• Cell Polarization and Epigenetic Status Shape the Heterogeneous Response to Type III Interferons in Intestinal Epithelial Cells.

      Bhushal, Sudeep; Wolfsmüller, Markus; Selvakumar, Tharini A; Kemper, Lucas; Wirth, Dagmar; Hornef, Mathias W; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      Type I and type III interferons (IFNs) are crucial components of the first-line antiviral host response. While specific receptors for both IFN types exist, intracellular signaling shares the same Jak-STAT pathway. Due to its receptor expression, IFN-λ responsiveness is restricted mainly to epithelial cells. Here, we display IFN-stimulated gene induction at the single cell level to comparatively analyze the activities of both IFN types in intestinal epithelial cells and mini-gut organoids. Initially, we noticed that the response to both types of IFNs at low concentrations is based on a single cell decision-making determining the total cell intrinsic antiviral activity. We identified histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity as a crucial restriction factor controlling the cell frequency of IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) induction upon IFN-λ but not IFN-β stimulation. Consistently, HDAC blockade confers antiviral activity to an elsewise non-responding subpopulation. Second, in contrast to the type I IFN system, polarization of intestinal epithelial cells strongly enhances their ability to respond to IFN-λ signaling and raises the kinetics of gene induction. Finally, we show that ISG induction in mini-gut organoids by low amounts of IFN is characterized by a scattered heterogeneous responsiveness of the epithelial cells and HDAC activity fine-tunes exclusively IFN-λ activity. This study provides a comprehensive description of the differential response to type I and type III IFNs and demonstrates that cell polarization in gut epithelial cells specifically increases IFN-λ activity.
    • Cell therapy products: focus on issues with manufacturing and quality control of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies

      Eyles, Jim E; Vessillier, Sandrine; Jones, Anika; Stacey, Glyn; Schneider, Christian K; Price, Jack; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany.
      Recent accelerated approvals of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T‐cell (CAR‐T) therapies targeting refractory haematological malignancies underscore the potential for this novel technology platform to provide new therapeutic options for oncology areas with high unmet medical needs. However, these powerful ‘living drugs’ are markedly different to conventional small molecule and biologic therapies on several levels. The highly complex nature and varied composition of CAR‐T based products still requires considerable investigation to resolve the best approaches to ensure reproducible and cost‐effective manufacture, clinical development, and application. This review will focus on key issues for manufacturing and quality control of these exciting new therapeutic modalities, preceded by a brief description of CAR principals and clinical development considerations. © 2018 The Authors. Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.
    • Cell therapy products: focus on issues with manufacturing and quality control of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies

      Eyles, Jim E; Vessillier, Sandrine; Jones, Anika; Stacey, Glyn; Schneider, Christian K; Price, Jack; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (2018-12-17)
    • Challenges in warranting access to prophylaxis and therapy for hepatitis B virus infection.

      Debarry, Jennifer; Cornberg, Markus; Manns, Michael P; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01)
      Despite an available vaccine and efficient treatment for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, chronic HBV infection still remains a major global threat, and one of the top 20 causes of human mortality worldwide. One of the major challenges in controlling HBV infection is the high number of undiagnosed chronic carriers and the lack of access to prophylaxis and treatment in several parts of the world. We discuss relevant barriers that need to be overcome to achieve global control of HBV infection and make eradication possible. Most important, vaccination must be scaled-up to lower the risk of vertical transmission and decrease the number of new infections, and comprehensive screening programs must be linked to care to obtain a better rate of diagnosis and treatment. This can probably only be achieved if sustainable funding is available. We therefore emphasize the importance of making the management of viral hepatitis a global health priority.
    • Characterization and role of a metalloprotease induced by chitin in Serratia sp. KCK.

