Recent Submissions

  • The chromatin remodeling factor SPOC1 acts as a cellular restriction factor against human cytomegalovirus by repressing the major immediate-early promoter.

    Reichel, Anna; Stilp, Anne-Charlotte; Scherer, Myriam; Reuter, Nina; Lukassen, Sören; Kasmapour, Bahram; Schreiner, Sabrina; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Winterpacht, Andreas; Stamminger, Thomas; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-09)
    The cellular protein SPOC1 (survival time-associated PHD finger protein in ovarian cancer 1) acts as a regulator of chromatin structure and DNA damage response. It binds H3K4me2/3 containing chromatin and promotes DNA condensation by recruiting corepressors such as KAP-1 and H3K9 methyltransferases. Previous studies identified SPOC1 as a restriction factor against human adenovirus (HAdV) infection that is antagonized by E1B-55K/E4orf6-dependent proteasomal degradation. Here, we demonstrate that, in contrast to HAdV-infected cells, SPOC1 is transiently upregulated during the early phase of HCMV replication. We show that expression of the immediate-early protein 1 (IE1) is sufficient and necessary to induce SPOC1. Additionally, we discovered that during later stages of infection SPOC1 is downregulated in a GSK-3β-dependent manner. We provide evidence that SPOC1 overexpression severely impairs HCMV replication by repressing the initiation of viral immediate early (IE) gene expression. Consistently, we observed that SPOC1-depleted primary human fibroblasts displayed augmented initiation of viral IE gene expression. This occurs in a MOI-dependent manner, a defining hallmark of intrinsic immunity. Interestingly, repression requires the presence of high SPOC1 levels at the start of infection while a later upregulation had no negative impact suggesting distinct temporal roles of SPOC1 during the HCMV replicative cycle. Mechanistically, we observed a highly specific association of SPOC1 with the major immediate-early promoter (MIEP) strongly suggesting that SPOC1 inhibits HCMV replication by MIEP binding and subsequent recruitment of heterochromatin building factors. Thus, our data add SPOC1 as a novel factor to the endowment of a host cell to restrict cytomegalovirus infections.
  • The chromatin remodeling factor SPOC1 acts as a cellular restriction factor against human cytomegalovirus by repressing the major immediate-early promoter.

    Reichel, Anna; Stilp, Anne-Charlotte; Scherer, Myriam; Reuter, Nina; Lukassen, Sören; Kasmapour, Bahram; Schreiner, Sabrina; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Winterpacht, Andreas; Stamminger, Thomas; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-09)
    The cellular protein SPOC1 (survival time-associated PHD finger protein in ovarian cancer 1) acts as a regulator of chromatin structure and DNA damage response. It binds H3K4me2/3 containing chromatin and promotes DNA condensation by recruiting corepressors such as KAP-1 and H3K9 methyltransferases. Previous studies identified SPOC1 as a restriction factor against human adenovirus (HAdV) infection that is antagonized by E1B-55K/E4orf6-dependent proteasomal degradation. Here, we demonstrate that, in contrast to HAdV-infected cells, SPOC1 is transiently upregulated during the early phase of HCMV replication. We show that expression of the immediate-early protein 1 (IE1) is sufficient and necessary to induce SPOC1. Additionally, we discovered that during later stages of infection SPOC1 is downregulated in a GSK-3β-dependent manner. We provide evidence that SPOC1 overexpression severely impairs HCMV replication by repressing the initiation of viral immediate early (IE) gene expression. Consistently, we observed that SPOC1-depleted primary human fibroblasts displayed augmented initiation of viral IE gene expression. This occurs in a MOI-dependent manner, a defining hallmark of intrinsic immunity. Interestingly, repression requires the presence of high SPOC1 levels at the start of infection while a later upregulation had no negative impact suggesting distinct temporal roles of SPOC1 during the HCMV replicative cycle. Mechanistically, we observed a highly specific association of SPOC1 with the major immediate-early promoter (MIEP) strongly suggesting that SPOC1 inhibits HCMV replication by MIEP binding and subsequent recruitment of heterochromatin building factors. Thus, our data add SPOC1 as a novel factor to the endowment of a host cell to restrict cytomegalovirus infections. Accumulating evidence indicates that during millennia of co-evolution host cells have developed a sophisticated compilation of cellular factors to restrict cytomegalovirus infections. Defining this equipment is important to understand cellular barriers against viral infection and to develop strategies to utilize these factors for antiviral approaches. So far, constituents of PML nuclear bodies and the interferon gamma inducible protein 16 (IFI16) were known to mediate intrinsic immunity against HCMV. In this study, we identify the chromatin modulator SPOC1 as a novel restriction factor against HCMV. We show that pre-existing high SPOC1 protein levels mediate a silencing of HCMV gene expression via a specific association with an important viral -regulatory element, the major immediate-early promoter. Since SPOC1 expression varies between cell-types, this factor may play an important role in the tissue-specific defense against HCMV.
  • Successful Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in a Patient with Severe Complicated Clostridium difficile Infection after Liver Transplantation.

