Recent Submissions

  • Structure of heme d-free cd nitrite reductase NirS.

    Klünemann, Thomas; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (International Union of Crystallography, 2020-05-29)
    A key step in anaerobic nitrate respiration is the reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide, which is catalysed by the cd1 nitrite reductase NirS in, for example, the Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Each subunit of this homodimeric enzyme consists of a cytochrome c domain and an eight-bladed β-propeller that binds the uncommon isobacteriochlorin heme d1 as an essential part of its active site. Although NirS has been well studied mechanistically and structurally, the focus of previous studies has been on the active heme d1-bound form. The heme d1-free form of NirS reported here, which represents a premature state of the reductase, adopts an open conformation with the cytochrome c domains moved away from each other with respect to the active enzyme. Further, the movement of a loop around Trp498 seems to be related to a widening of the propeller, allowing easier access to the heme d1-binding side. Finally, a possible link between the open conformation of NirS and flagella formation in P. aeruginosa is discussed.
  • The crystal structure of the heme d biosynthesis-associated small c-type cytochrome NirC reveals mixed oligomeric states in crystallo.

    Klünemann, Thomas; Henke, Steffi; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (: International Union of Crystallography, 2020-03-25)
    Monoheme c-type cytochromes are important electron transporters in all domains of life. They possess a common fold hallmarked by three α-helices that surround a covalently attached heme. An intriguing feature of many monoheme c-type cytochromes is their capacity to form oligomers by exchanging at least one of their α-helices, which is often referred to as 3D domain swapping. Here, the crystal structure of NirC, a c-type cytochrome co-encoded with other proteins involved in nitrite reduction by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has been determined. The crystals diffracted anisotropically to a maximum resolution of 2.12 Å (spherical resolution of 2.83 Å) and initial phases were obtained by Fe-SAD phasing, revealing the presence of 11 NirC chains in the asymmetric unit. Surprisingly, these protomers arrange into one monomer and two different types of 3D domain-swapped dimers, one of which shows pronounced asymmetry. While the simultaneous observation of monomers and dimers probably reflects the interplay between the high protein concentration required for crystallization and the structural plasticity of monoheme c-type cytochromes, the identification of conserved structural motifs in the monomer together with a comparison with similar proteins may offer new leads to unravel the unknown function of NirC.
  • Biocatalysts from Biosynthetic Pathways: Enabling Stereoselective, Enzymatic Cycloether Formation on a Gram Scale

    Hollmann, Tim; Berkhan, Gesche; Wagner, Lisa; Sung, Kwang Hoon; Kolb, Simon; Geise, Hendrik; Hahn, Frank; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-03-30)
    Biosynthetic pathways of natural products contain many enzymes that contribute to the rapid assembly of molecular complexity. Enzymes that form complex structural elements with multiple stereocenters, like chiral saturated oxygen heterocycles (CSOH), are of particular interest for a synthetic application, as their use promises to significantly simplify access to these elements. Here, the biocatalytic characterization of AmbDH3, an enzyme that catalyzes intramolecular oxa-Michael addition (IMOMA) is reported. This reaction essentially gives access to various types of CSOH with adjacent stereocenters, but it is not yet part of the repertoire of preparative biocatalysis. An in-depth study on the synthetic utility of AmbDH3 was performed, which made extensive use of complex synthetic precursor surrogates. The enzyme exhibited stability and broad substrate tolerance in in vitro experiments, which was in agreement with the results of molecular modeling. Its selectivity profile enabled kinetic resolution of chiral tetrahydropyrans (THPs) under control of up to four stereocenters. A systematic optimization of the reaction conditions enabled gram-scale conversions yielding preparative amounts of chiral THP. The synthetic utility of AmbDH3 was finally demonstrated by its successful application in the key step of a chemoenzymatic total synthesis to the THP-containing phenylheptanoid (−)-centrolobine. These results highlight the synthetic potential of AmbDH3 and related IMOMA cyclases as a biocatalytic alternative that further develops the available chemical-synthetic IMOMA methodology.
  • 1H, 13C, 15N chemical shift assignments of SHP2 SH2 domains in complex with PD-1 immune-tyrosine motifs.

