group leader: Prof. Brinkman

Recent Submissions

  • Functional expression of TLR5 of different vertebrate species and diversification in intestinal pathogen recognition.

    Faber, Eugenia; Tedin, Karsten; Speidel, Yvonne; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Josenhans, Christine; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-07-26)
    Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5) is activated by bacterial flagellins and plays a crucial role in the first-line defence against pathogenic bacteria and in immune homeostasis, and is highly conserved in vertebrate species. However, little comparative information is available on TLR5 functionality. In this study, we compared TLR5 activation using full-length and chimeric TLR5 of various vertebrate species (human, chicken, mouse, pig, cattle). Chimeric TLR5 receptors, consisting of human transmembrane and intracellular domains, linked to extracellular domains of animal origin, were generated and expressed. The comparison of chimeric TLR5s and their full-length counterparts revealed significant functional disparities. While porcine and chicken full-length TLR5s showed a strongly reduced functionality in human cells, all chimeric receptors were functional when challenged with TLR5 ligand Salmonella FliC. Using chimeric receptors as a tool allowed for the identification of ectodomain-dependent activation potential and partially host species-specific differences in response to various enteric bacterial strains and their purified flagellins. We conclude that both the extra- and intracellular determinants of TLR5 receptors are crucial for compatibility with the species expression background and hence for proper receptor functionality. TLR5 receptors with a common intracellular domain provide a useful system to investigate bacteria- and host-specific differences in receptor activation.
  • The interferon-stimulated gene product oligoadenylate synthetase-like protein enhances replication of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and interacts with the KSHV ORF20 protein.

    Bussey, Kendra A; Lau, Ulrike; Schumann, Sophie; Gallo, Antonio; Osbelt, Lisa; Stempel, Markus; Arnold, Christine; Wissing, Josef; Gad, Hans Henrik; Hartmann, Rune; Brune, Wolfram; Jänsch, Lothar; Whitehouse, Adrian; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-03)
    Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is one of the few oncogenic human viruses known to date. Its large genome encodes more than 85 proteins and includes both unique viral proteins as well as proteins conserved amongst herpesviruses. KSHV ORF20 is a member of the herpesviral core UL24 family, but the function of ORF20 and its role in the viral life cycle is not well understood. ORF20 encodes three largely uncharacterized isoforms, which we found were localized predominantly in the nuclei and nucleoli. Quantitative affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry (q-AP-MS) identified numerous specific interacting partners of ORF20, including ribosomal proteins and the interferon-stimulated gene product (ISG) oligoadenylate synthetase-like protein (OASL). Both endogenous and transiently transfected OASL co-immunoprecipitated with ORF20, and this interaction was conserved among all ORF20 isoforms and multiple ORF20 homologs of the UL24 family in other herpesviruses. Characterization of OASL interacting partners by q-AP-MS identified a very similar interactome to that of ORF20. Both ORF20 and OASL copurified with 40S and 60S ribosomal subunits, and when they were co-expressed, they associated with polysomes. Although ORF20 did not have a global effect on translation, ORF20 enhanced RIG-I induced expression of endogenous OASL in an IRF3-dependent but IFNAR-independent manner. OASL has been characterized as an ISG with antiviral activity against some viruses, but its role for gammaherpesviruses was unknown. We show that OASL and ORF20 mRNA expression were induced early after reactivation of latently infected HuARLT-rKSHV.219 cells. Intriguingly, we found that OASL enhanced infection of KSHV. During infection with a KSHV ORF20stop mutant, however, OASL-dependent enhancement of infectivity was lost. Our data have characterized the interaction of ORF20 with OASL and suggest ORF20 usurps the function of OASL to benefit KSHV infection.
  • A highly conserved redox-active Mx(2)CWx(6)R motif regulates Zap70 stability and activity.

