• An RNA-centric global view of Clostridioides difficile reveals broad activity of Hfq in a clinically important gram-positive bacterium.

      Fuchs, Manuela; Lamm-Schmidt, Vanessa; Sulzer, Johannes; Ponath, Falk; Jenniches, Laura; Kirk, Joseph A; Fagan, Robert P; Barquist, Lars; Vogel, Jörg; Faber, Franziska; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2021-06-15)
      The gram-positive human pathogen Clostridioides difficile has emerged as the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. However, little is known about the bacterium's transcriptome architecture and mechanisms of posttranscriptional control. Here, we have applied transcription start site and termination mapping to generate a single-nucleotide-resolution RNA map of C. difficile 5' and 3' untranslated regions, operon structures, and noncoding regulators, including 42 sRNAs. Our results indicate functionality of many conserved riboswitches and predict cis-regulatory RNA elements upstream of multidrug resistance (MDR)-type ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and transcriptional regulators. Despite growing evidence for a role of Hfq in RNA-based gene regulation in C. difficile, the functions of Hfq-based posttranscriptional regulatory networks in gram-positive pathogens remain controversial. Using Hfq immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing of bound RNA species (RIP-seq), we identify a large cohort of transcripts bound by Hfq and show that absence of Hfq affects transcript stabilities and steady-state levels. We demonstrate sRNA expression during intestinal colonization by C. difficile and identify infection-related signals impacting its expression. As a proof of concept, we show that the utilization of the abundant intestinal metabolite ethanolamine is regulated by the Hfq-dependent sRNA CDIF630nc_085. Overall, our study lays the foundation for understanding clostridial riboregulation with implications for the infection process and provides evidence for a global role of Hfq in posttranscriptional regulation in a gram-positive bacterium.
    • Dual RNA-seq analysis of in vitro infection multiplicity and RNA depletion methods in Chlamydia-infected epithelial cells.

      Hayward, Regan J; Humphrys, Michael S; Huston, Wilhelmina M; Myers, Garry S A; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Nature Research, 2021-05-17)
      Dual RNA-seq experiments examining viral and bacterial pathogens are increasing, but vary considerably in their experimental designs, such as infection rates and RNA depletion methods. Here, we have applied dual RNA-seq to Chlamydia trachomatis infected epithelial cells to examine transcriptomic responses from both organisms. We compared two time points post infection (1 and 24 h), three multiplicity of infection (MOI) ratios (0.1, 1 and 10) and two RNA depletion methods (rRNA and polyA). Capture of bacterial-specific RNA were greatest when combining rRNA and polyA depletion, and when using a higher MOI. However, under these conditions, host RNA capture was negatively impacted. Although it is tempting to use high infection rates, the implications on host cell survival, the potential reduced length of infection cycles and real world applicability should be considered. This data highlights the delicate nature of balancing host-pathogen RNA capture and will assist future transcriptomic-based studies to achieve more specific and relevant infection-related biological insights.
    • The Zinc Finger Antiviral Protein ZAP Restricts Human Cytomegalovirus and Selectively Binds and Destabilizes Viral / Transcripts.

