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Oct 26th, 2016
Middle East respiratory coronavirus accessory protein 4a inhibits PKR-mediated antiviral stress responses
13. Rabouw, H. H., Langereis, M. A., Knaap, R. C. M., Dalebout, T. J., Canton, J., Sola, I., Enjuanes, L., Bredenbeek, P. J., Kikkert, M., de Groot, R. J., and Frank J.M. van Kuppeveld, F. J. M.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes severe respiratory infections that can be life-threatening. To establish an infection and spread, MERS-CoV, like most other viruses, must navigate through an intricate network of antiviral host responses. Besides the well-known type I interferon (IFN-α/β) response, the protein kinase R (PKR)-mediated stress response is being recognized as an important innate response pathway. Upon detecting viral dsRNA, PKR phosphorylates eIF2α, leading to the inhibition of cellular and viral translation and the formation of stress granules (SGs), which are increasingly recognized as platforms for antiviral signaling pathways. It is unknown whether cellular infection by MERS-CoV activates the stress response pathway or whether the virus has evolved strategies to suppress this infection-limiting pathway. Here, we show that cellular infection with MERS-CoV does not lead to the formation of SGs. By transiently expressing the MERS-CoV accessory proteins individually, we identified a role of protein 4a (p4a) in preventing activation of the stress response pathway. Expression of MERS-CoV p4a impeded dsRNA-mediated PKR activation, thereby rescuing translation inhibition and preventing SG formation. In contrast, p4a failed to suppress stress response pathway activation that is independent of PKR and dsRNA. MERS-CoV p4a is a dsRNA binding protein. Mutation of the dsRNA binding motif in p4a disrupted its PKR antagonistic activity. By inserting p4a in a picornavirus lacking its natural PKR antagonist, we showed that p4a exerts PKR antagonistic activity also under infection conditions. However, a recombinant MERS-CoV deficient in p4a expression still suppressed SG formation, indicating the expression of at least one other stress response antagonist. This virus also suppressed the dsRNA-independent stress response pathway. Thus, MERS-CoV interferes with antiviral stress responses using at least two different mechanisms, with p4a suppressing the PKR-dependent stress response pathway, probably by sequestering dsRNA. MERS-CoV p4a represents the first coronavirus stress response antagonist described.
PLoS Pathog. 12
May 16th, 2017
Dual Plug-and-Display Synthetic Assembly Using Orthogonal Reactive Proteins for Twin Antigen Immunization
Brune KD, Buldun CM, Li Y, Taylor IJ, Brod F, Biswas S, Howarth M.

Engineering modular platforms to control biomolecular architecture can advance both the understanding and the manipulation of biological systems. Icosahedral particles uniformly displaying single antigens stimulate potent immune activation and have been successful in various licensed vaccines. However, it remains challenging to display multiple antigens on a single particle and to induce broader immunity protective across strains or even against distinct diseases. Here, we design a dually addressable synthetic nanoparticle by engineering the multimerizing coiled-coil IMX313 and two orthogonally reactive split proteins. SpyCatcher protein forms an isopeptide bond with SpyTag peptide through spontaneous amidation. SnoopCatcher forms an isopeptide bond with SnoopTag peptide through transamidation. SpyCatcher-IMX-SnoopCatcher provides a modular platform, whereby SpyTag-antigen and SnoopTag-antigen can be multimerized on opposite faces of the particle simply upon mixing. We demonstrate efficient derivatization of the platform with model proteins and complex pathogen-derived antigens. SpyCatcher-IMX-SnoopCatcher was expressed in Escherichia coli and was resilient to lyophilization or extreme temperatures. For the next generation of malaria vaccines, blocking the transmission of the parasite from human to mosquito is an important goal. SpyCatcher-IMX-SnoopCatcher multimerization of the leading transmission-blocking antigens Pfs25 and Pfs28 greatly enhanced the antibody response to both antigens in comparison to the monomeric proteins. This dual plug-and-display architecture should help to accelerate vaccine development for malaria and other diseases.

doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.7b00174
Bioconjug Chem. 2017 May 5.
May 5th, 2017
The Growing Threat of Pandemics: Enhancing Domestic and International Biosecurity
A Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs White Paper

The threat posed by pandemics grows alongside increased globalization and technological innovation. Distant cultures can now be connected in a day’s time, and international trade links global health and economic prosperity. This report details nine priority areas and accompanying action items that will help to address current pandemic response problems.

Developing centralized leadership; coordinating existing agencies and departments; reforming WHO; and providing adequate funding to establish sufficient supplies, infrastructure, expertise ,and institutions are paramount to success in pandemic response.

The reports stresses that Foreign aid for global health and related investments has never been more important to international security and US national security

The Bush school of government and public services


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