group leader: Prof. Hühn

Recent Submissions

  • Guidelines for the use of flow cytometry and cell sorting in immunological studies (second edition).

    Cossarizza, Andrea; Chang, Hyun-Dong; Radbruch, Andreas; Acs, Andreas; Adam, Dieter; Adam-Klages, Sabine; Agace, William W; Aghaeepour, Nima; Akdis, Mübeccel; Allez, Matthieu; et al. (Wiley, 2019-10-01)
    These guidelines are a consensus work of a considerable number of members of the immunology and flow cytometry community. They provide the theory and key practical aspects of flow cytometry enabling immunologists to avoid the common errors that often undermine immunological data. Notably, there are comprehensive sections of all major immune cell types with helpful Tables detailing phenotypes in murine and human cells. The latest flow cytometry techniques and applications are also described, featuring examples of the data that can be generated and, importantly, how the data can be analysed. Furthermore, there are sections detailing tips, tricks and pitfalls to avoid, all written and peer-reviewed by leading experts in the field, making this an essential research companion.
  • Generation of Foxp3CD25 Regulatory T-Cell Precursors Requires c-Rel and IκB.

    Schuster, Marc; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Visekruna, Alexander; Huehn, Jochen; Schmitz, Ingo; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Next to the classical developmental route, in which first CD25 and subsequently Foxp3 are induced to generate thymic regulatory T (Treg) cells, an alternative route has been described. This alternative route is characterized by reciprocal induction of Foxp3 and CD25, with CD25 induction being required to rescue developing Treg cells from Foxp3-induced apoptosis. NF-κB has been demonstrated to be crucial for the development of thymic Treg cells via the classical route. However, its impact on the alternative route is poorly characterized. Using single and double deficient mice for key regulators of the classical route, c-Rel and IκBNS, we here demonstrate that NF-κB is essential for the generation of alternative CD25-Foxp3+ precursors, as well. Thus, c-Rel and IκBNS govern both routes of thymic Treg cell development.
  • Microbiome Dependent Regulation of Tregs and Th17 Cells in Mucosa.

    Pandiyan, Pushpa; Bhaskaran, Natarajan; Zou, Mangge; Schneider, Elizabeth; Jayaraman, Sangeetha; Huehn, Jochen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Mammals co-exist with resident microbial ecosystem that is composed of an incredible number and diversity of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Owing to direct contact between resident microbes and mucosal surfaces, both parties are in continuous and complex interactions resulting in important functional consequences. These interactions govern immune homeostasis, host response to infection, vaccination and cancer, as well as predisposition to metabolic, inflammatory and neurological disorders. Here, we discuss recent studies on direct and indirect effects of resident microbiota on regulatory T cells (Tregs) and Th17 cells at the cellular and molecular level. We review mechanisms by which commensal microbes influence mucosa in the context of bioactive molecules derived from resident bacteria, immune senescence, chronic inflammation and cancer. Lastly, we discuss potential therapeutic applications of microbiota alterations and microbial derivatives, for improving resilience of mucosal immunity and combating immunopathology.
  • miR-181a/b-1 controls thymic selection of Treg cells and tunes their suppressive capacity.

    Łyszkiewicz, Marcin; Winter, Samantha J; Witzlau, Katrin; Föhse, Lisa; Brownlie, Rebecca; Puchałka, Jacek; Verheyden, Nikita A; Kunze-Schumacher, Heike; Imelmann, Esther; Blume, Jonas; et al. (PLOS, 2019-03-01)
    The interdependence of selective cues during development of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in the thymus and their suppressive function remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyzed this interdependence by taking advantage of highly dynamic changes in expression of microRNA 181 family members miR-181a-1 and miR-181b-1 (miR-181a/b-1) during late T-cell development with very high levels of expression during thymocyte selection, followed by massive down-regulation in the periphery. Loss of miR-181a/b-1 resulted in inefficient de novo generation of Treg cells in the thymus but simultaneously permitted homeostatic expansion in the periphery in the absence of competition. Modulation of T-cell receptor (TCR) signal strength in vivo indicated that miR-181a/b-1 controlled Treg-cell formation via establishing adequate signaling thresholds. Unexpectedly, miR-181a/b-1-deficient Treg cells displayed elevated suppressive capacity in vivo, in line with elevated levels of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated 4 (CTLA-4) protein, but not mRNA, in thymic and peripheral Treg cells. Therefore, we propose that intrathymic miR-181a/b-1 controls development of Treg cells and imposes a developmental legacy on their peripheral function.
  • 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
  • Blimp1 Prevents Methylation of Foxp3 and Loss of Regulatory T Cell Identity at Sites of Inflammation.

