Recent Submissions

  • Cyclic Di-Adenosine Monophosphate: A Promising Adjuvant Candidate for the Development of Neonatal Vaccines.

    Lirussi, Darío; Weissmann, Sebastian Felix; Ebensen, Thomas; Nitsche-Gloy, Ursula; Franz, Heiko B G; Guzmán, Carlos A; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-01)
    Underdeveloped immunity during the neonatal age makes this period one of the most dangerous during the human lifespan, with infection-related mortality being one of the highest of all age groups. It is also discussed that vaccination during this time window may result in tolerance rather than in productive immunity, thus raising concerns about the overall vaccine-mediated protective efficacy. Cyclic di-nucleotides (CDN) are bacterial second messengers that are rapidly sensed by the immune system as a danger signal, allowing the utilization of these molecules as potent activators of the immune response. We have previously shown that cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (CDA) is a potent and versatile adjuvant capable of promoting humoral and cellular immunity. We characterize here the cytokine profiles elicited by CDA in neonatal cord blood in comparison with other promising neonatal adjuvants, such as the imidazoquinoline resiquimod (R848), which is a synthetic dual TLR7 and TLR8 agonist. We observed superior activity of CDA in eliciting T helper 1 (Th1) and T follicular helper (TfH) cytokines in cells from human cord blood when compared to R848. Additional in vivo studies in mice showed that neonatal priming in a three-dose vaccination schedule is beneficial when CDA is used as a vaccine adjuvant. Humoral antibody titers were significantly higher in mice that received a neonatal prime as compared to those that did not. This effect was absent when using other adjuvants that were reported as suitable for neonatal vaccination. The biological significance of this immune response was assessed by a challenge with a genetically modified influenza H1N1 PR8 virus. The obtained results confirmed that CDA performed better than any other adjuvant tested. Altogether, our results suggest that CDA is a potent adjuvant in vitro on human cord blood, and in vivo in newborn mice, and thus a suitable candidate for the development of neonatal vaccines. Keywords: cyclic di-adenosine monophosphate (CDA); cyclic di-nucleotides (CDN); first dose efficacy; neonatal vaccines; stimulator of interferon genes (STING).
  • 3D culture conditions support Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) maintenance and viral spread in endothelial cells.

    Dubich, Tatyana; Dittrich, Anne; Bousset, Kristine; Geffers, Robert; Büsche, Guntram; Köster, Mario; Hauser, Hansjörg; Schulz, Thomas F; Wirth, Dagmar; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer International, 2021-01-23)
    Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a human tumorigenic virus and the etiological agent of an endothelial tumor (Kaposi's sarcoma) and two B cell proliferative diseases (primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease). While in patients with late stage of Kaposi's sarcoma the majority of spindle cells are KSHV-infected, viral copies are rapidly lost in vitro, both upon culture of tumor-derived cells or from newly infected endothelial cells. We addressed this discrepancy by investigating a KSHV-infected endothelial cell line in various culture conditions and in tumors of xenografted mice. We show that, in contrast to two-dimensional endothelial cell cultures, KSHV genomes are maintained under 3D cell culture conditions and in vivo. Additionally, an increased rate of newly infected cells was detected in 3D cell culture. Furthermore, we show that the PI3K/Akt/mTOR and ATM/γH2AX pathways are modulated and support an improved KSHV persistence in 3D cell culture. These mechanisms may contribute to the persistence of KSHV in tumor tissue in vivo and provide a novel target for KS specific therapeutic interventions. KEY MESSAGES: In vivo maintenance of episomal KSHV can be mimicked in 3D spheroid cultures 3D maintenance of KSHV is associated with an increased de novo infection frequency PI3K/Akt/mTOR and ATM/ γH2AX pathways contribute to viral maintenance.
  • A Novel Triple-Fluorescent HCMV Strain Reveals Gene Expression Dynamics and Anti-Herpesviral Drug Mechanisms.

