• Pituitary Tumor Transforming Gene 1 Orchestrates Gene Regulatory Variation in Mouse Ventral Midbrain During Aging

      Gui, Yujuan; Thomas, Mélanie H.; Garcia, Pierre; Karout, Mona; Halder, Rashi; Michelucci, Alessandro; Kollmus, Heike; Zhou, Cuiqi; Melmed, Shlomo; Schughart, Klaus; et al. (Frontiers Media SA, 2020-09-23)
      Dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain are of particular interest due to their role in diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Genetic variation between individuals can affect the integrity and function of dopaminergic neurons but the DNA variants and molecular cascades modulating dopaminergic neurons and other cells types of ventral midbrain remain poorly defined. Three genetically diverse inbred mouse strains – C57BL/6J, A/J, and DBA/2J – differ significantly in their genomes (∼7 million variants), motor and cognitive behavior, and susceptibility to neurotoxins. To further dissect the underlying molecular networks responsible for these variable phenotypes, we generated RNA-seq and ChIP-seq data from ventral midbrains of the 3 mouse strains. We defined 1000–1200 transcripts that are differentially expressed among them. These widespread differences may be due to altered activity or expression of upstream transcription factors. Interestingly, transcription factors were significantly underrepresented among the differentially expressed genes, and only one transcription factor, Pttg1, showed significant differences between all three strains. The changes in Pttg1 expression were accompanied by consistent alterations in histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation at Pttg1 transcription start site. The ventral midbrain transcriptome of 3-month-old C57BL/6J congenic Pttg1−=− mutants was only modestly altered, but shifted toward that of A/J and DBA/2J in 9-month-old mice. Principle component analysis (PCA) identified the genes underlying the transcriptome shift and deconvolution of these bulk RNA-seq changes using midbrain single cell RNA-seq data suggested that the changes were occurring in several different cell types, including neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. Taken together, our results show that Pttg1 contributes to gene regulatory variation between mouse strains and influences mouse midbrain transcriptome during aging
    • A New Synuclein-Transgenic Mouse Model for Early Parkinson's Reveals Molecular Features of Preclinical Disease.

      Hendrickx, Diana M; Garcia, Pierre; Ashrafi, Amer; Sciortino, Alessia; Schmit, Kristopher J; Kollmus, Heike; Nicot, Nathalie; Kaoma, Tony; Vallar, Laurent; Buttini, Manuel; et al. (Springer, 2020-09-30)
      Understanding Parkinson's disease (PD), in particular in its earliest phases, is important for diagnosis and treatment. However, human brain samples are collected post-mortem, reflecting mainly end-stage disease. Because brain samples of mouse models can be collected at any stage of the disease process, they are useful in investigating PD progression. Here, we compare ventral midbrain transcriptomics profiles from α-synuclein transgenic mice with a progressive, early PD-like striatal neurodegeneration across different ages using pathway, gene set, and network analysis methods. Our study uncovers statistically significant altered genes across ages and between genotypes with known, suspected, or unknown function in PD pathogenesis and key pathways associated with disease progression. Among those are genotype-dependent alterations associated with synaptic plasticity and neurotransmission, as well as mitochondria-related genes and dysregulation of lipid metabolism. Age-dependent changes were among others observed in neuronal and synaptic activity, calcium homeostasis, and membrane receptor signaling pathways, many of which linked to G-protein coupled receptors. Most importantly, most changes occurred before neurodegeneration was detected in this model, which points to a sequence of gene expression events that may be relevant for disease initiation and progression. It is tempting to speculate that molecular changes similar to those changes observed in our model happen in midbrain dopaminergic neurons before they start to degenerate. In other words, we believe we have uncovered molecular changes that accompany the progression from preclinical to early PD.
    • Long-Term Neuroinflammation Induced by Influenza A Virus Infection and the Impact on Hippocampal Neuron Morphology and Function.