    Garg, Garima; Muschaweckh, Andreas; Moreno, Helena; Vasanthakumar, Ajithkumar; Floess, Stefan; Lepennetier, Gildas; Oellinger, Rupert; Zhan, Yifan; Regen, Tommy; Hiltensperger, Michael; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2019-02-12)
    Summary Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells restrict immune pathology in inflamed tissues; however, an inflammatory environment presents a threat to Treg cell identity and function. Here, we establish a transcriptional signature of central nervous system (CNS) Treg cells that accumulate during experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) and identify a pathway that maintains Treg cell function and identity during severe inflammation. This pathway is dependent on the transcriptional regulator Blimp1, which prevents downregulation of Foxp3 expression and “toxic” gain-of-function of Treg cells in the inflamed CNS. Blimp1 negatively regulates IL-6- and STAT3-dependent Dnmt3a expression and function restraining methylation of Treg cell-specific conserved non-coding sequence 2 (CNS2) in the Foxp3 locus. Consequently, CNS2 is heavily methylated when Blimp1 is ablated, leading to a loss of Foxp3 expression and severe disease. These findings identify a Blimp1-dependent pathway that preserves Treg cell stability in inflamed non-lymphoid tissues.
  • IFN-γ Producing Th1 Cells Induce Different Transcriptional Profiles in Microglia and Astrocytes.

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Dittrich-Breiholz, Oliver; Talbot, Steven R; Robert, Philippe A; Huehn, Jochen; Stangel, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
    Autoreactive T cells that infiltrate into the central nervous system (CNS) are believed to have a significant role in mediating the pathology of neuroinflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis. Their interaction with microglia and astrocytes in the CNS is crucial for the regulation of neuroinflammatory processes. Our previous work demonstrated that effectors secreted by Th1 and Th17 cells have different capacities to influence the phenotype and function of glial cells. We have shown that Th1-derived effectors altered the phenotype and function of both microglia and astrocytes whereas Th17-derived effectors induced direct effects only on astrocytes but not on microglia. Here we investigated if effector molecules associated with IFN-γ producing Th1 cells induced different gene expression profiles in microglia and astrocytes. We performed a microarray analysis of RNA isolated from microglia and astrocytes treated with medium and Th-derived culture supernatants and compared the gene expression data. By using the criteria of 2-fold change and a false discovery rate of 0.01 (corrected
  • Effectors of Th1 and Th17 cells act on astrocytes and augment their neuroinflammatory properties.

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Kronisch, Julius; Khorooshi, Reza; Knier, Benjamin; Toft-Hansen, Henrik; Gudi, Viktoria; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Owens, Trevor; Korn, Thomas; et al. (2017-10-16)
    Autoreactive Th1 and Th17 cells are believed to mediate the pathology of multiple sclerosis in the central nervous system (CNS). Their interaction with microglia and astrocytes in the CNS is crucial for the regulation of the neuroinflammation. Previously, we have shown that only Th1 but not Th17 effectors activate microglia. However, it is not clear which cells are targets of Th17 effectors in the CNS. To understand the effects driven by Th17 cells in the CNS, we induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in wild-type mice and CD4 We observed in α4-deficient mice weak microglial activation but comparable astrogliosis to that of wild-type mice in the regions of the brain populated with Th17 infiltrates, suggesting that Th17 cells target astrocytes and not microglia. In vitro, in response to supernatants from Th1 and Th17 cultures, astrocytes showed altered expression of neurotrophic factors, pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Furthermore, increased expression of chemokines in Th1- and Th17-treated astrocytes enhanced recruitment of microglia and transendothelial migration of Th17 cells in vitro. Our results demonstrate the delicate interaction between T cell subsets and glial cells and how they communicate to mediate their effects. Effectors of Th1 act on both microglia and astrocytes whereas Th17 effectors preferentially target astrocytes to promote neuroinflammation.
  • Regulation of neuroinflammatory properties of glial cells by T cell effector molecules.

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Huehn, Jochen; Stangel, Martin; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02)
  • Intact interleukin-10 receptor signaling protects from hippocampal damage elicited by experimental neurotropic virus infection of SJL mice.

