• Helicobacter pylori vacA genotype is a predominant determinant of immune response to Helicobacter pylori CagA.

      Link, Alexander; Langner, Cosima; Schirrmeister, Wiebke; Habendorf, Wiebke; Weigt, Jochen; Venerito, Marino; Tammer, Ina; Schlüter, Dirk; Schlaermann, Philipp; Meyer, Thomas F; et al. (2017-07-14)
      To evaluate the frequency of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) CagA antibodies in H. pylori infected subjects and to identify potential histopathological and bacterial factors related to H. pylori CagA-immune response.
    • Heparin: role in protein purification and substitution with animal-component free material.

      Bolten, Svenja Nicolin; Rinas, Ursula; Scheper, Thomas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2018-10-01)
      Heparin is a highly sulfated polysaccharide which belongs to the family of glycosaminoglycans. It is involved in various important biological activities. The major biological purpose is the inhibition of the coagulation cascade to maintain the blood flow in the vasculature. These properties are employed in several therapeutic drugs. Heparin's activities are associated with its interaction to various proteins. To date, the structural heparin-protein interactions are not completely understood. This review gives a general overview of specific patterns and functional groups which are involved in the heparin-protein binding. An understanding of the heparin-protein interactions at the molecular level is not only advantageous in the therapeutic application but also in biotechnological application of heparin for downstreaming. This review focuses on the heparin affinity chromatography. Diverse recombinant proteins can be successfully purified by this method. While effective, it is disadvantageous that heparin is an animal-derived material. Animal-based components carry the risk of contamination. Therefore, they are liable to strict quality controls and the validation of effective good manufacturing practice (GMP) implementation. Hence, adequate alternatives to animal-derived components are needed. This review examines strategies to avoid these disadvantages. Thereby, alternatives for the provision of heparin such as chemical synthesized heparin, chemoenzymatic heparin, and bioengineered heparin are discussed. Moreover, the usage of other chromatographic systems mimetic the heparin effect is reviewed.
    • Hepatitis D virus in Africa: several unmet needs.

      Manns, Michael P; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-10)
    • Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)-Specific T Cell Receptor Cross-Recognition: Implications for Immunotherapy.

      Soon, Chai Fen; Zhang, Shihong; Suneetha, Pothakamuri Venkata; Antunes, Dinler Amaral; Manns, Michael Peter; Raha, Solaiman; Schultze-Florey, Christian; Prinz, Immo; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Sällberg Chen, Margaret; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      T cell immunotherapy is a concept developed for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, based on cytotoxic T lymphocytes to target tumor- or pathogen-specific antigens. Antigen-specificity of the T cell receptors (TCRs) is an important selection criterion in the developmental design of immunotherapy. However, off-target specificity is a possible autoimmunity concern if the engineered antigen-specific T cells are cross-reacting to self-peptides in-vivo. In our recent work, we identified several hepatitis E virus (HEV)-specific TCRs as potential candidates to be developed into T cell therapy to treat chronic hepatitis E. One of the identified TCRs, targeting a HLA-A2-restricted epitope at the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (HEV-1527: LLWNTVWNM), possessed a unique multiple glycine motif in the TCR-β CDR3, which might be a factor inducing cross-reactivity. The aim of our study was to explore if this TCR could cross-recognize self-peptides to underlay autoimmunity. Indeed, we found that this HEV-1527-specific TCR could also cross-recognize an apoptosis-related epitope, Nonmuscle Myosin Heavy Chain 9 (MYH9-478: QLFNHTMFI). While this TCR had dual specificities to both viral epitope and a self-antigen by double Dextramer binding, it was selectively functional against HEV-1527 but not activated against MYH9-478. The consecutive glycine motif in β chain may be the reason promoting TCR binding promiscuity to recognize a secondary target, thereby facilitating cross-recognition. In conclusion, candidate TCRs for immunotherapy development should be screened for autoimmune potential, especially when the TCRs exhibit unique sequence pattern.
    • Hepatocyte-specific suppression of microRNA-221-3p mitigates liver fibrosis.

