Publications by authors named "Charlene Willis"

21 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Role of Chikungunya nsP3 in Regulating G3BP1 Activity, Stress Granule Formation and Drug Efficacy.

Arch Med Res 2021 01 31;52(1):48-57. Epub 2020 Oct 31.

Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Nathan, Australia; School of Environment and Sciences, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Ras-GTPase activating protein SH3-domain-binding proteins (G3BP) are a small family of RNA-binding proteins implicated in regulating gene expression. Changes in expression of G3BPs are correlated to several cancers including thyroid, colon, pancreatic and breast cancer. G3BPs are important regulators of stress granule (SG) formation and function. SG are ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles that respond to cellular stresses to triage mRNA resulting in transcripts being selectively degraded, stored or translated resulting in a change of gene expression which confers a survival response to the cell. These changes in gene expression contribute to the development of drug resistance. Many RNA viruses, including Chikungunya (and potentially Coronavirus), dismantle SG so that the cell cannot respond to the viral infection. Non-structural protein 3 (nsP3), from the Chikungunya virus, has been shown to translocate G3BP away from SG. Interestingly in cancer cells, the formation of SG is correlated to drug-resistance and blocking SG formation has been shown to reestablish the efficacy of the anticancer drug bortezomib.

Methods: Chikungunya nsP3 was transfected into breast cancer cell lines T47D and MCF7 to disrupt SG formation. Changes in the cytotoxicity of bortezomib were measured.

Results: Bortezomib cytotoxicity in breast cancer cell lines changed with a 22 fold decrease in its IC for T47D and a 7 fold decrease for MCF7 cells.

Conclusions: Chikungunya nsP3 disrupts SG formation. As a result, it increases the cytotoxicity of the FDA approved drug, bortezomib. In addition, the increased cytotoxicity appears to correlate to improved bortezomib selectivity when compared to control cell lines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.arcmed.2020.10.002DOI Listing
January 2021

Immunogenicity, antibody responses and vaccine efficacy of recombinant annexin B30 against Schistosoma mansoni.

Parasite Immunol 2020 03 21;42(3):e12693. Epub 2020 Jan 21.

School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.

Aims: Schistosomes infect approximately 250 million people worldwide. To date, there is no effective vaccine available for the prevention of schistosome infection in endemic regions. There remains a need to develop means to confer long-term protection of individuals against reinfection. In this study, an annexin, namely annexin B30, which is highly expressed in the tegument of Schistosoma mansoni was selected to evaluate its immunogenicity and protective efficacy in a mouse model.

Methods And Results: Bioinformatics analysis showed that there were three potential linear B-cell epitopes and four conformational B-cell epitopes predicted from annexin B30, respectively. Full-length annexin B30 was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3). In the presence of adjuvants, the soluble recombinant protein was evaluated for its protective efficacy in two independent vaccine trials. Immunization of CBA mice with recombinant annexin B30 formulated either in alum only or alum/CpG induced a mixed Th1/Th2 cytokine profile but no significant protection against schistosome infection was detected.

Conclusion: Recombinant annexin B30 did not confer significant protection against the parasite. The molecule may not be suitable for vaccine development. However, it could be an ideal biomarker recommended for immunodiagnostics development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/pim.12693DOI Listing
March 2020

Molecular characterization of Schistosoma mansoni tegument annexins and comparative analysis of antibody responses following parasite infection.

Mol Biochem Parasitol 2019 12 16;234:111231. Epub 2019 Oct 16.

School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, Australia.

