• Natural Compound Library Screening Identifies New Molecules for the Treatment of Cardiac Fibrosis and Diastolic Dysfunction.

      Schimmel, Katharina; Jung, Mira; Foinquinos, Ariana; José, Gorka San; Beaumont, Javier; Bock, Katharina; Grote-Levi, Lea; Xiao, Ke; Bär, Christian; Pfanne, Angelika; et al. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2020-01-17)
      High-throughput natural compound library screening identified 15 substances with antiproliferative effects in human cardiac fibroblasts. Using multiple in vitro fibrosis assays and stringent selection algorithms, we identified the steroid bufalin (from Chinese toad venom) and the alkaloid lycorine (from Amaryllidaceae species) to be effective antifibrotic molecules both in vitro and in vivo, leading to improvement in diastolic function in 2 hypertension-dependent rodent models of cardiac fibrosis. Administration at effective doses did not change plasma damage markers or the morphology of kidney and liver, providing the first toxicological safety data. Using next-generation sequencing, we identified the conserved microRNA 671-5p and downstream the antifibrotic selenoprotein P1 as common effectors of the antifibrotic compounds.
    • Identification of Ppar-modulated miRNA hubs that target the fibrotic tumor microenvironment.

      Winkler, Ivana; Bitter, Catrin; Winkler, Sebastian; Weichenhan, Dieter; Thavamani, Abhishek; Hengstler, Jan G; Borkham-Kamphorst, Erawan; Kohlbacher, Oliver; Plass, Christoph; Geffers, Robert; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-01-07)
      Liver fibrosis interferes with normal liver function and facilitates hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, representing a major threat to human health. Here, we present a comprehensive perspective of microRNA (miRNA) function on targeting the fibrotic microenvironment. Starting from a murine HCC model, we identify a miRNA network composed of 8 miRNA hubs and 54 target genes. We show that let-7, miR-30, miR-29c, miR-335, and miR-338 (collectively termed antifibrotic microRNAs [AF-miRNAs]) down-regulate key structural, signaling, and remodeling components of the extracellular matrix. During fibrogenic transition, these miRNAs are transcriptionally regulated by the transcription factor Pparγ and thus we identify a role of Pparγ as regulator of a functionally related class of AF-miRNAs. The miRNA network is active in human HCC, breast, and lung carcinomas, as well as in 2 independent mouse liver fibrosis models. Therefore, we identify a miRNA:mRNA network that contributes to formation of fibrosis in tumorous and nontumorous organs of mice and humans.
    • Parallel evolutionary paths to produce more than one biofilm phenotype.

      Thöming, Janne G; Tomasch, Jürgen; Preusse, Matthias; Koska, Michal; Grahl, Nora; Pohl, Sarah; Willger, Sven D; Kaever, Volkhard; Müsken, Mathias; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2020-01-01)
      Studying parallel evolution of similar traits in independent within-species lineages provides an opportunity to address evolutionary predictability of molecular changes underlying adaptation. In this study, we monitored biofilm forming capabilities, motility, and virulence phenotypes of a plethora of phylogenetically diverse clinical isolates of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We also recorded biofilm-specific and planktonic transcriptional responses. We found that P. aeruginosa isolates could be stratified based on the production of distinct organismal traits. Three major biofilm phenotypes, which shared motility and virulence phenotypes, were produced repeatedly in several isolates, indicating that the phenotypes evolved via parallel or convergent evolution. Of note, while we found a restricted general response to the biofilm environment, the individual groups of biofilm phenotypes reproduced biofilm transcriptional profiles that included the expression of well-known biofilm features, such as surface adhesive structures and extracellular matrix components. Our results provide insights into distinct ways to make a biofilm and indicate that genetic adaptations can modulate multiple pathways for biofilm development that are followed by several independent clinical isolates. Uncovering core regulatory pathways that drive biofilm-associated growth and tolerance towards environmental stressors promises to give clues to host and environmental interactions and could provide useful targets for new clinical interventions.
    • Reprogramming of Small Noncoding RNA Populations in Peripheral Blood Reveals Host Biomarkers for Latent and Active Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection.

