Recent Submissions

  • Regulation of Flagellum Biosynthesis in Response to Cell Envelope Stress in Serovar Typhimurium.

    Spöring, Imke; Felgner, Sebastian; Preuße, Matthias; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Rohde, Manfred; Häussler, Susanne; Weiss, Siegfried; Erhardt, Marc (2018-05-01)
    Flagellum-driven motility of serovar Typhimurium facilitates host colonization. However, the large extracellular flagellum is also a prime target for the immune system. As consequence, expression of flagella is bistable within a population of , resulting in flagellated and nonflagellated subpopulations. This allows the bacteria to maximize fitness in hostile environments. The degenerate EAL domain protein RflP (formerly YdiV) is responsible for the bistable expression of flagella by directing the flagellar master regulatory complex FlhDC with respect to proteolytic degradation. Information concerning the environmental cues controlling expression of and thus about the bistable flagellar biosynthesis remains ambiguous. Here, we demonstrated that RflP responds to cell envelope stress and alterations of outer membrane integrity. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) truncation mutants of Typhimurium exhibited increasing motility defects due to downregulation of flagellar gene expression. Transposon mutagenesis and genetic profiling revealed that σ (RpoE) and Rcs phosphorelay-dependent cell envelope stress response systems sense modifications of the lipopolysaccaride, low pH, and activity of the complement system. This subsequently results in activation of RflP expression and degradation of FlhDC via ClpXP. We speculate that the presence of diverse hostile environments inside the host might result in cell envelope damage and would thus trigger the repression of resource-costly and immunogenic flagellum biosynthesis via activation of the cell envelope stress response. Pathogenic bacteria such as Typhimurium sense and adapt to a multitude of changing and stressful environments during host infection. At the initial stage of gastrointestinal colonization, uses flagellum-mediated motility to reach preferred sites of infection. However, the flagellum also constitutes a prime target for the host's immune response. Accordingly, the pathogen needs to determine the spatiotemporal stage of infection and control flagellar biosynthesis in a robust manner. We found that uses signals from cell envelope stress-sensing systems to turn off production of flagella. We speculate that downregulation of flagellum synthesis after cell envelope damage in hostile environments aids survival of during late stages of infection and provides a means to escape recognition by the immune system.
  • Exome sequencing and case-control analyses identify RCC1 as a candidate breast cancer susceptibility gene.

    Riahi, Aouatef; Radmanesh, Hoda; Schürmann, Peter; Bogdanova, Natalia; Geffers, Robert; Meddeb, Rym; Kharrat, Maher; Dörk, Thilo; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-06-15)
    Breast cancer is a genetic disease but the known genes explain a minority of cases. To elucidate the molecular basis of breast cancer in the Tunisian population, we performed exome sequencing on six BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation-negative patients with familial breast cancer and identified a novel frameshift mutation in RCC1, encoding the Regulator of Chromosome Condensation 1. Subsequent genotyping detected the 19-bp deletion in additional 5 out of 153 (3%) breast cancer patients but in none of 400 female controls (p = 0.0015). The deletion was enriched in patients with a positive family history (5%, p = 0.0009) and co-segregated with breast cancer in the initial pedigree. The mutant allele was lost in 4/6 breast tumors from mutation carriers which may be consistent with the hypothesis that RCC1 dysfunction provides a selective disadvantage at the stage of tumor progression. In summary, we propose RCC1 as a likely breast cancer susceptibility gene in the Tunisian population.
  • Type I Interferon Signaling Is Required for CpG-Oligodesoxynucleotide-Induced Control of Leishmania major, but Not for Spontaneous Cure of Subcutaneous Primary or Secondary L. major Infection.

