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1.  High yield expression of catalytically active USP18 (UBP43) using a Trigger Factor fusion system 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:56.
Covalent linkage of the ubiquitin-like protein ISG15 interferes with viral infection and USP18 is the major protease which specifically removes ISG15 from target proteins. Thus, boosting ISG15 modification by protease inhibition of USP18 might represent a new strategy to interfere with viral replication. However, so far no heterologous expression system was available to yield sufficient amounts of catalytically active protein for high-throughput based inhibitor screens.
High-level heterologous expression of USP18 was achieved by applying a chaperone-based fusion system in E. coli. Pure protein was obtained in a single-step on IMAC via a His6-tag. The USP18 fusion protein exhibited enzymatic activity towards cell derived ISG15 conjugated substrates and efficiently hydrolyzed ISG15-AMC. Specificity towards ISG15 was shown by covalent adduct formation with ISG15 vinyl sulfone but not with ubiquitin vinyl sulfone.
The results presented here show that a chaperone fusion system can provide high yields of proteins that are difficult to express. The USP18 protein obtained here is suited to setup high-throughput small molecule inhibitor screens and forms the basis for detailed biochemical and structural characterization.
PMCID: PMC3478164  PMID: 22916876
2.  Correction: ISG15 Regulates Peritoneal Macrophages Functionality against Viral Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):10.1371/annotation/64a20cef-bf55-4d84-983e-b914eb09b1ee.
PMCID: PMC3817269
3.  ISG15 Regulates Peritoneal Macrophages Functionality against Viral Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003632.
Upon viral infection, the production of type I interferon (IFN) and the subsequent upregulation of IFN stimulated genes (ISGs) generate an antiviral state with an important role in the activation of innate and adaptive host immune responses. The ubiquitin-like protein (UBL) ISG15 is a critical IFN-induced antiviral molecule that protects against several viral infections, but the mechanism by which ISG15 exerts its antiviral function is not completely understood. Here, we report that ISG15 plays an important role in the regulation of macrophage responses. ISG15−/− macrophages display reduced activation, phagocytic capacity and programmed cell death activation in response to vaccinia virus (VACV) infection. Moreover, peritoneal macrophages from mice lacking ISG15 are neither able to phagocyte infected cells nor to block viral infection in co-culture experiments with VACV-infected murine embryonic fibroblast (MEFs). This phenotype is independent of cytokine production and secretion, but clearly correlates with impaired activation of the protein kinase AKT in ISG15 knock-out (KO) macrophages. Altogether, these results indicate an essential role of ISG15 in the cellular immune antiviral response and point out that a better understanding of the antiviral responses triggered by ISG15 may lead to the development of therapies against important human pathogens.
Author Summary
Modification of proteins by ubiquitin (UB) and ubiquitin-like proteins (UBLs) are key regulatory processes of the innate and adaptive immune response. Interferon (IFN) stimulated gene product 15 (ISG15) is an ubiquitin-like protein modifier, which is reversibly conjugated to different viral and cellular proteins mediating considerable antiviral responses. In turn, many viruses, including poxviruses, have evolved strategies to block the antiviral and inflammatory effects of the innate immune responses to keep cells alive until virus replication is completed. Here, we describe a novel function of ISG15 in the control of macrophages activation, phagocytosis and apoptosis in response to viral infection. These processes are essential for the self-defense mechanism to protect animals from infectious disease and could be crucial to understand the ISG15 antiviral activity described in animal models.
PMCID: PMC3796851  PMID: 24137104
4.  IκB kinase 2 determines oligodendrocyte loss by non-cell-autonomous activation of NF-κB in the central nervous system 
Brain  2011;134(4):1184-1198.
The IκB kinase complex induces nuclear factor kappa B activation and has recently been recognized as a key player of autoimmunity in the central nervous system. Notably, IκB kinase/nuclear factor kappa B signalling regulates peripheral myelin formation by Schwann cells, however, its role in myelin formation in the central nervous system during health and disease is largely unknown. Surprisingly, we found that brain-specific IκB kinase 2 expression is dispensable for proper myelin assembly and repair in the central nervous system, but instead plays a fundamental role for the loss of myelin in the cuprizone model. During toxic demyelination, inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B activation by conditional ablation of IκB kinase 2 resulted in strong preservation of central nervous system myelin, reduced expression of proinflammatory mediators and a significantly attenuated glial response. Importantly, IκB kinase 2 depletion in astrocytes, but not in oligodendrocytes, was sufficient to protect mice from myelin loss. Our results reveal a crucial role of glial cell-specific IκB kinase 2/nuclear factor kappa B signalling for oligodendrocyte damage during toxic demyelination. Thus, therapies targeting IκB kinase 2 function in non-neuronal cells may represent a promising strategy for the treatment of distinct demyelinating central nervous system diseases.
