• TRANSPATH®: an integrated database on signal transduction and a tool for array analysis

      Krull, Mathias; Voss, Nico; Choi, Claudia; Pistor, Susanne; Potapov, Anatolij; Wingender, Edgar (Oxford University Press, 2003-01-01)
    • Tumor invasion of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is accompanied by strong hemorrhage promoted by TNF-alpha.

      Leschner, Sara; Westphal, Kathrin; Dietrich, Nicole; Viegas, Nuno; Jablonska, Jadwiga; Lyszkiewicz, Marcin; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Falk, Werner; Gekara, Nelson; Loessner, Holger; et al. (2009)
      Several facultative anaerobic bacteria with potential therapeutic abilities are known to preferentially colonize solid tumors after systemic administration. How they efficiently find and invade the tumors is still unclear. However, this is an important issue to be clarified when bacteria should be tailored for application in cancer therapy.
    • Tumour-targeting bacteria-based cancer therapies for increased specificity and improved outcome.

      Felgner, Sebastian; Pawar, Vinay; Kocijancic, Dino; Erhardt, Marc; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-03)
    • The Two-Component System 09 Regulates Pneumococcal Carbohydrate Metabolism and Capsule Expression.

      Hirschmann, Stephanie; Gómez-Mejia, Alejandro; Mäder, Ulrike; Karsunke, Julia; Driesch, Dominik; Rohde, Manfred; Häussler, Susanne; Burchhardt, Gerhard; Hammerschmidt, Sven; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-24)
      Streptococcus pneumoniae two-component regulatory systems (TCSs) are important systems that perceive and respond to various host environmental stimuli. In this study, we have explored the role of TCS09 on gene expression and phenotypic alterations in S. pneumoniae D39. Our comparative transcriptomic analyses identified 67 differently expressed genes in total. Among those, agaR and the aga operon involved in galactose metabolism showed the highest changes. Intriguingly, the encapsulated and nonencapsulated hk09-mutants showed significant growth defects under nutrient-defined conditions, in particular with galactose as a carbon source. Phenotypic analyses revealed alterations in the morphology of the nonencapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants, whereas the encapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants produced higher amounts of capsule. Interestingly, the encapsulated D39∆hk09 showed only the opaque colony morphology, while the D39∆rr09- and D39∆tcs09-mutants had a higher proportion of transparent variants. The phenotypic variations of D39ΔcpsΔhk09 and D39ΔcpsΔtcs09 are in accordance with their higher numbers of outer membrane vesicles, higher sensitivity against Triton X-100 induced autolysis, and lower resistance against oxidative stress. In conclusion, these results indicate the importance of TCS09 for pneumococcal metabolic fitness and resistance against oxidative stress by regulating the carbohydrate metabolism and thereby, most likely indirectly, the cell wall integrity and amount of capsular polysaccharide.
    • Type I IFNs induce anti-tumor polarization of tumor associated neutrophils in mice and human.

      Andzinski, Lisa; Kasnitz, Nadine; Stahnke, Stephanie; Wu, Ching-Fang; Gereke, Marcus; von Köckritz-Blickwede, Maren; Schilling, Bastian; Brandau, Sven; Weiss, Siegfried; Jablonska, Jadwiga; et al. (2016-04-15)
      The importance of tumor associated neutrophils (TANs) in cancer development is in the meantime well established. Numerous of clinical data document the adverse prognostic effects of neutrophil infiltration in solid tumors. However, certain tumor therapies need functional neutrophils to be effective, suggesting altered neutrophil polarization associated with different outcomes for cancer patients. Therefore, modulation of neutrophilic phenotypes represents a potent therapeutic option, but factors mediating neutrophil polarization are still poorly defined. In this manuscript we provide evidence that type I IFNs alter neutrophilic phenotype into anti-tumor, both in mice and human. In the absence of IFN-β, pro-tumor properties, such as reduced tumor cytotoxicity with low neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) expression, low ICAM1 and TNF-α expression, dominated neutrophil phenotypes in primary lesion and premetastatic lung. Interestingly, such neutrophils have significantly prolonged life-span. Notably, interferon therapy in mice altered TAN polarization towards anti-tumor N1. Similar changes in neutrophil activation could be observed in melanoma patients undergoing type I IFN therapy. Altogether, these data highlight the therapeutic potential of interferons, suggesting optimization of its clinical use as potent anti-tumor agent.
    • Type I Interferon Signaling Is Required for CpG-Oligodesoxynucleotide-Induced Control of Leishmania major, but Not for Spontaneous Cure of Subcutaneous Primary or Secondary L. major Infection.

