• Absence of cGAS-mediated type I IFN responses in HIV-1-infected T cells.

      Elsner, Carina; Ponnurangam, Aparna; Kazmierski, Julia; Zillinger, Thomas; Jansen, Jenny; Todt, Daniel; Döhner, Katinka; Xu, Shuting; Ducroux, Aurélie; Kriedemann, Nils; et al. (2020-07-24)
      The DNA sensor cGAS catalyzes the production of the cyclic dinucleotide cGAMP, resulting in type I interferon responses. We addressed the functionality of cGAS-mediated DNA sensing in human and murine T cells. Activated primary CD4+ T cells expressed cGAS and responded to plasmid DNA by upregulation of ISGs and release of bioactive interferon. In mouse T cells, cGAS KO ablated sensing of plasmid DNA, and TREX1 KO enabled cells to sense short immunostimulatory DNA. Expression of IFIT1 and MX2 was downregulated and upregulated in cGAS KO and TREX1 KO T cell lines, respectively, compared to parental cells. Despite their intact cGAS sensing pathway, human CD4+ T cells failed to mount a reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitor-sensitive immune response following HIV-1 infection. In contrast, infection of human T cells with HSV-1 that is functionally deficient for the cGAS antagonist pUL41 (HSV-1ΔUL41N) resulted in a cGAS-dependent type I interferon response. In accordance with our results in primary CD4+ T cells, plasmid challenge or HSV-1ΔUL41N inoculation of T cell lines provoked an entirely cGAS-dependent type I interferon response, including IRF3 phosphorylation and expression of ISGs. In contrast, no RT-dependent interferon response was detected following transduction of T cell lines with VSV-G-pseudotyped lentiviral or gammaretroviral particles. Together, T cells are capable to raise a cGAS-dependent cell-intrinsic response to both plasmid DNA challenge or inoculation with HSV-1ΔUL41N. However, HIV-1 infection does not appear to trigger cGAS-mediated sensing of viral DNA in T cells, possibly by revealing viral DNA of insufficient quantity, length, and/or accessibility to cGAS.
    • C19orf66 is an interferon-induced inhibitor of HCV replication that restricts formation of the viral replication organelle

      Kinast, Volker; Plociennikowska, Agnieszka; Anggakusuma; Bracht, Thilo; Todt, Daniel; Brown, Richard J.P.; Boldanova, Tujana; Zhang, Yudi; Brüggemann, Yannick; Friesland, Martina; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-04-12)
      Background & Aims HCV is a positive-strand RNA virus that primarily infects human hepatocytes. Recent studies have reported that C19orf66 is expressed as an interferon (IFN)-stimulated gene; however, the intrinsic regulation of this gene within the liver as well as its antiviral effects against HCV remain elusive. Methods Expression of C19orf66 was quantified in both liver biopsies and primary human hepatocytes, with or without HCV infection. Mechanistic studies of the potent anti-HCV phenotype mediated by C19orf66 were conducted using state-of-the-art virological, biochemical and genetic approaches, as well as correlative light and electron microscopy and transcriptome and proteome analysis. Results Upregulation of C19orf66 mRNA was observed in both primary human hepatocytes upon HCV infection and in the livers of patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). In addition, pegIFNα/ribavirin therapy induced C19orf66 expression in patients with CHC. Transcriptomic profiling and whole cell proteomics of hepatoma cells ectopically expressing C19orf66 revealed no induction of other antiviral genes. Expression of C19orf66 restricted HCV infection, whereas CRIPSPR/Cas9 mediated knockout of C19orf66 attenuated IFN-mediated suppression of HCV replication. Co-immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry identified a stress granule protein-dominated interactome of C19orf66. Studies with subgenomic HCV replicons and an expression system revealed that C19orf66 expression impairs HCV-induced elevation of phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate, alters the morphology of the viral replication organelle (termed the membranous web) and thereby targets viral RNA replication. Conclusion C19orf66 is an IFN-stimulated gene, which is upregulated in hepatocytes within the first hours post IFN treatment or HCV infection in vivo. The encoded protein possesses specific antiviral activity against HCV and targets the formation of the membranous web. Our study identifies C19orf66 as an IFN-inducible restriction factor with a novel antiviral mechanism that specifically targets HCV replication.
    • C19orf66 is an interferon-induced inhibitor of HCV replication that restricts formation of the viral replication organelle.

