Matching Items (10)

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Pathogenic peptides to enhance treatment of glioblastoma: evaluation of RVG-29 from rabies virus and chlorotoxin from scorpion venom

Description

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly invasive and deadly late stage tumor that develops from abnormal astrocytes in the brain. With few improvements in treatment over many decades, median patient survival

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly invasive and deadly late stage tumor that develops from abnormal astrocytes in the brain. With few improvements in treatment over many decades, median patient survival is only 15 months and the 5-year survival rate hovers at 6%. Numerous challenges are encountered in the development of treatments for GBM. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) serves as a primary obstacle due to its innate ability to prevent unwanted molecules, such as most chemotherapeutics, from entering the brain tissue and reaching malignant cells. The GBM cells themselves serve as a second obstacle, having a high level of genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity. This characteristic improves the probability of a population of cells to have resistance to treatment, which ensures the survival of the tumor. Here, the development and testing of two different modes of therapy for treating GBM is described. These therapeutics were enhanced by pathogenic peptides known to improve entry into brain tissue or to bind GBM cells to overcome the BBB and/or tumor cell heterogeneity. The first therapeutic utilizes a small peptide, RVG-29, derived from the rabies virus glycoprotein to improve brain-specific delivery of nanoparticles encapsulated with a small molecule payload. RVG-29-targeted nanoparticles were observed to reach the brain of healthy mice in higher concentrations 2 hours following intravenous injection compared to control particles. However, targeted camptothecin-loaded nanoparticles were not capable of producing significant treatment benefits compared to non-targeted particles in an orthotopic mouse model of GBM. Peptide degradation following injection was shown to be a likely cause for reduced treatment benefit. The second therapeutic utilizes chlorotoxin, a non-toxic 36-amino acid peptide found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion, expressed as a fusion to antibody fragments to enhance T cell recognition and killing of GBM. This candidate biologic, known as anti-CD3/chlorotoxin (ACDClx) is expressed as an insoluble protein in Nicotiana benthamiana and Escherichia coli and must be purified in denaturing and reducing conditions prior to being refolded. ACDClx was shown to selectively activate T cells only in the presence of GBM cells, providing evidence that further preclinical development of ACDClx as a GBM immunotherapy is warranted.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Rapid and cost-effective virus detection methods using molecular sensors and nano-devices

Description

Accurate virus detection is important for diagnosis in a timely manner to facilitate rapid interventions and treatments. RNA viruses affect an extensive amount of the world’s population, particularly in tropical

Accurate virus detection is important for diagnosis in a timely manner to facilitate rapid interventions and treatments. RNA viruses affect an extensive amount of the world’s population, particularly in tropical countries where emerging infectious agents often arise. Current diagnostic methods have three main problems: they are time consuming, typically not field-portable, and expensive. My research goal is to develop rapid, field-portable and cost sensitive diagnostic methods for RNA viruses. Herein, two different approaches to detect RNA viruses were proposed: Conjugated gold nanoparticles for detection of viral particles or virus-specific antibodies by monitoring changes in their optical properties, and Tentacle Probes coupled with qPCR for detection and differentiation of closely-related viral strains. The first approach was divided into two projects: the study and characterization of the gold nanoparticle-antibody system for detection of virus particles using dynamic light scattering (DLS) and UV-Vis spectrophotometry, and development of a detection method for antibodies using static light scattering (SLS) and antigen-conjugated gold nanoparticles. Bovine serum albumin (BSA) conjugated gold nanoparticles could successfully detect BSA-specific antibodies in vitro, and protein E from Dengue Virus serotype 2 conjugated gold nanoparticles could detect Dengue-specific antibodies, both in vitro and in serum samples. This method is more accurate than currently used detection methods such as dot blots. The second approach uses Tentacle Probes, which are modified molecular beacons, to detect with high specificity two different strains of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV), Armstrong and Clone-13, which differ in only one nucleotide at the target sequence. We successfully designed and use Tentacle Probes for detection of both strains of LCMV, in vitro and in serum from infected mice. Moreover, detection of as little as 10% of Clone-13 strain was possible when diluted in 90% Armstrong strain. This approach enables the detection of different strains of virus even within a mixed quasispecies and may be important for improving intervention strategies for reducing disease. The detection methods provide rapid detection of viruses, including viral strains within mixed populations, and should enhance our ability in providing early responses to emerging infectious diseases due to RNA viruses including Zika or Dengue virus.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Mathematical and computational models of cancer and the immune system