      Kim, Hyun-Soo; Golyshin, Peter N; Timmis, Kenneth N; Department of Environmental Microbiology, The Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. hyun1006@korea.ac.kr (2007-11)
      A metalloprotease induced by chitin in a new chitinolytic bacterium Serratia sp. Strain KCK was purified and characterized. Compared with other Serratia enzymes, it exhibited a rather broad pH activity range (pH 5.0-8.0), and thermostability. The cognate ORF, mpr, was cloned and expressed. Its deduced amino acid sequence showed high similarity to those of bacterial zinc-binding metalloproteases and a well-conserved serralysin family motif. Pretreatment of chitin with the Mpr protein promoted chitin degradation by chitinase A, which suggests that Mpr participates in, and facilitates, chitin degradation by this microorganism.
    • Characterization of Populations by Multilocus Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (MLVA) Genotyping from Drinking Water and Biofilm in Hospitals from Different Regions of the West Bank.

      Zayed, Ashraf R; Pecellin, Marina; Salah, Alaa; Alalam, Hanna; Butmeh, Suha; Steinert, Michael; Lesnik, Rene; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G; Bitar, Dina M; et al. (MDPI, 2020-10-22)
      The West Bank can be considered a high-risk area for Legionnaires' disease (LD) due to its hot climate, intermittent water supply and roof storage of drinking water. Legionella, mostly L. pneumophila, are responsible for LD, a severe, community-acquired and nosocomial pneumonia. To date, no extensive assessment of Legionella spp and L. pneumophila using cultivation in combination with molecular approaches in the West Bank has been published. Two years of environmental surveillance of Legionella in water and biofilms in the drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) of eight hospitals was carried out; 180 L. pneumophila strains were isolated, mostly from biofilms in DWDS. Most of the isolates were identified as serogroup (Sg) 1 (60%) and 6 (30%), while a minor fraction comprised Sg 8 and 10. Multilocus Variable number of tandem repeats Analysis using 13 loci (MLVA-8(12)) was applied as a high-resolution genotyping method and compared to the standard Sequence Based Typing (SBT). The isolates were genotyped in 27 MLVA-8(12) genotypes (Gt), comprising four MLVA clonal complexes (VACC 1; 2; 5; 11). The major fraction of isolates constituted Sequence Type (ST)1 and ST461. Most of the MLVA-genotypes were highly diverse and often unique. The MLVA-genotype composition showed substantial regional variability. In general, the applied MLVA-method made it possible to reproducibly genotype the isolates, and was consistent with SBT but showed a higher resolution. The advantage of the higher resolution was most evident for the subdivision of the large strain sets of ST1 and ST461; these STs were shown to be highly pneumonia-relevant in a former study. This shows that the resolution by MLVA is advantageous for back-tracking risk sites and for the avoidance of outbreaks of L. pneumophila. Overall, our results provide important insights into the detailed population structure of L. pneumophila, allowing for better risk assessment for DWDS.
    • Characterization of a transcriptional TPP riboswitch in the human pathogen Neisseriameningitidis.

      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.
    • Characterization of marine isoprene-degrading communities.

      Alvarez, Laura Acuña; Exton, Daniel A; Timmis, Kenneth N; Suggett, David J; McGenity, Terry J; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK. (2009-12)
      Isoprene is a volatile and climate-altering hydrocarbon with an atmospheric concentration similar to that of methane. It is well established that marine algae produce isoprene; however, until now there was no specific information about marine isoprene sinks. Here we demonstrate isoprene consumption in samples from temperate and tropical marine and coastal environments, and furthermore show that the most rapid degradation of isoprene coincides with the highest rates of isoprene production in estuarine sediments. Isoprene-degrading enrichment cultures, analysed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and by culturing, were generally dominated by Actinobacteria, but included other groups such as Alphaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, previously not known to degrade isoprene. In contrast to specialist methane-oxidizing bacteria, cultivated isoprene degraders were nutritionally versatile, and nearly all of them were able to use n-alkanes as a source of carbon and energy. We therefore tested and showed that the ubiquitous marine hydrocarbon-degrader, Alcanivorax borkumensis, could also degrade isoprene. A mixture of the isolates consumed isoprene emitted from algal cultures, confirming that isoprene can be metabolized at low, environmentally relevant concentrations, and suggesting that, in the absence of spilled petroleum hydrocarbons, algal production of isoprene could maintain viable populations of hydrocarbon-degrading microbes. This discovery of a missing marine sink for isoprene is the first step in obtaining more robust predictions of its flux, and suggests that algal-derived isoprene provides an additional source of carbon for diverse microbes in the oceans.
    • Chemically Engineered Immune Cell-Derived Microrobots and Biomimetic Nanoparticles: Emerging Biodiagnostic and Therapeutic Tools