      Tsay, Hsin-Chieh; Yuan, Qinggong; Balakrishnan, Asha; Kaiser, Marina; Möbus, Selina; Kozdrowska, Emilia; Farid, Marwa; Tegtmeyer, Pia-Katharina; Borst, Katharina; Vondran, Florian W R; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-12-22)
      Fibrosis, a cardinal feature of a dysfunctional liver, significantly contributes to the ever-increasing mortality due to end-stage chronic liver diseases. The crosstalk between hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) plays a key role in the progression of fibrosis. Although ample efforts have been devoted to elucidate the functions of HSCs during liver fibrosis, the regulatory functions of hepatocytes remain elusive. Using an unbiased functional microRNA (miRNA) screening, we investigated the ability of hepatocytes to regulate fibrosis by fine-tuning gene expression via miRNA modulation. The in vivo functional analyses were performed by inhibiting miRNA in hepatocytes using adeno-associated virus in carbon-tetrachloride- and 3,5-di-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine-induced liver fibrosis. Blocking miRNA-221-3p function in hepatocytes during chronic liver injury facilitated recovery of the liver and faster resolution of the deposited extracellular matrix. Furthermore, we demonstrate that reduced secretion of C-C motif chemokine ligand 2, as a result of post-transcriptional regulation of GNAI2 (G protein alpha inhibiting activity polypeptide 2) by miRNA-221-3p, mitigates liver fibrosis. Collectively, miRNA modulation in hepatocytes, an easy-to-target cell type in the liver, may serve as a potential therapeutic approach for liver fibrosis.
    • Human Anti-Lipopolysaccharid (LPS) antibodies against Legionella with high species specificity.

      Kuhn, Philipp; Thiem, Stefanie; Steinert, Michael; Purvis, Duncan; Lugmayr, Veronika; Treutlein, Ulrich; Plobner, Lutz; Leiser, Robert-Matthias; Hust, Michael; Dübel, Stefan; et al. (2017-07-19)
      Legionella are Gram-negative bacteria that are ubiquitously present in natural and man-made water reservoirs. When humans inhale aerosolized water contaminated with Legionella, alveolar macrophages can be infected, which may lead to a life-threatening pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease. Due to the universal distribution of Legionella in water and their potential threat to human health, the Legionella concentration in water for human use must be strictly monitored, which is difficult since the standard detection still relies on lengthy cultivation and analysis of bacterial morphology. In this study, an antibody against L. pneumophila has been generated from the naïve human HAL antibody libraries by phage-display for the first time. The panning was performed on whole bacterial cells in order to select antibodies that bind specifically to the cell surface of untreated Legionella. The bacterial cell wall component lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was identified as the target structure. Specific binding to the important pathogenic L. pneumophila strains Corby, Philadelphia-1 and Knoxville was observed, while no binding was detected to seven members of the families Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonadaceae or Clostridiaceae. Production of this antibody in the recombinant scFv-Fc format using either a murine or a human Fc part allowed the set-up of a sandwich-ELISA for detection of Legionella cells. The scFv-Fc construct proved to be very stable, even when stored for several weeks at elevated temperatures. A sensitivity limit of 4,000 cells was achieved. The scFv-Fc antibody pair was integrated on a biosensor, demonstrating the specific and fast detection of L. pneumophila on a portable device. With this system, 10,000 Legionella cells were detected within 35 min. Combined with a water filtration/concentration system, this antibody may be developed into a promising reagent for rapid on-site Legionella monitoring.
    • Identification of a Predominantly Interferon-λ-Induced Transcriptional Profile in Murine Intestinal Epithelial Cells.

      Selvakumar, Tharini A; Bhushal, Sudeep; Kalinke, Ulrich; Wirth, Dagmar; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Hornef, Mathias W; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-01)
      Type I (α and β) and type III (λ) interferons (IFNs) induce the expression of a large set of antiviral effector molecules
    • Impact of Von Willebrand Factor on Bacterial Pathogenesis.

      Steinert, Michael; Ramming, Isabell; Bergmann, Simone; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-09-03)
      Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a mechano-sensitive protein with crucial functions in normal hemostasis, which are strongly dependant on the shear-stress mediated defolding and multimerization of VWF in the blood stream. Apart from bleeding disorders, higher plasma levels of VWF are often associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Herein, the disease symptoms are attributed to the inflammatory response of the activated endothelium and share high similarities to the reaction of the host vasculature to systemic infections caused by pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The bacteria recruit circulating VWF, and by binding to immobilized VWF on activated endothelial cells in blood flow, they interfere with the physiological functions of VWF, including platelet recruitment and coagulation. Several bacterial VWF binding proteins have been identified and further characterized by biochemical analyses. Moreover, the development of a combination of sophisticated cell culture systems simulating shear stress levels of the blood flow with microscopic visualization also provided valuable insights into the interaction mechanism between bacteria and VWF-strings. In vivo studies using mouse models of bacterial infection and zebrafish larvae provided evidence that the interaction between bacteria and VWF promotes bacterial attachment, coagulation, and thrombus formation, and thereby contributes to the pathophysiology of severe infectious diseases such as infective endocarditis and bacterial sepsis. This mini-review summarizes the current knowledge of the interaction between bacteria and the mechano-responsive VWF, and corresponding pathophysiological disease symptoms.
    • Importance of flagella in acute and chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.

