This is the institutional Repository of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig/Germany (HZI), the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrücken/Germany, the TWINCORE Zentrum für Exprerimentelle und Klinische Infektionsforschung, Hannover/Germany,Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung (HIRI), Würzburg/Germany, Braunschweig Integrated Centre for Systems biology (BRICS), Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) the Study Centre Hannover, Hannover/Germany and the Centre for Individualised Infection Medicine (CiiM).


  • Time-Resolved scRNA-Seq Tracks the Adaptation of a Sensitive MCL Cell Line to Ibrutinib Treatment.

    Fuhr, Viktoria; Vafadarnejad, Ehsan; Dietrich, Oliver; Arampatzi, Panagiota; Riedel, Angela; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Rosenwald, Andreas; Rauert-Wunderlich, Hilka; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-25)
    Since the approval of ibrutinib for relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), the treatment of this rare mature B-cell neoplasm has taken a great leap forward. Despite promising efficacy of the Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor, resistance arises inevitably and the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Here, we aimed to decipher the response of a sensitive MCL cell line treated with ibrutinib using time-resolved single-cell RNA sequencing. The analysis uncovered five subpopulations and their individual responses to the treatment. The effects on the B cell receptor pathway, cell cycle, surface antigen expression, and metabolism were revealed by the computational analysis and were validated by molecular biological methods. The observed upregulation of B cell receptor signaling, crosstalk with the microenvironment, upregulation of CD52, and metabolic reprogramming towards dependence on oxidative phosphorylation favor resistance to ibrutinib treatment. Targeting these cellular responses provide new therapy options in MCL.
  • Characterization of Cas12a nucleases reveals diverse PAM profiles between closely-related orthologs.

    Jacobsen, Thomas; Ttofali, Fani; Liao, Chunyu; Manchalu, Srinivas; Gray, Benjamin N; Beisel, Chase L; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2020-07-27)
    CRISPR-Cas systems comprise diverse adaptive immune systems in prokaryotes whose RNA-directed nucleases have been co-opted for various technologies. Recent efforts have focused on expanding the number of known CRISPR-Cas subtypes to identify nucleases with novel properties. However, the functional diversity of nucleases within each subtype remains poorly explored. Here, we used cell-free transcription-translation systems and human cells to characterize six Cas12a single-effector nucleases from the V-A subtype, including nucleases sharing high sequence identity. While these nucleases readily utilized each other's guide RNAs, they exhibited distinct PAM profiles and apparent targeting activities that did not track based on phylogeny. In particular, two Cas12a nucleases encoded by Prevotella ihumii (PiCas12a) and Prevotella disiens (PdCas12a) shared over 95% amino-acid identity yet recognized distinct PAM profiles, with PiCas12a but not PdCas12a accommodating multiple G's in PAM positions -2 through -4 and T in position -1. Mutational analyses transitioning PiCas12a to PdCas12a resulted in PAM profiles distinct from either nuclease, allowing more flexible editing in human cells. Cas12a nucleases therefore can exhibit widely varying properties between otherwise related orthologs, suggesting selective pressure to diversify PAM recognition and supporting expansion of the CRISPR toolbox through ortholog mining and PAM engineering.
  • A novel circulating tamiami mammarenavirus shows potential for zoonotic spillover.