      Jahromi, Leila Pourtalebi; Shahbazi, Mohammad Ali; Maleki, Aziz; Azadi, Amir; Santos, Hélder A.; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-01-01)
      Over the past decades, considerable attention has been dedicated to the exploitation of diverse immune cells as therapeutic and/or diagnostic cell‐based microrobots for hard‐to‐treat disorders. To date, a plethora of therapeutics based on alive immune cells, surface‐engineered immune cells, immunocytes’ cell membranes, leukocyte‐derived extracellular vesicles or exosomes, and artificial immune cells have been investigated and a few have been introduced into the market. These systems take advantage of the unique characteristics and functions of immune cells, including their presence in circulating blood and various tissues, complex crosstalk properties, high affinity to different self and foreign markers, unique potential of their on‐demand navigation and activity, production of a variety of chemokines/cytokines, as well as being cytotoxic in particular conditions. Here, the latest progress in the development of engineered therapeutics and diagnostics inspired by immune cells to ameliorate cancer, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular complications, and infectious diseases is reviewed, and finally, the perspective for their clinical application is delineated.
    • Cholesterol sensing by CD81 is important for hepatitis C virus entry.

      Palor, Machaela; Stejskal, Lenka; Mandal, Piya; Lenman, Annasara; Alberione, Maria Pia; Kirui, Jared; Moeller, Rebecca; Ebner, Stefan; Meissner, Felix; Gerold, Gisa; et al. (DeGruyter, 2020-09-08)
      CD81 plays a role in a variety of physiological and pathological processes. Recent structural analysis of CD81 indicates that it contains an intramembrane cholesterol-binding pocket and that interaction with cholesterol may regulate a conformational switch in the extracellular domain of CD81. Therefore, CD81 possesses a potential cholesterol sensing mechanism; however, its relevance for protein function is thus far unknown. In this study we investigate CD81 cholesterol sensing in the context of its activity as a receptor for hepatitis C virus. Structure-led mutagenesis of the cholesterol-binding pocket reduced CD81-cholesterol association, but had disparate effects on HCV, both reducing and enhancing CD81 receptor activity. We reasoned that this could be explained by alterations in the consequences of cholesterol binding. To investigate this further we performed molecular dynamic simulations of CD81 with and without cholesterol; this identified an allosteric mechanism by which cholesterol binding regulates the conformation of CD81. To test this, we designed further mutations to force CD81 into either the open (cholesterol unbound) or closed (cholesterol bound) conformation. The open mutant of CD81 exhibited reduced receptor activity whereas the closed mutant was enhanced. These data are consistent with cholesterol switching CD81 between a receptor active and inactive state. CD81 interactome analysis also suggests that conformational switching may modulate the assembly of CD81-partner networks. This work furthers our understanding of the molecular mechanism of CD81 cholesterol sensing, how this relates to HCV entry and CD81's function as a molecular scaffold; these insights are relevant to CD81's varied roles in health and disease.
    • Chronic hepatitis C virus infection irreversibly impacts human natural killer cell repertoire diversity.

