Recent Submissions

  • Advances in cytomegalovirus (CMV) biology and its relationship to health, diseases, and aging.

    Nikolich-Žugich, Janko; Čicin-Šain, Luka; Collins-McMillen, Donna; Jackson, Sarah; Oxenius, Annette; Sinclair, John; Snyder, Christopher; Wills, Mark; Lemmermann, Niels (Springer, 2020-03-11)
    The complexity of host-associated microbial ecosystems requires host-specific reference catalogs to survey the functions and diversity of these communities. We generate a comprehensive resource, the integrated mouse gut metagenome catalog (iMGMC), comprising 4.6 million unique genes and 660 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), many (485 MAGs, 73%) of which are linked to reconstructed full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences. iMGMC enables unprecedented coverage and taxonomic resolution of the mouse gut microbiota; i.e., more than 92% of MAGs lack species-level representatives in public repositories (<95% ANI match). The integration of MAGs and 16S rRNA gene data allows more accurate prediction of functional profiles of communities than predictions based on 16S rRNA amplicons alone. Accompanying iMGMC, we provide a set of MAGs representing 1,296 gut bacteria obtained through complementary assembly strategies. We envision that integrated resources such as iMGMC, together with MAG collections, will enhance the resolution of numerous existing and future sequencing-based studies.
  • Mucosal Heterologous Prime/Boost Vaccination Induces Polyfunctional Systemic Immunity, Improving Protection Against .

    Sanchez Alberti, Andrés; Bivona, Augusto E; Matos, Marina N; Cerny, Natacha; Schulze, Kai; Weißmann, Sebastian; Ebensen, Thomas; González, Germán; Morales, Celina; Cardoso, Alejandro C; et al. (Frontiers, 2020-02-21)
    There are several unmet needs in modern immunology. Among them, vaccines against parasitic diseases and chronic infections lead. Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, is an excellent example of a silent parasitic invasion that affects millions of people worldwide due to its progression into the symptomatic chronic phase of infection. In search for novel vaccine candidates, we have previously introduced Traspain, an engineered trivalent immunogen that was designed to address some of the known mechanisms of T. cruzi immune evasion. Here, we analyzed its performance in different DNA prime/protein boost protocols and characterized the systemic immune response associated with diverse levels of protection. Formulations that include a STING agonist, like c-di-AMP in the boost doses, were able to prime a Th1/Th17 immune response. Moreover, comparison between them showed that vaccines that were able to prime polyfunctional cell-mediated immunity at the CD4 and CD8 compartment enhanced protection levels in the murine model. These findings contribute to a better knowledge of the desired vaccine-elicited immunity against T. cruzi and promote the definition of a vaccine correlate of protection against the infection.
  • ADAP Promotes Degranulation and Migration of NK Cells Primed During Infection in Mice.

    Böning, Martha A L; Trittel, Stephanie; Riese, Peggy; van Ham, Marco; Heyner, Maxi; Voss, Martin; Parzmair, Gerald P; Klawonn, Frank; Jeron, Andreas; Guzman, Carlos A; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    The adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein (ADAP) serves as a multifunctional scaffold and is involved in the formation of immune signaling complexes. To date only limited and moreover conflicting data exist regarding the role of ADAP in NK cells. To extend existing knowledge we investigated ADAP-dependency of NK cells in the context of in vivo infection with the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). Ex vivo analysis of infection-primed NK cells revealed impaired cytotoxic capacity in NK cells lacking ADAP as indicated by reduced CD107a surface expression and inefficient perforin production. However, ADAP-deficiency had no global effect on NK cell morphology or intracellular distribution of CD107a-containing vesicles. Proteomic definition of ADAPko and wild type NK cells did not uncover obvious differences in protein composition during the steady state and moreover, similar early response patterns were induced in NK cells upon infection independent of the genotype. In line with protein network analyses that suggested an altered migration phenotype in naïve ADAPko NK cells, in vitro migration assays uncovered significantly reduced migration of both naïve as well as infection-primed ADAPko NK cells compared to wild type NK cells. Notably, this migration defect was associated with a significantly reduced expression of the integrin CD11a on the surface of splenic ADAP-deficient NK cells 1 day post-Lm infection. We propose that ADAP-dependent alterations in integrin expression might account at least in part for the fact that during in vivo infection significantly lower numbers of ADAPko NK cells accumulate in the spleen i.e., the site of infection. In conclusion, we show here that during systemic Lm infection in mice ADAP is essential for efficient cytotoxic capacity and migration of NK cells.
  • Knockdown of Virus Antigen Expression Increases Therapeutic Vaccine Efficacy in High-titer HBV Carrier Mice.

