[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malignant human embryonal carcinoma cells (ECC) rely on similar transcriptional networks as non-malignant embryonic stem cells (ESC) to control selfrenewal, maintain pluripotency; and inhibit differentiation. Because re-activation of silenced HERV-K(HML-2) loci is a hallmark of ECCs, we asked if this HERV group was also reactivated in ESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
Using RTPCR and Western Blot, we demonstrate HERV-K(HML-2) RNA and protein expression in undifferentiated human ESCs and iPSCs. Induction of differentiation by embryoid body formation resulted in rapid silencing of HERV-K(HML-2) provirus expression. Sequencing analysis of a conserved region of the gag gene showed that proviral expression in undifferentiated cells represents at least 11 of the 66 nearly full length HERV-K(HML-2) loci, with slightly varying patterns in individual cell lines. These proviruses are human specific integrations and harbor promoter competent long terminal repeats (LTR5hs subgroup). We observed high mRNA levels of the NP9 and Gag encoding proviruses K101(chromosome 22q11.21) in all and K10(5q33.3) in most of the ECC, ESC, and iPSC lines tested, while K37(11q23.3) mRNA was detected only in ESCs and iPSCs. In addition, we detected expression of proviral mRNA encoding the RNA export adaptor Rec in all cell lines studied. Proviral mRNA originating from the K108(7p22.1) locus, which inter alia codes for functional Rec and Env proteins, was only reactivated in malignant ECC lines, not in benign ESCs or iPSC.
HERV-K(HML-2) RNA and protein expression is a marker for pluripotent human stem cells. Initiation of differentiation results in rapid down-regulation. Further studies are needed to explore a putative functional role of HERV-K(HML-2) RNA and proteins in pluripotent stem cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposons are mobile genetic elements whose extensive proliferation resulted in the generation of ∼34% of the human genome. They have been shown to be a cause of single-gene diseases. Moreover, L1-encoded endonuclease can elicit double-strand breaks that may lead to genomic instability. Mammalian cells adopted strategies restricting mobility and deleterious consequences of uncontrolled retrotransposition. The human APOBEC3 protein family of polynucleotide cytidine deaminases contributes to intracellular defense against retroelements. APOBEC3 members inhibit L1 retrotransposition by 35-99%. However, genomic L1 retrotransposition events that occurred in the presence of L1-restricting APOBEC3 proteins are devoid of detectable G-to-A hypermutations, suggesting one or multiple deaminase-independent L1 restricting mechanisms. We set out to uncover the mechanism of APOBEC3C (A3C)-mediated L1 inhibition and found that it is deaminase independent, requires an intact dimerization site and the RNA-binding pocket mutation R122A abolishes L1 restriction by A3C. Density gradient centrifugation of L1 ribonucleoprotein particles, subcellular co-localization of L1-ORF1p and A3C and co-immunoprecipitation experiments indicate that an RNA-dependent physical interaction between L1 ORF1p and A3C dimers is essential for L1 restriction. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the amount of L1 complementary DNA synthesized by L1 reverse transcriptase is reduced by ∼50% if overexpressed A3C is present.
Nucleic Acids Research 10/2013; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Risk for human exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-inducing agent was estimated in a nonhuman primate model. To determine attack rates, incubation times, and molecular signatures, we orally exposed 18 macaques to 1 high dose of brain material from cattle with BSE. Several macaques were euthanized at regular intervals starting at 1 year postinoculation, and others were observed until clinical signs developed. Among those who received ≥5 g BSE-inducing agent, attack rates were 100% and prions could be detected in peripheral tissues from 1 year postinoculation onward. The overall median incubation time was 4.6 years (3.7-5.3). However, for 3 macaques orally exposed on multiple occasions, incubation periods were at least 7-10 years. Before clinical signs were noted, we detected a non-type 2B signature, indicating the existence of atypical prion protein during the incubation period. This finding could affect diagnosis of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and might be relevant for retrospective studies of positive tonsillectomy or appendectomy specimens because time of infection is unknown.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In postmenopausal women, adipositas represents a serious risk factor for cancer development and progression. White adipose tissue secretes the 16 kDa hormone leptin which plays a key role in the regulation of appetite and metabolism. An increasing number of reports indicate that leptin also interferes with signal transduction pathways implicated in the development of breast cancer. In our previous study, we identified the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) as a relevant enhancer of leptin-induced signal transduction leading to transactivation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3). The purpose of this study is the investigation of specific target gene expression in response to leptin-mediated Stat3 signaling. We performed a comprehensive microarray analysis of ERα-positive and ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells upon leptin treatment and identified 49 genes which showed a significant ERα-dependent regulation in leptin-treated MDA-MB-231 cells. There was no intersection with genes which were merely up- or downregulated by ERα expression and only 9 and 11 genes overlapping targets which were regulated by leptin stimulation either in ERα-expressing or ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, respectively. To demonstrate the specificity, expression of three target genes was validated by quantitative real-time PCR. In conclusion, these data imply that leptin can induce a different set of target genes dependent on ERα expression, which might contribute to the development and progression of cancer diseases.