head of the department: Dr. Till Strowig

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  • An Integrated Metagenome Catalog Reveals New Insights into the Murine Gut Microbiome.

    Lesker, Till R; Durairaj, Abilash C; Gálvez, Eric J C; Lagkouvardos, Ilias; Baines, John F; Clavel, Thomas; Sczyrba, Alexander; McHardy, Alice C; Strowig, Till; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.
    The complexity of host-associated microbial ecosystems requires host-specific reference catalogs to survey the functions and diversity of these communities. We generate a comprehensive resource, the integrated mouse gut metagenome catalog (iMGMC), comprising 4.6 million unique genes and 660 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), many (485 MAGs, 73%) of which are linked to reconstructed full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences. iMGMC enables unprecedented coverage and taxonomic resolution of the mouse gut microbiota; i.e., more than 92% of MAGs lack species-level representatives in public repositories (<95% ANI match). The integration of MAGs and 16S rRNA gene data allows more accurate prediction of functional profiles of communities than predictions based on 16S rRNA amplicons alone. Accompanying iMGMC, we provide a set of MAGs representing 1,296 gut bacteria obtained through complementary assembly strategies. We envision that integrated resources such as iMGMC, together with MAG collections, will enhance the resolution of numerous existing and future sequencing-based studies.
  • c-FLIP is crucial for IL-7/IL-15-dependent NKp46 ILC development and protection from intestinal inflammation in mice.

    Bank, Ute; Deiser, Katrin; Plaza-Sirvent, Carlos; Osbelt, Lisa; Witte, Amelie; Knop, Laura; Labrenz, Rebecca; Jänsch, Robert; Richter, Felix; Biswas, Aindrila; et al. (Nature research, 2020-02-26)
    NKp46+ innate lymphoid cells (ILC) modulate tissue homeostasis and anti-microbial immune responses. ILC development and function are regulated by cytokines such as Interleukin (IL)-7 and IL-15. However, the ILC-intrinsic pathways translating cytokine signals into developmental programs are largely unknown. Here we show that the anti-apoptotic molecule cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) is crucial for the generation of IL-7/IL-15-dependent NKp46+ ILC1, including conventional natural killer (cNK) cells, and ILC3. Cytokine-induced phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) precedes up-regulation of c-FLIP, which protects developing NKp46+ ILC from TNF-induced apoptosis. NKp46+ ILC-specific inactivation of c-FLIP leads to the loss of all IL-7/IL-15-dependent NKp46+ ILC, thereby inducing early-onset chronic colitis and subsequently microbial dysbiosis; meanwhile, the depletion of cNK, but not NKp46+ ILC1/3, aggravates experimental colitis. In summary, our data demonstrate a non-redundant function of c-FLIP for the generation of NKp46+ ILC, which protect T/B lymphocyte-sufficient mice from intestinal inflammation.
  • The stem cell-specific long noncoding RNA HOXA10-AS in the pathogenesis of KMT2A-rearranged leukemia.

    Al-Kershi, Sina; Bhayadia, Raj; Ng, Michelle; Verboon, Lonneke; Emmrich, Stephan; Gack, Lucie; Schwarzer, Adrian; Strowig, Till; Heckl, Dirk; Klusmann, Jan-Henning; et al. (American Society of Haematology, 2019-12-23)
    HOX genes are highly conserved, and their precisely controlled expression is crucial for normal hematopoiesis. Accordingly, deregulation of HOX genes can cause leukemia. However, despite of intensive research on the coding HOX genes, the role of the numerous long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) within the HOX clusters during hematopoiesis and their contribution to leukemogenesis are incompletely understood. Here, we show that the lncRNA HOXA10-AS, located antisense to HOXA10 and mir-196b in the HOXA cluster, is highly expressed in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) as well as in KMT2A-rearranged and NPM1 mutated acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs). Using short hairpin RNA- and locked nucleic acid-conjugated chimeric antisense oligonucleotide (LNA-GapmeR)-mediated HOXA10-AS-knockdown and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated excision in vitro, we demonstrate that HOXA10-AS acts as an oncogene in KMT2A-rearranged AML. Moreover, HOXA10-AS knockdown severely impairs the leukemic growth of KMT2A-rearranged patient-derived xenografts in vivo, while high HOXA10-AS expression can serve as a marker of poor prognosis in AML patients. Lentiviral expression of HOXA10-AS blocks normal monocytic differentiation of human CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Mechanistically, we show that HOXA10-AS localizes in the cytoplasm and acts in trans to induce NF-κB target genes. In total, our data imply that the normally HSC-specific HOXA10-AS is an oncogenic lncRNA in KMT2A-r AML. Thus, it may also represent a potential therapeutic target in KMT2A-rearranged AML.
  • The role of Ames dwarfism and calorie restriction on gut microbiota.

