Recent Submissions

  • Non-Targeted Mass Isotopolome Analysis Using Stable Isotope Patterns to Identify Metabolic Changes.

    Dudek, Christian-Alexander; Schlicker, Lisa; Hiller, Karsten; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.
    Gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry can provide an extensive overview of the metabolic state of a biological system. Analysis of raw mass spectrometry data requires powerful data processing software to generate interpretable results. Here we describe a data processing workflow to generate metabolite levels, mass isotopomer distribution, similarity and variability analysis of metabolites in a nontargeted manner, using stable isotope labeling. Using our data analysis software, no bioinformatic or programming background is needed to generate results from raw mass spectrometry data.
  • Characterization of a transcriptional TPP riboswitch in the human pathogen .

    Righetti, Francesco; Materne, Solange Lise; Boss, John; Eichner, Hannes; Charpentier, Emmanuelle; Loh, Edmund; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Taylor & Francis, 2020-02-20)
    Increasing evidence has demonstrated that regulatory RNA elements such as riboswitches (RS) play a pivotal role in the fine-tuning of bacterial gene expression. In this study, we investigated and characterized a novel transcriptional thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) RS in the obligate human pathogen N. meningitidis MC58 (serogroup B). This RS is located in the 5´ untranslated region upstream of thiC gene, encoding a protein involved in TPP biosynthesis, an essential cofactor for all living beings. Primer extension revealed the transcriptional start site of thiC. Northern blot analysis of thiC mRNA and reporter gene studies confirmed the presence of an active TPP-sensing RS. Expression patterns of the wild-type RS and site-specific mutants showed that it is an OFF switch that controls transcription elongation of thiC mRNA. Interestingly, the regulatory mechanism of the meningococcal thiC RS resembles the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis thiC RS rather than the Gram-negative Escherichia coli thiC RS. Therefore, the meningococcal thiC RS represents a rare example of transcriptional RS in a Gram-negative bacterium. We further observed that the RS is actively involved in modulating gene expression in response to different growth media and to supplemented bacterial and eukaryotic cell lysates as possible sources of nutrients in the nasopharynx. Our results suggest that RS-mediated gene regulation could influence meningococcal fitness, through the fine-tuning of biosynthesis and scavenging of nutrients and cofactors, such as thiamine.
  • Nasal DNA methylation profiling of asthma and rhinitis.

    Qi, Cancan; Jiang, Yale; Yang, Ivana V; Forno, Erick; Wang, Ting; Vonk, Judith M; Gehring, Ulrike; Smit, Henriëtte A; Milanzi, Edith B; Carpaij, Orestes A; et al. (2020-01-14)
  • MAIT cells are enriched and highly functional in ascites of patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis.

    Niehaus, Christian E; Strunz, Benedikt; Cornillet, Martin; Falk, Christine S; Schnieders, Ansgar; Maasoumy, Benjamin; Hardtke, Svenja; Manns, Michael P; Rm Kraft, Anke; Björkström, Niklas K; et al. (Wiley Online Open, 2020-02-03)
    Patients with advanced liver cirrhosis have an increased susceptibility to infections. As part of the cirrhosis-associated immune dysfunction, mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, that have the capacity to respond towards bacteria, are severely diminished in circulation and liver tissue. However, MAIT cell presence and function in the peritoneal cavity, a common anatomical site for infections in cirrhosis, remain elusive. To study this, matched peripheral blood and ascites fluid were collected from 35 patients with decompensated cirrhosis, with or without spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). MAIT cell phenotype and function were analyzed using high-dimensional flow cytometry and obtained data was compared to blood samples of healthy controls (n=24) and patients with compensated cirrhosis (n=11). We found circulating MAIT cells to be severely decreased in cirrhotic patients as compared to controls. In contrast, in ascites fluid, MAIT cells were significantly increased together with CD14+ CD16+ monocytes, ILCs, and NK cells. This was paralleled by elevated levels of several pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in ascites fluid as compared to plasma. Peritoneal MAIT cells displayed an activated tissue-resident phenotype and this was corroborated by increased functional responses following stimulation with E. coli or lL-12 + IL-18 as compared to circulating MAIT cells. During SBP, peritoneal MAIT cell frequencies increased most among all major immune cell subsets, suggestive of active homing of MAIT cells to the site of infection. CONCLUSIONS: Despite severely diminished MAIT cell numbers and impaired phenotype in circulation, peritoneal MAIT cells remain abundant, activated, and highly functional in decompensated cirrhosis and are further enriched in SBP. This suggests that peritoneal MAIT cells could be of interest for immune intervention strategies in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis and SBP.
  • Efficacy of rituximab in difficult-to-manage autoimmune hepatitis: Results from the International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group.

