Publications by authors named "Giulia Torricelli"

13 Publications

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Dataset of antibody variable region sequence features inferred from a respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein-specific B cell receptor repertoire induced by natural infection of a healthy adult.

Data Brief 2020 Dec 4;33:106499. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

GSK, Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the primary cause for acute lower respiratory syndrome in children younger than 5 years. Research on B cell repertoires and antibodies binding the RSV fusion protein (RSV F) is of major interest in the development of potential vaccine candidates and therapies. B cell receptors (BCRs) which have higher affinities for a specific antigen are preferentially selected for B cell clonal expansion in germinal center reactions. Consequently, antigen-specific BCR repertoires share common features, as for instance preferential variable gene usage, variable region mutation levels or lengths of the heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3. Since RSV repeatedly infects every person throughout life, memory B cells (MBC) expressing RSV F-binding BCRs circulate in the blood of healthy adults. This dataset of BCR variable region sequence features was derived from single cell-sorted RSV F-directed MBCs of a healthy adult blood donor [1]. The dataset was produced with publicly available data analysis software programs and scripts, which facilitates integration or comparison with antibody sequence repertoire data of different individuals derived with the same or comparable data analysis approaches and tools.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2020.106499DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7666335PMC
December 2020

The respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein-specific B cell receptor repertoire reshaped by post-fusion subunit vaccination.

Vaccine 2020 11 29;38(50):7916-7927. Epub 2020 Oct 29.

GSK, Via Fiorentina 1, 53100 Siena, Italy. Electronic address:

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major cause of acute lower respiratory illness in children of less than 5 years of age which usually results in hospitalization or even in death. Vaccine development is hampered in consequence of a failed vaccine trial with fatalities in the 1960s. Even though research has been more focused on the RSV fusion protein in its pre-fusion conformation, maternal vaccination with post-fusion protein (post F) was considered as a promising vaccine strategy for passive immunization of babies, because post F preserves very potent neutralizing epitopes. We extensively analyzed post F-binding B cell receptor (BCR) repertoires of three vaccinees who received a post F-subunit vaccine in the context of a first-in-human, Phase 1, randomized, observer-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02298179). In order to compare the vaccine-induced BCR repertoires with BCR repertoires induced by natural infection, we also analyzed pre F- and post F-binding BCRs isolated from a healthy blood donor with relatively high F-binding memory B cell (MBC) frequencies. Analysis of the vaccine-induced repertoires revealed that preferentially V4-encoded BCRs were expanded in response to vaccination. Estimation of antigen-driven selection further demonstrated that expanded BCRs accumulated positively selected replacement mutations which substantiated the hypothesis that post F-vaccination induces diversification of V4-encoded BCRs in germinal centers. Comparison of the vaccine-induced BCR repertoires with clonally related pre and post F-binding BCRs of the healthy blood donor suggested that the vaccine expanded pre/post F cross-reactive MBCs. Interestingly, several vaccine-induced BCRs shared stereotypic VDJ gene junctions with known neutralizing Abs. Once expressed for functional characterization, the selected monoclonal Abs demonstrated the predicted neutralization activities in plaque reduction neutralization assays indicating that the post F-vaccine induced expansion of neutralizing BCRs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.10.062DOI Listing
November 2020

In-silico prediction and deep-DNA sequencing validation indicate phase variation in 115 Neisseria meningitidis genes.

BMC Genomics 2016 10 28;17(1):843. Epub 2016 Oct 28.

GSK Vaccines, 53100, Siena, Italy.

Background: The Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) chromosome shows a high abundance of simple sequence DNA repeats (SSRs) that undergo stochastic, reversible mutations at high frequency. This mechanism is reflected in an extensive phenotypic diversity that facilitates Nm adaptation to dynamic environmental changes. To date, phase-variable phenotypes mediated by SSRs variation have been experimentally confirmed for 26 Nm genes.

Results: Here we present a population-scale comparative genomic analysis that identified 277 genes and classified them into 52 strong, 60 moderate and 165 weak candidates for phase variation. Deep-coverage DNA sequencing of single colonies grown overnight under non-selective conditions confirmed the presence of high-frequency, stochastic variation in 115 of them, providing circumstantial evidence for their phase variability. We confirmed previous observations of a predominance of variable SSRs within genes for components located on the cell surface or DNA metabolism. However, in addition we identified an unexpectedly broad spectrum of other metabolic functions, and most of the variable SSRs were predicted to induce phenotypic changes by modulating gene expression at a transcriptional level or by producing different protein isoforms rather than mediating on/off translational switching through frameshifts. Investigation of the evolutionary history of SSR contingency loci revealed that these loci were inherited from a Nm ancestor, evolved independently within Nm, or were acquired by Nm through lateral DNA exchange.