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A 9-year-old cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis) infected orally with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was presented for necropsy following euthanasia 4 years post infection (p.i.). This macaque R984 was exposed to a BSE dose that causes a simian form of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) within 5 years p.i. in other macaques. All orally BSE-infected macaques developed a significant weight gain within the first 2 years p.i. compared with non-BSE-infected age- and sex-matched control animals, suggesting increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). In contrast, macaque R984 developed rapid weight loss, hyperglycemia, and glucosuria and had to be euthanatized 4 years p.i. before clinical signs of vCJD. Pancreas histopathological evaluation revealed severe islet degeneration but, remarkably, no islet amyloid deposits were present. Immunostaining of pancreas sections for insulin and glucagon confirmed the loss of endocrine cells. In addition, prions were present in the adenohypophysis but not in other areas of the brain, indicating centripetal prion spread from the gut during the preclinical phase of BSE infection. Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations of macaque R984 became abnormal with age and resembled T2D. This unusual case of spontaneous T2D in the absence of islet amyloid deposits could have been due to early prion spread from the periphery to the endocrine system or could have occurred spontaneously.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: It has been widely established that the conversion of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) into its abnormal isoform (PrPSc) is responsible for the development of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). However, the knowledge of the detailed molecular mechanisms and direct functional consequences within the cell is rare. In this study, we aimed at the identification of deregulated proteins which might be involved in prion pathogenesis. FINDINGS: Apolipoprotein E and peroxiredoxin 6 (PRDX6) were identified as upregulated proteins in brains of scrapie-infected mice and cultured neuronal cell lines. Downregulation of PrP gene expression using specific siRNA did not result in a decrease of PRDX6 amounts. Interestingly, selective siRNA targeting PRDX6 or overexpression of PRDX6 controlled PrPC and PrPSc protein amounts in neuronal cells. CONCLUSIONS: Besides its possible function as a novel marker protein in the diagnosis of TSEs, PDRX6 represents an attractive target molecule in putative pharmacological intervention strategies in the future.
Cell Communication and Signaling 12/2012; 10(1):38. · 5.09 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SINE-VNTR-Alu (SVA) elements are non-autonomous, hominid-specific non-LTR retrotransposons and distinguished by their organization as composite mobile elements. They represent the evolutionarily youngest, currently active family of human non-LTR retrotransposons, and sporadically generate disease-causing insertions. Since preexisting, genomic SVA sequences are characterized by structural hallmarks of Long Interspersed Elements 1 (LINE-1, L1)-mediated retrotransposition, it has been hypothesized for several years that SVA elements are mobilized by the L1 protein machinery in trans. To test this hypothesis, we developed an SVA retrotransposition reporter assay in cell culture using three different human-specific SVA reporter elements. We demonstrate that SVA elements are mobilized in HeLa cells only in the presence of both L1-encoded proteins, ORF1p and ORF2p. SVA trans-mobilization rates exceeded pseudogene formation frequencies by 12- to 300-fold in HeLa-HA cells, indicating that SVA elements represent a preferred substrate for L1 proteins. Acquisition of an AluSp element increased the trans-mobilization frequency of the SVA reporter element by ~25-fold. Deletion of (CCCTCT)(n) repeats and Alu-like region of a canonical SVA reporter element caused significant attenuation of the SVA trans-mobilization rate. SVA de novo insertions were predominantly full-length, occurred preferentially in G+C-rich regions, and displayed all features of L1-mediated retrotransposition which are also observed in preexisting genomic SVA insertions.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2011; 40(4):1666-83. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After fixation in the human genome, human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are bona fide cellular genes despite their exogenous origin. To be able to spread within the germ line and the early embryo, the ancient retroviral promoters must have adapted to the requirements for expression in these cell types. We describe that in contrast to the case for current exogenous retroviruses, which replicate in specific somatic cells, the long terminal repeat (LTR) of the human endogenous retrovirus HERV-K acts as a TATA- and initiator element-independent promoter with a variable transcription start site. We present evidence that the HERV-K LTR is regulated by the transcription factors Sp1 and Sp3. Mutating specific GC boxes, which are binding sites for Sp proteins, and knocking down Sp1 and Sp3 by use of small interfering RNA (siRNA) significantly reduced the promoter activity. Binding of Sp1 and Sp3 to the promoter region was confirmed using electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). Our data explain why certain HERV-K proviruses have lost promoter competence. Since vertebrate promoters lacking canonical core promoter elements are common but poorly studied, understanding the HERV-K promoter not only will provide insight into the regulation of endogenous retroviruses but also can serve as a paradigm for understanding the regulation of this class of cellular genes.
