• 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.
    • 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.