Recent Submissions

  • Buchwald-Hartwig versus Microwave-Assisted Amination of Chloroquinolines: En Route to the Pyoverdin Chromophore

    Seubert, Philipp; Freund, Marcel; Rudolf, Richard; Lin, Yulin; Altevogt, Luca; Bilitewski, Ursula; Baro, Angelika; Laschat, Sabine; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Thieme Verlag, 2020-07-22)
    The reaction of 2-chloro-3-nitroquinoline and a series of amines and aminoalkanoates under basic microwave-mediated conditions and Buchwald-Hartwig amination conditions is reported. The microwave irradiation favored the reaction with amines, resulting in yields up to 80%, while amino acid functionalization gave yields comparable to those of BuchwaldHartwig amination. (2R)-4-[(6,7-dimethoxy-3-nitroquinolinyl)amino]-2-hydroxybutanoate could be successfully cyclized to the pyoverdin chromophore, a subunit of siderophores.
  • SAR Studies of the Leupyrrins: Design and Total Synthesis of Highly Potent Simplified Leupylogs.

    Wosniok, Paul R; Knopf, Christopher; Dreisigacker, Sandra; Orozco-Rodriguez, J Manuel; Hinkelmann, Bettina; Mueller, Peter P; Brönstrup, Mark; Menche, Dirk; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2020-11-11)
    Invited for the cover of this issue is the group of Dirk Menche at the University of Bonn. The image depicts the natural product leupyrrin A1 and a synthetic leupylog in balance on an IC50 weighing scale. Read the full text of the article at 10.1002/chem.202002622.
  • The Peptide Chain Release Factor Methyltransferase PrmC Influences the PA14 Endo- and Exometabolome.

    Depke, Tobias; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-10-18)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most important nosocomial pathogens and understanding its virulence is the key to effective control of P. aeruginosa infections. The regulatory network governing virulence factor production in P. aeruginosa is exceptionally complex. Previous studies have shown that the peptide chain release factor methyltransferase PrmC plays an important role in bacterial pathogenicity. Yet, the underlying molecular mechanism is incompletely understood. In this study, we used untargeted liquid and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry to characterise the metabolome of a prmC defective P. aeruginosa PA14 strain in comparison with the corresponding strain complemented with prmC in trans. The comprehensive metabolomics data provided new insight into the influence of prmC on virulence and metabolism. prmC deficiency had broad effects on the endo- and exometabolome of P. aeruginosa PA14, with a marked decrease of the levels of aromatic compounds accompanied by reduced precursor supply from the shikimate pathway. Furthermore, a pronounced decrease of phenazine production was observed as well as lower abundance of alkylquinolones. Unexpectedly, the metabolomics data showed no prmC-dependent effect on rhamnolipid production and an increase in pyochelin levels. A putative virulence biomarker identified in a previous study was significantly less abundant in the prmC deficient strain.
  • Non-Invasive Luciferase Imaging of Type I Interferon Induction in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Biomaterial Associated Bacterial Infections: Microbial Specificity and Inter-Bacterial Species Interactions.

    Rahim, Muhammad Imran; Winkel, Andreas; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Stumpp, Nico S; Szafrański, Szymon P; Kommerein, Nadine; Willbold, Elmar; Reifenrath, Janin; Mueller, Peter P; Eisenburger, Michael; et al. (MDPI, 2020-10-21)
    The performance of biomaterials is often compromised by bacterial infections and subsequent inflammation. So far, the conventional analysis of inflammatory processes in vivo involves time-consuming histology and biochemical assays. The present study employed a mouse model where interferon beta (IFN-β) is monitored as a marker for non-invasive rapid detection of inflammation in implant-related infections. The mouse model comprises subcutaneous implantation of morphologically modified titanium, followed by experimental infections with four taxonomically diverse oral bacteria: Streptococcus oralis, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Treponema denticola (as mono culture or selected mixed-culture). IFN-β expression increased upon infections depending on the type of pathogen and was prolonged by the presence of the implant. IFN-β expression kinetics reduced with two mixed species infections when compared with the single species. Histological and confocal microscopy confirmed pathogen-specific infiltration of inflammatory cells at the implant-tissue interface. This was observed mainly in the vicinity of infected implants and was, in contrast to interferon expression, higher in infections with dual species. In summary, this non-invasive mouse model can be used to quantify longitudinally host inflammation in real time and suggests that the polymicrobial character of infection, highly relevant to clinical situations, has complex effects on host immunity.
  • Synthetic studies of cystobactamids as antibiotics and bacterial imaging carriers lead to compounds with high: In vivo efficacy

