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).


  • Conservation of the HBV RNA element epsilon in nackednaviruses reveals ancient origin of protein-primed reverse transcription.

    Beck, Jürgen; Seitz, Stefan; Lauber, Chris; Nassal, Michael; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Academy of Sciences, 2021-03-30)
    Hepadnaviruses, with the human hepatitis B virus as prototype, are small, enveloped hepatotropic DNA viruses which replicate by reverse transcription of an RNA intermediate. Replication is initiated by a unique protein-priming mechanism whereby a hydroxy amino acid side chain of the terminal protein (TP) domain of the viral polymerase (P) is extended into a short DNA oligonucleotide, which subsequently serves as primer for first-strand synthesis. A key component in the priming of reverse transcription is the viral RNA element epsilon, which contains the replication origin and serves as a template for DNA primer synthesis. Here, we show that recently discovered non-enveloped fish viruses, termed nackednaviruses [C. Lauber et al., Cell Host Microbe 22, 387-399 (2017)], employ a fundamentally similar replication mechanism despite their huge phylogenetic distance and major differences in genome organization and viral lifestyle. In vitro cross-priming studies revealed that few strategic nucleotide substitutions in epsilon enable site-specific protein priming by heterologous P proteins, demonstrating that epsilon is functionally conserved since the two virus families diverged more than 400 Mya. In addition, other cis elements crucial for the hepadnavirus-typical replication of pregenomic RNA into relaxed circular double-stranded DNA were identified at conserved positions in the nackednavirus genomes. Hence, the replication mode of both hepadnaviruses and nackednaviruses was already established in their Paleozoic common ancestor, making it a truly ancient and evolutionary robust principle of genome replication that is more widespread than previously thought.
  • Formulation and evaluation of transdermal nanogel for delivery of artemether.

    Nnamani, Petra O; Ugwu, Agatha A; Nnadi, Ogechukwu H; Kenechukwu, Franklin C; Ofokansi, Kenneth C; Attama, Anthony A; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Springer, 2021-03-19)
    rtemether (ART) is second to artesunate in being the most widely used derivatives of artemisinin in combination therapy of malaria. Nanostructured lipid carrier (NLC) formulations were prepared following our previous report using optimized ART concentration of 0.25 g dissolved in 5% w/v mixture of solid (Gelucire 43/01 and Phospholipon 85G) and liquid (Transcutol) lipids at 90 °C. An aqueous surfactant phase at 90 °C was added (dropwise) under magnetic stirring (1000 rpm) for 5 min. The pre-emulsion was speedily homogenized at 28,000 rpm for 15 min and further probe sonicated at 60% amplitude (15 min). Resultant sample was cooled at room temperature and frozen at - 80 °C prior to lyophilization. The freeze-dried sample was used for solid-state characterization as well as in the formulation of transdermal nanogels using three polymers (Carbopol 971P, Poloxamer 407, and Prosopis africana peel powder) to embed the ART-NLC, using ethanol as a penetration enhancer. Transdermal ART-nanogels were characterized accordingly (physical examination, pH, drug content, rheology, spreadability, stability, particle size and morphology, skin irritation, in vitro and ex vivo skin permeation, and analysis of permeation data), P < 0.05. Results indicated that ART nanogels showed good encapsulation, drug release, pH-dependent swelling, stability, and tolerability. Overall, ART nanogels prepared from Poloxamer 407 showed the most desirable drug permeation, pH, swellability, spreadability, viscosity, and transdermal antiplasmodial properties superior to PAPP-ANG > C971P-ANG. A two-patch/week concurrent application of the studied nanogels could offer 100% cure of malaria as a lower-dose (50 mg ART) patient-friendly regimen devoid of the drug's many side effects.
  • Approaches to surface engineering of extracellular vesicles.

    Richter, Maximilian; Vader, Pieter; Fuhrmann, Gregor; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-04-06)
    Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are cell-derived nanoparticles that are important mediators in intercellular communication. This function makes them auspicious candidates for therapeutic and drug-delivery applications. Among EVs, mammalian cell derived EVs and outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) produced by gram-negative bacteria are the most investigated candidates for pharmaceutical applications. To further optimize their performance and to utilize their natural abilities, researchers have strived to equip EVs with new moieties on their surface while preserving the integrity of the vesicles. The aim of this review is to give a comprehensive overview of techniques that can be used to introduce these moieties to the vesicle surface. Approaches can be classified in regards to whether they take place before or after the isolation of EVs. The producing cells can be subjected to genetic manipulation or metabolic engineering to produce surface modified vesicles or EVs are engineered after their isolation by physical or chemical means. Here, the advantages and disadvantages of these processes and their applicability for the development of EVs as therapeutic agents are discussed.
  • Impact of process temperature and organic loading rate on cellulolytic / hydrolytic biofilm microbiomes during biomethanation of ryegrass silage revealed by genome-centered metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.

