• Computer Simulation of Multi-Color Brainbow Staining and Clonal Evolution of B Cells in Germinal Centers.

      Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Binder, Sebastian C; Mesin, Luka; Victora, Gabriel D; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      Clonal evolution of B cells in germinal centers (GCs) is central to affinity maturation of antibodies in response to pathogens. Permanent or tamoxifen-induced multi-color recombination of B cells based on the brainbow allele allows monitoring the degree of color dominance in the course of the GC reaction. Here, we use computer simulations of GC reactions in order to replicate the evolution of color dominance
    • Development of the reproduction number from coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 case data in Germany and implications for political measures.

      Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Mitra, Tanmay; Bandyopadhyay, Arnab; Schips, Marta; Mascheroni, Pietro; Vanella, Patrizio; Lange, Berit; Binder, Sebastian C; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (BioMedCentral, 2021-01-28)
      Background: SARS-CoV-2 has induced a worldwide pandemic and subsequent non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to control the spread of the virus. As in many countries, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Germany has led to a consecutive roll-out of different NPIs. As these NPIs have (largely unknown) adverse effects, targeting them precisely and monitoring their effectiveness are essential. We developed a compartmental infection dynamics model with specific features of SARS-CoV-2 that allows daily estimation of a time-varying reproduction number and published this information openly since the beginning of April 2020. Here, we present the transmission dynamics in Germany over time to understand the effect of NPIs and allow adaptive forecasts of the epidemic progression. Methods: We used a data-driven estimation of the evolution of the reproduction number for viral spreading in Germany as well as in all its federal states using our model. Using parameter estimates from literature and, alternatively, with parameters derived from a fit to the initial phase of COVID-19 spread in different regions of Italy, the model was optimized to fit data from the Robert Koch Institute. Results: The time-varying reproduction number (Rt) in Germany decreased to <1 in early April 2020, 2-3 weeks after the implementation of NPIs. Partial release of NPIs both nationally and on federal state level correlated with moderate increases in Rt until August 2020. Implications of state-specific Rt on other states and on national level are characterized. Retrospective evaluation of the model shows excellent agreement with the data and usage of inpatient facilities well within the healthcare limit. While short-term predictions may work for a few weeks, long-term projections are complicated by unpredictable structural changes. Conclusions: The estimated fraction of immunized population by August 2020 warns of a renewed outbreak upon release of measures. A low detection rate prolongs the delay reaching a low case incidence number upon release, showing the importance of an effective testing-quarantine strategy. We show that real-time monitoring of transmission dynamics is important to evaluate the extent of the outbreak, short-term projections for the burden on the healthcare system, and their response to policy changes.
    • Ebola virus infection modeling and identifiability problems.

      Nguyen, Van Kinh; Binder, Sebastian C; Boianelli, Alessandro; Müller, A; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban Abelardo; Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (2015)
      The recent outbreaks of Ebola virus (EBOV) infections have underlined the impact of the virus as a major threat for human health. Due to the high biosafety classification of EBOV (level 4), basic research is very limited. Therefore, the development of new avenues of thinking to advance quantitative comprehension of the virus and its interaction with the host cells is urgently needed to tackle this lethal disease. Mathematical modeling of the EBOV dynamics can be instrumental to interpret Ebola infection kinetics on quantitative grounds. To the best of our knowledge, a mathematical modeling approach to unravel the interaction between EBOV and the host cells is still missing. In this paper, a mathematical model based on differential equations is used to represent the basic interactions between EBOV and wild-type Vero cells in vitro. Parameter sets that represent infectivity of pathogens are estimated for EBOV infection and compared with influenza virus infection kinetics. The average infecting time of wild-type Vero cells by EBOV is slower than in influenza infection. Simulation results suggest that the slow infecting time of EBOV could be compensated by its efficient replication. This study reveals several identifiability problems and what kind of experiments are necessary to advance the quantification of EBOV infection. A first mathematical approach of EBOV dynamics and the estimation of standard parameters in viral infections kinetics is the key contribution of this work, paving the way for future modeling works on EBOV infection.
    • Functional modules of sigma factor regulons guarantee adaptability and evolvability.

