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).


  • Polymorphisms within the and Loci Influence the Risk of Developing Invasive Aspergillosis: A Two-Stage Case Control Study in the Context of the aspBIOmics Consortium.

    ánchez-Maldonado, Jose Manuel; Moñiz-Díez, Ana; Rob Ter Horst, Daniele Campa; Cabrera-Serrano, Antonio José; Garrido-Collado, María Del Pilar; Hernández-Mohedo, Fracisca; Fernández-Puerta, Laura; López-Nevot, , Miguel Ángel; Cunha, Ctistina; González-Sierra, Pedro Antonio; et al. (MDPI, 2020-12-23)
    Here, we assessed whether 36 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the TNFSF4 and MAPKAPK2 loci influence the risk of developing invasive aspergillosis (IA). We conducted a two-stage case control study including 911 high-risk patients diagnosed with hematological malignancies that were ascertained through the aspBIOmics consortium. The meta-analysis of the discovery and replication populations revealed that carriers of the TNFSF4rs7526628T/T genotype had a significantly increased risk of developing IA (p = 0.00022). We also found that carriers of the TNFSF4rs7526628T allele showed decreased serum levels of TNFSF14 protein (p = 0.0027), and that their macrophages had a decreased fungicidal activity (p = 0.048). In addition, we observed that each copy of the MAPKAPK2rs12137965G allele increased the risk of IA by 60% (p = 0.0017), whereas each copy of the MAPKAPK2rs17013271T allele was estimated to decrease the risk of developing the disease (p = 0.0029). Mechanistically, we found that carriers of the risk MAPKAPK2rs12137965G allele showed increased numbers of CD38+IgM-IgD- plasmablasts in blood (p = 0.00086), whereas those harboring two copies of the allele had decreased serum concentrations of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (p = 0.00097). Finally, we also found that carriers of the protective MAPKAPK2rs17013271T allele had decreased numbers of CD27-IgM-IgD- B cells (p = 0.00087) and significantly lower numbers of CD14+ and CD14+CD16- cells (p = 0.00018 and 0.00023). Altogether, these results suggest a role of the TNFSF4 and MAPKAPK2 genes in determining IA risk.
  • Intracellular Staphylococcus aureus Perturbs the Host Cell Ca Homeostasis To Promote Cell Death.

    Stelzner, Kathrin; Winkler, Ann-Cathrin; Liang, Chunguang; Boyny, Aziza; Ade, Carsten P; Dandekar, Thomas; Fraunholz, Martin J; Rudel, Thomas; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (ASM, 2020-12-15)
    The opportunistic human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus causes serious infectious diseases that range from superficial skin and soft tissue infections to necrotizing pneumonia and sepsis. While classically regarded as an extracellular pathogen, S. aureus is able to invade and survive within human cells. Host cell exit is associated with cell death, tissue destruction, and the spread of infection. The exact molecular mechanism employed by S. aureus to escape the host cell is still unclear. In this study, we performed a genome-wide small hairpin RNA (shRNA) screen and identified the calcium signaling pathway as being involved in intracellular infection. S. aureus induced a massive cytosolic Ca2+ increase in epithelial host cells after invasion and intracellular replication of the pathogen. This was paralleled by a decrease in endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ concentration. Additionally, calcium ions from the extracellular space contributed to the cytosolic Ca2+ increase. As a consequence, we observed that the cytoplasmic Ca2+ rise led to an increase in mitochondrial Ca2+ concentration, the activation of calpains and caspases, and eventually to cell lysis of S. aureus-infected cells. Our study therefore suggests that intracellular S. aureus disturbs the host cell Ca2+ homeostasis and induces cytoplasmic Ca2+ overload, which results in both apoptotic and necrotic cell death in parallel or succession.IMPORTANCE Despite being regarded as an extracellular bacterium, the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus can invade and survive within human cells. The intracellular niche is considered a hideout from the host immune system and antibiotic treatment and allows bacterial proliferation. Subsequently, the intracellular bacterium induces host cell death, which may facilitate the spread of infection and tissue destruction. So far, host cell factors exploited by intracellular S. aureus to promote cell death are only poorly characterized. We performed a genome-wide screen and found the calcium signaling pathway to play a role in S. aureus invasion and cytotoxicity. The intracellular bacterium induces a cytoplasmic and mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, which results in host cell death. Thus, this study first showed how an intracellular bacterium perturbs the host cell Ca2+ homeostasis.
  • Angucycline-like Aromatic Polyketide from a Novel Species Reveals Freshwater Snail as Underexplored Reservoir for Antibiotic-Producing Actinomycetes.

