Recent Submissions

  • A SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody selected from COVID-19 patients binds to the ACE2-RBD interface and is tolerant to most known RBD mutations.

    Bertoglio, Federico; Fühner, Viola; Ruschig, Maximilian; Heine, Philip Alexander; Abassi, Leila; Klünemann, Thomas; Rand, Ulfert; Meier, Doris; Langreder, Nora; Steinke, Stephan; et al. (Cell Press, 2021-07-07)
    The novel betacoronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes a form of severe pneumonia disease called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). To develop human neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, antibody gene libraries from convalescent COVID-19 patients were constructed and recombinant antibody fragments (scFv) against the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein were selected by phage display. The antibody STE90-C11 shows a subnanometer IC50 in a plaque-based live SARS-CoV-2 neutralization assay. The in vivo efficacy of the antibody is demonstrated in the Syrian hamster and in the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) mice model. The crystal structure of STE90-C11 Fab in complex with SARS-CoV-2-RBD is solved at 2.0 Å resolution showing that the antibody binds at the same region as ACE2 to RBD. The binding and inhibition of STE90-C11 is not blocked by many known emerging RBD mutations. STE90-C11-derived human IgG1 with FcγR-silenced Fc (COR-101) is undergoing Phase Ib/II clinical trials for the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19.
  • Targeted T cell receptor gene editing provides predictable T cell product function for immunotherapy.

    Müller, Thomas R; Jarosch, Sebastian; Hammel, Monika; Leube, Justin; Grassmann, Simon; Bernard, Bettina; Effenberger, Manuel; Andrä, Immanuel; Chaudhry, M Zeeshan; Käuferle, Theresa; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-08-17)
    Adoptive transfer of T cells expressing a transgenic T cell receptor (TCR) has the potential to revolutionize immunotherapy of infectious diseases and cancer. However, the generation of defined TCR-transgenic T cell medicinal products with predictable in vivo function still poses a major challenge and limits broader and more successful application of this "living drug." Here, by studying 51 different TCRs, we show that conventional genetic engineering by viral transduction leads to variable TCR expression and functionality as a result of variable transgene copy numbers and untargeted transgene integration. In contrast, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated TCR replacement enables defined, targeted TCR transgene insertion into the TCR gene locus. Thereby, T cell products display more homogeneous TCR expression similar to physiological T cells. Importantly, increased T cell product homogeneity after targeted TCR gene editing correlates with predictable in vivo T cell responses, which represents a crucial aspect for clinical application in adoptive T cell immunotherapy.
  • Tbx21 and foxp3 are Epigenetically Stabilized in T-Bet Tregs That Transiently Accumulate in Influenza A Virus-Infected Lungs.

    Elfaki, Yassin; Yang, Juhao; Boehme, Julia; Schultz, Kristin; Bruder, Dunja; Falk, Christine S; Huehn, Jochen; Floess, Stefan; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-07-14)
    During influenza A virus (IAV) infections, CD4+ T cell responses within infected lungs mainly involve T helper 1 (Th1) and regulatory T cells (Tregs). Th1-mediated responses favor the co-expression of T-box transcription factor 21 (T-bet) in Foxp3+ Tregs, enabling the efficient Treg control of Th1 responses in infected tissues. So far, the exact accumulation kinetics of T cell subsets in the lungs and lung-draining lymph nodes (dLN) of IAV-infected mice is incompletely understood, and the epigenetic signature of Tregs accumulating in infected lungs has not been investigated. Here, we report that the total T cell and the two-step Treg accumulation in IAV-infected lungs is transient, whereas the change in the ratio of CD4+ to CD8+ T cells is more durable. Within lungs, the frequency of Tregs co-expressing T-bet is steadily, yet transiently, increasing with a peak at Day 7 post-infection. Interestingly, T-bet+ Tregs accumulating in IAV-infected lungs displayed a strongly demethylated Tbx21 locus, similarly as in T-bet+ conventional T cells, and a fully demethylated Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) within the Foxp3 locus. In summary, our data suggest that T-bet+ but not T-bet- Tregs are epigenetically stabilized during IAV-induced infection in the lung.
  • SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing human recombinant antibodies selected from pre-pandemic healthy donors binding at RBD-ACE2 interface.