    Rand, Ulfert; Kubsch, Tobias; Kasmapour, Bahram; Cicin-Sain, Luka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-01-08)
    Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection may result in severe outcomes in immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients, transplant recipients, and neonates. To date, no vaccines are available and there are only few drugs for anti-HCMV therapy. Adverse effects and the continuous emergence of drug-resistance strains require the identification of new drug candidates in the near future. Identification and characterization of such compounds and biological factors requires sensitive and reliable detection techniques of HCMV infection, gene expression and spread. In this work, we present and validate a novel concept for multi-reporter herpesviruses, identified through iterative testing of minimally invasive mutations. We integrated up to three fluorescence reporter genes into replication-competent HCMV strains, generating reporter HCMVs that allow the visualization of replication cycle stages of HCMV, namely the immediate early (IE), early (E), and late (L) phase. Fluorescent proteins with clearly distinguishable emission spectra were linked by 2A peptides to essential viral genes, allowing bicistronic expression of the viral and the fluorescent protein without major effects on viral fitness. By using this triple color reporter HCMV, we monitored gene expression dynamics of the IE, E, and L genes by measuring the fluorescent signal of the viral gene-associated fluorophores within infected cell populations and at high temporal resolution. We demonstrate distinct inhibitory profiles of foscarnet, fomivirsen, phosphonoacetic acid, ganciclovir, and letermovir reflecting their mode-of-action. In conclusion, our data argues that this experimental approach allows the identification and characterization of new drug candidates in a single step.
  • Cohort Profile: The LoewenKIDS Study - life-course perspective on infections, the microbiome and the development of the immune system in early childhood.

    Gottschick, Cornelia; Raupach-Rosin, Heike; Langer, Susan; Hassan, Lamiaa; Horn, Johannes; Dorendorf, Evelyn; Caputo, Mahrrouz; Bittner, Martina; Beier, Lea; Rübsamen, Nicole; et al. (Oxford Academic, 2019-02-27)
    [Noabstract available]
  • Triple RNA-Seq Reveals Synergy in a Human Virus-Fungus Co-infection Model.

    Seelbinder, Bastian; Wallstabe, Julia; Marischen, Lothar; Weiss, Esther; Wurster, Sebastian; Page, Lukas; Löffler, Claudia; Bussemer, Lydia; Schmitt, Anna-Lena; Wolf, Thomas; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-11-17)
    High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) is routinely applied to study diverse biological processes; however, when performed separately on interacting organisms, systemic noise intrinsic to RNA extraction, library preparation, and sequencing hampers the identification of cross-species interaction nodes. Here, we develop triple RNA-seq to simultaneously detect transcriptomes of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) infected with the frequently co-occurring pulmonary pathogens Aspergillus fumigatus and human cytomegalovirus (CMV). Comparing expression patterns after co-infection with those after single infections, our data reveal synergistic effects and mutual interferences between host responses to the two pathogens. For example, CMV attenuates the fungus-mediated activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines through NF-κB (nuclear factor κB) and NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) cascades, while A. fumigatus impairs viral clearance by counteracting viral nucleic acid-induced activation of type I interferon signaling. Together, the analytical power of triple RNA-seq proposes molecular hubs in the differential moDC response to fungal/viral single infection or co-infection that contribute to our understanding of the etiology and, potentially, clearance of post-transplant infections.
  • Virus Irradiation and COVID-19 Disease

    Durante, Marco; Schulze, Kai; Incerti, Sebastien; Francis, Ziad; Zein, Sara; Guzmán, Carlos Alberto; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-10-20)
    Virus irradiation has been performed for many decades for basic research studies, sterilization, and vaccine development. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently causing an enormous effort worldwide for finding a vaccine against coronavirus. High doses of γ-rays can be used for the development of vaccines that exploit inactivated virus. This technique has been gradually replaced by more practical methods, in particular the use of chemicals, but irradiation remains a simple and effective method used in some cases. The technique employed for inactivating a virus has an impact on its ability to induce an adaptive immune response able to confer effective protection. We propose here that accelerated heavy ions can be used to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 viruses with small damage to the spike proteins of the envelope and can then provide an intact virion for vaccine development.
  • Synthetic rewiring and boosting type I interferon responses for visualization and counteracting viral infections.

