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Lienkamp S.S.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Lienkamp S.S.,Center for Biological Signaling Studies
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology | Year: 2016

Modern sequencing technology is revolutionizing our knowledge of inherited kidney disease. However, the molecular role of genes affected by the rapidly rising number of identified mutations is lagging behind. Xenopus is a highly useful, but underutilized model organism with unique properties excellently suited to decipher the molecular mechanisms of kidney development and disease. The embryonic kidney (pronephros) can be manipulated on only one side of the animal and its formation observed directly through the translucent skin. The moderate evolutionary distance between Xenopus and humans is a huge advantage for studying basic principles of kidney development, but still allows us to analyze the function of disease related genes. Optogenetic manipulations and genome editing by CRISPR/Cas are exciting additions to the toolbox for disease modelling and will facilitate the use of Xenopus in translational research. Therefore, the future of Xenopus in kidney research is bright. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Prinz M.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Prinz M.,Center for Biological Signaling Studies | Knobeloch K.-P.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Frontiers in Immunology | Year: 2012

Type I interferons (IFNs) were originally identified as antiviral effector molecules that exert pleiotropic physiological processes ranging from immune modulation, control of prolifer-ation, 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. © 2012 Prinz and Knobeloch.

Berkefeld H.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Fakler B.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Fakler B.,Center for Biological Signaling Studies
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2013

Large conductance Ca2+- and voltage-activated potassium channels (BKCa) shape neuronal excitability and signal transduction. This reflects the integrated influences of transmembrane voltage and intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) that gate the channels. This dual gating has been mainly studied as voltage-triggered gating modulated by defined steady-state [Ca2+]i, a paradigm that does not approximate native conditions. Hereweuse submillisecond changes of [Ca2+]i to investigate the time course of the Ca2+-triggered gating of BKCa channels expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells at distinct membrane potentials in the physiological range. The results show that Ca2+can effectively gateBKCa channels and that Ca2+gating is largely different from voltage-driven gating. Most prominently, Ca2+ gating displays a pronounced delay in the millisecond range between Ca2+ application and channel opening (pre-onset delay) and exhibits slower kinetics across the entire [Ca2+]i-voltage plane. Both characteristics are selectively altered by co-assembled BKβ4 or an epilepsy-causing mutation that either slows deactivation or speeds activation and reduces the pre-onset delay, respectively. Similarly, co-assembly of the BKCa channels with voltage-activated Ca2+ (Cav) channels, mirroring the native configuration, decreased the preonset delay to submillisecond values. In BKCa-Cav complexes, the time course of the hyperpolarizing K+-current response is dictated by the Ca2+ gating of the BKCa channels. Consistent with Cav-mediated Ca2+ influx, gating was fastest at hyperpolarized potentials, but decreased with depolarization of the membrane potential. Our results demonstrate that under experimental paradigms meant to approximate the physiological conditions BKCa channels primarily operate as ligand-activated channels gated by intracellular Ca2+ and that Ca2+ gating is tuned for fast responses in neuronal BKCa-Cav complexes. © 2013 the authors.

Ganal S.C.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Sanos S.L.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Sanos S.L.,Bavarian Nordic | Kallfass C.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | And 9 more authors.
Immunity | Year: 2012

Mononuclear phagocytes are an important component of an innate immune system perceived as a system ready to react upon encounter of pathogens. Here, we show that in response to microbial stimulation, mononuclear phagocytes residing in nonmucosal lymphoid organs of germ-free mice failed to induce expression of a set of inflammatory response genes, including those encoding the various type I interferons (IFN-I). Consequently, NK cell priming and antiviral immunity were severely compromised. Whereas pattern recognition receptor signaling and nuclear translocation of the transcription factors NF-κB and IRF3 were normal in mononuclear phagocytes of germ-free mice, binding to their respective cytokine promoters was impaired, which correlated with the absence of activating histone marks. Our data reveal a previously unrecognized role for postnatally colonizing microbiota in the introduction of chromatin level changes in the mononuclear phagocyte system, thereby poising expression of central inflammatory genes to initiate a powerful systemic immune response during viral infection. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Solozobova V.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Wyvekens N.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Pruszak J.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Pruszak J.,Center for Biological Signaling Studies
Stem Cell Reviews and Reports | Year: 2012

Pluripotent stem cells offer an abundant and malleable source for the generation of differentiated cells for transplantation as well as for in vitro screens. Patterning and differentiation protocols have been developed to generate neural progeny from human embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells. However, continued refinement is required to enhance efficiency and to prevent the generation of unwanted cell types. We summarize and interpret insights gained from studies of embryonic neuroepithelium. A multitude of factors including soluble molecules, interactions with the extracellular matrix and neighboring cells cooperate to control neural stem cell self-renewal versus differentiation. Applying these findings and concepts to human stem cell systems in vitro may yield more appropriately patterned cell types for biomedical applications. © 2012 The Author(s).

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