• UL36 Rescues Apoptosis Inhibition and In vivo Replication of a Chimeric MCMV Lacking the M36 Gene.

      Chaudhry, M Zeeshan; Kasmapour, Bahram; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Bajagic, Milica; Casalegno Garduño, Rosaely; Borkner, Lisa; Lenac Roviš, Tihana; Scrima, Andrea; Jonjic, Stipan; Schmitz, Ingo; et al. (2017)
      Apoptosis is an important defense mechanism mounted by the immune system to control virus replication. Hence, cytomegaloviruses (CMV) evolved and acquired numerous anti-apoptotic genes. The product of the human CMV (HCMV) UL36 gene, pUL36 (also known as vICA), binds to pro-caspase-8, thus inhibiting death-receptor apoptosis and enabling viral replication in differentiated THP-1 cells. In vivo studies of the function of HCMV genes are severely limited due to the strict host specificity of cytomegaloviruses, but CMV orthologues that co-evolved with other species allow the experimental study of CMV biology in vivo. The mouse CMV (MCMV) homolog of the UL36 gene is called M36, and its protein product (pM36) is a functional homolog of vICA that binds to murine caspase-8 and inhibits its activation. M36-deficient MCMV is severely growth impaired in macrophages and in vivo. Here we show that pUL36 binds to the murine pro-caspase-8, and that UL36 expression inhibits death-receptor apoptosis in murine cells and can replace M36 to allow MCMV growth in vitro and in vivo. We generated a chimeric MCMV expressing the UL36 ORF sequence instead of the M36 one. The newly generated MCMV(UL36) inhibited apoptosis in macrophage lines RAW 264.7, J774A.1, and IC-21 and its growth was rescued to wild type levels. Similarly, growth was rescued in vivo in the liver and spleen, but only partially in the salivary glands of BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. In conclusion, we determined that an immune-evasive HCMV gene is conserved enough to functionally replace its MCMV counterpart and thus allow its study in an in vivo setting. As UL36 and M36 proteins engage the same molecular host target, our newly developed model can facilitate studies of anti-viral compounds targeting pUL36 in vivo.
    • Unique properties of thymic antigen-presenting cells promote epigenetic imprinting of alloantigen-specific regulatory T cells.

      Garg, Garima; Nikolouli, Eirini; Hardtke-Wolenski, Matthias; Toker, Aras; Ohkura, Naganari; Beckstette, Michael; Miyao, Takahisa; Geffers, Robert; Floess, Stefan; Gerdes, Norbert; et al. (2017-05-30)
      Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are potential immunotherapeutic candidates to induce transplantation tolerance. However, stability of Tregs still remains contentious and may potentially restrict their clinical use. Recent work suggested that epigenetic imprinting of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific signature genes is crucial for stabilization of immunosuppressive properties of Foxp3+ Tregs, and that these events are initiated already during early stages of thymic Treg development. However, the mechanisms governing this process remain largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that thymic antigen-presenting cells (APCs), including thymic dendritic cells (t-DCs) and medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs), can induce a more pronounced demethylation of Foxp3 and other Treg-specific epigenetic signature genes in developing Tregs when compared to splenic DCs (sp-DCs). Transcriptomic profiling of APCs revealed differential expression of secreted factors and costimulatory molecules, however neither addition of conditioned media nor interference with costimulatory signals affected Foxp3 induction by thymic APCs in vitro. Importantly, when tested in vivo both mTEC- and t-DC-generated alloantigen-specific Tregs displayed significantly higher efficacy in prolonging skin allograft acceptance when compared to Tregs generated by sp-DCs. Our results draw attention to unique properties of thymic APCs in initiating commitment towards stable and functional Tregs, a finding that could be highly beneficial in clinical immunotherapy.
    • Viral Infection of the Central Nervous System Exacerbates Interleukin-10 Receptor Deficiency-Mediated Colitis in SJL Mice.

