Engineering a fidelity-variant live-attenuated vaccine for chikungunya virus
Authors: Weiss, Christopher M.; Liu, Hongwei; Riemersma, Kasen K.; Ball, Erin E.; Coffey, Lark L.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which causes a febrile illness characterized by severe and prolonged polyarthralgia/polyarthritis, is responsible for a global disease burden of millions of cases each year with autochthonous transmission in over 100 countries and territories worldwide. There is currently no approved treatment or vaccine for CHIKV. One live-attenuated vaccine (LAV) developed by the United States Army progressed to Phase II human clinical trials but was withdrawn when 8% of volunteers developed joint pain associated with vaccination. Attenuation of the Army's CHIKV LAV strain 181 clone 25 (CHIKV-181/25) relies on two mutations in the envelope 2 (E2) glycoprotein responsible for cell binding and entry, making it particularly prone to reversion, a common concern for replication-competent vaccines. High error rates associated with RNA virus replication have posed a challenge for LAV development where stable incorporation of attenuating elements is necessary for establishing safety in pre-clinical models. Herein, we incorporate two replicase mutations into CHIKV-181/25 which modulate CHIKV replication fidelity combined with additional attenuating features that cannot be eliminated by point mutation. The mutations were stably incorporated in the LAV and did not increase virulence in mice. Two fidelity-variant CHIKV LAVs generated neutralizing antibodies and were protective from CHIKV disease in adult mice. Unexpectedly, our fidelity-variant candidates were more mutable than CHIKV-181/25 and exhibited restricted replication in mice andAedesmosquitoes, a possible consequence of hypermutation. Our data demonstrate safety and efficacy but highlight a further need to evaluate fidelity-altering phenotypes before use as a LAV given the potential for virulent reversion.
ALK3-SMAD1/5 Signaling Mediates the BMP2-Induced Decrease in PGE2 Production in Human Endometrial Stromal Cells and Decidual Stromal Cells
FRONTIERS IN CELL AND DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY
Authors: Zhang, Yu; Zhu, Hua; Chang, Hsun-Ming; Leung, Peter C. K.
BMP2 is a critical factor that is involved in the processes of embryo implantation and uterine decidualization. The expression of cyclooxygenase (COX) and subsequent prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production are critical for successful pregnancy. However, it is not clear whether BMP2 can regulate the production of PG during endometrial decidualization. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of BMP2 on COX-1 expression and PGE2 production as well as the underlying molecular mechanisms in the human endometrium. Immortalized human endometrial stromal cells (HESCs) and human decidual stromal cells (HDSCs) were used as the study model to investigate the effects of BMP2-induced cellular activities. Our results showed that BMP2 treatment significantly decreased PGE2 production by downregulating COX-1 expression in both human endometrial stromal and decidual stromal cells. Additionally, BMP2 induced an increase in the levels of phosphorylated SMAD1/5/8, and this effect was completely abolished by the addition of the inhibitors DMH-1 and dorsomorphin, but not by SB431542. Knocking down ALK3 completely reversed the BMP2-induced downregulation of COX-1. Moreover, concomitantly knocking down SMAD1 and SMAD5 completely reversed the BMP2-induced downregulation of COX-1. Our results indicated that BMP2 decreased PGE2 production by downregulating COX-1 expression, most likely through the ALK3/SMAD1-SMAD5 signaling pathway in human endometrial stromal and human decidual stromal cells. These findings deepen our understanding of the functional role of BMP2 in the regulation of endometrial decidualization in humans.