The gene expression of mTOR, autophagy-related ULK1, caspase 3, CDK-inhibitor p21, and TNF ? was measured in the peripheral blood of osteoarthritic (OA) patients at different stages of the disease aiming to establish a gene expression profile that might indicate the activity of the disease and joint destruction. Whole blood of 65 OA outpatients, 27 end-stage OA patients, 27 healthy volunteers, and knee articular cartilages of 28 end-stage OA patients and 26 healthy subjects were examined. OA outpatients were subjected to clinical testing, ultrasonography, and radiographic and WOMAC scoring. Protein levels of p70-S6K, p21, and caspase 3 were quantified by ELISA. Gene expression was measured using real-time RT-PCR. Upregulation of mTOR gene expression was observed in PBMCs of 42 OA outpatients ("High mTOR expression subset") and in PBMCs and articular cartilages of all end-stage OA patients. A positive correlation between mTOR gene expression in PBMCs and cartilage was observed in the end-stage OA patients. 23 OA outpatients in the "Low mTOR expression subset" exhibited significantly lower mTOR gene expression in PBMCs compared to healthy controls. These "Low mTOR" subset subjects experienced significantly more pain upon walking, and standing and increased total joint stiffness versus "High mTOR" subset, while the latter more often exhibited synovitis. The protein concentrations of p70-S6K, p21, and caspase 3 in PBMCs were significantly lower in the "Low" subset versus "High" subset and end-stage subjects. Increases in the expression of mTOR in PBMCs of OA patients are related to disease activity, being associated with synovitis more than with pain.
The four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV-1 to -4) cause the most important emerging viral disease. Protein E, the principal viral envelope glycoprotein, mediates fusion of the viral and endosomal membranes during virus entry and is the target of neutralizing antibodies. However, the epitopes of strongly neutralizing human antibodies have not been described despite their importance to vaccine development. The chimpanzee Mab 5H2 potently neutralizes DENV-4 by binding to domain I of E. The crystal structure of Fab 5H2 bound to E from DENV-4 shows that antibody binding prevents formation of the fusogenic hairpin conformation of E, which together with in-vitro assays, demonstrates that 5H2 neutralizes by blocking membrane fusion in the endosome. Furthermore, we show that human sera from patients recovering from DENV-4 infection contain antibodies that bind to the 5H2 epitope region on domain I. This study, thus, provides new information and tools for effective vaccine design to prevent dengue disease.
Many enveloped viruses invade cells via endocytosis and use different environmental factors as triggers for virus-endosome fusion that delivers viral genome into cytosol. Intriguingly, dengue virus (DEN), the most prevalent mosquito-borne virus that infects up to 100 million people each year, fuses only in late endosomes, while activation of DEN protein fusogen glycoprotein E is triggered already at pH characteristic for early endosomes. Are there any cofactors that time DEN fusion to virion entry into late endosomes? Here we show that DEN utilizes bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate, a lipid specific to late endosomes, as a co-factor for its endosomal acidification-dependent fusion machinery. Effective virus fusion to plasma- and intracellular- membranes, as well as to protein-free liposomes, requires the target membrane to contain anionic lipids such as bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate and phosphatidylserine. Anionic lipids act downstream of low-pH-dependent fusion stages and promote the advance from the earliest hemifusion intermediates to the fusion pore opening. To reach anionic lipid-enriched late endosomes, DEN travels through acidified early endosomes, but we found that low pH-dependent loss of fusogenic properties of DEN is relatively slow in the presence of anionic lipid-free target membranes. We propose that anionic lipid-dependence of DEN fusion machinery protects it against premature irreversible restructuring and inactivation and ensures viral fusion in late endosomes, where the virus encounters anionic lipids for the first time during entry. Currently there are neither vaccines nor effective therapies for DEN, and the essential role of the newly identified DEN-bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate interactions in viral genome escape from the endosome suggests a novel target for drug design.
Cationic cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are a promising vehicle for the delivery of macromolecular drugs. Although many studies have indicated that CPPs enter cells by endocytosis, the mechanisms by which they cross endosomal membranes remain elusive. On the basis of experiments with liposomes, we propose that CPP escape into the cytosol is based on leaky fusion (i.e., fusion associated with the permeabilization of membranes) of the bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP)-enriched membranes of late endosomes. In our experiments, prototypic CPP HIV-1 TAT peptide did not interact with liposomes mimicking the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane, but it did induce lipid mixing and membrane leakage as it translocated into liposomes mimicking the lipid composition of late endosome. Both membrane leakage and lipid mixing depended on the BMP content and were promoted at acidic pH, which is characteristic of late endosomes. Substitution of BMP with its structural isomer, phosphatidylglycerol (PG), significantly reduced both leakage of the aqueous probe from liposomes and lipid mixing between liposomes. Although affinity of binding to TAT was similar for BMP and PG, BMP exhibited a higher tendency to support the inverted hexagonal phase than PG. Finally, membrane leakage and peptide translocation were both inhibited by inhibitors of lipid mixing, further substantiating the hypothesis that cationic peptides cross BMP-enriched membranes by inducing leaky fusion between them.
There are no available vaccines for dengue, the most important mosquito-transmitted viral disease. Mechanistic studies with anti-dengue virus (DENV) human monoclonal antibodies (hMAbs) provide a rational approach to identify and characterize neutralizing epitopes on DENV structural proteins that can serve to inform vaccine strategies. Here, we report a class of hMAbs that is likely to be an important determinant in the human humoral response to DENV infection. In this study, we identified and characterized three broadly neutralizing anti-DENV hMAbs: 4.8A, D11C, and 1.6D. These antibodies were isolated from three different convalescent patients with distinct histories of DENV infection yet demonstrated remarkable similarities. All three hMAbs recognized the E glycoprotein with high affinity, neutralized all four serotypes of DENV, and mediated antibody-dependent enhancement of infection in Fc receptor-bearing cells at subneutralizing concentrations. The neutralization activities of these hMAbs correlated with a strong inhibition of virus-liposome and intracellular fusion, not virus-cell binding. We mapped epitopes of these antibodies to the highly conserved fusion loop region of E domain II. Mutations at fusion loop residues W101, L107, and/or G109 significantly reduced the binding of the hMAbs to E protein. The results show that hMAbs directed against the highly conserved E protein fusion loop block viral entry downstream of virus-cell binding by inhibiting E protein-mediated fusion. Characterization of hMAbs targeting this region may provide new insights into DENV vaccine and therapeutic strategies.
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