• 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; Helmholz Centre for Infection Research (2015)
      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.
    • 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.
    • Host genetic background strongly influences the response to influenza a virus infections.

      Srivastava, Barkha; Błazejewska, Paulina; Hessmann, Manuela; Bruder, Dunja; Geffers, Robert; Mauel, Susanne; Gruber, Achim D; Schughart, Klaus; Department of Experimental Mouse Genetics, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research & University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Braunschweig, Germany. (2009)
      The genetic make-up of the host has a major influence on its response to combat pathogens. For influenza A virus, several single gene mutations have been described which contribute to survival, the immune response and clearance of the pathogen by the host organism. Here, we have studied the influence of the genetic background to influenza A H1N1 (PR8) and H7N7 (SC35M) viruses. The seven inbred laboratory strains of mice analyzed exhibited different weight loss kinetics and survival rates after infection with PR8. Two strains in particular, DBA/2J and A/J, showed very high susceptibility to viral infections compared to all other strains. The LD(50) to the influenza virus PR8 in DBA/2J mice was more than 1000-fold lower than in C57BL/6J mice. High susceptibility in DBA/2J mice was also observed after infection with influenza strain SC35M. In addition, infected DBA/2J mice showed a higher viral load in their lungs, elevated expression of cytokines and chemokines, and a more severe and extended lung pathology compared to infected C57BL/6J mice. These findings indicate a major contribution of the genetic background of the host to influenza A virus infections. The overall response in highly susceptible DBA/2J mice resembled the pathology described for infections with the highly virulent influenza H1N1-1918 and newly emerged H5N1 viruses.
    • Identification of cardiac malformations in mice lacking Ptdsr using a novel high-throughput magnetic resonance imaging technique

      Schneider, Jürgen E; Böse, Jens; Bamforth, Simon D; Gruber, Achim D; Broadbent, Carol; Clarke, Kieran; Neubauer, Stefan; Lengeling, Andreas; Bhattacharya, Shoumo (BioMed Central, 2004-12-22)
      Background Congenital heart defects are the leading non-infectious cause of death in children. Genetic studies in the mouse have been crucial to uncover new genes and signaling pathways associated with heart development and congenital heart disease. The identification of murine models of congenital cardiac malformations in high-throughput mutagenesis screens and in gene-targeted models is hindered by the opacity of the mouse embryo. Results We developed and optimized a novel method for high-throughput multi-embryo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using this approach we identified cardiac malformations in phosphatidylserine receptor (Ptdsr) deficient embryos. These included ventricular septal defects, double-outlet right ventricle, and hypoplasia of the pulmonary artery and thymus. These results indicate that Ptdsr plays a key role in cardiac development. Conclusions Our novel multi-embryo MRI technique enables high-throughput identification of murine models for human congenital cardiopulmonary malformations at high spatial resolution. The technique can be easily adapted for mouse mutagenesis screens and, thus provides an important new tool for identifying new mouse models for human congenital heart diseases.
    • Immunization with live virus vaccine protects highly susceptible DBA/2J mice from lethal influenza A H1N1 infection.

      Dengler, Leonie; May, Mathias; Wilk, Esther; Bahgat, Mahmoud M; Schughart, Klaus; Department of Infection Genetics, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      The mouse represents an important model system to study the host response to influenza A infections and to evaluate new prevention or treatment strategies. We and others reported that the susceptibility to influenza A virus infections strongly varies among different inbred mouse strains. In particular, DBA/2J mice are highly susceptible to several influenza A subtypes, including human isolates and exhibit severe symptoms after infection with clinical isolates.
    • In vivo knockdown of Piccolino disrupts presynaptic ribbon morphology in mouse photoreceptor synapses.

      Regus-Leidig, Hanna; Fuchs, Michaela; Löhner, Martina; Leist, Sarah R; Leal-Ortiz, Sergio; Chiodo, Vince A; Hauswirth, William W; Garner, Craig C; Brandstätter, Johann H (2014)
      Piccolo is the largest known cytomatrix protein at active zones of chemical synapses. A growing number of studies on conventional chemical synapses assign Piccolo a role in the recruitment and integration of molecules relevant for both endo- and exocytosis of synaptic vesicles, the dynamic assembly of presynaptic F-actin, as well as the proteostasis of presynaptic proteins, yet a direct function in the structural organization of the active zone has not been uncovered in part due to the expression of multiple alternatively spliced isoforms. We recently identified Piccolino, a Piccolo splice variant specifically expressed in sensory ribbon synapses of the eye and ear. Here we down regulated Piccolino in vivo via an adeno-associated virus-based RNA interference approach and explored the impact on the presynaptic structure of mouse photoreceptor ribbon synapses. Detailed immunocytochemical light and electron microscopical analysis of Piccolino knockdown in photoreceptors revealed a hitherto undescribed photoreceptor ribbon synaptic phenotype with striking morphological changes of synaptic ribbon ultrastructure.
    • 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.
    • Influence of internalin a murinisation on host resistance to orally acquired listeriosis in mice