    Schleicher, Ulrike; Liese, Jan; Justies, Nicole; Mischke, Thomas; Haeberlein, Simone; Sebald, Heidi; Kalinke, Ulrich; Weiss, Siegfried; Bogdan, Christian; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
    We previously showed that in mice infected with Leishmania major type I interferons (IFNs) initiate the innate immune response to the parasite at day 1 and 2 of infection. Here, we investigated which type I IFN subtypes are expressed during the first 8 weeks of L. major infection and whether type I IFNs are essential for a protective immune response and clinical cure of the disease. In self-healing C57BL/6 mice infected with a high dose of L. major, IFN-α4, IFN-α5, IFN-α11, IFN-α13, and IFN-β mRNA were most prominently regulated during the course of infection. In C57BL/6 mice deficient for IFN-β or the IFN-α/β-receptor chain 1 (IFNAR1), development of skin lesions and parasite loads in skin, draining lymph node, and spleen was indistinguishable from wild-type (WT) mice. In line with the clinical findings, C57BL/6 IFN-β-/-, IFNAR1-/-, and WT mice exhibited similar mRNA expression levels of IFN-γ, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-12, IL-13, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and arginase 1 during the acute and late phase of the infection. Also, myeloid dendritic cells from WT and IFNAR1-/- mice produced comparable amounts of IL-12p40/p70 protein upon exposure to L. major in vitro. In non-healing BALB/c WT mice, the mRNAs of IFN-α subtypes (α2, α4, α5, α6, and α9) were rapidly induced after high-dose L. major infection. However, genetic deletion of IFNAR1 or IFN-β did not alter the progressive course of infection seen in WT BALB/c mice. Finally, we tested whether type I IFNs and/or IL-12 are required for the prophylactic effect of CpG-oligodesoxynucleotides (ODN) in BALB/c mice. Local and systemic administration of CpG-ODN 1668 protected WT and IFN-β-/- mice equally well from progressive leishmaniasis. By contrast, the protective effect of CpG-ODN 1668 was lost in BALB/c IFNAR1-/- (despite a sustained suppression of IL-4) and in BALB/c IL-12p35-/- mice. From these data, we conclude that IFN-β and IFNAR1 signaling are dispensable for a curative immune response to L. major in C57BL/6 mice and irrelevant for disease development in BALB/c mice, whereas IL-12 and IFN-α subtypes are essential for the disease prevention by CpG-ODNs in this mouse strain.
  • Type I Interferons Interfere with the Capacity of mRNA Lipoplex Vaccines to Elicit Cytolytic T Cell Responses.

    De Beuckelaer, Ans; Pollard, Charlotte; Van Lint, Sandra; Roose, Kenny; Van Hoecke, Lien; Naessens, Thomas; Udhayakumar, Vimal Kumar; Smet, Muriel; Sanders, Niek; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Saelens, Xavier; Weiss, Siegfried; Vanham, Guido; Grooten, Johan; De Koker, Stefaan; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-11)
    Given their high potential to evoke cytolytic T cell responses, tumor antigen-encoding messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are now being intensively explored as therapeutic cancer vaccines. mRNA vaccines clearly benefit from wrapping the mRNA into nano-sized carriers such as lipoplexes that protect the mRNA from degradation and increase its uptake by dendritic cells in vivo. Nevertheless, the early innate host factors that regulate the induction of cytolytic T cells to mRNA lipoplex vaccines have remained unresolved. Here, we demonstrate that mRNA lipoplexes induce a potent type I interferon (IFN) response upon subcutaneous, intradermal and intranodal injection. Regardless of the route of immunization applied, these type I IFNs interfered with the generation of potent cytolytic T cell responses. Most importantly, blocking type I IFN signaling at the site of immunization through the use of an IFNAR blocking antibody greatly enhanced the prophylactic and therapeutic antitumor efficacy of mRNA lipoplexes in the highly aggressive B16 melanoma model. As type I IFN induction appears to be inherent to the mRNA itself rather than to unique properties of the mRNA lipoplex formulation, preventing type I IFN induction and/or IFNAR signaling at the site of immunization might constitute a widely applicable strategy to improve the potency of mRNA vaccination.
  • Inoculation density and nutrient level determine the formation of mushroom-shaped structures in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms.

