Now showing items 1-20 of 3700

    • Tutorial: assessing metagenomics software with the CAMI benchmarking toolkit.

      Meyer, Fernando; Lesker, Till-Robin; Koslicki, David; Fritz, Adrian; Gurevich, Alexey; Darling, Aaron E; Sczyrba, Alexander; Bremges, Andreas; McHardy, Alice C; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Nature Research, 2021-03-01)
      Computational methods are key in microbiome research, and obtaining a quantitative and unbiased performance estimate is important for method developers and applied researchers. For meaningful comparisons between methods, to identify best practices and common use cases, and to reduce overhead in benchmarking, it is necessary to have standardized datasets, procedures and metrics for evaluation. In this tutorial, we describe emerging standards in computational meta-omics benchmarking derived and agreed upon by a larger community of researchers. Specifically, we outline recent efforts by the Critical Assessment of Metagenome Interpretation (CAMI) initiative, which supplies method developers and applied researchers with exhaustive quantitative data about software performance in realistic scenarios and organizes community-driven benchmarking challenges. We explain the most relevant evaluation metrics for assessing metagenome assembly, binning and profiling results, and provide step-by-step instructions on how to generate them. The instructions use simulated mouse gut metagenome data released in preparation for the second round of CAMI challenges and showcase the use of a repository of tool results for CAMI datasets. This tutorial will serve as a reference for the community and facilitate informative and reproducible benchmarking in microbiome research.
    • Discovery of Staphylococcus aureus Adhesion Inhibitors by Automated Imaging and Their Characterization in a Mouse Model of Persistent Nasal Colonization.

      Fernandes de Oliveira, Liliane Maria; Steindorff, Marina; Darisipudi, Murthy N; Mrochen, Daniel M; Trübe, Patricia; Bröker, Barbara M; Brönstrup, Mark; Tegge, Werner; Holtfreter, Silva; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-03-18)
      Due to increasing mupirocin resistance, alternatives for Staphylococcus aureus nasal decolonization are urgently needed. Adhesion inhibitors are promising new preventive agents that may be less prone to induce resistance, as they do not interfere with the viability of S. aureus and therefore exert less selection pressure. We identified promising adhesion inhibitors by screening a library of 4208 compounds for their capacity to inhibit S. aureus adhesion to A-549 epithelial cells in vitro in a novel automated, imaging-based assay. The assay quantified DAPI-stained nuclei of the host cell; attached bacteria were stained with an anti-teichoic acid antibody. The most promising candidate, aurintricarboxylic acid (ATA), was evaluated in a novel persistent S. aureus nasal colonization model using a mouse-adapted S. aureus strain. Colonized mice were treated intranasally over 7 days with ATA using a wide dose range (0.5-10%). Mupirocin completely eliminated the bacteria from the nose within three days of treatment. In contrast, even high concentrations of ATA failed to eradicate the bacteria. To conclude, our imaging-based assay and the persistent colonization model provide excellent tools to identify and validate new drug candidates against S. aureus nasal colonization. However, our first tested candidate ATA failed to induce S. aureus decolonization.
    • A New PqsR Inverse Agonist Potentiates Tobramycin Efficacy to Eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms

      Schütz, Christian; Ho, Duy‐Khiet; Hamed, Mostafa Mohamed; Abdelsamie, Ahmed Saad; Röhrig, Teresa; Herr, Christian; Kany, Andreas Martin; Rox, Katharina; Schmelz, Stefan; Siebenbürger, Lorenz; et al. (Wiley and Sons Inc., 2021-03-18)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections can be notoriously difficult to treat and are often accompanied by the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSI) acting on PqsR (MvfR) – a crucial transcriptional regulator serving major functions in PA virulence – can enhance antibiotic efficacy and eventually prevent the AMR. An integrated drug discovery campaign including design, medicinal chemistry‐driven hit‐to‐lead optimization and in‐depth biological profiling of a new QSI generation is reported. The QSI possess excellent activity in inhibiting pyocyanin production and PqsR reporter‐gene with IC50 values as low as 200 and 11 × 10−9 m, respectively. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) as well as safety pharmacology studies especially highlight the promising translational properties of the lead QSI for pulmonary applications. Moreover, target engagement of the lead QSI is shown in a PA mucoid lung infection mouse model. Beyond that, a significant synergistic effect of a QSI‐tobramycin (Tob) combination against PA biofilms using a tailor‐made squalene‐derived nanoparticle (NP) formulation, which enhance the minimum biofilm eradicating concentration (MBEC) of Tob more than 32‐fold is demonstrated. The novel lead QSI and the accompanying NP formulation highlight the potential of adjunctive pathoblocker‐mediated therapy against PA infections opening up avenues for preclinical development.
    • Amycolatomycins A and B, Cyclic Hexapeptides Isolated from an sp. 195334CR.

      Primahana, Gian; Risdian, Chandra; Mozef, Tjandrawati; Wink, Joachim; Surup, Frank; Stadler, Marc; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-03-05)
      The rare actinobacterium Amycolatopsis sp. strain 195334CR was found to produce previously undescribed cyclic hexapeptides, which we named amycolatomycin A and B (1 and 2). Their planar structures were determined by high-resolution mass spectrometry as well as extensive 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopy, while the absolute stereochemistry of its amino acids were determined by Marfey's method. Moreover, 1 and 2 differ by the incorporation of l-Ile and l-allo-Ile, respectively, whose FDVA (Nα-(2,4-Dinitro-5-fluorphenyl)-L-valinamide) derivatives were separated on a C4 column. Their hallmark in common is a unique 2,6-dichloro-tryptophan amino acid unit. Amycolatomycin A (1) exhibited weak activity against Bacillus subtilis DSM 10 (minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) = 33.4 µg/mL).
    • A Point Mutation in the Transcriptional Repressor PerR Results in a Constitutive Oxidative Stress Response in630Δ. Clostridioides difficile

      Troitzsch, Daniel; Zhang, Hao; Dittmann, Silvia; Düsterhöft, Dorothee; Möller, Timon Alexander; Michel, Annika-Marisa; Jänsch, Lothar; Riedel, Katharina; Borrero-de Acuña, José Manuel; Jahn, Dieter; et al. (ASM, 2021-03-03)
      The human pathogen Clostridioides difficile has evolved into the leading cause of nosocomial diarrhea. The bacterium is capable of spore formation, which even allows survival of antibiotic treatment. Although C. difficile features an anaerobic lifestyle, we determined a remarkably high oxygen tolerance of the laboratory reference strain 630Δerm A mutation of a single nucleotide (single nucleotide polymorphism [SNP]) in the DNA sequence (A to G) of the gene encoding the regulatory protein PerR results in an amino acid substitution (Thr to Ala) in one of the helices of the helix-turn-helix DNA binding domain of this transcriptional repressor in C. difficile 630Δerm PerR is a sensor protein for hydrogen peroxide and controls the expression of genes involved in the oxidative stress response. We show that PerR of C. difficile 630Δerm has lost its ability to bind the promoter region of PerR-controlled genes. This results in a constitutive derepression of genes encoding oxidative stress proteins such as a rubrerythrin (rbr1) whose mRNA abundance under anaerobic conditions was increased by a factor of about 7 compared to its parental strain C. difficile 630. Rubrerythrin repression in strain 630Δerm could be restored by the introduction of PerR from strain 630. The permanent oxidative stress response of C. difficile 630Δerm observed here should be considered in physiological and pathophysiological investigations based on this widely used model strain.IMPORTANCE The intestinal pathogen Clostridioides difficile is one of the major challenges in medical facilities nowadays. In order to better combat the bacterium, detailed knowledge of its physiology is mandatory. C. difficile strain 630Δerm was generated in a laboratory from the patient-isolated strain C. difficile 630 and represents a reference strain for many researchers in the field, serving as the basis for the construction of insertional gene knockout mutants. In our work, we demonstrate that this strain is characterized by an uncontrolled oxidative stress response as a result of a single-base-pair substitution in the sequence of a transcriptional regulator. C. difficile researchers working with model strain 630Δerm should be aware of this permanent stress response.
    • Post-injury immunosuppression and secondary infections are caused by an AIM2 inflammasome-driven signaling cascade.