    Maus, Irena; Klocke, Michael; Derenkó, Jaqueline; Stolze, Yvonne; Beckstette, Michael; Jost, Carsten; Wibberg, Daniel; Blom, Jochen; Henke, Christian; Willenbücher, Katharina; et al. (BMC, 2020-03-02)
    Background: Anaerobic digestion (AD) of protein-rich grass silage was performed in experimental two-stage two-phase biogas reactor systems at low vs. increased organic loading rates (OLRs) under mesophilic (37 °C) and thermophilic (55 °C) temperatures. To follow the adaptive response of the biomass-attached cellulolytic/hydrolytic biofilms at increasing ammonium/ammonia contents, genome-centered metagenomics and transcriptional profiling based on metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) were conducted. Results: In total, 78 bacterial and archaeal MAGs representing the most abundant members of the communities, and featuring defined quality criteria were selected and characterized in detail. Determination of MAG abundances under the tested conditions by mapping of the obtained metagenome sequence reads to the MAGs revealed that MAG abundance profiles were mainly shaped by the temperature but also by the OLR. However, the OLR effect was more pronounced for the mesophilic systems as compared to the thermophilic ones. In contrast, metatranscriptome mapping to MAGs subsequently normalized to MAG abundances showed that under thermophilic conditions, MAGs respond to increased OLRs by shifting their transcriptional activities mainly without adjusting their proliferation rates. This is a clear difference compared to the behavior of the microbiome under mesophilic conditions. Here, the response to increased OLRs involved adjusting of proliferation rates and corresponding transcriptional activities. The analysis led to the identification of MAGs positively responding to increased OLRs. The most outstanding MAGs in this regard, obviously well adapted to higher OLRs and/or associated conditions, were assigned to the order Clostridiales (Acetivibrio sp.) for the mesophilic biofilm and the orders Bacteroidales (Prevotella sp. and an unknown species), Lachnospirales (Herbinix sp. and Kineothrix sp.) and Clostridiales (Clostridium sp.) for the thermophilic biofilm. Genome-based metabolic reconstruction and transcriptional profiling revealed that positively responding MAGs mainly are involved in hydrolysis of grass silage, acidogenesis and / or acetogenesis. Conclusions: An integrated -omics approach enabled the identification of new AD biofilm keystone species featuring outstanding performance under stress conditions such as increased OLRs. Genome-based knowledge on the metabolic potential and transcriptional activity of responsive microbiome members will contribute to the development of improved microbiological AD management strategies for biomethanation of renewable biomass.
  • Mechanism and consequences of herpes simplex virus 1-mediated regulation of host mRNA alternative polyadenylation.

    Wang, Xiuye; Liu, Liang; Whisnant, Adam W; Hennig, Thomas; Djakovic, Lara; Haque, Nabila; Bach, Cindy; Sandri-Goldin, Rozanne M; Erhard, Florian; Friedel, Caroline C; et al. (PLOS, 2021-03-08)
    Eukaryotic gene expression is extensively regulated by cellular stress and pathogen infections. We have previously shown that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and several cellular stresses cause widespread disruption of transcription termination (DoTT) of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) in host genes and that the viral immediate early factor ICP27 plays an important role in HSV-1-induced DoTT. Here, we show that HSV-1 infection also leads to widespread changes in alternative polyadenylation (APA) of host mRNAs. In the majority of cases, polyadenylation shifts to upstream poly(A) sites (PAS), including many intronic PAS. Mechanistically, ICP27 contributes to HSV-1-mediated APA regulation. HSV-1- and ICP27-induced activation of intronic PAS is sequence-dependent and does not involve general inhibition of U1 snRNP. HSV1-induced intronic polyadenylation is accompanied by early termination of RNAPII. HSV-1-induced mRNAs polyadenylated at intronic PAS (IPA) are exported into the cytoplasm while APA isoforms with extended 3' UTRs are sequestered in the nuclei, both preventing the expression of the full-length gene products. Finally we provide evidence that HSV-induced IPA isoforms are translated. Together with other recent studies, our results suggest that viral infection and cellular stresses induce a multi-faceted host response that includes DoTT and changes in APA profiles.

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