group leader: Prof. Schughart

Recent Submissions

  • Mutations during the Adaptation of H9N2 Avian Influenza Virus to the Respiratory Epithelium of Pigs Enhance Sialic Acid Binding Activity and Virulence in Mice.

    Yang, W; Punyadarsaniya, D; Lambertz, R L O; Lee, D C C; Liang, C H; Höper, D; Leist, S R; Hernández-Cáceres, A; Stech, J; Beer, M; Wu, C Y; Wong, C H; Schughart, K; Meng, F; Herrler, G; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-04-15)
    The natural reservoir for influenza viruses is waterfowl, and from there they succeeded in crossing the barrier to different mammalian species. We analyzed the adaptation of avian influenza viruses to a mammalian host by passaging an H9N2 strain three times in differentiated swine airway epithelial cells. Using precision-cut slices from the porcine lung to passage the parental virus, isolates from each of the three passages (P1 to P3) were characterized by assessing growth curves and ciliostatic effects. The only difference noted was an increased growth kinetics of the P3 virus. Sequence analysis revealed four mutations: one each in the PB2 and NS1 proteins and two in the HA protein. The HA mutations, A190V and T212I, were characterized by generating recombinant viruses containing either one or both amino acid exchanges. Whereas the parental virus recognized α2,3-linked sialic acids preferentially, the HA190 mutant bound to a broad spectrum of glycans with α2,6/8/9-linked sialic acids. The HA212 mutant alone differed only slightly from the parental virus; however, the combination of both mutations (HA190+HA212) increased the binding affinity to those glycans recognized by the HA190 mutant. Remarkably, only the HA double mutant showed a significantly increased pathogenicity in mice. In contrast, none of those mutations affected the ciliary activity of the epithelial cells which is characteristic for virulent swine influenza viruses. Taken together, our results indicate that shifts in the HA receptor affinity are just an early adaptation step of avian H9N2 strains; further mutational changes may be required to become virulent for pigs.IMPORTANCESwine play an important role in the interspecies transmission of influenza viruses. Avian influenza A viruses (IAV) of the H9N2 subtype have successfully infected hosts from different species but have not established a stable lineage. We have analyzed the adaptation of IAV-H9N2 virus to target cells of a new host by passaging the virus three times in differentiated porcine respiratory epithelial cells. Among the four mutations detected, the two HA mutations were analyzed by generating recombinant viruses. Depending on the infection system used, the mutations differed in their phenotypic expression, e.g., sialic acid binding activity, replication kinetics, plaque size, and pathogenicity in inbred mice. However, none of the mutations affected the ciliary activity which serves as a virulence marker. Thus, early adaptive mutation enhances the replication kinetics, but more mutations are required for IAV of the H9N2 subtype to become virulent.
  • Deletion of Irf3 and Irf7 Genes in Mice Results in Altered Interferon Pathway Activation and Granulocyte-Dominated Inflammatory Responses to Influenza A Infection.

    Hatesuer, Bastian; Hoang, Hang Thi Thu; Riese, Peggy; Trittel, Stephanie; Gerhauser, Ingo; Elbahesh, Husni; Geffers, Robert; Wilk, Esther; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    The interferon (IFN) pathway plays an essential role in the innate immune response following viral infections and subsequent shaping of adaptive immunity. Infections with influenza A viruses (IAV) activate the IFN pathway after the recognition of pathogen-specific molecular patterns by respective pattern recognition receptors. The IFN regulatory factors IRF3 and IRF7 are key players in the regulation of type I and III IFN genes. In this study, we analyzed the role of IRF3 and IRF7 for the host response to IAV infections in Irf3-/-, Irf7-/-, and Irf3-/-Irf7-/- knockout mice. While the absence of IRF3 had only a moderate impact on IFN expression, deletion of IRF7 completely abolished IFNα production after infection. In contrast, lack of both IRF3 and IRF7 resulted in the absence of both IFNα and IFNβ after IAV infection. In addition, IAV infection of double knockout mice resulted in a strong increase of mortality associated with a massive influx of granulocytes in the lung and reduced activation of the adaptive immune response.
  • Absence of regulator of G-protein signaling 4 does not protect against dopamine neuron dysfunction and injury in the mouse 6-hydroxydopamine lesion model of Parkinson's disease.

