Neisseria meningitidis is a global cause of meningitis and septicemia. Immunity to N. meningitidis involves both innate and specific mechanisms with killing by serum bactericidal activity and phagocytic cells. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute-phase serum protein that has been shown to help protect the host from several bacterial pathogens, which it recognizes by binding to phosphorylcholine (PC) on their surfaces. Pathogenic Neisseria species can exhibit phase-variable PC modification on type 1 and 2 pili. We have shown that CRP can bind to piliated meningococci in a classical calcium-dependent manner. The binding of CRP to the meningococcus was concentration dependent, of low affinity, and specific for PC. CRP appears to act as an opsonin for N. meningitidis, as CRP-opsonized bacteria showed increased uptake by human macrophages and neutrophils. Further investigation into the downstream effects of CRP-bound N. meningitidis may lead us to a better understanding of meningococcal infection and help direct more effective therapeutic interventions.
J Ogbechi, MT Ruf, BS Hall, K Bodman-Smith, M Vogel, HL Wu, A Stainer, CT Esmon, J Ahnström, G Pluschke, RE Simmonds (2015)Mycolactone-Dependent Depletion of Endothelial Cell Thrombomodulin Is Strongly Associated with Fibrin Deposition in Buruli Ulcer Lesions., In: PLoS Pathog11(7)
A well-known histopathological feature of diseased skin in Buruli ulcer (BU) is coagulative necrosis caused by the Mycobacterium ulcerans macrolide exotoxin mycolactone. Since the underlying mechanism is not known, we have investigated the effect of mycolactone on endothelial cells, focussing on the expression of surface anticoagulant molecules involved in the protein C anticoagulant pathway. Congenital deficiencies in this natural anticoagulant pathway are known to induce thrombotic complications such as purpura fulimans and spontaneous necrosis. Mycolactone profoundly decreased thrombomodulin (TM) expression on the surface of human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMVEC) at doses as low as 2ng/ml and as early as 8hrs after exposure. TM activates protein C by altering thrombin's substrate specificity, and exposure of HDMVEC to mycolactone for 24 hours resulted in an almost complete loss of the cells' ability to produce activated protein C. Loss of TM was shown to be due to a previously described mechanism involving mycolactone-dependent blockade of Sec61 translocation that results in proteasome-dependent degradation of newly synthesised ER-transiting proteins. Indeed, depletion from cells determined by live-cell imaging of cells stably expressing a recombinant TM-GFP fusion protein occurred at the known turnover rate. In order to determine the relevance of these findings to BU disease, immunohistochemistry of punch biopsies from 40 BU lesions (31 ulcers, nine plaques) was performed. TM abundance was profoundly reduced in the subcutis of 78% of biopsies. Furthermore, it was confirmed that fibrin deposition is a common feature of BU lesions, particularly in the necrotic areas. These findings indicate that there is decreased ability to control thrombin generation in BU skin. Mycolactone's effects on normal endothelial cell function, including its ability to activate the protein C anticoagulant pathway are strongly associated with this. Fibrin-driven tissue ischemia could contribute to the development of the tissue necrosis seen in BU lesions.
Monocytes are considered refractory to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus type 1 (PRRSV-1) infection. However, monocytes are only short-lived in blood, being able to differentiate into macrophages and dendritic cells (DC). It was therefore merited to revisit PRRSV-1 interaction with monocytes, particularly those treated with cytokines influencing monocyte biology. Thus, several factors were screened, particularly those modulating monocyte differentiation and expression of putative PRRSV-1 receptors (CD169 and CD163). M-CSF, known to stimulate macrophage differentiation, did not increase their susceptibility to PRRSV-1. Nor did GM-CSF or IL-4, known drivers for monocyte-derived DC (MoDC) differentiation. In contrast, monocyte treatment with IL-10 or the corticosteroid, dexamethasone, known to be potent suppressors of monocyte differentiation, was correlated with increased susceptibility to PRRSV-1 infection. While this effect was strongly correlated to CD163 and CD169 expression, our data suggest that receptor expression is not the only factor driving successful infection of PPRSV-1 in monocytes.
Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) is an important pathogen that causes infectious disease of cattle worldwide and results in significant economic losses. Vaccination has long been used as a tool for control of BVDV but inadequacies of existing vaccines have hampered eradication efforts. Attempts to develop sub-unit vaccines have focused on the structural envelope protein E2, which is a dominant target of neutralising antibodies and as well as CD4 T cell responses. This study aimed to rationally address the development of more efficacious vaccines by characterising the kinetics and specificity of T cell responses to a BVDV type 1 peptide library in calves rendered immune to BVDV following recovery from experimental infection. Upon identification of E2 and NS3 as the dominant targets of CD4 T cell responses, we assessed whether T cells induced by one virus genotype were capable of responding to a heterologous virus genotype and to identified E2 and NS3 as targets of genotype-specific and genotype transcending responses, respectively. This finding strengthened the argument for inclusion of both antigens in a subunit vaccine formulation. A nanoparticulate formulation of E2 and NS3 adjuvanted with poly(I:C) was shown to induce protective responses comparable to a commercial available BVDV vaccine in a vaccination and challenge experiment. It is hoped that the data generated will have implications for the design of improved vaccines against BVD.