head of the department: Dr. Till Strowig

Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • A flagellum-specific chaperone facilitates assembly of the core type III export apparatus of the bacterial flagellum.

    Fabiani, Florian D; Renault, Thibaud T; Peters, Britta; Dietsche, Tobias; Gálvez, Eric J C; Guse, Alina; Freier, Karen; Charpentier, Emmanuelle; Strowig, Till; Franz-Wachtel, Mirita; et al. (2017-08)
    Many bacteria move using a complex, self-assembling nanomachine, the bacterial flagellum. Biosynthesis of the flagellum depends on a flagellar-specific type III secretion system (T3SS), a protein export machine homologous to the export machinery of the virulence-associated injectisome. Six cytoplasmic (FliH/I/J/G/M/N) and seven integral-membrane proteins (FlhA/B FliF/O/P/Q/R) form the flagellar basal body and are involved in the transport of flagellar building blocks across the inner membrane in a proton motive force-dependent manner. However, how the large, multi-component transmembrane export gate complex assembles in a coordinated manner remains enigmatic. Specific for most flagellar T3SSs is the presence of FliO, a small bitopic membrane protein with a large cytoplasmic domain. The function of FliO is unknown, but homologs of FliO are found in >80% of all flagellated bacteria. Here, we demonstrate that FliO protects FliP from proteolytic degradation and promotes the formation of a stable FliP-FliR complex required for the assembly of a functional core export apparatus. We further reveal the subcellular localization of FliO by super-resolution microscopy and show that FliO is not part of the assembled flagellar basal body. In summary, our results suggest that FliO functions as a novel, flagellar T3SS-specific chaperone, which facilitates quality control and productive assembly of the core T3SS export machinery.
  • Microbiota Normalization Reveals that Canonical Caspase-1 Activation Exacerbates Chemically Induced Intestinal Inflammation.

    Błażejewski, Adrian J; Thiemann, Sophie; Schenk, Alexander; Pils, Marina C; Gálvez, Eric J C; Roy, Urmi; Heise, Ulrike; de Zoete, Marcel R; Flavell, Richard A; Strowig, Till; et al. (2017-06-13)
    Inflammasomes play a central role in regulating intestinal barrier function and immunity during steady state and disease. Because the discoveries of a passenger mutation and a colitogenic microbiota in the widely used caspase-1-deficient mouse strain have cast doubt on previously identified direct functions of caspase-1, we reassessed the role of caspase-1 in the intestine. To this end, we generated Casp1(-/-) and Casp11(-/-) mice and rederived them into an enhanced barrier facility to standardize the microbiota. We found that caspase-11 does not influence caspase-1-dependent processing of IL-18 in homeostasis and during DSS colitis. Deficiency of caspase-1, but not caspase-11, ameliorated the severity of DSS colitis independent of microbiota composition. Ablation of caspase-1 in intestinal epithelial cells was sufficient to protect mice against DSS colitis. Moreover, Casp1(-/-) mice developed fewer inflammation-induced intestinal tumors than control mice. These data show that canonical inflammasome activation controls caspase-1 activity, contributing to exacerbation of chemical-induced colitis.
  • MyD88 signaling in dendritic cells and the intestinal epithelium controls immunity against intestinal infection with C. rodentium.

    Friedrich, Christin; Mamareli, Panagiota; Thiemann, Sophie; Kruse, Friederike; Wang, Zuobai; Holzmann, Bernhard; Strowig, Till; Sparwasser, Tim; Lochner, Matthias; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH, Feodor-Lynen Str.7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (2017-05)
    MyD88-mediated signaling downstream of Toll-like receptors and the IL-1 receptor family is critically involved in the induction of protective host responses upon infections. Although it is known that MyD88-deficient mice are highly susceptible to a wide range of bacterial infections, the cell type-specific contribution of MyD88 in protecting the host against intestinal bacterial infection is only poorly understood. In order to investigate the importance of MyD88 in specific immune and nonimmune cell types during intestinal infection, we employed a novel murine knock-in model for MyD88 that enables the cell type-specific reactivation of functional MyD88 expression in otherwise MyD88-deficient mice. We report here that functional MyD88 signaling in CD11c+ cells was sufficient to activate intestinal dendritic cells (DC) and to induce the early group 3 innate lymphoid cell (ILC3) response as well as the development of colonic Th17/Th1 cells in response to infection with the intestinal pathogen C. rodentium. In contrast, restricting MyD88 signaling to several other cell types, including macrophages (MO), T cells or ILC3 did not induce efficient intestinal immune responses upon infection. However, we observed that the functional expression of MyD88 in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) also partially protected the mice during intestinal infection, which was associated with enhanced epithelial barrier integrity and increased expression of the antimicrobial peptide RegIIIγ and the acute phase protein SAA1 by epithelial cells. Together, our data suggest that MyD88 signaling in DC and IEC is both essential and sufficient to induce a full spectrum of host responses upon intestinal infection with C. rodentium.
  • Analysis of factors contributing to variation in the C57BL/6J fecal microbiota across German animal facilities.

    Rausch, Philipp; Basic, Marijana; Batra, Arvind; Bischoff, Stephan C; Blaut, Michael; Clavel, Thomas; Gläsner, Joachim; Gopalakrishnan, Shreya; Grassl, Guntram A; Günther, Claudia; et al. (2016-08)
    The intestinal microbiota is involved in many physiological processes and it is increasingly recognized that differences in community composition can influence the outcome of a variety of murine models used in biomedical research. In an effort to describe and account for the variation in intestinal microbiota composition across the animal facilities of participating members of the DFG Priority Program 1656 "Intestinal Microbiota", we performed a survey of C57BL/6J mice from 21 different mouse rooms/facilities located at 13 different institutions across Germany. Fresh feces was sampled from five mice per room/facility using standardized procedures, followed by extraction and 16S rRNA gene profiling (V1-V2 region, Illumina MiSeq) at both the DNA and RNA (reverse transcribed to cDNA) level. In order to determine the variables contributing to bacterial community differences, we collected detailed questionnaires of animal husbandry practices and incorporated this information into our analyses. We identified considerable variation in a number of descriptive aspects including the proportions of major phyla, alpha- and beta diversity, all of which displayed significant associations to specific aspects of husbandry. Salient findings include a reduction in alpha diversity with the use of irradiated chow, an increase in inter-individual variability (beta diversity) with respect to barrier access and open cages and an increase in bacterial community divergence with time since importing from a vendor. We further observe a high degree of facility-level individuality, which is likely due to each facility harboring its own unique combination of multiple varying attributes of animal husbandry. While it is important to account and control for such differences between facilities, the documentation of such diversity may also serve as a valuable future resource for investigating the origins of microbial-driven host phenotypes.