      de Araujo, Leonardo Silva; Ribeiro-Alves, Marcelo; Leal-Calvo, Thyago; Leung, Janaína; Durán, Verónica; Samir, Mohamed; Talbot, Steven; Tallam, Aravind; Mello, Fernanda Carvalho de Queiroz; Geffers, Robert; et al. (America Society of Microbiology (ASM), 2019-12-03)
      In tuberculosis (TB), as in other infectious diseases, studies of small noncoding RNAs (sncRNA) in peripheral blood have focused on microRNAs (miRNAs) but have neglected the other major sncRNA classes in spite of their potential functions in host gene regulation. Using RNA sequencing of whole blood, we have therefore determined expression of miRNA, PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA), small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA), and small nuclear RNA (snRNA) in patients with TB (n = 8), latent TB infection (LTBI; n = 21), and treated LTBI (LTBItt; n = 6) and in uninfected exposed controls (ExC; n = 14). As expected, sncRNA reprogramming was greater in TB than in LTBI, with the greatest changes seen in miRNA populations. However, substantial dynamics were also evident in piRNA and snoRNA populations. One miRNA and 2 piRNAs were identified as moderately accurate (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.70 to 0.74) biomarkers for LTBI, as were 1 miRNA, 1 piRNA, and 2 snoRNAs (AUC = 0.79 to 0.91) for accomplished LTBI treatment. Logistic regression identified the combination of 4 sncRNA (let-7a-5p, miR-589-5p, miR-196b-5p, and SNORD104) as a highly sensitive (100%) classifier to discriminate TB from all non-TB groups. Notably, it reclassified 8 presumed LTBI cases as TB cases, 5 of which turned out to have features of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection on chest radiographs. SNORD104 expression decreased during M. tuberculosis infection of primary human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and M2-like (P = 0.03) but not M1-like (P = 0.31) macrophages, suggesting that its downregulation in peripheral blood in TB is biologically relevant. Taken together, the results demonstrate that snoRNA and piRNA should be considered in addition to miRNA as biomarkers and pathogenesis factors in the various stages of TB.IMPORTANCE Tuberculosis is the infectious disease with the worldwide largest disease burden and there remains a great need for better diagnostic biomarkers to detect latent and active M. tuberculosis infection. RNA molecules hold great promise in this regard, as their levels of expression may differ considerably between infected and uninfected subjects. We have measured expression changes in the four major classes of small noncoding RNAs in blood samples from patients with different stages of TB infection. We found that, in addition to miRNAs (which are known to be highly regulated in blood cells from TB patients), expression of piRNA and snoRNA is greatly altered in both latent and active TB, yielding promising biomarkers. Even though the functions of many sncRNA other than miRNA are still poorly understood, our results strongly suggest that at least piRNA and snoRNA populations may represent hitherto underappreciated players in the different stages of TB infection.
    • Chimeric antigen receptor-induced BCL11B suppression propagates NK-like cell development.

      Maluski, Marcel; Ghosh, Arnab; Herbst, Jessica; Scholl, Vanessa; Baumann, Rolf; Huehn, Jochen; Geffers, Robert; Meyer, Johann; Maul, Holger; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; et al. (American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2019-12-02)
      The transcription factor B cell CLL/lymphoma 11B (BCL11B) is indispensable for T lineage development of lymphoid progenitors. Here, we show that chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) expression during early phases of ex vivo generation of lymphoid progenitors suppressed BCL11B, leading to suppression of T cell-associated gene expression and acquisition of NK cell-like properties. Upon adoptive transfer into hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, CAR-expressing lymphoid progenitors differentiated into CAR-induced killer (CARiK) cells that mediated potent antigen-directed antileukemic activity even across MHC barriers. CD28 and active immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs were critical for a functional CARiK phenotype. These results give important insights into differentiation of murine and human lymphoid progenitors driven by synthetic CAR transgene expression and encourage further evaluation of ex vivo-generated CARiK cells for targeted immunotherapy.
    • The immunogenic potential of bacterial flagella for Salmonella-mediated tumor therapy.

