METHOD TO BLOCK THE INFECTION BY FLAVIVIRUSES, MOLECULES AND USES
1. A method for blocking the infection by flaviviruses, comprising the interference of the interaction of the viral envelope protein with the alpha-2 macroglobulin receptor identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 3, or with the alpha-2 macroglobulin identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 2.
The present invention is related to a method for blocking the infection of cells by dengue virus, based on interfering the direct interaction of the viral envelope protein with a cellular receptor or its indirect interaction with said cellular receptor through a carrier protein, as well as related uses; wherein said cellular receptor is the alpha-2 macroglobulin receptor, also known as the low density receptor-related protein or as CD91, and said carrier protein is human alpha-2 macroglobulin.
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|Antibody molecules to dengue virus and uses thereof|
Patent #US 9,212,217 B2
Current AssigneeVisterra Inc.
Sponsoring EntityVisterra Inc.
|Antibody molecules to dengue virus and uses thereof|
Patent #US 9,365,639 B2
Current AssigneeVisterra Inc.
Sponsoring EntityVisterra Inc.
|Anti-dengue virus antibodies and uses thereof|
Patent #US 9,499,607 B2
Current AssigneeMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsoring EntityMassachusetts Institute of Technology
|Anti-dengue virus antibodies and uses thereof|
Patent #US 9,880,167 B2
Current AssigneeMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsoring EntityMassachusetts Institute of Technology
|Full spectrum anti-dengue antibody|
Patent #US 9,902,764 B2
Current AssigneeMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsoring EntityMassachusetts Institute of Technology
|Antibody molecules to dengue virus and uses thereof|
Patent #US 10,155,806 B2
Current AssigneeVisterra Inc.
Sponsoring EntityVisterra Inc.
|Treating hepatitis B virus infections by administering receptor associated protein (RAP)|
Patent #US 10,442,868 B2
Current AssigneeRhode Island Hospital
Sponsoring EntityRhode Island Hospital
|Full spectrum anti-dengue antibody|
Patent #US 10,519,220 B2
Current AssigneeMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Sponsoring EntityMassachusetts Institute of Technology
- 1. A method for blocking the infection by flaviviruses, comprising the interference of the interaction of the viral envelope protein with the alpha-2 macroglobulin receptor identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 3, or with the alpha-2 macroglobulin identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 2.
- 16. A method for determining the susceptibility of a cell and/or an organism to the infection by dengue virus comprising interfering with an interaction of a viral envelope protein with alpha-2 macroglobulin receptor identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 3, or with alpha-2 macroglobulin identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 2.
- 21. (canceled)
- 23. Peptides identified in the sequence listing as Seq. IDs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, wherein said peptides are the agents that interfere the interaction of the virus with the cellular receptor.
The present invention is related to the fields of virology, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. Particularly, this invention is related to methods for modulating or blocking the infection by dengue virus (DV), based on blocking the interaction of the virus with its cellular receptor. Dengue virus (DV) uses the Alfa 2-macroglobulin receptor (A2MR) for its entry into mammalian cells, and that it may use the Alfa 2-macroglobulin (A2M) as a carrier protein that facilitates its interaction with this receptor. The present invention establishes the presence of a direct interaction with human A2M and defines a region of the E protein from the virus that is involved in this interaction. Additionally, the present invention defines peptides derived from protein E that interfere with the interaction of the virus with its cellular receptor, A2MR, and which inhibit the infection of mammalian cells by the virus. These molecules constitute, therefore, potential pharmacological agents for the prevention and treatment of the disease caused by the infection with DV.
El virus Dengue (DV) belongs to the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus (FV). There are four types of DV which are genetically related but are recognized as different serotypes (DV1, DV2, DV3 and DV4) (Henchal E. A. and Putnak J. R. 1990 The dengue viruses. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 3: 376-396). The degree of whole-genome sequence homology between the four serotypes is approximately 70%. A primary infection by a strain from one viral serotype confers long-lasting immunity against subsequent infections by strains belonging to the homologous serotype, but not against strains belonging to the remaining serotypes. Secondary infections with heterologous serotypes are common, and are associated with the appearance of much more severe symptoms of the disease (Halstead, S. B. Neutralization and antibody-dependent enhancement of dengue viruses. (2003) Adv. Virus Res. 60:421-67., 421-467. Hammon WMc. (1960) New haemorragic fever in children in the Philippines and Thailand. Trans Assoc Physicians; 73: 140-155). Therefore, when developing a vaccine against DV it is imperative to guarantee that it provides protection against all four serotypes. However, due to the degree of antigenic variation found even between strains from the same serotype, sometimes the antibodies elicited by the infection with one strain are not protective against an infection by a second strain of the same serotype, thus turning the development of an effective, safe and low-cost vaccine into a major challenge. Therefore, the use of molecules with antiviral activity represents an attractive therapeutic alternative to vaccination.
The replication cycle of the DV virions starts with their entry to the host cell. In mammalian hosts the virions enter the cells using a mechanism of receptor-mediated endocytosis (Hase T., Summers P. L. and Eckels K. H. (1989) Flavivirus entry into cultured mosquito cells and human peripheral blood monocytes. Arch Virol. 104: 129-143). The drop in pH that is produced in the endosomes triggers an irreversible conformational change on the virions that induces their fusion to the endosomal membrane and their disassembly (Mukhopadhyay S., Kuhn R. J. and Rossmann M. G. (2005) A structural perspective of the flavivirus life cycle. Nat Rev Microbiol. 3: 13-22).
The viral genome thus released to the cytoplasm is translated into a single polyprotein which is co- and post-translationally processed by viral and cellular proteases. The assembly of new virions takes places on the surface of the endoplasmic reticulum, from which the structural proteins and the genomic RNA molecules enter the lumen and continue through the Golgi complex. The virions exit the Golgi complex as mature viral particles inside intracellular vesicles whose contents are released to the extracellular milieu by exocytosis (Mukhopadhyay S., Kuhn R. J. and Rossmann M. G. (2005) A structural perspective of the flavivirus life cycle. Nat Rev Microbiol. 3: 13-22).
The entry of DV to the host cell depends on its interaction with specific receptor molecules on the cellular surface. A number of surface molecules have been identified for which there is evidence supporting their involvement in virion entry to the cell, and which are therefore considered as putative viral receptors. Experimentally, the initial steps of a productive DV-cell interaction have been split into a first stage of virus adsorption by interaction with surface molecules, which can take place at 4° C., and another stage during which receptor-mediated endocytosis occurs, and which requires the incubation of the cells at 37° C. as a prerequisite (Hung S L, Lee P L, Chen H W, Chen L K, Kao C L, King C C (1999) Analysis of the steps involved in Dengue virus entry into host cells Virology; 257:156-67). These stages involve different regions of the viral envelope protein and different molecules of the cellular surface (Crill W D, Roehrig J T (2001) Monoclonal antibodies that bind to domain III of dengue virus E glycoprotein are the most efficient blockers of virus adsorption to Vero cells. J Virol. 75:7769-73).
Among the surface molecules important for this process which have been identified so far are proteoglycans (Chen Y., Maguire T., Hileman R. E., Fromm J. R., Esko J. D., Linhardt R. J. and Marks R. M. (1997) Dengue virus infectivity depends on envelope protein binding to target cell heparan sulfate. Nat. Med. 3: 866-871), which have been proposed to be involved in the concentration of the viral particles on the cellular surface for their subsequent interaction with other specific, high-affinity receptors (Halstead S. B., Heinz F X., Barrett A. D. and Roehrig J. T. (2005) Dengue virus: molecular basis of cell entry and pathogenesis, 25-27 Jun. 2003, Vienna, Austria. Vaccine. 23: 849-856). Proteins associated to CD14 have also been described as possible receptors in macrophages and monocytes (Chen Y. C., Wang S. Y. and King C. C. (1999) Bacterial lipopolysaccharide inhibits dengue virus infection of primary human monocytes/macrophages by blockade of virus entry via a CD14-dependent mechanism. J Virol. 73: 2650-2657). Other molecules tentatively proposed as DV receptors are GRP78/Bip (Jindadamrongwech S. and Smith D R. (2004) Virus Overlay Protein Binding Assay (VOPBA) reveals serotype specific heterogeneity of dengue virus binding proteins on HepG2 human liver cells. Intervirology. 47: 370-373. Reyes-Del Valle J., Chavez-Salinas S., Medina F and Del Angel R M. (2005) Heat shock protein 90 and heat shock protein 70 are components of dengue virus receptor complex in human cells. J Virol. 279: 4557-4567) and the laminin receptor (Thepparit C. and Smith D. R. (2004) Serotype-specific entry of dengue virus into liver cells: identification of the 37-kilodalton/67-kilodalton high-affinity laminin receptor as a dengue virus serotype I receptor. J Virol. 278: 12647-12656. Tio P. H., Jong W W and Cardosa M. J. (2005) Two dimensional VOPBA reveals laminin receptor (LAMR1) interaction with dengue virus serotypes 1, 2 and 3. Virol J. 2: 25).
The DC-SIGN protein plays a very important role in the entry of DV virions into immature dendritic cells. However, this protein seems, likewise, to be involved in concentrating the viral particles on the cell surface rather than in their endocytosis (Tassaneetrithp B., Burgess T. H., Granelli-Piperno A., Trumpfheller C., Finke J., Sun W, Eller M. A., Pattanapanyasat K., Sarasombath S., Birx D. L. Steinman R. M., Schlesinger S., and Marovich M. A. (2003) DC-SIGN (CD209) mediates Dengue Virus infection of human dendritic cells. J. Exp. Med. 197: 823-829. Navarro-Sanchez E., Altmeyer R., Amara A, Schwartz O, Fieschi F, Virelizier J L., Arenzana-Seisdedos F. and Despres P. (2003) Dendritic-cell-specific ICAM3-grabbing non-integrin is essential for the productive infection of human dendritic cells by mosquito-cell-derived dengue viruses. EMBO Rep. 4: 723-728. Lozach P Y, Burleigh L, Staropoli I, Navarro-Sanchez E, Harriague J, Virelizier J L, Rey F A, Despres P, Arenzana-Seisdedos F, Amara A (2005) Dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule 3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN)-mediated enhancement of dengue virus infection is independent of DC-SIGN internalization signals. J Biol Chem. 280:23698-708).
