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).


  • Transcriptomic Biomarkers for Tuberculosis: Validation of as a Single mRNA Biomarker to Diagnose TB, Predict Disease Progression, and Monitor Treatment Response.

    de Araujo, Leonardo S; Ribeiro-Alves, Marcelo; Wipperman, Matthew F; Vorkas, Charles Kyriakos; Pessler, Frank; Saad, Maria Helena Féres; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-10-09)
    External validation in different cohorts is a key step in the translational development of new biomarkers. We previously described three host mRNA whose expression in peripheral blood is significantly higher (NPC2) or lower (DOCK9 and EPHA4) in individuals with TB compared to latent TB infection (LTBI) and controls. We have now conducted an independent validation of these genes by re-analyzing publicly available transcriptomic datasets from Brazil, China, Haiti, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Comparisons between TB and control/LTBI showed significant differential expression of all three genes (NPC2high&nbsp;p < 0.01, DOCK9low&nbsp;p < 0.01, and EPHA4low&nbsp;p < 0.05). NPC2high had the highest mean area under the ROC curve (AUROC) for the differentiation of TB vs. controls (0.95) and LTBI (0.94). In addition, NPC2 accurately distinguished TB from the clinically similar conditions pneumonia (AUROC, 0.88), non-active sarcoidosis (0.87), and lung cancer (0.86), but not from active sarcoidosis (0.66). Interestingly, individuals progressing from LTBI to TB showed a constant increase in NPC2 expression with time when compared to non-progressors (p < 0.05), with a significant change closer to manifestation of active disease (≤3 months, p = 0.003). Moreover, NPC2 expression normalized with completion of anti-TB treatment. Taken together, these results validate NPC2 mRNA as a diagnostic host biomarker for active TB independent of host genetic background. Moreover, they reveal its potential to predict progression from latent to active infection and to indicate a response to anti-TB treatment.
  • Maternal B Cell-Intrinsic MyD88 Signaling Mediates LPS-Driven Intrauterine Fetal Death.

    Busse, Mandy; Plenagl, Susanne; Campe, Norina Kim Jutta; Müller, Andreas J; Tedford, Kerry; Schumacher, Anne; Zenclussen, Ana Claudia; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-10-08)
    Immunological networks balance tolerance towards paternal alloantigens during pregnancy with normal immune response to pathogens. Subclinical infections can impact this balance and lead to preterm birth or even intrauterine fetal death (IUFD). We recently showed that loss of maternal B cells renders murine fetuses susceptible to IUFD after LPS exposure. Since the signaling pathway involved in this B-cell mediated response remains unclear, we aimed to understand the participation of MyD88 in this response using B-cell-specific MyD88-deficient (BMyD88-/-) mice. B cells isolated from wild-type (WT), BMyD88-/-, CD19-/- and MyD88-/- dams on gestational day (gd) 10 responded differently to LPS concerning cytokine secretion. In vivo LPS challenge on gd 10 provoked IUFD in CD19-/- mothers with functional MyD88, while fetuses from BMyD88-/- and MyD88-/- mice were protected. These outcomes were associated with altered cytokine levels in the maternal serum and changes in CD4+ T-cell responses. Overall, the loss of MyD88 signaling in maternal B cells prevents the activation of cytokine release that leads to IUFD. Thus, while MyD88 signaling in maternal B cells protects the mother from infection, it ultimately kills the fetus. Understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying infection-driven pregnancy complications is the first step to designing powerful therapeutic strategies in the future.
  • Enhanced Susceptibility of ADAP-Deficient Mice to Infection Is Associated With an Altered Phagocyte Phenotype and Function.

