group leader: Dr. Weiss

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Engineered Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium overcomes limitations of anti-bacterial immunity in bacteria-mediated tumor therapy

    Felgner, Sebastian; Kocijancic, Dino; Frahm, Michael; Heise, Ulrike; Rohde, Manfred; Zimmermann, Kurt; Falk, Christine; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany.; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany; Mouse-Pathology Service Unit, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany; Central Facility for Microscopy, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany; Symbio Gruppe GmbH & Co KG, Herborn, Lower Saxony, Germany; Institute of Transplant Immunology, Medical School Hannover, Hannover, Hessia, Germany; Infection Biology of Salmonella, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany (2017-09-29)
  • Therapeutic benefit of Salmonella attributed to LPS and TNF-α is exhaustible and dictated by tumor susceptibility.

    Kocijancic, Dino; Leschner, Sara; Felgner, Sebastian; Komoll, Ronja-Melinda; Frahm, Michael; Pawar, Vinay; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-05-30)
    The potential of bacteria-mediated tumor therapy (BMTT) is highlighted by more than a century of investigation. Attenuated Salmonella has prevailed as promising therapeutic agents. For BMTT - categorized as an immune therapy - the exact contribution of particular immune reactions to the therapeutic effect remains ambiguous. In addition, one could argue for or against the requirement of bacterial viability and tumor targeting. Herein we evaluate the isolated therapeutic efficacy of purified LPS and TNF-α, which together account for a dominant immunogenic pathway of gram negative bacteria like Salmonella. We show that therapeutic efficacy against CT26 tumors does not require bacterial viability. Analogous to viable Salmonella SL7207, tumor regression by a specific CD8+ T cell response can be induced by purified LPS or recombinant TNF-α (rTNF-α). Conversely, therapeutic effects against RenCa tumors were abrogated upon bacterial avitalization and limited using isolated adjuvants. This argues for an alternative mechanistic explanation for SL7207 against RenCa that depends on viability and persistence. Unable to boost bacterial therapies by co-injection of rTNF-α suggested therapeutic effects along this axis are exhausted by the intrinsic adjuvanticity of bacteria alone. However, the importance of TNF-α for BMTT was highlighted by its support of tumor invasion and colonization in concert with lower infective doses of Salmonella. In consideration, bacterial therapeutic effectiveness along the axis of LPS and TNF-α appears limited, and does not offer the necessary plasticity for different tumors. This emphasizes a need for recombinant strengthening and vehicular exploitation to accommodate potency, plasticity and distinctiveness in BMTT.
  • Local application of bacteria improves safety of Salmonella-mediated tumor therapy and retains advantages of systemic infection.

    Kocijancic, Dino; Felgner, Sebastian; Schauer, Tim; Frahm, Michael; Heise, Ulrike; Zimmermann, Kurt; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-07)
    Cancer is a devastating disease and a large socio-economic burden. Novel therapeutic solutions are on the rise, although a cure remains elusive. Application of microorganisms represents an ancient therapeutic strategy, lately revoked and refined via simultaneous attenuation and amelioration of pathogenic properties. Salmonella Typhimurium has prevailed in preclinical development. Yet, using virulent strains for systemic treatment might cause severe side effects. In the present study, we highlight a modified strain based on Salmonella Typhimurium UK-1 expressing hexa-acylated Lipid A. We corroborate improved anti-tumor properties of this strain and investigate to which extent an intra-tumoral (i.t.) route of infection could help improve safety and retain advantages of systemic intravenous (i.v.) application. Our results show that i.t. infection exhibits therapeutic efficacy against CT26 and F1.A11 tumors similar to a systemic route of inoculation. Moreover, i.t. application allows extensive dose titration without compromising tumor colonization. Adverse colonization of healthy organs was generally reduced via i.t. infection and accompanied by less body weight loss of the murine host. Despite local application, adjuvanticity remained, and a CT26-specific CD8+ T cell response was effectively stimulated. Most interestingly, also secondary tumors could be targeted with this strategy, thereby extending the unique tumor targeting ability of Salmonella. The i.t. route of inoculation may reap the benefits of systemic infection and aid in safety assurance while directing potency of an oncolytic vector to where it is most needed, namely the primary tumor.
  • CD4 T Cell Dependent Colitis Exacerbation Following Re-Exposure of Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis.

