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Author: Donna Huber

Cutting Edge: Augmenting Muscle MHC Expression Enhances Systemic Pathogen Control at the Expense of T Cell Exhaustion

Myocytes express low levels of MHC class I (MHC I), perhaps influencing the ability of CD8+ T cells to efficiently detect and destroy pathogens that invade muscle. Trypanosoma cruzi infects many cell types but preferentially persists in muscle, and we asked if this tissue-dependent persistence was linked to MHC expression. Inducible enhancement of skeletal muscle MHC I in mice during the first 20 d of T. cruzi infection resulted in enhanced CD8-dependent reduction of parasite load. However, continued overexpression of MHC I beyond 30 d ultimately led to a collapse of systemic parasite control associated with immune exhaustion, which was reversible in part by blocking PD-1:PD-L1 interactions. These studies demonstrate a surprisingly strong and systemically dominant effect of skeletal muscle MHC expression on maintaining T cell function and pathogen control and argue that the normally low MHC I expression in skeletal muscle is host protective by allowing for pathogen control while preventing immune exhaustion.

Angela D. Pack and Rick L. Tarleton. J Immunol. 2020 Jun 26;ji2000218. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2000218.

Bioactivity of Spongian Diterpenoid Scaffolds From the Antarctic Sponge Dendrilla antarctica

The Antarctic sponge Dendrilla antarctica is rich in defensive terpenoids with promising antimicrobial potential. Investigation of this demosponge has resulted in the generation of a small chemical library containing diterpenoid secondary metabolites with bioactivity in an infectious disease screening campaign focused on Leishmania donovaniPlasmodium falciparum, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) biofilm. In total, eleven natural products were isolated, including three new compounds designated dendrillins B-D (1012). Chemical modification of abundant natural products led to three semisynthetic derivatives (1315), which were also screened. Several compounds showed potency against the leishmaniasis parasite, with the natural products tetrahydroaplysulphurin-1 (4) and dendrillin B (10), as well as the semisynthetic triol 15, displaying single-digit micromolar activity and low mammalian cytotoxicity. Triol 15 displayed the best profile against the liver-stage malaria parasites, while membranolide (5) and dendrillin C (11) were strong hits against MRSA biofilm cultures.

Alexandre Bory, Andrew J Shilling, Jessie Allen, Ala Azhari, Alison Roth, Lindsey N Shaw, Dennis E Kyle, John H Adams, Charles D Amsler, James B McClintock, Bill J Baker. Mar Drugs. 2020 Jun 23;18(6):E327. doi: 10.3390/md18060327.

New Scheme of Intermittent Benznidazole Administration in Patients Chronically Infected With Trypanosoma cruzi: Clinical, Parasitological and Serological Assessment After Three Years of Follow-Up

Introduction. In a pilot study, we showed that intermittent administration of benznidazole in chronic Chagas disease patients resulted in a low rate of treatment suspension and therapeutic failure, as assessed by qPCR at the end of treatment. Herein, a three-year post-treatment follow-up study of the same cohort of patients is presented.

Methods. The treatment scheme consisted of 12 doses of benznidazole at 5 mg/kg/day in two daily doses every 5 days. Parasite load, T. cruzi-specific antibodies and serum chemokine levels were measured prior to treatment and after a median follow-up of 36 months post-treatment by kDNA and SatDNA qPCR methods, conventional serological techniques and a Luminex-based assay with recombinant T. cruzi protein, and a cytometric bead array, respectively.

Results. At the end of follow-up, 14 of 17 (82%) patients had negative qPCR findings, whereas three of 17 (18%) had detectable nonquantifiable findings by at least one of the qPCR techniques. A decline in parasite-specific antibodies at 12 months post-treatment was confirmed by conventional serological tests and the Luminex assays. Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) levels increased after treatment, whereas monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG) levels decreased. New post-treatment electrocardiographic abnormalities were observed in only one patient who had cardiomyopathy prior to treatment.

Conclusions. Altogether, these data strengthen our previous findings by showing that the intermittent administration of benznidazole results in a low rate of treatment suspension, with comparable treatment efficacy to that of a daily dose of 5mg/kg for 60 days.