Conclusions: Overall, our results have identified a broader and qualitatively different phenotypic diversification of SSRs-mediated stochastic variation than previously documented, including its impact on central Nm metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-3185-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084427PMC
October 2016

Serotype IV Streptococcus agalactiae ST-452 has arisen from large genomic recombination events between CC23 and the hypervirulent CC17 lineages.

Sci Rep 2016 07 14;6:29799. Epub 2016 Jul 14.

GSK Vaccines s.r.l., Siena, Italy.

Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Streptococcus, GBS) causes life-threatening infections in newborns and adults with chronic medical conditions. Serotype IV strains are emerging both among carriers and as cause of invasive disease and recent studies revealed two main Sequence Types (STs), ST-452 and ST-459 assigned to Clonal Complexes CC23 and CC1, respectively. Whole genome sequencing of 70 type IV GBS and subsequent phylogenetic analysis elucidated the localization of type IV isolates in a SNP-based phylogenetic tree and suggested that ST-452 could have originated through genetic recombination. SNPs density analysis of the core genome confirmed that the founder strain of this lineage originated from a single large horizontal gene transfer event between CC23 and the hypervirulent CC17. Indeed, ST-452 genomes are composed by two parts that are nearly identical to corresponding regions in ST-24 (CC23) and ST-291 (CC17). Chromosome mapping of the major GBS virulence factors showed that ST-452 strains have an intermediate yet unique profile among CC23 and CC17 strains. We described unreported large recombination events, involving the cps IV operon and resulting in the expansion of serotype IV to CC23. This work sheds further light on the evolution of GBS providing new insights on the recent emergence of serotype IV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep29799DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944191PMC
July 2016

The Spreading of Cohabitation as a Diffusion Process: Evidence from Italy.

Eur J Popul 2016 Dec 6;32(5):661-686. Epub 2016 Apr 6.

Duepuntozero Research, Doxa, Via Bartolomeo Panizza, 7, 20144 Milan, Italy.

Drawing on seminal work by Nazio and Blossfeld (Eur J Popul 19(1):47-82, 2003) and Di Giulio and Rosina (Demogr Res 16(14):441-468, 2007), this paper tests whether the recent spread of cohabitation in Italy has followed the typical pattern of diffusion of innovation processes. In doing so, we contribute to the debate on the determinants of the emergence of "new" family behaviour. Following previous literature, innovative behaviour should spread initially through direct social modelling, i.e. interpersonal communication among highly selected individuals (). At later stages, the diffusion should spread through knowledge awareness of the innovation, i.e. communication with previous generations (-), so that also less selected individuals are prone to adopt the new behaviour. In the specific Italian context-a Catholic, "familistic" setting, with high normative pressure and importance of parental approval-we surmise the influence of previous generations to be dominant. We use data from the "Family and Social Subjects" survey carried out by Istat (2009) and apply Event History Analysis in the form of competing-risks exponential models to study Italian women's transition to cohabitation as first partnership. Results suggest that the most important driver of the spreading of cohabitation in Italy is represented by the degree of its diffusion among older cohorts. However, we find a positive and significant interaction between women's education and peer effects at the onset of the phenomenon, in line with the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) hypothesis. Cohabitation is also more likely if parents experienced separation/divorce and, more generally, if the environment of the family of origin can be described as "SDT-friendly".
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10680-016-9380-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6241092PMC
December 2016

Dual RNA-seq of Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae and Host Cell Transcriptomes Reveals Novel Insights into Host-Pathogen Cross Talk.

mBio 2015 Nov 17;6(6):e01765-15. Epub 2015 Nov 17.

R&D Centre, GSK Vaccines, Siena, Italy.

