• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 (http://www.rcsb.org).
    • Crystal structures and protein engineering of three different penicillin G acylases from Gram-positive bacteria with different thermostability.

      Mayer, Janine; Pippel, Jan; Günther, Gabriele; Müller, Carolin; Lauermann, Anna; Knuuti, Tobias; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Jahn, Dieter; Biedendieck, Rebekka; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2019-06-21)
      Penicillin G acylase (PGA) catalyzes the hydrolysis of penicillin G to 6-aminopenicillanic acid and phenylacetic acid, which provides the precursor for most semisynthetic penicillins. Most applications rely on PGAs from Gram-negative bacteria. Here we describe the first three crystal structures for PGAs from Gram-positive Bacilli and their utilization in protein engineering experiments for the manipulation of their thermostability. PGAs from Bacillus megaterium (BmPGA, Tm = 56.0 °C), Bacillus thermotolerans (BtPGA, Tm = 64.5 °C), and Bacillus sp. FJAT-27231 (FJAT-PGA, Tm = 74.3 °C) were recombinantly produced with B. megaterium, secreted, purified to apparent heterogeneity, and crystallized. Structures with resolutions of 2.20 Å (BmPGA), 2.27 Å (BtPGA), and 1.36 Å (FJAT-PGA) were obtained. They revealed high overall similarity, reflecting the high identity of up to approx. 75%. Notably, the active center displays a deletion of more than ten residues with respect to PGAs from Gram-negatives. This enlarges the substrate binding site and may indicate a different substrate spectrum. Based on the structures, ten single-chain FJAT-PGAs carrying artificial linkers were produced. However, in all cases, complete linker cleavage was observed. While thermostability remained in the wild-type range, the enzymatic activity dropped between 30 and 60%. Furthermore, four hybrid PGAs carrying subunits from two different enzymes were successfully produced. Their thermostabilities mostly lay between the values of the two mother enzymes. For one PGA increased, enzyme activity was observed. Overall, the three novel PGA structures combined with initial protein engineering experiments provide the basis for establishment of new PGA-based biotechnological processes.
    • Crystal Structure of Dihydro-Heme d Dehydrogenase NirN from Pseudomonas aeruginosa Reveals Amino Acid Residues Essential for Catalysis.

      Klünemann, Thomas; Preuß, Arne; Adamczack, Julia; Rosa, Luis F M; Harnisch, Falk; Layer, Gunhild; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-06-04)
      Many bacteria can switch from oxygen to nitrogen oxides, such as nitrate or nitrite, as terminal electron acceptors in their respiratory chain. This process is called "denitrification" and enables biofilm formation of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, making it more resilient to antibiotics and highly adaptable to different habitats. The reduction of nitrite to nitric oxide is a crucial step during denitrification. It is catalyzed by the homodimeric cytochrome cd1 nitrite reductase (NirS), which utilizes the unique isobacteriochlorin heme d1 as its reaction center. Although the reaction mechanism of nitrite reduction is well understood, far less is known about the biosynthesis of heme d1. The last step of its biosynthesis introduces a double bond in a propionate group of the tetrapyrrole to form an acrylate group. This conversion is catalyzed by the dehydrogenase NirN via a unique reaction mechanism. To get a more detailed insight into this reaction, the crystal structures of NirN with and without bound substrate have been determined. Similar to the homodimeric NirS, the monomeric NirN consists of an eight-bladed heme d1-binding β-propeller and a cytochrome c domain, but their relative orientation differs with respect to NirS. His147 coordinates heme d1 at the proximal side, whereas His323, which belongs to a flexible loop, binds at the distal position. Tyr461 and His417 are located next to the hydrogen atoms removed during dehydrogenation, suggesting an important role in catalysis. Activity assays with NirN variants revealed the essentiality of His147, His323 and Tyr461, but not of His417.
    • Position 123 of halohydrin dehalogenase HheG plays an important role in stability, activity, and enantioselectivity.

      Solarczek, Jennifer; Klünemann, Thomas; Brandt, Felix; Schrepfer, Patrick; Wolter, Mario; Jacob, Christoph R; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Schallmey, Anett; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Nature publishing group, 2019-03-25)
      HheG from Ilumatobacter coccineus is a halohydrin dehalogenase with synthetically useful activity in the ring opening of cyclic epoxides with various small anionic nucleophiles. This enzyme provides access to chiral β-substituted alcohols that serve as building blocks in the pharmaceutical industry. Wild-type HheG suffers from low thermostability, which poses a significant drawback for potential applications. In an attempt to thermostabilize HheG by protein engineering, several single mutants at position 123 were identified which displayed up to 14 °C increased apparent melting temperatures and up to three-fold higher activity. Aromatic amino acids at position 123 resulted even in a slightly higher enantioselectivity. Crystal structures of variants T123W and T123G revealed a flexible loop opposite to amino acid 123. In variant T123G, this loop adopted two different positions resulting in an open or partially closed active site. Classical molecular dynamics simulations confirmed a high mobility of this loop. Moreover, in variant T123G this loop adopted a position much closer to residue 123 resulting in denser packing and increased buried surface area. Our results indicate an important role for position 123 in HheG and give first structural and mechanistic insight into the thermostabilizing effect of mutations T123W and T123G.
    • ER intrabody-mediated inhibition of interferon α secretion by mouse macrophages and dendritic cells.

