• ATR-FTIR spectroscopy reveals genomic loci regulating the tissue response in high fat diet fed BXD recombinant inbred mouse strains.

      Lasch, Peter; Neuschl, Christina; Millrose, Marion K; Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Naumann, Dieter; Brockmann, Gudrun A; Department for Crop and Animal Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstraße 42, 10115, Berlin, Germany. (2013)
      Obesity-associated organ-specific pathological states can be ensued from the dysregulation of the functions of the adipose tissues, liver and muscle. However, the influence of genetic differences underlying gross-compositional differences in these tissues is largely unknown. In the present study, the analytical method of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy has been combined with a genetic approach to identify genetic differences responsible for phenotypic alterations in adipose, liver and muscle tissues.
    • Data-driven assessment of eQTL mapping methods.

      Michaelson, Jacob J; Alberts, Rudi; Schughart, Klaus; Beyer, Andreas; Cellular Networks and Systems Biology, Biotechnology Center - TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany. (2010)
      The analysis of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) is a potentially powerful way to detect transcriptional regulatory relationships at the genomic scale. However, eQTL data sets often go underexploited because legacy QTL methods are used to map the relationship between the expression trait and genotype. Often these methods are inappropriate for complex traits such as gene expression, particularly in the case of epistasis.
    • 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.
    • Distinct gene loci control the host response to influenza H1N1 virus infection in a time-dependent manner.

      Nedelko, Tatiana; Kollmus, Heike; Klawonn, Frank; Spijker, Sabine; Lu, Lu; Heßman, Manuela; Alberts, Rudi; Williams, Robert W; Schughart, Klaus; Department of Infection Genetics, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, 38124, Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      There is strong but mostly circumstantial evidence that genetic factors modulate the severity of influenza infection in humans. Using genetically diverse but fully inbred strains of mice it has been shown that host sequence variants have a strong influence on the severity of influenza A disease progression. In particular, C57BL/6J, the most widely used mouse strain in biomedical research, is comparatively resistant. In contrast, DBA/2J is highly susceptible.
    • The genome architecture of the Collaborative Cross mouse genetic reference population.

      2012-02
      The Collaborative Cross Consortium reports here on the development of a unique genetic resource population. The Collaborative Cross (CC) is a multiparental recombinant inbred panel derived from eight laboratory mouse inbred strains. Breeding of the CC lines was initiated at multiple international sites using mice from The Jackson Laboratory. Currently, this innovative project is breeding independent CC lines at the University of North Carolina (UNC), at Tel Aviv University (TAU), and at Geniad in Western Australia (GND). These institutions aim to make publicly available the completed CC lines and their genotypes and sequence information. We genotyped, and report here, results from 458 extant lines from UNC, TAU, and GND using a custom genotyping array with 7500 SNPs designed to be maximally informative in the CC and used a novel algorithm to infer inherited haplotypes directly from hybridization intensity patterns. We identified lines with breeding errors and cousin lines generated by splitting incipient lines into two or more cousin lines at early generations of inbreeding. We then characterized the genome architecture of 350 genetically independent CC lines. Results showed that founder haplotypes are inherited at the expected frequency, although we also consistently observed highly significant transmission ratio distortion at specific loci across all three populations. On chromosome 2, there is significant overrepresentation of WSB/EiJ alleles, and on chromosome X, there is a large deficit of CC lines with CAST/EiJ alleles. Linkage disequilibrium decays as expected and we saw no evidence of gametic disequilibrium in the CC population as a whole or in random subsets of the population. Gametic equilibrium in the CC population is in marked contrast to the gametic disequilibrium present in a large panel of classical inbred strains. Finally, we discuss access to the CC population and to the associated raw data describing the genetic structure of individual lines. Integration of rich phenotypic and genomic data over time and across a wide variety of fields will be vital to delivering on one of the key attributes of the CC, a common genetic reference platform for identifying causative variants and genetic networks determining traits in mammals.
    • Genome-wide analysis of the mouse lung transcriptome reveals novel molecular gene interaction networks and cell-specific expression signatures.

      Alberts, Rudi; Lu, Lu; Williams, Robert W; Schughart, Klaus; Department of Infection Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Inhoffenstr, Braunschweig, Germany. (2011)
      The lung is critical in surveillance and initial defense against pathogens. In humans, as in mice, individual genetic differences strongly modulate pulmonary responses to infectious agents, severity of lung disease, and potential allergic reactions. In a first step towards understanding genetic predisposition and pulmonary molecular networks that underlie individual differences in disease vulnerability, we performed a global analysis of normative lung gene expression levels in inbred mouse strains and a large family of BXD strains that are widely used for systems genetics. Our goal is to provide a key community resource on the genetics of the normative lung transcriptome that can serve as a foundation for experimental analysis and allow predicting genetic predisposition and response to pathogens, allergens, and xenobiotics.
    • Genomic structure and expression of Jmjd6 and evolutionary analysis in the context of related JmjC domain containing proteins.