    Michler, Thomas; Kosinska, Anna D; Festag, Julia; Bunse, Till; Su, Jinpeng; Ringelhan, Marc; Imhof, Hortenzia; Grimm, Dirk; Steiger, Katja; Mogler, Carolin; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-01-28)
    In both models of HBV infection, mice that express hepatocyte-specific small hairpin RNAs or that were given subcutaneous injections of siRNAs had reduced levels of HBV antigens, HBV replication, and viremia (1-3 log10 reduction), compared to mice given control RNAs. Vaccination induced production of HBV-neutralizing antibodies, and increased numbers and functionality of HBV-specific, CD8+ T-cells in mice with low, but not in mice with high levels of HBV antigen. Mice with initially high titers of HBV and knockdown of HBV antigen expression, but not mice with reduced viremia following administration of entecavir, developed polyfunctional, HBV-specific CD8+ T cells and HBV was eliminated.
  • Secondary metabolites produced by endophytic fungi: novel antifungal activity of fumiquinone B

    Grigoletto, Diana Fortkamp; Correia, Ana Maria Lima; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Rodrigues, Andre; Assis, Marco Antonio; Ferreira, Antonio Gilberto; Massaroli, Michelli; Lira, Simone Possedente de; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Universidade Estadual de Maringa, 2019-12-18)
    Fungi are present in the most diverse environments including the interior of plant tissues, living as endophytes without causing apparent damage. These endophytes are producers of secondary metabolites, also known as natural products, such as fungicides. Here, we evaluated the ethyl acetate fractions obtained from endophytic fungi isolated from plants in the genus Begonia. The fractions were submitted to inhibitory test against the plant pathogens Diaporthe phaseolorum and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. From the 88 ethyl acetate fractions evaluated, 14.7 % inhibited C. gloeosporioides and 11.3 % inhibited D. phaseolorum. One fungal isolate displaying an active fraction was selected for chemical investigation. The fungus identified as Neopestalotiopsis sp., produced a compound that was active against D. phaseolorum, with a MIC of 312 µg mL-1 (1,695.3 µM). The compound was identified by mass spectrometry and 1H NMR as the known compound fumiquinone B. The results highlight that the endophytes are capable of producing compounds that may be used to control plant pathogens. The compound fumiquinone B is reported for the first time as an antifungal agent against D. phaseolorum, a relevant plant pathogen worldwide. This is also the first report of the production of fumiquinone B by the genus Neopestalotiopsis.
  • Comparison of in situ sequence type analysis of Legionella pneumophila in respiratory tract secretions and environmental samples of a hospital in East Jerusalem.

    Jaber, Lina; Amro, Mahmod; Tair, Hadeel Abu; Bahader, Shereen A; Alalam, Hanna; Butmeh, Suha; Hilal, Dalia Abu; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G; Bitar, Dina M; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2018-01-01)
    Legionella pneumophila genotyping is important for epidemiological investigation of nosocomial and community-acquired outbreaks of legionellosis. The prevalence of legionellosis in pneumonia patients in the West Bank was monitored for the first time, and the sequence types (STs) from respiratory samples were compared with STs of environmental samples from different wards of the hospital. Sputum (n = 121) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) (n = 74) specimens were cultured for L. pneumophila; genomic DNA was tested by 16S rRNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. Nested PCR sequence-based typing (NPSBT) was implemented on DNA of the respiratory and environmental PCR-positive samples. Only one respiratory specimen was positive for L. pneumophila by culture. BAL gave a higher percentage of L. pneumophila-positive samples, 35% (26/74) than sputum, 15% (18/121) by PCR. NPSBT revealed the following STs: ST 1 (29%, 7/24), ST 461 (21%, 5/24), ST 1037 (4%, 1/24) from respiratory samples, STs from environmental samples: ST 1 (28.5%, 4/14), ST 187 (21.4%, 3/14) and ST 2070, ST 461, ST 1482 (7.1%, 1/14) each. This study emphasises the advantage of PCR over culture for the detection of L. pneumophila in countries where antibiotics are indiscriminately used prior to hospital admission. ST 1 was the predominant ST in both respiratory and environmental samples.
  • Targeting Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus ORF21 Tyrosine Kinase and Viral Lytic Reactivation by Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors Approved for Clinical Use

