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1.  Granulocytes Impose a Tight Bottleneck upon the Gut Luminal Pathogen Population during Salmonella Typhimurium Colitis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004557.
Topological, chemical and immunological barriers are thought to limit infection by enteropathogenic bacteria. However, in many cases these barriers and their consequences for the infection process remain incompletely understood. Here, we employed a mouse model for Salmonella colitis and a mixed inoculum approach to identify barriers limiting the gut luminal pathogen population. Mice were infected via the oral route with wild type S. Typhimurium (S. Tm) and/or mixtures of phenotypically identical but differentially tagged S. Tm strains (“WITS”, wild-type isogenic tagged strains), which can be individually tracked by quantitative real-time PCR. WITS dilution experiments identified a substantial loss in tag/genetic diversity within the gut luminal S. Tm population by days 2–4 post infection. The diversity-loss was not attributable to overgrowth by S. Tm mutants, but required inflammation, Gr-1+ cells (mainly neutrophilic granulocytes) and most likely NADPH-oxidase-mediated defense, but not iNOS. Mathematical modelling indicated that inflammation inflicts a bottleneck transiently restricting the gut luminal S. Tm population to approximately 6000 cells and plating experiments verified a transient, inflammation- and Gr-1+ cell-dependent dip in the gut luminal S. Tm population at day 2 post infection. We conclude that granulocytes, an important clinical hallmark of S. Tm-induced inflammation, impose a drastic bottleneck upon the pathogen population. This extends the current view of inflammation-fuelled gut-luminal Salmonella growth by establishing the host response in the intestinal lumen as a double-edged sword, fostering and diminishing colonization in a dynamic equilibrium. Our work identifies a potent immune defense against gut infection and reveals a potential Achilles' heel of the infection process which might be targeted for therapy.
Author Summary
Salmonella Typhimurium can colonize the human intestine and cause severe diarrhea. In recent years, it has become clear that this pathogen profits from inflammatory changes in the intestinal lumen, as the inflamed gut helps Salmonella to out-compete the resident microbiota. Granulocytes transmigrating into the gut lumen were found to “foster” luminal Salmonella growth by providing nutrients (used by Salmonella, not the microbiota) and by releasing growth inhibitors affecting the microbiota, but not the pathogen. In this study, we extend this “fostering” concept by showing that gut luminal Salmonella Typhimurium population is itself surprisingly vulnerable to the host's inflammatory response. Indeed, inflammation reduces the size of the gut luminal Salmonella population by as much as 105-fold at day 2 post infection. Thus, triggering of mucosal inflammation is in fact a double-edged sword by providing S. Typhimurium with a relative growth advantage against the microbiota in the gut lumen and by killing 99.999% of the gut luminal pathogen population at day 2. However, the pathogen population can recover and grow up again during the subsequent days. This changes the current view: Inflammation is not simply “beneficial” for the pathogen in the gut lumen. Instead, pathogen growth in the inflamed gut must be considered as an equilibrium between inflammation-inflicted killing and fostering growth of the surviving bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4270771  PMID: 25522364
2.  Salmonella Typhimurium Strain ATCC14028 Requires H2-Hydrogenases for Growth in the Gut, but Not at Systemic Sites 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110187.
Salmonella enterica is a common cause of diarrhea. For eliciting disease, the pathogen has to colonize the gut lumen, a site colonized by the microbiota. This process/initial stage is incompletely understood. Recent work established that one particular strain, Salmonella enterica subspecies 1 serovar Typhimurium strain SL1344, employs the hyb H2-hydrogenase for consuming microbiota-derived H2 to support gut luminal pathogen growth: Protons from the H2-splitting reaction contribute to the proton gradient across the outer bacterial membrane which can be harvested for ATP production or for import of carbon sources. However, it remained unclear, if other Salmonella strains would use the same strategy. In particular, earlier work had left unanswered if strain ATCC14028 might use H2 for growth at systemic sites. To clarify the role of the hydrogenases, it seems important to establish if H2 is used at systemic sites or in the gut and if Salmonella strains may differ with respect to the host sites where they require H2 in vivo. In order to resolve this, we constructed a strain lacking all three H2-hydrogenases of ATCC14028 (14028hyd3) and performed competitive infection experiments. Upon intragastric inoculation, 14028hyd3 was present at 100-fold lower numbers than 14028WT in the stool and at systemic sites. In contrast, i.v. inoculation led to equivalent systemic loads of 14028hyd3 and the wild type strain. However, the pathogen population spreading to the gut lumen featured again up to 100-fold attenuation of 14028hyd3. Therefore, ATCC14028 requires H2-hydrogenases for growth in the gut lumen and not at systemic sites. This extends previous work on ATCC14028 and supports the notion that H2-utilization might be a general feature of S. Typhimurium gut colonization.