    Ashrafi, Amer; Garcia, Pierre; Kollmus, Heike; Schughart, Klaus; Del Sol, Antonio; Buttini, Manuel; Glaab, Enrico; HelmholtzCentre of infetion research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-19)
    Regulator of G-protein signaling 4 (RGS4), a member of the RGS family of proteins that inactivate G-proteins, has gained interest as a potential drug target for neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease (PD). In the case of PD, the main current options for alleviating motor symptoms are dopamine replacement therapies, which have limitations because of side effects and reduced effectiveness over the long term. Research on new nondopaminergic PD drug targets has indicated that inhibition of RGS4 could be an effective adjuvant treatment option. The effectiveness of RGS4 inhibition for an array of PD-linked functional and structural neuroprotection end points has not yet been demonstrated. Here, we use the 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesioning model of the nigrostriatal pathway in mice to address this question. We observe, using a battery of behavioral and pathological measures, that mice deficient for RGS4 are not protected from 6-OHDA-induced injury and show enhanced susceptibility in some measures of motor function. Our results suggest that inhibition of RGS4 as a nondopaminergic target for PD should be approached with caution.
  • Host Genetic Background Strongly Affects Pulmonary microRNA Expression before and during Influenza A Virus Infection.

    Preusse, Matthias; Schughart, Klaus; Pessler, Frank (2017)
    Expression of host microRNAs (miRNAs) changes markedly during influenza A virus (IAV) infection of natural and adaptive hosts, but their role in genetically determined host susceptibility to IAV infection has not been explored. We, therefore, compared pulmonary miRNA expression during IAV infection in two inbred mouse strains with differential susceptibility to IAV infection.
  • Dynamic gene network reconstruction from gene expression data in mice after influenza A (H1N1) infection

    Dimitrakopoulou, Konstantina; Tsimpouris, Charalampos; Papadopoulos, George; Pommerenke, Claudia; Wilk, Esther; Sgarbas, Kyriakos N; Schughart, Klaus; Bezerianos, Anastasios (2011-10-21)
    Abstract Background The immune response to viral infection is a temporal process, represented by a dynamic and complex network of gene and protein interactions. Here, we present a reverse engineering strategy aimed at capturing the temporal evolution of the underlying Gene Regulatory Networks (GRN). The proposed approach will be an enabling step towards comprehending the dynamic behavior of gene regulation circuitry and mapping the network structure transitions in response to pathogen stimuli. Results We applied the Time Varying Dynamic Bayesian Network (TV-DBN) method for reconstructing the gene regulatory interactions based on time series gene expression data for the mouse C57BL/6J inbred strain after infection with influenza A H1N1 (PR8) virus. Initially, 3500 differentially expressed genes were clustered with the use of k-means algorithm. Next, the successive in time GRNs were built over the expression profiles of cluster centroids. Finally, the identified GRNs were examined with several topological metrics and available protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction data, transcription factor and KEGG pathway data. Conclusions Our results elucidate the potential of TV-DBN approach in providing valuable insights into the temporal rewiring of the lung transcriptome in response to H1N1 virus.
  • RNAseq expression analysis of resistant and susceptible mice after influenza A virus infection identifies novel genes associated with virus replication and important for host resistance to infection