    Testolin, Giambattista; Cirnski, Katarina; Rox, Katharina; Prochnow, Hans; Fetz, Verena; Grandclaudon, Charlotte; Mollner, Tim; Baiyoumy, Alain; Ritter, Antje; Leitner, Christian; et al. (RSC, 2020-01-01)
    There is an alarming scarcity of novel chemical matter with bioactivity against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. Cystobactamids, recently discovered natural products from myxobacteria, are an exception to this trend. Their unusual chemical structure, composed of oligomeric para-aminobenzoic acid moieties, is associated with a high antibiotic activity through the inhibition of gyrase. In this study, structural determinants of cystobactamid's antibacterial potency were defined at five positions, which were varied using three different synthetic routes to the cystobactamid scaffold. The potency against Acinetobacter baumannii could be increased ten-fold to an MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) of 0.06 μg mL−1, and the previously identified spectrum gap of Klebsiella pneumoniae could be closed compared to the natural products (MIC of 0.5 μg mL−1). Proteolytic degradation of cystobactamids by the resistance factor AlbD was prevented by an amide-triazole replacement. Conjugation of cystobactamid's N-terminal tetrapeptide to a Bodipy moiety induced the selective localization of the fluorophore for bacterial imaging purposes. Finally, a first in vivo proof of concept was obtained in an E. coli infection mouse model, where derivative 22 led to the reduction of bacterial loads (cfu, colony-forming units) in muscle, lung and kidneys by five orders of magnitude compared to vehicle-treated mice. These findings qualify cystobactamids as highly promising lead structures against infections caused by Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial pathogens.
  • Host-induced spermidine production in motile triggers phagocytic uptake.

    Felgner, Sebastian; Preusse, Matthias; Beutling, Ulrike; Stahnke, Stephanie; Pawar, Vinay; Rohde, Manfred; Brönstrup, Mark; Stradal, Theresia; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (elifeSciences, 2020-09-22)
    Exploring the complexity of host-pathogen communication is vital to understand why microbes persist within a host, while others are cleared. Here, we employed a dual-sequencing approach to unravel conversational turn-taking of dynamic host-pathogen communications. We demonstrate that upon hitting a host cell, motile Pseudomonas aeruginosa induce a specific gene expression program. This results in the expression of spermidine on the surface, which specifically activates the PIP3-pathway to induce phagocytic uptake into primary or immortalized murine cells. Non-motile bacteria are more immunogenic due to a lower expression of arnT upon host-cell contact, but do not produce spermidine and are phagocytosed less. We demonstrate that not only the presence of pathogen inherent molecular patterns induces immune responses, but that bacterial motility is linked to a host-cell-induced expression of additional immune modulators. Our results emphasize on the value of integrating microbiological and immunological findings to unravel complex and dynamic host-pathogen interactions.
  • Toll-like Receptor 5 Activation by the CagY Repeat Domains of Helicobacter pylori.

    Tegtmeyer, Nicole; Neddermann, Matthias; Lind, Judith; Pachathundikandi, Suneesh Kumar; Sharafutdinov, Irshad; Gutiérrez-Escobar, Andrés Julián; Brönstrup, Mark; Tegge, Werner; Hong, Minsun; Rohde, Manfred; et al. (Cell Press, 2020-11-15)
    Helicobacter pylori (Hp) is an important human pathogen associated with gastric inflammation and neoplasia. It is commonly believed that this bacterium avoids major immune recognition by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) because of low intrinsic activity of its flagellin and lipopolysaccharides (LPS). In particular, TLR5 specifically detects flagellins in various bacterial pathogens, while Hp evolved mutations in flagellin to evade detection through TLR5. Cancerogenic Hp strains encode a type IV secretion system (T4SS). The T4SS core component and pilus-associated protein CagY, a large VirB10 ortholog, drives effector molecule translocation. Here, we identify CagY as a flagellin-independent TLR5 agonist. We detect five TLR5 interaction sites, promoting binding of CagY-positive Hp to TLR5-expressing cells, TLR5 stimulation, and intracellular signal transduction. Consequently, CagY constitutes a remarkable VirB10 member detected by TLR5, driving crucial innate immune responses by this human pathogen.
  • Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of a Library of AGE-Related Amino Acid Triazole Crosslinkers

