• NK cell activation in visceral leishmaniasis requires TLR9, myeloid DCs, and IL-12, but is independent of plasmacytoid DCs.

      Schleicher, Ulrike; Liese, Jan; Knippertz, Ilka; Kurzmann, Claudia; Hesse, Andrea; Heit, Antje; Fischer, Jens A A; Weiss, Siegfried; Kalinke, Ulrich; Kunz, Stefanie; Bogdan, Christian; Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Freiburg, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany. (2007-04-16)
      Natural killer (NK) cells are sentinel components of the innate response to pathogens, but the cell types, pathogen recognition receptors, and cytokines required for their activation in vivo are poorly defined. Here, we investigated the role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), myeloid DCs (mDCs), Toll-like receptors (TLRs), and of NK cell stimulatory cytokines for the induction of an NK cell response to the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum. In vitro, pDCs did not endocytose Leishmania promastigotes but nevertheless released interferon (IFN)-alpha/beta and interleukin (IL)-12 in a TLR9-dependent manner. mDCs rapidly internalized Leishmania and, in the presence of TLR9, produced IL-12, but not IFN-alpha/beta. Depletion of pDCs did not impair the activation of NK cells in L. infantum-infected mice. In contrast, L. infantum-induced NK cell cytotoxicity and IFN-gamma production were abolished in mDC-depleted mice. The same phenotype was observed in TLR9(-/-) mice, which lacked IL-12 expression by mDCs, and in IL-12(-/-) mice, whereas IFN-alpha/beta receptor(-/-) mice showed only a minor reduction of NK cell IFN-gamma expression. This study provides the first direct evidence that mDCs are essential for eliciting NK cell cytotoxicity and IFN-gamma release in vivo and demonstrates that TLR9, mDCs, and IL-12 are functionally linked to the activation of NK cells in visceral leishmaniasis.
    • Visualizing the beta interferon response in mice during infection with influenza A viruses expressing or lacking nonstructural protein 1.

      Kallfass, Carsten; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Staeheli, Peter; Department of Virology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. (2013-06)
      The innate host defense against influenza virus is largely dependent on the type I interferon (IFN) system. However, surprisingly little is known about the cellular source of IFN in the infected lung. To clarify this question, we employed a reporter mouse that contains the firefly luciferase gene in place of the IFN-β-coding region. IFN-β-producing cells were identified either by simultaneous immunostaining of lungs for luciferase and cellular markers or by generating conditional reporter mice that express luciferase exclusively in defined cell types. Two different strains of influenza A virus were employed that either do or do not code for nonstructural protein 1 (NS1), which strongly suppresses innate immune responses of infected cells. We found that epithelial cells and lung macrophages, which represent the prime host cells for influenza viruses, showed vigorous IFN-β responses which, however, were severely reduced and delayed if the infecting virus was able to produce NS1. Interestingly, CD11c(+) cell populations that were either expressing or lacking macrophage markers produced the bulk of IFN-β at 48 h after infection with wild-type influenza A virus. Our results demonstrate that the virus-encoded IFN-antagonistic factor NS1 disarms specifically epithelial cells and lung macrophages, which otherwise would serve as main mediators of the early response against infection by influenza virus.