      Roth, Stefan; Cao, Jiayu; Singh, Vikramjeet; Tiedt, Steffen; Hundeshagen, Gabriel; Li, Ting; Boehme, Julia D; Chauhan, Dhruv; Zhu, Jie; Ricci, Alessio; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2021-03-04)
      Loss of lymphocytes, particularly T cell apoptosis, is a central pathological event after severe tissue injury that is associated with increased susceptibility for life-threatening infections. The precise immunological mechanisms leading to T cell death after acute injury are largely unknown. Here, we identified a monocyte-T cell interaction driving bystander cell death of T cells in ischemic stroke and burn injury. Specifically, we found that stroke induced a FasL-expressing monocyte population, which led to extrinsic T cell apoptosis. This phenomenon was driven by AIM2 inflammasome-dependent interleukin-1β (IL-1β) secretion after sensing cell-free DNA. Pharmacological inhibition of this pathway improved T cell survival and reduced post-stroke bacterial infections. As such, this study describes inflammasome-dependent monocyte activation as a previously unstudied cause of T cell death after injury and challenges the current paradigms of post-injury lymphopenia.
    • Characterization of the all-E. coli transcription-translation system myTXTL by mass spectrometry.

      Garenne, David; Beisel, Chase L; Noireaux, Vincent; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Wiley, 2019-05-14)
      Rationale: Cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) is becoming a popular technology to prototype and engineer biological systems outside living organisms. TXTL relies commonly on a cytoplasmic extract that provides the molecular components necessary to recapitulate gene expression in vitro, where most of the available systems are derived from E. coli. The proteinic and enzymatic composition of lysates, however, is typically unknown. In this work, we analyzed by mass spectrometry the molecular constituents of the all-E. coli TXTL platform myTXTL prepared from the E. coli strain BL21 Rosetta2. Methods: Standard TXTL reactions were assembled and executed for 10-12 hours at 29°C. In addition to a no-DNA control, four DNA programs were executed in separate reactions to synthesize the reporter protein deGFP as well as the phages MS2, phix174 and T7. The reactions were treated according to standard procedures (trypsin treatment, cleaning) before performing liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Data analysis was performed using Sequest and protein identification using Scaffold. Results: A total of 500-800 proteins were identified by LC/MS in the blank reactions. We organized the most abundant protein sets into several categories pertaining, in particular, to transcription, translation and ATP regeneration. The synthesis of deGFP was easily measured. The major structural proteins that compose the three phages MS2, phix174 and T7 were also identified. Conclusions: Mass spectrometry is a practical tool to characterize biochemical solutions as complex as a cell-free TXTL reaction and to determine the presence of synthesized proteins. The data presented demonstrate that the composition of TXTL based on lysates can be used to validate some underlying molecular mechanisms implicated in cell-free protein synthesis. The composition of the lysate shows significant differences with respect to similar studies on other E. coli strains.
    • Local pulmonary drug delivery in the preterm rabbit: feasibility and efficacy of daily intratracheal injections.