      Strunz, Benedikt; Hengst, Julia; Deterding, Katja; Manns, Michael P; Cornberg, Markus; Ljunggren, Hans-Gustaf; Wedemeyer, Heiner; Björkström, Niklas K; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-06-11)
      Diversity is a central requirement for the immune system's capacity to adequately clear a variety of different infections. As such, natural killer (NK) cells represent a highly diverse population of innate lymphocytes important in the early response against viruses. Yet, the extent to which a chronic pathogen affects NK cell diversity is largely unknown. Here we study NK cell functional diversification in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. High-dimensional flow cytometer assays combined with stochastic neighbor embedding analysis reveal that chronic HCV infection induces functional imprinting on human NK cells that is largely irreversible and persists long after successful interventional clearance of the virus. Furthermore, HCV infection increases inter-individual, but decreases intra-individual, NK cell diversity. Taken together, our results provide insights into how the history of infections affects human NK cell diversity.
    • Clarithromycin impairs tissue-resident memory and Th17 responses to macrolide-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae infections.

      Lindenberg, Marc; Almeida, Luis; Dhillon-LaBrooy, Ayesha; Siegel, Ekkehard; Henriques-Normark, Birgitta; Sparwasser, Tim; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Springer, 2021-02-17)
      The increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in pathogens is a growing public health concern, with the potential to compromise the success of infectious disease treatments in the future. Particularly, the number of infections by macrolide antibiotics-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae is increasing. We show here that Clarithromycin impairs both the frequencies and number of interleukin (IL)-17 producing T helper (Th) 17 cells within the lungs of mice infected with a macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae serotype 15A strain. Subsequently, the tissue-resident memory CD4+ T cell (Trm) response to a consecutive S. pneumoniae infection was impaired. The number of lung resident IL-17+ CD69+ Trm was diminished upon Clarithromycin treatment during reinfection. Mechanistically, Clarithromycin attenuated phosphorylation of the p90-S6-kinase as part of the ERK pathway in Th17 cells. Moreover, a strong increase in the mitochondrial-mediated maximal respiratory capacity was observed, while mitochondrial protein translation and mTOR sisgnaling were unimpaired. Therefore, treatment with macrolide antibiotics may favor the spread of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens not only by applying a selection pressure but also by decreasing the natural T cell immune response. Clinical administration of macrolide antibiotics as standard therapy procedure during initial hospitalization should be reconsidered accordingly and possibly be withheld until microbial resistance is determined. KEY MESSAGES: • Macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae infection undergoes immunomodulation by Clarithromycin • Clarithromycin treatment hinders Th17 and tissue-resident memory responses • Macrolide antibiotics impair Th17 differentiation in vitro by ERK-pathway inhibition.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Composition and dynamics of bacterial communities of a drinking water supply system as assessed by RNA- and DNA-based 16S rRNA gene fingerprinting.

      Eichler, Stefan; Christen, Richard; Höltje, Claudia; Westphal, Petra; Bötel, Julia; Brettar, Ingrid; Mehling, Arndt; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Environmental Microbiology, GBF-German Research Center for Biotechnology, Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2006-03)
      Bacterial community dynamics of a whole drinking water supply system (DWSS) were studied from source to tap. Raw water for this DWSS is provided by two reservoirs with different water characteristics in the Harz mountains of Northern Germany. Samples were taken after different steps of treatment of raw water (i.e., flocculation, sand filtration, and chlorination) and at different points along the supply system to the tap. RNA and DNA were extracted from the sampled water. The 16S rRNA or its genes were partially amplified by reverse transcription-PCR or PCR and analyzed by single-strand conformation polymorphism community fingerprints. The bacterial community structures of the raw water samples from the two reservoirs were very different, but no major changes of these structures occurred after flocculation and sand filtration. Chlorination of the processed raw water strongly affected bacterial community structure, as reflected by the RNA-based fingerprints. This effect was less pronounced for the DNA-based fingerprints. After chlorination, the bacterial community remained rather constant from the storage containers to the tap. Furthermore, the community structure of the tap water did not change substantially for several months. Community composition was assessed by sequencing of abundant bands and phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained. The taxonomic compositions of the bacterial communities from both reservoirs were very different at the species level due to their different limnologies. On the other hand, major taxonomic groups, well known to occur in freshwater, such as Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes, were found in both reservoirs. Significant differences in the detection of the major groups were observed between DNA-based and RNA-based fingerprints irrespective of the reservoir. Chlorination of the drinking water seemed to promote growth of nitrifying bacteria. Detailed analysis of the community dynamics of the whole DWSS revealed a significant influence of both source waters on the overall composition of the drinking water microflora and demonstrated the relevance of the raw water microflora for the drinking water microflora provided to the end user.
    • Conservation of the HBV RNA element epsilon in nackednaviruses reveals ancient origin of protein-primed reverse transcription.