      Büssow, Konrad; Themann, Philipp; Luu, Sabine; Pentrowski, Paul; Harting, Claudia; Majewski, Mira; Vollmer, Veith; Köster, Mario; Grashoff, Martina; Zawatzky, Rainer; et al. (Plos, 2019-01-01)
      Interferon α (IFNα) counteracts viral infections by activating various IFNα-stimulated genes (ISGs). These genes encode proteins that block viral transport into the host cell and inhibit viral replication, gene transcription and translation. Due to the existence of 14 different, highly homologous isoforms of mouse IFNα, an IFNα knockout mouse has not yet been established by genetic knockout strategies. An scFv intrabody for holding back IFNα isoforms in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and thus counteracting IFNα secretion is reported. The intrabody was constructed from the variable domains of the anti-mouse IFNα rat monoclonal antibody 4EA1 recognizing the 5 isoforms IFNα1, IFNα2, IFNα4, IFNα5, IFNα6. A soluble form of the intrabody had a KD of 39 nM to IFNα4. It could be demonstrated that the anti-IFNα intrabody inhibits clearly recombinant IFNα4 secretion by HEK293T cells. In addition, the secretion of IFNα4 was effectively inhibited in stably transfected intrabody expressing RAW 264.7 macrophages and dendritic D1 cells. Colocalization of the intrabody with IFNα4 and the ER marker calnexin in HEK293T cells indicated complex formation of intrabody and IFNα4 inside the ER. Intracellular binding of intrabody and antigen was confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation. Complexes of endogenous IFNα and intrabody could be visualized in the ER of Poly (I:C) stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages and D1 dendritic cells. Infection of macrophages and dendritic cells with the vesicular stomatitis virus VSV-AV2 is attenuated by IFNα and IFNβ. The intrabody increased virus proliferation in RAW 264.7 macrophages and D1 dendritic cells under IFNβ-neutralizing conditions. To analyze if all IFNα isoforms are recognized by the intrabody was not in the focus of this study. Provided that binding of the intrabody to all isoforms was confirmed, the establishment of transgenic intrabody mice would be promising for studying the function of IFNα during viral infection and autoimmune diseases.
    • 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.
    • Distinct Interaction Sites of Rac GTPase with WAVE Regulatory Complex Have Non-redundant Functions in Vivo.

      Schaks, Matthias; Singh, Shashi P; Kage, Frieda; Thomason, Peter; Klünemann, Thomas; Steffen, Anika; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Stradal, Theresia E; Insall, Robert H; Rottner, Klemens; et al. (2018-10-25)
      Cell migration often involves the formation of sheet-like lamellipodia generated by branched actin filaments. The branches are initiated when Arp2/3 complex [1] is activated by WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) downstream of small GTPases of the Rac family [2]. Recent structural studies defined two independent Rac binding sites on WRC within the Sra-1/PIR121 subunit of the pentameric WRC [3, 4], but the functions of these sites in vivo have remained unknown. Here we dissect the mechanism of WRC activation and the in vivo relevance of distinct Rac binding sites on Sra-1, using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene disruption of Sra-1 and its paralog PIR121 in murine B16-F1 cells combined with Sra-1 mutant rescue. We show that the A site, positioned adjacent to the binding region of WAVE-WCA mediating actin and Arp2/3 complex binding, is the main site for allosteric activation of WRC. In contrast, the D site toward the C terminus is dispensable for WRC activation but required for optimal lamellipodium morphology and function. These results were confirmed in evolutionarily distant Dictyostelium cells. Moreover, the phenotype seen in D site mutants was recapitulated in Rac1 E31 and F37 mutants; we conclude these residues are important for Rac-D site interaction. Finally, constitutively activated WRC was able to induce lamellipodia even after both Rac interaction sites were lost, showing that Rac interaction is not essential for membrane recruitment. Our data establish that physical interaction with Rac is required for WRC activation, in particular through the A site, but is not mandatory for WRC accumulation in the lamellipodium.
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa pyoverdine maturation enzyme PvdP has a noncanonical domain architecture and affords insight into a new subclass of tyrosinases

      Poppe, Juliane; Reichelt, Joachim; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-21)
      Pyoverdines (PVDs) are important chromophore-containing siderophores of fluorescent pseudomonad bacteria such as the opportunistic human pathogen
    • Structural insights into antigen recognition of an anti-β-(1,6)-β-(1,3)-D-glucan antibody.