    Uhde, Ann-Kathrin; Ciurkiewicz, Malgorzata; Herder, Vanessa; Khan, Muhammad Akram; Hensel, Niko; Claus, Peter; Beckstette, Michael; Teich, René; Floess, Stefan; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; et al. (2018-04-17)
    Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) infection represents an experimental mouse model to study hippocampal damage induced by neurotropic viruses. IL-10 is a pleiotropic cytokine with profound anti-inflammatory properties, which critically controls immune homeostasis. In order to analyze IL-10R signaling following virus-induced polioencephalitis, SJL mice were intracerebrally infected with TMEV. RNA-based next generation sequencing revealed an up-regulation of Il10, Il10rα and further genes involved in IL-10 downstream signaling, including Jak1, Socs3 and Stat3 in the brain upon infection. Subsequent antibody-mediated blockade of IL-10R signaling led to enhanced hippocampal damage with neuronal loss and increased recruitment of CD3+ T cells, CD45R+ B cells and an up-regulation of Il1α mRNA. Increased expression of Tgfβ and Foxp3 as well as accumulation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and arginase-1+ macrophages/microglia was detected in the hippocampus, representing a potential compensatory mechanism following disturbed IL-10R signaling. Additionally, an increased peripheral Chi3l3 expression was found in spleens of infected mice, which may embody reactive regulatory mechanisms for prevention of excessive immunopathology. The present study highlights the importance of IL-10R signaling for immune regulation and its neuroprotective properties in the context of an acute neurotropic virus infection.
  • The invasin D protein fromYersinia pseudotuberculosisselectively binds the Fab region of host antibodies and affects colonization of the intestine.

    Sadana, Pooja; Geyer, Rebecca; Pezoldt, Joern; Helmsing, Saskia; Huehn, Jochen; Hust, Michael; Dersch, Petra; Scrima, Andrea; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-03-13)
    Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a Gram-negative bacterium and zoonotic pathogen responsible for a wide range of diseases, ranging from mild diarrhea, enterocolitis, lymphatic adenitis to persistent local inflammation. TheY. pseudotuberculosisinvasin D (InvD) molecule belongs to the invasin (InvA)-type autotransporter proteins, but its structure and function remain unknown. In this study, we present the first crystal structure of InvD, analyzed its expression and function in a murine infection model, and identified its target molecule in the host. We found that InvD is induced at 37°C and expressed in vivo2-4 days after infection, indicating that InvD is a virulence factor. During infection, InvD was expressed in all parts of the intestinal tract, but not in deeper lymphoid tissues. The crystal structure of the C-terminal adhesion domain of InvD revealed a distinct Ig-related fold, that, apart from the canonical β-sheets, comprises various modifications of and insertions into the Ig-core structure. We identified the Fab fragment of host-derived IgG/IgA antibodies as the target of the adhesion domain. Phage display panning and flow cytometry data further revealed that InvD exhibits a preferential binding specificity toward antibodies with VH3/VK1 variable domains and that it is specifically recruited to a subset of B cells. This finding suggests that InvD modulates Ig functions in the intestine and affects direct interactions with a subset of cell surface-exposed B-cell receptors. In summary, our results provide extensive insights into the structure of InvD and its specific interaction with the target molecule in the host.
  • Polymicrobial sepsis and non-specific immunization induce adaptive immunosuppression to a similar degree.

    Schmoeckel, Katrin; Mrochen, Daniel M; Hühn, Jochen; Pötschke, Christian; Bröker, Barbara M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
    Sepsis is frequently complicated by a state of profound immunosuppression, in its extreme form known as immunoparalysis. We have studied the role of the adaptive immune system in the murine acute peritonitis model. To read out adaptive immunosuppression, we primed post-septic and control animals by immunization with the model antigen TNP-ovalbumin in alum, and measured the specific antibody-responses via ELISA and ELISpot assay as well as T-cell responses in a proliferation assay after restimulation. Specific antibody titers, antibody affinity and plasma cell counts in the bone marrow were reduced in post-septic animals. The antigen-induced splenic proliferation was also impaired. The adaptive immunosuppression was positively correlated with an overwhelming general antibody response to the septic insult. Remarkably, antigen "overload" by non-specific immunization induced a similar degree of adaptive immunosuppression in the absence of sepsis. In both settings, depletion of regulatory T cells before priming reversed some parameters of the immunosuppression. In conclusion, our data show that adaptive immunosuppression occurs independent of profound systemic inflammation and life-threatening illness.
  • Impact of CCR7 on T-Cell Response and Susceptibility to Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Infection.

