Projects Virus Interaction Proteomics

Paving the Way towards Personalized Prevention and Care of Severe Norovirus Gastroenteritis (PRESENt)

Noroviruses are a major cause of gastroenteritis and this leads to a significant economic burden. Acute outbreaks on cruise ships and in elderly care facilities as well as chronic norovirus infections in immunocompromised individuals, such as transplant patients, cause a severe health risk. To date, no vaccine or specific treatment options exist and we have limited knowledge about the inter-individual differences that influence the outcome of a norovirus infection. Determining the parameters that render a person more or less prone to norovirus infection and that determine the severity of infection is therefore important in order to devise strategies to prevent and treat norovirus gastroenteritis. The consortium PRESENt (‘Paving the Way towards Personalized Prevention and Care of Severe Norovirus Gastroenteritis’) brings together scientists from Hanover Medical School, TWINCORE Institute of Clinical and Experimental Infection Research in Hanover, L3S Research Center in Hanover and Helmholtz Institute of Infection Research in Braunschweig at the newly established Centre for Individualised Infection Medicine, CiiM, in Hanover. The goal of the consortium is to investigate the role of individual parameters such as age, gender, gastrointestinal microbiota and the virus associated human biomolecules in norovirus infection. The PRESENt team will evaluate these parameters in a retrospective and prospective clinical study. Furthermore, differences in disinfectant efficacy for a broad range of norovirus patient isolates will be determined using state of the art in vitro infection models (so called organoids). ‘Machine learning’ methods and data intensive technology will identify predictive signatures for severe norovirus infection. The knowledge gained will ultimately guide the development of personalized strategies to individually predict, prevent and treat severe norovirus gastroenteritis.    

Partners: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Nejdl (Leibniz Universität Hannover & Technische Universität Braunschweig, Forschungszentrum L3S Hannover), Prof. Dr. Dr. Michael Marschollek (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Peter L. Reichertz Institut für Medizinische Informatik der TU Braunschweig und der Medizinischen Hochschule Hannover), Prof. Dr. Till Strowig, Prof. Dr. Lothar Jänsch (Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung Braunschweig), PD Dr. Benjamin Heidrich (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Klinik für Gastroenterologie, Hepatologie und Endokrinologie Hannover), Prof. asoc. inv. Dr. Gisa Gerold (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, TWINCORE - Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung Hannover)

Collaborating groups: Prof. Dr. Thomas F. Schulz (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Institut für Virologie), Prof. Dr. Lennart Svensson (Linköping University Schweden)




Characterization of CD81 receptor interactors in hepatitis C virus and Plasmodium liver cell entry

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum both use the human transmembrane protein CD81 to infect liver cells. This is remarkable as both pathogens substantially differ in their molecular makeup, transmission and pathology. A common theme of HCV and Plasmodium is, however, the narrow host tropism as they naturally only infect humans. CD81 is one of several determinants for this host tropism. Since CD81 lacks signaling domains, we had hypothesized that it coordinates HCV and Plasmodium uptake through protein interactions with membrane proximal signaling adaptors and cytoskeleton regulators. Our previous work identified 33 CD81 protein interactions in human hepatoma cells and could show that at least ten of the CD81 protein interactors are required for HCV and Plasmodium infection. We now aim at understanding the molecular function of new host factors as well as the impact of human polymorphisms in these factors on susceptibility and disease progression. We further analyze the specificity of the host factors for HCV genotypes and other RNA viruses as well as their contribution to tissue and species tropism. This work will identify entry mechanisms of two important human pathogens and may reveal important host targets for malaria therapy development.

Collaboration partners: Olivier Silvie (INSERM, Paris, Frankreich), Felix Meissner (Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried), Lars Kaderali (Universität Greifswald) 

Among them are the epidermal growth factor receptor, a receptor tyrosine kinase known to aid HCV entry, an ubiquitin ligase and an endopeptidase. Currently, we characterize the molecular function of these host factors in depth. By testing domain mutants of the host factors, we aim to shed light on how the proteins guide pathogen entry. At the same time we address the specificity of the discovered host factors by performing infection assays with other enveloped viruses, with different HCV genotypes and with human and rodent Plasmodium species in CRISPR/Cas9 knockout cells for the respective entry factor. Lastly, our work will determine if the host factors contribute to the narrow tissue and host tropism of HCV and Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites. This work will reveal commonalities and differences in liver entry of two important human pathogens and holds the promise of identifying urgently needed drug targets to combat malaria.

Collaboration partners: Olivier Silvie (INSERM, Paris, France), Felix Meissner (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany), Lars Kaderali (University Greifswald, Germany)


Enveloped virus entry factor discovery

Mass spectrometry based interaction proteomics has become highly sensitive and quantitative. Using state of the art proteomics, we search for cell surface proteins engaged by human pathogenic viruses. Specifically, we employ label free quantification (LFQ) to define the interactome of known host factors such as tetraspanin-9 and TIM-1. On the other hand, we use stable isotope labeling of amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) and targeted crosslinking approaches to identify proteins, which interact with viral glycoproteins during cell entry. In follow up experiments, we address the functional role of interaction partners using CRISPR/Cas9 knockout, RNA silencing and blocking techniques 


Our major pathogens of interest are re-emerging and mosquito-borne human pathogens of the alphavirus genus, including Chikungunya virus. Identified entry and replication factors will be tested for their specificity to various virus strains and their expression in different human tissues targeted by the virus. Lastly, we will analyze if orthologs in mosquitoes and non-human primates, which serve as transmission and reservoir hosts, also function as host factors. The work will shed light on how alphaviruses infect host cells with putative implications for antiviral strategy development. 

