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Optogenetic Tractography for anatomo-functional characterization of cortico-subcortical neural circuits in non-human primates.

Dissecting neural circuitry in non-human primates (NHP) is crucial to identify potential neuromodulation anatomical targets for the treatment of pharmacoresistant neuropsychiatric diseases by electrical neuromodulation. How targets of deep brain stimulation (DBS) and cortical targets of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) compare and might complement one another is an important question. Combining optogenetics and tractography may enable anatomo-functional characterization of large brain cortico-subcortical neural pathways. For the proof-of-concept this approach was used in the NHP brain to characterize the motor cortico-subthalamic pathway (m_CSP) which might be involved in DBS action mechanism in Parkinson's disease (PD). Rabies-G-pseudotyped and Rabies-G-VSVg-pseudotyped EIAV lentiviral vectors encoding the opsin ChR2 gene were stereotaxically injected into the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and were retrogradely transported to the layer of the motor cortex projecting to STN. A precise anatomical mapping of this pathway was then performed using histology-guided high angular resolution MRI tractography guiding accurately cortical photostimulation of m_CSP origins. Photoexcitation of m_CSP axon terminals or m_CSP cortical origins modified the spikes distribution for photosensitive STN neurons firing rate in non-equivalent ways. Optogenetic tractography might help design preclinical neuromodulation studies in NHP models of neuropsychiatric disease choosing the most appropriate target for the tested hypothesis.

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Differences in the internalization of self-inactivating VSVG-pseudotyped murine leukemia virus-based vectors in human and murine cells.

Self-inactivating VSVG-pseudotyped murine leukemia virus (SIN-VSVG-MLV) has been widely used to generate stable cell lines and produce gene delivery vectors. Despite the broad cellular tropism of the VSVG-pseudotyped MLV, we observed differential viral transduction efficiency depending on the host cell type used. In order to determine the mechanism underlying these differences, we used a GFP-expressing SIN-VSVG-MLV and analyzed the major steps of viral transduction in different cell lines including human epithelial, T-lymphocytes, monocytes and murine fibroblast cells. We observed the better transduction efficiency in HeLa cells, which was 20-fold higher than THP-1 and NIH/3T3 cells. To quantify viral internalization, we determined genomic RNA content by quantifying the early reverse transcription product. Genomic RNA and transduction levels were correlated with HeLa cells showing the higher amount of early RT product followed by tsA201 cells, while NIH/3T3, Jurkat and THP-1 had the lowest amounts. Similar results were observed when the late reverse transcription product was analyzed. Reverse transcription efficiency was 66-85% in HeLa cells and about 30% in tsA201, NIH/3T3, Jurkat and THP-1 cells. Viral integration, determined by Alu-Nested-qPCR, was higher for HeLa and lowerst for Jurkat and THP-1 cells. Interestingly, we observed that viral entry was correlated with the cellular availability of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, which was higher in HeLa and tsA201 cells, potentially explaining the higher rates of SIN-VSVG-MLV transduction and early RT synthesis observed in these cell lines. In conclusion, the SIN-VSVG-MLV vector showed significantly different rates of infectivity depending on the host cell type, possibly due to differential rates of viral internalization.

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Display of the Albumin-Binding Domain in the Envelope Improves Lentiviral Vector Bioavailability.

Vesicular stomatitis virus G glycoprotein (VSVg) is extensively used for retroviral and lentiviral vector (LV) pseudotyping. However, VSVg pseudotyped vectors are serum inactivated, blocking the in vivo gene delivery. Several strategies have been employed to prevent complement inactivation, including chemical and genetic envelope modifications. This study employed the streptococcal albumin-binding domain (ABD) to generate a construct to express ABD as a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein. LV particles bearing ABD are able to bind bovine and human serum albumin in vitro. Neither the lentiviral vector production titer nor the in vitro transduction was affected by the ABD display. The study demonstrated that ABD-bearing LVs are protected from human complement inactivation. More importantly, intravenous administration demonstrated that the presence of ABD significantly reduces lentivector sequestration in liver and bone-marrow cells. Therefore, the use of ABD represents an improvement for in vivo gene therapy applications. The results strongly point to ABD display as a universal strategy to increase the in vivo efficacy of different viral vectors.

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Pseudotyped Lentiviral Vectors: One Vector, Many Guises.