Description

The immune system plays a dual role during neoplastic progression. It can suppress tumor growth by eliminating cancer cells, and also promote neoplastic expansion by either selecting for tumor cells

The immune system plays a dual role during neoplastic progression. It can suppress tumor growth by eliminating cancer cells, and also promote neoplastic expansion by either selecting for tumor cells that are fitter to survive in an immunocompetent host or by establishing the right conditions within the tumor microenvironment. First, I present a model to study the dynamics of subclonal evolution of cancer. I model selection through time as an epistatic process. That is, the fitness change in a given cell is not simply additive, but depends on previous mutations. Simulation studies indicate that tumors are composed of myriads of small subclones at the time of diagnosis. Because some of these rare subclones harbor pre-existing treatment-resistant mutations, they present a major challenge to precision medicine. Second, I study the question of self and non-self discrimination by the immune system, which is fundamental in the field in cancer immunology. By performing a quantitative analysis of the biochemical properties of thousands of MHC class I peptides, I find that hydrophobicity of T cell receptors contact residues is a hallmark of immunogenic epitopes. Based on these findings, I further develop a computational model to predict immunogenic epitopes which facilitate the development of T cell vaccines against pathogen and tumor antigens. Lastly, I study the effect of early detection in the context of Ebola. I develope a simple mathematical model calibrated to the transmission dynamics of Ebola virus in West Africa. My findings suggest that a strategy that focuses on early diagnosis of high-risk individuals, caregivers, and health-care workers at the pre-symptomatic stage, when combined with public health measures to improve the speed and efficacy of isolation of infectious individuals, can lead to rapid reductions in Ebola transmission.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Ion flux regulates inflammasome signaling

Description

The NLR family, pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome is essential for the innate immune response to danger signals. Importantly, the NLRP3 inflammasome responds to structurally and functionally dissimilar stimuli. It

The NLR family, pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome is essential for the innate immune response to danger signals. Importantly, the NLRP3 inflammasome responds to structurally and functionally dissimilar stimuli. It is currently unknown how the NLRP3 inflammasome responds to such diverse triggers. This dissertation investigates the role of ion flux in regulating the NLRP3 inflammasome. Project 1 explores the relationship between potassium efflux and Syk tyrosine kinase. The results reveal that Syk activity is upstream of mitochondrial oxidative signaling and is crucial for inflammasome assembly, pro-inflammatory cytokine processing, and caspase-1-dependent pyroptotic cell death. Dynamic potassium imaging and molecular analysis revealed that Syk is downstream of, and regulated by, potassium efflux. Project 1 reveals the first identified intermediate regulator of inflammasome activity regulated by potassium efflux. Project 2 focuses on P2X7 purinergic receptor-dependent ion flux in regulating the inflammasome. Dynamic potassium imaging revealed an ATP dose-dependent efflux of potassium driven by P2X7. Surprisingly, ATP induced mitochondrial potassium mobilization, suggesting a mitochondrial detection of purinergic ion flux. ATP-induced potassium and calcium flux was found to regulate mitochondrial oxidative signaling upstream of inflammasome assembly. First-ever multiplexed imaging of potassium and calcium dynamics revealed that potassium efflux is necessary for calcium influx. These results suggest that ATP-induced potassium efflux regulates the inflammasome by calcium influx-dependent mitochondrial oxidative signaling. Project 2 defines a coordinated cation flux dependent on the efflux of potassium and upstream of mitochondrial oxidative signaling in inflammasome regulation. Lastly, this dissertation contributes two methods that will be useful for investigating inflammasome biology: an optimized pipeline for single cell transcriptional analysis, and a mouse macrophage cell line expressing a genetically encoded intracellular ATP sensor. This dissertation contributes to understanding the fundamental role of ion flux in regulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and identifies potassium flux and Syk as potential targets to modulate inflammation.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Searching for an HIV vaccine: a heterologous prime-boost system using replicating vaccinia virus and plant-produced virus-like particles