      Hosseini, Shirin; Wilk, Esther; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Gerhauser, Ingo; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Geffers, Robert; Schughart, Klaus; Korte, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Society for Neuroscience, 2018-02-27)
      Acute influenza infection has been reported to be associated with neurological symptoms. However, the long-term consequences of an infection with neurotropic and non-neurotropic influenza A virus (IAV) variants for the CNS remain elusive. We can show that spine loss in the hippocampus after infection with neurotropic H7N7 (rSC35M) and non-neurotropic H3N2 (maHK68) in female C57BL/6 mice persists well beyond the acute phase of the disease. Although spine number was significantly reduced at 30 d postinfection (dpi) with H7N7 or H3N2, full recovery could only be observed much later at 120 dpi. Infection with H1N1 virus, which was shown previously to affect spine number and hippocampus-dependent learning acutely, had no significant long-term effects. Spine loss was associated with an increase in the number of activated microglia, reduced long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, and impairment in spatial memory formation, indicating that IAV-associated inflammation induced functional and structural alterations in hippocampal networks. Transcriptome analyses revealed regulation of many inflammatory and neuron- and glia-specific genes in H3N2- and H7N7-infected mice at day 18 and in H7N7-infected mice at day 30 pi that related to the structural and functional alterations. Our data provide evidence that neuroinflammation induced by neurotropic H7N7 and infection of the lung with a non-neurotropic H3N2 IAV result in long-term impairments in the CNS. IAV infection in humans may therefore not only lead to short-term responses in infected organs, but may also trigger neuroinflammation and associated chronic alterations in the CNS.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In the acute phase of influenza infection, neuroinflammation can lead to alterations in hippocampal neuronal morphology and cognitive deficits. The results of this study now also provide evidence that neuroinflammation induced by influenza A virus (IAV) infection can induce longer-lasting, virus-specific alterations in neuronal connectivity that are still detectable 1 month after infection and are associated with impairments in spatial memory formation. IAV infection in humans may therefore not only lead to short-term responses in infected organs, but may also trigger neuroinflammation and associated chronic alterations in the CNS.
    • Pathway mapping of leukocyte transcriptome in influenza patients reveals distinct pathogenic mechanisms associated with progression to severe infection.

      Zerbib, Yoann; Jenkins, Emily K; Shojaei, Maryam; Meyers, Adrienne F A; Ho, John; Ball, T Blake; Keynan, Yoav; Pisipati, Amarnath; Kumar, Aseem; Kumar, Anand; et al. (BioMedCentral, 2020-02-17)
      BACKGROUND: Influenza infections produce a spectrum of disease severity, ranging from a mild respiratory illness to respiratory failure and death. The host-response pathways associated with the progression to severe influenza disease are not well understood. METHODS: To gain insight into the disease mechanisms associated with progression to severe infection, we analyzed the leukocyte transcriptome in severe and moderate influenza patients and healthy control subjects. Pathway analysis on differentially expressed genes was performed using a topology-based pathway analysis tool that takes into account the interaction between multiple cellular pathways. The pathway profiles between moderate and severe influenza were then compared to delineate the biological mechanisms underpinning the progression from moderate to severe influenza. RESULTS: 107 patients (44 severe and 63 moderate influenza patients) and 52 healthy control subjects were included in the study. Severe influenza was associated with upregulation in several neutrophil-related pathways, including pathways involved in neutrophil differentiation, migration, degranulation and neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation. The degree of upregulation in neutrophil-related pathways were significantly higher in severely infected patients compared to moderately infected patients. Severe influenza was also associated with downregulation in immune response pathways, including pathways involved in antigen presentation such as CD4+ T-cell co-stimulation, CD8+ T cell and Natural Killer (NK) cells effector functions. Apoptosis pathways were also downregulated in severe influenza patients compare to moderate and healthy controls. CONCLUSIONS: These findings showed that there are changes in gene expression profile that may highlight distinct pathogenic mechanisms associated with progression from moderate to severe influenza infection.
    • A comprehensive and comparative phenotypic analysis of the collaborative founder strains identifies new and known phenotypes.