    Than, Nwe Ni; Hodson, James; Schmidt-Martin, Daniel; Taubert, Richard; Wawman, Rebecca E; Botter, Meemee; Gautam, Nishant; Bock, Kilian; Jones, Rebecca; Appanna, Gautham D; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-12-01)
    Twenty-two patients with type-1 AIH were included, with a median age of 40 years at diagnosis (range 19-79); 15/22 (68%) were female and 18/22 (82%) were Caucasian. The median period from diagnosis to the end of follow-up in these patients was 11 years (range 3-28). Values of alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase and albumin improved significantly following rituximab therapy, and were sustained for up to 2 years (all p ≪0.001). Prednisolone doses were significantly reduced by 12 months post-treatment (p = 0.003), with 13/21 (62%) patients having a dose reduction. Over a median post-treatment follow-up period of 6 years (range 1-10), 5 patients developed AIH flares at a median of 22 months post-treatment, giving an estimated 71% freedom from AIH flare at 2 years. Four of these patients received a second course of treatment, of whom 2 had subsequent further flares. No serious adverse events attributable to rituximab were recorded.
  • Direct recognition of hepatocyte-expressed MHC class I alloantigens is required for tolerance induction.

    Paul-Heng, Moumita; Leong, Mario; Cunningham, Eithne; Bunker, Daniel L J; Bremner, Katherine; Wang, Zane; Wang, Chuanmin; Tay, Szun Szun; McGuffog, Claire; Logan, Grant J; et al. (NLM (Medline), 2018-08-09)
    Adeno-associated viral vector–mediated (AAV-mediated) expression of allogeneic major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) in recipient liver induces donor-specific tolerance in mouse skin transplant models in which a class I allele (H-2Kb or H-2Kd) is mismatched between donor and recipient. Tolerance can be induced in mice primed by prior rejection of a donor-strain skin graft, as well as in naive recipients. Allogeneic MHC class I may be recognized by recipient T cells as an intact molecule (direct recognition) or may be processed and presented as an allogeneic peptide in the context of self-MHC (indirect recognition). The relative contributions of direct and indirect allorecognition to tolerance induction in this setting are unknown. Using hepatocyte-specific AAV vectors encoding WT allogeneic MHC class I molecules, or class I molecules containing a point mutation (D227K) that impedes direct recognition of intact allogeneic MHC class I by CD8+ T cells without hampering the presentation of processed peptides derived from allogeneic MHC class I, we show here that tolerance induction depends upon recognition of intact MHC class I. Indirect recognition alone yielded a modest prolongation of subsequent skin graft survival, attributable to the generation of CD4+ Tregs, but it was not sufficient to induce tolerance.
  • Ex Vivo/In vivo Gene Editing in Hepatocytes Using "All-in-One" CRISPR-Adeno-Associated Virus Vectors with a Self-Linearizing Repair Template.

    Krooss, Simon Alexander; Dai, Zhen; Schmidt, Florian; Rovai, Alice; Fakhiri, Julia; Dhingra, Akshay; Yuan, Qinggong; Yang, Taihua; Balakrishnan, Asha; Steinbrück, Lars; et al. (Cell Press/Elsevier, 2020-01-24)
    Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors are considered efficient and safe gene delivery systems in gene therapy. We combined two guide RNA genes, Cas9, and a self-linearizing repair template in one vector (AIO-SL) to correct fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH) deficiency in mice. The vector genome of 5.73 kb was packaged into VP2-depleted AAV particles (AAV2/8ΔVP2), which, however, did not improve cargo capacity. Reprogrammed hepatocytes were treated with AIO-SL.AAV2ΔVP2 and subsequently transplanted, resulting in large clusters of FAH-positive hepatocytes. Direct injection of AIO-SL.AAV8ΔVP2 likewise led to FAH expression and long-term survival. The AIO-SL vector achieved an ∼6-fold higher degree of template integration than vectors without template self-linearization. Subsequent analysis revealed that AAV8 particles, in contrast to AAV2, incorporate oversized genomes distinctly greater than 5.2 kb. Finally, our AAV8-based vector represents a promising tool for gene editing strategies to correct monogenic liver diseases requiring (large) fragment removal and/or simultaneous sequence replacement.
  • Stability and Biological Activity of E. coli Derived Soluble and Precipitated Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2.

