September 22, 2019  |  

RNAi-based treatment of chronically infected patients and chimpanzees reveals that integrated hepatitis B virus DNA is a source of HBsAg.

Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major health concern worldwide, frequently leading to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Evidence suggests that high viral antigen load may play a role in chronicity. Production of viral proteins is thought to depend on transcription of viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). In a human clinical trial with an RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapeutic targeting HBV transcripts, ARC-520, HBV S antigen (HBsAg) was strongly reduced in treatment-naïve patients positive for HBV e antigen (HBeAg) but was reduced significantly less in patients who were HBeAg-negative or had received long-term therapy with nucleos(t)ide viral replication inhibitors (NUCs). HBeAg positivity is associated with greater disease risk that may be moderately reduced upon HBeAg loss. The molecular basis for this unexpected differential response was investigated in chimpanzees chronically infected with HBV. Several lines of evidence demonstrated that HBsAg was expressed not only from the episomal cccDNA minichromosome but also from transcripts arising from HBV DNA integrated into the host genome, which was the dominant source in HBeAg-negative chimpanzees. Many of the integrants detected in chimpanzees lacked target sites for the small interfering RNAs in ARC-520, explaining the reduced response in HBeAg-negative chimpanzees and, by extension, in HBeAg-negative patients. Our results uncover a heretofore underrecognized source of HBsAg that may represent a strategy adopted by HBV to maintain chronicity in the presence of host immunosurveillance. These results could alter trial design and endpoint expectations of new therapies for chronic HBV. Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.

September 22, 2019  |  

Novel full-length major histocompatibility complex class I allele discovery and haplotype definition in pig-tailed macaques.

Pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina, Mane) are important models for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) studies. Their infectability with minimally modified HIV makes them a uniquely valuable animal model to mimic human infection with HIV and progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, variation in the pig-tailed macaque major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and the impact of individual transcripts on the pathogenesis of HIV and other infectious diseases is understudied compared to that of rhesus and cynomolgus macaques. In this study, we used Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time circular consensus sequencing to describe full-length MHC class I (MHC-I) transcripts for 194 pig-tailed macaques from three breeding centers. We then used the full-length sequences to infer Mane-A and Mane-B haplotypes containing groups of MHC-I transcripts that co-segregate due to physical linkage. In total, we characterized full-length open reading frames (ORFs) for 313 Mane-A, Mane-B, and Mane-I sequences that defined 86 Mane-A and 106 Mane-B MHC-I haplotypes. Pacific Biosciences technology allows us to resolve these Mane-A and Mane-B haplotypes to the level of synonymous allelic variants. The newly defined haplotypes and transcript sequences containing full-length ORFs provide an important resource for infectious disease researchers as certain MHC haplotypes have been shown to provide exceptional control of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication and prevention of AIDS-like disease in nonhuman primates. The increased allelic resolution provided by Pacific Biosciences sequencing also benefits transplant research by allowing researchers to more specifically match haplotypes between donors and recipients to the level of nonsynonymous allelic variation, thus reducing the risk of graft-versus-host disease.

September 22, 2019  |  

Bacterial virulence against an oceanic bloom-forming phytoplankter is mediated by algal DMSP

Emiliania huxleyi is a bloom-forming microalga that affects the global sulfur cycle by producing large amounts of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and its volatile metabolic product dimethyl sulfide. Top-down regulation of E. huxleyi blooms has been attributed to viruses and grazers; however, the possible involvement of algicidal bacteria in bloom demise has remained elusive. We demonstrate that a Roseobacter strain, Sulfitobacter D7, that we isolated from a North Atlantic E. huxleyi bloom, exhibited algicidal effects against E. huxleyi upon coculturing. Both the alga and the bacterium were found to co-occur during a natural E. huxleyi bloom, therefore establishing this host-pathogen system as an attractive, ecologically relevant model for studying algal-bacterial interactions in the oceans. During interaction, Sulfitobacter D7 consumed and metabolized algal DMSP to produce high amounts of methanethiol, an alternative product of DMSP catabolism. We revealed a unique strain-specific response, in which E. huxleyi strains that exuded higher amounts of DMSP were more susceptible to Sulfitobacter D7 infection. Intriguingly, exogenous application of DMSP enhanced bacterial virulence and induced susceptibility in an algal strain typically resistant to the bacterial pathogen. This enhanced virulence was highly specific to DMSP compared to addition of propionate and glycerol which had no effect on bacterial virulence. We propose a novel function for DMSP, in addition to its central role in mutualistic interactions among marine organisms, as a mediator of bacterial virulence that may regulate E. huxleyi blooms.

Talk with an expert

If you have a question, need to check the status of an order, or are interested in purchasing an instrument, we're here to help.