• Modelling collective cell motion: are on- and off-lattice models equivalent?

      Nava-Sedeño, Josué Manik; Voß-Böhme, Anja; Hatzikirou, Haralampos; Deutsch, Andreas; Peruani, Fernando (2020-07-27)
    • A dynamic CD2-rich compartment at the outer edge of the immunological synapse boosts and integrates signals.

      Demetriou, Philippos; Abu-Shah, Enas; Valvo, Salvatore; McCuaig, Sarah; Mayya, Viveka; Kvalvaag, Audun; Starkey, Thomas; Korobchevskaya, Kseniya; Lee, Lennard Y W; Friedrich, Matthias; et al. (2020-09-14)
      The CD2-CD58 recognition system promotes adhesion and signaling and counters exhaustion in human T cells. We found that CD2 localized to the outer edge of the mature immunological synapse, with cellular or artificial APC, in a pattern we refer to as a 'CD2 corolla'. The corolla captured engaged CD28, ICOS, CD226 and SLAM-F1 co-stimulators. The corolla amplified active phosphorylated Src-family kinases (pSFK), LAT and PLC-γ over T cell receptor (TCR) alone. CD2-CD58 interactions in the corolla boosted signaling by 77% as compared with central CD2-CD58 interactions. Engaged PD-1 invaded the CD2 corolla and buffered CD2-mediated amplification of TCR signaling. CD2 numbers and motifs in its cytoplasmic tail controlled corolla formation. CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes displayed low expression of CD2 in the majority of people with colorectal, endometrial or ovarian cancer. CD2 downregulation may attenuate antitumor T cell responses, with implications for checkpoint immunotherapies.
    • A minimal modeling framework of radiation and immune system synergy to assist radiotherapy planning.

      Montaseri, Ghazal; Alfonso, Juan Carlos López; Hatzikirou, Haralampos; Meyer-Hermann, Michael (Elsevier, 2020-02-07)
    • 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.
    • Investigating the Physical Effects in Bacterial Therapies for Avascular Tumors.

      Mascheroni, Pietro; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Hatzikirou, Haralampos (Frontiers, 2020-06-04)
      Tumor-targeting bacteria elicit anticancer effects by infiltrating hypoxic regions, releasing toxic agents and inducing immune responses. Although current research has largely focused on the influence of chemical and immunological aspects on the mechanisms of bacterial therapy, the impact of physical effects is still elusive. Here, we propose a mathematical model for the anti-tumor activity of bacteria in avascular tumors that takes into account the relevant chemo-mechanical effects. We consider a time-dependent administration of bacteria and analyze the impact of bacterial chemotaxis and killing rate. We show that active bacterial migration toward tumor hypoxic regions provides optimal infiltration and that high killing rates combined with high chemotactic values provide the smallest tumor volumes at the end of the treatment.We highlight the emergence of steady states in which a small population of bacteria is able to constrain tumor growth. Finally, we show that bacteria treatment works best in the case of tumors with high cellular proliferation and low oxygen consumption.
    • 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.
    • Nitric oxide controls proliferation of Leishmania major by inhibiting the recruitment of permissive host cells.

      Formaglio, Pauline; Alabdullah, Mohamad; Siokis, Anastasios; Handschuh, Juliane; Sauerland, Ina; Fu, Yan; Krone, Anna; Gintschel, Patricia; Stettin, Juliane; Heyde, Sandrina; et al. (Cell Press, 2021-10-15)
      Nitric oxide (NO) is an important antimicrobial effector but also prevents unnecessary tissue damage by shutting down the recruitment of monocyte-derived phagocytes. Intracellular pathogens such as Leishmania major can hijack these cells as a niche for replication. Thus, NO might exert containment by restricting the availability of the cellular niche required for efficient pathogen proliferation. However, such indirect modes of action remain to be established. By combining mathematical modeling with intravital 2-photon biosensors of pathogen viability and proliferation, we show that low L. major proliferation results not from direct NO impact on the pathogen but from reduced availability of proliferation-permissive host cells. Although inhibiting NO production increases recruitment of these cells, and thus pathogen proliferation, blocking cell recruitment uncouples the NO effect from pathogen proliferation. Therefore, NO fulfills two distinct functions for L. major containment: permitting direct killing and restricting the supply of proliferation-permissive host cells.
    • Assessment of effective mitigation and prediction of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Germany using demographic information and spatial resolution.