    Schneider, Kai Markus; Wirtz, Theresa H; Kroy, Daniela; Albers, Stefanie; Neumann, Ulf Peter; Strowig, Till; Sellge, Gernot; Trautwein, Christian; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-18)
    Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) represents one of the most common healthcare-associated infections. Due to increasing numbers of recurrences and therapy failures, CDI has become a major disease burden. Studies have shown that fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) can both be a safe and highly efficacious therapy for patients with therapy-refractory CDI. However, patients undergoing solid organ transplantation are at high risk for CDI due to long-term immunosuppression, previous antibiotic therapy, and proton pump inhibitor use. Additionally, these patients may be especially prone to adverse events related to FMT. Here, we report a successful FMT in a patient with severe therapy-refractory CDI after liver transplantation.
  • Tissue maintenance of CMV-specific inflationary memory T cells by IL-15.

    Baumann, Nicolas S; Torti, Nicole; Welten, Suzanne P M; Barnstorf, Isabel; Borsa, Mariana; Pallmer, Katharina; Oduro, Jennifer D; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Ikuta, Koichi; Ludewig, Burkhard; Oxenius, Annette; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-04)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection induces an atypical CD8 T cell response, termed inflationary, that is characterised by accumulation and maintenance of high numbers of effector memory like cells in circulation and peripheral tissues-a feature being successfully harnessed for vaccine purposes. Although stability of this population depends on recurrent antigen encounter, the requirements for prolonged survival in peripheral tissues remain unknown. Here, we reveal that murine CMV-specific inflationary CD8 T cells are maintained in an antigen-independent manner and have a half-life of 12 weeks in the lung tissue. This half-life is drastically longer than the one of phenotypically comparable inflationary effector cells. IL-15 alone, and none of other common γ-cytokines, was crucial for survival of inflationary cells in peripheral organs. IL-15, mainly produced by non-hematopoietic cells in lung tissue and being trans-presented, promoted inflationary T cell survival by increasing expression of Bcl-2. These results indicate that inflationary CD8 T cells are not just simply effector-like cells, rather they share properties of both effector and memory CD8 T cells and they appear to be long-lived cells compared to the effector cells from acute virus infections.
  • Engineered trivalent immunogen adjuvanted with a STING agonist confers protection against Trypanosoma cruzi infection.

    Sanchez Alberti, Andrés; Bivona, Augusto E; Cerny, Natacha; Schulze, Kai; Weißmann, Sebastian; Ebensen, Thomas; Morales, Celina; Padilla, Angel M; Cazorla, Silvia I; Tarleton, Rick L; Guzmán, Carlos A; Malchiodi, Emilio L; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    The parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease, a potentially life-threatening infection that represents a major health problem in Latin America. Several characteristics of this protozoan contribute to the lack of an effective vaccine, among them: its silent invasion mechanism, T. cruzi antigen redundancy and immunodominance without protection. Taking into account these issues, we engineered Traspain, a chimeric antigen tailored to present a multivalent display of domains from key parasitic molecules, combined with stimulation of the STING pathway by c-di-AMP as a novel prophylactic strategy. This formulation proved to be effective for the priming of functional humoral responses and pathogen-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, compatible with a Th1/Th17 bias. Interestingly, vaccine effectiveness assessed across the course of infection, showed a reduction in parasite load and chronic inflammation in different proof of concept assays. In conclusion, this approach represents a promising tool against parasitic chronic infections.
  • The Contribution of Cytomegalovirus Infection to Immune Senescence Is Set by the Infectious Dose.