PMCID: PMC4055835  PMID: 21310728
oligodendrocyte; demyelination; remyelination; NF-κB; glia; cuprizone; multiple sclerosis
5.  Type I Interferons as Ambiguous Modulators of Chronic Inflammation in the Central Nervous System 
Type I interferons (IFNs) were originally identified as antiviral effector molecules that exert pleiotropic physiological processes ranging from immune modulation, control of proliferation, apoptosis to antitumor activity. However, type I IFNs were recently also shown to apply both beneficial and detrimental effects to the central nervous system (CNS) and a tightly balanced equilibrium between cellular activation and inhibition seems to be essential to maintain homeostasis within the CNS. In inflammatory pathologies affecting the CNS, type I IFNs are in the center of attention not only because interferon beta (IFN-β) is used as a standard therapeutic in the treatment of relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), but also as type I IFN expression is associated with distinct pathologies. Despite the great efficiency of IFN-β in reducing MS relapses and attenuation of novel inflammatory lesions is well documented, underlying molecular mechanisms and cellular target specificities are just beginning to emerge. In contrast to the curative effects, aberrant activation of the type I IFN response were also recently shown to be associated with detrimental effects exemplified by the Aicardi–Goutières syndrome (AGS), a severe disabling autoimmune inflammatory encephalopathy. This review will highlight the dual role of type I interferons during chronic CNS inflammation. Recently uncovered molecular and cellular mechanisms in the etiology of AGS and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the murine model of MS will be highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3342377  PMID: 22566948
interferon; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; RIG-I; MDA5; TREX1; AGS; SAMHD1; RNASEH2
6.  ISG15 Modulates Development of the Erythroid Lineage 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26068.
Activation of erythropoietin receptor allows erythroblasts to generate erythrocytes. In a search for genes that are up-regulated during this differentiation process, we have identified ISG15 as being induced during late erythroid differentiation. ISG15 belongs to the ubiquitin-like protein family and is covalently linked to target proteins by the enzymes of the ISGylation machinery. Using both in vivo and in vitro differentiating erythroblasts, we show that expression of ISG15 as well as the ISGylation process related enzymes Ube1L, UbcM8 and Herc6 are induced during erythroid differentiation. Loss of ISG15 in mice results in decreased number of BFU-E/CFU-E in bone marrow, concomitant with an increased number of these cells in the spleen of these animals. ISG15-/- bone marrow and spleen-derived erythroblasts show a less differentiated phenotype both in vivo and in vitro, and over-expression of ISG15 in erythroblasts is found to facilitate erythroid differentiation. Furthermore, we have shown that important players of erythroid development, such as STAT5, Globin, PLC γ and ERK2 are ISGylated in erythroid cells. This establishes a new role for ISG15, besides its well-characterized anti-viral functions, during erythroid differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3192153  PMID: 22022510
7.  Control of bone formation by the serpentine receptor Frizzled-9 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;192(6):1057-1072.
Fzd9, induced upon osteoblast differentiation, is required for bone matrix mineralization in primary osteoblasts.
Although Wnt signaling in osteoblasts is of critical importance for the regulation of bone remodeling, it is not yet known which specific Wnt receptors of the Frizzled family are functionally relevant in this process. In this paper, we show that Fzd9 is induced upon osteoblast differentiation and that Fzd9−/− mice display low bone mass caused by impaired bone formation. Our analysis of Fzd9−/− primary osteoblasts demonstrated defects in matrix mineralization in spite of normal expression of established differentiation markers. In contrast, we observed a reduced expression of chemokines and interferon-regulated genes in Fzd9−/− osteoblasts. We also identified the ubiquitin-like modifier Isg15 as one potential downstream mediator of Fzd9 in these cells. Importantly, our molecular analysis further revealed that canonical Wnt signaling is not impaired in the absence of Fzd9, thus explaining the absence of a bone resorption phenotype. Collectively, our results reveal a previously unknown function of Fzd9 in osteoblasts, a finding that may have therapeutic implications for bone loss disorders.
PMCID: PMC3063134  PMID: 21402791
8.  Vaccinia Virus E3 Protein Prevents the Antiviral Action of ISG15 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(7):e1000096.
