Trivalent inactivated flu vaccines (TIV) are currently the best means to prevent influenza infections. However, the protection provided by TIV is partial (about 50%) and it is needed to improve the efficacy of protection. Since the respiratory tract is the main site of influenza replications, a vaccine that triggers mucosal immunity in this region can potentially improve protection against this disease. Recently, PapMV nanoparticles used as an adjuvant in a formulation with TIV administered by the subcutaneous route have shown improving the immune response directed to the TIV and protection against an influenza challenge.
Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is found in multiple malignancies and exerts immunosuppressive effects that are central in protecting tumors from host T lymphocyte rejection. IDO is an enzyme involved in the catabolism of tryptophan resulting in inhibition of T lymphocyte function. While inhibition of IDO enzymatic activity results in tumor rejection, it is still unknown how we can directly target IDO expression within tumors using drugs. We have chosen to interfere with IDO expression by targeting the key-signaling event signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1). We evaluated the efficacy of fludarabine, previously described to inhibit STAT1 phosphorylation. Interestingly, fludarabine was efficient in suppressing protein expression and consequently IDO activity in two different cell lines derived from breast cancer and melanoma when IDO was activated with interferon-gamma (IFN-?) or supernatants prepared from activated T lymphocytes. However, fludarabine had no inhibitory effect on STAT1 phosphorylation. Other IFN-?-responsive genes were only marginally inhibited by fludarabine. The level of IDO transcript was unaffected by this inhibitor, suggesting the involvement of post-transcriptional control. Strikingly, we have found that the inhibition of proteasome partially protected IDO from fludarabine-induced degradation, indicating that fludarabine induces IDO degradation through a proteasome-dependent pathway. Currently used in the clinic to treat some malignancies, fludarabine has the potential for use in the treatment of human tumors through induction of IDO degradation and consequently, for the promotion of T cell-mediated anti-tumor response.
Developing new adjuvants and vaccination strategies is of paramount importance to successfully fight against many life-threatening infectious diseases and cancer. Very few adjuvants are currently authorized for human use, and these mainly stimulate a humoral response. However, specific Abs are not sufficient to confer protection against persisting infections or cancer. Therefore, development of adjuvants and immunomodulators able to enhance cell-mediated immune responses represents a major medical need. We recently showed that papaya mosaic virus nanoparticles (PapMV), self-assembled from the coat protein of a plant virus and a noncoding ssRNA molecule, are highly immunogenic in mice. PapMV can be used either as a vaccine delivery platform, through fusion of various epitopes to the coat protein or as adjuvant to enhance humoral immune responses against coadministered Ags or vaccines. However, the mechanisms that confer these immunomodulatory properties to PapMV and its ability to enhance T cell vaccines remain unknown. Using immunization studies in mice, we demonstrate in this paper that PapMV represents a novel TLR7 agonist with strong immunostimulatory properties. More importantly, pretreatment with PapMV significantly improves effector and memory CD8(+) T cell responses generated through dendritic cell vaccination increasing protection against a Listeria monocytogenes challenge.
The ever-present threat of infectious disease, e.g. influenza pandemics, and the increasing need for new and effective treatments in immunotherapy are the driving forces that motivate research into new and innovative vaccine platforms. Ideally, such platforms should trigger an efficient CTL response, be safe, and easy to manufacture. We recently developed a novel nanoparticle adjuvant comprised of papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) coat protein (CP) assembled around an RNA. The PapMV nanoparticle is an efficient vaccine platform in which the peptide antigen is fused to the C-terminus of the PapMV CP, leading to nanoparticles presenting surface-exposed epitope. The fusion stabilizes the epitope and improves its immunogenicity. We found recently that C-terminal fusions are not always efficient, depending on the nature of the peptide fused to the platform.
Nanoparticles composed of the coat protein of a plant virus (papaya mosaic virus; PapMV) and a single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) trigger a strong innate immune stimulation in the lungs of the animals a few hours following instillation. A rapid recruitment of neutrophils, monocytes/macrophages and lymphocytes follows. This treatment was able to provide protection to an influenza challenge that lasts at least 5 days. Protection could be recalled for longer periods by repeating the instillations once per week for more than 10 weeks. The treatment also conferred protection to a lethal challenge with Streptococcus pneumoniae--the major cause of bacterial pneumonia. Finally, we also showed that the nanoparticles could be used to treat mice infected with influenza and significantly decrease morbidity. These data strengthen the potential for using PapMV nanoparticles as non-specific inducers of the innate immune response in lungs during viral pandemics or to combat bioterrorist attack.
The USA 2004 influenza virus outbreak H3N8 in dogs heralded the emergence of a new disease in this species. A new inactivated H3N8 vaccine was developed to control the spread of the disease but, as in humans and swine, it is anticipated that the virus will mutate shift and drift in the dog population. Therefore, there is a need for a vaccine that can trigger a broad protection to prevent the spread of the virus and the emergence of new strains.