    Wilk, Esther; Pandey, Ashutosh K; Leist, Sarah R; Hatesuer, Bastian; Preusse, Matthias; Pommerenke, Claudia; Wang, Junxi; Schughart, Klaus (2015-09-02)
    Abstract Background The host response to influenza A infections is strongly influenced by host genetic factors. Animal models of genetically diverse mouse strains are well suited to identify host genes involved in severe pathology, viral replication and immune responses. Here, we have utilized a dual RNAseq approach that allowed us to investigate both viral and host gene expression in the same individual mouse after H1N1 infection. Results We performed a detailed expression analysis to identify (i) correlations between changes in expression of host and virus genes, (ii) host genes involved in viral replication, and (iii) genes showing differential expression between two mouse strains that strongly differ in resistance to influenza infections. These genes may be key players involved in regulating the differences in pathogenesis and host defense mechanisms after influenza A infections. Expression levels of influenza segments correlated well with the viral load and may thus be used as surrogates for conventional viral load measurements. Furthermore, we investigated the functional role of two genes, Reg3g and Irf7, in knock-out mice and found that deletion of the Irf7 gene renders the host highly susceptible to H1N1 infection. Conclusions Using RNAseq analysis we identified novel genes important for viral replication or the host defense. This study adds further important knowledge to host-pathogen-interactions and suggests additional candidates that are crucial for host susceptibility or survival during influenza A infections.
  • Genetically diverse CC-founder mouse strains replicate the human influenza gene expression signature.

    Elbahesh, Husni; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-05-19)
    Influenza A viruses (IAV) are zoonotic pathogens that pose a major threat to human and animal health. Influenza virus disease severity is influenced by viral virulence factors as well as individual differences in host response. We analyzed gene expression changes in the blood of infected mice using a previously defined set of signature genes that was derived from changes in the blood transcriptome of IAV-infected human volunteers. We found that the human signature was reproduced well in the founder strains of the Collaborative Cross (CC) mice, thus demonstrating the relevance and importance of mouse experimental model systems for studying human influenza disease.
  • The bioluminescent Listeria monocytogenes strain Xen32 is defective in flagella expression and highly attenuated in orally infected BALB/cJ mice

    Bergmann, Silke; Rohde, Manfred; Schughart, Klaus; Lengeling, Andreas (2013-07-15)
    Abstract Background In vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is a powerful method for the analysis of host-pathogen interactions in small animal models. The commercially available bioluminescent Listeria monocytogenes strain Xen32 is commonly used to analyse immune functions in knockout mice and pathomechanisms of listeriosis. Findings To analyse and image listerial dissemination after oral infection we have generated a murinised Xen32 strain (Xen32-mur) which expresses a previously described mouse-adapted internalin A. This strain was used alongside the Xen32 wild type strain and the bioluminescent L. monocytogenes strains EGDe-lux and murinised EGDe-mur-lux to characterise bacterial dissemination in orally inoculated BALB/cJ mice. After four days of infection, Xen32 and Xen32-mur infected mice displayed consistently higher rates of bioluminescence compared to EGDe-lux and EGDe-mur-lux infected animals. However, surprisingly both Xen32 strains showed attenuated virulence in orally infected BALB/c mice that correlated with lower bacterial burden in internal organs at day 5 post infection, smaller losses in body weights and increased survival compared to EGDe-lux or EGDe-mur-lux inoculated animals. The Xen32 strain was made bioluminescent by integration of a lux-kan transposon cassette into the listerial flaA locus. We show here that this integration results in Xen32 in a flaA frameshift mutation which makes this strain flagella deficient. Conclusions The bioluminescent L. monocytogenes strain Xen32 is deficient in flagella expression and highly attenuated in orally infected BALB/c mice. As this listerial strain has been used in many BLI studies of murine listeriosis, it is important that the scientific community is aware of its reduced virulence in vivo.
  • Expression QTL mapping in regulatory and helper T cells from the BXD family of strains reveals novel cell-specific genes, gene-gene interactions and candidate genes for auto-immune disease

