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1.  Overexpression of eCLCA1 in Small Airways of Horses with Recurrent Airway Obstruction 
The human hCLCA1 and murine mCLCA3 (chloride channels, calcium-activated) have recently been identified as promising therapeutic targets in asthma. Recurrent airway obstruction in horses is an important animal model of human asthma. Here, we have cloned and characterized the first equine CLCA family member, eCLCA1. The 913 amino acids eCLCA1 polypeptide forms a 120-kDa transmembrane glycoprotein that is processed to an 80-kDa protein in vivo. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms were detected in the eCLCA1 coding region in 14 horses, resulting in two amino acid changes (485H/R and 490V/L). However, no functional differences were recorded between the channel properties of the two variants in transfected HEK293 cells. The eCLCA1 protein was detected immunohistochemically in mucin-producing cells in the respiratory and intestinal tracts, cutaneous sweat glands, and renal mucous glands. Strong overexpression of eCLCA1 was observed in the airways of horses with recurrent airway obstruction using Northern blot hybridization, Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and real-time quantitative RT-PCR. The results suggest that spontaneous or experimental recurrent airway obstruction in horses may serve as a model to study the role of CLCA homologs in chronic airway disease with overproduction of mucins.
PMCID: PMC1383431  PMID: 15879574
asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; calcium-activated chloride channels; goblet cells; mucus overproduction
2.  Increasing the inspiratory time and I:E ratio during mechanical ventilation aggravates ventilator-induced lung injury in mice 
Critical Care  2015;19(1):23.
Lung-protective ventilation reduced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) mortality. To minimize ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI), tidal volume is limited, high plateau pressures are avoided, and positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) is applied. However, the impact of specific ventilatory patterns on VILI is not well defined. Increasing inspiratory time and thereby the inspiratory/expiratory ratio (I:E ratio) may improve oxygenation, but may also be harmful as the absolute stress and strain over time increase. We thus hypothesized that increasing inspiratory time and I:E ratio aggravates VILI.
VILI was induced in mice by high tidal-volume ventilation (HVT 34 ml/kg). Low tidal-volume ventilation (LVT 9 ml/kg) was used in control groups. PEEP was set to 2 cm H2O, FiO2 was 0.5 in all groups. HVT and LVT mice were ventilated with either I:E of 1:2 (LVT 1:2, HVT 1:2) or 1:1 (LVT 1:1, HVT 1:1) for 4 hours or until an alternative end point, defined as mean arterial blood pressure below 40 mm Hg. Dynamic hyperinflation due to the increased I:E ratio was excluded in a separate group of animals. Survival, lung compliance, oxygenation, pulmonary permeability, markers of pulmonary and systemic inflammation (leukocyte differentiation in lung and blood, analyses of pulmonary interleukin-6, interleukin-1β, keratinocyte-derived chemokine, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1), and histopathologic pulmonary changes were analyzed.
LVT 1:2 or LVT 1:1 did not result in VILI, and all individuals survived the ventilation period. HVT 1:2 decreased lung compliance, increased pulmonary neutrophils and cytokine expression, and evoked marked histologic signs of lung injury. All animals survived. HVT 1:1 caused further significant worsening of oxygenation, compliance and increased pulmonary proinflammatory cytokine expression, and pulmonary and blood neutrophils. In the HVT 1:1 group, significant mortality during mechanical ventilation was observed.
According to the “baby lung” concept, mechanical ventilation-associated stress and strain in overinflated regions of ARDS lungs was simulated by using high tidal-volume ventilation. Increase of inspiratory time and I:E ratio significantly aggravated VILI in mice, suggesting an impact of a “stress/strain × time product” for the pathogenesis of VILI. Thus increasing the inspiratory time and I:E ratio should be critically considered.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-015-0759-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4336519
3.  Overview about the localization of nanoparticles in tissue and cellular context by different imaging techniques 
The increasing interest and recent developments in nanotechnology pose previously unparalleled challenges in understanding the effects of nanoparticles on living tissues. Despite significant progress in in vitro cell and tissue culture technologies, observations on particle distribution and tissue responses in whole organisms are still indispensable. In addition to a thorough understanding of complex tissue responses which is the domain of expert pathologists, the localization of particles at their sites of interaction with living structures is essential to complete the picture. In this review we will describe and compare different imaging techniques for localizing inorganic as well as organic nanoparticles in tissues, cells and subcellular compartments. The visualization techniques include well-established methods, such as standard light, fluorescence, transmission electron and scanning electron microscopy as well as more recent developments, such as light and electron microscopic autoradiography, fluorescence lifetime imaging, spectral imaging and linear unmixing, superresolution structured illumination, Raman microspectroscopy and X-ray microscopy. Importantly, all methodologies described allow for the simultaneous visualization of nanoparticles and evaluation of cell and tissue changes that are of prime interest for toxicopathologic studies. However, the different approaches vary in terms of applicability for specific particles, sensitivity, optical resolution, technical requirements and thus availability, and effects of labeling on particle properties. Specific bottle necks of each technology are discussed in detail. Interpretation of particle localization data from any of these techniques should therefore respect their specific merits and limitations as no single approach combines all desired properties.