    Bertoglio, Federico; Meier, Doris; Langreder, Nora; Steinke, Stephan; Rand, Ulfert; Simonelli, Luca; Heine, Philip Alexander; Ballmann, Rico; Schneider, Kai-Thomas; Roth, Kristian Daniel Ralph; et al. (NPG, 2021-03-11)
    COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a new recently emerged sarbecovirus. This virus uses the human ACE2 enzyme as receptor for cell entry, recognizing it with the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the S1 subunit of the viral spike protein. We present the use of phage display to select anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike antibodies from the human naïve antibody gene libraries HAL9/10 and subsequent identification of 309 unique fully human antibodies against S1. 17 antibodies are binding to the RBD, showing inhibition of spike binding to cells expressing ACE2 as scFv-Fc and neutralize active SARS-CoV-2 virus infection of VeroE6 cells. The antibody STE73-2E9 is showing neutralization of active SARS-CoV-2 as IgG and is binding to the ACE2-RBD interface. Thus, universal libraries from healthy human donors offer the advantage that antibodies can be generated quickly and independent from the availability of material from recovering patients in a pandemic situation.
  • OTUB1 prevents lethal hepatocyte necroptosis through stabilization of c-IAP1 during murine liver inflammation.

    Koschel, Josephin; Nishanth, Gopala; Just, Sissy; Harit, Kunjan; Kröger, Andrea; Deckert, Martina; Naumann, Michael; Schlüter, Dirk; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2021-03-12)
    In bacterial and sterile inflammation of the liver, hepatocyte apoptosis is, in contrast to necroptosis, a common feature. The molecular mechanisms preventing hepatocyte necroptosis and the potential consequences of hepatocyte necroptosis are largely unknown. Apoptosis and necroptosis are critically regulated by the ubiquitination of signaling molecules but especially the regulatory function of deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) is imperfectly defined. Here, we addressed the role of the DUB OTU domain aldehyde binding-1 (OTUB1) in hepatocyte cell death upon both infection with the hepatocyte-infecting bacterium Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and D-Galactosamine (DGal)/Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced sterile inflammation. Combined in vivo and in vitro experiments comprising mice lacking OTUB1 specifically in liver parenchymal cells (OTUB1LPC-KO) and human OTUB1-deficient HepG2 cells revealed that OTUB1 prevented hepatocyte necroptosis but not apoptosis upon infection with Lm and DGal/TNF challenge. Lm-induced necroptosis in OTUB1LPC-KO mice resulted in increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release and rapid lethality. Treatment with the receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase (RIPK) 1 inhibitor necrostatin-1s and deletion of the pseudokinase mixed lineage kinase domain-like protein (MLKL) prevented liver damage and death of infected OTUB1LPC-KO mice. Mechanistically, OTUB1 reduced K48-linked polyubiquitination of the cellular inhibitor of apoptosis 1 (c-IAP1), thereby diminishing its degradation. In the absence of OTUB1, c-IAP1 degradation resulted in reduced K63-linked polyubiquitination and increased phosphorylation of RIPK1, RIPK1/RIPK3 necrosome formation, MLKL-phosphorylation and hepatocyte death. Additionally, OTUB1-deficiency induced RIPK1-dependent extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation and TNF production in Lm-infected hepatocytes. Collectively, these findings identify OTUB1 as a novel regulator of hepatocyte-intrinsic necroptosis and a critical factor for survival of bacterial hepatitis and TNF challenge.
  • Contact-dependent transmission of Langat and tick-borne encephalitis virus in type I interferon receptor-1 deficient mice.