      Kollmus, Heike; Fuchs, Helmut; Lengger, Christoph; Haselimashhadi, Hamed; Bogue, Molly A; Östereicher, Manuela A; Horsch, Marion; Adler, Thure; Aguilar-Pimentel, Juan Antonio; Amarie, Oana Veronica; et al. (Springer, 2020-02-14)
      Myxococcus xanthus DK1622 is known as a proficient producer of different kinds of secondary metabolites (SM) with various biological activities, including myxovirescin A, myxalamide A, myxochromide A and DKxanthene. Low production of SM in the wild type bacteria makes searching for production optimization methods highly desirable. Identification and induction of endogenous key molecular feature(s) regulating the production level of the metabolites remain promising, while heterologous expression of the biosynthetic genes is not always efficient because of various complicating factors including codon usage bias. This study established proteomic and molecular approaches to elucidate the regulatory roles of the ROK regulatory protein in the modification of secondary metabolite biosynthesis. Interestingly, the results revealed that rok inactivation significantly reduced the production of the SM and also changed the motility in the bacteria. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay using purified ROK protein indicated a direct enhancement of the promoters encoding transcription of the DKxanthene, myxochelin A, and myxalamide A biosynthesis machinery. Comparative proteomic analysis by two-dimensional fluorescence difference in-gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) was employed to identify the protein profiles of the wild type and rok mutant strains during early and late logarithmic growth phases of the bacterial culture. Resulting data demonstrated overall 130 differently altered proteins by the effect of the rok gene mutation, including putative proteins suspected to be involved in transcriptional regulation, carbohydrate metabolism, development, spore formation, and motility. Except for a slight induction seen in the production of myxovirescin A in a rok over-expression background, no changes were found in the formation of the other SM. From the outcome of our investigation, it is possible to conclude that ROK acts as a pleiotropic regulator of secondary metabolite formation and development in M. xanthus, while its direct effects still remain speculative. More experiments are required to elucidate in detail the variable regulation effects of the protein and to explore applicable approaches for generating valuable SM in this bacterium.
    • Antiviral potential of human IFN-α subtypes against influenza A H3N2 infection in human lung explants reveals subtype-specific activities.

      Matos, Aline da Rocha; Wunderlich, Katharina; Schloer, Sebastian; Schughart, Klaus; Geffers, Robert; Seders, Martine; Witt, Marlous de; Christersson, Anmari; Wiewrodt, Rainer; Wiebe, Karsten; et al. (Taylor & Francis Open, 2019-01-01)
      Influenza is an acute respiratory infection causing high morbidity and mortality in annual outbreaks worldwide. Antiviral drugs are limited and pose the risk of resistance development, calling for new treatment options. IFN-α subtypes are immune-stimulatory cytokines with strong antiviral activities against IAV in vitro and in vivo. However, the clinical use of IFN-α2, the only licensed subtype of this multi-gene family, could not prevent or limit IAV infections in humans. However, the other subtypes were not investigated.Therefore, this study evaluated the induction and antiviral potential of all human IFN-α subtypes during H3N2 IAV infection in human lung explants. We found that subtypes with weak antiviral activities were preferentially induced during IAV infection in human lungs. Intriguingly, non-induced subtypes α16, α5 and α4 suppressed viral replication up to 230-fold more efficiently than α2. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that subtypes with stronger antiviral activities induce higher expression of IAV-specific restriction factors and that MxA expression is a determinant of the subtype-specific antiviral activity towards H3N2 IAV. These results corroborate that IFN-α subtypes exhibit differential antiviral activities and emphasize that subtypes α16, α5 and α4 should be further investigated for the prevention and treatment of severe infections with seasonal H3N2 IAV.
    • Multiplex profiling of inflammation-related bioactive lipid mediators in Toxocara canis- and Toxocara cati-induced neurotoxocarosis.