PMCID: PMC4311646
fluorescence lifetime imaging; fluorescence microscopy; histopathology; light microscopic autoradiography; structured illumination microscopy
4.  AHAPS-functionalized silica nanoparticles do not modulate allergic contact dermatitis in mice 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):524.
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a common skin disease in people and may become a potential site of exposure to nanoparticles (NP). Silica nanoparticles (SiO2-NP) possess a promising potential for various medical and non-medical applications, including normal and diseased skin as target organs. However, it has been shown that negatively charged SiO2-NP may act as proinflammatory adjuvant in allergic diseases. The effect of topical SiO2-NP exposure on preexisting ACD has not been studied to date although this reflects a common in vivo situation. Of particular interest are the potential effects of positively charged N-(6-aminohexyl)-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane (AHAPS)-functionalized SiO2-NP which are promising candidates for delivery systems, including gene delivery into the skin. Here, the effects of such AHAPS-functionalized SiO2-NP (55 ± 6 nm in diameter) were studied in an oxazolone-induced ACD model in SKH1 mice and compared to ACD mice treated with vehicle only. The clinical course of the disease was assessed by monitoring of the transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and the erythema. In histologic and morphometric analyses, the distribution of particles, the degree of inflammation, epidermal thickness, and the inflammatory infiltrate were characterized and quantified by standard and special histological stains as well as immunohistochemistry for CD3+ lymphocytes. To assess possible systemic effects, serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Following administration of AHAPS-SiO2-NP for five consecutive days, no effects were observed in all clinical, histologic, morphometric, and molecular parameters investigated. In conclusion, positively charged AHAPS-SiO2-NP seem not to affect the course of ACD during exposure for 5 days.
PMCID: PMC4177380  PMID: 25276110
Allergic contact dermatitis; Oxazolone; Toxicopathology; Mouse model; Silica nanoparticles
5.  Murine CLCA5 is uniquely expressed in distinct niches of airway epithelial cells 
The murine mCLCA5 protein is a member of the chloride channel regulators, calcium-activated (CLCA) family and is suspected to play a role in airway mucus cell differentiation. Although mCLCA5 mRNA was previously found in total lung extracts, the expressing cells and functions in the naive murine respiratory tract are unknown. Therefore, mCLCA5 protein expression was identified by immunohistochemistry and confocal laser scanning microscopy using entire lung sections of naive mice. Moreover, we determined mRNA levels of functionally related genes (mClca3, mClca5, Muc5ac and Muc5b) and quantified mCLCA5-, mCLCA3- and CC10-positive cells and periodic acid-Schiff-positive mucus cells in naive, PBS-treated or Staphylococcus aureus-infected mice. We also investigated mCLCA5 protein expression in Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza virus lung infection models. Finally, we determined species-specific differences in the expression patterns of the murine mCLCA5 and its human and porcine orthologs, hCLCA2 and pCLCA2. The mCLCA5 protein is uniquely expressed in highly select bronchial epithelial cells and submucosal glands in naive mice, consistent with anatomical locations of progenitor cell niches. Under conditions of challenge (PBS, S. aureus, S. pneumoniae, influenza virus), mRNA and protein expression strongly declined with protein recovery only in models retaining intact epithelial cells. In contrast to mice, human and porcine bronchial epithelial cells do not express their respective mCLCA5 orthologs and submucosal glands had fewer expressing cells, indicative of fundamental differences in mice versus humans and pigs.
PMCID: PMC4317516  PMID: 25212661
Airway epithelial cell; Murine lung; mCLCA3; Mucus cell metaplasia; Translational medicine
6.  Role of the C-Type Lectin Receptors MCL and DCIR in Experimental Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103281.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. Though its exact etiology is still unclear, it is proposed that an imbalance in the intestinal homeostasis leads to a disturbed interaction between commensal microbiota and the mucosal immune system. Previous studies have shown that both innate and adaptive immunity are involved in an overwhelming colon inflammation, and thus contribute to the pathogenesis of IBD. In innate immunity, several pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors, NOD-like receptors or C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) are involved in IBD pathogenesis. Myeloid CLRs are mainly expressed by antigen-presenting cells and bind to glycan structures present on self or foreign antigens. The Macrophage-restricted C-type lectin (MCL) and the Dendritic cell immunoreceptor (DCIR) are two poorly characterized members of the CLR family. In this study, we investigated the role of MCL and DCIR in the pathogenesis of murine colitis. Both CLRs bound to intestinal microbiota to a different extent. They modulated the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by antigen-presenting cells upon stimulation with heat-killed microbiota and impacted subsequent T cell responses. To analyze whether MCL and DCIR contribute to the pathogenesis of IBD, the dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) murine colitis model was employed. MCL−/− as well as DCIR−/− mice exhibited only a slightly increased severity of disease compared to wild-type mice indicating a limited role for MCL and DCIR in the regulation of intestinal immunity.