      Felgner, Sebastian; Spöring, Imke; Pawar, Vinay; Kocijancic, Dino; Preusse, Matthias; Falk, Christine; Rohde, Manfred; Häussler, Susanne; Weiss, Siegfried; Erhardt, Marc; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-11-21)
      Genetically engineered Salmonella Typhimurium are potent vectors for prophylactic and therapeutic measures against pathogens as well as cancer. This is based on the potent adjuvanticity that supports strong immune responses. The physiology of Salmonella is well understood. It simplifies engineering of both enhanced immune‐stimulatory properties as well as safety features, thus, resulting in an appropriate balance between attenuation and efficacy for clinical applications. A major virulence factor of Salmonella is the flagellum. It is also a strong pathogen‐associated molecular pattern recognized by extra‐ and intracellular receptors of immune cells of the host. At the same time, it represents a serious metabolic burden. Accordingly, the bacteria evolved tight regulatory mechanisms that control flagella synthesis in vivo. Here, we systematically investigated the immunogenicity and adjuvant properties of various flagella mutants of Salmonella in vitro and in a mouse cancer model in vivo. We found that mutants lacking the flagellum‐specific ATPase FliHIJ or the inner membrane ring FliF displayed the greatest stimulatory capacity and strongest anti‐tumor effects, while remaining safe in vivo. Scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of outer membrane vesicles in the ΔfliF and ΔfliHIJ mutants. Finally, the combination of the ΔfliF and ΔfliHIJ mutations with our previously described attenuated and immunogenic background strain SF102 displayed strong efficacy against the highly resistant cancer cell line RenCa. We thus conclude that manipulating flagella biosynthesis has great potential for the construction of highly efficacious and versatile Salmonella vector strains.
    • The Core Proteome of Biofilm-Grown Clinical Isolates.

      Erdmann, Jelena; Thöming, Janne G; Pohl, Sarah; Pich, Andreas; Lenz, Christof; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MPDI, 2019-09-23)
      Comparative genomics has greatly facilitated the identification of shared as well as unique features among individual cells or tissues, and thus offers the potential to find disease markers. While proteomics is recognized for its potential to generate quantitative maps of protein expression, comparative proteomics in bacteria has been largely restricted to the comparison of single cell lines or mutant strains. In this study, we used a data independent acquisition (DIA) technique, which enables global protein quantification of large sample cohorts, to record the proteome profiles of overall 27 whole genome sequenced and transcriptionally profiled clinical isolates of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Analysis of the proteome profiles across the 27 clinical isolates grown under planktonic and biofilm growth conditions led to the identification of a core biofilm-associated protein profile. Furthermore, we found that protein-to-mRNA ratios between different P. aeruginosa strains are well correlated, indicating conserved patterns of post-transcriptional regulation. Uncovering core regulatory pathways, which drive biofilm formation and associated antibiotic tolerance in bacterial pathogens, promise to give clues to interactions between bacterial species and their environment and could provide useful targets for new clinical interventions to combat biofilm-associated infections.
    • 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.
    • Inactivation of Sox9 in fibroblasts reduces cardiac fibrosis and inflammation