    Gödecke, Natascha; Riedel, Jan; Herrmann, Sabrina; Behme, Sara; Rand, Ulfert; Kubsch, Tobias; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Wirth, Dagmar; et al. (Oxford Academic, 2020-11-18)
    Mammalian first line of defense against viruses is accomplished by the interferon (IFN) system. Viruses have evolved numerous mechanisms to reduce the IFN action allowing them to invade the host and/or to establish latency. We generated an IFN responsive intracellular hub by integrating the synthetic transactivator tTA into the chromosomal Mx2 locus for IFN-based activation of tTA dependent expression modules. The additional implementation of a synthetic amplifier module with positive feedback even allowed for monitoring and reacting to infections of viruses that can antagonize the IFN system. Low and transient IFN amounts are sufficient to trigger these amplifier cells. This gives rise to higher and sustained-but optionally de-activatable-expression even when the initial stimulus has faded out. Amplification of the IFN response induced by IFN suppressing viruses is sufficient to protect cells from infection. Together, this interfaced sensor/actuator system provides a toolbox for robust sensing and counteracting viral infections.
  • Towards Reduction or Substitution of Cytotoxic DMSO in Biobanking of Functional Bioengineered Megakaryocytes.

    Pogozhykh, Denys; Eicke, Dorothee; Gryshkov, Oleksandr; Wolkers, Willem F; Schulze, Kai; Guzmán, Carlos A; Blasczyk, Rainer; Figueiredo, Constança; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-10-16)
    Donor platelet transfusion is currently the only efficient treatment of life-threatening thrombocytopenia, but it is highly challenged by immunological, quality, and contamination issues, as well as short shelf life of the donor material. Ex vivo produced megakaryocytes and platelets represent a promising alternative strategy to the conventional platelet transfusion. However, practical implementation of such strategy demands availability of reliable biobanking techniques, which would permit eliminating continuous cell culture maintenance, ensure time for quality testing, enable stock management and logistics, as well as availability in a ready-to-use manner. At the same time, protocols applying DMSO-based cryopreservation media were associated with increased risks of adverse long-term side effects after patient use. Here, we show the possibility to develop cryopreservation techniques for iPSC-derived megakaryocytes under defined xeno-free conditions with significant reduction or complete elimination of DMSO. Comprehensive phenotypic and functional in vitro characterization of megakaryocytes has been performed before and after cryopreservation. Megakaryocytes cryopreserved DMSO-free, or using low DMSO concentrations, showed the capability to produce platelets in vivo after transfusion in a mouse model. These findings propose biobanking approaches essential for development of megakaryocyte-based replacement and regenerative therapies.
  • The avid competitors of memory inflation.

    Abassi, Leila; Cicin-Sain, Luka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-10-08)
    Cytomegaloviruses (CMV) coevolve with their hosts and latently persist in the vast majority of adult mammals. Therefore, persistent T-cell responses to CMV antigens during virus latency offer a fascinating perspective on the evolution of the T-cell repertoire in natural settings. We addressed here the life-long interactions between CMV antigens presented on MHC-I molecules and the CD8 T-cell response. We present the mechanistic evidence from the murine model of CMV infection and put it in context of clinical laboratory results. We will highlight the remarkable parallels in T-cell responses between the two biological systems, and focus in particular on memory inflation as a result of competitive processes, both between viral antigenic peptides and between T-cell receptors on the host’s cytotoxic lymphocytes
  • Next Generation Influenza Vaccines: Looking into the Crystal Ball.

    Guzmán, Carlos Alberto; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-08-21)
    Influenza infections are responsible for significant number of deaths and overwhelming costs worldwide every year. Vaccination represents the only cost-efficient alternative to address this major problem in human health. However, current vaccines are fraught by many limitations, being far from optimal. Among them, the need to upgrade vaccines every year through a time-consuming process open to different caveats, and the critical fact that they exhibit poorer efficacy in individuals who are at high risk for severe infections. Where are we? How can knowledge and technologies contribute towards removing current roadblocks? What does the future offer in terms of next generation vaccines?
  • Targeting cardiac fibrosis with engineered T cells.

