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Molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum promote hepatitis C virus E2 protein production in plants

Description

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most common cancers. Therefore, vaccines against HCV are under intense study in order to prevent HCV from harming people's health. The envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV is thought to be a promising vaccine candidate because it can directly bind to a human cell receptor and plays a role in viral entry. However, the E2 protein production in cells is inefficient due to its complicated matured structure. Folding of E2 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is often error-prone, resulting in production of aggregates and misfolded proteins. These incorrect forms of E2 are not functional because they are not able to bind to human cells and stimulate antibody response to inhibit this binding. This study is aimed to overcome the difficulties of HCV E2 production in plant system. Protein folding in the ER requires great assistance from molecular chaperones. Thus, in this study, two molecular chaperones in the ER, calreticulin and calnexin, were transiently overexpressed in plant leaves in order to facilitate E2 folding and production. Both of them showed benefits in increasing the yield of E2 and improving the quality of E2. In addition, poorly folded E2 accumulated in the ER may cause stress in the ER and trigger transcriptional activation of ER molecular chaperones. Therefore, a transcription factor involved in this pathway, named bZIP60, was also overexpressed in plant leaves, aiming at up-regulating a major family of molecular chaperones called BiP to assist protein folding. However, our results showed that BiP mRNA levels were not up-regulated by bZIP60, but they increased in response to E2 expression. The Western blot analysis also showed that overexpression of bZIP60 had a small effect on promoting E2 folding. Overall, this study suggested that increasing the level of specific ER molecular chaperones was an effective way to promote HCV E2 protein production and maturation.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Improving expression vectors for recombinant protein production in plants

Description

Over the past decade, several high-value proteins have been produced using plant-based transient expression systems. However, these studies exposed some limitations that must be overcome to allow plant expression systems

Over the past decade, several high-value proteins have been produced using plant-based transient expression systems. However, these studies exposed some limitations that must be overcome to allow plant expression systems to reach their full potential. These limitations are the low level of recombinant protein accumulation achieved in some cases, and lack of efficient co-expression vectors for the production of multi-protein complexes. This study report that tobacco Extensin (Ext) gene 3' untranslated region (UTR) can be broadly used to enhance recombinant protein expression in plants. Extensin is the hydroxyproline-rich glycoprotein that constitutes the major protein component of cell walls. Using transient expression, it was found that the Ext 3' UTR increases recombinant protein expression up to 13.5- and 6-fold in non-replicating and replicating vector systems, respectively, compared to previously established terminators. Enhanced protein accumulation was correlated with increased mRNA levels associated with reduction in read-through transcription. Regions of Ext 3' UTR essential for maximum gene expression included a poly-purine sequence used as a major poly-adenylation site. Furthermore, modified bean yellow dwarf virus (BeYDV)-based vectors designed to allow co-expression of multiple recombinant genes were constructed and tested for their performance in driving transient expression in plants. Robust co-expression and assembly of heavy and light chains of the anti-Ebola virus monoclonal antibody 6D8, as well as E. coli heat-labile toxin (LT) were achieved with the modified vectors. The simultaneous co-expression of three fluoroproteins using the single replicon, triple cassette is demonstrated by confocal microscopy. In conclusion, this study provides an excellent tool for rapid, cost-effective, large-scale manufacturing of recombinant proteins for use in medicine and industry.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Cancer autoantibody biomarker discovery and validation using nucleic acid programmable protein array

Description

Currently in the US, many patients with cancer do not benefit from the population-based screening, due to challenges associated with the existing cancer screening scheme. Blood-based diagnostic assays have the

Currently in the US, many patients with cancer do not benefit from the population-based screening, due to challenges associated with the existing cancer screening scheme. Blood-based diagnostic assays have the potential to detect diseases in a non-invasive way. Proteins released from small early tumors may only be present intermittently and get diluted to tiny concentrations in the blood, making them difficult to use as biomarkers. However, they can induce autoantibody (AAb) responses, which can amplify the signal and persist in the blood even if the antigen is gone. Circulating autoantibodies is a promising class of molecules that have potential to serve as early detection biomarkers for cancers. This Ph.D thesis aims to screen for autoantibody biomarkers for the early detection of two deadly cancer, basal-like breast cancer and lung adenocarcinoma. First, a method was developed to display proteins in both native and denatured conformation on protein array. This method adopted a novel protein tag technology, called HaloTag, to covalently immobilize proteins on glass slide surface. The covalent attachment allowed these proteins to endure harsh treatment without getting dissociated from slide surface, which enabled the profiling of antibody responses against both conformational and linear epitopes. Next, a plasma screening protocol was optimized to significantly increase signal to noise ratio of protein array based AAb detection. Following this, the AAb responses in basal-like breast cancer were explored using nucleic acid programmable protein arrays (NAPPA) containing 10,000 full-length human proteins in 45 cases and 45 controls. After verification in a large sample set (145 basal-like breast cancer cases / 145 controls / 70 non-basal breast cancer) by ELISA, a 13-AAb classifier was developed to differentiate patients from controls with a sensitivity of 33% at 98% specificity. Similar approach was also applied to the lung cancer study to identify AAbs that distinguished lung cancer patients from computed-tomography positive benign pulmonary nodules (137 lung cancer cases, 127 smoker controls, 170 benign controls). In this study, two panels of AAbs were discovered that showed promising sensitivity and specificity. Six out of eight AAb targets were also found to have elevated mRNA level in lung adenocarcinoma patients using TCGA data. These projects as a whole provide novel insights on the association between AAbs and cancer, as well as general B cell antigenicity against self-proteins.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Tracking the humoral immune response in type 1 diabetes