      Scharf, Gesine M.; Kilian, Katja; Cordero, Julio; Wang, Yong; Grund, Andrea; Hofmann, Melanie; Froese, Natali; Wang, Xue; Kispert, Andreas; Kist, Ralf; et al. (American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2019-08-08)
      Fibrotic scarring drives the progression of heart failure after myocardial infarction (MI). Therefore, the development of specific treatment regimens to counteract fibrosis is of high clinical relevance. The transcription factor SOX9 functions as an important regulator during embryogenesis, but recent data point towards an additional causal role in organ fibrosis. We show here that SOX9 is upregulated in the scar after MI in mice. Fibroblast specific deletion of Sox9 ameliorated MI-induced left ventricular dysfunction, dilatation and myocardial scarring in vivo. Unexpectedly, deletion of Sox9 also potently eliminated persisting leukocyte infiltration of the scar in the chronic phase after MI. RNA-sequencing from the infarct scar revealed that Sox9 deletion in fibroblasts resulted in strongly downregulated expression of genes related to extracellular matrix, proteolysis and inflammation. Importantly, Sox9 deletion in isolated cardiac fibroblasts in vitro similarly affected gene expression as in the cardiac scar and reduced fibroblast proliferation, migration and contraction capacity. Together, our data demonstrate that fibroblast SOX9 functions as a master regulator of cardiac fibrosis and inflammation and might constitute a novel therapeutic target during MI.
    • Production of norspermidine contributes to aminoglycoside resistance in pmrAB mutants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Bolard, Arnaud; Schniederjans, Monika; Haussler, Susanne; Triponney, Pauline; Valot, Benoît; Plesiat, Patrick; Jeannot, Katy; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society of microbiology, 2019-08-05)
      Emergence of resistance to polymyxins in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is mainly due to mutations in two-components systems, that promote addition of 4-amino-4-deoxy-L-arabinose to the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) through upregulation of operon arnBCADTEF-ugd (arn) expression. Here, we demonstrate that mutations occurring in different domains of histidine kinase PmrB or in response regulator PmrA result in coresistance to aminoglycosides and colistin. All seventeen clinical strains tested exhibiting such a cross-resistance phenotype were found to be pmrAB mutants. As shown by gene deletion experiments, the decreased susceptibility of the mutants to aminoglycosides was independent from operon arn but required the efflux system MexXY(OprM) and the products of three genes, PA4773-PA4774-PA4775, that are cotranscribed and activated with genes pmrAB Gene PA4773 (annotated as speD2 in PAO1 genome) and PA4774 (speE2) are predicted to encode enzymes involved in biosynthesis of polyamines. Comparative analysis of cell surface extracts of an in vitro selected pmrAB mutant, called AB16.2, and derivatives lacking PA4773, PA4774 and PA4775, respectively revealed that these genes were needed for norspermidine production via a pathway that likely uses 1,3-diaminoprane, a precursor of polyamines. Altogether, our results suggest that norspermidine decreases the self-promoted uptake pathway of aminoglycosides across the outer membrane and thereby potentiates the activity of efflux pump MexXY(OprM).
    • Establishment of an induced memory response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa during infection of a eukaryotic host.

      Kordes, Adrian; Grahl, Nora; Koska, Michal; Preusse, Matthias; Arce-Rodriguez, Alejandro; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Kaever, Volkhard; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-08-01)
      In a given habitat, bacterial cells often experience recurrent exposures to the same environmental stimulus. The ability to memorize the past event and to adjust current behaviors can lead to efficient adaptation to the recurring stimulus. Here we demonstrate that the versatile bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa adopts a virulence phenotype after serial passage in the invertebrate model host Galleria mellonella. The virulence phenotype was not linked to the acquisition of genetic variations and was sustained for several generations, despite cultivation of the ex vivo virulence-adapted P. aeruginosa cells under rich medium conditions in vitro. Transcriptional reprogramming seemed to be induced by a host-specific food source, as reprogramming was also observed upon cultivation of P. aeruginosa in rich medium supplemented with polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids. The establishment of induced memory responses adds a time dimension and seems to fill the gap between long-term evolutionary genotypic adaptation and short-term induced individual responses. Efforts to unravel the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the carry-over effect to induce such memory responses will continue to be of importance as hysteretic behavior can serve survival of bacterial populations in changing and challenging habitats.
    • Neutrophils-related host factors associated with severe disease and fatality in patients with influenza infection.