      Gonzalez-Perez, Ana Cristina; Stempel, Markus; Wyler, Emanuel; Urban, Christian; Piras, Antonio; Hennig, Thomas; Ganskih, Sabina; Wei, Yuanjie; Heim, Albert; Landthaler, Markus; et al. (ASM, 2021-05-04)
      Interferon-stimulated gene products (ISGs) play a crucial role in early infection control. The ISG zinc finger CCCH-type antiviral protein 1 (ZAP/ZC3HAV1) antagonizes several RNA viruses by binding to CG-rich RNA sequences, whereas its effect on DNA viruses is less well understood. Here, we decipher the role of ZAP in the context of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection, a β-herpesvirus that is associated with high morbidity in immunosuppressed individuals and newborns. We show that expression of the two major isoforms of ZAP, ZAP-S and ZAP-L, is induced during HCMV infection and that both negatively affect HCMV replication. Transcriptome and proteome analyses demonstrated that the expression of ZAP results in reduced viral mRNA and protein levels and decelerates the progression of HCMV infection. Metabolic RNA labeling combined with high-throughput sequencing (SLAM-seq) revealed that most of the gene expression changes late in infection result from the general attenuation of HCMV. Furthermore, at early stages of infection, ZAP restricts HCMV by destabilizing a distinct subset of viral mRNAs, particularly those from the previously uncharacterized UL4-UL6 HCMV gene locus. Through enhanced cross-linking immunoprecipitation and sequencing analysis (eCLIP-seq), we identified the transcripts expressed from this HCMV locus as the direct targets of ZAP. Moreover, our data show that ZAP preferentially recognizes not only CG, but also other cytosine-rich sequences, thereby expanding its target specificity. In summary, this report is the first to reveal direct targets of ZAP during HCMV infection, which strongly indicates that transcripts from the UL4-UL6 locus may play an important role for HCMV replication.IMPORTANCE Viral infections have a large impact on society, leading to major human and economic losses and even global instability. So far, many viral infections, including human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection, are treated with a small repertoire of drugs, often accompanied by the occurrence of resistant mutants. There is no licensed HCMV vaccine in sight to protect those most at risk, particularly immunocompromised individuals or pregnant women who might otherwise transmit the virus to the fetus. Thus, the identification of novel intervention strategies is urgently required. In this study, we show that ZAP decelerates the viral gene expression cascade, presumably by selectively handpicking a distinct set of viral transcripts for degradation. Our study illustrates the potent role of ZAP as an HCMV restriction factor and sheds light on a possible role for UL4 and/or UL5 early during infection, paving a new avenue for the exploration of potential targets for novel therapies.
    • In vivo targets of Salmonella FinO include a FinP-like small RNA controlling copy number of a cohabitating plasmid.

      El Mouali, Youssef; Gerovac, Milan; Mineikaitė, Raminta; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Oxford Academic, 2021-05-03)
      FinO-domain proteins represent an emerging family of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) with diverse roles in bacterial post-transcriptional control and physiology. They exhibit an intriguing targeting spectrum, ranging from an assumed single RNA pair (FinP/traJ) for the plasmid-encoded FinO protein, to transcriptome-wide activity as documented for chromosomally encoded ProQ proteins. Thus, the shared FinO domain might bear an unusual plasticity enabling it to act either selectively or promiscuously on the same cellular RNA pool. One caveat to this model is that the full suite of in vivo targets of the assumedly highly selective FinO protein is unknown. Here, we have extensively profiled cellular transcripts associated with the virulence plasmid-encoded FinO in Salmonella enterica. While our analysis confirms the FinP sRNA of plasmid pSLT as the primary FinO target, we identify a second major ligand: the RepX sRNA of the unrelated antibiotic resistance plasmid pRSF1010. FinP and RepX are strikingly similar in length and structure, but not in primary sequence, and so may provide clues to understanding the high selectivity of FinO-RNA interactions. Moreover, we observe that the FinO RBP encoded on the Salmonella virulence plasmid controls the replication of a cohabitating antibiotic resistance plasmid, suggesting cross-regulation of plasmids on the RNA level.
    • Amelioration of Cognitive and Behavioral Deficits after Traumatic Brain Injury in Coagulation Factor XII Deficient Mice.

