Host and pathogen sensory systems as targets for therapeutic intervention
Kindrachuk, K. Jason
A new paradigm for the treatment of infectious disease is through the modulation of innate immune responses. In this capacity, host defense peptides (HDPs) and synthetic Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) ligands have the greatest demonstrated potentials. The work presented here considers mechanisms for the improvement of these treatments through optimization, or in the case of HDPs the minimization, of the interactions of these ligands with sensory receptors.Toll-like Receptor 9 activates the innate immune system in response to microbial DNA or immune-modulating oligodeoxynucleotides. While cell stimulation experiments demonstrate the preferential activating ability of CpG-containing nucleic acids, direct binding investigations have reached contradictory conclusions regarding the sequence-specificity of TLR9 ligand binding. To address this discrepancy the characterization of human TLR9 ligand binding properties is reported. TLR9 has a high degree of ligand specificity in being able to discriminate not only CpG dinucleotides, but also higher order six nucleotide motifs that mediate species-specific activation. However, TLR9 ligand binding is also functionally influenced by nucleic acids in a sequence-independent manner both in vitro and in cell proliferation experiments. A model is proposed in which TLR9 activation is mediated specifically by CpG-containing ligands while sensitivity of the receptor is modulated by the absolute concentration of nucleic acids in a sequence-independent fashion. Host defense peptides are among the leading candidates to combat antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. Recently, HDPs have been demonstrated to function as ligands for the bacterial sensory kinase PhoQ resulting in the induction of virulence and adaptive responses. Thus, concerns have been raised regarding therapeutic applications of HDPs. Here a methodology is described that permits discrimination and quantification of the distinct, but related, peptide behaviors of direct antimicrobial activity and PhoQ ligand potential. Utilizing peptide derivatives of the model HDP Bac2A it is demonstrated that antimicrobial efficiency is significantly, and inversely, related to PhoQ ligand efficacy. This provides a rational basis for HDP selection with greater therapeutic potential and minimized potential for initiation of bacterial resistance.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
host defense peptide