      Waindok, Patrick; Janecek-Erfurth, Elisabeth; Lindenwald, Dimitri; Wilk, Esther; Schughart, Klaus; Geffers, Robert; Balas, Laurence; Durand, Thierry; Rund, Katharina Maria; Schebb, Nils Helge; et al. (PLOS, 2019-09-01)
      BACKGROUND: Somatic migration of Toxocara canis- and T. cati-larvae in humans may cause neurotoxocarosis (NT) when larvae accumulate and persist in the central nervous system (CNS). Host- or parasite-induced immunoregulatory processes contribute to the pathogenesis; however, detailed data on involvement of bioactive lipid mediators, e.g. oxylipins or eico-/docosanoids, which are involved in the complex molecular signalling network during infection and inflammation, are lacking. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To elucidate if T. canis- and T. cati-induced NT affects the homeostasis of oxylipins during the course of infection, a comprehensive lipidomic profiling in brains (cerebra and cerebella) of experimentally infected C57BL/6J mice was conducted at six different time points post infection (pi) by liquid-chromatography coupled to electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS). Only minor changes were detected regarding pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase pathway). In contrast, a significant increase of metabolites resulting from lipoxygenase pathways was observed for both infection groups and brain regions, implicating a predominantly anti-inflammatory driven immune response. This observation was supported by a significantly increased 13-hydroxyoctadecadienoic acid (HODE)/9-HODE ratio during the subacute phase of infection, indicating an anti-inflammatory response to neuroinfection. Except for the specialised pro-resolving mediator (SPM) neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), which was detected in mice infected with both pathogens during the subacute phase of infection, no other SPMs were detected. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The obtained results demonstrate the influence of Toxocara spp. on oxylipins as part of the immune response of the paratenic hosts. Furthermore, this study shows differences in the alteration of the oxylipin composition between T. canis- and T. cati-brain infection. Results contribute to a further understanding of the largely unknown pathogenesis and mechanisms of host-parasite interactions during NT.
    • The endosomal Toll-like receptors 7 and 9 cooperate in detection of MHV68 infection.

      Bussey, Kendra A; Murthy, Sripriya; Reimer, Elisa; Chan, Baca; Hatesuer, Bastian; Schughart, Klaus; Glaunsinger, Britt; Adler, Heiko; Brinkmann, Melanie M; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Amercan Society of Microbiology, 2018-11-14)
      Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) is an amenable small animal model for study of the human pathogens Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Here, we have characterized the roles of the endosomal TLR escort protein UNC93B, endosomal TLR7, 9, and 13, and cell surface TLR2 in MHV68 detection. We found that the interferon α (IFNα) response of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) to MHV68 was reduced in Tlr9-/- cells compared to wildtype (WT), but not completely lost. Tlr7-/- pDC responded similarly to WT. However, we found that in Unc93b-/- pDC, as well as in Tlr7/Tlr9-/- double knockout pDC, the IFNα response to MHV68 was completely abolished. Thus, the only pattern recognition receptors contributing to the IFNα response to MHV68 in pDC are TLR7 and TLR9, but the contribution of TLR7 is masked by the presence of TLR9. To address the role of UNC93B and TLR for MHV68 infection in vivo, we infected mice with MHV68. Lytic replication of MHV68 after intravenous infection was enhanced in the lungs, spleen, and liver of UNC93B-deficient mice, in the spleen of TLR9-deficient mice, and in the liver and spleen of Tlr7/Tlr9-/- mice. The absence of TLR2 or TLR13 did not affect lytic viral titers. We then compared reactivation of MHV68 from latently infected WT, Unc93b-/-, Tlr7/Tlr9-/-, Tlr7-/-, and Tlr9-/- splenocytes. We observed enhanced reactivation and latent viral loads, particularly from Tlr7/Tlr9-/- splenocytes, compared to WT. Our data show that UNC93B- dependent TLR7 and TLR9 cooperate in and contribute to detection and control of MHV68 infection.
    • Of mice and men: the host response to influenza virus infection.