Schistosomes are parasitic blood flukes that infect approximately 250 million people worldwide. The disease known as schistosomiasis, is the second most significant tropical parasitic disease after malaria. Praziquantel is the only effective drug currently licensed for schistosomiasis and there are concerns about resistance to the drug. There has been much effort to develop vaccines against schistosomiasis to produce long-term protection in endemic regions. Surface-associated proteins, and in particular, those expressed in the body wall, or tegument, have been proposed as potential vaccine targets. Of these, annexins are thought to be of integral importance for the stability of this apical membrane system. Here, we present the structural and immunobiochemical characterization of four homologous annexins namely annexin B30, annexin B5a, annexin B7a and annexin B5b from S. mansoni. Bioinformatics analysis showed that there was no signal peptide predicted for any annexin in this study. Further analysis showed that each of all four annexin protein possesses a primary structure consisting of a short but variable N-terminal region and a long C-terminal core containing four homologous annexin repeats (I-IV), which contain five alpha-helices. The life cycle expression profile of each annexin was assessed using quantitative PCR. The results showed that the overall transcript levels of the each of four homologous annexins were relatively low in the egg stage, but increased gradually after the transition of cercariae (the invasive schistosome larvae) to schistosomula (the post-invasive larvae). Circular dichroism (CD) demonstrated that rAnnexin B30, rAnnexin B5a and rAnnexin 7a were folded, showing a secondary structure content rich in alpha-helices. The membrane binding affinity was enhanced when rAnnexin B30, rAnnexin B5a and rAnnexin 7a was incubated in the presence of Ca. All annexin members evaluated in this study were immunolocalized to the tegument, with immunoreactivity also occurring in cells and in muscle of adult parasites. All four recombinant annexins were immunoreactive and they were recognized by the sera of mice infected with S. mansoni. In conclusion, the overall results present the molecular characterization of annexin B30, annexin B5a, annexin B7a and annexin B5b from S. mansoni in host-parasite interactions and strongly suggest that the molecules could be useful candidates for vaccine or diagnostic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molbiopara.2019.111231DOI Listing
December 2019

Lysosome-associated membrane glycoprotein (LAMP)--preliminary study on a hidden antigen target for vaccination against schistosomiasis.

Sci Rep 2015 Oct 16;5:15069. Epub 2015 Oct 16.

School of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Gatton Qld, 4343, Australia.

Our previously reported gene atlasing of schistosome tissues revealed transcripts that were highly enriched in the digestive tract of Schistosoma mansoni. From these, we selected two candidates, Sm-LAMP and Sm-NPC2 for testing as vaccine targets. The two molecules were selected on the basis of relatively high expression in the gastrodermis, their potentially important biological function, divergence from homologous molecules of the host and possible apical membrane expression in the gastrodermis. Bacterially expressed recombinant peptides corresponding to regions excluding trans-membrane domains of the selected vaccine targets were used in blinded vaccine trials in CBA mice using alum-CpG as adjuvant. Vaccine trials using the recombinant insoluble Sm-LAMP protein showed 16-25% significant reduction in total worm burden. Faecal egg count reduction was 52% and 60% in two trials, respectively, with similar results for the solubly expressed protein. Liver egg burden was reduced significantly (20% and 38%) with an insoluble recombinant Sm-LAMP in two trials, but not with the soluble recombinant form. Parasite fecundity was not affected by either Sm-LAMP protein preparations in the trials. It is concluded that Sm-LAMP may provide limited protection towards S. mansoni infections but could be used in combination with other vaccine candidates, to provide more comprehensive protection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep15069DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4607944PMC
October 2015

Structure-function analysis of apical membrane-associated molecules of the tegument of schistosome parasites of humans: prospects for identification of novel targets for parasite control.

Br J Pharmacol 2015 Apr 23;172(7):1653-63. Epub 2014 Dec 23.

School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Queensland, Australia; Infectious Diseases, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Queensland, Australia; Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia.

Neglected tropical diseases are a group of some 17 diseases that afflict poor and predominantly rural people in developing nations. One significant disease that contributes to substantial morbidity in endemic areas is schistosomiasis, caused by infection with one of five species of blood fluke belonging to the trematode genus Schistosoma. Although there is one drug available for treatment of affected individuals in clinics, or for mass administration in endemic regions, there is a need for new therapies. A prominent target organ of schistosomes, either for drug or vaccine development, is the peculiar epithelial syncytium that forms the body wall (tegument) of this parasite. This dynamic layer is maintained and organized by concerted activity of a range of proteins, among which are the abundant tegumentary annexins. In this review, we will outline advances in structure-function analyses of these annexins, as a means to understanding tegument cell biology in host-parasite interaction and their potential exploitation as targets for anti-schistosomiasis therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.12898DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376446PMC
April 2015

Transcriptional profiling of the oesophageal gland region of male worms of Schistosoma mansoni.

Mol Biochem Parasitol 2014 Sep 19;196(2):82-9. Epub 2014 Aug 19.

School of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia; QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Qld 4006, Australia.