    Quaas, Bastian; Burmeister, Laura; Li, Zhaopeng; Satalov, Alexandra; Behrens, Peter; Hoffmann, Andrea; Rinas, Ursula; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2019-11-20)
    PURPOSE: There is a plethora of studies on recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) application and delivery systems, but surprisingly few reports address the biophysical properties of the protein which are of crucial importance to develop effective delivery systems or to solve general problems related to rhBMP-2 production, purification, analysis and application. METHODS:The solubility, stability and bioactivity of rhBMP-2 obtained by renaturation of E. coli derived inclusion bodies was assessed at different pH and in different buffer systems using (dynamic) light scattering and thermal shift assays as well as intrinsic fluorescence measurements and luciferase based bioassays. RESULTS: rhBMP-2 is poorly soluble at physiological pH and higher. The presence of divalent anions further decreases the solubility even under acidic conditions. Thermal stability analyses revealed that rhBMP-2 precipitates are more stable compared to the soluble protein. Moreover, correctly folded rhBMP-2 is also bioactive as precipitated protein and precipitates readily dissolve under appropriate buffer conditions. Once properly formed rhBMP-2 also retains biological activity after temporary exposure to high concentrations of chaotropic denaturants. However, care should be taken to discriminate bioactive rhBMP-2 precipitates from misfolded rhBMP-2 aggregates, e.g. resolvability in MES buffer (pH 5) and a discrete peak in thermoshift experiments are mandatory for correctly folded rhBMP-2. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis revealed that E. coli derived rhBMP-2 precipitates are not only bioactive but are also more stable compared to the soluble dimeric molecules. Knowledge about these unusual properties will be helpful to design improved delivery systems requiring lower amounts of rhBMP-2 in clinical applications.
  • Heparin: role in protein purification and substitution with animal-component free material.

    Bolten, Svenja Nicolin; Rinas, Ursula; Scheper, Thomas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2018-10-01)
    Heparin is a highly sulfated polysaccharide which belongs to the family of glycosaminoglycans. It is involved in various important biological activities. The major biological purpose is the inhibition of the coagulation cascade to maintain the blood flow in the vasculature. These properties are employed in several therapeutic drugs. Heparin's activities are associated with its interaction to various proteins. To date, the structural heparin-protein interactions are not completely understood. This review gives a general overview of specific patterns and functional groups which are involved in the heparin-protein binding. An understanding of the heparin-protein interactions at the molecular level is not only advantageous in the therapeutic application but also in biotechnological application of heparin for downstreaming. This review focuses on the heparin affinity chromatography. Diverse recombinant proteins can be successfully purified by this method. While effective, it is disadvantageous that heparin is an animal-derived material. Animal-based components carry the risk of contamination. Therefore, they are liable to strict quality controls and the validation of effective good manufacturing practice (GMP) implementation. Hence, adequate alternatives to animal-derived components are needed. This review examines strategies to avoid these disadvantages. Thereby, alternatives for the provision of heparin such as chemical synthesized heparin, chemoenzymatic heparin, and bioengineered heparin are discussed. Moreover, the usage of other chromatographic systems mimetic the heparin effect is reviewed.
  • Groundwater, soil and compost, as possible sources of virulent and antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    Kaszab, Edit; Radó, Júlia; Kriszt, Balázs; Pászti, Judit; Lesinszki, Virág; Szabó, Ádám; Tóth, Gergő; Khaledi, Ariane; Szoboszlay, Sándor; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Taylor & Francis, 2019-11-18)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major public health concern all around the world. In the frame of this work, a set of diverse environmental P. aeruginosa isolates with various antibiotic resistance profiles were examined in a Galleria mellonella virulence model. Motility, serotypes, virulence factors and biofilm-forming ability were also examined. Molecular types were determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Based on our results, the majority of environmental isolates were virulent in the G. mellonella test and twitching showed a positive correlation with mortality. Resistance against several antibiotic agents such as Imipenem correlated with a lower virulence in the applied G. mellonella model. PFGE revealed that five examined environmental isolates were closely related to clinically detected pulsed-field types. Our study demonstrated that industrial wastewater effluents, composts, and hydrocarbon-contaminated sites should be considered as hot spots of high-risk clones of P. aeruginosa.
  • The role of epigenetics in the development of childhood asthma.

