• A Precise Temperature-Responsive Bistable Switch Controlling Yersinia Virulence.

      Nuss, Aaron Mischa; Schuster, Franziska; Roselius, Louisa; Klein, Johannes; Bücker, René; Herbst, Katharina; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Pisano, Fabio; Wittmann, Christoph; Münch, Richard; et al. (2016-12)
      Different biomolecules have been identified in bacterial pathogens that sense changes in temperature and trigger expression of virulence programs upon host entry. However, the dynamics and quantitative outcome of this response in individual cells of a population, and how this influences pathogenicity are unknown. Here, we address these questions using a thermosensing virulence regulator of an intestinal pathogen (RovA of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis) as a model. We reveal that this regulator is part of a novel thermoresponsive bistable switch, which leads to high- and low-invasive subpopulations within a narrow temperature range. The temperature range in which bistability is observed is defined by the degradation and synthesis rate of the regulator, and is further adjustable via a nutrient-responsive regulator. The thermoresponsive switch is also characterized by a hysteretic behavior in which activation and deactivation occurred on vastly different time scales. Mathematical modeling accurately mirrored the experimental behavior and predicted that the thermoresponsiveness of this sophisticated bistable switch is mainly determined by the thermo-triggered increase of RovA proteolysis. We further observed RovA ON and OFF subpopulations of Y. pseudotuberculosis in the Peyer's patches and caecum of infected mice, and that changes in the RovA ON/OFF cell ratio reduce tissue colonization and overall virulence. This points to a bet-hedging strategy in which the thermoresponsive bistable switch plays a key role in adapting the bacteria to the fluctuating conditions encountered as they pass through the host's intestinal epithelium and suggests novel strategies for the development of antimicrobial therapies.
    • Presence of Infected Gr-1CD11bCD11c Monocytic Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells Subverts T Cell Response and Is Associated With Impaired Dendritic Cell Function in Mycobacterium avium-Infected Mice.

      Abdissa, Ketema; Nerlich, Andreas; Beineke, Andreas; Ruangkiattikul, Nanthapon; Pawar, Vinay; Heise, Ulrike; Janze, Nina; Falk, Christine; Bruder, Dunja; Schleicher, Ulrike; et al. (2018-01-01)
      Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are immature myeloid cells with immunomodulatory function. To study the mechanism by which MDSC affect antimicrobial immunity, we infected mice with two M. avium strains of differential virulence, highly virulent Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium strain 25291 (MAA) and low virulent Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis strain 104 (MAH). Intraperitoneal infection with MAA, but not MAH, caused severe disease and massive splenic infiltration of monocytic MDSC (M-MDSC; Gr-1intCD11bhiCD11cint) expressing inducible NO synthase (Nos2) and bearing high numbers of mycobacteria. Depletion experiments demonstrated that M-MDSC were essential for disease progression. NO production by M-MDSC influenced antigen-uptake and processing by dendritic cells and proliferation of CD4+ T cells. M-MDSC were also induced in MAA-infected mice lacking Nos2. In these mice CD4+ T cell expansion and control of infection were restored. However, T cell inhibition was only partially relieved and arginase (Arg) 1-expressing M-MDSC were accumulated. Likewise, inhibition of Arg1 also partially rescued T cell proliferation. Thus, mycobacterial virulence results in the induction of M-MDSC that block the T cell response in a Nos2- and Arg1-dependent manner.
    • Production of extracellular traps against Aspergillus fumigatus in vitro and in infected lung tissue is dependent on invading neutrophils and influenced by hydrophobin RodA.