    Ghanbari, Azadeh; Dehghany, Jaber; Schwebs, Timo; Müsken, Mathias; Häussler, Susanne; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-09-09)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa often colonises immunocompromised patients and the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. It exhibits resistance to many antibiotics by forming biofilms, which makes it hard to eliminate. P. aeruginosa biofilms form mushroom-shaped structures under certain circumstances. Bacterial motility and the environment affect the eventual mushroom morphology. This study provides an agent-based model for the bacterial dynamics and interactions influencing bacterial biofilm shape. Cell motility in the model relies on recently published experimental data. Our simulations show colony formation by immotile cells. Motile cells escape from a single colony by nutrient chemotaxis and hence no mushroom shape develops. A high number density of non-motile colonies leads to migration of motile cells onto the top of the colonies and formation of mushroom-shaped structures. This model proposes that the formation of mushroom-shaped structures can be predicted by parameters at the time of bacteria inoculation. Depending on nutrient levels and the initial number density of stalks, mushroom-shaped structures only form in a restricted regime. This opens the possibility of early manipulation of spatial pattern formation in bacterial colonies, using environmental factors.
  • Decreased production of class-switched antibodies in neonatal B cells is associated with increased expression of miR-181b.

    Glaesener, Stephanie; Jaenke, Christine; Habener, Anika; Geffers, Robert; Hagendorff, Petra; Witzlau, Katrin; Imelmann, Esther; Krueger, Andreas; Meyer-Bahlburg, Almut; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
    The increased susceptibility to infections of neonates is caused by an immaturity of the immune system as a result of both qualitative and quantitative differences between neonatal and adult immune cells. With respect to B cells, neonatal antibody responses are known to be decreased. Accountable for this is an altered composition of the neonatal B cell compartment towards more immature B cells. However, it remains unclear whether the functionality of individual neonatal B cell subsets is altered as well. In the current study we therefore compared phenotypical and functional characteristics of corresponding neonatal and adult B cell subpopulations. No phenotypic differences could be identified with the exception of higher IgM expression in neonatal B cells. Functional analysis revealed differences in proliferation, survival, and B cell receptor signaling. Most importantly, neonatal B cells showed severely impaired class-switch recombination (CSR) to IgG and IgA. This was associated with increased expression of miR-181b in neonatal B cells. Deficiency of miR-181b resulted in increased CSR. With this, our results highlight intrinsic differences that contribute to weaker B cell antibody responses in newborns.
  • Genome Sequence of Strain MOLA814, a Proteorhodopsin-Containing Representative of the Betaproteobacteria Common in the Ocean.

    Courties, Alicia; Riedel, Thomas; Jarek, Michael; Intertaglia, Laurent; Lebaron, Philippe; Suzuki, Marcelino T; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2013-12-19)
    Strain MOLA814 is a marine betaproteobacterium that was isolated from seawater in the Beaufort Sea. Here, we present its genome sequence and annotation. Genome analysis revealed the presence of a proteorhodopsin-encoding sequence together with its retinal-producing pathway, indicating that this strain might generate energy by using light.
  • Draft Genome Sequence of the Gammaproteobacterial Strain MOLA455, a Representative of a Ubiquitous Proteorhodopsin-Producing Group in the Ocean.

    Courties, Alicia; Riedel, Thomas; Jarek, Michael; Papadatou, Maria; Intertaglia, Laurent; Lebaron, Philippe; Suzuki, Marcelino T (2014-01-30)
    Strain MOLA455 is a marine gammaproteobacterium isolated from the bay of Banyuls-sur-Mer, France. Here, we present its genome sequence and annotation. Genome analysis revealed the presence of genes associated with a possibly photoheterotrophic lifestyle that uses a proteorhodopsin protein.
  • Optimizing Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium for bacteria-mediated tumor therapy.

