• Antibiotic control of tumor-colonizing Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.

      Crull, Katja; Weiss, Siegfried (2011-11)
      Systemic administration of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. typhimurium) into tumor-bearing mice results in preferential colonization of tumors and causes shrinkage and sometimes complete tumor clearance. However, in spite of these beneficial antitumor effects, the systemic administration of a bacterial pathogen raises serious safety concerns as well. Addressing those concerns, here, we demonstrate that tumor-colonizing Salmonella can be readily controlled by systemic administration of the antibiotic - ciprofloxacin. Treatment was most effective when started early postinfection. This was achieved at the expense of the efficacy of tumor therapy. In many of the mice treated in such a way, tumors re-grew again. Nevertheless, some mice were able to clear the tumor despite the start of antibiotic treatment only 24 h after the start of infection. Furthermore, we could demonstrate that such mice had elicited a specific antitumor immune response. Thus, S. typhimurium-mediated tumor therapy might be applied safely when combined with early antibiotic treatment. However, the therapeutic power of the bacteria needs to be enhanced in order to provide a more effective therapeutic tool.
    • Antibodies against C-reactive protein cross-react with 60-kilodalton heat shock proteins.

      Udvarnoki, Katalin; Cervenak, László; Uray, Katalin; Hudecz, Ferenc; Kacskovics, Imre; Spallek, Ralf; Singh, Mahavir; Füst, George; Prohászka, Zoltán; Third Department of Medicine, Semmelweis University, H-1125 Budapest, Kútvölgyi st. 4, Hungary. (2007-04)
      C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute-phase reactant frequently used in histochemistry as a marker of ongoing inflammation. Furthermore, CRP is a powerful biomarker for the prediction of coronary artery disease risk. Heat-shock protein 60 (Hsp60) and CRP are complement-activating molecules, and the effect of their interactions on the regulation of complement activation was studied. However, during the first experiments, we learned that polyclonal anti-CRP antibodies cross-react with Hsp60. Therefore, the aim of our present study was to analyze the cross-reactivity of anti-CRP antibodies (Ab) with Hsp60 in solid-phase enzyme immune assays, in epitope studies using a series of overlapping synthetic peptides, and in Ouchterlony analyses. We found that three different commercial rabbit polyclonal antibodies and two monoclonal (9C9 and CRP-8) anti-CRP antibodies specifically recognize recombinant human Hsp60 and recombinant Mycobacterium tuberculosis Hsp65, respectively. Hsp60 was found to inhibit the binding of anti-CRP polyclonal Ab to Hsp60. Six epitope regions of Hsp60 were recognized by the anti-CRP antibodies, and one region (amino acids [AA] 218 to 232) was recognized by monoclonal antibodies CRP-8 and 9C9. This epitope region of Hsp60 displays 26.6% amino acid identity to CRP AA region 77 to 90. These data suggest that the B-cell epitopes shared between CRP and Hsp60 give rise to a true mimicry-based cross-reaction and the induction of cross-reactive antibodies. Our study underlines the importance of thorough study design and careful interpretation of results while using polyclonal anti-CRP antibodies for histochemistry, especially at low dilutions. Furthermore, analytical interference with Hsp60 in CRP assays should also be tested.
    • Cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein (CRALBP) is a direct downstream target of transcription factor Pax6.

      Boppana, Sridhar; Scheglov, Alexander; Geffers, Robert; Tarabykin, Victor; Max-Planck-Institute for Experimental Medicine, Hermann-Rein Strasse 3, 37075 Göttingen, Germany. boppansr@umdnj.edu (2012-02)
      Transcription factor Pax6 plays an essential role in the expression of other transcription factors, cell adhesion molecules and is crucial for neurogenesis in the developing forebrain. Analysis of gene expression profiles through microarray experiments in Pax6 mutants allowed us to focus on CRALBP, one of the many genes that were downregulated.
    • A clonotypic Vγ4Jγ1/Vδ5Dδ2Jδ1 innate γδ T-cell population restricted to the CCR6⁺CD27⁻ subset.