      Kinast, Volker; Plociennikowska, Agnieszka; Anggakusuma; Bracht, Thilo; Todt, Daniel; Brown, Richard J P; Boldanova, Tujana; Zhang, Yudi; Brüggemann, Yannick; Friesland, Martina; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-04-12)
    • Microbiota-Induced Type I Interferons Instruct a Poised Basal State of Dendritic Cells.

      Schaupp, Laura; Muth, Sabine; Rogell, Leif; Kofoed-Branzk, Michael; Melchior, Felix; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Ganal-Vonarburg, Stephanie C; Klein, Matthias; Guendel, Fabian; Hain, Tobias; et al. (Cell Press, 2020-05-06)
      Environmental signals shape host physiology and fitness. Microbiota-derived cues are required to program conventional dendritic cells (cDCs) during the steady state so that they can promptly respond and initiate adaptive immune responses when encountering pathogens. However, the molecular underpinnings of microbiota- guided instructive programs are not well understood. Here, we report that the indigenous microbiota controls constitutive production of type I interferons (IFN-I) by plasmacytoid DCs. Using genome-wide analysis of transcriptional and epigenetic regulomes of cDCs from germ-free and IFN-I receptor (IFNAR)-deficient mice, we found that tonic IFNAR signaling instructs a specific epigenomic and metabolic basal state that poises cDCs for future pathogen combat. However, such beneficial biological function comes with a trade-off. Instructed cDCs can prime T cell responses against harmless peripheral antigens when removing roadblocks of peripheral tolerance. Our data provide fresh insights into the evolutionary trade-offs that come with successful adaptation of vertebrates to their microbial environment.
    • Ribavirin for Hepatitis E Virus Infection After Organ Transplantation: A Large European Retrospective Multicenter Study.

      Kamar, Nassim; Abravanel, Florence; Behrendt, Patrick; Hofmann, Jörg; Pageaux, Georges Phillippe; Barbet, Christelle; Moal, Valérie; Couzi, Lionel; Horvatits, Thomas; De Man, Robert A; et al. (2020-09-01)
      Background. Ribavirin is currently recommended for treating chronic hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection. This retrospective European multicenter study aimed to assess the sustained virological response (SVR) in a large cohort of solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients with chronic HEV infection treated with ribavirin monotherapy (N = 255), to identify the predictive factors for SVR, and to evaluate the impact of HEV RNA mutations on virological response. Methods. Data from 255 SOT recipients with chronic HEV infection from 30 European centers were analyzed. Ribavirin was given at the median dose of 600 (range, 29–1200) mg/day (mean, 8.6 ± 3.6 mg/kg/day) for a median duration of 3 (range, 0.25–18) months. Results. After a first course of ribavirin, the SVR rate was 81.2%. It increased to 89.8% when some patients were offered a second course of ribavirin. An increased lymphocyte count at the initiation of therapy was a predictive factor for SVR, while poor hematological tolerance of ribavirin requiring its dose reduction (28%) and blood transfusion (15.7%) were associated with more relapse after ribavirin cessation. Pretreatment HEV polymerase mutations and de novo mutations under ribavirin did not have a negative impact on HEV clearance. Anemia was the main adverse event. Conclusions. This large-scale retrospective study confirms that ribavirin is highly efficient for treating chronic HEV infection in SOT recipients and shows that the predominant HEV RNA polymerase mutations found in this study do not affect the rate of HEV clearance.
    • Ecological and pharmacological activities of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (Pbdes) from the indonesian marine sponge lamellodysidea herbacea.