PMCID: PMC4193879  PMID: 25303479
3.  Impaired Function of CTLA-4 in the Lungs of Patients with Chronic Beryllium Disease Contributes to Persistent Inflammation1 
Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is an occupational lung disorder characterized by granulomatous inflammation and the accumulation of beryllium-responsive CD4+ T cells in the lung. These differentiated effector memory T cells secrete IL-2, IFN-γ, and TNF-α upon in vitro activation. Beryllium-responsive CD4+ T cells in the lung are CD28 independent and have increased expression of the coinhibitory receptor, programmed death 1, resulting in antigen-specific T cells that proliferate poorly yet retain the ability to express Th1-type cytokines. To further investigate the role of coinhibitory receptors in the beryllium-induced immune response, we examined the expression of CTLA-4 in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage cells from subjects with CBD. CTLA-4 expression was elevated on CD4+ T cells from the lungs of study subjects compared to blood. Furthermore, CTLA-4 expression was greatest in the beryllium-responsive subset of CD4+ T cells that retained the ability to proliferate and express IL-2. Functional assays show that the induction of CTLA-4 signaling in blood cells inhibited beryllium-induced T cell proliferation while having no effect on the proliferative capacity of beryllium-responsive CD4+ T cells in lung. Collectively, our findings suggest a dysfunctional CTLA-4 pathway in the lung and its potential contribution to the persistent inflammatory response that characterizes CBD.
PMCID: PMC3750981  PMID: 23851684
Human; T Cells; Cell Surface Molecules; Cytokines; Lung
4.  Engineered Interleukin-2 Antagonists for the Inhibition of Regulatory T cells 
The immunosuppressive effects of CD4+ CD25high regulatory T cells interfere with anti-tumor immune responses in cancer patients. Here, we present a novel class of engineered human Interleukin (IL)-2 analogues that antagonize the IL-2 receptor, for inhibiting regulatory T cell suppression. These antagonists have been engineered for high affinity to the α subunit of the IL-2 receptor and very low affinity to either the β or γ subunit, resulting in a signaling-deficient IL-2 analogue that sequesters the IL-2 receptor α subunit from wild type IL-2. Two variants, “V91R” and “Q126T” with residue substitutions that disrupt the β and γ subunit binding interfaces, respectively, have been characterized in both a T cell line and in human primary regulatory T cells. These mutants retain their high affinity binding to IL-2 receptor α subunit, but do not activate STAT5 phosphorylation or stimulate T cell growth. The two mutants competitively antagonize wild-type IL-2 signaling through the IL-2 receptor with similar efficacy, with inhibition constants of 183 pM for V91R and 216 pM for Q126T. Here, we present a novel approach to CD25-mediated Treg inhibition, with the use of an engineered human IL-2 analogue that antagonizes the IL-2 receptor.
PMCID: PMC4078882  PMID: 19816193
Interleukin-2; regulatory T cells; antagonist engineering; cytokine engineering
5.  Soluble IL-2RA Levels in Multiple Sclerosis Subjects and the Effect of Soluble IL-2RA on Immune Responses1 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an organ-specific autoimmune disorder that is in part genetically determined. The gene encoding the α-chain of the IL-2 receptor, IL2RA, harbors alleles associated with risk to MS and other autoimmune diseases. In addition, IL2RA genetic variants correlate with the levels of a soluble form of the IL-2 receptor in subjects with type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Here, we show that the IL2RA genotypes differentially affects soluble IL-2RA (sIL-2RA) levels in MS cases vs healthy controls; the two variants associated with MS (rs12722489 and rs2104286) account for 15 and 18% of the total variance in log10-transformed sIL-2RA concentration in control subjects but less so in subjects with MS (2 and 5%), suggesting that perturbations associated with disease or treatment may influence sIL-2RA levels in subjects with MS. Whereas analyses demonstrate that sIL-2RA serum concentrations are a remarkably stable phenotype in both healthy controls and untreated MS subjects, a difference is observed between benign and malignant MS. These data indicate that, in addition to specific allelic variants at IL2RA, immunological perturbations associated with aggressive forms of the disease can influence sIL-2RA levels in serum of MS subjects. We also demonstrate, functionally, that sIL-2RA can inhibit IL-2 signaling, yet enhance T cell proliferation and expansion. In summary, we propose that before disease onset, strong genetic factors associated with disease risk dictate sIL-2RA levels that may be further modulated with onset of chronic systemic inflammation associated with MS.
PMCID: PMC3992946  PMID: 19155502
6.  A Complex of Cas Proteins 5, 6, and 7 Is Required for the Biogenesis and Stability of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-derived RNAs (crRNAs) in Haloferax volcanii* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(10):7164-7177.
Background: The Cas6 protein is required for generating crRNAs in CRISPR-Cas I and III systems.
Results: The Cas6 protein is necessary for crRNA production but not sufficient for crRNA maintenance in Haloferax.
Conclusion: A Cascade-like complex is required in the type I-B system for a stable crRNA population.
Significance: The CRISPR-Cas system I-B has a similar Cascade complex like types I-A and I-E.
