Recent Submissions

  • Identification and quantification of (t)RNA modifications in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

    Grobe, Svenja; Doberenz, Sebastian; Ferreira, Kevin; Krueger, Jonas; Brönstrup, Mark; Kaever, Volkhard; Häußler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-15)
    Transfer RNA (tRNA) modifications impact the structure and function of tRNAs thus affecting the efficiency and fidelity of translation. In the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa translational regulation plays an important but less defined role in the adaptation to changing environments. In this study, we explored tRNA modifications in P. aeruginosa using LC-MS/MS based approaches. Neutral Loss Scan (NLS) demonstrated the potential to identify previously unknown modifications, while Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) can detect modifications with high specificity and sensitivity. In this study, the MRM-based external calibration method allowed for quantification of the 4 canonical and 32 modified ribonucleosides, of which 21 tRNA modifications were quantified in the total tRNA pool of P. aeruginosa PA14. We also purified the single tRNA isoacceptors tRNA-ArgUCU, tRNA-LeuCAA and tRNA-TrpCCA and determined, both qualitatively and quantitatively, their specific modification pattern. Deeper insights into the nature and dynamics of tRNA modifications in P. aeruginosa will pave the way for further studies on posttranscriptional gene regulation as a relatively unexplored molecular mechanism of controlling bacterial pathogenicity and life style.
  • AgNPs Change Microbial Community Structures of Wastewater.

    Guo, Yuting; Cichocki, Nicolas; Schattenberg, Florian; Geffers, Robert; Harms, Hauke; Müller, Susann; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2018-01-01)
    Due to their strong antimicrobial activity, silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are massively produced, applied, consumed and, as a negative consequence, released into wastewater treatment plants. Most AgNPs are assumed to be bound by sludge, and thus bear potential risk for microbial performance and stability. In this lab-scale study, flow cytometry as a high-throughput method and 16S rRNA gene amplicon Illumina MiSeq sequencing were used to track microbial community structure changes when being exposed to AgNPs. Both methods allowed deeper investigation of the toxic impact of chemicals on microbial communities than classical EC50 determination. In addition, ecological metrics were used to quantify microbial community variations depending on AgNP types (10 and 30 nm) and concentrations. Only low changes in α- and intra-community β-diversity values were found both in successive negative and positive control batches and batches that were run with AgNPs below the EC50 value. Instead, AgNPs at EC50 concentrations caused upcoming of certain and disappearance of formerly dominant subcommunities. Flavobacteriia were among those that almost disappeared, while phylotypes affiliated with Gammaproteobacteria (3.6-fold) and Bacilli (8.4-fold) increased in cell abundance in comparison to the negative control. Thus, silver amounts at the EC50 value affected community structure suggesting a potential negative impact on functions in wastewater treatment systems.
  • Thermoplasmatales and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria dominate the microbial community at the surface water of a CO-rich hydrothermal spring located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica.

    Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Avendaño, Roberto; Martínez-Cruz, María; de Moor, J Maarten; Pieper, Dietmar H; Chavarría, Max; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2019-01-01)
    Here we report the chemical and microbial characterization of the surface water of a CO2-rich hydrothermal vent known in Costa Rica as Borbollones, located at Tenorio Volcano National Park. The Borbollones showed a temperature surrounding 60 °C, a pH of 2.4 and the gas released has a composition of ~ 97% CO2, ~ 0.07% H2S, ~ 2.3% N2 and ~ 0.12% CH4. Other chemical species such as sulfate and iron were found at high levels with respect to typical fresh water bodies. Analysis by 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding revealed that in Borbollones predominates an archaeon from the order Thermoplasmatales and one bacterium from the genus Sulfurimonas. Other sulfur- (genera Thiomonas, Acidithiobacillus, Sulfuriferula, and Sulfuricurvum) and iron-oxidizing bacteria (genera Sideroxydans, Gallionella, and Ferrovum) were identified. Our results show that CO2-influenced surface water of Borbollones contains microorganisms that are usually found in acid rock drainage environments or sulfur-rich hydrothermal vents. To our knowledge, this is the first microbiological characterization of a CO2-dominated hydrothermal spring from Central America and expands our understanding of those extreme ecosystems.
  • Importance of flagella in acute and chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

