• Human monocyte-derived macrophages inhibit HCMV spread independent of classical antiviral cytokines.

      Becker, Jennifer; Kinast, Volker; Döring, Marius; Lipps, Christoph; Duran, Veronica; Spanier, Julia; Tegtmeyer, Pia-Katharina; Wirth, Dagmar; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Alcamí, Antonio; et al. (2018-01-01)
      Infection of healthy individuals with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is usually unnoticed and results in life-long latency, whereas HCMV reactivation as well as infection of newborns or immunocompromised patients can cause life-threatening disease. To better understand HCMV pathogenesis we studied mechanisms that restrict HCMV spread. We discovered that HCMV-infected cells can directly trigger plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) to mount antiviral type I interferon (IFN-I) responses, even in the absence of cell-free virus. In contrast, monocyte-derived cells only expressed IFN-I when stimulated by cell-free HCMV, or upon encounter of HCMV-infected cells that already produced cell-free virus. Nevertheless, also in the absence of cell-free virus, i.e., upon co-culture of infected epithelial/endothelial cells and monocyte-derived macrophages (moMΦ) or dendritic cells (moDC), antiviral responses were induced that limited HCMV spread. The induction of this antiviral effect was dependent on cell-cell contact, whereas cell-free supernatants from co-culture experiments also inhibited virus spread, implying that soluble factors were critically needed. Interestingly, the antiviral effect was independent of IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IFN-I as indicated by cytokine inhibition experiments using neutralizing antibodies or the vaccinia virus-derived soluble IFN-I binding protein B18R, which traps human IFN-α and IFN-β. In conclusion, our results indicate that human macrophages and dendritic cells can limit HCMV spread by IFN-I dependent as well as independent mechanisms, whereas the latter ones might be particularly relevant for the restriction of HCMV transmission via cell-to-cell spread.
    • Identification of a Predominantly Interferon-λ-Induced Transcriptional Profile in Murine Intestinal Epithelial Cells.

      Selvakumar, Tharini A; Bhushal, Sudeep; Kalinke, Ulrich; Wirth, Dagmar; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Hornef, Mathias W; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-01)
      Type I (α and β) and type III (λ) interferons (IFNs) induce the expression of a large set of antiviral effector molecules
    • Identification of molecular sub-networks associated with cell survival in a chronically SIVmac-infected human CD4+ T cell line.

      He, Feng Q; Sauermann, Ulrike; Beer, Christiane; Winkelmann, Silke; Yu, Zheng; Sopper, Sieghart; Zeng, An-Ping; Wirth, Manfred (2014)
      The deciphering of cellular networks to determine susceptibility to infection by HIV or the related simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is a major challenge in infection biology.
    • An Inducible Transgenic Mouse Model for Immune Mediated Hepatitis Showing Clearance of Antigen Expressing Hepatocytes by CD8+ T Cells.

      Cebula, Marcin; Ochel, Aaron; Hillebrand, Upneet; Pils, Marina C; Schirmbeck, Reinhold; Hauser, Hansjörg; Wirth, Dagmar; Model Systems for Infection and Immunity, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2013)
      The liver has the ability to prime immune responses against neo antigens provided upon infections. However, T cell immunity in liver is uniquely modulated by the complex tolerogenic property of this organ that has to also cope with foreign agents such as endotoxins or food antigens. In this respect, the nature of intrahepatic T cell responses remains to be fully characterized. To gain deeper insight into the mechanisms that regulate the CD8+ T cell responses in the liver, we established a novel OVA_X_CreER(T2) mouse model. Upon tamoxifen administration OVA antigen expression is observed in a fraction of hepatocytes, resulting in a mosaic expression pattern. To elucidate the cross-talk of CD8+ T cells with antigen-expressing hepatocytes, we adoptively transferred K(b)/OVA257-264-specific OT-I T cells to OVA_X_CreER(T2) mice or generated triple transgenic OVA_X CreER(T2)_X_OT-I mice. OT-I T cells become activated in OVA_X_CreER(T2) mice and induce an acute and transient hepatitis accompanied by liver damage. In OVA_X_CreER(T2)_X_OT-I mice, OVA induction triggers an OT-I T cell mediated, fulminant hepatitis resulting in 50% mortality. Surviving mice manifest a long lasting hepatitis, and recover after 9 weeks. In these experimental settings, recovery from hepatitis correlates with a complete loss of OVA expression indicating efficient clearance of the antigen-expressing hepatocytes. Moreover, a relapse of hepatitis can be induced upon re-induction of cured OVA_X_CreER(T2)_X_OT-I mice indicating absence of tolerogenic mechanisms. This pathogen-free, conditional mouse model has the advantage of tamoxifen inducible tissue specific antigen expression that reflects the heterogeneity of viral antigen expression and enables the study of intrahepatic immune responses to both de novo and persistent antigen. It allows following the course of intrahepatic immune responses: initiation, the acute phase and antigen clearance.
    • 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.
    • Isolation of F. novicida-Containing Phagosome from Infected Human Monocyte Derived Macrophages.