    Schreier, Sarah; Cebulski, Kristin; Kröger, Andrea; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society for Microbiology, 2021-01-27)
    Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is primarily transmitted to humans through tick bites or oral consumption of accordingly contaminated unpasteurized milk or milk products. The detection of TBEV RNA in various body fluids in immunosuppressed human patients is documented. However, the risk of direct contact exposure remains unclear. Interferon-alpha receptor-1 deficient (Ifnar1-/- ) mice, which are lacking the interferon-α/β responses, develop neurologic manifestations after infection with TBEV and Langat virus (LGTV). We showed that subcutaneous, intranasal, and peroral infection of LGTV lead to disease, whereas mice with intragastric application of LGTV showed no disease signs. With LGTV infected mice exhibit seroconversion and significant viral RNA levels was detected in saliva, eye smear, feces and urine. As a result, TBEV and LGTV are transmitted between mice from infected to naïve co-caged sentinel animals. Although intranasal inoculation of LGTV is entirely sufficient to establish the disease in mice, the virus is not transmitted by aerosols. These pooled results from animal models highlight the risks of exposure to TBEV contaminants and the possibility for close contact transmission of TBEV in interferon-alpha receptor-1 deficient laboratory mice.Importance Tick-borne encephalitis is a severe disease of the central nervous system caused by the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). Every year between 10,000-12,000 people become infected with this flavivirus. The TBEV is usually transmitted to humans via the bite of a tick, but infections due to consumption of infectious milk products are increasingly being reported. Since there is no therapy for an TBEV infection and mechanisms of virus persistence in reservoir animals are unclear, it is important to highlight the risk of exposure to TBEV contaminants and know possible routes of transmission of this virus. The significance of our research is in identifying other infection routes of TBEV and LGTV, and the possibility of close contact transmission.
  • A Novel Triple-Fluorescent HCMV Strain Reveals Gene Expression Dynamics and Anti-Herpesviral Drug Mechanisms.

    Rand, Ulfert; Kubsch, Tobias; Kasmapour, Bahram; Cicin-Sain, Luka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-01-08)
    Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection may result in severe outcomes in immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients, transplant recipients, and neonates. To date, no vaccines are available and there are only few drugs for anti-HCMV therapy. Adverse effects and the continuous emergence of drug-resistance strains require the identification of new drug candidates in the near future. Identification and characterization of such compounds and biological factors requires sensitive and reliable detection techniques of HCMV infection, gene expression and spread. In this work, we present and validate a novel concept for multi-reporter herpesviruses, identified through iterative testing of minimally invasive mutations. We integrated up to three fluorescence reporter genes into replication-competent HCMV strains, generating reporter HCMVs that allow the visualization of replication cycle stages of HCMV, namely the immediate early (IE), early (E), and late (L) phase. Fluorescent proteins with clearly distinguishable emission spectra were linked by 2A peptides to essential viral genes, allowing bicistronic expression of the viral and the fluorescent protein without major effects on viral fitness. By using this triple color reporter HCMV, we monitored gene expression dynamics of the IE, E, and L genes by measuring the fluorescent signal of the viral gene-associated fluorophores within infected cell populations and at high temporal resolution. We demonstrate distinct inhibitory profiles of foscarnet, fomivirsen, phosphonoacetic acid, ganciclovir, and letermovir reflecting their mode-of-action. In conclusion, our data argues that this experimental approach allows the identification and characterization of new drug candidates in a single step.
  • 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.
  • Eosinophilic pulmonary vasculitis as a manifestation of the hyperinflammatory phase of COVID-19.

    Luecke, Eva; Jeron, Andreas; Kroeger, Andrea; Bruder, Dunja; Stegemann-Koniszewski, Sabine; Jechorek, Doerthe; Borucki, Katrin; Reinhold, Dirk; Reinhold, Annegret; Foellner, Sebastian; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-10-26)
    No abstract available
  • Synthetic rewiring and boosting type I interferon responses for visualization and counteracting viral infections.