    Suwandi, Abdulhadi; Bargen, Imke; Pils, Marina C; Krey, Martina; Zur Lage, Susanne; Singh, Anurag K; Basler, Tina; Falk, Christine S; Seidler, Ursula; Hornef, Mathias W; Goethe, Ralph; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of Johne's disease (JD), a chronic inflammatory bowel disease of cattle characterized by intermittent to chronic diarrhea. In addition, MAP has been isolated from Crohn's disease (CD) patients. The impact of MAP on severity of clinical symptoms in JD as well as its role in CD are yet unknown. We have previously shown that MAP is able to colonize inflamed enteric tissue and to exacerbate the inflammatory tissue response (Suwandi et al., 2014). In the present study, we analyzed how repeated MAP administration influences the course of dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis. In comparison to mice exposed to DSS or MAP only, repeated exposure of DSS-treated mice to MAP (DSS/MAP) revealed a significantly enhanced clinical score, reduction of colon length as well as severe CD4(+) T cell infiltration into the colonic lamina propria. Functional analysis identified a critical role of CD4(+) T cells in the MAP-induced disease exacerbation. Additionally, altered immune responses were observed when closely related mycobacteria species such as M. avium ssp. avium and M. avium ssp. hominissuis were administered. These data reveal the specific ability of MAP to aggravate intestinal inflammation and clinical symptoms. Overall, this phenotype is compatible with similar disease promoting capabilites of MAP in JD and CD.
  • Insights into host-pathogen interactions from state-of-the-art animal models of respiratory Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

    Lorenz, Anne; Pawar, Vinay; Häussler, Susanne; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-11)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen that can cause acute respiratory infections in immunocompetent patients or chronic infections in immunocompromised individuals and in patients with cystic fibrosis. When acquiring the chronic infection state, bacteria are encapsulated within biofilm structures enabling them to withstand diverse environmental assaults, including immune reactions and antimicrobial therapy. Understanding the molecular interactions within the bacteria, as well as with the host or other bacteria, is essential for developing innovative treatment strategies. Such knowledge might be accumulated in vitro. However, it is ultimately necessary to confirm these findings in vivo. In the present Review, we describe state-of-the-art in vivo models that allow studying P. aeruginosa infections in molecular detail. The portrayed mammalian models exclusively focus on respiratory infections. The data obtained by alternative animal models which lack lung tissue, often provide molecular insights that are easily transferable to mammals. Importantly, these surrogate in vivo systems reveal complex molecular interactions of P. aeruginosa with the host. Herein, we also provide a critical assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of such models.
  • Therapy of solid tumors using probiotic Symbioflor-2: restraints and potential.

    Kocijancic, Dino; Felgner, Sebastian; Frahm, Michael; Komoll, Ronja-Melinda; Iljazovic, Aida; Pawar, Vinay; Rohde, Manfred; Heise, Ulrike; Zimmermann, Kurt; Gunzer, Florian; Hammer, Juliane; Crull, Katja; Leschner, Sara; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-04-19)
    To date, virulent bacteria remain the basis of most bacteria mediated cancer therapies. For clinical application attenuation is required. However, this might result in a drastically lowered therapeutic capacity. Herein we argue that the E. coli probiotic Symbioflor-2, with a history of safe application may constitute a viable tumor therapeutic candidate. We demonstrate that Symbioflor-2 displays a highly specific tumor targeting ability as determined in murine CT26 and RenCa tumor models. The excellent specificity was ascribed to reduced levels of adverse colonization. A high safety standard was demonstrated in WT and Rag1-/- mice. Thus, Symbioflor-2 may represent an ideal tumor targeting delivery system for therapeutic molecules. Moreover, Symbioflor-2 was capable of inducing CT26 tumor clearance as result of an adjuvant effect on tumor specific CD8+ T cells analogous to the Salmonella variant SL7207. However, lower therapeutic efficacy against RenCa tumors suggested a generally reduced therapeutic potency for probiotics. Interestingly, concurrent depletion of Gr-1+ or Ly6G+ cells installed therapeutic efficacy equal to SL7207, thus highlighting the role of innate effector cells in restraining the anti-tumor effects of Symbioflor-2. Collectively, our findings argue for a strategy of safe strain application and a more sustainable use of bacteria as a delivery system for therapeutic molecules.
  • In Vivo Conditions Enable IFNAR-Independent Type I Interferon Production by Peritoneal CD11b+ Cells upon Thogoto Virus Infection.