      Kashani, Elham; Föhse, Lisa; Raha, Solaiman; Sandrock, Inga; Oberdörfer, Linda; Koenecke, Christian; Suerbaum, Sebastian; Weiss, Siegfried; Prinz, Immo; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
      Here we investigate the TCR repertoire of mouse Vγ4(+) γδ T cells in correlation with their developmental origin and homeostasis. By deep sequencing we identify a high frequency of straight Vδ5Dδ2Jδ1 germline rearrangements without P- and N-nucleotides within the otherwise highly diverse Trd repertoire of Vγ4(+) cells. This sequence is infrequent in CCR6(-)CD27(+) cells, but abundant among CCR6(+)CD27(-) γδ T cells. Using an inducible Rag1 knock-in mouse model, we show that γδ T cells generated in the adult thymus rarely contain this germline-rearranged Vδ5Dδ2Jδ1 sequence, confirming its fetal origin. Single-cell analysis and deep sequencing of the Trg locus reveal a dominant CDR3 junctional motif that completes the TCR repertoire of invariant Vγ4(+)Vδ5(+) cells. In conclusion, this study identifies an innate subset of fetal thymus-derived γδ T cells with an invariant Vγ4(+)Vδ5(+) TCR that is restricted to the CCR6(+)CD27(-) subset of γδ T cells.
    • 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.
    • Enantiomer-specific and paracrine leukemogenicity of mutant IDH metabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate.

      Chaturvedi, A; Araujo Cruz, M M; Jyotsana, N; Sharma, A; Goparaju, R; Schwarzer, A; Görlich, K; Schottmann, R; Struys, E A; Jansen, E E; et al. (2016-08)
      Canonical mutations in IDH1 and IDH2 produce high levels of the R-enantiomer of 2-hydroxyglutarate (R-2HG), which is a competitive inhibitor of α-ketoglutarate (αKG)-dependent enzymes and a putative oncometabolite. Mutant IDH1 collaborates with HoxA9 to induce monocytic leukemia in vivo. We used two mouse models and a patient-derived acute myeloid leukemia xenotransplantation (PDX) model to evaluate the in vivo transforming potential of R-2HG, S-2HG and αKG independent of the mutant IDH1 protein. We show that R-2HG, but not S-2HG or αKG, is an oncometabolite in vivo that does not require the mutant IDH1 protein to induce hyperleukocytosis and to accelerate the onset of murine and human leukemia. Thus, circulating R-2HG acts in a paracrine manner and can drive the expansion of many different leukemic and preleukemic clones that may express wild-type IDH1, and therefore can be a driver of clonal evolution and diversity. In addition, we show that the mutant IDH1 protein is a stronger oncogene than R-2HG alone when comparable intracellular R-2HG levels are achieved. We therefore propose R-2HG-independent oncogenic functions of mutant IDH1 that may need to be targeted in addition to R-2HG production to exploit the full therapeutic potential of IDH1 inhibition.
    • Genome-wide localization and expression profiling establish Sp2 as a sequence-specific transcription factor regulating vitally important genes.

      Terrados, Gloria; Finkernagel, Florian; Stielow, Bastian; Sadic, Dennis; Neubert, Juliane; Herdt, Olga; Krause, Michael; Scharfe, Maren; Jarek, Michael; Suske, Guntram; et al. (2012-09)
      The transcription factor Sp2 is essential for early mouse development and for proliferation of mouse embryonic fibroblasts in culture. Yet its mechanisms of action and its target genes are largely unknown. In this study, we have combined RNA interference, in vitro DNA binding, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and global gene-expression profiling to investigate the role of Sp2 for cellular functions, to define target sites and to identify genes regulated by Sp2. We show that Sp2 is important for cellular proliferation that it binds to GC-boxes and occupies proximal promoters of genes essential for vital cellular processes including gene expression, replication, metabolism and signalling. Moreover, we identified important key target genes and cellular pathways that are directly regulated by Sp2. Most significantly, Sp2 binds and activates numerous sequence-specific transcription factor and co-activator genes, and represses the whole battery of cholesterol synthesis genes. Our results establish Sp2 as a sequence-specific regulator of vitally important genes.
    • Hypoxia Enhances Immunosuppression by Inhibiting CD4+ Effector T Cell Function and Promoting Treg Activity.