The envelope protein (E) of DV and other FV plays a fundamental role in binding to cellular receptors, membrane fusion and virion assembly. Consequently, it constitutes one of the main determinants for host range and virulence, and for the induction of protective immunity (Heinz F. X. (1986) Epitope mapping of flavivirus glycoproteins. Adv Virol. Res. 31: 103-168. Modis Y., Ogata S., Clements D. and Harrison S. C. (2005) Variable surface epitopes in the crystal structure of dengue virus type 3 envelope glycoprotein. J Virol. 79: 1223-1231). This protein, with a molecular mass of 53 to 54 kDa, is the most conserved of the DV structural polypeptides, being 40% identical in its amino acid sequence among the different FV (Mukhopadhyay S., Kuhn R. J. and Rossmann M. G. (2005) A structural perspective of the flavivirus life cycle. Nat Rev Microbiol. 3: 13-22). X-ray crystallography (Modis Y., Ogata S., Clements D. and Harrison S. C. (2003) A ligand-binding pocket in the dengue virus envelope glycoprotein. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 100: 6986-6991) and electron cryo-microscopy studies (Kuhn R. J., Zhang W, Rossmann, M. G., Pletnev S. V., Corver J., Lenches E., Jones C. T., Mukhopadhyay S., Chipman P. R., Strauss E. G., Baker T. S. and Strauss J. H. (2002) Structure of Dengue Virus: Implications for Flavivirus Organization, Maturation, and Fusion. Cell. 108: 717-725) have revealed that, in a fashion similar to other FV, the E protein from DV is found as dimers in the surface of mature virions.
The N-terminal ectodomain of the E protein is formed by 80% of the approximately 500 aminoacid residues of the whole molecule. The remaining residues constitute a transmembrane region that anchors the protein to the lipid envelope surrounding the virus. There are 12 strictly conserved Cys residues in the primary structure of protein E, which are involved in the formation of 6 disulphide bridges (Nowak T. and Wengler G. (1987) Analysis of the disulphides present in the membrane protein of the West Nile flaviviruses. Virology. 156: 127-137. Hahn Y. S., Daller R., Hunkapiller T., Dalrymple J. M., Strauss J. H., and Strauss E. G. (1988) Nucleotide sequence of Dengue 2 RNA and comparison of the encoded proteins with those of other flaviviruses. Virology. 162: 167-180) that play a very important role in the formation of the antigenic epitopes of this molecule (Roehrig J. T., Volpe K. E., Squires J., Hunt A. R., Davis B. S. and Chang G. J. (2004) Contribution of disulfide bridging to epitope expression of the dengue type 2 virus envelope glycoprotein. J Virol. 78: 2648-2652).
The polypeptide chain forming the soluble ectodomain from protein E folds into three structural domains: A central pleated-sheet domain (domain I), an elongated dimerization domain (domain II) and a third, immunoglobulin-like domain (domain III) (Rey F. A, Heinz F. X, and Mandl C. (1995) The envelope glycoprotein from tick-borne encephalitis virus at 2 Å resolution. Nature. 375: 291-298. Modis Y., Ogata S., Clements D. and Harrison S. C. (2003) A ligand-binding pocket in the dengue virus envelope glycoprotein. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA. 100: 6986-6991).
Domain III from the E Protein of DV
Domain III (DIII) is of major functional importance in protein E. Many mutations determining escape to neutralizing antibodies or mediating alterations to viral phenotype (attenuation or virulence determinants) map to the upper and lateral surfaces of this domain. DIII is found on the C-terminal region of each protein E monomer, and comprises aminoacids 294 to 392. This domain constitutes the most prominent region on the virions, in which it exposes its lateral face and is located around the 5× and 3× symmetry axes, having each 60 DIII molecules (Kuhn R. J., Zhang W, Rossmann, M. G., Pletnev S. V., Corver J., Lenches E., Jones C. T., Mukhopadhyay S., Chipman P. R., Strauss E. G., Baker T. S. and Strauss J. H. (2002) Structure of Dengue Virus: Implications for Flavivirus Organization, Maturation, and Fusion. Cell. 108: 717-725).
The structure of DIII is similar to that of the constant region of immunoglobulins. It is formed by a β-barrel with two antiparallel beta sheets, one composed by strands A, B, C′, D and E, and the other by strands C, F and G. The tertiary structure of DIII depends, to a large extent, on the presence of a single disulphide bridge, formed between 2 Cys residues which are strictly conserved among all FV. The reduction of this bridge decreases or eliminates binding by neutralizing antibodies specific for DIII. A wealth of data, obtained from the structural analysis of protein E and DV virions, as well as from direct experimentation, indicate that DIII is part of the region in protein E that interacts with the cellular receptors (Hung J J, Hsieh M T, Young M J, Kao C L, King C C, Chang W (2004) An external loop region of domain III of dengue virus type 2 envelope protein is involved in serotype-specific binding to mosquito but not mammalian cells. J Virol. 78:378-88, Crill W D, Roehrig J T (2001) Monoclonal antibodies that bind to domain II of dengue virus E glycoprotein are the most efficient blockers of virus adsorption to Vero cells. J Virol. 75:7769-73, Thullier P, Demangel C, Bedouelle H, Megret F, Jouan A, Deubel V, Mazie J C, Lafaye P (2001) Mapping of a dengue virus neutralizing epitope critical for the infectivity of all serotypes: insight into the neutralization mechanism J Gen Virol. 82(Pt 8):1885-92).
The studies on structure-function relationships of DIII have also employed synthetic peptides. For example, peptide 386-397, which includes the G beta strand from DIII of DV2, is recognized by the 3H5 neutralizing monoclonal antibody, which is known to interfere with binding of the virus to the cells and inhibits erythrocyte hemagglutination (Roehrig J T, Bolin R A, Kelly R G (1998) Monoclonal antibody mapping of the envelope glycoprotein of the dengue 2 virus, Jamaica Virology. 246:317-28). However, several mutations in this region of protein E are not detrimental for binding of 3H5 (Hiramatsu K, Tadano M, Men R, Lai C J (1996) Mutational analysis of a neutralization epitope on the dengue type 2 virus (DEN2) envelope protein: monoclonal antibody resistant DEN2/DEN4 chimeras exhibit reduced mouse neurovirulence. Virology. 1996, 224:437-45), whereas, mutations of residues E383, P384 and G385 abrogate this binding. It has also been shown that peptide 380-389, corresponding to the F-G loop and part of strand G, can block the interaction of DIII with mosquito cells but not, however with mammalian cells (Hung J J, Hsieh M T, Young M J, Kao C L, King C C, Chang W (2004) An external loop region of domain III of dengue virus type 2 envelope protein is involved in serotype-specific binding to mosquito but not mammalian cells. J Virol. 78:378-88). On the other hand, peptide 306-314 from DV1, corresponding to the A beta strand, is recognized by the 4E11 neutralizing antibody (Thullier P, Demangel C, Bedouelle H, Megret F, Jouan A, Deubel V, Mazie J C, Lafaye P (2001) Mapping of a dengue virus neutralizing epitope critical for the infectivity of all serotypes: insight into the neutralization mechanism J Gen Virol. 82(Pt 8):1885-92). This peptide is capable of inhibiting viral infection in Vero cells when used at high concentrations (approximately 500 μM).
Alpha 2-Macroglobulin (A2M)
The human A2M belongs to the family of the alpha macroglobulins, whose members share the characteristic of being able to bind a wide range of peptides, proteins and particles, thus serving as a humoral line of defense in the plasma and tissues of vertebrates. There are human A2M homologues in the circulation of vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in the egg white from birds and reptilians (Borth W (1992) Alpha 2-macroglobulin, a multifunctional binding protein with targeting characteristics. 6:3345-53).
Human A2M is a glycoprotein formed by four subunits 180 kDa each, forming a 720 kDa homotetramer. This protein is synthesized in different cell types, e.g. lung fibroblasts, monocytes/macrophages, hepatocytes and astrocytes. There are five reactive sites per subunit: 1) The “bait” region, a stretch of 25 aminoacids located approximately in the middle of each subunit, which can be cleaved by proteases belonging virtually to any mechanistic class, produced by the host or any incoming microorganism; 2) A thioester bond between the side chains of a cysteine and a glutamine, which can be cleaved either by high temperatures, the presence of small nucleophiles such as primary amines, reducing agents or water; 3) The receptor binding site, comprised by C-terminal amino acids from each subunit, which is exposed only after cleavage of the thioester bond; 4) A transglutaminase binding site, located 20 aminoacids before the “bait” region and 5) A Zn2+-binding site.
Human A2M inhibits a large number of proteolytic enzymes involved in a wide range of biological processes such as fibrinolysis, coagulation, digestion, the immune response and invasive tissue growth. Cleavage of the “bait” region by a protease induces a conformational change in A2M which is tightly coupled to the hydrolysis of the thioester bond, as a result of which A2M entraps the protease within its new conformation. The net result of this process is that A2M prevents the access of large substrates to the active site of the protease. This conformational change also exposes the receptor binding region in each subunit of the tetramer, and therefore the A2M-protease complexes are quickly eliminated from the circulation by receptor-mediated endocytosis (Gonias S L, Balber A E, Hubbard W J, Pizzo S V (1983) Ligand binding, conformational change and plasma elimination of human, mouse and rat alpha-macroglobulin proteinase inhibitors. Biochem J. 1. 209:99-105).
Besides its role as a proteolytic regulator, A2M is also involved in many processes, due to its ability for binding a number of different molecules and then release this cargo at different stages along the endocytic pathway. The functions of A2M as a carrier protein have been associated to the transport from the endocytic pathway to the cytoplasm, transcytosis and degradation with or without the involvement of the antigen presentation machinery (Pizzo Salvatore V, Gron Hanne (2004) Immune response modulator alpha-2 macroglobulin complex, U.S. Pat. No. 6,403,092).
The nature of the chemical interaction with A2M has been found to be a key determinant for the final cellular destination of the cargo peptide or protein. Reversible interactions allow the cargo to assume a biological role once dissociated from the complex in the early stages of the endocytic pathway, whereas irreversibly bound proteins or peptides usually reach the lysosomal compartments, where they are degraded (Borth W (1992) Alpha 2-macroglobulin, a multifunctional binding protein with targeting characteristics The FASEB journal 6:3345-53).
The Alpha-2 Macroglobulin Receptor
The A2M receptor (A2MR), also known as low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP1) and as CD91, has been linked to numerous physiological roles of vital importance, such as the metabolism of lipids, hemostasis, the activation of lysosomal enzymes and neurotransmission.