      Tang, Benjamin M; Shojaei, Maryam; Teoh, Sally; Meyers, Adrienne; Ho, John; Ball, T Blake; Keynan, Yoav; Pisipati, Amarnath; Kumar, Aseem; Eisen, Damon P; et al. (Springer-Nature, 2019-07-31)
      Severe influenza infection has no effective treatment available. One of the key barriers to developing host-directed therapy is a lack of reliable prognostic factors needed to guide such therapy. Here, we use a network analysis approach to identify host factors associated with severe influenza and fatal outcome. In influenza patients with moderate-to-severe diseases, we uncover a complex landscape of immunological pathways, with the main changes occurring in pathways related to circulating neutrophils. Patients with severe disease display excessive neutrophil extracellular traps formation, neutrophil-inflammation and delayed apoptosis, all of which have been associated with fatal outcome in animal models. Excessive neutrophil activation correlates with worsening oxygenation impairment and predicted fatal outcome (AUROC 0.817-0.898). These findings provide new evidence that neutrophil-dominated host response is associated with poor outcomes. Measuring neutrophil-related changes may improve risk stratification and patient selection, a critical first step in developing host-directed immune therapy.
    • Genetically diverse Pseudomonas aeruginosa populations display similar transcriptomic profiles in a cystic fibrosis explanted lung.

      Kordes, Adrian; Preusse, Matthias; Willger, Sven D; Braubach, Peter; Jonigk, Danny; Haverich, Axel; Warnecke, Gregor; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-07-30)
      Previous studies have demonstrated substantial genetic diversification of Pseudomonas aeruginosa across sub-compartments in cystic fibrosis (CF) lungs. Here, we isolate P. aeruginosa from five different sampling areas in the upper and lower airways of an explanted CF lung, analyze ex vivo transcriptional profiles by RNA-seq, and use colony re-sequencing and deep population sequencing to determine the genetic diversity within and across the various sub-compartments. We find that, despite genetic variation, the ex vivo transcriptional profiles of P. aeruginosa populations inhabiting different regions of the CF lung are similar. Although we cannot estimate the extent to which the transcriptional response recorded here actually reflects the in vivo transcriptomes, our results indicate that there may be a common in vivo transcriptional profile in the CF lung environment.
    • Clustered core- and pan-genome content on Rhodobacteraceae chromosomes.

      Kopejtka, Karel; Lin, Yan; Jakubovičová, Markéta; Koblížek, Michal; Tomasch, Jürgen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Oxford University Press, 2019-07-03)
      In Bacteria, chromosome replication starts at a single origin of replication and proceeds on both replichores. Due to its asymmetric nature, replication influences chromosome structure and gene organization, mutation rate and expression. To date, little is known about the distribution of highly conserved genes over the bacterial chromosome. Here, we used a set of 101 fully-sequenced Rhodobacteraceae representatives to analyze the relationship between conservation of genes within this family and their distance from the origin of replication. Twenty-two of the analyzed species had core genes clustered significantly closer to the origin of replication with representatives of the genus Celeribacter being the most apparent example. Interestingly, there were also eight species with the opposite organization. In particular Rhodobaca barguzinensis and Loktanella vestfoldensis showed a significant increase of core genes with distance from the origin of replication. The uneven distribution of low-conserved regions is in particular pronounced for genomes in which the halves of one replichore differ in their conserved gene content. Phage integration and horizontal gene transfer partially explain the scattered nature of Rhodobacteraceae genomes. Our findings lay the foundation for a better understanding of bacterial genome evolution and the role of replication therein.
    • Non-invasive, ratiometric determination of intracellular pH in Pseudomonas species using a novel genetically encoded indicator.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Volke, Daniel C; Bense, Sarina; Häussler, Susanne; Nikel, Pablo I; HZI, Helmholtz -Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley Open, 2019-07-01)
      The ability of Pseudomonas species to thrive in all major natural environments (i.e. terrestrial, freshwater and marine) is based on its exceptional capability to adapt to physicochemical changes. Thus, environmental bacteria have to tightly control the maintenance of numerous physiological traits across different conditions. The intracellular pH (pHi ) homoeostasis is a particularly important feature, since the pHi influences a large portion of the biochemical processes in the cell. Despite its importance, relatively few reliable, easy-to-implement tools have been designed for quantifying in vivo pHi changes in Gram-negative bacteria with minimal manipulations. Here we describe a convenient, non-invasive protocol for the quantification of the pHi in bacteria, which is based on the ratiometric fluorescent indicator protein PHP (pH indicator for Pseudomonas). The DNA sequence encoding PHP was thoroughly adapted to guarantee optimal transcription and translation of the indicator in Pseudomonas species. Our PHP-based quantification method demonstrated that pHi is tightly regulated over a narrow range of pH values not only in Pseudomonas, but also in other Gram-negative bacterial species such as Escherichia coli. The maintenance of the cytoplasmic pH homoeostasis in vivo could also be observed upon internal (e.g. redirection of glucose consumption pathways in P. putida) and external (e.g. antibiotic exposure in P. aeruginosa) perturbations, and the PHP indicator was also used to follow dynamic changes in the pHi upon external pH shifts. In summary, our work describes a reliable method for measuring pHi in Pseudomonas, allowing for the detailed investigation of bacterial pHi homoeostasis and its regulation.
    • Progressive Immunodeficiency with Gradual Depletion of B and CD4⁺ T Cells in Immunodeficiency, Centromeric Instability and Facial Anomalies Syndrome 2 (ICF2).