    Wiesenborn, Denise S; Gálvez, Eric J C; Spinel, Lina; Victoria, Berta; Allen, Brittany; Schneider, Augusto; Gesing, Adam; Al-Regaiey, Khalid A; Strowig, Till; Schäfer, Karl-Herbert; et al. (Oxford Academic, 2019-10-30)
    The gut microbiome (GM) represents a large and very complex ecosystem of different microorganisms. There is an extensive interest in the potential role of the GM in different diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and aging. The GM changes over the lifespan and is strongly associated with various age-related diseases. Ames dwarf (df/df) mice are characterized by an extended life- and healthspan, and although these mice are protected from many age-related diseases, their microbiome has not been studied. To determine the role of microbiota on longevity animal models, we investigated the changes in the GM of df/df and Normal control (N) mice, by comparing parents before mating and littermate mice at three distinct time points during early life. Furthermore, we studied the effects of a 6-month calorie restriction (CR), the most powerful intervention extending the lifespan. Our data revealed significant changes of the GM composition during early life development, and we detected differences in the abundance of some bacteria between df/df and N mice, already in early life. Overall, the variability of the microbiota by genotype, time-point and breeding pair showed significant differences. In addition, CR caused significant changes in microbiome according to gastrointestinal (GI) location (distal colon, ileum and cecum), genotype and diet. However, the overall impact of the genotype was more prominent than that of the CR. In conclusion, our findings suggest that the gut microbiota plays an important role during post-natal development in long-living df/df mice and CR dietary regimen can significantly modulate the GM.
  • Caecal Microbiota of Experimentally Infected Chickens at Different Ages.

    Hankel, Julia; Jung, Klaus; Kuder, Henrike; Keller, Birgit; Keller, Christoph; Galvez, Eric; Strowig, Till; Visscher, Christian; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Campylobacter jejuni is the most common bacterial cause of foodborne zoonosis in the European Union. Infections are often linked to the consumption and handling of poultry meat. The aim of the present study was to investigate the caecal microbiota of birds infected with C. jejuni at different ages. Therefore, a total of 180 birds of the laying hybrid Lohmann Brown-Classic were housed in 12 subgroups of 15 animals each in three performed repetitions. Three birds per subgroup were experimentally infected with C. jejuni at an age of about 21 days and about 78 days (4.46 ± 0.35 log10 CFU/bird). Twenty-one days after experimental infection, microbiome studies were performed on 72 caecal samples of dissected birds (three primary infected and three further birds/subgroup). Amplification within the hypervariable region V 4 of the 16S rRNA gene was performed and sequenced with the Illumina MiSeq platform. Statistical analyses were performed using SAS® Enterprise Guide® (version 7.1) and R (version 3.5.2). Both factors, the experimental replication (p < 0.001) and the chickens' age at infection (p < 0.001) contributed significantly to the differences in microbial composition of the caecal samples. The factor experimental replication explained 24% of the sample's variability, whereas the factor age at infection explained 14% thereof. Twelve of 32 families showed a significantly different count profile between the two age groups, whereby strongest differences were seen for seven families, among them the family Campylobacteraceae (adjusted p = 0.003). The strongest difference between age groups was seen for a bacterial species that is assigned to the genus Turicibacter which in turn belongs to the family Erysipelotrichaceae (adjusted p < 0.0001). Correlation analyses revealed a common relationship in both chicken ages at infection between the absolute abundance of Campylobacteraceae and Alcaligenaceae, which consists of the genus Parasutterella. In general, concentrations of particular volatile fatty acids (VFA) demonstrated a negative correlation to absolute abundance of Campylobacteraceae, whereby the strongest link was seen for n-butyrate (-0.51141; p < 0.0001). Despite performing consecutive repetitions, the factor experimental replication contributed more to the differences of microbial composition in comparison to the factor age at infection.
  • Prdx4 limits caspase-1 activation and restricts inflammasome-mediated signaling by extracellular vesicles.

