• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Catalytically Active Cas9 Mediates Transcriptional Interference to Facilitate Bacterial Virulence.

      Ratner, Hannah K; Escalera-Maurer, Andrés; Le Rhun, Anaïs; Jaggavarapu, Siddharth; Wozniak, Jessie E; Crispell, Emily K; Charpentier, Emmanuelle; Weiss, David S; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier; Cell Press, 2019-06-24)
      In addition to defense against foreign DNA, the CRISPR-Cas9 system of Francisella novicida represses expression of an endogenous immunostimulatory lipoprotein. We investigated the specificity and molecular mechanism of this regulation, demonstrating that Cas9 controls a highly specific regulon of four genes that must be repressed for bacterial virulence. Regulation occurs through a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)-dependent interaction of Cas9 with its endogenous DNA targets, dependent on a non-canonical small RNA (scaRNA) and tracrRNA. The limited complementarity between scaRNA and the endogenous DNA targets precludes cleavage, highlighting the evolution of scaRNA to repress transcription without lethally targeting the chromosome. We show that scaRNA can be reprogrammed to repress other genes, and with engineered, extended complementarity to an exogenous target, the repurposed scaRNA:tracrRNA-FnoCas9 machinery can also direct DNA cleavage. Natural Cas9 transcriptional interference likely represents a broad paradigm of regulatory functionality, which is potentially critical to the physiology of numerous Cas9-encoding pathogenic and commensal organisms.
    • Ten-year efficacy and safety of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate treatment for chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

      Marcellin, Patrick; Wong, Dave; Sievert, William; Buggisch, Peter; Petersen, Jörg; Flisiak, Robert; Manns, Michael; Kaita, Kelly; Krastev, Zahari; Lee, Samuel S; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-05-28)
      Background & Aims Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) is a first‐line treatment for chronic hepatitis B (CHB). We aimed to describe the efficacy and safety profiles of TDF treatment for up to 10 years in a well‐described cohort of CHB patients. Methods Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)‐negative and HBeAg‐positive patients from two randomised, double‐blind trials (ClinicalTrials. gov: NCT00117676 and NCT00116805) completed 48 weeks of randomised treatment with TDF or adefovir dipivoxil. A subset of these patients was then eligible to receive open‐label TDF treatment for up to 10 years. At Year 10, patients were assessed for virological suppression, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalisation, serological response, safety, and tolerability. Results Of 641 randomised and treated patients, 585 (91%) entered the open‐label extension phase with 203 (32%) patients completing Year 10 of the study. At Year 10, 118/118 (100%) of HBeAg‐negative patients and 78/80 (98%) of HBeAg‐positive patients with available data achieved hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA <69 IU/mL, while 88/106 (83%) and 60/77 (78%) patients achieved ALT normalisation, respectively. Of the 23 patients with HBeAg status available at Year 10, 12 (52%) and six (27%) experienced HBeAg loss and seroconversion, respectively. No resistance to TDF was documented up to Year 10. In the period between Year 8 and Year 10, the safety profile of TDF was similar to previous reports, with few patients experiencing renal‐ or bone‐related adverse events. Conclusions Over 10 years, TDF had a favourable safety profile, was well tolerated, and resulted in continued maintenance of virological suppression with no documented resistance.
    • A combined in silico and in vitro study on mouse Serpina1a antitrypsin-deficiency mutants.

      Eggenschwiler, Reto; Patronov, Atanas; Hegermann, Jan; Fráguas-Eggenschwiler, Mariane; Wu, Guangming; Cortnumme, Leon; Ochs, Matthias; Antes, Iris; Cantz, Tobias; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-05-16)
      Certain point-mutations in the human SERPINA1-gene can cause severe α1-antitrypsin-deficiency (A1AT-D). Affected individuals can suffer from loss-of-function lung-disease and from gain-of-function liver-disease phenotypes. However, age of onset and severity of clinical appearance is heterogeneous amongst carriers, suggesting involvement of additional genetic and environmental factors. The generation of authentic A1AT-D mouse-models has been hampered by the complexity of the mouse Serpina1-gene locus and a model with concurrent lung and liver-disease is still missing. Here, we investigate point-mutations in the mouse Serpina1a antitrypsin-orthologue, which are homolog-equivalent to ones known to cause severe A1AT-D in human. We combine in silico and in vitro methods and we find that analyzed mutations do introduce potential disease-causing properties into Serpina1a. Finally, we show that introduction of the King’s-mutation causes inactivation of neutrophil elastase inhibitory-function in both, mouse and human antitrypsin, while the mouse Z-mutant retains activity. This work paves the path to generation of better A1AT-D mouse-models.
    • miR-181a/b-1 controls thymic selection of Treg cells and tunes their suppressive capacity.