      Kollmus, Heike; Pilzner, Carolin; Leist, Sarah R; Heise, Mark; Geffers, Robert; Schughart, Klaus; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-08-01)
      Influenza virus (IV) infections represent a very serious public health problem. At present, no established biomarkers exist to support diagnosis for respiratory viral infections and more importantly for severe IV disease. Studies in animal models are extremely important to understand the biological, genetic, and environmental factors that contribute to severe IV disease and to validate biomarker candidates from human studies. However, mouse human cross-species comparisons are often compromised by the fact that animal studies concentrate on the infected lungs, whereas in humans almost all studies use peripheral blood from patients. In addition, human studies do not consider genetic background as variable although human populations are genetically very diverse. Therefore, in this study, we performed a cross-species gene expression study of the peripheral blood from human patients and from the highly genetically diverse Collaborative Cross (CC) mouse population after IV infection. Our results demonstrate that changes of gene expression in individual genes are highly similar in mice and humans. The top-regulated genes in humans were also differentially regulated in mice. We conclude that the mouse is a highly valuable in vivo model system to validate and to discover gene candidates which can be used as biomarkers in humans. Furthermore, mouse studies allow confirmation of findings in humans in a well-controlled experimental system adding enormous value to the understanding of expression and function of human candidate genes.
    • Exchange of amino acids in the H1-haemagglutinin to H3 residues is required for efficient influenza A virus replication and pathology in Tmprss2 knock-out mice.

      Lambertz, Ruth L O; Pippel, Jan; Gerhauser, Ingo; Kollmus, Heike; Anhlan, Darisuren; Hrincius, Eike R; Krausze, Joern; Kühn, Nora; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-01)
      The haemagglutinin (HA) of H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A virus (IAV) subtypes has to be activated by host proteases. Previous studies showed that H1N1 virus cannot replicate efficiently in Tmprss2/ knock-out mice whereas H3N2 viruses are able to replicate to the same levels in Tmprss2/ as in wild type (WT) mice. Here, we investigated the sequence requirements for the HA molecule that allow IAV to replicate efficiently in the absence of TMPRSS2. We showed that replacement of the H3 for the H1-loop sequence (amino acids 320 to 329, at the C-terminus of HA1) was not sufficient for equal levels of virus replication or severe pathology in Tmprss2/ knock-out mice compared to WT mice. However, exchange of a distant amino acid from H1 to H3 sequence (E31D) in addition to the HA-loop substitution resulted in virus replication in Tmprss2/ knockout mice that was comparable to WT mice. The higher virus replication and lung damage was associated with increased epithelial damage and higher mortality. Our results provide further evidence and insights into host proteases as a promising target for therapeutic intervention of IAV infections.
    • TMPRSS11A activates the influenza A virus hemagglutinin and the MERS coronavirus spike protein and is insensitive against blockade by HAI-1.

      Zmora, Pawel; Hoffmann, Markus; Kollmus, Heike; Moldenhauer, Anna-Sophie; Danov, Olga; Braun, Armin; Winkler, Michael; Schughart, Klaus; Pöhlmann, Stefan; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-07)
      The influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) facilitates viral entry into target cells. Cleavage of HA by host cell proteases is essential for viral infectivity, and the responsible enzymes are potential targets for antiviral intervention. The type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP) TMPRSS2 has been identified as an HA activator in cell culture and in the infected host. However, it is less clear whether TMPRSS2-related enzymes can also activate HA for spread in target cells. Moreover, the activity of cellular serine protease inhibitors against HA-activating TTSPs is poorly understood. Here, we show that TMPRSS11A, another member of the TTSP family, cleaves and activates the influenza A virus (FLUAV) HA and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein (MERS-S). Moreover, we demonstrate that TMPRSS11A is expressed in murine tracheal epithelium, which is a target of FLUAV infection, and in human trachea, suggesting that the protease could support FLUAV spread in patients. Finally, we show that HA activation by the TMPRSS11A-related enzymes human airway tryptase and DESC1, but not TMPRSS11A itself, is blocked by the cellular serine protease inhibitor hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor type-1 (HAI-1). Our results suggest that TMPRSS11A could promote FLUAV spread in target cells and that HA-activating TTSPs exhibit differential sensitivity to blockade by cellular serine protease inhibitors.
    • Mutations during the Adaptation of H9N2 Avian Influenza Virus to the Respiratory Epithelium of Pigs Enhance Sialic Acid Binding Activity and Virulence in Mice.

