• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.