The intestinal tract of schistosomes opens at the mouth and leads into the foregut or oesophageal region that is lined with syncytium continuous with the apical cytoplasm of the tegument. The oesophagus is surrounded by a specialised gland, the oesophageal gland. This gland releases materials into the lumen of the oesophagus and the region is thought to initiate the lysis of erythrocytes and neutralisation of immune effectors of the host. The oesophageal region is present in the early invasive schistosomulum, a stage potentially targetable by anti-schistosome vaccines. We used a 44k oligonucleotide microarray to identify highly up-regulated genes in microdissected frozen sections of the oesophageal gland of male worms of S. mansoni. We show that 122 genes were up-regulated 2-fold or higher in the oesophageal gland compared with a whole male worm tissue control. The enriched genes included several associated with lipid metabolism and transmembrane transport as well as some micro-exon genes. Since the oesophageal gland is important in the initiation of digestion and the fact that it develops early after invasion of the mammalian host, further study of selected highly up-regulated functionally important genes in this tissue may reveal new anti-schistosome intervention targets for schistosomiasis control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molbiopara.2014.08.002DOI Listing
September 2014

Probing the equatorial groove of the hookworm protein and vaccine candidate antigen, Na-ASP-2.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2014 May 13;50:146-55. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

Structural Chemistry Program, Eskitis Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia. Electronic address:

Hookworm activation-associated secreted proteins can be structurally classified into at least three different groups. The hallmark feature of Group 1 activation-associated secreted proteins is a prominent equatorial groove, which is inferred to form a ligand binding site. Furthermore, a conserved tandem histidine motif is located in the centre of the groove and believed to provide or support a yet to be determined catalytic activity. Here, we report three-dimensional crystal structures of Na-ASP-2, an L3-secreted activation-associated secreted protein from the human hookworm Necator americanus, which demonstrate transition metal binding ability of the conserved tandem histidine motif. We further identified moderate phosphohydrolase activity of recombinant Na-ASP-2, which relates to the tandem histidine motif. By panning a random 12-mer peptide phage library, we identified a peptide with high similarity to the human calcium-activated potassium channel SK3, and confirm binding of the synthetic peptide to recombinant Na-ASP-2 by differential scanning fluorimetry. Potential binding modes of the peptide to Na-ASP-2 were studied by molecular dynamics simulations which clearly identify a preferred topology of the Na-ASP-2:SK3 peptide complex.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocel.2014.03.003DOI Listing
May 2014

Crystal structure and immunological properties of the first annexin from Schistosoma mansoni: insights into the structural integrity of the schistosomal tegument.

FEBS J 2014 Feb 15;281(4):1209-25. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, Australia; Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, Australia; Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia.

Schistosomiasis is a major parasitic disease of humans, second only to malaria in its global impact. The disease is caused by digenean trematodes that infest the vasculature of their human hosts. These flukes are limited externally by a body wall composed of a syncytial epithelium, the apical surface membrane of which is a parasitism-adapted dual membrane complex. Annexins are thought to be of integral importance for the stability of this apical membrane system. Here, we present the first structural and immunobiochemical characterization of an annexin from Schistosoma mansoni. The crystal structure of annexin B22 confirms the presence of the previously predicted α-helical segment in the II/III linker and reveals a covalently linked head-to-head dimer. From the calcium-bound crystal structure of this protein, canonical type II, type III and B site positions are occupied, and a novel binding site has been identified. The dimer arrangement observed in the crystal structure suggests the presence of two prominent features, a potential non-canonical membrane binding site and a potential binding groove opposite to the former. Results from transcriptional profiling during development show that annexin B22 expression is correlated with life stages of the parasite that possess the syncytial tegument layer, and ultrastructural localization by immuno-electron microscopy confirms the occurrence of annexins in the tegument of S. mansoni. Data from membrane binding and aggregation assays indicate the presence of differential molecular mechanisms and support the hypothesis of annexin B22 providing structural integrity in the tegument.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/febs.12700DOI Listing
February 2014

A genome-wide analysis of annexins from parasitic organisms and their vectors.

Sci Rep 2013 Oct 11;3:2893. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

1] Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics, Queensland Tropical Health Alliance, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia [2].