    Pezoldt, Joern; Pisano, Fabio; Heine, Wiebke; Pasztoi, Maria; Rosenheinrich, Maik; Nuss, Aaron M; Pils, Marina C; Prinz, Immo; Förster, Reinhold; Huehn, Jochen; et al. (2017-09-15)
    To successfully limit pathogen dissemination, an immunological link between the entry tissue of the pathogen and the underlying secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs) needs to be established to prime adaptive immune responses. Here, the prerequisite of CCR7 to mount host immune responses within SLOs during gastrointestinal Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection to limit pathogen spread was investigated.
  • Gut memories do not fade: epigenetic regulation of lasting gut homing receptor expression in CD4(+) memory T cells.

    Szilagyi, B A; Triebus, J; Kressler, C; de Almeida, M; Tierling, S; Durek, P; Mardahl, M; Szilagyi, A; Floess, S; Huehn, Jochen; et al. (2017-11)
    The concept of a "topographical memory" in lymphocytes implies a stable expression of homing receptors mediating trafficking of lymphocytes back to the tissue of initial activation. However, a significant plasticity of the gut-homing receptor α4β7 was found in CD8(+) T cells, questioning the concept. We now demonstrate that α4β7 expression in murine CD4(+) memory T cells is, in contrast, imprinted and remains stable in the absence of the inducing factor retinoic acid (RA) or other stimuli from mucosal environments. Repetitive rounds of RA treatment enhanced the stability of de novo induced α4β7. A novel enhancer element in the murine Itga4 locus was identified that showed, correlating to stability, selective DNA demethylation in mucosa-seeking memory cells and methylation-dependent transcriptional activity in a reporter gene assay. This implies that epigenetic mechanisms contribute to the stabilization of α4β7 expression. Analogous DNA methylation patterns could be observed in the human ITGA4 locus, suggesting that its epigenetic regulation is conserved between mice and men. These data prove that mucosa-specific homing mediated by α4β7 is imprinted in CD4(+) memory T cells, reinstating the validity of the concept of "topographical memory" for mucosal tissues, and imply a critical role of epigenetic mechanisms.
  • Effectors of Th1 and Th17 cells act on astrocytes and augment their neuroinflammatory properties.

    Prajeeth, Chittappen K; Kronisch, Julius; Khorooshi, Reza; Knier, Benjamin; Toft-Hansen, Henrik; Gudi, Viktoria; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Owens, Trevor; Korn, Thomas; et al. (2017-10-16)
    Autoreactive Th1 and Th17 cells are believed to mediate the pathology of multiple sclerosis in the central nervous system (CNS). Their interaction with microglia and astrocytes in the CNS is crucial for the regulation of the neuroinflammation. Previously, we have shown that only Th1 but not Th17 effectors activate microglia. However, it is not clear which cells are targets of Th17 effectors in the CNS.
  • TCR signalling network organization at the immunological synapses of murine regulatory T cells.

    van Ham, Marco; Teich, René; Philipsen, Lars; Niemz, Jana; Amsberg, Nicole; Wissing, Josef; Nimtz, Manfred; Gröbe, Lothar; Kliche, Stefanie; Thiel, Nadine; et al. (2017-08-17)
    Regulatory T (Treg) cells require T-cell receptor (TCR) signalling to exert their immunosuppressive activity, but the precise organization of the TCR signalling network compared to conventional T (Tconv) cells remains elusive. By using accurate mass spectrometry and multi-epitope ligand cartography (MELC) we characterized TCR signalling and recruitment of TCR signalling components to the immunological synapse (IS) in Treg cells and Tconv cells. With the exception of Themis which we detected in lower amounts in Treg cells, other major TCR signalling components were found equally abundant, however, their phosphorylation-status notably discriminates Treg cells from Tconv cells. Overall, this study identified 121 Treg cell-specific phosphorylations. Short-term triggering of T cell subsets via CD3 and CD28 widely harmonized these variations with the exception of eleven TCR signalling components that mainly regulate cytoskeleton dynamics and molecular transport. Accordingly, conjugation with B cells indeed caused variant cellular morphology and revealed a Treg cell-specific recruitment of TCR signalling components such as PKCθ, PLCγ1 and ZAP70 as well as B cell-derived CD86 into the IS. Together, results from this study support the existence of a Treg cell-specific IS and suggest Treg cell-specific cytoskeleton dynamics as a novel determinant for the unique functional properties of Treg cells.
  • Epigenetic orchestration of thymic Treg cell development.