      Yang, W; Punyadarsaniya, D; Lambertz, R L O; Lee, D C C; Liang, C H; Höper, D; Leist, S R; Hernández-Cáceres, A; Stech, J; Beer, M; et al. (2017-04-15)
      The natural reservoir for influenza viruses is waterfowl, and from there they succeeded in crossing the barrier to different mammalian species. We analyzed the adaptation of avian influenza viruses to a mammalian host by passaging an H9N2 strain three times in differentiated swine airway epithelial cells. Using precision-cut slices from the porcine lung to passage the parental virus, isolates from each of the three passages (P1 to P3) were characterized by assessing growth curves and ciliostatic effects. The only difference noted was an increased growth kinetics of the P3 virus. Sequence analysis revealed four mutations: one each in the PB2 and NS1 proteins and two in the HA protein. The HA mutations, A190V and T212I, were characterized by generating recombinant viruses containing either one or both amino acid exchanges. Whereas the parental virus recognized α2,3-linked sialic acids preferentially, the HA190 mutant bound to a broad spectrum of glycans with α2,6/8/9-linked sialic acids. The HA212 mutant alone differed only slightly from the parental virus; however, the combination of both mutations (HA190+HA212) increased the binding affinity to those glycans recognized by the HA190 mutant. Remarkably, only the HA double mutant showed a significantly increased pathogenicity in mice. In contrast, none of those mutations affected the ciliary activity of the epithelial cells which is characteristic for virulent swine influenza viruses. Taken together, our results indicate that shifts in the HA receptor affinity are just an early adaptation step of avian H9N2 strains; further mutational changes may be required to become virulent for pigs.IMPORTANCESwine play an important role in the interspecies transmission of influenza viruses. Avian influenza A viruses (IAV) of the H9N2 subtype have successfully infected hosts from different species but have not established a stable lineage. We have analyzed the adaptation of IAV-H9N2 virus to target cells of a new host by passaging the virus three times in differentiated porcine respiratory epithelial cells. Among the four mutations detected, the two HA mutations were analyzed by generating recombinant viruses. Depending on the infection system used, the mutations differed in their phenotypic expression, e.g., sialic acid binding activity, replication kinetics, plaque size, and pathogenicity in inbred mice. However, none of the mutations affected the ciliary activity which serves as a virulence marker. Thus, early adaptive mutation enhances the replication kinetics, but more mutations are required for IAV of the H9N2 subtype to become virulent.
    • Deletion of Irf3 and Irf7 Genes in Mice Results in Altered Interferon Pathway Activation and Granulocyte-Dominated Inflammatory Responses to Influenza A Infection.

      Hatesuer, Bastian; Hoang, Hang Thi Thu; Riese, Peggy; Trittel, Stephanie; Gerhauser, Ingo; Elbahesh, Husni; Geffers, Robert; Wilk, Esther; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      The interferon (IFN) pathway plays an essential role in the innate immune response following viral infections and subsequent shaping of adaptive immunity. Infections with influenza A viruses (IAV) activate the IFN pathway after the recognition of pathogen-specific molecular patterns by respective pattern recognition receptors. The IFN regulatory factors IRF3 and IRF7 are key players in the regulation of type I and III IFN genes. In this study, we analyzed the role of IRF3 and IRF7 for the host response to IAV infections in Irf3-/-, Irf7-/-, and Irf3-/-Irf7-/- knockout mice. While the absence of IRF3 had only a moderate impact on IFN expression, deletion of IRF7 completely abolished IFNα production after infection. In contrast, lack of both IRF3 and IRF7 resulted in the absence of both IFNα and IFNβ after IAV infection. In addition, IAV infection of double knockout mice resulted in a strong increase of mortality associated with a massive influx of granulocytes in the lung and reduced activation of the adaptive immune response.
    • Absence of regulator of G-protein signaling 4 does not protect against dopamine neuron dysfunction and injury in the mouse 6-hydroxydopamine lesion model of Parkinson's disease.