In this study, we conduct an in-depth analysis of annexin proteins from a diverse range of invertebrate taxa, including the major groups that contain the parasites and vector organisms that are harmful to humans and domestic animals. Using structure-based amino acid sequence alignments and phylogenetic analyses, we present a classification for this protein group and assign names to sequences with ambiguous annotations in public databases. Our analyses reveal six distinct annexin clades, and the mapping of genes encoding annexins to the genome of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni supports the hypothesis of gene duplication as a major evolutionary event in annexin genesis. This study illuminates annexin diversity from a novel perspective using contemporary phylogenetic hypotheses of eukaryote evolution, and will aid the consolidation of annexin protein identities in public databases and provide a foundation for future functional analysis and characterisation of these proteins in parasites of socioeconomic importance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep02893DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3795353PMC
October 2013

Novel scabies mite serpins inhibit the three pathways of the human complement system.

PLoS One 2012 11;7(7):e40489. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Infectious Diseases Program, Biology Department, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei that causes significant morbidity worldwide, in particular within socially disadvantaged populations. In order to identify mechanisms that enable the scabies mite to evade human immune defenses, we have studied molecules associated with proteolytic systems in the mite, including two novel scabies mite serine protease inhibitors (SMSs) of the serpin superfamily. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that within mite-infected human skin SMSB4 (54 kDa) and SMSB3 (47 kDa) were both localized in the mite gut and feces. Recombinant purified SMSB3 and SMSB4 did not inhibit mite serine and cysteine proteases, but did inhibit mammalian serine proteases, such as chymotrypsin, albeit inefficiently. Detailed functional analysis revealed that both serpins interfered with all three pathways of the human complement system at different stages of their activation. SMSB4 inhibited mostly the initial and progressing steps of the cascades, while SMSB3 showed the strongest effects at the C9 level in the terminal pathway. Additive effects of both serpins were shown at the C9 level in the lectin pathway. Both SMSs were able to interfere with complement factors without protease function. A range of binding assays showed direct binding between SMSB4 and seven complement proteins (C1, properdin, MBL, C4, C3, C6 and C8), while significant binding of SMSB3 occurred exclusively to complement factors without protease function (C4, C3, C8). Direct binding was observed between SMSB4 and the complement proteases C1s and C1r. However no complex formation was observed between either mite serpin and the complement serine proteases C1r, C1s, MASP-1, MASP-2 and MASP-3. No catalytic inhibition by either serpin was observed for any of these enzymes. In summary, the SMSs were acting at several levels mediating overall inhibition of the complement system and thus we propose that they may protect scabies mites from complement-mediated gut damage.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0040489PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3394726PMC
April 2013

Quantitative PCR-based genome size estimation of the astigmatid mites Sarcoptes scabiei, Psoroptes ovis and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus.

Parasit Vectors 2012 Jan 4;5. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Infectious Diseases Division, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD, 4029 Australia.

Background: The lack of genomic data available for mites limits our understanding of their biology. Evolving high-throughput sequencing technologies promise to deliver rapid advances in this area, however, estimates of genome size are initially required to ensure sufficient coverage.

Methods: Quantitative real-time PCR was used to estimate the genome sizes of the burrowing ectoparasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei, the non-burrowing ectoparasitic mite Psoroptes ovis, and the free-living house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. Additionally, the chromosome number of S. scabiei was determined by chromosomal spreads of embryonic cells derived from single eggs.

Results: S. scabiei cells were shown to contain 17 or 18 small (< 2 μM) chromosomes, suggesting an XO sex-determination mechanism. The average estimated genome sizes of S. scabiei and P. ovis were 96 (± 7) Mb and 86 (± 2) Mb respectively, among the smallest arthropod genomes reported to date. The D. pteronyssinus genome was estimated to be larger than its parasitic counterparts, at 151 Mb in female mites and 218 Mb in male mites.

Conclusions: This data provides a starting point for understanding the genetic organisation and evolution of these astigmatid mites, informing future sequencing projects. A comparitive genomic approach including these three closely related mites is likely to reveal key insights on mite biology, parasitic adaptations and immune evasion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-5-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274472PMC
January 2012

Insights into the membrane interactions of the saposin-like proteins Na-SLP-1 and Ac-SLP-1 from human and dog hookworm.

PLoS One 2011 3;6(10):e25369. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

Parasite Cell Biology, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, Queensland, Australia.