    Felgner, Sebastian; Kocijancic, Dino; Frahm, Michael; Curtiss, Roy; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    Bacteria-mediated tumor therapy using Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is a therapeutic option with great potential. Numerous studies explored the potential of Salmonella Typhimurium for therapeutic applications, however reconciling safety with vectorial efficacy remains a major issue. Recently we have described a conditionally attenuated Salmonella vector that is based on genetic lipopolysaccharide modification. This vector combines strong attenuation with appropriate anti-tumor properties by targeting various cancerous tissues in vivo. Therefore, it was promoted as an anti-tumor agent. In this addendum, we summarize these findings and demonstrate additional optimization steps that may further improve the therapeutic efficacy of our vector strain.
  • Packaging of Dinoroseobacter shibae DNA into Gene Transfer Agent Particles Is Not Random.

    Tomasch, Jürgen; Wang, Hui; Hall, April T K; Patzelt, Diana; Preusse, Matthias; Petersen, Jörn; Brinkmann, Henner; Bunk, Boyke; Bhuju, Sabin; Jarek, Michael; Geffers, Robert; Lang, Andrew S; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Helmholtz-Zentrum for Infektion Research GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    Gene transfer agents (GTAs) are phage-like particles which contain a fragment of genomic DNA of the bacterial or archaeal producer and deliver this to a recipient cell. GTA gene clusters are present in the genomes of almost all marine Rhodobacteraceae (Roseobacters) and might be important contributors to horizontal gene transfer in the world's oceans. For all organisms studied so far, no obvious evidence of sequence specificity or other nonrandom process responsible for packaging genomic DNA into GTAs has been found. Here, we show that knock-out of an autoinducer synthase gene of Dinoroseobacter shibae resulted in overproduction and release of functional GTA particles (DsGTA). Next-generation sequencing of the 4.2-kb DNA fragments isolated from DsGTAs revealed that packaging was not random. DNA from low-GC conjugative plasmids but not from high-GC chromids was excluded from packaging. Seven chromosomal regions were strongly overrepresented in DNA isolated from DsGTA. These packaging peaks lacked identifiable conserved sequence motifs that might represent recognition sites for the GTA terminase complex. Low-GC regions of the chromosome, including the origin and terminus of replication, were underrepresented in DNA isolated from DsGTAs. DNA methylation reduced packaging frequency while the level of gene expression had no influence. Chromosomal regions found to be over- and underrepresented in DsGTA-DNA were regularly spaced. We propose that a "headful" type of packaging is initiated at the sites of coverage peaks and, after linearization of the chromosomal DNA, proceeds in both directions from the initiation site. GC-content, DNA-modifications, and chromatin structure might influence at which sides GTA packaging can be initiated.
  • Global micro RNA expression profiling in the liver biopsies of Hepatitis B Virus infected patients suggests specific miRNA signatures for viral persistence and hepatocellular injury.

    Singh, Avishek Kumar; Rooge, Sheetalnath Babasaheb; Varshney, Aditi; Vasudevan, Madavan; Bhardwaj, Ankit; Venugopal, Senthil Kumar; Trehanpati, Nirupama; Kumar, Manoj; Geffers, Robert; Kumar, Vijay; Sarin, Shiv Kumar; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11-30)
    Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can manipulate the miRNA regulatory networks in infected cells to create a permissive environment for viral replication, cellular injury, disease onset and its progression. The aim of the present study was to understand the miRNA networks and their target genes in the liver of hepatitis B patients involved in HBV replication, liver injury and liver fibrosis. We investigated differentially expressed miRNAs by microarray in the liver biopsy samples from different stages of HBV infection and liver disease [immune tolerant (IT; n= 8); acute viral hepatitis (AVH; n=8); no fibrosis (n=16); early (F1+F2) (n=19) or late fibrosis (F3+F4) (n=14) and healthy controls (n=7)]. The miRNA expression levels were analyzed by the unsupervised principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering. Analysis of miRNA-mRNA regulatory networks identified 17 miRNAs and 18 target gene interactions with four distinct nodes each representing a stage-specific gene regulation during disease progression. The IT group showed elevated miR-199a-5p, miR-221-3p and Let-7a-3p levels which could target genes involved in innate immune response and viral replication. In AVH group, miR-125b-5p and miR-3613-3p were up whereas miR-940 was down which might affect cell proliferation via STAT3 pathway. In early fibrosis, miR-34b-3p, miR-1224-3p and miR-1227-3p were up while miR-499a-5p was down which together, possibly mediate chronic inflammation. In advanced fibrosis, miR-1, miR-10b-5p, miR-96-5p, miR-133b and miR-671-5p were up while miR-20b-5p and miR-455-3p were down, possibly allowing chronic disease progression. Interestingly, only 8 of 17 liver-specific miRNAs exhibited a similar expression pattern in patient sera.
  • Clinical and Biological Manifestation of RNF168 Deficiency in Two Polish Siblings.