      Sogkas, Georgios; Dubrowinskaja, Natalia; Bergmann, Anke K; Lentes, Jana; Ripperger, Tim; Fedchenko, Mykola; Ernst, Diana; Jablonka, Alexandra; Geffers, Robert; Baumann, Ulrich; et al. (MPDI, 2019-04-04)
      Immunodeficiency, centromeric instability and facial anomalies syndrome 2 (ICF2) is a rare autosomal recessive primary immunodeficiency disorder. So far, 27 patients have been reported. Here, we present three siblings with ICF2 due to a homozygous ZBTB24 gene mutation (c.1222 T>G, p. (Cys408Gly)). Immune deficiency in these patients ranged from late-onset combined immunodeficiency (CID) with severe respiratory tract infections and recurrent shingles to asymptomatic selective antibody deficiency. Evident clinical heterogeneity manifested despite a common genetic background, suggesting the pathogenic relevance of epigenetic modification. Immunological follow-up reveals a previously unidentified gradual depletion of B and CD4+ T cells in all three presented patients with transition of a common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)-like disease to late-onset-CID in one of them. Considering all previously published cases with ICF2, we identify inadequate antibody responses to vaccines and reduction in CD27+ memory B cells as prevalent immunological traits. High mortality among ICF2 patients (20%) together with the progressive course of immunodeficiency suggest that hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) should be considered as a treatment option in due time.
    • Spatiotemporal control of FlgZ activity impacts Pseudomonas aeruginosa flagellar motility.

      Bense, Sarina; Bruchmann, Sebastian; Steffen, Anika; Stradal, Theresia E B; Häussler, Susanne; Düvel, Juliane; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-03-12)
      The c-di-GMP-binding effector protein FlgZ has been demonstrated to control motility in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and it was suggested that c-di-GMP-bound FlgZ impedes motility via its interaction with the MotCD stator. To further understand how motility is downregulated in P. aeruginosa and to elucidate the general control mechanisms operating during bacterial growth, we examined the spatiotemporal activity of FlgZ. We re-annotated the P. aeruginosaflgZ open reading frame and demonstrated that FlgZ-mediated downregulation of motility is fine-tuned via three independent mechanisms. First, we found that flgZ gene is transcribed independently from flgMN in stationary growth phase to increase FlgZ protein levels in the cell. Second, FlgZ localizes to the cell pole upon c-di-GMP binding and third, we describe that FimV, a cell pole anchor protein, is involved in increasing the polar localized c-di-GMP bound FlgZ to inhibit both, swimming and swarming motility. Our results shed light on the complex dynamics and spatiotemporal control of c-di-GMP-dependent bacterial motility phenotypes and on how the polar anchor protein FimV, the motor brake FlgZ and the stator proteins function to repress flagella-driven swimming and swarming motility.
    • Therapeutic modulation of RNA-binding protein Rbm38 facilitates re-endothelialization after arterial injury.

