Recent Submissions

  • Repurposing human kinase inhibitors to create an antibiotic active against drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, persisters and biofilms.

    Le, Philipp; Kunold, Elena; Macsics, Robert; Rox, Katharina; Jennings, Megan C; Ugur, Ilke; Reinecke, Maria; Chaves-Moreno, Diego; Hackl, Mathias W; Fetzer, Christian; et al. (2020-02)
  • Inhibition of Type IV Secretion Activity and Growth of by Cisplatin and Other Platinum Complexes.

    Lettl, Clara; Schindele, Franziska; Testolin, Giambattista; Bär, Alexander; Rehm, Tobias; Brönstrup, Mark; Schobert, Rainer; Bilitewski, Ursula; Haas, Rainer; Fischer, Wolfgang (Frontiers, 2020-12-18)
    Type IV secretion systems are protein secretion machineries that are frequently used by pathogenic bacteria to inject their virulence factors into target cells of their respective hosts. In the case of the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori, the cytotoxin-associated gene (Cag) type IV secretion system is considered a major cause for severe disease, such as gastric cancer, and thus constitutes an attractive target for specific treatment options against H. pylori infections. Here, we have used a Cag type IV secretion reporter assay for screening a repurposing compound library for inhibitors targeting this system. We found that the antitumor agent cisplatin, a platinum coordination complex that kills target cells by formation of DNA crosslinks, is a potent inhibitor of the Cag type IV secretion system. Strikingly, we found that this inhibitory activity of cisplatin depends on a ligand exchange reaction which incorporates a solvent molecule (dimethylsulfoxide) into the complex, a modification which is known to be deleterious for DNA crosslinking, and for its anticancer activity. We extended our analysis to several analogous platinum complexes containing N-heterocyclic carbene, as well as DMSO or other ligands, and found varying inhibitory activities toward the Cag system which were not congruent with their DNA-binding properties, suggesting that protein interactions may cause the inhibitory effect. Inhibition experiments under varying conditions revealed effects on adherence and bacterial viability as well, and showed that the type IV secretion-inhibitory capacity of platinum complexes can be inactivated by sulfur-containing reagents and in complex bacterial growth media. Taken together, our results demonstrate DNA binding-independent inhibitory effects of cisplatin and other platinum complexes against different H. pylori processes including type IV secretion.
  • Development and validation of the Simulator of the Canine Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SCIME)1.

    Duysburgh, Cindy; Ossieur, Wendy P; De Paepe, Kim; Van den Abbeele, Pieter; Vichez-Vargas, Ramiro; Vital, Marius; Pieper, Dietmar H; Van De Wiele, Tom; Hesta, Myriam; Possemiers, Sam; et al. (2020-01)
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers profibrotic macrophage responses and lung fibrosis.

    Wendisch, Daniel; Dietrich, Oliver; Mari, Tommaso; von Stillfried, Saskia; Ibarra, Ignacio L; Mittermaier, Mirja; Mache, Christin; Chua, Robert Lorenz; Knoll, Rainer; Timm, Sara; et al. (Cell Press, 2021-11-27)
    COVID-19-induced "acute respiratory distress syndrome" (ARDS) is associated with prolonged respiratory failure and high mortality, but the mechanistic basis of lung injury remains incompletely understood. Here, we analyze pulmonary immune responses and lung pathology in two cohorts of patients with COVID-19 ARDS using functional single-cell genomics, immunohistology, and electron microscopy. We describe an accumulation of CD163-expressing monocyte-derived macrophages that acquired a profibrotic transcriptional phenotype during COVID-19 ARDS. Gene set enrichment and computational data integration revealed a significant similarity between COVID-19-associated macrophages and profibrotic macrophage populations identified in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. COVID-19 ARDS was associated with clinical, radiographic, histopathological, and ultrastructural hallmarks of pulmonary fibrosis. Exposure of human monocytes to SARS-CoV-2, but not influenza A virus or viral RNA analogs, was sufficient to induce a similar profibrotic phenotype in vitro. In conclusion, we demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 triggers profibrotic macrophage responses and pronounced fibroproliferative ARDS.
  • The Hologenome of Haliclona fulva (Porifera, Demospongiae) Reveals an Abundant and Diverse Viral Community