    Alberts, Rudi; Chen, Hairong; Pommerenke, Claudia; Smit, August B; Spijker, Sabine; Williams, Robert W; Geffers, Robert; Bruder, Dunja; Schughart, Klaus (2011-12-19)
    Abstract Background Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an essential role in the control of the immune response. Treg cells represent important targets for therapeutic interventions of the immune system. Therefore, it will be very important to understand in more detail which genes are specifically activated in Treg cells versus T helper (Th) cells, and which gene regulatory circuits may be involved in specifying and maintaining Treg cell homeostasis. Results We isolated Treg and Th cells from a genetically diverse family of 31 BXD type recombinant inbred strains and the fully inbred parental strains of this family--C57BL/6J and DBA/2J. Subsequently genome-wide gene expression studies were performed from the isolated Treg and Th cells. A comparative analysis of the transcriptomes of these cell populations allowed us to identify many novel differentially expressed genes. Analysis of cis- and trans-expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTLs) highlighted common and unique regulatory mechanisms that are active in the two cell types. Trans-eQTL regions were found for the Treg functional genes Nrp1, Stat3 and Ikzf4. Analyses of the respective QTL intervals suggested several candidate genes that may be involved in regulating these genes in Treg cells. Similarly, possible candidate genes were found which may regulate the expression of F2rl1, Ctla4, Klrb1f. In addition, we identified a focused group of candidate genes that may be important for the maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of allergy. Conclusions Variation of expression across the strains allowed us to find many novel gene-interaction networks in both T cell subsets. In addition, these two data sets enabled us to identify many differentially expressed genes and to nominate candidate genes that may have important functions for the maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of allergy.
  • Sustained viral load and late death in Rag2-/- mice after influenza A virus infection

    Wu, Haiya; Haist, Verena; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Ihoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-07-28)
    Abstract The importance of the adaptive immune response for secondary influenza infections and protection from a lethal challenge after vaccination has been well documented. However, some controversy still exists concerning the specific involvement of B and T cells during a primary infection. Here, we have followed the survival, weight loss, viral load and lung pathology in Rag2 -/- knock-out mice after infection with influenza A virus (H1N1). Infected wild type mice initially lost weight early after infection but then cleared the virus and recovered. Rag2 -/- mice, however, showed similar weight loss kinetics in the early stages after infection but weight loss continued post infection and culminated in death. In contrast to wild type mice, Rag2 -/- mice were not able to clear the virus, despite an increased inflammatory response. Furthermore, they did not recruit virus-specific lymphocytes into the lung in the later stages after infection and exhibited sustained pulmonary lesions.
  • QTLminer: identifying genes regulating quantitative traits.

    Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-10-15)
    Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping identifies genomic regions that likely contain genes regulating a quantitative trait. However, QTL regions may encompass tens to hundreds of genes. To find the most promising candidate genes that regulate the trait, the biologist typically collects information from multiple resources about the genes in the QTL interval. This process is very laborious and time consuming.
  • Self-collected nasal swabs to detect infection and colonization: a useful tool for population-based epidemiological studies?

    Akmatov, M K; Pessler, F; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-09)
    Population-based epidemiological studies on infectious diseases are limited by methodological problems that may not be encountered in other fields of epidemiology. The acute or asymptomatic nature of many infections hinders a timely diagnosis by trained personnel in a study centre, indicating the need for new collection methods of biological specimens. One alternative approach is to have the participants collect the specimens themselves, for instance nasal swabs for the detection of bacterial or viral pathogens. Although self-collection is widely accepted in clinical studies of specific populations (e.g., self-collection of vaginal swabs by young women to diagnose sexually transmitted infections), it has not been employed much in population-based studies. Here, we review recent experience with self-collection of nasal swabs for the detection of microorganisms and discuss future prospects and applications for this technique.
  • Inhibition of lung serine proteases in mice: a potentially new approach to control influenza infection.

    Bahgat, Mahmoud M; Błazejewska, Paulina; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-01-20)
    Host serine proteases are essential for the influenza virus life cycle because the viral haemagglutinin is synthesized as a precursor which requires proteolytic maturation. Therefore, we studied the activity and expression of serine proteases in lungs from mice infected with influenza and evaluated the effect of serine protease inhibitors on virus replication both in cell culture and in infected mice.
  • Inhibition of lung serine proteases in mice: a potentially new approach to control influenza infection