The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated (CRISPR-Cas) system is a prokaryotic defense mechanism against foreign genetic elements. A plethora of CRISPR-Cas versions exist, with more than 40 different Cas protein families and several different molecular approaches to fight the invading DNA. One of the key players in the system is the CRISPR-derived RNA (crRNA), which directs the invader-degrading Cas protein complex to the invader. The CRISPR-Cas types I and III use the Cas6 protein to generate mature crRNAs. Here, we show that the Cas6 protein is necessary for crRNA production but that additional Cas proteins that form a CRISPR-associated complex for antiviral defense (Cascade)-like complex are needed for crRNA stability in the CRISPR-Cas type I-B system in Haloferax volcanii in vivo. Deletion of the cas6 gene results in the loss of mature crRNAs and interference. However, cells that have the complete cas gene cluster (cas1–8b) removed and are transformed with the cas6 gene are not able to produce and stably maintain mature crRNAs. crRNA production and stability is rescued only if cas5, -6, and -7 are present. Mutational analysis of the cas6 gene reveals three amino acids (His-41, Gly-256, and Gly-258) that are essential for pre-crRNA cleavage, whereas the mutation of two amino acids (Ser-115 and Ser-224) leads to an increase of crRNA amounts. This is the first systematic in vivo analysis of Cas6 protein variants. In addition, we show that the H. volcanii I-B system contains a Cascade-like complex with a Cas7, Cas5, and Cas6 core that protects the crRNA.
PMCID: PMC3945376  PMID: 24459147
Archaea; Microbiology; Molecular Biology; Molecular Genetics; Protein Complexes; CRISPR/Cas; Cas6; Haloferax volcanii; crRNA; Type I-B
7.  Identification of beryllium-dependent peptides recognized by CD4+ T cells in chronic beryllium disease 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2013;210(7):1403-1418.
Identification of peptides that form complexes with beryllium and class II HLA molecules and are recognized by CD4+ T cells from patients with chronic beryllium disease.
Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a granulomatous disorder characterized by an influx of beryllium (Be)-specific CD4+ T cells into the lung. The vast majority of these T cells recognize Be in an HLA-DP–restricted manner, and peptide is required for T cell recognition. However, the peptides that stimulate Be-specific T cells are unknown. Using positional scanning libraries and fibroblasts expressing HLA-DP2, the most prevalent HLA-DP molecule linked to disease, we identified mimotopes and endogenous self-peptides that bind to MHCII and Be, forming a complex recognized by pathogenic CD4+ T cells in CBD. These peptides possess aspartic and glutamic acid residues at p4 and p7, respectively, that surround the putative Be-binding site and cooperate with HLA-DP2 in Be coordination. Endogenous plexin A peptides and proteins, which share the core motif and are expressed in lung, also stimulate these TCRs. Be-loaded HLA-DP2–mimotope and HLA-DP2–plexin A4 tetramers detected high frequencies of CD4+ T cells specific for these ligands in all HLA-DP2+ CBD patients tested. Thus, our findings identify the first ligand for a CD4+ T cell involved in metal-induced hypersensitivity and suggest a unique role of these peptides in metal ion coordination and the generation of a common antigen specificity in CBD.
PMCID: PMC3698527  PMID: 23797096
8.  Essential requirements for the detection and degradation of invaders by the Haloferax volcanii CRISPR/Cas system I-B 
RNA Biology  2013;10(5):865-874.
To fend off foreign genetic elements, prokaryotes have developed several defense systems. The most recently discovered defense system, CRISPR/Cas, is sequence-specific, adaptive and heritable. The two central components of this system are the Cas proteins and the CRISPR RNA. The latter consists of repeat sequences that are interspersed with spacer sequences. The CRISPR locus is transcribed into a precursor RNA that is subsequently processed into short crRNAs. CRISPR/Cas systems have been identified in bacteria and archaea, and data show that many variations of this system exist. We analyzed the requirements for a successful defense reaction in the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii. Haloferax encodes a CRISPR/Cas system of the I-B subtype, about which very little is known. Analysis of the mature crRNAs revealed that they contain a spacer as their central element, which is preceded by an eight-nucleotide-long 5′ handle that originates from the upstream repeat. The repeat sequences have the potential to fold into a minimal stem loop. Sequencing of the crRNA population indicated that not all of the spacers that are encoded by the three CRISPR loci are present in the same abundance. By challenging Haloferax with an invader plasmid, we demonstrated that the interaction of the crRNA with the invader DNA requires a 10-nucleotide-long seed sequence. In addition, we found that not all of the crRNAs from the three CRISPR loci are effective at triggering the degradation of invader plasmids. The interference does not seem to be influenced by the copy number of the invader plasmid.
PMCID: PMC3737343  PMID: 23594992
archaea; Haloferax volcanii; CRISPR/Cas; crRNA; PAM; seed sequence
9.  Profound tumor-specific Th2 bias in patients with malignant glioma 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:561.
Vaccination against tumor-associated antigens is one promising approach to immunotherapy against malignant gliomas. While previous vaccine efforts have focused exclusively on HLA class I-restricted peptides, class II-restricted peptides are necessary to induce CD4+ helper T cells and sustain effective anti-tumor immunity. In this report we investigated the ability of five candidate peptide epitopes derived from glioma-associated antigens MAGE and IL-13 receptor α2 to detect and characterize CD4+ helper T cell responses in the peripheral blood of patients with malignant gliomas.
