• Time-Resolved scRNA-Seq Tracks the Adaptation of a Sensitive MCL Cell Line to Ibrutinib Treatment.

      Fuhr, Viktoria; Vafadarnejad, Ehsan; Dietrich, Oliver; Arampatzi, Panagiota; Riedel, Angela; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Rosenwald, Andreas; Rauert-Wunderlich, Hilka; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-25)
      Since the approval of ibrutinib for relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), the treatment of this rare mature B-cell neoplasm has taken a great leap forward. Despite promising efficacy of the Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor, resistance arises inevitably and the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Here, we aimed to decipher the response of a sensitive MCL cell line treated with ibrutinib using time-resolved single-cell RNA sequencing. The analysis uncovered five subpopulations and their individual responses to the treatment. The effects on the B cell receptor pathway, cell cycle, surface antigen expression, and metabolism were revealed by the computational analysis and were validated by molecular biological methods. The observed upregulation of B cell receptor signaling, crosstalk with the microenvironment, upregulation of CD52, and metabolic reprogramming towards dependence on oxidative phosphorylation favor resistance to ibrutinib treatment. Targeting these cellular responses provide new therapy options in MCL.
    • Sequence-independent RNA sensing and DNA targeting by a split domain CRISPR-Cas12a gRNA switch.

      Collins, Scott P; Rostain, William; Liao, Chunyu; Beisel, Chase L; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Oxgord Uiversity Press, 2021-02-22)
      CRISPR technologies increasingly require spatiotemporal and dosage control of nuclease activity. One promising strategy involves linking nuclease activity to a cell's transcriptional state by engineering guide RNAs (gRNAs) to function only after complexing with a 'trigger' RNA. However, standard gRNA switch designs do not allow independent selection of trigger and guide sequences, limiting gRNA switch application. Here, we demonstrate the modular design of Cas12a gRNA switches that decouples selection of these sequences. The 5' end of the Cas12a gRNA is fused to two distinct and non-overlapping domains: one base pairs with the gRNA repeat, blocking formation of a hairpin required for Cas12a recognition; the other hybridizes to the RNA trigger, stimulating refolding of the gRNA repeat and subsequent gRNA-dependent Cas12a activity. Using a cell-free transcription-translation system and Escherichia coli, we show that designed gRNA switches can respond to different triggers and target different DNA sequences. Modulating the length and composition of the sensory domain altered gRNA switch performance. Finally, gRNA switches could be designed to sense endogenous RNAs expressed only under specific growth conditions, rendering Cas12a targeting activity dependent on cellular metabolism and stress. Our design framework thus further enables tethering of CRISPR activities to cellular states.
    • Cross-species RNA-seq for deciphering host-microbe interactions.

      Westermann, Alexander J; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Nature research, 2021-02-17)
      The human body is constantly exposed to microorganisms, which entails manifold interactions between human cells and diverse commensal or pathogenic bacteria. The cellular states of the interacting cells are decisive for the outcome of these encounters such as whether bacterial virulence programmes and host defence or tolerance mechanisms are induced. This Review summarizes how next-generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become a primary technology to study host-microbe interactions with high resolution, improving our understanding of the physiological consequences and the mechanisms at play. We illustrate how the discriminatory power and sensitivity of RNA-seq helps to dissect increasingly complex cellular interactions in time and space down to the single-cell level. We also outline how future transcriptomics may answer currently open questions in host-microbe interactions and inform treatment schemes for microbial disorders.
    • Drug-Induced Dynamics of Bile Colloids.

      Hanio, Simon; Schlauersbach, Jonas; Lenz, Bettina; Spiegel, Franziska; Böckmann, Rainer A; Schweins, Ralf; Nischang, Ivo; Schubert, Ulrich S; Endres, Sebastian; Pöppler, Ann-Christin; et al. (American Society for Chemistry (ACS), 2021-02-15)
      Bile colloids containing taurocholate and lecithin are essential for the solubilization of hydrophobic molecules including poorly water-soluble drugs such as Perphenazine. We detail the impact of Perphenazine concentrations on taurocholate/lecithin colloids using analytical ultracentrifugation, dynamic light scattering, small-angle neutron scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, and isothermal titration calorimetry. Perphenazine impacted colloidal molecular arrangement, structure, and binding thermodynamics in a concentration-dependent manner. At low concentration, Perphenazine was integrated into stable and large taurocholate/lecithin colloids and close to lecithin. Integration of Perphenazine into these colloids was exothermic. At higher Perphenazine concentration, the taurocholate/lecithin colloids had an approximately 5-fold reduction in apparent hydrodynamic size, heat release was less exothermic upon drug integration into the colloids, and Perphenazine interacted with both lecithin and taurocholate. In addition, Perphenazine induced a morphological transition from vesicles to wormlike micelles as indicated by neutron scattering. Despite these surprising colloidal dynamics, these natural colloids successfully ensured stable relative amounts of free Perphenazine throughout the entire drug concentration range tested here. Future studies are required to further detail these findings both on a molecular structural basis and in terms of in vivo relevance.
    • A Grad-seq View of RNA and Protein Complexes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa under Standard and Bacteriophage Predation Conditions.

