMP G8 does not interact with proteins from Pseudomonas aeruginosa known to bind monomeric and dimeric cdiGMP. These results suggest that the radiolabeled cdiGMP G8 can be used to measure interactions between the cdiGMP G8 and cellular proteins, providing an avenue through which the biological significance of this molecule could be investigated. © 2013 Lieberman et al.

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