    Lorenz, Anne; Preuße, Matthias; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Pawar, Vinay; Grahl, Nora; Pils, Marina C; Nolan, Laura M; Filloux, Alain; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018-11-08)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an environmental microorganism and a causative agent of diverse acute and chronic, biofilm-associated infections. Advancing research-based knowledge on its adaptation to conditions within the human host is bound to reveal novel strategies and targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we investigated the traits that P. aeruginosa PA14 as well as a virulence attenuated ΔlasR mutant need to survive in selected murine infection models. Experimentally, the genetic programs that the bacteria use to adapt to biofilm-associated versus acute infections were dissected by passaging transposon mutant libraries through mouse lungs (acute) or mouse tumours (biofilm-infection). Adaptive metabolic changes of P. aeruginosa were generally required during both infection processes. Counter-selection against flagella expression was observed during acute lung infections. Obviously, avoidance of flagella-mediated activation of host immunity is advantageous for the wildtype bacteria. For the ΔlasR mutant, loss of flagella did not confer a selective advantage. Apparently, other pathogenesis mechanisms are active in this virulence attenuated strain. In contrast, the infective process of P. aeruginosa in the chronic biofilm model apparently required expression of flagellin. Together, our findings imply that the host immune reactions against the infectious agent are very decisive for acuteness and duration of the infectious disease. They direct disease outcome.
  • Presence of Infected Gr-1CD11bCD11c Monocytic Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells Subverts T Cell Response and Is Associated With Impaired Dendritic Cell Function in Mycobacterium avium-Infected Mice.

    Abdissa, Ketema; Nerlich, Andreas; Beineke, Andreas; Ruangkiattikul, Nanthapon; Pawar, Vinay; Heise, Ulrike; Janze, Nina; Falk, Christine; Bruder, Dunja; Schleicher, Ulrike; Bogdan, Christian; Weiss, Siegfried; Goethe, Ralph; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are immature myeloid cells with immunomodulatory function. To study the mechanism by which MDSC affect antimicrobial immunity, we infected mice with two M. avium strains of differential virulence, highly virulent Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium strain 25291 (MAA) and low virulent Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis strain 104 (MAH). Intraperitoneal infection with MAA, but not MAH, caused severe disease and massive splenic infiltration of monocytic MDSC (M-MDSC; Gr-1intCD11bhiCD11cint) expressing inducible NO synthase (Nos2) and bearing high numbers of mycobacteria. Depletion experiments demonstrated that M-MDSC were essential for disease progression. NO production by M-MDSC influenced antigen-uptake and processing by dendritic cells and proliferation of CD4+ T cells. M-MDSC were also induced in MAA-infected mice lacking Nos2. In these mice CD4+ T cell expansion and control of infection were restored. However, T cell inhibition was only partially relieved and arginase (Arg) 1-expressing M-MDSC were accumulated. Likewise, inhibition of Arg1 also partially rescued T cell proliferation. Thus, mycobacterial virulence results in the induction of M-MDSC that block the T cell response in a Nos2- and Arg1-dependent manner.
  • Determining lineage-specific bacterial growth curves with a novel approach based on amplicon reads normalization using internal standard (ARNIS).

