• Avian Resistance to Campylobacter jejuni Colonization Is Associated with an Intestinal Immunogene Expression Signature Identified by mRNA Sequencing

      Connell, Sarah; Meade, Kieran G; Allan, Brenda; Lloyd, Andrew T; Kenny, Elaine; Cormican, Paul; Morris, Derek W.; Bradley, Daniel G; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (PLOS, 2012-08-01)
      Campylobacter jejuni is the most common cause of human bacterial gastroenteritis and is associated with several post-infectious manifestations, including onset of the autoimmune neuropathy Guillain-Barré syndrome, causing significant morbidity and mortality. Poorly-cooked chicken meat is the most frequent source of infection as C. jejuni colonizes the avian intestine in a commensal relationship. However, not all chickens are equally colonized and resistance seems to be genetically determined. We hypothesize that differences in immune response may contribute to variation in colonization levels between susceptible and resistant birds. Using high-throughput sequencing in an avian infection model, we investigate gene expression associated with resistance or susceptibility to colonization of the gastrointestinal tract with C. jejuni and find that gut related immune mechanisms are critical for regulating colonization. Amongst a single population of 300 4-week old chickens, there was clear segregation in levels of C. jejuni colonization 48 hours post-exposure. RNAseq analysis of caecal tissue from 14 C. jejuni-susceptible and 14 C. jejuni-resistant birds generated over 363 million short mRNA sequences which were investigated to identify 219 differentially expressed genes. Significantly higher expression of genes involved in the innate immune response, cytokine signaling, B cell and T cell activation and immunoglobulin production, as well as the renin-angiotensin system was observed in resistant birds, suggesting an early active immune response to C. jejuni. Lower expression of these genes in colonized birds suggests suppression or inhibition of a clearing immune response thus facilitating commensal colonization and generating vectors for zoonotic transmission. This study describes biological processes regulating C. jejuni colonization of the avian intestine and gives insight into the differential immune mechanisms incited in response to commensal bacteria in general within vertebrate populations. The results reported here illustrate how an exaggerated immune response may be elicited in a subset of the population, which alters host-microbe interactions and inhibits the commensal state, therefore having wider relevance with regard to inflammatory and autoimmune disease.
    • Characterisation and expression profile of the bovine cathelicidin gene repertoire in mammary tissue

      Whelehan, Cormac J; Barry-Reidy, Anne; Meade, Kieran G; Eckersall, P David; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Narciandi, Fernando; Lloyd, Andrew T; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2014-02-13)
      Abstract Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection. Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection.
    • Comparative genomic identification and validation of β-defensin genes in the Ovis aries genome

      Hall, T. J; McQuillan, C.; Finlay, Emma K.; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Fair, Seán; Meade, Kieran G; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/104 (Biomed Central, 2017-04-04)
      Background β-defensins are small, cationic, antimicrobial peptides found in species across the plant and animal kingdoms. In addition to microbiocidal activity, roles in immunity as well as reproduction have more recently been documented. β-defensin genes in Ovis aries (domestic sheep) have been poorly annotated, having been identified only by automatic gene prediction algorithms. The objective of this study was to use a comparative genomics approach to identify and characterise the β-defensin gene repertoire in sheep using the bovine genome as the primary reference. Results All 57 currently predicted bovine β-defensin genes were used to find orthologous sequences in the most recent version of the sheep genome (OAR v4.0). Forty three genes were found to have close genomic matches (>70% similarity) between sheep and cattle. The orthologous genes were located in four clusters across the genome, with 4 genes on chromosome 2, 19 genes on chromosome 13, 5 genes on chromosome 20 and 15 genes on chromosome 26. Conserved gene order for the β-defensin genes was apparent in the two smaller clusters, although gene order was reversed on chromosome 2, suggesting an inversion between sheep and cattle. Complete conservation of gene order was also observed for chromosome 13 β-defensin orthologs. More structural differences were apparent between chromosome 26 genes and the orthologous region in the bovine reference genome, which is known to be copy-number variable. In this cluster, the Defensin-beta 1 (DEFB1) gene matched to eleven Bovine Neutrophil beta-Defensin (BNBD) genes on chromosome 27 with almost uniform similarity, as well as to tracheal, enteric and lingual anti-microbial peptides (TAP, EAP and LAP), suggesting that annotation of the bovine reference sequence is still incomplete. qPCR was used to profile the expression of 34 β-defensin genes, representing each of the four clusters, in the ram reproductive tract. Distinct site-specific and differential expression profiles were detected across the reproductive tract of mature rams with preferential β-defensin gene expression in the epididymis, recapitulating observations for orthologous genes in other species. Conclusions This is the first comprehensive analysis of β-defensin genes encoded by the ovine reference sequence, and the first report of an expanded repertoire of β-defensin genes in this species. The preferential expression of these genes in the epididymis suggests a role in fertility, possibly providing immunoprotection for sperm within the female reproductive tract.
    • A dual targeted β-defensin and exome sequencing approach to identify, validate and functionally characterise genes associated with bull fertility