    Bahgat, Mahmoud M; Błazejewska, Paulina; Schughart, Klaus (2011-01-20)
    Abstract Background Host serine proteases are essential for the influenza virus life cycle because the viral haemagglutinin is synthesized as a precursor which requires proteolytic maturation. Therefore, we studied the activity and expression of serine proteases in lungs from mice infected with influenza and evaluated the effect of serine protease inhibitors on virus replication both in cell culture and in infected mice. Results Two different inbred mouse strains were investigated: DBA/2J as a highly susceptible and C57Bl/6J as a more resistant strain to influenza virus infection. The serine proteases from lung homogenates of mice exhibited pH optima of 10.00. Using the substrate Bz-Val-Gly-Arg-p-nitroanilide or in zymograms, the intensities of proteolysis increased in homogenates from both mouse strains with time post infection (p.i.) with the mouse-adapted influenza virus A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (H1N1; PR8). In zymograms at day 7 p.i., proteolytic bands were stronger and numerous in lung homogenates from DBA/2J than C57Bl/6J mice. Real-time PCR results confirmed differential expression of several lung proteases before and after infecting mice with the H1N1 virus. The most strongly up-regulated proteases were Gzma, Tmprss4, Elane, Ctrl, Gzmc and Gzmb. Pretreatment of mouse and human lung cell lines with the serine protease inhibitors AEBSF or pAB or a cocktail of both prior to infection with the H1N1 or the A/Seal/Massachusetts/1/80 (H7N7; SC35M) virus resulted in a decrease in virus replication. Pretreatment of C57Bl/6J mice with either AEBSF or a cocktail of AEBSF and pAB prior to infection with the H1N1 virus significantly reduced weight loss and led to a faster recovery of treated versus untreated mice while pAB alone exerted a very poor effect. After infection with the H7N7 virus, the most significant reduction of weight loss was obtained upon pretreatment with either the protease inhibitor cocktail or pAB. Furthermore, pretreatment of C57BL/6J mice with AEBSF prior to infection resulted in a significant reduction in the levels of both the H1N1 and H7N7 nucleoproteins in mice lungs and also a significant reduction in the levels of the HA transcript in the lungs of the H1N1- but not the H7N7-infected mice. Conclusion Multiple serine protease activities might be implicated in mediating influenza infection. Blocking influenza A virus infection in cultured lung epithelia and in mice by the used serine protease inhibitors may provide an alternative approach for treatment of influenza infection.
  • QTLminer: identifying genes regulating quantitative traits

    Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus (2010-10-15)
    Abstract Background Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping identifies genomic regions that likely contain genes regulating a quantitative trait. However, QTL regions may encompass tens to hundreds of genes. To find the most promising candidate genes that regulate the trait, the biologist typically collects information from multiple resources about the genes in the QTL interval. This process is very laborious and time consuming. Results QTLminer is a bioinformatics tool that automatically performs QTL region analysis. It is available in GeneNetwork and it integrates information such as gene annotation, gene expression and sequence polymorphisms for all the genes within a given genomic interval. Conclusions QTLminer substantially speeds up discovery of the most promising candidate genes within a QTL region.
  • Distinct gene loci control the host response to influenza H1N1 virus infection in a time-dependent manner

    Nedelko, Tatiana; Kollmus, Heike; Klawonn, Frank; Spijker, Sabine; Lu, Lu; Heßman, Manuela; Alberts, Rudi; Williams, Robert W; Schughart, Klaus (2012-08-20)
    Abstract Background There is strong but mostly circumstantial evidence that genetic factors modulate the severity of influenza infection in humans. Using genetically diverse but fully inbred strains of mice it has been shown that host sequence variants have a strong influence on the severity of influenza A disease progression. In particular, C57BL/6J, the most widely used mouse strain in biomedical research, is comparatively resistant. In contrast, DBA/2J is highly susceptible. Results To map regions of the genome responsible for differences in influenza susceptibility, we infected a family of 53 BXD-type lines derived from a cross between C57BL/6J and DBA/2J strains with influenza A virus (PR8, H1N1). We monitored body weight, survival, and mean time to death for 13 days after infection. Qivr5 (quantitative trait for influenza virus resistance on chromosome 5) was the largest and most significant QTL for weight loss. The effect of Qivr5 was detectable on day 2 post infection, but was most pronounced on days 5 and 6. Survival rate mapped to Qivr5, but additionally revealed a second significant locus on chromosome 19 (Qivr19). Analysis of mean time to death affirmed both Qivr5 and Qivr19. In addition, we observed several regions of the genome with suggestive linkage. There are potentially complex combinatorial interactions of the parental alleles among loci. Analysis of multiple gene expression data sets and sequence variants in these strains highlights about 30 strong candidate genes across all loci that may control influenza A susceptibility and resistance. Conclusions We have mapped influenza susceptibility loci to chromosomes 2, 5, 16, 17, and 19. Body weight and survival loci have a time-dependent profile that presumably reflects the temporal dynamic of the response to infection. We highlight candidate genes in the respective intervals and review their possible biological function during infection.
  • ATR-FTIR spectroscopy reveals genomic loci regulating the tissue response in high fat diet fed BXD recombinant inbred mouse strains