    Pietrucha, Barbara; Heropolitańska-Pliszka, Edyta; Geffers, Robert; Enßen, Julia; Wieland, Britta; Bogdanova, Natalia Valerijevna; Dörk, Thilo; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    Germline mutations in the RING finger protein gene RNF168 have been identified in a combined immunodeficiency disorder called RIDDLE syndrome. Since only two patients have been described with somewhat different phenotypes, there is need to identify further patients. Here, we report on two Polish siblings with RNF168 deficiency due to homozygosity for a novel frameshift mutation, c.295delG, that was identified through exome sequencing. Both patients presented with immunoglobulin deficiency, telangiectasia, cellular radiosensitivity, and increased alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels. The younger sibling had a more pronounced neurological and morphological phenotype, and she also carried an ATM gene mutation in the heterozygous state. Immunoblot analyses showed absence of RNF168 protein, whereas ATM levels and function were proficient in lymphoblastoid cells from both patients. Consistent with the absence of RNF168 protein, 53BP1 recruitment to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) after irradiation was undetectable in lymphoblasts or primary fibroblasts from either of the two patients. γH2AX foci accumulated normally but they disappeared with significant delay, indicating a severe defect in DSB repair. A comparison with the two previously identified patients indicates immunoglobulin deficiency, cellular radiosensitivity, and increased AFP levels as hallmarks of RNF168 deficiency. The variability in its clinical expression despite similar cellular phenotypes suggests that some manifestations of RNF168 deficiency may be modified by additional genetic or epidemiological factors.
  • The Anaerobically Induced sRNA PaiI Affects Denitrification in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14.

    Tata, Muralidhar; Amman, Fabian; Pawar, Vinay; Wolfinger, Michael T; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; Bläsi, Udo; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that can thrive by anaerobic respiration in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients using nitrate as terminal electron acceptor. Here, we report the identification and characterization of the small RNA PaiI in the P. aeruginosa strain 14 (PA14). PaiI is anaerobically induced in the presence of nitrate and depends on the two-component system NarXL. Our studies revealed that PaiI is required for efficient denitrification affecting the conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide. In the absence of PaiI anaerobic growth was impaired on glucose, which can be reconciled with a decreased uptake of the carbon source under these conditions. The importance of PaiI for anaerobic growth is further underlined by the observation that a paiI deletion mutant was impaired in growth in murine tumors.
  • cGAS-STING-TBK1-IRF3/7 induced interferon-β contributes to the clearing of non tuberculous mycobacterial infection in mice.