      Gerovac, Milan; Wicke, Laura; Chihara, Kotaro; Schneider, Cornelius; Lavigne, Rob; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (American Society for Microbiology (ASM), 2021-02-09)
      The Gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is not only a major cause of nosocomial infections but also serves as a model species of bacterial RNA biology. While its transcriptome architecture and posttranscriptional regulation through the RNA-binding proteins Hfq, RsmA, and RsmN have been studied in detail, global information about stable RNA-protein complexes in this human pathogen is currently lacking. Here, we implement gradient profiling by sequencing (Grad-seq) in exponentially growing P. aeruginosa cells to comprehensively predict RNA and protein complexes, based on glycerol gradient sedimentation profiles of >73% of all transcripts and ∼40% of all proteins. As to benchmarking, our global profiles readily reported complexes of stable RNAs of P. aeruginosa, including 6S RNA with RNA polymerase and associated product RNAs (pRNAs). We observe specific clusters of noncoding RNAs, which correlate with Hfq and RsmA/N, and provide a first hint that P. aeruginosa expresses a ProQ-like FinO domain-containing RNA-binding protein. To understand how biological stress may perturb cellular RNA/protein complexes, we performed Grad-seq after infection by the bacteriophage ΦKZ. This model phage, which has a well-defined transcription profile during host takeover, displayed efficient translational utilization of phage mRNAs and tRNAs, as evident from their increased cosedimentation with ribosomal subunits. Additionally, Grad-seq experimentally determines previously overlooked phage-encoded noncoding RNAs. Taken together, the Pseudomonas protein and RNA complex data provided here will pave the way to a better understanding of RNA-protein interactions during viral predation of the bacterial cell.IMPORTANCE Stable complexes by cellular proteins and RNA molecules lie at the heart of gene regulation and physiology in any bacterium of interest. It is therefore crucial to globally determine these complexes in order to identify and characterize new molecular players and regulation mechanisms. Pseudomonads harbor some of the largest genomes known in bacteria, encoding ∼5,500 different proteins. Here, we provide a first glimpse on which proteins and cellular transcripts form stable complexes in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa We additionally performed this analysis with bacteria subjected to the important and frequently encountered biological stress of a bacteriophage infection. We identified several molecules with established roles in a variety of cellular pathways, which were affected by the phage and can now be explored for their role during phage infection. Most importantly, we observed strong colocalization of phage transcripts and host ribosomes, indicating the existence of specialized translation mechanisms during phage infection. All data are publicly available in an interactive and easy to use browser.
    • MAPS integrates regulation of actin-targeting effector SteC into the virulence control network of Salmonella small RNA PinT.

      Correia Santos, Sara; Bischler, Thorsten; Westermann, Alexander J; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2021-02-02)
      A full understanding of the contribution of small RNAs (sRNAs) to bacterial virulence demands knowledge of their target suites under infection-relevant conditions. Here, we take an integrative approach to capturing targets of the Hfq-associated sRNA PinT, a known post-transcriptional timer of the two major virulence programs of Salmonella enterica. Using MS2 affinity purification and RNA sequencing (MAPS), we identify PinT ligands in bacteria under in vitro conditions mimicking specific stages of the infection cycle and in bacteria growing inside macrophages. This reveals PinT-mediated translational inhibition of the secreted effector kinase SteC, which had gone unnoticed in previous target searches. Using genetic, biochemical, and microscopic assays, we provide evidence for PinT-mediated repression of steC mRNA, eventually delaying actin rearrangements in infected host cells. Our findings support the role of PinT as a central post-transcriptional regulator in Salmonella virulence and illustrate the need for complementary methods to reveal the full target suites of sRNAs.
    • CRISPR technologies and the search for the PAM-free nuclease.