    Marasco, Michelangelo; Kirkpatrick, John P; Carlomagno, Teresa; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2020-04-01)
    Inhibition of immune checkpoint receptor Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) via monoclonal antibodies is an established anticancer immunotherapeutic approach. This treatment has been largely successful; however, its high cost demands equally effective, more affordable alternatives. To date, the development of drugs targeting downstream players in the PD-1-dependent signaling pathway has been hampered by our poor understanding of the molecular details of the intermolecular interactions involved in the pathway. Activation of PD-1 leads to phosphorylation of two signaling motifs located in its cytoplasmic domain, the immune tyrosine inhibitory motif (ITIM) and immune tyrosine switch motif (ITSM), which recruit and activate protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2. This interaction is mediated by the two Src homology 2 (SH2) domains of SHP2, termed N-SH2 and C-SH2, which recognize phosphotyrosines pY223 and pY248 of ITIM and ITSM, respectively. SHP2 then propagates the inhibitory signal, ultimately leading to suppression of T cell functionality. In order to facilitate mechanistic structural studies of this signaling pathway, we report the resonance assignments of the complexes formed by the signaling motifs of PD-1 and the SH2 domains of SHP2.
  • Crystal structure of NirF: insights into its role in heme d biosynthesis.

    Klünemann, Thomas; NIMTZ, MANFRED; Jänsch, Lothar; Layer, Gunhild; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley Online Open, 2020-04-07)
    Certain facultative anaerobes such as the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can respire on nitrate, a process generally known as denitrification. This enables denitrifying bacteria to survive in anoxic environments and contributes, for example, to the formation of biofilm, hence increasing difficulties in eradicating P. aeruginosa infections. A central step in denitrification is the reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide by nitrite reductase NirS, an enzyme that requires the unique cofactor heme d1 . While heme d1 biosynthesis is mostly understood, the role of the essential periplasmatic protein NirF in this pathway remains unclear. Here, we have determined crystal structures of NirF and its complex with dihydroheme d1 , the last intermediate of heme d1 biosynthesis. We found that NirF forms a bottom-to-bottom β-propeller homodimer and confirmed this by multi-angle light and small-angle X-ray scattering. The N termini are adjacent to each other and project away from the core structure, which hints at simultaneous membrane anchoring via both N termini. Further, the complex with dihydroheme d1 allowed us to probe the importance of specific residues in the vicinity of the ligand binding site, revealing residues not required for binding or stability of NirF but essential for denitrification in experiments with complemented mutants of a ΔnirF strain of P. aeruginosa. Together, these data suggest that NirF possesses a yet unknown enzymatic activity and is not simply a binding protein of heme d1 derivatives. DATABASE: Structural data are available in PDB database under the accession numbers 6TV2 and 6TV9.
  • The guide sRNA sequence determines the activity level of box C/D RNPs.

    Graziadei, Andrea; Gabel, Frank; Kirkpatrick, John; Carlomagno, Teresa; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (eLife Sciences Publications, 2020-03-23)
    2'-O-rRNA methylation, which is essential in eukaryotes and archaea, is catalysed by the Box C/D RNP complex in an RNA-guided manner. Despite the conservation of the methylation sites, the abundance of site-specific modifications shows variability across species and tissues, suggesting that rRNA methylation may provide a means of controlling gene expression. As all Box C/D RNPs are thought to adopt a similar structure, it remains unclear how the methylation efficiency is regulated. Here, we provide the first structural evidence that, in the context of the Box C/D RNP, the affinity of the catalytic module fibrillarin for the substrate-guide helix is dependent on the RNA sequence outside the methylation site, thus providing a mechanism by which both the substrate and guide RNA sequences determine the degree of methylation. To reach this result, we develop an iterative structure-calculation protocol that exploits the power of integrative structural biology to characterize conformational ensembles.
  • Structure of a Protein-RNA Complex by Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy.