      Beck, Jürgen; Seitz, Stefan; Lauber, Chris; Nassal, Michael; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Academy of Sciences, 2021-03-30)
      Hepadnaviruses, with the human hepatitis B virus as prototype, are small, enveloped hepatotropic DNA viruses which replicate by reverse transcription of an RNA intermediate. Replication is initiated by a unique protein-priming mechanism whereby a hydroxy amino acid side chain of the terminal protein (TP) domain of the viral polymerase (P) is extended into a short DNA oligonucleotide, which subsequently serves as primer for first-strand synthesis. A key component in the priming of reverse transcription is the viral RNA element epsilon, which contains the replication origin and serves as a template for DNA primer synthesis. Here, we show that recently discovered non-enveloped fish viruses, termed nackednaviruses [C. Lauber et al., Cell Host Microbe 22, 387-399 (2017)], employ a fundamentally similar replication mechanism despite their huge phylogenetic distance and major differences in genome organization and viral lifestyle. In vitro cross-priming studies revealed that few strategic nucleotide substitutions in epsilon enable site-specific protein priming by heterologous P proteins, demonstrating that epsilon is functionally conserved since the two virus families diverged more than 400 Mya. In addition, other cis elements crucial for the hepadnavirus-typical replication of pregenomic RNA into relaxed circular double-stranded DNA were identified at conserved positions in the nackednavirus genomes. Hence, the replication mode of both hepadnaviruses and nackednaviruses was already established in their Paleozoic common ancestor, making it a truly ancient and evolutionary robust principle of genome replication that is more widespread than previously thought.
    • Controlled re-activation of epigenetically silenced Tet promoter-driven transgene expression by targeted demethylation.

      Gödecke, Natascha; Zha, Lisha; Spencer, Shawal; Behme, Sara; Riemer, Pamela; Rehli, Michael; Hauser, Hansjörg; Wirth, Dagmar; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, D38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-09-19)
      Faithful expression of transgenes in cell cultures and mice is often challenged by locus dependent epigenetic silencing. We investigated silencing of Tet-controlled expression cassettes within the mouse ROSA26 locus. We observed pronounced DNA methylation of the Tet promoter concomitant with loss of expression in mES cells as well as in differentiated cells and transgenic animals. Strikingly, the ROSA26 promoter remains active and methylation free indicating that this silencing mechanism specifically affects the transgene, but does not spread to the host's chromosomal neighborhood. To reactivate Tet cassettes a synthetic fusion protein was constructed and expressed in silenced cells. This protein includes the enzymatic domains of ten eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase 1 (TET-1) as well as the Tet repressor DNA binding domain. Expression of the synthetic fusion protein and Doxycycline treatment allowed targeted demethylation of the Tet promoter in the ROSA26 locus and in another genomic site, rescuing transgene expression in cells and transgenic mice. Thus, inducible, reversible and site-specific epigenetic modulation is a promising strategy for reactivation of silenced transgene expression, independent of the integration site.
    • Corallopyronin A for short-course anti-wolbachial, macrofilaricidal treatment of filarial infections.