PMCID: PMC4113383  PMID: 25068517
7.  Anatomical distribution of avian bornavirus in parrots, its occurrence in clinically healthy birds and ABV-antibody detection 
Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) is a fatal infectious disease of birds that primarily affects psittacine birds. Although a causative agent has not been formally demonstrated, the leading candidate is a novel avian bornavirus (ABV) detected in post-mortem tissue samples of psittacids with PDD from the USA, Israel and, recently, Germany. Here we describe the presence of ABV in a parrot with PDD as well as in clinically normal birds exposed to birds with PDD. In two ABV-positive post-mortem cases, the tissue distribution of ABV was investigated by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Viraemia was observed in a PDD-affected bird whereas a restriction of ABV to nerve tissue was found in the non- PDD-affected bird. Healthy birds from the same aviary as the affected birds were also found to harbour the virus; 19/59 (32.2%) birds tested positive for ABV RNA in cloacal swabs, providing the first evidence of ABV in clinically healthy birds. In contrast, 39 birds from the same geographic area, but from two different aviaries without PDD cases in recent years, had negative cloacal swabs. ABV RNA-positive, clinically healthy birds demonstrated the same serological response as the animal with confirmed PDD. These results indicate that ABV infection may occur without clinical evidence of PDD and suggest that cloacal swabs can enable the non-invasive detection of ABV infection.
PMCID: PMC4109277  PMID: 19937538
9.  mCLCA3 Modulates IL-17 and CXCL-1 Induction and Leukocyte Recruitment in Murine Staphylococcus aureus Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102606.
The human hCLCA1 and its murine ortholog mCLCA3 (calcium-activated chloride channel regulators) are exclusively expressed in mucus cells and linked to inflammatory airway diseases with increased mucus production, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Both proteins have a known impact on the mucus cell metaplasia trait in these diseases. However, growing evidence points towards an additional role in innate immune responses. In the current study, we analyzed Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia, an established model to study pulmonary innate immunity, in mCLCA3-deficient and wild-type mice, focusing on the cellular and cytokine-driven innate inflammatory response. We compared clinical signs, bacterial clearance, leukocyte immigration and cytokine responses in the bronchoalveolar compartment, as well as pulmonary vascular permeability, histopathology, mucus cell number and mRNA expression levels of selected genes (mClca1 to 7, Muc5ac, Muc5b, Muc2, Cxcl-1, Cxcl-2, Il-17). Deficiency of mCLCA3 resulted in decreased neutrophilic infiltration into the bronchoalveolar space during bacterial infection. Only the cytokines IL-17 and the murine CXCL-8 homolog CXCL-1 were decreased on mRNA and protein levels during bacterial infection in mCLCA3-deficient mice compared to wild-type controls. However, no differences in clinical outcome, histopathology or mucus cell metaplasia were observed. We did not find evidence for regulation of any other CLCA homolog that would putatively compensate for the lack of mCLCA3. In conclusion, mCLCA3 appears to modulate leukocyte response via IL-17 and murine CXCL-8 homologs in acute Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia which is well in line with the proposed function of hCLCA1 as a signaling molecule acting on alveolar macrophages.
PMCID: PMC4102496  PMID: 25033194
10.  Attenuation of Immune-Mediated Influenza Pneumonia by Targeting the Inducible Co-Stimulator (ICOS) Molecule on T Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100970.
Inducible Co-stimulator (ICOS) plays a critical role in mediating T cell differentiation and function and is considered a key player in balancing T effector and T regulatory (Treg) cell responses. Here we show that activation of the ICOS signalling pathway during acute influenza A virus (IAV) infection by application of an agonistic ICOS antibody reduced the frequency of CD8+ T cells in the respiratory tract of IAV infected animals and delayed pathogen elimination. In line with this, immune-mediated influenza pneumonia was significantly ameliorated in mice that received ICOS agonist as indicated by significantly reduced alveolar infiltrations and bronchointerstitial pneumonia, while at the same time virus-related pathology remained unaffected. Importantly, ICOS agonist treatment resulted in expansion of CD4+Foxp3+ Tregs in IAV infected mice, which was associated with elevated levels of the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10 in the alveolar space. Together, our findings suggest a prominent role of ICOS signaling during acute IAV infection by increasing the Treg/CD8+ T cell ratio with beneficial outcome on immune-mediated pneumonia and underline the suitability of ICOS as potential therapeutic target for immune intervention in those infectious conditions characterized by strong immunopathology rather than virus-mediated cytopathic effects.
PMCID: PMC4100737  PMID: 25029240
11.  Reference Genes for Quantitative Gene Expression Studies in Multiple Avian Species 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99678.
Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) rapidly and reliably quantifies gene expression levels across different experimental conditions. Selection of suitable reference genes is essential for meaningful normalization and thus correct interpretation of data. In recent years, an increasing number of avian species other than the chicken has been investigated molecularly, highlighting the need for an experimentally validated pan-avian primer set for reference genes. Here we report testing a set for 14 candidate reference genes (18S, ABL, GAPDH, GUSB, HMBS, HPRT, PGK1, RPL13, RPL19, RPS7, SDHA, TFRC, VIM, YWHAZ) on different tissues of the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), common crane (Grus grus), white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo f. domestica), cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), Humboldt penguin (Sphenicus humboldti), ostrich (Struthio camelus) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), spanning a broad range of the phylogenetic tree of birds. Primer pairs for six to 11 genes were successfully established for each of the nine species. As a proof of principle, we analyzed expression levels of 10 candidate reference genes as well as FOXP2 and the immediate early genes, EGR1 and CFOS, known to be rapidly induced by singing in the avian basal ganglia. We extracted RNA from microbiopsies of the striatal song nucleus Area X of adult male zebra finches after they had sang or remained silent. Using three different statistical algorithms, we identified five genes (18S, PGK1, RPS7, TFRC, YWHAZ) that were stably expressed within each group and also between the singing and silent conditions, establishing them as suitable reference genes. In conclusion, the newly developed pan-avian primer set allows accurate normalization and quantification of gene expression levels in multiple avian species.
