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Greifswald, Germany

Segner H.,University of Bern | Wenger M.,University of Zurich | Moller A.M.,University of Bern | Kollner B.,Institute of Infectiology | Casanova-Nakayama A.,University of Bern
Environmental Science and Pollution Research | Year: 2012

Numerous environmental chemicals, both long-known toxicants such as persistent organic pollutants as well as emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, are known to modulate immune parameters of wildlife species, what can have adverse consequences for the fitness of individuals including their capability to resist pathogen infections. Despite frequent field observations of impaired immunocompetence and increased disease incidence in contaminant-exposed wildlife populations, the potential relevance of immunotoxic effects for the ecological impact of chemicals is rarely considered in ecotoxicological risk assessment. A limiting factor in the assessment of immunotoxic effects might be the complexity of the immune system what makes it difficult (1) to select appropriate exposure and effect parameters out of the many immune parameters which could be measured, and (2) to evaluate the significance of the selected parameters for the overall fitness and immunocompetence of the organism. Here, we present - on the example of teleost fishes - a brief discussion of how to assess chemical impact on the immune system using parameters at different levels of complexity and integration: immune mediators, humoral immune effectors, cellular immune defenses, macroscopical and microscopical responses of lymphoid tissues and organs, and host resistance to pathogens. Importantly, adverse effects of chemicals on immunocompetence may be detectable only after immune system activation, e. g., after pathogen challenge, but not in the resting immune system of non-infected fish. Current limitations to further development and implementation of immunotoxicity assays and parameters in ecotoxicological risk assessment are not primarily due to technological constraints, but are related from insufficient knowledge of (1) possible modes of action in the immune system, (2) the importance of intra- and inter-species immune system variability for the response against chemical stressors, and (3) deficits in conceptual and mechanistic assessment of combination effects of chemicals and pathogens. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


Heiden S.,Institute of Molecular Virology and Cell Biology | Grund C.,Institute of Diagnostic Virology | Roder A.,Institute of Molecular Virology and Cell Biology | Granzow H.,Institute of Infectiology | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Newcastle disease virus (NDV), also designated as Avian paramyxovirus type 1 (APMV-1), is the causative agent of a notifiable disease of poultry but it exhibits different pathogenicity dependent on the virus strain. The molecular basis for this variability is not fully understood. The efficiency of activation of the fusion protein (F) is determined by presence or absence of a polybasic amino acid sequence at an internal proteolytic cleavage site which is a major determinant of NDV virulence. However, other determinants of pathogenicity must exist since APMV-1 of high (velogenic), intermediate (mesogenic) and low (lentogenic) virulence specify a polybasic F cleavage site. We aimed at elucidation of additional virulence determinants by constructing a recombinant virus that consists of a lentogenic NDV Clone 30 backbone and the F protein gene from a mesogenic pigeon paramyxovirus-1 (PPMV-1) isolate with an intracerebral pathogenicity index (ICPI) of 1.1 specifying the polybasic sequence R-R-K-K-R∗F motif at the cleavage site. The resulting virus was characterized by an ICPI of 0.6, indicating a lentogenic pathotype. In contrast, alteration of the cleavage site G-R-Q-G-R∗L of the lentogenic Clone 30 to R-R-K-K-R∗F resulted in a recombinant virus with an ICPI of 1.36 which was higher than that of parental PPMV-1. Substitution of different regions of the F protein of Clone 30 by those of PPMV-1, while maintaining the polybasic amino acid sequence at the F cleavage site, resulted in recombinant viruses with ICPIs ranging from 0.59 to 1.36 suggesting that virulence is modulated by regions of the F protein other than the polybasic cleavage site. © 2014 Heiden et al.


Scharnert J.,Institute of Infectiology | Greune L.,Institute of Infectiology | Zeuschner D.,Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine | Lubos M.-L.,Institute of Infectiology | And 2 more authors.
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences | Year: 2013

Extracellular Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria target essential cytoplasmic processes of eukaryotic cells by using effector protein delivery systems such as the type III secretion system (T3SS). These secretion systems directly inject effector proteins into the host cell cytoplasm. Among the T3SS-dependent Yop proteins of pathogenic Yersinia, the function of the effector protein YopM remains enigmatic. In a recent study, we demonstrated that recombinant YopM from Yersinia enterocolitica enters host cells autonomously without the presence of bacteria and thus identified YopM as a novel bacterial cell-penetrating protein. Following entry YopM down-regulates expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α. These properties earmark YopM for further development as a novel anti-inflammatory therapeutic. To elucidate the uptake and intracellular targeting mechanisms of this bacterial cell-penetrating protein, we analyzed possible routes of internalization employing ultra-cryo electron microscopy. Our results reveal that under physiological conditions, YopM enters cells predominantly by exploiting endocytic pathways. Interestingly, YopM was detected free in the cytosol and inside the nucleus. We could not observe any colocalization of YopM with secretory membranes, which excludes retrograde transport as the mechanism for cytosolic release. However, our findings indicate that direct membrane penetration and/or an endosomal escape of YopM contribute to the cytosolic and nuclear localization of the protein. Surprisingly, even when endocytosis is blocked, YopM was found to be associated with endosomes. This suggests an intracellular endosome-associated transport of YopM. © 2013 Springer Basel.

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