      Bruns, Sandra; Kniemeyer, Olaf; Hasenberg, Mike; Aimanianda, Vishukumar; Nietzsche, Sandor; Thywissen, Andreas; Jeron, Andreas; Latgé, Jean-Paul; Brakhage, Axel A; Gunzer, Matthias; et al. (2010-04)
      Aspergillus fumigatus is the most important airborne fungal pathogen causing life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. Macrophages and neutrophils are known to kill conidia, whereas hyphae are killed mainly by neutrophils. Since hyphae are too large to be engulfed, neutrophils possess an array of extracellular killing mechanisms including the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) consisting of nuclear DNA decorated with fungicidal proteins. However, until now NET formation in response to A. fumigatus has only been demonstrated in vitro, the importance of neutrophils for their production in vivo is unclear and the molecular mechanisms of the fungus to defend against NET formation are unknown. Here, we show that human neutrophils produce NETs in vitro when encountering A. fumigatus. In time-lapse movies NET production was a highly dynamic process which, however, was only exhibited by a sub-population of cells. NETosis was maximal against hyphae, but reduced against resting and swollen conidia. In a newly developed mouse model we could then demonstrate the existence and measure the kinetics of NET formation in vivo by 2-photon microscopy of Aspergillus-infected lungs. We also observed the enormous dynamics of neutrophils within the lung and their ability to interact with and phagocytose fungal elements in situ. Furthermore, systemic neutrophil depletion in mice almost completely inhibited NET formation in lungs, thus directly linking the immigration of neutrophils with NET formation in vivo. By using fungal mutants and purified proteins we demonstrate that hydrophobin RodA, a surface protein making conidia immunologically inert, led to reduced NET formation of neutrophils encountering Aspergillus fungal elements. NET-dependent killing of Aspergillus-hyphae could be demonstrated at later time-points, but was only moderate. Thus, these data establish that NET formation occurs in vivo during host defence against A. fumigatus, but suggest that it does not play a major role in killing this fungus. Instead, NETs may have a fungistatic effect and may prevent further spreading.
    • Respiratory bordetella bronchiseptica Carriage is Associated with Broad Phenotypic Alterations of Peripheral CD4⁺CD25⁺ T Cells and Differentially Affects Immune Responses to Secondary Non-Infectious and Infectious Stimuli in Mice.

      Jeron, Andreas; Boehme, Julia D; Volckmar, Julia; Gereke, Marcus; Yevsa, Tetyana; Geffers, Robert; Guzmán, Carlos A; Schreiber, Jens; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Bruder, Dunja; et al. (MPDI, 2018-09-01)
      The respiratory tract is constantly exposed to the environment and displays a favorable niche for colonizing microorganisms. However, the effects of respiratory bacterial carriage on the immune system and its implications for secondary responses remain largely unclear. We have employed respiratory carriage with Bordetella bronchiseptica as the underlying model to comprehensively address effects on subsequent immune responses. Carriage was associated with the stimulation of Bordetella-specific CD4+, CD8+, and CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cell responses, and broad transcriptional activation was observed in CD4+CD25+ T cells. Importantly, transfer of leukocytes from carriers to acutely B. bronchiseptica infected mice, resulted in a significantly increased bacterial burden in the recipient’s upper respiratory tract. In contrast, we found that respiratory B. bronchiseptica carriage resulted in a significant benefit for the host in systemic infection with Listeria monocytogenes. Adaptive responses to vaccination and influenza A virus infection, were unaffected by B. bronchiseptica carriage. These data showed that there were significant immune modulatory processes triggered by B. bronchiseptica carriage, that differentially affect subsequent immune responses. Therefore, our results demonstrated the complexity of immune regulation induced by respiratory bacterial carriage, which can be beneficial or detrimental to the host, depending on the pathogen and the considered compartment.
    • The STING activator c-di-AMP exerts superior adjuvant properties than the formulation poly(I:C)/CpG after subcutaneous vaccination with soluble protein antigen or DEC-205-mediated antigen targeting to dendritic cells.