      Ashrafi, Amer; Garcia, Pierre; Kollmus, Heike; Schughart, Klaus; Del Sol, Antonio; Buttini, Manuel; Glaab, Enrico; HelmholtzCentre of infetion research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-19)
      Regulator of G-protein signaling 4 (RGS4), a member of the RGS family of proteins that inactivate G-proteins, has gained interest as a potential drug target for neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease (PD). In the case of PD, the main current options for alleviating motor symptoms are dopamine replacement therapies, which have limitations because of side effects and reduced effectiveness over the long term. Research on new nondopaminergic PD drug targets has indicated that inhibition of RGS4 could be an effective adjuvant treatment option. The effectiveness of RGS4 inhibition for an array of PD-linked functional and structural neuroprotection end points has not yet been demonstrated. Here, we use the 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesioning model of the nigrostriatal pathway in mice to address this question. We observe, using a battery of behavioral and pathological measures, that mice deficient for RGS4 are not protected from 6-OHDA-induced injury and show enhanced susceptibility in some measures of motor function. Our results suggest that inhibition of RGS4 as a nondopaminergic target for PD should be approached with caution.
    • Host Genetic Background Strongly Affects Pulmonary microRNA Expression before and during Influenza A Virus Infection.

      Preusse, Matthias; Schughart, Klaus; Pessler, Frank (2017)
      Expression of host microRNAs (miRNAs) changes markedly during influenza A virus (IAV) infection of natural and adaptive hosts, but their role in genetically determined host susceptibility to IAV infection has not been explored. We, therefore, compared pulmonary miRNA expression during IAV infection in two inbred mouse strains with differential susceptibility to IAV infection.
    • Dynamic gene network reconstruction from gene expression data in mice after influenza A (H1N1) infection

      Dimitrakopoulou, Konstantina; Tsimpouris, Charalampos; Papadopoulos, George; Pommerenke, Claudia; Wilk, Esther; Sgarbas, Kyriakos N; Schughart, Klaus; Bezerianos, Anastasios (2011-10-21)
      Abstract Background The immune response to viral infection is a temporal process, represented by a dynamic and complex network of gene and protein interactions. Here, we present a reverse engineering strategy aimed at capturing the temporal evolution of the underlying Gene Regulatory Networks (GRN). The proposed approach will be an enabling step towards comprehending the dynamic behavior of gene regulation circuitry and mapping the network structure transitions in response to pathogen stimuli. Results We applied the Time Varying Dynamic Bayesian Network (TV-DBN) method for reconstructing the gene regulatory interactions based on time series gene expression data for the mouse C57BL/6J inbred strain after infection with influenza A H1N1 (PR8) virus. Initially, 3500 differentially expressed genes were clustered with the use of k-means algorithm. Next, the successive in time GRNs were built over the expression profiles of cluster centroids. Finally, the identified GRNs were examined with several topological metrics and available protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction data, transcription factor and KEGG pathway data. Conclusions Our results elucidate the potential of TV-DBN approach in providing valuable insights into the temporal rewiring of the lung transcriptome in response to H1N1 virus.
    • Genetically diverse CC-founder mouse strains replicate the human influenza gene expression signature.