María Gabriela Álvarez, Juan Carlos Ramírez, Graciela Bertocchi, Marisa Fernández, Yolanda Hernández, Bruno Lococo, Constanza Lopez-Albizu, Alejandro Schijman, Carolina Cura, Marcelo Abril, Susana Laucella, Rick L Tarleton, María Ailen Natale, Melisa Castro Eiro, Sergio Sosa-Estani, Rodolfo Viotti. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2020 Jun 22;AAC.00439-20. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00439-20.

Dynamics of Infection and Pathology Induced by the Aporocotylid, Cardicola Laruei, in Spotted Seatrout, Cynoscion Nebulosus (Sciaenidae)

 

The sciaenid Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) are infected by blood flukes (Cardicola spp.). A 2 year survey in estuaries of South Carolina, USA, showed that adult flukes and granulomas occurred throughout the year but their prevalence was highest in summer (61% and 84%, respectively), indicating an unusually high level of infection for wild fish. Granulomas remained after adult flukes could no longer be found. PCR-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) of a subsample of specimens allowed identification of Cardicola laruei as the only species infecting these seatrout during the period of study. Mean intensity of infection by flukes was higher in female seatrout, suggesting endocrine and/or immune system involvement. The prevalence of granulomas declined sharply in winter, indicating possible mortality of infected seatrout as this species is known to be cold-sensitive. Granulomas were studied using histology, immunohistochemistry, and transmission electron microscopy. Eggs were encapsulated by an inner core of dark epithelioid cells, and an outer core of large epithelioid cells undergoing epithelialization. Fibrosis was observed around granulomas and some granulomas detached from the surrounding damaged myocardium. Numerous inflammatory cells appeared mobilized around granulomas and pathology could be severe, in some cases showing grossly visible blister-like extrusions scattered in the damaged epicardium. At the gross level, some granulomas possessing eggs with live miracidia were observed at the surface of the epicardium. These findings suggest that granulomas carrying both dead and live eggs can clear the fish heart by host-mediated transport through the myocardium, as is known to occur in related human Schistosoma infections.

Eric J. McElroy, Barbara Nowak, Kristina M. Hill-Spanik, Willard O. Granath, Vincent A. Connors, Jim Driver, C. Jonathan Tucker, Dennis E. Kyle, Isaurede Buron. Int J Parasitol. 2020 Jun 19;S0020-7519(20)30148-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2020.03.016.

Regional Survey of Diamondback Moth (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) Response to Maximum Dosages of Insecticides in Georgia and Florida

We conducted maximum dose bioassays of insecticide for the control of diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella (Linnaeus), in cole crops, from 2016 to 2019 at several commercial locations in Georgia and Florida. The nominal maximum dose was defined as the highest labeled rate of an insecticide at the beginning of the survey in the equivalent of 935 liters/ha dilution. The results indicated low insecticide efficacy for high labeled rates of the following insecticides by common name (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee group number in parentheses). Our 4-yr survey identified very low levels of DBM larval control (<47%) by lambda-cyhalothrin (3), methoxyfenozide (18), pyriproxyfen (7C), novaluron (15), bifenthrin (3), chlorantraniliprole (28), indoxacarb (22A), and methomyl (1A). The best products for DBM control (>74%) listed in decreasing average levels of efficacy were naled (1B), cyclaniliprole (28), tolfenpyrad (21A), emamectin benzoate (6), and cyantraniliprole (28). Intermediate levels of control (61-71%) were obtained with Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies aizawai (11A), Bacillus thuringiensis, subsp. kurstaki, strain ABTS-351 (11A), and spinetoram (5). This rapid bioassay provided the grower with a ranking of insecticide efficacy for the control the DBM population for that farm site. These data allowed growers to make an informed decision on control quickly and plan for resistance management rotations for DBM that season.

David Riley, Hugh Smith, John Bennett, Philip Torrance, Evan Huffman, Alton Sparks, Jr, Charles Gruver, Thomas Dunn, Donald Champagne. J Econ Entomol. 2020 Jun 19;toaa125. doi: 10.1093/jee/toaa125.