    Ruangkiattikul, Nanthapon; Nerlich, Andreas; Abdissa, Ketema; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Suwandi, Abdulhadi; Janze, Nina; Laarmann, Kristin; Spanier, Julia; Kalinke, Ulrich; Weiss, Siegfried; Goethe, Ralph; TWNCORe, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH, Feodor-Lynnen-Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (2017-10-03)
    Type I interferons (IFN-I), such as IFN-α and IFN-β are important messengers in the host response against bacterial infections. Knowledge about the role of IFN-I in infections by nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) is limited. Here we show that macrophages infected with pathogens of the Mycobacterium avium complex produced significantly lower amounts of IFN-β than macrophages infected with the opportunistic pathogen M. smegmatis. To dissect the molecular mechanisms of this phenomenon, we focused on the obligate pathogen Mycobacterium avium ssp paratuberculosis (MAP) and the opportunistic M. smegmatis. Viability of both bacteria was required for induction of IFN-β in macrophages. Both bacteria induced IFN-β via the cGAS-STING-TBK1-IRF3/7-pathway of IFN-β activation. Stronger phosphorylation of TBK1 and higher amounts of extracellular bacterial DNA in the macrophage cytosol were found in M. smegmatis infected macrophages than in MAP infected macrophages. After intraperitoneal infection of mice, a strong Ifnb induction by M. smegmatis correlated with clearance of the bacteria. In contrast, MAP only induced weak Ifnb expression which correlated with bacterial persistence and increased number of granulomas in the liver. In mice lacking the type I interferon receptor we observed improved survival of M. smegmatis while survival of MAP was similar to that in wildtype mice. On the other hand, treatment of MAP infected wildtype mice with the IFN-I inducer poly(I:C) or recombinant IFN-β impaired the survival of MAP. This indicates an essential role of IFN-I in clearing infections by MAP and M. smegmatis. The expression level of IFN-I is decisive for transient versus persistent NTM infection.
  • Distribution and Evolution of Peroxisomes in Alveolates (Apicomplexa, Dinoflagellates, Ciliates).

    Ludewig-Klingner, Ann-Kathrin; Michael, Victoria; Jarek, Michael; Brinkmann, Henner; Petersen, Jörn; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    The peroxisome was the last organelle to be discovered and five decades later it is still the Cinderella of eukaryotic compartments. Peroxisomes have a crucial role in the detoxification of reactive oxygen species, the beta-oxidation of fatty acids, and the biosynthesis of etherphospholipids, and they are assumed to be present in virtually all aerobic eukaryotes. Apicomplexan parasites including the malaria and toxoplasmosis agents were described as the first group of mitochondriate protists devoid of peroxisomes. This study was initiated to reassess the distribution and evolution of peroxisomes in the superensemble Alveolata (apicomplexans, dinoflagellates, ciliates). We established transcriptome data from two chromerid algae (Chromera velia, Vitrella brassicaformis), and two dinoflagellates (Prorocentrum minimum, Perkinsus olseni) and identified the complete set of essential peroxins in all four reference species. Our comparative genome analysis provides unequivocal evidence for the presence of peroxisomes in Toxoplasma gondii and related genera. Our working hypothesis of a common peroxisomal origin of all alveolates is supported by phylogenetic analyses of essential markers such as the import receptor Pex5. Vitrella harbors the most comprehensive set of peroxisomal proteins including the catalase and the glyoxylate cycle and it is thus a promising model organism to investigate the functional role of this organelle in Apicomplexa.
  • Genome-Wide Sequencing Reveals MicroRNAs Downregulated in Cerebral Cavernous Malformations.

    Kar, Souvik; Bali, Kiran Kumar; Baisantry, Arpita; Geffers, Robert; Samii, Amir; Bertalanffy, Helmut; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-02)
    Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are vascular lesions associated with loss-of-function mutations in one of the three genes encoding KRIT1 (CCM1), CCM2, and PDCD10. Recent understanding of the molecular mechanisms that lead to CCM development is limited. The role of microRNAs (miRNAs) has been demonstrated in vascular pathologies resulting in loss of tight junction proteins, increased vascular permeability and endothelial cell dysfunction. Since the relevance of miRNAs in CCM pathophysiology has not been elucidated, the primary aim of the study was to identify the miRNA-mRNA expression network associated with CCM. Using small RNA sequencing, we identified a total of 764 matured miRNAs expressed in CCM patients compared to the healthy brains. The expression of the selected miRNAs was validated by qRT-PCR, and the results were found to be consistent with the sequencing data. Upon application of additional statistical stringency, five miRNAs (let-7b-5p, miR-361-5p, miR-370-3p, miR-181a-2-3p, and miR-95-3p) were prioritized to be top CCM-relevant miRNAs. Further in silico analyses revealed that the prioritized miRNAs have a direct functional relation with mRNAs, such as MIB1, HIF1A, PDCD10, TJP1, OCLN, HES1, MAPK1, VEGFA, EGFL7, NF1, and ENG, which are previously characterized as key regulators of CCM pathology. To date, this is the first study to investigate the role of miRNAs in CCM pathology. By employing cutting edge molecular and in silico analyses on clinical samples, the current study reports global miRNA expression changes in CCM patients and provides a rich source of data set to understand detailed molecular machinery involved in CCM pathophysiology.
  • The NF-κB-dependent and -independent transcriptome and chromatin landscapes of human coronavirus 229E-infected cells.