    Beauclair, Guillaume; Naimo, Eleonora; Dubich, Tatyana; Rückert, Jessica; Koch, Sandra; Dhingra, Akshay; Wirth, Dagmar; Schulz, Thomas F; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society for Microbiology (ASM), 2019-12-11)
    Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the cause of three human malignancies, Kaposi's Sarcoma, Primary Effusion Lymphoma and the plasma cell variant of Multicentric Castleman's Disease. Previous research has shown that several cellular tyrosine kinases play crucial roles during several steps in the virus replication cycle. Two KSHV proteins also have protein kinase function: open reading frame (ORF) 36 encodes a serin-threonine kinase, while ORF21 encodes a thymidine kinase (TK), which has recently been found to be an efficient tyrosine kinase. In this study, we explore the role of the ORF21 tyrosine kinase function in KSHV lytic replication. By generating a recombinant KSHV mutant with an enzymatically inactive ORF21 protein we show that the tyrosine kinase function of ORF21/TK is not required for the progression of the lytic replication in tissue culture, but that it is essential for the phosphorylation and activation to toxic moieties of the antiviral drugs zidovudine and brivudine. In addition, we identify several tyrosine kinase inhibitors, already in clinical use against human malignancies, which potently inhibit not only ORF21 TK kinase function, but also viral lytic reactivation and the development of KSHV-infected endothelial tumors in mice. As they target both cellular tyrosine kinases and a viral kinase, some of these compounds might find a use in the treatment of KSHV-associated malignancies.Importance: Our findings address the role of KSHV ORF21 as a tyrosine kinase during lytic replication and the activation of prodrugs in KSHV-infected cells. We also show the potential of selected clinically approved tyrosine kinase inhibitors to inhibit KSHV TK, KSHV lytic replication, infectious virions release and the development of an endothelial tumor. Since they target both cellular tyrosine kinases supporting productive viral replication and a viral kinase, these drugs, which are already approved for clinical use, may be suitable for repurposing for the treatment of KSHV-related tumors in AIDS patients or transplant recipients.
  • PD-1 expression affects cytokine production by ILC2 and is influenced by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ.

    Batyrova, Banu; Luwaert, Fien; Maravelia, Panagiota; Miyabayashi, Yuria; Vashist, Neha; Stark, Julian M; Soori, Sara Y; Tibbitt, Christopher A; Riese, Peggy; Coquet, Jonathan M; et al. (Wiley, 2019-11-19)
    Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) can provide early cytokine help against a variety of pathogens in the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Type 2 ILC (ILC2) are comparable to T helper 2 cells found in the adaptive immune system, which secrete cytokines such as interleukin 5 (IL-5) and IL-13 and have been found to play roles in host defense against helminth infections and in allergic responses. Recent studies have identified that programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) are highly expressed by ILC2. We examined whether PD-1 plays a role in ILC2 function and whether there was any connection between PD-1 and PPAR-γ METHODS: To ensure that only innate immune cells were present, ILC2 cells were examined from RAG1-/- and PD-1-/- xRAG1-/- mice under steady-state or following inoculation with IL-33. We also tested ILC2 generated from bone marrow of RAG1-/- and PD-1-/- xRAG1-/- mice for their production of cytokines. These in vitro-derived ILC2 were also exposed to agonist and antagonist of PPAR-γ.
  • Key features and homing properties of NK cells in the liver are shaped by activated iNKT cells.

    Trittel, Stephanie; Chambers, Benedict J; Heise, Ulrike; Guzmán, Carlos A; Riese, Peggy; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-11-08)
    The contribution of natural killer (NK) cells to the clearance of hepatic viral infections is well recognized. The recently discovered heterogeneity of NK cell populations renders them interesting targets for immune interventions. Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells represent a key interaction partner for hepatic NK cells. The present study addressed whether characteristics of NK cells in the liver can be shaped by targeting iNKT cells. For this, the CD1d-binding pegylated glycolipid αGalCerMPEG was assessed for its ability to modulate the features of NK cells permanently or transiently residing in the liver. In vivo administration resulted in enhanced functionality of educated and highly differentiated CD27+ Mac-1+ NK cells accompanied by an increased proliferation. Improved liver homing was supported by serum-derived and cellular factors. Reduced viral loads in a mCMV infection model confirmed the beneficial effect of NK cells located in the liver upon stimulation with αGalCerMPEG. Thus, targeting iNKT cell-mediated NK cell activation in the liver represents a promising approach for the establishment of liver-directed immune interventions.
  • Genomic Variations Underlying Speciation and Niche Specialization of Shewanella baltica.