    Ahmed, Mumdooh; Marchanka, Alexander; Carlomagno, Teresa; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2020-02-05)
    Solid-state NMR (ssNMR) is applicable to high molecular-weight (MW) protein assemblies in a non-amorphous precipitate. The technique yields atomic resolution structural information on both soluble and insoluble particles without limitations of MW or requirement of crystals. Herein, we propose and demonstrate an approach that yields the structure of protein-RNA complexes (RNP) solely from ssNMR data. Instead of using low-sensitivity magnetization transfer steps between heteronuclei of the protein and the RNA, we measure paramagnetic relaxation enhancement effects elicited on the RNA by a paramagnetic tag coupled to the protein. We demonstrate that this data, together with chemical-shift-perturbation data, yields an accurate structure of an RNP complex, starting from the bound structures of its components. The possibility of characterizing protein-RNA interactions by ssNMR may enable applications to large RNP complexes, whose structures are not accessible by other methods.
  • Molecular mechanism of SHP2 activation by PD-1 stimulation.

    Marasco, M; Berteotti, A; Weyershaeuser, J; Thorausch, N; Sikorska, J; Krausze, J; Brandt, H J; Kirkpatrick, J; Rios, P; Schamel, W W; et al. (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2020-01-01)
    In cancer, the programmed death-1 (PD-1) pathway suppresses T cell stimulation and mediates immune escape. Upon stimulation, PD-1 becomes phosphorylated at its immune receptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM) and immune receptor tyrosine-based switch motif (ITSM), which then bind the Src homology 2 (SH2) domains of SH2-containing phosphatase 2 (SHP2), initiating T cell inactivation. The SHP2-PD-1 complex structure and the exact functions of the two SH2 domains and phosphorylated motifs remain unknown. Here, we explain the structural basis and provide functional evidence for the mechanism of PD-1-mediated SHP2 activation. We demonstrate that full activation is obtained only upon phosphorylation of both ITIM and ITSM: ITSM binds C-SH2 with strong affinity, recruiting SHP2 to PD-1, while ITIM binds N-SH2, displacing it from the catalytic pocket and activating SHP2. This binding event requires the formation of a new inter-domain interface, offering opportunities for the development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches.
  • ADAP Promotes Degranulation and Migration of NK Cells Primed During Infection in Mice.

    Böning, Martha A L; Trittel, Stephanie; Riese, Peggy; van Ham, Marco; Heyner, Maxi; Voss, Martin; Parzmair, Gerald P; Klawonn, Frank; Jeron, Andreas; Guzman, Carlos A; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    The adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein (ADAP) serves as a multifunctional scaffold and is involved in the formation of immune signaling complexes. To date only limited and moreover conflicting data exist regarding the role of ADAP in NK cells. To extend existing knowledge we investigated ADAP-dependency of NK cells in the context of in vivo infection with the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). Ex vivo analysis of infection-primed NK cells revealed impaired cytotoxic capacity in NK cells lacking ADAP as indicated by reduced CD107a surface expression and inefficient perforin production. However, ADAP-deficiency had no global effect on NK cell morphology or intracellular distribution of CD107a-containing vesicles. Proteomic definition of ADAPko and wild type NK cells did not uncover obvious differences in protein composition during the steady state and moreover, similar early response patterns were induced in NK cells upon infection independent of the genotype. In line with protein network analyses that suggested an altered migration phenotype in naïve ADAPko NK cells, in vitro migration assays uncovered significantly reduced migration of both naïve as well as infection-primed ADAPko NK cells compared to wild type NK cells. Notably, this migration defect was associated with a significantly reduced expression of the integrin CD11a on the surface of splenic ADAP-deficient NK cells 1 day post-Lm infection. We propose that ADAP-dependent alterations in integrin expression might account at least in part for the fact that during in vivo infection significantly lower numbers of ADAPko NK cells accumulate in the spleen i.e., the site of infection. In conclusion, we show here that during systemic Lm infection in mice ADAP is essential for efficient cytotoxic capacity and migration of NK cells.
  • Molecular Mechanisms of Vaspin Action - From Adipose Tissue to Skin and Bone, from Blood Vessels to the Brain.

