Suryaprakash Sambhara, DVM, Ph.D
Chief, Immunology Section, Influenza Division, CDC, Atlanta, USA
Making sense of pathogen sensors of Innate Immunity: Utility of their ligands as antiviral agents and adjuvants for vaccines.
Currently used antiviral agents act by inhibiting viral entry, replication, or release of viral progeny. However, recent emergence of drug-resistant viruses has become a major public health concern as it is limiting our ability to prevent and treat viral diseases. Furthermore, very few antiviral agents with novel modes of action are currently in development. It is well established that the innate immune system is the first line of defense against invading pathogens. The recognition of diverse pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) is accomplished by several classes of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and the ligand/receptor interactions trigger an effective innate antiviral response. In the past several years, remarkable progress has been made towards understanding both the structural and functional nature of PAMPs and PRRs. As a result of their indispensable role in virus infection, these ligands have become potential pharmacological agents against viral infections. Since their pathways of action are evolutionarily conserved, the likelihood of viruses developing resistance to PRR activation is diminished. I will discuss the recent developments investigating the potential utility of the ligands of innate immune receptors as antiviral agents and molecular adjuvants for vaccines.
R. Manjunath, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India
REGULATION OF THE MHC COMPLEX AND HLA SOLUBILISATION BY THE FLAVIVIRUS, JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS VIRUS
Viral encephalitis caused by Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that is prevalent in different parts of India and other parts of South East Asia. JEV is a positive single stranded RNA virus that belongs to the Flavivirus genus of the family Flaviviridae. The genome of JEV is about 11 kb long and codes for a polyprotein which is cleaved by both host and viral encoded proteases to form 3 structural and 7 non-structural proteins. It is a neurotropic virus which infects the central nervous system (CNS) and causes death predominantly in newborn children and young adults. JEV follows a zoonotic life-cycle involving mosquitoes and vertebrate, chiefly pigs and ardeid birds, as amplifying hosts. Humans are infected when bitten by an infected mosquito and are dead end hosts. Its structural, pathological, immunological and epidemiological aspects have been well studied. After entry into the host following a mosquito bite, JEV infection leads to acute peripheral neutrophil leucocytosis in the brain and leads to elevated levels of type I interferon, macrophage-derived chemotactic factor, RANTES,TNF-α and IL-8 in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid.
Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules play a very important role in adaptive immune responses. Along with various classical MHC class I molecules, other non-classical MHC class I molecules play an important role in modulating innate immune responses. Our lab has shown the activation of cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs) during JEV infection and CTLs recognize non-self peptides presented on MHC molecules and provide protection by eliminating infected cells. However, along with proinflammatory cytokines such as TNFα, they may also cause immunopathology within the JEV infected brain. Both JEV and WNV, another related flavivirus have been shown to increase MHC class I expression. Infection of human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF) by WNV results in upregulation of HLA expression. Data from our lab has also shown that JEV infection upregulates classical as well as nonclassical (class Ib) MHC antigen expression on the surface of primary mouse brain astrocytes and mouse embryonic fibroblasts.
There are no reports that have discussed the expression of these molecules on other cells like endothelial and astrocyte that play an important role in viral invasion in humans. We have studied the expression of human classical class I molecules HLA-A, -B, -C and the non-classical HLA molecules, HLA-E as well as HLA-F in immortalized human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC), human endothelial cell line (ECV304), human glioblastoma cell line (U87MG) and human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF). Nonclassical MHC molecules such as mouse Qa-1b and its human homologue, HLA-E have been shown to be the ligand for the inhibitory NK receptor, NKG2A/CD94 and may bridge innate and adaptive immune responses. We show that JEV infection of HBMEC and ECV 304 cells upregulates the expression of HLA-A, and –B antigens as well as HLA-E and HLA-F. Increased expression of total HLA-E upon JEV infection was also observed in other human cell lines as well like, human amniotic epithelial cells, AV-3, FL and WISH cells. Further, we show for the first time that soluble HLA-E (sHLA-E) was released from infected ECV and HBMECs. In contrast, HFF cells showed only upregulation of cell-surface HLA-E expression while U87MG, a human glioblastoma cell line neither showed any cell-surface induction nor its solubilization. This shedding of sHLA-E was found to be dependent on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and an important MMP, MMP-9 was upregulated during JEV infection. Treatment with IFNγ resulted in the shedding of sHLA-E from ECV as well as U87MG but not from HFF cells. Also, sHLA-E was shed upon treatment with IFNβ and both IFNβ and TNFα, when present together caused an additive increase in the shedding of sHLA-E. HLA-E is an inhibitory ligand for CD94/NKG2A receptor of Natural Killer cells. Thus, MMP mediated solubilization of HLA-E from infected endothelial cells may have important implications in JEV pathogenesis including its ability to compromise the blood brain barrier.