    Icik, Esra; Jolly, Anthony; Löffler, Paul; Agelidis, Nektarios; Bugdayci, Bakiye; Altevogt, Luca; Bilitewski, Ursula; Baro, Angelika; LASCHAT, SABINE; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-08-10)
    Three N‐Boc‐protected amino acids, l‐serine, l‐aspartic, and l‐glutamic acid, were either converted into their methyl azidoalkanoates or various alkynes via Bestmann‐Ohira strategy or via reaction with propargylamine and propargyl bromide, respectively. The Cu‐catalyzed click reaction provided a library of amino acid based triazoles, which were further N‐methylated to triazolium iodides or deprotected and precipitated as free amino acid triazole dihydrochlorides. The biological properties of all derivatives were investigated by cytotoxicity assay (against L929 mouse fibroblasts) and broth microdilution method (E. coli ΔTolC and S. aureus). First results reveal complete inactivity for triazolium iodides with cell viabilities and microbial growths nearly 100 %, indicating them as possible analogs of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs).
  • Untargeted LC-MS Metabolomics Differentiates Between Virulent and Avirulent Clinical Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

    Depke, Tobias; Thöming, Janne Gesine; Kordes, Adrian; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-07-13)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a facultative pathogen that can cause, inter alia, acute or chronic pneumonia in predisposed individuals. The gram-negative bacterium displays considerable genomic and phenotypic diversity that is also shaped by small molecule secondary metabolites. The discrimination of virulence phenotypes is highly relevant to the diagnosis and prognosis of P. aeruginosa infections. In order to discover small molecule metabolites that distinguish different virulence phenotypes of P. aeruginosa, 35 clinical strains were cultivated under standard conditions, characterized in terms of virulence and biofilm phenotype, and their metabolomes were investigated by untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The data was both mined for individual candidate markers as well as used to construct statistical models to infer the virulence phenotype from metabolomics data. We found that clinical strains that differed in their virulence and biofilm phenotype also had pronounced divergence in their metabolomes, as underlined by 332 features that were significantly differentially abundant with fold changes greater than 1.5 in both directions. Important virulence-associated secondary metabolites like rhamnolipids, alkyl quinolones or phenazines were found to be strongly upregulated in virulent strains. In contrast, we observed little change in primary metabolism. A hitherto novel cationic metabolite with a sum formula of C12H15N2 could be identified as a candidate biomarker. A random forest model was able to classify strains according to their virulence and biofilm phenotype with an area under the Receiver Operation Characteristics curve of 0.84. These findings demonstrate that untargeted metabolomics is a valuable tool to characterize P. aeruginosa virulence, and to explore interrelations between clinically important phenotypic traits and the bacterial metabolome.
  • Impact of dental cement on the peri-implant biofilm-microbial comparison of two different cements in an in vivo observational study.

    Korsch, Michael; Marten, Silke-Mareike; Walther, Winfried; Vital, Marius; Pieper, Dietmar H; Dötsch, Andreas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2018-08-20)
    Background: The type of cement used in cemented fixed implant-supported restorations influences formation of undetected excess cement and composition of the peri-implant biofilm. Excess cement and dysbiosis of the biofilm involve the risk of peri-implant inflammation. Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of two different cements on the peri-implant biofilm and inflammation. Materials and methods: In an observational study, the suprastructures of 34 patients with cemented fixed implant-supported restorations were revised. In 20 patients, a methacrylate cement (Premier Implant cement [PIC]) and in 14 patients, a zinc oxide eugenol cement (Temp Bond [TB]) were used. After revision, TB was used for recementation. During revision and follow-up after 1 year, microbial samples were obtained. Results: Excess cement was found in 12 (60%) of the 20 patients with PIC. Suppuration was observed in two (25%) implants with PIC without excess cement (PIC-) and in all 12 (100%) implants with PIC and excess cement (PIC+). Implants cemented with TB had neither excess cement nor suppuration. The taxonomic analysis of the microbial samples revealed an accumulation of periodontal pathogens in the PIC patients independent of the presence of excess cement. Significantly, fewer oral pathogens occurred in patients with TB compared to patients with PIC. TB was used in all cases (PIC and TB) for recementation. In the follow-up check, suppuration was not found around any of the implants with PIC-, only around one implant with PIC+ and around one implant with TB. Bacterial species associated with severe periodontal infections that were abundant in PIC- and PIC+ samples before the revision were reduced after 1 year to levels found in the TB samples. Conclusions: The revision and recementation with TB had a positive effect on the peri-implant biofilm in cases with PIC. The cementation of suprastructures on implants with TB is an alternative method to be considered.
  • Toward Biorecycling: Isolation of a Soil Bacterium That Grows on a Polyurethane Oligomer and Monomer.

