Prof. Dr. Stefanie Scheu

Research Interest

The spatio-temporal interactions of cytokine producing cells with the pathogen and with the target cells of the cytokine in the host organism are crucial events for the outcome of an immune response. We utilize and generate fluorescence cytokine reporter mice eg. for IL-4, IL-12p40, and IFNβ, that report cytokine producing cells within complex immune reactions. Type I interferons are currently one focus of our research as they are functionally placed at the interface between innate and adaptive immune responses against infections. Amongst them most prominently IFNβ is also critically involved in autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. The IFNβ/YFP reporter mouse for the first time allows the direct visualization of IFNβ producing cells and the definition of their functions in in vivo disease models. These findings can contribute to the development of novel therapeutic and vaccination strategies.

Specific Projects

  • In vivo analysis of the cellular type I interferon response

Due to a lack in the availability of sufficiently sensitive methods, the identity and functional characteristics of type I interferon producing cells is still widely unknown. We recently generated a fluorescence IFNβ reporter “knock-in” mouse that expresses YFP from a bicistronic transcript under the control of the endogenous control elements inside the ifnb gene. This allows for the first time the visualization of IFNβ producing cells – and simultaneously their cellular or microbial interaction partners - and the definition of their functional roles in complex immunological disease models in vivo. We are interrogating these IFNβ reporter mice in viral (murine cytomegalovirus, vesicular stomatitis virus), bacterial (Listeria monocytogenes) and parasitic (Toxoplasma gondii) infection models and the mouse model for multiple sclerosis.

  • Differential gene expression in IFNβ producing plasmacytoid dendritic cells

Our previous studies revealed that IFNβ production after TLR9 stimulation in vivo is restricted to plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), the professional type I IFN producers. However, the IFNβ producers comprise less than 10% of all pDCs. To elucidate a possible specialized gene expression profile we performed a transcriptome analysis on ex vivo sorted IFNβ/YFP+ vs. IFNβ/YFP- pDCs from reporter mice and showed that more than 1500 genes were differentially expressed. Therefore IFNβ expression defines a subpopulation of pDCs which is unique not only with regard to the secretion of IFNβ and direct response genes but also in the expression of other immune-relevant factors and other transcripts until now not implicated in immune functions. We are elucidating the special functional properties of IFNβ-expressing pDCs and novel regulatory pathways of type I IFN expression.

  • Visualization of IL-22 in anti-infectious immune responses

IL-22 is found to be produced by differentiated Th17 lymphocytes and a novel population of NK-like cells and lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi) cells in the gut. Functionally IL-22 has been implied in tissue repair and host defense against infections by inducing the production of defensins and regenerating gene family proteins in epithelial cells. We are currently generating an IL-22/YFP reporter mouse line that will be used to visualize the IL-22 producing cells in infection models like Listeria monocytogenes, Klebsiella pneumonia and Toxoplasma gondii.

  • LIGHT and HVEM in innate immune responses

An additional field of research in the lab is the analysis of the immunological functions of members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily. Studies on single or multiple gene-deficient mouse models are focusing on the role of LIGHT and HVEM in differentiation and activation of innate immune cell populations like granulocytes or monocytes and their functional roles in bacterial infection models like Listeria monocytogenes.

Selected Publications

1. Doherty T.A., P. Soroosh, N. Khorram, S. Fukuyama, P. Rosenthal, J.Y. Cho, P.S. Norris, H. Choi, S. Scheu, K. Pfeffer, B.L. Zuraw, C.F. Ware, D.H. Broide, M. Croft. 2011, The tumor necrosis factor family member LIGHT is a target for asthmatic airway remodeling. Nat. Med. 17:596-603. undefinedPubMed

2. Soroosh, P., T.A. Doherty, T. So, A.K. Mehta, N. Khorram, P.S. Norris, S. Scheu, K. Pfeffer, C. Ware, M. Croft. 2011, Herpesvirus entry mediator (TNFRSF14) regulates the persistence of T helper memory cell populations. J. Exp. Med. 208:797-809. undefinedPubMed

3. Dresing, P., S. Borkens, M. Kocur, S. Kropp, S. Scheu. 2010, A fluorescence reporter model defines "TipDCs" as the cellular source of interferon beta in murine Listeriosis. PLoS One 5;e15567. undefinedPubMed

4. Lang, P.A., M. Recher, N. Honke, S. Scheu, S. Borkens, N. Gailus, C. Krings, A. Meryk, A. Kuwalik, L. Cervantes-Barragan, N. van Rooijen, U. Kalinke, B. Ludewig, H. Hengartner, N. Harris, D. Häussinger, P.S. Ohashi, R.M. Zinkernagel, and K.S. Lang. 2010, Tissue macrophages suppress viral replication and prevent severe immunopathology in an Interferon-I-dependent manner in mice. Hepatology 52:25-32. undefinedPubMed

5. Scheu, S., P. Dresing, and R.M. Locksley. 2008, Visualization of IFN beta production by plasmacytoid versus conventional dendritic cells under specific stimulation conditions in vivo. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 105:20416-21. undefinedPubMed

6. Cisse B., M.L. Caton, M. Lehner, T. Maeda, S. Scheu, R. Locksley, D. Holmberg, C. Zweier, N.S. den Hollander, S.G. Kant, W. Holter, A. Rauch, Y. Zhuang, and B. Reizis. 2008, Transcription factor E2-2 is an essential and specific regulator of plasmacytoid dendritic cell development. Cell. 135:37-48. undefinedPubMed

7. Summers-DeLuca, L. E., D.D. McCarthy, B. Cosovic, L.A. Ward, C.C. Lo, S. Scheu, K. Pfeffer, and J.L. Gommerman. 2007, Expression of lymphotoxin-alphabeta on antigen-specific T cells is required for DC function. J. Exp. Med. 204:1071-1081. undefinedPubMed

8. Scheu, S., D.B. Stetson, R.L. Reinhardt, J.H. Leber, M. Mohrs, and R.M. Locksley. 2006, Activation of the integrated stress response during T helper cell differentiation. Nat. Immunol. 7:644-51. undefinedPubMed

9. Sedy, J.R., M. Gavrieli, K.G. Potter, M.A. Hurchla, R.C. Lindsley, K. Hildner, S. Scheu, K. Pfeffer, C.F. Ware, T.L. Murphy, and K.M. Murphy. 2004, B and T lymphocyte attenuator regulates T cell activation through interaction with herpesvirus entry mediator. Nat. Immunol. 6:90-8. undefinedPubMed

10. Scheu, S., J. Alferink, T. Potzel, W. Barchet, U. Kalinke, and K. Pfeffer. 2002, Targeted disruption of LIGHT causes defects in costimulatory T cell activation and reveals cooperation with lymphotoxin b in mesenteric lymph node genesis. J. Exp. Med. 195: 1613-1624. undefinedPubMed

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Scheu

Medical Microbiology

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Scheu

Emmy Noether Research Group
Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Universitätsstr. 1, Geb. 22.21
D-40225 Düsseldorf
Tel.: +49 211 81-12481
Fax: +49 211 81-15906


undefinedWorking Group Scheu

Other relevant links

undefinedDFG Research Training
Group 729 
(JUniorprofessoren- und NachwuchsGruppenLEiter-NETzwerk)

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