      Sung, Kwang Hoon; Josewski, Jörn; Dübel, Stefan; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Rau, Udo; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-12)
      Schizophyllan (SCH) is a high molecular weight homopolysaccharide composed of a β-(1,3)-D-glucan main chain with branching β-(1,6)-bound D-glucose residues. It forms triple helices that are highly stable towards heat and extreme pH, which provides SCH with interesting properties for industrial and medical applications. The recombinant anti-SCH antibody JoJ48C11 recognizes SCH and related β-(1,6)-branched β-(1,3)-D-glucans, but details governing its specificity are not known. Here, we fill this gap by determining crystal structures of the antigen binding fragment (Fab) of JoJ48C11 in the apo form and in complex with the unbranched β-(1,3)-D-glucose hexamer laminarihexaose 3.0 and 2.4 Å resolution, respectively. Together with docking studies, this allowed construction of a JoJ48C11/triple-helical SCH complex, leading to the identification of eight amino acid residues of JoJ48C11 (Tyr27
    • TMPRSS11A activates the influenza A virus hemagglutinin and the MERS coronavirus spike protein and is insensitive against blockade by HAI-1.

      Zmora, Pawel; Hoffmann, Markus; Kollmus, Heike; Moldenhauer, Anna-Sophie; Danov, Olga; Braun, Armin; Winkler, Michael; Schughart, Klaus; Pöhlmann, Stefan; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-07)
      The influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) facilitates viral entry into target cells. Cleavage of HA by host cell proteases is essential for viral infectivity, and the responsible enzymes are potential targets for antiviral intervention. The type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP) TMPRSS2 has been identified as an HA activator in cell culture and in the infected host. However, it is less clear whether TMPRSS2-related enzymes can also activate HA for spread in target cells. Moreover, the activity of cellular serine protease inhibitors against HA-activating TTSPs is poorly understood. Here, we show that TMPRSS11A, another member of the TTSP family, cleaves and activates the influenza A virus (FLUAV) HA and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein (MERS-S). Moreover, we demonstrate that TMPRSS11A is expressed in murine tracheal epithelium, which is a target of FLUAV infection, and in human trachea, suggesting that the protease could support FLUAV spread in patients. Finally, we show that HA activation by the TMPRSS11A-related enzymes human airway tryptase and DESC1, but not TMPRSS11A itself, is blocked by the cellular serine protease inhibitor hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor type-1 (HAI-1). Our results suggest that TMPRSS11A could promote FLUAV spread in target cells and that HA-activating TTSPs exhibit differential sensitivity to blockade by cellular serine protease inhibitors.
    • Exchange of amino acids in the H1-haemagglutinin to H3 residues is required for efficient influenza A virus replication and pathology in Tmprss2 knock-out mice.

      Lambertz, Ruth L O; Pippel, Jan; Gerhauser, Ingo; Kollmus, Heike; Anhlan, Darisuren; Hrincius, Eike R; Krausze, Joern; Kühn, Nora; Schughart, Klaus; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-09-01)
      The haemagglutinin (HA) of H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A virus (IAV) subtypes has to be activated by host proteases. Previous studies showed that H1N1 virus cannot replicate efficiently in Tmprss2/ knock-out mice whereas H3N2 viruses are able to replicate to the same levels in Tmprss2/ as in wild type (WT) mice. Here, we investigated the sequence requirements for the HA molecule that allow IAV to replicate efficiently in the absence of TMPRSS2. We showed that replacement of the H3 for the H1-loop sequence (amino acids 320 to 329, at the C-terminus of HA1) was not sufficient for equal levels of virus replication or severe pathology in Tmprss2/ knock-out mice compared to WT mice. However, exchange of a distant amino acid from H1 to H3 sequence (E31D) in addition to the HA-loop substitution resulted in virus replication in Tmprss2/ knockout mice that was comparable to WT mice. The higher virus replication and lung damage was associated with increased epithelial damage and higher mortality. Our results provide further evidence and insights into host proteases as a promising target for therapeutic intervention of IAV infections.
    • 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.
    • Investigations on the mode of action of gephyronic acid, an inhibitor of eukaryotic protein translation from myxobacteria.

      Muthukumar, Yazh; Münkemer, Johanna; Mathieu, Daniel; Richter, Christian; Schwalbe, Harald; Steinmetz, Heinrich; Kessler, Wolfgang; Reichelt, Joachim; Beutling, Ulrike; Frank, Ronald; et al. (PLOS, 2018-01-01)
      The identification of inhibitors of eukaryotic protein biosynthesis, which are targeting single translation factors, is highly demanded. Here we report on a small molecule inhibitor, gephyronic acid, isolated from the myxobacterium Archangium gephyra that inhibits growth of transformed mammalian cell lines in the nM range. In direct comparison, primary human fibroblasts were shown to be less sensitive to toxic effects of gephyronic acid than cancer-derived cells. Gephyronic acid is targeting the protein translation system. Experiments with IRES dual luciferase reporter assays identified it as an inhibitor of the translation initiation. DARTs approaches, co-localization studies and pull-down assays indicate that the binding partner could be the eukaryotic initiation factor 2 subunit alpha (eIF2α). Gephyronic acid seems to have a different mode of action than the structurally related polyketides tedanolide, myriaporone, and pederin and is a valuable tool for investigating the eukaryotic translation system. Because cancer derived cells were found to be especially sensitive, gephyronic acid could potentially find use as a drug candidate.