PMCID: PMC4057121  PMID: 24926893
12.  Mechanical ventilation drives pneumococcal pneumonia into lung injury and sepsis in mice: protection by adrenomedullin 
Critical Care  2014;18(2):R73.
Ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) contributes to morbidity and mortality in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Particularly pre-injured lungs are susceptible to VILI despite protective ventilation. In a previous study, the endogenous peptide adrenomedullin (AM) protected murine lungs from VILI. We hypothesized that mechanical ventilation (MV) contributes to lung injury and sepsis in pneumonia, and that AM may reduce lung injury and multiple organ failure in ventilated mice with pneumococcal pneumonia.
We analyzed in mice the impact of MV in established pneumonia on lung injury, inflammation, bacterial burden, hemodynamics and extrapulmonary organ injury, and assessed the therapeutic potential of AM by starting treatment at intubation.
In pneumococcal pneumonia, MV increased lung permeability, and worsened lung mechanics and oxygenation failure. MV dramatically increased lung and blood cytokines but not lung leukocyte counts in pneumonia. MV induced systemic leukocytopenia and liver, gut and kidney injury in mice with pneumonia. Lung and blood bacterial burden was not affected by MV pneumonia and MV increased lung AM expression, whereas receptor activity modifying protein (RAMP) 1–3 expression was increased in pneumonia and reduced by MV. Infusion of AM protected against MV-induced lung injury (66% reduction of pulmonary permeability p < 0.01; prevention of pulmonary restriction) and against VILI-induced liver and gut injury in pneumonia (91% reduction of AST levels p < 0.05, 96% reduction of alanine aminotransaminase (ALT) levels p < 0.05, abrogation of histopathological changes and parenchymal apoptosis in liver and gut).
MV paved the way for the progression of pneumonia towards ARDS and sepsis by aggravating lung injury and systemic hyperinflammation leading to liver, kidney and gut injury. AM may be a promising therapeutic option to protect against development of lung injury, sepsis and extrapulmonary organ injury in mechanically ventilated individuals with severe pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC4056010  PMID: 24731244
13.  Malignancy Associated MicroRNA Expression Changes in Canine Mammary Cancer of Different Malignancies 
ISRN Veterinary Science  2014;2014:148597.
MicroRNA has been suspected to be generally involved in carcinogenesis since their first description. A first study supported this assumption for canine mammary tumors when miRNA expression was compared to normal gland. The present study extends these results by comparing the expression of 16 microRNA (miRNA) and 4 small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) in tumors of different malignancy, for example, adenomas, nonmetastasizing and metastasizing carcinomas as well as lymph node metastases, with each other and with normal mammary gland. All neoplastic tissues differed in their miR-210 expression levels from normal gland. While metastatic cells differed in their expression of mir-29b, miR-101, mir-125a, miR-143, and miR-145 from primary tumors, the comparison of miRNA expression in primary tumors of different malignancy failed to reveal significant differences except for a significant downregulation of mir-125a in metastasizing carcinomas when compared to adenomas.
PMCID: PMC4060554  PMID: 25002976
14.  The Novel Human Influenza A(H7N9) Virus Is Naturally Adapted to Efficient Growth in Human Lung Tissue 
mBio  2013;4(5):e00601-13.
A novel influenza A virus (IAV) of the H7N9 subtype has been isolated from severely diseased patients with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome and, apparently, from healthy poultry in March 2013 in Eastern China. We evaluated replication, tropism, and cytokine induction of the A/Anhui/1/2013 (H7N9) virus isolated from a fatal human infection and two low-pathogenic avian H7 subtype viruses in a human lung organ culture system mimicking infection of the lower respiratory tract. The A(H7N9) patient isolate replicated similarly well as a seasonal IAV in explanted human lung tissue, whereas avian H7 subtype viruses propagated poorly. Interestingly, the avian H7 strains provoked a strong antiviral type I interferon (IFN-I) response, whereas the A(H7N9) virus induced only low IFN levels. Nevertheless, all viruses analyzed were detected predominantly in type II pneumocytes, indicating that the A(H7N9) virus does not differ in its cellular tropism from other avian or human influenza viruses. Tissue culture-based studies suggested that the low induction of the IFN-β promoter correlated with an efficient suppression by the viral NS1 protein. These findings demonstrate that the zoonotic A(H7N9) virus is unusually well adapted to efficient propagation in human alveolar tissue, which most likely contributes to the severity of lower respiratory tract disease seen in many patients.
