• An integrative computational approach to effectively guide experimental identification of regulatory elements in promoters.

      Deyneko, Igor V; Weiss, Siegfried; Leschner, Sara; Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstr, 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. Igor.Deyneko@helmholtz-hzi.de (2012)
      Transcriptional activity of genes depends on many factors like DNA motifs, conformational characteristics of DNA, melting etc. and there are computational approaches for their identification. However, in real applications, the number of predicted, for example, DNA motifs may be considerably large. In cases when various computational programs are applied, systematic experimental knock out of each of the potential elements obviously becomes nonproductive. Hence, one needs an approach that is able to integrate many heterogeneous computational methods and upon that suggest selected regulatory elements for experimental verification.
    • Interaction of myxobacteria-derived outer membrane vesicles with biofilms: antiadhesive and antibacterial effects.

      Goes, Adriely; Vidakovic, Lucia; Drescher, Knut; Fuhrmann, Gregor; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021-08-02)
      Bacterial biofilms are widespread in nature and in medical settings and display a high tolerance to antibiotics and disinfectants. Extracellular vesicles have been increasingly studied to characterise their origins and assess their potential for use as a versatile drug delivery system; however, it remains unclear whether they also have antibiofilm effects. Outer membrane vesicles are lipid vesicles shed by Gram-negative bacteria and, in the case of myxobacteria, carry natural antimicrobial compounds produced by these microorganisms. In this study, we demonstrate that vesicles derived from the myxobacteria Cystobacter velatus Cbv34 and Cystobacter ferrugineus Cbfe23 are highly effective at inhibiting the formation and disrupting biofilms by different bacterial species.
    • Interferon-beta expression and type I interferon receptor signaling of hepatocytes prevent hepatic necrosis and virus dissemination in Coxsackievirus B3-infected mice.

      Koestner, Wolfgang; Spanier, Julia; Klause, Tanja; Tegtmeyer, Pia-K; Becker, Jennifer; Herder, Vanessa; Borst, Katharina; Todt, Daniel; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Gerhauser, Ingo; et al. (2018-08-01)
      During Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) infection hepatitis is a potentially life threatening complication, particularly in newborns. Studies with type I interferon (IFN-I) receptor (IFNAR)-deficient mice revealed a key role of the IFN-I axis in the protection against CVB3 infection, whereas the source of IFN-I and cell types that have to be IFNAR triggered in order to promote survival are still unknown. We found that CVB3 infected IFN-β reporter mice showed effective reporter induction, especially in hepatocytes and only to a minor extent in liver-resident macrophages. Accordingly, upon in vitro CVB3 infection of primary hepatocytes from murine or human origin abundant IFN-β responses were induced. To identify sites of IFNAR-triggering we performed experiments with Mx reporter mice, which upon CVB3 infection showed massive luciferase induction in the liver. Immunohistological studies revealed that during CVB3 infection MX1 expression of hepatocytes was induced primarily by IFNAR-, and not by IFN-III receptor (IFNLR)-triggering. CVB3 infection studies with primary human hepatocytes, in which either the IFN-I or the IFN-III axis was inhibited, also indicated that primarily IFNAR-, and to a lesser extent IFNLR-triggering was needed for ISG induction. Interestingly, CVB3 infected mice with a hepatocyte-specific IFNAR ablation showed severe liver cell necrosis and ubiquitous viral dissemination that resulted in lethal disease, as similarly detected in classical IFNAR-/- mice. In conclusion, we found that during CVB3 infection hepatocytes are major IFN-I producers and that the liver is also the organ that shows strong IFNAR-triggering. Importantly, hepatocytes need to be IFNAR-triggered in order to prevent virus dissemination and to assure survival. These data are compatible with the hypothesis that during CVB3 infection hepatocytes serve as important IFN-I producers and sensors not only in the murine, but also in the human system.
    • 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.
    • Intranasal IFNgamma extends passive IgA antibody protection of mice against Mycobacterium tuberculosis lung infection.

