• Discovery of Novel Latency-Associated Nuclear Antigen Inhibitors as Antiviral Agents Against Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus.

      Kirsch, Philine; Jakob, Valentin; Elgaher, Walid A M; Walt, Christine; Oberhausen, Kevin; Schulz, Thomas F; Empting, Martin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.;HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-01-24)
      With the aim to develop novel antiviral agents against Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV), we are targeting the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA). This protein plays an important role in viral genome maintenance during latent infection. LANA has the ability to tether the viral genome to the host nucleosomes and, thus, ensures latent persistence of the viral genome in the host cells. By inhibition of the LANA-DNA interaction, we seek to eliminate or reduce the load of the viral DNA in the host. To achieve this goal, we screened our in-house library using a dedicated fluorescence polarization (FP)-based competition assay, which allows for the quantification of LANA-DNA-interaction inhibition by small organic molecules. We successfully identified three different compound classes capable of disrupting this protein-nucleic acid interaction. We characterized these compounds by IC50 dose-response evaluation and confirmed the compound-LANA interaction using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy. Furthermore, two of the three hit scaffolds showed only marginal cytotoxicity in two human cell lines. Finally, we conducted STD-NMR competition experiments with our new hit compounds and a previously described fragment-sized inhibitor. Based on these results, future compound linking approaches could serve as a promising strategy for further optimization studies in order to generate highly potent KSHV inhibitors.
    • Cystobactamid 507: Concise Synthesis, Mode of Action and Optimization toward More Potent Antibiotics.

      Elgaher, Walid A M; Hamed, Mostafa M; Baumann, Sascha; Herrmann, Jennifer; Siebenbürger, Lorenz; Krull, Jana; Cirnski, Katarina; Kirschning, Andreas; Brönstrup, Mark; Müller, Rolf; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-01-26)
      Lack of new antibiotics and increasing antimicrobial resistance are the main concerns of healthcare community nowadays, which necessitate the search for novel antibacterial agents. Recently, we discovered the cystobactamids - a novel natural class of antibiotics with broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. In this work, we describe a concise total synthesis of cystobactamid 507, the identification of the bioactive conformation using non-covalently bonded rigid analogs, the first structure–activity relationship (SAR) study for cystobactamid 507 leading to new analogs with high metabolic stability, superior topoisomerase IIA inhibition, antibacterial activity and, importantly, stability toward the resistant factor AlbD. Deeper insight into the mode of action revealed that the cystobactamids employ DNA minor groove binding as part of the drug–target interaction without showing significant intercalation. By designing a new analog of cystobactamid 919-2 we finally demonstrated that these findings could be further exploited to obtain more potent hexapeptides against Gram-negative bacteria.
    • 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.
    • Semisynthesis and biological evaluation of amidochelocardin derivatives as broad-spectrum antibiotics.

      Grandclaudon, Charlotte; Birudukota, N V Suryanarayana; Elgaher, Walid A M; Jumde, Ravindra P; Yahiaoui, Samir; Arisetti, Nanaji; Hennessen, Fabienne; Hüttel, Stephan; Stadler, Marc; Herrmann, Jennifer; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-12-20)
      To address the global challenge of emerging antimicrobial resistance, the hitherto most successful strategy to new antibiotics has been the optimization of validated natural products; most of these efforts rely on semisynthesis. Herein, we report the semisynthetic modification of amidochelocardin, an atypical tetracycline obtained via genetic engineering of the chelocardin producer strain. We report modifications at C4, C7, C10 and C11 by the application of methylation, acylation, electrophilic substitution, and oxidative C-C coupling reactions. The antibacterial activity of the reaction products was tested against a panel of Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens. The emerging structure-activity relationships (SARs) revealed that positions C7 and C10 are favorable anchor points for the semisynthesis of optimized derivatives. The observed SAR was different from that known for tetracyclines, which underlines the pronounced differences between the two compound classes.
    • 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.
    • Evidence for inoculum size and gas interfaces as critical factors in bacterial biofilm formation on magnesium implants in an animal model.

      Rahim, Muhammad Imran; Szafrański, Szymon P; Ingendoh-Tsakmakidis, Alexandra; Stiesch, Meike; Mueller, Peter P; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-11-28)
      Infections of medical implants caused by bacterial biofilms are a major clinical problem. Bacterial colonization is predicted to be prevented by alkaline magnesium surfaces. However, in experimental animal studies, magnesium implants prolonged infections. The reason for this peculiarity likely lies within the ‒still largely hypothetical‒ mechanism by which infection arises. Investigating subcutaneous magnesium implants infected with bioluminescent Pseudomonas aeruginosa via in vivo imaging, we found that the rate of implant infections was critically dependent on a surprisingly high quantity of injected bacteria. At high inocula, bacteria were antibiotic-refractory immediately after infection. High cell densities are known to limit nutrient availability, restricting proliferation and trigger quorum sensing which could both contribute to the rapid initial resistance. We propose that gas bubbles such as those formed during magnesium corrosion, can then act as interfaces that support biofilm formation and permit long-term survival. This model could provide an explanation for the apparent ineffectiveness of innovative contact-dependent bactericidal implant surfaces in patients. In addition, the model points toward air bubbles in tissue, either by inclusion during surgery or by spontaneous gas bubble formation later on, could constitute a key risk factor for clinical implant infections
    • Labyrinthopeptins exert broad-spectrum antiviral activity through lipid-binding-mediated virolysis.