      Salaets, Thomas; Gie, André; Jimenez, Julio; Aertgeerts, Margo; Gheysens, Olivier; Vande Velde, Greetje; Koole, Michel; Murgia, Xabi; Casiraghi, Costanza; Ricci, Francesca; et al. (American Physiological Society, 2019-01-24)
      Recent clinical trials in newborns have successfully used surfactant as a drug carrier for an active compound, to minimize systemic exposure. To investigate the translational potential of surfactant-compound mixtures and other local therapeutics, a relevant animal model is required in which intratracheal administration for maximal local deposition is technically possible and well tolerated. Preterm rabbit pups (born at 28 days of gestation) were exposed to either hyperoxia or normoxia and randomized to receive daily intratracheal surfactant, daily intratracheal saline, or no injections for 7 days. At day 7, the overall lung function and morphology were assessed. Efficacy in terms of distribution was assessed by micro-PET-CT on both day 0 and day 7. Lung function as well as parenchymal and vascular structure were altered by hyperoxia, thereby reproducing a phenotype reminiscent of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Neither intratracheal surfactant nor saline affected the survival or the hyperoxia-induced BPD phenotype of the pups. Using PET-CT, we demonstrate that 82.5% of the injected radioactive tracer goes and remains in the lungs, with a decrease of only 4% after 150 min. Surfactant and saline can safely and effectively be administered in spontaneously breathing preterm rabbits. The described model and method enable researchers to evaluate intratracheal pharmacological interventions for the treatment of BPD.
    • Time-Resolved scRNA-Seq Tracks the Adaptation of a Sensitive MCL Cell Line to Ibrutinib Treatment.

      Fuhr, Viktoria; Vafadarnejad, Ehsan; Dietrich, Oliver; Arampatzi, Panagiota; Riedel, Angela; Saliba, Antoine-Emmanuel; Rosenwald, Andreas; Rauert-Wunderlich, Hilka; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-25)
      Since the approval of ibrutinib for relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), the treatment of this rare mature B-cell neoplasm has taken a great leap forward. Despite promising efficacy of the Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor, resistance arises inevitably and the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Here, we aimed to decipher the response of a sensitive MCL cell line treated with ibrutinib using time-resolved single-cell RNA sequencing. The analysis uncovered five subpopulations and their individual responses to the treatment. The effects on the B cell receptor pathway, cell cycle, surface antigen expression, and metabolism were revealed by the computational analysis and were validated by molecular biological methods. The observed upregulation of B cell receptor signaling, crosstalk with the microenvironment, upregulation of CD52, and metabolic reprogramming towards dependence on oxidative phosphorylation favor resistance to ibrutinib treatment. Targeting these cellular responses provide new therapy options in MCL.
    • A novel circulating tamiami mammarenavirus shows potential for zoonotic spillover.

      Moreno, Hector; Rastrojo, Alberto; Pryce, Rhys; Fedeli, Chiara; Zimmer, Gert; Bowden, Thomas A; Gerold, Gisa; Kunz, Stefan; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-12-28)
      A detailed understanding of the mechanisms underlying the capacity of a virus to break the species barrier is crucial for pathogen surveillance and control. New World (NW) mammarenaviruses constitute a diverse group of rodent-borne pathogens that includes several causative agents of severe viral hemorrhagic fever in humans. The ability of the NW mammarenaviral attachment glycoprotein (GP) to utilize human transferrin receptor 1 (hTfR1) as a primary entry receptor plays a key role in dictating zoonotic potential. The recent isolation of Tacaribe and lymphocytic choriominingitis mammarenaviruses from host-seeking ticks provided evidence for the presence of mammarenaviruses in arthropods, which are established vectors for numerous other viral pathogens. Here, using next generation sequencing to search for other mammarenaviruses in ticks, we identified a novel replication-competent strain of the NW mammarenavirus Tamiami (TAMV-FL), which we found capable of utilizing hTfR1 to enter mammalian cells. During isolation through serial passaging in mammalian immunocompetent cells, the quasispecies of TAMV-FL acquired and enriched mutations leading to the amino acid changes N151K and D156N, within GP. Cell entry studies revealed that both substitutions, N151K and D156N, increased dependence of the virus on hTfR1 and binding to heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Moreover, we show that the substituted residues likely map to the sterically constrained trimeric axis of GP, and facilitate viral fusion at a lower pH, resulting in viral egress from later endosomal compartments. In summary, we identify and characterize a naturally occurring TAMV strain (TAMV-FL) within ticks that is able to utilize hTfR1. The TAMV-FL significantly diverged from previous TAMV isolates, demonstrating that TAMV quasispecies exhibit striking genetic plasticity that may facilitate zoonotic spillover and rapid adaptation to new hosts.
    • Characterization of Cas12a nucleases reveals diverse PAM profiles between closely-related orthologs.