    Böning, Martha A L; Parzmair, Gerald P; Jeron, Andreas; Düsedau, Henning P; Kershaw, Olivia; Xu, Baolin; Relja, Borna; Schlüter, Dirk; Dunay, Ildiko Rita; Reinhold, Annegret; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-09-30)
    The adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein (ADAP) serves as a multifunctional scaffold and is involved in the formation of immune signaling complexes. To date, only limited data exist regarding the role of ADAP in pathogen-specific immunity during in vivo infection, and its contribution in phagocyte-mediated antibacterial immunity remains elusive. Here, we show that mice lacking ADAP (ADAPko) are highly susceptible to the infection with the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) by showing enhanced immunopathology in infected tissues together with increased morbidity, mortality, and excessive infiltration of neutrophils and monocytes. Despite high phagocyte numbers in the spleen and liver, ADAPko mice only inefficiently controlled pathogen growth, hinting at a functional impairment of infection-primed phagocytes in the ADAP-deficient host. Flow cytometric analysis of hallmark pro-inflammatory mediators and unbiased whole genome transcriptional profiling of neutrophils and inflammatory monocytes uncovered broad molecular alterations in the inflammatory program in both phagocyte subsets following their activation in the ADAP-deficient host. Strikingly, ex vivo phagocytosis assay revealed impaired phagocytic capacity of neutrophils derived from Lm-infected ADAPko mice. Together, our data suggest that an alternative priming of phagocytes in ADAP-deficient mice during Lm infection induces marked alterations in the inflammatory profile of neutrophils and inflammatory monocytes that contribute to enhanced immunopathology while limiting their capacity to eliminate the pathogen and to prevent the fatal outcome of the infection.
  • Characterization of RNA Sensing Pathways in Hepatoma Cell Lines and Primary Human Hepatocytes.

    Nicolay, Wiebke; Moeller, Rebecca; Kahl, Sina; Vondran, Florian W R; Pietschmann, Thomas; Kunz, Stefan; Gerold, Gisa; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-11-04)
    The liver is targeted by several human pathogenic RNA viruses for viral replication and dissemination; despite this, the extent of innate immune sensing of RNA viruses by human hepatocytes is insufficiently understood to date. In particular, for highly human tropic viruses such as hepatitis C virus, cell culture models are needed to study immune sensing. However, several human hepatoma cell lines have impaired RNA sensing pathways and fail to mimic innate immune responses in the human liver. Here we compare the RNA sensing properties of six human hepatoma cell lines, namely Huh-6, Huh-7, HepG2, HepG2-HFL, Hep3B, and HepaRG, with primary human hepatocytes. We show that primary liver cells sense RNA through retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) like receptor (RLR) and Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) pathways. Of the tested cell lines, Hep3B cells most closely mimicked the RLR and TLR3 mediated sensing in primary hepatocytes. This was shown by the expression of RLRs and TLR3 as well as the expression and release of bioactive interferon in primary hepatocytes and Hep3B cells. Our work shows that Hep3B cells partially mimic RNA sensing in primary hepatocytes and thus can serve as in vitro model to study innate immunity to RNA viruses in hepatocytes.
  • Selective Bacterial Targeting and Infection-Triggered Release of Antibiotic Colistin Conjugates.

    Tegge, Werner; Guerra, Giulia; Höltke, Alexander; Schiller, Lauritz; Beutling, Ulrike; Harmrolfs, Kirsten; Gröbe, Lothar; Wullenkord, Hannah; Xu, Chunfa; Weich, Herbert; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-07-05)
    In order to render potent, but toxic antibiotics more selective, we have explored a novel conjugation strategy that includes drug accumulation followed by infection-triggered release of the drug. Bacterial targeting was achieved using a modified fragment of the human antimicrobial peptide ubiquicidin, as demonstrated by fluorophore-tagged variants. To limit the release of the effector colistin only to infection-related situations, we introduced a linker that was cleaved by neutrophil elastase (NE), an enzyme secreted by neutrophil granulocytes at infection sites. The linker carried an optimized sequence of amino acids that was required to assure sufficient cleavage efficiency. The antibacterial activity of five regioisomeric conjugates prepared by total synthesis was masked, but was released upon exposure to recombinant NE when the linker was attached to amino acids at the 1- or the 3-position of colistin. A proof-of-concept was achieved in co-cultures of primary human neutrophils and Escherichia coli that induced the secretion of NE, the release of free colistin, and an antibacterial efficacy that was equal to that of free colistin.

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