• 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.
    • High-throughput screening and whole genome sequencing identifies an antimicrobially active inhibitor of Vibrio cholerae.

      Sergeev, Galina; Roy, Sambit; Jarek, Michael; Zapolskii, Viktor; Kaufmann, Dieter E; Nandy, Ranjan K; Tegge, Werner (2014)
      Pathogenic serotypes of Vibrio cholerae cause the life-threatening diarrheal disease cholera. The increasing development of bacterial resistances against the known antibiotics necessitates the search for new antimicrobial compounds and targets for this pathogen.
    • Identification of a PA-binding peptide with inhibitory activity against influenza A and B virus replication.

      Wunderlich, Kerstin; Mayer, Daniel; Ranadheera, Charlene; Holler, Anne-Sophie; Mänz, Benjamin; Martin, Arnold; Chase, Geoffrey; Tegge, Werner; Frank, Ronald; Kessler, Ulrich; et al. (2009-10-20)
      There is an urgent need for new drugs against influenza type A and B viruses due to incomplete protection by vaccines and the emergence of resistance to current antivirals. The influenza virus polymerase complex, consisting of the PB1, PB2 and PA subunits, represents a promising target for the development of new drugs. We have previously demonstrated the feasibility of targeting the protein-protein interaction domain between the PB1 and PA subunits of the polymerase complex of influenza A virus using a small peptide derived from the PA-binding domain of PB1. However, this influenza A virus-derived peptide did not affect influenza B virus polymerase activity. Here we report that the PA-binding domain of the polymerase subunit PB1 of influenza A and B viruses is highly conserved and that mutual amino acid exchange shows that they cannot be functionally exchanged with each other. Based on phylogenetic analysis and a novel biochemical ELISA-based screening approach, we were able to identify an influenza A-derived peptide with a single influenza B-specific amino acid substitution which efficiently binds to PA of both virus types. This dual-binding peptide blocked the viral polymerase activity and growth of both virus types. Our findings provide proof of principle that protein-protein interaction inhibitors can be generated against influenza A and B viruses. Furthermore, this dual-binding peptide, combined with our novel screening method, is a promising platform to identify new antiviral lead compounds.
    • Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus vIRF2 protein utilizes an IFN-dependent pathway to regulate viral early gene expression.

      Koch, Sandra; Damas, Modester; Freise, Anika; Hage, Elias; Dhingra, Akshay; Rückert, Jessica; Gallo, Antonio; Kremmer, Elisabeth; Tegge, Werner; Brönstrup, Mark; et al. (PLOS, 2019-05-01)
      Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV; human herpesvirus 8) belongs to the subfamily of Gammaherpesvirinae and is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma as well as of two lymphoproliferative diseases: primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman disease. The KSHV life cycle is divided into a latent and a lytic phase and is highly regulated by viral immunomodulatory proteins which control the host antiviral immune response. Among them is a group of proteins with homology to cellular interferon regulatory factors, the viral interferon regulatory factors 1-4. The KSHV vIRFs are known as inhibitors of cellular interferon signaling and are involved in different oncogenic pathways. Here we characterized the role of the second vIRF protein, vIRF2, during the KSHV life cycle. We found the vIRF2 protein to be expressed in different KSHV positive cells with early lytic kinetics. Importantly, we observed that vIRF2 suppresses the expression of viral early lytic genes in both newly infected and reactivated persistently infected endothelial cells. This vIRF2-dependent regulation of the KSHV life cycle might involve the increased expression of cellular interferon-induced genes such as the IFIT proteins 1, 2 and 3, which antagonize the expression of early KSHV lytic proteins. Our findings suggest a model in which the viral protein vIRF2 allows KSHV to harness an IFN-dependent pathway to regulate KSHV early gene expression.
    • The nuclear export inhibitor aminoratjadone is a potent effector in extracellular-targeted drug conjugates.