Primary T cell responses were determined by stimulating freshly isolated PBMCs from patients with primary glioblastoma (GBM) (n = 8), recurrent GBM (n = 5), meningioma (n = 7), and healthy controls (n = 6) with each candidate peptide, as well as anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (mAb) and an immunodominant peptide epitope derived from myelin basic protein (MBP) serving as positive and negative controls, respectively. ELISA was used to measure IFN-γ and IL-5 levels, and the ratio of IFN-γ/IL-5 was used to determine whether the response had a predominant Th1 or Th2 bias.
We demonstrate that novel HLA Class-II restricted MAGE-A3 and IL-13Rα2 peptides can detect T cell responses in patients with GBMs as well as in healthy subjects. Stimulation with a variety of peptide antigens over-expressed by gliomas is associated with a profound reduction in the IFN-γ/IL-5 ratio in GBM patients relative to healthy subjects. This bias is more pronounced in patients with recurrent GBMs.
Therapeutic vaccine strategies to shift tumor antigen-specific T cell response to a more immunostimulatory Th1 bias may be needed for immunotherapeutic trials to be more successful clinically.
PMCID: PMC3537750  PMID: 23186108
10.  Beryllium-Specific CD4+ T Cells in Blood as a Biomarker of Disease Progression 
CD4+ T cells are responsible for the progressive lung damage seen in patients with chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a granulomatous lung disorder in which antigen-specific, Th1-type cytokine-secreting T cells have been characterized. Compared to beryllium (Be)-sensitized subjects, an increased number of Be-responsive T cells are present in the blood of CBD patients.
The aim of this study was to determine whether the number of Be-specific T cells in blood predicted the development of CBD in a cohort of Be-exposed subjects.
Using IFN-γ ELISPOT and proliferation-based assays, we determined the frequency and proliferative capacity of Be-responsive T cells in blood.
Compared with the Be lymphocyte proliferation test which detected an abnormal Be-induced proliferative response in 11 of 260 (4.2%) workers from a Be-machining facility, IFN-γ ELISPOT detected a sensitization rate of 10% (χ2 = 55.7; P < 0.0001). A significant positive correlation was also noted between the number of Be-responsive CD4+ T cells in blood and lung of CBD patients. Importantly, the transition from Be sensitization to CBD was associated with an increased number of antigen-specific T cells in blood.
These findings have important implications for Be-induced disease and potentially other immune-mediated disorders, suggesting that the frequency of antigen-specific T cells in blood can serve as a noninvasive biomarker to predict disease development and severity of the Be-specific CD4+ T cell alveolitis.
Clinical implications
These findings suggest that the number of Be-responsive T cells in the circulation can serve as a biomarker of disease progression and as an estimate of the severity of Be-induced lung inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3205205  PMID: 21943943
Human; Lung; CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes; Beryllium; Cytokines; Granuloma; ELISPOT
11.  Peroral Ciprofloxacin Therapy Impairs the Generation of a Protective Immune Response in a Mouse Model for Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Diarrhea, while Parenteral Ceftriaxone Therapy Does Not 
Nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS) species cause self-limiting diarrhea and sometimes severe disease. Antibiotic treatment is considered only in severe cases and immune-compromised patients. The beneficial effects of antibiotic therapy and the consequences for adaptive immune responses are not well understood. We used a mouse model for Salmonella diarrhea to assess the effects of per os treatment with ciprofloxacin (15 mg/kg of body weight intragastrically 2 times/day, 5 days) or parenteral ceftriaxone (50 mg/kg intraperitoneally, 5 days), two common drugs used in human patients. The therapeutic and adverse effects were assessed with respect to generation of a protective adaptive immune response, fecal pathogen excretion, and the emergence of nonsymptomatic excreters. In the mouse model, both therapies reduced disease severity and reduced the level of fecal shedding. In line with clinical data, in most animals, a rebound of pathogen gut colonization/fecal shedding was observed 2 to 12 days after the end of the treatment. Yet, levels of pathogen shedding and frequency of appearance of nonsymptomatic excreters did not differ from those for untreated controls. Moreover, mice treated intraperitoneally with ceftriaxone developed an adaptive immunity protecting the mice from enteropathy in wild-type Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium challenge infections. In contrast, the mice treated intragastrically with ciprofloxacin were not protected. Thus, antibiotic treatment regimens can disrupt the adaptive immune response, but treatment regimens may be optimized in order to preserve the generation of protective immunity. It might be of interest to determine whether this also pertains to human patients. In this case, the mouse model might be a tool for further mechanistic studies.
PMCID: PMC3346637  PMID: 22354292
12.  Live Attenuated S. Typhimurium Vaccine with Improved Safety in Immuno-Compromised Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45433.
