ISSN / EISSN : 15537366 / 15537374
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 7,624
Google Scholar h5-index: 99
Latest articles in this journal
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007974
Abstract:Plasmodium relapses are attributed to the activation of dormant liver-stage parasites and are responsible for a significant number of recurring malaria blood-stage infections. While characteristic of human infections caused by P. vivax and P. ovale, their relative contribution to malaria disease burden and transmission remains poorly understood. This is largely because it is difficult to identify ‘bona fide’ relapse infections due to ongoing transmission in most endemic areas. Here, we use the P. cynomolgi–rhesus macaque model of relapsing malaria to demonstrate that clinical immunity can form after a single sporozoite-initiated blood-stage infection and prevent illness during relapses and homologous reinfections. By integrating data from whole blood RNA-sequencing, flow cytometry, P. cynomolgi-specific ELISAs, and opsonic phagocytosis assays, we demonstrate that this immunity is associated with a rapid recall response by memory B cells that expand and produce anti-parasite IgG1 that can mediate parasite clearance of relapsing parasites. The reduction in parasitemia during relapses was mirrored by a reduction in the total number of circulating gametocytes, but importantly, the cumulative proportion of gametocytes increased during relapses. Overall, this study reveals that P. cynomolgi relapse infections can be clinically silent in macaques due to rapid memory B cell responses that help to clear asexual-stage parasites but still carry gametocytes. Plasmodium vivax contributes significantly to global malaria morbidity and remains a major obstacle for malaria elimination due to its ability to form dormant stages in the liver. These forms can become activated to cause relapsing blood-stage infections. Relapses remain poorly understood because it is difficult to verify whether P. vivax blood-stage infections in patients are due to new infections or relapses in most cases. Here, we use a nonhuman primate model of Plasmodium vivax malaria in concert with state-of-the-art immunological and molecular techniques to assess pathogenesis, host responses, and circulating gametocyte levels during relapses. We found that relapses were clinically silent compared to initial infections, and they were associated with a robust memory B cell response. This response resulted in the production of antibodies that were able to mediate clearance of asexual parasites. Despite this rapid immune protection, the sexual-stage gametocytes continued to circulate. Our study provides mechanistic insights into the host-parasite interface during Plasmodium relapse infections and demonstrates that clinically silent relapses can harbor gametocytes that may be infectious to mosquitoes.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007975
Abstract:Stewart Cole and colleagues determined the complete genome sequence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the etiological agent of tuberculosis (TB), in 1998 . This was a landmark achievement that heralded a new age in TB drug discovery. With the genome sequence in hand, drug discoverers suddenly had thousands of new potential targets to explore. But the excitement has since faded . It is unquestioned that genomics has transformed our understanding of the biology of this pathogen. However, the expectation that the Mtb genome sequence would rapidly lead to new therapeutic interventions remains unfulfilled . One of the (many) reasons for this unrealized potential is that our tools to systematically interrogate the Mtb genome and its drug targets—so-called functional genomics—have been limited. In this Pearl, I argue that the recent development of robust CRISPR-based genetics in Mtb  overcomes many prior limitations and holds the potential to close the gap between genomics and TB drug discovery.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007977
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008070
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008026
Abstract:The CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein is susceptible to multiple lineages of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that are attractive to elicit with vaccines. The CH235 lineage (VH1-46) of CD4bs bnAbs is particularly attractive because the most mature members neutralize 90% of circulating strains, do not possess long HCDR3 regions, and do not contain insertions and deletions that may be difficult to induce. We used virus neutralization to measure the interaction of CH235 unmutated common ancestor (CH235 UCA) with functional Env trimers on infectious virions to guide immunogen design for this bnAb lineage. Two Env mutations were identified, one in loop D (N279K) and another in V5 (G458Y), that acted synergistically to render autologous CH505 transmitted/founder virus susceptible to neutralization by CH235 UCA. Man5-enriched N-glycans provided additional synergy for neutralization. CH235 UCA bound with nanomolar affinity to corresponding soluble native-like Env trimers as candidate immunogens. A cryo-EM structure of CH235 UCA bound to Man5-enriched CH505.N279K.G458Y.SOSIP.664 revealed interactions of the antibody light chain complementarity determining region 3 (CDR L3) with the engineered Env loops D and V5. These results demonstrate that virus neutralization can directly inform vaccine design and suggest a germline