• Salmonella persisters undermine host immune defenses during antibiotic treatment.

      Stapels, Daphne A C; Hill, Peter W S; Westermann, Alexander J; Fisher, Robert A; Thurston, Teresa L; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Blommestein, Isabelle; Vogel, Jörg; Helaine, Sophie; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2018-12-07)
      Many bacterial infections are hard to treat and tend to relapse, possibly due to the presence of antibiotic-tolerant persisters. In vitro, persister cells appear to be dormant. After uptake of Salmonella species by macrophages, nongrowing persisters also occur, but their physiological state is poorly understood. In this work, we show that Salmonella persisters arising during macrophage infection maintain a metabolically active state. Persisters reprogram macrophages by means of effectors secreted by the Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 type 3 secretion system. These effectors dampened proinflammatory innate immune responses and induced anti-inflammatory macrophage polarization. Such reprogramming allowed nongrowing Salmonella cells to survive for extended periods in their host. Persisters undermining host immune defenses might confer an advantage to the pathogen during relapse once antibiotic pressure is relieved.
    • 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.
    • scSLAM-seq reveals core features of transcription dynamics in single cells.

      Erhard, Florian; Baptista, Marisa A P; Krammer, Tobias; Hennig, Thomas; Lange, Marius; Arampatzi, Panagiota; Jürges, Christopher S; Theis, Fabian J; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Dölken, Lars; et al. (Springer-Nature, 2019-01-01)
      Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has highlighted the important role of intercellular heterogeneity in phenotype variability in both health and disease1. However, current scRNA-seq approaches provide only a snapshot of gene expression and convey little information on the true temporal dynamics and stochastic nature of transcription. A further key limitation of scRNA-seq analysis is that the RNA profile of each individual cell can be analysed only once. Here we introduce single-cell, thiol-(SH)-linked alkylation of RNA for metabolic labelling sequencing (scSLAM-seq), which integrates metabolic RNA labelling2, biochemical nucleoside conversion3 and scRNA-seq to record transcriptional activity directly by differentiating between new and old RNA for thousands of genes per single cell. We use scSLAM-seq to study the onset of infection with lytic cytomegalovirus in single mouse fibroblasts. The cell-cycle state and dose of infection deduced from old RNA enable dose-response analysis based on new RNA. scSLAM-seq thereby both visualizes and explains differences in transcriptional activity at the single-cell level. Furthermore, it depicts 'on-off' switches and transcriptional burst kinetics in host gene expression with extensive gene-specific differences that correlate with promoter-intrinsic features (TBP-TATA-box interactions and DNA methylation). Thus, gene-specific, and not cell-specific, features explain the heterogeneity in transcriptomes between individual cells and the transcriptional response to perturbations.
    • Seropositivity for pathogens associated with chronic infections is a risk factor for all-cause mortality in the elderly: findings from the Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly (MEMO) Study.

      Zeeb, Marius; Kerrinnes, Tobias; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Guzman, Carlos A; Puppe, Wolfram; Schulz, Thomas F; Peters, Annette; Berger, Klaus; Castell, Stefanie; Karch, André; et al. (Springer, 2020-07-09)
      Immunostimulation by chronic infection has been linked to an increased risk for different non-communicable diseases, which in turn are leading causes of death in high- and middle-income countries. Thus, we investigated if a positive serostatus for pathogens responsible for common chronic infections is individually or synergistically related to reduced overall survival in community dwelling elderly. We used data of 365 individuals from the German MEMO (Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly) cohort study with a median age of 73 years at baseline and a median follow-up of 14 years. We examined the effect of a positive serostatus at baseline for selected pathogens associated with chronic infections (Helicobacter pylori, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Toxoplasma gondii, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus 1/2, and human herpesvirus 6) on all-cause mortality with multivariable parametric survival models. We found a reduced survival time in individuals with a positive serostatus for Helicobacter pylori (accelerated failure time (AFT) - 15.92, 95% CI - 29.96; - 1.88), cytomegalovirus (AFT - 22.81, 95% CI - 36.41; - 9.22) and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (AFT - 25.25, 95% CI - 43.40; - 7.10), after adjusting for potential confounders. The number of infectious agents an individual was seropositive for had a linear effect on all-cause mortality (AFT per additional infection - 12.42 95% CI - 18.55; - 6.30). Our results suggest an effect of seropositivity for Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato on all-cause mortality in older community dwelling individuals. Further research with larger cohorts and additional biomarkers is required, to assess mediators and molecular pathways of this effect.
    • Severe COVID-19 Is Marked by a Dysregulated Myeloid Cell Compartment.

      Schulte-Schrepping, Jonas; Reusch, Nico; Paclik, Daniela; Baßler, Kevin; Schlickeiser, Stephan; Zhang, Bowen; Krämer, Benjamin; Krammer, Tobias; Brumhard, Sophia; Bonaguro, Lorenzo; et al. (Elsevier /Cell Press), 2020-08-05)
      Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a mild to moderate respiratory tract infection, however, a subset of patients progress to severe disease and respiratory failure. The mechanism of protective immunity in mild forms and the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 associated with increased neutrophil counts and dysregulated immune responses remain unclear. In a dual-center, two-cohort study, we combined single-cell RNA-sequencing and single-cell proteomics of whole-blood and peripheral-blood mononuclear cells to determine changes in immune cell composition and activation in mild versus severe COVID-19 (242 samples from 109 individuals) over time. HLA-DRhiCD11chi inflammatory monocytes with an interferon-stimulated gene signature were elevated in mild COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 was marked by occurrence of neutrophil precursors, as evidence of emergency myelopoiesis, dysfunctional mature neutrophils, and HLA-DRlo monocytes. Our study provides detailed insights into the systemic immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and reveals profound alterations in the myeloid cell compartment associated with severe COVID-19.
    • Single-cell RNA-sequencing reports growth-condition-specific global transcriptomes of individual bacteria.