      Kühn, Martin J; Abele, Daniel; Mitra, Tanmay; Koslow, Wadim; Abedi, Majid; Rack, Kathrin; Siggel, Martin; Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Klitz, Margrit; Binder, Sebastian; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-06-30)
      on-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are important to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases as long as no vaccination or outstanding medical treatments are available. We assess the effectiveness of the sets of non-pharmaceutical interventions that were in place during the course of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in Germany. Our results are based on hybrid models, combining SIR-type models on local scales with spatial resolution. In order to account for the age-dependence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), we include realistic prepandemic and recently recorded contact patterns between age groups. The implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions will occur on changed contact patterns, improved isolation, or reduced infectiousness when, e.g., wearing masks. In order to account for spatial heterogeneity, we use a graph approach and we include high-quality information on commuting activities combined with traveling information from social networks. The remaining uncertainty will be accounted for by a large number of randomized simulation runs. Based on the derived factors for the effectiveness of different non-pharmaceutical interventions over the past months, we provide different forecast scenarios for the upcoming time.
    • [The contribution of epidemiological models to the description of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic].

      Priesemann, Viola; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Pigeot, Iris; Schöbel, Anita; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2021-07-30)
      After the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, an infection dynamic of immense extent developed. Since then, numerous measures have been taken to bring the infection under control. This was very successful in the spring of 2020, while the number of infections rose sharply the following autumn. To predict the occurrence of infections, epidemiological models are used. These are in principle a very valuable tool in pandemic management. However, they still partly need to be based on assumptions regarding the transmission routes and possible drivers of the infection dynamics. Despite numerous individual approaches, systematic epidemiological data are still lacking with which, for example, the effectiveness of individual measures could be quantified. Such information generated in studies is needed to enable reliable predictions regarding the further course of the pandemic. Thereby, the complexity of the models could develop hand in hand with the complexity of the available data. In this article, after delineating two basic classes of models, the contribution of epidemiological models to the assessment of various central aspects of the pandemic, such as the reproduction rate, the number of unreported cases, infection fatality rate, and the consideration of regionality, is shown. Subsequently, the use of the models to quantify the impact of measures and the effects of the "test-trace-isolate" strategy is described. In the concluding discussion, the limitations of such modelling approaches are juxtaposed with their advantages.
    • A molecular theory of germinal center B cell selection and division.

      Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Cell Press, 2021-08-24)
      The selection of B cells (BCs) in germinal centers (GCs) is pivotal to the generation of high-affinity antibodies and memory BCs, but it lacks global understanding. Based on the idea of a single Tfh-cell signal that controls BC selection and division, experiments appear contradictory. Here, we use the current knowledge on the molecular pathways of GC BCs to develop a theory of GC BC selection and division based on the dynamics of molecular factors. This theory explains the seemingly contradictory experiments by the separation of signals for BC fate decision from signals controlling the number of BC divisions. Three model variants are proposed and experiments are predicted that allow one to distinguish those. Understanding information processing in molecular BC states is critical for targeted immune interventions, and the proposed theory implies that selection and division can be controlled independently in GC reactions.
    • 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.
    • 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)
    • Case Numbers Beyond Contact Tracing Capacity Are Endangering the Containment of COVID-19.

      Linden, Matthias; Dehning, Jonas; Mohr, Sebastian B; Mohring, Jan; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Pigeot, Iris; Schöbel, Anita; Priesemann, Viola; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany.
      [No abstract available]
    • The Quest for System-Theoretical Medicine in the COVID-19 Era.

      Tretter, Felix; Wolkenhauer, Olaf; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Dietrich, Johannes W; Green, Sara; Marcum, James; Weckwerth, Wolfram; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-03-29)
      Precision medicine and molecular systems medicine (MSM) are highly utilized and successful approaches to improve understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of many diseases from bench-to-bedside. Especially in the COVID-19 pandemic, molecular techniques and biotechnological innovation have proven to be of utmost importance for rapid developments in disease diagnostics and treatment, including DNA and RNA sequencing technology, treatment with drugs and natural products and vaccine development. The COVID-19 crisis, however, has also demonstrated the need for systemic thinking and transdisciplinarity and the limits of MSM: the neglect of the bio-psycho-social systemic nature of humans and their context as the object of individual therapeutic and population-oriented interventions. COVID-19 illustrates how a medical problem requires a transdisciplinary approach in epidemiology, pathology, internal medicine, public health, environmental medicine, and socio-economic modeling. Regarding the need for conceptual integration of these different kinds of knowledge we suggest the application of general system theory (GST). This approach endorses an organism-centered view on health and disease, which according to Ludwig von Bertalanffy who was the founder of GST, we call Organismal Systems Medicine (OSM). We argue that systems science offers wider applications in the field of pathology and can contribute to an integrative systems medicine by (i) integration of evidence across functional and structural differentially scaled subsystems, (ii) conceptualization of complex multilevel systems, and (iii) suggesting mechanisms and non-linear relationships underlying the observed phenomena. We underline these points with a proposal on multi-level systems pathology including neurophysiology, endocrinology, immune system, genetics, and general metabolism. An integration of these areas is necessary to understand excess mortality rates and polypharmacological treatments. In the pandemic era this multi-level systems pathology is most important to assess potential vaccines, their effectiveness, short-, and long-time adverse effects. We further argue that these conceptual frameworks are not only valid in the COVID-19 era but also important to be integrated in a medicinal curriculum.
    • Entropy-driven cell decision-making predicts ‘fluid-to-solid’ transition in multicellular systems