Humans are usually not infected by avian influenza A viruses (IAV), but this large group of viruses contributes to the emergence of human pandemic strains. Transmission of virulent avian IAV to humans is therefore an alarming event that requires assessment of the biology as well as pathogenic and pandemic potentials of the viruses in clinically relevant models. Here, we demonstrate that an early virus isolate from the recent A(H7N9) outbreak in Eastern China replicated as efficiently as human-adapted IAV in explanted human lung tissue, whereas avian H7 subtype viruses were unable to propagate. Robust replication of the H7N9 strain correlated with a low induction of antiviral beta interferon (IFN-β), and cell-based studies indicated that this is due to efficient suppression of the IFN response by the viral NS1 protein. Thus, explanted human lung tissue appears to be a useful experimental model to explore the determinants facilitating cross-species transmission of the H7N9 virus to humans.
PMCID: PMC3791893  PMID: 24105764
15.  Modulation of respiratory dendritic cells during Klebsiella pneumonia infection 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):91.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a leading cause of severe hospital-acquired respiratory tract infections and death but little is known regarding the modulation of respiratory dendritic cell (DC) subsets. Plasmacytoid DC (pDC) are specialized type 1 interferon producing cells and considered to be classical mediators of antiviral immunity.
By using multiparameter flow cytometry analysis we have analysed the modulation of respiratory DC subsets after intratracheal Klebsiella pneumonia infection.
Data indicate that pDCs and MoDC were markedly elevated in the post acute pneumonia phase when compared to mock-infected controls. Analysis of draining mediastinal lymph nodes revealed a rapid increase of activated CD103+ DC, CD11b+ DC and MoDC within 48 h post infection. Lung pDC identification during bacterial pneumonia was confirmed by extended phenotyping for 120G8, mPDCA-1 and Siglec-H expression and by demonstration of high Interferon-alpha producing capacity after cell sorting. Cytokine expression analysis of ex vivo-sorted respiratory DC subpopulations from infected animals revealed elevated Interferon-alpha in pDC, elevated IFN-gamma, IL-4 and IL-13 in CD103+ DC and IL-19 and IL-12p35 in CD11b+ DC subsets in comparison to CD11c+ MHC-class IIlow cells indicating distinct functional roles. Antigen-specific naive CD4+ T cell stimulatory capacity of purified respiratory DC subsets was analysed in a model system with purified ovalbumin T cell receptor transgenic naive CD4+ responder T cells and respiratory DC subsets, pulsed with ovalbumin and matured with Klebsiella pneumoniae lysate. CD103+ DC and CD11b+ DC subsets represented the most potent naive CD4+ T helper cell activators.
These results provide novel insight into the activation of respiratory DC subsets during Klebsiella pneumonia infection. The detection of increased respiratory pDC numbers in bacterial pneumonia may indicate possible novel pDC functions with respect to lung repair and regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3848864  PMID: 24044871
Klebsiella pneumonia; Pneumonia; Plasmacytoid dendritic cells
16.  Intestinal Microbiota Composition of Interleukin-10 Deficient C57BL/6J Mice and Susceptibility to Helicobacter hepaticus-Induced Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70783.
The mouse pathobiont Helicobacter hepaticus can induce typhlocolitis in interleukin-10-deficient mice, and H. hepaticus infection of immunodeficient mice is widely used as a model to study the role of pathogens and commensal bacteria in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. C57BL/6J Il10−/− mice kept under specific pathogen-free conditions in two different facilities (MHH and MIT), displayed strong differences with respect to their susceptibilities to H. hepaticus-induced intestinal pathology. Mice at MIT developed robust typhlocolitis after infection with H. hepaticus, while mice at MHH developed no significant pathology after infection with the same H. hepaticus strain. We hypothesized that the intestinal microbiota might be responsible for these differences and therefore performed high resolution analysis of the intestinal microbiota composition in uninfected mice from the two facilities by deep sequencing of partial 16S rRNA amplicons. The microbiota composition differed markedly between mice from both facilities. Significant differences were also detected between two groups of MHH mice born in different years. Of the 119 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) that occurred in at least half the cecum or colon samples of at least one mouse group, 24 were only found in MIT mice, and another 13 OTUs could only be found in MHH samples. While most of the MHH-specific OTUs could only be identified to class or family level, the MIT-specific set contained OTUs identified to genus or species level, including the opportunistic pathogen, Bilophila wadsworthia. The susceptibility to H. hepaticus-induced colitis differed considerably between Il10−/− mice originating from the two institutions. This was associated with significant differences in microbiota composition, highlighting the importance of characterizing the intestinal microbiome when studying murine models of IBD.
PMCID: PMC3739778  PMID: 23951007
17.  Impaired Autoproteolytic Cleavage of mCLCA6, a Murine Integral Membrane Protein Expressed in Enterocytes, Leads to Cleavage at the Plasma Membrane Instead of the Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Molecules and Cells  2012;33(3):251-257.