    Gödecke, Natascha; Riedel, Jan; Herrmann, Sabrina; Behme, Sara; Rand, Ulfert; Kubsch, Tobias; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Wirth, Dagmar; et al. (Oxford Academic, 2020-11-18)
    Mammalian first line of defense against viruses is accomplished by the interferon (IFN) system. Viruses have evolved numerous mechanisms to reduce the IFN action allowing them to invade the host and/or to establish latency. We generated an IFN responsive intracellular hub by integrating the synthetic transactivator tTA into the chromosomal Mx2 locus for IFN-based activation of tTA dependent expression modules. The additional implementation of a synthetic amplifier module with positive feedback even allowed for monitoring and reacting to infections of viruses that can antagonize the IFN system. Low and transient IFN amounts are sufficient to trigger these amplifier cells. This gives rise to higher and sustained-but optionally de-activatable-expression even when the initial stimulus has faded out. Amplification of the IFN response induced by IFN suppressing viruses is sufficient to protect cells from infection. Together, this interfaced sensor/actuator system provides a toolbox for robust sensing and counteracting viral infections.
  • The envelope protein of tick-borne encephalitis virus influences neuron entry, pathogenicity, and vaccine protection.

    Lindqvist, Richard; Rosendal, Ebba; Weber, Elvira; Asghar, Naveed; Schreier, Sarah; Lenman, Annasara; Johansson, Magnus; Dobler, Gerhard; Bestehorn, Malena; Kröger, Andrea; et al. (BMC, 2020-09-28)
    Background: Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is considered to be the medically most important arthropod-borne virus in Europe. The symptoms of an infection range from subclinical to mild flu-like disease to lethal encephalitis. The exact determinants of disease severity are not known; however, the virulence of the strain as well as the immune status of the host are thought to be important factors for the outcome of the infection. Here we investigated virulence determinants in TBEV infection. Method: Mice were infected with different TBEV strains, and high virulent and low virulent TBEV strains were chosen. Sequence alignment identified differences that were cloned to generate chimera virus. The infection rate of the parental and chimeric virus were evaluated in primary mouse neurons, astrocytes, mouse embryonic fibroblasts, and in vivo. Neutralizing capacity of serum from individuals vaccinated with the FSME-IMMUN® and Encepur® or combined were evaluated. Results: We identified a highly pathogenic and neurovirulent TBEV strain, 93/783. Using sequence analysis, we identified the envelope (E) protein of 93/783 as a potential virulence determinant and cloned it into the less pathogenic TBEV strain Torö. We found that the chimeric virus specifically infected primary neurons more efficiently compared to wild-type (WT) Torö and this correlated with enhanced pathogenicity and higher levels of viral RNA in vivo. The E protein is also the major target of neutralizing antibodies; thus, genetic variation in the E protein could influence the efficiency of the two available vaccines, FSME-IMMUN® and Encepur®. As TBEV vaccine breakthroughs have occurred in Europe, we chose to compare neutralizing capacity from individuals vaccinated with the two different vaccines or a combination of them. Our data suggest that the different vaccines do not perform equally well against the two Swedish strains. Conclusions: Our findings show that two amino acid substitutions of the E protein found in 93/783, A83T, and A463S enhanced Torö infection of neurons as well as pathogenesis and viral replication in vivo; furthermore, we found that genetic divergence from the vaccine strain resulted in lower neutralizing antibody titers in vaccinated individuals.
  • The avid competitors of memory inflation.

    Abassi, Leila; Cicin-Sain, Luka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-10-08)
    Cytomegaloviruses (CMV) coevolve with their hosts and latently persist in the vast majority of adult mammals. Therefore, persistent T-cell responses to CMV antigens during virus latency offer a fascinating perspective on the evolution of the T-cell repertoire in natural settings. We addressed here the life-long interactions between CMV antigens presented on MHC-I molecules and the CD8 T-cell response. We present the mechanistic evidence from the murine model of CMV infection and put it in context of clinical laboratory results. We will highlight the remarkable parallels in T-cell responses between the two biological systems, and focus in particular on memory inflation as a result of competitive processes, both between viral antigenic peptides and between T-cell receptors on the host’s cytotoxic lymphocytes
  • Langat virus infection affects hippocampal neuron morphology and function in mice without disease signs.