      Hahn, Phillip; Böse, Jens; Edler, Stefanie; Lengeling, Andreas; Research Group Infection Genetics, Department of Experimental Mouse Genetics, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, D-31824 Braunschweig, Germany. Phillip.Hahn@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008)
      BACKGROUND: The jumonji C (JmjC) domain containing gene 6 (Jmjd6, previously known as phosphatidylserine receptor) has misleadingly been annotated to encode a transmembrane receptor for the engulfment of apoptotic cells. Given the importance of JmjC domain containing proteins in controlling a wide range of diverse biological functions, we undertook a comparative genomic analysis to gain further insights in Jmjd6 gene organisation, evolution, and protein function. RESULTS: We describe here a semiautomated computational pipeline to identify and annotate JmjC domain containing proteins. Using a sequence segment N-terminal of the Jmjd6 JmjC domain as query for a reciprocal BLAST search, we identified homologous sequences in 62 species across all major phyla. Retrieved Jmjd6 sequences were used to phylogenetically analyse corresponding loci and their genomic neighbourhood. This analysis let to the identification and characterisation of a bi-directional transcriptional unit compromising the Jmjd6 and 1110005A03Rik genes and to the recognition of a new, before overseen Jmjd6 exon in mammals. Using expression studies, two novel Jmjd6 splice variants were identified and validated in vivo. Analysis of the Jmjd6 neighbouring gene 1110005A03Rik revealed an incident deletion of this gene in two out of three earlier reported Jmjd6 knockout mice, which might affect previously described conflicting phenotypes. To determine potentially important residues for Jmjd6 function a structural model of the Jmjd6 protein was calculated based on sequence conservation. This approach identified a conserved double-stranded beta-helix (DSBH) fold and a HxDxnH facial triad as structural motifs. Moreover, our systematic annotation in nine species identified 313 DSBH fold-containing proteins that split into 25 highly conserved subgroups. CONCLUSION: We give further evidence that Jmjd6 most likely has a function as a nonheme-Fe(II)-2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase as previously suggested. Further, we provide novel insights into the evolution of Jmjd6 and other related members of the superfamily of JmjC domain containing proteins. Finally, we discuss possibilities of the involvement of Jmjd6 and 1110005A03Rik in an antagonistic biochemical pathway.
    • Immunization with live virus vaccine protects highly susceptible DBA/2J mice from lethal influenza A H1N1 infection.

      Dengler, Leonie; May, Mathias; Wilk, Esther; Bahgat, Mahmoud M; Schughart, Klaus; Department of Infection Genetics, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      The mouse represents an important model system to study the host response to influenza A infections and to evaluate new prevention or treatment strategies. We and others reported that the susceptibility to influenza A virus infections strongly varies among different inbred mouse strains. In particular, DBA/2J mice are highly susceptible to several influenza A subtypes, including human isolates and exhibit severe symptoms after infection with clinical isolates.
    • INFRAFRONTIER--providing mutant mouse resources as research tools for the international scientific community.

      INFRAFRONTIER Consortium; Meehan, T. F.; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-01)
      The laboratory mouse is a key model organism to investigate mechanism and therapeutics of human disease. The number of targeted genetic mouse models of disease is growing rapidly due to high-throughput production strategies employed by the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) and the development of new, more efficient genome engineering techniques such as CRISPR based systems. We have previously described the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA) resource and how this international infrastructure provides archiving and distribution worldwide for mutant mouse strains. EMMA has since evolved into INFRAFRONTIER (http://www.infrafrontier.eu), the pan-European research infrastructure for the systemic phenotyping, archiving and distribution of mouse disease models. Here we describe new features including improved search for mouse strains, support for new embryonic stem cell resources, access to training materials via a comprehensive knowledgebase and the promotion of innovative analytical and diagnostic techniques.
    • Inhibition of lung serine proteases in mice: a potentially new approach to control influenza infection.