      Faisal, Muhammad R; Kellermann, Matthias Y; Rohde, Sven; Putra, Masteria Y; Murniasih, Tutik; Risdian, Chandra; Mohr, Kathrin I; Wink, Joachim; Praditya, Dimas F; Steinmann, Eike; et al. (MDPI, 2021-10-27)
      Two known Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs), 3,4,5-tribromo-2-(2',4'-dibromophenoxy)phenol (1d) and 3,4,5,6-tetrabromo-2-(2',4'-dibromophenoxy)phenol (2b), were isolated from the Indonesian marine sponge Lamellodysidea herbacea. The structure was confirmed using 13C chemical shift average deviation and was compared to the predicted structures and recorded chemical shifts in previous studies. We found a wide range of bioactivities from the organic crude extract, such as (1) a strong deterrence against the generalist pufferfish Canthigaster solandri, (2) potent inhibition against environmental and human pathogenic bacterial and fungal strains, and (3) the inhibition of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). The addition of a bromine atom into the A-ring of compound 2b resulted in higher fish feeding deterrence compared to compound 1d. On the contrary, compound 2b showed only more potent inhibition against the Gram-negative bacteria Rhodotorula glutinis (MIC 2.1 μg/mL), while compound 1d showed more powerful inhibition against the other human pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The first report of a chemical defense by compounds 1d and 2b against fish feeding and environmental relevant bacteria, especially pathogenic bacteria, might be one reason for the widespread occurrence of the shallow water sponge Lamellodysidea herbacea in Indonesia and the Indo-Pacific.
    • Fluvastatin mitigates SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung cells.

      Zapatero-Belinchón, Francisco J; Moeller, Rebecca; Lasswitz, Lisa; van Ham, Marco; Becker, Miriam; Brogden, Graham; Rosendal, Ebba; Bi, Wenjie; Carriquí-Madroñal, Belén; Islam, Koushikul; et al. (Cell Press, 2021-11-18)
      Clinical data of patients suffering from COVID-19 indicates that statin therapy, used to treat hypercholesterolemia, is associated with a better disease outcome. Whether statins directly affect virus replication or influence the clinical outcome through modulation of immune responses is unknown. We therefore investigated the effect of statins on SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lung cells and found that only fluvastatin inhibited low and high pathogenic coronaviruses in vitro and ex vivo in a dose-dependent manner. Quantitative proteomics revealed that fluvastatin and other tested statins modulated the cholesterol synthesis pathway without altering innate antiviral immune responses in infected lung epithelial cells. However, fluvastatin treatment specifically downregulated proteins that modulate protein translation and viral replication. Collectively, these results support the notion that statin therapy poses no additional risk to individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and that fluvastatin has a moderate beneficial effect on SARS-CoV-2 infection of human lung cells.
    • Interaction of myxobacteria-derived outer membrane vesicles with biofilms: antiadhesive and antibacterial effects.

      Goes, Adriely; Vidakovic, Lucia; Drescher, Knut; Fuhrmann, Gregor; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021-08-02)
      Bacterial biofilms are widespread in nature and in medical settings and display a high tolerance to antibiotics and disinfectants. Extracellular vesicles have been increasingly studied to characterise their origins and assess their potential for use as a versatile drug delivery system; however, it remains unclear whether they also have antibiofilm effects. Outer membrane vesicles are lipid vesicles shed by Gram-negative bacteria and, in the case of myxobacteria, carry natural antimicrobial compounds produced by these microorganisms. In this study, we demonstrate that vesicles derived from the myxobacteria Cystobacter velatus Cbv34 and Cystobacter ferrugineus Cbfe23 are highly effective at inhibiting the formation and disrupting biofilms by different bacterial species.
    • Congenital deficiency reveals critical role of ISG15 in skin homeostasis.