Unlabelled: The ability to adhere and adapt to the human respiratory tract mucosa plays a pivotal role in the pathogenic lifestyle of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). However, the temporal events associated with a successful colonization have not been fully characterized. In this study, by reconstituting the ciliated human bronchial epithelium in vitro, we monitored the global transcriptional changes in NTHi and infected mucosal epithelium simultaneously for up to 72 h by dual RNA sequencing. The initial stage of colonization was characterized by the binding of NTHi to ciliated cells. Temporal profiling of host mRNA signatures revealed significant dysregulation of the target cell cytoskeleton elicited by bacterial infection, with a profound effect on the intermediate filament network and junctional complexes. In response to environmental stimuli of the host epithelium, NTHi downregulated its central metabolism and increased the expression of transporters, indicating a change in the metabolic regime due to the availability of host substrates. Concurrently, the oxidative environment generated by infected cells instigated bacterial expression of stress-induced defense mechanisms, including the transport of exogenous glutathione and activation of the toxin-antitoxin system. The results of this analysis were validated by those of confocal microscopy, Western blotting, Bio-plex, and real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR). Notably, as part of our screening for novel signatures of infection, we identified a global profile of noncoding transcripts that are candidate small RNAs (sRNAs) regulated during human host infection in Haemophilus species. Our data, by providing a robust and comprehensive representation of the cross talk between the host and invading pathogen, provides important insights into NTHi pathogenesis and the development of efficacious preventive strategies.

Importance: Simultaneous monitoring of infection-linked transcriptome alterations in an invading pathogen and its target host cells represents a key strategy for identifying regulatory responses that drive pathogenesis. In this study, we report the progressive events of NTHi colonization in a highly differentiated model of ciliated bronchial epithelium. Genome-wide transcriptome maps of NTHi during infection provided mechanistic insights into bacterial adaptive responses to the host niche, with modulation of the central metabolism as an important signature of the evolving milieu. Our data indicate that infected epithelia respond by substantial alteration of the cytoskeletal network and cytokine repertoire, revealing a dynamic cross talk that is responsible for the onset of inflammation. This work significantly enhances our understanding of the means by which NTHi promotes infection on human mucosae and reveals novel strategies exploited by this important pathogen to cause invasive disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01765-15DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4659474PMC
November 2015

Whole-Genome Sequences of Nonencapsulated Haemophilus influenzae Strains Isolated in Italy.

Genome Announc 2015 Mar 26;3(2). Epub 2015 Mar 26.

Novartis Vaccines, Siena, Italy.

Haemophilus influenzae is an important human pathogen involved in invasive disease. Here, we report the whole-genome sequences of 11 nonencapsulated H. influenzae (ncHi) strains isolated from both invasive disease and healthy carriers in Italy. This genomic information will enrich our understanding of the molecular basis of ncHi pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/genomeA.00110-15DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4384133PMC
March 2015

Structure of the type IX group B Streptococcus capsular polysaccharide and its evolutionary relationship with types V and VII.

J Biol Chem 2014 Aug 2;289(34):23437-48. Epub 2014 Jul 2.

From Novartis Vaccines Research, 53100 Siena, Italy.

The Group B Streptococcus capsular polysaccharide type IX was isolated and purified, and the structure of its repeating unit was determined. Type IX capsule → 4)[NeupNAc-α-(2 → 3)-Galp-β-(1 → 4)-GlcpNAc-β-(1 → 6)]-β-GlcpNAc-(1 → 4)-β-Galp-(1 → 4)-β-Glcp-(1 → appears most similar to types VII and V, although it contains two GlcpNAc residues. Genetic analysis identified differences in cpsM, cpsO, and cpsI gene sequences as responsible for the differentiation between the three capsular polysaccharide types, leading us to hypothesize that type V emerged from a recombination event in a type IX background.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M114.567974DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4156066PMC
August 2014

Sequence analysis of 96 genomic regions identifies distinct evolutionary lineages within CC156, the largest Streptococcus pneumoniae clonal complex in the MLST database.

PLoS One 2013 12;8(4):e61003. Epub 2013 Apr 12.

Research Center, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Siena, Italy.

Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) of Streptococcus pneumoniae is based on the sequence of seven housekeeping gene fragments. The analysis of MLST allelic profiles by eBURST allows the grouping of genetically related strains into Clonal Complexes (CCs) including those genotypes with a common descent from a predicted ancestor. However, the increasing use of MLST to characterize S. pneumoniae strains has led to the identification of a large number of new Sequence Types (STs) causing the merger of formerly distinct lineages into larger CCs. An example of this is the CC156, displaying a high level of complexity and including strains with allelic profiles differing in all seven of the MLST loci, capsular type and the presence of the Pilus Islet-1 (PI-1). Detailed analysis of the CC156 indicates that the identification of new STs, such as ST4945, induced the merging of formerly distinct clonal complexes. In order to discriminate the strain diversity within CC156, a recently developed typing schema, 96-MLST, was used to analyse 66 strains representative of 41 different STs. Analysis of allelic profiles by hierarchical clustering and a minimum spanning tree identified ten genetically distinct evolutionary lineages. Similar results were obtained by phylogenetic analysis on the concatenated sequences with different methods. The identified lineages are homogenous in capsular type and PI-1 presence. ST4945 strains were unequivocally assigned to one of the lineages. In conclusion, the identification of new STs through an exhaustive analysis of pneumococcal strains from various laboratories has highlighted that potentially unrelated subgroups can be grouped into a single CC by eBURST. The analysis of additional loci, such as those included in the 96-MLST schema, will be necessary to accurately discriminate the clonal evolution of the pneumococcal population.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0061003PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3625235PMC
October 2013