      Lorenz, Anne; Preuße, Matthias; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Pawar, Vinay; Grahl, Nora; Pils, Marina C; Nolan, Laura M; Filloux, Alain; Weiss, Siegfried; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018-11-08)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an environmental microorganism and a causative agent of diverse acute and chronic, biofilm-associated infections. Advancing research-based knowledge on its adaptation to conditions within the human host is bound to reveal novel strategies and targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we investigated the traits that P. aeruginosa PA14 as well as a virulence attenuated ΔlasR mutant need to survive in selected murine infection models. Experimentally, the genetic programs that the bacteria use to adapt to biofilm-associated versus acute infections were dissected by passaging transposon mutant libraries through mouse lungs (acute) or mouse tumours (biofilm-infection). Adaptive metabolic changes of P. aeruginosa were generally required during both infection processes. Counter-selection against flagella expression was observed during acute lung infections. Obviously, avoidance of flagella-mediated activation of host immunity is advantageous for the wildtype bacteria. For the ΔlasR mutant, loss of flagella did not confer a selective advantage. Apparently, other pathogenesis mechanisms are active in this virulence attenuated strain. In contrast, the infective process of P. aeruginosa in the chronic biofilm model apparently required expression of flagellin. Together, our findings imply that the host immune reactions against the infectious agent are very decisive for acuteness and duration of the infectious disease. They direct disease outcome.
    • [Individualized infection medicine : Challenges and opportunities].

      Debarry, Jennifer; Heinz, D; Manns, M P; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-07)
    • Induced B Cell Development in Adult Mice.

      Brennecke, Anne-Margarete; Düber, Sandra; Roy, Bishnudeo; Thomsen, Irene; Garbe, Annette I; Klawonn, Frank; Pabst, Oliver; Kretschmer, Karsten; Weiss, Siegfried; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      We employed the B-Indu-Rag1 model in which the coding exon of recombination-activating gene 1 (Rag1) is inactivated by inversion. It is flanked by inverted loxP sites. Accordingly, B cell development is stopped at the pro/pre B-I cell precursor stage. A B cell-specific Cre recombinase fused to a mutated estrogen receptor allows the induction of RAG1 function and B cell development by application of Tamoxifen. Since Rag1 function is recovered in a non-self-renewing precursor cell, only single waves of development can be induced. Using this system, we could determine that B cells minimally require 5 days to undergo development from pro/preB-I cells to the large and 6 days to the small preB-II cell stage. First immature transitional (T) 1 and T2 B cells could be detected in the bone marrow at day 6 and day 7, respectively, while their appearance in the spleen took one additional day. We also tested a contribution of adult bone marrow to the pool of B-1 cells. Sublethally irradiated syngeneic WT mice were adoptively transferred with bone marrow of B-Indu-Rag1 mice and B cell development was induced after 6 weeks. A significant portion of donor derived B-1 cells could be detected in such adult mice. Finally, early VH gene usage was tested after induction of B cell development. During the earliest time points the VH genes proximal to D/J were found to be predominantly rearranged. At later time points, the large family of the most distal VH prevailed.
    • The intriguing cyclophilin A-HIV-1 Vpr interaction: prolyl cis/trans isomerisation catalysis and specific binding.

      Solbak, Sara M; Reksten, Tove R; Wray, Victor; Bruns, Karsten; Horvli, Ole; Raae, Arnt J; Henklein, Petra; Henklein, Peter; Röder, Rene; Mitzner, David; et al. (2010)
      Cyclophilin A (CypA) represents a potential target for antiretroviral therapy since inhibition of CypA suppresses human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication, although the mechanism through which CypA modulates HIV-1 infectivity still remains unclear. The interaction of HIV-1 viral protein R (Vpr) with the human peptidyl prolyl isomerase CypA is known to occur in vitro and in vivo. However, the nature of the interaction of CypA with Pro-35 of N-terminal Vpr has remained undefined.
    • Irreversible impact of chronic hepatitis C virus infection on human natural killer cell diversity.