      Malik, Muhammad Nasir Hayat; Waqas, Syed F Hassnain; Zeitvogel, Jana; Cheng, Jingyuan; Geffers, Robert; Gouda, Zeinab Abu-Elbaha; Elsaman, Ahmed Mahrous; Radwan, Ahmed R; Schefzyk, Matthias; Braubach, Peter; et al. (Society of clinical investigation, 2021-11-30)
      Ulcerating skin lesions are manifestations of human ISG15 deficiency, a type I interferonopathy. However, chronic inflammation may not be their exclusive cause. We describe two siblings with recurrent skin ulcers that healed with scar formation upon corticosteroid treatment. Both had a homozygous nonsense mutation in the ISG15 gene, leading to unstable ISG15 protein lacking the functional domain. We characterized ISG15-/- dermal fibroblasts, HaCaT keratinocytes, and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived vascular endothelial cells. ISG15-deficient cells exhibited the expected hyperinflammatory phenotype, but also dysregulated expression of molecules critical for connective tissue and epidermis integrity, including reduced collagens and adhesion molecules, but increased matrix metalloproteases. ISG15-/- fibroblasts exhibited elevated ROS levels and reduced ROS scavenger expression. As opposed to hyperinflammation, defective collagen and integrin synthesis was not rescued by conjugation-deficient ISG15. Cell migration was retarded in ISG15-/- fibroblasts and HaCaT keratinocytes, but normalized under ruxolitinib treatment. Desmosome density was reduced in an ISG15-/- 3D epidermis model. Additionally, there were loose architecture and reduced collagen and desmoglein expression, which could be reversed by treatment with ruxolitinib/doxycycline/TGF-β1. These results reveal critical roles of ISG15 in maintaining cell migration and epidermis and connective tissue homeostasis, whereby the latter likely requires its conjugation to yet unidentified targets.
    • Bioinformatics of virus taxonomy: foundations and tools for developing sequence-based hierarchical classification.

      Gorbalenya, Alexander E; Lauber, Chris; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-12-06)
      The genome sequence is the only characteristic readily obtainable for all known viruses, underlying the growing role of comparative genomics in organizing knowledge about viruses in a systematic evolution-aware way, known as virus taxonomy. Overseen by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), development of virus taxonomy involves taxa demarcation at 15 ranks of a hierarchical classification, often in host-specific manner. Outside the ICTV remit, researchers assess fitting numerous unclassified viruses into the established taxa. They employ different metrics of virus clustering, basing on conserved domain(s), separation of viruses in rooted phylogenetic trees and pair-wise distance space. Computational approaches differ further in respect to methodology, number of ranks considered, sensitivity to uneven virus sampling, and visualization of results. Advancing and using computational tools will be critical for improving taxa demarcation across the virosphere and resolving rank origins in research that may also inform experimental virology. Copyrigh
    • 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.
    • Impaired immune response mediated by prostaglandin E2 promotes severe COVID-19 disease.

      Ricke-Hoch, Melanie; Stelling, Elisabeth; Lasswitz, Lisa; Gunesch, Antonia P; Kasten, Martina; Zapatero-Belinchón, Francisco J; Brogden, Graham; Gerold, Gisa; Pietschmann, Thomas; Montiel, Virginie; et al. (PLOS, 2021-08-04)
      he SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has led to a pandemic with millions of people affected. The present study finds that risk-factors for severe COVID-19 disease courses, i.e. male sex, older age and sedentary life style are associated with higher prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) serum levels in blood samples from unaffected subjects. In COVID-19 patients, PGE2 blood levels are markedly elevated and correlate positively with disease severity. SARS-CoV-2 induces PGE2 generation and secretion in infected lung epithelial cells by upregulating cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 and reducing the PG-degrading enzyme 15-hydroxyprostaglandin-dehydrogenase. Also living human precision cut lung slices (PCLS) infected with SARS-CoV-2 display upregulated COX-2. Regular exercise in aged individuals lowers PGE2 serum levels, which leads to increased Paired-Box-Protein-Pax-5 (PAX5) expression, a master regulator of B-cell survival, proliferation and differentiation also towards long lived memory B-cells, in human pre-B-cell lines. Moreover, PGE2 levels in serum of COVID-19 patients lowers the expression of PAX5 in human pre-B-cell lines. The PGE2 inhibitor Taxifolin reduces SARS-CoV-2-induced PGE2 production. In conclusion, SARS-CoV-2, male sex, old age, and sedentary life style increase PGE2 levels, which may reduce the early anti-viral defense as well as the development of immunity promoting severe disease courses and multiple infections. Regular exercise and Taxifolin treatment may reduce these risks and prevent severe disease courses.
    • Clinical Course of Infection and Cross-Species Detection of Equine Parvovirus-Hepatitis.