    Aghajanian, Haig; Kimura, Toru; Rurik, Joel G; Hancock, Aidan S; Leibowitz, Michael S; Li, Li; Scholler, John; Monslow, James; Lo, Albert; Han, Wei; et al. (Nature publishing group(NPG), 2019-09-11)
    Fibrosis is observed in nearly every form of myocardial disease1. Upon injury, cardiac fibroblasts in the heart begin to remodel the myocardium by depositing excess extracellular matrix, resulting in increased stiffness and reduced compliance of the tissue. Excessive cardiac fibrosis is an important factor in the progression of various forms of cardiac disease and heart failure2. However, clinical interventions and therapies that target fibrosis remain limited3. Here we demonstrate the efficacy of redirected T cell immunotherapy to specifically target pathological cardiac fibrosis in mice. We find that cardiac fibroblasts that express a xenogeneic antigen can be effectively targeted and ablated by adoptive transfer of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Through expression analysis of the gene signatures of cardiac fibroblasts obtained from healthy and diseased human hearts, we identify an endogenous target of cardiac fibroblasts-fibroblast activation protein. Adoptive transfer of T cells that express a chimeric antigen receptor against fibroblast activation protein results in a significant reduction in cardiac fibrosis and restoration of function after injury in mice. These results provide proof-of-principle for the development of immunotherapeutic drugs for the treatment of cardiac disease.
  • Cytomegalovirus inhibition of extrinsic apoptosis determines fitness and resistance to cytotoxic CD8 T cells.

    Chaudhry, M Zeeshan; Casalegno-Garduno, Rosaely; Sitnik, Katarzyna M; Kasmapour, Bahram; Pulm, Ann-Kathrin; Brizic, Ilija; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; Moosmann, Andreas; Jonjic, Stipan; Mocarski, Edward S; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-05-22)
    Viral immune evasion is currently understood to focus on deflecting CD8 T cell recognition of infected cells by disrupting antigen presentation pathways. We evaluated viral interference with the ultimate step in cytotoxic T cell function, the death of infected cells. The viral inhibitor of caspase-8 activation (vICA) conserved in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and murine CMV (MCMV) prevents the activation of caspase-8 and proapoptotic signaling. We demonstrate the key role of vICA from either virus, in deflecting antigen-specific CD8 T cell-killing of infected cells. vICA-deficient mutants, lacking either UL36 or M36, exhibit greater susceptibility to CD8 T cell control than mutants lacking the set of immunoevasins known to disrupt antigen presentation via MHC class I. This difference is evident during infection in the natural mouse host infected with MCMV, in settings where virus-specific CD8 T cells are adoptively transferred. Finally, we identify the molecular mechanism through which vICA acts, demonstrating the central contribution of caspase-8 signaling at a point of convergence of death receptor-induced apoptosis and perforin/granzyme-dependent cytotoxicity.
  • Seropositivity for pathogens associated with chronic infections is a risk factor for all-cause mortality in the elderly: findings from the Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly (MEMO) Study.

    Zeeb, Marius; Kerrinnes, Tobias; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Guzman, Carlos A; Puppe, Wolfram; Schulz, Thomas F; Peters, Annette; Berger, Klaus; Castell, Stefanie; Karch, André; et al. (Springer, 2020-07-09)
    Immunostimulation by chronic infection has been linked to an increased risk for different non-communicable diseases, which in turn are leading causes of death in high- and middle-income countries. Thus, we investigated if a positive serostatus for pathogens responsible for common chronic infections is individually or synergistically related to reduced overall survival in community dwelling elderly. We used data of 365 individuals from the German MEMO (Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly) cohort study with a median age of 73 years at baseline and a median follow-up of 14 years. We examined the effect of a positive serostatus at baseline for selected pathogens associated with chronic infections (Helicobacter pylori, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Toxoplasma gondii, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus 1/2, and human herpesvirus 6) on all-cause mortality with multivariable parametric survival models. We found a reduced survival time in individuals with a positive serostatus for Helicobacter pylori (accelerated failure time (AFT) - 15.92, 95% CI - 29.96; - 1.88), cytomegalovirus (AFT - 22.81, 95% CI - 36.41; - 9.22) and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (AFT - 25.25, 95% CI - 43.40; - 7.10), after adjusting for potential confounders. The number of infectious agents an individual was seropositive for had a linear effect on all-cause mortality (AFT per additional infection - 12.42 95% CI - 18.55; - 6.30). Our results suggest an effect of seropositivity for Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato on all-cause mortality in older community dwelling individuals. Further research with larger cohorts and additional biomarkers is required, to assess mediators and molecular pathways of this effect.
  • Respiratory Influenza A Virus Infection Triggers Local and Systemic Natural Killer Cell Activation Toll-Like Receptor 7.

    Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Behrens, Sarah; Boehme, Julia D; Hochnadel, Inga; Riese, Peggy; Guzmán, Carlos A; Kröger, Andrea; Schreiber, Jens; Gunzer, Matthias; Bruder, Dunja; et al. (Frontiers, 2018-02-13)
    The innate immune system senses influenza A virus (IAV) through different pathogen-recognition receptors including Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7). Downstream of viral recognition natural killer (NK) cells are activated as part of the anti-IAV immune response. Despite the known decisive role of TLR7 for NK cell activation by therapeutic immunostimulatory RNAs, the contribution of TLR7 to the NK cell response following IAV infection has not been addressed. We have analyzed lung cytokine responses as well as the activation, interferon (IFN)-γ production, and cytotoxicity of lung and splenic NK cells following sublethal respiratory IAV infection in wild-type and TLR7ko mice. Early airway IFN-γ levels as well as the induction of lung NK cell CD69 expression and IFN-γ production in response to IAV infection were significantly attenuated in TLR7-deficient hosts. Strikingly, respiratory IAV infection also primed splenic NK cells for IFN-γ production, degranulation, and target cell lysis, all of which were fully dependent on TLR7. At the same time, lung type I IFN levels were significantly reduced in TLR7ko mice early following IAV infection, displaying a potential upstream mechanism of the attenuated NK cell activation observed. Taken together, our data clearly demonstrate a specific role for TLR7 signaling in local and systemic NK cell activation following respiratory IAV infection despite the presence of redundant innate IAV-recognition pathways.
  • Responsiveness to Influenza Vaccination Correlates with NKG2C-Expression on NK Cells.

    Riese, Peggy; Trittel, Stephanie; Pathirana, Rishi D; Klawonn, Frank; Cox, Rebecca J; Guzmán, Carlos A; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-06-05)
    Influenza vaccination often results in a large percentage of low responders, especially in high-risk groups. As a first line of defense, natural killer (NK) cells play a crucial role in the fight against infections. However, their implication with regard to vaccine responsiveness is insufficiently assessed. Therefore, this study aimed at the validation of essential NK cell features potentially associated with differential vaccine responsiveness with a special focus on NKG2C- and/or CD57-expressing NK cells considered to harbor memory-like functions. To this end, 16 healthy volunteers were vaccinated with an adjuvanted pandemic influenza vaccine. Vaccine responders and low responders were classified according to their hemagglutination inhibition antibody titers. A majority of responders displayed enhanced frequencies of NKG2C-expressing NK cells 7- or 14-days post-vaccination as compared to low responders, whereas the expression of CD57 was not differentially modulated. The NK cell cytotoxic potential was found to be confined to CD56dimCD16+ NKG2C-expressing NK cells in the responders but not in the low responders, which was further confirmed by stochastic neighbor embedding analysis. The presented study is the first of its kind that ascribes CD56dimCD16+ NKG2C-expressing NK cells a crucial role in biasing adaptive immune responses upon influenza vaccination and suggests NKG2C as a potential biomarker in predicting pandemic influenza vaccine responsiveness.
  • Nanoparticles as A Tool for Broadening Antifungal Activities.

    Renzi, Daniele Fernanda; de Almeida Campos, Laís; Miranda, Eduardo Hösel; Mainardes, Rubiana Mara; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Grigoletto, Diana Fortkamp; Khalil, Najeh Maissar; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Bentham Science Publisher, 2020-03-30)
    The Fungal infections are diseases that are considered neglected although their infection rates have increased worldwide in the last decades. Thus, since the antifungal arsenal is restricted and many strains have shown resistance new therapeutic alternatives are necessary. Nanoparticles are considered important alternatives to promote drug delivery. In this sense, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the contributions of newly developed nanoparticles to the treatment of fungal infections. Studies have shown that nanoparticles generally improve the biopharmaceutical and pharmacokinetic characteristics of antifungals, which is reflected in a greater pharmacodynamic potential and lower toxicity, as well as the possibility of prolonged action. It also offers the proposition of new routes of administration. Nanotechnology is known to contribute to a new drug delivery system, not only for the control of infectious diseases, but for various other diseases as well. In recent years, several studies have emphasized its application in infectious diseases, presenting better alternatives for the treatment of fungal infections.
  • Expansion of functional personalized cells with specific transgene combinations.