    Weiner, Juliane; Zieger, Konstanze; Pippel, Jan; Heiker, John T; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2019-01-01)
    Visceral adipose tissue-derived serine protease inhibitor (vaspin) or SERPINA12 according to the serpin nomenclature was identified together with other genes and gene products that were specifically expressed or overexpressed in the intra-abdominal or visceral adipose tissue (AT) of the Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima fatty rat. These rats spontaneously develop visceral obesity, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and -glycemia, as well as hypertension and thus represent a well suited animal model of obesity and related metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.The follow-up study reporting the cloning, expression and functional characterization of vaspin suggested the great and promising potential of this molecule to counteract obesity induced insulin resistance and inflammation and has since initiated over 300 publications, clinical and experimental, that have contributed to uncover the multifaceted functions and molecular mechanisms of vaspin action not only in the adipose, but in many different cells, tissues and organs. This review will give an update on mechanistic and structural aspects of vaspin with a focus on its serpin function, the physiology and regulation of vaspin expression, and will summarize the latest on vaspin function in various tissues such as the different adipose tissue depots as well as the vasculature, skin, bone and the brain.
  • Small-Angle Neutron Scattering of RNA-Protein Complexes.

    Lapinaite, Audrone; Carlomagno, Teresa; Gabel, Frank; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2020-01-01)
    Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) provides structural information on biomacromolecules and their complexes in dilute solutions at the nanometer length scale. The overall dimensions, shapes, and interactions can be probed and compared to information obtained by complementary structural biology techniques such as crystallography, NMR, and EM. SANS, in combination with solvent H2O/D2O exchange and/or deuteration, is particularly well suited to probe the internal structure of RNA-protein (RNP) complexes since neutrons are more sensitive than X-rays to the difference in scattering length densities of proteins and RNA, with respect to an aqueous solvent. In this book chapter we provide a practical guide on how to carry out SANS experiments on RNP complexes, as well as possibilities of data analysis and interpretation.
  • In vivo model to study the impact of genetic variation on clinical outcome of mastitis in uniparous dairy cows.

    Rohmeier, L; Petzl, W; Koy, M; Eickhoff, T; Hülsebusch, A; Jander, S; Macias, L; Heimes, A; Engelmann, S; Hoedemaker, M; et al. (BioMed Central (BMC), 2020-01-31)
    BACKGROUND: In dairy herds, mastitis causes detrimental economic losses. Genetic selection offers a sustainable tool to select animals with reduced susceptibility towards postpartum diseases. Studying underlying mechanisms is important to assess the physiological processes that cause differences between selected haplotypes. Therefore, the objective of this study was to establish an in vivo infection model to study the impact of selecting for alternative paternal haplotypes in a particular genomic region on cattle chromosome 18 for mastitis susceptibility under defined conditions in uniparous dairy cows. RESULTS: At the start of pathogen challenge, no significant differences between the favorable (Q) and unfavorable (q) haplotypes were detected. Intramammary infection (IMI) with Staphylococcus aureus 1027 (S. aureus, n = 24, 96 h) or Escherichia coli 1303 (E. coli, n = 12, 24 h) was successfully induced in all uniparous cows. This finding was confirmed by clinical signs of mastitis and repeated recovery of the respective pathogen from milk samples of challenged quarters in each animal. After S. aureus challenge, Q-uniparous cows showed lower somatic cell counts 24 h and 36 h after challenge (P < 0.05), lower bacterial shedding in milk 12 h after challenge (P < 0.01) and a minor decrease in total milk yield 12 h and 24 h after challenge (P < 0.01) compared to q-uniparous cows. CONCLUSION: An in vivo infection model to study the impact of genetic selection for mastitis susceptibility under defined conditions in uniparous dairy cows was successfully established and revealed significant differences between the two genetically selected haplotype groups. This result might explain their differences in susceptibility towards IMI. These clinical findings form the basis for further in-depth molecular analysis to clarify the underlying genetic mechanisms for mastitis resistance.
  • The Alkylquinolone Repertoire of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is Linked to Structural Flexibility of the FabH-like 2-Heptyl-3-hydroxy-4(1H)-quinolone (PQS) Biosynthesis Enzyme PqsBC.