      Barua, Arnab; Syga, Simon; Mascheroni, Pietro; Kavallaris, Nikos; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Deutsch, Andreas; Hatzikirou, Haralampos; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Institute of Physics, 2020-12-01)
      Cellular decision making allows cells to assume functionally different phenotypes in response to microenvironmental cues, with or without genetic change. It is an open question, how individual cell decisions influence the dynamics at the tissue level. Here, we study spatio-temporal pattern formation in a population of cells exhibiting phenotypic plasticity, which is a paradigm of cell decision making. We focus on the migration/resting and the migration/proliferation plasticity which underly the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the go or grow dichotomy. We assume that cells change their phenotype in order to minimize their microenvironmental entropy following the LEUP (Least microEnvironmental Uncertainty Principle) hypothesis. In turn, we study the impact of the LEUP-driven migration/resting and migration/proliferation plasticity on the corresponding multicellular spatio-temporal dynamics with a stochastic cell-based mathematical model for the spatio-temporal dynamics of the cell phenotypes. In the case of the go or rest plasticity, a corresponding mean-field approximation allows to identify a bistable switching mechanism between a diffusive (fluid) and an epithelial (solid) tissue phase which depends on the sensitivity of the phenotypes to the environment. For the go or grow plasticity, we show the possibility of Turing pattern formation for the ‘solid’ tissue phase and its relation with the parameters of the LEUP-driven cell decisions.
    • Influenza A virus-induced thymus atrophy differentially affects dynamics of conventional and regulatory T-cell development in mice.

      Elfaki, Yassin; Robert, Philippe A; Binz, Christoph; Falk, Christine S; Bruder, Dunja; Prinz, Immo; Floess, Stefan; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Huehn, Jochen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-02-26)
      Foxp3+ Treg cells, which are crucial for maintenance of self-tolerance, mainly develop within the thymus, where they arise from CD25+ Foxp3- or CD25- Foxp3+ Treg cell precursors. Although it is known that infections can cause transient thymic involution, the impact of infection-induced thymus atrophy on thymic Treg (tTreg) cell development is unknown. Here, we infected mice with influenza A virus (IAV) and studied thymocyte population dynamics post infection. IAV infection caused a massive, but transient thymic involution, dominated by a loss of CD4+ CD8+ double-positive (DP) thymocytes, which was accompanied by a significant increase in the frequency of CD25+ Foxp3+ tTreg cells. Differential apoptosis susceptibility could be experimentally excluded as a reason for the relative tTreg cell increase, and mathematical modeling suggested that enhanced tTreg cell generation cannot explain the increased frequency of tTreg cells. Yet, an increased death of DP thymocytes and augmented exit of single-positive (SP) thymocytes was suggested to be causative. Interestingly, IAV-induced thymus atrophy resulted in a significantly reduced T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire diversity of newly produced tTreg cells. Taken together, IAV-induced thymus atrophy is substantially altering the dynamics of major thymocyte populations, finally resulting in a relative increase of tTreg cells with an altered TCR repertoire.
    • Evaluation of CD8 T cell killing models with computer simulations of 2-photon imaging experiments.

      Rastogi, Ananya; Robert, Philippe A; Halle, Stephan; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-12-28)
      In vivo imaging of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) killing activity revealed that infected cells have a higher observed probability of dying after multiple contacts with CTLs. We developed a three-dimensional agent-based model to discriminate different hypotheses about how infected cells get killed based on quantitative 2-photon in vivo observations. We compared a constant CTL killing probability with mechanisms of signal integration in CTL or infected cells. The most likely scenario implied increased susceptibility of infected cells with increasing number of CTL contacts where the total number of contacts was a critical factor. However, when allowing in silico T cells to initiate new interactions with apoptotic target cells (zombie contacts), a contact history independent killing mechanism was also in agreement with experimental datasets. The comparison of observed datasets to simulation results, revealed limitations in interpreting 2-photon data, and provided readouts to distinguish CTL killing models.
    • Multiscale Modeling of Germinal Center Recapitulates the Temporal Transition From Memory B Cells to Plasma Cells Differentiation as Regulated by Antigen Affinity-Based Tfh Cell Help.