      Collias, Daphne; Beisel, Chase L; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Nature Pulishing Group, 2021-01-22)
      The ever-expanding set of CRISPR technologies and their programmable RNA-guided nucleases exhibit remarkable flexibility in DNA targeting. However, this flexibility comes with an ever-present constraint: the requirement for a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) flanking each target. While PAMs play an essential role in self/nonself discrimination by CRISPR-Cas immune systems, this constraint has launched a far-reaching expedition for nucleases with relaxed PAM requirements. Here, we review ongoing efforts toward realizing PAM-free nucleases through natural ortholog mining and protein engineering. We also address potential consequences of fully eliminating PAM recognition and instead propose an alternative nuclease repertoire covering all possible PAM sequences.
    • A genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of embryos fathered by obese males in a murine model of diet-induced obesity.

      Bernhardt, Laura; Dittrich, Marcus; El-Merahbi, Rabih; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Müller, Tobias; Sumara, Grzegorz; Vogel, Jörg; Nichols-Burns, Stefanie; Mitchell, Megan; Haaf, Thomas; et al. (Nature Pulishing Group, 2021-01-21)
      Paternal obesity is known to have a negative impact on the male's reproductive health as well as the health of his offspring. Although epigenetic mechanisms have been implicated in the non-genetic transmission of acquired traits, the effect of paternal obesity on gene expression in the preimplantation embryo has not been fully studied. To this end, we investigated whether paternal obesity is associated with gene expression changes in eight-cell stage embryos fathered by males on a high-fat diet. We used single embryo RNA-seq to compare the gene expression profile of embryos generated by males on a high fat (HFD) versus control (CD) diet. This analysis revealed significant upregulation of the Samd4b and Gata6 gene in embryos in response to a paternal HFD. Furthermore, we could show a significant increase in expression of both Gata6 and Samd4b during differentiation of stromal vascular cells into mature adipocytes. These findings suggest that paternal obesity may induce changes in the male germ cells which are associated with the gene expression changes in the resulting preimplantation embryos.
    • Opposing Wnt signals regulate cervical squamocolumnar homeostasis and emergence of metaplasia.

      Chumduri, Cindrilla; Gurumurthy, Rajendra Kumar; Berger, Hilmar; Dietrich, Oliver; Kumar, Naveen; Koster, Stefanie; Brinkmann, Volker; Hoffmann, Kirstin; Drabkina, Marina; Arampatzi, Panagiota; et al. (Nature research, 2021-01-18)
      The transition zones of the squamous and columnar epithelia constitute hotspots for the emergence of cancer, often preceded by metaplasia, in which one epithelial type is replaced by another. It remains unclear how the epithelial spatial organization is maintained and how the transition zone niche is remodelled during metaplasia. Here we used single-cell RNA sequencing to characterize epithelial subpopulations and the underlying stromal compartment of endo- and ectocervix, encompassing the transition zone. Mouse lineage tracing, organoid culture and single-molecule RNA in situ hybridizations revealed that the two epithelia derive from separate cervix-resident lineage-specific stem cell populations regulated by opposing Wnt signals from the stroma. Using a mouse model of cervical metaplasia, we further show that the endocervical stroma undergoes remodelling and increases expression of the Wnt inhibitor Dickkopf-2 (DKK2), promoting the outgrowth of ectocervical stem cells. Our data indicate that homeostasis at the transition zone results from divergent stromal signals, driving the differential proliferation of resident epithelial lineages.
    • How Insertion of a Single Tryptophan in the N-Terminus of a Cecropin A-Melittin Hybrid Peptide Changes Its Antimicrobial and Biophysical Profile.

      Ferreira, Ana Rita; Teixeira, Cátia; Sousa, Carla F; Bessa, Lucinda J; Gomes, Paula; Gameiro, Paula; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-01-12)
      n the era of antibiotic resistance, there is an urgent need for efficient antibiotic therapies to fight bacterial infections. Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMP) are promising lead compounds given their membrane-targeted mechanism of action, and high affinity towards the anionic composition of bacterial membranes. We present a new CAMP, W-BP100, derived from the highly active BP100, holding an additional tryptophan at the N-terminus. W-BP100 showed a broader antibacterial activity, demonstrating a potent activity against Gram-positive strains. Revealing a high partition constant towards anionic over zwitterionic large unilamellar vesicles and inducing membrane saturation at a high peptide/lipid ratio, W-BP100 has a preferential location for hydrophobic environments. Contrary to BP100, almost no aggregation of anionic vesicles is observed around saturation conditions and at higher concentrations no aggregation is observed. With these results, it is possible to state that with the incorporation of a single tryptophan to the N-terminus, a highly active peptide was obtained due to the π-electron system of tryptophan, resulting in negatively charged clouds, that participate in cation-π interactions with lysine residues. Furthermore, we propose that W-BP100 action can be achieved by electrostatic interactions followed by peptide translocation.
    • The SARS-CoV-2 RNA-protein interactome in infected human cells.