      Whiston, Ronan; Finlay, Emma K.; McCabe, Matthew; Cormican, Paul; Flynn, Paul; Cromie, Amdrew; Hansen, Peter J.; Lyons, Alan; Fair, Sean; Lonergan, Patrick; et al. (Springer Nature, 2017-09-25)
      Bovine fertility remains a critical issue underpinning the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Phenotypic records collected on >7,000 bulls used in artificial insemination (AI) were used to identify 160 reliable and divergently fertile bulls for a dual strategy of targeted sequencing (TS) of fertility-related β-defensin genes and whole exome sequencing (WES). A haplotype spanning multiple β-defensin genes and containing 94 SNPs was significantly associated with fertility and functional analysis confirmed that sperm from bulls possessing the haplotype showed significantly enhanced binding to oviductal epithelium. WES of all exons in the genome in 24 bulls of high and low fertility identified 484 additional SNPs significantly associated with fertility. After validation, the most significantly associated SNP was located in the FOXJ3 gene, a transcription factor which regulates sperm function in mice. This study represents the first comprehensive characterisation of genetic variation in bovine β-defensin genes and functional analysis supports a role for β-defensins in regulating bull sperm function. This first application of WES in AI bulls with divergent fertility phenotypes has identified a novel role for the transcription factor FOXJ3 in the regulation of bull fertility. Validated genetic variants associated with bull fertility could prove useful for improving reproductive outcomes in cattle.
    • Erratum to: ‘Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis’

      Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-12-10)
      Erratum to: ‘Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis’ -http://hdl.handle.net/11019/908
    • Genome-wide transcriptional profiling of peripheral blood leukocytes from cattle infected with Mycobacterium bovis reveals suppression of host immune genes

      Killick, Kate E; Browne, John A; Park, Stephen D. E.; Magee, David A; Martin, Irene; Meade, Kieran G; Gordon, Stephen V; Gormley, Eamonn; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Hokamp, Karsten; et al. (2011-12-19)
      Background Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (BTB), a pathological infection with significant economic impact. Recent studies have highlighted the role of functional genomics to better understand the molecular mechanisms governing the host immune response to M. bovis infection. Furthermore, these studies may enable the identification of novel transcriptional markers of BTB that can augment current diagnostic tests and surveillance programmes. In the present study, we have analysed the transcriptome of peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) from eight M. bovis-infected and eight control non-infected age-matched and sex-matched Holstein-Friesian cattle using the Affymetrix® GeneChip® Bovine Genome Array with 24,072 gene probe sets representing more than 23,000 gene transcripts. Results Control and infected animals had similar mean white blood cell counts. However, the mean number of lymphocytes was significantly increased in the infected group relative to the control group (P = 0.001), while the mean number of monocytes was significantly decreased in the BTB group (P = 0.002). Hierarchical clustering analysis using gene expression data from all 5,388 detectable mRNA transcripts unambiguously partitioned the animals according to their disease status. In total, 2,960 gene transcripts were differentially expressed (DE) between the infected and control animal groups (adjusted P-value threshold ≤ 0.05); with the number of gene transcripts showing decreased relative expression (1,563) exceeding those displaying increased relative expression (1,397). Systems analysis using the Ingenuity® Systems Pathway Analysis (IPA) Knowledge Base revealed an over-representation of DE genes involved in the immune response functional category. More specifically, 64.5% of genes in the affects immune response subcategory displayed decreased relative expression levels in the infected animals compared to the control group. Conclusions This study demonstrates that genome-wide transcriptional profiling of PBL can distinguish active M. bovis-infected animals from control non-infected animals. Furthermore, the results obtained support previous investigations demonstrating that mycobacterial infection is associated with host transcriptional suppression. These data support the use of transcriptomic technologies to enable the identification of robust, reliable transcriptional markers of active M. bovis infection.
    • Genome-wide transcriptional profiling of peripheral blood leukocytes from cattle infected with Mycobacterium bovis reveals suppression of host immune genes

