• 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.
    • Single-cell chromatin accessibility landscape identifies tissue repair program in human regulatory T cells.

      Delacher, Michael; Simon, Malte; Sanderink, Lieke; Hotz-Wagenblatt, Agnes; Wuttke, Marina; Schambeck, Kathrin; Schmidleithner, Lisa; Bittner, Sebastian; Pant, Asmita; Ritter, Uwe; et al. (Cell Press, 2021-03-30)
      Murine regulatory T (Treg) cells in tissues promote tissue homeostasis and regeneration. We sought to identify features that characterize human Treg cells with these functions in healthy tissues. Single-cell chromatin accessibility profiles of murine and human tissue Treg cells defined a conserved, microbiota-independent tissue-repair Treg signature with a prevailing footprint of the transcription factor BATF. This signature, combined with gene expression profiling and TCR fate mapping, identified a population of tissue-like Treg cells in human peripheral blood that expressed BATF, chemokine receptor CCR8 and HLA-DR. Human BATF+CCR8+ Treg cells from normal skin and adipose tissue shared features with nonlymphoid T follicular helper-like (Tfh-like) cells, and induction of a Tfh-like differentiation program in naive human Treg cells partially recapitulated tissue Treg regenerative characteristics, including wound healing potential. Human BATF+CCR8+ Treg cells from healthy tissue share features with tumor-resident Treg cells, highlighting the importance of understanding the context-specific functions of these cells.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Targeting zonulin and intestinal epithelial barrier function to prevent onset of arthritis.

      Tajik, Narges; Frech, Michael; Schulz, Oscar; Schälter, Fabian; Lucas, Sébastien; Azizov, Vugar; Dürholz, Kerstin; Steffen, Franziska; Omata, Yasunori; Rings, Andreas; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-04-24)
      Gut microbial dysbiosis is associated with the development of autoimmune disease, but the mechanisms by which microbial dysbiosis affects the transition from asymptomatic autoimmunity to inflammatory disease are incompletely characterized. Here, we identify intestinal barrier integrity as an important checkpoint in translating autoimmunity to inflammation. Zonulin family peptide (zonulin), a potent regulator for intestinal tight junctions, is highly expressed in autoimmune mice and humans and can be used to predict transition from autoimmunity to inflammatory arthritis. Increased serum zonulin levels are accompanied by a leaky intestinal barrier, dysbiosis and inflammation. Restoration of the intestinal barrier in the pre-phase of arthritis using butyrate or a cannabinoid type 1 receptor agonist inhibits the development of arthritis. Moreover, treatment with the zonulin antagonist larazotide acetate, which specifically increases intestinal barrier integrity, effectively reduces arthritis onset. These data identify a preventive approach for the onset of autoimmune disease by specifically targeting impaired intestinal barrier function.
    • Variations in microbiota composition of laboratory mice influence Citrobacter rodentium infection via variable short-chain fatty acid production.

      Osbelt, Lisa; Thiemann, Sophie; Smit, Nathiana; Lesker, Till Robin; Schröter, Madita; Gálvez, Eric J C; Schmidt-Hohagen, Kerstin; Pils, Marina C; Mühlen, Sabrina; Dersch, Petra; et al. (PLOS, 2020-03-24)
      The composition of the intestinal microbiota influences the outcome of enteric infections in human and mice. However, the role of specific members and their metabolites contributing to disease severity is largely unknown. Using isogenic mouse lines harboring distinct microbiota communities, we observed highly variable disease kinetics of enteric Citrobacter rodentium colonization after infection. Transfer of communities from susceptible and resistant mice into germ-free mice verified that the varying susceptibilities are determined by microbiota composition. The strongest differences in colonization were observed in the cecum and could be maintained in vitro by coculturing cecal bacteria with C. rodentium. Cohousing of animals as well as the transfer of cultivable bacteria from resistant to susceptible mice led to variable outcomes in the recipient mice. Microbiome analysis revealed that a higher abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria was associated with the resistant phenotype. Quantification of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) levels before and after infection revealed increased concentrations of acetate, butyrate and propionate in mice with delayed colonization. Addition of physiological concentrations of butyrate, but not of acetate and/or propionate strongly impaired growth of C. rodentium in vitro. In vivo supplementation of susceptible, antibiotic-treated and germ-free mice with butyrate led to the same level of protection, notably only when cecal butyrate concentration reached a concentration higher than 50 nmol/mg indicating a critical threshold for protection. In the recent years, commensal-derived primary and secondary bacterial metabolites emerged as potent modulators of hosts susceptibility to infection. Our results provide evidence that variations in SCFA production in mice fed fibre-rich chow-based diets modulate susceptibility to colonization with Enterobacteriaceae not only in antibiotic-disturbed ecosystems but even in undisturbed microbial communities. These findings emphasise the need for microbiota normalization across laboratory mouse lines for infection experiments with the model-pathogen C. rodentium independent of investigations of diet and antibiotic usage.
    • A versatile genetic toolbox for Prevotella copri enables studying polysaccharide utilization systems.

      Li, Jing; Gálvez, Eric J C; Amend, Lena; Almási, Éva; Iljazovic, Aida; Lesker, Till R; Bielecka, Agata A; Schorr, Eva-Magdalena; Strowig, Till; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (EMBO Press, 2021-10-21)
      Prevotella copri is a prevalent inhabitant of the human gut and has been associated with plant-rich diet consumption and diverse health states. The underlying genetic basis of these associations remains enigmatic due to the lack of genetic tools. Here, we developed a novel versatile genetic toolbox for rapid and efficient genetic insertion and allelic exchange applicable to P. copri strains from multiple clades. Enabled by the genetic platform, we systematically investigated the specificity of polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs) and identified four highly conserved PULs for utilizing arabinan, pectic galactan, arabinoxylan, and inulin, respectively. Further genetic and functional analysis of arabinan utilization systems illustrate that P. copri has evolved two distinct types of arabinan-processing PULs (PULAra ) and that the type-II PULAra is significantly enriched in individuals consuming a vegan diet compared to other diets. In summary, this genetic toolbox will enable functional genetic studies for P. copri in future.