      Binder, Sebastian C; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Schulz, Sebastian; Bielecka, Agata; Nicolai, Tanja; Franke, Raimo; Häussler, Susanne; Müller, A; Helmholtz Centre for infection research (HZI), Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The focus of modern molecular biology turns from assigning functions to individual genes towards understanding the expression and regulation of complex sets of molecules. Here, we provide evidence that alternative sigma factor regulons in the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa largely represent insulated functional modules which provide a critical level of biological organization involved in general adaptation and survival processes. Analysis of the operational state of the sigma factor network revealed that transcription factors functionally couple the sigma factor regulons and significantly modulate the transcription levels in the face of challenging environments. The threshold quality of newly evolved transcription factors was reached faster and more robustly in in silico testing when the structural organization of sigma factor networks was taken into account. These results indicate that the modular structures of alternative sigma factor regulons provide P. aeruginosa with a robust framework to function adequately in its environment and at the same time facilitate evolutionary change. Our data support the view that widespread modularity guarantees robustness of biological networks and is a key driver of evolvability.
    • Germinal Centre Shutdown.

      Arulraj, Theinmozhi; Binder, Sebastian C; Robert, Philippe A; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-07-07)
      Germinal Centres (GCs) are transient structures in secondary lymphoid organs, where affinity maturation of B cells takes place following an infection. While GCs are responsible for protective antibody responses, dysregulated GC reactions are associated with autoimmune disease and B cell lymphoma. Typically, 'normal' GCs persist for a limited period of time and eventually undergo shutdown. In this review, we focus on an important but unanswered question - what causes the natural termination of the GC reaction? In murine experiments, lack of antigen, absence or constitutive T cell help leads to premature termination of the GC reaction. Consequently, our present understanding is limited to the idea that GCs are terminated due to a decrease in antigen access or changes in the nature of T cell help. However, there is no direct evidence on which biological signals are primarily responsible for natural termination of GCs and a mechanistic understanding is clearly lacking. We discuss the present understanding of the GC shutdown, from factors impacting GC dynamics to changes in cellular interactions/dynamics during the GC lifetime. We also address potential missing links and remaining questions in GC biology, to facilitate further studies to promote a better understanding of GC shutdown in infection and immune dysregulation.
    • High SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in children and adults in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl.

      Knabl, Ludwig; Mitra, Tanmay; Kimpel, Janine; Rössler, Annika; Volland, André; Walser, Andreas; Ulmer, Hanno; Pipperger, Lisa; Binder, Sebastian C; Riepler, Lydia; et al. (NPG, 2021-06-30)
      Between April 21st and 27th 2020, a cross-sectional epidemiologic study targeting the full population of Ischgl (n = 1867), of which 79% could be included (n = 1473, incl. 214 children), was performed. For each individual, the study involved a SARS-CoV-2 PCR, antibody testing and structured questionnaires. A mathematical model was used to help understand the influence of the determined seroprevalence on virus transmission.
    • Implications of Intravital Imaging of Murine Germinal Centers on the Control of B Cell Selection and Division.

      Binder, Sebastian C; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Intravital imaging of antibody optimization in germinal center (GC) reactions has set a new dimension in the understanding of the humoral immune response during the last decade. The inclusion of spatio-temporal cellular dynamics in the research on GCs required analysis using the agent-based mathematical models. In this study, we integrate the available intravital imaging data from various research groups and incorporate these into a quantitative mathematical model of GC reactions and antibody affinity maturation. Interestingly, the integration of data concerning the spatial organization of GCs and B cell motility allows to draw conclusions on the strength of the selection pressure and the control of B cell division by T follicular helper cells.
    • Naive- and Memory-like CD21 B Cell Subsets Share Core Phenotypic and Signaling Characteristics in Systemic Autoimmune Disorders.

