• Atlas of group A streptococcal vaccine candidates compiled using large-scale comparative genomics.

      Davies, Mark R; McIntyre, Liam; Mutreja, Ankur; Lacey, Jake A; Lees, John A; Towers, Rebecca J; Duchêne, Sebastián; Smeesters, Pierre R; Frost, Hannah R; Price, David J; et al. (Nature publishing group(NPG), 2019-05-27)
      Group A Streptococcus (GAS; Streptococcus pyogenes) is a bacterial pathogen for which a commercial vaccine for humans is not available. Employing the advantages of high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to vaccine design, we have analyzed 2,083 globally sampled GAS genomes. The global GAS population structure reveals extensive genomic heterogeneity driven by homologous recombination and overlaid with high levels of accessory gene plasticity. We identified the existence of more than 290 clinically associated genomic phylogroups across 22 countries, highlighting challenges in designing vaccines of global utility. To determine vaccine candidate coverage, we investigated all of the previously described GAS candidate antigens for gene carriage and gene sequence heterogeneity. Only 15 of 28 vaccine antigen candidates were found to have both low naturally occurring sequence variation and high (>99%) coverage across this diverse GAS population. This technological platform for vaccine coverage determination is equally applicable to prospective GAS vaccine antigens identified in future studies.
    • The Dynamics of Interleukin-10-Afforded Protection during Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis.

      Cardoso, Ana; Gil Castro, Antonio; Martins, Ana Catarina; Carriche, Guilhermina M; Murigneux, Valentine; Castro, Isabel; Cumano, Ana; Vieira, Paulo; Saraiva, Margarida; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Frontiers, 2018-03-01)
      Inflammatory bowel disease encompasses a group of chronic-inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. These conditions are characterized by exacerbated inflammation of the organ that greatly affects the quality of life of patients. Molecular mechanisms counteracting this hyperinflammatory status of the gut offer strategies for therapeutic intervention. Among these regulatory molecules is the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10, as shown in mice and humans. Indeed, IL-10 signaling, particularly in macrophages, is essential for intestinal homeostasis. We sought to investigate the temporal profile of IL-10-mediated protection during chemical colitis and which were the underlying mechanisms. Using a novel mouse model of inducible IL-10 overexpression (pMT-10), described here, we show that mice preconditioned with IL-10 for 8 days before dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) administration developed a milder colitic phenotype. In IL-10-induced colitic mice, Ly6C cells isolated from the lamina propria showed a decreased inflammatory profile. Because our mouse model leads to transcription of the IL-10 transgene in the bone marrow and elevated seric IL-10 concentration, we investigated whether IL-10 could imprint immune cells in a long-lasting way, thus conferring sustained protection to colitis. We show that this was not the case, as IL-10-afforded protection was only observed if IL-10 induction immediately preceded DSS-mediated colitis. Thus, despite the protection afforded by IL-10 in colitis, novel strategies are required, specifically to achieve long-lasting protection.
    • Enteric Murine Ganglionitis Induced by Autoimmune CD8 T Cells Mimics Human Gastrointestinal Dysmotility.

      Sanchez-Ruiz, Monica; Brunn, Anna; Montesinos-Rongen, Manuel; Rudroff, Claudia; Hartmann, Melanie; Schlüter, Dirk; Pfitzer, Gabriele; Deckert, Martina; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2018-12-27)
      Inflammatory bowel diseases frequently cause gastrointestinal dysmotility, suggesting that they may also affect the enteric nervous system. So far, the precise mechanisms that lead to gastrointestinal dysmotility in inflammatory bowel diseases have not been elucidated. To determine the effect of CD8 T cells on gastrointestinal motility, transgenic mice expressing ovalbumin on enteric neurons were generated. In these mice, adoptive transfer of ovalbumin-specific OT-I CD8 T cells induced severe enteric ganglionitis. CD8 T cells homed to submucosal and myenteric plexus neurons, 60% of which were lost, clinically resulting in severely impaired gastrointestinal transition. Anti-interferon-γ treatment rescued neurons by preventing their up-regulation of major histocompatibility complex class I antigen, thus preserving gut motility. These preclinical murine data translated well into human gastrointestinal dysmotility. In a series of 30 colonic biopsy specimens from patients with gastrointestinal dysmotility, CD8 T cell-mediated ganglionitis was detected that was followed by severe loss of enteric neurons (74.8%). Together, the preclinical and clinical data support the concept that autoimmune CD8 T cells play an important pathogenetic role in gastrointestinal dysmotility and may destroy enteric neurons.
    • Establishment of porcine and human expanded potential stem cells.