    Deng, Jie; Auchtung, Jennifer M; Konstantinidis, Konstantinos T; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G; Tiedje, James M; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society of Microbiology, 2019-10-15)
    Shewanella baltica was the dominant culturable nitrate-reducing bacterium in the eutrophic and strongly stratified Baltic Sea in the 1980s, where it primarily inhabited the oxic-anoxic transition zone. The genomic structures of 46 of these isolates were investigated through comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), which revealed a gradient of genomic similarity, ranging from 65% to as high as 99%. The core genome of the S. baltica species was enriched in anaerobic respiration-associated genes. Auxiliary genes, most of which locate within a few genomic islands (GIs), were nonuniformly distributed among the isolates. Specifically, hypothetical and mobile genetic element (MGE)-associated genes dominated intraclade gene content differences, whereas gain/loss of functional genes drove gene content differences among less related strains. Among the major S. baltica clades, gene signatures related to specific redox-driven and spatial niches within the water column were identified. For instance, genes involved in anaerobic respiration of sulfur compounds may provide key adaptive advantages for clade A strains in anoxic waters where sulfur-containing electron acceptors are present. Genes involved in cell motility, in particular, a secondary flagellar biosynthesis system, may be associated with the free-living lifestyle by clade E strains. Collectively, this study revealed characteristics of genome variations present in the water column and active speciation of S. baltica strains, driven by niche partitioning and horizontal gene transfer (HGT).IMPORTANCE Speciation in nature is a fundamental process driving the formation of the vast microbial diversity on Earth. In the central Baltic Sea, the long-term stratification of water led to formation of a large-scale vertical redoxcline that provided a gradient of environmental niches with respect to the availability of electron acceptors and donors. The region was home to Shewanella baltica populations, which composed the dominant culturable nitrate-reducing bacteria, particularly in the oxic-anoxic transition zone. Using the collection of S. baltica isolates as a model system, genomic variations showed contrasting gene-sharing patterns within versus among S. baltica clades and revealed genomic signatures of S. baltica clades related to redox niche specialization as well as particle association. This study provides important insights into genomic mechanisms underlying bacterial speciation within this unique natural redoxcline.
  • Vaccine Vectors Harnessing the Power of Cytomegaloviruses.

    Ynga-Durand, Mario Alberto; Dekhtiarenko, Iryna; Cicin-Sain, Luka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2019-10-17)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) species have been gaining attention as experimental vaccine vectors inducing cellular immune responses of unparalleled strength and protection. This review outline the strengths and the restrictions of CMV-based vectors, in light of the known aspects of CMV infection, pathogenicity and immunity. We discuss aspects to be considered when optimizing CMV based vaccines, including the innate immune response, the adaptive humoral immunity and the T-cell responses. We also discuss the antigenic epitopes presented by unconventional major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules in some CMV delivery systems and considerations about routes for delivery for the induction of systemic or mucosal immune responses. With the first clinical trials initiating, CMV-based vaccine vectors are entering a mature phase of development. This impetus needs to be maintained by scientific advances that feed the progress of this technological platform.
  • Mucosal CD8+ T cell responses induced by an MCMV based vaccine vector confer protection against influenza challenge.