      Schleicher, Ulrike; Liese, Jan; Justies, Nicole; Mischke, Thomas; Haeberlein, Simone; Sebald, Heidi; Kalinke, Ulrich; Weiss, Siegfried; Bogdan, Christian; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018)
      We previously showed that in mice infected with Leishmania major type I interferons (IFNs) initiate the innate immune response to the parasite at day 1 and 2 of infection. Here, we investigated which type I IFN subtypes are expressed during the first 8 weeks of L. major infection and whether type I IFNs are essential for a protective immune response and clinical cure of the disease. In self-healing C57BL/6 mice infected with a high dose of L. major, IFN-α4, IFN-α5, IFN-α11, IFN-α13, and IFN-β mRNA were most prominently regulated during the course of infection. In C57BL/6 mice deficient for IFN-β or the IFN-α/β-receptor chain 1 (IFNAR1), development of skin lesions and parasite loads in skin, draining lymph node, and spleen was indistinguishable from wild-type (WT) mice. In line with the clinical findings, C57BL/6 IFN-β-/-, IFNAR1-/-, and WT mice exhibited similar mRNA expression levels of IFN-γ, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-12, IL-13, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and arginase 1 during the acute and late phase of the infection. Also, myeloid dendritic cells from WT and IFNAR1-/- mice produced comparable amounts of IL-12p40/p70 protein upon exposure to L. major in vitro. In non-healing BALB/c WT mice, the mRNAs of IFN-α subtypes (α2, α4, α5, α6, and α9) were rapidly induced after high-dose L. major infection. However, genetic deletion of IFNAR1 or IFN-β did not alter the progressive course of infection seen in WT BALB/c mice. Finally, we tested whether type I IFNs and/or IL-12 are required for the prophylactic effect of CpG-oligodesoxynucleotides (ODN) in BALB/c mice. Local and systemic administration of CpG-ODN 1668 protected WT and IFN-β-/- mice equally well from progressive leishmaniasis. By contrast, the protective effect of CpG-ODN 1668 was lost in BALB/c IFNAR1-/- (despite a sustained suppression of IL-4) and in BALB/c IL-12p35-/- mice. From these data, we conclude that IFN-β and IFNAR1 signaling are dispensable for a curative immune response to L. major in C57BL/6 mice and irrelevant for disease development in BALB/c mice, whereas IL-12 and IFN-α subtypes are essential for the disease prevention by CpG-ODNs in this mouse strain.
    • Type I Interferons Interfere with the Capacity of mRNA Lipoplex Vaccines to Elicit Cytolytic T Cell Responses.

      De Beuckelaer, Ans; Pollard, Charlotte; Van Lint, Sandra; Roose, Kenny; Van Hoecke, Lien; Naessens, Thomas; Udhayakumar, Vimal Kumar; Smet, Muriel; Sanders, Niek; Lienenklaus, Stefan; et al. (2016-11)
      Given their high potential to evoke cytolytic T cell responses, tumor antigen-encoding messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are now being intensively explored as therapeutic cancer vaccines. mRNA vaccines clearly benefit from wrapping the mRNA into nano-sized carriers such as lipoplexes that protect the mRNA from degradation and increase its uptake by dendritic cells in vivo. Nevertheless, the early innate host factors that regulate the induction of cytolytic T cells to mRNA lipoplex vaccines have remained unresolved. Here, we demonstrate that mRNA lipoplexes induce a potent type I interferon (IFN) response upon subcutaneous, intradermal and intranodal injection. Regardless of the route of immunization applied, these type I IFNs interfered with the generation of potent cytolytic T cell responses. Most importantly, blocking type I IFN signaling at the site of immunization through the use of an IFNAR blocking antibody greatly enhanced the prophylactic and therapeutic antitumor efficacy of mRNA lipoplexes in the highly aggressive B16 melanoma model. As type I IFN induction appears to be inherent to the mRNA itself rather than to unique properties of the mRNA lipoplex formulation, preventing type I IFN induction and/or IFNAR signaling at the site of immunization might constitute a widely applicable strategy to improve the potency of mRNA vaccination.
    • Unravelling post-transcriptional PrmC-dependent regulatory mechanisms in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      Krueger, Jonas; Pohl, Sarah; Preusse, Matthias; Kordes, Adrian; Rugen, Nils; Schniederjans, Monika; Pich, Andreas; Häussler, Susanne; Twincore, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH, Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (2016-10)
      Transcriptional regulation has a central role in cellular adaptation processes and is well investigated. In contrast, the importance of the post-transcriptional regulation on these processes is less well defined. The technological advancements have been critical to precisely quantify protein and mRNA level changes and hold promise to provide more insights into how post-transcriptional regulation determines phenotypes. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa the methyltransferase PrmC methylates peptide chain release factors to facilitate translation termination. Loss of PrmC activity abolishes anaerobic growth and leads to reduced production of quorum sensing-associated virulence factors. Here, by applying SILAC technology in combination with mRNA-sequencing, they provide evidence that the P. aeruginosa phenotype can be attributed to a change in protein to mRNA ratios of selected protein groups. The UAG-dependent translation termination was more dependent on PrmC activity than the UAA- and UGA-dependent translation termination. Additionally, a bias toward UAG stop codons in global transcriptional regulators was found. The finding that this bias in stop codon usage determines the P. aeruginosa phenotype is unexpected and adds complexity to regulatory circuits. Via modulation of PrmC activity the bacterial cell can cross-regulate targets independently of transcriptional signals, a process with an underestimated impact on the bacterial phenotype.
    • Untargeted LC-MS Metabolomics Differentiates Between Virulent and Avirulent Clinical Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

