Infection Biology Unit

Göttingen, Germany

Infection Biology Unit

Göttingen, Germany
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Hatesuer B.,Helmholtz Center for Infection Research | Hatesuer B.,University of Tennessee Health Science Center | Bertram S.,Infection Biology Unit | Mehnert N.,Helmholtz Center for Infection Research | And 7 more authors.
PLoS Pathogens | Year: 2013

Annual influenza epidemics and occasional pandemics pose a severe threat to human health. Host cell factors required for viral spread but not for cellular survival are attractive targets for novel approaches to antiviral intervention. The cleavage activation of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) by host cell proteases is essential for viral infectivity. However, it is unknown which proteases activate influenza viruses in mammals. Several candidates have been identified in cell culture studies, leading to the concept that influenza viruses can employ multiple enzymes to ensure their cleavage activation in the host. Here, we show that deletion of a single HA-activating protease gene, Tmprss2, in mice inhibits spread of mono-basic H1N1 influenza viruses, including the pandemic 2009 swine influenza virus. Lung pathology was strongly reduced and mutant mice were protected from weight loss, death and impairment of lung function. Also, after infection with mono-basic H3N2 influenza A virus body weight loss and survival was less severe in Tmprss2 mutant compared to wild type mice. As expected, Tmprss2-deficient mice were not protected from viral spread and pathology after infection with multi-basic H7N7 influenza A virus. In conclusion, these results identify TMPRSS2 as a host cell factor essential for viral spread and pathogenesis of mono-basic H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses. © 2013 Hateuser et al.


Simmons G.,Blood Systems Research Institute | Zmora P.,Infection Biology Unit | Gierer S.,Infection Biology Unit | Heurich A.,Infection Biology Unit | Pohlmann S.,Infection Biology Unit
Antiviral Research | Year: 2013

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic revealed that zoonotic transmission of animal coronaviruses (CoV) to humans poses a significant threat to public health and warrants surveillance and the development of countermeasures. The activity of host cell proteases, which cleave and activate the SARS-CoV spike (S) protein, is essential for viral infectivity and constitutes a target for intervention. However, the identities of the proteases involved have been unclear. Pioneer studies identified cathepsins and type II transmembrane serine proteases as cellular activators of SARS-CoV and demonstrated that several emerging viruses might exploit these enzymes to promote their spread. Here, we will review the proteolytic systems hijacked by SARS-CoV for S protein activation, we will discuss their contribution to viral spread in the host and we will outline antiviral strategies targeting these enzymes. This paper forms part of a series of invited articles in Antiviral Research on "From SARS to MERS: 10 years of research on highly pathogenic human coronaviruses.'' © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Hofmann H.,Infection Biology Unit | Pohlmann S.,Infection Biology Unit
Cell Host and Microbe | Year: 2011

Lozach and colleagues show that phleboviruses (bunyaviridae), which comprise important emerging viral pathogens, exploit the C-type lectin DC-SIGN for dendritic cell binding, entry, and infection. The authors elegantly visualize the cellular processes underlying DC-SIGN-dependent viral capture and uptake. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Solomon Tsegaye T.,Hannover Medical School | Gnirss K.,Hannover Medical School | Gnirss K.,Infection Biology Unit | Rahe-Meyer N.,Hannover Medical School | And 7 more authors.
Retrovirology | Year: 2013

Background: Platelets, anucleate cell fragments abundant in human blood, can capture HIV-1 and platelet counts have been associated with viral load and disease progression. However, the impact of platelets on HIV-1 infection of T cells is unclear.Results: We found that platelets suppress HIV-1 spread in co-cultured T cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Platelets containing granules inhibited HIV-1 spread in T cells more efficiently than degranulated platelets, indicating that the granule content might exert antiviral activity. Indeed, supernatants from activated and thus degranulated platelets suppressed HIV-1 infection. Infection was inhibited at the stage of host cell entry and inhibition was independent of the viral strain or coreceptor tropism. In contrast, blockade of HIV-2 and SIV entry was less efficient. The chemokine CXCL4, a major component of platelet granules, blocked HIV-1 entry and neutralization of CXCL4 in platelet supernatants largely abrogated their anti-HIV-1 activity.Conclusions: Release of CXCL4 by activated platelets inhibits HIV-1 infection of adjacent T cells at the stage of virus entry. The inhibitory activity of platelet-derived CXCL4 suggests a role of platelets in the defense against infection by HIV-1 and potentially other pathogens. © 2013 Solomon Tsegaye et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Wrensch F.,Infection Biology Unit | Winkler M.,Infection Biology Unit | Pohlmann S.,Infection Biology Unit
Viruses | Year: 2014

