• Global snapshots of bacterial RNA networks.

      Hör, Jens; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung,Josef-Schneider-Straße 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2017-02-01)
    • Grad-seq in a Gram-positive bacterium reveals exonucleolytic sRNA activation in competence control.

      Hör, Jens; Garriss, Geneviève; Di Giorgio, Silvia; Hack, Lisa-Marie; Vanselow, Jens T; Förstner, Konrad U; Schlosser, Andreas; Henriques-Normark, Birgitta; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (EMBO Press, 2020-03-30)
      RNA-protein interactions are the crucial basis for many steps of bacterial gene expression, including post-transcriptional control by small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs). In stark contrast to recent progress in the analysis of Gram-negative bacteria, knowledge about RNA-protein complexes in Gram-positive species remains scarce. Here, we used the Grad-seq approach to draft a comprehensive landscape of such complexes in Streptococcus pneumoniae, in total determining the sedimentation profiles of ~ 88% of the transcripts and ~ 62% of the proteins of this important human pathogen. Analysis of in-gradient distributions and subsequent tag-based protein capture identified interactions of the exoribonuclease Cbf1/YhaM with sRNAs that control bacterial competence for DNA uptake. Unexpectedly, the nucleolytic activity of Cbf1 stabilizes these sRNAs, thereby promoting their function as repressors of competence. Overall, these results provide the first RNA/protein complexome resource of a Gram-positive species and illustrate how this can be utilized to identify new molecular factors with functions in RNA-based regulation of virulence-relevant pathways.
    • Grad-seq shines light on unrecognized RNA and protein complexes in the model bacterium Escherichia coli.

      Hör, Jens; Di Giorgio, Silvia; Gerovac, Milan; Venturini, Elisa; Förstner, Konrad U; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Oxford University Press, 2020-08-19)
      Stable protein complexes, including those formed with RNA, are major building blocks of every living cell. Escherichia coli has been the leading bacterial organism with respect to global protein-protein networks. Yet, there has been no global census of RNA/protein complexes in this model species of microbiology. Here, we performed Grad-seq to establish an RNA/protein complexome, reconstructing sedimentation profiles in a glycerol gradient for ∼85% of all E. coli transcripts and ∼49% of the proteins. These include the majority of small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) detectable in this bacterium as well as the general sRNA-binding proteins, CsrA, Hfq and ProQ. In presenting use cases for utilization of these RNA and protein maps, we show that a stable association of RyeG with 30S ribosomes gives this seemingly noncoding RNA of prophage origin away as an mRNA of a toxic small protein. Similarly, we show that the broadly conserved uncharacterized protein YggL is a 50S subunit factor in assembled 70S ribosomes. Overall, this study crucially extends our knowledge about the cellular interactome of the primary model bacterium E. coli through providing global RNA/protein complexome information and should facilitate functional discovery in this and related species.
    • 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.
    • Growth-uncoupled isoprenoid synthesis in Rhodobacter sphaeroides.

      Orsi, Enrico; Mougiakos, Ioannis; Post, Wilbert; Beekwilder, Jules; Dompè, Marco; Eggink, Gerrit; van der Oost, John; Kengen, Servé W M; Weusthuis, Ruud A; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (BMC, 2020-07-13)
      Microbial cell factories are usually engineered and employed for cultivations that combine product synthesis with growth. Such a strategy inevitably invests part of the substrate pool towards the generation of biomass and cellular maintenance. Hence, engineering strains for the formation of a specific product under non-growth conditions would allow to reach higher product yields. In this respect, isoprenoid biosynthesis represents an extensively studied example of growth-coupled synthesis with rather unexplored potential for growth-independent production. Rhodobacter sphaeroides is a model bacterium for isoprenoid biosynthesis, either via the native 2-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway or the heterologous mevalonate (MVA) pathway, and for poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) biosynthesis.
    • Herpes simplex virus blocks host transcription termination via the bimodal activities of ICP27.