CLCA proteins (calcium-activated chloride channel regulators) have been linked to diseases involving secretory disorders, including cystic fibrosis (CF) and asthma. They have been shown to modulate endogenous chloride conductance, possibly by acting as metalloproteases. Based on the differential processing of the subunits after post-translational cleavage, two subgroups of CLCA proteins can be distinguished. In one subgroup, both subunits are secreted, in the other group, the carboxy-terminal subunit possesses a transmembrane segment, resulting in shedding of only the amino-terminal subunit. Recent data on the post-translational cleavage and proteolytic activity of CLCA are limited to secreted CLCA. In this study, we characterized the cleavage of mCLCA6, a murine CLCA possessing a transmembrane segment. As for secreted CLCA, the cleavage in the endoplasmic reticulum was not observed for a protein with the E157Q mutation in the HEXXH motif of mCLCA6, suggesting that this mutant protein and secreted CLCA family members share a similar autoproteolytic cleavage mechanism. In contrast to secreted CLCA proteins with the E157Q mutation, the uncleaved precursor of the mCLCA6E157Q mutant reached the plasma membrane, where it was cleaved and the amino-terminal subunit was shed into the supernatant. Using crude membrane fractions, we showed that cleavage of the mCLCA6E157Q protein is zinc-dependent and sensitive to metalloprotease inhibitors, suggesting secondary cleavage by a metalloprotease. Interestingly, anchorage of mCLCA6E157Q to the plasma membrane is not essential for its secondary cleavage, because the mCLCA6Δ™E157Q mutant still underwent cleavage. Our data suggest that the processing of CLCA proteins is more complex than previously recognized.
PMCID: PMC3887709  PMID: 22350745
CLCA protein; HEXXH zinc-binding amino-acid motif; metalloprotease
18.  Macrophage-expressed IFN-β Contributes to Apoptotic Alveolar Epithelial Cell Injury in Severe Influenza Virus Pneumonia 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(2):e1003188.
Influenza viruses (IV) cause pneumonia in humans with progression to lung failure and fatal outcome. Dysregulated release of cytokines including type I interferons (IFNs) has been attributed a crucial role in immune-mediated pulmonary injury during severe IV infection. Using ex vivo and in vivo IV infection models, we demonstrate that alveolar macrophage (AM)-expressed IFN-β significantly contributes to IV-induced alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) injury by autocrine induction of the pro-apoptotic factor TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Of note, TRAIL was highly upregulated in and released from AM of patients with pandemic H1N1 IV-induced acute lung injury. Elucidating the cell-specific underlying signalling pathways revealed that IV infection induced IFN-β release in AM in a protein kinase R- (PKR-) and NF-κB-dependent way. Bone marrow chimeric mice lacking these signalling mediators in resident and lung-recruited AM and mice subjected to alveolar neutralization of IFN-β and TRAIL displayed reduced alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis and attenuated lung injury during severe IV pneumonia. Together, we demonstrate that macrophage-released type I IFNs, apart from their well-known anti-viral properties, contribute to IV-induced AEC damage and lung injury by autocrine induction of the pro-apoptotic factor TRAIL. Our data suggest that therapeutic targeting of the macrophage IFN-β-TRAIL axis might represent a promising strategy to attenuate IV-induced acute lung injury.
Author Summary
Acute lung injury induced by influenza virus (IV) infection has been linked to an unbalanced release of pro-inflammatory cytokines including type I interferons (IFN) causing immune-mediated organ damage. Using ex vivo and in vivo IV infection models, we demonstrate that alveolar macrophage-expressed IFN-β induces alveolar epithelial cell injury by autocrine induction of the pro-apoptotic TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Elucidating the cell-specific underlying signalling pathways revealed that IV-induced IFN-β release from alveolar macrophages (AM) strictly depended on protein kinase R- (PKR-) and NF-κB-signalling. Autocrine activation via the macrophage type I IFN receptor (IFNAR) resulted in increased expression and release of TRAIL which caused apoptosis of IV-infected and non-infected alveolar epithelial cells and promoted alveolar barrier dysfunction as demonstrated in ex vivo co-cultures and in bone marrow chimeric mouse models in vivo. Importantly, we found TRAIL highly upregulated in and released from AM of hospitalized patients with pandemic H1N1-induced lung failure. Therapeutic targeting of the macrophage IFN-β-TRAIL axis might therefore represent a promising strategy to attenuate IV-induced acute lung injury.
PMCID: PMC3585175  PMID: 23468627
19.  Modulation of the host Th1 immune response in pigeon protozoal encephalitis caused by Sarcocystis calchasi 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):10.
Pigeon protozoal encephalitis (PPE) is an emerging central-nervous disease of domestic pigeons (Columba livia f. domestica) reported in Germany and the United States. It is caused by the apicomplexan parasite Sarcocystis calchasi which is transmitted by Accipter hawks. In contrast to other members of the Apicomplexa such as Toxoplasma and Plasmodium, the knowledge about the pathophysiology and host manipulation of Sarcocystis is scarce and almost nothing is known about PPE. Here we show by mRNA expression profiling a significant down-modulation of the interleukin (IL)-12/IL-18/interferon (IFN)-γ axis in the brains of experimentally infected pigeons during the schizogonic phase of disease. Concomitantly, no cellular immune response was observed in histopathology while immunohistochemistry and nested PCR detected S. calchasi. In contrast, in the late central-nervous phase, IFN-γ and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α-related cytokines were significantly up-modulated, which correlated with a prominent MHC-II protein expression in areas of mononuclear cell infiltration and necrosis. The mononuclear cell fraction was mainly composed of T-lymphocytes, fewer macrophages and B-lymphocytes. Surprisingly, the severity and composition of the immune cell response appears unrelated to the infectious dose, although the severity and onset of the central nervous signs clearly was dose-dependent. We identified no or only very few tissue cysts by immunohistochemistry in pigeons with severe encephalitis of which one pigeon repeatedly remained negative by PCR despite severe lesions. Taken together, these observations may suggest an immune evasion strategy of S. calchasi during the early phase and a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction as cause of the extensive cerebral lesions during the late neurological phase of disease.