    Thurm, Christoph; Poltorak, Mateusz P; Reimer, Elisa; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Leichert, Lars; Schraven, Burkhart; Simeoni, Luca; Helmholtz Centre of infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-05-09)
    ζ-associated protein of 70 kDa (Zap70) is crucial for T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling. Loss of Zap70 in both humans and mice results in severe immunodeficiency. On the other hand, the expression of Zap70 in B-cell malignancies correlates with the severity of the disease. Because of its role in immune-related disorders, Zap70 has become a therapeutic target for the treatment of human diseases. It is well-established that the activity/expression of Zap70 is regulated by post-translational modifications of crucial amino acids including the phosphorylation of tyrosines and the ubiquitination of lysines. Here, we have investigated whether also oxidation of cysteine residues regulates Zap70 functions. We have identified C575 as a major sulfenylation site of Zap70. A C575A substitution results in protein instability, reduced activity, and increased dependency on the Hsp90/Cdc37 chaperone system. Indeed, Cdc37 overexpression reconstituted partially the expression but fully the function of Zap70C575A. C575 lies within a Mx(2)CWx(6)R motif which is highly conserved among almost all human tyrosine kinases. Mutation of any of the conserved amino acids, but not of a non-conserved residue preceding the cysteine, also results in Zap70 instability. Collectively, we have identified a new redox-active motif which is crucial for the regulation of Zap70 stability/activity. We believe that this motif has the potential to become a novel target for the development of therapeutic tools to modulate the expression/activity of kinases.
  • The Mouse Cytomegalovirus Gene m42 Targets Surface Expression of the Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase CD45 in Infected Macrophages.

    Thiel, Nadine; Keyser, Kirsten A; Lemmermann, Niels A W; Oduro, Jennifer D; Wagner, Karen; Elsner, Carina; Halenius, Anne; Lenac Roviš, Tihana; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Jonjić, Stipan; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Messerle, Martin; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-12)
    The receptor-like protein tyrosine phosphatase CD45 is expressed on the surface of cells of hematopoietic origin and has a pivotal role for the function of these cells in the immune response. Here we report that following infection of macrophages with mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) the cell surface expression of CD45 is drastically diminished. Screening of a set of MCMV deletion mutants allowed us to identify the viral gene m42 of being responsible for CD45 down-modulation. Moreover, expression of m42 independent of viral infection upon retroviral transduction of the RAW264.7 macrophage cell line led to comparable regulation of CD45 expression. In immunocompetent mice infected with an m42 deletion mutant lower viral titers were observed in all tissues examined when compared to wildtype MCMV, indicating an important role of m42 for viral replication in vivo. The m42 gene product was identified as an 18 kDa protein expressed with early kinetics and is predicted to be a tail-anchored membrane protein. Tracking of surface-resident CD45 molecules revealed that m42 induces internalization and degradation of CD45. The observation that the amounts of the E3 ubiquitin ligases Itch and Nedd4 were diminished in cells expressing m42 and that disruption of a PY motif in the N-terminal part of m42 resulted in loss of function, suggest that m42 acts as an activator or adaptor for these Nedd4-like ubiquitin ligases, which mark CD45 for lysosomal degradation. In conclusion, the down-modulation of CD45 expression in MCMV-infected myeloid cells represents a novel pathway of virus-host interaction.
  • The murine cytomegalovirus M35 protein antagonizes type I IFN induction downstream of pattern recognition receptors by targeting NF-κB mediated transcription.

    Chan, Baca; Gonçalves Magalhães, Vladimir; Lemmermann, Niels A W; Juranić Lisnić, Vanda; Stempel, Markus; Bussey, Kendra A; Reimer, Elisa; Podlech, Jürgen; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Reddehase, Matthias J; Jonjić, Stipan; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7., 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-05)
    The type I interferon (IFN) response is imperative for the establishment of the early antiviral immune response. Here we report the identification of the first type I IFN antagonist encoded by murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) that shuts down signaling following pattern recognition receptor (PRR) sensing. Screening of an MCMV open reading frame (ORF) library identified M35 as a novel and strong negative modulator of IFNβ promoter induction following activation of both RNA and DNA cytoplasmic PRR. Additionally, M35 inhibits the proinflammatory cytokine response downstream of Toll-like receptors (TLR). Using a series of luciferase-based reporters with specific transcription factor binding sites, we determined that M35 targets NF-κB-, but not IRF-mediated, transcription. Expression of M35 upon retroviral transduction of immortalized bone marrow-derived macrophages (iBMDM) led to reduced IFNβ transcription and secretion upon activation of stimulator of IFN genes (STING)-dependent signaling. On the other hand, M35 does not antagonize interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) 56 promoter induction or ISG transcription upon exogenous stimulation of the type I IFN receptor (IFNAR). M35 is present in the viral particle and, upon MCMV infection of fibroblasts, is immediately shuttled to the nucleus where it exerts its immunomodulatory effects. Deletion of M35 from the MCMV genome and hence from the viral particle resulted in elevated type I IFN transcription and secretion in vitro and in vivo. In the absence of M35, lower viral titers are observed during acute infection of the host, and productive infection in the salivary glands was not detected. In conclusion, the M35 protein is released by MCMV immediately upon infection in order to deftly inhibit the antiviral type I IFN response by targeting NF-κB-mediated transcription. The identification of this novel viral protein reinforces the importance of timely countermeasures in the complex relationship between virus and host.
  • Age-dependent enterocyte invasion and microcolony formation by Salmonella.