      Schmidt, Nora; Lareau, Caleb A; Keshishian, Hasmik; Ganskih, Sabina; Schneider, Cornelius; Hennig, Thomas; Melanson, Randy; Werner, Simone; Wei, Yuanjie; Zimmer, Matthias; et al. (Nature research, 2020-12-21)
      Characterizing the interactions that SARS-CoV-2 viral RNAs make with host cell proteins during infection can improve our understanding of viral RNA functions and the host innate immune response. Using RNA antisense purification and mass spectrometry, we identified up to 104 human proteins that directly and specifically bind to SARS-CoV-2 RNAs in infected human cells. We integrated the SARS-CoV-2 RNA interactome with changes in proteome abundance induced by viral infection and linked interactome proteins to cellular pathways relevant to SARS-CoV-2 infections. We demonstrated by genetic perturbation that cellular nucleic acid-binding protein (CNBP) and La-related protein 1 (LARP1), two of the most strongly enriched viral RNA binders, restrict SARS-CoV-2 replication in infected cells and provide a global map of their direct RNA contact sites. Pharmacological inhibition of three other RNA interactome members, PPIA, ATP1A1, and the ARP2/3 complex, reduced viral replication in two human cell lines. The identification of host dependency factors and defence strategies as presented in this work will improve the design of targeted therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2.
    • Leveraging bile solubilization of poorly water-soluble drugs by rational polymer selection.

      Schlauersbach, Jonas; Hanio, Simon; Lenz, Bettina; Vemulapalli, Sahithya P B; Griesinger, Christian; Pöppler, Ann-Christin; Harlacher, Cornelius; Galli, Bruno; Meinel, Lorenz; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-12-15)
      Poorly water-soluble drugs frequently solubilize into bile colloids and this natural mechanism is key for efficient bioavailability. We tested the impact of pharmaceutical polymers on this solubilization interplay using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering, and by assessing the flux across model membranes. Eudragit E, Soluplus, and a therapeutically used model polymer, Colesevelam, impacted the bile-colloidal geometry and molecular interaction. These polymer-induced changes reduced the flux of poorly water-soluble and bile interacting drugs (Perphenazine, Imatinib) but did not impact the flux of bile non-interacting Metoprolol. Non-bile interacting polymers (Kollidon VA 64, HPMC-AS) neither impacted the flux of colloid-interacting nor colloid-non-interacting drugs. These insights into the drug substance/polymer/bile colloid interplay potentially point towards a practical optimization parameter steering formulations to efficient bile-solubilization by rational polymer selection.
    • Intracellular Staphylococcus aureus Perturbs the Host Cell Ca+ Homeostasis To Promote Cell Death.

      Stelzner, Kathrin; Winkler, Ann-Cathrin; Liang, Chunguang; Boyny, Aziza; Ade, Carsten P; Dandekar, Thomas; Fraunholz, Martin J; Rudel, Thomas; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (ASM, 2020-12-15)
      The opportunistic human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus causes serious infectious diseases that range from superficial skin and soft tissue infections to necrotizing pneumonia and sepsis. While classically regarded as an extracellular pathogen, S. aureus is able to invade and survive within human cells. Host cell exit is associated with cell death, tissue destruction, and the spread of infection. The exact molecular mechanism employed by S. aureus to escape the host cell is still unclear. In this study, we performed a genome-wide small hairpin RNA (shRNA) screen and identified the calcium signaling pathway as being involved in intracellular infection. S. aureus induced a massive cytosolic Ca2+ increase in epithelial host cells after invasion and intracellular replication of the pathogen. This was paralleled by a decrease in endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ concentration. Additionally, calcium ions from the extracellular space contributed to the cytosolic Ca2+ increase. As a consequence, we observed that the cytoplasmic Ca2+ rise led to an increase in mitochondrial Ca2+ concentration, the activation of calpains and caspases, and eventually to cell lysis of S. aureus-infected cells. Our study therefore suggests that intracellular S. aureus disturbs the host cell Ca2+ homeostasis and induces cytoplasmic Ca2+ overload, which results in both apoptotic and necrotic cell death in parallel or succession.IMPORTANCE Despite being regarded as an extracellular bacterium, the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus can invade and survive within human cells. The intracellular niche is considered a hideout from the host immune system and antibiotic treatment and allows bacterial proliferation. Subsequently, the intracellular bacterium induces host cell death, which may facilitate the spread of infection and tissue destruction. So far, host cell factors exploited by intracellular S. aureus to promote cell death are only poorly characterized. We performed a genome-wide screen and found the calcium signaling pathway to play a role in S. aureus invasion and cytotoxicity. The intracellular bacterium induces a cytoplasmic and mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, which results in host cell death. Thus, this study first showed how an intracellular bacterium perturbs the host cell Ca2+ homeostasis.
    • Single-Nucleotide RNA Maps for the Two Major Nosocomial Pathogens Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium

      Michaux, Charlotte; Hansen, Elisabeth E; Jenniches, Laura; Gerovac, Milan; Barquist, Lars; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-11-25)
      Enterococcus faecalis and faecium are two major representative clinical strains of the Enterococcus genus and are sadly notorious to be part of the top agents responsible for nosocomial infections. Despite their critical implication in worldwide public healthcare, essential and available resources such as deep transcriptome annotations remain poor, which also limits our understanding of post-transcriptional control small regulatory RNA (sRNA) functions in these bacteria. Here, using the dRNA-seq technique in combination with ANNOgesic analysis, we successfully mapped and annotated transcription start sites (TSS) of both E. faecalis V583 and E. faecium AUS0004 at single nucleotide resolution. Analyzing bacteria in late exponential phase, we capture ~40% (E. faecalis) and 43% (E. faecium) of the annotated protein-coding genes, determine 5' and 3' UTR (untranslated region) length, and detect instances of leaderless mRNAs. The transcriptome maps revealed sRNA candidates in both bacteria, some found in previous studies and new ones. Expression of candidate sRNAs is being confirmed under biologically relevant environmental conditions. This comprehensive global TSS mapping atlas provides a valuable resource for RNA biology and gene expression analysis in the Enterococci. It can be accessed online at www.helmholtz-hiri.de/en/datasets/enterococcus through an instance of the genomic viewer JBrowse.
    • Biodistribution and serologic response in SARS-CoV-2 induced ARDS: A cohort study.

      Schlesinger, Tobias; Weißbrich, Benedikt; Wedekink, Florian; Notz, Quirin; Herrmann, Johannes; Krone, Manuel; Sitter, Magdalena; Schmid, Benedikt; Kredel, Markus; Stumpner, Jan; et al. (PLOS, 2020-11-24)
      Background: The viral load and tissue distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) remain important questions. The current study investigated SARS-CoV-2 viral load, biodistribution and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody formation in patients suffering from severe corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Methods: This is a retrospective single-center study in 23 patients with COVID-19-induced ARDS. Data were collected within routine intensive care. SARS-CoV-2 viral load was assessed via reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Overall, 478 virology samples were taken. Anti-SARS-CoV-2-Spike-receptor binding domain (RBD) antibody detection of blood samples was performed with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: Most patients (91%) suffered from severe ARDS during ICU treatment with a 30-day mortality of 30%. None of the patients received antiviral treatment. Tracheal aspirates tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in 100% of the cases, oropharyngeal swabs only in 77%. Blood samples were positive in 26% of the patients. No difference of viral load was found in tracheal or blood samples with regard to 30-day survival or disease severity. SARS-CoV-2 was never found in dialysate. Serologic testing revealed significantly lower concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing IgM and IgA antibodies in survivors compared to non-survivors (p = 0.009). Conclusions: COVID-19 induced ARDS is accompanied by a high viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in tracheal aspirates, which remained detectable in the majority throughout intensive care treatment. Remarkably, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was never detected in dialysate even in patients with RNAemia. Viral load or the buildup of neutralizing antibodies was not associated with 30-day survival or disease severity.
    • Triple RNA-Seq Reveals Synergy in a Human Virus-Fungus Co-infection Model.