      Stetter, Christian; Lopez-Caperuchipi, Simon; Hopp-Krämer, Sarah; Bieber, Michael; Kleinschnitz, Christoph; Sirén, Anna-Leena; Albert-Weißenberger, Christiane; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-05-03)
      Based on recent findings that show that depletion of factor XII (FXII) leads to better posttraumatic neurological recovery, we studied the effect of FXII-deficiency on post-traumatic cognitive and behavioral outcomes in female and male mice. In agreement with our previous findings, neurological deficits on day 7 after weight-drop traumatic brain injury (TBI) were significantly reduced in FXII-/- mice compared to wild type (WT) mice. Also, glycoprotein Ib (GPIb)-positive platelet aggregates were more frequent in brain microvasculature of WT than FXII-/- mice 3 months after TBI. Six weeks after TBI, memory for novel object was significantly reduced in both female and male WT but not in FXII-/- mice compared to sham-operated mice. In the setting of automated home-cage monitoring of socially housed mice in IntelliCages, female WT mice but not FXII-/- mice showed decreased exploration and reacted negatively to reward extinction one month after TBI. Since neuroendocrine stress after TBI might contribute to trauma-induced cognitive dysfunction and negative emotional contrast reactions, we measured peripheral corticosterone levels and the ration of heart, lung, and spleen weight to bodyweight. Three months after TBI, plasma corticosterone levels were significantly suppressed in both female and male WT but not in FXII-/- mice, while the relative heart weight increased in males but not in females of both phenotypes when compared to sham-operated mice. Our results indicate that FXII deficiency is associated with efficient post-traumatic behavioral and neuroendocrine recovery.
    • Global identification of RsmA/N binding sites in by UV CLIP-seq.

      Chihara, Kotaro; Barquist, Lars; Takasugi, Kenichi; Noda, Naohiro; Tsuneda, Satoshi; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Taylor & Francis, 2021-04-27)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa harbours two redundant RNA-binding proteins RsmA/RsmN (RsmA/N), which play a critical role in balancing acute and chronic infections. However, in vivo binding sites on target transcripts and the overall impact on the physiology remains unclear. In this study, we applied in vivo UV crosslinking immunoprecipitation followed by RNA-sequencing (UV CLIP-seq) to detect RsmA/N-binding sites at single-nucleotide resolution and mapped more than 500 binding sites to approximately 400 genes directly bound by RsmA/N in P. aeruginosa. This also verified the ANGGA sequence in apical loops skewed towards 5'UTRs as a consensus motif for RsmA/N binding. Genetic analysis combined with CLIP-seq results suggested previously unrecognized RsmA/N targets involved in LPS modification. Moreover, the RsmA/N-titrating RNAs RsmY/RsmZ may be positively regulated by the RsmA/N-mediated translational repression of their upstream regulators, thus providing a possible mechanistic explanation for homoeostasis of the Rsm system. Thus, our study provides a detailed view of RsmA/N-RNA interactions and a resource for further investigation of the pleiotropic effects of RsmA/N on gene expression in P. aeruginosa.
    • The World of Stable Ribonucleoproteins and Its Mapping With Grad-Seq and Related Approaches.

      Gerovac, Milan; Vogel, Jörg; Smirnov, Alexandre; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-04-07)
      Macromolecular complexes of proteins and RNAs are essential building blocks of cells. These stable supramolecular particles can be viewed as minimal biochemical units whose structural organization, i.e., the way the RNA and the protein interact with each other, is directly linked to their biological function. Whether those are dynamic regulatory ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) or integrated molecular machines involved in gene expression, the comprehensive knowledge of these units is critical to our understanding of key molecular mechanisms and cell physiology phenomena. Such is the goal of diverse complexomic approaches and in particular of the recently developed gradient profiling by sequencing (Grad-seq). By separating cellular protein and RNA complexes on a density gradient and quantifying their distributions genome-wide by mass spectrometry and deep sequencing, Grad-seq charts global landscapes of native macromolecular assemblies. In this review, we propose a function-based ontology of stable RNPs and discuss how Grad-seq and related approaches transformed our perspective of bacterial and eukaryotic ribonucleoproteins by guiding the discovery of new RNA-binding proteins and unusual classes of noncoding RNAs. We highlight some methodological aspects and developments that permit to further boost the power of this technique and to look for exciting new biology in understudied and challenging biological models.
    • Mechanism and consequences of herpes simplex virus 1-mediated regulation of host mRNA alternative polyadenylation.