      Reljic, R; Clark, S O; Williams, A; Falero-Diaz, G; Singh, M; Challacombe, S; Marsh, P D; Ivanyi, J (2006-03-01)
      Intranasal inoculation of mice with monoclonal IgA against the alpha-crystallin (acr1) antigen can diminish the tuberculous infection in the lungs. As this effect has been observed only over a short-term, we investigated if it could be extended by inoculation of IFNgamma 3 days before infection, and further co-inoculations with IgA, at 2 h before and 2 and 7 days after aerosol infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv. This treatment reduced the lung infection at 4 weeks more than either IgA or IFNgamma alone (i.e. 17-fold, from 4.2 x 10(7) to 2.5 x 10(6) CFU, P = 0.006), accompanied also by lower granulomatous infiltration of the lungs. IFNgamma added prior to infection of mouse peritoneal macrophages with IgA-opsonized bacilli resulted in a synergistic increase of nitric oxide and TNFalpha production and a 2-3 fold decrease in bacterial counts. Our improved results suggest, that combined treatment with IFNgamma and IgA could be developed towards prophylactic treatment of AIDS patients, or as an adjunct to chemotherapy.
    • An Intrinsic Propensity of Murine Peritoneal B1b Cells to Switch to IgA in Presence of TGF-β and Retinoic Acid.

      Roy, Bishnudeo; Brennecke, Anne-Margarete; Agarwal, Shiwani; Krey, Martina; Düber, Sandra; Weiss, Siegfried (2013)
      In the present study we have investigated the comparative switching propensity of murine peritoneal and splenic B cell subpopulations to IgA in presence of retinoic acid (RA) and TGF-β.
    • Inverse PPARβ/δ agonists suppress oncogenic signaling to the ANGPTL4 gene and inhibit cancer cell invasion.

      Adhikary, T; Brandt, D T; Kaddatz, K; Stockert, J; Naruhn, S; Meissner, W; Finkernagel, F; Obert, J; Lieber, S; Scharfe, M; et al. (2013-10-31)
      Besides its established functions in intermediary metabolism and developmental processes, the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/δ (PPARβ/δ) has a less defined role in tumorigenesis. In the present study, we have identified a function for PPARβ/δ in cancer cell invasion. We show that two structurally divergent inhibitory ligands for PPARβ/δ, the inverse agonists ST247 and DG172, strongly inhibit the serum- and transforming growth factor β (TGFβ)-induced invasion of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells into a three-dimensional matrigel matrix. To elucidate the molecular basis of this finding, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) and microarray analyses, which identified the gene encoding angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) as the major transcriptional PPARβ/δ target in MDA-MB-231 cells, previously implicated in TGFβ-mediated tumor progression and metastatic dissemination. We show that the induction of ANGPTL4 by TGFβ and other oncogenic signals is strongly repressed by ST247 and DG172 in a PPARβ/δ-dependent fashion, resulting in the inhibition of ANGPTL4 secretion. This effect is attributable to these ligands' ability to induce a dominant transcriptional repressor complex at the site of transcription initiation that blocks preinitiation complex formation through an histone deacetylase-independent, non-canonical mechanism. Repression of ANGPTL4 transcription by inverse PPARβ/δ agonists is functionally linked to the inhibition of cancer cell invasion into a three-dimensional matrix, as (i) invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells is critically dependent on ANGPTL4 expression, (ii) recombinant ANGPTL4 stimulates invasion, and (iii) reverses the inhibitory effect of ST247 and DG172. These findings indicate that a PPARβ/δ-ANGPTL4 pathway is involved in the regulation of tumor cell invasion and that its pharmacological manipulation by inverse PPARβ/δ agonists is feasible.
    • Is autoinducer-2 a universal signal for interspecies communication: a comparative genomic and phylogenetic analysis of the synthesis and signal transduction pathways