    Moreno, Hector; Rastrojo, Alberto; Pryce, Rhys; Fedeli, Chiara; Zimmer, Gert; Bowden, Thomas A; Gerold, Gisa; Kunz, Stefan; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-12-28)
    A detailed understanding of the mechanisms underlying the capacity of a virus to break the species barrier is crucial for pathogen surveillance and control. New World (NW) mammarenaviruses constitute a diverse group of rodent-borne pathogens that includes several causative agents of severe viral hemorrhagic fever in humans. The ability of the NW mammarenaviral attachment glycoprotein (GP) to utilize human transferrin receptor 1 (hTfR1) as a primary entry receptor plays a key role in dictating zoonotic potential. The recent isolation of Tacaribe and lymphocytic choriominingitis mammarenaviruses from host-seeking ticks provided evidence for the presence of mammarenaviruses in arthropods, which are established vectors for numerous other viral pathogens. Here, using next generation sequencing to search for other mammarenaviruses in ticks, we identified a novel replication-competent strain of the NW mammarenavirus Tamiami (TAMV-FL), which we found capable of utilizing hTfR1 to enter mammalian cells. During isolation through serial passaging in mammalian immunocompetent cells, the quasispecies of TAMV-FL acquired and enriched mutations leading to the amino acid changes N151K and D156N, within GP. Cell entry studies revealed that both substitutions, N151K and D156N, increased dependence of the virus on hTfR1 and binding to heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Moreover, we show that the substituted residues likely map to the sterically constrained trimeric axis of GP, and facilitate viral fusion at a lower pH, resulting in viral egress from later endosomal compartments. In summary, we identify and characterize a naturally occurring TAMV strain (TAMV-FL) within ticks that is able to utilize hTfR1. The TAMV-FL significantly diverged from previous TAMV isolates, demonstrating that TAMV quasispecies exhibit striking genetic plasticity that may facilitate zoonotic spillover and rapid adaptation to new hosts.
  • The Two-Component System 09 Regulates Pneumococcal Carbohydrate Metabolism and Capsule Expression.

    Hirschmann, Stephanie; Gómez-Mejia, Alejandro; Mäder, Ulrike; Karsunke, Julia; Driesch, Dominik; Rohde, Manfred; Häussler, Susanne; Burchhardt, Gerhard; Hammerschmidt, Sven; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-24)
    Streptococcus pneumoniae two-component regulatory systems (TCSs) are important systems that perceive and respond to various host environmental stimuli. In this study, we have explored the role of TCS09 on gene expression and phenotypic alterations in S. pneumoniae D39. Our comparative transcriptomic analyses identified 67 differently expressed genes in total. Among those, agaR and the aga operon involved in galactose metabolism showed the highest changes. Intriguingly, the encapsulated and nonencapsulated hk09-mutants showed significant growth defects under nutrient-defined conditions, in particular with galactose as a carbon source. Phenotypic analyses revealed alterations in the morphology of the nonencapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants, whereas the encapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants produced higher amounts of capsule. Interestingly, the encapsulated D39∆hk09 showed only the opaque colony morphology, while the D39∆rr09- and D39∆tcs09-mutants had a higher proportion of transparent variants. The phenotypic variations of D39ΔcpsΔhk09 and D39ΔcpsΔtcs09 are in accordance with their higher numbers of outer membrane vesicles, higher sensitivity against Triton X-100 induced autolysis, and lower resistance against oxidative stress. In conclusion, these results indicate the importance of TCS09 for pneumococcal metabolic fitness and resistance against oxidative stress by regulating the carbohydrate metabolism and thereby, most likely indirectly, the cell wall integrity and amount of capsular polysaccharide.
  • Influenza A virus-induced thymus atrophy differentially affects dynamics of conventional and regulatory T-cell development in mice.

    Elfaki, Yassin; Robert, Philippe A; Binz, Christoph; Falk, Christine S; Bruder, Dunja; Prinz, Immo; Floess, Stefan; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Huehn, Jochen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-02-26)
    Foxp3+ Treg cells, which are crucial for maintenance of self-tolerance, mainly develop within the thymus, where they arise from CD25+ Foxp3- or CD25- Foxp3+ Treg cell precursors. Although it is known that infections can cause transient thymic involution, the impact of infection-induced thymus atrophy on thymic Treg (tTreg) cell development is unknown. Here, we infected mice with influenza A virus (IAV) and studied thymocyte population dynamics post infection. IAV infection caused a massive, but transient thymic involution, dominated by a loss of CD4+ CD8+ double-positive (DP) thymocytes, which was accompanied by a significant increase in the frequency of CD25+ Foxp3+ tTreg cells. Differential apoptosis susceptibility could be experimentally excluded as a reason for the relative tTreg cell increase, and mathematical modeling suggested that enhanced tTreg cell generation cannot explain the increased frequency of tTreg cells. Yet, an increased death of DP thymocytes and augmented exit of single-positive (SP) thymocytes was suggested to be causative. Interestingly, IAV-induced thymus atrophy resulted in a significantly reduced T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire diversity of newly produced tTreg cells. Taken together, IAV-induced thymus atrophy is substantially altering the dynamics of major thymocyte populations, finally resulting in a relative increase of tTreg cells with an altered TCR repertoire.

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