    Witzgall, Florian; Depke, Tobias; Hoffmann, Michael; Empting, Martin; Brönstrup, Mark; Müller, Rolf; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2018-07-16)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterial pathogen that causes life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. It produces a large armory of saturated and mono-unsaturated 2-alkyl-4(1H)-quinolones (AQs) and AQ N-oxides (AQNOs) that serve as signaling molecules to control the production of virulence factors and that are involved in membrane vesicle formation and iron chelation; furthermore, they also have, for example, antibiotic properties. It has been shown that the β-ketoacyl-acyl-carrier protein synthase III (FabH)-like heterodimeric enzyme PqsBC catalyzes the last step in the biosynthesis of the most abundant AQ congener, 2-heptyl-4(1H)-quinolone (HHQ), by condensing octanoyl-coenzyme A (CoA) with 2-aminobenzoylacetate (2-ABA), but the basis for the large number of other AQs/AQNOs produced by P. aeruginosa is not known. Here, we demonstrate that PqsBC uses different medium-chain acyl-CoAs to produce various saturated AQs/AQNOs and that it also biosynthesizes mono-unsaturated congeners. Further, we determined the structures of PqsBC in four different crystal forms at 1.5 to 2.7 Å resolution. Together with a previous report, the data reveal that PqsBC adopts open, intermediate, and closed conformations that alter the shape of the acyl-binding cavity and explain the promiscuity of PqsBC. The different conformations also allow us to propose a model for structural transitions that accompany the catalytic cycle of PqsBC that might have broader implications for other FabH-enzymes, for which such structural transitions have been postulated but have never been observed.
  • Insights into the Cnx1E catalyzed MPT-AMP hydrolysis.

    Hercher, Thomas W; Krausze, Joern; Hoffmeister, Sven; Zwerschke, Dagmar; Lindel, Thomas; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Mendel, Ralf R; Kruse, Tobias; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Portland Press, 2020-01-31)
    Molybdenum insertases (Mo-insertases) catalyze the final step of molybdenum cofactor (Moco) biosynthesis, an evolutionary old and highly conserved multi-step pathway. In the first step of the pathway, GTP serves as substrate for the formation of cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate, which is subsequently converted into molybdopterin (MPT) in the second pathway step. In the following synthesis steps, MPT is adenylated yielding MPT-AMP that is subsequently used as substrate for enzyme catalyzed molybdate insertion. Molybdate insertion and MPT-AMP hydrolysis are catalyzed by the Mo-insertase E-domain. Earlier work reported a highly conserved aspartate residue to be essential for Mo-insertase functionality. In this work, we confirmed the mechanistic relevance of this residue for the Arabidopsis thaliana Mo-insertase Cnx1E. We found that the conservative substitution of Cnx1E residue Asp274 by Glu (D274E) leads to an arrest of MPT-AMP hydrolysis and hence to the accumulation of MPT-AMP. We further showed that the MPT-AMP accumulation goes in hand with the accumulation of molybdate. By crystallization and structure determination of the Cnx1E variant D274E, we identified the potential reason for the missing hydrolysis activity in the disorder of the region spanning amino acids 269 to 274. We reasoned that this is caused by the inability of a glutamate in position 274 to coordinate the octahedral Mg2+-water complex in the Cnx1E active site.
  • The nuclear export inhibitor aminoratjadone is a potent effector in extracellular-targeted drug conjugates.