      Jacobsen, Thomas; Ttofali, Fani; Liao, Chunyu; Manchalu, Srinivas; Gray, Benjamin N; Beisel, Chase L; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2020-07-27)
      CRISPR-Cas systems comprise diverse adaptive immune systems in prokaryotes whose RNA-directed nucleases have been co-opted for various technologies. Recent efforts have focused on expanding the number of known CRISPR-Cas subtypes to identify nucleases with novel properties. However, the functional diversity of nucleases within each subtype remains poorly explored. Here, we used cell-free transcription-translation systems and human cells to characterize six Cas12a single-effector nucleases from the V-A subtype, including nucleases sharing high sequence identity. While these nucleases readily utilized each other's guide RNAs, they exhibited distinct PAM profiles and apparent targeting activities that did not track based on phylogeny. In particular, two Cas12a nucleases encoded by Prevotella ihumii (PiCas12a) and Prevotella disiens (PdCas12a) shared over 95% amino-acid identity yet recognized distinct PAM profiles, with PiCas12a but not PdCas12a accommodating multiple G's in PAM positions -2 through -4 and T in position -1. Mutational analyses transitioning PiCas12a to PdCas12a resulted in PAM profiles distinct from either nuclease, allowing more flexible editing in human cells. Cas12a nucleases therefore can exhibit widely varying properties between otherwise related orthologs, suggesting selective pressure to diversify PAM recognition and supporting expansion of the CRISPR toolbox through ortholog mining and PAM engineering.
    • The Two-Component System 09 Regulates Pneumococcal Carbohydrate Metabolism and Capsule Expression.

      Hirschmann, Stephanie; Gómez-Mejia, Alejandro; Mäder, Ulrike; Karsunke, Julia; Driesch, Dominik; Rohde, Manfred; Häussler, Susanne; Burchhardt, Gerhard; Hammerschmidt, Sven; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-24)
      Streptococcus pneumoniae two-component regulatory systems (TCSs) are important systems that perceive and respond to various host environmental stimuli. In this study, we have explored the role of TCS09 on gene expression and phenotypic alterations in S. pneumoniae D39. Our comparative transcriptomic analyses identified 67 differently expressed genes in total. Among those, agaR and the aga operon involved in galactose metabolism showed the highest changes. Intriguingly, the encapsulated and nonencapsulated hk09-mutants showed significant growth defects under nutrient-defined conditions, in particular with galactose as a carbon source. Phenotypic analyses revealed alterations in the morphology of the nonencapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants, whereas the encapsulated hk09- and tcs09-mutants produced higher amounts of capsule. Interestingly, the encapsulated D39∆hk09 showed only the opaque colony morphology, while the D39∆rr09- and D39∆tcs09-mutants had a higher proportion of transparent variants. The phenotypic variations of D39ΔcpsΔhk09 and D39ΔcpsΔtcs09 are in accordance with their higher numbers of outer membrane vesicles, higher sensitivity against Triton X-100 induced autolysis, and lower resistance against oxidative stress. In conclusion, these results indicate the importance of TCS09 for pneumococcal metabolic fitness and resistance against oxidative stress by regulating the carbohydrate metabolism and thereby, most likely indirectly, the cell wall integrity and amount of capsular polysaccharide.
    • Influenza A virus-induced thymus atrophy differentially affects dynamics of conventional and regulatory T-cell development in mice.