      Sun, Jibin; Daniel, Rolf; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Zeng, An-Ping (BioMed Central, 2004-09-29)
      Background Quorum sensing is a process of bacterial cell-to-cell communication involving the production and detection of extracellular signaling molecules called autoinducers. Recently, it has been proposed that autoinducer-2 (AI-2), a furanosyl borate diester derived from the recycling of S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH) to homocysteine, serves as a universal signal for interspecies communication. Results In this study, 138 completed genomes were examined for the genes involved in the synthesis and detection of AI-2. Except for some symbionts and parasites, all organisms have a pathway to recycle SAH, either using a two-step enzymatic conversion by the Pfs and LuxS enzymes or a one-step conversion using SAH-hydrolase (SahH). 51 organisms including most Gamma-, Beta-, and Epsilonproteobacteria, and Firmicutes possess the Pfs-LuxS pathway, while Archaea, Eukarya, Alphaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Cyanobacteria prefer the SahH pathway. In all 138 organisms, only the three Vibrio strains had strong, bidirectional matches to the periplasmic AI-2 binding protein LuxP and the central signal relay protein LuxU. The initial two-component sensor kinase protein LuxQ, and the terminal response regulator luxO are found in most Proteobacteria, as well as in some Firmicutes, often in several copies. Conclusions The genomic analysis indicates that the LuxS enzyme required for AI-2 synthesis is widespread in bacteria, while the periplasmic binding protein LuxP is only present in Vibrio strains. Thus, other organisms may either use components different from the AI-2 signal transduction system of Vibrio strains to sense the signal of AI-2, or they do not have such a quorum sensing system at all.
    • Itaconate and derivatives reduce interferon responses and inflammation in influenza A virus infection.

      Sohail, Aaqib; Iqbal, Azeem A; Sahini, Nishika; Chen, Fangfang; Tantawy, Mohamed; Waqas, Fakhar; Winterhoff, Moritz; Ebensen, Thomas; Schultz, Kristin; Geffers, Robert; et al. (PLOS, 2022-01-13)
      Excessive inflammation is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in many viral infections including influenza. Therefore, there is a need for therapeutic interventions that dampen and redirect inflammatory responses and, ideally, exert antiviral effects. Itaconate is an immunomodulatory metabolite which also reprograms cell metabolism and inflammatory responses when applied exogenously. We evaluated effects of endogenous itaconate and exogenous application of itaconate and its variants dimethyl- and 4-octyl-itaconate (DI, 4OI) on host responses to influenza A virus (IAV). Infection induced expression of ACOD1, the enzyme catalyzing itaconate synthesis, in monocytes and macrophages, which correlated with viral replication and was abrogated by DI and 4OI treatment. In IAV-infected mice, pulmonary inflammation and weight loss were greater in Acod1-/- than in wild-type mice, and DI treatment reduced pulmonary inflammation and mortality. The compounds reversed infection-triggered interferon responses and modulated inflammation in human cells supporting non-productive and productive infection, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and in human lung tissue. Itaconates reduced ROS levels and STAT1 phosphorylation, whereas AKT phosphorylation was reduced by 4OI and DI but increased by itaconate. Single-cell RNA sequencing identified monocytes as the main target of infection and the exclusive source of ACOD1 mRNA in peripheral blood. DI treatment silenced IFN-responses predominantly in monocytes, but also in lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Ectopic synthesis of itaconate in A549 cells, which do not physiologically express ACOD1, reduced infection-driven inflammation, and DI reduced IAV- and IFNγ-induced CXCL10 expression in murine macrophages independent of the presence of endogenous ACOD1. The compounds differed greatly in their effects on cellular gene homeostasis and released cytokines/chemokines, but all three markedly reduced release of the pro-inflammatory chemokines CXCL10 (IP-10) and CCL2 (MCP-1). Viral replication did not increase under treatment despite the dramatically repressed IFN responses. In fact, 4OI strongly inhibited viral transcription in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and the compounds reduced viral titers (4OI>Ita>DI) in A549 cells whereas viral transcription was unaffected. Taken together, these results reveal itaconates as immunomodulatory and antiviral interventions for influenza virus infection.
    • Lentivirus-induced dendritic cells for immunization against high-risk WT1(+) acute myeloid leukemia.