    Redeker, Anke; Remmerswaal, Ester B M; van der Gracht, Esmé T I; Welten, Suzanne P M; Höllt, Thomas; Koning, Frits; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Nikolich-Žugich, Janko; Ten Berge, Ineke J M; van Lier, René A W; van Unen, Vincent; Arens, Ramon; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    The relationship between human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections and accelerated immune senescence is controversial. Whereas some studies reported a CMV-associated impaired capacity to control heterologous infections at old age, other studies could not confirm this. We hypothesized that these discrepancies might relate to the variability in the infectious dose of CMV occurring in real life. Here, we investigated the influence of persistent CMV infection on immune perturbations and specifically addressed the role of the infectious dose on the contribution of CMV to accelerated immune senescence. We show in experimental mouse models that the degree of mouse CMV (MCMV)-specific memory CD8+ T cell accumulation and the phenotypic T cell profile are directly influenced by the infectious dose, and data on HCMV-specific T cells indicate a similar connection. Detailed cluster analysis of the memory CD8+ T cell development showed that high-dose infection causes a differentiation pathway that progresses faster throughout the life span of the host, suggesting a virus-host balance that is influenced by aging and infectious dose. Importantly, short-term MCMV infection in adult mice is not disadvantageous for heterologous superinfection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). However, following long-term CMV infection the strength of the CD8+ T cell immunity to LCMV superinfection was affected by the initial CMV infectious dose, wherein a high infectious dose was found to be a prerequisite for impaired heterologous immunity. Altogether our results underscore the importance of stratification based on the size and differentiation of the CMV-specific memory T cell pools for the impact on immune senescence, and indicate that reduction of the latent/lytic viral load can be beneficial to diminish CMV-associated immune senescence.
  • Lung macrophage scavenger receptor SR-A6 (MARCO) is an adenovirus type-specific virus entry receptor.

    Stichling, Nicole; Suomalainen, Maarit; Flatt, Justin W; Schmid, Markus; Pacesa, Martin; Hemmi, Silvio; Jungraithmayr, Wolfgang; Maler, Mareike D; Freudenberg, Marina A; Plückthun, Andreas; May, Tobias; Köster, Mario; Fejer, György; Greber, Urs F; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-03)
    Macrophages are a diverse group of phagocytic cells acting in host protection against stress, injury, and pathogens. Here, we show that the scavenger receptor SR-A6 is an entry receptor for human adenoviruses in murine alveolar macrophage-like MPI cells, and important for production of type I interferon. Scavenger receptors contribute to the clearance of endogenous proteins, lipoproteins and pathogens. Knockout of SR-A6 in MPI cells, anti-SR-A6 antibody or the soluble extracellular SR-A6 domain reduced adenovirus type-C5 (HAdV-C5) binding and transduction. Expression of murine SR-A6, and to a lower extent human SR-A6 boosted virion binding to human cells and transduction. Virion clustering by soluble SR-A6 and proximity localization with SR-A6 on MPI cells suggested direct adenovirus interaction with SR-A6. Deletion of the negatively charged hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of hexon reduced HAdV-C5 binding and transduction, implying that the viral ligand for SR-A6 is hexon. SR-A6 facilitated macrophage entry of HAdV-B35 and HAdV-D26, two important vectors for transduction of hematopoietic cells and human vaccination. The study highlights the importance of scavenger receptors in innate immunity against human viruses.
  • Virulence traits of environmental and clinicalLegionella pneumophilaMLVA genotypes.