      Westendorf, Astrid M; Skibbe, Kathrin; Adamczyk, Alexandra; Buer, Jan; Geffers, Robert; Hansen, Wiebke; Pastille, Eva; Jendrossek, Verena; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Hypoxia occurs in many pathological conditions, including inflammation and cancer. Within this context, hypoxia was shown to inhibit but also to promote T cell responses. Due to this controversial function, we aimed to explore whether an insufficient anti-tumour response during colitis-associated colon cancer could be ascribed to a hypoxic microenvironment.
    • Identification of tumor-specific Salmonella Typhimurium promoters and their regulatory logic.

      Leschner, Sara; Deyneko, Igor V; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Wolf, Kathrin; Bloecker, Helmut; Bumann, Dirk; Loessner, Holger; Weiss, Siegfried; Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. sara.leschner@helmholtz-hzi.de (2012-04)
      Conventional cancer therapies are often limited in effectiveness and exhibit strong side effects. Therefore, alternative therapeutic strategies are demanded. The employment of tumor-colonizing bacteria that exert anticancer effects is such a novel approach that attracts increasing attention. For instance, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium has been used in many animal tumor models as well as in first clinical studies. These bacteria exhibit inherent tumoricidal effects. In addition, they can be used to deliver therapeutic agents. However, bacterial expression has to be restricted to the tumor to prevent toxic substances from harming healthy tissue. Therefore, we screened an S. Typhimurium promoter-trap library to identify promoters that exclusively drive gene expression in the cancerous tissue. Twelve elements could be detected that show reporter gene expression in tumors but not in spleen and liver. In addition, a DNA motif was identified that appears to be necessary for tumor specificity. Now, such tumor-specific promoters can be used to safely express therapeutic proteins by tumor-colonizing S. Typhimurium directly in the neoplasia.
    • Immune-responsive gene 1 protein links metabolism to immunity by catalyzing itaconic acid production.

      Michelucci, Alessandro; Cordes, Thekla; Ghelfi, Jenny; Pailot, Arnaud; Reiling, Norbert; Goldmann, Oliver; Binz, Tina; Wegner, André; Tallam, Aravind; Rausell, Antonio; et al. (2013-05-07)
      Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an enzyme producing itaconic acid (also known as methylenesuccinic acid) through the decarboxylation of cis-aconitate, a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate. Using a gain-and-loss-of-function approach in both mouse and human immune cells, we found Irg1 expression levels correlating with the amounts of itaconic acid, a metabolite previously proposed to have an antimicrobial effect. We purified IRG1 protein and identified its cis-aconitate decarboxylating activity in an enzymatic assay. Itaconic acid is an organic compound that inhibits isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, a pathway essential for bacterial growth under specific conditions. Here we show that itaconic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria expressing isocitrate lyase, such as Salmonella enterica and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Furthermore, Irg1 gene silencing in macrophages resulted in significantly decreased intracellular itaconic acid levels as well as significantly reduced antimicrobial activity during bacterial infections. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IRG1 links cellular metabolism with immune defense by catalyzing itaconic acid production.
    • Immunoglobulins drive terminal maturation of splenic dendritic cells.

      Zietara, Natalia; Łyszkiewicz, Marcin; Puchałka, Jacek; Pei, Gang; Gutierrez, Maximiliano Gabriel; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Hobeika, Elias; Reth, Michael; Martins dos Santos, Vitor A P; Krueger, Andreas; et al. (2013-02-05)
      Nature and physiological status of antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells DCs, are decisive for the immune reactions elicited. Multiple factors and cell interactions have been described that affect maturation of DCs. Here, we show that DCs arising in the absence of immunoglobulins (Ig) in vivo are impaired in cross-presentation of soluble antigen. This deficiency was due to aberrant cellular targeting of antigen to lysosomes and its rapid degradation. Function of DCs could be restored by transfer of Ig irrespective of antigen specificity and isotype. Modulation of cross-presentation by Ig was inhibited by coapplication of mannan and, thus, likely to be mediated by C-type lectin receptors. This unexpected dependency of splenic DCs on Ig to cross-present antigen provides insights into the interplay between cellular and humoral immunity and the immunomodulatory capacity of Ig.
    • Influence of infection route and virulence factors on colonization of solid tumors by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.

