group leader: Prof. Bruder

Recent Submissions

  • Topological data analysis to model the shape of immune responses during co-infections.

    Sasaki, Karin; Bruder, Dunja; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A (2020-02-15)
    Co-infections by multiple pathogens have important implications in many aspects of health, epidemiology and evolution. However, how to disentangle the non-linear dynamics of the immune response when two infections take place at the same time is largely unexplored. Using data sets of the immune response during influenza-pneumococcal coinfection in mice, we employ here topological data analysis to simplify and visualise high dimensional data sets. We identified persistent shapes of the simplicial complexes of the data in the three infection scenarios: single viral infection, single bacterial infection, and co-infection. The immune response was found to be distinct for each of the infection scenarios and we uncovered that the immune response during the co-infection has three phases and two transition points. During the first phase, its dynamics is inherited from its response to the primary (viral) infection. The immune response has an early shift (few hours post coinfection) and then modulates its response to react against the secondary (bacterial) infection. Between 18 and 26 h post co-infection the nature of the immune response changes again and does no longer resembles either of the single infection scenarios.
  • Mitochondria: at the crossroads of regulating lung epithelial cell function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    Aghapour, Mahyar; Remels, Alexander H V; Pouwels, Simon D; Bruder, Dunja; Hiemstra, Pieter S; Cloonan, Suzanne M; Heijink, Irene H (2019-11-06)
    Disturbances in mitochondrial structure and function in lung epithelial cells have been implicated in the pathogenesis of various lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Such disturbances affect not only cellular energy metabolism but also alter a range of indispensable cellular homeostatic functions in which mitochondria are known to be involved. These range from cellular differentiation, cell death pathways, and cellular remodeling to physical barrier function and innate immunity, all of which are known to be impacted by exposure to cigarette smoke and have been linked to COPD pathogenesis. Next to their well-established role as the first physical frontline against external insults, lung epithelial cells are immunologically active. Malfunctioning epithelial cells with defective mitochondria are unable to maintain homeostasis and respond adequately to further stress or injury, which may ultimately shape the phenotype of lung diseases. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the impact of cigarette smoke on the development of mitochondrial dysfunction in the lung epithelium and highlight the consequences for cell function, innate immune responses, epithelial remodeling, and epithelial barrier function in COPD. We also discuss the applicability and potential therapeutic value of recently proposed strategies for the restoration of mitochondrial function in the treatment of COPD.
  • Serum Concentration of the Phytohormone Abscisic Acid Is Associated With Immune-Regulatory Mediators and Is a Potential Biomarker of Disease Severity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

    Hoang, Quynh Trang Mi; Nguyen, Van Kinh; Oberacher, Herbert; Fuchs, Dietmar; Hernandez-Vargas, Esteban A; Borucki, Katrin; Waldburg, Nadine; Wippermann, Jens; Schreiber, Jens; Bruder, Dunja; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-06-08)
    COPD and asthma are two distinct but sometimes overlapping diseases exhibiting varying degrees and types of inflammation on different stages of the disease. Although several biomarkers are defined to estimate the inflammatory endotype and stages in these diseases, there is still a need for new markers and potential therapeutic targets. We investigated the levels of a phytohormone, abscisic acid (ABA) and its receptor, LANCL2, in COPD patients and asthmatics. In addition, PPAR-γ that is activated by ABA in a ligand-binding domain-independent manner was also included in the study. In this study, we correlated ABA with COPD-propagating factors to define the possible role of ABA, in terms of immune regulation, inflammation, and disease stages. We collected blood from 101 COPD patients, 52 asthmatics, and 57 controls. Bronchoscopy was performed on five COPD patients and 29 controls. We employed (i) liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and HPLC to determine the ABA and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase levels, respectively; (ii) real-time PCR to quantify the gene expression of LANCL2 and PPAR-γ; (iii) Flow cytometry to quantify adipocytokines; and (iv) immunoturbidimetry and ELISA to measure CRP and cytokines, respectively. Finally, a multinomial regression model was used to predict the probability of using ABA as a biomarker. Blood ABA levels were significantly reduced in COPD patients and asthmatics compared to age- and gender-matched normal controls. However, PPAR-γ was elevated in COPD patients. Intriguingly, ABA was positively correlated with immune-regulatory factors and was negatively correlated with inflammatory markers, in COPD. Of note, ABA was increased in advanced COPD stages. We thereby conclude that ABA might be involved in regulation of COPD pathogenesis and might be regarded as a potential biomarker for COPD stages.
  • Post-injury immunosuppression and secondary infections are caused by an AIM2 inflammasome-driven signaling cascade.