    García-Bonilla, Erika; Chaves-Moreno, Diego; Riaño-Pachón, Diego; Terán, Wilson; Acosta, Alberto; Junca, Howard; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers Media, 2021-11-02)
    Viruses are among the most abundant biological entities in the ocean, largely responsible of modulating nutrients fluxes and influencing microbial composition and functioning. In marine invertebrate holobionts like sponges and their associated microbiomes, little is known about virome composition. Here, we characterized the Haliclona fulva hologenome, an encrusting low-microbial abundance sponge found across the Western Mediterranean Sea (35–40 m of depth) producer of a large metabolic repertoire of bioactive compounds and harboring a distinct and stable associated microbiome. Assembled contigs from shotgun metagenome sequences obtained from H. fulva specimens were comprehensively analyzed regarding taxonomic and functional content revealing its remarkable and abundant viral community dominated by single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) virus. Viral families consistently detected in contigs are Circoviridae, Phycodnaviridae, Poxviridae, Herelleviridae, Mimiviridae, Microviridae, and notably the first reported encounter of Nanoviridae and Genomoviridae in Porifera, expanding their known host range. The relative abundance of inferred bacteriophages/prophages was low, suggesting that the prokaryotic community in this sponge has a limited host range and susceptibility. H. fulva showed a distinct viral composition supporting the general proposition of specific and coevolving viromes in marine holobionts.
  • A role for PchHI as the ABC transporter in iron acquisition by the siderophore pyochelin in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    Roche, Béatrice; Garcia-Rivera, Mariel A; Normant, Vincent; Kuhn, Lauriane; Hammann, Philippe; Brönstrup, Mark; Mislin, Gaëtan L A; Schalk, Isabelle J; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (John Wiley & Sons LTD, 2021-10-18)
    Iron is an essential nutrient for bacterial growth but poorly bioavailable. Bacteria scavenge ferric iron by synthesizing and secreting siderophores, small compounds with a high affinity for iron. Pyochelin (PCH) is one of the two siderophores produced by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. After capturing a ferric iron molecule, PCH-Fe is imported back into bacteria first by the outer membrane transporter FptA and then by the inner membrane permease FptX. Here, using molecular biology, 55 Fe uptake assays, and LC-MS/MS quantification, we first find a role for PchHI as the heterodimeric ABC transporter involved in the siderophore-free iron uptake into the bacterial cytoplasm. We also provide the first evidence that PCH is able to reach the bacterial periplasm and cytoplasm when both FptA and FptX are expressed. Finally, we detected an interaction between PchH and FptX, linking the ABC transporter PchHI with the inner permease FptX in the PCH-Fe uptake pathway. These results pave the way for a better understanding of the PCH siderophore pathway, giving future directions to tackle P. aeruginosa infections.
  • Selective Bacterial Targeting and Infection-Triggered Release of Antibiotic Colistin Conjugates.

    Tegge, Werner; Guerra, Giulia; Höltke, Alexander; Schiller, Lauritz; Beutling, Ulrike; Harmrolfs, Kirsten; Gröbe, Lothar; Wullenkord, Hannah; Xu, Chunfa; Weich, Herbert; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-07-05)
    In order to render potent, but toxic antibiotics more selective, we have explored a novel conjugation strategy that includes drug accumulation followed by infection-triggered release of the drug. Bacterial targeting was achieved using a modified fragment of the human antimicrobial peptide ubiquicidin, as demonstrated by fluorophore-tagged variants. To limit the release of the effector colistin only to infection-related situations, we introduced a linker that was cleaved by neutrophil elastase (NE), an enzyme secreted by neutrophil granulocytes at infection sites. The linker carried an optimized sequence of amino acids that was required to assure sufficient cleavage efficiency. The antibacterial activity of five regioisomeric conjugates prepared by total synthesis was masked, but was released upon exposure to recombinant NE when the linker was attached to amino acids at the 1- or the 3-position of colistin. A proof-of-concept was achieved in co-cultures of primary human neutrophils and Escherichia coli that induced the secretion of NE, the release of free colistin, and an antibacterial efficacy that was equal to that of free colistin.
  • Oral Phenotype and Salivary Microbiome of Individuals With Papillon-Lefèvre Syndrome.