    Dogan, Ayca; Lasch, Peter; Neuschl, Christina; Millrose, Marion K; Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Naumann, Dieter; Brockmann, Gudrun A (2013-06-10)
    Abstract Background Obesity-associated organ-specific pathological states can be ensued from the dysregulation of the functions of the adipose tissues, liver and muscle. However, the influence of genetic differences underlying gross-compositional differences in these tissues is largely unknown. In the present study, the analytical method of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy has been combined with a genetic approach to identify genetic differences responsible for phenotypic alterations in adipose, liver and muscle tissues. Results Mice from 29 BXD recombinant inbred mouse strains were put on high fat diet and gross-compositional changes in adipose, liver and muscle tissues were measured by ATR-FTIR spectroscopy. The analysis of genotype-phenotype correlations revealed significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) on chromosome 12 for the content of fat and collagen, collagen integrity, and the lipid to protein ratio in adipose tissue and on chromosome 17 for lipid to protein ratio in liver. Using gene expression and sequence information, we suggest Rsad2 (viperin) and Colec11 (collectin-11) on chromosome 12 as potential quantitative trait candidate genes. Rsad2 may act as a modulator of lipid droplet contents and lipid biosynthesis; Colec11 might play a role in apoptopic cell clearance and maintenance of adipose tissue. An increased level of Rsad2 transcripts in adipose tissue of DBA/2J compared to C57BL/6J mice suggests a cis-acting genetic variant leading to differential gene activation. Conclusion The results demonstrate that the analytical method of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy effectively contributed to decompose the macromolecular composition of tissues that accumulate fat and to link this information with genetic determinants. The candidate genes in the QTL regions may contribute to obesity-related diseases in humans, in particular if the results can be verified in a bigger BXD cohort.
  • Hematological parameters in the early phase of influenza A virus infection in differentially susceptible inbred mouse strains

    Preusse, Matthias; Schughart, Klaus; Wilk, Esther; Klawonn, Frank; Pessler, Frank (2015-06-06)
    Abstract Background Hematological parameters have not received much attention in small animal models of infection, particularly at very early time points. We therefore studied changes in leukocyte and thrombocyte numbers in a mouse model of influenza A virus (IAV) infection, including measurements within the first 24 h after infection, and also assessing effects, if any, of the infection/anesthesia procedure on these parameters. Methods DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice (n = 5–8 per observation) were evaluated in a time course experiment of IAV infection, focusing on early time points. After anesthesia with ketamine/xylazine, a suspension of 2 × 103 focus forming units of the mouse-adapted IAV strain A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (H1N1) in 20 µl sterile PBS, or 20 µl sterile PBS only (“mock treatment”), were instilled intranasally. Weight loss was assessed daily, and eight common hematological parameters and viral hemagglutinin (HA) mRNA expression were determined after 6, 12, 18, 24, 48 and 120 h. Results Hematological differences between the strains were apparent even in untreated mice. Infection-dependent changes, in particular increased granulocyte and decreased lymphocyte counts, were first detectable after 18 h in DBA/2J, were fully manifest in both strains at 48 h, and were usually more pronounced in the DBA/2J mice. In this strain, relative granulocyte and lymphocyte counts and the granulocyte/lymphocyte ratio correlated with viral HA mRNA expression and weight loss. In C57BL/6J, hematological parameters did not correlate with weight loss, but HA mRNA expression correlated weakly with total leukocyte counts, granulocyte/lymphocyte ratio, relative and absolute granulocyte counts, and relative lymphocyte counts. Significant changes due to mock treatment were mild and were detected only in C57BL/6J. Conclusion This study underscores the value of hematological parameters in monitoring disease evolution in the early phase of IAV infection, and likely other pathogens. The hematological response to infection may differ significantly among inbred mouse strains.
  • Data-driven assessment of eQTL mapping methods