      Elbahesh, Husni; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-05-19)
      Influenza A viruses (IAV) are zoonotic pathogens that pose a major threat to human and animal health. Influenza virus disease severity is influenced by viral virulence factors as well as individual differences in host response. We analyzed gene expression changes in the blood of infected mice using a previously defined set of signature genes that was derived from changes in the blood transcriptome of IAV-infected human volunteers. We found that the human signature was reproduced well in the founder strains of the Collaborative Cross (CC) mice, thus demonstrating the relevance and importance of mouse experimental model systems for studying human influenza disease.
    • Expression QTL mapping in regulatory and helper T cells from the BXD family of strains reveals novel cell-specific genes, gene-gene interactions and candidate genes for auto-immune disease

      Alberts, Rudi; Chen, Hairong; Pommerenke, Claudia; Smit, August B; Spijker, Sabine; Williams, Robert W; Geffers, Robert; Bruder, Dunja; Schughart, Klaus (2011-12-19)
      Abstract Background Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play an essential role in the control of the immune response. Treg cells represent important targets for therapeutic interventions of the immune system. Therefore, it will be very important to understand in more detail which genes are specifically activated in Treg cells versus T helper (Th) cells, and which gene regulatory circuits may be involved in specifying and maintaining Treg cell homeostasis. Results We isolated Treg and Th cells from a genetically diverse family of 31 BXD type recombinant inbred strains and the fully inbred parental strains of this family--C57BL/6J and DBA/2J. Subsequently genome-wide gene expression studies were performed from the isolated Treg and Th cells. A comparative analysis of the transcriptomes of these cell populations allowed us to identify many novel differentially expressed genes. Analysis of cis- and trans-expression Quantitative Trait Loci (eQTLs) highlighted common and unique regulatory mechanisms that are active in the two cell types. Trans-eQTL regions were found for the Treg functional genes Nrp1, Stat3 and Ikzf4. Analyses of the respective QTL intervals suggested several candidate genes that may be involved in regulating these genes in Treg cells. Similarly, possible candidate genes were found which may regulate the expression of F2rl1, Ctla4, Klrb1f. In addition, we identified a focused group of candidate genes that may be important for the maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of allergy. Conclusions Variation of expression across the strains allowed us to find many novel gene-interaction networks in both T cell subsets. In addition, these two data sets enabled us to identify many differentially expressed genes and to nominate candidate genes that may have important functions for the maintenance of self-tolerance and the prevention of allergy.
    • Sustained viral load and late death in Rag2-/- mice after influenza A virus infection

      Wu, Haiya; Haist, Verena; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Ihoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-07-28)
      Abstract The importance of the adaptive immune response for secondary influenza infections and protection from a lethal challenge after vaccination has been well documented. However, some controversy still exists concerning the specific involvement of B and T cells during a primary infection. Here, we have followed the survival, weight loss, viral load and lung pathology in Rag2 -/- knock-out mice after infection with influenza A virus (H1N1). Infected wild type mice initially lost weight early after infection but then cleared the virus and recovered. Rag2 -/- mice, however, showed similar weight loss kinetics in the early stages after infection but weight loss continued post infection and culminated in death. In contrast to wild type mice, Rag2 -/- mice were not able to clear the virus, despite an increased inflammatory response. Furthermore, they did not recruit virus-specific lymphocytes into the lung in the later stages after infection and exhibited sustained pulmonary lesions.
    • Self-collected nasal swabs to detect infection and colonization: a useful tool for population-based epidemiological studies?

      Akmatov, M K; Pessler, F; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-09)
      Population-based epidemiological studies on infectious diseases are limited by methodological problems that may not be encountered in other fields of epidemiology. The acute or asymptomatic nature of many infections hinders a timely diagnosis by trained personnel in a study centre, indicating the need for new collection methods of biological specimens. One alternative approach is to have the participants collect the specimens themselves, for instance nasal swabs for the detection of bacterial or viral pathogens. Although self-collection is widely accepted in clinical studies of specific populations (e.g., self-collection of vaginal swabs by young women to diagnose sexually transmitted infections), it has not been employed much in population-based studies. Here, we review recent experience with self-collection of nasal swabs for the detection of microorganisms and discuss future prospects and applications for this technique.