The interferon-inducible transmembrane (IFITM) proteins 1, 2 and 3 inhibit the host cell entry of several enveloped viruses, potentially by promoting the accumulation of cholesterol in endosomal compartments. IFITM3 is essential for control of influenza virus infection in mice and humans. In contrast, the role of IFITM proteins in coronavirus infection is less well defined. Employing a retroviral vector system for analysis of coronavirus entry, we investigated the susceptibility of human-adapted and emerging coronaviruses to inhibition by IFITM proteins. We found that entry of the recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is sensitive to inhibition by IFITM proteins. In 293T cells, IFITM-mediated inhibition of cellular entry of the emerging MERS-and SARS-CoV was less efficient than blockade of entry of the globally circulating human coronaviruses 229E and NL63. Similar differences were not observed in A549 cells, suggesting that cellular context and/or IFITM expression levels can impact inhibition efficiency. The differential IFITM-sensitivity of coronaviruses observed in 293T cells afforded the opportunity to investigate whether efficiency of entry inhibition by IFITMs and endosomal cholesterol accumulation correlate. No such correlation was observed. Furthermore, entry mediated by the influenza virus hemagglutinin was robustly inhibited by IFITM3 but was insensitive to accumulation of endosomal cholesterol, indicating that modulation of cholesterol synthesis/transport did not account for the antiviral activity of IFITM3. Collectively, these results show that the emerging MERS-CoV is a target of the antiviral activity of IFITM proteins and demonstrate that mechanisms other than accumulation of endosomal cholesterol can contribute to viral entry inhibition by IFITMs. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Zmora P.,Infection Biology Unit | Blazejewska P.,Infection Biology Unit | Moldenhauer A.-S.,Infection Biology Unit | Welsch K.,Infection Biology Unit | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Virology | Year: 2014

The type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP) TMPRSS2 cleaves and activates the influenza virus and coronavirus surface proteins. Expression of TMPRSS2 is essential for the spread and pathogenesis of H1N1 influenza viruses in mice. In contrast, H3N2 viruses are less dependent on TMPRSS2 for viral amplification, suggesting that these viruses might employ other TTSPs for their activation. Here, we analyzed TTSPs, reported to be expressed in the respiratory system, for the ability to activate influenza viruses and coronaviruses. We found that MSPL and, to a lesser degree, DESC1 are expressed in human lung tissue and cleave and activate the spike proteins of the Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses for cell-cell and virus-cell fusion. In addition, we show that these proteases support the spread of all influenza virus subtypes previously pandemic in humans. In sum, we identified two host cell proteases that could promote the amplification of influenza viruses and emerging coronaviruses in humans and might constitute targets for antiviral intervention. © 2014, American Society for Microbiology.


Van Breedam W.,Ghent University | Pohlmann S.,Infection Biology Unit | Favoreel H.W.,Ghent University | de Groot R.J.,University Utrecht | Nauwynck H.J.,Ghent University
FEMS Microbiology Reviews | Year: 2014

Glycans are carbohydrate modifications typically found on proteins or lipids, and can act as ligands for glycan-binding proteins called lectins. Glycans and lectins play crucial roles in the function of cells and organs, and in the immune system of animals and humans. Viral pathogens use glycans and lectins that are encoded by their own or the host genome for their replication and spread. Recent advances in glycobiological research indicate that glycans and lectins mediate key interactions at the virus-host interface, controlling viral spread and/or activation of the immune system. This review reflects on glycan-lectin interactions in the context of viral infection and antiviral immunity. A short introduction illustrates the nature of glycans and lectins, and conveys the basic principles of their interactions. Subsequently, examples are discussed highlighting specific glycan-lectin interactions and how they affect the progress of viral infections, either benefiting the host or the virus. Moreover, glycan and lectin variability and their potential biological consequences are discussed. Finally, the review outlines how recent advances in the glycan-lectin field might be transformed into promising new approaches to antiviral therapy. © 2013 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.


