Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • Role of Autophagy in Von Willebrand Factor Secretion by Endothelial Cells and in the In Vivo Thrombin-Antithrombin Complex Formation Promoted by the HIV-1 Matrix Protein p17.

    Bugatti, Antonella; Marsico, Stefania; Mazzuca, Pietro; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Giagulli, Cinzia; Peña, Esther; Badimón, Lina; Slevin, Mark; Caruso, Arnaldo; et al. (MDPI, 2020-03-16)
  • 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.

View more