    Lipps, Christoph; Klein, Franziska; Wahlicht, Tom; Seiffert, Virginia; Butueva, Milada; Zauers, Jeannette; Truschel, Theresa; Luckner, Martin; Köster, Mario; MacLeod, Roderick; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-03-08)
    Fundamental research and drug development for personalized medicine necessitates cell cultures from defined genetic backgrounds. However, providing sufficient numbers of authentic cells from individuals poses a challenge. Here, we present a new strategy for rapid cell expansion that overcomes current limitations. Using a small gene library, we expanded primary cells from different tissues, donors, and species. Cell-type-specific regimens that allow the reproducible creation of cell lines were identified. In depth characterization of a series of endothelial and hepatocytic cell lines confirmed phenotypic stability and functionality. Applying this technology enables rapid, efficient, and reliable production of unlimited numbers of personalized cells. As such, these cell systems support mechanistic studies, epidemiological research, and tailored drug development.
  • Innate signalling molecules as genetic adjuvants do not alter the efficacy of a DNA-based influenza A vaccine.

    Lapuente, Dennis; Stab, Viktoria; Storcksdieck Genannt Bonsmann, Michael; Maaske, Andre; Köster, Mario; Xiao, Han; Ehrhardt, Christina; Tenbusch, Matthias; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-04-03)
    In respect to the heterogeneity among influenza A virus strains and the shortcomings of current vaccination programs, there is a huge interest in the development of alternative vaccines that provide a broader and more long-lasting protection. Gene-based approaches are considered as promising candidates for such flu vaccines. In our study, innate signalling molecules from the RIG-I and the NALP3 pathways were evaluated as genetic adjuvants in intramuscular DNA immunizations. Plasmids encoding a constitutive active form of RIG-I (cRIG-I), IPS-1, IL-1β, or IL-18 were co-administered with plasmids encoding the hemagglutinin and nucleoprotein derived from H1N1/Puerto Rico/8/1934 via electroporation in BALB/c mice. Immunogenicity was analysed in detail and efficacy was demonstrated in homologous and heterologous influenza challenge experiments. Although the biological activities of the adjuvants have been confirmed by in vitro reporter assays, their single or combined inclusion in the vaccine did not result in superior vaccine efficacy. With the exception of significantly increased levels of antigen-specific IgG1 after the co-administration of IL-1β, there were only minor alterations concerning the immunogenicity. Since DNA electroporation alone induced substantial inflammation at the injection site, as demonstrated in this study using Mx2-Luc reporter mice, it might override the adjuvants´ contribution to the inflammatory microenvironment and thereby minimizes the influence on the immunogenicity. Taken together, the DNA immunization was protective against subsequent challenge infections but could not be further improved by the genetic adjuvants analysed in this study.
  • Exhaustion and Inflation at Antipodes of T Cell Responses to Chronic Virus Infection.

    Cicin-Sain, Luka; Arens, Ramon; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2017-12-14)
    Viruses that have coevolved with their host establish chronic infections that are well tolerated by the host. Other viruses, that are partly adapted to their host, may induce chronic infections where persistent replication and viral antigen expression occur. The former induce highly functional and resilient CD8T cell responses called memory inflation. The latter induce dysfunctional and exhausted responses. The reasons compelling T cell responses towards inflationary or exhausted responses are only partly understood. In this review we compare the two conditions and describe mechanistic similarities and differences. We also provide a list of potential reasons why exhaustion or inflation occur in different virus infections. We propose that T cell-mediated transcriptional repression of viral gene expression provides a critical feature of inflation that allows peaceful virus and host coexistence. The virus is controlled, but its genome is not eradicated. If this mechanism is not available, as in the case of RNA viruses, the virus and the host are compelled to an arms race. If virus proliferation and spread proceed uncontrolled for too long, T cells are forced to strike a balance between viral control and tissue destruction, losing antiviral potency and facilitating virus persistence.

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