    Kochs, Georg; Anzaghe, Martina; Kronhart, Stefanie; Wagner, Valentina; Gogesch, Patricia; Scheu, Stefanie; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Waibler, Zoe; Medizinische Hochschule Hannover: Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany. (2016-10-15)
    Type I interferons (IFNs) crucially contribute to host survival upon viral infections. Robust expression of type I IFNs (IFN-α/β) and induction of an antiviral state critically depend on amplification of the IFN signal via the type I IFN receptor (IFNAR). A small amount of type I IFN produced early upon virus infection binds the IFNAR and activates a self-enhancing positive feedback loop, resulting in induction of large, protective amounts of IFN-α. Unexpectedly, we found robust, systemic IFN-α expression upon infection of IFNAR knockout mice with the orthomyxovirus Thogoto virus (THOV). The IFNAR-independent IFN-α production required in vivo conditions and was not achieved during in vitro infection. Using replication-incompetent THOV-derived virus-like particles, we demonstrate that IFNAR-independent type I IFN induction depends on viral polymerase activity but is largely independent of viral replication. To discover the cell type responsible for this effect, we used type I IFN reporter mice and identified CD11b(+) F4/80(+) myeloid cells within the peritoneal cavity of infected animals as the main source of IFNAR-independent type I IFN, corresponding to the particular tropism of THOV for this cell type.
  • aroA-Deficient Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Is More Than a Metabolically Attenuated Mutant.

    Felgner, Sebastian; Frahm, Michael; Kocijancic, Dino; Rohde, M; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Bielecka, Agata; Bueno, Emilio; Cava, Felipe; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Curtiss, Roy; Häussler, Susanne; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried (2016)
    Recombinant attenuated Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strains are believed to act as powerful live vaccine carriers that are able to elicit protection against various pathogens. Auxotrophic mutations, such as a deletion of aroA, are commonly introduced into such bacteria for attenuation without incapacitating immunostimulation. In this study, we describe the surprising finding that deletion of aroA dramatically increased the virulence of attenuated Salmonella in mouse models. Mutant bacteria lacking aroA elicited increased levels of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) after systemic application. A detailed genetic and phenotypic characterization in combination with transcriptomic and metabolic profiling demonstrated that ΔaroA mutants display pleiotropic alterations in cellular physiology and lipid and amino acid metabolism, as well as increased sensitivity to penicillin, complement, and phagocytic uptake. In concert with other immunomodulating mutations, deletion of aroA affected flagellin phase variation and gene expression of the virulence-associated genes arnT and ansB Finally, ΔaroA strains displayed significantly improved tumor therapeutic activity. These results highlight the importance of a functional shikimate pathway to control homeostatic bacterial physiology. They further highlight the great potential of ΔaroA-attenuated Salmonella for the development of vaccines and cancer therapies with important implications for host-pathogen interactions and translational medicine.
  • Type I IFNs induce anti-tumor polarization of tumor associated neutrophils in mice and human.