Journal of Virology 01/2011; 85(7):3436-48. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are fatal diseases associated with the conversion of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) to the abnormal prion protein (PrPSc). Since the molecular mechanisms in pathogenesis are widely unclear, we analyzed the global phospho-proteome and detected a differential pattern of tyrosine- and threonine phosphorylated proteins in PrPSc-replicating and pentosan polysulfate (PPS)-rescued N2a cells in two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. To quantify phosphorylated proteins, we performed a SILAC (stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture) analysis and identified 105 proteins, which showed a regulated phosphorylation upon PrPSc infection. Among those proteins, we validated the dephosphorylation of stathmin and Cdc2 and the induced phosphorylation of cofilin in PrPSc-infected N2a cells in Western blot analyses. Our analysis showed for the first time a differentially regulated phospho-proteome in PrPSc infection, which could contribute to the establishment of novel protein markers and to the development of novel therapeutic intervention strategies in targeting prion-associated disease.
Cell Communication and Signaling 09/2010; 8:28. · 5.09 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N1 subtype are responsible for an increasing number of infections in humans since 2003. More than 60% of the infections is lethal and new infections are reported frequently. In the light of the pandemic threat caused by these events the rapid availability of safe and effective vaccines is desirable. Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the HA gene of an influenza A/H5N1 virus is a promising candidate vaccine that induced protective immunity against infection with homologous and heterologous influenza A/H5N1 viruses in mice. We also evaluated the recombinant MVA vector expressing the HA of influenza A/H5N1 virus A/Vietnam/1194/04 (MVA-HA-VN/04) in non-human primates. Cynomolgus macaques were immunized twice and then challenged with influenza virus A/Vietnam/1194/04 (clade 1) or A/Indonesia/5/05 (clade 2.1) to assess the level of protective immunity. Immunization with MVA-HA-VN/04 induced (cross-reactive) antibodies and prevented virus replication in the upper and lower respiratory tract and the development of severe necrotizing bronchointerstitial pneumonia. Therefore MVA-HA-VN/04 is a promising vaccine candidate for the induction of protective immunity against highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1 viruses.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cellular prion protein (PrP(c)) plays a central role in prion diseases such as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This disease can be transmitted by blood transfusion. However, the exact kinetics of blood infectivity and the blood fraction carrying infectivity have not yet been identified.
Simian PrP(c) epitopes were mapped by flow cytometry using monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs). A whole blood/no wash protocol was established, validated, and applied to investigate peripheral blood cell-associated PrP(c) expression profiles in bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-infected cynomolgus monkeys and age-/sex-matched controls. In addition, physiologic expression patterns on blood cells and in lymphoid tissues were determined.
In BSE-infected macaques, blood lymphocyte-associated PrP(c) fluorescence gradually increased years before the onset of clinical signs (p(F test) < 0.0001). The increase in fluorescence intensity was detectable with MoAb 12F10, whereas we failed to detect an increase with 3F4. In parallel, plasma concentrations of soluble CD230 also increased. Centrifugation of lymphocytes almost completely eliminated differences between infected and noninfected animals, most likely caused by a partial loss in cell-associated CD230 into the plasma supernatant.