      Killick, Kate E; Browne, John A; Park, Stephen D. E.; Magee, David A; Martin, Irene; Meade, Kieran G; Gordon, Stephen V; Gormley, Eamonn; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Hokamp, Karsten; et al. (Biomed Central, 2011-12-19)
      Background: Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (BTB), a pathological infection with significant economic impact. Recent studies have highlighted the role of functional genomics to better understand the molecular mechanisms governing the host immune response to M. bovis infection. Furthermore, these studies may enable the identification of novel transcriptional markers of BTB that can augment current diagnostic tests and surveillance programmes. In the present study, we have analysed the transcriptome of peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) from eight M. bovis-infected and eight control non-infected age-matched and sex-matched Holstein-Friesian cattle using the Affymetrix® GeneChip® Bovine Genome Array with 24,072 gene probe sets representing more than 23,000 gene transcripts. Results: Control and infected animals had similar mean white blood cell counts. However, the mean number of lymphocytes was significantly increased in the infected group relative to the control group (P = 0.001), while the mean number of monocytes was significantly decreased in the BTB group (P = 0.002). Hierarchical clustering analysis using gene expression data from all 5,388 detectable mRNA transcripts unambiguously partitioned the animals according to their disease status. In total, 2,960 gene transcripts were differentially expressed (DE) between the infected and control animal groups (adjusted P-value threshold ≤ 0.05); with the number of gene transcripts showing decreased relative expression (1,563) exceeding those displaying increased relative expression (1,397). Systems analysis using the Ingenuity® Systems Pathway Analysis (IPA) Knowledge Base revealed an over-representation of DE genes involved in the immune response functional category. More specifically, 64.5% of genes in the affects immune response subcategory displayed decreased relative expression levels in the infected animals compared to the control group. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that genome-wide transcriptional profiling of PBL can distinguish active M. bovis-infected animals from control non-infected animals. Furthermore, the results obtained support previous investigations demonstrating that mycobacterial infection is associated with host transcriptional suppression. These data support the use of transcriptomic technologies to enable the identification of robust, reliable transcriptional markers of active M. bovis infection.
    • Global endometrial transcriptomic profiling: transient immune activation precedes tissue proliferation and repair in healthy beef cows

      Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Creevey, Christopher J.; Narciandi, Fernando; Morris, Derek W.; Kenny, Elaine; Cormican, Paul; Callanan, John J; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2012-09-18)
      Background: All cows experience bacterial contamination and tissue injury in the uterus postpartum, instigating a local inflammatory immune response. However mechanisms that control inflammation and achieve a physiologically functioning endometrium, while avoiding disease in the postpartum cow are not succinctly defined. This study aimed to identify novel candidate genes indicative of inflammation resolution during involution in healthy beef cows. Previous histological analysis of the endometrium revealed elevated inflammation 15 days postpartum (DPP) which was significantly decreased by 30 DPP. The current study generated a genome-wide transcriptomic profile of endometrial biopsies from these cows at both time points using mRNA-Seq. The pathway analysis tool GoSeq identified KEGG pathways enriched by significantly differentially expressed genes at both time points. Novel candidate genes associated with inflammatory resolution were subsequently validated in additional postpartum animals using quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Results: mRNA-Seq revealed 1,107 significantly differentially expressed genes, 73 of which were increased 15 DPP and 1,034 were increased 30 DPP. Early postpartum, enriched immune pathways (adjusted P < 0.1) included the T cell receptor signalling pathway, graft-versus-host disease and cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction pathways. However 30 DPP, where the majority of genes were differentially expressed, the enrichment (adjusted P < 0.1) of tissue repair and proliferative activity pathways was observed. Nineteen candidate genes selected from mRNA-Seq results, were independently assessed by qRT-PCR in additional postpartum cows (5 animals) at both time points. SAA1/2, GATA2, IGF1, SHC2, and SERPINA14 genes were significantly elevated 30 DPP and are functionally associated with tissue repair and the restoration of uterine homeostasis postpartum. Conclusions: The results of this study reveal an early activation of the immune response which undergoes a temporal functional change toward tissue proliferation and regeneration during endometrial involution in healthy postpartum cows. These molecular changes mirror the activation and resolution of endometrial inflammation during involution previously classified by the degree of neutrophil infiltration. SAA1/2, GATA2, IGF1, SHC2, and SERPINA14 genes may become potential markers for resolution of endometrial inflammation in the postpartum cow.
    • Improved detection of biomarkers in cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) from postpartum cattle

