Lassa virus entry in antigen presenting cells and evaluation of a novel nanoparticle vaccine platform against arena viruses


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Lassa virus entry in antigen presenting cells and evaluation of a novel nanoparticle vaccine platform against arena viruses
Gonçalves Cabecinhas A. R.
Kunz  S.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
LausanneFaculté de biologie et de médecine Université de Lausanne UNIL - Bugnon Rue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111 CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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Arenaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses that merit significant attention as causative agents of severe hemorrhagic fevers in humans. Lassa virus (LASV) in Africa and the South American hemorrhagic fever viruses Junin (JUNV), Machupo (MACV), and Guanarito (GTOV) have emerged as important human pathogens and represent serious public health problems in their respective endemic areas.
A hallmark of fatal arenaviruses hemorrhagic fevers is a marked immunosuppression of the infected patients. Antigen presenting cells (APCs) such as macrophages and in particular dendritic cells (DCs) are early and preferred targets of arenaviruses infection. Instead of being recognized and presented as foreign antigens by DCs, arenaviruses subvert the normal mechanisms of pathogen recognition, invade DCs and establish a productive infection. Viral replication perturbs the DCs' ability to present antigens and to activate T and B cells, contributing to the marked virus-induced immunosuppression observed in fatal disease. Considering their crucial role in the development of an anti-viral immune response, the mechanisms by which arenaviruses, and in particular LASV, invade DCs are of particular interest. The C-type lectin DC-specific Intercellular adhesion molecule-3-grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN) was recently identified as a potential entry receptor for LASV. The first project of my thesis focused therefore on the investigation of the role of DC-SIGN in LASV entry into primary human DCs. My data revealed that DC-SIGN serves as an attachment factor for LASV on human DCs and can facilitate capture of free virus and subsequent cell entry. However, in contrast to other emerging viruses, of the phlebovirus family, I found that DC-SIGN does likely not function as an authentic entry receptor for LASV. Moreover, I was able to show that LASV enters DCs via an unusually slow pathway that depends on actin, but is independent of clathrin and dynamin.
Considering the lack of effective treatments and the limited public health infrastructure in endemic regions, the development of protective vaccines against arenaviruses is an urgent need. To address this issue, the second project of my thesis aimed at the development of a novel recombinant arenavirus vaccine based on a nanoparticle (NPs) platform and its evaluation in a small animal model. During the first phase of the project I designed, produced, and characterized suitable vaccine antigens. In the second phase of the project, I generated antigen-conjugated NPs, developed vaccine formulations, and tested the NPs for their ability to elicit anti-viral T cell responses as well as anti-viral antibodies. I demonstrated that the NPs
platform is able to activate both cellular and humoral branches of the adaptive anti-viral immunity, providing proof-of-principle.
In sum, my first project will allow, in a long term perspective, a better understanding of the viral pathogenesis and contribute to the development of novel antiviral strategies. The second project will expectidly offer a new treatment option against arenaviruses.
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17/12/2013 9:09
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20/08/2019 12:59
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