      Reinecke, Birthe; Klöhn, Mara; Brüggemann, Yannick; Kinast, Volker; Todt, Daniel; Stang, Alexander; Badenhorst, Marcha; Koeppel, Katja; Guthrie, Alan; Groner, Ursula; et al. (MDPI, 2021-07-26)
      The intriguing structural complexity of molecules produced by natural organisms is uncontested. Natural scaffolds serve as an important basis for the development of molecules with broad applications, e.g., therapeutics or agrochemicals. Research in recent decades has demonstrated that by means of classic metabolite extraction from microbes only a small portion of natural products can be accessed. The use of genome mining and heterologous expression approaches represents a promising way to discover new natural compounds. In this paper we report the discovery of a novel cyclic pentapeptide called bonsecamin through the heterologous expression of a cryptic NRPS gene cluster from Streptomyces albus ssp. chlorinus NRRL B-24108 in Streptomyces albus Del14. The new compound was successfully isolated and structurally characterized using NMR. The minimal set of genes required for bonsecamin production was determined through bioinformatic analysis and gene deletion experiments. A biosynthetic route leading to the production of bonsecamin is proposed in this paper.
    • Special Issue "Adenovirus Pathogenesis".

      Arnberg, Niklas; Lenman, Annasara; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-06-10)
      Excerpt Note: In lieu of an abstract, this is an excerpt from the first page. Adenovirus is a common cause of disease in humans and in animals [...]
    • Interdependent Impact of Lipoprotein Receptors and Lipid-Lowering Drugs on HCV Infectivity.

      Zapatero-Belinchón, Francisco J; Ötjengerdes, Rina; Sheldon, Julie; Schulte, Benjamin; Carriquí-Madroñal, Belén; Brogden, Graham; Arroyo-Fernández, Laura M; Vondran, Florian W R; Maasoumy, Benjamin; von Hahn, Thomas; et al. (MDPI, 2021-06-29)
      The HCV replication cycle is tightly associated with host lipid metabolism: Lipoprotein receptors SR-B1 and LDLr promote entry of HCV, replication is associated with the formation of lipid-rich membranous organelles and infectious particle assembly highjacks the very‑low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) secretory pathway. Hence, medications that interfere with the lipid metabolism of the cell, such as statins, may affect HCV infection. Here, we study the interplay between lipoprotein receptors, lipid homeostasis, and HCV infection by genetic and pharmacological interventions. We found that individual ablation of the lipoprotein receptors SR‑B1 and LDLr did not drastically affect HCV entry, replication, or infection, but double lipoprotein receptor knock-outs significantly reduced HCV infection. Furthermore, we could show that this effect was neither due to altered expression of additional HCV entry factors nor caused by changes in cellular cholesterol content. Strikingly, whereas lipid‑lowering drugs such as simvastatin or fenofibrate did not affect HCV entry or infection of immortalized hepatoma cells expressing SR-B1 and/or LDLr or primary human hepatocytes, ablation of these receptors rendered cells more susceptible to these drugs. Finally, we observed no significant differences between statin users and control groups with regards to HCV viral load in a cohort of HCV infected patients before and during HCV antiviral treatment. Interestingly, statin treatment, which blocks the mevalonate pathway leading to decreased cholesterol levels, was associated with mild but appreciable lower levels of liver damage markers before HCV therapy. Overall, our findings confirm the role of lipid homeostasis in HCV infection and highlight the importance of the mevalonate pathway in the HCV replication cycle.
    • Magnesium Complexes of Ladanein: A Beneficial Strategy for Stabilizing Polyphenolic Antivirals

      Martin‐Benlloch, Xavier; Lanfranchi, Don Antoine; Haid, Sibylle; Pietschmann, Thomas; Davioud‐Charvet, Elisabeth; Elhabiri, Mourad; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-07-02)
      Ladanein (noted FOMe) is a potent antiviral flavone that was shown to be active on a broad spectrum of enveloped viruses. This 5,6,7-trihydroxylated flavone has, however, pharmacokinetic properties and a half-life time that need to be improved for possible therapeutic applications. We herein took advantage of the complexation properties of ladanein (Fe(III)) to evaluate its ability to bind Mg(II) (biologically relevant and redox inert ion) precursors prepared beforehand from various carboxylic acids. The 5,6,7-trihydroxylated pattern of ladanein and the ligands borne by the Mg(II) atom of the precursors were found to be essential for firm Mg(II) binding. In particular, a ternary Mg(II) complex of ladanein and pidolate (noted FOMe.MgPid) was isolated and considered for its pharmacokinetic and virucidal (Hepatitis C Virus - HCV) properties. Mg(II) complexation significantly improved the physico-chemical (solubility) and the pharmacokinetic properties (clearance, plasmatic concentration) of the flavone FOMe, while not altering its anti-HCV capacity.
    • Active equine parvovirus-hepatitis infection is most frequently detected in Austrian horses of advanced age.