Live attenuated vaccines are of great value for preventing infectious diseases. They represent a delicate compromise between sufficient colonization-mediated adaptive immunity and minimizing the risk for infection by the vaccine strain itself. Immune defects can predispose to vaccine strain infections. It has remained unclear whether vaccine safety could be improved via mutations attenuating a vaccine in immune-deficient individuals without compromising the vaccine's performance in the normal host. We have addressed this hypothesis using a mouse model for Salmonella diarrhea and a live attenuated Salmonella Typhimurium strain (ssaV). Vaccination with this strain elicited protective immunity in wild type mice, but a fatal systemic infection in immune-deficient cybb−/−nos2−/− animals lacking NADPH oxidase and inducible NO synthase. In cybb−/−nos2−/− mice, we analyzed the attenuation of 35 ssaV strains carrying one additional mutation each. One strain, Z234 (ssaV SL1344_3093), was >1000-fold attenuated in cybb−/−nos2−/− mice and ≈100 fold attenuated in tnfr1−/− animals. However, in wt mice, Z234 was as efficient as ssaV with respect to host colonization and the elicitation of a protective, O-antigen specific mucosal secretory IgA (sIgA) response. These data suggest that it is possible to engineer live attenuated vaccines which are specifically attenuated in immuno-compromised hosts. This might help to improve vaccine safety.
PMCID: PMC3454430  PMID: 23029007
13.  The immune system of halophilic archaea 
Mobile Genetic Elements  2012;2(5):228-232.
Prokaryotes have developed several strategies to defend themselves against foreign genetic elements. One of those defense mechanisms is the recently identified CRISPR/Cas system, which is used by approximately half of all bacterial and almost all archaeal organisms. The CRISPR/Cas system differs from the other defense strategies because it is adaptive, hereditary and it recognizes the invader by a sequence specific mechanism. To identify the invading foreign nucleic acid, a crRNA that matches the invader DNA is required, as well as a short sequence motif called protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). We recently identified the PAM sequences for the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii, and found that several motifs were active in triggering the defense reaction. In contrast, selection of protospacers from the invader seems to be based on fewer PAM sequences, as evidenced by comparative sequence data. This suggests that the selection of protospacers has stricter requirements than the defense reaction. Comparison of CRISPR-repeat sequences carried by sequenced haloarchaea revealed that in more than half of the species, the repeat sequence is conserved and that they have the same CRISPR/Cas type.
PMCID: PMC3575430  PMID: 23446883
Haloferax volcanii; CRISPR/Cas; PAM; archaea; prokaryotic immune system; haloarchaea
14.  Small RNAs for defence and regulation in archaea 
Extremophiles  2012;16(5):685-696.
Non-coding RNAs are key players in many cellular processes within organisms from all three domains of life. The range and diversity of small RNA functions beyond their involvement in translation and RNA processing was first recognized for eukaryotes and bacteria. Since then, small RNAs were also found to be abundant in archaea. Their functions include the regulation of gene expression and the establishment of immunity against invading mobile genetic elements. This review summarizes our current knowledge about small RNAs used for regulation and defence in archaea.
PMCID: PMC3432209  PMID: 22763819
sRNA; Lsm; Hfq; Archaea; CRISPR; crRNA
15.  An Archaeal Immune System Can Detect Multiple Protospacer Adjacent Motifs (PAMs) to Target Invader DNA* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(40):33351-33363.
Background: CRISPR/Cas systems allow archaea and bacteria to resist invasion by foreign nucleic acids.
Results: The CRISPR/Cas system in Haloferax recognized six different PAM sequences that could trigger a defense response.
Conclusion: The PAM sequence specificity of the defense response in type I CRISPR systems is more relaxed than previously thought.
Significance: The PAM sequence requirements for interference and adaptation appear to differ markedly.
The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas) system provides adaptive and heritable immunity against foreign genetic elements in most archaea and many bacteria. Although this system is widespread and diverse with many subtypes, only a few species have been investigated to elucidate the precise mechanisms for the defense of viruses or plasmids. Approximately 90% of all sequenced archaea encode CRISPR/Cas systems, but their molecular details have so far only been examined in three archaeal species: Sulfolobus solfataricus, Sulfolobus islandicus, and Pyrococcus furiosus. Here, we analyzed the CRISPR/Cas system of Haloferax volcanii using a plasmid-based invader assay. Haloferax encodes a type I-B CRISPR/Cas system with eight Cas proteins and three CRISPR loci for which the identity of protospacer adjacent motifs (PAMs) was unknown until now. We identified six different PAM sequences that are required upstream of the protospacer to permit target DNA recognition. This is only the second archaeon for which PAM sequences have been determined, and the first CRISPR group with such a high number of PAM sequences. Cells could survive the plasmid challenge if their CRISPR/Cas system was altered or defective, e.g. by deletion of the cas gene cassette. Experimental PAM data were supplemented with bioinformatics data on Haloferax and Haloquadratum.