    Lipinski, Simone; Pfeuffer, Steffen; Arnold, Philipp; Treitz, Christian; Aden, Konrad; Ebsen, Henriette; Falk-Paulsen, Maren; Gisch, Nicolas; Fazio, Antonella; Kuiper, Jan; et al. (2019-09-23)
  • Prdx4 limits caspase‐1 activation and restricts inflammasome‐mediated signaling by extracellular vesicles

    Lipinski, Simone; Pfeuffer, Steffen; Arnold, Philipp; Treitz, Christian; Aden, Konrad; Ebsen, Henriette; Falk‐Paulsen, Maren; Gisch, Nicolas; Fazio, Antonella; Kuiper, Jan; et al. (EMBO Press, 2019-09-23)
    Inflammasomes are cytosolic protein complexes, which orchestrate the maturation of active IL-1β by proteolytic cleavage via caspase-1. Although many principles of inflammasome activation have been described, mechanisms that limit inflammasome-dependent immune responses remain poorly defined. Here, we show that the thiol-specific peroxidase peroxiredoxin-4 (Prdx4) directly regulates IL-1β generation by interfering with caspase-1 activity. We demonstrate that caspase-1 and Prdx4 form a redox-sensitive regulatory complex via caspase-1 cysteine 397 that leads to caspase-1 sequestration and inactivation. Mice lacking Prdx4 show an increased susceptibility to LPS-induced septic shock. This effect was phenocopied in mice carrying a conditional deletion of Prdx4 in the myeloid lineage (Prdx4-ΔLysMCre). Strikingly, we demonstrate that Prdx4 co-localizes with inflammasome components in extracellular vesicles (EVs) from inflammasome-activated macrophages. Purified EVs are able to transmit a robust IL-1β-dependent inflammatory response in vitro and also in recipient mice in vivo. Loss of Prdx4 boosts the pro-inflammatory potential of EVs. These findings identify Prdx4 as a critical regulator of inflammasome activity and provide new insights into remote cell-to-cell communication function of inflammasomes via macrophage-derived EVs
  • Prevotella copri in individuals at risk for rheumatoid arthritis.

    Alpizar-Rodriguez, Deshire; Lesker, Till Robin; Gronow, Achim; Gilbert, Benoît; Raemy, Elena; Lamacchia, Celine; Gabay, Cem; Finckh, Axel; Strowig, Till; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (BMJ-Journals, 2019-02-13)
    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been associated with a relative expansion of faecal Prevotellaceae. To determine the microbiome composition and prevalence of In an ongoing cohort study of first-degree relatives (FDRs) of patients with RA, we identified 'FDR controls', asymptomatic and without autoantibodies, and individuals in pre-clinical RA stages, who had either developed anticitrullinated peptide antibodies or rheumatoid factor positivity and/or symptoms and signs associated with possible RA. Stool sampling and culture-independent microbiota analyses were performed followed by descriptive statistics and statistical analyses of community structures. A total of 133 participants were included, of which 50 were categorised as 'FDR controls' and 83 in 'pre-clinical RA stages'. The microbiota of individuals in 'pre-clinical RA stages' was significantly altered compared with FDR controls. We found a significant enrichment of the bacterial family Prevotellaceae, particularly spp. enrichment in individuals in pre-clinical stages of RA, before the onset of RA, suggests a role of intestinal dysbiosis in the development of RA.
  • Performance, Fermentation Characteristics and Composition of the Microbiome in the Digest of Piglets Kept on a Feed With Humic Acid-Rich Peat.