      Adnane, Mounir; Kelly, Paul M; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Meade, Kieran G; O'Farrelly, Cliona; The Algerian Ministry for High Education and Scientific Research; University of Tiaret, Algeria; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; ofarrecl-HRB-HRA_POR/2012/37; 13/S/472 (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
      Background In the postpartum cow, early diagnosis of uterine disease is currently problematic due to the lack of reliable, non-invasive diagnostic methods. Cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) is an easy to collect potentially informative source of biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of uterine disease in cows. Here, we report an improved method for processing CVM from postpartum dairy cows for the measurement of immune biomarkers. CVM samples were collected from the vagina using gloved hand during the first two weeks postpartum and processed with buffer alone or buffer containing different concentrations of the reducing agents recommended in standard protocols: Dithiothriotol (DTT) or N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC). Total protein was measured using the bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay; interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-8 and α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) were measured by ELISA. Results We found that use of reducing agents to liquefy CVM affects protein yield and the accuracy of biomarker detection. Our improved protocol results in lower protein yields but improved detection of cytokines and chemokines. Using our modified method to measure AGP in CVM we found raised levels of AGP at seven days postpartum in CVM from cows that went on to develop endometritis. Conclusion We conclude that processing CVM without reducing agents improves detection of biomarkers that reflect uterine health in cattle. We propose that measurement of AGP in CVM during the first week postpartum may identify cows at risk of developing clinical endometritis.
    • Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis

      Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-10-19)
      Background The regulation of endometrial inflammation has important consequences for the resumption of bovine fertility postpartum. All cows experience bacterial influx into the uterus after calving; however a significant proportion fail to clear infection leading to the development of cytological endometritis (CE) and compromised fertility. We hypothesised that early immunological changes could not only act as potential prognostic biomarkers for the subsequent development of disease but also shed light on the pathogenesis of endometritis in the postpartum dairy cow. Methods Endometrial biopsy RNA was extracted from 15 cows at 7 and 21 days postpartum (DPP), using the Qiagen RNeasy® Plus Mini kit and quality determined using an Agilent 2100 bioanalyser. Disease status was determined by histpathology based on inflammatory cell infiltrate. RNA-seq of both mRNA and miRNA libraries were performed on an Illumina® HiSeq™ 2000. Paired reads were aligned to the bovine genome with Bowtie2 and differentially expressed genes were identified using EdgeR. Significantly over-represented Gene Ontology terms were identified using GO-seq, and pathway analysis was performed using KEGG. Quanititative real-time PCR was also performed for validation (ABI 7500 fast). Haematology was assessed using an automated ADVIA 2120 analyser. Serum proteins were evaluated by ELISA and metabolite analysis was performed using a Beckman Coulter AU 400 clinical analyser. Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to obtain fingerprints of the microbial communities present. Results Next-generation sequencing from endometrial biopsies taken at 7 DPP identified significant induction of inflammatory gene expression in all cows. Despite the common inflammatory profile and enrichment of the Toll-like receptor and NFκB pathways, 73 genes and 31 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between healthy cows (HC, n = 9) and cows which subsequently developed CE at 7 DPP (n = 6, FDR < 0.1). While significant differential expression of 4197 genes in the transcriptome of healthy cows between 7 and 21 DPP showed the transition from a proinflammatory to tissue profliferation and repair, only 31 genes were differentially expressed in cows with CE (FDR < 0.1), indicating the arrest of such a transition. A link betwene the dysregulated inflammatory response and the composition of the uterine microbial communities was suggested by the presence of significant differences in uterine bacterial tRFLP profiles between HC and CE groups. Furthermore, inflammatory activity was not confined to the uterus; decreased circulating granulocytes and increased Acute Phase Protein (SAA and HP) expression levels were detected in plasma at 7 DPP in cows that developed CE. Conclusion Our data suggests that the IL1 and IL17 inflammatory cascade activated early postpartum is resolved thereby restoring homeostasis in healthy cows by 21 DPP, but this transition fails to occur in cows which develop CE. Despite a common early inflammatory profile, elevated and differential expression of specific immune genes may identify cows at risk of prolonged inflammation and the development of CE postpartum.
    • Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis

      Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-10-19)
      Background The regulation of endometrial inflammation has important consequences for the resumption of bovine fertility postpartum. All cows experience bacterial influx into the uterus after calving; however a significant proportion fail to clear infection leading to the development of cytological endometritis (CE) and compromised fertility. We hypothesised that early immunological changes could not only act as potential prognostic biomarkers for the subsequent development of disease but also shed light on the pathogenesis of endometritis in the postpartum dairy cow. Methods Endometrial biopsy RNA was extracted from 15 cows at 7 and 21 days postpartum (DPP), using the Qiagen RNeasy® Plus Mini kit and quality determined using an Agilent 2100 bioanalyser. Disease status was determined by histpathology based on inflammatory cell infiltrate. RNA-seq of both mRNA and miRNA libraries were performed on an Illumina® HiSeq™ 2000. Paired reads were aligned to the bovine genome with Bowtie2 and differentially expressed genes were identified using EdgeR. Significantly over-represented Gene Ontology terms were identified using GO-seq, and pathway analysis was performed using KEGG. Quanititative real-time PCR was also performed for validation (ABI 7500 fast). Haematology was assessed using an automated ADVIA 2120 analyser. Serum proteins were evaluated by ELISA and metabolite analysis was performed using a Beckman Coulter AU 400 clinical analyser. Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to obtain fingerprints of the microbial communities present. Results Next-generation sequencing from endometrial biopsies taken at 7 DPP identified significant induction of inflammatory gene expression in all cows. Despite the common inflammatory profile and enrichment of the Toll-like receptor and NFκB pathways, 73 genes and 31 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between healthy cows (HC, n = 9) and cows which subsequently developed CE at 7 DPP (n = 6, FDR < 0.1). While significant differential expression of 4197 genes in the transcriptome of healthy cows between 7 and 21 DPP showed the transition from a proinflammatory to tissue profliferation and repair, only 31 genes were differentially expressed in cows with CE (FDR < 0.1), indicating the arrest of such a transition. A link betwene the dysregulated inflammatory response and the composition of the uterine microbial communities was suggested by the presence of significant differences in uterine bacterial tRFLP profiles between HC and CE groups. Furthermore, inflammatory activity was not confined to the uterus; decreased circulating granulocytes and increased Acute Phase Protein (SAA and HP) expression levels were detected in plasma at 7 DPP in cows that developed CE. Conclusion Our data suggests that the IL1 and IL17 inflammatory cascade activated early postpartum is resolved thereby restoring homeostasis in healthy cows by 21 DPP, but this transition fails to occur in cows which develop CE. Despite a common early inflammatory profile, elevated and differential expression of specific immune genes may identify cows at risk of prolonged inflammation and the development of CE postpartum.
    • Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis

      Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-10-19)
      Background The regulation of endometrial inflammation has important consequences for the resumption of bovine fertility postpartum. All cows experience bacterial influx into the uterus after calving; however a significant proportion fail to clear infection leading to the development of cytological endometritis (CE) and compromised fertility. We hypothesised that early immunological changes could not only act as potential prognostic biomarkers for the subsequent development of disease but also shed light on the pathogenesis of endometritis in the postpartum dairy cow. Methods Endometrial biopsy RNA was extracted from 15 cows at 7 and 21 days postpartum (DPP), using the Qiagen RNeasy® Plus Mini kit and quality determined using an Agilent 2100 bioanalyser. Disease status was determined by histpathology based on inflammatory cell infiltrate. RNA-seq of both mRNA and miRNA libraries were performed on an Illumina® HiSeq™ 2000. Paired reads were aligned to the bovine genome with Bowtie2 and differentially expressed genes were identified using EdgeR. Significantly over-represented Gene Ontology terms were identified using GO-seq, and pathway analysis was performed using KEGG. Quanititative real-time PCR was also performed for validation (ABI 7500 fast). Haematology was assessed using an automated ADVIA 2120 analyser. Serum proteins were evaluated by ELISA and metabolite analysis was performed using a Beckman Coulter AU 400 clinical analyser. Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to obtain fingerprints of the microbial communities present. Results Next-generation sequencing from endometrial biopsies taken at 7 DPP identified significant induction of inflammatory gene expression in all cows. Despite the common inflammatory profile and enrichment of the Toll-like receptor and NFκB pathways, 73 genes and 31 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between healthy cows (HC, n = 9) and cows which subsequently developed CE at 7 DPP (n = 6, FDR < 0.1). While significant differential expression of 4197 genes in the transcriptome of healthy cows between 7 and 21 DPP showed the transition from a proinflammatory to tissue profliferation and repair, only 31 genes were differentially expressed in cows with CE (FDR < 0.1), indicating the arrest of such a transition. A link betwene the dysregulated inflammatory response and the composition of the uterine microbial communities was suggested by the presence of significant differences in uterine bacterial tRFLP profiles between HC and CE groups. Furthermore, inflammatory activity was not confined to the uterus; decreased circulating granulocytes and increased Acute Phase Protein (SAA and HP) expression levels were detected in plasma at 7 DPP in cows that developed CE. Conclusion Our data suggests that the IL1 and IL17 inflammatory cascade activated early postpartum is resolved thereby restoring homeostasis in healthy cows by 21 DPP, but this transition fails to occur in cows which develop CE. Despite a common early inflammatory profile, elevated and differential expression of specific immune genes may identify cows at risk of prolonged inflammation and the development of CE postpartum.
    • MicroRNA regulation of bovine monocyte inflammatory and metabolic networks in an in vivo infection model.

      Lawless, Nathan; Reinhardt, Timothy A.; Bryan, Kenneth; Baker, Mike; Pesch, Bruce; Zimmerman, Duane; Zuelke, Kurt; Sonstegard, Tad; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Lippolis, John D.; et al. (Genetics Society of America, 2014-01-27)
      Bovine mastitis is an inflammation-driven disease of the bovine mammary gland that costs the global dairy industry several billion dollars per annum. Because disease susceptibility is a multi-factorial complex phenotype, an integrative biology approach is required to dissect the molecular networks involved. Here, we report such an approach, using next generation sequencing combined with advanced network and pathway biology methods to simultaneously profile mRNA and miRNA expression at multiple time-points (0, 12, 24, 36 and 48h) in both milk and blood FACS-isolated CD14+ monocytes from animals infected in vivo with Streptococcus uberis. More than 3,700 differentially expressed (DE) genes were identified in milk-isolated monocytes (MIMs), a key immune cell recruited to the site of infection during mastitis. Up-regulated genes were significantly enriched for inflammatory pathways, while down-regulated genes were enriched for non-glycolytic metabolic pathways. Monocyte transcriptional changes in the blood, however, were more subtle but highlighted the impact of this infection systemically. Genes up-regulated in blood-isolated-monocytes (BIMs) showed a significant association with interferon and chemokine signalling. Furthermore, twenty-six miRNAs were differentially expressed in MIMs and three in BIMs. Pathway analysis revealed that predicted targets of down-regulated miRNAs were highly enriched for roles in innate immunity (FDR < 3.4E-8) in particular TLR signalling, while up-regulated miRNAs preferentially targeted genes involved in metabolism. We conclude that during S. uberis infection miRNAs are key amplifiers of monocyte inflammatory response networks and repressors of several metabolic pathways.
    • Next Generation Sequencing Reveals the Expression of a Unique miRNA Profile in Response to a Gram-Positive Bacterial Infection