      Sundarasetty, Bala Sai; Singh, Vijay Kumar; Salguero, Gustavo; Geffers, Robert; Rickmann, Mareike; Macke, Laura; Borchers, Sylvia; Figueiredo, Constanca; Schambach, Axel; Gullberg, Urban; et al. (2013-02)
      Wilms' tumor 1 antigen (WT1) is overexpressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a high-risk neoplasm warranting development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches. Unfortunately, clinical immunotherapeutic use of WT1 peptides against AML has been inconclusive. With the rationale of stimulating multiantigenic responses against WT1, we genetically programmed long-lasting dendritic cells capable of producing and processing endogenous WT1 epitopes. A tricistronic lentiviral vector co-expressing a truncated form of WT1 (lacking the DNA-binding domain), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interleukin-4 (IL-4) was used to transduce human monocytes ex vivo. Overnight transduction induced self-differentiation of monocytes into immunophenotypically stable "SmartDC/tWT1" (GM-CSF(+), IL-4(+), tWT1(+), IL-6(+), IL-8(+), TNF-α(+), MCP-1(+), HLA-DR(+), CD86(+), CCR2(+), CCR5(+)) that were viable for 3 weeks in vitro. SmartDC/tWT1 were produced with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from an FLT3-ITD(+) AML patient and surplus material from a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) and used to expand CD8(+) T cells in vitro. Expanded cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) showed antigen-specific reactivity against WT1 and against WT1(+) leukemia cells. SmartDC/tWT1 injected s.c. into Nod.Rag1(-/-).IL2rγc(-/-) mice were viable in vivo for more than three weeks. Migration of human T cells (huCTLs) to the immunization site was demonstrated following adoptive transfer of huCTLs into mice immunized with SmartDC/tWT1. Furthermore, SmartDC/tWT1 immunization plus adoptive transfer of T cells reactive against WT1 into mice resulted in growth arrest of a WT1(+) tumor. Gene array analyses of SmartDC/tWT1 demonstrated upregulation of several genes related to innate immunity. Thus, SmartDC/tWT1 can be produced in a single day of ex vivo gene transfer, are highly viable in vivo, and have great potential for use as immunotherapy against malignant transformation overexpressing WT1.
    • LINT, a novel dL(3)mbt-containing complex, represses malignant brain tumour signature genes.

      Meier, Karin; Mathieu, Eve-Lyne; Finkernagel, Florian; Reuter, L Maximilian; Scharfe, Maren; Doehlemann, Gunther; Jarek, Michael; Brehm, Alexander; Institut für Molekularbiologie und Tumorforschung, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany. (2012-05)
      Mutations in the l(3)mbt tumour suppressor result in overproliferation of Drosophila larval brains. Recently, the derepression of different gene classes in l(3)mbt mutants was shown to be causal for transformation. However, the molecular mechanisms of dL(3)mbt-mediated gene repression are not understood. Here, we identify LINT, the major dL(3)mbt complex of Drosophila. LINT has three core subunits-dL(3)mbt, dCoREST, and dLint-1-and is expressed in cell lines, embryos, and larval brain. Using genome-wide ChIP-Seq analysis, we show that dLint-1 binds close to the TSS of tumour-relevant target genes. Depletion of the LINT core subunits results in derepression of these genes. By contrast, histone deacetylase, histone methylase, and histone demethylase activities are not required to maintain repression. Our results support a direct role of LINT in the repression of brain tumour-relevant target genes by restricting promoter access.
    • Liposome-encapsulated antigens induce a protective CTL response against Listeria monocytogenes independent of CD4+ T cell help.

      Grenningloh, R; Darj, A; Bauer, H; zur Lage, S; Chakraborty, T; Jacobs, T; Weiss, S; Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2008-06)
      Protection against intracellular pathogens is usually mediated by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Induction of a protective CTL response for vaccination purposes has proven difficult because of the limited access of protein antigens or attenuated pathogens to the MHC class I presentation pathway. We show here that pH-sensitive PE/CHEMS liposomes can be used as a vehicle to efficiently deliver intact proteins for presentation by MHC class I. Mice immunized with listerial proteins encapsulated in such liposomes launched a strong CTL response and were protected against a subsequent challenge with L. monocytogenes. Remarkably, the CTL response was induced independently of detectable CD4(+) T cell help.
    • 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.
    • Local application of bacteria improves safety of Salmonella-mediated tumor therapy and retains advantages of systemic infection.