The ubiquitin-like modifier ISG15 is one of the most predominant proteins induced by type I interferons (IFN). In this study, murine embryo fibroblast (MEFs) and mice lacking the gene were used to demonstrate a novel role of ISG15 as a host defense molecule against vaccinia virus (VACV) infection. In MEFs, the growth of replication competent Western Reserve (WR) VACV strain was affected by the absence of ISG15, but in addition, virus lacking E3 protein (VVΔE3L) that is unable to grow in ISG15+/+ cells replicated in ISG15-deficient cells. Inhibiting ISG15 with siRNA or promoting its expression in ISG15−/− cells with a lentivirus vector showed that VACV replication was controlled by ISG15. Immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that E3 binds ISG15 through its C-terminal domain. The VACV antiviral action of ISG15 and its interaction with E3 are events independent of PKR (double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase). In mice lacking ISG15, infection with VVΔE3L caused significant disease and mortality, an effect not observed in VVΔE3L-infected ISG15+/+ mice. Pathogenesis in ISG15-deficient mice infected with VVΔE3L or with an E3L deletion mutant virus lacking the C-terminal domain triggered an enhanced inflammatory response in the lungs compared with ISG15+/+-infected mice. These findings showed an anti-VACV function of ISG15, with the virus E3 protein suppressing the action of the ISG15 antiviral factor.
Author Summary
Modification of proteins by ubiquitin (UB) and ubiquitin-like proteins (UBL) represents a key regulatory process of innate and adaptive immune responses. Interferon-stimulated gene product 15 (ISG15) is a member of UBL molecules that can reversibly be conjugated to proteins mediating considerable antiviral response. In turn, many viruses, including poxviruses, have evolved strategies to block the antiviral and inflammatory effects of innate immune responses to keep cells alive until virus replication is completed. Here, a novel viral immune evasion mechanism that inhibits ISG15-dependent antiviral pathway is described. Vaccinia virus (VACV) pathogenesis in ISG15+/+ versus ISG15−/− mice is linked to the virus E3 protein, blocking the activity of ISG15 through its C-terminal domain. This effect was independent of PKR activation. ISG15 controls the inflammatory response regulating cytokine levels. Our findings support a new strategy for poxviruses to evade the host antiviral response through interaction of the virus E3 protein with ISG15.
PMCID: PMC2434199  PMID: 18604270
9.  Essential Role of Ubiquitin-Specific Protease 8 for Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Stability and Endocytic Trafficking In Vivo▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(13):5029-5039.
Posttranslational modification by ubiquitin controls multiple cellular functions and is counteracted by the activities of deubiquitinating enzymes. UBPy (USP8) is a growth-regulated ubiquitin isopeptidase that interacts with the HRS-STAM complex. Using Cre-loxP-mediated gene targeting in mice, we show that lack of UBPy results in embryonic lethality, whereas its conditional inactivation in adults causes fatal liver failure. The defect is accompanied by a strong reduction or absence of several growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), like epidermal growth factor receptor, hepatocyte growth factor receptor (c-met), and ERBB3. UBPy-deficient cells exhibit aberrantly enlarged early endosomes colocalizing with enhanced ubiquitination and have reduced levels of HRS and STAM2. Congruently immortalized cells gradually stop proliferation upon induced deletion of UBPy. These results unveil a central and nonredundant role of UBPy in growth regulation, endosomal sorting, and the control of RTKs in vivo.
PMCID: PMC1951504  PMID: 17452457
10.  Reexamination of the Role of Ubiquitin-Like Modifier ISG15 in the Phenotype of UBP43-Deficient Mice 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(24):11030-11034.
UBP43/USP18 was described as a specific protease that removes conjugated ubiquitin-like modifier ISG15 from target proteins. The severe phenotype of UBP43−/− mice characterized by premature death, brain cell injury, and deregulated STAT1 signaling was ascribed to an enhanced conjugation of ISG15. In contrast, no phenotypic changes were detected in ISG15−/− mice. To verify the role of ISG15 in the phenotype of UBP43−/− mice, we employed mice deficient for both ISG15 and UBP43. Here, we show that the phenotype of UBP43−/− mice was not rescued by the absence of ISG15, as evident from unchanged mortality, neurological symptoms, and occurrence of hydrocephalus. Also, the reported hypersensitivity of UBP43−/− mice to an interferon inducer, poly(I · C), was ISG15 independent. Furthermore, no evidence for a role of ISG15 in the modulation of STAT1 signaling or in the resistance against lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and vesicular stomatitis virus was found. Presented results clearly demonstrate that the phenotypic alterations of UBP43−/− mice are not caused by the lack of ISG15 deconjugation and must be due to another, non-ISG15-mediated molecular mechanism.