    Zheng, Xiaoyan; Oduro, Jennifer D; Boehme, Julia D; Borkner, Lisa; Ebensen, Thomas; Heise, Ulrike; Gereke, Marcus; Pils, Marina C; Krmpotic, Astrid; Guzmán, Carlos A; et al. (PLOS, 2019-09-01)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous β-herpesvirus that establishes life-long latent infection in a high percentage of the population worldwide. CMV induces the strongest and most durable CD8+ T cell response known in human clinical medicine. Due to its unique properties, the virus represents a promising candidate vaccine vector for the induction of persistent cellular immunity. To take advantage of this, we constructed a recombinant murine CMV (MCMV) expressing an MHC-I restricted epitope from influenza A virus (IAV) H1N1 within the immediate early 2 (ie2) gene. Only mice that were immunized intranasally (i.n.) were capable of controlling IAV infection, despite the greater potency of the intraperitoneally (i.p.) vaccination in inducing a systemic IAV-specific CD8+ T cell response. The protective capacity of the i.n. immunization was associated with its ability to induce IAV-specific tissue-resident memory CD8+ T (CD8TRM) cells in the lungs. Our data demonstrate that the protective effect exerted by the i.n. immunization was critically mediated by antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. CD8TRM cells promoted the induction of IFNγ and chemokines that facilitate the recruitment of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells to the lungs. Overall, our results showed that locally applied MCMV vectors could induce mucosal immunity at sites of entry, providing superior immune protection against respiratory infections.
  • Neutral Lipopolyplexes for In Vivo Delivery of Conventional and Replicative RNA Vaccine.

    Perche, Federico; Clemençon, Rudy; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Guzmán, Carlos A; Pichon, Chantal; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-09-06)
    Nucleic acid vaccination relies on injecting DNA or RNA coding antigen(s) to induce a protective immune response. RNA vaccination is being increasingly used in preclinical and clinical studies. However, few delivery systems have been reported for in vivo delivery of RNA of different sizes. Using a tripartite formulation with RNA, cationic polymer, and anionic liposomes, we were able to encapsulate RNA into neutral lipopolyplexes (LPPs). LPPs were stable in vitro and successfully delivered conventional RNA and replicative RNA to dendritic cells in cellulo. Their injection led to reporter gene expression in mice. Finally, administration of LPP-Replicon RNA (RepRNA) led to an adaptive immune response against the antigen coded by the RepRNA. Accordingly, LPPs may represent a universal formulation for RNA delivery.
  • In vivo Neutralization of Pro-inflammatory Cytokines During Secondary Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection Post Influenza A Virus Infection

    Sharma-Chawla, Niharika; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Christen, Henrike; Boehme, Julia D.; Kershaw, Olivia; Schreiber, Jens; Guzmán, Carlos A.; Bruder, Dunja; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers Media SA, 2019-08-14)
    An overt pro-inflammatory immune response is a key factor contributing to lethal pneumococcal infection in an influenza pre-infected host and represents a potential target for therapeutic intervention. However, there is a paucity of knowledge about the level of contribution of individual cytokines. Based on the predictions of our previous mathematical modeling approach, the potential benefit of IFN-γ- and/or IL-6-specific antibody-mediated cytokine neutralization was explored in C57BL/6 mice infected with the influenza A/PR/8/34 strain, which were subsequently infected with the Streptococcus pneumoniae strain TIGR4 on day 7 post influenza. While single IL-6 neutralization had no effect on respiratory bacterial clearance, single IFN-γ neutralization enhanced local bacterial clearance in the lungs. Concomitant neutralization of IFN-γ and IL-6 significantly reduced the degree of pneumonia as well as bacteremia compared to the control group, indicating a positive effect for the host during secondary bacterial infection. The results of our model-driven experimental study reveal that the predicted therapeutic value of IFN-γ and IL-6 neutralization in secondary pneumococcal infection following influenza infection is tightly dependent on the experimental protocol while at the same time paving the way toward the development of effective immune therapies.
  • Invariant NKT Cell-Mediated Modulation of ILC1s as a Tool for Mucosal Immune Intervention.