      Wang, Xiuye; Hennig, Thomas; Whisnant, Adam W; Erhard, Florian; Prusty, Bhupesh K; Friedel, Caroline C; Forouzmand, Elmira; Hu, William; Erber, Luke; Chen, Yue; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2020-01-15)
      Infection by viruses, including herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1), and cellular stresses causewidespread disruption of transcription termination (DoTT) of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) inhost genes. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate thatthe HSV-1 immediate early protein ICP27 induces DoTT by directly binding to the essentialmRNA 3’processing factor CPSF. It thereby induces the assembly of a dead-end 3’processing complex, blocking mRNA 3’cleavage. Remarkably, ICP27 also acts as a sequence-dependent activator of mRNA 3’processing for viral and a subset of host transcripts.Our results unravel a bimodal activity of ICP27 that plays a key role in HSV-1-induced hostshutoff and identify CPSF as an important factor that mediates regulation of transcriptiontermination. Thesefindings have broad implications for understanding the regulation oftranscription termination by other viruses, cellular stress and cancer.
    • HHV-6 encoded small non-coding RNAs define an intermediate and early stage in viral reactivation.

      Prusty, Bhupesh K; Gulve, Nitish; Chowdhury, Suvagata Roy; Schuster, Michael; Strempel, Sebastian; Descamps, Vincent; Rudel, Thomas; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      Human herpesvirus 6A and 6B frequently acquires latency. HHV-6 activation has been associated with various human diseases. Germ line inheritance of chromosomally integrated HHV-6 makes viral DNA-based analysis difficult for determination of early stages of viral activation. We characterized early stages of HHV-6 activation using high throughput transcriptomics studies and applied the results to understand virus activation under clinical conditions. Using a latent HHV-6A cell culture model in U2OS cells, we identified an early stage of viral reactivation, which we define as transactivation that is marked by transcription of several viral small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) in the absence of detectable increase in viral replication and proteome. Using deep sequencing approaches, we detected previously known as well as a new viral sncRNAs that characterized viral transactivation and differentiated it from latency. Here we show changes in human transcriptome upon viral transactivation that reflect multiple alterations in mitochondria-associated pathways, which was supported by observation of increased mitochondrial fragmentation in virus reactivated cells. Furthermore, we present here a unique clinical case of DIHS/DRESS associated death where HHV-6 sncRNA-U14 was abundantly detected throughout the body of the patient in the presence of low viral DNA. In this study, we have identified a unique and early stage of viral activation that is characterized by abundant transcription of viral sncRNAs, which can serve as an ideal biomarker under clinical conditions.
    • A high-resolution transcriptome map identifies small RNA regulation of metabolism in the gut microbe Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron.

      Ryan, Daniel; Jenniches, Laura; Reichardt, Sarah; Barquist, Lars; Westermann, Alexander J; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (NPG, 2020-07-16)
      Bacteria of the genus Bacteroides are common members of the human intestinal microbiota and important degraders of polysaccharides in the gut. Among them, the species Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron has emerged as the model organism for functional microbiota research. Here, we use differential RNA sequencing (dRNA-seq) to generate a single-nucleotide resolution transcriptome map of B. thetaiotaomicron grown under defined laboratory conditions. An online browser, called 'Theta-Base' ( www.helmholtz-hiri.de/en/datasets/bacteroides ), is launched to interrogate the obtained gene expression data and annotations of ~4500 transcription start sites, untranslated regions, operon structures, and 269 noncoding RNA elements. Among the latter is GibS, a conserved, 145 nt-long small RNA that is highly expressed in the presence of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine as sole carbon source. We use computational predictions and experimental data to determine the secondary structure of GibS and identify its target genes. Our results indicate that sensing of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine induces GibS expression, which in turn modifies the transcript levels of metabolic enzymes.
    • 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.
    • Humanized mice for modeling human infectious disease: challenges, progress, and outlook.

      Legrand, Nicolas; Ploss, Alexander; Balling, Rudi; Becker, Pablo D; Borsotti, Chiara; Brezillon, Nicolas; Debarry, Jennifer; de Jong, Ype; Deng, Hongkui; Di Santo, James P; et al. (2009-07-23)
      Over 800 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis viruses, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and malaria, resulting in more than 5 million deaths annually. Here we discuss the potential and challenges of humanized mouse models for developing effective and affordable therapies and vaccines, which are desperately needed to combat these diseases.
    • A Hyperthermoactive-Cas9 Editing Tool Reveals the Role of a Unique Arsenite Methyltransferase in the Arsenic Resistance System of Thermus thermophilus HB27.