    Piwosz, Kasia; Shabarova, Tanja; Tomasch, Jürgen; Šimek, Karel; Kopejtka, Karel; Kahl, Silke; Pieper, Dietmar H; Koblížek, Michal; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-11-01)
    The growth rate is a fundamental characteristic of bacterial species, determining its contributions to the microbial community and carbon flow. High-throughput sequencing can reveal bacterial diversity, but its quantitative inaccuracy precludes estimation of abundances and growth rates from the read numbers. Here, we overcame this limitation by normalizing Illumina-derived amplicon reads using an internal standard: a constant amount of Escherichia coli cells added to samples just before biomass collection. This approach made it possible to reconstruct growth curves for 319 individual OTUs during the grazer-removal experiment conducted in a freshwater reservoir Římov. The high resolution data signalize significant functional heterogeneity inside the commonly investigated bacterial groups. For instance, many Actinobacterial phylotypes, a group considered to harbor slow-growing defense specialists, grew rapidly upon grazers' removal, demonstrating their considerable importance in carbon flow through food webs, while most Verrucomicrobial phylotypes were particle associated. Such differences indicate distinct life strategies and roles in food webs of specific bacterial phylotypes and groups. The impact of grazers on the specific growth rate distributions supports the hypothesis that bacterivory reduces competition and allows existence of diverse bacterial communities. It suggests that the community changes were driven mainly by abundant, fast, or moderately growing, and not by rare fast growing, phylotypes. We believe amplicon read normalization using internal standard (ARNIS) can shed new light on in situ growth dynamics of both abundant and rare bacteria.
  • BACTOME-a reference database to explore the sequence- and gene expression-variation landscape of Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates.

    Hornischer, Klaus; Khaledi, Ariane; Pohl, Sarah; Schniederjans, Monika; Pezoldt, Lorena; Casilag, Fiordiligie; Muthukumarasamy, Uthayakumar; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Thöming, Janne; Kordes, Adrian; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-10-01)
    Extensive use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) for pathogen profiling has the potential to transform our understanding of how genomic plasticity contributes to phenotypic versatility. However, the storage of large amounts of NGS data and visualization tools need to evolve to offer the scientific community fast and convenient access to these data. We introduce BACTOME as a database system that links aligned DNA- and RNA-sequencing reads of clinical Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates with clinically relevant pathogen phenotypes. The database allows data extraction for any single isolate, gene or phenotype as well as data filtering and phenotypic grouping for specific research questions. With the integration of statistical tools we illustrate the usefulness of a relational database structure for the identification of phenotype-genotype correlations as an essential part of the discovery pipeline in genomic research. Furthermore, the database provides a compilation of DNA sequences and gene expression values of a plethora of clinical isolates to give a consensus DNA sequence and consensus gene expression signature. Deviations from the consensus thereby describe the genomic landscape and the transcriptional plasticity of the species P. aeruginosa. The database is available at
  • Breaking the vicious cycle of antibiotic killing and regrowth of biofilm-residing .

    Müsken, Mathias; Pawar, Vinay; Schwebs, Timo; Bähre, Heike; Felgner, Sebastian; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-10-08)
    Biofilm-residing bacteria embedded in an extracellular matrix are protected from diverse physico-chemical insults. In addition to the general recalcitrance of biofilm-bacteria, high bacterial loads in biofilm-associated infections significantly diminishes the efficacy of antimicrobials due to a low per-cell antibiotic concentration. Accordingly, present antimicrobial treatment protocols, that have been established to serve the eradication of acute infections, fail to clear biofilm-associated chronic infections. In the present study, we applied automated confocal microscopy on Pseudomonas aeruginosa to monitor dynamic killing of biofilm-grown bacteria by tobramycin and colistin in real-time. We revealed that the time required for surviving bacteria to repopulate the biofilm could be taken as measure for effectiveness of the antimicrobial treatment. It depends on the: i) nature and concentration of the antibiotic, ii) duration of antibiotic treatment; iii) application as mono or combination therapy and iv) time intervals of drug administration. The vicious cycle of killing and repopulation of biofilm bacteria could also be broken in an in vivo model system by applying successive antibiotic dosages with time intervals that do not allow full reconstitution of the biofilm communities. Treatment regimens that consider the important aspects of antimicrobial killing kinetics bear the potential to improve control of biofilm regrowth. This is an important and underestimated factor that is bound to ensure sustainable treatment success of chronic infections.
  • Interferon-beta expression and type I interferon receptor signaling of hepatocytes prevent hepatic necrosis and virus dissemination in Coxsackievirus B3-infected mice.