A2MR is a heterodimer formed by an extracellular 500 kDa α chain, non-covalently bonded to a transmembrane 85 kDa β chain. The α chain contains four clusters of 2, 8, 10 and 11 complement-like Cys-rich ligand binding sites. After each cluster of ligand binding sites there is an EGF-like domain formed by Cys-rich regions and YWTD domains. The cytoplasmic tail of the β chain has two NPxY motifs that are recognized by adaptor proteins involved in signaling and endocytosis (Herz J, Strickland D K. (2001) LRP: a multifunctional scavenger and signaling receptor. J Clin Invest. 108:779-84).
A2MR recognizes at least 30 different ligands belonging to different protein families including lipoproteins, proteases, protease-inhibitor complexes, extracellular matrix proteins, bacterial toxins, viruses and several intracellular proteins. The studies aimed at detailing the characteristics of the interactions of these molecules with A2MR have revealed that the capacity of the receptor for recognition of such a wide array of ligands is provided by the presence of the 31 ligand binding sites, each presenting a unique interaction surface. A high-affinity interaction with the receptor, therefore, involves simultaneous binding to several ligand binding sites.
The human A2MR also recognizes ligands from other species, with affinity constants similar to those displayed for the endogenous ligands.
The interaction of viruses with their cellular receptors is a prime determinant of infectivity. The obtention of compounds that block virus-receptor interactions can lead to the development of potent antiviral drugs.
In the case of DV, it has been shown that there is a high correlation between viremia and the severity of the disease. The obtention of an effective antiviral drug able to decrease viral loads in the infected patients is, therefore, a very attractive strategy for the control of the severe forms of the disease. However, the development of antiviral drugs for DV based on the blocking of the virus-receptor interactions has been hampered by the lack of knowledge of the identity of the receptor that mediates virus endocytosis, the nature of the interaction, and the determinants for recognition.
The present invention is based on the findings that DIII from protein E of DV2, strain Jamaica (Seq. ID.1) can form reversibly bound complexes with A2M from human plasma (Seq. ID. 2), and that blocking the A2MR receptor (Seq. ID. 3) by means of anti-receptor antibodies or competitive ligands can inhibit the infection by DV of mammalian cells. The former suggests that A2M, in this setting, functions as a carrier protein from the virus to the A2MR receptor, serving as one of the means for viral entry to the cell through endocytosis mediated by this receptor.
A2M and its receptor, A2MR, are widely distributed throughout different tissues and organisms, where homologues for these proteins have been found. Both molecules (A2M and A2MR) have evolved from ancestral protein families. Since there is a high degree of structural and aminoacid sequence homology between the members of each family, the activity of these molecules as DV receptors is potentially present in a large variety of cell types and organisms. Also, given the high similarity between the ligand binding domains of the different members of the LDL receptor family, it is possible to infer the existence of an interaction between DV and other receptors belonging to this family.
As an example, the members of the minor family of the rhinoviruses use different members of the LDL receptor family as cellular receptors; in this case they are the low-density lipoprotein receptor, the very low density lipoprotein receptor, and LRP1 (Hofer F, Gruenberger M, Kowalski H, Machat H, Huettinger M, Kuechler E, Blass D (1994) Members of the low density lipoprotein receptor family mediate cell entry of a minor-group common cold virus. Proc Natl Acad Sci 1; 91:1839-42). It is known that the surface proteins of this viral family that interact with their receptors are able to bind, with varying affinities, to members of the LDL receptor family from primate and murine cells, and it has been established that such interactions mediate viral entry in these cell types.
There is also a high degree of structural and sequence homology between the E proteins from different FV and, therefore, other FV might use the A2MR or other receptors from the LDL receptor family. The Flavivirus genus comprises more than 70 viruses, many of which are potent human pathogens. The diseases caused by flaviviral infections are characterized by febrile symptoms that can have haemorrhagic manifestations, encephalitis and hepatic complications. Besides the four serotypes of DV, other conspicuous members of the genus with importance for human health are the Yellow Fever Virus, the Japanese Encephalitis Virus, the Tick-borne Encephalitis Virus, the Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus, and the West Nile Virus.
Based on the findings mentioned above, one object of the present invention is a method for blocking the infection of cells by DV based on the interference of the interaction of the virus with the A2MR receptor. Alternatively, it is possible to modulate the DV infection by interfering the interaction with human A2M. In this context, interfering the interaction with the receptor or with A2M means either reducing or increasing this interaction. The reduction of the interaction would abort viral infection at a very early stage, since the virus would not enter the cell; on the other hand, increasing or potentiating this interaction would prevent the release of the endocytosed virus at the beginning of endosomal acidification, affecting the events of membrane fusion and release of the viral RNA. Both types of interference have been effective for the neutralization of the infectivity of other viruses.
The binding of DV to the cells can be interfered by molecules interacting with either of the two surfaces implicated in this event: the interacting surface of protein E or the interacting surface of the A2MR receptor. Likewise, it is possible to interfere with the union of DV to the cells by using molecules that bind the surface of interaction of the human A2M with the viral protein.
Specifically, the present invention shows that the protein known as Receptor-Associated Protein (that will be referred to as RAP henceforth), which constitutes one of the natural ligands of A2MR, as well as antibodies against this receptor, are capable of inhibiting the infection by DV of Vero cells.
Therefore, an agent for interfering the interaction of DV with the A2MR receptor may consist of a receptor ligand purified from natural sources or obtained by means of recombinant DNA techniques; or may consist of a purified soluble variant of the receptor comprising its extracellular portion (the region comprised between residues 20 to 4419 in the sequence referred to in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 3) or a fragment derived from this portion that is still capable of binding to DV. Preferably, such a fragment would comprise a segment corresponding to one of the ligand binding domains of this receptor (regions comprised between residues 25 to 66, or 70 to 110, or 852 to 892, or 893 to 933, or 934 to 973, or 974 to 1013, or 1014 to 1053, or 1060 to 1099, or 1102 to 1142, or 1143 to 1182, or 2522 to 2563, or 2564 to 2602, or 2603 to 2641, or 2642 to 2690, or 2694 to 2732, or 2733 to 2771, or 2772 to 2814, or 2816 to 2855, or 2856 to 2899, or 2902 to 2940, or 3332 to 3371, or 3372 to 3410, or 3411 to 3450, or 3451 to 3491, or 3492 to 3533, or 3534 to 3572, or 3573 to 3611, or 3612 to 3649, or 3652 to 3692, or 3693 to 3733, or 3739 to 3778, of the sequence identified in the sequence listing as Seq. ID. 3). An interfering agent can also consist of a synthetic ligand, developed for this purpose. An example of the latter would be a synthetic peptide developed using methods known in the art, based on the information provided by the present invention.
Informatics-based methods have become powerful tools for drug design. These methods have the advantage of being able to evaluate large numbers of compounds, consequently providing for great savings in time and experimental work. The successful use of these methods requires the availability of data on the three-dimensional structure of the proteins and ligands involved in the interaction to be affected. Any experimental data that help to define the surface of interaction in any of the reacting molecules are also an invaluable aid in this context.
Considering the state of the art in computational techniques for drug development based on molecular docking, the findings described in the present invention about the role of A2M and its receptor A2MR in the cellular entry of DV provide a target for experiments of virtual screenings for compounds inhibiting this interaction, as potential antiviral drugs or leads for their development. The three-dimensional structures of the ectodomain of protein E and of the DV virion are available, and so are the structural coordinates of the domain mediating the binding of A2M to A2MR, as well as those of several ligand binding domains from members of the LDL receptor family. On the other hand, the present invention also defines aminoacids involved in the interaction of DV with its cellular receptor, and provides information about the structural determinants for this interaction.
Therefore, one mean for obtaining the sequences of synthetic peptides and/or the structure of small molecules that can interfere the interaction of DV with the A2MR receptor may be the use of theoretical methods that implicitly employ one or several methods of computational modeling and models of the three-dimensional structure of DIII, as well as of any of the ligand binding domains of the A2MR receptor. Employing any of these methods for computational modeling, and based on the spatial coordinates for the structure of DIII, it is possible to model the backbone of a polypeptide chain forming an anti-parallel beta hairpin that includes a beta turn in the connecting chain between both strands. Additionally, it is possible to model the side chains of the polypeptide in such a way that the chemical identity of these chains, as well as their conformation, lead to energetically favorable atomic contacts. It is also possible to computationally explore the sequence space, as well as the conformational space of the peptide, the rotamers of the side chains, and to select the most favorable side chains using as a criterion an energy evaluation of the models, which is predictive of a higher affinity for the peptide-protein interaction.
The coordinates of the model of interaction of DIII with one and/or several ligand binding domains of the A2MR receptor can be obtained through experimental means, using X-ray diffraction and/or NMR techniques, or by using computational modeling.
It is also possible to use a computational method of molecular docking to reproduce the atomic details of the interaction between the peptides corresponding to the FG beta hairpin from DIII of protein E from different flaviviruses and the ligand binding domains from the A2MR receptor. Likewise, it is possible to select from a database of molecular structures those compounds which reproduce the characteristics of this interaction, which would therefore constitute prospective inhibitors for blocking flaviviral infections.
Other interfering agents can be obtained by using an antibody or an antibody fragment selected through any of the methods available in the art, e.g. by selection of phage-displayed antibody libraries. In the latter case, the selection can be implemented in such a way that it propitiates the obtention of a specific response against the regions involved in the DV-A2MR or DV-A2M interactions. If the selection is implemented in such a way that a response against the region of interaction of A2MR or A2M is selected, the selection must allow the discrimination between interference of this interaction and interference with the physiological functionality of these molecules.
An object of the present invention is also a method for blocking the infection of cells by DV, based on the use of an agent that interferes with the expression of the A2MR receptor. Using the available methodology in the state of the art for the development of antiviral drugs, it is possible to deduce that one example would be the use of a short interfering RNA (siRNA) that temporarily decreases or eliminates the expression of the A2MR receptor.
Another embodiment of the present invention is a method for the prevention or treatment of the disease caused by DV infection, comprising the administration of an effective amount of a molecule with antiviral activity that interferes with the interaction of DV with a cellular receptor, wherein said cellular receptor is the A2MR cellular receptor. The molecule with antiviral activity, formulated in acceptable conditions according to the current regulations for pharmaceutical preparations, can be administered in an effective dose before the infection or after the appearance of the symptoms of the disease, having a confirmatory laboratory diagnosis for DV infection.
The molecule with antiviral activity against DV may be employed as a prophylactic drug before exposure in high-risk areas for DV infection. A high-risk area for DV infection is a geographical region known to harbor the vector for transmitting DV, that is, the Aedes mosquito, and where detectable circulation of any DV serotype is taking place.
Another embodiment of the present invention is a method to prevent and/or treat the disease caused by DV, which comprises the use of an agent that interferes the interaction of the virus with human A2M.