      Bergmann, Silke; Beard, Philippa M; Pasche, Bastian; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Gahan, Cormac G M; Schughart, Klaus; Lengeling, Andreas (2013-04-23)
      Abstract Background The bacterial surface protein internalin (InlA) is a major virulence factor of the food-born pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. It plays a critical role in the bacteria crossing the host intestinal barrier by a species-specific interaction with the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. In mice, the interaction of InlA with murine E-cadherin is impaired due to sequence-specific binding incompatibilities. We have previously used the approach of ‘murinisation’ to establish an oral listeriosis infection model in mice by exchanging two amino acid residues in InlA. This dramatically increases binding to mouse E-cadherin. In the present study, we have used bioluminescent murinised and non-murinised Listeria strains to examine the spatiotemporal dissemination of Listeria in four diverse mouse genetic backgrounds after oral inoculation. Results The murinised Listeria monocytogenes strain showed enhanced invasiveness and induced more severe infections in all four investigated mouse inbred strains compared to the non-murinised Listeria strain. We identified C57BL/6J mice as being most resistant to orally acquired listeriosis whereas C3HeB/FeJ, A/J and BALB/cJ mice were found to be most susceptible to infection. This was reflected in faster kinetics of Listeria dissemination, higher bacterial loads in internal organs, and elevated serum levels of IL-6, IFN-γ, TNF-α and CCL2 in the susceptible strains as compared to the resistant C57BL/6J strain. Importantly, murinisation of InlA did not cause enhanced invasion of Listeria monocytogenes into the brain. Conclusion Murinised Listeria are able to efficiently cross the intestinal barrier in mice from diverse genetic backgrounds. However, expression of murinized InlA does not enhance listerial brain invasion suggesting that crossing of the blood brain barrier and crossing of the intestinal epithelium are achieved by Listeria monocytogenes through different molecular mechanisms.
    • Influenza H3N2 infection of the collaborative cross founder strains reveals highly divergent host responses and identifies a unique phenotype in CAST/EiJ mice.

      Leist, Sarah R; Pilzner, Carolin; van den Brand, Judith M A; Dengler, Leonie; Geffers, Robert; Kuiken, Thijs; Balling, Rudi; Kollmus, Heike; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research (HZI), Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Influenza A virus is a zoonotic pathogen that poses a major threat to human and animal health. The severe course of influenza infection is not only influenced by viral virulence factors but also by individual differences in the host response. To determine the extent to which the genetic background can modulate severity of an infection, we studied the host responses to influenza infections in the eight genetically highly diverse Collaborative Cross (CC) founder mouse strains.
    • INFRAFRONTIER--providing mutant mouse resources as research tools for the international scientific community.

      INFRAFRONTIER Consortium; Meehan, T. F.; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-01)
      The laboratory mouse is a key model organism to investigate mechanism and therapeutics of human disease. The number of targeted genetic mouse models of disease is growing rapidly due to high-throughput production strategies employed by the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) and the development of new, more efficient genome engineering techniques such as CRISPR based systems. We have previously described the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA) resource and how this international infrastructure provides archiving and distribution worldwide for mutant mouse strains. EMMA has since evolved into INFRAFRONTIER (http://www.infrafrontier.eu), the pan-European research infrastructure for the systemic phenotyping, archiving and distribution of mouse disease models. Here we describe new features including improved search for mouse strains, support for new embryonic stem cell resources, access to training materials via a comprehensive knowledgebase and the promotion of innovative analytical and diagnostic techniques.
    • 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.
    • Jmjd6 catalyses lysyl-hydroxylation of U2AF65, a protein associated with RNA splicing.

      Webby, Celia J; Wolf, Alexander; Gromak, Natalia; Dreger, Mathias; Kramer, Holger; Kessler, Benedikt; Nielsen, Michael L; Schmitz, Corinna; Butler, Danica S; Yates, John R; et al. (2009-07-03)
      The finding that the metazoan hypoxic response is regulated by oxygen-dependent posttranslational hydroxylations, which regulate the activity and lifetime of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), has raised the question of whether other hydroxylases are involved in the regulation of gene expression. We reveal that the splicing factor U2 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein auxiliary factor 65-kilodalton subunit (U2AF65) undergoes posttranslational lysyl-5-hydroxylation catalyzed by the Fe(II) and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase Jumonji domain-6 protein (Jmjd6). Jmjd6 is a nuclear protein that has an important role in vertebrate development and is a human homolog of the HIF asparaginyl-hydroxylase. Jmjd6 is shown to change alternative RNA splicing of some, but not all, of the endogenous and reporter genes, supporting a specific role for Jmjd6 in the regulation of RNA splicing.
    • Lst1 deficiency has a minor impact on course and outcome of the host response to influenza A H1N1 infections in mice.