      Marecic, Valentina; Shevchuk, Olga; Ozanic, Mateja; Mihelcic, Mirna; Steinert, Michael; Jurak Begonja, Antonija; Abu Kwaik, Yousef; Santic, Marina; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Francisella is a gram-negative bacterial pathogen, which causes tularemia in humans and animals. A crucial step of Francisella infection is its invasion of macrophage cells. Biogenesis of the Francisella-containing phagosome (FCP) is arrested for ~15 min at the endosomal stage, followed by gradual bacterial escape into the cytosol, where the microbe proliferates. The crucial step in pathogenesis of tularemia is short and transient presence of the bacterium within phagosome. Isolation of FCPs for further studies has been challenging due to the short period of time of bacterial residence in it and the characteristics of the FCP. Here, we will for the first time present the method for isolation of the FCPs from infected human monocytes-derived macrophages (hMDMs). For elimination of lysosomal compartment these organelles were pre-loaded with dextran coated colloidal iron particles prior infection and eliminated by magnetic separation of the post-nuclear supernatant (PNS). We encountered the challenge that mitochondria has similar density to the FCP. To separate the FCP in the PNS from mitochondria, we utilized iodophenylnitrophenyltetrazolium, which is converted by the mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase into formazan, leading to increased density of the mitochondria and allowing separation by the discontinuous sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation. The purity of the FCP preparation and its acquisition of early endosomal markers was confirmed by Western blots, confocal and transmission electron microscopy. Our strategy to isolate highly pure FCPs from macrophages should facilitate studies on the FCP and its biogenesis.
    • Lentivirus production is influenced by SV40 large T-antigen and chromosomal integration of the vector in HEK293 cells.

      Gama-Norton, Leonor; Botezatu, Lacramioara; Herrmann, Sabrina; Schweizer, Matthias; Alves, Paula Marques; Hauser, Hansjoerg; Wirth, Dagmar; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany . (2011-10)
      Currently, lentiviral vectors for research and gene therapy are produced from 293-T cells that are transiently transfected with plasmids encoding the vector and helper functions. However, transiently transfected vectors as well as the presence of SV40 virus large T-antigen (T-Ag) cause serious technical and safety considerations. We aimed to exploit single copy integration sites in the HEK293 genome supporting lentiviral vector production. We found that lentiviral vectors result in minimal infectious particle production from single copy integrants in HEK293. Moreover, once this cell line harbors single copy integrations of lentiviral vectors, its ability to transiently produce lentiviral vectors becomes strongly impaired. T-Ag has a dramatic effect on virus production. Low levels of constitutive T-Ag expression can overcome the production restriction imposed by integrated lentiviral vectors copies. Interestingly, T-Ag does not exert its role at the level of transcriptional activity of the vector; rather, it seems to impose an indirect effect on the cell thereby enabling lentiviral vector production. Altogether, our study highlights the restrictions for integrated lentiviral vectors that are relevant for the establishment of stable and safe producer cell lines.
    • Lung macrophage scavenger receptor SR-A6 (MARCO) is an adenovirus type-specific virus entry receptor.