    Beyer, Marc; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-19)
  • Mesenteric lymph node stromal cell-derived extracellular vesicles contribute to peripheral de novo induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells.

    Pasztoi, Maria; Pezoldt, Joern; Beckstette, Michael; Lipps, Christoph; Wirth, Dagmar; Rohde, M; Paloczi, Krisztina; Buzas, Edit Iren; Huehn, Jochen; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-18)
    Intestinal regulatory T cells (Tregs) are fundamental in peripheral tolerance toward commensals and food-borne antigens. Accordingly, gut-draining mesenteric lymph nodes (mLNs) represent a site of efficient peripheral de novo Treg induction when compared to skin-draining peripheral LNs (pLNs), and we had recently shown that LN stromal cells substantially contribute to this process. Here, we aimed to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms and generated immortalized fibroblastic reticular cell lines (iFRCs) from mLNs and pLNs, allowing unlimited investigation of this rare stromal cell subset. In line with our previous findings, mLN-iFRCs showed a higher Treg-inducing capacity when compared to pLN-iFRCs. RNA-seq analysis focusing on secreted molecules revealed a more tolerogenic phenotype of mLN- as compared to pLN-iFRCs. Remarkably, mLN-iFRCs produced substantial numbers of microvesicles (MVs) that carried elevated levels of TGF-β when compared to pLN-iFRC-derived MVs, and these novel players of intercellular communication were shown to be responsible for the tolerogenic properties of mLN-iFRCs. Thus, stromal cells originating from mLNs contribute to peripheral tolerance by fostering de novo Treg induction using TGF-β-carrying MVs. This finding provides novel insights into the subcellular/molecular mechanisms of de novo Treg induction and might serve as promising tool for future therapeutic applications to treat inflammatory disorders.
  • Helicobacter pylori and its secreted immunomodulator VacA protect against anaphylaxis in experimental models of food allergy.

    Kyburz, Andreas; Urban, Sabine; Altobelli, Aleksandra; Floess, Stefan; Huehn, Jochen; Cover, Timothy L; Müller, Anne; Helmholtz Centre for infection research GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-12)
    Food allergy is an increasingly common health problem in Western populations. Epidemiological studies have suggested both positive and negative associations between food allergy and infection with the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
  • Activated protein C protects from GvHD via PAR2/PAR3 signalling in regulatory T-cells.

    Ranjan, Satish; Goihl, Alexander; Kohli, Shrey; Gadi, Ihsan; Pierau, Mandy; Shahzad, Khurrum; Gupta, Dheerendra; Bock, Fabian; Wang, Hongjie; Shaikh, Haroon; et al. (2017-08-21)
    Graft-vs.-host disease (GvHD) is a major complication of allogenic hematopoietic stem-cell(HSC) transplantation. GvHD is associated with loss of endothelial thrombomodulin, but the relevance of this for the adaptive immune response to transplanted HSCs remains unknown. Here we show that the protease-activated protein C (aPC), which is generated by thrombomodulin, ameliorates GvHD aPC restricts allogenic T-cell activation via the protease activated receptor (PAR)2/PAR3 heterodimer on regulatory T-cells (Tregs, CD4(+)FOXP3(+)). Preincubation of pan T-cells with aPC prior to transplantation increases the frequency of Tregs and protects from GvHD. Preincubation of human T-cells (HLA-DR4(-)CD4(+)) with aPC prior to transplantation into humanized (NSG-AB°DR4) mice ameliorates graft-vs.-host disease. The protective effect of aPC on GvHD does not compromise the graft vs. leukaemia effect in two independent tumor cell models. Ex vivo preincubation of T-cells with aPC, aPC-based therapies, or targeting PAR2/PAR3 on T-cells may provide a safe and effective approach to mitigate GvHD.Graft-vs.-host disease is a complication of allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, and is associated with endothelial dysfunction. Here the authors show that activated protein C signals via PAR2/PAR3 to expand Treg cells, mitigating the disease in mice.

View more