Kuhl A.,Hannover Medical School | Pohlmann S.,German Primate Research Center | Pohlmann S.,Infection Biology Unit
Zoonoses and Public Health | Year: 2012

Zoonotic transmission of Ebola virus (EBOV) to humans causes a severe haemorrhagic fever in afflicted individuals with high case-fatality rates. Neither vaccines nor therapeutics are at present available to combat EBOV infection, making the virus a potential threat to public health. To devise antiviral strategies, it is important to understand which components of the immune system could be effective against EBOV infection. The interferon (IFN) system constitutes a key innate defence against viral infections and prevents development of lethal disease in mice infected with EBOV strains not adapted to this host. Recent research revealed that expression of the host cell IFN-inducible transmembrane proteins 1-3 (IFITM1-3) and tetherin is induced by IFN and restricts EBOV infection, at least in cell culture model systems. IFITMs, tetherin and other effector molecules of the IFN system could thus pose a potent barrier against EBOV spread in humans. However, EBOV interferes with signalling events required for human cells to express these proteins. Here, we will review the strategies employed by EBOV to fight the IFN system, and we will discuss how IFITM proteins and tetherin inhibit EBOV infection. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.


Gehring G.,Hannover Medical School | Rohrmann K.,Hannover Medical School | Atenchong N.,Hannover Medical School | Mittler E.,University of Marburg | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy | Year: 2014

Objectives: Filoviruses such as Ebola virus and Marburg virus cause a severe haemorrhagic fever syndrome in humans for which there is no specific treatment. Since filoviruses use a complex route of cell entry that depends on numerous cellular factors,we hypothesized that there may be drugs already approved for human use for other indications that interfere with signal transduction or other cellular processes required for their entry and hence have anti-filoviral properties. Methods: We used authentic filoviruses and lentiviral particles pseudotyped with filoviral glycoproteins to identify and characterize such compounds. Results: We discovered that amiodarone, a multi-ion channel inhibitor and adrenoceptor antagonist, is a potent inhibitor of filovirus cell entry at concentrations that are routinely reached in human serum during antiarrhythmic therapy. A similar effect was observed with the amiodarone-related agent dronedarone and the L-type calcium channel blocker verapamil. Inhibition by amiodarone was concentration dependent and similarly affected pseudoviruses as well as authentic filoviruses. Inhibition of filovirus entry was observed with most but not all cell types tested and was accentuated by the pre-treatment of cells, indicating a host cell-directed mechanism of action. The New World arenavirus Guanarito was also inhibited by amiodarone while the Old World arenavirus Lassa and members of the Rhabdoviridae (vesicular stomatitis virus) and Bunyaviridae (Hantaan) families were largely resistant. Conclusions: The ion channel blockers amiodarone, dronedarone and verapamil inhibit filoviral cell entry. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.


Eckert N.,Infection Biology Unit | Wrensch F.,Infection Biology Unit | Gartner S.,Infection Biology Unit | Palanisamy N.,Infection Biology Unit | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Reporter genes inserted into viral genomes enable the easy and rapid quantification of virus replication, which is instrumental to efficient in vitro screening of antiviral compounds or in vivo analysis of viral spread and pathogenesis. Based on a published design, we have generated several replication competent influenza A viruses carrying either fluorescent proteins or Gaussia luciferase. Reporter activity could be readily quantified in infected cultures, but the virus encoding Gaussia luciferase was more stable than viruses bearing fluorescent proteins and was therefore analyzed in detail. Quantification of Gaussia luciferase activity in the supernatants of infected culture allowed the convenient and highly sensitive detection of viral spread, and enzymatic activity correlated with the number of infectious particles released from infected cells. Furthermore, the Gaussia luciferase encoding virus allowed the sensitive quantification of the antiviral activity of the neuraminidase inhibitor (NAI) zanamivir and the host cell interferon-inducible transmembrane (IFITM) proteins 1-3, which are known to inhibit influenza virus entry. Finally, the virus was used to demonstrate that influenza A virus infection is sensitive to a modulator of endosomal cholesterol, in keeping with the concept that IFITMs inhibit viral entry by altering cholesterol levels in the endosomal membrane. In sum, we report the characterization of a novel influenza A reporter virus, which allows fast and sensitive detection of viral spread and its inhibition, and we show that influenza A virus entry is sensitive to alterations of endosomal cholesterol levels. © 2014 Eckert et al.

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