    Roth, Stefan; Cao, Jiayu; Singh, Vikramjeet; Tiedt, Steffen; Hundeshagen, Gabriel; Li, Ting; Boehme, Julia D; Chauhan, Dhruv; Zhu, Jie; Ricci, Alessio; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2021-03-04)
    Loss of lymphocytes, particularly T cell apoptosis, is a central pathological event after severe tissue injury that is associated with increased susceptibility for life-threatening infections. The precise immunological mechanisms leading to T cell death after acute injury are largely unknown. Here, we identified a monocyte-T cell interaction driving bystander cell death of T cells in ischemic stroke and burn injury. Specifically, we found that stroke induced a FasL-expressing monocyte population, which led to extrinsic T cell apoptosis. This phenomenon was driven by AIM2 inflammasome-dependent interleukin-1β (IL-1β) secretion after sensing cell-free DNA. Pharmacological inhibition of this pathway improved T cell survival and reduced post-stroke bacterial infections. As such, this study describes inflammasome-dependent monocyte activation as a previously unstudied cause of T cell death after injury and challenges the current paradigms of post-injury lymphopenia.
  • 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.
  • Chemical Conjugation of a Purified DEC-205-Directed Antibody with Full-Length Protein for Targeting Mouse Dendritic Cells In Vitro and In Vivo.

    Volckmar, Julia; Knop, Laura; Hirsch, Tatjana; Frentzel, Sarah; Erck, Christian; van Ham, Marco; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Bruder, Dunja; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MyJove Corporation, 2021-02-05)
    Targeted antigen delivery to cross-presenting dendritic cells (DC) in vivo efficiently induces T effector cell responses and displays a valuable approach in vaccine design. Antigen is delivered to DC via antibodies specific for endocytosis receptors such as DEC-205 that induce uptake, processing, and MHC class I- and II-presentation. Efficient and reliable conjugation of the desired antigen to a suitable antibody is a critical step in DC targeting and among other factors depends on the format of the antigen. Chemical conjugation of full-length protein to purified antibodies is one possible strategy. In the past, we have successfully established cross-linking of the model antigen ovalbumin (OVA) and a DEC-205-specific IgG2a antibody (αDEC-205) for in vivo DC targeting studies in mice. The first step of the protocol is the purification of the antibody from the supernatant of the NLDC (non-lymphoid dendritic cells)-145 hybridoma by affinity chromatography. The purified antibody is activated for chemical conjugation by sulfo-SMCC (sulfosuccinimidyl 4-[N-maleimidomethyl] cyclohexane-1-carboxylate) while at the same time the sulfhydryl-groups of the OVA protein are exposed through incubation with TCEP-HCl (tris (2-carboxyethyl) phosphine hydrochloride). Excess TCEP-HCl and sulfo-SMCC are removed and the antigen is mixed with the activated antibody for overnight coupling. The resulting αDEC-205/OVA conjugate is concentrated and freed from unbound OVA. Successful conjugation of OVA to αDEC-205 is verified by western blot analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We have successfully used chemically crosslinked αDEC-205/OVA to induce cytotoxic T cell responses in the liver and to compare different adjuvants for their potential in inducing humoral and cellular immunity following in vivo targeting of DEC-205+ DC. Beyond that, such chemically coupled antibody/antigen conjugates offer valuable tools for the efficient induction of vaccine responses to tumor antigens and have been proven to be superior to classical immunization approaches regarding the prevention and therapy of various types of tumors.
  • Resolved Influenza A Virus Infection Has Extended Effects on Lung Homeostasis and Attenuates Allergic Airway Inflammation in a Mouse Model.

    Wu, Qingyu; Jorde, Ilka; Kershaw, Olivia; Jeron, Andreas; Bruder, Dunja; Schreiber, Jens; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-11-27)
    Allergic airway inflammation (AAI) involves T helper cell type 2 (Th2) and pro-inflammatory responses to aeroallergens and many predisposing factors remain elusive. Influenza A virus (IAV) is a major human pathogen that causes acute respiratory infections and induces specific immune responses essential for viral clearance and resolution of the infection. Beyond acute infection, IAV has been shown to persistently affect lung homeostasis and respiratory immunity. Here we asked how resolved IAV infection affects subsequently induced AAI. Mice infected with a sublethal dose of IAV were sensitized and challenged in an ovalbumin mediated mouse model for AAI after resolution of the acute viral infection. Histological changes, respiratory leukocytes, cytokines and airway hyperreactivity were analyzed in resolved IAV infection alone and in AAI with and without previous IAV infection. More than five weeks after infection, we detected persistent pneumonia with increased activated CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes as well as dendritic cells and MHCII expressing macrophages in the lung. Resolved IAV infection significantly affected subsequently induced AAI on different levels including morphological changes, respiratory leukocytes and lymphocytes as well as the pro-inflammatory cytokine responses, which was clearly diminished. We conclude that IAV has exceptional persisting effects on respiratory immunity with substantial consequences for subsequently induced AAI.
  • Early career members at the ers lung science conference 2020: Metabolic alterations in lung ageing and disease