    Espinosa, María José Cárdenas; Blanco, Andrea Colina; Schmidgall, Tabea; Atanasoff-Kardjalieff, Anna Katharina; Kappelmeyer, Uwe; Tischler, Dirk; Pieper, Dietmar H; Heipieper, Hermann J; Eberlein, Christian; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-03-27)
    The fate of plastic waste and a sustainable use of synthetic polymers is one of the major challenges of the twenty first century. Waste valorization strategies can contribute to the solution of this problem. Besides chemical recycling, biological degradation could be a promising tool. Among the high diversity of synthetic polymers, polyurethanes are widely used as foams and insulation materials. In order to examine bacterial biodegradability of polyurethanes, a soil bacterium was isolated from a site rich in brittle plastic waste. The strain, identified as Pseudomonas sp. by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and membrane fatty acid profile, was able to grow on a PU-diol solution, a polyurethane oligomer, as the sole source of carbon and energy. In addition, the strain was able to use 2,4-diaminotoluene, a common precursor and putative degradation intermediate of polyurethanes, respectively, as sole source of energy, carbon, and nitrogen. Whole genome sequencing of the strain revealed the presence of numerus catabolic genes for aromatic compounds. Growth on potential intermediates of 2,4-diaminotoluene degradation, other aromatic growth substrates and a comparison with a protein data base of oxygenases present in the genome, led to the proposal of a degradation pathway.
  • Polyhalonitrobutadienes as Versatile Building Blocks for the Biotargeted Synthesis of Substituted N-Heterocyclic Compounds.

    Zapol'skii, Viktor A; Bilitewski, Ursula; Kupiec, Sören R; Ramming, Isabell; Kaufmann, Dieter E; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-06-21)
    Substituted nitrogen heterocycles are structural key units in many important pharmaceuticals. A new synthetic approach towards heterocyclic compounds displaying antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus or cytotoxic activity has been developed. The selective synthesis of a series of 64 new N-heterocycles from the three nitrobutadienes 2-nitroperchloro-1,3-butadiene, 4-bromotetrachloro-2-nitro-1,3-butadiene and (Z)-1,1,4-trichloro-2,4-dinitrobuta-1,3-diene proved feasible. Their reactions with N-, O- and S-nucleophiles provide rapid access to push-pull substituted benzoxazolines, benzimidazolines, imidazolidines, thiazolidinones, pyrazoles, pyrimidines, pyridopyrimidines, benzoquinolines, isothiazoles, dihydroisoxazoles, and thiophenes with unique substitution patterns. Antibacterial activities of 64 synthesized compounds were examined. Additionally, seven compounds (thiazolidinone, nitropyrimidine, indole, pyridopyrimidine, and thiophene derivatives) exhibited a significant cytotoxicity with IC50-values from 1.05 to 20.1 µM. In conclusion, it was demonstrated that polyhalonitrobutadienes have an interesting potential as structural backbones for a variety of highly functionalized, pharmaceutically active heterocycles.
  • Microbial Community Structure Along a Horizontal Oxygen Gradient in a Costa Rican Volcanic Influenced Acid Rock Drainage System.

    Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Avendaño, Roberto; Libby, Eduardo; Mora-Amador, Raúl; Rojas-Jimenez, Keilor; Martínez, María; Pieper, Dietmar H; Chavarría, Max; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2020-06-22)
    We describe the geochemistry and microbial diversity of a pristine environment that resembles an acid rock drainage (ARD) but it is actually the result of hydrothermal and volcanic influences. We designate this environment, and other comparable sites, as volcanic influenced acid rock drainage (VARD) systems. The metal content and sulfuric acid in this ecosystem stem from the volcanic milieu and not from the product of pyrite oxidation. Based on the analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons, we report the microbial community structure in the pristine San Cayetano Costa Rican VARD environment (pH = 2.94-3.06, sulfate ~ 0.87-1.19 g L-1, iron ~ 35-61 mg L-1 (waters), and ~ 8-293 g kg-1 (sediments)). San Cayetano was found to be dominated by microorganisms involved in the geochemical cycling of iron, sulfur, and nitrogen; however, the identity and abundance of the species changed with the oxygen content (0.40-6.06 mg L-1) along the river course. The hypoxic source of San Cayetano is dominated by a putative anaerobic sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacterium. Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria such as Acidithiobacillus or Sulfobacillus are found in smaller proportions with respect to typical ARD. In the oxic downstream, we identified aerobic iron-oxidizers (Leptospirillum, Acidithrix, Ferrovum) and heterotrophic bacteria (Burkholderiaceae bacterium, Trichococcus, Acidocella). Thermoplasmatales archaea closely related to environmental phylotypes found in other ARD niches were also observed throughout the entire ecosystem. Overall, our study shows the differences and similarities in the diversity and distribution of the microbial communities between an ARD and a VARD system at the source and along the oxygen gradient that establishes on the course of the river.
  • Filovirus antiviral activity of cationic amphiphilic drugs is associated with lipophilicity and ability to induce phospholipidosis.

    Gunesch, Antonia P; Zapatero-Belinchon, Francisco J; Pinkert, Lukas; Steinmann, Eike; Manns, Michael P; Schneider, Gisbert; Pietschmann, Thomas; Brönstrup, Mark; von Hahn, Thomas; 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. (ASM, 2020-06-08)
    Several cationic amphiphilic drugs (CADs) have been found to inhibit cell entry of filoviruses and other enveloped viruses. Structurally unrelated CADs may have antiviral activity, yet the underlying common mechanism and structure-activity relationship are incompletely understood.We aimed to understand how widespread antiviral activity is among CADs and which structural and physico-chemical properties are linked to entry inhibition.We measured inhibition of Marburg virus pseudoparticle (MARVpp) cell entry by 45 heterogeneous and mostly FDA-approved CADs and cytotoxicity in EA.hy926 cells. We analysed correlation of antiviral activity with four chemical properties: pKa, ClogP, molecular weight and distance between the basic group and hydrophobic ring structures. Additionally, we quantified drug-induced phospholipidosis (DIPL) of a CAD subset by flow cytometry. Structurally similar compounds (derivatives) and those with similar chemical properties but unrelated structure (analogues) to strong inhibitors were obtained by two in silico similarity search approaches and tested for antiviral activity. Overall 11 out of 45 (24 %) CADs inhibited MARVpp by 40 % or more. The strongest antiviral compounds were dronedarone, triparanol and quinacrine. Structure-activity relationship studies revealed highly significant correlations between antiviral activity, hydrophobicity (ClogP>4), and DIPL. Moreover, pKa and intra-molecular distance between hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties correlated with antiviral activity, but to a lesser extent. We also showed that in contrast to analogues, derivatives had similar antiviral activity as the seed compound dronedarone. Overall, one quarter of CADs inhibits MARVpp entry in vitro and antiviral activity of CADs mostly relies on their hydrophobicity, yet is promoted by the individual structure.
  • Expansion of functional personalized cells with specific transgene combinations.