PMCID: PMC3460438  PMID: 22767603
Archaea; Microbiology; RNA; RNA Metabolism; RNA Processing; CRISPR/Cas; Haloferax volcanii; PAM
16.  Risk of Chronic Beryllium Disease by HLA-DPB1 E69 Genotype and Beryllium Exposure in Nuclear Workers 
Rationale: Beryllium sensitization (BeS) and chronic beryllium disease (CBD) are determined by at least one genetic factor, a glutamic acid at position 69 (E69) of the HLA-DPB1 gene, and by exposure to beryllium. The relationship between exposure and the E69 genotype has not been well characterized.
Objectives: The study goal was to define the relationship between beryllium exposure and E69 for CBD and BeS.
Methods: Workers (n = 386) from a U.S. nuclear weapons facility were enrolled into a case–control study (70 BeS, 61 CBD, and 255 control subjects). HLA-DPB1 genotypes were determined by sequence-specific primer-polymerase chain reaction. Beryllium exposures were reconstructed on the basis of worker interviews and historical exposure measurements.
Measurements and Main Results: Any E69 carriage increased odds for CBD (odds ratio [OR], 7.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.66–15.84) and each unit increase in lifetime weighted average exposure increased the odds for CBD (OR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.26–4.09). Compared with E69-negative genotypes, a single E69-positive *02 allele increased the odds for BeS (OR, 12.01; 95% CI, 4.28–33.71) and CBD (OR, 3.46; 95% CI, 1.42–8.43). A single non-*02 E69 allele further increased the odds for BeS (OR, 29.54; 95% CI, 10.33–84.53) and CBD (OR, 11.97; 95% CI, 5.12–28.00) and two E69 allele copies conferred the highest odds for BeS (OR, 55.68; 95% CI, 14.80–209.40) and CBD (OR, 22.54; 95% CI, 7.00–72.62).
Conclusions: E69 and beryllium exposure both contribute to the odds of CBD. The increased odds for CBD and BeS due to E69 appear to be differentially distributed by genotype, with non-*02 E69 carriers and E69 homozygotes at higher odds than those with *02 genotypes.
PMCID: PMC3136994  PMID: 21471109
berylliosis; genetics; case–control studies; occupational exposure; HLA-DP antigens
17.  IL-1F5, F6, F8, and F9: a novel IL-1 family signaling system that is active in psoriasis and promotes keratinocyte antimicrobial peptide expression 
IL-1F6, IL-1F8 and IL-1F9 and the IL-1R6(RP2) receptor antagonist IL-1F5 constitute a novel IL-1 signaling system that is poorly characterized in skin. To further characterize these cytokines in healthy and inflamed skin, we studied their expression in healthy control (NN), uninvolved psoriasis (PN) and psoriasis plaque (PP) skin using QRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. Expression of IL-1F5, -1F6, -1F8, and -1F9 were increased 2-3 orders of magnitude in PP versus PN skin, which was supported immunohistologically. Moreover, treatment of psoriasis with etanercept led to significantly decreased IL-1F5, -1F6, -1F8 and -1F9 mRNAs, concomitant with clinical improvement. Similarly increased expression of IL-1F5, -1F6, -1F8 and -1F9 was seen in the involved skin of two mouse models of psoriasis. Suggestive of their importance in inflamed epithelia, IL-1α and TNF-α induced IL-1F5, -1F6, -1F8, and -1F9 transcript expression by normal human keratinocytes. Microarray analysis revealed that these cytokines induce the expression of anti-microbial peptides and matrix metalloproteins by reconstituted human epidermis. In particular, IL-1F8 increased mRNA expression of HBD2, HBD3 and CAMP and protein secretion of HBD2 and HBD3. Collectively, our data suggest important roles for these novel cytokines in inflammatory skin diseases and identify these peptides as potential targets for antipsoriatic therapies.
PMCID: PMC3074475  PMID: 21242515
Skin; inflammation; cytokine; IL-1; psoriasis; anti-microbial peptides
18.  Chronic beryllium disease: an updated model interaction between innate and acquired immunity 
During the last decade, there have been concerted efforts to reduce beryllium (Be) exposure in the workplace and thereby reduce potential cases of this occupational lung disorder. Despite these efforts, it is estimated that there are at least one million Be-exposed individuals in the U.S. who are potentially at risk for developing chronic beryllium disease (CBD). Previously, we reviewed the current CBD literature and proposed that CBD represents a model interaction between innate and acquired immunity (Sawyer et al., Int Immunopharmacol 2:249–261, 2002). We closed this review with a section on “future directions” that identified key gaps in our understanding of the pathogenesis of CBD. In the intervening period, progress has been made to fill in some of these gaps, and the current review will provide an update on that progress. Based on recent findings, we provide a new hypothesis to explain how Be drives sustained chronic inflammation and granuloma formation in CBD leading to progressive compromised lung function in CBD patients. This paradigm has direct implications for our understanding of the development of an immune response to Be, but is also likely applicable to other immune-mediated lung diseases of known and unknown etiology.