      Stichling, Nicole; Suomalainen, Maarit; Flatt, Justin W; Schmid, Markus; Pacesa, Martin; Hemmi, Silvio; Jungraithmayr, Wolfgang; Maler, Mareike D; Freudenberg, Marina A; Plückthun, Andreas; et al. (2018-03)
      Macrophages are a diverse group of phagocytic cells acting in host protection against stress, injury, and pathogens. Here, we show that the scavenger receptor SR-A6 is an entry receptor for human adenoviruses in murine alveolar macrophage-like MPI cells, and important for production of type I interferon. Scavenger receptors contribute to the clearance of endogenous proteins, lipoproteins and pathogens. Knockout of SR-A6 in MPI cells, anti-SR-A6 antibody or the soluble extracellular SR-A6 domain reduced adenovirus type-C5 (HAdV-C5) binding and transduction. Expression of murine SR-A6, and to a lower extent human SR-A6 boosted virion binding to human cells and transduction. Virion clustering by soluble SR-A6 and proximity localization with SR-A6 on MPI cells suggested direct adenovirus interaction with SR-A6. Deletion of the negatively charged hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of hexon reduced HAdV-C5 binding and transduction, implying that the viral ligand for SR-A6 is hexon. SR-A6 facilitated macrophage entry of HAdV-B35 and HAdV-D26, two important vectors for transduction of hematopoietic cells and human vaccination. The study highlights the importance of scavenger receptors in innate immunity against human viruses.
    • Macrophage entrapped silica coated superparamagnetic iron oxide particles for controlled drug release in a 3D cancer model.

      Ullah, Sami; Seidel, Katja; Türkkan, Sibel; Warwas, Dawid Peter; Dubich, Tatyana; Rohde, Manfred; Hauser, Hansjörg; Behrens, Peter; Kirschning, Andreas; Köster, Mario; et al. (2018-12-23)
      Targeted delivery of drugs is a major challenge in treatment of diverse diseases. Systemically administered drugs demand high doses and are accompanied by poor selectivity and side effects on non-target cells. Here, we introduce a new principle for targeted drug delivery. It is based on macrophages as transporters for nanoparticle-coupled drugs as well as controlled release of drugs by hyperthermia mediated disruption of the cargo cells and simultaneous deliberation of nanoparticle-linked drugs. Hyperthermia is induced by an alternating electromagnetic field (AMF) that induces heat from silica-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs). We show proof-of-principle of controlled release by the simultaneous disruption of the cargo cells and the controlled, AMF induced release of a toxin, which was covalently linked to silica-coated SPIONs via a thermo-sensitive linker. Cells that had not been loaded with SPIONs remain unaffected. Moreover, in a 3D co-culture model we demonstrate specific killing of associated tumour cells when employing a ratio as low as 1:40 (SPION-loaded macrophage: tumour cells). Overall, our results demonstrate that AMF induced drug release from macrophage-entrapped nanoparticles is tightly controlled and may be an attractive novel strategy for targeted drug release.
    • A mathematical model of the impact of insulin secretion dynamics on selective hepatic insulin resistance.

      Zhao, Gang; Wirth, Dagmar; Schmitz, Ingo; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106, Germany. (2017-11-08)
      Physiological insulin secretion exhibits various temporal patterns, the dysregulation of which is involved in diabetes development. We analyzed the impact of first-phase and pulsatile insulin release on glucose and lipid control with various hepatic insulin signaling networks. The mathematical model suggests that atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) undergoes a bistable switch-on and switch-off, under the control of insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2). The activation of IRS1 and IRS2 is temporally separated due to the inhibition of IRS1 by aPKC. The model further shows that the timing of aPKC switch-off is delayed by reduced first-phase insulin and reduced amplitude of insulin pulses. Based on these findings, we propose a sequential model of postprandial hepatic control of glucose and lipid by insulin, according to which delayed aPKC switch-off contributes to selective hepatic insulin resistance, which is a long-standing paradox in the field.
    • Memory CD8 T cells support the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow

      Geerman, Sulima; Brasser, Giso; Bhushal, Sudeep; Salerno, Fiamma; Kragten, Natasja A.; Hoogenboezem, Mark; de Haan, Gerald; Wolkers, Monika C.; Pascutti, María Fernanda; Nolte, Martijn A.; et al.
    • Model-based analysis of influenza A virus replication in genetically engineered cell lines elucidates the impact of host cell factors on key kinetic parameters of virus growth.