    Sharaby, Yehonatan; Rodríguez-Martínez, Sarah; Pecellin, Marina; Sela, Rotem; Peretz, Avi; Höfle, Manfred; Halpern, Malka; Brettar, Ingrid; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-03-09)
    Legionella pneumophila causes water-based infections resulting in severe pneumonia. Recently, we showed that different variable numbers of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA-8) genotypes dominated different sites of a drinking-water distribution system, with a genotype-related temperature and abundance regime. Here we compare the pathogenicity potential of different MLVA-8 genotypes of environmental and clinical strains. The virulence traits studied were hemolytic activity and cytotoxicity towards amoebae and macrophages. Clinical strains were significantly more hemolytic than environmental strains, while their cytotoxicity towards amoebae was significantly lower at 30°C. No significant differences were detected between clinical and environmental strains in cytotoxicity towards macrophages. Significant differences in virulence were observed between the environmental genotypes (Gt). Gt15 strain showed a significantly higher hemolytic activity. In contrast, Gt4 and Gt6 strains were more infective towardsAcanthamoeba castellaniiMoreover, Gt4 strain exhibited increased cytotoxicity towards macrophages and demonstrated a broader temperature range of amoebal lysis compared to Gt6 and Gt15. Understanding the virulence traits ofLegionellagenotypes may improve the assessment of public health risks ofLegionellain drinking water.ImportanceLegionella pneumophilais the causative agent of a severe form of pneumonia. Here we demonstrate that clinical strains were significantly more cytotoxic towards red blood cells compared to environmental strains, while their cytotoxicity towards macrophages was similar. Genotype 4 (Gt4) strains were highly cytotoxic towards amoebae, macrophages, and lysed amoebae in a broader temperature range, compared to the other studied genotypes. The results can explain the Gt4 relatively high success in the environment and in clinical samples; thus Gt4 strains should be considered as a main factor for the assessment of public health risks ofLegionellain drinking water. Our findings shed light on the ecology, virulence, and pathogenicity potential of differentL. pneumophilagenotypes that can be a valuable parameter for future modelling and Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment ofLegionellain drinking water systems.
  • Loss of CNFY toxin-induced inflammation drives Yersinia pseudotuberculosis into persistency.

    Heine, Wiebke; Beckstette, Michael; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Thiemann, Sophie; Heise, Ulrike; Nuss, Aaron Mischa; Pisano, Fabio; Strowig, Till; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02)
    Gastrointestinal infections caused by enteric yersiniae can become persistent and complicated by relapsing enteritis and severe autoimmune disorders. To establish a persistent infection, the bacteria have to cope with hostile surroundings when they transmigrate through the intestinal epithelium and colonize underlying gut-associated lymphatic tissues. How the bacteria gain a foothold in the face of host immune responses is poorly understood. Here, we show that the CNFY toxin, which enhances translocation of the antiphagocytic Yop effectors, induces inflammatory responses. This results in extensive tissue destruction, alteration of the intestinal microbiota and bacterial clearance. Suppression of CNFY function, however, increases interferon-γ-mediated responses, comprising non-inflammatory antimicrobial activities and tolerogenesis. This process is accompanied by a preterm reprogramming of the pathogen's transcriptional response towards persistence, which gives the bacteria a fitness edge against host responses and facilitates establishment of a commensal-type life style.
  • The DNA-sensing AIM2 inflammasome controls radiation-induced cell death and tissue injury.