    Visscher, Christian; Hankel, Julia; Nies, Andrea; Keller, Birgit; Galvez, Eric; Strowig, Till; Keller, Christoph; Breves, Gerhard; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    The transition from breast milk to solid feed is a dramatic change in the nutrition of piglets, frequently necessitating antibiotic treatment. In efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics, dietetic concepts based on natural feed additives are becoming more and more important. In the present study, experiments were carried out with 15 rearing piglets (days 28–56) divided into three groups that were offered different diets (Ctr [0% peat]; H1.5 [1.5% peat]; and H3.0 [3.0% peat] based on a commercial weaner recipe; all ~178 g CP, 13.7 MJ ME, 13.3 g Lys, as-fed). The contents of cecal and colon digesta were removed at necropsy. The gas formation (4 h) in colon digesta was measured using in vitro batch fermenters. For microbiome studies, 16S rRNA amplification was performed within the hypervariable region V 4 and sequenced with Illumina MiSeq platform. DNA read mapping and statistical analysis were performed using QIIME (version 1.8.0), MicrobiomeAnalyst, RStudio, and SAS Enterprise Guide. The mean body weight of the animals at the end of the trial did not show statistical differences (in kg: Ctr: 26.1 ± 4.85, H1.5: 28.5 ± 3.41, H3.0: 26.2 ± 4.92). The daily weight gains were high for this age (in g/day; Ctr: 607 ± 157; H1.5: 692 ± 101; H3.0: 615 ± 113) and the feed to gain ratio low (in kg/kg; Ctr: 1.538; H1.5: 1.462; H3.0: 1.462). Concentrations of short-chain fatty acids in the cecal content were significantly lower when peat was used (mmol/kg wet weight; Ctr: 173 ± 30.0; H1.5:134 ± 15.0; H3.0:133 ± 17.3). Numerical differences were found in the gas formation (in mL gas per 10 mL batch in 4 h; Ctr: 7.9 ± 2.2; H1.5: 7.4 ± 2.4; H3.0: 6.6 ± 1.1). The microbiome analyses in the cecal content showed significantly higher values for alpha diversity Chao 1 index for samples from the control group. Significant differences were found for bacterial relative abundance for Tenericutes at phylum level and Mollicutes at class level (p < 0.05) in cecal microbiota. Therefore, there was initial evidence that peat influences intestinal microflora causing a shift in the overall concentration of fermentation products in both, the cecal and the colon content.
  • Sequence and cultivation study of Muribaculaceae reveals novel species, host preference, and functional potential of this yet undescribed family.

    Lagkouvardos, Ilias; Lesker, Till R; Hitch, Thomas C A; Gálvez, Eric J C; Smit, Nathiana; Neuhaus, Klaus; Wang, Jun; Baines, John F; Abt, Birte; Stecher, Bärbel; et al. (BioMedCentral, 2019-02-19)
    Bacteria within family S24-7 (phylum Bacteroidetes) are dominant in the mouse gut microbiota and detected in the intestine of other animals. Because they had not been cultured until recently and the family classification is still ambiguous, interaction with their host was difficult to study and confusion still exists regarding sequence data annotation. We investigated family S24-7 by combining data from large-scale 16S rRNA gene analysis and from functional and taxonomic studies of metagenomic and cultured species. A total of 685 species was inferred by full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence clustering. While many species could not be assigned ecological habitats (93,045 samples analyzed), the mouse was the most commonly identified host (average of 20% relative abundance and nine co-occurring species). Shotgun metagenomics allowed reconstruction of 59 molecular species, of which 34 were representative of the 16S rRNA gene-derived species clusters. In addition, cultivation efforts allowed isolating five strains representing three species, including two novel taxa. Genome analysis revealed that S24-7 spp. are functionally distinct from neighboring families and versatile with respect to complex carbohydrate degradation. We provide novel data on the diversity, ecology, and description of bacterial family S24-7, for which the name Muribaculaceae is proposed.
  • The gut microbiota promotes hepatic fatty acid desaturation and elongation in mice.

