• Effective intrahepatic CD8+ T-cell immune responses are induced by low but not high numbers of antigen-expressing hepatocytes.

      Ochel, Aaron; Cebula, Marcin; Riehn, Mathias; Hillebrand, Upneet; Lipps, Christoph; Schirmbeck, Reinhold; Hauser, Hansjoerg; Wirth, Dagmar; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-11)
      Liver infections with hepatotropic viruses, such as hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are accompanied by viral persistence and immune failure. CD8+ T cells are crucial mediators of the intrahepatic antiviral immune response. Chronic infections of the liver and other organs correlate with T-cell exhaustion. It was previously suggested that high antigen load could result in T-cell exhaustion. We aimed at elucidating the impact of different intrahepatic antigen loads on the quality of CD8+ T-cell-mediated immunity by employing an infection-free transgenic mouse model expressing ovalbumin (Ova) as the target antigen. Adoptive transfer of OT-I cells induced a transient intrahepatic immune response toward both high and low Ova levels. However, antigen clearance was achieved only in mice expressing low antigen levels. In contrast, T cells exposed to high antigen levels underwent exhaustion and became depleted, causing antigen persistence. Moreover, when functional T cells were exposed to high intrahepatic antigen levels, a complete transition toward exhaustion was observed. Thus, this study shows that the antigen expression level in the liver correlates inversely with T-cell immunity in vivo and governs the efficiency of immune responses upon antigen presentation.
    • Caveolin-1 influences human influenza A virus (H1N1) multiplication in cell culture

      Sun, Lijing; Hemgård, Gun-Viol; Susanto, Sony A; Wirth, Manfred (2010-05-26)
      Abstract Background The threat of recurring influenza pandemics caused by new viral strains and the occurrence of escape mutants necessitate the search for potent therapeutic targets. The dependence of viruses on cellular factors provides a weak-spot in the viral multiplication strategy and a means to interfere with viral multiplication. Results Using a motif-based search strategy for antiviral targets we identified caveolin-1 (Cav-1) as a putative cellular interaction partner of human influenza A viruses, including the pandemic influenza A virus (H1N1) strains of swine origin circulating from spring 2009 on. The influence of Cav-1 on human influenza A/PR/8/34 (H1N1) virus replication was determined in inhibition and competition experiments. RNAi-mediated Cav-1 knock-down as well as transfection of a dominant-negative Cav-1 mutant results in a decrease in virus titre in infected Madin-Darby canine kidney cells (MDCK), a cell line commonly used in basic influenza research as well as in virus vaccine production. To understand the molecular basis of the phenomenon we focussed on the putative caveolin-1 binding domain (CBD) located in the lumenal, juxtamembranal portion of the M2 matrix protein which has been identified in the motif-based search. Pull-down assays and co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed that caveolin-1 binds to M2. The data suggest, that Cav-1 modulates influenza virus A replication presumably based on M2/Cav-1 interaction. Conclusion As Cav-1 is involved in the human influenza A virus life cycle, the multifunctional protein and its interaction with M2 protein of human influenza A viruses represent a promising starting point for the search for antiviral agents.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Uncoupling of the dynamics of host-pathogen interaction uncovers new mechanisms of viral interferon antagonism at the single-cell level.

      Rand, Ulfert; Hillebrand, Upneet; Sievers, Stephanie; Willenberg, Steffi; Köster, Mario; Hauser, Hansjörg; Wirth, Dagmar (Oxford University Press, 2014-06-03)
      Antiviral defence in mammals is mediated through type-I interferons (IFNs). Viruses antagonise this process through expression of IFN antagonist proteins (IAPs). Understanding and modelling of viral escape mechanisms and the dynamics of IAP action has the potential to facilitate the development of specific and safe drugs. Here, we describe the dynamics of interference by selected viral IAPs, NS1 from Influenza A virus and NS3/4A from Hepatitis C virus. We used Tet-inducible IAP gene expression to uncouple this process from virus-driven dynamics. Stochastic activation of the IFN-β gene required the use of single-cell live imaging to define the efficacy of the inhibitors during the virus-induced signalling processes. We found significant correlation between the onset of IAP expression and halted IFN-β expression in cells where IFN-β induction had already occurred. These data indicate that IAPs not only prevent antiviral signalling prior to IFN-β induction, but can also stop the antiviral response even after it has been activated. We found reduced NF-κB activation to be the underlying mechanism by which activated IFN expression can be blocked. This work demonstrates a new mechanism by which viruses can antagonise the IFN response.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Toxin-antitoxin based transgene expression in mammalian cells.

      Nehlsen, K; Herrmann, S; Zauers, J; Hauser, Hansjoerg; Wirth, D; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-03)
      Long-term, recombinant gene expression in mammalian cells depends on the nature of the transgene integration site and its inherent properties to modulate transcription (epigenetic effects). Here we describe a method by which high transgene expression is achieved and stabilized in extensively proliferating cultures. The method is based on strict co-expression of the transgene with an antitoxin in cells that express the respective toxin. Since the strength of antitoxin expression correlates with an advantage for cell growth, the cells with strong antitoxin expression are enriched over time in cultures of heterogeneous cells. This principle was applied to CHO cell lines that conditionally express the toxin kid and that are transduced to co-express the antitoxin kis together with different transgenes of interest. Cultivation of pools of transfectants that express the toxin steadily increase their transgene expression within several weeks to reach a maximum that is up to 120-fold over the initial status. In contrast, average transgene expression drops in the absence of toxin expression. Together, we show that cells conditionally expressing kid can be employed to create overexpressing cells by a simple coupling of kis to the transgene of interest, without further manipulation and in absence of selectable drugs.