    Qi, Cancan; Xu, Cheng-Jian; Koppelman, Gerard H; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (2019-11-10)
    Introduction: The development of childhood asthma is caused by a combination of genetic factors and environmental exposures. Epigenetics describes mechanisms of (heritable) regulation of gene expression that occur without changes in DNA sequence. Epigenetics is strongly related to aging, is cell-type specific, and includes DNA methylation, noncoding RNAs, and histone modifications.Areas covered: This review summarizes recent epigenetic studies of childhood asthma in humans, which mostly involve studies of DNA methylation published in the recent five years. Environmental exposures, in particular cigarette smoking, have significant impact on epigenetic changes, but few of these epigenetic signals are also associated with asthma. Several asthma-associated genetic variants relate to DNA methylation. Epigenetic signals can be better understood by studying their correlation with gene expression, which revealed higher presence and activation of blood eosinophils in asthma. Strong associations of nasal methylation signatures and atopic asthma were identified, which were replicable across different populations.Expert commentary: Epigenetic markers have been strongly associated with asthma, and might serve as biomarker of asthma. The causal and longitudinal relationships between epigenetics and disease, and between environmental exposures and epigenetic changes need to be further investigated. Efforts should be made to understand cell-type-specific epigenetic mechanisms in asthma.
  • Quantitation of large, middle and small hepatitis B surface proteins in HBeAg-positive patients treated with peginterferon alfa-2a.

    Rinker, Franziska; Bremer, Corinna M; Schröder, Kathrin; Wiegand, Steffen B; Bremer, Birgit; Manns, Michael P; Kraft, Anke R; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Yang, Lei; Pavlovic, Vedran; et al. (Wiley, 2019-11-13)
    BACKGROUND & AIMS: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) contains three viral surface proteins, large, middle and small hepatitis B surface protein (LHBs, MHBs, SHBs). Proportions of LHBs and MHBs are lower in patients with inactive versus active chronic infection. Interferon alfa may convert HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B (CHB) to an inactive carrier state, but prediction of sustained response is unsatisfactory. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that quantification of MHBs and LHBs may allow for a better prognosis of therapeutic response than total hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) concentration. METHODS: HBs proteins were measured before and during peginterferon alfa-2a therapy in serum from 127 Asian patients with HBeAg-positive CHB. Sustained response was defined as hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion 24 weeks post-treatment. RESULTS: Mean total HBs levels were significantly lower in responders versus nonresponders at all time points (P<.05) and decreased steadily during the initial 24 weeks' treatment (by 1.16 versus 0.86 ng/mL in responders/nonresponders, respectively) with unchanged relative proportions. Genotype B had a twofold higher proportion of LHBs than genotype C (13% versus 6%). HBV DNA, HBeAg, HBsAg, and HBs protein levels predicted response equally well but not optimally (area under the ROC curve values >0.70). CONCLUSIONS: HBs proteins levels differ by HBV genotype. However, quantification of HBs proteins has no advantage over the already established HBsAg assays to predict response to peginterferon alfa-2a therapy in HBeAg-positive patients.
  • Unexpected roles for ADH1 and SORD in catalyzing the final step of erythritol biosynthesis.

    Schlicker, Lisa; Szebenyi, Doletha M E; Ortiz, Semira R; Heinz, Alexander; Hiller, Karsten; Field, Martha S; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2019-11-01)
    The low-calorie sweetener erythritol is endogenously produced from glucose through the pentose phosphate pathway in humans. Erythritol is of medical interest because elevated plasma levels of this polyol are predictive for visceral adiposity gain and development of type 2 diabetes. However, the mechanisms behind these associations remain unknown because the erythritol biosynthesis pathway, particularly the enzyme catalyzing the final step of erythritol synthesis (reduction of erythrose to erythritol), is not characterized. In this study, we purified two enzymes from rabbit liver capable of catalyzing the conversion of erythrose to erythritol: alcohol dehydrogenase 1 (ADH1) and sorbitol dehydrogenase (SORD). Both recombinant human ADH1 and SORD reduce erythrose to erythritol, using NADPH as a co-factor, and cell culture studies indicate that this activity is primarily NADPH-dependent. We found that ADH1 variants vary markedly in both their affinity for erythrose and their catalytic capacity (turnover number). Interestingly, the recombinant protein produced from the ADH1B2 variant, common in Asian populations, is not active when NADPH is used as a co-factor in vitro We also confirmed SORD contributes to intracellular erythritol production in human A549 lung cancer cells, where ADH1 is minimally expressed. In summary, human ADH1 and SORD catalyze the conversion of erythrose to erythritol, pointing to novel roles for two dehydrogenase proteins in human glucose metabolism that may contribute to individual responses to diet. Proteomics data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD015178.
  • DSA are associated with more graft injury, more fibrosis and upregulation of rejection associated transcripts in subclinical rejection.