    Klahn, Philipp; Fetz, Verena; Ritter, Antje; Collisi, Wera; Hinkelmann, Bettina; Arnold, Tatjana; Tegge, Werner; Rox, Katharina; Hüttel, Stephan; Mohr, Kathrin I; et al. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019-05-28)
    The concept of targeted drug conjugates has been successfully translated to clinical practice in oncology. Whereas the majority of cytotoxic effectors in drug conjugates are directed against either DNA or tubulin, our study aimed to validate nuclear export inhibition as a novel effector principle in drug conjugates. For this purpose, a semisynthetic route starting from the natural product ratjadone A, a potent nuclear export inhibitor, has been developed. The biological evaluation of ratjadones functionalized at the 16-position revealed that oxo- and amino-analogues had very high potencies against cancer cell lines (e.g. 16R-aminoratjadone 16 with IC50 = 260 pM against MCF-7 cells, or 19-oxoratjadone 14 with IC50 = 100 pM against A-549 cells). Mechanistically, the conjugates retained a nuclear export inhibitory activity through binding CRM1. To demonstrate a proof-of-principle for cellular targeting, folate- and luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH)-based carrier molecules were synthesized and coupled to aminoratjadones as well as fluorescein for cellular efficacy and imaging studies, respectively. The Trojan-Horse conjugates selectively addressed receptor-positive cell lines and were highly potent inhibitors of their proliferation. For example, the folate conjugate FA-7-Val-Cit-pABA-16R-aminoratjadone had an IC50 of 34.3 nM, and the LHRH conjugate d-Orn-Gose-Val-Cit-pABA-16R-aminoratjadone had an IC50 of 12.8 nM. The results demonstrate that nuclear export inhibition is a promising mode-of-action for extracellular-targeted drug conjugate payloads.
  • Flexible Fragment Growing Boosts Potency of Quorum Sensing Inhibitors against Pseudomonas aeruginosa Virulence.

    Zender, Michael; Witzgall, Florian; Kiefer, Alexander Felix; Kirsch, Benjamin; Maurer, Christine K; Kany, Andreas M; Xu, Ningna; Schmelz, Stefan; Börger, Carsten; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2019-11-11)
    Hit-to-lead optimization is a critical phase in drug discovery. Herein, we report on the fragment-based discovery and optimization of 2-amino pyridine derivatives as a novel lead-like structure for the treatment of the dangerous opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa . We pursue an innovative treatment strategy by interfering with the Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal (PQS) Quorum Sensing (QS) system leading to an abolishment of bacterial pathogenicity. Our compounds act on the PQS receptor (PqsR), a key transcription factor controlling the expression of various pathogenicity determinants. In this target-driven approach, we made use of biophysical screening via surface plasmon resonance (SPR) followed by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC)-enabled enthalpic efficiency (EE) evaluation. Hit optimization then involved growth vector identification and exploitation. Astonishingly, the latter was successfully achieved by introducing flexible linkers rather than rigid motifs leading to a boost in activity on the target receptor and anti-virulence potency.
  • Common pre-diagnostic features in individuals with different rare diseases represent a key for diagnostic support with computerized pattern recognition?