    Trittel, Stephanie; Vashist, Neha; Ebensen, Thomas; Chambers, Benedict J; Guzmán, Carlos A; Riese, Peggy; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Non-NK group 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILC1s), mainly investigated in the mucosal areas of the intestine, are well-known to contribute to anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial immune responses. Recently, our group revealed that lung ILC1s become activated during murine influenza infection, thereby contributing to viral clearance. In this context, worldwide seasonal influenza infections often result in severe disease outbreaks leading to high morbidity and mortality. Therefore, new immune interventions are urgently needed. In contrast to NK cells, the potential of non-NK ILC1s to become functionally tailored by immune modulators to contribute to the combat against mucosal-transmitted viral pathogens has not yet been addressed. The present study aimed at assessing the potential of ILC1s to become modulated by iNKT cells activated through the CD1d agonist αGalCerMPEG. Our results demonstrate an improved functional responsiveness of murine lung and splenic ILC1s following iNKT cell stimulation by the mucosal route, as demonstrated by enhanced surface expression of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), CD49a and CD28, and increased secretion of IFNγ. Interestingly, iNKT cell stimulation also induced the expression of the immune checkpoint molecules GITR and CTLA-4, which represent crucial points of action for immune regulation. An in vivo influenza infection model revealed that intranasal activation of ILC1s by αGalCerMPEG contributed to increased viral clearance as shown by reduced viral loads in the lungs. The findings that ILC1s can become modulated by mucosally activated iNKT cells in a beneficial manner emphasize their up to now underestimated potential and renders them to be considered as targets for novel immune interventions.
  • The STING activator c-di-AMP exerts superior adjuvant properties than the formulation poly(I:C)/CpG after subcutaneous vaccination with soluble protein antigen or DEC-205-mediated antigen targeting to dendritic cells.

    Volckmar, Julia; Knop, Laura; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Guzmán, Carlos A; Bruder, Dunja; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-08-14)
    Vaccination is the most efficient strategy to protect from infectious diseases and the induction of a protective immune response not only depends on the nature of the antigen, but is also influenced by the vaccination strategy and the co-administration of adjuvants. Therefore, the precise monitoring of adjuvant candidates and their immune modulatory properties is a crucial step in vaccine development. Here, one central aspect is the induction of appropriate humoral and cellular effector mechanisms. In our study we performed a direct comparison of two promising candidates in adjuvant development, the STING activator bis-(3,5)-cyclic dimeric adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) and the Toll-like receptor ligand formulation poly(I:C)/CpG. These were evaluated in C57BL/6 mice using the model antigen ovalbumin (OVA) in subcutaneous vaccination with soluble protein as well as in a dendritic cell (DC) targeting approach (αDEC-OVA). Strikingly, c-di-AMP as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG resulted in significantly higher antigen-specific IgG antibody levels when used in immunization with soluble OVA as well as in antigen targeting to DC. In vaccination with soluble OVA, c-di-AMP induced a significantly stronger CTL, Th1 and IFNγ-producing CD8+ memory T cell response than poly(I:C)/CpG. The response was CTL and Th1 cell dominated, a profile shared by both adjuvants. In the context of targeting OVA to DC, c-di-AMP induced significantly increased Th1 and Th2 cell responses as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG. Interestingly, the Th1 response dominated the overall T cell response only when c-di-AMP was used, indicating a distinct modulatory property of c-di-AMP when the DC targeting immunization approach was exploited. Taken together, we describe superior properties of c-di-AMP as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG in subcutaneous vaccination with soluble antigen as well as antigen targeting to DC. This indicates exceptionally effective adjuvant properties for c-di-AMP and provides compelling evidence of its potential for further adjuvant development, especially also when using DC targeting approaches.
  • Establishment of an induced memory response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa during infection of a eukaryotic host.

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

    Contreras, Nico A; Sitnik, Katarzyna M; Jeftic, Ilija; Coplen, Christopher Patrick; Čičin-Šain, Luka; Nikolich-Žugich, Janko; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2019-06-01)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus infecting most of the world's population. CMV has been rigorously investigated for its impact on lifelong immunity and potential complications arising from lifelong infection. A rigorous adaptive immune response mounts during progression of CMV infection from acute to latent states. CD8 T cells, in large part, drive this response and have very clearly been demonstrated to take up residence in the salivary gland and lungs of infected mice during latency. However, the role of tissue resident CD8 T cells as an ongoing defense mechanism against CMV has not been studied in other anatomical locations. Therefore, we sought to identify additional locations of anti-CMV T cell residency and the physiological consequences of such a response. Through RT-qPCR we found that mouse CMV (mCMV) infected the visceral adipose tissue and that this resulted in an expansion of leukocytes in situ. We further found, through flow cytometry, that adipose tissue became enriched in cytotoxic CD8 T cells that are specific for mCMV antigens from day 7 post infection through the lifespan of an infected animal (> 450 days post infection) and that carry markers of tissue residence. Furthermore, we found that inflammatory cytokines are elevated alongside the expansion of CD8 T cells. Finally, we show a correlation between the inflammatory state of adipose tissue in response to mCMV infection and the development of hyperglycemia in mice. Overall, this study identifies adipose tissue as a location of viral infection leading to a sustained and lifelong adaptive immune response mediated by CD8 T cells that correlates with hyperglycemia. These data potentially provide a mechanistic link between metabolic syndrome and chronic infection.
  • Systems Immunology Characterization of Novel Vaccine Formulations for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Bacterins.