Viruses have evolved specialized molecular mechanisms to transfer their genome efficiently into host cells. Viruses can be repurposed into viral vectors to achieve controlled gene transfer to desired cells. One of the most popular classes of vectors, lentiviral vectors (LVs), transduce mammalian cells efficiently. LVs are pseudotyped with various heterologous viral envelopes to alter their tropism. While the most common example is the envelope glycoprotein from vesicular stomatitis virus (VSVG), many other viral proteins have also been used. Pseudotyping LVs with a diverse set of naturally occurring or engineered viral envelopes has allowed targeted transduction of specific cell types. Many exciting studies are further uncovering new specificities and shortcomings of pseudotyped LVs. These studies will expand the toolbox to make LVs that cater to the specific requirements of transduction. This review provides a comprehensive overview of various viral envelope pseudotypes used with LVs, their specificities, advantages, and drawbacks.

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Leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 4 facilitates vesicular stomatitis virus infection by binding vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein.

Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and rabies and Chandipura viruses belong to the Rhabdovirus family. VSV is a common laboratory virus to study viral evolution and host immune responses to viral infection, and recombinant VSV-based vectors have been widely used for viral oncolysis, vaccination, and gene therapy. Although the tropism of VSV is broad, and its envelope glycoprotein G is often used for pseudotyping other viruses, the host cellular components involved in VSV infection remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the host protein leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 4 (Lgr4) is essential for VSV and VSV-G pseudotyped lentivirus (VSVG-LV) to infect susceptible cells. Accordingly, Lgr4-deficient mice had dramatically decreased VSV levels in the olfactory bulb. Furthermore, Lgr4 knockdown in RAW 264.7 cells also significantly suppressed VSV infection, and Lgr4 overexpression in RAW 264.7 cells enhanced VSV infection. Interestingly, only VSV infection relied on Lgr4, whereas infections with Newcastle disease virus, influenza A virus (A/WSN/33), and herpes simplex virus were unaffected by Lgr4 status. Of note, assays of virus entry, cell ELISA, immunoprecipitation, and surface plasmon resonance indicated that VSV bound susceptible cells via the Lgr4 extracellular domain. Pretreating cells with an Lgr4 antibody, soluble LGR4 extracellular domain, or R-spondin 1 blocked VSV infection by competitively inhibiting VSV binding to Lgr4. Taken together, the identification of Lgr4 as a VSV-specific host factor provides important insights into understanding VSV entry and its pathogenesis and lays the foundation for VSV-based gene therapy and viral oncolytic therapeutics.

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ER/Golgi trafficking is facilitated by unbranched actin filaments containing Tpm4.2.

We have identified novel actin filaments defined by tropomyosin Tpm4.2 at the ER. EM analysis of mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) isolated from mice expressing a mutant Tpm4.2 (Tpm4 ), incapable of incorporating into actin filaments, revealed swollen ER structures compared with wild-type (WT) MEFs (Tpm4 ). ER-to-Golgi, but not Golgi-to-ER trafficking was altered in the Tpm4 MEFs following the transfection of the temperature sensitive ER-associated ts045-VSVg construct. Exogenous Tpm4.2 was able to rescue the ER-to-Golgi trafficking defect in the Tpm4 cells. The treatment of WT MEFs with the myosin II inhibitor, blebbistatin, blocked the Tpm4.2-dependent ER-to-Golgi trafficking. The lack of an effect on ER-to-Golgi trafficking following treatment of MEFs with CK666 indicates that branched Arp2/3-containing actin filaments are not involved in anterograde vesicle trafficking. We propose that unbranched, Tpm4.2-containing filaments have an important role in maintaining ER/Golgi structure and that these structures, in conjunction with myosin II motors, mediate ER-to-Golgi trafficking.

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Structure-activity relationships of 3-O-β-chacotriosyl oleanic acid derivatives as entry inhibitors for highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus.

Highly pathogenic H5N1 virus (H5N1) entry is a key target for the development of novel anti-influenza agents with new mechanisms of action. In our continuing efforts to identify novel potential anti-H5N1 entry inhibitors, a series of 3-O-β-chacotriosyl oleanolic acid analogs have been designed, synthesized and evaluated as H5N1 entry inhibitors based on two small molecule inhibitors 1 and 2 previously discovered by us. The anti-H5N1 entry activities were determined based on HA/HIV and VSVG/HIV entry assays. Compound 15 displayed the most promising anti-H5N1 entry activities with average IC values of 4.05μM and good selective index (22.9). Detailed structure-activity relationships (SARs) studies suggested that either the introduction of an additional oxo group to position 11 at OA or alteration of the C-3 configuration of OA from 3β- to 3α-forms can significantly enhance the selective index while maintaining their antiviral activities in vitro. Molecular simulation analysis confirmed that the compounds exert their inhibitory activity through binding tightly to hemagglutinin (HA2) protein near the fusion peptide and prevent virus entry.