Collaboration partners: Margaret Kielian (Albert Einstein College, New York, NY, USA), Pierre-Yves Lozach (Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany), Charles M. Rice (Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA), Niklas Arnberg (Umea University, Sweden).


HCV – arenavirus co-infection and modulation of innate sensing mechanisms

HCV is a small enveloped RNA virus and the causative agent of hepatitis C. It affects 71 million individuals worldwide and can cause severe liver disease including cirrhosis, fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The virus is underdiagnosed and thought to be highly prevalent in African regions, where outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever viruses such as the arenavirus Lassa virus and of bunyaviruses occur. Since chronic HCV infection alters the immune status of the liver, which is also a target organ for arena- and bunyaviruses, we hypothesized that a co-infection with HCV and a secondary virus may alter the severity of disease. Using cell culture models of hepatoma cells and primary hepatocytes, we address how a co-infection impacts virus propagation, cellular innate immune responses and sensitivity to licensed antiviral drugs. These efforts will allow the assessment of risks associated with underlying chronic hepatitis during arena- and bunyavirus outbreaks. 

This work is funded by the German Liver Foundation (S1 63/10135/2017) 

Collaboration partners: Stefan Kunz (CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland), , Friedemann Weber (Universität Gießen), Magnus Evander (Umea University, Sweden), Clas Ahlm (Umea University, Sweden).


Characterization of CD81 receptor interactors in hepatitis C virus and Plasmodium liver cell entry

Bruening J, Banse P, Kahl S, Vondran FW, Kaderali L, Marinach C, Silvie O, Pietschmann T, Meissner F*, Gerold G* (2018)  Hepatitis C virus enters liver cells using the CD81 receptor complex proteins calpain-5 and CBLB. Manuscript accepted for publication at PLOS Pathogens. *these authors contributed equally

Lasswitz L, Chandra N, Arnberg N*, Gerold G* (2018)  Glycomics and proteomics approaches to investigate early adenovirus - host cell interactions. J Mol Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2018.04.039. *these authors contributed equally

Banse P, Bruening J, Lasswitz L, Kahl S, Khan AG, Marcotrigiano J, Pietschmann T, Gerold G (2018) CD81 receptor regions outside the large extracellular loop determine hepatitis C virus susceptibility. Viruses doi: 10.3390/v10040207.

Gerold G, Bruening J, Weigel B, Pietschmann T (2017) Protein interactions during the flavivirus and hepacivirus life cycle. Mol Cell Proteomics. pii: mcp.R116.065649.

Gerold G, Meissner F, Bruening J, Welsch K, Perin PM, Thomas F. Baumert, Vondran FW, Kaderali L, Marcotrigiano J, Khan AG, Mann M, Rice CM, Pietschmann T (2015) Quantitative Proteomics Identifies Serum Response Factor Binding Protein 1 as a Host Factor for Hepatitis C Virus Entry. Cell Reports. 4;12(5):864-78.

Funding:  DFG (GE  2145/3-1), DFG (GE  2145/3-2), DFG (SFB900-C7), DZIF (TI 07.003), Deutsche Leberstiftung (S163/10073/2011), HFSPO (LT000048/2009-L).

Virus entry factor discovery: Mosquito-borne viruses and enteric viruses

Fedeli C, Torriani G, Galan-Navarro C, Moraz ML, Moreno H, Gerold G, Kunz S (2018) Axl Can Serve as Entry Factor for Lassa Virus Depending on the Functional Glycosylation of Dystroglycan. J Virol. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01613-17.

von Schaewen M, Dorner M, Hueging K, Foquet L, Gerges S, Hrebikova G, Heller B, Bitzegeio J, Doerrbecker J, Horwitz J, Gerold G, Suerbaum S, Rice CM, Meuleman P, and Pietschmann T, Ploss A (2016) Expanding the host range of hepatitis C virus through viral adaptation. MBio. 8;7(6).

Scull MA, Shi C, de Jong YP, Gerold G, Ries M, von Schaewen M, Donovan BM, Labitt RN, Horwitz JA, Gaska JM, Hrebikova G, Xiao JW, Flatley B, Fung C, Chiriboga L, Walker CM, Evans DT, Rice CM, Ploss A. (2015) Hepatitis C virus infects rhesus macaque hepatocytes and simianized mice. Hepatology. 62(1):57-67.

Gerold G, Bruening J, Pietschmann T. (2015) Decoding protein networks during virus entry by quantitative proteomics. Virus Research. 218:25-39.

Kapoor A, Simmonds P, Gerold G, Qaisar N, Jain K, Henriquez JA, Firth C, Hirschberg DL, Rice CM, Shields S, Lipkin WI. (2011) Characterization of a canine homolog of hepatitis C virus. PNAS. 108(28):11608-13.

Funding:  DFG (GE  2145/3-2), German Liver Foundation (S163/10135/2017), DAAD, ZIB, Friends of the MHH.