PMCID: PMC3598538  PMID: 23398807
20.  The C-Type Lectin Receptor SIGNR3 Binds to Fungi Present in Commensal Microbiota and Influences Immune Regulation in Experimental Colitis 
Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition of acute and chronic inflammation of the gut. An important factor contributing to pathogenesis is a dysregulated mucosal immunity against commensal bacteria and fungi. Host pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) sense commensals in the gut and are involved in maintaining the balance between controlled responses to pathogens and overwhelming innate immune activation. C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) are PRRs recognizing glycan structures on pathogens and self-antigens. Here we examined the role of the murine CLR specific intracellular adhesion molecule-3 grabbing non-integrin homolog-related 3 (SIGNR3) in the recognition of commensals and its involvement in intestinal immunity. SIGNR3 is the closest murine homolog of the human dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) receptor recognizing similar carbohydrate ligands such as terminal fucose or high-mannose glycans. We discovered that SIGNR3 recognizes fungi present in the commensal microbiota. To analyze whether this interaction impacts the intestinal immunity against microbiota, the dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis model was employed. SIGNR3−/− mice exhibited an increased weight loss associated with more severe colitis symptoms compared to wild-type control mice. The increased inflammation in SIGNR3−/− mice was accompanied by a higher level of TNF-α in colon. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that SIGNR3 recognizes intestinal fungi and has an immune regulatory role in colitis.
PMCID: PMC3712271  PMID: 23882266
SIGNR3; C-type lectin receptor; host innate immunity; colitis; carbohydrate recognition; microbiota; fungi
21.  The Murine Goblet Cell Protein mCLCA3 Is a Zinc-Dependent Metalloprotease with Autoproteolytic Activity 
Molecules and Cells  2011;32(6):535-541.
Several members of the CLCA family of proteins, originally named chloride channels, calcium-activated, have been shown to modulate chloride conductance in various cell types via an unknown mechanism. Moreover, the human (h) hCLCA1 is thought to modulate the severity of disease in asthma and cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. All CLCA proteins are post-translationally cleaved into two subunits, and recently, a conserved HEXXH zinc-binding amino acid motif has been identified, suggesting a role for CLCA proteins as metalloproteases. Here, we have characterized the cleavage and autoproteolytic activity of the murine model protein mCLCA3, which represents the murine orthologue of human hCLCA1. Using crude membrane fractions from transfected HEK293 cells, we demonstrate that mCLCA3 cleavage is zinc-dependent and exclusively inhibited by cation-chelating metalloprotease inhibitors. Cellular transport and secretion were not affected in response to a cleavage defect that was introduced by the insertion of an E157Q mutation within the HEXXH motif of mCLCA3. Interspecies conservation of these key results was further confirmed with the porcine (p) orthologue of hCLCA1 and mCLCA3, pCLCA1. Importantly, the mCLCA3E157Q mutant was cleaved after co-transfection with the wild-type mCLCA3 in HEK293 cells, suggesting that an intermolecular autoproteolytic event takes place. Edman degradation and MALDI-TOF-MS of the protein fragments identified a single cleavage site in mCLCA3 between amino acids 695 and 696. The data strongly suggest that secreted CLCA proteins have zinc-dependent autoproteolytic activity and that they may cleave additional proteins.
PMCID: PMC3887686  PMID: 22080371
CLCA; cystic fibrosis; HEXXH motif; intermolecular auto-proteolysis; metalloprotease
22.  Molecular characterization of the feline T-cell receptor γ alternate reading frame protein (TARP) ortholog 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2012;13(4):345-353.
T-cell receptor γ alternate reading frame protein (TARP) is expressed by human prostate epithelial, prostate cancer, and mammary cancer cells, but is not found in normal mammary tissue. To date, this protein has only been described in humans. Additionally, no animal model has been established to investigate the potential merits of TARP as tumor marker or a target for adoptive tumor immunotherapy. In this study conducted to characterize feline T-cell receptor γ sequences, constructs very similar to human TARP transcripts were obtained by RACE from the spleen and prostate gland of cats. Transcription of TARP in normal, hyperplastic, and neoplastic feline mammary tissues was evaluated by conventional RT-PCR. In felines similarly to the situation reported in humans, a C-region encoding two open reading frames is spliced to a J-region gene. In contrast to humans, the feline J-region gene was found to be a pseudogene containing a deletion within its recombination signal sequence. Our findings demonstrated that the feline TARP ortholog is transcribed in the prostate gland and mammary tumors but not normal mammary tissues as is the case with human TARP.