      Badenhorst, Marcha; de Heus, Phebe; Auer, Angelika; Tegtmeyer, Birthe; Stang, Alexander; Dimmel, Katharina; Tichy, Alexander; Kubacki, Jakub; Bachofen, Claudia; Steinmann, Eike; et al. (Wiley, 2021-03-11)
      ckground: Equine parvovirus-hepatitis (EqPV-H) research is in its infancy. Information regarding prevalence, geographical distribution, genetic diversity, pathogenesis and risk factors enhances understanding of this potentially fatal infection. Objectives: Determining the prevalence of EqPV-H in Austrian equids. Investigating factors increasing probability of infection, liver-associated biochemistry parameters, concurrent equine hepacivirus (EqHV) infection and phylogenetic analysis of Austrian EqPV-H variants. Study design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: Sera from 259 horses and 13 donkeys in Austria were analysed for anti-EqPV-H VP1-specific antibodies by luciferase immunoprecipitation system (LIPS) and EqPV-H DNA by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Associations between infection status, sex and age were described. Glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), bile acids and albumin concentrations were compared between horses with active infection and PCR-negative horses. PCR targeting partial EqPV-H NS1 was performed and phylogenetic analysis of Austrian EqPV-H variants was conducted. Complete coding sequences (CDS) of four Austrian variants were determined by next-generation sequencing (NGS) and compared with published sequences. Results: Horses' EqPV-H seroprevalence was 30.1% and DNA prevalence was 8.9%. One horse was co-infected with EqHV. Significantly, higher probability of active EqPV-H infection was identified in 16- to 31-year-old horses, compared with 1- to 8-year-old horses (P = 0.002; OR = 8.19; 95% CI = 1.79 to 37.50) and 9- to 15-year-old horses (P = 0.03; OR = 2.96; 95% CI = 1.08 to 8.17). Liver-associated plasma parameters were not significantly different between horses with active infection and controls. Austrian EqPV-H variants revealed high similarity to sequences worldwide. No evidence of EqPV-H was detected in donkeys. Main limitations: Equids' inclusion depended upon owner consent. There was only one sampling point per animal and the sample of donkeys was small. Conclusions: EqPV-H antibodies and DNA are frequently detected in Austrian horses, without associated hepatitis in horses with active infection. The risk of active EqPV-H infection increases with increasing age. Phylogenetic evidence supports close relation of EqPV-H variants globally, including Austrian variants.
    • Protecting-Group-Mediated Diastereoselective Synthesis of C4'-Methylated Uridine Analogs and Their Activity against the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

      Köllmann, Christoph; Sake, Svenja M; Jones, Peter G; Pietschmann, Thomas; Werz, Daniel B; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (American Chemical Society, 2020-02-26)
      Adjusting the protecting group strategy, from an alkyl ether to a bidentate ketal at the carbohydrate backbone of uridine, facilitates a switchable diastereoselective α- or β-C4'/C5'-spirocyclopropanation. Using these spirocyclopropanated nucleosides as key intermediates, we synthesized a variety of C4'-methylated d-ribose and l-lyxose-configured uridine derivatives by a base-mediated ring-opening of the spirocyclopropanol moiety. Investigations of antiviral activity against the human respiratory syncytial virus were carried out for selected derivatives, showing moderate activity.
    • Initial HCV infection of adult hepatocytes triggers a temporally structured transcriptional program containing diverse pro- and anti-viral elements.