    Höfer, Anne; Jonigk, Danny; Hartleben, Björn; Verboom, Murielle; Hallensleben, Michael; Hübscher, Stefan G; Manns, Michael P; Jaeckel, Elmar; Taubert, Richard; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins , 2019-10-23)
    Background: Subclinical T cell-mediated rejection (subTCMR) is commonly found after liver transplantation and has a good short-term prognosis, even when it is left untreated. Donor-specific antibodies (DSA) are putatively associated with a worse prognosis for recipient and graft after liver transplantation. Methods: To assess the immune regulation in subTCMR grafts, gene expression of 93 transcripts for graft injury, tolerance and immune regulation was analyzed in 77 biopsies with “no histological rejection” (NHR; n=25), “clinical TCMR” (cTMCR; n=16) and subTCMR (n=36). In addition, all available subTCMR biopsies (n=71) were tested for DSA with bead assays. Results: SubTCMR showed heterogeneous and intermediate expression profiles of transcripts that were upregulated in cTCMR. Graft gene expression suggested a lower activation of effector lymphocytes and a higher activation of regulatory T cells in grafts with subTCMR compared to cTCMR.DSA positivity in subTCMR was associated with histological evidence of more severe graft inflammation and fibrosis. This more severe DSA+ associated graft injury in subTCMR was converged with an upregulation of cTCMR associated transcripts. In nonsupervised analysis DSA positive subTCMR mostly clustered together with cTCMR, while DSA negative subTCMR clustered together with NHR. Conclusion: T cell-mediated rejection seem to form a continuum of alloimmune activation. Although subTCMR exhibited less expression of TCMR associated transcript, DSA positivity in subTCMR was associated with an upregulation of rejection associated transcripts. The identification of DSA positive subclinical rejection might help to define patients with more inflammation in the graft and development of fibrosis.
  • Functional design of pH-responsive folate-targeted polymer-coated gold nanoparticles for drug delivery and in vivo therapy in breast cancer

    Mahalunkar, Sneha; Yadav, Amit Singh; Gorain, Mahadeo; Pawar, Vinay; Braathen, Ranveig; Weiss, Siegfried; Bogen, Bjarne; Gosavi, Suresh W.; Kundu, Gopal C.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2019-01-01)
    Background: Curcumin has been widely used owing to its various medicinal properties including antitumor effects. However, its clinical application is limited by its instability, poor solubility and low bioavailability. Folic acid (FA)-functionalized nanoformulations may enhance the sustained release of an anticancer drug (curcumin) by tumor-specific targeting to improve therapeutic benefit. This study aims to design a nanoconjugate (NC) comprised of folate–curcumin-loaded gold–polyvinylpyrrolidone nanoparticles (FA–CurAu-PVP NPs) for targeted delivery in breast cancer model systems. Methods: We developed curcumin-loaded FA-functionalized Au-PVP NCs by layer-by-layer assembly. The folic acid–curcumin Au-PVP NCs (FA–CurAu-PVP NCs) were characterized by ultraviolet–visible spectra, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray powder diffraction and thermogravimetric analysis. In vitro anticancer and antimigratory effects of NCs were examined by performing MTT and wound migration assays. The in vivo antitumor efficacy of NCs was investigated using a preclinical breast cancer orthotopic mouse model. Results: Curcumin (40 µg/mL) was loaded along with conjugation of folate onto Au-PVP NPs to form FA–CurAu-PVP NCs. The size and charge of the NCs were increased gradually through layer-by-layer assembly and showed 80% release of curcumin at acidic pH. The NC did not show aggregation when incubated with human serum and mimicked an intrinsic peroxidase-like property in the presence of 3,3ʹ,5,5ʹ-tetramethylbenzidine substrate. The MTT data using these NCs showed efficient anticancer activity at lower doses in estrogen/ progesterone receptor (ER/PR)-negative cells compared with ER/PR-positive cells. Furthermore, the NCs did not show cytotoxicity at the investigated concentration in human breast epithelial and mouse fibroblast cell lines. They showed inhibitory effects on cell migration and high antitumor efficacy in in vivo analysis. Conclusion: These results suggest that folate-based tumor targeting using CurAu-PVP NCs is a promising approach for tumor-specific therapy of breast cancer without harming normal cells.
  • Parasites in brains of wild rodents (Arvicolinae and Murinae) in the city of Leipzig, Germany