      Bahgat, Mahmoud M; Błazejewska, Paulina; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-01-20)
      Host serine proteases are essential for the influenza virus life cycle because the viral haemagglutinin is synthesized as a precursor which requires proteolytic maturation. Therefore, we studied the activity and expression of serine proteases in lungs from mice infected with influenza and evaluated the effect of serine protease inhibitors on virus replication both in cell culture and in infected mice.
    • 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.
    • A new mouse model reveals a critical role for host innate immunity in resistance to Rift Valley fever.

      do Valle, Tânia Zaverucha; Billecocq, Agnès; Guillemot, Laurent; Alberts, Rudi; Gommet, Céline; Geffers, Robert; Calabrese, Kátia; Schughart, Klaus; Bouloy, Michèle; Montagutelli, Xavier; et al. (2010-11-15)
      Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an arthropod-borne viral disease repeatedly reported in many African countries and, more recently, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. RVF virus (RVFV) primarily infects domesticated ruminants, resulting in miscarriage in pregnant females and death for newborns and young animals. It also has the ability to infect humans, causing a feverish syndrome, meningoencephalitis, or hemorrhagic fever. The various outcomes of RVFV infection in animals and humans argue for the existence of host genetic determinants controlling the disease. We investigated the susceptibility of inbred mouse strains to infection with the virulent RVFV ZH548 strain. Compared with classical BALB/cByJ mice, wild-derived Mus m. musculus MBT/Pas mice exhibited earlier and greater viremia and died sooner, a result in sharp contrast with their resistance to infection with West Nile virus and influenza A. Infection of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) from MBT/Pas mice with RVFV also resulted in higher viral production. Microarray and quantitative RT-PCR experiments showed that BALB/cByJ MEFs displayed a significant activation of the type I IFN pathway. In contrast, MBT/Pas MEFs elicited a delayed and partial type I IFN response to RVFV infection. RNA interference-mediated inhibition of genes that were not induced by RVFV in MBT/Pas MEFs increased viral production in BALB/cByJ MEFs, thus demonstrating their functional importance in limiting viral replication. We conclude that the failure of MBT/Pas murine strain to induce, in due course, a complete innate immune response is instrumental in the selective susceptibility to RVF.
    • Protection from Severe Influenza Virus Infections in Mice Carrying the Mx1 Influenza Virus Resistance Gene Strongly Depends on Genetic Background.

      Shin, Dai-Lun; Hatesuer, Bastian; Bergmann, Silke; Nedelko, Tatiana; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-10)
      Influenza virus infections represent a serious threat to human health. Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors determine the severity of influenza. The MX dynamin-like GTPase 1 (Mx1) gene has been shown to confer strong resistance to influenza A virus infections in mice. Most laboratory mouse strains, including C57BL/6J, carry nonsense or deletion mutations in Mx1 and thus a nonfunctional allele, whereas wild-derived mouse strains carry a wild-type Mx1 allele. Congenic C57BL/6J (B6-Mx1(r/r)) mice expressing a wild-type allele from the A2G mouse strain are highly resistant to influenza A virus infections, to both mono- and polybasic subtypes. Furthermore, in genetic mapping studies, Mx1 was identified as the major locus of resistance to influenza virus infections. Here, we investigated whether the Mx1 protective function is influenced by the genetic background. For this, we generated a congenic mouse strain carrying the A2G wild-type Mx1 resistance allele on a DBA/2J background (D2-Mx1(r/r)). Most remarkably, congenic D2-Mx1(r/r) mice expressing a functional Mx1 wild-type allele are still highly susceptible to H1N1 virus. However, pretreatment of D2-Mx1(r/r) mice with alpha interferon protected them from lethal infections. Our results showed, for the first time, that the presence of an Mx1 wild-type allele from A2G as such does not fully protect mice from lethal influenza A virus infections. These observations are also highly relevant for susceptibility to influenza virus infections in humans.
    • Segregation of a spontaneous Klrd1 (CD94) mutation in DBA/2 mouse substrains.

      Shin, Dai-Lun; Pandey, Ashutosh K; Ziebarth, Jesse Dylan; Mulligan, Megan K; Williams, Robert W; Geffers, Robert; Hatesuer, Bastian; Schughart, Klaus; Wilk, Esther; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-02)
      Current model DBA/2J (D2J) mice lack CD94 expression due to a deletion spanning the last coding exon of the Klrd1 gene that occurred in the mid- to late 1980s. In contrast, DBA/2JRj (D2Rj) mice, crosses derived from DBA/2J before 1984, and C57BL/6J (B6) mice lack the deletion and have normal CD94 expression. For example, BXD lines (BXD1-32) generated in the 1970s by crossing B6 and D2J do not segregate for the exonic deletion and have high expression, whereas BXD lines 33 and greater were generated after 1990 are segregating for the deletion and have highly variable Klrd1 expression. We performed quantitative trait locus analysis of Klrd1 expression by using BXD lines with different generation times and found that the expression difference in Klrd1 in the later BXD set is driven by a strong cis-acting expression quantitative trait locus. Although the Klrd1/CD94 locus is essential for mousepox resistance, the genetic variation among D2 substrains and the later set of BXD strains is not associated with susceptibility to the Influenza A virus PR8 strain. Substrains with nearly identical genetic backgrounds that are segregating functional variants such as the Klrd1 deletion are useful genetic tools to investigate biological function.
    • The transcription factors Nkx2.2 and Nkx2.9 play a novel role in floor plate development and commissural axon guidance.