      Depke, Tobias; Thöming, Janne Gesine; Kordes, Adrian; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-07-13)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a facultative pathogen that can cause, inter alia, acute or chronic pneumonia in predisposed individuals. The gram-negative bacterium displays considerable genomic and phenotypic diversity that is also shaped by small molecule secondary metabolites. The discrimination of virulence phenotypes is highly relevant to the diagnosis and prognosis of P. aeruginosa infections. In order to discover small molecule metabolites that distinguish different virulence phenotypes of P. aeruginosa, 35 clinical strains were cultivated under standard conditions, characterized in terms of virulence and biofilm phenotype, and their metabolomes were investigated by untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The data was both mined for individual candidate markers as well as used to construct statistical models to infer the virulence phenotype from metabolomics data. We found that clinical strains that differed in their virulence and biofilm phenotype also had pronounced divergence in their metabolomes, as underlined by 332 features that were significantly differentially abundant with fold changes greater than 1.5 in both directions. Important virulence-associated secondary metabolites like rhamnolipids, alkyl quinolones or phenazines were found to be strongly upregulated in virulent strains. In contrast, we observed little change in primary metabolism. A hitherto novel cationic metabolite with a sum formula of C12H15N2 could be identified as a candidate biomarker. A random forest model was able to classify strains according to their virulence and biofilm phenotype with an area under the Receiver Operation Characteristics curve of 0.84. These findings demonstrate that untargeted metabolomics is a valuable tool to characterize P. aeruginosa virulence, and to explore interrelations between clinically important phenotypic traits and the bacterial metabolome.
    • Use of Single-Frequency Impedance Spectroscopy to Characterize the Growth Dynamics of Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      van Duuren, Jozef B J H; Müsken, Mathias; Karge, Bianka; Tomasch, Jürgen; Wittmann, Christoph; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark (2017-07-12)
      Impedance spectroscopy has been applied in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cytometry as a label-free method for the investigation of adherent cells. In this paper, its use for characterizing the growth dynamics of P. aeruginosa biofilms is described and compared to crystal violet staining and confocal microscopy. The method allows monitoring the growth of biofilm-forming P. aeruginosa in a continuous and label-free manner over a period of 72 h in a 96 well plate format. Impedance curves obtained for P. aeruginosa PA14 wild type and mutant strains with a transposon insertion in pqsA and pelA genes exhibited distinct phases. We propose that the slope of the declining curve following a maximum at ca. 35-40 h is a measure of biofilm formation. Transplant experiments with P. aeruginosa biofilms and paraffin suggest that the impedance also reflects pellicle formation at the liquid-air interface, a barely considered contributor to impedance. Finally, the impairment of biofilm formation upon treatment of cultures with L-arginine and with ciprofloxacin, tobramycin and meropenem was studied by single frequency impedance spectroscopy. We suggest that these findings qualify impedance spectroscopy as an additional technique to characterize biofilm formation and its modulation by small molecule drugs.
    • Very high-density lipoprotein and vitellin as carriers of novel biliverdins IXα with a farnesyl side-chain presumably derived from heme A in Spodoptera littoralis.