    Ogger, Patricia P.; Silva, Johnatas Dutra; Aghapour, Mahyar; Persson, Irma Mahmutovic; Tulen, Christy; Jurkowska, Renata; Ubags, Niki D.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (European Respiratory Society, 2020-09-01)
    Every year, the European Respiratory Society (ERS) organises the Lung Science Conference (LSC) in Estoril, Portugal, to discuss basic and translational science. The topic of the LSC 2020 was “Metabolic alterations in lung ageing and disease”. In addition to an outstanding scientific programme, the LSC provides excellent opportunities for career development and inclusion of Early Career Members (ECMs). All scientific and poster sessions are chaired by an ECM who is paired with a senior faculty member to allow ECMs to become acquainted with session chairing. In addition, 40 travel bursaries are made available to abstract authors and all bursary recipients are invited to take part in a mentorship lunch. Moreover, there is a session organised by the Early Career Members Committee (ECMC) dedicated to career development. Here, we describe the scientific highlights of LSC 2020 for those who could not attend. The ERS presents several awards at the LSC and here we will highlight all winners of the LSC 2020 awards. The five highest ranked abstracts from ECMs are presented during the Young investigator session. Patricia Ogger (UK) was presented with the William MacNee Award for the best presentation in this session. Several abstracts were selected for programmed oral presentations and Renata Jurkowska (UK) was presented with the inaugural Geoffrey Laurent Award for the best oral presentation. Moreover, the organisers presented eight Distinguished Poster awards to Anne-Sophie Lamort (Germany), Julia Frankenberg Garcia (UK), Johnatas Silva (UK), Pauline Esteves (France), Claudio Bussi (UK), Elodie Picard (France), Felix Ritzmann (Germany) and Alen Faiz (Australia) for their excellent contributions during the poster session.
  • Respiratory Influenza A Virus Infection Triggers Local and Systemic Natural Killer Cell Activation Toll-Like Receptor 7.

    Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Behrens, Sarah; Boehme, Julia D; Hochnadel, Inga; Riese, Peggy; Guzmán, Carlos A; Kröger, Andrea; Schreiber, Jens; Gunzer, Matthias; Bruder, Dunja; et al. (Frontiers, 2018-02-13)
    The innate immune system senses influenza A virus (IAV) through different pathogen-recognition receptors including Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7). Downstream of viral recognition natural killer (NK) cells are activated as part of the anti-IAV immune response. Despite the known decisive role of TLR7 for NK cell activation by therapeutic immunostimulatory RNAs, the contribution of TLR7 to the NK cell response following IAV infection has not been addressed. We have analyzed lung cytokine responses as well as the activation, interferon (IFN)-γ production, and cytotoxicity of lung and splenic NK cells following sublethal respiratory IAV infection in wild-type and TLR7ko mice. Early airway IFN-γ levels as well as the induction of lung NK cell CD69 expression and IFN-γ production in response to IAV infection were significantly attenuated in TLR7-deficient hosts. Strikingly, respiratory IAV infection also primed splenic NK cells for IFN-γ production, degranulation, and target cell lysis, all of which were fully dependent on TLR7. At the same time, lung type I IFN levels were significantly reduced in TLR7ko mice early following IAV infection, displaying a potential upstream mechanism of the attenuated NK cell activation observed. Taken together, our data clearly demonstrate a specific role for TLR7 signaling in local and systemic NK cell activation following respiratory IAV infection despite the presence of redundant innate IAV-recognition pathways.
  • PD-1/PD-L1 pathway inhibition to restore effector functions in exhausted CD8+ T cells: chances, limitations and potential risks

