• BRD9 is a druggable component of interferon-stimulated gene expression and antiviral activity.

      Börold, Jacob; Eletto, Davide; Busnadiego, Idoia; Mair, Nina K; Moritz, Eva; Schiefer, Samira; Schmidt, Nora; Petric, Philipp P; Wong, W Wei-Lynn; Schwemmle, Martin; et al. (Wiley/EMBO Press, 2021-08-16)
      Interferon (IFN) induction of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) creates a formidable protective antiviral state. However, loss of appropriate control mechanisms can result in constitutive pathogenic ISG upregulation. Here, we used genome-scale loss-of-function screening to establish genes critical for IFN-induced transcription, identifying all expected members of the JAK-STAT signaling pathway and a previously unappreciated epigenetic reader, bromodomain-containing protein 9 (BRD9), the defining subunit of non-canonical BAF (ncBAF) chromatin-remodeling complexes. Genetic knockout or small-molecule-mediated degradation of BRD9 limits IFN-induced expression of a subset of ISGs in multiple cell types and prevents IFN from exerting full antiviral activity against several RNA and DNA viruses, including influenza virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV1), and herpes simplex virus (HSV1). Mechanistically, BRD9 acts at the level of transcription, and its IFN-triggered proximal association with the ISG transcriptional activator, STAT2, suggests a functional localization at selected ISG promoters. Furthermore, BRD9 relies on its intact acetyl-binding bromodomain and unique ncBAF scaffolding interaction with GLTSCR1/1L to promote IFN action. Given its druggability, BRD9 is an attractive target for dampening ISG expression under certain autoinflammatory conditions.
    • Longitudinal Multi-omics Analyses Identify Responses of Megakaryocytes, Erythroid Cells, and Plasmablasts as Hallmarks of Severe COVID-19.

      Bernardes, Joana P; Mishra, Neha; Tran, Florian; Bahmer, Thomas; Best, Lena; Blase, Johanna I; Bordoni, Dora; Franzenburg, Jeanette; Geisen, Ulf; Josephs-Spaulding, Jonathan; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-11-26)
      Temporal resolution of cellular features associated with a severe COVID-19 disease trajectory is needed for understanding skewed immune responses and defining predictors of outcome. Here, we performed a longitudinal multi-omics study using a two-center cohort of 14 patients. We analyzed the bulk transcriptome, bulk DNA methylome, and single-cell transcriptome (>358,000 cells, including BCR profiles) of peripheral blood samples harvested from up to 5 time points. Validation was performed in two independent cohorts of COVID-19 patients. Severe COVID-19 was characterized by an increase of proliferating, metabolically hyperactive plasmablasts. Coinciding with critical illness, we also identified an expansion of interferon-activated circulating megakaryocytes and increased erythropoiesis with features of hypoxic signaling. Megakaryocyte- and erythroid-cell-derived co-expression modules were predictive of fatal disease outcome. The study demonstrates broad cellular effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection beyond adaptive immune cells and provides an entry point toward developing biomarkers and targeted treatments of patients with COVID-19.
    • Transcriptome profiling and protease inhibition experiments identify proteases that activate H3N2 influenza A and influenza B viruses in murine airways.

      Harbig, Anne; Mernberger, Marco; Bittel, Linda; Pleschka, Stephan; Schughart, Klaus; Steinmetzer, Torsten; Stiewe, Thorsten; Nist, Andrea; Böttcher-Friebertshäuser, Eva; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-04-17)
      Cleavage of influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) by host proteases is essential for virus infectivity. HA of most influenza A and B (IAV/IBV) viruses is cleaved at a monobasic motif by trypsin-like proteases. Previous studies have reported that transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is essential for activation of H7N9 and H1N1pdm IAV in mice but that H3N2 IAV and IBV activation is independent of TMPRSS2 and carried out by as-yet-undetermined protease(s). Here, to identify additional H3 IAV- and IBV-activating proteases, we used RNA-Seq to investigate the protease repertoire of murine lower airway tissues, primary type II alveolar epithelial cells (AECIIs), and the mouse lung cell line MLE-15. Among 13 candidates identified, TMPRSS4, TMPRSS13, hepsin, and prostasin activated H3 and IBV HA in vitro IBV activation and replication was reduced in AECIIs from Tmprss2/Tmprss4-deficient mice compared with WT or Tmprss2-deficient mice, indicating that murine TMPRSS4 is involved in IBV activation. Multicycle replication of H3N2 IAV and IBV in AECIIs of Tmprss2/Tmprss4-deficient mice varied in sensitivity to protease inhibitors, indicating that different, but overlapping, sets of murine proteases facilitate H3 and IBV HA cleavages. Interestingly, human hepsin and prostasin orthologs did not activate H3, but they did activate IBV HA in vitro Our results indicate that TMPRSS4 is an IBV-activating protease in murine AECIIs and suggest that TMPRSS13, hepsin, and prostasin cleave H3 and IBV HA in mice. They further show that hepsin and prostasin orthologs might contribute to the differences observed in TMPRSS2-independent activation of H3 in murine and human airways.