An extended multi-locus molecular typing schema for Streptococcus pneumoniae demonstrates that a limited number of capsular switch events is responsible for serotype heterogeneity of closely related strains from different countries.

Infect Genet Evol 2013 Jan 27;13:151-61. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Via Fiorentina 1, I-53100 Siena, Italy.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Pneumococcal strains are classified according to their capsular serotype and through a Multi-Locus Sequence Typing schema (MLST) based on the sequencing of seven housekeeping genes. However, strains with a defined allelic profile (Sequence Type, ST) can have different serotypes, suggesting that the micro-evolution of the MLST lineages leads to a considerable degree of phenotypic variability. To better investigate the genetic diversity within these lineages, we set-up and then validated an extended molecular typing schema (96-MLST) based on the sequencing of ninety-six genomic loci. 96-MLST loci were designed within core-genes in a collection of 39 complete genomes of S. pneumoniae. None of the capsular genes was included in the schema. When tested on a collection of 69 isolates, 96-MLST was able to partition strains with the same ST and diverse serotypes into groups that were homogenous for capsular serotype, improving our understanding of the evolution of epidemiologically relevant lineages. Phylogenetic sequence analysis showed that the capsular heterogeneity of three STs that were sampled more extensively could be traced back to a limited number of capsular switch events, indicating that changes of serotype occur occasionally during the short term expansion of clones. Moreover, a geographical structure of ST156 was identified, suggesting that the resolution guaranteed by this method is sufficient for phylogeographic studies. In conclusion, we showed that an extended typing schema was able to characterize the expansion of individual lineages in a complex species such as S. pneumoniae.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2012.09.008DOI Listing
January 2013

Identification of protective and broadly conserved vaccine antigens from the genome of extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 May 3;107(20):9072-7. Epub 2010 May 3.

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC) are a common cause of disease in both mammals and birds. A vaccine to prevent such infections would be desirable given the increasing antibiotic resistance of these bacteria. We have determined the genome sequence of ExPEC IHE3034 (ST95) isolated from a case of neonatal meningitis and compared this to available genome sequences of other ExPEC strains and a few nonpathogenic E. coli. We found 19 genomic islands present in the genome of IHE3034, which are absent in the nonpathogenic E. coli isolates. By using subtractive reverse vaccinology we identified 230 antigens present in ExPEC but absent (or present with low similarity) in nonpathogenic strains. Nine antigens were protective in a mouse challenge model. Some of them were also present in other pathogenic non-ExPEC strains, suggesting that a broadly protective E. coli vaccine may be possible. The gene encoding the most protective antigen was detected in most of the E. coli isolates, highly conserved in sequence and found to be exported by a type II secretion system which seems to be nonfunctional in nonpathogenic strains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0915077107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2889118PMC
May 2010

High divergence across the whole mitochondrial genome in the "pan-Antarctic" springtail Friesea grisea: evidence for cryptic species?

Gene 2010 Jan 25;449(1-2):30-40. Epub 2009 Sep 25.

Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy.

Collembola are one of the few hexapod groups adapted to live in the harsh environmental conditions of Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems. Diversity is limited to a few species that can be very abundant in coastal deglaciated sites. A remarkable lack of overlap in Collembola species composition is evident between Western and Eastern Antarctica, and Friesea grisea is currently the only species whose distribution is thought to span these two main regions of the continent. However, our analysis of the complete sequences of the mitochondrial genomes from specimens obtained from each of the two regions showed unexpected genetic divergence, well above the average levels observed between populations belonging to the same species, and so indicating that these are actually separate species, despite their lack of distinguishing morphology. Detailed analysis of the two genomes showed the presence of a non-coding region observed between trnS(uga) and nad1. Other features of these mitochondrial genomes, such as base compositional bias, secondary structure features of tRNAs and the presence of regulatory elements in the control region, are described and discussed from an evolutionary standpoint.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2009.09.006DOI Listing
January 2010