targeting and reverse engineering strategy to initiate and mature the CH235 bnAb lineage. Despite a wealth of information on the epitopes, ontogeny, structure and maturation pathways of multiple epitope classes of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs), there has been little progress eliciting similar antibodies by vaccination. One major contributing factor is the failure of many candidate immunogens to engage germline reverted forms of bnAbs, making it unlikely that they will provide adequate stimulation of appropriate naïve B cells to initiate bnAb lineages. Here we used virus neutralization to identify two point mutations and a modified glycan profile that together render HIV-1 CH505 Env-pseudotyped virus highly susceptible to neutralization by a germline-reverted form of the CH235 lineage of CD4 binding site (CD4bs) bnAbs. These same modifications permit strong binding of corresponding soluble native-like CH505 Env trimers to germline-reverted CH235. These observations provide a conceptual framework for the design and testing of novel immunogens that aim to elicit the CH235 bnAb lineage.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008040
Abstract:To escape CD8+ T-cell immunity, human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) US11 redirects MHC-I for rapid ER-associated proteolytic degradation (ERAD). In humans, classical MHC-I molecules are encoded by the highly polymorphic HLA-A, -B and -C gene loci. While HLA-C resists US11 degradation, the specificity for HLA-A and HLA-B products has not been systematically studied. In this study we analyzed the MHC-I peptide ligands in HCMV-infected cells. A US11-dependent loss of HLA-A ligands was observed, but not of HLA-B. We revealed a general ability of HLA-B to assemble with β2m and exit from the ER in the presence of US11. Surprisingly, a low-complexity region between the signal peptide sequence and the Ig-like domain of US11, was necessary to form a stable interaction with assembled MHC-I and, moreover, this region was also responsible for changing the pool of HLA-B ligands. Our data suggest a two-pronged strategy by US11 to escape CD8+ T-cell immunity, firstly, by degrading HLA-A molecules, and secondly, by manipulating the HLA-B ligandome. The human immune system can cover the presentation of a wide array of pathogen derived antigens owing to the three extraordinary polymorphic MHC class I (MHC-I) gene loci, called HLA-A, -B and -C in humans. Studying the HLA peptide ligands of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infected cells, we realized that the HCMV encoded glycoprotein US11 targeted different HLA gene products in distinct manners. More than 20 years ago the first HCMV encoded MHC-I inhibitors were identified, including US11, targeting MHC-I for proteasomal degradation. Here, we describe that the prime target for US11-mediated degradation is HLA-A, whereas HLA-B can resist degradation. Our further mechanistic analysis revealed that US11 uses various domains for distinct functions. Remarkably, the ability of US11 to interact with assembled MHC-I and modify peptide loading of degradation-resistant HLA-B was dependent on a low-complexity region (LCR) located between the signal peptide and the immunoglobulin-like domain of US11. To redirect MHC-I for proteasomal degradation the LCR was dispensable. These findings now raise the intriguing question why US11 has evolved to target HLA-A and -B differentially. Possibly, HLA-B molecules are spared in order to dampen NK cell attack against infected cells.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008036
Abstract:Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous β-herpesvirus that establishes life-long latent infection in a high percentage of the population worldwide. CMV induces the strongest and most durable CD8+ T cell response known in human clinical medicine. Due to its unique properties, the virus represents a promising candidate vaccine vector for the induction of persistent cellular immunity. To take advantage of this, we constructed a recombinant murine CMV (MCMV) expressing an MHC-I restricted epitope from influenza A virus (IAV) H1N1 within the immediate early 2 (ie2) gene. Only mice that were immunized intranasally (i.n.) were capable of controlling IAV infection, despite the greater potency of the intraperitoneally (i.p.) vaccination in inducing a systemic IAV-specific CD8+ T cell response. The protective capacity of the i.n. immunization was associated with its ability to induce IAV-specific tissue-resident memory CD8+ T (CD8TRM) cells in the lungs. Our data demonstrate that the protective effect exerted by the i.n. immunization was critically mediated by antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. CD8TRM cells promoted the induction of IFNγ and chemokines that facilitate the recruitment of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells to the lungs. Overall, our results showed that locally applied MCMV vectors could induce mucosal immunity at sites of entry, providing superior immune protection against respiratory infections. Vaccines against influenza typically induce immune responses based on antibodies, small molecules that recognize the virus particles outside of cells and neutralize them before they infect a cell. However, influenza rapidly evolves, escaping immune recognition, and the fastest evolution is seen in the part of the virus that is recognized by antibodies. Therefore, every year we are confronted with new flu strains that are not recognized by our antibodies