      Leist, Sarah R; Kollmus, Heike; Hatesuer, Bastian; Lambertz, Ruth L O; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Previously, we performed a quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping study in BXD recombinant inbred mice to identify host genetic factors that confer resistance to influenza A virus infection. We found Lst1 (leukocyte specific transcript 1) as one of the most promising candidate genes in the Qivr17-2 locus because it is non-functional in DBA/2 J mice. Several studies have proposed that LST1 plays a role in the immune response to inflammatory diseases in humans and has additional immune-regulatory functions. Here, we evaluated the relevance of LST1 for the host response to influenza A infection in B6-Lst1 (-/-) mutant mice.
    • Multiplex profiling of inflammation-related bioactive lipid mediators in Toxocara canis- and Toxocara cati-induced neurotoxocarosis.

      Waindok, Patrick; Janecek-Erfurth, Elisabeth; Lindenwald, Dimitri; Wilk, Esther; Schughart, Klaus; Geffers, Robert; Balas, Laurence; Durand, Thierry; Rund, Katharina Maria; Schebb, Nils Helge; et al. (PLOS, 2019-09-01)
      BACKGROUND: Somatic migration of Toxocara canis- and T. cati-larvae in humans may cause neurotoxocarosis (NT) when larvae accumulate and persist in the central nervous system (CNS). Host- or parasite-induced immunoregulatory processes contribute to the pathogenesis; however, detailed data on involvement of bioactive lipid mediators, e.g. oxylipins or eico-/docosanoids, which are involved in the complex molecular signalling network during infection and inflammation, are lacking. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To elucidate if T. canis- and T. cati-induced NT affects the homeostasis of oxylipins during the course of infection, a comprehensive lipidomic profiling in brains (cerebra and cerebella) of experimentally infected C57BL/6J mice was conducted at six different time points post infection (pi) by liquid-chromatography coupled to electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS). Only minor changes were detected regarding pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase pathway). In contrast, a significant increase of metabolites resulting from lipoxygenase pathways was observed for both infection groups and brain regions, implicating a predominantly anti-inflammatory driven immune response. This observation was supported by a significantly increased 13-hydroxyoctadecadienoic acid (HODE)/9-HODE ratio during the subacute phase of infection, indicating an anti-inflammatory response to neuroinfection. Except for the specialised pro-resolving mediator (SPM) neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), which was detected in mice infected with both pathogens during the subacute phase of infection, no other SPMs were detected. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The obtained results demonstrate the influence of Toxocara spp. on oxylipins as part of the immune response of the paratenic hosts. Furthermore, this study shows differences in the alteration of the oxylipin composition between T. canis- and T. cati-brain infection. Results contribute to a further understanding of the largely unknown pathogenesis and mechanisms of host-parasite interactions during NT.
    • 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; et al. (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.
    • A new mouse model reveals a critical role for host innate immunity in resistance to Rift Valley fever.

      do Valle, Tânia Zaverucha; Billecocq, Agnès; Guillemot, Laurent; Alberts, Rudi; Gommet, Céline; Geffers, Robert; Calabrese, Kátia; Schughart, Klaus; Bouloy, Michèle; Montagutelli, Xavier; et al. (2010-11-15)
      Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an arthropod-borne viral disease repeatedly reported in many African countries and, more recently, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. RVF virus (RVFV) primarily infects domesticated ruminants, resulting in miscarriage in pregnant females and death for newborns and young animals. It also has the ability to infect humans, causing a feverish syndrome, meningoencephalitis, or hemorrhagic fever. The various outcomes of RVFV infection in animals and humans argue for the existence of host genetic determinants controlling the disease. We investigated the susceptibility of inbred mouse strains to infection with the virulent RVFV ZH548 strain. Compared with classical BALB/cByJ mice, wild-derived Mus m. musculus MBT/Pas mice exhibited earlier and greater viremia and died sooner, a result in sharp contrast with their resistance to infection with West Nile virus and influenza A. Infection of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from MBT/Pas mice with RVFV also resulted in higher viral production. Microarray and quantitative RT-PCR experiments showed that BALB/cByJ MEFs displayed a significant activation of the type I IFN pathway. In contrast, MBT/Pas MEFs elicited a delayed and partial type I IFN response to RVFV infection. RNA interference-mediated inhibition of genes that were not induced by RVFV in MBT/Pas MEFs increased viral production in BALB/cByJ MEFs, thus demonstrating their functional importance in limiting viral replication. We conclude that the failure of MBT/Pas murine strain to induce, in due course, a complete innate immune response is instrumental in the selective susceptibility to RVF.
    • Of mice and men: the host response to influenza virus infection.