      Gallo, Giovanni; Mougiakos, Ioannis; Bianco, Mauricio; Carbonaro, Miriam; Carpentieri, Andrea; Illiano, Anna; Pucci, Pietro; Bartolucci, Simonetta; van der Oost, John; Fiorentino, Gabriella; et al. (ASM, 2021-12-07)
      Arsenic detoxification systems can be found in a wide range of organisms, from bacteria to humans. In a previous study, we discovered an arsenic-responsive transcriptional regulator in the thermophilic bacterium Thermus thermophilus HB27 (TtSmtB). Here, we characterize the arsenic resistance system of T. thermophilus in more detail. We employed TtSmtB-based pulldown assays with protein extracts from cultures treated with arsenate and arsenite to obtain an S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM)-dependent arsenite methyltransferase (TtArsM). In vivo and in vitro analyses were performed to shed light on this new component of the arsenic resistance network and its peculiar catalytic mechanism. Heterologous expression of TtarsM in Escherichia coli resulted in arsenite detoxification at mesophilic temperatures. Although TtArsM does not contain a canonical arsenite binding site, the purified protein does catalyze SAM-dependent arsenite methylation with formation of monomethylarsenites (MMAs) and dimethylarsenites (DMAs). In addition, in vitro analyses confirmed the unique interaction between TtArsM and TtSmtB. Next, a highly efficient ThermoCas9-based genome-editing tool was developed to delete the TtArsM-encoding gene on the T. thermophilus genome and to confirm its involvement in the arsenite detoxification system. Finally, the TtarsX efflux pump gene in the T. thermophilus ΔTtarsM genome was substituted by a gene encoding a stabilized yellow fluorescent protein (sYFP) to create a sensitive genome-based bioreporter system for the detection of arsenic ions. IMPORTANCE We here describe the discovery of an unknown protein by using a proteomics approach with a transcriptional regulator as bait. Remarkably, we successfully obtained a novel type of enzyme through the interaction with a transcriptional regulator controlling the expression of this enzyme. Employing this strategy, we isolated TtArsM, the first thermophilic prokaryotic arsenite methyltransferase, as a new enzyme of the arsenic resistance mechanism in T. thermophilus HB27. The atypical arsenite binding site of TtArsM categorizes the enzyme as the first member of a new arsenite methyltransferase type, exclusively present in the Thermus genus. The enzyme methylates arsenite-producing MMAs and DMAs. Furthermore, we developed an hyperthermophilic Cas9-based genome-editing tool, active up to 65°C. The tool allowed us to perform highly efficient, marker-free modifications (either gene deletion or insertion) in the T. thermophilus genome. With these modifications, we confirmed the critical role of TtArsM in the arsenite detoxification system and developed a sensitive whole-cell bioreporter for arsenic ions. We anticipate that the developed tool can be easily adapted for editing the genomes of other thermophilic bacteria, significantly boosting fundamental and metabolic engineering in hyperthermophilic microorganisms.
    • Identification of a Novel LysR-Type Transcriptional Regulator in Staphylococcus aureus That Is Crucial for Secondary Tissue Colonization during Metastatic Bloodstream Infection.

      Groma, Michaela; Horst, Sarah A; Das, Sudip; Huettel, Bruno; Klepsch, Maximilian; Rudel, Thomas; Medina, Eva; Fraunholz, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (ASM, 2020-08-25)
      Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of bacteremia that can lead to severe complications once the bacteria exit the bloodstream and establish infection in secondary organs. Despite its clinical relevance, little is known about the bacterial factors facilitating the development of these metastatic infections. Here, we used an S. aureus transposon mutant library coupled to transposon insertion sequencing (Tn-Seq) to identify genes that are critical for efficient bacterial colonization of secondary organs in a murine model of metastatic bloodstream infection. Our transposon screen identified a LysR-type transcriptional regulator (LTTR), which was required for efficient colonization of secondary organs such as the kidneys in infected mice. The critical role of LTTR in secondary organ colonization was confirmed using an isogenic mutant deficient in the expression of LTTR. To identify the set of genes controlled by LTTR, we used an S. aureus strain carrying the LTTR gene in an inducible expression plasmid. Gene expression analysis upon induction of LTTR showed increased transcription of genes involved in branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis, a methionine sulfoxide reductase, and a copper transporter as well as decreased transcription of genes coding for urease and components of pyrimidine nucleotides. Furthermore, we show that transcription of LTTR is repressed by glucose, is induced under microaerobic conditions, and required trace amounts of copper ions. Our data thus pinpoints LTTR as an important element that enables a rapid adaptation of S. aureus to the changing host microenvironment.IMPORTANCEStaphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen that can disseminate via the bloodstream and establish metastatic infections in distant organs. To achieve a better understanding of the bacterial factors facilitating the development of these metastatic infections, we used in this study a Staphylococcus aureus transposon mutant library in a murine model of intravenous infection, where bacteria first colonize the liver as the primary infection site and subsequently progress to secondary sites such as the kidney and bones. We identified a novel LysR-type transcriptional regulator (LTTR), which was specifically required by S. aureus for efficient colonization of secondary organs. We also determined the transcriptional activation as well as the regulon of LTTR, which suggests that this regulator is involved in the metabolic adaptation of S. aureus to the host microenvironment found in secondary infection sites.
    • Impact of healthy aging on active bacterial assemblages throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

