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).


  • Reducing burden from respiratory infections in refugees and immigrants: a systematic review of interventions in OECD, EU, EEA and EU-applicant countries.

    Lambert, Jan-Frederic; Stete, Katarina; Balmford, James; Bockey, Annabelle; Kern, Winfried; Rieg, Siegbert; Boeker, Martin; Lange, Berit; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (BMC, 2021-08-26)
    Background: Respiratory diseases are a major reason for refugees and other immigrants seeking health care in countries of arrival. The burden of respiratory diseases in refugees is exacerbated by sometimes poor living conditions characterised by crowding in mass accommodations and basic living portals. The lack of synthesised evidence and guideline-relevant information to reduce morbidity and mortality from respiratory infections endangers this population. Methods: A systematic review of all controlled and observational studies assessing interventions targeting the treatment, diagnosis and management of respiratory infections in refugees and immigrants in OECD, EU, EEA and EU-applicant countries published between 2000 and 2019 in MEDLINE, CINAHL, PSYNDEX and the Web of Science. Results: Nine of 5779 identified unique records met our eligibility criteria. Seven studies reported an increase in vaccine coverage from 2 to 52% after educational multilingual interventions for respiratory-related childhood diseases (4 studies) and for influenza (5 studies). There was limited evidence in one study that hand sanitiser reduced rates of upper respiratory infections and when provided together with face masks also the rates of influenza-like-illness in a hard to reach migrant neighbourhood. In outbreak situations of vaccine-preventable diseases, secondary cases and outbreak hazards were reduced by general vaccination strategies early after arrival but not by serological testing after exposure (1 study). We identified evidence gaps regarding interventions assessing housing standards, reducing burden of bacterial pneumonia and implementation of operational standards in refugee care and reception centres. Conclusions: Multilingual health literacy interventions should be considered to increase uptake of vaccinations in refugees and immigrants. Immediate vaccinations upon arrival at refugee housings may reduce secondary infections and outbreaks. Well-designed controlled studies on housing and operational standards in refugee and immigrant populations early after arrival as well as adequate ways to gain informed consent for early vaccinations in mass housings is required to inform guidelines.
  • Transient Depletion of Foxp3 Regulatory T Cells Selectively Promotes Aggressive β Cell Autoimmunity in Genetically Susceptible DEREG Mice.

    Watts, Deepika; Janßen, Marthe; Jaykar, Mangesh; Palmucci, Francesco; Weigelt, Marc; Petzold, Cathleen; Hommel, Angela; Sparwasser, Tim; Bonifacio, Ezio; Kretschmer, Karsten; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-08-10)
    Type 1 diabetes (T1D) represents a hallmark of the fatal multiorgan autoimmune syndrome affecting humans with abrogated Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cell function due to Foxp3 gene mutations, but whether the loss of Foxp3+ Treg cell activity is indeed sufficient to promote β cell autoimmunity requires further scrutiny. As opposed to human Treg cell deficiency, β cell autoimmunity has not been observed in non-autoimmune-prone mice with constitutive Foxp3 deficiency or after diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR)-mediated ablation of Foxp3+ Treg cells. In the spontaneous nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of T1D, constitutive Foxp3 deficiency did not result in invasive insulitis and hyperglycemia, and previous studies on Foxp3+ Treg cell ablation focused on Foxp3DTR NOD mice, in which expression of a transgenic BDC2.5 T cell receptor (TCR) restricted the CD4+ TCR repertoire to a single diabetogenic specificity. Here we revisited the effect of acute Foxp3+ Treg cell ablation on β cell autoimmunity in NOD mice in the context of a polyclonal TCR repertoire. For this, we took advantage of the well-established DTR/GFP transgene of DEREG mice, which allows for specific ablation of Foxp3+ Treg cells without promoting catastrophic autoimmune diseases. We show that the transient loss of Foxp3+ Treg cells in prediabetic NOD.DEREG mice is sufficient to precipitate severe insulitis and persistent hyperglycemia within 5 days after DT administration. Importantly, DT-treated NOD.DEREG mice preserved many clinical features of spontaneous diabetes progression in the NOD model, including a prominent role of diabetogenic CD8+ T cells in terminal β cell destruction. Despite the severity of destructive β cell autoimmunity, anti-CD3 mAb therapy of DT-treated mice interfered with the progression to overt diabetes, indicating that the novel NOD.DEREG model can be exploited for preclinical studies on T1D under experimental conditions of synchronized, advanced β cell autoimmunity. Overall, our studies highlight the continuous requirement of Foxp3+ Treg cell activity for the control of genetically pre-installed autoimmune diabetes.
  • Cortactin Is Required for Efficient FAK, Src and Abl Tyrosine Kinase Activation and Phosphorylation of CagA.