PMCID: PMC1316970  PMID: 16314524
11.  ISG15, an Interferon-Stimulated Ubiquitin-Like Protein, Is Not Essential for STAT1 Signaling and Responses against Vesicular Stomatitis and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(15):6338-6345.
ISG15 is an interferon-induced ubiquitin-like modifier which can be conjugated to distinct, but largely unknown, proteins. ISG15 has been implicated in a variety of biological activities, which encompass antiviral defense, immune responses, and pregnancy. Mice lacking UBP43 (USP18), the ISG15-deconjugating enzyme, develop a severe phenotype with brain injuries and lethal hypersensitivity to poly(I:C). It has been reported that an augmented conjugation of ISG15 in the absence of UBP43 induces prolonged STAT1 phosphorylation and that the ISG15 conjugation plays an important role in the regulation of JAK/STAT and interferon signaling (O. A. Malakhova, M. Yan, M. P. Malakhov, Y. Yuan, K. J. Ritchie, K. I. Kim, L. F. Peterson, K. Shuai, and D. E. Zhang, Genes Dev. 17:455-460, 2003). Here, we report that ISG15−/− mice are viable and fertile and display no obvious abnormalities. Lack of ISG15 did not affect the development and composition of the main cellular compartments of the immune system. The interferon-induced antiviral state and immune responses directed against vesicular stomatitis virus and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus were not significantly altered in the absence of ISG15. Furthermore, interferon- or endotoxin-induced STAT1 tyrosine-phosphorylation, as well as expression of typical STAT1 target genes, remained unaffected by the lack of ISG15. Thus, ISG15 is dispensable for STAT1 and interferon signaling.
PMCID: PMC1190360  PMID: 16024773
12.  Mice without the Regulator Gene Rsc1A1 Exhibit Increased Na+-d-Glucose Cotransport in Small Intestine and Develop Obesity†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(1):78-87.
The product of the intronless single copy gene RSC1A1, named RS1, is an intracellular 617-amino-acid protein that is involved in the regulation of the Na+-d-glucose cotransporter SGLT1. We generated and characterized RS1 knockout (RS1−/−) mice. In the small intestines of RS1−/− mice, the SGLT1 protein was up-regulated sevenfold compared to that of wild-type mice but was not changed in the kidneys. The up-regulation of SGLT1 was posttranscriptional. Small intestinal d-glucose uptake measured in jointly perfused small bowel and liver was increased twofold compared to that of the wild-type, with increased peak concentrations of d-glucose in the portal vein. At birth, the weights of RS1−/− and wild-type mice were similar. At the age of 3 months, male RS1−/− mice had 5% higher weights and 15% higher food intakes, whereas their energy expenditures and serum leptin concentrations were similar to those of wild-type mice. At the age of 5 months, male and female RS1−/− mice were obese, with 30% increased body weight, 80% increased total fat, and 30% increased serum cholesterol. At this age, serum leptin was increased, whereas food intake was the same as for wild-type mice. The data suggest that the removal of RS1 leads to leptin-independent up-regulation of food intake, which causes obesity.
PMCID: PMC538757  PMID: 15601832
13.  Targeted Inactivation of the Tetraspanin CD37 Impairs T-Cell-Dependent B-Cell Response under Suboptimal Costimulatory Conditions 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(15):5363-5369.
CD37 is a membrane protein of the tetraspanin superfamily, which includes CD9, CD53, CD63, CD81, and CD82. Many of these molecules are expressed on leukocytes and have been implicated in signal transduction, cell-cell interactions, and cellular activation and development. We generated and analyzed mice deficient for CD37. Despite the high expression of CD37 on cells of the immune system, no changes in development and cellular composition of lymphoid organs were observed in mice lacking CD37. Analyses of humoral immune responses revealed a reduced level of immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) in the sera of nonimmunized mice and an alteration of responses to T-cell-dependent antigens. Antibody responses to model antigen administered in the absence of adjuvant and to viral infections were generally poor in CD37-deficient mice. These poor antibody responses could be overcome by the immunization of antigen together with adjuvant. These results suggest a role for CD37 in T-cell–B-cell interactions which manifests itself under suboptimal costimulatory conditions.
PMCID: PMC85988  PMID: 10891477

Results 1-13 (13)