    Grigull, Lorenz; Mehmecke, Sandra; Rother, Ann-Katrin; Blöß, Susanne; Klemann, Christian; Schumacher, Ulrike; Mücke, Urs; Kortum, Xiaowei; Lechner, Werner; Klawonn, Frank; et al. (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2019-10-10)
    BACKGROUND: Rare diseases (RD) result in a wide variety of clinical presentations, and this creates a significant diagnostic challenge for health care professionals. We hypothesized that there exist a set of consistent and shared phenomena among all individuals affected by (different) RD during the time before diagnosis is established. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to identify commonalities between different RD and developed a machine learning diagnostic support tool for RD. METHODS: 20 interviews with affected individuals with different RD, focusing on the time period before their diagnosis, were performed and qualitatively analyzed. Out of these pre-diagnostic experiences, we distilled key phenomena and created a questionnaire which was then distributed among individuals with the established diagnosis of i.) RD, ii.) other common non-rare diseases (NRO) iii.) common chronic diseases (CD), iv.), or psychosomatic/somatoform disorders (PSY). Finally, four combined single machine learning methods and a fusion algorithm were used to distinguish the different answer patterns of the questionnaires. RESULTS: The questionnaire contained 53 questions. A total sum of 1763 questionnaires (758 RD, 149 CD, 48 PSY, 200 NRO, 34 healthy individuals and 574 not evaluable questionnaires) were collected. Based on 3 independent data sets the 10-fold stratified cross-validation method for the answer-pattern recognition resulted in sensitivity values of 88.9% to detect the answer pattern of a RD, 86.6% for NRO, 87.7% for CD and 84.2% for PSY. CONCLUSION: Despite the great diversity in presentation and pathogenesis of each RD, patients with RD share surprisingly similar pre-diagnosis experiences. Our questionnaire and data-mining based approach successfully detected unique patterns in groups of individuals affected by a broad range of different rare diseases. Therefore, these results indicate distinct patterns that may be used for diagnostic support in RD.
  • Genetic selection for bovine chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with divergent somatic cell score affects postpartum reproductive and metabolic performance.

    Meyerholz, M M; Rohmeier, L; Eickhoff, T; Hülsebusch, A; Jander, S; Linden, M; Macias, L; Koy, M; Heimes, A; Gorríz-Martín, L; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-11-01)
    The susceptibility of animals to periparturient diseases has a great effect on the economic efficiency of dairy industries, on the frequency of antibiotic treatment, and on animal welfare. The use of selection for breeding cows with reduced susceptibility to diseases offers a sustainable tool to improve dairy cattle farming. Several studies have focused on the association of distinct bovine chromosome 18 genotypes or haplotypes with performance traits. The aim of this study was to test whether selection of Holstein Friesian heifers via SNP genotyping for alternative paternal chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with favorable (Q) or unfavorable (q) somatic cell scores influences postpartum reproductive and metabolic diseases. Thirty-six heifers (18 Q and 18 q) were monitored from 3 wk before calving until necropsy on d 39 (± 4 d) after calving. Health status and rectal temperature were measured daily, and body condition score and body weight were assessed once per week. Blood samples were drawn twice weekly, and levels of insulin, nonesterified fatty acids, insulin-like growth factor-I, growth hormone, and β-hydroxybutyrate were measured. Comparisons between the groups were performed using Fisher's exact test, chi-squared test, and the GLIMMIX procedure in SAS. Results showed that Q-heifers had reduced incidence of metritis compared with q-heifers and were less likely to develop fever. Serum concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate were lower and insulin-like growth factor-I plasma concentrations were higher in Q- compared with q-heifers. However, the body condition score and withers height were comparable between haplotypes, but weight loss tended to be lower in Q-heifers compared with q-heifers. No differences between the groups were detected concerning retained fetal membranes, uterine involution, or onset of cyclicity. In conclusion, selection of chromosome 18 haplotypes associated with a reduced somatic cell score resulted in a decreased incidence of postpartum reproductive and metabolic diseases in this study. The presented data add to the existing knowledge aimed at avoiding negative consequences of genetic selection strategies in dairy cattle farming. The underlying causal mechanisms modulated by haplotypes in the targeted genomic region and immune competence necessitate further investigation.
  • Crystal structure of -aconitate decarboxylase reveals the impact of naturally occurring human mutations on itaconate synthesis.