      Gao, Xuefei; Nowak-Imialek, Monika; Chen, Xi; Chen, Dongsheng; Herrmann, Doris; Ruan, Degong; Chen, Andy Chun Hang; Eckersley-Maslin, Melanie A; Ahmad, Shakil; Lee, Yin Lau; et al. (Nature publishing group(NPG), 2019-06-03)
      We recently derived mouse expanded potential stem cells (EPSCs) from individual blastomeres by inhibiting the critical molecular pathways that predispose their differentiation. EPSCs had enriched molecular signatures of blastomeres and possessed developmental potency for all embryonic and extra-embryonic cell lineages. Here, we report the derivation of porcine EPSCs, which express key pluripotency genes, are genetically stable, permit genome editing, differentiate to derivatives of the three germ layers in chimeras and produce primordial germ cell-like cells in vitro. Under similar conditions, human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells can be converted, or somatic cells directly reprogrammed, to EPSCs that display the molecular and functional attributes reminiscent of porcine EPSCs. Importantly, trophoblast stem-cell-like cells can be generated from both human and porcine EPSCs. Our pathway-inhibition paradigm thus opens an avenue for generating mammalian pluripotent stem cells, and EPSCs present a unique cellular platform for translational research in biotechnology and regenerative medicine.
    • Expansion of functional personalized cells with specific transgene combinations.

      Lipps, Christoph; Klein, Franziska; Wahlicht, Tom; Seiffert, Virginia; Butueva, Milada; Zauers, Jeannette; Truschel, Theresa; Luckner, Martin; Köster, Mario; MacLeod, Roderick; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-03-08)
      Fundamental research and drug development for personalized medicine necessitates cell cultures from defined genetic backgrounds. However, providing sufficient numbers of authentic cells from individuals poses a challenge. Here, we present a new strategy for rapid cell expansion that overcomes current limitations. Using a small gene library, we expanded primary cells from different tissues, donors, and species. Cell-type-specific regimens that allow the reproducible creation of cell lines were identified. In depth characterization of a series of endothelial and hepatocytic cell lines confirmed phenotypic stability and functionality. Applying this technology enables rapid, efficient, and reliable production of unlimited numbers of personalized cells. As such, these cell systems support mechanistic studies, epidemiological research, and tailored drug development.
    • Future Organization of Clinical Research in Germany: The Road to the "German Centre for Digestive Health" (GCDH).

      Manns, Michael P; Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School (MHH), Hannover, Germany. (2016-12)
    • Impact of Von Willebrand Factor on Bacterial Pathogenesis.

      Steinert, Michael; Ramming, Isabell; Bergmann, Simone; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-09-03)
      Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a mechano-sensitive protein with crucial functions in normal hemostasis, which are strongly dependant on the shear-stress mediated defolding and multimerization of VWF in the blood stream. Apart from bleeding disorders, higher plasma levels of VWF are often associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Herein, the disease symptoms are attributed to the inflammatory response of the activated endothelium and share high similarities to the reaction of the host vasculature to systemic infections caused by pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. The bacteria recruit circulating VWF, and by binding to immobilized VWF on activated endothelial cells in blood flow, they interfere with the physiological functions of VWF, including platelet recruitment and coagulation. Several bacterial VWF binding proteins have been identified and further characterized by biochemical analyses. Moreover, the development of a combination of sophisticated cell culture systems simulating shear stress levels of the blood flow with microscopic visualization also provided valuable insights into the interaction mechanism between bacteria and VWF-strings. In vivo studies using mouse models of bacterial infection and zebrafish larvae provided evidence that the interaction between bacteria and VWF promotes bacterial attachment, coagulation, and thrombus formation, and thereby contributes to the pathophysiology of severe infectious diseases such as infective endocarditis and bacterial sepsis. This mini-review summarizes the current knowledge of the interaction between bacteria and the mechano-responsive VWF, and corresponding pathophysiological disease symptoms.
    • Irreversible impact of chronic hepatitis C virus infection on human natural killer cell diversity.

      Strunz, Benedikt; Hengst, Julia; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Björkström, Niklas K; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Shared Science org, 2018-07-25)
      Diversity is crucial for the immune system to efficiently combat infections. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate cytotoxic lymphocytes that contribute to the control of viral infections. NK cells were for long thought to be a homogeneous population of cells. However, recent work has instead revealed NK cells to represent a highly diverse population of immune cells where a vast number of subpopulations with distinct characteristics exist across tissues. However, the degree to which a chronic viral infection affects NK cell diversity remains elusive. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is effective in establishing chronic infection in humans. During the last years, new direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAA) have revolutionized treatment of chronic hepatitis C, enabling rapid cure in the majority of patients. This allows us to study the influence of a chronic viral infection and its subsequent elimination on the NK cell compartment with a focus on NK cell diversity. In our recent study (Nat Commun, 9:2275), we show that chronic HCV infection irreversibly impacts human NK cell repertoire diversity.
    • Let-7c inhibits cholangiocarcinoma growth but promotes tumor cell invasion and growth at extrahepatic sites.