      Imdahl, Fabian; Vafadarnejad, Ehsan; Homberger, Christina; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Nature research, 2020-08-17)
      Bacteria respond to changes in their environment with specific transcriptional programmes, but even within genetically identical populations these programmes are not homogenously expressed1. Such transcriptional heterogeneity between individual bacteria allows genetically clonal communities to develop a complex array of phenotypes1, examples of which include persisters that resist antibiotic treatment and metabolically specialized cells that emerge under nutrient-limiting conditions2. Fluorescent reporter constructs have played a pivotal role in deciphering heterogeneous gene expression within bacterial populations3 but have been limited to recording the activity of single genes in a few genetically tractable model species, whereas the vast majority of bacteria remain difficult to engineer and/or even to cultivate. Single-cell transcriptomics is revolutionizing the analysis of phenotypic cell-to-cell variation in eukaryotes, but technical hurdles have prevented its robust application to prokaryotes. Here, using an improved poly(A)-independent single-cell RNA-sequencing protocol, we report the faithful capture of growth-dependent gene expression patterns in individual Salmonella and Pseudomonas bacteria across all RNA classes and genomic regions. These transcriptomes provide important reference points for single-cell RNA-sequencing of other bacterial species, mixed microbial communities and host-pathogen interactions.
    • 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.
    • Stress-induced host membrane remodeling protects from infection by non-motile bacterial pathogens.

      Tawk, Caroline; Nigro, Giulia; Rodrigues Lopes, Ines; Aguilar, Carmen; Lisowski, Clivia; Mano, Miguel; Sansonetti, Philippe; Vogel, Jörg; Eulalio, Ana; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2018-11-02)
      While mucosal inflammation is a major source of stress during enteropathogen infection, it remains to be fully elucidated how the host benefits from this environment to clear the pathogen. Here, we show that host stress induced by different stimuli mimicking inflammatory conditions strongly reduces the binding of Shigella flexneri to epithelial cells. Mechanistically, stress activates acid sphingomyelinase leading to host membrane remodeling. Consequently, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of the acid sphingomyelinase blunts the stress-dependent inhibition of Shigella binding to host cells. Interestingly, stress caused by intracellular Shigella replication also results in remodeling of the host cell membrane, in vitro and in vivo, which precludes re-infection by this and other non-motile pathogens. In contrast, Salmonella Typhimurium overcomes the shortage of permissive entry sites by gathering effectively at the remaining platforms through its flagellar motility. Overall, our findings reveal host membrane remodeling as a novel stress-responsive cell-autonomous defense mechanism that protects epithelial cells from infection by non-motile bacterial pathogens.
    • A systematic analysis of the RNA-targeting potential of secreted bacterial effector proteins.

      Tawk, Caroline; Sharan, Malvika; Eulalio, Ana; Vogel, Jörg; Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Schneider-Straße2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2017-08-24)
      Many pathogenic bacteria utilize specialized secretion systems to deliver proteins called effectors into eukaryotic cells for manipulation of host pathways. The vast majority of known effector targets are host proteins, whereas a potential targeting of host nucleic acids remains little explored. There is only one family of effectors known to target DNA directly, and effectors binding host RNA are unknown. Here, we take a two-pronged approach to search for RNA-binding effectors, combining biocomputational prediction of RNA-binding domains (RBDs) in a newly assembled comprehensive dataset of bacterial secreted proteins, and experimental screening for RNA binding in mammalian cells. Only a small subset of effectors were predicted to carry an RBD, indicating that if RNA targeting was common, it would likely involve new types of RBDs. Our experimental evaluation of effectors with predicted RBDs further argues for a general paucity of RNA binding activities amongst bacterial effectors. We obtained evidence that PipB2 and Lpg2844, effector proteins of Salmonella and Legionella species, respectively, may harbor novel biochemical activities. Our study presenting the first systematic evaluation of the RNA-targeting potential of bacterial effectors offers a basis for discussion of whether or not host RNA is a prominent target of secreted bacterial proteins.
    • Trans-Acting Small RNAs and Their Effects on Gene Expression in and Escherichia coli and Salmonella.

      Hör, Jens; Matera, Gianluca; Vogel, Jörg; Gottesman, Susan; Storz, Gisela; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (ASM, 2020-03-20)
      The last few decades have led to an explosion in our understanding of the major roles that small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) play in regulatory circuits and the responses to stress in many bacterial species. Much of the foundational work was carried out with Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. The studies of these organisms provided an overview of how the sRNAs function and their impact on bacterial physiology, serving as a blueprint for sRNA biology in many other prokaryotes. They also led to the development of new technologies. In this chapter, we first summarize how these sRNAs were identified, defining them in the process. We discuss how they are regulated and how they act and provide selected examples of their roles in regulatory circuits and the consequences of this regulation. Throughout, we summarize the methodologies that were developed to identify and study the regulatory RNAs, most of which are applicable to other bacteria. Newly updated databases of the known sRNAs in E. coli K-12 and S. enterica Typhimurium SL1344 serve as a reference point for much of the discussion and, hopefully, as a resource for readers and for future experiments to address open questions raised in this review.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.