The Functional Characterization of TcMyoF Implicates a Family of Cytostome-Cytopharynx Targeted Myosins as Integral to the Endocytic Machinery of Trypanosoma cruzi

Of the pathogenic trypanosomatids, Trypanosoma cruzi alone retains an ancient feeding apparatus known as the cytostome-cytopharynx complex (SPC) that it uses as its primary mode of endocytosis in a manner akin to its free-living kinetoplastid relatives who capture and eat bacterial prey via this endocytic organelle. In a recent report, we began the process of dissecting how this organelle functions by identifying the first SPC-specific proteins in T. cruzi. Here, we continued these studies and report on the identification of the first enzymatic component of the SPC, a previously identified orphan myosin motor (MyoF) specifically targeted to the SPC. We overexpressed MyoF as a dominant-negative mutant, resulting in parasites that, although viable, were completely deficient in measurable endocytosis in vitro. To our surprise, however, a full deletion of MyoF demonstrated only a decrease in the overall rate of endocytosis, potentially indicative of redundant myosin motors at work. Thereupon, we identified three additional orphan myosin motors, two of which (MyoB and MyoE) were targeted to the preoral ridge region adjacent to the cytostome entrance and another (MyoC) which was targeted to the cytopharynx tubular structure similar to that of MyoF. Additionally, we show that the C-terminal tails of each myosin are sufficient for targeting a fluorescent reporter to SPC subregions. This work highlights a potential mechanism used by the SPC to drive the inward flow of material for digestion and unveils a new level of overlapping complexity in this system with four distinct myosin isoforms targeted to this feeding structure.

IMPORTANCE The parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiological agent of Chagas disease and chronically infects upwards of 7 million people in the Americas. Current diagnostics and treatments remain grossly inadequate due, in part, to our general lack of understanding of this parasite’s basic biology. One aspect that has resisted detailed scrutiny is the mechanism employed by this parasite to extract nutrient resources from the radically different environments that it encounters as it transitions between its invertebrate and mammalian hosts. These parasites engulf food via a tubular invagination of its membrane, a strategy used by many protozoan species, but how this structure is formed or functions mechanistically remains a complete mystery. The significance of our research is in the identification of the mechanistic underpinnings of this feeding organelle that may bring to light new potential therapeutic targets to impede parasite feeding and thus halt the spread of this deadly human pathogen.

Nathan Michael Chasen, Menna Grace Etheridge, Ronald Drew Etheridge.

Discovery of Anti-Amoebic Inhibitors from Screening the MMV Pandemic Response Box on Balamuthia mandrillaris, Naegleria fowleri, and Acanthamoeba castellanii

Pathogenic free-living amoebae, Balamuthia mandrillarisNaegleria fowleri, and several Acanthamoeba species are the etiological agents of severe brain diseases, with case mortality rates > 90%. A number of constraints including misdiagnosis and partially effective treatments lead to these high fatality rates. The unmet medical need is for rapidly acting, highly potent new drugs to reduce these alarming mortality rates. Herein, we report the discovery of new drugs as potential anti-amoebic agents. We used the CellTiter-Glo 2.0 high-throughput screening methods to screen the Medicines for Malaria Ventures (MMV) Pandemic Response Box in a search for new active chemical scaffolds. Initially, we screened the library as a single-point assay at 10 and 1 µM. From these data, we reconfirmed hits by conducting quantitative dose–response assays and identified 12 hits against B. mandrillaris, 29 against N. fowleri, and 14 against A. castellanii ranging from nanomolar to low micromolar potency. We further describe 11 novel molecules with activity against B. mandrillaris, 22 against N. fowleri, and 9 against A. castellanii. These structures serve as a starting point for medicinal chemistry studies and demonstrate the utility of phenotypic screening for drug discovery to treat diseases caused by free-living amoebae.

Christopher A. Rice, Emma V. Troth, A. Cassiopeia Russell, Dennis E. Kyle. Pathogens. 2020 Jun 16;9(6):E476. doi: 10.3390/pathogens9060476.

Evaluation of Morbidity in Schistosoma Mansoni-Positive Primary and Secondary School Children After Four Years of Mass Drug Administration of Praziquantel in Western Kenya

Background: World Health Organization guidelines recommend preventive chemotherapy with praziquantel to control morbidity due to schistosomiasis. The primary aim of this cross-sectional study was to determine if 4 years of annual mass drug administration (MDA) in primary and secondary schools lowered potential markers of morbidity in infected children 1 year after the final MDA compared to infected children prior to initial MDA intervention.