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The basolateral vesicle sorting machinery and basolateral proteins are recruited to the site of enteropathogenic E. coli microcolony growth at the apical membrane.

Foodborne Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) infections of the small intestine cause diarrhea especially in children and are a major cause of childhood death in developing countries. EPEC infects the apical membrane of the epithelium of the small intestine by attaching, effacing the microvilli under the bacteria and then forming microcolonies on the cell surface. We first asked the question where on epithelial cells EPEC attaches and grows. Using models of polarized epithelial monolayers, we evaluated the sites of initial EPEC attachment to the apical membrane and found that EPEC preferentially attached over the cell-cell junctions and formed microcolonies preferentially where three cells come together at tricellular tight junctions. The ability of EPEC to adhere increased when host cell polarity was compromised yielding EPEC access to basolateral proteins. EPEC pedestals contain basolateral cytoskeletal proteins. Thus, we asked if attached EPEC causes reorganization the protein composition of the host cell plasma membrane at sites of microcolony formation. We found that EPEC microcolony growth at the apical membrane resulted in a local accumulation of basolateral plasma membrane proteins surrounding the microcolony. Basolateral marker protein aquaporin-3 localized to forming EPEC microcolonies. Components of the basolateral vesicle targeting machinery were re-routed. The Exocyst (Exo70) was recruited to individual EPEC as was the basolateral vesicle SNARE VAMP-3. Moreover, several Rab variants were also recruited to the infection site, and their dominant-negative equivalents were not. To quantitatively study the recruitment of basolateral proteins, we created a pulse of the temperature sensitive basolateral VSVG, VSVG3-SP-GFP, from the trans-Golgi Network. We found that after release from the TGN, significantly more VSVG3-SP-GFP accumulated at the site of microcolony growth than on equivalent membrane regions of uninfected cells. This suggests that trafficking of vesicles destined for the basolateral membrane are redirected to the apical site of microcolony growth. Thus, in addition to disrupting host cell fence function, local host cell plasma membrane protein composition is changed by altered protein trafficking and recruitment of basolateral proteins to the apical microcolony. This may aid EPEC attachment and subsequent microcolony growth.

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Engineered Proteins Program Mammalian Cells to Target Inflammatory Disease Sites.

Disease sites in atherosclerosis and cancer feature cell masses (e.g., plaques/tumors), a low pH extracellular microenvironment, and various pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα). The ability to engineer a cell to seek TNFα sources allows for targeted therapeutic delivery. To accomplish this, here we introduced a system of proteins: an engineered TNFα chimeric receptor (named TNFR1chi), a previously engineered Ca-activated RhoA (named CaRQ), vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein G (VSVG), and thymidine kinase. Upon binding TNFα, TNFR1chi generates a Ca signal that in turn activates CaRQ-mediated non-apoptotic blebs that allow migration toward the TNFα source. Next, the addition of VSVG, upon low pH induction, causes membrane fusion of the engineered and TNFα source cells. Finally, after ganciclovir treatment cells undergo death via the thymidine kinase suicide mechanism. Hence, we assembled a system of proteins that forms the basis of engineering a cell to target inflammatory disease sites characterized by TNFα secretion and a low-pH microenvironment.

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Autonomous Cell Migration to CSF1 Sources via a Synthetic Protein-Based System.

Inflammatory lesions, often seen in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and cancer, feature an acidic (i.e., low pH) microenvironment rampant with cytokines, such as CSF1. For potential therapeutic intervention targeted at these CSF1 sources, we have assembled a system of four proteins inside a cell (i.e., HEK293) that initially had no natural CSF1-seeking ability. This system included a newly engineered CSF1 chimera receptor (named CSF1Rchi), the previously engineered Ca activated RhoA (i.e., CaRQ), vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein G (VSVG) and thymidine kinase (TK). The binding of CSF1 to the CSF1Rchi generated a Ca signal that activated CaRQ-mediated cellular blebbing, allowing autonomous cell migration toward the CSF1 source. Next, the VSVG protein allowed these engineered cells to fuse with the CSF1 source cells, upon low pH induction. Finally, these cells underwent death postganciclovir treatment, via the TK suicide mechanism. Hence, this protein system could potentially serve as the basis of engineering a cell to target inflammatory lesions in diseases featuring a microenvironment with high levels of CSF1 and low pH.

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