      Schiefer, Andrea; Hübner, Marc P; Krome, Anna; Lämmer, Christine; Ehrens, Alexandra; Aden, Tilman; Koschel, Marianne; Neufeld, Helene; Chaverra-Muñoz, Lillibeth; Jansen, Rolf; et al. (PLOS, 2020-12-07)
      Current efforts to eliminate the neglected tropical diseases onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, caused by the filarial nematodes Onchocerca volvulus and Wuchereria bancrofti or Brugia spp., respectively, are hampered by lack of a short-course macrofilaricidal-adult-worm killing-treatment. Anti-wolbachial antibiotics, e.g. doxycycline, target the essential Wolbachia endosymbionts of filariae and are a safe prototype adult-worm-sterilizing and macrofilaricidal regimen, in contrast to standard treatments with ivermectin or diethylcarbamazine, which mainly target the microfilariae. However, treatment regimens of 4-5 weeks necessary for doxycycline and contraindications limit its use. Therefore, we tested the preclinical anti-Wolbachia drug candidate Corallopyronin A (CorA) for in vivo efficacy during initial and chronic filarial infections in the Litomosoides sigmodontis rodent model. CorA treatment for 14 days beginning immediately after infection cleared >90% of Wolbachia endosymbionts from filariae and prevented development into adult worms. CorA treatment of patently infected microfilaremic gerbils for 14 days with 30 mg/kg twice a day (BID) achieved a sustained reduction of >99% of Wolbachia endosymbionts from adult filariae and microfilariae, followed by complete inhibition of filarial embryogenesis resulting in clearance of microfilariae. Combined treatment of CorA and albendazole, a drug currently co-administered during mass drug administrations and previously shown to enhance efficacy of anti-Wolbachia drugs, achieved microfilarial clearance after 7 days of treatment at a lower BID dose of 10 mg/kg CorA, a Human Equivalent Dose of 1.4 mg/kg. Importantly, this combination led to a significant reduction in the adult worm burden, which has not yet been published with other anti-Wolbachia candidates tested in this model. In summary, CorA is a preclinical candidate for filariasis, which significantly reduces treatment times required to achieve sustained Wolbachia depletion, clearance of microfilariae, and inhibition of embryogenesis. In combination with albendazole, CorA is robustly macrofilaricidal after 7 days of treatment and fulfills the Target Product Profile for a macrofilaricidal drug.
    • Crystal structure of bacterial cytotoxic necrotizing factor CNFy reveals molecular building blocks for intoxication.

      Chaoprasid, Paweena; Lukat, Peer; Mühlen, Sabrina; Heidler, Thomas; Gazdag, Emerich-Mihai; Dong, Shuangshuang; Bi, Wenjie; Rüter, Christian; Kirchenwitz, Marco; Steffen, Anika; et al. (Springer, 2021-01-07)
      Cytotoxic necrotizing factors (CNFs) are bacterial single-chain exotoxins that modulate cytokinetic/oncogenic and inflammatory processes through activation of host cell Rho GTPases. To achieve this, they are secreted, bind surface receptors to induce endocytosis and translocate a catalytic unit into the cytosol to intoxicate host cells. A three-dimensional structure that provides insight into the underlying mechanisms is still lacking. Here, we determined the crystal structure of full-length Yersinia pseudotuberculosis CNFY . CNFY consists of five domains (D1-D5), and by integrating structural and functional data, we demonstrate that D1-3 act as export and translocation module for the catalytic unit (D4-5) and for a fused β-lactamase reporter protein. We further found that D4, which possesses structural similarity to ADP-ribosyl transferases, but had no equivalent catalytic activity, changed its position to interact extensively with D5 in the crystal structure of the free D4-5 fragment. This liberates D5 from a semi-blocked conformation in full-length CNFY , leading to higher deamidation activity. Finally, we identify CNF translocation modules in several uncharacterized fusion proteins, which suggests their usability as a broad-specificity protein delivery tool.