      Kocijancic, Dino; Felgner, Sebastian; Schauer, Tim; Frahm, Michael; Heise, Ulrike; Zimmermann, Kurt; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-07)
      Cancer is a devastating disease and a large socio-economic burden. Novel therapeutic solutions are on the rise, although a cure remains elusive. Application of microorganisms represents an ancient therapeutic strategy, lately revoked and refined via simultaneous attenuation and amelioration of pathogenic properties. Salmonella Typhimurium has prevailed in preclinical development. Yet, using virulent strains for systemic treatment might cause severe side effects. In the present study, we highlight a modified strain based on Salmonella Typhimurium UK-1 expressing hexa-acylated Lipid A. We corroborate improved anti-tumor properties of this strain and investigate to which extent an intra-tumoral (i.t.) route of infection could help improve safety and retain advantages of systemic intravenous (i.v.) application. Our results show that i.t. infection exhibits therapeutic efficacy against CT26 and F1.A11 tumors similar to a systemic route of inoculation. Moreover, i.t. application allows extensive dose titration without compromising tumor colonization. Adverse colonization of healthy organs was generally reduced via i.t. infection and accompanied by less body weight loss of the murine host. Despite local application, adjuvanticity remained, and a CT26-specific CD8+ T cell response was effectively stimulated. Most interestingly, also secondary tumors could be targeted with this strategy, thereby extending the unique tumor targeting ability of Salmonella. The i.t. route of inoculation may reap the benefits of systemic infection and aid in safety assurance while directing potency of an oncolytic vector to where it is most needed, namely the primary tumor.
    • Long-Term Neuroinflammation Induced by Influenza A Virus Infection and the Impact on Hippocampal Neuron Morphology and Function.

      Hosseini, Shirin; Wilk, Esther; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Gerhauser, Ingo; Baumgärtner, Wolfgang; Geffers, Robert; Schughart, Klaus; Korte, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Society for Neuroscience, 2018-02-27)
      Acute influenza infection has been reported to be associated with neurological symptoms. However, the long-term consequences of an infection with neurotropic and non-neurotropic influenza A virus (IAV) variants for the CNS remain elusive. We can show that spine loss in the hippocampus after infection with neurotropic H7N7 (rSC35M) and non-neurotropic H3N2 (maHK68) in female C57BL/6 mice persists well beyond the acute phase of the disease. Although spine number was significantly reduced at 30 d postinfection (dpi) with H7N7 or H3N2, full recovery could only be observed much later at 120 dpi. Infection with H1N1 virus, which was shown previously to affect spine number and hippocampus-dependent learning acutely, had no significant long-term effects. Spine loss was associated with an increase in the number of activated microglia, reduced long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, and impairment in spatial memory formation, indicating that IAV-associated inflammation induced functional and structural alterations in hippocampal networks. Transcriptome analyses revealed regulation of many inflammatory and neuron- and glia-specific genes in H3N2- and H7N7-infected mice at day 18 and in H7N7-infected mice at day 30 pi that related to the structural and functional alterations. Our data provide evidence that neuroinflammation induced by neurotropic H7N7 and infection of the lung with a non-neurotropic H3N2 IAV result in long-term impairments in the CNS. IAV infection in humans may therefore not only lead to short-term responses in infected organs, but may also trigger neuroinflammation and associated chronic alterations in the CNS.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In the acute phase of influenza infection, neuroinflammation can lead to alterations in hippocampal neuronal morphology and cognitive deficits. The results of this study now also provide evidence that neuroinflammation induced by influenza A virus (IAV) infection can induce longer-lasting, virus-specific alterations in neuronal connectivity that are still detectable 1 month after infection and are associated with impairments in spatial memory formation. IAV infection in humans may therefore not only lead to short-term responses in infected organs, but may also trigger neuroinflammation and associated chronic alterations in the CNS.
    • Loss of Hem1 disrupts macrophage function and impacts migration, phagocytosis, and integrin-mediated adhesion.

