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Xerostomia and the Microbiome of the Mouth

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Is it possible to treat the mouth as a natural environment, and determine new methods to keep the microbiome in check? The need for biodiversity in health may suggest that every species carries out a specific function that is required

Is it possible to treat the mouth as a natural environment, and determine new methods to keep the microbiome in check? The need for biodiversity in health may suggest that every species carries out a specific function that is required to maintain equilibrium and homeostasis within the oral cavity. Furthermore, the relationship between the microbiome and its host is mutually beneficial because the host is providing microbes with an environment in which they can flourish and, in turn, keep their host healthy. Reviewing examples of larger scale environmental shifts could provide a window by which scientists can make hypotheses. Certain medications and healthcare treatments have been proven to cause xerostomia. This disorder is characterized by a dry mouth, and known to be associated with a change in the composition, and reduction, of saliva. Two case studies performed by Bardow et al, and Leal et al, tested and studied the relationships of certain medications and confirmed their side effects on the salivary glands [2,3]. Their results confirmed a relationship between specific medicines, and the correlating complaints of xerostomia. In addition, Vissink et al conducted case studies that helped to further identify how radiotherapy causes hyposalivation of the salivary glands [4]. Specifically patients that have been diagnosed with oral cancer, and are treated by radiotherapy, have been diagnosed with xerostomia. As stated prior, studies have shown that patients having an ecologically balanced and diverse microbiome tend to have healthier mouths. The oral cavity is like any biome, consisting of commensalism within itself and mutualism with its host. Due to the decreased salivary output, caused by xerostomia, increased parasitic bacteria build up within the oral cavity thus causing dental disease. Every human body contains a personalized microbiome that is essential to maintaining health but capable of eliciting disease. The Human Oral Microbiomics Database (HOMD) is a set of reference 16S rRNA gene sequences. These are then used to define individual human oral taxa. By conducting metagenomic experiments at the molecular and cellular level, scientists can identify and label micro species that inhabit the mouth during parasitic outbreaks or a shifting of the microbiome. Because the HOMD is incomplete, so is our ability to cure, or prevent, oral disease. The purpose of the thesis is to research what is known about xerostomia and its effects on the complex microbiome of the oral cavity. It is important that researchers determine whether this particular perspective is worth considering. In addition, the goal is to create novel experiments for treatment and prevention of dental diseases.

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2015-05

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Cloning Hepatitis B core-West Nile DIII DNA sequence into Gemini Viral Vector using Molecular Biology techniques.

Description

Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) are self-assembling structures that lack the viral genetic material. Therefore they are safer and more immunogenic than other forms of vaccines. The Hepatitis B core (HBc) VLPs are a novel mechanism through which delivery of DNA-based human

Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) are self-assembling structures that lack the viral genetic material. Therefore they are safer and more immunogenic than other forms of vaccines. The Hepatitis B core (HBc) VLPs are a novel mechanism through which delivery of DNA-based human vaccines are plausible. Production of VLPs require recombinant, rapidly replicating, plant-based systems such as the geminiviral replicon system. This project entails the cloning process of HBc-DIII fusion protein, a VLP that should form Domain III of the Envelope protein on West Nile Virus, into deconstructed geminiviral vector. The cloning process includes the HBc-DIII fusion protein DNA isolation, restriction enzyme digestion with NcoI and SacI, PCR changing the NcoI site on the HBc-DIII insert to XbaI, sequencing, ligation into geminiviral vector and transformation into an agrobacterium strain. The major impediment to the cloning process was the presence of multiple bands instead of the expected two bands while doing restriction enzyme digests. The troubleshooting process enabled speculating that due to the excess of restriction enzymes in the digestion volume, some of the DNA was not digested completely. Hence, multiple bands were observed. However, sequencing analysis and further cloning process ensured the presence of HBc-DIII insert band (approximately 800bp) in the Gemini vector. Lastly, the construct HBc-DIII in Gemini vector was ensured to be in agrobacterium for further experiments such as agro-infiltration.

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2016-05

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Evaluation of Plant-based Viral Vectors for West Nile Virus Antibody Expression Levels

Description

Plant viral vectors have previously been used to produce high expression levels of antibodies and other proteins of interest. By utilizing a transformed Agrobacterium with the vector containing the protein of interest for infiltration, viral vectors can easily reach the

Plant viral vectors have previously been used to produce high expression levels of antibodies and other proteins of interest. By utilizing a transformed Agrobacterium with the vector containing the protein of interest for infiltration, viral vectors can easily reach the plant cells making it an effective form of transient protein expression. For this project two different plant viral vectors were compared; the geminiviral vector derived from Bean yellow dwarf virus (BeYDV) and the MagnICON vector system derived from Tobacco Mosaic Virus(TMV) and Potato Virus X(PVX). E16, an antibody against West Nile virus, has previously been expressed using both systems but expression levels between the systems were not directly compared. Agrobacterium tumefaciens EHA105 cells were transformed with both systems and expression levels of E16 were quantified using ELISAs. Results showed very low expression levels of E16 using the geminiviral vector indicating a need for further investigation into the clone used as previous studies reported much higher expression levels with the system.