      Kayser, Hartmut; Nimtz, Manfred; Ringler, Philippe; Müller, Shirley A; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-01)
      Bilins in complex with specific proteins play key roles in many forms of life. Biliproteins have also been isolated from insects; however, structural details are rare and possible functions largely unknown. Recently, we identified a high-molecular weight biliprotein from a moth, Cerura vinula, as an arylphorin-type hexameric storage protein linked to a novel farnesyl biliverdin IXα; its unusual structure suggests formation by cleavage of mitochondrial heme A. In the present study of another moth, Spodoptera littoralis, we isolated two different biliproteins. These proteins were identified as a very high-density lipoprotein (VHDL) and as vitellin, respectively, by mass spectrometric sequencing. Both proteins are associated with three different farnesyl biliverdins IXα: the one bilin isolated from C. vinula and two new structurally closely related bilins, supposed to be intermediates of heme A degradation. The different bilin composition of the two biliproteins suggests that the presumed oxidations at the farnesyl side-chain take place mainly during egg development. The egg bilins are supposedly transferred from hemolymph VHDL to vitellin in the female. Both biliproteins show strong induced circular dichroism activity compatible with a predominance of the M-conformation of the bilins. This conformation is opposite to that of the arylphorin-type biliprotein from C. vinula. Electron microscopy of the VHDL-type biliprotein from S. littoralis provided a preliminary view of its structure as a homodimer and confirmed the biochemically determined molecular mass of ∼350 kDa. Further, images of S. littoralis hexamerins revealed a 2 × 3 construction identical to that known from the hexamerin from C. vinula.
    • Visualizing production of beta interferon by astrocytes and microglia in brain of La Crosse virus-infected mice.

      Kallfass, Carsten; Ackerman, Andreas; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Heimrich, Bernd; Staeheli, Peter; Department of Virology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. (2012-10)
      Beta interferon (IFN-β) is a major component of innate immunity in mammals, but information on the in vivo source of this cytokine after pathogen infection is still scarce. To identify the cell types responsible for IFN-β production during viral encephalitis, we used reporter mice that express firefly luciferase under the control of the IFN-β promoter and stained organ sections with luciferase-specific antibodies. Numerous luciferase-positive cells were detected in regions of La Crosse virus (LACV)-infected mouse brains that contained many infected cells. Double-staining experiments with cell-type-specific markers revealed that similar numbers of astrocytes and microglia of infected brains were luciferase positive, whereas virus-infected neurons rarely contained detectable levels of luciferase. Interestingly, if a mutant LACV unable of synthesizing the IFN-antagonistic factor NSs was used for challenge, the vast majority of the IFN-β-producing cells in infected brains were astrocytes rather than microglia. Similar conclusions were reached in a second series of experiments in which conditional reporter mice expressing the luciferase reporter gene solely in defined cell types were infected with wild-type or mutant LACV. Collectively, our data suggest that glial cells rather than infected neurons represent the major source of IFN-β in LACV-infected mouse brains. They further indicate that IFN-β synthesis in astrocytes and microglia is differentially affected by the viral IFN antagonist, presumably due to differences in LACV susceptibility of these two cell types.
    • Visualizing the beta interferon response in mice during infection with influenza A viruses expressing or lacking nonstructural protein 1.

      Kallfass, Carsten; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Staeheli, Peter; Department of Virology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. (2013-06)
      The innate host defense against influenza virus is largely dependent on the type I interferon (IFN) system. However, surprisingly little is known about the cellular source of IFN in the infected lung. To clarify this question, we employed a reporter mouse that contains the firefly luciferase gene in place of the IFN-β-coding region. IFN-β-producing cells were identified either by simultaneous immunostaining of lungs for luciferase and cellular markers or by generating conditional reporter mice that express luciferase exclusively in defined cell types. Two different strains of influenza A virus were employed that either do or do not code for nonstructural protein 1 (NS1), which strongly suppresses innate immune responses of infected cells. We found that epithelial cells and lung macrophages, which represent the prime host cells for influenza viruses, showed vigorous IFN-β responses which, however, were severely reduced and delayed if the infecting virus was able to produce NS1. Interestingly, CD11c(+) cell populations that were either expressing or lacking macrophage markers produced the bulk of IFN-β at 48 h after infection with wild-type influenza A virus. Our results demonstrate that the virus-encoded IFN-antagonistic factor NS1 disarms specifically epithelial cells and lung macrophages, which otherwise would serve as main mediators of the early response against infection by influenza virus.
    • Worlds Apart - Transcriptome Profiles of Key Oral Microbes in the Periodontal Pocket Compared to Single Laboratory Culture Reflect Synergistic Interactions.