    Hu, Bo; Jin, Chengcheng; Li, Hua-Bing; Tong, Jiyu; Ouyang, Xinshou; Cetinbas, Naniye Malli; Zhu, Shu; Strowig, Till; Lam, Fred C; Zhao, Chen; Henao-Mejia, Jorge; Yilmaz, Omer; Fitzgerald, Katherine A; Eisenbarth, Stephanie C; Elinav, Eran; Flavell, Richard A; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    Acute exposure to ionizing radiation induces massive cell death and severe damage to tissues containing actively proliferating cells, including bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this pathology remain controversial. Here, we show that mice deficient in the double-stranded DNA sensor AIM2 are protected from both subtotal body irradiation-induced gastrointestinal syndrome and total body irradiation-induced hematopoietic failure. AIM2 mediates the caspase-1-dependent death of intestinal epithelial cells and bone marrow cells in response to double-strand DNA breaks caused by ionizing radiation and chemotherapeutic agents. Mechanistically, we found that AIM2 senses radiation-induced DNA damage in the nucleus to mediate inflammasome activation and cell death. Our results suggest that AIM2 may be a new therapeutic target for ionizing radiation exposure.
  • Bioactive Compounds Produced by Hypoxylon fragiforme against Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms.

    Yuyama, Kamila Tomoko; Chepkirui, Clara; Wendt, Lucile; Fortkamp, Diana; Stadler, Marc; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-12)
    Treating infections organized in biofilms is a challenge due to the resistance of the pathogens against antibiotics and host immune cells. Many fungi grow in a wet environment, favorable for the growth of bacterial biofilms, and we speculated that fungi possess some strategies to control these bacterial biofilms. A fungus identified as Hypoxylon fragiforme, was collected in the Harz Mountains, Germany, and its mycelial culture was fermented in different culture media for 67 days to test its biological potential against bacterial biofilms. Sclerin, sclerin diacid and its 3-methyl monoester (methyl 1-(5-hydroxy-6-carboxylic-2,3,4-trimethylphenyl) propionate) are here described for the first time from this fungus. Sclerin and its diacid interfered with the biofilm formation of the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, inhibiting 86% and 80% of the biofilm at 256 μg mL-1, respectively, but not killing the bacterium. Interestingly, the monomethylester of sclerin diacid was inactive. Although these compounds did not possess any activity against a pre-formed biofilm, they prevented its formation at subtoxic concentrations. Furthermore, sclerin and its diacid displayed a high specificity against Staphylococcus aureus, indicating a good strategy against pathogenic biofilms when combined with antibiotics.
  • Distinct Microbial Communities Trigger Colitis Development upon Intestinal Barrier Damage via Innate or Adaptive Immune Cells.

    Roy, Urmi; Gálvez, Eric J C; Iljazovic, Aida; Lesker, Till Robin; Błażejewski, Adrian J; Pils, Marina C; Heise, Ulrike; Huber, Samuel; Flavell, Richard A; Strowig, Till; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-10-24)
    Inflammatory bowel disease comprises a group of heterogeneous diseases characterized by chronic and relapsing mucosal inflammation. Alterations in microbiota composition have been proposed to contribute to disease development, but no uniform signatures have yet been identified. Here, we compare the ability of a diverse set of microbial communities to exacerbate intestinal inflammation after chemical damage to the intestinal barrier. Strikingly, genetically identical wild-type mice differing only in their microbiota composition varied strongly in their colitis susceptibility. Transfer of distinct colitogenic communities in gene-deficient mice revealed that they triggered disease via opposing pathways either independent or dependent on adaptive immunity, specifically requiring antigen-specific CD4+ T cells. Our data provide evidence for the concept that microbial communities may alter disease susceptibility via different immune pathways despite eventually resulting in similar host pathology. This suggests a potential benefit for personalizing IBD therapies according to patient-specific microbiota signatures.
  • Shaping of Intestinal Microbiota in Nlrp6- and Rag2-Deficient Mice Depends on Community Structure.