Blood lymphocytes from asymptomatically infected as well as diseased macaques were characterized by increased CD230 fluorescence, and phosphatidylinositol-phospholipase C-resistant PrP molecules contributed at least partially to this increase. Conformational changes within PrP(c) molecules may be the underlying mechanism for the increased PrP(c) fluorescence. This cell-associated phenomenon contributed at least partially to an increase in soluble plasma-derived PrP(c) levels. It is not yet known whether these changes reflect infectivity.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adipositas correlates with an enhanced risk of developing malignant diseases such as breast cancer, endometrial tumor or prostate carcinoma, but the molecular basis for this is not well understood. Potential mechanisms include increased bioavailability of adipocytokines (e.g. leptin) and steroid hormones. Here, we investigated cross-talk between ERalpha (estrogen receptor alpha) and leptin-induced activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), a transactivator of important oncogenes. Upon leptin binding to its receptor Ob-RL (obesity receptor), STAT3 tyrosine phosphorylation and transactivation activity were enhanced by simultaneously expressing ERalpha. Downregulation of ERalpha using small interfering RNA abolished leptin-induced STAT3 phosphorylation. Interestingly, leptin-mediated STAT3 activation was unaffected by co-stimulation with the ERalpha ligands estradiol (E2) or estrogen antagonists ICI182,780 and tamoxifen, implying that enhancement of leptin-mediated STAT3 activity is independent of ERalpha ligands. We also detected ERalpha binding to STAT3 and JAK2 (Janus kinase 2), resulting in enhanced JAK2 activity upstream of STAT3 in response to leptin that might lead to an increased ERalpha-dependent cell viability. Altogether, our results indicate that leptin-induced STAT3 activation acts as a key event in ERalpha-dependent development of malignant diseases.
International Journal of Cancer 10/2009; 127(1):55-66. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SVA elements represent the youngest family of hominid non-LTR retrotransposons, which alter the human genome continuously. They stand out due to their organization as composite repetitive elements. To draw conclusions on the assembly process that led to the current organization of SVA elements and on their transcriptional regulation, we initiated our study by assessing differences in structures of the 116 SVA elements located on human chromosome 19. We classified SVA elements into seven structural variants, including novel variants like 3'-truncated elements and elements with 5'-flanking sequence transductions. We established a genome-wide inventory of 5'-transduced SVA elements encompassing approximately 8% of all human SVA elements. The diversity of 5' transduction events found indicates transcriptional control of their SVA source elements by a multitude of external cellular promoters in germ cells in the course of their evolution and suggests that SVA elements might be capable of acquiring 5' promoter sequences. Our data indicate that SVA-mediated 5' transduction events involve alternative RNA splicing at cryptic splice sites. We analyzed one remarkably successful human-specific SVA 5' transduction group in detail because it includes at least 32% of all SVA subfamily F members. An ancient retrotransposition event brought an SVA insertion under transcriptional control of the MAST2 gene promoter, giving rise to the primal source element of this group. Members of this group are currently transcribed. Here we show that SVA-mediated 5' transduction events lead to structural diversity of SVA elements and represent a novel source of genomic rearrangements contributing to genomic diversity.
Genome Research 09/2009; 19(11):1992-2008. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) is a physiological constituent of eukaryotic cells. The cellular pathways underlying prions spread from the sites of prions infection/peripheral replication to the central nervous system are still not elucidated. Membrane-derived microvesicles (MVs) are submicron (0.1-1 microm) particles, that are released by cells during plasma membrane shedding processes. They are usually liberated from different cell types, mainly upon activation as well as apoptosis, in this case, one of their hallmarks is the exposure of phosphatidylserine in the outer leaflet of the membrane. MVs are also characterized by the presence of adhesion molecules, MHC I molecules, as well as of membrane antigens typical of their cell of origin. Evidence exists that MVs shedding provide vehicles to transfer molecules among cells, and that MVs are important modulators of cell-to-cell communication. In this study we therefore analyzed the potential role of membrane-derived MVs in the mechanism(s) of PrP(C) diffusion and prion infectivity transmission. We first identified PrP(C) in association with the lipid raft components Fyn, flotillin-2, GM1 and GM3 in MVs from plasma of healthy human donors. Similar findings were found in MVs from cell culture supernatants of murine neuronal cells. Furthermore we demonstrated that PrP(Sc) is released from infected murine neuronal cells in association with plasma membrane-derived MVs and that PrP(Sc)-bearing MVs are infectious both in vitro and in vivo. The data suggest that MVs may contribute both to the intercellular mechanism(s) of PrP(C) diffusion and signaling as well as to the process of prion spread and neuroinvasion.
PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(4):e5057. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human infections with highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N1 subtype, frequently reported since 2003, result in high morbidity and mortality. It is feared that these viruses become pandemic, therefore the development of safe and effective vaccines is desirable. MVA-based H5N1 vaccines already proved to be effective when two immunizations with high doses were used. Dose-sparing strategies would increase the number of people that can be vaccinated when the amount of vaccine preparations that can be produced is limited. Furthermore, protective immunity is induced ideally after a single immunization. Therefore the minimal requirements for induction of protective immunity with a MVA-based H5N1 vaccine were assessed in mice. To this end, mice were vaccinated once or twice with descending doses of a recombinant MVA expressing the HA gene of influenza virus A/Vietnam/1194/04. The protective efficacy was determined after challenge infection with the homologous clade 1 virus and a heterologous virus derived from clade 2.1, A/Indonesia/5/05 by assessing weight loss, virus replication and histopathological changes. It was concluded that MVA-based vaccines allowed significant dose-sparing and afford cross-clade protection, also after a single immunization, which are favorable properties for an H5N1 vaccine candidate.
PLoS ONE 01/2009; 4(11):e7790. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N1 subtype have been responsible for an increasing number of infections in humans since 2003. More than 60% of infected individuals die, and new infections are reported frequently. In light of the pandemic threat caused by these events, the rapid availability of safe and effective vaccines is desirable. Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing the hemagglutinin (HA) gene of H5N1 viruses is a promising candidate vaccine that induced protective immunity against infection with homologous and heterologous H5N1 influenza virus in mice.
In the present study, we evaluated a recombinant MVA vector expressing the HA gene of H5N1 influenza virus A/Vietnam/1194/04 (MVA-HA-VN/04) in nonhuman primates. Cynomolgus macaques were immunized twice and then were challenged with influenza virus A/Vietnam/1194/04 (clade 1) or A/Indonesia/5/05 (clade 2.1) to assess the level of protective immunity.
Immunization with MVA-HA-VN/04 induced (cross-reactive) antibodies and prevented virus replication in the upper and lower respiratory tract and the development of severe necrotizing bronchointerstitial pneumonia.
Therefore, MVA-HA-VN/04 is a promising vaccine candidate for the induction of protective immunity against highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses in humans.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 01/2009; 199(3):405-13. · 5.85 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Decades after the cessation of smallpox vaccination, the potential of the deliberate release of pathogenic orthopoxviruses has forced a reconsideration of using these extremely efficient human vaccines. Scenarios of sudden biothreats have prompted demand for rapidly protective vaccination. However, the feasibility of short-term vaccination (i.e., vaccination shortly before exposure) with vaccinia virus (VACV) is uncertain.
We tested the rapid protective capacity of vaccines based on VACV strain Lister (VACV-Lister) and on modified VACV Ankara (MVA) in different mouse models, comparing lethal infections with VACV strain Western Reserve (VACV-WR) or ectromelia virus (ECTV).
In contrast to VACV-WR challenge, we found extended incubation periods after ECTV challenge, allowing successful therapeutic immunization with VACV-Lister and MVA when applied 2-3 days after exposure. Rapid protection from respiratory tract ECTV infection was significantly affected by vaccine dose and was associated with occurrence of poxvirus-specific antibodies. Vaccinations in type I interferon receptor-deficient mice were protective, whereas recombination activating gene 1-deficient mice lacking mature T and B cells failed to mount immunity after short-term vaccination, confirming an essential role of adaptive immune responses.
ECTV infection in mice models the course of human smallpox. Our data provide evidence to substantiate historical data on the usefulness of postexposure vaccination with conventional VACV and the new candidate MVA to protect against fatal orthopoxvirus infections.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 12/2008; 199(1):39-48. · 5.85 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) is a highly conserved glycoprotein of unknown biological function. To gain insight into the physiological role of PrP(C), we generated a novel PrP knockout cell line, named PrP(o/o) ML, by immortalization of neuroepithelial precursor cells derived from the cerebellum of PrP-knockout mice using the temperature-sensitive simian virus 40 (SV40) large T antigen. We demonstrated that the PrP(o/o) ML cell line is a unipotent precursor line with glutamatergic properties, which can acquire neuronal features when cultivated under specific conditions. The role of the prion protein in the process of neuronal differentiation was then analyzed in the PrP(o/o) ML cells reconstituted with either the full-length or an amino-terminally deleted form of the prion protein. We show that the expression of PrP(C) facilitates the processes of neuronal differentiation and neuritogenesis and that the deletion of its amino-terminal domain reduces the efficiency, but does not suppress this activity. This cell line represents a useful tool for studying PrP-dependent signal transduction pathways during differentiation of neuronal stem/precursor cells.
Journal of Neuroscience Research 11/2008; 87(3):806-19. · 2.97 Impact Factor