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

      Ghanem, Alexander; Mayer, Daniel; Chase, Geoffrey; Tegge, Werner; Frank, Ronald; Kochs, Georg; García-Sastre, Adolfo; Schwemmle, Martin; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2007-07)
      The assembly of the polymerase complex of influenza A virus from the three viral polymerase subunits PB1, PB2, and PA is required for viral RNA synthesis. We show that peptides which specifically bind to the protein-protein interaction domains in the subunits responsible for complex formation interfere with polymerase complex assembly and inhibit viral replication. Specifically, we provide evidence that a 25-amino-acid peptide corresponding to the PA-binding domain of PB1 blocks the polymerase activity of influenza A virus and inhibits viral spread. Targeting polymerase subunit interactions therefore provides a novel strategy to develop antiviral compounds against influenza A virus or other viruses.
    • 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.
    • T4SS-dependent TLR5 activation by Helicobacter pylori infection.

      Pachathundikandi, Suneesh Kumar; Tegtmeyer, Nicole; Arnold, Isabelle Catherine; Lind, Judith; Neddermann, Matthias; Falkeis-Veits, Christina; Chattopadhyay, Sujay; Brönstrup, Mark; Tegge, Werner; Hong, Minsun; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2019-12-16)
      Toll-like receptor TLR5 recognizes a conserved domain, termed D1, that is present in flagellins of several pathogenic bacteria but not in Helicobacter pylori. Highly virulent H. pylori strains possess a type IV secretion system (T4SS) for delivery of virulence factors into gastric epithelial cells. Here, we show that one of the H. pylori T4SS components, protein CagL, can act as a flagellin-independent TLR5 activator. CagL contains a D1-like motif that mediates adherence to TLR5+ epithelial cells, TLR5 activation, and downstream signaling in vitro. TLR5 expression is associated with H. pylori infection and gastric lesions in human biopsies. Using Tlr5-knockout and wild-type mice, we show that TLR5 is important for efficient control of H. pylori infection. Our results indicate that CagL, by activating TLR5, may modulate immune responses to H. pylori.
    • 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.
    • Von Willebrand Factor Mediates Pneumococcal Aggregation and Adhesion in Blood Flow.

      Jagau, Hilger; Behrens, Ina-Kristin; Lahme, Karen; Lorz, Georgina; Köster, Reinhard W; Schneppenheim, Reinhard; Obser, Tobias; Brehm, Maria A; König, Gesa; Kohler, Thomas P; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major cause of community acquired pneumonia and septicaemia in humans. These diseases are frequently associated with thromboembolic cardiovascular complications. Pneumococci induce the exocytosis of endothelial Weibel-Palade Bodies and thereby actively stimulate the release of von Willebrand factor (VWF), which is an essential glycoprotein of the vascular hemostasis. Both, the pneumococcus induced pulmonary inflammation and the thromboembolytic complications are characterized by a dysbalanced hemostasis including a marked increase in VWF plasma concentrations. Here, we describe for the first time VWF as a novel interaction partner of capsulated and non-encapsulated pneumococci. Moreover, cell culture infection analyses with primary endothelial cells characterized VWF as bridging molecule that mediates bacterial adherence to endothelial cells in a heparin-sensitive manner. Due to the mechanoresponsive changes of the VWF protein conformation and multimerization status, which occur in the blood stream, we used a microfluidic pump system to generate shear flow-induced multimeric VWF strings on endothelial cell surfaces and analyzed attachment of RFP-expressing pneumococci in flow. By applying immunofluorescence visualization and additional electron microscopy, we detected a frequent and enduring bacterial attachment to the VWF strings. Bacterial attachment to the endothelium was confirmed in vivo using a zebrafish infection model, which is described in many reports and acknowledged as suitable model to study hemostasis mechanisms and protein interactions of coagulation factors. Notably, we visualized the recruitment of zebrafish-derived VWF to the surface of pneumococci circulating in the blood stream and detected a VWF-dependent formation of bacterial aggregates within the vasculature of infected zebrafish larvae. Furthermore, we identified the surface-exposed bacterial enolase as pneumococcal VWF binding protein, which interacts with the VWF domain A1 and determined the binding kinetics by surface plasmon resonance. Subsequent epitope mapping using an enolase peptide array indicates that the peptide 181YGAEIFHALKKILKS195 might serve as a possible core sequence of the VWF interaction site. In conclusion, we describe a VWF-mediated mechanism for pneumococcal anchoring within the bloodstream via surface-displayed enolase, which promotes intravascular bacterial aggregation.