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2020-05

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Plant-produced Ebola immune complex as an Ebola vaccine candidate

Description

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a severe and often fatal disease in human and nonhuman primates, caused by the Ebola virus. Approximately 30 years after the first epidemic, there is no vaccine or therapeutic medication approved to counter the Ebola

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a severe and often fatal disease in human and nonhuman primates, caused by the Ebola virus. Approximately 30 years after the first epidemic, there is no vaccine or therapeutic medication approved to counter the Ebola virus. In this dissertation, a geminiviral replicon system was used to produce Ebola immune complex (EIC) in plant leaves and tested it as an Ebola vaccine. The EIC was produced in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves by fusing Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP1) to the C-terminus of heavy chain of 6D8 monoclonal antibody (mAb), which is specific to the 6D8 epitope of GP1, and co-expressing the fusion with the light chain of 6D8 mAb. EIC was purified by ammonium sulfate precipitation and protein A or protein G affinity chromatography. EIC was shown to be immunogenic in mice, but the level of antibody against Ebola virus was not sufficient to protect the mice from lethal the Ebola challenge. Hence, different adjuvants were tested in order to improve the immunogenicity of the EIC. Among several adjuvants that we used, Poly(I:C), which is a synthetic analog of double-stranded ribonucleic acid that can interact with a Toll-like receptor 3, strongly increased the efficacy of our Ebola vaccine. The mice immunized with EIC co-administered with Poly(I:C) produced high levels of neutralizing anti-Ebola IgG, and 80% of the mice were protected from the lethal Ebola virus challenge. Moreover, the EIC induced a predominant T-helper type 1 (Th1) response, whereas Poly(I:C) co-delivered with the EIC stimulated a mixed Th1/Th2 response. This result suggests that the protection against lethal Ebola challenge requires both Th1 and Th2 responses. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the plant-produced EIC co-delivered with Poly(I:C) induced strong and protective immune responses to the Ebola virus in mice. These results support plant-produced EIC as a good vaccine candidate against the Ebola virus. It should be pursued further in primate studies, and eventually in clinical trials.

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2010

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Molecular design and functional characterization portfolio of flavivirus therapeutics

Description

Flavivirus infections are emerging as significant threats to human health around the globe. Among them West Nile(WNV) and Dengue Virus (DV) are the most prevalent in causing human disease with WNV outbreaks occurring in all areas around the world and

Flavivirus infections are emerging as significant threats to human health around the globe. Among them West Nile(WNV) and Dengue Virus (DV) are the most prevalent in causing human disease with WNV outbreaks occurring in all areas around the world and DV epidemics in more than 100 countries. WNV is a neurotropic virus capable of causing meningitis and encephalitis in humans. Currently, there are no therapeutic treatments or vaccines available. The expanding epidemic of WNV demands studies that develop efficacious therapeutics and vaccines and produce them rapidly and inexpensively. In response, our lab developed a plant-derived monoclonal antibody (mAb) (pHu-E16) against DIII (WNV antigen) that is able to neutralize and prevent mice from lethal infection. However, this drug has a short window of efficacy due to pHu-E16's inability to cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) and enter the brain. Here, we constructed a bifunctional diabody, which couples the neutralizing activity of E16 and BBB penetrating activity of 8D3 mAb. We also produced a plant-derived E16 scFv-CH1-3 variant with equivalent specific binding as the full pHu-E16 mAb, but only requiring one gene construct for production. Furthermore, a WNV vaccine based on plant-derived DIII was developed showing proper folding and potentially protective immune response in mice. DV causes severe hemorrhaging diseases especially in people exposed to secondary DV infection from a heterotypic strain. It is hypothesized that sub-neutralizing cross-reactive antibodies from the first exposure aid the second infection in a process called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). ADE depends on the ability of mAb to bind Fc receptors (FcγRs), and has become a major roadblock for developing mAb-based therapeutics against DV. We aim to produce an anti-Dengue mAb (E60) in different glycoengineered plant lines that exhibit reduced/differential binding to FcγRs, therefore, reducing or eliminating ADE. We have successfully cloned the molecular constructs of E60, and expressed it in two plant lines with different glycosylation patterns. We demonstrated that both plant-derived E60 mAb glycoforms retained specific recognition and neutralization activity against DV. Overall, our study demonstrates great strives to develop efficacious therapeutics and potent vaccine candidates against Flaviviruses in plant expression systems.

