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), 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).


  • Donor-derived IL-17A and IL-17F deficiency triggers Th1 allo-responses and increases gut leakage during acute GVHD.

    Odak, Ivan; Depkat-Jakob, Alina; Beck, Maleen; Jarek, Michael; Yu, Yan; Seidler, Ursula; David, Sascha; Ganser, Arnold; Förster, Reinhold; Prinz, Immo; et al. (PLOS, 2020-04-06)
    s Metrics Comments Media Coverage Abstract Introduction Material and methods Results Discussion Supporting information Acknowledgments References Reader Comments (0) Media Coverage (0) Figures Abstract IL-17A and IL-17F cytokines are important regulators of acute graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). However, contrary effects of these cytokines in inflammatory diseases have been reported. To investigate the effects of donor-derived IL-17A and IL-17F on GVHD, we made use of single (Il17a-/- or Il17f-/-) and double deficient (Il17af-/-) allogeneic donor CD4+ T cells. We could demonstrate that transplantation of Il17af-/- CD4+ donor T cells led to aggravated GVHD. However, this phenotype was not observed after transplantation of single, Il17a-/- or Il17f-/-, deficient CD4+ T cells, suggesting redundant effects of IL-17A and IL-17F. Moreover, Il17af-/- cell recipients showed an increase of systemic IFNγ, indicating a heightened pro-inflammatory state, as well as infiltration of IFNγ-secreting CD4+ T cells in the recipients’ intestinal tract. These recipients exhibited significant gut leakage, and markedly macrophage infiltration in the gastrointestinal epithelial layer. Moreover, we saw evidence of impaired recovery of gut epithelial cells in recipients of Il17af-/- CD4+ T cells. In this study, we show that IL-17A/F double deficiency of donor CD4+ T cells leads to accelerated GVHD and therefore highlight the importance of these cytokines. Together, IL-17 cytokines might serve as a brake to an intensified Th1 response, leading to the exacerbated gut damage in acute GVHD.
  • Innate signalling molecules as genetic adjuvants do not alter the efficacy of a DNA-based influenza A vaccine.

    Lapuente, Dennis; Stab, Viktoria; Storcksdieck Genannt Bonsmann, Michael; Maaske, Andre; Köster, Mario; Xiao, Han; Ehrhardt, Christina; Tenbusch, Matthias; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-04-03)
    In respect to the heterogeneity among influenza A virus strains and the shortcomings of current vaccination programs, there is a huge interest in the development of alternative vaccines that provide a broader and more long-lasting protection. Gene-based approaches are considered as promising candidates for such flu vaccines. In our study, innate signalling molecules from the RIG-I and the NALP3 pathways were evaluated as genetic adjuvants in intramuscular DNA immunizations. Plasmids encoding a constitutive active form of RIG-I (cRIG-I), IPS-1, IL-1β, or IL-18 were co-administered with plasmids encoding the hemagglutinin and nucleoprotein derived from H1N1/Puerto Rico/8/1934 via electroporation in BALB/c mice. Immunogenicity was analysed in detail and efficacy was demonstrated in homologous and heterologous influenza challenge experiments. Although the biological activities of the adjuvants have been confirmed by in vitro reporter assays, their single or combined inclusion in the vaccine did not result in superior vaccine efficacy. With the exception of significantly increased levels of antigen-specific IgG1 after the co-administration of IL-1β, there were only minor alterations concerning the immunogenicity. Since DNA electroporation alone induced substantial inflammation at the injection site, as demonstrated in this study using Mx2-Luc reporter mice, it might override the adjuvants´ contribution to the inflammatory microenvironment and thereby minimizes the influence on the immunogenicity. Taken together, the DNA immunization was protective against subsequent challenge infections but could not be further improved by the genetic adjuvants analysed in this study.
  • Crystal structure of NirF: insights into its role in heme d biosynthesis.

