In most exposed individuals, hepatitis C virus (HCV) establishes a chronic infection; this long-term infection in turn contributes to the development of liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The role of antibodies directed against HCV in disease progression is poorly understood. Neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) can prevent HCV infection in vitro and in animal models. However, the effects of nAbs on an established HCV infection are unclear. We demonstrate that three broadly nAbs-AR3A, AR3B, and AR4A-delivered with adeno-associated viral vectors can confer protection against viral challenge in humanized mice. Furthermore, we provide evidence that nAbs can abrogate an ongoing HCV infection in primary hepatocyte cultures and in a human liver chimeric mouse model. These results showcase a therapeutic approach to interfere with HCV infection by exploiting a previously unappreciated need for HCV to continuously infect new hepatocytes to sustain a chronic infection.
In Staphylococcus aureus, the disease impact of chromosomally integrated prophages on virulence is well described. However, the existence of extra-chromosomal prophages, both plasmidial and episomal, remains obscure. Despite the recent explosion in bacterial and bacteriophage genomic sequencing, studies have failed to specifically focus on extra-chromosomal elements. We selectively enriched and sequenced extra-chromosomal DNA from S. aureus isolates using Roche-454 technology and uncovered evidence for the widespread distribution of multiple extra-chromosomal prophages (ExP?s) throughout both antibiotic-sensitive and -resistant strains. We completely sequenced one such element comprised of a 43.8 kbp, circular ExP? (designated ?BU01) from a vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA) strain. Assembly and annotation of ?BU01 revealed a number of putative virulence determinants encoded within a bacteriophage immune evasion cluster (IEC). Our identification of several potential ExP?s and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) also revealed numerous putative virulence factors and antibiotic resistance genes. We describe here a previously unidentified level of genetic diversity of stealth extra-chromosomal elements in S. aureus, including phages with a larger presence outside the chromosome that likely play a prominent role in pathogenesis and strain diversity driven by horizontal gene transfer (HGT).
Toxins play a major role in the pathogenesis of Bacillus anthracis by subverting the host defenses. However, besides toxins, B. anthracis expresses effector proteins, whose role in pathogenesis are yet to be investigated. Here we present that suppressor-of-variegation, enhancer-of-zeste, trithorax protein from B. anthracis (BaSET) methylates human histone H1, resulting in repression of NF-?B functions. Notably, BaSET is secreted and undergoes nuclear translocation to enhance H1 methylation in B. anthracis-infected macrophages. Compared with wild type Sterne, delayed growth kinetics and altered septum formation were observed in the BaSET knock-out (Ba?SET) bacilli. Uncontrolled BaSET expression during complementation of the BaSET gene in Ba?SET partially restored growth during stationary phase but resulted in substantially shorter bacilli throughout the growth cycle. Importantly, in contrast to Sterne, the Ba?SET B. anthracis is avirulent in a lethal murine bacteremia model of infection. Collectively, BaSET is required for repression of host transcription as well as proper B. anthracis growth, making it a potentially unique virulence determinant.
We identified an essential cell wall biosynthetic enzyme in Bacillus anthracis and an inhibitor thereof to which the organism did not spontaneously evolve measurable resistance. This work is based on the exquisite binding specificity of bacteriophage-encoded cell wall-hydrolytic lysins, which have evolved to recognize critical receptors within the bacterial cell wall. Focusing on the B. anthracis-specific PlyG lysin, we first identified its unique cell wall receptor and cognate biosynthetic pathway. Within this pathway, one biosynthetic enzyme, 2-epimerase, was required for both PlyG receptor expression and bacterial growth. The 2-epimerase was used to design a small-molecule inhibitor, epimerox. Epimerox prevented growth of several Gram-positive pathogens and rescued mice challenged with lethal doses of B. anthracis. Importantly, resistance to epimerox was not detected (<10(-11) frequency) in B. anthracis and S. aureus. These results describe the use of phage lysins to identify promising lead molecules with reduced resistance potential for antimicrobial development.
The ?-proteobacterium Helicobacter hepaticus (Hh) contains a gene coding for a hemoglobin (Hb). The protein belongs to the 2/2 Hb lineage and is representative of group III, a set of Hbs about which little is known. An expression and purification procedure was developed for Hh Hb. Electronic absorption and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra were used to characterize ligation states of the ferric and ferrous protein. The pK(a) of the acid/alkaline transition of ferric Hh Hb was 7.3, an unusually low value. NMR analysis of the cyanomet complex showed the orientation of the heme group to be reversed when compared with most group I and group II 2/2 Hbs. Ferrous Hh Hb formed a stable cyanide complex that yielded NMR spectra similar to those of the carbonmonoxy complex. All forms of Hh Hb were self-associated at NMR concentrations. Comparison was made to the related Campylobacter jejuni 2/2 Hb (Ctb), and the amino acid conservation pattern of group III was reinspected to help in the generalization of structure-function relationships.
In the absence of an exogenous ligand, the hemoglobins from the cyanobacteria Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 coordinate the heme group with two axial histidines (His46 and His70). These globins also form a covalent linkage between the heme 2-vinyl substituent and His117. The in vitro mechanism of heme attachment to His117 was examined with a combination of site-directed mutagenesis, NMR spectroscopy, and optical spectroscopy. The results supported an electrophilic addition with vinyl protonation being the rate-determining step. Replacement of His117 with a cysteine demonstrated that the reaction could occur with an alternative nucleophile. His46 (distal histidine) was implicated in the specificity of the reaction for the 2-vinyl group as well as protection of the protein from oxidative damage caused by exposure to exogenous H(2)O(2).
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