    Kindt, Alida; Liebisch, Gerhard; Clavel, Thomas; Haller, Dirk; Hörmannsperger, Gabriele; Yoon, Hongsup; Kolmeder, Daniela; Sigruener, Alexander; Krautbauer, Sabrina; Seeliger, Claudine; et al. (2018-09-14)
    Interactions between the gut microbial ecosystem and host lipid homeostasis are highly relevant to host physiology and metabolic diseases. We present a comprehensive multi-omics view of the effect of intestinal microbial colonization on hepatic lipid metabolism, integrating transcriptomic, proteomic, phosphoproteomic, and lipidomic analyses of liver and plasma samples from germfree and specific pathogen-free mice. Microbes induce monounsaturated fatty acid generation by stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 and polyunsaturated fatty acid elongation by fatty acid elongase 5, leading to significant alterations in glycerophospholipid acyl-chain profiles. A composite classification score calculated from the observed alterations in fatty acid profiles in germfree mice clearly differentiates antibiotic-treated mice from untreated controls with high sensitivity. Mechanistic investigations reveal that acetate originating from gut microbial degradation of dietary fiber serves as precursor for hepatic synthesis of C16 and C18 fatty acids and their related glycerophospholipid species that are also released into the circulation.
  • The gut microbiota drives the impact of bile acids and fat source in diet on mouse metabolism.

    Just, Sarah; Mondot, Stanislas; Ecker, Josef; Wegner, Katrin; Rath, Eva; Gau, Laura; Streidl, Theresa; Hery-Arnaud, Genevieve; Schmidt, Sinah; Lesker, Till Robin; et al. (2018-08-02)
    As the gut microbiota contributes to metabolic health, it is important to determine specific diet-microbiota interactions that influence host metabolism. Bile acids and dietary fat source can alter phenotypes of diet-induced obesity, but the interplay with intestinal microorganisms is unclear. Here, we investigated metabolic consequences of diets enriched in primary bile acids with or without addition of lard or palm oil, and studied gut microbiota structure and functions in mice. In combination with bile acids, dietary lard fed to male C57BL/6N mice for a period of 8 weeks enhanced fat mass accumulation in colonized, but not in germ-free mice when compared to palm oil. This was associated with impaired glucose tolerance, lower fasting insulin levels, lower counts of enteroendocrine cells, fatty liver, and elevated amounts of hepatic triglycerides, cholesteryl esters, and monounsaturated fatty acids. Lard- and bile acid-fed mice were characterized by shifts in dominant gut bacterial communities, including decreased relative abundances of Lachnospiraceae and increased occurrence of Desulfovibrionaceae and the species Clostridium lactatifermentans and Flintibacter butyricus. Metatranscriptomic analysis revealed shifts in microbial functions, including lipid and amino acid metabolism. Caution is required when interpreting data from diet-induced obesity models due to varying effects of dietary fat source. Detrimental metabolic consequences of a diet enriched with lard and primary bile acids were dependent on microbial colonization of the host and were linked to hepatic lipid rearrangements and to alterations of dominant bacterial communities in the cecum.
  • Humanized mouse model supports development, function, and tissue residency of human natural killer cells.

    Herndler-Brandstetter, Dietmar; Shan, Liang; Yao, Yi; Stecher, Carmen; Plajer, Valerie; Lietzenmayer, Melanie; Strowig, Till; de Zoete, Marcel R; Palm, Noah W; Chen, Jie; et al. (2017-11-07)
    Immunodeficient mice reconstituted with a human immune system represent a promising tool for translational research as they may allow modeling and therapy of human diseases in vivo. However, insufficient development and function of human natural killer (NK) cells and T cell subsets limit the applicability of humanized mice for studying cancer biology and therapy. Here, we describe a human interleukin 15 (
  • Chronic d-serine supplementation impairs insulin secretion.