against the strains from previous years. The other branch of the immune system is made of killer T cells, which recognize infected cells and target them for killing. Influenza does not rapidly evolve to escape T cell killing; thus, vaccines inducing T-cell responses to influenza might provide long-term protection. We introduced an antigen from influenza into the murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) and used it as a vaccine vector inducing killer T-cell responses of unparalleled strength. Our vector controls influenza replication and provides relief to infected mice, but only if we administered it through the nose, to activate killer T cells that will persist in the lungs close to the airways. Therefore, our data show that the subset of lung-resident killer T cells is sufficient to protect against influenza.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008021
Abstract:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive-strand RNA virus replicating in a membranous replication organelle composed primarily of double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) having morphological resemblance to autophagosomes. To define the mechanism of DMV formation and the possible link to autophagy, we conducted a yeast two-hybrid screening revealing 32 cellular proteins potentially interacting with HCV proteins. Among these was the Receptor for Activated Protein C Kinase 1 (RACK1), a scaffolding protein involved in many cellular processes, including autophagy. Depletion of RACK1 strongly inhibits HCV RNA replication without affecting HCV internal ribosome entry site (IRES) activity. RACK1 is required for the rewiring of subcellular membranous structures and for the induction of autophagy. RACK1 binds to HCV nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A), which induces DMV formation. NS5A interacts with ATG14L in a RACK1 dependent manner, and with the ATG14L-Beclin1-Vps34-Vps15 complex that is required for autophagosome formation. Both RACK1 and ATG14L are required for HCV DMV formation and viral RNA replication. These results indicate that NS5A participates in the formation of the HCV replication organelle through interactions with RACK1 and ATG14L. All positive-strand RNA viruses replicate their genomes in distinct membrane-associated compartments designated replication organelles. The compartmentalization of viral replication machinery allows the enrichment and coordination of cellular and viral factors required for RNA replication and the evasion from innate host defense systems. Hepatitis C virus (HCV), a prototype member of the Flaviviridae family, rearranges intracellular membranes to construct replication organelles composed primarily of double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) which are morphologically similar to autophagosomes. Nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A), which is essential for HCV replication, induces DMV formation. Here, we report that NS5A triggers DMV formation through interactions with RACK1 and components of the vesicle nucleation complex acting at the early stage of autophagy. These results illustrate how a virus skews cellular machineries to utilize them for its replication by hijacking cellular proteins through protein-protein interactions. This research sheds light on the molecular basis of replication organelle formation by HCV and possibly other viruses employing organelles with DMV morphology.
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007939
PLOS Pathogens, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007936
Abstract:Wolbachia are the most widespread maternally-transmitted bacteria in the animal kingdom. Their global spread in arthropods and varied impacts on animal physiology, evolution, and vector control are in part due to parasitic drive systems that enhance the fitness of infected females, the transmitting sex of Wolbachia. Male killing is one common drive mechanism wherein the sons of infected females are selectively killed. Despite decades of research, the gene(s) underlying Wolbachia-induced male killing remain unknown. Here using comparative genomic, transgenic, and cytological approaches in fruit flies, we identify a candidate gene in the eukaryotic association module of Wolbachia prophage WO, termed WO-mediated killing (wmk), which transgenically causes male-specific lethality during early embryogenesis and cytological defects typical of the pathology of male killing. The discovery of wmk establishes new hypotheses for the potential role of phage genes in sex-specific lethality, including the control of arthropod pests and vectors. Male killing is an adaptive trait for bacteria that are maternally transmitted through host populations. Such bacteria are common in arthropods and resultantly have significant impacts on host population size, mating strategy, and evolution. Moreover, male-killing bacteria are under recent scrutiny as a symbiotic strategy for arthropod pest and vector control. Despite decades of research, the microbial genetic basis of Wolbachia-induced male killing remains elusive. Here we demonstrate that a single gene from the eukaryotic association module in prophage WO of Wolbachia is a candidate for male killing as it recapitulates many aspects of the phenotype when transgenically expressed in fruit flies. This discovery represents a step forward in understanding new roles of phage WO genes in shaping arthropod hosts and may inform the potential use of male killing in worldwide pest and vector control strategies.