The present invention is also related to a method for predicting the susceptibility of a specific cell type for DV infection. This prediction can be made by testing for the presence of the gene coding for the A2MR receptor, where the term gene includes the segment of DNA involved in the production of the polypeptide chain, as well as preceding and succeeding regions and intervening sequences (introns) between the coding sequences (exons).
The method comprises the use of 20-50 base pairs-long polynucleotides which hybridize to selected target regions on the sequence of the gene coding for the A2MR receptor and which shall henceforth be denominated as a probe, in conditions allowing the detection of hybridizing targets with 80 to 95% sequence identity to the probe. The procedures used for achieving higher stringency (i.e. detection of regions with only 95% or higher sequence identity to the probe) are well known in the art. The probe used for hybridization can potentially be able to determine whether the gene codes for a protein that still retains all the functionality of a DV receptor. The present invention also comprises the use of molecules which have been developed for interference of the interaction of DV with its receptor, for estimating the susceptibility of a specific cell type to DV infection. The method consists on the detection of the A2MR protein on the cell surface. For example, in may comprise the use of an antibody recognizing the A2MR receptor, or one of its ligands, or a synthetic peptide which interacts with the receptor, which are incubated with the cells to be tested, after which their binding to the cell surface is detected by means of any of the current techniques in the state of the art, such as fluorophore-assisted flow cytometry. Among the ligands that can be used for this embodiment are A2M and RAP.
Another embodiment of the present invention comprises a method for estimating the susceptibility of a specific cell type to DV infection, based on the detection of the A2MR protein. The method involves the obtention of a preparation containing the totality of cellular proteins or a subcellular fraction. The proteins, previously fractioned by electrophoresis in acrylamide gels or not, are transferred to a nitrocellulose membrane, and the presence of the A2MR receptor is detected by means of an antibody that specifically recognizes this molecule, followed by the detection of the bound antibody. Alternatively, the nitrocellulose membrane containing the transferred proteins is incubated in a solution containing one of the ligands of the receptor, e.g. A2M or RAP, and the bound ligand is detected later.
The present invention is also related to a method for screening and identifying a compound which protects against DV infection, comprising the determination of the capacity of the compounds under evaluation to block the interaction of DV with the A2MR receptor. A method based on this principle can employ preparations containing DV virions or, alternatively, the ectodomain from the E protein of DV, or a recombinant protein comprising DIII from said protein. The method involves the incubation of the A2MR receptor jointly with a preparation containing DV and the compound whose blocking capacity is to be evaluated, followed by the estimation of the amount of bound virus and its comparison with the amount of bound virus in the absence of the tested compound. The detection is performed, preferably, by using the receptor bound to or immobilized on a solid phase, adding the mixture of virions and the evaluated compound in solution.
The A2MR preparation can consist of a sample purified from natural sources, where the A2MR receptor accounts, preferably, for at least 75% of the total protein contents of the sample. Some examples of natural sources are cell/tissue homogenates, or culture supernatants from cell culture, or human plasma. The A2MR preparation can also consist of a recombinant protein comprising the α chain of the receptor or a fragment thereof, which retains the functionality as DV receptor.
The present invention also comprises a method for screening and identifying a compound that can protect against DV infection, based on determining the capacity of the compounds under evaluation to block the interaction of DV with human A2M. A method based on this principle may, alternatively, employ the ectodomain from the E protein of DV, or a recombinant protein comprising DIII from said molecule. In order to evaluate the activity of the compounds being screened, the substance under evaluation is incubated with A2M and its capacity to interfere the interaction with DV, or the ectodomain from protein E, or DIII from protein E, is estimated.
Materials and Methods
Denaturing Protein Electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE)
Polyacrylamide gels were used according to the standard conditions described by Laemmli (Laemmli, U. K., (1970). Cleavage of structural proteins during the assembly of the head of bacteriophage T4. Nature 227: 680-685). The protein samples were diluted in sample buffer (1% SDS, 0.3 M Tris-HCI, pH 6.8). For analysis under reducing conditions the same procedure was followed, but adding β-mercaptoethanol to a final concentration of 2 mM to the sample buffer, and heating the samples for 2 min. at 95° C. The electrophoretic runs were performed at 20 mA in 0.25 M Tris-HCl, 1.92 M glycine buffer, pH 8.3 and 1% SDS. The standard methodologies for staining with Coomassie blue or silver were employed. The gels intended for the electrophoretic separation of proteins to be later analyzed by mass spectrometry were stained following the procedure for silver staining without glutaraldehyde, which is downstream-compatible with this technique (Shevchenko, A., Willm, M., Vorm, O. y Mann, M., (1996). Anal. Chem. 68: 850-858).
The proteins, once separated by electrophoresis, were transferred from the gel to 0.45 μm Hybond-ECL nitrocellulose membranes (Amersham, UK) in an underwater transfer cell (Towbin H., Staehelin T. and Golden J. (1979). Electroforetic transfer of protein from polyacrylamide gel to nitrocellulose sheets: procedure and some applications. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 76: 4350-4354). After transfer the membranes were blocked with 5% (w/v) skimmed milk in PBS pH 7.4, 0.1% Tween-20 by incubation for 1 hour at 25° C., under constant shaking. Afterwards, they were incubated overnight at 4° C. with the corresponding antibody diluted in PBS pH 7.4, 0.1% Tween-20, 5% skimmed milk. After rinsing with plenty of PBS pH 7.4, 0.1% Tween-20, the membrane was then incubated for 1 h at 25° C. with the proper peroxidase conjugate, depending on the species from which the antibodies had been obtained. The conjugates in all cases were obtained either from Amersham (UK) or Sigma (USA). The peroxidase substrate used for visualizing the reactive species is indicated in the respective figure captions.
Two pieces of nitrocellulose membrane were sensitized with equimolar amounts of DIIIE2J and BSA for 1 hour at 25° C. Both membranes included, as a control for the anti-virus reactivity of the antibodies, a preparation of viral antigen from DV serotype 2 with its corresponding negative control. The membranes were blocked for 1 hour, under constant shaking, at 25° C. in PBS, 0.1% Tween-20 containing 5% skimmed milk. The incubation with the different antibody preparations was performed in PBS, 0.01% Tween-20, 5% skimmed milk for 2 h at 25° C. At the end of the incubation the membranes were washed extensively with PBS, 0.01% Tween-20 and incubated with an anti-mouse IgG-peroxidase conjugate (Amersham, UK) in the case of murine antibodies, or an anti-human IgG-peroxidase conjugate (Sigma, USA) for those of human origin, during 1 h at 25° C. in both cases. After washing extensively the membrane for a second time, the membranes were developed using the ECL Western Blotting Analysis System (Amersham, UK) with CP-G PLUS (AGFA, Belgium) film in an FBXC 810 autoradiography cassette (Fisher Biotech, USA). The films were developed in an automatic processor for autoradiographic films (Hyperprocessor, Amersham, UK).
Protein Immobilization into Chromatographic Gels
A 10 mg aliquot of purified protein was dialyzed against 0.1 Mol/L NaHCO3 pH 8.3, 0.5 Mol/L NaCl. Coupling of the protein to a chromatographic gel was achieved by incubation with 1 mL of CNBr-activated Sepharose (Amersham, UK) for 2 hours at 25° C. The uncoupled protein was removed from the gel by centrifugation at 500×g for 5 min. The coupling efficiency was estimated by comparison of the protein concentration of the solution before and after the reaction. In all cases, approximately 95% of the protein was immobilized.
Assay for Protein Concentration
The assays for the determination of protein concentration were carried out using a bicinchoninic acid-based kit (Pierce, USA), following the instructions of the manufacturer for assays in 96-well plates. The standard curve was prepared with different dilutions (0.025-2 mg/mL) of bovine serum albumin (BSA) (Sigma, USA).
Covalent Immobilization onto cm5 Chips
A cm5 chip (Biacore, Sweden) was used for the covalent immobilization of the DIIIE2J and LRP1 proteins. The immobilization was carried out at 25° C., with a flow of 5 μL/min and using HBS (Biacore, Sweden) as running buffer. The surface of the chip was activated by loading 35 μL of 0.2 Mol/L N-ethyl-N′-(3-diethylamino-propyl) carbodiimide (EDC) and 0.05 Mol/L N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS). Afterwards the proteins, dissolved in 10 mM sodium acetate buffer pH 4.5, were loaded into the system. At the end of the immobilization, 35 μL of 1 M ethanolamine pH 8 were loaded into the system in order to block any remaining free activated groups. The channel to be used as a negative control in each case received only the activating injections with the EDC:NHS solution and the blocking with ethanolamine, employing the same flow and injection volume. The results were analyzed using the BIAevaluation ver. 4.1 software application package (Biacore, Sweden).
Analysis by Mass Spectrometry
The mass spectra were acquired with a hybrid mass spectrometer with octagonal geometry QTOF-2™ (Micromass, UK), equipped with a Z-spray electronebulization ionization source.
The software used for the acquisition and processing of the spectra was MassLinx, ver. 3.5 (Waters, USA). The ESI-MS spectrum of the mixture of tryptic peptides was deconvoluted using MaxEntropy ver. 3.0 (Micromass, UK). The identification software applications employed were MASCOT and SeqTag.
Obtention of DIII from Protein E of DV2 Genotype Jamaica (DIIIE2J)
Domain III from the E protein of DV2 was obtained by recombinant DNA techniques, expressing in the bacterium Escherichia coli a gene fragment coding for this polypeptide. For this goal, two oligonucleotides with the sequences CATATGGCCATGGACAAACTACAGCTC (SEQ ID. 19) and CTCGAGGCCGATGGAACTTCCTTT (SEQ ID. 20), carrying in their 5′ ends the recognition sequences for the restriction enzymes Nde I and Xho I respectively (in bold in the sequences), were synthesized using the phosphoramidite method (Beaucage S L, Caruthers M H, Deoxynucleoside phosphoramidites-A new class of key intermediates for deoxypolynucleotide synthesis., Tetrahedron Letters, (1981), 22, 1859).