      Holz, Andreas; Kollmus, Heike; Ryge, Jesper; Niederkofler, Vera; Dias, Jose; Ericson, Johan; Stoeckli, Esther T; Kiehn, Ole; Arnold, Hans-Henning; Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Braunschweig, Spielmannstrasse 7, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-12)
      The transcription factors Nkx2.2 and Nkx2.9 have been proposed to execute partially overlapping functions in neuronal patterning of the ventral spinal cord in response to graded sonic hedgehog signaling. The present report shows that in mice lacking both Nkx2 proteins, the presumptive progenitor cells in the p3 domain of the neural tube convert to motor neurons (MN) and never acquire the fate of V3 interneurons. This result supports the concept that Nkx2 transcription factors are required to establish V3 progenitor cells by repressing the early MN lineage-specific program, including genes like Olig2. Nkx2.2 and Nkx2.9 proteins also perform an additional, hitherto unknown, function in the development of non-neuronal floor plate cells. Here, we demonstrate that loss of both Nkx2 genes results in an anatomically smaller and functionally impaired floor plate causing severe defects in axonal pathfinding of commissural neurons. Defective floor plates were also seen in Nkx2.2(+/-);Nkx2.9(-/-) compound mutants and even in single Nkx2.9(-/-) mutants, suggesting that floor plate development is sensitive to dose and/or timing of Nkx2 expression. Interestingly, adult Nkx2.2(+/-);Nkx2.9(-/-) compound-mutant mice exhibit abnormal locomotion, including a permanent or intermittent hopping gait. Drug-induced locomotor-like activity in spinal cords of mutant neonates is also affected, demonstrating increased variability of left-right and flexor-extensor coordination. Our data argue that the Nkx2.2 and Nkx2.9 transcription factors contribute crucially to the formation of neuronal networks that function as central pattern generators for locomotor activity in the spinal cord. As both factors affect floor plate development, control of commissural axon trajectories might be the underlying mechanism.
    • The wild-derived inbred mouse strain SPRET/Ei is resistant to LPS and defective in IFN-beta production.

      Mahieu, Tina; Park, Jin Mo; Revets, Hilde; Pasche, Bastian; Lengeling, Andreas; Staelens, Jan; Wullaert, Andy; Vanlaere, Ineke; Hochepied, Tino; van Roy, Frans; et al. (2006-02-14)
      Although activation of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-positive cells is essential for eliminating Gram-negative bacteria, overactivation of these cells by the TLR4 ligand LPS initiates a systemic inflammatory reaction and shock. Here we demonstrate that SPRET/Ei mice, derived from Mus spretus, exhibit a dominant resistance against LPS-induced lethality. This resistance is mediated by bone marrow-derived cells. Macrophages from these mice exhibit normal signaling and gene expression responses that depend on the myeloid differentiation factor 88 adaptor protein, but they are impaired in IFN-beta production. The defect appears to be specific for IFN-beta, although the SPRET/Ei IFN-beta promoter is normal. In vivo IFN-beta induction by LPS or influenza virus is very low in SPRET/Ei mice, but IFN-beta-treatment restores the sensitivity to LPS, and IFN type 1 receptor-deficient mice are also resistant to LPS. Because of the defective induction of IFN-beta, these mice are completely resistant to Listeria monocytogenes and highly sensitive to Leishmania major infection. Stimulation of SPRET/Ei macrophages leads to rapid down-regulation of IFN type 1 receptor mRNA expression, which is reflected in poor induction of IFN-beta-dependent genes. This finding indicates that the resistance of SPRET/Ei mice to LPS is due to disruption of a positive-feedback loop that amplifies IFN-beta production. In contrast to TLR4-deficient mice, SPRET/Ei mice resist both LPS and sepsis induced with Klebsiella pneumoniae.
    • XGAP: a uniform and extensible data model and software platform for genotype and phenotype experiments.

      Swertz, Morris A; Velde, K Joeri van der; Tesson, Bruno M; Scheltema, Richard A; Arends, Danny; Vera, Gonzalo; Alberts, Rudi; Dijkstra, Martijn; Schofield, Paul; Schughart, Klaus; et al. (2010)
      We present an extensible software model for the genotype and phenotype community, XGAP. Readers can download a standard XGAP (http://www.xgap.org) or auto-generate a custom version using MOLGENIS with programming interfaces to R-software and web-services or user interfaces for biologists. XGAP has simple load formats for any type of genotype, epigenotype, transcript, protein, metabolite or other phenotype data. Current functionality includes tools ranging from eQTL analysis in mouse to genome-wide association studies in humans.