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College Park, MD, United States

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. Source

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. Source

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. Source

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. Source

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. Source

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