      Merino Tejero, Elena; Lashgari, Danial; García-Valiente, Rodrigo; Gao, Xuefeng; Crauste, Fabien; Robert, Philippe A; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Martínez, María Rodríguez; van Ham, S Marieke; Guikema, Jeroen E J; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-02-05)
      Germinal centers play a key role in the adaptive immune system since they are able to produce memory B cells and plasma cells that produce high affinity antibodies for an effective immune protection. The mechanisms underlying cell-fate decisions are not well understood but asymmetric division of antigen, B-cell receptor affinity, interactions between B-cells and T follicular helper cells (triggering CD40 signaling), and regulatory interactions of transcription factors have all been proposed to play a role. In addition, a temporal switch from memory B-cell to plasma cell differentiation during the germinal center reaction has been shown. To investigate if antigen affinity-based Tfh cell help recapitulates the temporal switch we implemented a multiscale model that integrates cellular interactions with a core gene regulatory network comprising BCL6, IRF4, and BLIMP1. Using this model we show that affinity-based CD40 signaling in combination with asymmetric division of B-cells result in switch from memory B-cell to plasma cell generation during the course of the germinal center reaction. We also show that cell fate division is unlikely to be (solely) based on asymmetric division of Ag but that BLIMP1 is a more important factor. Altogether, our model enables to test the influence of molecular modulations of the CD40 signaling pathway on the production of germinal center output cells.
    • Das gemeinsame Interesse von Gesundheit und Wirtschaft: Eine Szenarienrechnung zur Eindämmung der Corona Pandemie

      Dorn, Florian; et al.; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (ifo Institut, 2020-05-12)
      [No Abstract available]
    • PD-1 Blockade Aggravates Epstein-Barr Virus Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder in Humanized Mice Resulting in Central Nervous System Involvement and CD4 T Cell Dysregulations.

      Volk, Valery; Theobald, Sebastian J; Danisch, Simon; Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Kalbarczyk, Maja; Schneider, Andreas; Bialek-Waldmann, Julia; Krönke, Nicole; Deng, Yun; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-01-12)
      Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is one of the most common malignancies after solid organ or allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Most PTLD cases are B cell neoplasias carrying Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). A therapeutic approach is reduction of immunosuppression to allow T cells to develop and combat EBV. If this is not effective, approaches include immunotherapies such as monoclonal antibodies targeting CD20 and adoptive T cells. Immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) to treat EBV+ PTLD was not established clinically due to the risks of organ rejection and graft-versus-host disease. Previously, blockade of the programmed death receptor (PD)-1 by a monoclonal antibody (mAb) during ex vivo infection of mononuclear cells with the EBV/M81+ strain showed lower xenografted lymphoma development in mice. Subsequently, fully humanized mice infected with the EBV/B95-8 strain and treated in vivo with a PD-1 blocking mAb showed aggravation of PTLD and lymphoma development. Here, we evaluated vis-a-vis in fully humanized mice after EBV/B95-8 or EBV/M81 infections the effects of a clinically used PD-1 blocker. Fifteen to 17 weeks after human CD34+ stem cell transplantation, Nod.Rag.Gamma mice were infected with two types of EBV laboratory strains expressing firefly luciferase. Dynamic optical imaging analyses showed systemic EBV infections and this triggered vigorous human CD8+ T cell expansion. Pembrolizumab administered from 2 to 5 weeks post-infections significantly aggravated EBV systemic spread and, for the M81 model, significantly increased the mortality of mice. ICI promoted Ki67+CD30+CD20+EBER+PD-L1+ PTLD with central nervous system (CNS) involvement, mirroring EBV+ CNS PTLD in humans. PD-1 blockade was associated with lower frequencies of circulating T cells in blood and with a profound collapse of CD4+ T cells in lymphatic tissues. Mice treated with pembrolizumab showed an escalation of exhausted T cells expressing TIM-3, and LAG-3 in tissues, higher levels of several human cytokines in plasma and high densities of FoxP3+ regulatory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the tumor microenvironment. We conclude that PD-1 blockade during acute EBV infections driving strong CD8+ T cell priming decompensates T cell development towards immunosuppression. Given the variety of preclinical models available, our models conferred a cautionary note indicating that PD-1 blockade aggravated the progression of EBV+ PTLD.