      Prochnow, Hans; Rox, Katharina; Birudukota, N V Suryanarayana; Weichert, Loreen; Hotop, Sven-Kevin; Klahn, Philipp; Mohr, Kathrin; Franz, Sergej; Banda, Dominic H; Blockus, Sebastian; et al. (ASM, 2019-10-30)
      To counteract the serious health threat posed by known and novel viral pathogens, drugs that target a variety of viruses through a common mechanism have attracted recent attention due to their potential in treating (re-)emerging infections, for which direct acting antivirals are not available. We found that labyrinthopeptins A1 and A2, the prototype congeners of carbacyclic lanthipeptides, inhibit the proliferation of diverse enveloped viruses, including Dengue virus, Zika virus, West Nile virus, Hepatitis C virus, Chikungunya virus, Karposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpes virus, Cytomegalovirus, and Herpes Simplex virus, in the low μM to nM range. Mechanistic studies on viral particles revealed that labyrinthopeptins induce a virolytic effect through binding to the viral membrane lipid phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). These effects are enhanced by a combined equimolar application of both labyrinthopeptins, and a clear synergism was observed across a concentration range corresponding to IC10-IC90 values of the compounds. Time-resolved experiments with large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) reveal that membrane lipid raft compositions (PC/PE/Chol/SM (17:10:33:40)) are particularly sensitive to labyrinthopeptins compared to PC/PE (90:10) LUVs, even though the overall PE-amount remains constant. Labyrinthopeptins exhibited low cytotoxicity and had favorable pharmacokinetic properties in mice (t1/2= 10.0 h), which designates them as promising antiviral compounds acting by an unusual viral lipid targeting mechanism.Importance For many viral infections, current treatment options are insufficient. Because the development of each antiviral drug is time-consuming and expensive, the prospect of finding broad-spectrum antivirals that can fight multiple, diverse viruses - well-known as well as (re-)emerging species - has gained attention, especially for the treatment of viral co-infections. While most known broad spectrum agents address processes in the host cell, we found that targeting lipids of the free virus outside the host cell with the natural products labyrinthopeptin A1 and A2 is a viable strategy to inhibit the proliferation of a broad range of viruses from different families, including Chikungunya virus, Dengue virus, Zika virus, Karposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpes virus, or Cytomegalovirus. Labyrinthopeptins bind to viral phosphatidylethanolamine and induce virolysis without exerting cytotoxicity to host cells. This represents a novel and unusual mechanism to tackle medically relevant viral infections.
    • Anti-biofilm Agents against Pseudomonas aeruginosa: A Structure-Activity Relationship Study of C-Glycosidic LecB Inhibitors

      Sommer, Roman; Rox, Katharina; Wagner, Stefanie; Hauck, Dirk; Henrikus, Sarah S; Newsad, Shelby; Arnold, Tatjana; Ryckmans, Thomas; Brönstrup, Mark; Imberty, Anne; et al. (American Chemical Society, 2019-10-24)
      Biofilm formation is a key mechanism of antimicrobial resistance. We have recently reported two classes of orally bioavailable C-glycosidic inhibitors of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa lectin LecB with antibiofilm activity. They proved efficient in target binding, were metabolically stable, nontoxic, selective, and potent in inhibiting formation of bacterial biofilm. Here, we designed and synthesized six new carboxamides and 24 new sulfonamides for a detailed structure-activity relationship for two clinically representative LecB variants. Sulfonamides generally showed higher inhibition compared to carboxamides, which was rationalized based on crystal structure analyses. Substitutions at the thiophenesulfonamide increased binding through extensive contacts with a lipophilic protein patch. These metabolically stable compounds showed a further increase in potency toward the target and in biofilm inhibition assays. In general, we established the structure-activity relationship for these promising antibiofilm agents and showed that modification of the sulfonamide residue bears future optimization potential.
    • Hydantoin analogs inhibit the fully assembled ClpXP protease without affecting the individual peptidase and chaperone domains.

      Fetzer, Christian; Korotkov, Vadim S; Sieber, Stephan A; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019-08-14)
      Proteolysis mediated by ClpXP is a crucial cellular process linked to bacterial pathogenesis. The development of specific inhibitors has largely focused on ClpP. However, this focus was challenged by a recent finding showing that conformational control by ClpX leads to a rejection of ClpP binders. Thus, we here follow up on a hit molecule from a high throughput screen performed against the whole ClpXP complex and demonstrate that stable inhibition with high potency is possible. Further investigations revealed that the small molecule binds to ClpP without affecting its activity. Likewise, the molecule does not inhibit ClpX and retains the overall oligomeric state of ClpXP upon binding. Structure activity relationship studies confirmed structural constraints in all three parts of the molecule suggesting binding into a defined stereospecific pocket. Overall, the inhibition of ClpXP without affecting the individual components represents a novel mechanism with perspectives for further optimization for in situ applications.
    • Isolation and characterisation of irinans, androstane-type withanolides from L.