Description

The HIV-1 pandemic continues to cause millions of new infections and AIDS-related deaths each year, and a majority of these occur in regions of the world with limited access to

The HIV-1 pandemic continues to cause millions of new infections and AIDS-related deaths each year, and a majority of these occur in regions of the world with limited access to antiretroviral therapy. Therefore, an HIV-1 vaccine is still desperately needed. The most successful HIV-1 clinical trial to date used a non-replicating canarypox viral vector and protein boosting, yet its modest efficacy left room for improvement. Efforts to derive novel vectors which can be both safe and immunogenic, have spawned a new era of live, viral vectors. One such vaccinia virus vector, NYVAC-KC, was specifically designed to replicate in humans and had several immune modulators deleted to improve immunogenicity and reduce pathogenicity. Two NYVAC-KC vectors were generated: one expressing the Gag capsid, and one with deconstructed-gp41 (dgp41), which contains an important neutralizing antibody target, the membrane proximal external region (MPER). These vectors were combined with HIV-1 Gag/dgp41 virus-like particles (VLPs) produced in the tobacco-relative Nicotiana benthamiana. Different plant expression vectors were compared in an effort to improve yield. A Geminivirus-based vector was shown to increase the amount of MPER present in VLPs, thus potentially enhancing immunogenicity. Furthermore, these VLPs were shown to interact with the innate immune system through Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling, which activated antigen presenting cells to induce a Th2-biased response in a TLR-dependent manner. Furthermore, expression of Gag and dgp41 in NYVAC-KC vectors resulted in activation of antiviral signaling pathways reliant on TBK1/IRF3, which necessitated the use of higher doses in mice to match the immunogenicity of wild-type viral vectors. VLPs and NYVAC-KC vectors were tested in mice, ultimately showing that the best antibody and Gag-specific T cell responses were generated when both components were administered simultaneously. Thus, plant-produced VLPs and poxvirus vectors represent a highly immunogenic HIV-1 vaccine candidate that warrants further study.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Ketogenic Therapy as an Adjuvant for Malignant Glioma: Impacts on Anti-Tumor Immunity

Description

Malignant brain tumors are devastating despite aggressive treatments such as surgical resection, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The average life expectancy of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma is approximately 15 months.

Malignant brain tumors are devastating despite aggressive treatments such as surgical resection, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The average life expectancy of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma is approximately 15 months. One novel therapeutic strategy involves using a ketogenic diet (KD) which increases circulating ketones and reduces circulating glucose. While the preclinical work has shown that the KD increases survival, enhances radiation and alters several pathways in malignant gliomas, its impact on the anti-tumor immune response has yet to be examined. This dissertation demonstrates that mice fed the KD had increased tumor-reactive innate and adaptive immune responses, including increased cytokine production and cytolysis via tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells. Additionally, we saw that mice maintained on the KD had increased CD4 infiltration, while T regulatory cell numbers stayed consistent. Lastly, mice fed the KD had a significant reduction in immune inhibitory receptor expression as well as decreased inhibitory ligand expression on glioma cells, namely programmed death receptor -1 (PD-1) and its ligand programmed death receptor ligand -1 (PD-L1). Further, it is demonstrated that the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) reduces expression of PD-L1 on glioma cells in vitro suggesting it may be responsible in part for immune-related changes elicited by the KD. Finally this dissertation also shows that the KD increases the expression of microRNAs predicted to target PD-L1 suggesting a potential mechanism to explain the ability of the KD to modulate immune inhibitory checkpoint pathways. Taken together these studies shed important light on the mechanisms underlying the KD and provide additional support for its use an adjuvant therapy for malignant glioma.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Expression of Recombinant Zika Virus-Like Particles in Nicotiana benthamiana

Description

Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreaks have been linked to several neurological pathologies in the developing fetus, which can progress to spontaneous abortion and microcephaly in newborns whose mothers were infected with

Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreaks have been linked to several neurological pathologies in the developing fetus, which can progress to spontaneous abortion and microcephaly in newborns whose mothers were infected with the virus during pregnancy. ZIKV has also been correlated with neurological complications in adults such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). ZIKV outbreaks often occur in low income areas with limited access to healthcare. Therefore, there is a need to create a low-cost preventative vaccine against the virus. Mature ZIKV particles contain a lipid bilayer, a positive sense single stranded RNA genome and three structural proteins: the envelope (E), membrane (M) and capsid (C) proteins. Congruently, to other members of the Flaviviridae family, ZIKV proteins are synthesized as a polyprotein precursor which needs to be processed to release the mature structural and non-structural viral proteins. Past studies have determined the ZIKV precursor protein is cleaved by a host furin protease which separates the Pr peptide and the M protein, while the host signal peptidase separates the M and E protein. Processing is important for correct folding of the E protein. In turn, the most important neutralizing antibodies upon infection are directed against epitopes of the E protein. In this work, we used a Bean Yellow Dwarf Viral vector system to transiently express, in Nicotiana benthamiana plants, a portion of the ZIKV polyprotein encoding the Pr, M and E proteins. I further demonstrate that plants can proteolytically process the polyprotein to yield the two integral membrane proteins M and E. These proteins can be shown to co-partition into a soluble membrane-particulate fraction, consistent with formation of enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs). This work provides the first step in creating a low-cost sustainable plant-based production system of ZIKV VLPs that can be explored as a potential component 0f a low-cost prophylactic vaccine against ZIKV.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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To Explode or to Implode: How Cells Decide Between Apoptosis and Necroptosis Following Viral or Chemical Stress

Description

Cell death is a powerful tool through which organisms can inhibit the spread of viruses by preventing their replication. In this work, I used viral and chemical stressors to elucidate

Cell death is a powerful tool through which organisms can inhibit the spread of viruses by preventing their replication. In this work, I used viral and chemical stressors to elucidate the mechanisms by which one anti-viral system might be activated over another, focusing on the programmable death pathway necroptosis and Protein Kinase R (PKR). PKR can detect viral dsRNA and trigger antiviral effects such as cessation of translation and induction of programmed death. Necroptosis is a rapid cellular death that can be induced via sensors such as DNA-dependent activator of IFN-regulatory factors (DAI), also known as Z-DNA-binding protein 1 (ZBP1). DAI contains a Z-form nucleic acid (ZNA) binding domain. E3, the primary vaccinia virus (VACV) interferon resistance protein, contains a similar domain in its amino terminus. We have previously reported this domain to be necessary for the inhibition of both PKR activation and DAI/ZBP1-mediated necroptosis.

Monkeypox virus is a reemerging human pathogen. Despite a partial amino-terminal deletion in its E3 homolog, it does not activate PKR. In chapter 2, I show that MPXV produces less dsRNA than VACV, which could explain how the virus avoids activating PKR.

The amino-terminus of vaccinia is associated with ZNA binding, inhibition of PKR, and inhibition of necroptosis. To determine the roles of PKR inhibition and ZNA binding in necroptosis inhibition, I characterized the VACV mutants Za(ADAR1)-E3, which binds ZNA but does not inhibit PKR, and E3:Y48A, which cannot bind ZNA. I found that while Za(ADAR1)-E3 fails to induce necroptosis, E3:Y48A does not activate PKR but does induce necroptosis. This suggests that Z-form nucleic acid binding is not necessary for vaccinia E3-mediated inhibition of PKR, nor is the inhibition of PKR sufficient for the inhibition of necroptosis.

Finally, all known ZNA-binding proteins have immune functions and home to stress granules. I asked if stress granule formation alone could lead to necroptosis. I found that in L929 cells sodium arsenite, a known inducer of stress granules, could trigger DAI-dependent necroptosis. This suggests that DAI/ZBP1 is not necessarily a sensor of viral ligands but perhaps is a sensor of stress signals brought about by infection.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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CD8 T cell immunity to viral infection: a balance between protective and pathological responses

Description

Vaccination remains one of the most effective means for preventing infectious diseases. During viral infection, activated CD8 T cells differentiate into cytotoxic effector cells that directly kill infected cells and