    Michaelson, Jacob J; Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Beyer, Andreas (2010-09-17)
    Abstract Background The analysis of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) is a potentially powerful way to detect transcriptional regulatory relationships at the genomic scale. However, eQTL data sets often go underexploited because legacy QTL methods are used to map the relationship between the expression trait and genotype. Often these methods are inappropriate for complex traits such as gene expression, particularly in the case of epistasis. Results Here we compare legacy QTL mapping methods with several modern multi-locus methods and evaluate their ability to produce eQTL that agree with independent external data in a systematic way. We found that the modern multi-locus methods (Random Forests, sparse partial least squares, lasso, and elastic net) clearly outperformed the legacy QTL methods (Haley-Knott regression and composite interval mapping) in terms of biological relevance of the mapped eQTL. In particular, we found that our new approach, based on Random Forests, showed superior performance among the multi-locus methods. Conclusions Benchmarks based on the recapitulation of experimental findings provide valuable insight when selecting the appropriate eQTL mapping method. Our battery of tests suggests that Random Forests map eQTL that are more likely to be validated by independent data, when compared to competing multi-locus and legacy eQTL mapping methods.
  • Infection- and procedure-dependent effects on pulmonary gene expression in the early phase of influenza A virus infection in mice

    Preusse, Matthias; Tantawy, Mohamed A; Klawonn, Frank; Schughart, Klaus; Pessler, Frank (2013-12-17)
    Abstract Background Investigating the host response in the early stage of influenza A virus (IAV) infection is of considerable interest. However, it is conceivable that effects due to the anesthesia and/or intranasal infection procedure might introduce artifacts. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of anesthesia and/or intranasal infection on transcription of selected pulmonary mRNAs in two inbred mouse strains with differential susceptibility to IAV infection. Results DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice were evaluated in a time course experiment in which lung tissue was sampled after 6, 12, 18, 24, 48 and 120 h. After anesthesia with ketamine and xylazine, a suspension of mouse-adapted IAV strain PR8_Mun in 20 μl sterile buffer, or 20 μl sterile buffer only, was instilled intranasally. The mice receiving anesthesia and PBS only were designated the “mock treatment” group. Pulmonary expression of 10 host mRNAs (Fos, Retnla, Irg1, Il6, Il1b, Cxcl10, Stat1, Ifng, Ifnl2, and Mx1) and viral hemagglutinin (HA) mRNA were determined at the designated time points. As expected, weight loss and viral replication were greater in the DBA/2J strain (which is more susceptible to IAV infection). Four mRNAs (Retnla, Irg1, Il6, and Cxcl10) were procedure-dependently regulated in DBA/2J mice between 6 and 24 h, and two (Retnla and Il6) in C57BL/6J mice, although to a lesser extent. All 10 mRNAs rose after infection, but one (Fos) only in DBA/2J mice. These infection-dependent effects could be separated from procedure-dependent effects beginning around 12 h in DBA/2J and 18 h in C57BL/6J mice. The interferon-related mRNAs Stat1, Ifng, Infl2, and Mx1 were unaffected by mock treatment in either mouse strain. Mx1 and Infl2 correlated best with HA mRNA expression (r = 0.97 and 0.93, respectively, in DBA/2J). Conclusions These results demonstrate effects of the anesthesia and/or intranasal infection procedure on pulmonary gene expression, which are detectable between approximately 6 and 24 h post procedure and vary in intensity and temporal evolution depending on the mouse strain used. Mock infection controls should be included in all studies on pulmonary gene expression in the early phase of infection with IAV and, likely, other respiratory pathogens.

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