      Crull, Katja; Bumann, Dirk; Weiss, Siegfried; Dept. Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-06)
      Administration of facultative anaerobic bacteria such as Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium as anticancer treatment holds a great therapeutic potential. Here, we tested different routes of application of S. typhimurium with regard to tumor colonization and therapeutic efficacy. No differences between intravenous and intraperitoneal infection were observed, often leading to a complete tumor clearance. In contrast, after oral application, tumor colonization was inefficient and delayed. No therapeutic effect was observed under such conditions. We also showed that tumor invasion and colonization were independent of functional Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI) 1 and SPI 2. Furthermore, tumor invasion and colonization did not require bacterial motility or chemotactic responsiveness. The distribution of the bacteria within the tumor was independent of such functions.
    • Interleukin-2 improves amyloid pathology, synaptic failure and memory in Alzheimer's disease mice.

      Alves, Sandro; Churlaud, Guillaume; Audrain, Mickael; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Fol, Romain; Souchet, Benoit; Braudeau, Jérôme; Korte, Martin; Klatzmann, David; Cartier, Nathalie; et al. (2017-03-01)
      Interleukin-2 (IL-2)-deficient mice have cytoarchitectural hippocampal modifications and impaired learning and memory ability reminiscent of Alzheimer's disease. IL-2 stimulates regulatory T cells whose role is to control inflammation. As neuroinflammation contributes to neurodegeneration, we investigated IL-2 in Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, we investigated IL-2 levels in hippocampal biopsies of patients with Alzheimer's disease relative to age-matched control individuals. We then treated APP/PS1ΔE9 mice having established Alzheimer's disease with IL-2 for 5 months using single administration of an AAV-IL-2 vector. We first found decreased IL-2 levels in hippocampal biopsies of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In mice, IL-2-induced systemic and brain regulatory T cells expansion and activation. In the hippocampus, IL-2 induced astrocytic activation and recruitment of astrocytes around amyloid plaques, decreased amyloid-β42/40 ratio and amyloid plaque load, improved synaptic plasticity and significantly rescued spine density. Of note, this tissue remodelling was associated with recovery of memory deficits, as assessed in the Morris water maze task. Altogether, our data strongly suggest that IL-2 can alleviate Alzheimer's disease hallmarks in APP/PS1ΔE9 mice with established pathology. Therefore, this should prompt the investigation of low-dose IL-2 in Alzheimer's disease and other neuroinflammatory/neurodegenerative disorders.
    • Listeria monocytogenes desensitizes immune cells to subsequent Ca2+ signaling via listeriolysin O-induced depletion of intracellular Ca2+ stores.

      Gekara, Nelson O; Groebe, Lothar; Viegas, Nuno; Weiss, Siegfried; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. nelson.gekara@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008-02)
      Listeriolysin O (LLO), the pore-forming toxin of Listeria monocytogenes, is a prototype of the cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) secreted by several pathogenic and nonpathogenic gram-positive bacteria. In addition to mediating the escape of the bacterium into the cytosol, this toxin is generally believed to be a central player in host-pathogen interactions during L. monocytogenes infection. LLO triggers the influx of Ca(2+) into host cells as well as the release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores. Thus, many of the cellular responses induced by LLO are related to calcium signaling. Interestingly, in this study, we report that prolonged exposure to LLO desensitizes cells to Ca(2+) mobilization upon subsequent stimulations with LLO. Cells preexposed to LLO-positive L. monocytogenes but not to the LLO-deficient Deltahly mutant were found to be highly refractory to Ca(2+) induction in response to receptor-mediated stimulation. Such cells also exhibited diminished Ca(2+) signals in response to stimulation with LLO and thapsigargin. The presented results suggest that this phenomenon is due to the depletion of intracellular Ca(2+) stores. The ability of LLO to desensitize immune cells provides a significant hint about the possible role played by CDCs in the evasion of the immune system by bacterial pathogens.
    • Listeria monocytogenes induces T cell receptor unresponsiveness through pore-forming toxin listeriolysin O.