Vaccination remains one of the most effective means for preventing infectious diseases. During viral infection, activated CD8 T cells differentiate into cytotoxic effector cells that directly kill infected cells and produce anti-viral cytokines. Further T cell differentiation results in a population of memory CD8 T cells that have the ability to self-renew and rapidly proliferate into effector cells during secondary infections. However during persistent viral infection, T cell differentiation is disrupted due to sustained antigen stimulation resulting in a loss of T cell effector function. Despite the development of vaccines for a wide range of viral diseases, efficacious vaccines for persistent viral infections have been challenging to design. Immunization against virus T cell epitopes has been proposed as an alternative vaccination strategy for persistent viral infections, such as HIV. However, vaccines that selectively engage T cell responses can result in inappropriate immune responses that increase, rather than prevent, disease. Quantitative models of virus infection and immune response were used to investigate how virus and immune system variables influence pathogenic versus protective T cell responses generated during persistent viral infection. It was determined that an intermediate precursor frequency of virus-specific memory CD8 T cells prior to LCMV infection resulted in maximum T cell mediated pathology. Increased pathology was independent of antigen sensitivity or the diversity of TCR in the CD8 T cell response, but was dependent on CD8 T cell production of TNF and the magnitude of initial virus exposure. The threshold for exhaustion of responding CD8 T cells ultimately influences the precursor frequency that causes enhanced disease.In addition, viral infection can occur in the context of co-infection by heterologous pathogens that modulate immune responses and/or disease. Co-infection of two unrelated viruses in their natural host, Ectromelia virus (ECTV) and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection in mice, were studied. ECTV infection can be a lethal infection in mice due in part to the blockade of antiviral cytokines, including Type I Interferons (IFN-I). It was determined that ECTV/LCMV co-infection results in decreased ECTV viral load and amelioration of ECTV-induced disease, presumably due to IFN-I induction by LCMV. However, immune responses to LCMV in ECTV co-infected mice were also lower compared to mice infected with LCMV alone and biased toward effector-memory cell generation. Thus, providing evidence for bi-directional effects of viral co-infection that modulate disease and immunity. Together the results suggest heterogeneity in T cell responses during vaccination with viral vectors may be in part due to heterologous virus infection or vaccine usage and that TNF-blockade may be useful for minimizing pathology while maintaining protection during virus infection. Lastly, quantitative mathematical models of virus and T cell immunity can be useful to generate predictions regarding which molecular and cellular pathways mediate T cell protection versus pathology.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Bowties, barcodes, and DNA origami: a novel approach for paired-chain immune receptor repertoire analysis

Description

There are many biological questions that require single-cell analysis of gene sequences, including analysis of clonally distributed dimeric immunoreceptors on lymphocytes (T cells and B cells) and/or the accumulation of

There are many biological questions that require single-cell analysis of gene sequences, including analysis of clonally distributed dimeric immunoreceptors on lymphocytes (T cells and B cells) and/or the accumulation of driver/accessory mutations in polyclonal tumors. Lysis of bulk cell populations results in mixing of gene sequences, making it impossible to know which pairs of gene sequences originated from any particular cell and obfuscating analysis of rare sequences within large populations. Although current single-cell sorting technologies can be used to address some of these questions, such approaches are expensive, require specialized equipment, and lack the necessary high-throughput capacity for comprehensive analysis. Water-in-oil emulsion approaches for single cell sorting have been developed but droplet-based single-cell lysis and analysis have proven inefficient and yield high rates of false pairings. Ideally, molecular approaches for linking gene sequences from individual cells could be coupled with next-generation high-throughput sequencing to overcome these obstacles, but conventional approaches for linking gene sequences, such as by transfection with bridging oligonucleotides, result in activation of cellular nucleases that destroy the template, precluding this strategy. Recent advances in the synthesis and fabrication of modular deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) origami nanostructures have resulted in new possibilities for addressing many current and long-standing scientific and technical challenges in biology and medicine. One exciting application of DNA nanotechnology is the intracellular capture, barcode linkage, and subsequent sequence analysis of multiple messenger RNA (mRNA) targets from individual cells within heterogeneous cell populations. DNA nanostructures can be transfected into individual cells to capture and protect mRNA for specific expressed genes, and incorporation of origami-specific bowtie-barcodes into the origami nanostructure facilitates pairing and analysis of mRNA from individual cells by high-throughput next-generation sequencing. This approach is highly modular and can be adapted to virtually any two (and possibly more) gene target sequences, and therefore has a wide range of potential applications for analysis of diverse cell populations such as understanding the relationship between different immune cell populations, development of novel immunotherapeutic antibodies, or improving the diagnosis or treatment for a wide variety of cancers.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017