    Lettieri, Giulia Melo; Santiago, Luander Medrado; Lettieri, Giancarlo Crosara; Borges, Luiz Gustavo Dos Anjos; Marconatto, Letícia; de Oliveira, Laudimar Alves; Damé-Teixeira, Nailê; Salles, Loise Pedrosa; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-08-26)
    Papillon-Lefèvre syndrome (PLS) is an autosomal recessive rare disease, main characteristics of which include palmoplantar hyperkeratosis and premature edentulism due to advanced periodontitis (formerly aggressive periodontitis). This study aimed to characterize the oral phenotype, including salivary parameters, and the salivary microbiome of three PLS sisters, comparatively. Two sisters were toothless (PLSTL1 and PLSTL2), and one sister had most of the teeth in the oral cavity (PLST). Total DNA was extracted from the unstimulated saliva, and the amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene fragment was performed in an Ion PGM platform. The amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) were obtained using the DADA2 pipeline, and the taxonomy was assigned using the SILVA v.138. The main phenotypic characteristics of PLS were bone loss and premature loss of primary and permanent dentition. The PLST sister presented advanced periodontitis with gingival bleeding and suppuration, corresponding to the advanced periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic disease, stage IV, grade C. All three PLS sisters presented hyposalivation as a possible secondary outcome of the syndrome. Interestingly, PLST salivary microbiota was dominated by the uncultured bacteria Bacterioidales (F0058), Fusobacterium, Treponema, and Sulfophobococcus (Archaea domain). Streptococcus, Haemophilus, and Caldivirga (Archaea) dominated the microbiome of the PLSTL1 sister, while the PLSTL2 had higher abundances of Lactobacillus and Porphyromonas. This study was the first to show a high abundance of organisms belonging to the Archaea domain comprising a core microbiome in human saliva. In conclusion, a PLST individual does have a microbiota different from that of the periodontitis' aggressiveness previously recognized. Due to an ineffective cathepsin C, the impairment of neutrophils probably provided a favorable environment for the PLS microbiome. The interactions of Bacteroidales F0058, Caldivirga, and Sulfophobococcus with the microbial consortium of PLS deserves future investigation. Traditional periodontal therapy is not efficient in PLS patients. Unraveling the PLS microbiome is essential in searching for appropriate treatment and avoiding early tooth loss.
  • Complete Genome Sequencing of Isolates from Malaysia Reveals Massive Genome Rearrangement but High Conservation of Virulence-Associated Genes.

    Ramli, Siti Roszilawati; Bunk, Boyke; Spröer, Cathrin; Geffers, Robert; Jarek, Michael; Bhuju, Sabin; Goris, Marga; Mustakim, Sahlawati; Pessler, Frank; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-09-15)
    The ability of Leptospirae to persist in environments and animal hosts but to cause clinically highly variable disease in humans has made leptospirosis the most common zoonotic disease. Considering the paucity of data on variation in complete genomes of human pathogenic Leptospirae, we have used a combination of Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) and Illumina sequencing to obtain complete genome sequences of six human clinical L. interrogans isolates from Malaysia. All six contained the larger (4.28-4.56 Mb) and smaller (0.34-0.395 Mb) chromosome typical of human pathogenic Leptospirae and 0-7 plasmids. Only 24% of the plasmid sequences could be matched to databases. We identified a chromosomal core genome of 3318 coding sequences and strain-specific accessory genomes of 49-179 coding sequences. These sequences enabled detailed genomic strain typing (Genome BLAST Distance Phylogeny, DNA-DNA hybridization, and multi locus sequence typing) and phylogenetic classification (whole-genome SNP genotyping). Even though there was some shared synteny and collinearity across the six genomes, there was evidence of major genome rearrangement, likely driven by horizontal gene transfer and homologous recombination. Mobile genetic elements were identified in all strains in highly varying numbers, including in the rfb locus, which defines serogroups and contributes to immune escape and pathogenesis. On the other hand, there was high conservation of virulence-associated genes including those relating to sialic acid, alginate, and lipid A biosynthesis. These findings suggest (i) that the antigenic variation, adaption to various host environments, and broad spectrum of virulence of L. interrogans are in part due to a high degree of genomic plasticity and (ii) that human pathogenic strains maintain a core set of genes required for virulence.
  • Optimization of Artificial Siderophores as Ga-Complexed PET Tracers for In Vivo Imaging of Bacterial Infections.