      Lawless, Nathan; Foroushani, Amir K.; McCabe, Matthew; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Lynn, David J; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (PLOS, 2013-01-25)
      MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNAs, which post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression and are proposed to play a key role in the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity. Here, we report a next generation sequencing (NGS) approach profiling the expression of miRNAs in primary bovine mammary epithelial cells (BMEs) at 1, 2, 4 and 6 hours post-infection with Streptococcus uberis, a causative agent of bovine mastitis. Analysing over 450 million sequencing reads, we found that 20% of the approximately 1,300 currently known bovine miRNAs are expressed in unchallenged BMEs. We also identified the expression of more than 20 potentially novel bovine miRNAs. There is, however, a significant dynamic range in the expression of known miRNAs. The top 10 highly expressed miRNAs account for >80% of all aligned reads, with the remaining miRNAs showing much lower expression. Twenty-one miRNAs were identified as significantly differentially expressed post-infection with S. uberis. Several of these miRNAs have characterised roles in the immune systems of other species. This miRNA response to the Gram-positive S. uberis is markedly different, however, to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced miRNA expression. Of 145 miRNAs identified in the literature as being LPS responsive, only 9 were also differentially expressed in response to S. uberis. Computational analysis has also revealed that the predicted target genes of miRNAs, which are down-regulated in BMEs following S. uberis infection, are statistically enriched for roles in innate immunity. This suggests that miRNAs, which potentially act as central regulators of gene expression responses to a Gram-positive bacterial infection, may significantly regulate the sentinel capacity of mammary epithelial cells to mobilise the innate immune system.
    • Non-canonical Inflammasome-Mediated IL-1β Production by Primary Endometrial Epithelial and Stromal Fibroblast Cells Is NLRP3 and Caspase-4 Dependent

      Kelly, Paul; Meade, Kieran G; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/S/472 (Frontiers, 2019-02-05)
      Inflammation of the post-partum uterus is a normal physiological event, crucial for tissue involution and repair. However, in the bovine, some cows fail to resolve this inflammation, resulting in endometritis, which compromises fertility. Earlier work has identified upregulated expression of the potent inflammatory cytokine IL-1β early post-partum, in cows which subsequently develop endometritis. As a result, targeting IL-1β expression holds potential as a novel treatment for this disease, yet the regulatory mechanisms contributing to IL-1β expression in the bovine endometrium remain unknown. To investigate this, endometrial tissue samples were obtained 7 and 21 days post-partum (DPP) from cows that were diagnosed with endometritis at 21 DPP and cows that experienced a physiological level of inflammation throughout involution. IL-1β was measured by qPCR, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry. Seven DPP, endometrial IL-1β protein levels were significantly higher in animals that proceeded to develop endometritis at 21 DPP. IL-1β production could be detected in luminal and glandular epithelium, in underlying stromal fibroblasts as well as infiltrating immune cells. To investigate the mechanisms regulating IL-1β expression, primary endometrial epithelial cells, stromal fibroblasts and PBMCs were stimulated with LPS and the inflammasome activator nigericin. Stromal fibroblast cells were particularly potent producers of IL-1β. Basolateral LPS stimulation of polarized epithelial cells induced IL1B mRNA and a previously undescribed IL-1β protein isoform, with preferential protein secretion into the apical compartment. Key inflammasome components [nod-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3), nima-related kinase-7 (NEK7), apoptosis speck like protein containing a CARD (ASC), and gasdermin-D] were expressed by endometrial cells following stimulation. Endometrial cell stimulation in the presence of NLRP3 receptor (MCC950) and pan-caspase (Z-VAD-FMK) inhibitors blocked IL-1β production, demonstrating its dependence on the NLRP3 inflammasome and on caspase activity. Furthermore, caspase-4 specific siRNA prevented IL-1β production, confirming that inflammasome activation in endometrial cells is caspase-4 but not caspase-1 dependent, as shown in other species. Identifying the tissue- and species-specificity of inflammasome assembly and activation has critical relevance for our understanding of inflammation and suggests new therapeutic targets to enhance the resolution of inflammatory pathologies including endometritis in cattle.
    • Purulent vaginal discharge diagnosed in pasture-based Holstein-Friesian cows at 21 days postpartum is influenced by previous lactation milk yield and results in diminished fertility