PMCID: PMC3057103  PMID: 20981472
Beryllium; Chronic beryllium disease; Granuloma; Innate immunity; Acquired immunity
19.  Sulfasalazine and Mesalamine Modulate Beryllium-Specific Lymphocyte Proliferation and Inflammatory Cytokine Production 
Occupational exposure to beryllium (Be) results in Be sensitization (BeS) that can progress to pulmonary granulomatous inflammation associated with chronic Be disease (CBD). Be-specific lymphocytes are present in the blood of patients with BeS and in the blood and lungs of patients with CBD. Sulfasalazine and its active metabolite, mesalamine, are clinically used to ameliorate chronic inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease. We tested whether sulfasalazine or mesalamine could decrease Be-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proliferation in subjects with CBD and BeS and Be-induced cytokine production in CBD bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells. CBD (n = 25), BeS (n = 12) and healthy normal control (n = 6) subjects were enrolled and ex vivo proliferation and cytokine production were assessed in the presence of Be and sulfasalazine or mesalamine. Be-stimulated PBMC proliferation was inhibited by treatment with either sulfasalazine or mesalamine. Be-stimulated CBD BAL cell IFN-γ and TNF-α cytokine production was decreased by treatment with sulfasalazine or mesalamine. Our data suggest that both sulfasalazine and mesalamine interfere with Be-stimulated PBMC proliferation in CBD and BeS and dampens Be-stimulated CBD BAL cell proinflammatory cytokine production. These studies demonstrate that sulfasalazine and mesalamine can disrupt inflammatory pathways critical to the pathogenesis of chronic granulomatous inflammation in CBD, and may serve as novel therapy for human granulomatous lung diseases.
PMCID: PMC2951876  PMID: 19901345
granulomatous inflammation; IFN-γ; TNF-α; lymphocyte proliferation; berylliosis
Most diseases, including asthma, result from the interaction between environmental exposures and genetic variants. Functional variants of CD14 negatively affect lung function in farm workers and children exposed to animal allergens and endotoxin.
We hypothesized that CD14 polymorphisms interact with inhaled endotoxin and/or allergen to decrease airways function in laboratory animal workers.
369 Caucasian workers completed a symptom and work exposure questionnaire, prick skin testing, and spirometry. Individual exposure estimates for endotoxin and mouse allergen were calculated by weighting task-based breathing zone concentrations by time reported for each task and length of time in current job. Real-time PCR was used to assess CD14/-1619, -550, and -159 alleles. Multiple linear regression predicting airways function included an interaction term between genotype and exposure.
Workers at the highest quartile of the natural log transformed cumulative endotoxin exposure and with the endotoxin responsive CD14/-1619 G allele had significantly lower FEV1 and FEF25–75 percent predicted compared to workers with an AA, with no significant differences noted at lower endotoxin levels for either genotype. The gene by environment effect was marked for atopic workers. Laboratory animal allergy, mouse allergen exposure, CD14/-159 or -550 genotype, and a gene-exposure interaction term for these genotypes and exposures did not predict changes in lung function.
A significant gene by environment interaction affects airways function in laboratory animal workers. More highly endotoxin exposed workers with CD14/-1619G alleles have significantly lower FEV1 and FEF25–75 percent predicted than those with CD14/-1619AA. Atopic workers are particularly affected by cumulative endotoxin exposures.
PMCID: PMC2917520  PMID: 20579716
CD14/-1619; occupational asthma; endotoxin; mouse allergen; CD14/-159; laboratory animal allergy
21.  Deficient and Dysfunctional Regulatory T Cells in the Lungs of Chronic Beryllium Disease Subjects 
Rationale: Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a CD4+ T cell–mediated disorder characterized by persistent lung inflammation. Naturally occurring regulatory T (Treg) cells modulate adaptive immune responses. The role of this T-cell subset in beryllium-induced lung disease is unknown.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether dysfunctional Treg cells in the lung contribute to the “unchecked” inflammatory response that characterizes CBD.
Methods: Using blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells from normal control subjects and individuals with beryllium-induced disease, we determined the frequency and function of naturally occurring Treg cells.
Measurements and Main Results: A significantly decreased percentage and expression of FoxP3 in BAL CD4+ T cells from CBD patients compared with beryllium-sensitized subjects was seen, and the percentage of FoxP3-expressing CD4+ Treg cells in BAL inversely correlated with disease severity. In contrast to blood Treg cells derived from beryllium-sensitized subjects and patients with CBD that completely suppressed blood responder T-cell proliferation, BAL FoxP3-expressing Treg cells from patients with CBD are unable to suppress anti–CD3-mediated BAL T-cell proliferation. Mixing studies showed that blood Treg cells are capable of suppressing autologous BAL responder T cells. Conversely, BAL CD4+ Treg cells are incapable of suppressing blood T cells, confirming that the failure of BAL Treg cells to suppress T-cell proliferation is caused by a dysfunctional Treg cell subset and not by resistance of BAL effector T cells to suppression.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the deficient and dysfunctional Treg cells in the lung of patients with CBD contribute to the persistent inflammatory response in this disease.