    Peukert, Carsten; Langer, Laura N B; Wegener, Sophie M; Tutov, Anna; Bankstahl, Jens P; Karge, Bianka; Bengel, Frank M; Ross, Tobias L; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2021-08-09)
    The diagnosis of bacterial infections at deep body sites benefits from noninvasive imaging of molecular probes that can be traced by positron emission tomography (PET). We specifically labeled bacteria by targeting their iron transport system with artificial siderophores. The cyclen-based probes contain different binding sites for iron and the PET nuclide gallium-68. A panel of 11 siderophores with different iron coordination numbers and geometries was synthesized in up to 8 steps, and candidates with the best siderophore potential were selected by a growth recovery assay. The probes [68Ga]7 and [68Ga]15 were found to be suitable for PET imaging based on their radiochemical yield, radiochemical purity, and complex stability in vitro and in vivo. Both showed significant uptake in mice infected with Escherichia coli and were able to discern infection from lipopolysaccharide-triggered, sterile inflammation. The study qualifies cyclen-based artificial siderophores as readily accessible scaffolds for the in vivo imaging of bacteria.
  • The Small Protein YmoA Controls the Csr System and Adjusts Expression of Virulence-Relevant Traits of .

    Böhme, Katja; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Lobedann, Stephanie; Guo, Yuzhu; Stolle, Anne-Sophie; Dersch, Petra; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-08-03)
    Virulence gene expression of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis changes during the different stages of infection and this is tightly controlled by environmental cues. In this study, we show that the small protein YmoA, a member of the Hha family, is part of this process. It controls temperature- and nutrient-dependent early and later stage virulence genes in an opposing manner and co-regulates bacterial stress responses and metabolic functions. Our analysis further revealed that YmoA exerts this function by modulating the global post-transcriptional regulatory Csr system. YmoA pre-dominantly enhances the stability of the regulatory RNA CsrC. This involves a stabilizing stem-loop structure within the 5'-region of CsrC. YmoA-mediated CsrC stabilization depends on H-NS, but not on the RNA chaperone Hfq. YmoA-promoted reprogramming of the Csr system has severe consequences for the cell: we found that a mutant deficient of ymoA is strongly reduced in its ability to enter host cells and to disseminate to the Peyer's patches, mesenteric lymph nodes, liver and spleen in mice. We propose a model in which YmoA controls transition from the initial colonization phase in the intestine toward the host defense phase important for the long-term establishment of the infection in underlying tissues.
  • A simplified LC-MS/MS method for the quantification of the cardiovascular disease biomarker trimethylamine-N-oxide and its precursors

    Rox, Katharina; Rath, Silke; Pieper, Dietmar H.; Vital, Marius; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier BV, 2021-03)
    Trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) has emerged as a potential biomarker for atherosclerosis and the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Although several clinical studies have shown striking associations of TMAO levels with atherosclerosis and CVDs, TMAO determinations are not clinical routine yet. The current methodology relies on isotope-labeled internal standards, which adds to pre-analytical complexity and costs for the quantification of TMAO and its precursors carnitine, betaine or choline. Here, we report a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry based method that is fast (throughput up to 240 samples/day), consumes low sample volumes (e.g., from a finger prick), and does not require isotope-labeled standards. We circumvented the analytical problem posed by the presence of endogenous TMAO and its precursors in human plasma by using an artificial plasma matrix for calibration. We cross-validated the results obtained using an artificial matrix with those using mouse plasma matrix and demonstrated that TMAO, carnitine, betaine and choline were accurately quantified in ‘real-life’ human plasma samples from healthy volunteers, obtained either from a finger prick or from venous puncture. Additionally, we assessed the stability of samples stored at −20 °C and room temperature. Whereas all metabolites were stable at −20 °C, increasing concentrations of choline were determined when stored at room temperature. Our method will facilitate the establishment of TMAO as a routine clinical biomarker in hematology in order to assess the risk for CVDs development, or to monitor disease progression and intervention effects.
  • Free human DNA attenuates the activity of antimicrobial peptides in atopic dermatitis.