    Waindok, Patrick; Özbakış-Beceriklisoy, Gökben; Janecek-Erfurth, Elisabeth; Springer, Andrea; Pfeffer, Martin; Leschnik, Michael; Strube, Christina; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-12-01)
    Small rodents serve as intermediate or paratenic hosts for a variety of parasites and may participate in thetransmission of these parasites into synanthropic cycles. Parasites with neuroinvasive stages, such asToxoplasmagondiiorToxocara canis, can cause detrimental damage in the brain of intermediate or paratenic hosts.Therefore, the occurrence of neuroinvasive parasite stages was evaluated in brains of wild rodents captured inthe city of Leipzig, Germany. In addition, a few specimens from the cities of Hanover, Germany, and Vienna,Austria were included, resulting in a total of 716 rodents collected between 2011 and 2016. Brains were in-vestigated for parasitic stages by microscopic examination of native tissue, artificially digested tissue as well asGiemsa-stained digestion solution to verify positive results. Infective stages of zoonotic ascarids or other hel-minths were not detected in any sample, while coccidian cysts were found in 10.1% (95% CI: 7.9–12.5%; 72/716) of examined brains. The most abundant rodent species in the study was the bank vole (Myodes glareolus;Arvicolinae), showing an infection rate with cerebral cysts of 13.9% (95% CI: 11.0–17.8%; 62/445), while 2.7%(95% CI: 1.0–5.8%; 6/222) of yellow-necked mice (Apodemusflavicollis; Murinae) were infected. Generalizedlinear modelling revealed a statistically significant difference in prevalence betweenM. glareolusandA.flavi-collis, significant local differences as well as an effect of increasing body mass on cyst prevalence. Coccidian cystswere differentiated by amplification of the18S rRNAgene and subsequent sequencing. The majority of iden-tifiable cysts (97.9%) were determined asFrenkelia glareoli, a coccidian species mainly circulating betweenM.glareolusas intermediate and buzzards (Buteospp.) as definitive hosts. The zoonotic pathogenToxoplasma gondiiwas confirmed in oneM. glareolusoriginating from the city of Leipzig. Overall, it can be concluded that neu-roinvasion of zoonotic parasites seems to be rare inM. glareolusandA.flavicollis.
  • Soluble immune markers in the different phases of chronic hepatitis B virus infection

    Wiegand, Steffen B.; Beggel, Bastian; Wranke, Anika; Aliabadi, Elmira; Jaroszewicz, Jerzy; Xu, Cheng Jian; Li, Yang; Manns, Michael P.; Lengauer, Thomas; Wedemeyer, Heiner; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2019-10-01)
    Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection may follow four different consecutive phases, which are defined by virology as well as biochemical markers and differ in terms of prognosis and need for antiviral treatment. Currently, host responses reflected by immune markers are not considered in this definition. We aimed to study soluble immune markers and their distribution in different phases of chronic HBV infection. In this cross-sectional retrospective study, we investigated a panel of 14 soluble immune markers (SIM) including CXCL10 in 333 patients with chronic HBV infection. In a small cohort of HBeAg positive patients we analyzed SIM before and after HBeAg seroconversion and compared seroconverters to patients with unknown outcome. Significant differences were documented in the levels of several SIM between the four phases of chronic HBV infection. The most pronounced difference among all investigated SIM was observed for CXCL10 concentrations with highest levels in patients with hepatitis. TGF-β and IL-17 revealed different levels between HBeAg negative patients. HBeAg positive patients with HBeAg seroconversion presented higher amounts of IL-12 before seroconversion compared to HBeAg positive patients with unknown follow up. SIM such as CXCL10 but also IL-12, TGF-β and IL-17 may be useful markers to further characterize the phase of chronic HBV infection.
  • Hepatitis E Virus (HEV)-Specific T Cell Receptor Cross-Recognition: Implications for Immunotherapy.