    Chen, Fangfang; Lukat, Peer; Iqbal, Azeem Ahmed; Saile, Kyrill; Kaever, Volkhard; van den Heuvel, Joop; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Büssow, Konrad; Pessler, Frank; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (National Academy of Sciences, 2019-09-23)
    cis-Aconitate decarboxylase (CAD, also known as ACOD1 or Irg1) converts cis-aconitate to itaconate and plays central roles in linking innate immunity with metabolism and in the biotechnological production of itaconic acid by Aspergillus terreus We have elucidated the crystal structures of human and murine CADs and compared their enzymological properties to CAD from A. terreus Recombinant CAD is fully active in vitro without a cofactor. Murine CAD has the highest catalytic activity, whereas Aspergillus CAD is best adapted to a more acidic pH. CAD is not homologous to any known decarboxylase and appears to have evolved from prokaryotic enzymes that bind negatively charged substrates. CADs are homodimers, the active center is located in the interface between 2 distinct subdomains, and structural modeling revealed conservation in zebrafish and Aspergillus We identified 8 active-site residues critical for CAD function and rare naturally occurring human mutations in the active site that abolished CAD activity, as well as a variant (Asn152Ser) that increased CAD activity and is common (allele frequency 20%) in African ethnicity. These results open the way for 1) assessing the potential impact of human CAD variants on disease risk at the population level, 2) developing therapeutic interventions to modify CAD activity, and 3) improving CAD efficiency for biotechnological production of itaconic acid.
  • The N‐terminal peptide of the transglutaminase‐activating metalloprotease inhibitor from Streptomyces mobaraensis accommodates both inhibition and glutamine cross‐linking sites

    Juettner, Norbert E.; Schmelz, Stefan; Anderl, Anita; Colin, Felix; Classen, Moritz; Pfeifer, Felicitas; Scrima, Andrea; Fuchsbauer, Hans‐Lothar; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2019-08-29)
    Streptomyces mobaraensis is a key player for the industrial production of the protein cross-linking enzyme microbial transglutaminase (MTG). Extra-cellular activation of MTG by the transglutaminase-activating metalloprotease (TAMP) is regulated by the TAMP inhibitory protein SSTI that belongs to the large Streptomyces subtilisin inhibitor (SSI) family. Despite decades of SSI research, the binding site for metalloproteases such as TAMP remained elusive in most of the SSI proteins. Moreover, SSTI is a MTG substrate, and the preferred glutamine residues for SSTI cross-linking are not determined. To address both issues, that is, determination of the TAMP and the MTG glutamine binding sites, SSTI was modified by distinct point mutations as well as elongation or truncation of the N-terminal peptide by six and three residues respectively. Structural integrity of the mutants was verified by the determination of protein melting points and supported by unimpaired subtilisin inhibitory activity. While exchange of single amino acids could not disrupt decisively the SSTI TAMP interaction, the N-terminally shortened variants clearly indicated the highly conserved Leu40-Tyr41 as binding motif for TAMP. Moreover, enzymatic biotinylation revealed that an adjacent glutamine pair, upstream from Leu40-Tyr41 in the SSTI precursor protein, is the preferred binding site of MTG. This extension peptide disturbs the interaction with TAMP. The structure of SSTI was furthermore determined by X-ray crystallography. While no structural data could be obtained for the N-terminal peptide due to flexibility, the core structure starting from Tyr41 could be determined and analysed, which superposes well with SSI-family proteins. ENZYMES: Chymotrypsin, EC3.4.21.1; griselysin (SGMPII, SgmA), EC3.4.24.27; snapalysin (ScNP), EC3.4.24.77; streptogrisin-A (SGPA), EC3.4.21.80; streptogrisin-B (SGPB), EC3.4.21.81; subtilisin BPN', EC3.4.21.62; transglutaminase, EC2.3.2.13; transglutaminase-activating metalloprotease (TAMP), EC3.4.-.-; tri-/tetrapeptidyl aminopeptidase, EC3.4.11.-; trypsin, EC3.4.21.4. DATABASES: The atomic coordinates and structure factors (PDB 6I0I) have been deposited in the Protein Data Bank (

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