PMCID: PMC2891494  PMID: 20299529
fibrosis; human; granuloma; inflammation
22.  Beryllium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test Surveillance Identifies Clinically Significant Beryllium Disease 
Workplace surveillance identifies chronic beryllium disease (CBD) but it remains unknown over what time frame mild CBD will progress to a more severe form.
We examined physiology and treatment in 229 beryllium sensitization (BeS) and 171 CBD surveillance-identified cases diagnosed from 1982 to 2002. Never smoking CBD cases (81) were compared to never smoking BeS patients (83) to assess disease progression. We compared CBD machinists to non-machinists to examine effects of exposure.
At baseline, CBD and BeS cases did not differ significantly in exposure time or physiology. CBD patients were more likely to have machined beryllium. Of CBD cases, 19.3% went on to require oral immunosuppressive therapy. At 30 years from first exposure, measures of gas exchange were significantly worse and total lung capacity was lower for CBD subjects. Machinists had faster disease progression as measured by pulmonary function testing and gas exchange.
Medical surveillance for CBD identifies individuals at significant risk of disease progression and impairment with sufficient time since first exposure.
PMCID: PMC3063521  PMID: 19681064
beryllium; chronic beryllium disease; medical surveillance
23.  CD27 Expression on CD4+ T Cells Differentiates Effector from Regulatory T Cell Subsets in the Lung1 
Beryllium exposure in the workplace can result in chronic beryllium disease, a granulomatous lung disorder characterized by CD4+ T cell alveolitis and progressive lung fibrosis. A large number of the CD4+ T cells recruited to the lung in chronic beryllium disease recognize beryllium in an Ag-specific manner and express Th1-type cytokines following T cell activation. Beryllium-responsive CD4+ T cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) express an effector memory T cell phenotype and recognize beryllium in a CD28-independent manner. In this study, we show that the majority of beryllium-responsive CD4+ T cells in BAL have lost CD27 expression, whereas a subset of beryllium-responsive cells in blood retains expression of this costimulatory molecule. In addition, loss of CD27 on BAL CD4+ T cells inversely correlates with markers of lung inflammation. A small population of BAL CD4+ T cells retains CD27 expression, and these CD4+CD27+ T cells contain the FoxP3-expressing, naturally occurring regulatory T (Treg) cell subset. Coexpression of CD27 and CD25 identifies the majority of FoxP3-expressing Treg cells in blood and BAL, and these cells express potent suppressor function. Taken together, these findings suggest that CD27 is differentially expressed between effector T cells from the inflamed lung and can be used in conjunction with CD25 to isolate Treg cells and assess their functional capacity in an ongoing adaptive immune response in a target organ.
PMCID: PMC3061566  PMID: 19454729
24.  4-1BB Enhances Proliferation of Beryllium-Specific T Cells in the Lung of Subjects with Chronic Beryllium Disease1 
In contrast to naive T cells, reactivation of memory cells is less dependent on CD28-mediated costimulation. We have shown that circulating beryllium-specific CD4+ T cells from chronic beryllium disease patients remain CD28-dependent, while those present in the lung no longer require CD28 for T cell activation. In the present study, we analyzed whether other costimulatory molecules are essential for beryllium-induced T cell function in the lung. Enhanced proliferation of a beryllium-responsive, HLA-DP2-restricted T cell line was seen after the induction of 4-1BB ligand expression on the surface of HLA-DP2-expressing fibroblasts. Following beryllium exposure, CD4+ T cells from blood and bronchoalveolar lavage of chronic beryllium disease patients up-regulate 4-1BB expression, and the majority of beryllium-responsive, IFN-γ-producing CD4+ T cells in blood coexpress CD28 and 4-1BB. Conversely, a significant fraction of IFN-γ-producing bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) T cells express 4-1BB in the absence of CD28. In contrast to blood, inhibition of the 4-1BB ligand-4-1BB interaction partially blocked beryllium-induced proliferation of BAL CD4+ T cells, and a lack of 4-1BB expression on BAL T cells was associated with increased beryllium-induced cell death. Taken together, these findings suggest an important role of 4-1BB in the costimulation of beryllium-responsive CD4+ T cells in the target organ.
PMCID: PMC3057106  PMID: 18768897
25.  IL-27 Is a Key Regulator of IL-10 and IL-17 Production by Human CD4+ T Cells1 
Although the physiologic pathways that control regulatory T cells (Foxp3-expressing regulatory T cells, IL-10-secreting Tr1 cells) and Th17 cells in rodents have been defined, the factors that control these differentiation pathways in humans are not well understood. In this study, we show that IL-27 promotes the differentiation of IL-10-secreting Tr1 cells while inhibiting Th17 generation and molecules associated with Th17 function. Furthermore, IL-27 inhibits IL-17-polarizing cytokines on dendritic cells, which in turn decrease IL-17 secretion from T cells. Our results demonstrate that IL-27 plays a key role in human T cells by promoting IL-10-secreting Tr1 cells and inhibiting Th17 cells and thus provides a dual regulatory mechanism to control autoimmunity and tissue inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2904948  PMID: 19625647

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