      Łyszkiewicz, Marcin; Winter, Samantha J; Witzlau, Katrin; Föhse, Lisa; Brownlie, Rebecca; Puchałka, Jacek; Verheyden, Nikita A; Kunze-Schumacher, Heike; Imelmann, Esther; Blume, Jonas; et al. (PLOS, 2019-03-01)
      The interdependence of selective cues during development of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in the thymus and their suppressive function remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyzed this interdependence by taking advantage of highly dynamic changes in expression of microRNA 181 family members miR-181a-1 and miR-181b-1 (miR-181a/b-1) during late T-cell development with very high levels of expression during thymocyte selection, followed by massive down-regulation in the periphery. Loss of miR-181a/b-1 resulted in inefficient de novo generation of Treg cells in the thymus but simultaneously permitted homeostatic expansion in the periphery in the absence of competition. Modulation of T-cell receptor (TCR) signal strength in vivo indicated that miR-181a/b-1 controlled Treg-cell formation via establishing adequate signaling thresholds. Unexpectedly, miR-181a/b-1-deficient Treg cells displayed elevated suppressive capacity in vivo, in line with elevated levels of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated 4 (CTLA-4) protein, but not mRNA, in thymic and peripheral Treg cells. Therefore, we propose that intrathymic miR-181a/b-1 controls development of Treg cells and imposes a developmental legacy on their peripheral function.
    • C-X-C Motif Chemokine Receptor 4 Blockade Promotes Tissue Repair After Myocardial Infarction by Enhancing Regulatory T Cell Mobilization and Immune-Regulatory Function.

      Wang, Yong; Dembowsky, Klaus; Chevalier, Eric; Stüve, Philipp; Korf-Klingebiel, Mortimer; Lochner, Matthias; Napp, L Christian; Frank, Heike; Brinkmann, Eva; Kanwischer, Anna; et al. (Lippinscott, Williams & Wilkins; American Heart Association, 2019-01-30)
      Acute myocardial infarction (MI) elicits an inflammatory response that drives tissue repair and adverse cardiac remodeling. Inflammatory cell trafficking after MI is controlled by C X-C motif chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12) and its receptor, C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4). CXCR4 antagonists mobilize inflammatory cells and promote infarct repair, but the cellular mechanisms are unclear. We investigated the therapeutic potential and mode of action of the peptidic macrocycle CXCR4 antagonist POL5551 in mice with reperfused MI. We applied cell depletion and adoptive transfer strategies using lymphocyte-deficient Rag1 knockout mice; DEREG mice, which express a diphtheria toxin receptor-enhanced green fluorescent protein fusion protein under the control of the promoter/enhancer region of the regulatory T (T Intraperitoneal POL5551 injections in wild-type mice (8 mg/kg at 2, 4, 6, and 8 d) enhanced angiogenesis in the infarct border-zone, reduced scar size, and attenuated left ventricular remodeling and contractile dysfunction at 28 d. Treatment effects were absent in splenectomized wild-type mice, Rag1 knockout mice, and T Our data confirm CXCR4 blockade as a promising treatment strategy after MI. We identify dendritic cell-primed splenic T
    • Efficient oral vaccination by bioengineering virus-like particles with protozoan surface proteins.

      Serradell, Marianela C; Rupil, Lucía L; Martino, Román A; Prucca, César G; Carranza, Pedro G; Saura, Alicia; Fernández, Elmer A; Gargantini, Pablo R; Tenaglia, Albano H; Petiti, Juan P; et al. (Springer-Nature, 2019-01-21)
      Intestinal and free-living protozoa, such as Giardia lamblia, express a dense coat of variant-specific surface proteins (VSPs) on trophozoites that protects the parasite inside the host's intestine. Here we show that VSPs not only are resistant to proteolytic digestion and extreme pH and temperatures but also stimulate host innate immune responses in a TLR-4 dependent manner. We show that these properties can be exploited to both protect and adjuvant vaccine antigens for oral administration. Chimeric Virus-like Particles (VLPs) decorated with VSPs and expressing model surface antigens, such as influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA), are protected from degradation and activate antigen presenting cells in vitro. Orally administered VSP-pseudotyped VLPs, but not plain VLPs, generate robust immune responses that protect mice from influenza infection and HA-expressing tumors. This versatile vaccine platform has the attributes to meet the ultimate challenge of generating safe, stable and efficient oral vaccines.
    • An endothelial cell line infected by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) allows the investigation of Kaposi's sarcoma and the validation of novel viral inhibitors in vitro and in vivo.