      Xie, Yu; Zhang, Hang; Guo, Xing-Jun; Feng, Ye-Chen; He, Rui-Zhi; Li, Xu; Yu, Shuo; Zhao, Yan; Shen, Ming; Zhu, Feng; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-02-14)
      Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a cancer type with high postoperative relapse rates and poor long-term survival largely due to tumor invasion, distant metastasis, and multidrug resistance. Deregulated microRNAs (miRNAs) are implicated in several cancer types including CCA. The specific roles of the miRNA let-7c in cholangiocarcinoma are not known and need to be further elucidated. In our translational study we show that microRNA let-7c expression was significantly downregulated in human cholangiocarcinoma tissues when compared to adjacent tissues of the same patient. Let-7c inhibited the tumorigenic properties of cholangiocarcinoma cells including their self-renewal capacity and sphere formation in vitro and subcutaneous cancer cell growth in vivo. Ectopic let-7c overexpression suppressed migration and invasion capacities of cholangiocarcinoma cell lines in vitro, however, promoted distant invasiveness in vivo. Furthermore, we found that let-7c regulated the aforementioned malignant biological properties, at least in part, through regulation of EZH2 protein expression and through the DVL3/β-catenin axis. The miRNA let-7c thus plays an important dual role in regulating tumorigenic and metastatic abilities of human cholangiocarcinoma through mechanisms involving EZH2 protein and the DVL3/β-catenin axis.
    • OTUB1 inhibits CNS autoimmunity by preventing IFN-γ-induced hyperactivation of astrocytes.

      Wang, Xu; Mulas, Floriana; Yi, Wenjing; Brunn, Anna; Nishanth, Gopala; Just, Sissy; Waisman, Ari; Brück, Wolfgang; Deckert, Martina; Schlüter, Dirk; et al. (EMBO Press, 2019-04-03)
      Astrocytes are critical regulators of neuroinflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Growing evidence indicates that ubiquitination of signaling molecules is an important cell-intrinsic mechanism governing astrocyte function during MS and EAE Here, we identified an upregulation of the deubiquitinase OTU domain, ubiquitin aldehyde binding 1 (OTUB1) in astrocytes during MS and EAE Mice with astrocyte-specific OTUB1 ablation developed more severe EAE due to increased leukocyte accumulation, proinflammatory gene transcription, and demyelination in the spinal cord as compared to control mice. OTUB1-deficient astrocytes were hyperactivated in response to IFN-γ, a fingerprint cytokine of encephalitogenic T cells, and produced more proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines than control astrocytes. Mechanistically, OTUB1 inhibited IFN-γ-induced Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling by K48 deubiquitination and stabilization of the JAK2 inhibitor suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1). Thus, astrocyte-specific OTUB1 is a critical inhibitor of neuroinflammation in CNS autoimmunity.
    • Pathological mechanism and antisense oligonucleotide-mediated rescue of a non-coding variant suppressing factor 9 RNA biogenesis leading to hemophilia B.

      Krooss, Simon; Werwitzke, Sonja; Kopp, Johannes; Rovai, Alice; Varnholt, Dirk; Wachs, Amelie S; Goyenvalle, Aurelie; Aarstma-Rus, Annemieke; Ott, Michael; Tiede, Andreas; et al. (PLOS, 2020-04-08)
      Loss-of-function mutations in the human coagulation factor 9 (F9) gene lead to hemophilia B. Here, we dissected the consequences and the pathomechanism of a non-coding mutation (c.2545A>G) in the F9 3' untranslated region. Using wild type and mutant factor IX (FIX) minigenes we revealed that the mutation leads to reduced F9 mRNA and FIX protein levels and to lower coagulation activity of cell culture supernatants. The phenotype could not be compensated by increased transcription. The pathomechanism comprises the de novo creation of a binding site for the spliceosomal component U1snRNP, which is able to suppress the nearby F9 poly(A) site. This second, splicing-independent function of U1snRNP was discovered previously and blockade of U1snRNP restored mutant F9 mRNA expression. In addition, we explored the vice versa approach and masked the mutation by antisense oligonucleotides resulting in significantly increased F9 mRNA expression and coagulation activity. This treatment may transform the moderate/severe hemophilia B into a mild or subclinical form in the patients. This antisense based strategy is applicable to other mutations in untranslated regions creating deleterious binding sites for cellular proteins.
    • 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.