With this oligonucleotides, and using as a template the p30-VD2 plasmid (Deubel V, Kinney R M, Trent D W, Nucleotide sequence and deduced amino acid sequence of the structural proteins of dengue type 2 virus, Jamaica genotype. Virology, (1986), 155, 365) containing the first 2469 nucleotides from the genome of the Jamaica 1409 strain of DV2, a DNA fragment coding for DIII of the E protein was amplified by PCR (Saiki R K, Scharf S, Faloona F, Mullis K B, Horn G T, Erlich H A, Arnheim N, Enzymatic amplification of beta-globin genomic sequences and restriction site analysis for diagnosis of sickle cell anemia. Science (1985), 230, 1350). This fragment was cloned into the pMOSBlue vector using the pMOSBlue blunt-ended cloning kit from Amersham, UK (RPN 5110), and then purified by digestion of the resulting plasmid with the enzymes Nde I and Xho I (Promega Benelux, b.v., The Netherlands) according to the instructions of the manufacturer, followed by electrophoresis on low melting temperature agarose gels (Sambrook, J.; Fritsch, E. F.; Maniatis, T. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (1989), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York, USA). This fragment was then ligated to the pET22b+ plasmid (Novagen Inc., USA) digested identically, using T4 DNA ligase (Promega Benelux, b.v., The Netherlands) under the conditions specified by the manufacturer.
The obtained mixtures were transformed into the E. coli strain XL-1 Blue (Bullock W O, Fernández J M, Short J M. XL-1Blue: A high efficiency plasmid transforming recA Escherichia coli K12 strain with beta-galactosidase selection. Biotechniques 1987; 5:376-8) according to Sambrook et al. (Sambrook J, Fritsch EF, Maniatis T. Molecular cloning: A laboratory manual. New York, USA: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1989), and the resulting plasmids present in the colonies obtained after growth in selective medium were screened by restriction analysis. The sequence of several recombinant plasmids was verified by automatic Sanger sequencing, and a representative molecule whose sequence matched the expected sequence was chosen and denominated pET-iDIIIE2_J (SEQ ID. 21). This plasmid codes for the intracellular synthesis, in E. coli, of DIII from protein E of DV serotype 2, strain Jamaica 1409, under control of the T7 promoter. The obtained protein, denominated DIIIE2J (SEQ ID. 22), contains a sequence of 6 consecutive histidines at its C-terminus, introduced as a tag for facilitating its purification by immobilized metal affinity chromatography (IMAC) (Sulkowski, E. (1985) Purification of proteins by IMAC. Trends Biotechnol. 3, 1-7).
In order to purify DIIIE2J, the pET-iDIIIE2_J plasmid was transformed (Sambrook J, Fritsch E F, Maniatis T. Molecular cloning: A laboratory manual. New York, USA: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1989) into the BL21(DE3) E. coli strain (Studier, F. W and B. A. Moffatt. “Use of bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase to direct selective high-level expression of cloned genes.” J. Mol. Biol. 189.1 (1986): 113-30), and a well-isolated colony was used to inoculate a 50 mL Luria Bertani culture supplemented with 50 μg/mL ampicillin (LBA). The culture was grown for 12 hours at 30° C. at 350 r.p.m. and then used to inoculate 1 L of LBA medium at a starting optical density of 0.05 at 620 nm, which was then grown for 8 h at 28° C. until the late exponential phase and induced by the addition of isopropylthiogalactoside (IPTG). Growth was resumed under the same conditions for 5 further hours.
The induced culture was centrifuged at 5000×g for 30 min. at 4° C. and the resulting biomass was resuspended in 30 mL of PBS and ruptured using 3 cycles on a French press at 1500 kg/cm2. After centrifugation of the homogenate at 10 000×g for 30 min. at 4° C. the pellet, containing the protein as inclusion bodies, was solubilized in 30 mL of PBS, 6 M guanidinium hydrochloride and DIIIE2J was refolded by dilution into PBS/10 mM imidazole at a final protein concentration of 100 μg/mL.
The refolded DIIIE2J was purified by immobilized metal affinity chromatography (Sulkowski, E. (1985) Purification of proteins by IMAC. Trends Biotechnol. 3, 1-7) using Ni-NTA agarose (Qiagen Benelux B. V., The Netherlands). After binding, the protein was eluted by successively washing the column with 50,100 and 300 mMol/L solutions of imidazole in PBS pH 7.4, 0.3 Mol/L NaCl as buffer. The obtained protein has a purity higher to or equal to 90% as assessed by the analysis of digital scans of Coomassie Blue-stained SDS-PAGE gels run under denaturing conditions, using the densitometric routines of the ImageJ ver. 1.35d software application (Rasband W, http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/).
Purification of Human A2M
Human A2M was purified from 380 mL of human plasma, obtained by pooling plasma samples from healthy donors who were 30 to 40 years old. The plasma was dialyzed against deionized water with frequent changes for 72 hours at 4° C., the insoluble material was pelleted by centrifugation at 10000×g for 30 min, and the supernatant was dialyzed against PBS pH 6 and loaded into an XK 50/30 column (Amersham, UK) packed with 65 mL of Chelating Sepharose Fast Flow (Amersham, UK) previously loaded with Zn2+ and equilibrated with PBS pH 6. The column was then washed with PBS pH 6 until the absorbance of the eluate at 280 nm decreased to baseline levels, and the bound protein was eluted with 10 mMol/L sodium acetate buffer pH 5, 150 mM NaCl. The eluted protein was concentrated by ultrafiltration using a membrane with a MWCO of 300 kDa and then loaded at a flow of 2 mL/min into a gel filtration column (26×51 cm) packed with Superdex 200 (Amersham, UK) and equilibrated with PBS pH 7.8. The presence of the protein in the fraction with the highest molecular weight was checked by a western blotting assay, using a polyclonal anti-human A2M antibody preparation (Sigma, USA). The activation of the purified A2M was achieved by incubation with 200 mMol/L of methylamine in 50 mMol/L sodium phosphate, 150 mMol/L NaCl, pH 7.4. The obtained A2M_MeNH2 was dialyzed extensively against 50 mMol/L sodium phosphate, 0.5 Mol/L NaCl pH 7.8.
Obtention of the Recombinant Human LRPAP1 (RAP) Protein
The human protein associated to the LRP1 receptor, known as LRPAP1 or, more commonly in the scientific literature, as RAP, was obtained by recombinant DNA techniques, expressing in the bacterium Escherichia coli a gene fragment coding for this molecule. For this goal, total RNA was purified from the human monocytic cell line THP-1 (Tsuchiya, S.; Yamabe, M.; Yamaguchi, Y.; Kobayashi, Y.; Konno, T.; Tada, K. (1980) Establishment and characterization of a human acute monocytic leukemia cell line (THP-1), Int. J. Cancer 26(2):171) using the protocol described by Chomczynsky and Sacchi (Chomczynski, P.; Sacchi, N. (1987) Single-step method of RNA isolation by acid guanidinium thiocyanate-phenol-chloroform extraction. Analytical Biochemistry 162(1):156); and this RNA was reverse-transcribed into cDNA with the GeneAmp RNA PCR Core Kit from Perkin-Elmer (USA, N808-0143), using random hexamers. The gene for the LRPAP1 (RAP) protein was amplified from the cDNA by PCR (Saiki, R. K.; Scharf, S.; Faloona, F.; Mullis, K. B.; Horn, G. T.; Erlich, H. A.; Arnheim, N. (1985) Enzymatic amplification of beta-globin genomic sequences and restriction site analysis for diagnosis of sickle cell anemia. Science 230(4732):1350), using the GeneAmp RNA PCR Core Kit (Perkin-Elmer, USA, N808-0143) and the oligonucleotides CATATGTACTCGCGGGAGAAGAACCAG (SEQ ID. 23) and CTCGAGTCAGAGTTCGTTGTGC (SEQ ID. 24), bearing on their 5′ end the recognition sequence for the restriction enzymes Nde I and Xho I, respectively (in boldface in the sequence), which had been previously synthesized by phosphoramidite chemistry (Beaucage S L, Caruthers M H, Deoxynucleoside phosphoramidites—A new class of key intermediates for deoxypolynucleotide synthesis., Tetrahedron Letters, (1981), 22, 1859).
The amplified fragment was cloned into the pGEM-T vector (Promega Benelux b.v., The Netherlands) using the pGEM-T Vector System I Kit (Promega Benelux b.v., The Netherlands, A3600), and isolated later by digestion with Nde I and Xho I (Promega Benelux, b.v., The Netherlands) under the conditions specified by the manufacturer, followed by electrophoresis on low melting temperature agarose gels (Sambrook, J.; Fritsch, E. F.; Maniatis, T. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (1989), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York, USA). This fragment was then ligated to the pET28a+ plasmid (Novagen Inc., USA), previously digested with Nde I and Xho I, using T4 DNA ligase (Promega Benelux, b.v., The Netherlands) under the conditions specified by the manufacturer. The reaction mixtures were transformed into the Escherichia coli strain XL-1 Blue (Bullock W O, Fernández J M, Short J M. XL-1Blue: A high efficiency plasmid transforming recA Escherichia coli K12 strain with beta-galactosidase selection. Biotechniques 1987; 5:376-8) according to Sambrook et al. (Sambrook J, Fritsch E F, Maniatis T. Molecular cloning: A laboratory manual. New York, USA: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1989) and the plasmids from the colonies obtained after growth in selective medium were screened by restriction analysis. The sequences from several of the resulting recombinant plasmids were verified by automated Sanger sequencing, and a representative clone matching the expected sequence was chosen and denominated pET-RAP (SEQ. ID. 25). This plasmid codes for the intracellular synthesis, in E. coli, of the human protein LRPAP1 (RAP) under control of the T7 promoter. The recombinant protein, denominated RAPR13 (SEQ ID. 26), contains a tag of 6 consecutive histidines at the N-terminus for its later purification through immobilized metal affinity chromatography (IMAC) (Sulkowski, E. (1985) Purification of proteins by IMAC. Trends Biotechnol. 3, 1-7), separated from the remainder of the protein by a thrombin cleavage site.
The purification of RAPR13 was achieved by transforming the pET-RAP plasmid (Sambrook J, Fritsch E F, Maniatis T. Molecular cloning: A laboratory manual. New York, USA: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 1989) into the E. coli strain BL21 (DE3) (Studier, F W and B. A. Moffatt. “Use of bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase to direct selective high-level expression of cloned genes.” J. Mol. Biol. 189.1 (1986): 113-30) and inoculating, from a well isolated colony, a 50 mL culture of ZYM5052 medium (Studier, F. W (2005) Protein production by auto-induction in high density shaking cultures. Protein Expression and Purification 41(1):207) supplemented with kanamycin at 100 μg/mL in a 1 L Erlenmeyer flask which was then incubated for 16 hours at 28° C. and 350 r.p.m. The induced culture was centrifuged at 5000×g for 30 min. at 4° C., and the resulting biomass was resuspended in 30 mL of PBS and ruptured by 3 passes on a French press at 1500 kg/cm2. After centrifugation of the resulting homogenate at 10 000×g for 30 min. at 4° C., the protein was purified from the supernatant by immobilized metal affinity chromatography (Sulkowski, E. (1985) Purification of proteins by IMAC. Trends Biotechnol. 3, 1-7) using Ni-NTA agarose (Qiagen Benelux B. V., The Netherlands), with a linear gradient of 10 to 300 mM imidazole in PBS/0.3 M NaCl as running buffer for the elution. The purified protein has a purity equal to or higher than 90%, as estimated by analyzing digital scans of Coomassie Blue-stained denaturing polyacrylamide electrophoresis gels (SDS-PAGE) of the samples, using the densitometric routines of the ImageJ ver. 1.35d software application package (Rasband W., http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/).