      Seelbinder, Bastian; Wallstabe, Julia; Marischen, Lothar; Weiss, Esther; Wurster, Sebastian; Page, Lukas; Löffler, Claudia; Bussemer, Lydia; Schmitt, Anna-Lena; Wolf, Thomas; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-11-17)
      High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) is routinely applied to study diverse biological processes; however, when performed separately on interacting organisms, systemic noise intrinsic to RNA extraction, library preparation, and sequencing hampers the identification of cross-species interaction nodes. Here, we develop triple RNA-seq to simultaneously detect transcriptomes of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) infected with the frequently co-occurring pulmonary pathogens Aspergillus fumigatus and human cytomegalovirus (CMV). Comparing expression patterns after co-infection with those after single infections, our data reveal synergistic effects and mutual interferences between host responses to the two pathogens. For example, CMV attenuates the fungus-mediated activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines through NF-κB (nuclear factor κB) and NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) cascades, while A. fumigatus impairs viral clearance by counteracting viral nucleic acid-induced activation of type I interferon signaling. Together, the analytical power of triple RNA-seq proposes molecular hubs in the differential moDC response to fungal/viral single infection or co-infection that contribute to our understanding of the etiology and, potentially, clearance of post-transplant infections.
    • Dissecting Herpes Simplex Virus 1-Induced Host Shutoff at the RNA Level.

      Friedel, Caroline C; Whisnant, Adam W; Djakovic, Lara; Rutkowski, Andrzej J; Friedl, Marie-Sophie; Kluge, Michael; Williamson, James C; Sai, Somesh; Vidal, Ramon Oliveira; Sauer, Sascha; et al. (American Society for Microbilogy (ASM), 2020-11-04)
      Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) induces a profound host shut-off during lytic infection. The virion host shut-off (vhs) protein plays a key role in this process by efficiently cleaving host and viral mRNAs. Furthermore, the onset of viral DNA replication is accompanied by a rapid decline in host transcriptional activity. To dissect relative contributions of both mechanisms and elucidate gene-specific host transcriptional responses throughout the first 8h of lytic HSV-1 infection, we employed RNA-seq of total, newly transcribed (4sU-labelled) and chromatin-associated RNA in wild-type (WT) and Δvhs infection of primary human fibroblasts. Following virus entry, vhs activity rapidly plateaued at an elimination rate of around 30% of cellular mRNAs per hour until 8h p.i. In parallel, host transcriptional activity dropped to 10-20%. While the combined effects of both phenomena dominated infection-induced changes in total RNA, extensive gene-specific transcriptional regulation was observable in chromatin-associated RNA and was surprisingly concordant between WT and Δvhs infection. Both induced strong transcriptional up-regulation of a small subset of genes that were poorly expressed prior to infection but already primed by H3K4me3 histone marks at their promoters. Most interestingly, analysis of chromatin-associated RNA revealed vhs-nuclease-activity-dependent transcriptional down-regulation of at least 150 cellular genes, in particular of many integrin adhesome and extracellular matrix components. This was accompanied by a vhs-dependent reduction in protein levels by 8h p.i. for many of these genes. In summary, our study provides a comprehensive picture of the molecular mechanisms that govern cellular RNA metabolism during the first 8h of lytic HSV-1 infection.IMPORTANCE The HSV-1 virion host shut-off (vhs) protein efficiently cleaves both host and viral mRNAs in a translation-dependent manner. In this study, we model and quantify changes in vhs activity as well as virus-induced global loss of host transcriptional activity during productive HSV-1 infection. In general, HSV-1-induced alterations in total RNA levels were dominated by these two global effects. In contrast, chromatin-associated RNA depicted gene-specific transcriptional changes. This revealed highly concordant transcriptional changes in WT and Δvhs infection, confirmed DUX4 as a key transcriptional regulator in HSV-1 infection and depicted vhs-dependent, transcriptional down-regulation of the integrin adhesome and extracellular matrix components. The latter explained seemingly gene-specific effects previously attributed to vhs-mediated mRNA degradation and resulted in a concordant loss in protein levels by 8h p.i. for many of the respective genes.
    • Introducing differential RNA-seq mapping to track the early infection phase for phage ɸKZ.

