• 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.
    • 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.
    • A New PqsR Inverse Agonist Potentiates Tobramycin Efficacy to Eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms

      Schütz, Christian; Ho, Duy‐Khiet; Hamed, Mostafa Mohamed; Abdelsamie, Ahmed Saad; Röhrig, Teresa; Herr, Christian; Kany, Andreas Martin; Rox, Katharina; Schmelz, Stefan; Siebenbürger, Lorenz; et al. (Wiley and Sons Inc., 2021-03-18)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections can be notoriously difficult to treat and are often accompanied by the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSI) acting on PqsR (MvfR) – a crucial transcriptional regulator serving major functions in PA virulence – can enhance antibiotic efficacy and eventually prevent the AMR. An integrated drug discovery campaign including design, medicinal chemistry‐driven hit‐to‐lead optimization and in‐depth biological profiling of a new QSI generation is reported. The QSI possess excellent activity in inhibiting pyocyanin production and PqsR reporter‐gene with IC50 values as low as 200 and 11 × 10−9 m, respectively. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) as well as safety pharmacology studies especially highlight the promising translational properties of the lead QSI for pulmonary applications. Moreover, target engagement of the lead QSI is shown in a PA mucoid lung infection mouse model. Beyond that, a significant synergistic effect of a QSI‐tobramycin (Tob) combination against PA biofilms using a tailor‐made squalene‐derived nanoparticle (NP) formulation, which enhance the minimum biofilm eradicating concentration (MBEC) of Tob more than 32‐fold is demonstrated. The novel lead QSI and the accompanying NP formulation highlight the potential of adjunctive pathoblocker‐mediated therapy against PA infections opening up avenues for preclinical development.