Saposin-like proteins (SAPLIPs) from soil-transmitted helminths play pivotal roles in host-pathogen interactions and have a high potential as targets for vaccination against parasitic diseases. We have identified two non-orthologous SAPLIPs from human and dog hookworm, Na-SLP-1 and Ac-SLP-1, and solved their three-dimensional crystal structures. Both proteins share the property of membrane binding as monitored by liposome co-pelleting assays and monolayer adsorption. Neither SAPLIP displayed any significant haemolytic or bactericidal activity. Based on the structural information, as well as the results from monolayer adsorption, we propose models of membrane interactions for both SAPLIPs. Initial membrane contact of the monomeric Na-SLP-1 is most likely by electrostatic interactions between the membrane surface and a prominent basic surface patch. In case of the dimeric Ac-SLP-1, membrane interactions are most likely initiated by a unique tryptophan residue that has previously been implicated in membrane interactions in other SAPLIPs.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025369PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184995PMC
February 2012

Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010 Nov 10(11):CD004607. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, Mayne Medical School, The University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 4006.

Background: It is estimated that by 2020, road traffic crashes will have moved from ninth to third in the world ranking of burden of disease, as measured in disability adjusted life years. The prevention of road traffic injuries is of global public health importance. Measures aimed at reducing traffic speed are considered essential to preventing road injuries; the use of speed cameras is one such measure.

Objectives: To assess whether the use of speed cameras reduces the incidence of speeding, road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.

Search Strategy: We searched the following electronic databases covering all available years up to March 2010; the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (WebSPIRS), EMBASE (WebSPIRS), TRANSPORT, IRRD (International Road Research Documentation), TRANSDOC (European Conference of Ministers of Transport databases), Web of Science (Science and Social Science Citation Index), PsycINFO, CINAHL, EconLit, WHO database, Sociological Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts, Index to Theses.

Selection Criteria: Randomised controlled trials, interrupted time series and controlled before-after studies that assessed the impact of speed cameras on speeding, road crashes, crashes causing injury and fatalities were eligible for inclusion.

Data Collection And Analysis: We independently screened studies for inclusion, extracted data, assessed methodological quality, reported study authors' outcomes and where possible, calculated standardised results based on the information available in each study. Due to considerable heterogeneity between and within included studies, a meta-analysis was not appropriate.

Main Results: Thirty five studies met the inclusion criteria. Compared with controls, the relative reduction in average speed ranged from 1% to 15% and the reduction in proportion of vehicles speeding ranged from 14% to 65%. In the vicinity of camera sites, the pre/post reductions ranged from 8% to 49% for all crashes and 11% to 44% for fatal and serious injury crashes. Compared with controls, the relative improvement in pre/post injury crash proportions ranged from 8% to 50%.

Authors' Conclusions: Despite the methodological limitations and the variability in degree of signal to noise effect, the consistency of reported reductions in speed and crash outcomes across all studies show that speed cameras are a worthwhile intervention for reducing the number of road traffic injuries and deaths. However, whilst the the evidence base clearly demonstrates a positive direction in the effect, an overall magnitude of this effect is currently not deducible due to heterogeneity and lack of methodological rigour. More studies of a scientifically rigorous and homogenous nature are necessary, to provide the answer to the magnitude of effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004607.pub4DOI Listing
November 2010

Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010 Oct 6(10):CD004607. Epub 2010 Oct 6.

Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, Mayne Medical School, The University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, Australia, Qld 4006.

Background: It is estimated that by 2020, road traffic crashes will have moved from ninth to third in the world ranking of burden of disease, as measured in disability adjusted life years. The prevention of road traffic injuries is of global public health importance. Measures aimed at reducing traffic speed are considered essential to preventing road injuries; the use of speed cameras is one such measure.

Objectives: To assess whether the use of speed cameras reduces the incidence of speeding, road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.

Search Strategy: We searched the following electronic databases covering all available years up to March 2010; the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (WebSPIRS), EMBASE (WebSPIRS), TRANSPORT, IRRD (International Road Research Documentation), TRANSDOC (European Conference of Ministers of Transport databases), Web of Science (Science and Social Science Citation Index), PsycINFO, CINAHL, EconLit, WHO database, Sociological Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts, Index to Theses.

Selection Criteria: Randomised controlled trials, interrupted time series and controlled before-after studies that assessed the impact of speed cameras on speeding, road crashes, crashes causing injury and fatalities were eligible for inclusion.