      Gekara, Nelson O; Zietara, Natalia; Geffers, Robert; Weiss, Siegfried; Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. nelson.gekara@mims.umu.se (2010-12-01)
      The success of many pathogens relies on their ability to circumvent the innate and adaptive immune defenses. How bacterial pathogens subvert adaptive immune defenses is not clear. Cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) represent an expansive family of homologous pore-forming toxins that are produced by more than 20 gram-positive bacterial species. Listeriolysin O (LLO), a prototype CDC, is the main virulence factor of Listeria monocytogenes.
    • Mast cells initiate early anti-Listeria host defences.

      Gekara, Nelson O; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Department of Molecular Immunology, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. Nelson.Gekara@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008-01)
      The Gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes (L. m.) is the aetiological agent of listeriosis. The early phase listeriosis is characterized by strong innate host responses that play a major role in bacterial clearance. This is emphasized by the fact that mice deficient in T and B cells have a remarkable ability to control infection. Mast cells, among the principal effectors of innate immunity, have largely been studied in the context of hyper-reactive conditions such as allergy and autoimmune diseases. In the present study, we evaluated the significance of mast cells during the early phase of listeriosis. Compared with controls, mice depleted of mast cells showed hundred-fold higher bacterial burden in spleen and liver and were significantly impaired in neutrophil mobilization. Although L. m. interacts with and triggers mast cell degranulation, bacteria were hardly found within such cells. Mainly neutrophils and macrophages phagozytosed L. m. Thus, mast cells control infection not via direct bacterial uptake, but by initiating neutrophils influx to the site of infection. We show that this is initiated by pre-synthesized TNF-alpha, rapidly secreted by mast cell upon activation by L. m. We also show that upon recruitment, neutrophils also become activated and additionally secrete TNF-alpha thus amplifying the anti-L. m. inflammatory response.
    • Murine solid tumours as a novel model to study bacterial biofilm formation in vivo.

      Pawar, V; Crull, K; Komor, U; Kasnitz, N; Frahm, M; Kocijancic, D; Westphal, K; Leschner, S; Wolf, K; Loessner, H; et al. (2014-08)
      Bacteria of many species are able to invade and colonize solid tumours in mice. We have focused on Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Detailed analysis revealed that such tumour-invading Salmonella form biofilms, thus providing a versatile in vivo test system for studying bacterial phenotypes and host-pathogen interactions. It appears that biofilm formation by S. typhimurium is induced as a defence against the immune system of the host, and in particular against neutrophils. Further, we extended our work to the clinically more relevant biofilm infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The induction of P. aeruginosa biofilms in neoplastic tissue appears to be elicited as a reaction against the immune system. Reconstitution experiments reveal that T cells are responsible for biofilm induction. Isogenic mutants that are no longer able to form biofilms can be used for comparison studies to determine antimicrobial resistance, especially therapeutic efficacy against P. aeruginosa located in biofilms.
    • Neutrophils responsive to endogenous IFN-beta regulate tumor angiogenesis and growth in a mouse tumor model.