      Dubich, Tatyana; Lieske, Anna; Santag, Susann; Beauclair, Guillaume; Rückert, Jessica; Herrmann, Jennifer; Gorges, Jan; Büsche, Guntram; Kazmaier, Uli; Hauser, Hansjörg; et al. (2019-01-04)
      Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a tumor of endothelial origin predominantly affecting immunosuppressed individuals. Up to date, vaccines and targeted therapies are not available. Screening and identification of anti-viral compounds are compromised by the lack of scalable cell culture systems reflecting properties of virus-transformed cells in patients. Further, the strict specificity of the virus for humans limits the development of in vivo models. In this study, we exploited a conditionally immortalized human endothelial cell line for establishment of in vitro 2D and 3D KSHV latency models and the generation of KS-like xenograft tumors in mice. Importantly, the invasive properties and tumor formation could be completely reverted by purging KSHV from the cells, confirming that tumor formation is dependent on the continued presence of KSHV, rather than being a consequence of irreversible transformation of the infected cells. Upon testing a library of 260 natural metabolites, we selected the compounds that induced viral loss or reduced the invasiveness of infected cells in 2D and 3D endothelial cell culture systems. The efficacy of selected compounds against KSHV-induced tumor formation was verified in the xenograft model. Together, this study shows that the combined use of anti-viral and anti-tumor assays based on the same cell line is predictive for tumor reduction in vivo and therefore allows faithful selection of novel drug candidates against Kaposi's sarcoma. KEY MESSAGES: Novel 2D, 3D, and xenograft mouse models mimic the consequences of KSHV infection. KSHV-induced tumorigenesis can be reverted upon purging the cells from the virus. A 3D invasiveness assay is predictive for tumor reduction in vivo. Chondramid B, epothilone B, and pretubulysin D diminish KS-like lesions in vivo.
    • TLR7 Controls VSV Replication in CD169 SCS Macrophages and Associated Viral Neuroinvasion.

      Solmaz, Gülhas; Puttur, Franz; Francozo, Marcela; Lindenberg, Marc; Guderian, Melanie; Swallow, Maxine; Duhan, Vikas; Khairnar, Vishal; Kalinke, Ulrich; Ludewig, Burkhard; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is an insect-transmitted rhabdovirus that is neurovirulent in mice. Upon peripheral VSV infection, CD169+ subcapsular sinus (SCS) macrophages capture VSV in the lymph, support viral replication, and prevent CNS neuroinvasion. To date, the precise mechanisms controlling VSV infection in SCS macrophages remain incompletely understood. Here, we show that Toll-like receptor-7 (TLR7), the main sensing receptor for VSV, is central in controlling lymph-borne VSV infection. Following VSV skin infection, TLR7-/- mice display significantly less VSV titers in the draining lymph nodes (dLN) and viral replication is attenuated in SCS macrophages. In contrast to effects of TLR7 in impeding VSV replication in the dLN, TLR7-/- mice present elevated viral load in the brain and spinal cord highlighting their susceptibility to VSV neuroinvasion. By generating novel TLR7 floxed mice, we interrogate the impact of cell-specific TLR7 function in anti-viral immunity after VSV skin infection. Our data suggests that TLR7 signaling in SCS macrophages supports VSV replication in these cells, increasing LN infection and may account for the delayed onset of VSV-induced neurovirulence observed in TLR7-/- mice. Overall, we identify TLR7 as a novel and essential host factor that critically controls anti-viral immunity to VSV. Furthermore, the novel mouse model generated in our study will be of valuable importance to shed light on cell-intrinsic TLR7 biology in future studies.
    • 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
    • Virulence of Agrobacterium tumefaciens requires lipid homeostasis mediated by the lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol hydrolase AcvB.

