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Title: Iminosugars as dengue virus therapeutics : molecular mechanisms of action of a drug entering clinical trials
Author: Sayce, Andrew Cameron
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 5167
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Iminosugars are a class of small molecules defined by substitution of a sugar’s ring oxygen with nitrogen. Various chemical modifications of these basic structures (e.g. alkyl chain addition off of the ring nitrogen) have been developed during the last several decades. These molecules have been considered as therapeutics for a number of pathologies including viral infection, congenital disorders of glycosylation (of both glycoproteins and glycolipids), and diabetes. This thesis focuses on the application of a small subset of iminosugars, known as deoxynojirimycin derivatives, as therapeutics against dengue virus induced pathology. Dengue virus infection predominates in tropical climates, but autochthonous infection has recently emerged in areas of both southern Europe and the southern United States. With 390 million people infected annually, dengue is the most prevalent arthropod-borne viral infection worldwide, and the possibility of severe pathology including haemorrhage, shock, and/or death, necessitates development of effective antiviral therapies. Although the molecular mechanisms responsible for progression to severe dengue disease are not completely understood, there is considerable evidence for the role of both the innate and the adaptive immune responses in development of life-threatening complications. Excessive activation of the innate immune response, a phenomenon known as cytokine storm, has been hypothesised to explain development of symptoms related to vascular permeability, whereas the adaptive immune response has been implicated in severe disease through two hypotheses – the antibody dependent enhancement and original antigenic sin hypotheses. The evidence regarding each of these potential mechanisms of severe pathology is discussed throughout this thesis principally with respect to how iminosugar treatment could alter any detrimental effects of the immune response to dengue virus infection. The principal aim of this thesis is to consider the potential of deoxynojirimycin iminosugars as antiviral therapeutics in dengue infection with a focus on how these molecules exert their antiviral effects in primary human cells. I first consider the contributions of glycoprotein inhibition and glycolipid inhibition on production of infectious dengue virus. These experiments suggest that inhibition of glycoprotein folding is responsible for inhibition of infectious dengue virus production. I next consider the impact of treatment of a promising clinical candidate iminosugar, N9-methoxynonyl-deoxynojirimycin (MON-DNJ), on the primary human macrophage transcriptome. In uninfected macrophages as well as macrophages infected with dengue virus or treated with lipopolysaccharide to model bacterial sepsis, iminosugar treatment results in activation of the unfolded protein response and inhibition of several elements of the inflammatory response including signalling by the cytokines IFN-γ and TNF-α, and the inflammatory cascade mediated by NF-κB. Activation of the unfolded protein response as a result of treatment with MON-DNJ can be confirmed by analysis of phosphorylated (activated) NFE2L2, a transcription factor that functions principally to control oxidative stress in response to ER stress signals. Modulation of the inflammatory response of macrophages to dengue infection and bacterial sepsis is confirmed by analysis of secreted cytokines. As predicted by my transcriptomic experiments, levels of TNF-α and IFN-γ produced in response to dengue or lipopolysaccharide are reduced by treatment with MON-DNJ. Finally, I attempted to extend these observations to an animal model of dengue infection with a particular focus on TNF receptor and ligand superfamily members. Unfortunately, heterogeneity of cells types from tissue samples as well as limitations of the animal model complicate interpretation of these findings. Nevertheless, this thesis demonstrates that MON-DNJ is an effective dengue antiviral therapeutic and that this therapeutic activity may be related to both reduction of infectious virus as a consequence of inhibition of glycoprotein processing and as a result of changes to the host’s response to the pathogen. These results have been used in part to justify recently initiated clinical trials of MON-DNJ as a dengue antiviral therapy.
Supervisor: Zitzmann, Nicole Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biochemistry ; Glycobiology ; Bioinformatics (life sciences) ; Medical Sciences ; Infectious diseases ; Viruses ; dengue ; immunology ; iminosugar ; cytokine ; cytokine storm ; glucosidase ; unfolded protein response ; calnexin cycle ; drug development