      Volckmar, Julia; Knop, Laura; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Schulze, Kai; Ebensen, Thomas; Guzmán, Carlos A; Bruder, Dunja; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-08-14)
      Vaccination is the most efficient strategy to protect from infectious diseases and the induction of a protective immune response not only depends on the nature of the antigen, but is also influenced by the vaccination strategy and the co-administration of adjuvants. Therefore, the precise monitoring of adjuvant candidates and their immune modulatory properties is a crucial step in vaccine development. Here, one central aspect is the induction of appropriate humoral and cellular effector mechanisms. In our study we performed a direct comparison of two promising candidates in adjuvant development, the STING activator bis-(3,5)-cyclic dimeric adenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) and the Toll-like receptor ligand formulation poly(I:C)/CpG. These were evaluated in C57BL/6 mice using the model antigen ovalbumin (OVA) in subcutaneous vaccination with soluble protein as well as in a dendritic cell (DC) targeting approach (αDEC-OVA). Strikingly, c-di-AMP as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG resulted in significantly higher antigen-specific IgG antibody levels when used in immunization with soluble OVA as well as in antigen targeting to DC. In vaccination with soluble OVA, c-di-AMP induced a significantly stronger CTL, Th1 and IFNγ-producing CD8+ memory T cell response than poly(I:C)/CpG. The response was CTL and Th1 cell dominated, a profile shared by both adjuvants. In the context of targeting OVA to DC, c-di-AMP induced significantly increased Th1 and Th2 cell responses as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG. Interestingly, the Th1 response dominated the overall T cell response only when c-di-AMP was used, indicating a distinct modulatory property of c-di-AMP when the DC targeting immunization approach was exploited. Taken together, we describe superior properties of c-di-AMP as compared to poly(I:C)/CpG in subcutaneous vaccination with soluble antigen as well as antigen targeting to DC. This indicates exceptionally effective adjuvant properties for c-di-AMP and provides compelling evidence of its potential for further adjuvant development, especially also when using DC targeting approaches.
    • Targeted antigen delivery to dendritic cells elicits robust antiviral T cell-mediated immunity in the liver.

      Volckmar, Julia; Gereke, Marcus; Ebensen, Thomas; Riese, Peggy; Philipsen, Lars; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Wohlleber, Dirk; Klopfleisch, Robert; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Müller, Andreas J; et al. (2017-03-07)
      Hepatotropic viruses such as hepatitis C virus cause life-threatening chronic liver infections in millions of people worldwide. Targeted in vivo antigen-delivery to cross-presenting dendritic cells (DCs) has proven to be extraordinarily efficient in stimulating antigen-specific T cell responses. To determine whether this approach would as well be suitable to induce local antiviral effector T cells in the liver we compared different vaccine formulations based on either the targeting of DEC-205 or TLR2/6 on cross-presenting DCs or formulations not involving in vivo DC targeting. As read-outs we used in vivo hepatotropic adenovirus challenge, histology and automated multidimensional fluorescence microscopy (MELC). We show that targeted in vivo antigen delivery to cross-presenting DCs is highly effective in inducing antiviral CTLs capable of eliminating virus-infected hepatocytes, while control vaccine formulation not involving DC targeting failed to induce immunity against hepatotropic virus. Moreover, we observed distinct patterns of CD8+ T cell interaction with virus-infected and apoptotic hepatocytes in the two DC-targeting groups suggesting that the different vaccine formulations may stimulate distinct types of effector functions. Our findings represent an important step toward the future development of vaccines against hepatotropic viruses and the treatment of patients with hepatic virus infection after liver transplantation to avoid reinfection.
    • TLR7 contributes to the rapid progression but not to the overall fatal outcome of secondary pneumococcal disease following influenza A virus infection.

      Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Gereke, Marcus; Orrskog, Sofia; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Pasche, Bastian; Bader, Sophie R; Gruber, Achim D; Akira, Shizuo; Weiss, Siegfried; Henriques-Normark, Birgitta; et al. (2013)
      Increased risk for bacterial superinfections substantially contributes to the mortality caused by influenza A virus (IAV) epidemics. While the mechanistic basis for this lethal synergism is still insufficiently understood, immune modulation through the viral infection has been shown to be involved. Since the pattern-recognition receptor (PRR) toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) is a major sensor for the viral genome, we studied how IAV recognition by TLR7 influences the development of secondary pneumococcal infection. In a mouse model of IAV, TLR7-deficient hosts induced a potent antiviral response and showed unchanged survival. In secondary pneumococcal infection during acute influenza, TLR7ko mice showed a fatal outcome similar to wild-type (WT) hosts, despite significantly delayed disease progression. Also, when bacterial superinfection occurred after virus clearance, WT and TLR7-deficient hosts showed similar mortality, even though we found the phagocytic activity of alveolar macrophages isolated from IAV-pre-infected hosts to be enhanced in TLR7ko over WT mice. Thus, we show that a virus-sensing PRR modulates the progression of secondary pneumococcal infection following IAV. However, the fatal overall outcome in WT as well as TLR7ko hosts suggests that processes distinct from TLR7-triggering override the contribution of this single PRR.