      Ryan, Nicholas J.; Meade, Kieran G.; Williams, Erin J.; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Grant, Jim; Evans, Alexander C.O.; Beltman, Marijke E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/S/472 (American Dairy Science Association, 2020-01)
      In a subset of dairy cows, prolonged pathological uterine inflammation results in purulent vaginal discharge (PVD), which can have negative consequences for both fertility and milk production. However, unlike for intensive systems, analysis of the effects of PVD in predominantly pasture-based herds is limited. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of PVD in spring-calving, pasture-based dairy cows on production and reproduction indices, stratified according to previous full-lactation milk yield. We assessed clinical disease as defined by vaginal mucus score (VMS) in 440 Holstein-Friesian cows from 5 farms. Cows were categorized as healthy (VMS 0) or having PVD (VMS 1–3) at 21 d postpartum. We recorded 305-d milk, milk protein, and milk fat yields (kg) before and after disease diagnosis, as well as fertility data, such as services per conception and the calving–conception period (CCP). Using SAS 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC), we analyzed data using PROC MIXED, PROC PHREG, and PROC LOGISTIC to determine the least squares means differences and hazard and odds ratios between the groups, respectively. Overall, a 60% prevalence of PVD was recorded at 21 d postpartum. Milk yield and milk constituents were similar between all VMS categories and between healthy cows and cows with PVD. Although cows in the 4 VMS categories had statistically similar CCP, cows with PVD had a significantly longer CCP than healthy cows on average (9 d). The hazard ratio for cows with PVD was 0.66, indicating a 34% higher risk of a prolonged CCP than healthy cows. Odds ratio analysis determined that cows with PVD were 3 times more likely not to conceive at all, twice as likely not to conceive at first service, twice as likely not to conceive by 100 d postpartum, and 3 times more likely to fail to conceive before 150 d postpartum compared with healthy cows. Cows were retrospectively categorized as having low or high milk yield, based on whether they were above or below the median 305-d milk yield of the study population (6,571 kg) in the lactation before vaginal mucus scoring. Based on a univariate odds ratio, high-yield cows were 1.6 times more likely to present with PVD in the subsequent lactation. The number of services per conception did not differ between healthy and PVD cows in the low- and high-yield groups. In the high-yield group, cows with PVD were 4.9 times more likely not to conceive, 2.7 times more likely to require multiple services to conceive, 2.1 times more likely to remain not pregnant by 100 d postpartum, and 4.4 times more likely to remain not pregnant by 150 d postpartum. The CCP was also significantly longer in cows with PVD than their healthy counterparts (115.9 ± 4.9 and 104 ± 7.4 d, respectively). In conclusion, PVD significantly increased the CCP in all cows, but to a greater extent in cows with a high milk yield in the lactation before disease diagnosis.
    • β-Defensins: Farming the Microbiome for Homeostasis and Health

      Meade, Kieran G; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/104 (Frontiers, 2019-01-15)
      Diverse commensal populations are now regarded as key to physiological homeostasis and protection against disease. Although bacteria are the most abundant component of microbiomes, and the most intensively studied, the microbiome also consists of viral, fungal, archael, and protozoan communities, about which comparatively little is known. Host-defense peptides (HDPs), originally described as antimicrobial, now have renewed significance as curators of the pervasive microbial loads required to maintain homeostasis and manage microbiome diversity. Harnessing HDP biology to transition away from non-selective, antibiotic-mediated treatments for clearance of microbes is a new paradigm, particularly in veterinary medicine. One family of evolutionarily conserved HDPs, β-defensins which are produced in diverse combinations by epithelial and immune cell populations, are multifunctional cationic peptides which manage the cross-talk between host and microbes and maintain a healthy yet dynamic equilibrium across mucosal systems. They are therefore key gatekeepers to the oral, respiratory, reproductive and enteric tissues, preventing pathogen-associated inflammation and disease and maintaining physiological normality. Expansions in the number of genes encoding these natural antibiotics have been described in the genomes of some species, the functional significance of which has only recently being appreciated. β-defensin expression has been documented pre-birth and disruptions in their regulation may play a role in maladaptive neonatal immune programming, thereby contributing to subsequent disease susceptibility. Here we review recent evidence supporting a critical role for β-defensins as farmers of the pervasive and complex prokaryotic ecosystems that occupy all body surfaces and cavities. We also share some new perspectives on the role of β-defensins as sensors of homeostasis and the immune vanguard particularly at sites of immunological privilege where inflammation is attenuated.