Data Collection And Analysis: We independently screened studies for inclusion, extracted data, assessed methodological quality, reported study authors' outcomes and where possible, calculated standardised results based on the information available in each study. Due to considerable heterogeneity between and within included studies, a meta-analysis was not appropriate.

Main Results: Thirty five studies met the inclusion criteria. Compared with controls, the relative reduction in average speed ranged from 1% to 15% and the reduction in proportion of vehicles speeding ranged from 14% to 65%. In the vicinity of camera sites, the pre/post reductions ranged from 8% to 49% for all crashes and 11% to 44% for fatal and serious injury crashes. Compared with controls, the relative improvement in pre/post injury crash proportions ranged from 8% to 50%.

Authors' Conclusions: Despite the methodological limitations and the variability in degree of signal to noise effect, the consistency of reported reductions in speed and crash outcomes across all studies show that speed cameras are a worthwhile intervention for reducing the number of road traffic injuries and deaths. However, whilst the the evidence base clearly demonstrates a positive direction in the effect, an overall magnitude of this effect is currently not deducible due to heterogeneity and lack of methodological rigour. More studies of a scientifically rigorous and homogenous nature are necessary, to provide the answer to the magnitude of effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004607.pub3DOI Listing
October 2010

A tractable experimental model for study of human and animal scabies.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2010 Jul 20;4(7):e756. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

Queensland Institute of Medical Research and Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health and Nutrition, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: Scabies is a parasitic skin infestation caused by the burrowing mite Sarcoptes scabiei. It is common worldwide and spreads rapidly under crowded conditions, such as those found in socially disadvantaged communities of Indigenous populations and in developing countries. Pruritic scabies lesions facilitate opportunistic bacterial infections, particularly Group A streptococci. Streptococcal infections cause significant sequelae and the increased community streptococcal burden has led to extreme levels of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Australia's Indigenous communities. In addition, emerging resistance to currently available therapeutics emphasizes the need to identify potential targets for novel chemotherapeutic and/or immunological intervention. Scabies research has been severely limited by the availability of parasites, and scabies remains a truly neglected infectious disease. We report development of a tractable model for scabies in the pig, Sus domestica.

Methodology/principal Findings: Over five years and involving ten independent cohorts, we have developed a protocol for continuous passage of Sarcoptes scabiei var. suis. To increase intensity and duration of infestation without generating animal welfare issues we have optimised an immunosuppression regimen utilising daily oral treatment with 0.2 mg/kg dexamethasone. Only mild, controlled side effects are observed, and mange infection can be maintained indefinitely providing large mite numbers (> 6000 mites/g skin) for molecular-based research on scabies. In pilot experiments we explore whether any adaptation of the mite population is reflected in genetic changes. Phylogenetic analysis was performed comparing sets of genetic data obtained from pig mites collected from naturally infected pigs with data from pig mites collected from the most recent cohort.

Conclusions/significance: A reliable pig/scabies animal model will facilitate in vivo studies on host immune responses to scabies including the relations to the associated bacterial pathogenesis and more detailed studies of molecular evolution and host adaptation. It is a most needed tool for the further investigation of this important and widespread parasitic disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000756DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907415PMC
July 2010

Characterization of a serine protease homologous to house dust mite group 3 allergens from the scabies mite Sarcoptes scabiei.

J Biol Chem 2009 Dec 7;284(49):34413-22. Epub 2009 Oct 7.

Infectious Diseases and Immunology Division, Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia.

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis, infests human skin, causing allergic reactions and facilitating bacterial infection by Streptococcus sp., with serious consequences such as rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. To identify a possible drug target or vaccine candidate protein, we searched for homologues of the group 3 allergen of house dust mites, which we subsequently identified in a cDNA library. The native protein, designated Sar s 3, was shown to be present in the mite gut and excreted in fecal pellets into mite burrows within the upper epidermis. The substrate specificity of proteolytically active recombinant rSar s 3 was elucidated by screening a bacteriophage library. A preference for substrates containing a RS(G/A) sequence at the P1-P2' positions was revealed. A series of peptides synthesized as internally quenched fluorescent substrates validated the phage display data and high performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis of the preferred cleaved substrate and confirmed the predicted cleavage site. Searches of the human proteome using sequence data from the phage display allowed the in silico prediction of putative physiological substrates. Among these were numerous epidermal proteins, with filaggrin being a particularly likely candidate substrate. We showed that recombinant rSar s 3 cleaves human filaggrin in vitro and obtained immunohistological evidence that the filaggrin protein is ingested by the mite. This is the first report elucidating the substrate specificity of Sar s 3 and its potential role in scabies mite biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M109.061911DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797209PMC
December 2009

Structural mechanisms of inactivation in scabies mite serine protease paralogues.