    Andzinski, Lisa; Kasnitz, Nadine; Stahnke, Stephanie; Wu, Ching-Fang; Gereke, Marcus; von Köckritz-Blickwede, Maren; Schilling, Bastian; Brandau, Sven; Weiss, Siegfried; Jablonska, Jadwiga; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-04-15)
    The importance of tumor associated neutrophils (TANs) in cancer development is in the meantime well established. Numerous of clinical data document the adverse prognostic effects of neutrophil infiltration in solid tumors. However, certain tumor therapies need functional neutrophils to be effective, suggesting altered neutrophil polarization associated with different outcomes for cancer patients. Therefore, modulation of neutrophilic phenotypes represents a potent therapeutic option, but factors mediating neutrophil polarization are still poorly defined. In this manuscript we provide evidence that type I IFNs alter neutrophilic phenotype into anti-tumor, both in mice and human. In the absence of IFN-β, pro-tumor properties, such as reduced tumor cytotoxicity with low neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) expression, low ICAM1 and TNF-α expression, dominated neutrophil phenotypes in primary lesion and premetastatic lung. Interestingly, such neutrophils have significantly prolonged life-span. Notably, interferon therapy in mice altered TAN polarization towards anti-tumor N1. Similar changes in neutrophil activation could be observed in melanoma patients undergoing type I IFN therapy. Altogether, these data highlight the therapeutic potential of interferons, suggesting optimization of its clinical use as potent anti-tumor agent.
  • pH-degradable imidazoquinoline-ligated nanogels for lymph node-focused immune activation.

    Nuhn, Lutz; Vanparijs, Nane; De Beuckelaer, Ans; Lybaert, Lien; Verstraete, Glenn; Deswarte, Kim; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Shukla, Nikunj M; Salyer, Alex C D; Lambrecht, Bart N; Grooten, Johan; David, Sunil A; De Koker, Stefaan; De Geest, Bruno G; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-19)
    Agonists of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are potent activators of the innate immune system and hold promise as vaccine adjuvant and for anticancer immunotherapy. Unfortunately, in soluble form they readily enter systemic circulation and cause systemic inflammatory toxicity. Here we demonstrate that by covalent ligation of a small-molecule imidazoquinoline-based TLR7/8 agonist to 50-nm-sized degradable polymeric nanogels the potency of the agonist to activate TLR7/8 in in vitro cultured dendritic cells is largely retained. Importantly, imidazoquinoline-ligated nanogels focused the in vivo immune activation on the draining lymph nodes while dramatically reducing systemic inflammation. Mechanistic studies revealed a prevalent passive diffusion of the nanogels to the draining lymph node. Moreover, immunization studies in mice have shown that relative to soluble TLR7/8 agonist, imidazoquinoline-ligated nanogels induce superior antibody and T-cell responses against a tuberculosis antigen. This approach opens possibilities to enhance the therapeutic benefit of small-molecule TLR agonist for a variety of applications.
  • Topical imiquimod yields systemic effects due to unintended oral uptake.

    Grine, Lynda; Steeland, Sophie; Van Ryckeghem, Sara; Ballegeer, Marlies; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Sanders, Niek N; Vandenbroucke, Roosmarijn E; Libert, Claude; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    Repetitive application of topical imiquimod is used as an experimental model for the induction of psoriasiform skin lesions in mice. The model is characterized by several inflammatory processes, including cytokine production both locally and systemically, cellular infiltration, and splenomegaly. To investigate the production of type I interferons in response to imiquimod-containing Aldara cream, IFNβ-luciferase reporter mice were imaged in vivo and ex vivo. Type I interferons were found to be produced in the skin, but also in the intestinal system caused by unintended ingestion of imiquimod by the mice. Through the use of Elizabethan collars to prevent ingestion, these effects, including psoriasiform lesions were nearly completely prevented. Our findings reveal that topical treatment with Aldara induces a psoriasiform skin inflammation, but that its mode of action depends on ingestion of the chemical, which leads to systemic responses and affects local inflammation. Therefore, potential ingestion of topical treatments during experimental procedures should be taken into account during assessment of cutaneous inflammatory parameters in skin disease models.
  • Induction of endogenous Type I interferon within the central nervous system plays a protective role in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