    Knorr, Jakob; Sharafutdinov, Irshad; Fiedler, Florian; Soltan Esmaeili, Delara; Rohde, Manfred; Rottner, Klemens; Backert, Steffen; Tegtmeyer, Nicole; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-06-03)
    Cortactin is a well-known regulatory protein of the host actin cytoskeleton and represents an attractive target of microbial pathogens like Helicobacter pylori. H. pylori manipulates cortactin's phosphorylation status by type-IV secretion-dependent injection of its virulence protein CagA. Multiple host tyrosine kinases, like FAK, Src, and Abl, are activated during infection, but the pathway(s) involved is (are) not yet fully established. Among them, Src and Abl target CagA and stimulate tyrosine phosphorylation of the latter at its EPIYA-motifs. To investigate the role of cortactin in more detail, we generated a CRISPR/Cas9 knockout of cortactin in AGS gastric epithelial cells. Surprisingly, we found that FAK, Src, and Abl kinase activities were dramatically downregulated associated with widely diminished CagA phosphorylation in cortactin knockout cells compared to the parental control. Together, we report here a yet unrecognized cortactin-dependent signaling pathway involving FAK, Src, and Abl activation, and controlling efficient phosphorylation of injected CagA during infection. Thus, the cortactin status could serve as a potential new biomarker of gastric cancer development.
  • A molecular theory of germinal center B cell selection and division.

    Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Cell Press, 2021-08-24)
    The selection of B cells (BCs) in germinal centers (GCs) is pivotal to the generation of high-affinity antibodies and memory BCs, but it lacks global understanding. Based on the idea of a single Tfh-cell signal that controls BC selection and division, experiments appear contradictory. Here, we use the current knowledge on the molecular pathways of GC BCs to develop a theory of GC BC selection and division based on the dynamics of molecular factors. This theory explains the seemingly contradictory experiments by the separation of signals for BC fate decision from signals controlling the number of BC divisions. Three model variants are proposed and experiments are predicted that allow one to distinguish those. Understanding information processing in molecular BC states is critical for targeted immune interventions, and the proposed theory implies that selection and division can be controlled independently in GC reactions.
  • Streptomonospora litoralis sp. nov., a halophilic thiopeptides producer isolated from sand collected at Cuxhaven beach.

    Khodamoradi, Shadi; Hahnke, Richard L; Mast, Yvonne; Schumann, Peter; Kämpfer, Peter; Steinert, Michael; Rückert, Christian; Surup, Frank; Rohde, Manfred; Wink, Joachim; et al. (Springer, 2021-08-06)
    Strain M2T was isolated from the beach of Cuxhaven, Wadden Sea, Germany, in course of a program to attain new producers of bioactive natural products. Strain M2T produces litoralimycin and sulfomycin-type thiopeptides. Bioinformatic analysis revealed a potential biosynthetic gene cluster encoding for the M2T thiopeptides. The strain is Gram-stain-positive, rod shaped, non-motile, spore forming, showing a yellow colony color and forms extensively branched substrate mycelium and aerial hyphae. Inferred from the 16S rRNA gene phylogeny strain M2T affiliates with the genus Streptomonospora. It shows 96.6% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity to the type species Streptomonospora salina DSM 44593 T and forms a distinct branch with Streptomonospora sediminis DSM 45723 T with 97.0% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity. Genome-based phylogenetic analysis revealed that M2T is closely related to Streptomonospora alba YIM 90003 T with a digital DNA-DNA hybridisation (dDDH) value of 26.6%. The predominant menaquinones of M2T are MK-10(H6), MK-10(H8), and MK-11(H6) (> 10%). Major cellular fatty acids are iso-C16:0, anteiso C17:0 and C18:0 10-methyl. The polar lipid profile consisted of diphosphatidylglycerol phosphatidyl glycerol, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, three glycolipids, two unknown phospholipids, and two unknown lipids. The genome size of type strain M2T is 5,878,427 bp with 72.1 mol % G + C content. Based on the results obtained from phylogenetic and chemotaxonomic studies, strain M2T (= DSM 106425 T = NCCB 100650 T) is considered to represent a novel species within the genus Streptomonospora for which the name Streptomonospora litoralis sp. nov. is proposed.

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