Manzoor K, Ph.D.
Professor, Centre for Nanoscience & Molecular Medicine, Amrita University
Targeting aberrant cancer kinome using rationally designed nano-polypharmaceutics
Manzoor Koyakutty, Archana Ratnakumary, Parwathy Chandran, Anusha Ashokan, and Shanti Nair
`War on Cancer’ was declared nearly 40 years ago. Since then, we made significant progress on fundamental understanding of cancer and developed novel therapeutics to deal with the most complex disease human race ever faced with. However, even today, cancer remains to be the unconquered `emperor of all maladies’. It is well accepted that meaningful progress in the fight against cancer is possible only with in-depth understanding on the molecular mechanisms that drives its swift and dynamic progression. During the last decade, emerging new technologies such as nanomedicine could offer refreshing life to the `war on cancer’ by way of providing novel methods for molecular diagnosis and therapy.
In the present talk, we discuss our approaches to target critically aberrant cancer kinases using rationally designed polymer-protein and protein-protein core-shell nanomedicines. We have used both genomic and proteomic approaches to identify many intimately cross-linked and complex aberrant protein kinases behind the drug resistance and uncontrolled proliferation of refractory leukemic cells derived from patients. Small molecule inhibitors targeted against oncogenic pathways in these cells were found ineffective due to the involvement of alternative survival pathways. This demands simultaneous inhibition more than one oncogenic kinases using poly-pharmaceutics approach. For this, we have rationally designed core-shell nanomedicines that can deliver several small molecules together for targeting multiple cancer signalling. We have also used combination of small molecules and siRNA for combined gene silencing together with protein kinase inhibition in refractory cancer cells. Optimized nanomedicines were successfully tested in patient samples and found enhanced cytotoxicity and molecular specificity in drug resistant cases.
Nano-polypharmaceutics represents a new generation of nanomedicines that can tackle multiple cancer mechanisms simultaneously. Considering the complexity of the disease, such therapeutic approaches are not simply an advantage, but indispensable.
We thank Dept. of Biotechnology and Dept. Of Science and Technology,Govt. of India for the financial support through `Thematic unit of Excellence in Medical NanoBiotechnology’ and `Nanomedicine- RNAi programs’.
Andrey Panteleyev, Ph.D.
Vice Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, NBICS Centre-Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia
The system of PAS proteins (HIF and AhR) as an interface between environment and skin homeostasis
Regulation of normal skin functions as well as etiology of many skin diseases are both tightly linked to the environmental impact. Nevertheless, molecular aspects of skin-environment communication and mechanisms coordinating skin response to a plurality of environmental stressors remain poorly understood.
Our studies along with the work of other groups have identified the family of PAS dimeric transcription factors as an essential sensory and regulatory component of communication between skin and the environment. This protein family comprises a number of hypoxia-induced factors (HIF-alpha proteins), aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), AhR nuclear translocator (ARNT), and several proteins implicated in control of rhythmic processes (Clock, Period, and Bmal proteins). Together, various PAS proteins (and first of all ARNT – as the central dimerization partner in the family) control such pivotal aspects of cell physiology as drug/xenobiotic metabolism, hypoxic and UV light response, ROS activity, pathogen defense, overall energy balance and breathing pathways.
In his presentation Dr. Panteleyev will focus on the role of ARNT activity and local hypoxia in control of keratinocyte differentiation and cornification. His recent work revealed that ARNT negatively regulates expression of late differentiation genes through modulation of amphiregulin expression and downstream alterations in activity of EGFR pathway. All these effects are highly dependent on epigenetic mechanisms such as histone deacetylation. Characterisation of hypoxia as a key microenvironmental factor in the skin and the role of HIF pathway in control of dermal vasculature and epidermal functions is another major focus of Dr. Panteleyev’s presentation.
In general, the studies of Dr. Panteleyev’s laboratory provide an insight into the PAS-dependent maintenance of skin homeostasis and point to the potential role of these proteins in pathogenesis of environmentally-modulated skin diseases such as barrier defects, desquamation abnormalities, psoriasis, etc.