      Freudenhammer, Mirjam; Voll, Reinhard E; Binder, Sebastian C; Keller, Baerbel; Warnatz, Klaus (2020-09-09)
      An expansion of CD21low B cells has been described in a variety of diseases associated with persistent immune stimulation as in chronic infection, immunodeficiency, or autoimmunity. Different developmental stages of CD21low B cells have been highlighted in specific diseases; however, a systematic comparison of distribution, phenotype, and signaling capacity of these populations has not yet been performed to delineate the pivotal character of this unusual B cell population. Screening of more than 200 patients with autoimmune disease demonstrated that the prevalence of patients with expanded CD21low B cells varies between diseases. The expansion was frequent in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, in which it correlated to relative B cell lymphopenia and duration of disease. Different proportions of distinct developmental stages of CD21low B cells co-occur in nearly all patients with autoimmune disease. Although in most patients, naive-like and CD27- switched memory B cells were the most prominent CD21low subpopulations, there was no detectable association of the pattern with the underlying disease. Despite their distinct developmental stage, all CD21low B cells share a common core phenotype including the increased expression of inhibitory receptors, associated with an elevated constitutive phosphorylation of proximal signaling molecules downstream of the BCR but impaired Ca2+ mobilization and NF-κB activation after BCR stimulation. Further, this was accompanied by impaired upregulation of CD69, although CD86 upregulation was preserved. Beyond maturation-associated differences, the common core characteristics of all CD21low B cell populations suggests either a common ancestry or a shared sustained imprint by the environment they originated in.
    • Population Dynamics of Borrelia burgdorferi in Lyme Disease.

      Binder, Sebastian C; Telschow, Arndt; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Department of Systems Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      Many chronic inflammatory diseases are known to be caused by persistent bacterial or viral infections. A well-studied example is the tick-borne infection by the gram-negative spirochaetes of the genus Borrelia in humans and other mammals, causing severe symptoms of chronic inflammation and subsequent tissue damage (Lyme Disease), particularly in large joints and the central nervous system, but also in the heart and other tissues of untreated patients. Although killed efficiently by human phagocytic cells in vitro, Borrelia exhibits a remarkably high infectivity in mice and men. In experimentally infected mice, the first immune response almost clears the infection. However, approximately 1 week post infection, the bacterial population recovers and reaches an even larger size before entering the chronic phase. We developed a mathematical model describing the bacterial growth and the immune response against Borrelia burgdorferi in the C3H mouse strain that has been established as an experimental model for Lyme disease. The peculiar dynamics of the infection exclude two possible mechanistic explanations for the regrowth of the almost cleared bacteria. Neither the hypothesis of bacterial dissemination to different tissues nor a limitation of phagocytic capacity were compatible with experiment. The mathematical model predicts that Borrelia recovers from the strong initial immune response by the regrowth of an immune-resistant sub-population of the bacteria. The chronic phase appears as an equilibration of bacterial growth and adaptive immunity. This result has major implications for the development of the chronic phase of Borrelia infections as well as on potential protective clinical interventions.
    • Rate of Immune Complex Cycling in Follicular Dendritic Cells Determines the Extent of Protecting Antigen Integrity and Availability to Germinal Center B Cells.

      Arulraj, Theinmozhi; Binder, Sebastian C; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Association of Immunologists, 2021-02-19)
    • Synchronous Germinal Center Onset Impacts the Efficiency of Antibody Responses.

      Arulraj, Theinmozhi; Binder, Sebastian C; Robert, Philippe A; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      The germinal center reaction is an important target for modulating antibody responses. Antibody production from germinal centers is regulated by a negative feedback mechanism termed antibody feedback. By imposing antibody feedback, germinal centers can interact and regulate the output of other germinal centers. Using an agent-based model of the germinal center reaction, we studied the impact of antibody feedback on kinetics and efficiency of a germinal center. Our simulations predict that high feedback of antibodies from germinal centers reduces the production of plasma cells and subsequently the efficiency of the germinal center reaction by promoting earlier termination. Affinity maturation is only weakly improved by increased antibody feedback and ultimately interrupted because of premature termination of the reaction. The model predicts that the asynchronous onset and changes in number of germinal centers could alter the efficiency of antibody response due to changes in feedback by soluble antibodies. Consequently, late initialized germinal centers have a compromised output due to higher antibody feedback from the germinal centers formed earlier. The results demonstrate potential effects of germinal center intercommunication and highlight the importance of understanding germinal center interactions for optimizing the antibody response, in particular, in the elderly and in the context of vaccination.