      Jablonska, Jadwiga; Leschner, Sara; Westphal, Kathrin; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. jja@gbf.de (2010-04)
      Angiogenesis is a hallmark of malignant neoplasias, as the formation of new blood vessels is required for tumors to acquire oxygen and nutrients essential for their continued growth and metastasis. However, the signaling pathways leading to tumor vascularization are not fully understood. Here, using a transplantable mouse tumor model, we have demonstrated that endogenous IFN-beta inhibits tumor angiogenesis through repression of genes encoding proangiogenic and homing factors in tumor-infiltrating neutrophils. We determined that IFN-beta-deficient mice injected with B16F10 melanoma or MCA205 fibrosarcoma cells developed faster-growing tumors with better-developed blood vessels than did syngeneic control mice. These tumors displayed enhanced infiltration by CD11b+Gr1+ neutrophils expressing elevated levels of the genes encoding the proangiogenic factors VEGF and MMP9 and the homing receptor CXCR4. They also expressed higher levels of the transcription factors c-myc and STAT3, known regulators of VEGF, MMP9, and CXCR4. In vitro, treatment of these tumor-infiltrating neutrophils with low levels of IFN-beta restored expression of proangiogenic factors to control levels. Moreover, depletion of these neutrophils inhibited tumor growth in both control and IFN-beta-deficient mice. We therefore suggest that constitutively produced endogenous IFN-beta is an important mediator of innate tumor surveillance. Further, we believe our data help to explain the therapeutic effect of IFN treatment during the early stages of cancer development.
    • NK cell activation in visceral leishmaniasis requires TLR9, myeloid DCs, and IL-12, but is independent of plasmacytoid DCs.

      Schleicher, Ulrike; Liese, Jan; Knippertz, Ilka; Kurzmann, Claudia; Hesse, Andrea; Heit, Antje; Fischer, Jens A A; Weiss, Siegfried; Kalinke, Ulrich; Kunz, Stefanie; et al. (2007-04-16)
      Natural killer (NK) cells are sentinel components of the innate response to pathogens, but the cell types, pathogen recognition receptors, and cytokines required for their activation in vivo are poorly defined. Here, we investigated the role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), myeloid DCs (mDCs), Toll-like receptors (TLRs), and of NK cell stimulatory cytokines for the induction of an NK cell response to the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum. In vitro, pDCs did not endocytose Leishmania promastigotes but nevertheless released interferon (IFN)-alpha/beta and interleukin (IL)-12 in a TLR9-dependent manner. mDCs rapidly internalized Leishmania and, in the presence of TLR9, produced IL-12, but not IFN-alpha/beta. Depletion of pDCs did not impair the activation of NK cells in L. infantum-infected mice. In contrast, L. infantum-induced NK cell cytotoxicity and IFN-gamma production were abolished in mDC-depleted mice. The same phenotype was observed in TLR9(-/-) mice, which lacked IL-12 expression by mDCs, and in IL-12(-/-) mice, whereas IFN-alpha/beta receptor(-/-) mice showed only a minor reduction of NK cell IFN-gamma expression. This study provides the first direct evidence that mDCs are essential for eliciting NK cell cytotoxicity and IFN-gamma release in vivo and demonstrates that TLR9, mDCs, and IL-12 are functionally linked to the activation of NK cells in visceral leishmaniasis.
    • Potentiation of epithelial innate host responses by intercellular communication.

      Dolowschiak, Tamas; Chassin, Cécilia; Ben Mkaddem, Sanae; Fuchs, Thilo M; Weiss, Siegfried; Vandewalle, Alain; Hornef, Mathias W; Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany. (2010)
      The epithelium efficiently attracts immune cells upon infection despite the low number of pathogenic microbes and moderate levels of secreted chemokines per cell. Here we examined whether horizontal intercellular communication between cells may contribute to a coordinated response of the epithelium. Listeria monocytogenes infection, transfection, and microinjection of individual cells within a polarized intestinal epithelial cell layer were performed and activation was determined at the single cell level by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Surprisingly, chemokine production after L. monocytogenes infection was primarily observed in non-infected epithelial cells despite invasion-dependent cell activation. Whereas horizontal communication was independent of gap junction formation, cytokine secretion, ion fluxes, or nitric oxide synthesis, NADPH oxidase (Nox) 4-dependent oxygen radical formation was required and sufficient to induce indirect epithelial cell activation. This is the first report to describe epithelial cell-cell communication in response to innate immune activation. Epithelial communication facilitates a coordinated infectious host defence at the very early stage of microbial infection.