    Lipps, Christoph; Klein, Franziska; Wahlicht, Tom; Seiffert, Virginia; Butueva, Milada; Zauers, Jeannette; Truschel, Theresa; Luckner, Martin; Köster, Mario; MacLeod, Roderick; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-03-08)
    Fundamental research and drug development for personalized medicine necessitates cell cultures from defined genetic backgrounds. However, providing sufficient numbers of authentic cells from individuals poses a challenge. Here, we present a new strategy for rapid cell expansion that overcomes current limitations. Using a small gene library, we expanded primary cells from different tissues, donors, and species. Cell-type-specific regimens that allow the reproducible creation of cell lines were identified. In depth characterization of a series of endothelial and hepatocytic cell lines confirmed phenotypic stability and functionality. Applying this technology enables rapid, efficient, and reliable production of unlimited numbers of personalized cells. As such, these cell systems support mechanistic studies, epidemiological research, and tailored drug development.
  • Crystal structure of SARS-CoV-2 main protease provides a basis for design of improved α-ketoamide inhibitors.

    Zhang, Linlin; Lin, Daizong; Sun, Xinyuanyuan; Curth, Ute; Drosten, Christian; Sauerhering, Lucie; Becker, Stephan; Rox, Katharina; Hilgenfeld, Rolf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (AAAS, 2020-03-20)
    The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a global health emergency. An attractive drug target among coronaviruses is the main protease (Mpro, also called 3CLpro) because of its essential role in processing the polyproteins that are translated from the viral RNA. We report the x-ray structures of the unliganded SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and its complex with an α-ketoamide inhibitor. This was derived from a previously designed inhibitor but with the P3-P2 amide bond incorporated into a pyridone ring to enhance the half-life of the compound in plasma. On the basis of the unliganded structure, we developed the lead compound into a potent inhibitor of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro The pharmacokinetic characterization of the optimized inhibitor reveals a pronounced lung tropism and suitability for administration by the inhalative route.
  • Labyrinthopeptins as virolytic inhibitors of respiratory syncytial virus cell entry.

    Blockus, Sebastian; Sake, Svenja M; Wetzke, Martin; Grethe, Christina; Graalmann, Theresa; Pils, Marina; Le Goffic, Ronan; Galloux, Marie; Prochnow, Hans; Rox, Katharina; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-03-18)
    Acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are associated with a severe disease burden among infants and elderly patients. Treatment options are limited. While numerous drug candidates with different viral targets are under development, the utility of RSV entry inhibitors is challenged by a low resistance barrier and by single mutations causing cross-resistance against a wide spectrum of fusion inhibitor chemotypes. We developed a cell-based screening assay for discovery of compounds inhibiting infection with primary RSV isolates. Using this system, we identified labyrinthopeptin A1 and A2 (Laby A1/A2), lantibiotics isolated from Actinomadura namibiensis, as effective RSV cell entry inhibitors with IC50s of 0.39 μM and 4.97 μM, respectively, and with favourable therapeutic index (>200 and > 20, respectively). Both molecules were active against multiple RSV strains including primary isolates and their antiviral activity against RSV was confirmed in primary human airway cells ex vivo and a murine model in vivo. Laby A1/A2 were antiviral in prophylactic and therapeutic treatment regimens and displayed synergistic activity when applied in combination with each other. Mechanistic studies showed that Laby A1/A2 exert virolytic activity likely by binding to phosphatidylethanolamine moieties within the viral membrane and by disrupting virus particle membrane integrity. Probably due to its specific mode of action, Laby A1/A2 antiviral activity was not affected by common resistance mutations to known RSV entry inhibitors. Taken together, Laby A1/A2 represent promising candidates for development as RSV inhibitors. Moreover, the cell-based screening system with primary RSV isolates described here should be useful to identify further antiviral agents.
  • Inhibition of Respiration of Candida albicans by Small Molecules Increases Phagocytosis Efficacy by Macrophages.