    Cornelius, Angela D A; Hosseini, Shirin; Schreier, Sarah; Fritzsch, David; Weichert, Loreen; Michaelsen-Preusse, Kristin; Fendt, Markus; Kröger, Andrea; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (BioMed Central, 2020-09-20)
    To compare the effect of low and high viral replication in the brain, wildtype and Irf-7-/- mice were infected with Langat virus (LGTV), which belongs to the TBEV-serogroup. The viral burden was analyzed in the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus. Open field, elevated plus maze, and Morris water maze experiments were performed to determine the impact on anxiety-like behavior, learning, and memory formation. Spine density of hippocampal neurons and activation of microglia and astrocytes were analyzed.
  • 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.
  • Cytomegalovirus inhibition of extrinsic apoptosis determines fitness and resistance to cytotoxic CD8 T cells.

    Chaudhry, M Zeeshan; Casalegno-Garduno, Rosaely; Sitnik, Katarzyna M; Kasmapour, Bahram; Pulm, Ann-Kathrin; Brizic, Ilija; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; Moosmann, Andreas; Jonjic, Stipan; Mocarski, Edward S; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-05-22)
    Viral immune evasion is currently understood to focus on deflecting CD8 T cell recognition of infected cells by disrupting antigen presentation pathways. We evaluated viral interference with the ultimate step in cytotoxic T cell function, the death of infected cells. The viral inhibitor of caspase-8 activation (vICA) conserved in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and murine CMV (MCMV) prevents the activation of caspase-8 and proapoptotic signaling. We demonstrate the key role of vICA from either virus, in deflecting antigen-specific CD8 T cell-killing of infected cells. vICA-deficient mutants, lacking either UL36 or M36, exhibit greater susceptibility to CD8 T cell control than mutants lacking the set of immunoevasins known to disrupt antigen presentation via MHC class I. This difference is evident during infection in the natural mouse host infected with MCMV, in settings where virus-specific CD8 T cells are adoptively transferred. Finally, we identify the molecular mechanism through which vICA acts, demonstrating the central contribution of caspase-8 signaling at a point of convergence of death receptor-induced apoptosis and perforin/granzyme-dependent cytotoxicity.
  • Add on the next level-the time point of the type I IFN response orchestrates the immune response.

    Wedekind, Angela; Fritzsch, David; Kröger, Andrea; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2020-04-28)
    [No abstract available]
  • Exhaustion and Inflation at Antipodes of T Cell Responses to Chronic Virus Infection.

    Cicin-Sain, Luka; Arens, Ramon; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2017-12-14)
    Viruses that have coevolved with their host establish chronic infections that are well tolerated by the host. Other viruses, that are partly adapted to their host, may induce chronic infections where persistent replication and viral antigen expression occur. The former induce highly functional and resilient CD8T cell responses called memory inflation. The latter induce dysfunctional and exhausted responses. The reasons compelling T cell responses towards inflationary or exhausted responses are only partly understood. In this review we compare the two conditions and describe mechanistic similarities and differences. We also provide a list of potential reasons why exhaustion or inflation occur in different virus infections. We propose that T cell-mediated transcriptional repression of viral gene expression provides a critical feature of inflation that allows peaceful virus and host coexistence. The virus is controlled, but its genome is not eradicated. If this mechanism is not available, as in the case of RNA viruses, the virus and the host are compelled to an arms race. If virus proliferation and spread proceed uncontrolled for too long, T cells are forced to strike a balance between viral control and tissue destruction, losing antiviral potency and facilitating virus persistence.
  • Advances in cytomegalovirus (CMV) biology and its relationship to health, diseases, and aging.