    Gálvez, Eric J C; Iljazovic, Aida; Gronow, Achim; Flavell, Richard; Strowig, Till; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-26)
    Contradicting observations have been made regarding the relative contributions of immune sensors to shaping the microbiome, yet the reasons for these discrepancies are not fully understood. Here, we investigated the contribution of environmental factors in shaping the microbiome in mice deficient in adaptive immunity (Rag2-/-) and Nlrp6, an immune sensor proposed to be involved in regulation of microbiota composition. In conventionally housed Nlrp6-/- mice, familial transmission has a significant effect on microbiota composition, complicating the analysis of genotype-dependent effects. Notably, after rederivation into standardized specific pathogen-free (SPF) conditions devoid of pathobionts, microbiota composition was indistinguishable between WT, Rag2-/-, and Nlrp6-/- mice. However, upon reintroduction of a pathobiont-containing community host, genotype-dependent differences reappear, specifically affecting the relative abundance of pathobionts such as Helicobacter spp. Our results show that the impact of Nlrp6 and also of adaptive immunity on microbiota composition depends on community structure and primarily influences pathobionts but not commensals.
  • Divergence in gene regulation contributes to sympatric speciation of Shewanella baltica strains.

    Deng, Jie; Auchtung, Jennifer; Konstantinidis, Konstantinos T; Caro-Quintero, Alejandro; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred; Tiedje, James M; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-08)
    Niche partitioning and sequence evolution drive genomic and phenotypic divergence, which ultimately leads to bacterial diversification. This study investigated genomic composition of two Shewanella baltica clades previously identified through multi-locus sequencing typing and recovered from the redox transition zone in the central Baltic Sea. Comparative genomic analysis revealed significantly higher inter- than intra-clade genomic dissimilarity, and that a subset of genes present in Clade A were associated with potential adaptation to respiration of sulfur compounds present in the redox-transition zone. Transcriptomic divergence between two representative strains of Clades A and D, OS185 and OS195, was also characterized and revealed marked regulatory differences. We found that both transcriptional divergence of shared genes and expression of strain-specific genes lead to differences in regulatory patterns between strains that correlate with environmental redox niches. For instance, under anoxic conditions of respiratory nitrate ammonification, OS185 - the strain isolated from nitrate-rich environment, upregulated nearly twice the number of shared genes compared to OS195 - the strain isolated from H2S-containing anoxic environment. Conversely, OS195 showed stronger induction of strain-specific genes, especially those associated with sulfur compound respiration, under thiosulfate-reducing conditions. A positive association between the level of transcriptional divergence and sequence divergence for shared genes was also noted. Our results provide further support for the hypothesis that genomic changes impacting transcriptional regulation play an important role in the diversification of ecologically distinct populations.Importance This study examined potential mechanisms through which co-occurring Shewanella baltica strains diversified to form ecologically distinct populations. At the time of isolation, the strains studied composed the major fraction of culturable nitrate-reducing communities in the Baltica Sea. Analysis of genomic content of 13 S. baltica strains from two clades representing different ecotypes demonstrated that one clade specifically possesses a number of genes that could favor successful adaptation to respire sulfur compounds in the portion of the water column from which these strains were isolated. In addition, transcriptional profiling of fully-sequenced strains representative of these two clades, OS185 and OS195, under oxygen-, nitrate- and thiosulfate-respiring conditions demonstrated that the strains exhibit relatively similar transcriptional responses during aerobic growth, but more distinct transcriptional responses under nitrate and thiosulfate-respiring conditions. Results from this study provide insights into how genomic and gene regulatory diversification together impacted the redox specialization of the S. baltica strains.
  • Short-chain fatty acids regulate systemic bone mass and protect from pathological bone loss.

    Lucas, Sébastien; Omata, Yasunori; Hofmann, Jörg; Böttcher, Martin; Iljazovic, Aida; Sarter, Kerstin; Albrecht, Olivia; Schulz, Oscar; Krishnacoumar, Brenda; Krönke, Gerhard; Herrmann, Martin; Mougiakakos, Dimitrios; Strowig, Till; Schett, Georg; Zaiss, Mario M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
    Microbial metabolites are known to modulate immune responses of the host. The main metabolites derived from microbial fermentation of dietary fibers in the intestine, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), affect local and systemic immune functions. Here we show that SCFA are regulators of osteoclast metabolism and bone mass in vivo. Treatment of mice with SCFA as well as feeding with a high-fiber diet significantly increases bone mass and prevents postmenopausal and inflammation-induced bone loss. The protective effects of SCFA on bone mass are associated with inhibition of osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption in vitro and in vivo, while bone formation is not affected. Mechanistically, propionate (C3) and butyrate (C4) induce metabolic reprogramming of osteoclasts resulting in enhanced glycolysis at the expense of oxidative phosphorylation, thereby downregulating essential osteoclast genes such as TRAF6 and NFATc1. In summary, these data identify SCFA as potent regulators of osteoclast metabolism and bone homeostasis.
  • Targeted antigen delivery to dendritic cells elicits robust antiviral T cell-mediated immunity in the liver.