      Sonnenschein, Kristina; Fiedler, Jan; Pfanne, Angelika; Just, Annette; Mitzka, Saskia; Geffers, Robert Robert; Pich, Andreas; Bauersachs, Johann; Thum, Thomas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Oxford Academic, 2019-03-07)
      Aims Delayed re-endothelialization after balloon angioplasty in patients with coronary or peripheral artery disease impairs vascular healing and leads to neointimal proliferation. In the present study, we examined the effect of RNA-binding motif protein 38 (Rbm38) during re-endothelialization in a murine model of experimental vascular injury. Methods and results Left common carotid arteries of C57BL/6 mice were electrically denudated and endothelial regeneration was evaluated. Profiling of RNA-binding proteins revealed dysregulated expression of Rbm38 in the denudated and regenerated areas. We next tested the importance of Rbm38 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECS) and analysed its effects on cellular proliferation, migration and apoptosis. Rbm38 silencing in vitro demonstrated important beneficial functional effects on migratory capacity and proliferation of endothelial cells. In vivo, local silencing of Rbm38 also improved re-endothelialization of denuded carotid arteries. Luciferase reporter assay identified miR-98 and let-7f to regulate Rbm38 and the positive proliferative properties of Rbm38 silencing in vitro and in vivo were mimicked by therapeutic overexpression of these miRNAs. Conclusion The present data identified Rbm38 as an important factor of the regulation of various endothelial cell functions. Local inhibition of Rbm38 as well as overexpression of the upstream regulators miR-98 and let-7f improved endothelial regeneration in vivo and thus may be a novel therapeutic entry point to avoid endothelial damage after balloon angioplasty.
    • Community richness of amphibian skin bacteria correlates with bioclimate at the global scale.

      Kueneman, Jordan G; Bletz, Molly C; McKenzie, Valerie J; Becker, C Guilherme; Joseph, Maxwell B; Abarca, Juan G; Archer, Holly; Arellano, Ana Lisette; Bataille, Arnaud; Becker, Matthew; et al. (Dpringer-Nature, 2019-03-01)
      Animal-associated microbiomes are integral to host health, yet key biotic and abiotic factors that shape host-associated microbial communities at the global scale remain poorly understood. We investigated global patterns in amphibian skin bacterial communities, incorporating samples from 2,349 individuals representing 205 amphibian species across a broad biogeographic range. We analysed how biotic and abiotic factors correlate with skin microbial communities using multiple statistical approaches. Global amphibian skin bacterial richness was consistently correlated with temperature-associated factors. We found more diverse skin microbiomes in environments with colder winters and less stable thermal conditions compared with environments with warm winters and less annual temperature variation. We used bioinformatically predicted bacterial growth rates, dormancy genes and antibiotic synthesis genes, as well as inferred bacterial thermal growth optima to propose mechanistic hypotheses that may explain the observed patterns. We conclude that temporal and spatial characteristics of the host's macro-environment mediate microbial diversity.
    • Identification and quantification of (t)RNA modifications in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

      Grobe, Svenja; Doberenz, Sebastian; Ferreira, Kevin; Krueger, Jonas; Brönstrup, Mark; Kaever, Volkhard; Häußler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-15)
      Transfer RNA (tRNA) modifications impact the structure and function of tRNAs thus affecting the efficiency and fidelity of translation. In the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa translational regulation plays an important but less defined role in the adaptation to changing environments. In this study, we explored tRNA modifications in P. aeruginosa using LC-MS/MS based approaches. Neutral Loss Scan (NLS) demonstrated the potential to identify previously unknown modifications, while Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) can detect modifications with high specificity and sensitivity. In this study, the MRM-based external calibration method allowed for quantification of the 4 canonical and 32 modified ribonucleosides, of which 21 tRNA modifications were quantified in the total tRNA pool of P. aeruginosa PA14. We also purified the single tRNA isoacceptors tRNA-ArgUCU, tRNA-LeuCAA and tRNA-TrpCCA and determined, both qualitatively and quantitatively, their specific modification pattern. Deeper insights into the nature and dynamics of tRNA modifications in P. aeruginosa will pave the way for further studies on posttranscriptional gene regulation as a relatively unexplored molecular mechanism of controlling bacterial pathogenicity and life style.