    Koestner, Wolfgang; Spanier, Julia; Klause, Tanja; Tegtmeyer, Pia-K; Becker, Jennifer; Herder, Vanessa; Borst, Katharina; Todt, Daniel; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Gerhauser, Ingo; Detje, Claudia N; Geffers, Robert; Langereis, Martijn A; Vondran, Florian W R; Yuan, Qinggong; van Kuppeveld, Frank J M; Ott, Michael; Staeheli, Peter; Steinmann, Eike; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Wacker, Frank; Kalinke, Ulrich; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinischeInfektionsforschung GmbH, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany (2018-08-01)
    During Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) infection hepatitis is a potentially life threatening complication, particularly in newborns. Studies with type I interferon (IFN-I) receptor (IFNAR)-deficient mice revealed a key role of the IFN-I axis in the protection against CVB3 infection, whereas the source of IFN-I and cell types that have to be IFNAR triggered in order to promote survival are still unknown. We found that CVB3 infected IFN-β reporter mice showed effective reporter induction, especially in hepatocytes and only to a minor extent in liver-resident macrophages. Accordingly, upon in vitro CVB3 infection of primary hepatocytes from murine or human origin abundant IFN-β responses were induced. To identify sites of IFNAR-triggering we performed experiments with Mx reporter mice, which upon CVB3 infection showed massive luciferase induction in the liver. Immunohistological studies revealed that during CVB3 infection MX1 expression of hepatocytes was induced primarily by IFNAR-, and not by IFN-III receptor (IFNLR)-triggering. CVB3 infection studies with primary human hepatocytes, in which either the IFN-I or the IFN-III axis was inhibited, also indicated that primarily IFNAR-, and to a lesser extent IFNLR-triggering was needed for ISG induction. Interestingly, CVB3 infected mice with a hepatocyte-specific IFNAR ablation showed severe liver cell necrosis and ubiquitous viral dissemination that resulted in lethal disease, as similarly detected in classical IFNAR-/- mice. In conclusion, we found that during CVB3 infection hepatocytes are major IFN-I producers and that the liver is also the organ that shows strong IFNAR-triggering. Importantly, hepatocytes need to be IFNAR-triggered in order to prevent virus dissemination and to assure survival. These data are compatible with the hypothesis that during CVB3 infection hepatocytes serve as important IFN-I producers and sensors not only in the murine, but also in the human system.
  • Peripheral T-cell lymphoma cell line T8ML-1 highlights conspicuous targeting of PVRL2 by t(14;19)(q11.2;q13.3).

    Ehrentraut, Stefan; Nagel, Stefan; Pommerenke, Claudia; Dirks, Wilhelm G; Quentmeier, Hilmar; Kaufmann, Maren; Meyer, Corinna; Zaborski, Margarete; Geffers, Robert; Fujiwara, Hiroshi; Drexler, Hans G; MacLeod, Roderick A F; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-01)
    Focal amplifications and chromosome translocations involving the long arm of chromosome 19 (19q13.3) are recurrent in T-cell lymphoma, where neighboring BCL3 and PVRL2 are competing target genes. Here we present the oncogenomic characterization of a peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) cell line T8ML-1 to reveal t(14;19)(q11.2;q13.3) juxtaposing TRA@ and PVRL2. Parallel mRNA and protein expression data for the 19q13.3 region of interest pinpointed PVRL2 as the sole conspicuous target therein. Collectively, our findings endorse T8ML-1 as the first proven cell line model for t(14;19)/PTCL.
  • Phylotranscriptomic consolidation of the jawed vertebrate timetree.

    Irisarri, Iker; Baurain, Denis; Brinkmann, Henner; Delsuc, Frédéric; Sire, Jean-Yves; Kupfer, Alexander; Petersen, Jörn; Jarek, Michael; Meyer, Axel; Vences, Miguel; Philippe, Hervé; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-09-01)
    Phylogenomics is extremely powerful but introduces new challenges as no agreement exists on "standards" for data selection, curation and tree inference. We use jawed vertebrates (Gnathostomata) as model to address these issues. Despite considerable efforts in resolving their evolutionary history and macroevolution, few studies have included a full phylogenetic diversity of gnathostomes and some relationships remain controversial. We tested a novel bioinformatic pipeline to assemble large and accurate phylogenomic datasets from RNA sequencing and find this phylotranscriptomic approach successful and highly cost-effective. Increased sequencing effort up to ca. 10Gbp allows recovering more genes, but shallower sequencing (1.5Gbp) is sufficient to obtain thousands of full-length orthologous transcripts. We reconstruct a robust and strongly supported timetree of jawed vertebrates using 7,189 nuclear genes from 100 taxa, including 23 new transcriptomes from previously unsampled key species. Gene jackknifing of genomic data corroborates the robustness of our tree and allows calculating genome-wide divergence times by overcoming gene sampling bias. Mitochondrial genomes prove insufficient to resolve the deepest relationships because of limited signal and among-lineage rate heterogeneity. Our analyses emphasize the importance of large curated nuclear datasets to increase the accuracy of phylogenomics and provide a reference framework for the evolutionary history of jawed vertebrates.
  • Induction of CD4(+) and CD8(+) anti-tumor effector T cell responses by bacteria mediated tumor therapy.