      Groenewold, Maike K; Hebecker, Stefanie; Fritz, Christiane; Czolkoss, Simon; Wiesselmann, Milan; Heinz, Dirk W; Jahn, Dieter; Narberhaus, Franz; Aktas, Meriyem; Moser, Jürgen; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-01)
      Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfers oncogenic T-DNA via the type IV secretion system (T4SS) into plants causing tumor formation. The acvB gene encodes a virulence factor of unknown function required for plant transformation. Here we specify AcvB as a periplasmic lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (L-PG) hydrolase, which modulates L-PG homeostasis. Through functional characterization of recombinant AcvB variants, we showed that the C-terminal domain of AcvB (residues 232-456) is sufficient for full enzymatic activity and defined key residues for catalysis. Absence of the hydrolase resulted in ~10-fold increase in L-PG in Agrobacterium membranes and abolished T-DNA transfer and tumor formation. Overproduction of the L-PG synthase gene (lpiA) in wild-type A. tumefaciens resulted in a similar increase in the L-PG content (~7-fold) and a virulence defect even in the presence of intact AcvB. These results suggest that elevated L-PG amounts (either by overproduction of the synthase or absence of the hydrolase) are responsible for the virulence phenotype. Gradually increasing the L-PG content by complementation with different acvB variants revealed that cellular L-PG levels above 3% of total phospholipids interfere with T-DNA transfer. Cumulatively, this study identified AcvB as a novel virulence factor required for membrane lipid homeostasis and T-DNA transfer.
    • A Listeria monocytogenes ST2 clone lacking chitinase ChiB from an outbreak of non-invasive gastroenteritis.

      Halbedel, Sven; Prager, Rita; Banerji, Sangeeta; Kleta, Sylvia; Trost, Eva; Nishanth, Gopala; Alles, Georg; Hölzel, Christina; Schlesiger, Friederike; Pietzka, Ariane; et al. (Springer Nature, 2019-01-01)
      An outbreak with a remarkable Listeria monocytogenes clone causing 163 cases of non-invasive listeriosis occurred in Germany in 2015. Core genome multi locus sequence typing grouped non-invasive outbreak isolates and isolates obtained from related food samples into a single cluster, but clearly separated genetically close isolates obtained from invasive listeriosis cases. A comparative genomic approach identified a premature stop codon in the chiB gene, encoding one of the two L. monocytogenes chitinases, which clustered with disease outcome. Correction of this premature stop codon in one representative gastroenteritis outbreak isolate restored chitinase production, but effects in infection experiments were not found. While the exact role of chitinases in virulence of L. monocytogenes is still not fully understood, our results now clearly show that ChiB-derived activity is not required to establish L. monocytogenes gastroenteritis in humans. This limits a possible role of ChiB in human listeriosis to later steps of the infection.
    • Guidelines for Small-Scale Production and Purification of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Virus-Like Particles from Recombinant Pichia pastoris.

      Zahid, Maria; Rinas, Ursula; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Humana Press, 2019-01-01)
      Virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccines have been in the market since decades for preventing viral infection and have proven their usefulness also in other areas of biotechnology. Here, we describe in detail simple small-scale production and purification procedures for the generation of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) VLPs using Pichia pastoris as expression host. This protocol may also be applicable with variations to other HBsAg-based VLPs additionally carrying antigens of other pathogens.
    • TGFβ-activation by dendritic cells drives Th17 induction and intestinal contractility and augments the expulsion of the parasite Trichinella spiralis in mice.

      Steel, Nicola; Faniyi, Aduragbemi A; Rahman, Sayema; Swietlik, Stefanie; Czajkowska, Beata I; Chan, Bethany T; Hardgrave, Alexander; Steel, Anthony; Sparwasser, Tim D; Assas, Mushref B; et al. (PLOS, 2019-01-01)
      Helminths are highly prevalent metazoan parasites that infect over a billion of the world’s population. Hosts have evolved numerous mechanisms to drive the expulsion of these parasites via Th2-driven immunity, but these responses must be tightly controlled to prevent equally devastating immunopathology. However, mechanisms that regulate this balance are still unclear. Here we show that the vigorous Th2 immune response driven by the small intestinal helminth Trichinella spiralis, is associated with increased TGFβ signalling responses in CD4+ T-cells. Mechanistically, enhanced TGFβ signalling in CD4+ T-cells is dependent on dendritic cell-mediated TGFβ activation which requires expression of the integrin αvβ8. Importantly, mice lacking integrin αvβ8 on DCs had a delayed ability to expel a T. spiralis infection, indicating an important functional role for integrin αvβ8-mediated TGFβ activation in promoting parasite expulsion. In addition to maintaining regulatory T-cell responses, the CD4+ T-cell signalling of this pleiotropic cytokine induces a Th17 response which is crucial in promoting the intestinal muscle hypercontractility that drives worm expulsion. Collectively, these results provide novel insights into intestinal helminth expulsion beyond that of classical Th2 driven immunity, and highlight the importance of IL-17 in intestinal contraction which may aid therapeutics to numerous diseases of the intestine.