Description

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by progressive autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Genetic, immunological and environmental factors contribute to T1D development. The focus of

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by progressive autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Genetic, immunological and environmental factors contribute to T1D development. The focus of this dissertation is to track the humoral immune response in T1D by profiling autoantibodies (AAbs) and anti-viral antibodies using an innovative protein array platform called Nucleic Acid Programmable Protein Array (NAPPA).

AAbs provide value in identifying individuals at risk, stratifying patients with different clinical courses, improving our understanding of autoimmune destructions, identifying antigens for cellular immune response and providing candidates for prevention trials in T1D. A two-stage serological AAb screening against 6,000 human proteins was performed. A dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 2 (DYRK2) was validated with 36% sensitivity at 98% specificity by an orthogonal immunoassay. This is the first systematic screening for novel AAbs against large number of human proteins by protein arrays in T1D. A more comprehensive search for novel AAbs was performed using a knowledge-based approach by ELISA and a screening-based approach against 10,000 human proteins by NAPPA. Six AAbs were identified and validated with sensitivities ranged from 16% to 27% at 95% specificity. These two studies enriched the T1D “autoantigenome” and provided insights into T1D pathophysiology in an unprecedented breadth and width.

The rapid rise of T1D incidence suggests the potential involvement of environmental factors including viral infections. Sero-reactivity to 646 viral antigens was assessed in new-onset T1D patients. Antibody positive rate of EBV was significantly higher in cases than controls that suggested a potential role of EBV in T1D development. A high density-NAPPA platform was demonstrated with high reproducibility and sensitivity in profiling anti-viral antibodies.

This dissertation shows the power of a protein-array based immunoproteomics approach to characterize humoral immunoprofile against human and viral proteomes. The identification of novel T1D-specific AAbs and T1D-associated viruses will help to connect the nodes in T1D etiology and provide better understanding of T1D pathophysiology.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Developmental plasticity: the influence of neonatal diet and immune challenges on carotenoid-based ornamental coloration and adult immune function in mallard ducks

Description

Conditions during development can shape the expression of traits at adulthood, a phenomenon called developmental plasticity. In this context, factors such as nutrition or health state during development can affect

Conditions during development can shape the expression of traits at adulthood, a phenomenon called developmental plasticity. In this context, factors such as nutrition or health state during development can affect current and subsequent physiology, body size, brain structure, ornamentation, and behavior. However, many of the links between developmental and adult phenotype are poorly understood. I performed a series of experiments using a common molecular currency - carotenoid pigments - to track somatic and reproductive investments through development and into adulthood. Carotenoids are red, orange, or yellow pigments that: (a) animals must acquire from their diets, (b) can be physiologically beneficial, acting as antioxidants or immunostimulants, and (c) color the sexually attractive features (e.g., feathers, scales) of many animals. I studied how carotenoid nutrition and immune challenges during ontogeny impacted ornamental coloration and immune function of adult male mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). Male mallards use carotenoids to pigment their yellow beak, and males with more beaks that are more yellow are preferred as mates, have increased immune function, and have higher quality sperm. In my dissertation work, I established a natural context for the role that carotenoids and body condition play in the formation of the adult phenotype and examined how early-life experiences, including immune challenges and dietary access to carotenoids, affect adult immune function and ornamental coloration. Evidence from mallard ducklings in the field showed that variation in circulating carotenoid levels at hatch are likely driven by maternal allocation of carotenoids, but that carotenoid physiology shifts during the subsequent few weeks to reflect individual foraging habits. In the lab, adult beak color expression and immune function were more tightly correlated with body condition during growth than body condition during subsequent stages of development or adulthood. Immune challenges during development affected adult immune function and interacted with carotenoid physiology during adulthood, but did not affect adult beak coloration. Dietary access to carotenoids during development, but not adulthood, also affected adult immune function. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of the developmental stage in shaping certain survival-related traits (i.e., immune function), and lead to further questions regarding the development of ornamental traits.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Frameshift antigens for cancer vaccine development