      Elfaki, Yassin; Robert, Philippe A; Binz, Christoph; Falk, Christine S; Bruder, Dunja; Prinz, Immo; Floess, Stefan; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; Huehn, Jochen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-02-26)
      Foxp3+ Treg cells, which are crucial for maintenance of self-tolerance, mainly develop within the thymus, where they arise from CD25+ Foxp3- or CD25- Foxp3+ Treg cell precursors. Although it is known that infections can cause transient thymic involution, the impact of infection-induced thymus atrophy on thymic Treg (tTreg) cell development is unknown. Here, we infected mice with influenza A virus (IAV) and studied thymocyte population dynamics post infection. IAV infection caused a massive, but transient thymic involution, dominated by a loss of CD4+ CD8+ double-positive (DP) thymocytes, which was accompanied by a significant increase in the frequency of CD25+ Foxp3+ tTreg cells. Differential apoptosis susceptibility could be experimentally excluded as a reason for the relative tTreg cell increase, and mathematical modeling suggested that enhanced tTreg cell generation cannot explain the increased frequency of tTreg cells. Yet, an increased death of DP thymocytes and augmented exit of single-positive (SP) thymocytes was suggested to be causative. Interestingly, IAV-induced thymus atrophy resulted in a significantly reduced T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire diversity of newly produced tTreg cells. Taken together, IAV-induced thymus atrophy is substantially altering the dynamics of major thymocyte populations, finally resulting in a relative increase of tTreg cells with an altered TCR repertoire.
    • Salmonella Typhimurium discreet-invasion of the murine gut absorptive epithelium.

      Fattinger, Stefan A; Böck, Desirée; Di Martino, Maria Letizia; Deuring, Sabrina; Samperio Ventayol, Pilar; Ek, Viktor; Furter, Markus; Kreibich, Saskia; Bosia, Francesco; Müller-Hauser, Anna A; et al. (PLOS, 2020-05-04)
      Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S.Tm) infections of cultured cell lines have given rise to the ruffle model for epithelial cell invasion. According to this model, the Type-Three-Secretion-System-1 (TTSS-1) effectors SopB, SopE and SopE2 drive an explosive actin nucleation cascade, resulting in large lamellipodia- and filopodia-containing ruffles and cooperative S.Tm uptake. However, cell line experiments poorly recapitulate many of the cell and tissue features encountered in the host's gut mucosa. Here, we employed bacterial genetics and multiple imaging modalities to compare S.Tm invasion of cultured epithelial cell lines and the gut absorptive epithelium in vivo in mice. In contrast to the prevailing ruffle-model, we find that absorptive epithelial cell entry in the mouse gut occurs through "discreet-invasion". This distinct entry mode requires the conserved TTSS-1 effector SipA, involves modest elongation of local microvilli in the absence of expansive ruffles, and does not favor cooperative invasion. Discreet-invasion preferentially targets apicolateral hot spots at cell-cell junctions and shows strong dependence on local cell neighborhood. This proof-of-principle evidence challenges the current model for how S.Tm can enter gut absorptive epithelial cells in their intact in vivo context.
    • Targeting bioenergetics is key to counteracting the drug-tolerant state of biofilm-grown bacteria.

      Donnert, Monique; Elsheikh, Sarah; Arce-Rodriguez, Alejandro; Pawar, Vinay; Braubach, Peter; Jonigk, Danny; Haverich, Axel; Weiss, Siegfried; Müsken, Mathias; Häussler, Susanne; et al. (PLOS, 2020-12-22)
      Embedded in an extracellular matrix, biofilm-residing bacteria are protected from diverse physicochemical insults. In accordance, in the human host the general recalcitrance of biofilm-grown bacteria hinders successful eradication of chronic, biofilm-associated infections. In this study, we demonstrate that upon addition of promethazine, an FDA approved drug, antibiotic tolerance of in vitro biofilm-grown bacteria can be abolished. We show that following the addition of promethazine, diverse antibiotics are capable of efficiently killing biofilm-residing cells at minimal inhibitory concentrations. Synergistic effects could also be observed in a murine in vivo model system. PMZ was shown to increase membrane potential and interfere with bacterial respiration. Of note, antibiotic killing activity was elevated when PMZ was added to cells grown under environmental conditions that induce low intracellular proton levels. Our results imply that biofilm-grown bacteria avoid antibiotic killing and become tolerant by counteracting intracellular alkalization through the adaptation of metabolic and transport functions. Abrogation of antibiotic tolerance by interfering with the cell's bioenergetics promises to pave the way for successful eradication of biofilm-associated infections. Repurposing promethazine as a biofilm-sensitizing drug has the potential to accelerate the introduction of new treatments for recalcitrant, biofilm-associated infections into the clinic.
    • Tofacitinib Loaded Squalenyl Nanoparticles for Targeted Follicular Delivery in Inflammatory Skin Diseases.