      Schütte, Kerstin; Schulz, Christian; Vilchez-Vargas, Ramiro; Vasapolli, Riccardo; Palm, Frederike; Simon, Bianca; Schomburg, Dirk; Lux, Anke; Geffers, Robert; Pieper, Dietmar H; et al. (Taylor & Francis, 2021-08-30)
      The adaption of gut microbiota (GM) throughout human life is a key factor in maintaining health. Interventions to restore a healthy GM composition may have the potential to improve health and disease outcomes in the elderly. We performed a comprehensive characterization of changes in the luminal and mucosa-associated microbiota composition in elderly compared with younger healthy individuals. Samples from saliva and feces, and biopsies from the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract (UGIT, LGIT), were collected from 59 asymptomatic individuals grouped by age: 40-55, 56-70, and 71-85 years). All underwent anthropometric, geriatric, and nutritional assessment. RNA was extracted and reverse-transcribed into complementary DNA; the V1-V2 regions of 16S ribosomal RNA genes were amplified and sequenced. Abundances of the taxa in all taxonomic ranks in each sample type were used to construct sample-similarity matrices by the Bray-Curtis algorithm. Significant differences between defined groups were assessed by analysis of similarity. The bacterial community showed strong interindividual variations and a clear distinction between samples from UGIT, LGIT, and feces. While in saliva some taxa were affected by aging, this number was considerably greater in UGIT and was subsequently higher in LGIT. Unexpectedly, aging scarcely influenced the bacterial community of feces over the age range of 40-85 years. The development of interventions to preserve and restore human health with increased age by establishing a healthy gut microbiome should not rely solely on data from fecal analysis, as the intestinal mucosa is affected by more significant changes, which differ from those observed in fecal analyses.
    • Improved bacterial RNA-seq by Cas9-based depletion of ribosomal RNA reads.

      Prezza, Gianluca; Heckel, Tobias; Dietrich, Sascha; Homberger, Christina; Westermann, Alexander J; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2020-04-28)
      A major challenge for RNA-seq analysis of gene expression is to achieve sufficient coverage of informative nonribosomal transcripts. In eukaryotic samples, this is typically achieved by selective oligo(dT)-priming of messenger RNAs to exclude ribosomal RNA (rRNA) during cDNA synthesis. However, this strategy is not compatible with prokaryotes in which functional transcripts are generally not polyadenylated. To overcome this, we adopted DASH (depletion of abundant sequences by hybridization), initially developed for eukaryotic cells, to improve both the sensitivity and depth of bacterial RNA-seq. DASH uses the Cas9 nuclease to remove unwanted cDNA sequences prior to library amplification. We report the design, evaluation, and optimization of DASH experiments for standard bacterial short-read sequencing approaches, including software for automated guide RNA (gRNA) design for Cas9-mediated cleavage in bacterial rDNA sequences. Using these gRNA pools, we effectively removed rRNA reads (56%-86%) in RNA-seq libraries from two different model bacteria, the Gram-negative pathogen Salmonella enterica and the anaerobic gut commensal Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron DASH works robustly, even with subnanogram amounts of input RNA. Its efficiency, high sensitivity, ease of implementation, and low cost (∼$5 per sample) render DASH an attractive alternative to rRNA removal protocols, in particular for material-constrained studies where conventional ribodepletion techniques fail.
    • 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.
    • Increasing storage stability of freeze-dried plasma using trehalose.