    Matthijs, Anneleen M F; Auray, Gaël; Jakob, Virginie; García-Nicolás, Obdulio; Braun, Roman O; Keller, Irene; Bruggman, Rémy; Devriendt, Bert; Boyen, Filip; Guzman, Carlos A; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    We characterized five different vaccine candidates and a commercial vaccine in terms of safety, immunogenicity and using a systems vaccinology approach, with the aim to select novel vaccine candidates against Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae. Seven groups of six M. hyopneumoniae-free piglets were primo- and booster vaccinated with the different experimental bacterin formulations, the commercial vaccine Hyogen® as a positive control or PBS as a negative control. The experimental bacterin was formulated with cationic liposomes + c-di-AMP (Lipo_AMP), cationic liposomes + Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2/1, TLR7, and TLR9 ligands (TLR ligands; Lipo_TLR), micro-particles + TLR ligands (PLGA_TLR), squalene-in-water emulsion + TLR ligands (SWE_TLR), or DDA:TDB liposomes (Lipo_DDA:TDB). Lipo_DDA:TDB and Lipo_AMP were the most potent in terms of serum antibody induction, and Lipo_DDA:TDB, Lipo_AMP, and SWE_TLR significantly induced Th1 cytokine-secreting T-cells. Only PLGA_TLR appeared to induce Th17 cells, but was unable to induce serum antibodies. The transcriptomic analyses demonstrated that the induction of inflammatory and myeloid cell blood transcriptional modules (BTM) in the first 24 h after vaccination correlated well with serum antibodies, while negative correlations with the same modules were found 7 days post-vaccination. Furthermore, many cell cycle and T-cell BTM upregulated at day seven correlated positively with adaptive immune responses. When comparing the delivery of the identical TLR ligands with the three formulations, we found SWE_TLR to be more potent in the induction of an early innate immune response, while the liposomal formulation more strongly promoted late cell cycle and T-cell BTM. For the PLGA formulation we found signs of a delayed and weak perturbation of these BTM. Lipo_AMP was found to be the most potent vaccine at inducing a BTM profile similar to that correlating with adaptive immune response in this and other studies. Taken together, we identified four promising vaccine candidates able to induce M. hyopneumoniae-specific antibody and T-cell responses. In addition, we have adapted a systems vaccinology approach developed for human to pigs and demonstrated its capacity in identifying early immune signatures in the blood relating to adaptive immune responses. This approach represents an important step in a more rational design of efficacious vaccines for pigs.
  • Early primed KLRG1- CMV-specific T cells determine the size of the inflationary T cell pool.

    Baumann, Nicolas S; Welten, Suzanne P M; Torti, Nicole; Pallmer, Katharina; Borsa, Mariana; Barnstorf, Isabel; Oduro, Jennifer D; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Oxenius, Annette; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2019-05-01)
    Memory T cell inflation is a process in which a subset of cytomegalovirus (CMV) specific CD8 T cells continuously expands mainly during latent infection and establishes a large and stable population of effector memory cells in peripheral tissues. Here we set out to identify in vivo parameters that promote and limit CD8 T cell inflation in the context of MCMV infection. We found that the inflationary T cell pool comprised mainly high avidity CD8 T cells, outcompeting lower avidity CD8 T cells. Furthermore, the size of the inflationary T cell pool was not restricted by the availability of specific tissue niches, but it was directly related to the number of virus-specific CD8 T cells that were activated during priming. In particular, the amount of early-primed KLRG1- cells and the number of inflationary cells with a central memory phenotype were a critical determinant for the overall magnitude of the inflationary T cell pool. Inflationary memory CD8 T cells provided protection from a Vaccinia virus challenge and this protection directly correlated with the size of the inflationary memory T cell pool in peripheral tissues. These results highlight the remarkable protective potential of inflationary CD8 T cells that can be harnessed for CMV-based T cell vaccine approaches.

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