The immune system must be under tight control to avoid undesired responses. The enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) can exert necessary regulating effects by catabolizing tryptophan, leading to the suppression of immune responses in different settings, such as pregnancy and tumor growth. IDOs immuno-suppressive actions are mediated by tryptophan starvation and the accumulation of toxic tryptophan metabolites, resulting in T cell anergy, inhibition of clonal expansion or apoptosis. IDO activity in human macrophages and dendritic cells has been observed after interaction with T lymphocytes, and is triggered by interferon-gamma (IFN-?) as well as CD40-ligand (CD40L). However, it is unclear whether IDO activity is present in B lymphocytes, which have been identified as having suppressive properties involved in anti-tumor immunity inhibition. In this study, we investigated whether IDO expression is induced in human B cells after exposure to T lymphocyte stimuli and TLR ligands. We report IDO1 and IDO2 mRNA up-regulation by exogenous stimulation with CD40L and IFN-?. IDO is also upregulated by imiquimod, a TLR 7/8 agonist. In addition, IDO protein is detected after treatment with these exogenous factors or with supernatant from activated CD4(+) T cells. We, however, report weak or absent enzymatic activity from these IDO-expressing cells, as assessed by tryptophan consumption. We conclude that IDO may not be a counter-regulatory mechanism utilized by B lymphocytes to down-regulate immune responses, although its expression is inducible.
Commercial seasonal flu vaccines induce production of antibodies directed mostly towards hemaglutinin (HA). Because HA changes rapidly in the circulating virus, the protection remains partial. Several conserved viral proteins, e.g., nucleocapsid (NP) and matrix proteins (M1), are present in the vaccine, but are not immunogenic. To improve the protection provided by these vaccines, we used nanoparticles made of the coat protein of a plant virus (papaya mosaic virus; PapMV) as an adjuvant. Immunization of mice and ferrets with the adjuvanted formulation increased the magnitude and breadth of the humoral response to NP and to highly conserved regions of HA. They also triggered a cellular mediated immune response to NP and M1, and long-lasting protection in animals challenged with a heterosubtypic influenza strain (WSN/33). Thus, seasonal flu vaccine adjuvanted with PapMV nanoparticles can induce universal protection to influenza, which is a major advancement when facing a pandemic.
The Core protein of hepatitis C virus is involved in several interactions other than the encapsidation of viral RNA. We recently proposed that this is related to the fact that the N-terminal half of this protein (C82) is an intrinsically unstructured protein (IUP) domain. IUP domains can adopt a secondary structure when they are interacting with another molecule, such as a nucleic acid or a protein. It is also possible to mimic these conditions by modifying the environment of the protein. We investigated the propensity of this protein to fold as a function of salt concentration, detergent, pH, and 2,2,2-trifluoro-ethanol (TFE); only the addition of TFE resulted in a structural change. The effect of TFE addition was studied by circular dichroism, structural, and dynamic data obtained by NMR. The data indicate that C82 can adopt an alpha-helical structure; this conformation is likely relevant to one of the functional roles of the HCV Core protein.
Chimeric VLPs made of papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) trigger a CTL response through antigenic presentation of epitopes on MHC class I. Here, a chimeric VLP composed of malva mosaic virus (MaMV) was shown to share similar properties. We demonstrated the capacity of both VLPs to enter human APCs. The chimeric constructions were cross-presented in CD40-activated B lymphocytes leading to in vitro expansion of antigen-specific T lymphocytes. We showed that high concentrations of chimeric MaMV induced cell death, suggesting that some modifications can trigger collateral effects in vitro. Results suggest that potexvirus VLPs are an attractive vaccine platform for inducing a CTL response.
Hepatitis C virus core protein is the viral nucleocapsid of hepatitis C virus. Interaction of core with cellular membranes like endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lipid droplets (LD) appears to be involved in viral assembly. However, how these interactions with different cellular membranes are regulated is not well understood. In this study, we investigated how palmitoylation, a post-translational protein modification, can modulate the targeting of core to cellular membranes. We show that core is palmitoylated at cysteine 172, which is adjacent to the transmembrane domain at the C-terminal end of core. Site-specific mutagenesis of residue Cys(172) showed that palmitoylation is not involved in the maturation process carried out by the signal peptide peptidase or in the targeting of core to LD. However, palmitoylation was shown to be important for core association with smooth ER membranes and ER closely surrounding LDs. Finally, we demonstrate that mutation of residue Cys(172) in the J6/JFH1 virus genome clearly impairs virion production.
Hepatitis C virus core protein plays an important role in the assembly and packaging of the viral genome. We have studied the structure of the N-terminal half of the core protein (C82) which was shown to be sufficient for the formation of nucleocapsid-like particle (NLP) in vitro and in yeast. Structural bioinformatics analysis of C82 suggests that it is mostly unstructured. Circular dichroism and structural NMR data indicate that C82 lacks secondary structure. Moreover, NMR relaxation data shows that C82 is highly disordered. These results indicate that the N-terminal half of the HCV core protein belongs to the growing family of intrinsically unstructured proteins (IUP). This explains the tendency of the hepatitis C virus core protein to interact with several host proteins, a well-documented characteristic of IUPs.
Papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) is a filamentous plant virus that belongs to the Alphaflexiviridae family. Flexible filamentous viruses have defied more than two decades of effort in fiber diffraction, and no high-resolution structure is available for any member of the Alphaflexiviridae family. Here, we report our structural characterization of PapMV by X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy three-dimensional reconstruction. We found that PapMV is 135Å in diameter with a helical symmetry of ~10 subunits per turn. Crystal structure of the C-terminal truncated PapMV coat protein (CP) reveals a novel all-helix fold with seven ?-helices. Thus, the PapMVCP structure is different from the four-helix-bundle fold of tobacco mosaic virus in which helix bundling dominates the subunit interface in tobacco mosaic virus and conveys rigidity to the rod virus. PapMV CP was crystallized as an asymmetrical dimer in which one protein lassoes the other by the N-terminal peptide. Mutation of residues critical to the inter-subunit lasso interaction abolishes CP polymerization. The crystal structure suggests that PapMV may polymerize via the consecutive N-terminal loop lassoing mechanism. The structure of PapMV will be useful for rational design and engineering of the PapMV nanoparticles into innovative vaccines.
In general, the structure of the papaya mosaic virus (PapMV) and other members of the potexviruses is poorly understood. Production of PapMV coat proteins in a bacterial expression system and their self-assembly in vitro into nanoparticles is a very useful tool to study the structure of this virus. Using recombinant PapMV nanoparticles that are similar in shape and appearance to the plant virus, we evaluated surface-exposed regions by two different methods, immunoblot assay and chemical modification with 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide or diethyl-pyrocarbonate followed by mass spectrometry. Three regions were targeted by the two techniques. The N- and C-termini were shown to be surfaced exposed as expected. However, the region 125-136 was revealed for the first time as the major surface-exposed region of the nanoparticles. The presence of linear peptides at the surface was finally confirmed using antibodies directed to those peptides. It is likely that region 125-136 plays a key role in the lifecycle of PapMV and other members of the potexvirus group.
Viral assembly is a crucial key step in the life cycle of every virus. In the case of Hepatitis C virus (HCV), the core protein is the only structural protein to interact directly with the viral genomic RNA. Purified recombinant core protein is able to self-assemble in vitro into nucleocapsid-like particles upon addition of a structured RNA, providing a robust assay with which to study HCV assembly. Inhibition of self-assembly of the C170 core protein (first 170 amino acids) was tested using short peptides derived from the HCV core, from HCV NS5A protein, and from diverse proteins (p21 and p73) known to interact with HCV core protein. Interestingly, peptides derived from the core were the best inhibitors. These peptides are derived from regions of the core predicted to be involved in the interaction between core subunits during viral assembly. We also demonstrated that a peptide derived from the C-terminal end of NS5A protein moderately inhibits the assembly process.
Papaya mosaic virus has been shown to be an efficient adjuvant and vaccine platform in the design and improvement of innovative flu vaccines. So far, all fusions based on the PapMV platform have been located at the C-terminus of the PapMV coat protein. Considering that some epitopes might interfere with the self-assembly of PapMV CP when fused at the C-terminus, we evaluated other possible sites of fusion using the influenza HA11 peptide antigen. Two out of the six new fusion sites tested led to the production of recombinant proteins capable of self assembly into PapMV nanoparticles; the two functional sites are located after amino acids 12 and 187. Immunoprecipitation of each of the successful fusions demonstrated that the HA11 epitope was located at the surface of the nanoparticles. The stability and immunogenicity of the PapMV-HA11 nanoparticles were evaluated, and we could show that there is a direct correlation between the stability of the nanoparticles at 37°C (mammalian body temperature) and the ability of the nanoparticles to trigger an efficient immune response directed towards the HA11 epitope. This strong correlation between nanoparticle stability and immunogenicity in animals suggests that the stability of any nanoparticle harbouring the fusion of a new peptide should be an important criterion in the design of a new vaccine.
The principal caveat of existing influenza vaccine is their failure to provide long-term protection. This lack of efficiency is caused by persistent (drift) and dramatic (shift) antigenic changes on the major surface proteins, the main target of protective immunity generated by traditional vaccines. Alternatively, vaccination with most conserved protein, like the nucleoprotein (NP) can stimulate immunity against multiple serotypes and could potentially provides an extended protection. The NP antigen contains more than 90% protein sequence homology among influenza A isolates and it also contains dominant CTL targets epitopes that made this antigen an attractive target for developing universal vaccine. However, NP protein is a weak antigen and need the use of adjuvant to increase its immunogenicity. We have developed an innovative high avidity VLP (HAV) nanoparticle to improve its adjuvant property to the NP antigen. The nanoparticles are derived from papaya mosaic virus capsid protein (PapMV CP) produced in a bacteria expression system. We generated the HAV by adding an affinity peptide directed to the NP protein at the surface of the VLPs. The fusions of the affinity peptide to PapMV VLPs increased the avidity of PapMV VLPs to NP protein. This modification enhanced the humoral and the IFN-? response directed to NP. Moreover, the immunity generated by the HAV adjuvanted NP vaccine improved the protection of vaccinated mice to a challenge with influenza virus. The protection was characterized by accelerated virus elimination after the onset of infection and rapid recovery of the vaccinated animals.
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