      Brogna, Raffaele; Oldenhof, Harriëtte; Sieme, Harald; Figueiredo, Constança; Kerrinnes, Tobias; Wolkers, Willem F; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-06-11)
      Preservation of blood plasma in the dried state would facilitate long-term storage and transport at ambient temperatures, without the need of to use liquid nitrogen tanks or freezers. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of dry preservation of human plasma, using sugars as lyoprotectants, and evaluate macromolecular stability of plasma components during storage. Blood plasma from healthy donors was freeze dried using 0-10% glucose, sucrose, or trehalose, and stored at various temperatures. Differential scanning calorimetry was used to measure the glass transition temperatures of freeze-dried samples. Protein aggregation, the overall protein secondary structure, and oxidative damage were studied under different storage conditions. Differential scanning calorimetry measurements showed that plasma freeze-dried with glucose, sucrose and trehalose have glass transition temperatures of respectively 72±3.4°C, 46±11°C, 15±2.4°C. It was found that sugars diminish freeze-drying induced protein aggregation in a dose-dependent manner, and that a 10% (w/v) sugar concentration almost entirely prevents protein aggregation. Protein aggregation after rehydration coincided with relatively high contents of β-sheet structures in the dried state. Trehalose reduced the rate of protein aggregation during storage at elevated temperatures, and plasma that is freeze- dried plasma with trehalose showed a reduced accumulation of reactive oxygen species and protein oxidation products during storage. In conclusion, freeze-drying plasma with trehalose provides an attractive alternative to traditional cryogenic preservation
    • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Brain Endothelial Cells as a Cellular Model to Study Infection.

      Martins Gomes, Sara F; Westermann, Alexander J; Sauerwein, Till; Hertlein, Tobias; Förstner, Konrad U; Ohlsen, Knut; Metzger, Marco; Shusta, Eric V; Kim, Brandon J; Appelt-Menzel, Antje; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Meningococcal meningitis is a severe central nervous system infection that occurs when Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) penetrates brain endothelial cells (BECs) of the meningeal blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier. As a human-specific pathogen, in vivo models are greatly limited and pose a significant challenge. In vitro cell models have been developed, however, most lack critical BEC phenotypes limiting their usefulness. Human BECs generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) retain BEC properties and offer the prospect of modeling the human-specific Nm interaction with BECs. Here, we exploit iPSC-BECs as a novel cellular model to study Nm host-pathogen interactions, and provide an overview of host responses to Nm infection. Using iPSC-BECs, we first confirmed that multiple Nm strains and mutants follow similar phenotypes to previously described models. The recruitment of the recently published pilus adhesin receptor CD147 underneath meningococcal microcolonies could be verified in iPSC-BECs. Nm was also observed to significantly increase the expression of pro-inflammatory and neutrophil-specific chemokines IL6, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL8, and CCL20, and the secretion of IFN-γ and RANTES. For the first time, we directly observe that Nm disrupts the three tight junction proteins ZO-1, Occludin, and Claudin-5, which become frayed and/or discontinuous in BECs upon Nm challenge. In accordance with tight junction loss, a sharp loss in trans-endothelial electrical resistance, and an increase in sodium fluorescein permeability and in bacterial transmigration, was observed. Finally, we established RNA-Seq of sorted, infected iPSC-BECs, providing expression data of Nm-responsive host genes. Altogether, this model provides novel insights into Nm pathogenesis, including an impact of Nm on barrier properties and tight junction complexes, and suggests that the paracellular route may contribute to Nm traversal of BECs.
    • 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.
    • Integrative functional genomics decodes herpes simplex virus 1.

      Whisnant, Adam W; Jürges, Christopher S; Hennig, Thomas; Wyler, Emanuel; Prusty, Bhupesh; Rutkowski, Andrzej J; L'hernault, Anne; Djakovic, Lara; Göbel, Margarete; Döring, Kristina; et al. (NPG, 2020-04-27)
      The predicted 80 open reading frames (ORFs) of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) have been intensively studied for decades. Here, we unravel the complete viral transcriptome and translatome during lytic infection with base-pair resolution by computational integration of multi-omics data. We identify a total of 201 transcripts and 284 ORFs including all known and 46 novel large ORFs. This includes a so far unknown ORF in the locus deleted in the FDA-approved oncolytic virus Imlygic. Multiple transcript isoforms expressed from individual gene loci explain translation of the vast majority of ORFs as well as N-terminal extensions (NTEs) and truncations. We show that NTEs with non-canonical start codons govern the subcellular protein localization and packaging of key viral regulators and structural proteins. We extend the current nomenclature to include all viral gene products and provide a genome browser that visualizes all the obtained data from whole genome to single-nucleotide resolution.
    • 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.