    Veluswamy, Priya; Bruder, Dunja; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (AME Publishing Company, 2018-04)
    T cell exhaustion is a well-known mechanism involved in escape of degenerated cells or certain pathogens from CD8+ T cell-mediated immune surveillance, ultimately resulting in tumor development and chronic infections, respectively. Next to activated T cells, exhausted CD8+ T cells typically express high levels of the programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) receptor. While interaction of PD-1 with its ligand programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) on hemotopoietic and non-hemotopoietic cells is important for the re-establishment of homeostasis following immune activation, PD-1/PD-L1 interaction represents a major drawback in certain other disease settings such as cancer or chronic viral infections. Here PD-1 signalling in T cells prevents efficient anti-tumor or anti-viral immune responses. Thus, therapeutic interference with the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway represents a promising approach for releasing exhausted CD8+ T cells from PD-1-dependent suppression and reactivation of effector functions. However, recent reports have highlighted unexpected outcomes of PD-1/PD-L1 pathway inhibition in the context of chronic infections. We provide here a comprehensive overview of the recent discoveries made in the context of PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibition that are considered relevant with respect to the targeted reactivation of effector functions in exhausted CD8+ T cells. We briefly discuss the impact of PD-1 signalling on the expression of certain transcription factors, on epigenetic modifications affecting chromatin accessibility, on cellular metabolism and the expression of certain cytokine receptors involved in immune homeostasis. These newly uncovered facts should be carefully considered before further development of therapies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway that are aiming at the restoration of pathogen-specific and anti-tumor CD8+ T cell effector functions in order to prevent adverse side effects. © 2018, Translational Cancer Research.
  • ADAP Promotes Degranulation and Migration of NK Cells Primed During vivo Listeria monocytogenes Infection in Mice.

    Böning, Martha A L; Trittel, Stephanie; Riese, Peggy; van Ham, Marco; Heyner, Maxi; Voss, Martin; Parzmair, Gerald P; Klawonn, Frank; Jeron, Andreas; Guzman, Carlos A; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    The adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein (ADAP) serves as a multifunctional scaffold and is involved in the formation of immune signaling complexes. To date only limited and moreover conflicting data exist regarding the role of ADAP in NK cells. To extend existing knowledge we investigated ADAP-dependency of NK cells in the context of in vivo infection with the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). Ex vivo analysis of infection-primed NK cells revealed impaired cytotoxic capacity in NK cells lacking ADAP as indicated by reduced CD107a surface expression and inefficient perforin production. However, ADAP-deficiency had no global effect on NK cell morphology or intracellular distribution of CD107a-containing vesicles. Proteomic definition of ADAPko and wild type NK cells did not uncover obvious differences in protein composition during the steady state and moreover, similar early response patterns were induced in NK cells upon infection independent of the genotype. In line with protein network analyses that suggested an altered migration phenotype in naïve ADAPko NK cells, in vitro migration assays uncovered significantly reduced migration of both naïve as well as infection-primed ADAPko NK cells compared to wild type NK cells. Notably, this migration defect was associated with a significantly reduced expression of the integrin CD11a on the surface of splenic ADAP-deficient NK cells 1 day post-Lm infection. We propose that ADAP-dependent alterations in integrin expression might account at least in part for the fact that during in vivo infection significantly lower numbers of ADAPko NK cells accumulate in the spleen i.e., the site of infection. In conclusion, we show here that during systemic Lm infection in mice ADAP is essential for efficient cytotoxic capacity and migration of NK cells.
  • Mucosal CD8+ T cell responses induced by an MCMV based vaccine vector confer protection against influenza challenge.

    Zheng, Xiaoyan; Oduro, Jennifer D; Boehme, Julia D; Borkner, Lisa; Ebensen, Thomas; Heise, Ulrike; Gereke, Marcus; Pils, Marina C; Krmpotic, Astrid; Guzmán, Carlos A; et al. (PLOS, 2019-09-01)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous β-herpesvirus that establishes life-long latent infection in a high percentage of the population worldwide. CMV induces the strongest and most durable CD8+ T cell response known in human clinical medicine. Due to its unique properties, the virus represents a promising candidate vaccine vector for the induction of persistent cellular immunity. To take advantage of this, we constructed a recombinant murine CMV (MCMV) expressing an MHC-I restricted epitope from influenza A virus (IAV) H1N1 within the immediate early 2 (ie2) gene. Only mice that were immunized intranasally (i.n.) were capable of controlling IAV infection, despite the greater potency of the intraperitoneally (i.p.) vaccination in inducing a systemic IAV-specific CD8+ T cell response. The protective capacity of the i.n. immunization was associated with its ability to induce IAV-specific tissue-resident memory CD8+ T (CD8TRM) cells in the lungs. Our data demonstrate that the protective effect exerted by the i.n. immunization was critically mediated by antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. CD8TRM cells promoted the induction of IFNγ and chemokines that facilitate the recruitment of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells to the lungs. Overall, our results showed that locally applied MCMV vectors could induce mucosal immunity at sites of entry, providing superior immune protection against respiratory infections.