    Suwandhi, Lisa; Hausmann, Simone; Braun, Alexander; Gruber, Tim; Heinzmann, Silke S; Gálvez, Eric J C; Buck, Achim; Legutko, Beata; Israel, Andreas; Feuchtinger, Annette; et al. (2018-07-25)
    The metabolic role of d-serine, a non-proteinogenic NMDA receptor co-agonist, is poorly understood. Conversely, inhibition of pancreatic NMDA receptors as well as loss of the d-serine producing enzyme serine racemase have been shown to modulate insulin secretion. Thus, we aim to study the impact of chronic and acute d-serine supplementation on insulin secretion and other parameters of glucose homeostasis. We apply MALDI FT-ICR mass spectrometry imaging, NMR based metabolomics, 16s rRNA gene sequencing of gut microbiota in combination with a detailed physiological characterization to unravel the metabolic action of d-serine in mice acutely and chronically treated with 1% d-serine in drinking water in combination with either chow or high fat diet feeding. Moreover, we identify SNPs in SRR, the enzyme converting L-to d-serine and two subunits of the NMDA receptor to associate with insulin secretion in humans, based on the analysis of 2760 non-diabetic Caucasian individuals. We show that chronic elevation of d-serine results in reduced high fat diet intake. In addition, d-serine leads to diet-independent hyperglycemia due to blunted insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells. Inhibition of alpha 2-adrenergic receptors rapidly restores glycemia and glucose tolerance in d-serine supplemented mice. Moreover, we show that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SRR as well as in individual NMDAR subunits are associated with insulin secretion in humans. Thus, we identify a novel role of d-serine in regulating systemic glucose metabolism through modulating insulin secretion.
  • Successful Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in a Patient with Severe Complicated Clostridium difficile Infection after Liver Transplantation.

    Schneider, Kai Markus; Wirtz, Theresa H; Kroy, Daniela; Albers, Stefanie; Neumann, Ulf Peter; Strowig, Till; Sellge, Gernot; Trautwein, Christian; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-18)
    Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) represents one of the most common healthcare-associated infections. Due to increasing numbers of recurrences and therapy failures, CDI has become a major disease burden. Studies have shown that fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) can both be a safe and highly efficacious therapy for patients with therapy-refractory CDI. However, patients undergoing solid organ transplantation are at high risk for CDI due to long-term immunosuppression, previous antibiotic therapy, and proton pump inhibitor use. Additionally, these patients may be especially prone to adverse events related to FMT. Here, we report a successful FMT in a patient with severe therapy-refractory CDI after liver transplantation.
  • Loss of CNFY toxin-induced inflammation drives Yersinia pseudotuberculosis into persistency.

    Heine, Wiebke; Beckstette, Michael; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Thiemann, Sophie; Heise, Ulrike; Nuss, Aaron Mischa; Pisano, Fabio; Strowig, Till; Dersch, Petra; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-02)
    Gastrointestinal infections caused by enteric yersiniae can become persistent and complicated by relapsing enteritis and severe autoimmune disorders. To establish a persistent infection, the bacteria have to cope with hostile surroundings when they transmigrate through the intestinal epithelium and colonize underlying gut-associated lymphatic tissues. How the bacteria gain a foothold in the face of host immune responses is poorly understood. Here, we show that the CNFY toxin, which enhances translocation of the antiphagocytic Yop effectors, induces inflammatory responses. This results in extensive tissue destruction, alteration of the intestinal microbiota and bacterial clearance. Suppression of CNFY function, however, increases interferon-γ-mediated responses, comprising non-inflammatory antimicrobial activities and tolerogenesis. This process is accompanied by a preterm reprogramming of the pathogen's transcriptional response towards persistence, which gives the bacteria a fitness edge against host responses and facilitates establishment of a commensal-type life style.
  • The DNA-sensing AIM2 inflammasome controls radiation-induced cell death and tissue injury.

    Hu, Bo; Jin, Chengcheng; Li, Hua-Bing; Tong, Jiyu; Ouyang, Xinshou; Cetinbas, Naniye Malli; Zhu, Shu; Strowig, Till; Lam, Fred C; Zhao, Chen; et al. (2016)
    Acute exposure to ionizing radiation induces massive cell death and severe damage to tissues containing actively proliferating cells, including bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this pathology remain controversial. Here, we show that mice deficient in the double-stranded DNA sensor AIM2 are protected from both subtotal body irradiation-induced gastrointestinal syndrome and total body irradiation-induced hematopoietic failure. AIM2 mediates the caspase-1-dependent death of intestinal epithelial cells and bone marrow cells in response to double-strand DNA breaks caused by ionizing radiation and chemotherapeutic agents. Mechanistically, we found that AIM2 senses radiation-induced DNA damage in the nucleus to mediate inflammasome activation and cell death. Our results suggest that AIM2 may be a new therapeutic target for ionizing radiation exposure.
  • Distinct Microbial Communities Trigger Colitis Development upon Intestinal Barrier Damage via Innate or Adaptive Immune Cells.