Methods: Between 2012 and 2016 all students in two primary and three secondary schools within three kilometers of Lake Victoria in western Kenya received annual mass praziquantel administration. To evaluate potential changes in morbidity we measured height, weight, mid-upper arm circumference, hemoglobin levels, abdominal ultrasound, and quality of life in children in these schools. This study compared two cross-sectional samples of Schistosoma mansoni egg-positive children: one at baseline and one at year five, 1 year after the fourth annual MDA. Data were analyzed for all ages (6-18 years old) and stratified by primary (6-12 years old) and secondary (12-18 years old) school groups.

Results: The prevalence of multiple potential morbidity markers did not differ significantly between the egg-positive participants at baseline and those at 5 years by Mann Whitney nonparametric analysis and Fisher’s exact test for continuous and categorical data, respectively. There was a small but significantly higher score in school-related quality of life assessment by year five compared to baseline by Mann Whitney analysis (P = 0.048) in 13-18 year olds where malaria-negative. However, anemia was not positively impacted by four annual rounds of MDA, but registered a significant negative outcome.

Conclusions: We did not detect differences in morbidity markers measured in a population of those infected or re-infected after multiple MDA. This could have been due to their relative insensitivity or a failure of MDA to prevent morbidity among those who remain infected. High malaria transmission in this area and/or a lack of suitable methods to measure the more subtle functional morbidities caused by schistosomiasis could be a factor. Further research is needed to identify and develop well-defined, easily quantifiable S. mansoni morbidity markers for this age group.

Bernard O. Abudho, Bernard Guyah, Bartholomew N. Ondigo, Eric M. Ndombi, Edmund Ireri, Jennifer M. Carter, Diana K. Riner, Nupur Kittur, Diana M. S. Karanja & Daniel G. Colley. Evaluation of morbidity in Schistosoma mansoni-positive primary and secondary school children after four years of mass drug administration of praziquantel in western Kenya. Infect Dis Poverty 9, 67 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40249-020-00690-7

Potent Tetrahydroquinolone Eliminates Apicomplexan Parasites

Apicomplexan infections cause substantial morbidity and mortality, worldwide. New, improved therapies are needed. Herein, we create a next generation anti-apicomplexan lead compound, JAG21, a tetrahydroquinolone, with increased sp3-character to improve parasite selectivity. Relative to other cytochrome b inhibitors, JAG21 has improved solubility and ADMET properties, without need for pro-drug. JAG21 significantly reduces Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites and encysted bradyzoites in vitro, and in primary and established chronic murine infections. Moreover, JAG21 treatment leads to 100% survival. Further, JAG21 is efficacious against drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. Causal prophylaxis and radical cure are achieved after P. berghei sporozoite infection with oral administration of a single dose (2.5 mg/kg) or 3 days treatment at reduced dose (0.625 mg/kg/day), eliminating parasitemia, and leading to 100% survival. Enzymatic, binding, and co-crystallography/pharmacophore studies demonstrate selectivity for apicomplexan relative to mammalian enzymes. JAG21 has significant promise as a pre-clinical candidate for prevention, treatment, and cure of toxoplasmosis and malaria.

Martin J. McPhillie, Ying Zhou, Mark R. Hickman, James A. Gordon, Christopher R. Weber, Qigui Li, Patty J. Lee, Kangsa Amporndanai, Rachel M. Johnson, Heather Darby, Stuart Woods, Zhu-hong Li, Richard S. Priestley, Kurt D. Ristroph, Scott B. Biering, Kamal El Bissati, Seungmin Hwang, Farida Esaa Hakim, Sarah M. Dovgin, Joseph D. Lykins, Lucy Roberts, Kerrie Hargrave, Hua Cong, Anthony P. Sinai, Stephen P. Muench, Jitender P. Dubey, Robert K. Prud’homme, Hernan A. Lorenzi, Giancarlo A. Biagini, Silvia N. Moreno, Craig W. Roberts, Svetlana V. Antonyuk, Colin W. G. Fishwick, and Rima McLeod. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 09 June 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2020.00203