      Kollmus, Heike; Pilzner, Carolin; Leist, Sarah R; Heise, Mark; Geffers, Robert; Schughart, Klaus; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-08-01)
      Influenza virus (IV) infections represent a very serious public health problem. At present, no established biomarkers exist to support diagnosis for respiratory viral infections and more importantly for severe IV disease. Studies in animal models are extremely important to understand the biological, genetic, and environmental factors that contribute to severe IV disease and to validate biomarker candidates from human studies. However, mouse human cross-species comparisons are often compromised by the fact that animal studies concentrate on the infected lungs, whereas in humans almost all studies use peripheral blood from patients. In addition, human studies do not consider genetic background as variable although human populations are genetically very diverse. Therefore, in this study, we performed a cross-species gene expression study of the peripheral blood from human patients and from the highly genetically diverse Collaborative Cross (CC) mouse population after IV infection. Our results demonstrate that changes of gene expression in individual genes are highly similar in mice and humans. The top-regulated genes in humans were also differentially regulated in mice. We conclude that the mouse is a highly valuable in vivo model system to validate and to discover gene candidates which can be used as biomarkers in humans. Furthermore, mouse studies allow confirmation of findings in humans in a well-controlled experimental system adding enormous value to the understanding of expression and function of human candidate genes.
    • OLYMPUS: An automated hybrid clustering method in time series gene expression. Case study: Host response after Influenza A (H1N1) infection

      Dimitrakopoulou, Konstantina; Vrahatis, Aristidis G.; Wilk, Esther; Tsakalidis, Athanasios K.; Bezerianos, Anastasios (2013-10-31)
    • The phosphatidylserine receptor has essential functions during embryogenesis but not in apoptotic cell removal

      Böse, Jens; Gruber, Achim D; Helming, Laura; Schiebe, Stefanie; Wegener, Ivonne; Hafner, Martin; Beales, Marianne; Köntgen, Frank; Lengeling, Andreas (BioMed Central, 2004)
      Background Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells is fundamental to animal development, immune function and cellular homeostasis. The phosphatidylserine receptor (Ptdsr) on phagocytes has been implicated in the recognition and engulfment of apoptotic cells and in anti-inflammatory signaling. To determine the biological function of the phosphatidylserine receptor in vivo, we inactivated the Ptdsr gene in the mouse. Results Ablation of Ptdsr function in mice causes perinatal lethality, growth retardation and a delay in terminal differentiation of the kidney, intestine, liver and lungs during embryogenesis. Moreover, eye development can be severely disturbed, ranging from defects in retinal differentiation to complete unilateral or bilateral absence of eyes. Ptdsr -/- mice with anophthalmia develop novel lesions, with induction of ectopic retinal-pigmented epithelium in nasal cavities. A comprehensive investigation of apoptotic cell clearance in vivo and in vitro demonstrated that engulfment of apoptotic cells was normal in Ptdsr knockout mice, but Ptdsr-deficient macrophages were impaired in pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine signaling after stimulation with apoptotic cells or with lipopolysaccharide. Conclusion Ptdsr is essential for the development and differentiation of multiple organs during embryogenesis but not for apoptotic cell removal. Ptdsr may thus have a novel, unexpected developmental function as an important differentiation-promoting gene. Moreover, Ptdsr is not required for apoptotic cell clearance by macrophages but seems to be necessary for the regulation of macrophage cytokine responses. These results clearly contradict the current view that the phosphatidylserine receptor primarily functions in apoptotic cell clearance.
    • PLAU inferred from a correlation network is critical for suppressor function of regulatory T cells.

      He, Feng; Chen, Hairong; Probst-Kepper, Michael; Geffers, Robert; Eifes, Serge; Del Sol, Antonio; Schughart, Klaus; Zeng, An-Ping; Balling, Rudi; 1] Department of Infection Genetics, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Braunschweig, Germany [2] Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg. (2012-11-20)
      Human FOXP3(+)CD25(+)CD4(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential to the maintenance of immune homeostasis. Several genes are known to be important for murine Tregs, but for human Tregs the genes and underlying molecular networks controlling the suppressor function still largely remain unclear. Here, we describe a strategy to identify the key genes directly from an undirected correlation network which we reconstruct from a very high time-resolution (HTR) transcriptome during the activation of human Tregs/CD4(+) T-effector cells. We show that a predicted top-ranked new key gene PLAU (the plasminogen activator urokinase) is important for the suppressor function of both human and murine Tregs. Further analysis unveils that PLAU is particularly important for memory Tregs and that PLAU mediates Treg suppressor function via STAT5 and ERK signaling pathways. Our study demonstrates the potential for identifying novel key genes for complex dynamic biological processes using a network strategy based on HTR data, and reveals a critical role for PLAU in Treg suppressor function.