      Strunz, Benedikt; Hengst, Julia; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Björkström, Niklas K; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Shared Science org, 2018-07-25)
      Diversity is crucial for the immune system to efficiently combat infections. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate cytotoxic lymphocytes that contribute to the control of viral infections. NK cells were for long thought to be a homogeneous population of cells. However, recent work has instead revealed NK cells to represent a highly diverse population of immune cells where a vast number of subpopulations with distinct characteristics exist across tissues. However, the degree to which a chronic viral infection affects NK cell diversity remains elusive. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is effective in establishing chronic infection in humans. During the last years, new direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAA) have revolutionized treatment of chronic hepatitis C, enabling rapid cure in the majority of patients. This allows us to study the influence of a chronic viral infection and its subsequent elimination on the NK cell compartment with a focus on NK cell diversity. In our recent study (Nat Commun, 9:2275), we show that chronic HCV infection irreversibly impacts human NK cell repertoire diversity.
    • Isolation of dimeric, trimeric, tetrameric and pentameric procyanidins from unroasted cocoa beans (Theobroma cacao L.) using countercurrent chromatography.

      Esatbeyoglu, Tuba; Wray, Victor; Winterhalter, Peter; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-07-15)
      The main procyanidins, including dimeric B2 and B5, trimeric C1, tetrameric and pentameric procyanidins, were isolated from unroasted cocoa beans (Theobroma cacao L.) using various techniques of countercurrent chromatography, such as high-speed countercurrent chromatography (HSCCC), low-speed rotary countercurrent chromatography (LSRCCC) and spiral-coil LSRCCC. Furthermore, dimeric procyanidins B1 and B7, which are not present naturally in the analysed cocoa beans, were obtained after semisynthesis of cocoa bean polymers with (+)-catechin as nucleophile and separated by countercurrent chromatography. In this way, the isolation of dimeric procyanidin B1 in considerable amounts (500mg, purity>97%) was possible in a single run. This is the first report concerning the isolation and semisynthesis of dimeric to pentameric procyanidins from T. cacao by countercurrent chromatography. Additionally, the chemical structures of tetrameric (cinnamtannin A2) and pentameric procyanidins (cinnamtannin A3) were elucidated on the basis of (1)H NMR spectroscopy. Interflavanoid linkage was determined by NOE-correlations, for the first time.
    • Itaconic acid indicates cellular but not systemic immune system activation.

      Meiser, Johannes; Kraemer, Lisa; Jaeger, Christian; Madry, Henning; Link, Andreas; Lepper, Philipp M; Hiller, Karsten; Schneider, Jochen G; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-08-14)
      Itaconic acid is produced by mammalian leukocytes upon pro-inflammatory activation. It appears to inhibit bacterial growth and to rewire the metabolism of the host cell by inhibiting succinate dehydrogenase. Yet, it is unknown whether itaconic acid acts only intracellularly, locally in a paracrine fashion, or whether it is even secreted from the inflammatory cells at meaningful levels in peripheral blood of patients with severe inflammation or sepsis. The aim of this study was to determine the release rate of itaconic acid from pro-inflammatory activated macrophages
    • Linoleic and palmitoleic acid block streptokinase-mediated plasminogen activation and reduce severity of invasive group A streptococcal infection

      Rox, Katharina; Jansen, Rolf; Loof, Torsten G.; Gillen, Christine M.; Bernecker, Steffen; Walker, Mark J.; Chhatwal, Gursharan Singh; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland,Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-09-18)
      In contrast to mild infections of Group A Streptococcus (GAS) invasive infections of GAS still pose a serious health hazard: GAS disseminates from sterile sites into the blood stream or deep tissues and causes sepsis or necrotizing fasciitis. In this case antibiotics do not provide an effective cure as the bacteria are capable to hide from them very quickly. Therefore, new remedies are urgently needed. Starting from a myxobacterial natural products screening campaign, we identified two fatty acids isolated from myxobacteria, linoleic and palmitoleic acid, specifically blocking streptokinase-mediated activation of plasminogen and thereby preventing streptococci from hijacking the host’s plasminogen/plasmin system. This activity is not inherited by other fatty acids such as oleic acid and is not attributable to the killing of streptococci. Moreover, both fatty acids are superior in their inhibitory properties compared to two clinically used drugs (tranexamic or ε-amino caproic acid) as they show 500–1000 fold lower IC50 values. Using a humanized plasminogen mouse model mimicking the clinical situation of a local GAS infection that becomes systemic, we demonstrate that these fatty acids ameliorate invasive GAS infection significantly. Consequently, linoleic and palmitoleic acid are possible new options to combat GAS invasive diseases.
    • A Listeria monocytogenes ST2 clone lacking chitinase ChiB from an outbreak of non-invasive gastroenteritis.