      Christmann, Rebekka; Ho, Duy-Khiet; Wilzopolski, Jenny; Lee, Sangeun; Koch, Marcus; Loretz, Brigitta; Vogt, Thomas; Bäumer, Wolfgang; Schaefer, Ulrich F; Lehr, Claus-Michael; et al. (MDPI, 2020-11-24)
      Tofacitinib (TFB), a Janus kinase inhibitor, has shown excellent success off-label in treating various dermatological diseases, especially alopecia areata (AA). However, TFB's safe and targeted delivery into hair follicles (HFs) is highly desirable due to its systemic adverse effects. Nanoparticles (NPs) can enhance targeted follicular drug delivery and minimize interfollicular permeation and thereby reduce systemic drug exposure. In this study, we report a facile method to assemble the stable and uniform 240 nm TFB loaded squalenyl derivative (SqD) nanoparticles (TFB SqD NPs) in aqueous solution, which allowed an excellent loading capacity (LC) of 20%. The SqD NPs showed an enhanced TFB delivery into HFs compared to the aqueous formulations of plain drug in an ex vivo pig ear model. Furthermore, the therapeutic efficacy of the TFB SqD NPs was studied in a mouse model of allergic dermatitis by ear swelling reduction and compared to TFB dissolved in a non-aqueous mixture of acetone and DMSO (7:1 v/v). Whereas such formulation would not be acceptable for use in the clinic, the TFB SqD NPs dispersed in water illustrated a better reduction in inflammatory effects than plain TFB's aqueous formulation, implying both encouraging good in vivo efficacy and safety. These findings support the potential of TFB SqD NPs for developing a long-term topical therapy of AA.
    • Evaluation of CD8 T cell killing models with computer simulations of 2-photon imaging experiments.

      Rastogi, Ananya; Robert, Philippe A; Halle, Stephan; Meyer-Hermann, Michael; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2020-12-28)
      In vivo imaging of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) killing activity revealed that infected cells have a higher observed probability of dying after multiple contacts with CTLs. We developed a three-dimensional agent-based model to discriminate different hypotheses about how infected cells get killed based on quantitative 2-photon in vivo observations. We compared a constant CTL killing probability with mechanisms of signal integration in CTL or infected cells. The most likely scenario implied increased susceptibility of infected cells with increasing number of CTL contacts where the total number of contacts was a critical factor. However, when allowing in silico T cells to initiate new interactions with apoptotic target cells (zombie contacts), a contact history independent killing mechanism was also in agreement with experimental datasets. The comparison of observed datasets to simulation results, revealed limitations in interpreting 2-photon data, and provided readouts to distinguish CTL killing models.
    • Biodistribution and serologic response in SARS-CoV-2 induced ARDS: A cohort study.