    Kopfnagel, Verena; Dreyer, Sylvia; Zeitvogel, Jana; Pieper, Dietmar H; Buch, Anna; Sodeik, Beate; Rademacher, Franziska; Harder, Jürgen; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (John Wiley & Sons LTD., 2021-06-27)
    Background: The high susceptibility of AD patients to microbial skin infections has been attributed to a deficient antimicrobial peptide (AMP) expression, which is contradicted by a growing amount of recent studies clearly demonstrating that AMP expression is not impaired in lesional skin of AD patients. The reasons for the high susceptibility of AD patients to microbial infections are still unknown. Methods: The influence of self-DNA on the antimicrobial activity of RNase 7, LL-37, and hBD2 has been investigated using antibacterial and antiviral assays. The amount of self-DNA on skin has been analyzed by skin rinsings and subsequent quantification using dsDNA assays. DNA source was identified by qPCR. Results: Complex formation of the AMPs with self-DNA significantly impaired their antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and their antiviral activity against HSV-1. The inhibition of the antibacterial activity was dependent on the DNA concentration but not on the length of the DNA molecules. Of note, we detected significant higher amounts of cell-free self-DNA in skin rinses taken from lesional AD skin compared to skin rinses from non-lesional skin and from normal skin of healthy donors. Consequently, rinse solution from AD lesional skin prevented antibacterial activity of LL-37. Conclusion: Our study indicates that extracellular self-DNA is released in considerable amounts in AD skin lesions and AMP-self-DNA-complex formation leads to a significant loss of antibacterial and antiviral activity in atopic dermatitis. Studies on strategies to reduce the amount of extracellular DNA in AD are needed to identify possible methods relevant in clinical settings.
  • A Metabolomics Exploration of the Sexual Phase in the Marine Diatom Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata.

    Fiorini, Federica; Borgonuovo, Camilla; Ferrante, Maria Immacolata; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-06-14)
    Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata is a planktonic marine diatom with a diplontic life cycle comprising a short sexual phase, during which gametes are produced following the encounter of two diploid cells of opposite mating type (MT). Gene expression studies have highlighted the presence of substantial changes occurring at the onset of sexual reproduction. Herein, we have hypothesized that the amount and nature of cellular metabolites varies along the mating process. To capture the metabolome of Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata at different harvesting times in an unbiased manner, we undertook an untargeted metabolomics approach based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Using three different extraction steps, the method revealed pronounced differences in the metabolic profiles between control cells in the vegetative phase (MT+ and MT-) and mixed strains of opposite MTs (cross) undergoing sexual reproduction. Of the 2408 high-quality features obtained, 70 known metabolites could be identified based on in-house libraries and online databases; additional 46 features could be classified by molecular networking of tandem mass spectra. The reduction of phytol detected in the cross can be linked to the general downregulation of photosynthesis during sexual reproduction observed elsewhere. Moreover, the role of highly regulated compounds such as 7-dehydrodesmosterol, whose changes in abundance were the highest in the experiment, oleamide, ectoine, or trigonelline is discussed.
  • Targeting Bacterial Gyrase with Cystobactamid, Fluoroquinolone, and Aminocoumarin Antibiotics Induces Distinct Molecular Signatures in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    Franke, Raimo; Overwin, Heike; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (ASM, 2021-07-13)
    The design of novel antibiotics relies on a profound understanding of their mechanism of action. While it has been shown that cellular effects of antibiotics cluster according to their molecular targets, we investigated whether compounds binding to different sites of the same target can be differentiated by their transcriptome or metabolome signatures. The effects of three fluoroquinolones, two aminocoumarins, and two cystobactamids, all inhibiting bacterial gyrase, on Pseudomonas aeruginosa at subinhibitory concentrations could be distinguished clearly by RNA sequencing as well as metabolomics. We observed a strong (2.8- to 212-fold) induction of autolysis-triggering pyocins in all gyrase inhibitors, which correlated with extracellular DNA (eDNA) release. Gyrase B-binding aminocoumarins induced the most pronounced changes, including a strong downregulation of phenazine and rhamnolipid virulence factors. Cystobactamids led to a downregulation of a glucose catabolism pathway. The study implies that clustering cellular mechanisms of action according to the primary target needs to take class-dependent variances into account. IMPORTANCE Novel antibiotics are urgently needed to tackle the growing worldwide problem of antimicrobial resistance. Bacterial pathogens possess few privileged targets for a successful therapy: the majority of existing antibiotics as well as current candidates in development target the complex bacterial machinery for cell wall synthesis, protein synthesis, or DNA replication. An important mechanistic question addressed by this study is whether inhibiting such a complex target at different sites with different compounds has similar or differentiated cellular consequences. Using transcriptomics and metabolomics, we demonstrate that three different classes of gyrase inhibitors can be distinguished by their molecular signatures in P. aeruginosa. We describe the cellular effects of a promising, recently identified gyrase inhibitor class, the cystobactamids, in comparison to those of the established gyrase A-binding fluoroquinolones and the gyrase B-binding aminocoumarins. The study results have implications for mode-of-action discovery approaches based on target-specific reference compounds, as they highlight the intraclass variability of cellular compound effects.
  • Natural products targeting the elongation phase of eukaryotic protein biosynthesis.