    Safaei, Nasim; Mast, Yvonne; Steinert, Michael; Huber, Katharina; Bunk, Boyke; Wink, Joachim; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-12-29)
    Antibiotic producers have mainly been isolated from soil, which often has led to the rediscovery of known compounds. In this study, we identified the freshwater snail Physa acuta as an unexplored source for new antibiotic producers. The bacterial diversity associated with the snail was characterized by a metagenomic approach using cultivation-independent high-throughput sequencing. Although Actinobacteria represented only 2% of the bacterial community, the focus was laid on the isolation of the genus Streptomyces due to its potential to produce antibiotics. Three Streptomyces strains (7NS1, 7NS2 and 7NS3) were isolated from P. acuta, and the antimicrobial activity of the crude extracts were tested against a selection of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. 7NS3 showed the strongest activity against Gram-positive bacteria and, thus, was selected for genome sequencing and a phylogenomic analysis. 7NS3 represents a novel Streptomyces species, which was deposited as Streptomyces sp. DSM 110735 at the Leibniz Institute-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ). Bioassay-guided high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and high-resolution electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (HR-ESI-MS) analyses of crude extract fractions resulted in the detection of four compounds, one of which matched the compound characteristics of emycin A, an angucycline-like aromatic polyketide. Genome mining studies based on the whole-genome sequence of 7NS3 resulted in the identification of a gene cluster potentially coding for emycin A biosynthesis. Our study demonstrates that freshwater snails like P. acuta can represent promising reservoirs for the isolation of new antibiotic-producing actinobacterial species.
  • A hydrogel-based assay for the fast prediction of antibiotic accumulation in Gram-negative bacteria.

    Richter, Robert; Kamal, Mohamed A M; García-Rivera, Mariel A; Kaspar, Jerome; Junk, Maximilian; Elgaher, Walid A M; Srikakulam, Sanjay Kumar; Gress, Alexander; Beckmann, Anja; Grißmer, Alexander; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-11-02)
    The pipeline of antibiotics has been for decades on an alarmingly low level. Considering the steadily emerging antibiotic resistance, novel tools are needed for early and easy identification of effective anti-infective compounds. In Gram-negative bacteria, the uptake of anti-infectives is especially limited. We here present a surprisingly simple in vitro model of the Gram-negative bacterial envelope, based on 20% (w/v) potato starch gel, printed on polycarbonate 96-well filter membranes. Rapid permeability measurements across this polysaccharide hydrogel allowed to correctly predict either high or low accumulation for all 16 tested anti-infectives in living Escherichia coli. Freeze-fracture TEM supports that the macromolecular network structure of the starch hydrogel may represent a useful surrogate of the Gram-negative bacterial envelope. A random forest analysis of in vitro data revealed molecular mass, minimum projection area, and rigidity as the most critical physicochemical parameters for hydrogel permeability, in agreement with reported structural features needed for uptake into Gram-negative bacteria. Correlating our dataset of 27 antibiotics from different structural classes to reported MIC values of nine clinically relevant pathogens allowed to distinguish active from nonactive compounds based on their low in vitro permeability specifically for Gram-negatives. The model may help to identify poorly permeable antimicrobial candidates before testing them on living bacteria.
  • Cultivation-Independent Analysis of the Bacterial Community Associated With the Calcareous Sponge and Isolation of Gen. Nov., Sp. Nov., Belonging to the Barely Studied Class in the Phylum .

    Kallscheuer, Nicolai; Wiegand, Sandra; Kohn, Timo; Boedeker, Christian; Jeske, Olga; Rast, Patrick; Müller, Ralph-Walter; Brümmer, Franz; Heuer, Anja; Jetten, Mike S M; et al. (Frontiers, 2020-12-22)
    Marine ecosystems serve as global carbon sinks and nutrient source or breeding ground for aquatic animals. Sponges are ancient parts of these important ecosystems and can be found in caves, the deep-sea, clear waters, or more turbid environments. Here, we studied the bacterial community composition of the calcareous sponge Clathrina clathrus sampled close to the island Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea with an emphasis on planctomycetes. We show that the phylum Planctomycetes accounts for 9% of the C. clathrus-associated bacterial community, a 5-fold enrichment compared to the surrounding seawater. Indeed, the use of C. clathrus as a yet untapped source of novel planctomycetal strains led to the isolation of strain KS4T. The strain represents a novel genus and species within the class Phycisphaerae in the phylum Planctomycetes and displays interesting cell biological features, such as formation of outer membrane vesicles and an unexpected mode of cell division.

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