      Schlesinger, Tobias; Weißbrich, Benedikt; Wedekink, Florian; Notz, Quirin; Herrmann, Johannes; Krone, Manuel; Sitter, Magdalena; Schmid, Benedikt; Kredel, Markus; Stumpner, Jan; et al. (PLOS, 2020-11-24)
      Background: The viral load and tissue distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) remain important questions. The current study investigated SARS-CoV-2 viral load, biodistribution and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody formation in patients suffering from severe corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Methods: This is a retrospective single-center study in 23 patients with COVID-19-induced ARDS. Data were collected within routine intensive care. SARS-CoV-2 viral load was assessed via reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Overall, 478 virology samples were taken. Anti-SARS-CoV-2-Spike-receptor binding domain (RBD) antibody detection of blood samples was performed with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: Most patients (91%) suffered from severe ARDS during ICU treatment with a 30-day mortality of 30%. None of the patients received antiviral treatment. Tracheal aspirates tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in 100% of the cases, oropharyngeal swabs only in 77%. Blood samples were positive in 26% of the patients. No difference of viral load was found in tracheal or blood samples with regard to 30-day survival or disease severity. SARS-CoV-2 was never found in dialysate. Serologic testing revealed significantly lower concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing IgM and IgA antibodies in survivors compared to non-survivors (p = 0.009). Conclusions: COVID-19 induced ARDS is accompanied by a high viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in tracheal aspirates, which remained detectable in the majority throughout intensive care treatment. Remarkably, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was never detected in dialysate even in patients with RNAemia. Viral load or the buildup of neutralizing antibodies was not associated with 30-day survival or disease severity.
    • Resolution of the Complex (Hypoxylaceae, Xylariales) and Discovery and Biological Characterization of Two of Its Prominent Secondary Metabolites.

      Lambert, Christopher; Pourmoghaddam, Mohammad Javad; Cedeño-Sanchez, Marjorie; Surup, Frank; Khodaparast, Seyed Akbar; Krisai-Greilhuber, Irmgard; Voglmayr, Hermann; Stradal, Theresia E B; Stadler, Marc; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-02-11)
      Hypoxylon, a large, cosmopolitan genus of Ascomycota is in the focus of our current poly-thetic taxonomic studies, and served as an excellent source for bioactive secondary metabolites at the same time. The present work concerns a survey of the Hypoxylon fuscum species complex based on specimens from Iran and Europe by morphological studies and high performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and diode array detection (HPLC-MS-DAD). Apart from known chemotaxonomic markers like binaphthalene tetrol (BNT) and daldinin F, two unprece-dented molecules were detected and subsequently isolated to purity by semi preparative HPLC. Their structures were established by nuclear-magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy as 3'-malonyl-daldinin F (6) and pseudofuscochalasin A (4). The new daldinin derivative 6 showed weak cytotoxicity towards mammalian cells but bactericidal activity. The new cytochalasin 4 was compared to cytochalasin C in an actin disruption assay using fluorescence microscopy of human osteo-sarcoma U2OS cells, revealing comparable activity towards F-actin but being irreversible compared to cytochalasin C. Concurrently, a multilocus molecular phylogeny based on ribosomal and proteinogenic nucleotide sequences of Hypoxylon species resulted in a well-supported clade for H. fuscum and its allies. From a comparison of morphological, chemotaxonomic and phylogenetic evidence, we introduce the new species H. eurasiaticum and H. pseudofuscum.
    • Signaling via the p75 neurotrophin receptor facilitates amyloid-β-induced dendritic spine pathology.

      Patnaik, Abhisarika; Zagrebelsky, Marta; Korte, Martin; Holz, Andreas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (NPG, 2020-08-07)
      Synapse and dendritic spine loss induced by amyloid-β oligomers is one of the main hallmarks of the early phases of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is directly correlated with the cognitive decline typical of this pathology. The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) binds amyloid-β oligomers in the nM range. While it was shown that µM concentrations of amyloid-β mediate cell death, the role and intracellular signaling of p75NTR for dendritic spine pathology induced by sublethal concentrations of amyloid-β has not been analyzed. We describe here p75NTR as a crucial binding partner in mediating effects of soluble amyloid-β oligomers on dendritic spine density and structure in non-apoptotic hippocampal neurons. Removing or over-expressing p75NTR in neurons rescues or exacerbates the typical loss of dendritic spines and their structural alterations observed upon treatment with nM concentrations of amyloid-β oligomers. Moreover, we show that binding of amyloid-β oligomers to p75NTR activates the RhoA/ROCK signaling cascade resulting in the fast stabilization of the actin spinoskeleton. Our results describe a role for p75NTR and downstream signaling events triggered by binding of amyloid-β oligomers and causing dendritic spine pathology. These observations further our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying one of the main early neuropathological hallmarks of AD.