    Poppe, Michael; Wittig, Sascha; Jurida, Liane; Bartkuhn, Marek; Wilhelm, Jochen; Müller, Helmut; Beuerlein, Knut; Karl, Nadja; Bhuju, Sabin; Ziebuhr, John; Schmitz, M Lienhard; Kracht, Michael; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-03)
    Coronavirus replication takes place in the host cell cytoplasm and triggers inflammatory gene expression by poorly characterized mechanisms. To obtain more insight into the signals and molecular events that coordinate global host responses in the nucleus of coronavirus-infected cells, first, transcriptome dynamics was studied in human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E)-infected A549 and HuH7 cells, respectively, revealing a core signature of upregulated genes in these cells. Compared to treatment with the prototypical inflammatory cytokine interleukin(IL)-1, HCoV-229E replication was found to attenuate the inducible activity of the transcription factor (TF) NF-κB and to restrict the nuclear concentration of NF-κB subunits by (i) an unusual mechanism involving partial degradation of IKKβ, NEMO and IκBα and (ii) upregulation of TNFAIP3 (A20), although constitutive IKK activity and basal TNFAIP3 expression levels were shown to be required for efficient virus replication. Second, we characterized actively transcribed genomic regions and enhancers in HCoV-229E-infected cells and systematically correlated the genome-wide gene expression changes with the recruitment of Ser5-phosphorylated RNA polymerase II and prototypical histone modifications (H3K9ac, H3K36ac, H4K5ac, H3K27ac, H3K4me1). The data revealed that, in HCoV-infected (but not IL-1-treated) cells, an extensive set of genes was activated without inducible p65 NF-κB being recruited. Furthermore, both HCoV-229E replication and IL-1 were shown to upregulate a small set of genes encoding immunomodulatory factors that bind p65 at promoters and require IKKβ activity and p65 for expression. Also, HCoV-229E and IL-1 activated a common set of 440 p65-bound enhancers that differed from another 992 HCoV-229E-specific enhancer regions by distinct TF-binding motif combinations. Taken together, the study shows that cytoplasmic RNA viruses fine-tune NF-κB signaling at multiple levels and profoundly reprogram the host cellular chromatin landscape, thereby orchestrating the timely coordinated expression of genes involved in multiple signaling, immunoregulatory and metabolic processes.
  • Interleukin-2 improves amyloid pathology, synaptic failure and memory in Alzheimer's disease mice.