      Deng, Zhi-Luo; Sztajer, Helena; Jarek, Michael; Bhuju, Sabin; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2018-02-06)
      Periodontitis is a worldwide prevalent oral disease which results from dysbiosis of the periodontal microbiome. Some of the most active microbial players, e.g., Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola, and Fusobacterium nucleatum, have extensively been studied in the laboratory, but it is unclear to which extend these findings can be transferred to in vivo conditions. Here we show that the transcriptional profiles of P. gingivalis, T. denticola, and F. nucleatum in the periodontal niche are distinct from those in single laboratory culture and exhibit functional similarities. GO (gene ontology) term enrichment analysis showed up-regulation of transporters, pathogenicity related traits and hemin/heme uptake mechanisms for all three species in vivo. Differential gene expression analysis revealed that cysteine proteases, transporters and hemin/heme-binding proteins were highly up-regulated in the periodontal niche, while genes involved in DNA modification were down-regulated. The data suggest strong interactions between those three species regarding protein degradation, iron up-take, and mobility in vivo, explaining their enhanced synergistic pathogenicity. We discovered a strikingly high frequency of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in vivo. For F. nucleatum we discovered a total of 127,729 SNPs in periodontal niche transcripts, which were found in similar frequency in health and disease and covered the entire genome, suggesting continuous evolution in the host. We conclude that metabolic interactions shape gene expression in vivo. Great caution is required when inferring pathogenicity of microbes from laboratory data, and microdiversity is an important adaptive trait of natural communities.
    • YB-1 Interferes with TNFα-TNFR Binding and Modulates Progranulin-Mediated Inhibition of TNFα Signaling.

      Hessman, Christopher L; Hildebrandt, Josephine; Shah, Aneri; Brandt, Sabine; Bock, Antonia; Frye, Björn C; Raffetseder, Ute; Geffers, Robert; Brunner-Weinzierl, Monika C; Isermann, Berend; et al. (MDPI, 2020-09-25)
      Inflammation and an influx of macrophages are common elements in many diseases. Among pro-inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) plays a central role by amplifying the cytokine network. Progranulin (PGRN) is a growth factor that binds to TNF receptors and interferes with TNFα-mediated signaling. Extracellular PGRN is processed into granulins by proteases released from immune cells. PGRN exerts anti-inflammatory effects, whereas granulins are pro-inflammatory. The factors coordinating these ambivalent functions remain unclear. In our study, we identify Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1) as a candidate for this immune-modulating activity. Using a yeast-2-hybrid assay with YB-1 protein as bait, clones encoding for progranulin were selected using stringent criteria for strong interaction. We demonstrate that at physiological concentrations, YB-1 interferes with the binding of TNFα to its receptors in a dose-dependent manner using a flow cytometry-based binding assay. We show that YB-1 in combination with progranulin interferes with TNFα-mediated signaling, supporting the functionality with an NF-κB luciferase reporter assay. Together, we show that YB-1 displays immunomodulating functions by affecting the binding of TNFα to its receptors and influencing TNFα-mediated signaling via its interaction with progranulin.
    • The YfiBNR signal transduction mechanism reveals novel targets for the evolution of persistent Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis airways.

      Malone, Jacob G; Jaeger, Tina; Manfredi, Pablo; Dötsch, Andreas; Blanka, Andrea; Bos, Raphael; Cornelis, Guy R; Häussler, Susanne; Jenal, Urs; Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. (2012-06)
      The genetic adaptation of pathogens in host tissue plays a key role in the establishment of chronic infections. While whole genome sequencing has opened up the analysis of genetic changes occurring during long-term infections, the identification and characterization of adaptive traits is often obscured by a lack of knowledge of the underlying molecular processes. Our research addresses the role of Pseudomonas aeruginosa small colony variant (SCV) morphotypes in long-term infections. In the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients, the appearance of SCVs correlates with a prolonged persistence of infection and poor lung function. Formation of P. aeruginosa SCVs is linked to increased levels of the second messenger c-di-GMP. Our previous work identified the YfiBNR system as a key regulator of the SCV phenotype. The effector of this tripartite signaling module is the membrane bound diguanylate cyclase YfiN. Through a combination of genetic and biochemical analyses we first outline the mechanistic principles of YfiN regulation in detail. In particular, we identify a number of activating mutations in all three components of the Yfi regulatory system. YfiBNR is shown to function via tightly controlled competition between allosteric binding sites on the three Yfi proteins; a novel regulatory mechanism that is apparently widespread among periplasmic signaling systems in bacteria. We then show that during long-term lung infections of CF patients, activating mutations invade the population, driving SCV formation in vivo. The identification of mutational "scars" in the yfi genes of clinical isolates suggests that Yfi activity is both under positive and negative selection in vivo and that continuous adaptation of the c-di-GMP network contributes to the in vivo fitness of P. aeruginosa during chronic lung infections. These experiments uncover an important new principle of in vivo persistence, and identify the c-di-GMP network as a valid target for novel anti-infectives directed against chronic infections.