Master of Science, Universite De Paris Vii (2013)
Doctor of Philosophy, Universite De Paris Vii (2018)
Elizabeth Egan, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Malaria caused by the apicomplexan parasite Plasmodium falciparum has served as a strong evolutionary force throughout human history, selecting for red blood cell polymorphisms that confer innate protection against severe disease. Recently, gain-of-function mutations in the mechanosensitive ion channel PIEZO1 were shown to ameliorate Plasmodium parasite growth, blood-brain barrier dysfunction, and mortality in a mouse model of malaria. In humans, the gain-of-function allele PIEZO1 E756del is highly prevalent and enriched in Africans, raising the possibility that it is under positive selection due to malaria. Here we used a case-control study design to test for an association between PIEZO1 E756del and malaria severity among children in Gabon. We found that the E756del variant is strongly associated with protection against severe malaria in heterozygotes. In subjects with sickle cell trait, heterozygosity for PIEZO1 E756del did not confer additive protection and homozygosity was associated with an elevated risk of severe disease, suggesting an epistatic relationship between hemoglobin S and PIEZO1 E756del. Using donor blood samples, we show that red cells heterozygous for PIEZO1 E756del are not dehydrated and can support the intracellular growth of P. falciparum similar to wild-type cells. However, surface expression of the P. falciparum virulence protein PfEMP-1 was significantly reduced in infected cells heterozygous for PIEZO1 756del, a phenomenon that has been observed with other protective polymorphisms, such as hemoglobin C. Our findings demonstrate that PIEZO1 is an important innate determinant of malaria susceptibility in humans and suggest that the mechanism of protection may be related to impaired export of P. falciparum virulence proteins.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1919843117
View details for PubMedID 32265284
Plasmodium falciparum is the main cause of disease and death from malaria. P. falciparum virulence resides in the ability of infected erythrocytes (IEs) to sequester in various tissues through the interaction between members of the polymorphic P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) adhesin family to various host receptors. Here, we investigated the effect of phosphorylation of variant surface antigen 2-CSA (VAR2CSA), a member of the PfEMP1 family associated to placental sequestration, on its capacity to adhere to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) present on the placental syncytium. We showed that phosphatase treatment of IEs impairs cytoadhesion to CSA. MS analysis of recombinant VAR2CSA phosphosites prior to and after phosphatase treatment, as well as of native VAR2CSA expressed on IEs, identified critical phosphoresidues associated with CSA binding. Site-directed mutagenesis on recombinant VAR2CSA of 3 phosphoresidues localised within the CSA-binding region confirmed in vitro their functional importance. Furthermore, using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated protein-9 nuclease (CRISPR/Cas9), we generated a parasite line in which the phosphoresidue T934 is changed to alanine and showed that this mutation strongly impairs IEs cytoadhesion to CSA. Taken together, these results demonstrate that phosphorylation of the extracellular region of VAR2CSA plays a major role in IEs cytoadhesion to CSA and provide new molecular insights for strategies aiming to reduce the morbidity and mortality of PM.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000308
View details for Web of Science ID 000473675900029
View details for PubMedID 31181082
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6586358
Sickle cell trait (HbAS) confers partial protection against malaria by reducing the adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to host receptors, but little is known about its potential protection against placental malaria.Using flow cytometry, we assessed the recognition of HbAA and HbAS VAR2CSA-expressing infected erythrocytes, by plasma from 159 Beninese pregnant women with either HbAA (normal) or HbAS. Using multivariate linear models adjusted for gravidity, parasite infection at delivery, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, and α-thalassemia carriage, we observed significantly reduced cell surface antibody binding of HbAS-infected erythrocytes by plasma from HbAS compared with HbAA women (P < 10-3).The difference in cell surface antibody binding was only observed when infected erythrocytes and plasma were associated according to the same hemoglobin genotype. Similar levels of VAR2CSA-specific antibody were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in the 2 groups, suggesting that the altered interaction between VAR2CSA and HbAS women's antibodies could reflect abnormal display of VAR2CSA on HbAS erythrocytes.Our data stress the need for assessments of erythrocyte disorders such as the sickle cell trait in a population group when studying immunological responses to P falciparum.