    Alves, Sandro; Churlaud, Guillaume; Audrain, Mickael; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Fol, Romain; Souchet, Benoit; Braudeau, Jérôme; Korte, Martin; Klatzmann, David; Cartier, Nathalie; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-03-01)
    Interleukin-2 (IL-2)-deficient mice have cytoarchitectural hippocampal modifications and impaired learning and memory ability reminiscent of Alzheimer's disease. IL-2 stimulates regulatory T cells whose role is to control inflammation. As neuroinflammation contributes to neurodegeneration, we investigated IL-2 in Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, we investigated IL-2 levels in hippocampal biopsies of patients with Alzheimer's disease relative to age-matched control individuals. We then treated APP/PS1ΔE9 mice having established Alzheimer's disease with IL-2 for 5 months using single administration of an AAV-IL-2 vector. We first found decreased IL-2 levels in hippocampal biopsies of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In mice, IL-2-induced systemic and brain regulatory T cells expansion and activation. In the hippocampus, IL-2 induced astrocytic activation and recruitment of astrocytes around amyloid plaques, decreased amyloid-β42/40 ratio and amyloid plaque load, improved synaptic plasticity and significantly rescued spine density. Of note, this tissue remodelling was associated with recovery of memory deficits, as assessed in the Morris water maze task. Altogether, our data strongly suggest that IL-2 can alleviate Alzheimer's disease hallmarks in APP/PS1ΔE9 mice with established pathology. Therefore, this should prompt the investigation of low-dose IL-2 in Alzheimer's disease and other neuroinflammatory/neurodegenerative disorders.
  • The transcriptional regulator LysG (Rv1985c) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis activates lysE (Rv1986) in a lysine-dependent manner.

    Schneefeld, Marie; Busche, Tobias; Geffers, Robert; Kalinowski, Jörn; Bange, Franz-Christoph; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    The Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein encoded by the Rv1986 gene is a target for memory T cells in patients with tuberculosis, and shows strong similarities to a lysine exporter LysE of Corynebacterium glutamicum. During infection, the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis adapts its metabolism to environmental changes. In this study, we found that the expression of Rv1986 is controlled by Rv1985c. Rv1985c is located directly upstream of Rv1986 with an overlapping promoter region between both genes. Semiquantitative reverse transcription PCR using an isogenic mutant of Mycobacterium tuberculosis lacking Rv1985c showed that in the presence of lysine, Rv1985c protein positively upregulated the expression of Rv1986. RNA sequencing revealed the transcription start points for both transcripts and overlapping promoters. An inverted repeat in the center of the intergenic region was identified, and binding of Rv1985c protein to the intergenic region was confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays. Whole transcriptome expression analysis and RNAsequencing showed downregulated transcription of ppsBCD in the Rv1985c-mutant compared to the wild type strain. Taken together, our findings characterize the regulatory network of Rv1985c in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Due to their similarity of an orthologous gene pair in Corynebacterium glutamicum, we suggest to rename Rv1985c to lysG(Mt), and Rv1986 to lysE(Mt).
  • Towards individualized diagnostics of biofilm-associated infections: a case study.

    Müsken, Mathias; Klimmek, Kathi; Sauer-Heilborn, Annette; Donnert, Monique; Sedlacek, Ludwig; Suerbaum, Sebastian; Häussler, Susanne; H-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    Organized within biofilm communities, bacteria exhibit resistance towards a broad spectrum of antibiotics. Thus, one might argue that bacteria isolated from biofilm-associated chronic infections should be subjected to resistance profiling under biofilm growth conditions. Various test systems have been developed to determine the biofilm-associated resistance; however, it is not clear to what extent the in vitro results reflect the situation in vivo, and whether the biofilm-resistance profile should guide clinicians in their treatment choice. To address this issue, we used confocal microscopy in combination with live/dead staining, and profiled biofilm-associated resistance of a large number (>130) of clinical Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from overall 15 cystic fibrosis patients. Our results demonstrate that in addition to a general non-responsiveness of bacteria when grown under biofilm conditions, there is an isolate-specific and antibiotic-specific biofilm-resistance profile. This individual resistance profile is independent on the structural properties of the biofilms. Furthermore, biofilm resistance is not linked to the resistance profile under planktonic growth conditions, or a mucoid, or small colony morphology of the tested isolates. Instead, it seems that individual biofilm structures evolve during biofilm-associated growth and are shaped by environment-specific cues. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that biofilm resistance profiles are isolate specific and cannot be deduced from commonly studied phenotypes. Further clinical studies will have to show the added value of biofilm-resistance profiling. Individualized diagnosis of biofilm resistance might lead to more rational recommendations for antimicrobial therapy and, thus, increased effectiveness of the treatment of chronically infected patients.

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