    Stern, Christian; Kasnitz, Nadine; Kocijancic, Dino; Trittel, Stephanie; Riese, Peggy; Guzman, Carlos A; Leschner, Sara; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-10-15)
    Facultative anaerobic bacteria like E. coli can colonize solid tumors often resulting in tumor growth retardation or even clearance. Little mechanistic knowledge is available for this phenomenon which is however crucial for optimization and further implementation in the clinic. Here, we show that intravenous injections with E. coli TOP10 can induce clearance of CT26 tumors in BALB/c mice. Importantly, re-challenging mice which had cleared tumors showed that clearance was due to a specific immune reaction. Accordingly, lymphopenic mice never showed tumor clearance after infection. Depletion experiments revealed that during induction phase, CD8(+) T cells are the sole effectors responsible for tumor clearance while in the memory phase CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells were involved. This was confirmed by adoptive transfer. CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells could reject newly set tumors while CD8(+) T cells could even reject established tumors. Detailed analysis of adoptively transferred CD4(+) T cells during tumor challenge revealed expression of granzyme B, FasL, TNF-α and IFN-γ in such T cells that might be involved in the anti-tumor activity. Our findings should pave the way for further optimization steps of this promising therapy.
  • Metatranscriptome Analysis of the Vaginal Microbiota Reveals Potential Mechanisms for Protection against Metronidazole in Bacterial Vaginosis.

    Deng, Zhi-Luo; Gottschick, Cornelia; Bhuju, Sabin; Masur, Clarissa; Abels, Christoph; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-06-27)
    Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a prevalent multifactorial disease of women in their reproductive years characterized by a shift from the
  • Analysis and Design of Stimulus Response Curves of E. coli.

    Kremling, Andreas; Goehler, Anna; Jahreis, Knut; Nees, Markus; Auerbach, Benedikt; Schmidt-Heck, Wolfgang; Kökpinar, Oznur; Geffers, Robert; Rinas, Ursula; Bettenbrock, Katja; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012-11-12)
    Metabolism and signalling are tightly coupled in bacteria. Combining several theoretical approaches, a core model is presented that describes transcriptional and allosteric control of glycolysis in Escherichia coli. Experimental data based on microarrays, signalling components and extracellular metabolites are used to estimate kinetic parameters. A newly designed strain was used that adjusts the incoming glucose flux into the system and allows a kinetic analysis. Based on the results, prediction for intracelluar metabolite concentrations over a broad range of the growth rate could be performed and compared with data from literature.
  • Birth, evolution, and transmission of satellite-free mammalian centromeric domains.

    Nergadze, Solomon G; Piras, Francesca M; Gamba, Riccardo; Corbo, Marco; Cerutti, Federico; McCarter, Joseph G W; Cappelletti, Eleonora; Gozzo, Francesco; Harman, Rebecca M; Antczak, Douglas F; Miller, Donald; Scharfe, Maren; Pavesi, Giulio; Raimondi, Elena; Sullivan, Kevin F; Giulotto, Elena; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    Mammalian centromeres are associated with highly repetitive DNA (satellite DNA), which has so far hindered molecular analysis of this chromatin domain. Centromeres are epigenetically specified, and binding of the CENPA protein is their main determinant. In previous work, we described the first example of a natural satellite-free centromere on
  • 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.

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