    Zhang, Kaiyi; Dupont, Aline; Torow, Natalia; Gohde, Fredrik; Leschner, Sara; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Kühnel, Mark; Hensel, Michael; Fulde, Marcus; Hornef, Mathias W (2014-09)
    The coordinated action of a variety of virulence factors allows Salmonella enterica to invade epithelial cells and penetrate the mucosal barrier. The influence of the age-dependent maturation of the mucosal barrier for microbial pathogenesis has not been investigated. Here, we analyzed Salmonella infection of neonate mice after oral administration. In contrast to the situation in adult animals, we observed spontaneous colonization, massive invasion of enteroabsorptive cells, intraepithelial proliferation and the formation of large intraepithelial microcolonies. Mucosal translocation was dependent on enterocyte invasion in neonates in the absence of microfold (M) cells. It further resulted in potent innate immune stimulation in the absence of pronounced neutrophil-dominated pathology. Our results identify factors of age-dependent host susceptibility and provide important insight in the early steps of Salmonella infection in vivo. We also present a new small animal model amenable to genetic manipulation of the host for the analysis of the Salmonella enterocyte interaction in vivo.
  • Superior induction and maintenance of protective CD8 T cells in mice infected with mouse cytomegalovirus vector expressing RAE-1γ.

    Trsan, Tihana; Busche, Andreas; Abram, Maja; Wensveen, Felix M; Lemmermann, Niels A; Arapovic, Maja; Babic, Marina; Tomic, Adriana; Golemac, Mijo; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Jäger, Wiebke; Oxenius, Annette; Polic, Bojan; Krmpotic, Astrid; Messerle, Martin; Jonjic, Stipan; Research group viral immune modulation, Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Braunschweig, Germany (2013-10-08)
    Due to a unique pattern of CD8 T-cell response induced by cytomegaloviruses (CMVs), live attenuated CMVs are attractive candidates for vaccine vectors for a number of clinically relevant infections and tumors. NKG2D is one of the most important activating NK cell receptors that plays a role in costimulation of CD8 T cells. Here we demonstrate that the expression of CD8 T-cell epitope of Listeria monocytogenes by a recombinant mouse CMV (MCMV) expressing the NKG2D ligand retinoic acid early-inducible protein 1-gamma (RAE-1γ) dramatically enhanced the effectiveness and longevity of epitope-specific CD8 T-cell response and conferred protection against a subsequent challenge infection with Listeria monocytogenes. Unexpectedly, the attenuated growth in vivo of the CMV vector expressing RAE-1γ and its capacity to enhance specific CD8 T-cell response were preserved even in mice lacking NKG2D, implying additional immune function for RAE-1γ beyond engagement of NKG2D. Thus, vectors expressing RAE-1γ represent a promising approach in the development of CD8 T-cell-based vaccines.
  • Measurement of mouse cytomegalovirus-induced interferon-β with immortalized luciferase reporter cells.

    Scheibe, Evgenia; Lienenklaus, Stefan; May, Tobias; Magalhães, Vladimir Gonçalves; Weiss, Siegfried; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2013)
    The production of cytokines is a crucial element of the host response to viral and bacterial infections. To follow these events in vivo, transgenic mice have become a valuable tool to study cytokine production through induction of reporter genes. We describe here the generation and immortalization of cells derived from transgenic reporter mice for development of a high-throughput assay system for virus- or bacteria-induced cytokine induction. As an example we describe mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection of immortalized fibroblasts derived from mice expressing the firefly luciferase reporter downstream of the IFN-β promoter. Common methods to determine IFN-β production, including ELISA, quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), and transient reporter assays using plasmid-based reporter constructs, have disadvantages and limitations. Transient transfections influence type I IFN responses in most cell types, and IFN-β ELISA as well as qPCR are both laborious and expensive. The method presented here is highly sensitive as well as cost-effective, and allows monitoring of a robust and dose-dependent induction of IFN-β upon virus infection in cell lysates as well as living cells.
  • Identification of the N-terminal domain of the influenza virus PA responsible for the suppression of host protein synthesis.