PMCID: PMC3539119  PMID: 23271175
cat; C-region; J-region; T-cell receptor γ alternate reading frame protein (TARP); tumor marker
23.  Skin TLR7 Triggering Promotes Accumulation of Respiratory Dendritic Cells and Natural Killer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43320.
The TLR7 agonist imiquimod has been used successfully as adjuvant for skin treatment of virus-associated warts and basal cell carcinoma. The effects of skin TLR7 triggering on respiratory leukocyte populations are unknown. In a placebo-controlled experimental animal study we have used multicolour flow cytometry to systematically analyze the modulation of respiratory leukocyte subsets after skin administration of imiquimod. Compared to placebo, skin administration of imiquimod significantly increased respiratory dendritic cells (DC) and natural killer cells, whereas total respiratory leukocyte, alveolar macrophages, classical CD4+ T helper and CD8+ T killer cell numbers were not or only moderately affected. DC subpopulation analyses revealed that elevation of respiratory DC was caused by an increase of respiratory monocytic DC and CD11bhi DC subsets. Lymphocyte subpopulation analyses indicated a marked elevation of respiratory natural killer cells and a significant reduction of B lymphocytes. Analysis of cytokine responses of respiratory leukocytes after stimulation with Klebsiella pneumonia indicated reduced IFN-γ and TNF-α expression and increased IL-10 and IL-12p70 production after 7 day low dose skin TLR7 triggering. Additionally, respiratory NK cytotoxic activity was increased after 7d skin TLR7 triggering. In contrast, lung histology and bronchoalveolar cell counts were not affected suggesting that skin TLR7 stimulation modulated respiratory leukocyte composition without inducing overt pulmonary inflammation. These data suggest the possibility to modulate respiratory leukocyte composition and respiratory cytokine responses against pathogens like Klebsiella pneumonia through skin administration of a clinically approved TLR7 ligand. Skin administration of synthetic TLR7 ligands may represent a novel, noninvasive means to modulate respiratory immunity.
PMCID: PMC3425551  PMID: 22927956
24.  Transcriptome and proteome analysis of tyrosine kinase inhibitor treated canine mast cell tumour cells identifies potentially kit signaling-dependent genes 
Canine mast cell tumour proliferation depends to a large extent on the activity of KIT, a tyrosine kinase receptor. Inhibitors of the KIT tyrosine kinase have recently been introduced and successfully applied as a therapeutic agent for this tumour type. However, little is known on the downstream target genes of this signaling pathway and molecular changes after inhibition.
Transcriptome analysis of the canine mast cell tumour cell line C2 treated for up to 72 hours with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor masitinib identified significant changes in the expression levels of approximately 3500 genes or 16% of the canine genome. Approximately 40% of these genes had increased mRNA expression levels including genes associated with the pro-proliferative pathways of B- and T-cell receptors, chemokine receptors, steroid hormone receptors and EPO-, RAS and MAP kinase signaling. Proteome analysis of C2 cells treated for 72 hours identified 24 proteins with changed expression levels, most of which being involved in gene transcription, e.g. EIA3, EIA4, TARDBP, protein folding, e.g. HSP90, UCHL3, PDIA3 and protection from oxidative stress, GSTT3, SELENBP1.
Transcriptome and proteome analysis of neoplastic canine mast cells treated with masitinib confirmed the strong important and complex role of KIT in these cells. Approximately 16% of the total canine genome and thus the majority of the active genes were significantly transcriptionally regulated. Most of these changes were associated with reduced proliferation and metabolism of treated cells. Interestingly, several pro-proliferative pathways were up-regulated, which may represent attempts of masitinib treated cells to activate alternative pro-proliferative pathways. These pathways may contain hypothetical targets for a combination therapy with masitinib to further improve its therapeutic effect.
PMCID: PMC3489685  PMID: 22747577
KIT; Mast cell tumour; Dog; 2D-DIGE; MALDI; Mastocytosis; Tyrosine kinase inhibition
25.  Transcriptome and Proteome Research in Veterinary Science: What Is Possible and What Questions Can Be Asked? 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:254962.
In recent years several technologies for the complete analysis of the transcriptome and proteome have reached a technological level which allows their routine application as scientific tools. The principle of these methods is the identification and quantification of up to ten thousands of RNA and proteins species in a tissue, in contrast to the sequential analysis of conventional methods such as PCR and Western blotting. Due to their technical progress transcriptome and proteome analyses are becoming increasingly relevant in all fields of biological research. They are mainly used for the explorative identification of disease associated complex gene expression patterns and thereby set the stage for hypothesis-driven studies. This review gives an overview on the methods currently available for transcriptome analysis, that is, microarrays, Ref-Seq, quantitative PCR arrays and discusses their potentials and limitations. Second, the most powerful current approaches to proteome analysis are introduced, that is, 2D-gel electrophoresis, shotgun proteomics, MudPIT and the diverse technological concepts are reviewed. Finally, experimental strategies for biomarker discovery, experimental settings for the identification of prognostic gene sets and explorative versus hypothesis driven approaches for the elucidation of diseases associated genes and molecular pathways are described and their potential for studies in veterinary research is highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3259802  PMID: 22262952

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