    Klünemann, Thomas; NIMTZ, MANFRED; Jänsch, Lothar; Layer, Gunhild; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley Online Open, 2020-04-07)
    Certain facultative anaerobes such as the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can respire on nitrate, a process generally known as denitrification. This enables denitrifying bacteria to survive in anoxic environments and contributes, for example, to the formation of biofilm, hence increasing difficulties in eradicating P. aeruginosa infections. A central step in denitrification is the reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide by nitrite reductase NirS, an enzyme that requires the unique cofactor heme d1 . While heme d1 biosynthesis is mostly understood, the role of the essential periplasmatic protein NirF in this pathway remains unclear. Here, we have determined crystal structures of NirF and its complex with dihydroheme d1 , the last intermediate of heme d1 biosynthesis. We found that NirF forms a bottom-to-bottom β-propeller homodimer and confirmed this by multi-angle light and small-angle X-ray scattering. The N termini are adjacent to each other and project away from the core structure, which hints at simultaneous membrane anchoring via both N termini. Further, the complex with dihydroheme d1 allowed us to probe the importance of specific residues in the vicinity of the ligand binding site, revealing residues not required for binding or stability of NirF but essential for denitrification in experiments with complemented mutants of a ΔnirF strain of P. aeruginosa. Together, these data suggest that NirF possesses a yet unknown enzymatic activity and is not simply a binding protein of heme d1 derivatives. DATABASE: Structural data are available in PDB database under the accession numbers 6TV2 and 6TV9.
  • Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of the fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine.

    Gampfer, Tanja M; Wagmann, Lea; Park, Yu Mi; Cannaert, Annelies; Herrmann, Jennifer; Fischmann, Svenja; Westphal, Folker; Müller, Rolf; Stove, Christophe P; Meyer, Markus R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-04-05)
    The two fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine (4F-Cy-BAP) and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine (Fu-BAP) have recently been seized as new psychoactive substances (NPS) on the drugs of abuse market. As their toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic characteristics are completely unknown, this study focused on elucidating their in vitro metabolic stability in pooled human liver S9 fraction (pHLS9), their qualitative in vitro (pHLS9), and in vivo (zebrafish larvae) metabolism, and their in vitro isozyme mapping using recombinant expressed isoenzymes. Their maximum-tolerated concentration (MTC) in zebrafish larvae was studied from 0.01 to 100 µM. Their µ-opioid receptor (MOR) activity was analyzed in engineered human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 T cells. In total, seven phase I and one phase II metabolites of 4F-Cy-BAP and 15 phase I and four phase II metabolites of Fu-BAP were tentatively identified by means of liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry, with the majority detected in zebrafish larvae. N-Dealkylation, N-deacylation, hydroxylation, and N-oxidation were the most abundant metabolic reactions and the corresponding metabolites are expected to be promising analytical targets for toxicological analysis. Isozyme mapping revealed the main involvement of CYP3A4 in the phase I metabolism of 4F-Cy-BAP and in terms of Fu-BAP additionally CYP2D6. Therefore, drug-drug interactions by CYP3A4 inhibition may cause elevated drug levels and unwanted adverse effects. MTC experiments revealed malformations and changes in the behavior of larvae after exposure to 100 µM Fu-BAP. Both substances were only able to produce a weak activation of MOR and although toxic effects based on MOR activation seem unlikely, activity at other receptors cannot be excluded
  • [Self-reported infections in the German National Cohort (GNC) in the context of the current research landscape].

    Hassenstein, Max J; Aarabi, Ghazal; Ahnert, Peter; Becher, Heiko; Franzke, Claus-Werner; Fricke, Julia; Krause, Gérard; Glöckner, Stephan; Gottschick, Cornelia; Karch, André; et al.
    Infectious diseases continue to play an important role for disease perception, health-economic considerations and public health in Germany. In recent years, infectious diseases have been linked to the development of non-communicable diseases. Analyses of the German National Cohort (GNC) may provide deeper insights into this issue and pave the way for new targeted approaches in disease prevention. Objectives The aim was to describe the tools used to assess infectious diseases and to present initial data on infectious disease frequencies, as well as to relate the GNC assessment tools to data collection methods in other studies in Germany. Methods As part of the baseline examination, questions regarding infectious diseases were administered using both an interview and a self-administered touchscreen questionnaire. Data from the initial 101,787 GNC participants were analysed. Results In the interview, 0.2% (HIV/AIDS) to 8.6% (shingles) of respondents reported ever having a medical diagnosis of shingles, postherpetic neuralgia (in cases where shingles was reported), hepatitis B/C, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or sepsis if treated in hospital. In the questionnaire, 12% (cystitis) to 81% (upper respiratory tract infections) of respondents reported having experienced at least one occurrence of upper or lower respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, cystitis or fever within the past 12 months. Outlook The cross-sectional analyses of data and tools presented here – for example on determinants of susceptibility to self-reported infections – can be anticipated from the year 2021 onward. Beyond that, more extensive research into infectious disease epidemiology will follow, particularly once analyses of GNC biological materials have been performed.

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