      Wicke, Laura; Ponath, Falk; Coppens, Lucas; Gerovac, Milan; Lavigne, Rob; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Taylor & Francis, 2020-10-25)
      As part of the ongoing renaissance of phage biology, more phage genomes are becoming available through DNA sequencing. However, our understanding of the transcriptome architecture that allows these genomes to be expressed during host infection is generally poor. Transcription start sites (TSSs) and operons have been mapped for very few phages, and an annotated global RNA map of a phage - alone or together with its infected host - is not available at all. Here, we applied differential RNA-seq (dRNA-seq) to study the early, host takeover phase of infection by assessing the transcriptome structure of Pseudomonas aeruginosa jumbo phage ɸKZ, a model phage for viral genetics and structural research. This map substantially expands the number of early expressed viral genes, defining TSSs that are active ten minutes after ɸKZ infection. Simultaneously, we record gene expression changes in the host transcriptome during this critical metabolism conversion. In addition to previously reported upregulation of genes associated with amino acid metabolism, we observe strong activation of genes with functions in biofilm formation (cdrAB) and iron storage (bfrB), as well as an activation of the antitoxin ParD. Conversely, ɸKZ infection rapidly down-regulates complexes IV and V of oxidative phosphorylation (atpCDGHF and cyoABCDE). Taken together, our data provide new insights into the transcriptional organization and infection process of the giant bacteriophage ɸKZ and adds a framework for the genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of phage-host interactions.
    • A global data-driven census of Salmonella small proteins and their potential functions in bacterial virulence

      Venturini, Elisa; Svensson, Sarah L; Maaß, Sandra; Gelhausen, Rick; Eggenhofer, Florian; Li, Lei; Cain, Amy K; Parkhill, Julian; Becher, Dörte; Backofen, Rolf; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-10-17)
      Small proteins are an emerging class of gene products with diverse roles in bacterial physiology. However, a full understanding of their importance has been hampered by insufficient genome annotations and a lack of comprehensive characterization in microbes other than Escherichia coli. We have taken an integrative approach to accelerate the discovery of small proteins and their putative virulence-associated functions in Salmonella Typhimurium. We merged the annotated small proteome of Salmonella with new small proteins predicted with in silico and experimental approaches. We then exploited existing and newly generated global datasets that provide information on small open reading frame expression during infection of epithelial cells (dual RNA-seq), contribution to bacterial fitness inside macrophages (Transposon-directed insertion sequencing), and potential engagement in molecular interactions (Grad-seq). This integrative approach suggested a new role for the small protein MgrB beyond its known function in regulating PhoQ. We demonstrate a virulence and motility defect of a Salmonella ΔmgrB mutant and reveal an effect of MgrB in regulating the Salmonella transcriptome and proteome under infection-relevant conditions. Our study highlights the power of interpreting available ‘omics’ datasets with a focus on small proteins, and may serve as a blueprint for a data integration-based survey of small proteins in diverse bacteria.
    • Murine cytomegaloviruses m139 targets DDX3 to curtail interferon production and promote viral replication.

      Puhach, Olha; Ostermann, Eleonore; Krisp, Christoph; Frascaroli, Giada; Schlüter, Hartmut; Brinkmann, Melanie M; Brune, Wolfram; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-10-08)
      Cytomegaloviruses (CMV) infect many different cell types and tissues in their respective hosts. Monocytes and macrophages play an important role in CMV dissemination from the site of infection to target organs. Moreover, macrophages are specialized in pathogen sensing and respond to infection by secreting cytokines and interferons. In murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV), a model for human cytomegalovirus, several genes required for efficient replication in macrophages have been identified, but their specific functions remain poorly understood. Here we show that MCMV m139, a gene of the conserved US22 gene family, encodes a protein that interacts with the DEAD box helicase DDX3, a protein involved in pathogen sensing and interferon (IFN) induction, and the E3 ubiquitin ligase UBR5. DDX3 and UBR5 also participate in the transcription, processing, and translation of a subset of cellular mRNAs. We show that m139 inhibits DDX3-mediated IFN-α and IFN-β induction and is necessary for efficient viral replication in bone-marrow derived macrophages. In vivo, m139 is crucial for viral dissemination to local lymph nodes and to the salivary glands. An m139-deficient MCMV also replicated to lower titers in SVEC4-10 endothelial cells. This replication defect was not accompanied by increased IFN-β transcription, but was rescued by knockout of either DDX3 or UBR5. Moreover, m139 co-localized with DDX3 and UBR5 in viral replication compartments in the cell nucleus. These results suggest that m139 inhibits DDX3-mediated IFN production in macrophages and antagonizes DDX3 and UBR5-dependent functions related to RNA metabolism in endothelial cells.