      Tegtmeyer, Birthe; Vieyres, Gabrielle; Todt, Daniel; Lauber, Chris; Ginkel, Corinne; Engelmann, Michael; Herrmann, Maike; Pfaller, Christian K; Vondran, Florian W R; Broering, Ruth; et al. (ASM, 2021-03-03)
      Transcriptional profiling provides global snapshots of virus-mediated cellular reprogramming, which can simultaneously encompass pro- and antiviral components. To determine early transcriptional signatures associated with HCV infection of authentic target cells, we performed ex vivo infections of adult primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) from seven donors. Longitudinal sampling identified minimal gene dysregulation at six hours post infection (hpi). In contrast, at 72 hpi, massive increases in the breadth and magnitude of HCV-induced gene dysregulation were apparent, affecting gene classes associated with diverse biological processes. Comparison with HCV-induced transcriptional dysregulation in Huh-7.5 cells identified limited overlap between the two systems. Of note, in PHHs, HCV infection initiated broad upregulation of canonical interferon (IFN)-mediated defense programs, limiting viral RNA replication and abrogating virion release. We further find that constitutive expression of IRF1 in PHHs maintains a steady-state antiviral program in the absence of infection, which can additionally reduce HCV RNA translation and replication. We also detected infection-induced downregulation of ∼90 genes encoding components of the EIF2 translation initiation complex and ribosomal subunits in PHHs, consistent with a signature of translational shutoff. As HCV polyprotein translation occurs independently of the EIF2 complex, this process is likely pro-viral: only translation initiation of host transcripts is arrested. The combination of antiviral intrinsic and inducible immunity, balanced against pro-viral programs, including translational arrest, maintains HCV replication at a low-level in PHHs. This may ultimately keep HCV under the radar of extra-hepatocyte immune surveillance while initial infection is established, promoting tolerance, preventing clearance and facilitating progression to chronicity.IMPORTANCEAcute HCV infections are often asymptomatic and therefore frequently undiagnosed. We endeavored to recreate this understudied phase of HCV infection using explanted PHHs and monitored host responses to initial infection. We detected temporally distinct virus-induced perturbations in the transcriptional landscape, which were initially narrow but massively amplified in breadth and magnitude over time. At 72 hpi, we detected dysregulation of diverse gene programs, concurrently promoting both virus clearance and virus persistence. On the one hand, baseline expression of IRF1 combined with infection-induced upregulation of IFN-mediated effector genes suppresses virus propagation. On the other, we detect transcriptional signatures of host translational inhibition, which likely reduces processing of IFN-regulated gene transcripts and facilitates virus survival. Together, our data provide important insights into constitutive and virus-induced transcriptional programs in PHHs, and identifies simultaneous antagonistic dysregulation of pro-and anti-viral programs which may facilitate host tolerance and promote viral persistence.
    • Single-nucleotide variants in human CD81 influence hepatitis C virus infection of hepatoma cells.

      Alberione, María Pía; Moeller, Rebecca; Kirui, Jared; Ginkel, Corinne; Doepke, Mandy; Ströh, Luisa J; Machtens, Jan-Philipp; Pietschmann, Thomas; Gerold, Gisa; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Springer, 2020-04-22)
      An estimated number of 71 million people are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection worldwide and 400,000 annual deaths are related to the infection. HCV entry into the hepatocytes is complex and involves several host factors. The tetraspanin human CD81 (hCD81) is one of the four essential entry factors and is composed of one large extracellular loop, one small extracellular loop, four transmembrane domains, one intracellular loop and two intracellular tails. The large extracellular loop interacts with the E2 glycoprotein of HCV. Regions outside the large extracellular loop (backbone) of hCD81 have a critical role in post-binding entry steps and determine susceptibility of hepatocytes to HCV. Here, we investigated the effect of five non-synonymous single-nucleotide variants in the backbone of hCD81 on HCV susceptibility. We generated cell lines that stably express the hCD81 variants and infected the cells using HCV pseudoparticles and cell culture-derived HCV. Our results show that all the tested hCD81 variants support HCV pseudoparticle entry with similar efficiency as wild-type hCD81. In contrast, variants A54V, V211M and M220I are less supportive to cell culture-derived HCV infection. This altered susceptibility is HCV genotype dependent and specifically affected the cell entry step. Our findings identify three hCD81 genetic variants that are impaired in their function as HCV host factors for specific viral genotypes. This study provides additional evidence that genetic host variation contributes to inter-individual differences in HCV infection and outcome.