    Khorooshi, Reza; Mørch, Marlene Thorsen; Holm, Thomas Hellesøe; Berg, Carsten Tue; Dieu, Ruthe Truong; Dræby, Dina; Issazadeh-Navikas, Shohreh; Weiss, Siegfried; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Owens, Trevor; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-07)
    The Type I interferons (IFN), beta (IFN-β) and the alpha family (IFN-α), act through a common receptor and have anti-inflammatory effects. IFN-β is used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) and is effective against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for MS. Mice with EAE show elevated levels of Type I IFNs in the central nervous system (CNS), suggesting a role for endogenous Type I IFN during inflammation. However, the therapeutic benefit of Type I IFN produced in the CNS remains to be established. The aim of this study was to examine whether experimentally induced CNS-endogenous Type I IFN influences EAE. Using IFN-β reporter mice, we showed that direct administration of polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly I:C), a potent inducer of IFN-β, into the cerebrospinal fluid induced increased leukocyte numbers and transient upregulation of IFN-β in CD45/CD11b-positive cells located in the meninges and choroid plexus, as well as enhanced IFN-β expression by parenchymal microglial cells. Intrathecal injection of poly I:C to mice showing first symptoms of EAE substantially increased the normal disease-associated expression of IFN-α, IFN-β, interferon regulatory factor-7 and IL-10 in CNS, and disease worsening was prevented for as long as IFN-α/β was expressed. In contrast, there was no therapeutic effect on EAE in poly I:C-treated IFN receptor-deficient mice. IFN-dependent microglial and astrocyte response included production of the chemokine CXCL10. These results show that Type I IFN induced within the CNS can play a protective role in EAE and highlight the role of endogenous type I IFN in mediating neuroprotection.
  • A clonotypic Vγ4Jγ1/Vδ5Dδ2Jδ1 innate γδ T-cell population restricted to the CCR6⁺CD27⁻ subset.

    Kashani, Elham; Föhse, Lisa; Raha, Solaiman; Sandrock, Inga; Oberdörfer, Linda; Koenecke, Christian; Suerbaum, Sebastian; Weiss, Siegfried; Prinz, Immo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
    Here we investigate the TCR repertoire of mouse Vγ4(+) γδ T cells in correlation with their developmental origin and homeostasis. By deep sequencing we identify a high frequency of straight Vδ5Dδ2Jδ1 germline rearrangements without P- and N-nucleotides within the otherwise highly diverse Trd repertoire of Vγ4(+) cells. This sequence is infrequent in CCR6(-)CD27(+) cells, but abundant among CCR6(+)CD27(-) γδ T cells. Using an inducible Rag1 knock-in mouse model, we show that γδ T cells generated in the adult thymus rarely contain this germline-rearranged Vδ5Dδ2Jδ1 sequence, confirming its fetal origin. Single-cell analysis and deep sequencing of the Trg locus reveal a dominant CDR3 junctional motif that completes the TCR repertoire of invariant Vγ4(+)Vδ5(+) cells. In conclusion, this study identifies an innate subset of fetal thymus-derived γδ T cells with an invariant Vγ4(+)Vδ5(+) TCR that is restricted to the CCR6(+)CD27(-) subset of γδ T cells.
  • Composing a Tumor Specific Bacterial Promoter.

    Deyneko, Igor V; Kasnitz, Nadine; Leschner, Sara; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    Systemically applied Salmonella enterica spp. have been shown to invade and colonize neoplastic tissues where it retards the growth of many tumors. This offers the possibility to use the bacteria as a vehicle for the tumor specific delivery of therapeutic molecules. Specificity of such delivery is solely depending on promoter sequences that control the production of a target molecule. We have established the functional structure of bacterial promoters that are transcriptionally active exclusively in tumor tissues after systemic application. We observed that the specific transcriptional activation is accomplished by a combination of a weak basal promoter and a strong FNR binding site. This represents a minimal set of control elements required for such activation. In natural promoters, additional DNA remodeling elements are found that alter the level of transcription quantitatively. Inefficiency of the basal promoter ensures the absence of transcription outside tumors. As a proof of concept, we compiled an artificial promoter sequence from individual motifs representing FNR and basal promoter and showed specific activation in a tumor microenvironment. Our results open possibilities for the generation of promoters with an adjusted level of expression of target proteins in particular for applications in bacterial tumor therapy.

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