View details for DOI 10.1093/ofid/ofz156
View details for Web of Science ID 000474844200046
View details for PubMedID 31041352
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6483131
View details for Web of Science ID 000507364504094
Over 50 million women are exposed to the risk of malaria during pregnancy every year. Malaria during pregnancy is a leading global cause of maternal morbidity and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes to placental chondroitin-4-sulfate (CSA) has been linked to the severe disease outcome of placental malaria. Accumulated evidence strongly supports VAR2CSA as the leading placental malaria vaccine candidate. Recombinant proteins encompassing the VAR2CSA high affinity CSA binding site have been generated, and their activity as immunogens that elicit functional (inhibitory) and cross-reactive antibodies against CSA-binding parasites assessed. The expression of His-tagged proteins was compared in four different expression systems and their capacity to bind specifically to CSA was analyzed. CHO cells and E. coli SHuffle cells were the two expression systems able to express some of the recombinant proteins in reasonable amounts. Larger analytical scale production of DBL1x-2× (3D7) and DBL3x-4ε (FCR3) best expressed in CHO and E. coli SHuffle cells were performed. Purified proteins were administered to rats either alone or adjuvanted with human approved adjuvants. Analysis of the functionality and cross-reactivity of the induced antibodies allowed us to down-select the DBL1x-2(3D7) expressed in E. coli SHuffle cells as the best antigen to be transitioned to further clinical development in order to protect future pregnant women living in malaria endemic areas against the severe clinical outcomes of placental malaria.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41541-018-0064-6
View details for Web of Science ID 000441269100001
View details for PubMedID 30038803
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6050242
Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Hemoglobin S (HbS) and hemoglobin C (HbC) mutations are frequently encountered in malaria-endemic areas of Africa, where they protect children from severe and uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. However, scant epidemiological data exist on the impact of these Hb variants on PAM. A prospective cohort of 635 Beninese pregnant women was recruited before 24 weeks of gestational age and followed until the end of pregnancy. HbAA, HbAC, and HbAS genotypes were determined and tested for association with pregnancy outcomes and PAM indicators using linear and logistic multivariate models. Newborns from HbAC mothers had higher birthweights than those from HbAA mothers among women infected at any time during pregnancy (mean difference 182.9 g, p = 0.08), or during the first half of pregnancy (654.3 g, p = 0.0006). No such birthweight differences were observed between newborns from HbAS and HbAA mothers. HbAC and HbAS were not associated with other pregnancy outcomes or PAM indicators. In conclusion, HbAC but not HbAS is associated with an improved birth outcome in pregnant women with documented PAM. Higher-birthweight newborns from HbAC mothers may have a survival advantage that contributes to the natural selection of HbC in malaria-endemic areas.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-01495-9
View details for Web of Science ID 000400491100015
View details for PubMedID 28469130
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5431107
Bunyaviruses represent a growing threat to humans and livestock globally. The receptors, cellular factors and endocytic pathways used by these emerging pathogens to infect cells remain largely unidentified and poorly characterized. DC-SIGN is a C-type lectin highly expressed on dermal dendritic cells that has been found to act as an authentic entry receptor for many phleboviruses (Bunyaviridae), including Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), Toscana virus (TOSV) and Uukuniemi virus (UUKV). We found that these phleboviruses can exploit another C-type lectin, L-SIGN, for infection. L-SIGN shares 77% sequence homology with DC-SIGN and is expressed on liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. L-SIGN is required for UUKV binding but not for virus internalization. An endocytosis-defective mutant of L-SIGN was still able to mediate virus uptake and infection, indicating that L-SIGN acts as an attachment receptor for phleboviruses rather than an endocytic receptor. Our results point out a fundamental difference in the use of the C-type lectins L-SIGN and DC-SIGN by UUKV to enter cells, although both proteins are closely related in terms of molecular structure and biological function. This study sheds new light on the molecular mechanisms by which phleboviruses target the liver and also highlights the added complexity in virus-receptor interactions beyond attachment.
View details for DOI 10.1111/tra.12393
View details for Web of Science ID 000378924300004
View details for PubMedID 26990254
The Bunyaviridae constitute a large family of enveloped animal viruses, many of which are important emerging pathogens. How bunyaviruses enter and infect mammalian cells remains largely uncharacterized. We used two genome-wide silencing screens with distinct small interfering RNA (siRNA) libraries to investigate host proteins required during infection of human cells by the bunyavirus Uukuniemi virus (UUKV), a late-penetrating virus. Sequence analysis of the libraries revealed that many siRNAs in the screens inhibited infection by silencing not only the intended targets but additional genes in a microRNA (miRNA)-like manner. That the 7-nucleotide seed regions in the siRNAs can cause a perturbation in infection was confirmed by using synthetic miRNAs (miRs). One of the miRs tested, miR-142-3p, was shown to interfere with the intracellular trafficking of incoming viruses by regulating the v-SNARE VAMP3, a strong hit shared by both siRNA screens. Inactivation of VAMP3 by the tetanus toxin led to a block in infection. Using fluorescence-based techniques in fixed and live cells, we found that the viruses enter VAMP3(+) endosomal vesicles 5 min after internalization and that colocalization was maximal 15 min thereafter. At this time, LAMP1 was associated with the VAMP3(+) virus-containing endosomes. In cells depleted of VAMP3, viruses were mainly trapped in LAMP1-negative compartments. Together, our results indicated that UUKV relies on VAMP3 for penetration, providing an indication of added complexity in the trafficking of viruses through the endocytic network.Bunyaviruses represent a growing threat to humans and livestock globally. Unfortunately, relatively little is known about these emerging pathogens. We report here the first human genome-wide siRNA screens for a bunyavirus. The screens resulted in the identification of 562 host cell factors with a potential role in cell entry and virus replication. To demonstrate the robustness of our approach, we confirmed and analyzed the role of the v-SNARE VAMP3 in Uukuniemi virus entry and infection. The information gained lays the basis for future research into the cell biology of bunyavirus infection and new antiviral strategies. In addition, by shedding light on serious caveats in large-scale siRNA screening, our experimental and bioinformatics procedures will be valuable in the comprehensive analysis of past and future high-content screening data.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.00388-14
View details for Web of Science ID 000338924400033
View details for PubMedID 24850728
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4135934
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