      Laske, Tanja; Bachmann, Mandy; Dostert, Melanie; Karlas, Alexander; Wirth, Dagmar; Frensing, Timo; Meyer, Thomas F; Hauser, Hansjörg; Reichl, Udo; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2019-01-01)
      The best measure to limit spread of contagious diseases caused by influenza A viruses (IAVs) is annual vaccination. The growing global demand for low-cost vaccines requires the establishment of high-yield production processes. One possible option to address this challenge is the engineering of novel vaccine producer cell lines by manipulating gene expression of host cell factors relevant for virus replication. To support detailed characterization of engineered cell lines, we fitted an ordinary differential equation (ODE)-based model of intracellular IAV replication previously established by our group to experimental data obtained from infection studies in human A549 cells. Model predictions indicate that steps of viral RNA synthesis, their regulation and particle assembly and virus budding are promising targets for cell line engineering. The importance of these steps was confirmed in four of five single gene overexpression cell lines (SGOs) that showed small, but reproducible changes in early dynamics of RNA synthesis and virus release. Model-based analysis suggests, however, that overexpression of the selected host cell factors negatively influences specific RNA synthesis rates. Still, virus yield was rescued by an increase in the virus release rate. Based on parameter estimations obtained for SGOs, we predicted that there is a potential benefit associated with overexpressing multiple host cell genes in one cell line, which was validated experimentally. Overall, this model-based study on IAV replication in engineered cell lines provides a step forward in the dynamic and quantitative characterization of IAV-host cell interactions. Furthermore, it suggests targets for gene editing and indicates that overexpression of multiple host cell factors may be beneficial for the design of novel producer cell lines.
    • p120 Catenin-Mediated Stabilization of E-Cadherin Is Essential for Primitive Endoderm Specification.

      Pieters, Tim; Goossens, Steven; Haenebalcke, Lieven; Andries, Vanessa; Stryjewska, Agata; De Rycke, Riet; Lemeire, Kelly; Hochepied, Tino; Huylebroeck, Danny; Berx, Geert; et al. (2016-08)
      E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion is critical for naive pluripotency of cultured mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). E-cadherin-depleted mESC fail to downregulate their pluripotency program and are unable to initiate lineage commitment. To further explore the roles of cell adhesion molecules during mESC differentiation, we focused on p120 catenin (p120ctn). Although one key function of p120ctn is to stabilize and regulate cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion, it has many additional functions, including regulation of transcription and Rho GTPase activity. Here, we investigated the role of mouse p120ctn in early embryogenesis, mESC pluripotency and early fate determination. In contrast to the E-cadherin-null phenotype, p120ctn-null mESCs remained pluripotent, but their in vitro differentiation was incomplete. In particular, they failed to form cystic embryoid bodies and showed defects in primitive endoderm formation. To pinpoint the underlying mechanism, we undertook a structure-function approach. Rescue of p120ctn-null mESCs with different p120ctn wild-type and mutant expression constructs revealed that the long N-terminal domain of p120ctn and its regulatory domain for RhoA were dispensable, whereas its armadillo domain and interaction with E-cadherin were crucial for primitive endoderm formation. We conclude that p120ctn is not only an adaptor and regulator of E-cadherin, but is also indispensable for proper lineage commitment.
    • Periostin secreted by mesenchymal stem cells supports tendon formation in an ectopic mouse model.

      Noack, Sandra; Seiffart, Virginia; Willbold, Elmar; Laggies, Sandra; Winkel, Andreas; Shahab-Osterloh, Sandra; Flörkemeier, Thilo; Hertwig, Falk; Steinhoff, Christine; Nuber, Ulrike A; et al. (2014-08-15)
      True tendon regeneration in human patients remains a vision of musculoskeletal therapies. In comparison to other mesenchymal lineages the biology of tenogenic differentiation is barely understood. Specifically, easy and efficient protocols are lacking that might enable tendon cell and tissue differentiation based on adult (stem) cell sources. In the murine mesenchymal progenitor cell line C3H10T½, overexpression of the growth factor bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) and a constitutively active transcription factor, Smad8 L+MH2, mediates tendon cell differentiation in vitro and the formation of tendon-like tissue in vivo. We hypothesized that during this differentiation secreted factors involved in extracellular matrix formation exert a major impact on tendon development. Gene expression analyses revealed four genes encoding secreted factors that are notably upregulated: periostin, C-type lectin domain family 3 (member b), RNase A4, and follistatin-like 1. These factors have not previously been implicated in tendon biology. Among these, periostin showed a specific expression in tenocytes of adult mouse Achilles tendon and in chondrocytes within the nonmineralized fibrocartilage zone of the enthesis with the calcaneus. Overexpression of periostin alone or in combination with constitutively active BMP receptor type in human mesenchymal stem cells and subsequent implantation into ectopic sites in mice demonstrated a reproducible moderate tenogenic capacity that has not been described before. Therefore, periostin may belong to the factors contributing to the development of tenogenic tissue.
    • The Role of Regulatory CD4 T Cells in Maintaining Tolerance in a Mouse Model of Autoimmune Hepatitis.

