• Complete Genome Sequence and Manual Reannotation of Mycobacterium avium subsp. Strain DSM 44135.

      Goethe, Ralph; Basler, Tina; Meissner, Thorsten; Goethe, Elke; Spröer, Cathrin; Swiderski, Jolantha; Gerlach, Gerald-F; Weiss, Siegfried; Jarek, Michael; Bunk, Boyke; et al. (ASM, 2020-08-13)
      Here, we report the complete genome sequence of the Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis reference strain DSM 44135, amended with a manual genome reannotation. The strain was originally described as M. paratuberculosis strain 6783. It was isolated from feces from a dairy cow in northern Germany.
    • 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.
    • Integrative Bioinformatic Analyses of Global Transcriptome Data Decipher Novel Molecular Insights into Cardiac Anti-Fibrotic Therapies.

      Fuchs, Maximilian; Kreutzer, Fabian Philipp; Kapsner, Lorenz A; Mitzka, Saskia; Just, Annette; Perbellini, Filippo; Terracciano, Cesare M; Xiao, Ke; Geffers, Robert; Bogdan, Christian; et al. (MDPI, 2020-07-02)
      Integrative bioinformatics is an emerging field in the big data era, offering a steadily increasing number of algorithms and analysis tools. However, for researchers in experimental life sciences it is often difficult to follow and properly apply the bioinformatical methods in order to unravel the complexity and systemic effects of omics data. Here, we present an integrative bioinformatics pipeline to decipher crucial biological insights from global transcriptome profiling data to validate innovative therapeutics. It is available as a web application for an interactive and simplified analysis without the need for programming skills or deep bioinformatics background. The approach was applied to an ex vivo cardiac model treated with natural anti-fibrotic compounds and we obtained new mechanistic insights into their anti-fibrotic action and molecular interplay with miRNAs in cardiac fibrosis. Several gene pathways associated with proliferation, extracellular matrix processes and wound healing were altered, and we could identify micro (mi) RNA-21-5p and miRNA-223-3p as key molecular components related to the anti-fibrotic treatment. Importantly, our pipeline is not restricted to a specific cell type or disease and can be broadly applied to better understand the unprecedented level of complexity in big data research.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Synergistic activity of IDH1 inhibitor BAY1436032 with azacitidine in IDH1 mutant acute myeloid leukemia.

      Chaturvedi, Anuhar; Gupta, Charu; Gabdoulline, Razif; Borchert, Nora M; Goparaju, Ramya; Kaulfuss, Stefan; Görlich, Kerstin; Schottmann, Renate; Othman, Basem; Welzenbach, Julia; et al. (Ferrraata Storti Foundation, 2020-04-02)
      Mutant IDH1 (mIDH1) inhibitors have shown single-agent activity in relapsed/refractory AML, though most patients eventually relapse. We evaluated the efficacy and molecular mechanism of the combination treatment with azacitidine, which is currently the standard of care in older AML patients, and mIDH1 inhibitor BAY1436032. Both compounds were evaluated in vivo as single agents and in combination with sequential (azacitidine, followed by BAY1436032) or simultaneous application in two human IDH1 mutated AML xenograft models. Combination treatment significantly prolonged survival compared to single agent or control treatment (P<.005). The sequential combination treatment depleted leukemia stem cells (LSC) by 470-fold. Interestingly, the simultaneous combination treatment depleted LSCs by 33,150-fold compared to control mice. This strong synergy is mediated through inhibition of MAPK/ERK and RB/E2F signaling. Our data strongly argues for the concurrent application of mIDH1 inhibitors and azacitidine and predicts improved outcome of this regimen in IDH1 mutated AML patients.
    • Donor-derived IL-17A and IL-17F deficiency triggers Th1 allo-responses and increases gut leakage during acute GVHD.

      Odak, Ivan; Depkat-Jakob, Alina; Beck, Maleen; Jarek, Michael; Yu, Yan; Seidler, Ursula; David, Sascha; Ganser, Arnold; Förster, Reinhold; Prinz, Immo; et al. (PLOS, 2020-04-06)
      s Metrics Comments Media Coverage Abstract Introduction Material and methods Results Discussion Supporting information Acknowledgments References Reader Comments (0) Media Coverage (0) Figures Abstract IL-17A and IL-17F cytokines are important regulators of acute graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). However, contrary effects of these cytokines in inflammatory diseases have been reported. To investigate the effects of donor-derived IL-17A and IL-17F on GVHD, we made use of single (Il17a-/- or Il17f-/-) and double deficient (Il17af-/-) allogeneic donor CD4+ T cells. We could demonstrate that transplantation of Il17af-/- CD4+ donor T cells led to aggravated GVHD. However, this phenotype was not observed after transplantation of single, Il17a-/- or Il17f-/-, deficient CD4+ T cells, suggesting redundant effects of IL-17A and IL-17F. Moreover, Il17af-/- cell recipients showed an increase of systemic IFNγ, indicating a heightened pro-inflammatory state, as well as infiltration of IFNγ-secreting CD4+ T cells in the recipients’ intestinal tract. These recipients exhibited significant gut leakage, and markedly macrophage infiltration in the gastrointestinal epithelial layer. Moreover, we saw evidence of impaired recovery of gut epithelial cells in recipients of Il17af-/- CD4+ T cells. In this study, we show that IL-17A/F double deficiency of donor CD4+ T cells leads to accelerated GVHD and therefore highlight the importance of these cytokines. Together, IL-17 cytokines might serve as a brake to an intensified Th1 response, leading to the exacerbated gut damage in acute GVHD.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Antiviral potential of human IFN-α subtypes against influenza A H3N2 infection in human lung explants reveals subtype-specific activities.