    Brönstrup, Mark; Sasse, Florenz; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2020-05-19)
    Covering: 2000 to 2020 The translation of mRNA into proteins is a precisely regulated, complex process that can be divided into three main stages, i.e. initiation, elongation, termination, and recycling. This contribution is intended to highlight how natural products interfere with the elongation phase of eukaryotic protein biosynthesis. Cycloheximide, isolated from Streptomyces griseus, has long been the prototype inhibitor of eukaryotic translation elongation. In the last three decades, a variety of natural products from different origins were discovered to also address the elongation step in different manners, including interference with the elongation factors eEF1 and eEF2 as well as binding to A-, P- or E-sites of the ribosome itself. Recent advances in the crystallization of the ribosomal machinery together with natural product inhibitors allowed characterizing similarities as well as differences in their mode of action. Since aberrations in protein synthesis are commonly observed in tumors, and malfunction or overexpression of translation factors can cause cellular transformation, the protein synthesis machinery has been realized as an attractive target for anticancer drugs. The therapeutic use of the first natural products that reached market approval, plitidepsin (Aplidin®) and homoharringtonine (Synribo®), will be introduced. In addition, we will highlight two other potential indications for translation elongation inhibitors, i.e. viral infections and genetic disorders caused by premature termination of translation.
  • LifeTime and improving European healthcare through cell-based interceptive medicine.

    Rajewsky, Nikolaus; Almouzni, Geneviève; Gorski, Stanislaw A; Aerts, Stein; Amit, Ido; Bertero, Michela G; Bock, Christoph; Bredenoord, Annelien L; Cavalli, Giacomo; Chiocca, Susanna; et al. (NPG, 2020-09-07)
    Here we describe the LifeTime Initiative, which aims to track, understand and target human cells during the onset and progression of complex diseases, and to analyse their response to therapy at single-cell resolution. This mission will be implemented through the development, integration and application of single-cell multi-omics and imaging, artificial intelligence and patient-derived experimental disease models during the progression from health to disease. The analysis of large molecular and clinical datasets will identify molecular mechanisms, create predictive computational models of disease progression, and reveal new drug targets and therapies. The timely detection and interception of disease embedded in an ethical and patient-centred vision will be achieved through interactions across academia, hospitals, patient associations, health data management systems and industry. The application of this strategy to key medical challenges in cancer, neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, and infectious, chronic inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases at the single-cell level will usher in cell-based interceptive medicine in Europe over the next decade.
  • Discovery of Staphylococcus aureus Adhesion Inhibitors by Automated Imaging and Their Characterization in a Mouse Model of Persistent Nasal Colonization.

    Fernandes de Oliveira, Liliane Maria; Steindorff, Marina; Darisipudi, Murthy N; Mrochen, Daniel M; Trübe, Patricia; Bröker, Barbara M; Brönstrup, Mark; Tegge, Werner; Holtfreter, Silva; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-03-18)
    Due to increasing mupirocin resistance, alternatives for Staphylococcus aureus nasal decolonization are urgently needed. Adhesion inhibitors are promising new preventive agents that may be less prone to induce resistance, as they do not interfere with the viability of S. aureus and therefore exert less selection pressure. We identified promising adhesion inhibitors by screening a library of 4208 compounds for their capacity to inhibit S. aureus adhesion to A-549 epithelial cells in vitro in a novel automated, imaging-based assay. The assay quantified DAPI-stained nuclei of the host cell; attached bacteria were stained with an anti-teichoic acid antibody. The most promising candidate, aurintricarboxylic acid (ATA), was evaluated in a novel persistent S. aureus nasal colonization model using a mouse-adapted S. aureus strain. Colonized mice were treated intranasally over 7 days with ATA using a wide dose range (0.5-10%). Mupirocin completely eliminated the bacteria from the nose within three days of treatment. In contrast, even high concentrations of ATA failed to eradicate the bacteria. To conclude, our imaging-based assay and the persistent colonization model provide excellent tools to identify and validate new drug candidates against S. aureus nasal colonization. However, our first tested candidate ATA failed to induce S. aureus decolonization.
  • 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.

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