      An Haack, Ira; Derkow, Katja; Riehn, Mathias; Rentinck, Marc-Nicolas; Kühl, Anja A; Lehnardt, Seija; Schott, Eckart; Dept. of Hepatology and Gastroenterology, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany. (2015)
      The role of regulatory CD4 T cells (Treg) in immune-mediated liver disease is still under debate. It remains disputed whether Treg suppress T cell-mediated hepatitis in vivo and whether hepatic regulatory T cells are functional in patients with autoimmune hepatitis.
    • The ROSA26-iPSC mouse: a conditional, inducible, and exchangeable resource for studying cellular (De)differentiation.

      Haenebalcke, Lieven; Goossens, Steven; Dierickx, Pieterjan; Bartunkova, Sonia; D'Hont, Jinke; Haigh, Katharina; Hochepied, Tino; Wirth, Dagmar; Nagy, Andras; Haigh, Jody J; et al. (2013-02-21)
      Control of cellular (de)differentiation in a temporal, cell-specific, and exchangeable manner is of paramount importance in the field of reprogramming. Here, we have generated and characterized a mouse strain that allows iPSC generation through the Cre/loxP conditional and doxycycline/rtTA-controlled inducible expression of the OSKM reprogramming factors entirely from within the ROSA26 locus. After reprogramming, these factors can be replaced by genes of interest-for example, to enhance lineage-directed differentiation-with the use of a trap-coupled RMCE reaction. We show that, similar to ESCs, Dox-controlled expression of the cardiac transcriptional regulator Mesp1 together with Wnt inhibition enhances the generation of functional cardiomyocytes upon in vitro differentiation of such RMCE-retargeted iPSCs. This ROSA26-iPSC mouse model is therefore an excellent tool for studying both cellular reprogramming and lineage-directed differentiation factors from the same locus and will greatly facilitate the identification and ease of functional characterization of the genetic/epigenetic determinants involved in these complex processes.
    • Strict control of transgene expression in a mouse model for sensitive biological applications based on RMCE compatible ES cells.

      Sandhu, U; Cebula, M; Behme, S; Riemer, P; Wodarczyk, C; Metzger, D; Reimann, J; Schirmbeck, R; Hauser, H; Wirth, D; et al. (2011-01-01)
      Recombinant mouse strains that harbor tightly controlled transgene expression proved to be indispensible tools to elucidate gene function. Different strategies have been employed to achieve controlled induction of the transgene. However, many models are accompanied by a considerable level of basal expression in the non-induced state. Thereby, applications that request tight control of transgene expression, such as the expression of toxic genes and the investigation of immune response to neo antigens are excluded. We developed a new Cre/loxP-based strategy to achieve strict control of transgene expression. This strategy was combined with RMCE (recombinase mediated cassette exchange) that facilitates the targeting of genes into a tagged site in ES cells. The tightness of regulation was confirmed using luciferase as a reporter. The transgene was induced upon breeding these mice to effector animals harboring either the ubiquitous (ROSA26) or liver-specific (Albumin) expression of CreER(T2), and subsequent feeding with Tamoxifen. Making use of RMCE, luciferase was replaced by Ovalbumin antigen. Mice generated from these ES cells were mated with mice expressing liver-specific CreER(T2). The transgenic mice were examined for the establishment of an immune response. They were fully competent to establish an immune response upon hepatocyte specific OVA antigen expression as indicated by a massive liver damage upon Tamoxifen treatment and did not show OVA tolerance. Together, this proves that this strategy supports strict control of transgenes that is even compatible with highly sensitive biological readouts.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.