    Nikolich-Žugich, Janko; Čicin-Šain, Luka; Collins-McMillen, Donna; Jackson, Sarah; Oxenius, Annette; Sinclair, John; Snyder, Christopher; Wills, Mark; Lemmermann, Niels (Springer, 2020-03-11)
    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.
  • Labyrinthopeptins exert broad-spectrum antiviral activity through lipid-binding-mediated virolysis.

    Prochnow, Hans; Rox, Katharina; Birudukota, N V Suryanarayana; Weichert, Loreen; Hotop, Sven-Kevin; Klahn, Philipp; Mohr, Kathrin; Franz, Sergej; Banda, Dominic H; Blockus, Sebastian; et al. (ASM, 2019-10-30)
    To counteract the serious health threat posed by known and novel viral pathogens, drugs that target a variety of viruses through a common mechanism have attracted recent attention due to their potential in treating (re-)emerging infections, for which direct acting antivirals are not available. We found that labyrinthopeptins A1 and A2, the prototype congeners of carbacyclic lanthipeptides, inhibit the proliferation of diverse enveloped viruses, including Dengue virus, Zika virus, West Nile virus, Hepatitis C virus, Chikungunya virus, Karposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpes virus, Cytomegalovirus, and Herpes Simplex virus, in the low μM to nM range. Mechanistic studies on viral particles revealed that labyrinthopeptins induce a virolytic effect through binding to the viral membrane lipid phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). These effects are enhanced by a combined equimolar application of both labyrinthopeptins, and a clear synergism was observed across a concentration range corresponding to IC10-IC90 values of the compounds. Time-resolved experiments with large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) reveal that membrane lipid raft compositions (PC/PE/Chol/SM (17:10:33:40)) are particularly sensitive to labyrinthopeptins compared to PC/PE (90:10) LUVs, even though the overall PE-amount remains constant. Labyrinthopeptins exhibited low cytotoxicity and had favorable pharmacokinetic properties in mice (t1/2= 10.0 h), which designates them as promising antiviral compounds acting by an unusual viral lipid targeting mechanism.Importance For many viral infections, current treatment options are insufficient. Because the development of each antiviral drug is time-consuming and expensive, the prospect of finding broad-spectrum antivirals that can fight multiple, diverse viruses - well-known as well as (re-)emerging species - has gained attention, especially for the treatment of viral co-infections. While most known broad spectrum agents address processes in the host cell, we found that targeting lipids of the free virus outside the host cell with the natural products labyrinthopeptin A1 and A2 is a viable strategy to inhibit the proliferation of a broad range of viruses from different families, including Chikungunya virus, Dengue virus, Zika virus, Karposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpes virus, or Cytomegalovirus. Labyrinthopeptins bind to viral phosphatidylethanolamine and induce virolysis without exerting cytotoxicity to host cells. This represents a novel and unusual mechanism to tackle medically relevant viral infections.
  • Vaccine Vectors Harnessing the Power of Cytomegaloviruses.

    Ynga-Durand, Mario Alberto; Dekhtiarenko, Iryna; Cicin-Sain, Luka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2019-10-17)
    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) species have been gaining attention as experimental vaccine vectors inducing cellular immune responses of unparalleled strength and protection. This review outline the strengths and the restrictions of CMV-based vectors, in light of the known aspects of CMV infection, pathogenicity and immunity. We discuss aspects to be considered when optimizing CMV based vaccines, including the innate immune response, the adaptive humoral immunity and the T-cell responses. We also discuss the antigenic epitopes presented by unconventional major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules in some CMV delivery systems and considerations about routes for delivery for the induction of systemic or mucosal immune responses. With the first clinical trials initiating, CMV-based vaccine vectors are entering a mature phase of development. This impetus needs to be maintained by scientific advances that feed the progress of this technological platform.

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