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Rehwinkel J.,Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS

Infection of cells with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) is controlled by restriction factors, host proteins that counteract a variety of steps in the life cycle of this lentivirus. These include SAMHD1, APOBEC3G and tetherin, which block reverse transcription, hypermutate viral DNA and prevent progeny virus release, respectively. These and other HIV-1 restriction factors are conserved and have clear orthologues in the mouse. This review summarises studies in knockout mice lacking HIV-1 restriction factors. In vivo experiments in such animals have not only validated in vitro data obtained from cultured cells, but have also revealed new findings about the biology of these proteins. Indeed, genetic ablation of HIV-1 restriction factors in the mouse has provided evidence that restriction factors control retroviruses and other viruses in vivo and has led to new insights into the mechanisms by which these proteins counteract infection. For example, in vivo experiments in knockout mice demonstrate that virus control exerted by restriction factors can shape adaptive immune responses. Moreover, the availability of animals lacking restriction factors opens the possibility to study the function of these proteins in other contexts such as autoimmunity and cancer. Further in vivo studies of more recently identified HIV-1 restriction factors in gene targeted mice are, therefore, justified. Source

Weatherall D.J.,Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics

Although the inherited hemoglobin disorders were the first genetic diseases to be explored at the molecular level, they still have important messages for the future of medical genetics. In particular, they can offer a better understanding of the evolutionary and population biology of genetic disease, the mechanisms that underlie the phenotypic diversity of monogenic disease, and how, by developing appropriate partnerships, richer countries can help low-income countries to evolve programs for the control and management of these diseases where, in many cases, they are particularly common. Copyright © 2013 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

Wright C.,Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a common, inflammatory rheumatic disease that primarily affects the axial skeleton and is associated with sacroiliitis, uveitis, and enthesitis. Unlike other autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, autoantibodies have not yet been reported to be a feature of AS. We therefore wished to determine whether plasma from patients with AS contained autoantibodies and, if so, characterize and quantify this response in comparison to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and healthy controls. Two high density nucleic acid programmable protein arrays expressing a total of 3498 proteins were screened with plasma from 25 patients with AS, 17 with RA, and 25 healthy controls. Autoantigens identified were subjected to Ingenuity Pathway Analysis to determine the patterns of signaling cascades or tissue origin. 44% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis demonstrated a broad autoantibody response, as compared with 33% of patients with RA and only 8% of healthy controls. Individuals with AS demonstrated autoantibody responses to shared autoantigens, and 60% of autoantigens identified in the AS cohort were restricted to that group. The autoantibody responses in the AS patients were targeted toward connective, skeletal, and muscular tissue, unlike those of RA patients or healthy controls. Thus, patients with AS show evidence of systemic humoral autoimmunity and multispecific autoantibody production. Nucleic acid programmable protein arrays constitute a powerful tool to study autoimmune diseases. Source

Higgs D.R.,Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine

The globin gene disorders including the thalassemias are among the most common human genetic diseases with more than 300,000 severely affected individuals born throughout the world every year. Because of the easy accessibility of purified, highly specialized, mature erythroid cells from peripheral blood, the hemoglobinopathies were among the first tractable human molecular diseases. From the 1970s onward, the analysis of the large repertoire of mutations underlying these conditions has elucidated many of the principles by which mutations occur and cause human genetic diseases. This work will summarize our current knowledge of the α-thalassemias, illustrating how detailed analysis of this group of diseases has contributed to our understanding of the general molecular mechanisms underlying many orphan and common diseases. Source

Crawford G.,Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine

Patients with the dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8) immunodeficiency syndrome suffer from recurrent viral and bacterial infections, hyper-immunoglobulin E levels, eczema, and greater susceptibility to cancer. Because natural killer T (NKT) cells have been implicated in these diseases, we asked if these cells were affected by DOCK8 deficiency. Using a mouse model, we found that DOCK8 deficiency resulted in impaired NKT cell development, principally affecting the formation and survival of long-lived, differentiated NKT cells. In the thymus, DOCK8-deficient mice lack a terminally differentiated subset of NK1.1(+) NKT cells expressing the integrin CD103, whereas in the liver, DOCK8-deficient NKT cells express reduced levels of the prosurvival factor B-cell lymphoma 2 and the integrin lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1. Although the initial NKT cell response to antigen is intact in the absence of DOCK8, their ongoing proliferative and cytokine responses are impaired. Importantly, a similar defect in NKT cell numbers was detected in DOCK8-deficient humans, highlighting the relevance of the mouse model. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that DOCK8 is required for the development and survival of mature NKT cells, consistent with the idea that DOCK8 mediates survival signals within a specialized niche. Accordingly, impaired NKT cell numbers and function are likely to contribute to the susceptibility of DOCK8-deficient patients to recurrent infections and malignant disease. Source

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