The peptides were obtained by solid phase synthesis on an Fmoc-AM-MBHA resin, using the Fmoc/tBu strategy (Barany, G. and Merrifield, R. B. J Am Chem Soc. 99 (1977) 7363-7365). The aminoacids were coupled by activation with DIC/HOBt, monitoring the completion of the coupling reaction by the ninhydrin assay (Kaiser, E., Colescott, R. L., Bossinger, C. D., Cook, P. I. Anal Biochem. 34 (1970) 595-598). The synthesized peptides were detached from the resin by treatment with a solution of TFA/EDT/H2O/TIS (94%12.5%12.5%1%), precipitated with ether, and lyophilized during 72 h. Peptide cyclization by forming a disulphide bridge was achieved by oxidation with DMSO (Andreu, D., Albericio, F., Solé, N. A., Munson, M. C., Ferrer, M. and Barany, G., Pennington, M. W and Dunn, B. M. (Eds), Peptide Synthesis Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, Totowa, N.J., 1994, pp. 91-169). In all cases, the peptides were purified by RP-HPLC and the collected fractions were analyzed again by analytical RP-HPLC. The final preparation of each peptide was obtained by pooling the fractions with a chromatographic purity equal to or higher than 99%. The mass of the peptide on each final preparation was verified by ESI-MS mass spectrometry.
Assay for the Binding of Fluoresceinated Proteins to the Cellular Surface
Mononuclear peripheral blood cells were obtained by erythrocyte lysis of total blood samples from healthy donors, which had been obtained by venipuncture into BD Vacutainer K3 EDTA vials. The lysis solution (0.3 Mol/L NH4Cl, 20 mMol/L KHCO3, 20 μMol/L Na2EDTA) was added to the blood, using 2 ml per each 100 μl of blood, and the samples were then incubated approximately for 15 min. at 25° C., shaking the samples at 3-min. intervals. The reaction was stopped by chilling to 4° C., and the cells were separated from the lysis solution by centrifugation at 350×g for 5 min. After eliminating the supernatant, the cells were washed with PBS pH 7.4, 1% bovine serum albumin (BSA), 0.01% NaN3, 1 mM CaCl2, 1 mM MgCl2.
In the case of cultured Vero cells, they were detached from the surface of the culture flask without using proteases, by incubation with PBS pH 7.4, 5 mM EDTA for 10 min. at 37° C., gently tapping the outside of the flask.
The cells, collected and washed as described above, were incubated in fixing solution (PBS pH 7.4, 2% paraformaldehyde, 0.01% NaN3, 1 mM CaCl2, 1 mM MgCl2 for 30 min at 4° C., and the fixing solution was then eliminated by centrifugation at 350×g for 5 min a 4° C. The assay was carried out by incubating 1×105 cells during 1 hour at 4° C. in a total volume of 100 μL of each dilution of the fluoresceinated proteins (the dilutions were made in PBS pH 7.4, 1% BSA, 1 mM CaCl2, 1 mM MgCl2). Each experiment included controls with untreated cells. After the incubation, the cells were washed twice and incubated again in fixing solution. The intensity of the fluorescence was quantified by flow cytometry on a PAS III cytometer (Partec, Germany). The values for each experimental point were calculated from measurements on a minimum of 20 000 cells.
Inhibition of Viral Infection in Vero Cells
Vero cells were grown in 24-well plates to approximately 90% confluence, and washed twice with MEM medium without FCS. The dilutions containing the proteins or the antibodies, according to the objective of the assay, were then added and incubated for 1 hour at 37° C. After the incubation, the virus was added at a multiplicity of infection of 0.1, followed by a subsequent incubation for 1 hour at 37° C. At the end of the second incubation, the unbound virus was eliminated by washing, and the cells were incubated for 5 days at 37° C. in high density medium (MEM supplemented with non essential aminoacids, 1% FCS, 1% carboxymethylcellulose) in order to propitiate the appearance of lytic plaques. The plaques were visualized by staining with 0.1% Naphtol Blue Black in 0.15 Mol/L sodium acetate. Two replicates were used per experimental point in each assay, and three independent determinations were performed. The inhibition percentage was calculated according to the expression
Assay of Protection of Mice Using the DV-Induced Encephalitis Model.
Groups of 12 adult Balb/C mice (20 g average body weight) were anesthesized, inoculated by intracranial injection with lethal dosis of DV2 and observed daily for 21 days. The mixtures of peptides with the virus were inoculated in the same way. The volume of the sample inoculated was 20 μL.
Obtention of an Affinity Matrix for the Isolation of Proteins that Bind DIII from DV
With the aim of preparing an affinity matrix with DIII as a ligand for the isolation of human plasma proteins as potential receptors for DV, the recombinant protein DIIIE2J, comprising residues Met289 to Gly400 (SEQ ID. No. 22) of protein E from DV2, was cloned and expressed in E. coli.
After IMAC, the obtained preparation has a high purity as assessed by protein electrophoresis, where silver staining only reveals a major band without detectable contaminants (
DIII has a large number of topographical epitopes recognized by neutralizing antibodies, and in all these cases it has been shown that antibody recognition is abolished upon reduction of the disulphide bridge between the two cysteines of DIII. (Roehrig J T, Bolin R A, Kelly R G (1998) Monoclonal antibody mapping of the envelope glycoprotein of the dengue 2 virus, Jamaica Virology 246:317-28). With the aim of verifying the molecular weight of the protein and to confirm the presence of the disulphide bridge, the aliquot of DIIIE2J purified by rp-HPLC was further analyzed by mass spectrometry. As can be seen in
In order to further examine the status of the disulphide bridge, an aliquot of the rp-HPLC purified DIIIE2J was separated into 2 fractions with the same volume. One of the fractions was reduced with dithiothreitol, after which both fractions were alkylated by treatment with iodoacetamide, followed by ESI-MS analysis. The results showed that the alkylating agent had been incorporated only in the fraction previously treated with dithiothreitol, evidenced by an increased mass of 13631.0 Da that differs only by 1.2 Da from the expected value for the reduced and carbamidomethylated species. The fraction subjected only to alkylation without previous reduction has the same mass (13515.00 Da) as the untreated protein, confirming that the preparation of DIIIE2J does not have free sulfhydryl groups and that the 2 Cys residues of the molecule are bonded forming the characteristic disulphide bridge of DIII.
The antigenic characterization of the protein was performed in a dot-blot assay. As can be seen in
In order to be employed as an affinity chromatography ligand, it is important to ascertain whether the immobilized DIIIE2J is capable of reproducing the interactions in which it is involved in the context of the viral surface. With this goal, DIIIE2J was immobilized on Sepharose 4B and tested for binding of antibodies originally raised against complete viral particles. Aliquots of 20 μL of the DIIIE2J affinity resin were equilibrated in binding buffer (PBS pH 7.4, 0.1% Tween-20) and incubated with the antibody samples, diluted in binding buffer, for 30 min. at 25° C. (In each step, removal of the added solution was achieved by centrifugation at 500×g for 5 min). After extensively washing the resin with binding buffer, the bound antibodies were eluted by successive incubations in 20 mM Gly pH 2.5 and in reducing sample buffer for SDS-PAGE. The results obtained in this experiment evidenced that the immobilized recombinant protein is capable of binding specifically the antibodies obtained by immunization with whole virions (
Human A2M Interacts Directly with DIII from Protein E of DV2.
The presence of soluble fragments from cellular receptors in human plasma is widely known. On the other hand, it is also known that the addition of serum to culture media has a marked influence on the efficiency of infection of cultured cells by DV (Nash D R, Halstead S B, Stenhouse A C, McCue C. (1971) Nonspecific Factors in Monkey Tissues and Serum Causing Inhibition of Plaque Formation and Hemagglutination by Dengue Viruses. Infect Immun. 3:193-199). Therefore, it was decided to try to isolate proteins with affinity for DIII of protein E from human plasma, with the aim of screening for potential cellular receptors of DV. Plasma samples, obtained from healthy donors 30 to 40 years old with no detectable antibodies to the virus, were inactivated by incubation at 56° C. for 1 hour, and the precipitated proteins were removed from the solution by centrifugation (5000×g, 10 min.). The supernatant was stored at −80° C. until used.
The isolation of proteins binding to DIII was performed by affinity chromatography. Four parts of human plasma, processed as described above, were mixed with one part of 100 mM HEPES pH 6, 1.75 M NaCl, 25 mM CaCl2, 5 mM MgCl2 and loaded into a column (1.5 cm diameter×1.2 cm height) packed with the DIIIE2J affinity resin, at a flow of 10 cm/h. The sample was recirculated under these conditions on the column for 4 additional hours, at 25° C., and then the column was extensively washed with 100 column volumes of 20 mM HEPES buffer, pH 6, 0.35 M NaCl, 5 mM CaCl2, 1 mM MgCl2. Additionally, the column was washed with 20 mM HEPES buffer pH 6, 0.5 M NaCl, 5 mM CaCl2, 1 mM MgCl2. Elution of the bound protein was achieved by loading 10 mM Gly pH 2.5 into the column, monitoring the absorbance at 280 nm of the eluate with an UV detector.
In order to identify the protein species present in the eluate, a 100 μL aliquot of the collected fraction was precipitated with 10% trichloroacetic acid, resuspended in 20 μL of sample buffer, and subjected to SDS-PAGE. The protein bands were excised and digested with trypsin, followed by ESI-MS analysis of the eluted peptides.
The mass spectra obtained for each protein band were inspected, and the signals with the highest intensity were fragmented to obtain sequence information for the peptides. In all cases, the sequenced peptides corresponded to tryptic fragments from human plasma proteins (table 1).