Description

Immunotherapy has been revitalized with the advent of immune checkpoint blockade

treatments, and neo-antigens are the targets of immune system in cancer patients who

respond to the treatments. The cancer vaccine field

Immunotherapy has been revitalized with the advent of immune checkpoint blockade

treatments, and neo-antigens are the targets of immune system in cancer patients who

respond to the treatments. The cancer vaccine field is focused on using neo-antigens from

unique point mutations of genomic sequence in the cancer patient for making

personalized cancer vaccines. However, we choose a different path to find frameshift

neo-antigens at the mRNA level and develop broadly effective cancer vaccines based on

frameshift antigens.

In this dissertation, I have summarized and characterized all the potential frameshift

antigens from microsatellite regions in human, dog and mouse. A list of frameshift

antigens was validated by PCR in tumor samples and the mutation rate was calculated for

one candidate – SEC62. I develop a method to screen the antibody response against

frameshift antigens in human and dog cancer patients by using frameshift peptide arrays.

Frameshift antigens selected by positive antibody response in cancer patients or by MHC

predictions show protection in different mouse tumor models. A dog version of the

cancer vaccine based on frameshift antigens was developed and tested in a small safety

trial. The results demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and it can induce strong B and T cell

immune responses. Further, I built the human exon junction frameshift database which

includes all possible frameshift antigens from mis-splicing events in exon junctions, and I

develop a method to find potential frameshift antigens from large cancer

immunosignature dataset with these databases. In addition, I test the idea of ‘early cancer

diagnosis, early treatment’ in a transgenic mouse cancer model. The results show that

ii

early treatment gives significantly better protection than late treatment and the correct

time point for treatment is crucial to give the best clinical benefit. A model for early

treatment is developed with these results.

Frameshift neo-antigens from microsatellite regions and mis-splicing events are

abundant at mRNA level and they are better antigens than neo-antigens from point

mutations in the genomic sequences of cancer patients in terms of high immunogenicity,

low probability to cause autoimmune diseases and low cost to develop a broadly effective

vaccine. This dissertation demonstrates the feasibility of using frameshift antigens for

cancer vaccine development.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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The Adjuvant Properties of RNA Origami for Immunotherapy in a CT26 Cancer Model

Description

The properties of adjuvants to stimulate an immune response to treat cancer has sparked a major area of research in the field of immunotherapy. Given the presence of multiple RNA

The properties of adjuvants to stimulate an immune response to treat cancer has sparked a major area of research in the field of immunotherapy. Given the presence of multiple RNA sensors in mammalian host cells for eliciting innate immunity, synthetic RNA nanostructures present a unique opportunity for adjuvant exploration. While RNA nanostructures are organic and biocompatible in nature than other adjuvants, they could be tailored to have desired structural stability and functional diversity for in vivo application. In this study, a rectangular RNA origami nanostructure was designed to contain double-stranded RNA motifs and possess high structural stability. Using in vitro assays, RNA origami was shown to stimulate the toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) signaling pathway, which has been reported to activate antigen presenting cells (APCs), natural killer (NK) cells, cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8) T-cells, and the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. To explore RNA origami as an adjuvant for cancer immunotherapy, intraperitoneal administration of a murine colon cancer cell line (CT26) was used as a model system to mimic peritoneal metastasis (PM), in which RNA origami was investigated for its activities in mitigating PM tumor microenvironment and improving anti-tumor immunity. Given the poor outcome of the patients with PM and urgent need for new interventions, this study aims to translate the adjuvant activities of RNA origami demonstrated in vitro into potent anti-cancer immunotherapeutics. Here, it was shown that multiple intraperitoneal injections of RNA origami could inhibit tumor growth, leading to a significant delay and/or regression of metastatic tumor growth in the peritoneum. Furthermore, tumor-free mice, after being treated with RNA origami, were also resistant to a second challenge of tumor cells, indicating the development of the adaptive anti-tumor immunity. This immunity is dependent on T-cells since nude mice succumbed to tumor growth with or without RNA origami treatment. Thus, RNA-origami can function as an adjuvant to activate the innate immunity and subsequently the adaptive anti-tumor immunity, leading to tumor regression. Conceivably, RNA origami could be explored as an immunotherapeutic agent to improve the disease outcome of patients with peritoneal metastasis and peritoneal carcinogenesis.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018