J Mol Biol 2009 Jul 7;390(4):635-45. Epub 2009 May 7.

Scabies Laboratory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.

The scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) is a parasite responsible for major morbidity in disadvantaged communities and immuno-compromised patients worldwide. In addition to the physical discomfort caused by the disease, scabies infestations facilitate infection by Streptococcal species via skin lesions, resulting in a high prevalence of rheumatic fever/heart disease in affected communities. The scabies mite produces 33 proteins that are closely related to those in the dust mite group 3 allergen and belong to the S1-like protease family (chymotrypsin-like). However, all but one of these molecules contain mutations in the conserved active-site catalytic triad that are predicted to render them catalytically inactive. These molecules are thus termed scabies mite inactivated protease paralogues (SMIPPs). The precise function of SMIPPs is unclear; however, it has been suggested that these proteins might function by binding and protecting target substrates from cleavage by host immune proteases, thus preventing the host from mounting an effective immune challenge. In order to begin to understand the structural basis for SMIPP function, we solved the crystal structures of SMIPP-S-I1 and SMIPP-S-D1 at 1.85 A and 2.0 A resolution, respectively. Both structures adopt the characteristic serine protease fold, albeit with large structural variations over much of the molecule. In both structures, mutations in the catalytic triad together with occlusion of the S1 subsite by a conserved Tyr200 residue is predicted to block substrate ingress. Accordingly, we show that both proteases lack catalytic function. Attempts to restore function (via site-directed mutagenesis of catalytic residues as well as Tyr200) were unsuccessful. Taken together, these data suggest that SMIPPs have lost the ability to bind substrates in a classical "canonical" fashion, and instead have evolved alternative functions in the lifecycle of the scabies mite.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmb.2009.04.082DOI Listing
July 2009

Scabies mite inactivated serine protease paralogues are present both internally in the mite gut and externally in feces.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 2006 Oct;75(4):683-7

Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei, is the causative agent of scabies, a disease that is common among disadvantaged populations and facilitates streptococcal infections with serious sequelae. Previously, we encountered large families of genes encoding paralogues of house dust mite protease allergens with their catalytic sites inactivated by mutation (scabies mite inactivated protease paralogues [SMIPPs]). We postulated that SMIPPs have evolved as an adaptation to the parasitic lifestyle of the scabies mite, functioning as competitive inhibitors of proteases involved in the host-parasite interaction. To propose testable hypotheses for their functions, it is essential to know their locations in the mite. Here we show by immunohistochemistry that SMIPPs exist in two compartments: 1) internal to the mite in the gut and 2) external to the mite after excretion from the gut in scybala (fecal pellets). SMIPPs may well function in both of these compartments to evade host proteases.
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October 2006

Bayesian forecasting and prediction of tacrolimus concentrations in pediatric liver and adult renal transplant recipients.

Ther Drug Monit 2003 Apr;25(2):158-66

School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Brisbana, Australia.

Aim: To test the predictive capacity of two recently derived population pharmacokinetic models and the usefulness of Bayesian forecasting to predict tacrolimus blood concentrations in pediatric liver and adult kidney transplant recipients.

Materials And Methods: New databases were added to the Abbottbase PKS (Bayesian dosage prediction) program to incorporate the population pharmacokinetic models developed for tacrolimus. Two independent populations of transplant recipients were used to predict tacrolimus trough concentrations. Pharmacokinetic, demographic, and covariate data were collected from patient records. Different time weighting factors were tested (1, 1.005, 1.01) and the influence of excluding data collected in the first 5 days post-transplant examined. Concentrations were predicted until the 10th tacrolimus measurement. Actual tacrolimus concentrations were compared with those predicted by the PKS program and bias and precision determined.

Results: Tacrolimus concentrations predicted by the PKS program were, on average, unbiased for the pediatric liver population, but were over-predicted (9%) for the adult renal population. In both populations predictions were not precise (imprecision ranged from 39 to 50%).