    Desmet, Emily A; Bussey, Kendra A; Stone, Raychel; Takimoto, Toru; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, USA. (2013-03)
    Cellular protein synthesis is suppressed during influenza virus infection, allowing for preferential production of viral proteins. To explore the impact of polymerase subunits on protein synthesis, we coexpressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or luciferase together with each polymerase component or NS1 of A/California/04/2009 (Cal) and found that PA has a significant impact on the expression of eGFP and luciferase. Comparison of the suppressive activity on coexpressed proteins between various strains revealed that avian virus or avian-origin PAs have much stronger activity than human-origin PAs, such as the one from A/WSN/33 (WSN). Protein synthesis data suggested that reduced expression of coexpressed proteins is not due to PA's reported proteolytic activity. A recombinant WSN containing Cal PA showed enhanced host protein synthesis shutoff and induction of apoptosis. Further characterization of the PA fragment indicated that the N-terminal domain (PANt), which includes the endonuclease active site, is sufficient to suppress cotransfected gene expression. By characterizing various chimeric PANts, we found that multiple regions of PA, mainly the helix α4 and the flexible loop of amino acids 51 to 74, affect the activity. The suppressive effect of PANt cDNA was mainly due to PA-X, which was expressed by ribosomal frameshifting. In both Cal and WSN viruses, PA-X showed a stronger effect than the corresponding PANt, suggesting that the unique C-terminal sequences of PA-X also play a role in suppressing cotransfected gene expression. Our data indicate strain variations in PA gene products, which play a major role in suppression of host protein synthesis.
  • Noncanonical autophagy is required for type I interferon secretion in response to DNA-immune complexes.

    Henault, Jill; Martinez, Jennifer; Riggs, Jeffrey M; Tian, Jane; Mehta, Payal; Clarke, Lorraine; Sasai, Miwa; Latz, Eicke; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Iwasaki, Akiko; Coyle, Anthony J; Kolbeck, Roland; Green, Douglas R; Sanjuan, Miguel A; Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity Research Department, MedImmune, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, USA. (2012-12-14)
    Toll-like receptor-9 (TLR9) is largely responsible for discriminating self from pathogenic DNA. However, association of host DNA with autoantibodies activates TLR9, inducing the pathogenic secretion of type I interferons (IFNs) from plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Here, we found that in response to DNA-containing immune complexes (DNA-IC), but not to soluble ligands, IFN-α production depended upon the convergence of the phagocytic and autophagic pathways, a process called microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3)-associated phagocytosis (LAP). LAP was required for TLR9 trafficking into a specialized interferon signaling compartment by a mechanism that involved autophagy-related proteins, but not the conventional autophagic preinitiation complex, or adaptor protein-3 (AP-3). Our findings unveil a new role for nonconventional autophagy in inflammation and provide one mechanism by which anti-DNA autoantibodies, such as those found in several autoimmune disorders, bypass the controls that normally restrict the apportionment of pathogenic DNA and TLR9 to the interferon signaling compartment.
  • Viral mediated redirection of NEMO/IKKγ to autophagosomes curtails the inflammatory cascade.

    Fliss, Patricia M; Jowers, Tali Pechenick; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Holstermann, Barbara; Mack, Claudia; Dickinson, Paul; Hohenberg, Heinrich; Ghazal, Peter; Brune, Wolfram; Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, Hamburg, Germany. (2012-02)
    The early host response to viral infections involves transient activation of pattern recognition receptors leading to an induction of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα). Subsequent activation of cytokine receptors in an autocrine and paracrine manner results in an inflammatory cascade. The precise mechanisms by which viruses avert an inflammatory cascade are incompletely understood. Nuclear factor (NF)-κB is a central regulator of the inflammatory signaling cascade that is controlled by inhibitor of NF-κB (IκB) proteins and the IκB kinase (IKK) complex. In this study we show that murine cytomegalovirus inhibits the inflammatory cascade by blocking Toll-like receptor (TLR) and IL-1 receptor-dependent NF-κB activation. Inhibition occurs through an interaction of the viral M45 protein with the NF-κB essential modulator (NEMO), the regulatory subunit of the IKK complex. M45 induces proteasome-independent degradation of NEMO by targeting NEMO to autophagosomes for subsequent degradation in lysosomes. We propose that the selective and irreversible degradation of a central regulatory protein by autophagy represents a new viral strategy to dampen the inflammatory response.