      Matos, Aline da Rocha; Wunderlich, Katharina; Schloer, Sebastian; Schughart, Klaus; Geffers, Robert; Seders, Martine; Witt, Marlous de; Christersson, Anmari; Wiewrodt, Rainer; Wiebe, Karsten; et al. (Taylor & Francis Open, 2019-01-01)
      Influenza is an acute respiratory infection causing high morbidity and mortality in annual outbreaks worldwide. Antiviral drugs are limited and pose the risk of resistance development, calling for new treatment options. IFN-α subtypes are immune-stimulatory cytokines with strong antiviral activities against IAV in vitro and in vivo. However, the clinical use of IFN-α2, the only licensed subtype of this multi-gene family, could not prevent or limit IAV infections in humans. However, the other subtypes were not investigated.Therefore, this study evaluated the induction and antiviral potential of all human IFN-α subtypes during H3N2 IAV infection in human lung explants. We found that subtypes with weak antiviral activities were preferentially induced during IAV infection in human lungs. Intriguingly, non-induced subtypes α16, α5 and α4 suppressed viral replication up to 230-fold more efficiently than α2. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that subtypes with stronger antiviral activities induce higher expression of IAV-specific restriction factors and that MxA expression is a determinant of the subtype-specific antiviral activity towards H3N2 IAV. These results corroborate that IFN-α subtypes exhibit differential antiviral activities and emphasize that subtypes α16, α5 and α4 should be further investigated for the prevention and treatment of severe infections with seasonal H3N2 IAV.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • HuR Small-Molecule Inhibitor Elicits Differential Effects in Adenomatosis Polyposis and Colorectal Carcinogenesis.

      Lang, Michaela; Berry, David; Passecker, Katharina; Mesteri, Ildiko; Bhuju, Sabin; Ebner, Florian; Sedlyarov, Vitaly; Evstatiev, Rayko; Dammann, Kyle; Loy, Alexander; et al. (American Association for Cancer Research, 2017-05-01)
      HuR is an RNA-binding protein implicated in immune homeostasis and various cancers, including colorectal cancer. HuR binding to AU-rich elements within the 3' untranslated region of mRNAs encoding oncogenes, growth factors, and various cytokines leads message stability and translation. In this study, we evaluated HuR as a small-molecule target for preventing colorectal cancer in high-risk groups such as those with familial adenomatosis polyposis (FAP) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In human specimens, levels of cytoplasmic HuR were increased in colonic epithelial cells from patients with IBD, IBD-cancer, FAP-adenoma, and colorectal cancer, but not in patients with IBD-dysplasia. Intraperitoneal injection of the HuR small-molecule inhibitor MS-444 in AOM/DSS mice, a model of IBD and inflammatory colon cancer, augmented DSS-induced weight loss and increased tumor multiplicity, size, and invasiveness. MS-444 treatment also abrogated tumor cell apoptosis and depleted tumor-associated eosinophils, accompanied by a decrease in IL18 and eotaxin-1. In contrast, HuR inhibition in APCMin mice, a model of FAP and colon cancer, diminished the number of small intestinal tumors generated. In this setting, fecal microbiota, evaluated by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, shifted to a state of reduced bacterial diversity, with an increased representation of Prevotella, Akkermansia, and Lachnospiraceae Taken together, our results indicate that HuR activation is an early event in FAP-adenoma but is not present in IBD-dysplasia. Furthermore, our results offer a preclinical proof of concept for HuR inhibition as an effective means of FAP chemoprevention, with caution advised in the setting of IBD. Cancer Res; 77(9); 2424-38. ©2017 AACR.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Integrated Transcriptional Regulatory Network of Quorum Sensing, Replication Control, and SOS Response in .

      Koppenhöfer, Sonja; Wang, Hui; Scharfe, Maren; Kaever, Volkhard; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Tomasch, Jürgen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Quorum sensing (QS) coordinates population wide gene expression of bacterial species. Highly adaptive traits like gene transfer agents (GTA), morphological heterogeneity, type 4 secretion systems (T4SS), and flagella are QS controlled in Dinoroseobacter shibae, a Roseobacter model organism. Its QS regulatory network is integrated with the CtrA phosphorelay that controls cell division in alphaproteobacteria. To elucidate the network topology, we analyzed the transcriptional response of the QS-negative D. shibae strain ΔluxI1 toward externally added autoinducer (AI) over a time period of 3 h. The signaling cascade is initiated by the CtrA phosphorelay, followed by the QS genes and other target genes, including the second messenger c-di-GMP, competence, flagella and pili. Identification of transcription factor binding sites in promoters of QS induced genes revealed the integration of QS, CtrA phosphorelay and the SOS stress response mediated by LexA. The concentration of regulatory genes located close to the origin or terminus of replication suggests that gene regulation and replication are tightly coupled. Indeed, addition of AI first stimulates and then represses replication. The restart of replication comes along with increased c-di-GMP levels. We propose a model in which QS induces replication followed by differentiation into GTA producing and non-producing cells. CtrA-activity is controlled by the c-di-GMP level, allowing some of the daughter cells to replicate again. The size of the GTA producing subpopulation is tightly controlled by QS via the AI Synthase LuxI2. Finally, induction of the SOS response allows for integration of GTA DNA into the host chromosome.
    • 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.