      Wang, Xiuye; Liu, Liang; Whisnant, Adam W; Hennig, Thomas; Djakovic, Lara; Haque, Nabila; Bach, Cindy; Sandri-Goldin, Rozanne M; Erhard, Florian; Friedel, Caroline C; et al. (PLOS, 2021-03-08)
      Eukaryotic gene expression is extensively regulated by cellular stress and pathogen infections. We have previously shown that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and several cellular stresses cause widespread disruption of transcription termination (DoTT) of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) in host genes and that the viral immediate early factor ICP27 plays an important role in HSV-1-induced DoTT. Here, we show that HSV-1 infection also leads to widespread changes in alternative polyadenylation (APA) of host mRNAs. In the majority of cases, polyadenylation shifts to upstream poly(A) sites (PAS), including many intronic PAS. Mechanistically, ICP27 contributes to HSV-1-mediated APA regulation. HSV-1- and ICP27-induced activation of intronic PAS is sequence-dependent and does not involve general inhibition of U1 snRNP. HSV1-induced intronic polyadenylation is accompanied by early termination of RNAPII. HSV-1-induced mRNAs polyadenylated at intronic PAS (IPA) are exported into the cytoplasm while APA isoforms with extended 3' UTRs are sequestered in the nuclei, both preventing the expression of the full-length gene products. Finally we provide evidence that HSV-induced IPA isoforms are translated. Together with other recent studies, our results suggest that viral infection and cellular stresses induce a multi-faceted host response that includes DoTT and changes in APA profiles.
    • Initial HCV infection of adult hepatocytes triggers a temporally structured transcriptional program containing diverse pro- and anti-viral elements.

      Tegtmeyer, Birthe; Vieyres, Gabrielle; Todt, Daniel; Lauber, Chris; Ginkel, Corinne; Engelmann, Michael; Herrmann, Maike; Pfaller, Christian K; Vondran, Florian W R; Broering, Ruth; et al. (ASM, 2021-03-03)
      Transcriptional profiling provides global snapshots of virus-mediated cellular reprogramming, which can simultaneously encompass pro- and antiviral components. To determine early transcriptional signatures associated with HCV infection of authentic target cells, we performed ex vivo infections of adult primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) from seven donors. Longitudinal sampling identified minimal gene dysregulation at six hours post infection (hpi). In contrast, at 72 hpi, massive increases in the breadth and magnitude of HCV-induced gene dysregulation were apparent, affecting gene classes associated with diverse biological processes. Comparison with HCV-induced transcriptional dysregulation in Huh-7.5 cells identified limited overlap between the two systems. Of note, in PHHs, HCV infection initiated broad upregulation of canonical interferon (IFN)-mediated defense programs, limiting viral RNA replication and abrogating virion release. We further find that constitutive expression of IRF1 in PHHs maintains a steady-state antiviral program in the absence of infection, which can additionally reduce HCV RNA translation and replication. We also detected infection-induced downregulation of ∼90 genes encoding components of the EIF2 translation initiation complex and ribosomal subunits in PHHs, consistent with a signature of translational shutoff. As HCV polyprotein translation occurs independently of the EIF2 complex, this process is likely pro-viral: only translation initiation of host transcripts is arrested. The combination of antiviral intrinsic and inducible immunity, balanced against pro-viral programs, including translational arrest, maintains HCV replication at a low-level in PHHs. This may ultimately keep HCV under the radar of extra-hepatocyte immune surveillance while initial infection is established, promoting tolerance, preventing clearance and facilitating progression to chronicity.IMPORTANCEAcute HCV infections are often asymptomatic and therefore frequently undiagnosed. We endeavored to recreate this understudied phase of HCV infection using explanted PHHs and monitored host responses to initial infection. We detected temporally distinct virus-induced perturbations in the transcriptional landscape, which were initially narrow but massively amplified in breadth and magnitude over time. At 72 hpi, we detected dysregulation of diverse gene programs, concurrently promoting both virus clearance and virus persistence. On the one hand, baseline expression of IRF1 combined with infection-induced upregulation of IFN-mediated effector genes suppresses virus propagation. On the other, we detect transcriptional signatures of host translational inhibition, which likely reduces processing of IFN-regulated gene transcripts and facilitates virus survival. Together, our data provide important insights into constitutive and virus-induced transcriptional programs in PHHs, and identifies simultaneous antagonistic dysregulation of pro-and anti-viral programs which may facilitate host tolerance and promote viral persistence.
    • 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.