      Stahnke, Stephanie; Döring, Hermann; Kusch, Charly; de Gorter, David J J; Dütting, Sebastian; Guledani, Aleks; Pleines, Irina; Schnoor, Michael; Sixt, Michael; Geffers, Robert; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-03-11)
      Hematopoietic-specific protein 1 (Hem1) is an essential subunit of the WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) in immune cells. WRC is crucial for Arp2/3 complex activation and the protrusion of branched actin filament networks. Moreover, Hem1 loss of function in immune cells causes autoimmune diseases in humans. Here, we show that genetic removal of Hem1 in macrophages diminishes frequency and efficacy of phagocytosis as well as phagocytic cup formation in addition to defects in lamellipodial protrusion and migration. Moreover, Hem1-null macrophages displayed strong defects in cell adhesion despite unaltered podosome formation and concomitant extracellular matrix degradation. Specifically, dynamics of both adhesion and de-adhesion as well as concomitant phosphorylation of paxillin and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) were significantly compromised. Accordingly, disruption of WRC function in non-hematopoietic cells coincided with both defects in adhesion turnover and altered FAK and paxillin phosphorylation. Consistently, platelets exhibited reduced adhesion and diminished integrin αIIbβ3 activation upon WRC removal. Interestingly, adhesion phenotypes, but not lamellipodia formation, were partially rescued by small molecule activation of FAK. A full rescue of the phenotype, including lamellipodia formation, required not only the presence of WRCs but also their binding to and activation by Rac. Collectively, our results uncover that WRC impacts on integrin-dependent processes in a FAK-dependent manner, controlling formation and dismantling of adhesions, relevant for properly grabbing onto extracellular surfaces and particles during cell edge expansion, like in migration or phagocytosis.
    • Low-load pathogen spillover predicts shifts in skin microbiome and survival of a terrestrial-breeding amphibian.

      Becker, C Guilherme; Bletz, Molly C; Greenspan, Sasha E; Rodriguez, David; Lambertini, Carolina; Jenkinson, Thomas S; Guimarães, Paulo R; Assis, Ana Paula A; Geffers, Robert; Jarek, Michael; et al. (Royal Society of London, 2019-08-14)
      Wildlife disease dynamics are strongly influenced by the structure of host communities and their symbiotic microbiota. Conspicuous amphibian declines associated with the waterborne fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) have been observed in aquatic-breeding frogs globally. However, less attention has been given to cryptic terrestrial-breeding amphibians that have also been declining in tropical regions. By experimentally manipulating multiple tropical amphibian assemblages harbouring natural microbial communities, we tested whether Bd spillover from naturally infected aquatic-breeding frogs could lead to Bd amplification and mortality in our focal terrestrial-breeding host: the pumpkin toadlet Brachycephalus pitanga. We also tested whether the strength of spillover could vary depending on skin bacterial transmission within host assemblages. Terrestrial-breeding toadlets acquired lethal spillover infections from neighbouring aquatic hosts and experienced dramatic but generally non-protective shifts in skin bacterial composition primarily attributable to their Bd infections. By contrast, aquatic-breeding amphibians maintained mild Bd infections and higher survival, with shifts in bacterial microbiomes that were unrelated to Bd infections. Our results indicate that Bd spillover from even mildly infected aquatic-breeding hosts may lead to dysbiosis and mortality in terrestrial-breeding species, underscoring the need to further investigate recent population declines of terrestrial-breeding amphibians in the tropics.
    • 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.
    • MatrixCatch--a novel tool for the recognition of composite regulatory elements in promoters.

      Deyneko, Igor V; Kel, Alexander E; Kel-Margoulis, Olga V; Deineko, Elena V; Wingender, Edgar; Weiss, Siegfried; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. Igor.Deyneko@helmholtz-hzi.de (2013)
      Accurate recognition of regulatory elements in promoters is an essential prerequisite for understanding the mechanisms of gene regulation at the level of transcription. Composite regulatory elements represent a particular type of such transcriptional regulatory elements consisting of pairs of individual DNA motifs. In contrast to the present approach, most available recognition techniques are based purely on statistical evaluation of the occurrence of single motifs. Such methods are limited in application, since the accuracy of recognition is greatly dependent on the size and quality of the sequence dataset. Methods that exploit available knowledge and have broad applicability are evidently needed.