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Date Created
2014

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Plant-Expressed Recombinant Universal Influenza A Vaccine Candidates

Description

Influenza is a deadly disease that poses a major threat to global health. The surface proteins of influenza A, the type most often associated with epidemics and pandemics, mutate at a very high frequency from season to season, reducing the

Influenza is a deadly disease that poses a major threat to global health. The surface proteins of influenza A, the type most often associated with epidemics and pandemics, mutate at a very high frequency from season to season, reducing the efficacy of seasonal influenza vaccines. However, certain regions of these proteins are conserved between strains of influenza A, making them attractive targets for the development of a ‘universal’ influenza vaccine. One of these highly conserved regions is the ectodomain of the influenza matrix 2 protein (M2e). Studies have shown that M2e is poorly immunogenic on its own, but when properly adjuvanted it can be used to induce protective immune responses against many strains of influenza A. In this thesis, M2e was fused to a pair experimental ‘vaccine platforms’: an antibody fusion protein designed to assemble into a recombinant immune complex (RIC) and the hepatitis B core antigen (HBc) that can assemble into virus-like particles (VLP). The two antigens were produced in Nicotiana benthamiana plants through the use of geminiviral vectors and were subsequently evaluated in mouse trials. Mice were administered three doses of either the VLP alone or a 1:1 combination of the VLP and the RIC, and recipients of both the VLP and RIC exhibited endpoint anti-M2e antibody titers that were 2 to 3 times higher than mice that received the VLP alone. While IgG2a:IgG1 ratios, which can suggest the type of immune response (TH1 vs TH2) an antigen will elicit, were higher in mice vaccinated solely with the VLP, the higher overall titers are encouraging and demonstrate a degree of interaction between the RIC and VLP vaccines. Further research is necessary to determine the optimal balance of VLP and RIC to maximize IgG2a:IGg1 ratios as well as whether such interaction would be observed through the use of a variety of diverse antigens, though the results of other studies conducted in this lab suggests that this is indeed the case. The results of this study demonstrate not only the successful development of a promising new universal influenza A vaccine, but also that co-delivering different types of recombinant vaccines could reduce the total number of vaccine doses needed to achieve a protective immune response.

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2019

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Bispecific antibodies for the treatment of co-circulating flaviviruses and antibody derivatives for diagnostics in checkpoint immunotherapy

Description

Flaviviruses (FVs) are among the most medically important arboviruses of the world with the Dengue virus (DENV) accounting for a large percentage of infections observed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Globalization, travel, and the expanding range of

Flaviviruses (FVs) are among the most medically important arboviruses of the world with the Dengue virus (DENV) accounting for a large percentage of infections observed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Globalization, travel, and the expanding range of mosquito vectors, such as Aedes aegypti, have increased the potential of infection rates and illnesses associated with FVs.

The DENV and the Zika (ZIKV) FVs frequently co-circulate and generally cause mild self-liming febrile illnesses. However, a secondary infection with a heterologous DENV serotype may lead to life threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). DHF/DSS have been linked to antibody dependent enhancement of infection (ADE), a phenomenon that occurs when antibodies (Abs) formed against an initial infection with one serotype of DENV cross-reacts but does not neutralize a heterologous DENV serotype in a secondary infection. Furthermore, Abs raised against the ZIKV have been observed to cross-react with the DENV and vice versa, which can potentially cause ADE and lead to severe DENV disease. The ZIKV can be transmitted vertically and has been linked to devastating congenital defects such as microcephaly in newborns. FDA approved treatments do not exist for DENV and ZIKV illnesses. Thus, there is a need for safe and effective treatments for these co-circulating viruses. Here, a tetravalent bispecific antibody (bsAb) targeting the ZIKV and all four serotypes of the DENV was expressed in the Nicotiana benthamiana (N. benthamiana) plant. Functional assays of the DENV/ZIKV bsAb demonstrated binding, neutralization, and a significant reduction in ADE activity against both the DENV and the ZIKV.

A single chain variable fragment (scFv) and a diabody based on an antibody directed against the immune checkpoint inhibitor PD-L1, were also expressed in N. benthamiana leaves. The smaller sizes of the scFv and diabody confers them with the ability to penetrate deeper tissues making them beneficial in diagnostics, imaging, and possibly cancer therapy. The past few decades has seen long strives in recombinant protein production in plants with significant improvements in production, safety, and efficacy. These characteristics make plants an attractive platform for the production of recombinant proteins, biologics, and therapeutics.