    Cui, Shuna; Li, Minghui; Hassan, Rabeay Y A; Heintz-Buschart, Anna; Wang, Junsong; Bilitewski, Ursula; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society of Microbiology, 2020-04-15)
    Candida albicans adapts to various conditions in different body niches by regulating gene expression, protein synthesis, and metabolic pathways. These adaptive reactions not only allow survival but also influence the interaction with host cells, which is governed by the composition and structure of the fungal cell wall. Numerous studies had shown linkages between mitochondrial functionality, cell wall integrity and structure, and pathogenicity. Thus, we decided to inhibit single complexes of the respiratory chain of C. albicans and to analyze the resultant interaction with macrophages via their phagocytic activity. Remarkably, inhibition of the fungal bc1 complex by antimycin A increased phagocytosis, which correlated with an increased accessibility of β-glucans. To contribute to mechanistic insights, we performed metabolic studies, which highlighted significant changes in the abundance of constituents of the plasma membrane. Collectively, our results reinforce the strong linkage between fungal energy metabolism and other components of fungal physiology, which also determine the vulnerability to immune defense reactions.IMPORTANCE The yeast Candida albicans is one of the major fungal human pathogens, for which new therapeutic approaches are required. We aimed at enhancements of the phagocytosis efficacy of macrophages by targeting the cell wall structure of C. albicans, as the coverage of the β-glucan layer by mannans is one of the immune escape mechanisms of the fungus. We unambiguously show that inhibition of the fungal bc1 complex correlates with increased accessibilities of β-glucans and improved phagocytosis efficiency. Metabolic studies proved not only the known direct effects on reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and fermentative pathways but also the clear downregulation of the ergosterol pathway and upregulation of unsaturated fatty acids. The changed composition of the plasma membrane could also influence the interaction with the overlying cell wall. Thus, our work highlights the far-reaching relevance of energy metabolism, indirectly also for host-pathogen interactions, without affecting viability.
  • A NanoLuc luciferase-based assay enabling the real-time analysis of protein secretion and injection by bacterial type III secretion systems.

    Westerhausen, Sibel; Nowak, Melanie; Torres-Vargas, Claudia E; Bilitewski, Ursula; Bohn, Erwin; Grin, Iwan; Wagner, Samuel; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2020-02-18)
    The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of secretion through bacterial protein secretion systems is impeded by a shortage of assays to quantitatively assess secretion kinetics. Also the analysis of the biological role of these secretion systems as well as the identification of inhibitors targeting these systems would greatly benefit from the availability of a simple, quick and quantitative assay to monitor principle secretion and injection into host cells. Here, we present a versatile solution to this need, utilizing the small and very bright NanoLuc luciferase to assess the function of the type III secretion system encoded by Salmonella pathogenicity island 1. Type III secretion substrate-NanoLuc fusions are readily secreted into the culture supernatant, where they can be quantified by luminometry after removal of bacteria. The NanoLuc-based secretion assay features a very high signal-to-noise ratio and sensitivity down to the nanolitre scale. The assay enables monitoring of secretion kinetics and is adaptable to a high throughput screening format in 384-well microplates. We further developed a split NanoLuc-based assay that enables the real-time monitoring of type III secretion-dependent injection of effector-HiBiT fusions into host cells stably expressing the complementing NanoLuc-LgBiT.
  • Potential TMA-Producing Bacteria Are Ubiquitously Found in Mammalia.

    Rath, Silke; Rud, Tatjana; Pieper, Dietmar H; Vital, Marius; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Human gut bacteria metabolize dietary components such as choline and carnitine to trimethylamine (TMA) that is subsequently oxidized to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) by hepatic enzymes. Increased plasma levels of TMAO are associated with the development of cardiovascular and renal disease. In this study, we applied gene-targeted assays in order to quantify (qPCR) and characterize (MiSeq) bacterial genes encoding enzymes responsible for TMA production, namely choline-TMA lyase (CutC), carnitine oxygenase (CntA) and betaine reductase (GrdH) in 89 fecal samples derived from various mammals spanning three dietary groups (carnivores, omnivores and herbivores) and four host orders (Carnivora, Primates, Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla). All samples contained potential TMA-producing bacteria, however, at low abundances (<1.2% of total community). The cutC gene was more abundant in omnivores and carnivores compared with herbivores. CntA was almost absent from herbivores and grdH showed lowest average abundance of all three genes. Bacteria harboring cutC and grdH displayed high diversities where sequence types affiliated with various taxa within Firmicutes dominated, whereas cntA comprised sequences primarily linked to Escherichia. Composition of TMA-forming communities was strongly influenced by diet and host taxonomy and despite their high correlation, both factors contributed uniquely to community structure. Furthermore, Random Forest (RF) models could differentiate between groups at high accuracies. This study gives a comprehensive overview of potential TMA-producing bacteria in the mammalian gut demonstrating that both diet and host taxonomy govern their abundance and composition. It highlights the role of functional redundancy sustaining potential TMA formation in distinct gut environments.

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