    Volckmar, Julia; Gereke, Marcus; Ebensen, Thomas; Riese, Peggy; Philipsen, Lars; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Wohlleber, Dirk; Klopfleisch, Robert; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Müller, Andreas J; Gruber, Achim D; Knolle, Percy; Guzman, Carlos A; Bruder, Dunja; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-03-07)
    Hepatotropic viruses such as hepatitis C virus cause life-threatening chronic liver infections in millions of people worldwide. Targeted in vivo antigen-delivery to cross-presenting dendritic cells (DCs) has proven to be extraordinarily efficient in stimulating antigen-specific T cell responses. To determine whether this approach would as well be suitable to induce local antiviral effector T cells in the liver we compared different vaccine formulations based on either the targeting of DEC-205 or TLR2/6 on cross-presenting DCs or formulations not involving in vivo DC targeting. As read-outs we used in vivo hepatotropic adenovirus challenge, histology and automated multidimensional fluorescence microscopy (MELC). We show that targeted in vivo antigen delivery to cross-presenting DCs is highly effective in inducing antiviral CTLs capable of eliminating virus-infected hepatocytes, while control vaccine formulation not involving DC targeting failed to induce immunity against hepatotropic virus. Moreover, we observed distinct patterns of CD8+ T cell interaction with virus-infected and apoptotic hepatocytes in the two DC-targeting groups suggesting that the different vaccine formulations may stimulate distinct types of effector functions. Our findings represent an important step toward the future development of vaccines against hepatotropic viruses and the treatment of patients with hepatic virus infection after liver transplantation to avoid reinfection.
  • A mathematical model of the impact of insulin secretion dynamics on selective hepatic insulin resistance.

    Zhao, Gang; Wirth, Dagmar; Schmitz, Ingo; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106, Germany. (2017-11-08)
    Physiological insulin secretion exhibits various temporal patterns, the dysregulation of which is involved in diabetes development. We analyzed the impact of first-phase and pulsatile insulin release on glucose and lipid control with various hepatic insulin signaling networks. The mathematical model suggests that atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) undergoes a bistable switch-on and switch-off, under the control of insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2). The activation of IRS1 and IRS2 is temporally separated due to the inhibition of IRS1 by aPKC. The model further shows that the timing of aPKC switch-off is delayed by reduced first-phase insulin and reduced amplitude of insulin pulses. Based on these findings, we propose a sequential model of postprandial hepatic control of glucose and lipid by insulin, according to which delayed aPKC switch-off contributes to selective hepatic insulin resistance, which is a long-standing paradox in the field.
  • Superior immunogenicity of HCV envelope glycoproteins when adjuvanted with cyclic-di-AMP, a STING activator or archaeosomes.