Besides the proteins involved in direct, specific interactions with the immobilized ligand, there are other molecules in the eluate from the affinity chromatography that have no relevance for this binding. Both albumin (Q645G4, table 1) and IgM and IgG immunoglobulins (P04220 and P01834, table 1) are common contaminants eluted during affinity chromatography experiments with ligands of different specificities, probably due to their high abundance in human plasma, where they can be found at concentrations of approximately 35 mg/mL for albumin, 12-15 mg/ml for IgG and 5 mg/ml for IgM. The presence of immunoglobulins could also be explained by the existence of cross-reactivity with DIIIE2J in some antibodies from human plasma that are actually specific for other antigens.
The presence of A2M (P01023, table 1; Seq. ID. 2) within the set of identified proteins was considered as particularly interesting. It is known that A2M functions as a carrier protein for other molecules that can be targeted, in this manner, to the endocytic pathway via the cellular A2MR receptor (Seq. ID. 3). Also, there are proteins in the chromatographic eluate that may not be involved in direct interactions with the immobilized ligand, and might rather be part of ternary complex with other identified proteins that do bind the ligand (Gavin A C, Bosche M, Krause R, Grandi P, Marzioch M, Bauer A, Schultz J, Rick J M, Michon A M, Cruciat C M, Remor M, Hofert C, Schelder M, Brajenovic M, Ruffner H, Merino A, Klein K, Hudak M, Dickson D, Rudi T, Gnau V, Bauch A, Bastuck S, Huhse B, Leutwein C, Heurtier M A, Copley R R, Edelmann A, Querfurth E, Rybin V, Drewes G, Raida M, Bouwmeester T, Bork P, Seraphin B, Kuster B, Neubauer G, Superti-Furga G (2002) Functional organization of the yeast proteome by systematic analysis of protein complexes Nature. 415:123-4).
In order to determine whether the isolation of A2M is due to a direct interaction with DIIIE2J, a 100 μg aliquot of the latter protein in PBS pH 7.4 was incubated in independent experiments with 100 μg of either non-activated or activated (by methylamine treatment) human A2M. The molar concentration of the proteins in the mixture was 1.4×10−4 mol/L for DIIIE2J and 7×10−7 Mol/L for both variants of human A2M. The reaction was incubated for 1 hour at 37° C. and then loaded into a 10/30 Superdex 200 HR gel filtration column previously equilibrated with 50 mM NaHPO4 buffer, pH 7.0/300 mM NaCl, at a flow of 0.4 mL/min (
Determination of the Affinity Constants for the Interaction Between DIIIE2J and A2M by Biacore
In order to estimate the strength of the interaction between DIIIE2J and human A2M, 1600 RU of DIIIE2J were covalently immobilized on a CM5 chip (channel 1,
During preliminary experiments (
By loading A2M at concentrations from 0.3 μMol/L to 3 μMol/L, it was possible to determine that the interaction between both proteins is saturable and reversible (
Natural Ligands of the A2MR Receptor Inhibit Binding of DIII to Vero Cells and Viral Infection.
RAP is a natural molecular chaperone for LRP1. This protein controls the activity of LRP1, possibly by mediating a conformational change that precludes the binding and/or the internalization of several ligands for this receptor (Herz J, Goldstein J L, Strickland D K, Ho Y K, Brown M S. (1991) 39-kDa protein modulates binding of ligands to low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein/alpha 2-macroglobulin receptor J Biol Chem. 266:21232-8). Therefore, RAP constitutes an ideal ligand to obtain evidences for the involvement of LRP1 on the endocytosis of DV in mammalian cells.
The Vero cell line has been widely used in the study of the nature of the interactions of DV with its cellular receptors. These cells are highly susceptible to infection by the four viral serotypes. They constitute a particularly advantageous tool for the evaluation of antiviral activities against DV, since they can be used for assays measuring the inhibition of the formation of lytic plaques.
Given that this cell line is derived from monkey kidney cells (https://www.atcc.org/) and that the ligands for the A2MR receptor used in the assays are of human origin, a preliminary and necessary step was the corroboration of the binding of the RAPR13 and A2M_MeNH2 proteins to Vero cells. With this aim, these proteins were fluoresceinated, and their binding to the surface of Vero cells was measured using flow cytometry. Both molecules exhibited a concentration-dependant and saturable binding behavior in this cell line (
After this first experiment, it was determined whether RAPR13 was able to inhibit the binding of A2M-MeNH2 to Vero cells, by incubating pre-fixed cells for 30 min. at 4° C. with mixtures of fluoresceinated A2M_MeNH2 and either RAPR13 or human recombinant EGF as a control, using the unlabelled proteins at a 100-fold molar excess. The obtained results evidence a decrease in fluorescence for the cells incubated with A2M_MeNH2 in the presence of RAPR13, in contrast to the samples incubated with A2M_MeNH2 in the presence of recombinant human EGF (
The assay for the inhibition of infection was performed on 24-well plates seeded with a monolayer of Vero cells at approximately 90% confluence. The dilution of the virus was adjusted to obtain approximately 20 lytic plaques per well. The results of the assay showed a drastic reduction in the number of lytic plaques when the cells were pre-incubated before adding the virus either with the RAPR13 protein or with a preparation of polyclonal antibodies against the A2MR receptor (table 2). There were no significant reductions when the cells were pre-incubated with BSA or with antibody preparations against an unrelated antigen.
Similarly, it was possible to show by means of a lytic plaque reduction assay that the inhibition of the infection obtained for DV2 with the RAPR13 protein is dependent on the protein concentration used in the experiment (
Design of Topographic, Structurally constrained Synthetic Peptides
Even though the essential role played by DIII in the binding of FV to the host cells is widely acknowledged, there are no reports of DIII-derived synthetic peptides with a potent (at nanomolar or low-micromolar ranges) activity for the inhibition of DV infection. Several reasons explain this situation: 1) It is not trivial to mimic the structural determinants of whole proteins with synthetic peptides, since the surface patches involved in protein-protein interactions are often topographic, composed of residues which are closely positioned on the three-dimensional structure but separated along the sequence of the protein, 2) Usually, these interaction patches are fairly large, with areas ranging from several hundred to a few thousand Å2. This magnitude is larger than the total surface of small peptides, 3) Peptides have a flexible structure in solution, which implies that there will be a considerable loss in conformational entropy upon adoption of the structure which is biologically relevant for the interaction with its binding partner and, therefore, the affinity of the peptide-protein complex will be significantly lower than that of the protein-protein complex, 4) It is possible for the peptide to adopt relatively stable conformations in solution, but these conformations can be different from that adopted by the peptide in the context of its native protein, 5) The binding of the virus to its protein receptor(s) may involve multipoint interactions and therefore will have a large avidity, since the viral surface has multiple symmetric copies of DIII. This imposes a high energy barrier for the competition between the virus and the peptide for the receptor. Data obtained during studies on the structure-function relationship of the interaction between the A2MR receptor and its natural ligands have shown the important role played by clusters of basic residues and/or by Lys/Arg side chains on the surface of the A2MR ligands. Such is the case of Lys1370 for A2M (SEQ ID. 2) and Lys57 for exotoxin A from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which, if changed by site-directed mutagenesis, result in significant drops in binding of the ligand to the receptor (Arandjelovic S, Hall B D, Gonias S L (2005) Mutation of lysine 1370 in full-length human alpha2-macroglobulin blocks binding to the low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-1. Arch Biochem Biophys. 438:29-35, Wedekind J E, Trame C B, Dorywalska M, Koehl P, Raschke T M, McKee M, FitzGerald D, Collier R J, McKay D B. (2001) Refined crystallographic structure of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A and its implications for the molecular mechanism of toxicity J Mol Biol. 314:823-37). Similarly, other studies have underscored the prominence of a basic cluster formed by residues 136-150, together with Arg172, for the apoE protein (Raussens V, Slupsky C M, Ryan R O, Sykes B D (2002) NMR structure and dynamics of a receptor-active apolipoprotein E peptide. J Biol Chem. 277:29172-80).
On the other hand, the ligand binding domains of the A2MR receptor and, in general, those of all members of the LDL receptor family, are characterized by a significantly negative electrostatic potential on the ligand binding surface, due to the presence of exposed, conserved acid residues that can interact favorably with basic residues on the interacting ligand. For example, the crystallographic structure of a complex between a fragment of the VLDL receptor and human rhinovirus 2, belonging to the minor group of the rhinoviruses, shows a close interaction between LYS224 of the VP1 protein from the viral capsid and residues ASP139 and GLU137 from the receptor (Verdaguer N, Fita I, Reithmayer M, Moser R, Blaas D (2004) X-ray structure of a minor group human rhinovirus bound to a fragment of its cellular receptor protein. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 11:429-34). The aliphatic side chain of Lys224 from VP1 interacts, additionally, with Trp132 from the receptor domain which, although not strictly conserved among all the ligand binding domains of A2MR, is the most frequent aminoacid at this position (in 20 domains out of 31, with Leu appearing in 4 domains, Phe in 3, Arg in 2 and Lys and Ser in only 1 each) (
Given the importance of the Lys/Arg residues and, in general, of electrostatic charges in the interaction with the ligand binding domains of the LDL receptor family, we inspected the localization of the charged residues in the upper and lateral exposed surfaces of the three-dimensional models of the structure of DIII corresponding to DV1-4.
For this analysis, the structures of the E protein from DV2 and DV3 (entries 1oan and 1uzg in the Protein Data Bank) were used as templates for building models of the 3D structure of the E protein from DV1 and DV4, using the program MODELLER (A. Sali, T. L. Blundell. (1993) Comparative protein modelling by satisfaction of spatial restraints. J. Mol. Biol. 234:779-815). As can be seen in
At least one of the four conserved lysine patches on the surface of the DIIIs, and specially the two patches located on or adjacent to the exposed surface of the FG beta hairpin, interact favorably with the ligand binding patches of the A2MR receptor, defined on table 3.
In order to design DIII-based peptides that can inhibit the infection of FV, the Ser376-Trp391 segment (residue numbering from DV2) was selected as the starting point. This segment comprises the FG beta hairpin, which exposes a total area of 745 Å2 to the solvent and is part of the upper/lateral surface of the domain that remains exposed in the context of the structure of the mature virion. Several mutations in this region have been reported to affect the binding of neutralizing antibodies which block the interaction of the virus with the cell or affect the viral phenotype. The structure of the backbone of this segment is conserved between the available crystallographic structures of protein E from DV2 and DV3 (
The synthetic peptides include two cysteines, one in the N-terminus and another in the C-terminus. These residues can form a disulphide bridge which is compatible structurally with a beta hairpin structure, as indicated by the models of the three-dimensional structure of these peptides (
The design allows the formation of 6 hydrogen bonds between the backbone of the F and G strands of the peptide, further increasing its stability (Figure C and D). Residues 4 and 6 (strand F) and 13, 15 and 17 (strand G) are hydrophobic and are oriented towards the same face of the hairpin, which guarantees a favorable hydrophobic interaction between them. Residues 4-6 of the F beta strand are bifurcated at the beta carbon, and are characterized by a high propensity for the adoption of beta/extended structures.