      Uhde, Ann-Kathrin; Herder, Vanessa; Akram Khan, Muhammad; Ciurkiewicz, Malgorzata; Schaudien, Dirk; Teich, René; Floess, Stefan; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Huehn, Jochen; Beineke, Andreas; et al. (2016)
      Theiler´s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV)-infection is a widely used animal model for studying demyelinating disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS). The immunosuppressive cytokine Interleukin (IL)-10 counteracts hyperactive immune responses and critically controls immune homeostasis in infectious and autoimmune disorders. In order to investigate the effect of signaling via Interleukin-10 receptor (IL-10R) in infectious neurological diseases, TMEV-infected SJL mice were treated with IL-10R blocking antibody (Ab) in the acute and chronic phase of the disease. The findings demonstrate that (i) Ab-mediated IL-10 neutralization leads to progressive colitis with a reduction in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and increased numbers of CD8+CD44+ memory T cells as well as activated CD4+CD69+ and CD8+CD69+ T cells in uninfected mice. (ii) Concurrent acute TMEV-infection worsened enteric disease-mediated by IL-10R neutralization. Virus-triggered effects were associated with an enhanced activation of CD4+ T helper cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes and augmented cytokine expression. By contrast, (iii) IL-10R neutralization during chronic TMEV-infection was not associated with enhanced peripheral immunopathology but an increased CD3+ T cell influx in the spinal cord. IL-10R neutralization causes a breakdown in peripheral immune tolerance in genetically predisposed mice, which leads to immune-mediated colitis, resembling inflammatory bowel disease. Hyperactive immune state following IL-10R blockade is enhanced by central nervous system-restricted viral infection in a disease phase-dependent manner.
    • Vitamin C supports conversion of human γδ T cells into FOXP3-expressing regulatory cells by epigenetic regulation.

      Kouakanou, Léonce; Peters, Christian; Sun, Qiwei; Floess, Stefan; Bhat, Jaydeep; Huehn, Jochen; Kabelitz, Dieter; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Nature Publishing Group, 2020-04-16)
      Human γδ T cells are potent cytotoxic effector cells, produce a variety of cytokines, and can acquire regulatory activity. Induction of FOXP3, the key transcription factor of regulatory T cells (Treg), by TGF-β in human Vγ9 Vδ2 T cells has been previously reported. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and acts as multiplier of DNA hydroxymethylation. Here we have investigated the effect of the more stable phospho-modified Vitamin C (pVC) on TGF-β-induced FOXP3 expression and the resulting regulatory activity of highly purified human Vγ9 Vδ2 T cells. pVC significantly increased the TGF-β-induced FOXP3 expression and stability and also increased the suppressive activity of Vγ9 Vδ2 T cells. Importantly, pVC induced hypomethylation of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) in the FOXP3 gene. Genome-wide methylation analysis by Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing additionally revealed differentially methylated regions in several important genes upon pVC treatment of γδ T cells. While Vitamin C also enhances effector functions of Vγ9 Vδ2 T cells in the absence of TGF-β, our results demonstrate that pVC potently increases the suppressive activity and FOXP3 expression in TGF-β-treated Vγ9 Vδ2 T cells by epigenetic modification of the FOXP3 gene
    • Yersinia Pseudotuberculosis Modulates Regulatory T Cell Stability via Injection of Yersinia Outer Proteins in a Type III Secretion System-Dependent Manner.

      Elfiky, Ahmed; Bonifacius, Agnes; Pezoldt, Joern; Pasztoi, Maria; Chaoprasid, Paweena; Sadana, Pooja; El-Sherbeeny, Nagla; Hagras, Magda; Scrima, Andrea; Dersch, Petra; et al. (Akadémiai Kiadó, 2018-12-23)
      Adaptive immunity is essentially required to control acute infection with enteropathogenic
    • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis supports Th17 differentiation and limits de novo regulatory T cell induction by directly interfering with T cell receptor signaling.

      Pasztoi, Maria; Bonifacius, Agnes; Pezoldt, Joern; Kulkarni, Devesha; Niemz, Jana; Yang, Juhao; Teich, René; Hajek, Janina; Pisano, Fabio; Rohde, Manfred; et al. (2017-04-04)
      Adaptive immunity critically contributes to control acute infection with enteropathogenic Yersinia pseudotuberculosis; however, the role of CD4(+) T cell subsets in establishing infection and allowing pathogen persistence remains elusive. Here, we assessed the modulatory capacity of Y. pseudotuberculosis on CD4(+) T cell differentiation. Using in vivo assays, we report that infection with Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in enhanced priming of IL-17-producing T cells (Th17 cells), whereas induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) was severely disrupted in gut-draining mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs), in line with altered frequencies of tolerogenic and proinflammatory dendritic cell (DC) subsets within mLNs. Additionally, by using a DC-free in vitro system, we could demonstrate that Y. pseudotuberculosis can directly modulate T cell receptor (TCR) downstream signaling within naïve CD4(+) T cells and Tregs via injection of effector molecules through the type III secretion system, thereby affecting their functional properties. Importantly, modulation of naïve CD4(+) T cells by Y. pseudotuberculosis resulted in an enhanced Th17 differentiation and decreased induction of Foxp3(+) Tregs in vitro. These findings shed light to the adjustment of the Th17-Treg axis in response to acute Y. pseudotuberculosis infection and highlight the direct modulation of CD4(+) T cell subsets by altering their TCR downstream signaling.