    Landi, A; Law, J; Hockman, D; Logan, M; Crawford, K; Chen, C; Kundu, J; Ebensen, T; Guzman, C A; Deschatelets, L; Krishnan, L; Tyrrell, D L J; Houghton, M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-15)
    Three decades after the discovery, hepatitis C virus (HCV) is still the leading cause of liver transplantation and poses a major threat to global health. In spite of recent advances in the development of direct acting antivirals, there is still a need for a prophylactic vaccine to limit the virus spread and protect at-risk populations, especially in developing countries, where the cost of the new treatments may severely limit access. The use of recombinant HCV glycoproteins E1E2 (rE1E2) in combination with the MF59, an oil-in-water emulsion-based adjuvant, has previously been shown to reduce the rate of chronicity in chimpanzees and to induce production of cross-neutralizing antibodies and cellular immune responses in human volunteers. To further improve neutralizing antibody responses in recipients along with robust T cell responses, we have explored the immunogenicity of different adjuvants when formulated with the HCV rE1E2 vaccine in mice. Our data show that cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) and archaeosomes elicit strong neutralizing antibodies similar to those elicited using aluminum hydroxide/monophosphoryl lipid A (Alum/monophos. /MPLA) and MF59. However, both c-di-AMP and archaeosomes induced a more robust cellular immune response, which was confirmed by the detection of vaccine-specific poly-functional CD4+ T cells. We conclude that these adjuvants may substantially boost the immunogenicity of our E1E2 vaccine. In addition, our data also indicates that use of a partial or exclusive intranasal immunization regimen may also be feasible using c-di-AMP as adjuvant.
  • The M25 gene products are critical for the cytopathic effect of mouse cytomegalovirus.

    Kutle, Ivana; Sengstake, Sarah; Templin, Corinna; Glaß, Mandy; Kubsch, Tobias; Keyser, Kirsten A; Binz, Anne; Bauerfeind, Rudolf; Sodeik, Beate; Čičin-Šain, Luka; Dezeljin, Martina; Messerle, Martin; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11-14)
    Cell rounding is a hallmark of the cytopathic effect induced by cytomegaloviruses. By screening a panel of deletion mutants of mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) a mutant was identified that did not elicit cell rounding and lacked the ability to form typical plaques. Altered cell morphology was assigned to the viral M25 gene. We detected an early 2.8 kb M25 mRNA directing the synthesis of a 105 kDa M25 protein, and confirmed that a late 3.1 kb mRNA encodes a 130 kDa M25 tegument protein. Virions lacking the M25 tegument protein were of smaller size because the tegument layer between capsid and viral envelope was reduced. The ΔM25 mutant did not provoke the rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton observed after wild-type MCMV infection, and isolated expression of the M25 proteins led to cell size reduction, confirming that they contribute to the morphological changes. Yields of progeny virus and cell-to-cell spread of the ΔM25 mutant in vitro were diminished and replication in vivo was impaired. The identification of an MCMV gene involved in cell rounding provides the basis for investigating the role of this cytopathic effect in CMV pathogenesis.
  • Mucosal Administration of Cycle-Di-Nucleotide-Adjuvanted Virosomes Efficiently Induces Protection against Influenza H5N1 in Mice.

    Ebensen, Thomas; Debarry, Jennifer; Pedersen, Gabriel K; Blazejewska, Paulina; Weissmann, Sebastian; Schulze, Kai; McCullough, Kenneth C; Cox, Rebecca J; Guzmán, Carlos A; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    The need for more effective influenza vaccines is highlighted by the emergence of novel influenza strains, which can lead to new pandemics. There is a growing population of susceptible subjects at risk for severe complications of influenza, such as the elderly who are only in part protected by current licensed seasonal vaccines. One strategy for improving seasonal and pandemic vaccines takes advantage of adjuvants to boost and modulate evoked immune responses. In this study, we examined the capacity of the recently described adjuvant cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) to serve as an adjuvant for improved mucosal influenza vaccines, and induce effective protection against influenza H5N1. In detail, c-di-AMP promoted (i) effective local and systemic humoral immune responses, including protective hemagglutination inhibition titers, (ii) effective cellular responses, including multifunctional T cell activity, (iii) induction of long-lasting immunity, and (iv) protection against viral challenge. Furthermore, we demonstrated the dose-sparing capacity of the adjuvant as well as the ability to evoke cross-clade protective immune responses. Overall, our results suggest that c-di-AMP contributes to the generation of a protective cell-mediated immune response required for efficacious vaccination against influenza, which supports the further development of c-di-AMP as an adjuvant for seasonal and pandemic influenza mucosal vaccines.

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