      Halbedel, Sven; Prager, Rita; Banerji, Sangeeta; Kleta, Sylvia; Trost, Eva; Nishanth, Gopala; Alles, Georg; Hölzel, Christina; Schlesiger, Friederike; Pietzka, Ariane; et al. (Springer Nature, 2019-01-01)
      An outbreak with a remarkable Listeria monocytogenes clone causing 163 cases of non-invasive listeriosis occurred in Germany in 2015. Core genome multi locus sequence typing grouped non-invasive outbreak isolates and isolates obtained from related food samples into a single cluster, but clearly separated genetically close isolates obtained from invasive listeriosis cases. A comparative genomic approach identified a premature stop codon in the chiB gene, encoding one of the two L. monocytogenes chitinases, which clustered with disease outcome. Correction of this premature stop codon in one representative gastroenteritis outbreak isolate restored chitinase production, but effects in infection experiments were not found. While the exact role of chitinases in virulence of L. monocytogenes is still not fully understood, our results now clearly show that ChiB-derived activity is not required to establish L. monocytogenes gastroenteritis in humans. This limits a possible role of ChiB in human listeriosis to later steps of the infection.
    • Macrophage entrapped silica coated superparamagnetic iron oxide particles for controlled drug release in a 3D cancer model.

      Ullah, Sami; Seidel, Katja; Türkkan, Sibel; Warwas, Dawid Peter; Dubich, Tatyana; Rohde, Manfred; Hauser, Hansjörg; Behrens, Peter; Kirschning, Andreas; Köster, Mario; et al. (2018-12-23)
      Targeted delivery of drugs is a major challenge in treatment of diverse diseases. Systemically administered drugs demand high doses and are accompanied by poor selectivity and side effects on non-target cells. Here, we introduce a new principle for targeted drug delivery. It is based on macrophages as transporters for nanoparticle-coupled drugs as well as controlled release of drugs by hyperthermia mediated disruption of the cargo cells and simultaneous deliberation of nanoparticle-linked drugs. Hyperthermia is induced by an alternating electromagnetic field (AMF) that induces heat from silica-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs). We show proof-of-principle of controlled release by the simultaneous disruption of the cargo cells and the controlled, AMF induced release of a toxin, which was covalently linked to silica-coated SPIONs via a thermo-sensitive linker. Cells that had not been loaded with SPIONs remain unaffected. Moreover, in a 3D co-culture model we demonstrate specific killing of associated tumour cells when employing a ratio as low as 1:40 (SPION-loaded macrophage: tumour cells). Overall, our results demonstrate that AMF induced drug release from macrophage-entrapped nanoparticles is tightly controlled and may be an attractive novel strategy for targeted drug release.
    • MAIT cells are enriched and highly functional in ascites of patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis.

      Niehaus, Christian E; Strunz, Benedikt; Cornillet, Martin; Falk, Christine S; Schnieders, Ansgar; Maasoumy, Benjamin; Hardtke, Svenja; Manns, Michael P; Rm Kraft, Anke; Björkström, Niklas K; et al. (Wiley Online Open, 2020-02-03)
      Patients with advanced liver cirrhosis have an increased susceptibility to infections. As part of the cirrhosis-associated immune dysfunction, mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, that have the capacity to respond towards bacteria, are severely diminished in circulation and liver tissue. However, MAIT cell presence and function in the peritoneal cavity, a common anatomical site for infections in cirrhosis, remain elusive. To study this, matched peripheral blood and ascites fluid were collected from 35 patients with decompensated cirrhosis, with or without spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). MAIT cell phenotype and function were analyzed using high-dimensional flow cytometry and obtained data was compared to blood samples of healthy controls (n=24) and patients with compensated cirrhosis (n=11). We found circulating MAIT cells to be severely decreased in cirrhotic patients as compared to controls. In contrast, in ascites fluid, MAIT cells were significantly increased together with CD14+ CD16+ monocytes, ILCs, and NK cells. This was paralleled by elevated levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in ascites fluid as compared to plasma. Peritoneal MAIT cells displayed an activated tissue-resident phenotype and this was corroborated by increased functional responses following stimulation with E. coli or lL-12 + IL-18 as compared to circulating MAIT cells. During SBP, peritoneal MAIT cell frequencies increased most among all major immune cell subsets, suggestive of active homing of MAIT cells to the site of infection. CONCLUSIONS: Despite severely diminished MAIT cell numbers and impaired phenotype in circulation, peritoneal MAIT cells remain abundant, activated, and highly functional in decompensated cirrhosis and are further enriched in SBP. This suggests that peritoneal MAIT cells could be of interest for immune intervention strategies in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis and SBP.
    • 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.