Conclusions: Due to the imprecision seen in this study, these models could not be used in clinical practice in the immediate post-transplant period. Poor precision may be due to reliance on routine drug monitoring data alone, difficulties with expression of covariates in continuous modeling relationships in the PKS program, lack of accurate quantitative measures of liver function, or large, random intraindividual variability in the bioavailability of tacrolimus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00007691-200304000-00004DOI Listing
April 2003

Toward better outcomes with tacrolimus therapy: population pharmacokinetics and individualized dosage prediction in adult liver transplantation.

Liver Transpl 2003 Feb;9(2):130-7

School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland, Australia.

Patient outcomes in transplantation would improve if dosing of immunosuppressive agents was individualized. The aim of this study is to develop a population pharmacokinetic model of tacrolimus in adult liver transplant recipients and test this model in individualizing therapy. Population analysis was performed on data from 68 patients. Estimates were sought for apparent clearance (CL/F) and apparent volume of distribution (V/F) using the nonlinear mixed effects model program (NONMEM). Factors screened for influence on these parameters were weight, age, sex, transplant type, biliary reconstructive procedure, postoperative day, days of therapy, liver function test results, creatinine clearance, hematocrit, corticosteroid dose, and interacting drugs. The predictive performance of the developed model was evaluated through Bayesian forecasting in an independent cohort of 36 patients. No linear correlation existed between tacrolimus dosage and trough concentration (r(2) = 0.005). Mean individual Bayesian estimates for CL/F and V/F were 26.5 +/- 8.2 (SD) L/hr and 399 +/- 185 L, respectively. CL/F was greater in patients with normal liver function. V/F increased with patient weight. CL/F decreased with increasing hematocrit. Based on the derived model, a 70-kg patient with an aspartate aminotransferase (AST) level less than 70 U/L would require a tacrolimus dose of 4.7 mg twice daily to achieve a steady-state trough concentration of 10 ng/mL. A 50-kg patient with an AST level greater than 70 U/L would require a dose of 2.6 mg. Marked interindividual variability (43% to 93%) and residual random error (3.3 ng/mL) were observed. Predictions made using the final model were reasonably nonbiased (0.56 ng/mL), but imprecise (4.8 ng/mL). Pharmacokinetic information obtained will assist in tacrolimus dosing; however, further investigation into reasons for the pharmacokinetic variability of tacrolimus is required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/jlts.2003.50023DOI Listing
February 2003

Population pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus in adult kidney transplant recipients.

Clin Pharmacol Ther 2002 Dec;72(6):660-9

School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Objectives: The aims of this study were to investigate the population pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus in adult kidney transplant recipients and to identify factors that explain variability.

Methods: Population analysis was performed on retrospective data from 70 patients who received oral tacrolimus twice daily. Morning blood trough concentrations were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Maximum likelihood estimates were sought for apparent clearance (CL/F) and apparent volume of distribution (V/F), with the use of NONMEM (GloboMax LLC, Hanover, Md). Factors screened for influence on these parameters were weight, age, gender, postoperative day, days of tacrolimus therapy, liver function tests, creatinine clearance, hematocrit fraction, corticosteroid dose, and potential interacting drugs.

Results: CL/F was greater in patients with abnormally low hematocrit fraction (data from 21 patients only), and it decreased with increasing days of therapy and AST concentrations (P <.01). Average parameter estimates were as follows: CL/F = 31.8 L/h (hematocrit <0.33), CL/F = 24.2 L/h (hematocrit >0.33), and V/F = 2080 L. Marked interindividual variability (42% to 111%) and residual random error (3.7 ng/mL) were observed. On the basis of the derived model, a patient with normal AST (20 U/L) or high AST (200 U/L) concentrations 7 days after commencement of therapy would require a tacrolimus dose of 4.6 mg or 4.0 mg, respectively, to achieve a steady-state trough concentration of 10 ng/mL.

Conclusions: The population pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus in adult kidney transplant recipients showed wide variability. Thus it is not possible to use a standard tacrolimus dose as an empiric predictor of concentration in this population. An understanding of factors that influence the pharmacokinetics of tacrolimus may assist in drug dosage decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1067/mcp.2002.129304DOI Listing
December 2002
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