    Soon, Chai Fen; Zhang, Shihong; Suneetha, Pothakamuri Venkata; Antunes, Dinler Amaral; Manns, Michael Peter; Raha, Solaiman; Schultze-Florey, Christian; Prinz, Immo; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Sällberg Chen, Margaret; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    T cell immunotherapy is a concept developed for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, based on cytotoxic T lymphocytes to target tumor- or pathogen-specific antigens. Antigen-specificity of the T cell receptors (TCRs) is an important selection criterion in the developmental design of immunotherapy. However, off-target specificity is a possible autoimmunity concern if the engineered antigen-specific T cells are cross-reacting to self-peptides in-vivo. In our recent work, we identified several hepatitis E virus (HEV)-specific TCRs as potential candidates to be developed into T cell therapy to treat chronic hepatitis E. One of the identified TCRs, targeting a HLA-A2-restricted epitope at the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (HEV-1527: LLWNTVWNM), possessed a unique multiple glycine motif in the TCR-β CDR3, which might be a factor inducing cross-reactivity. The aim of our study was to explore if this TCR could cross-recognize self-peptides to underlay autoimmunity. Indeed, we found that this HEV-1527-specific TCR could also cross-recognize an apoptosis-related epitope, Nonmuscle Myosin Heavy Chain 9 (MYH9-478: QLFNHTMFI). While this TCR had dual specificities to both viral epitope and a self-antigen by double Dextramer binding, it was selectively functional against HEV-1527 but not activated against MYH9-478. The consecutive glycine motif in β chain may be the reason promoting TCR binding promiscuity to recognize a secondary target, thereby facilitating cross-recognition. In conclusion, candidate TCRs for immunotherapy development should be screened for autoimmune potential, especially when the TCRs exhibit unique sequence pattern.
  • Commonly setting biological standards in rare diseases

    O’Connor, Daniel J.; Buckland, Jenny; Almond, Neil; Boyle, Jennifer; Coxon, Carmen; Gaki, Eleni; Martin, Javier; Mattiuzzo, Giada; Metcalfe, Clive; Page, Mark; et al. (Taylor& Francis, 2019-01-01)
    Introduction: Standardization is important across the life cycle of medicinal products, supporting the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a wide range of diseases. For rare diseases, standardization is even more important, as patient groups are small, presenting significant challenges in the design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation of clinical studies. It is here that standardization institutions, including the UK’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), can have a key role. Areas covered: A considerable proportion of NIBSC’s work supports the better understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of rare diseases. NIBSC is also part of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), creating an agency that is uniquely placed to combine scientific and regulatory expertize for the benefit of public health. This review provides an overview of NIBSC’s work in rare diseases and highlights the positive impact of the work of standardization institutions in this field. Expert opinion: Standardization in product development is key for patients with rare diseases. The work of standardization institutions is increasingly being recognized as crucial for supporting scientific and clinical advancements, and early and collaborative interactions can provide drug developers with the necessary expertize, when standards matter most.
  • Targeting Antitumoral Proteins to Breast Cancer by Local Administration of Functional Inclusion Bodies

    Pesarrodona, Mireia; Jauset, Toni; Díaz-Riascos, Zamira V.; Sánchez-Chardi, Alejandro; Beaulieu, Marie Eve; Seras-Franzoso, Joaquin; Sánchez-García, Laura; Baltà-Foix, Ricardo; Mancilla, Sandra; Fernández, Yolanda; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2019-01-01)
    Two structurally and functionally unrelated proteins, namely Omomyc and p31, are engineered as CD44-targeted inclusion bodies produced in recombinant bacteria. In this unusual particulate form, both types of protein materials selectively penetrate and kill CD44+ tumor cells in culture, and upon local administration, promote destruction of tumoral tissue in orthotropic mouse models of human breast cancer. These findings support the concept of bacterial inclusion bodies as versatile protein materials suitable for application in chronic diseases that, like cancer, can benefit from a local slow release of therapeutic proteins

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