Peptide HDIII3CL (SEQ ID. 7) includes residues Lys11 and Lys14, corresponding to two lysine patches of DIII which constitute putative sites for a favorable interaction with the ligand binding domains from A2MR. Peptide HDIII2CL (SEQ ID. 5) only has 1 patch formed by Lys14; whereas HDIII1CL (DV1, SEQ ID. 6) has two patches and HDIII4CL (DV4, SEQ ID. 8) has none.
Additionally, the cyclic peptides HDIII2Cs (Seq. ID. 4) and pepDIII-1 were designed, corresponding respectively with the sequences Ile379-Lys388 and Gly381-Gln386 from protein E of DV2 (
Peptide HDIII2Cs Reproduces a Topographic epitope from DIII of DV2
With the aim of evaluating the recognition of peptide HDIII2Cs by mAb 3H5, peptide-BSA conjugates were prepared and analyzed by Western blotting with this antibody (
Monoclonal antibody 3H5 was obtained by immunization with a DV2 preparation (Gentry M K, Henchal E A, McCown J M, Brandt W E, Dalrymple J M. (1982) Identification of distinct antigenic determinants on dengue-2 virus using monoclonal antibodies Am J Trop Med Hyg. 31(Pt 1):548-55), and recognizes in a serotype-specific manner an epitope on DIII that depends on the presence of the disulphide bridge. This antibody is potently neutralizing against isolates belonging to serotype 2. The published data indicate that there is a high correlation between the neutralizing activity of this mAb and its capacity for inhibiting binding of the virus to its cellular receptors (He R T, Innis B L, Nisalak A, Usawattanakul W, Wang S, Kalayanarooj S, Anderson R (1995) Antibodies that block virus attachment to Vero cells are a major component of the human neutralizing antibody response against dengue virus type 2 J Med. Virol. 45:451-61). The specific recognition of peptide HDIII2Cs by this antibody evidences that the peptide reproduces a topographic epitope from the surface of DIII of major functional importance.
One of the tools used for the characterization of topographic peptides is the obtention and characterization of anti-peptide sera. With the aim of gathering additional evidence supporting the hypothesis that the designed peptide reproduces the antigenic characteristics of the equivalent region from protein E in the virus, an immunization scheme was started using a HDIII2Cs-KLH conjugate as the immunogen. The scheme comprised the subcutaneous administration of five doses of the HDIII2Cs-KLH conjugate to 10 Balb C mice. The anti-peptide titer of the sera from immunized animals (1/2700) was determined using an indirect ELISA assay, coating the plates with HDIII2Cs and comparing the reactivity of the immune sera with that of their pre-immune controls.
In order to evaluate whether the HDIII2Cs peptide was capable of eliciting a conformation-dependent antibody response, a dot blotting assay was performed in which two pieces of nitrocellulose membrane were sensitized with the PD5 protein and the HDIII2Cs peptide, either unmodified or reduced and carbamidomethylated (
Finally, we evaluated the recognition by the anti-peptide sera of the virus obtained after the infection of Vero cells in a Western blotting format, as well as its capacity for immunoprecipitating 35S_VD2. In the Western blot, the anti-HDIII2Cs serum recognized a band at the same position of a band recognized by mAb 3H5, corresponding to the molecular weight of protein E (
The obtained results evidence that the HDIII2Cs peptide mimics a disulphide bridge-dependent epitope from DIII of protein E from DV2, and that the conformational restriction imposed on the peptide by the disulphide bridge has a dominant effect on the antibody response obtained upon immunization with this antigen. Thus, the cyclization of the peptide is necessary for properly mimicking the structure of this epitope.
The HDIII2CL Peptide is a Better Mimic of the Structure of the Epitope than Peptide HDIII2Cs
An immunization schedule was started with the objective of determining whether the HDIII2CL peptide was able to elicit a better response than peptide HDIII2Cs, evaluated on the basis of the conformational characteristics of this antigenic region on the viral particle. The immunization scheme also included peptides HDIII2Cs and pepDIII-1 (
The resulting anti-peptide sera were tested in an indirect ELISA assay, coating the plates with PD5 and P64k in three variants: unmodified, carbamidomethylated, and reduced/carbamidomethylated. Both the anti-HDIII2Cs and the anti-HDIII2CL sera recognize protein PD5 in a conformation-dependent manner, as evidenced by higher reactivities with the unmodified protein, as compared to the reduced and carbamidomethylated variant (
Topographic Peptides Corresponding to the FG Turn Display Wide-Spectrum Inhibition Against the Four Serotypes of DV
An assay was performed with peptides HIII2CL and HIII3CL (
DIII has one of the most variable regions of the exposed surface of protein E. In fact, one of the antigenic characteristics of this domain is that the antibodies obtained against this region are predominantly serotype-specific (Roehrig J T, Bolin R A, Kelly R G (1998) Monoclonal antibody mapping of the envelope glycoprotein of the dengue 2 virus, Jamaica Virology 246:317-28). However, during the inhibition assay with different DV serotypes, the peptides display a wide-spectrum inhibitory activity, efficiently inhibiting the infection of strains of the homologous, as well as of the heterologous serotypes (table 3). It is important to notice that at the assayed concentration (0.1 mg/ml) all the peptides in all the conditions, with the exception of peptide HIII4CL for DV3, produced higher than 50% inhibition levels.
Based on the structural similarity between different FV for protein E, it was decided to design peptides corresponding to the same DIII region of other FV of interest for animal and human health (
Peptide HDIII2CL Modifies the Interaction of A2MR and RAPR13 with the A2MR Receptor.
In order to obtain a direct evidence of the interaction with the A2MR receptor, the effect of one of the designed peptides on the binding of the natural ligands of A2MR to Vero cells was investigated. The assay was performed with fluoresceinated A2M and RAPR13, measuring their binding to Vero cells in the presence of increasing concentrations of the HDIII2CL peptide. The amount of protein bound to the cells was estimated by flow cytometry, using recombinant human EGF (rhEGF) as a negative control for the experiment, since it is known that Vero cells express the EGF receptor in their surface (Copp J, Wiley S, Ward M W, van der Geer P (2005) Hypertonic shock inhibits growth factor receptor signaling, induces caspase-3 activation, and causes reversible fragmentation of the mitochondrial network. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 288:C403-15).
Inhibition of DV Infection by Activated A2M is Mediated by In-Solution Interaction with the Virus.
To obtain further evidences of the interaction of DV with A2M, the two variants of the protein i.e. activated and non-activated were used in assays of inhibition of infection of Vero cells. The viral preparation was incubated with solutions of activated A2M of higher concentrations than the physiological concentrations reached by this variant of the protein. Solutions of equimolar concentration of non-activated A2M and a non-related protein were used as negative controls.
In order to confirm that the inhibition of infection was due to the in-solution interaction of the virus with activated A2M, both variants of the protein were incubated for increasing intervals of time with the viral preparation before incubation with the cells. The results in
Purified A2MR Inhibits Infection of DV to Vero Cells.
We also addressed whether soluble A2MR is able to inhibit DV infection. To this purpose, the α-chain of the receptor was purified from human plasma of healthy donors where this protein is known to circulate in a range of concentrations of 3.7-10.8 μg/mL (Quinn K A, Grimsley P G, Dai Y P, Tapner M, Chesterman C N, Owensby D A (1997) Soluble low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) circulates in human plasma. J Biol Chem. 272:23946-23951). Samples of 300 mL of frozen human plasma were pre-fractionated by ion exchange chromatography using a column packed with DE-52 (Whatman, UK) and equilibrated with Tris 50 mM, 60 mM NaCl, 1 mM EDTA pH 6. The fractions were eluted by a step gradient of increasing concentrations of NaCl and tested for the presence of A2MR by a ligand-blott analysis with bioinilated ligands (i.e. MeNH2
Receptor-containing fractions were dialized aganist buffer Tris 50 mM, 120 mM NaCl pH 7.4, 1 mM CaCl2, 0.05% Tween 20 and loaded to a column with inmobilized MeNH2_A2M, a ligand uniquely recognized by A2MR among the members of LDLR family. Previous to the elution of the receptor, the column was extensively washed with the equilibration buffer but containing 0.5 M NaCl. For the specific elution of the A2MR was used buffer Tris 50 mM, 0.5 M NaCl pH 6, 10 mM EDTA, 0.05% Tween 20 (
The SDS-PAGE analysis exhibits a differential pattern of proteins bands in both fractions i.e. the fraction eluted with 0.5M NaCl and the fraction corresponding to the specific conditions for the elution of the A2MR. The later fraction shows a single protein band that migrates to a position corresponding with the molecular mass of the α-chain of the A2MR (400-500 kDa) (
The affinity chromatography fractions were evaluated in a DV2-plaque reduction neutralization assay in vero cells. To this aim, a viral preparation containing 100 infective viral particles was pre-incubated with the different fractions at a protein concentration of 25 μg/mL for 1 hour at 25° C. Next, the virus was added to Vero cell monolayers and infection was allowed to occur for 45 minutes at 37° C. Afterwards virus/protein mixtures were removed, the cells were washed with fresh medium and finally the cells were incubated for 5 days at 37° C. in high density medium.
The results of this assay showed a potent neutralization of the infection of DV2 with the fraction corresponding to the conditions for the specific elution of the receptor (
The Peptide HDIII3CL Protects from Dengue Encephalitis in the Mouse Model.
The mouse model of dengue encephalitis was used to investigate the potential of the peptide HDIII3CL to protect against DV2 infection. A group of 12 mice were inoculated with lethal dosis of DV2 in combination with 15 μg and 1.5 μg of HDIII3CL peptide. As negative control was used a peptide composed by fragment of 14 aminoacids of a sequence with known heparin binding activity followed by 16 aminoacids of a sequence non-related to the envelope protein of DV. The negative control peptide was used in an equimolar amount to the highest dose of the peptide HDIII3CL. Another group was inoculated with the same viral preparation but pre-incuabted with mAb 4G2 at 25 μg/mL as positive control of protection.
As can be observed in
The protection of the peptide HDIII3CL against a lethal challenge with DV2 along with the evidence that this peptide is capable of inhibit DV infection in an in vivo model is also confirming the capabiblity of the peptide to protect against infection with a heterologous serotype of DV.