    Roy, Urmi; Gálvez, Eric J C; Iljazovic, Aida; Lesker, Till Robin; Błażejewski, Adrian J; Pils, Marina C; Heise, Ulrike; Huber, Samuel; Flavell, Richard A; Strowig, Till; et al. (2017-10-24)
    Inflammatory bowel disease comprises a group of heterogeneous diseases characterized by chronic and relapsing mucosal inflammation. Alterations in microbiota composition have been proposed to contribute to disease development, but no uniform signatures have yet been identified. Here, we compare the ability of a diverse set of microbial communities to exacerbate intestinal inflammation after chemical damage to the intestinal barrier. Strikingly, genetically identical wild-type mice differing only in their microbiota composition varied strongly in their colitis susceptibility. Transfer of distinct colitogenic communities in gene-deficient mice revealed that they triggered disease via opposing pathways either independent or dependent on adaptive immunity, specifically requiring antigen-specific CD4+ T cells. Our data provide evidence for the concept that microbial communities may alter disease susceptibility via different immune pathways despite eventually resulting in similar host pathology. This suggests a potential benefit for personalizing IBD therapies according to patient-specific microbiota signatures.
  • Shaping of Intestinal Microbiota in Nlrp6- and Rag2-Deficient Mice Depends on Community Structure.

    Gálvez, Eric J C; Iljazovic, Aida; Gronow, Achim; Flavell, Richard; Strowig, Till; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-26)
    Contradicting observations have been made regarding the relative contributions of immune sensors to shaping the microbiome, yet the reasons for these discrepancies are not fully understood. Here, we investigated the contribution of environmental factors in shaping the microbiome in mice deficient in adaptive immunity (Rag2-/-) and Nlrp6, an immune sensor proposed to be involved in regulation of microbiota composition. In conventionally housed Nlrp6-/- mice, familial transmission has a significant effect on microbiota composition, complicating the analysis of genotype-dependent effects. Notably, after rederivation into standardized specific pathogen-free (SPF) conditions devoid of pathobionts, microbiota composition was indistinguishable between WT, Rag2-/-, and Nlrp6-/- mice. However, upon reintroduction of a pathobiont-containing community host, genotype-dependent differences reappear, specifically affecting the relative abundance of pathobionts such as Helicobacter spp. Our results show that the impact of Nlrp6 and also of adaptive immunity on microbiota composition depends on community structure and primarily influences pathobionts but not commensals.
  • Short-chain fatty acids regulate systemic bone mass and protect from pathological bone loss.

    Lucas, Sébastien; Omata, Yasunori; Hofmann, Jörg; Böttcher, Martin; Iljazovic, Aida; Sarter, Kerstin; Albrecht, Olivia; Schulz, Oscar; Krishnacoumar, Brenda; Krönke, Gerhard; et al. (2018)
    Microbial metabolites are known to modulate immune responses of the host. The main metabolites derived from microbial fermentation of dietary fibers in the intestine, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), affect local and systemic immune functions. Here we show that SCFA are regulators of osteoclast metabolism and bone mass in vivo. Treatment of mice with SCFA as well as feeding with a high-fiber diet significantly increases bone mass and prevents postmenopausal and inflammation-induced bone loss. The protective effects of SCFA on bone mass are associated with inhibition of osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption in vitro and in vivo, while bone formation is not affected. Mechanistically, propionate (C3) and butyrate (C4) induce metabolic reprogramming of osteoclasts resulting in enhanced glycolysis at the expense of oxidative phosphorylation, thereby downregulating essential osteoclast genes such as TRAF6 and NFATc1. In summary, these data identify SCFA as potent regulators of osteoclast metabolism and bone homeostasis.

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