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2019

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Stress Granule-mediated Mechanism of the Cellular Death Pathway Necroptosis Induced Through Oxidative Stress and Viral Infection

Description

Environmental stressors can perturb cellular homeostasis. Cells activate an integrated stress response that will alleviate the effects of the ongoing stress. Stress-activated protein kinases function to phosphorylate the eukaryotic translation initiation factor, eIF2α, which results in inhibition of translation of

Environmental stressors can perturb cellular homeostasis. Cells activate an integrated stress response that will alleviate the effects of the ongoing stress. Stress-activated protein kinases function to phosphorylate the eukaryotic translation initiation factor, eIF2α, which results in inhibition of translation of house-keeping genes. Following these events, formation of cytoplasmic messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes, known as stress granules, will take place. Stress granules typically have a pro-survival function. These studies demonstrate that assembly of stress granules can also lead to necroptosis. Necroptosis is a caspase-independent, receptor-interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3)-dependent cell death pathway executed by mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) protein. Cellular stress is induced using arsenite (oxidative stress) or by infection with vaccinia virus (VACV) E3 protein Z-DNA-binding domain mutant, VACV-E3LΔ83N. In both cases, RIPK3-dependent death was observed in interferon (IFN)-primed L929 cells. This death led to phosphorylation and trimerization of MLKL, indicative of necroptosis. Necroptosis induced by oxidative stress and VACV-E3LΔ83N infection was dependent on the host Z-form nucleic acid sensor, DNA-dependent activator of IFN-regulatory factors (DAI), as it was inhibited in DAI-deficient L929 cells. Under both cellular stresses, DAI associated with RIPK3 and formed high-molecular-weight complexes, consistent with formation of the necrosomes. DAI localized into stress granules during necroptosis induced by arsenite and the mutant virus, and the necrosomes formed only in presence of stress granule assembly. The significance of stress granules for cellular stress-induced necroptosis was demonstrated using knock-out (KO) cell lines unable to form granules: T cell-restricted intracellular antigen 1 (TIA-1) KO MEF cells and Ras GTPase-activating protein-binding proteins 1 and 2 (G3BP1/2) KO U2OS cells. Necroptosis was inhibited in absence of stress granule formation as no cell death or activation of MLKL was observed in the knock-out cell lines following arsenite treatment or VACV-E3LΔ83N infection. Furthermore, wild-type VACV was able to inhibit stress granule assembly, which coincided with the virus ability to inhibit necroptosis. These studies have led to a model of Z-form nucleic acids being involved in activation of the stress granule-mediated necroptosis following induction by environmental stressors. These results have significance for understanding the etiology of human diseases and the antiviral innate immunity.

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2021

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Plant-Expressed Vaccines: Enhancing the Recombinant Immune Complex Platform to Permit Rapid Vaccine Development Against Existing and Emerging Pathogens

Description

Vaccines are one of the most effective ways of combating infectious diseases and developing vaccine platforms that can be used to produce vaccines can greatly assist in combating global public health threats. This dissertation focuses on the development and pre-clinical

Vaccines are one of the most effective ways of combating infectious diseases and developing vaccine platforms that can be used to produce vaccines can greatly assist in combating global public health threats. This dissertation focuses on the development and pre-clinical testing of vaccine platforms that are highly immunogenic, easily modifiable, economically viable to produce, and stable. These criteria are met by the recombinant immune complex (RIC) universal vaccine platform when produced in plants. The RIC platform is modeled after naturally occurring immune complexes that form when an antibody, a component of the immune system that recognizes protein structures or sequences, binds to its specific antigen, a molecule that causes an immune response. In the RIC platform, a well-characterized antibody is linked via its heavy chain, to an antigen tagged with the antibody-specific epitope. The RIC antibody binds to the epitope tags on other RIC molecules and forms highly immunogenic complexes. My research has primarily focused on the optimization of the RIC platform. First, I altered the RIC platform to enable an N-terminal antigenic fusion instead of the previous C-terminal fusion strategy. This allowed the platform to be used with antigens that require an accessible N-terminus. A mouse immunization study with a model antigen showed that the fusion location, either N-terminal or C-terminal, did not impact the immune response. Next, I studied a synergistic response that was seen upon co-delivery of RIC with virus-like particles (VLP) and showed that the synergistic response could be produced with either N-terminal or C-terminal RIC co-delivered with VLP. Since RICs are inherently insoluble due to their ability to form complexes, I also examined ways to increase RIC solubility by characterizing a panel of modified RICs and antibody-fusions. The outcome was the identification of a modified RIC that had increased solubility while retaining high immunogenicity. Finally, I modified the RIC platform to contain multiple antigenic insertion sites and explored the use of bioinformatic tools to guide the design of a broadly protective vaccine.

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2021