      Stein, Annika; Compera, Dave; Karge, Bianka; Brönstrup, Mark; Franke, Jakob; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Beilstein Institut, 2019-01-01)
      Withanolides are steroidal lactones widespread in Nightshade plants with often potent antiproliferative activities. Additionally, the structural diversity of this compound class holds much potential for the discovery of novel biological activity. Here, we report two newly characterised withanolides, named irinans, from Physalis peruviana with highly unusual truncated backbones that resemble mammalian androstane sex hormones. Based on biomimetic chemical reactions, we propose a model that links these compounds to withanolide biosynthesis. Irinans have potent antiproliferative activities, that are however lower than those of 4ß-hydroxywithanolide E. Our work establishes androwithanolides as a new subclass of withanolides.
    • What you see is what you get: Activity-based probes in single-cell analysis of enzymatic activities

      Lentz, Christian S.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (DeGruyter, 2019-01-01)
      Molecular imaging methods can provide spatio-temporal information about the distribution of biomolecules or biological processes, such as certain enzymatic activities, in single cells. Within a cell, it is possible to define the subcellular location of a target, its trafficking through the cell, colocalization with other biomolecules of interest and involvement in certain cell biological processes. On the other hand, single-cell imaging promises to distinguish cells that are phenotypically different from each other. The corresponding cellular diversity comprises the presence of functionally distinct cells in a population (‘phenotypic heterogeneity’), as well as dynamic cellular responses to external stimuli (‘phenotypic plasticity’), which is highly relevant, e.g. during cell differentiation, activation (of immune cells), or cell death. This review focuses on applications of a certain class of chemical probes, the so-called activity-based probes (ABPs), for visualization of enzymatic activities in the single-cell context. It discusses the structure of ABPs and other chemical probes, exemplary applications of ABPs in single-cell studies in human, mouse and bacterial systems and considerations to be made with regard to data interpretation
    • The intriguing chemistry and biology of soraphens.

      Naini, Arun; Sasse, Florenz; Brönstrup, Mark (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019-04-05)
      Covering: up to the end of 2018Soraphens are a class of polyketide natural products discovered from the myxobacterial strain Sorangium cellulosum. The review is intended to provide an overview on the biosynthesis, chemistry and biological properties of soraphens, that represent a prime example to showcase the value of natural products as tools to decipher cell biology, but also to open novel therapeutic options. The prototype soraphen A is an inhibitor of acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACC1/2), an enzyme that converts acetyl-CoA to malonyl-CoA and thereby controls essential cellular metabolic processes like lipogenesis and fatty acid oxidation. Soraphens illustrate how the inhibition of a single target (ACC1/2) may be explored to treat various pathological conditions: initially developed as a fungicide, efforts in the past decade were directed towards human diseases, including diabetes/obesity, cancer, hepatitis C, HIV, and autoimmune disease - and led to a synthetic molecule, discovered by virtual screening of the allosteric binding site of soraphen in ACC, that is currently in phase 2 clinical trials. We will summarize how structural analogs of soraphen A have been generated through extensive isolation efforts, genetic engineering of the biosynthetic gene cluster, semisynthesis as well as partial and total synthesis.
    • Discovery pipelines for marine resources: an ocean of opportunity for biotechnology?

      Smith, D; Buddie, A G; Goss, R J M; Overmann, J; Lepleux, C; Brönstrup, M; Kloareg, B; Meiners, T; Brennecke, P; Ianora, A; et al. (Springer, 2019-07-02)
      Marine microbial diversity offers enormous potential for discovery of compounds of crucial importance in healthcare, food security and bioindustry. However, access to it has been hampered by the difficulty of accessing and growing the organisms for study. The discovery and exploitation of marine bioproducts for research and commercial development requires state-of-the-art technologies and innovative approaches. Technologies and approaches are advancing rapidly and keeping pace is expensive and time consuming. There is a pressing need for clear guidance that will allow researchers to operate in a way that enables the optimal return on their efforts whilst being fully compliant with the current regulatory framework. One major initiative launched to achieve this, has been the advent of European Research Infrastructures. Research Infrastructures (RI) and associated centres of excellence currently build harmonized multidisciplinary workflows that support academic and private sector users. The European Marine Biological Research Infrastructure Cluster (EMBRIC) has brought together six such RIs in a European project to promote the blue bio-economy. The overarching objective is to develop coherent chains of high-quality services for access to biological, analytical and data resources providing improvements in the throughput and efficiency of workflows for discovery of novel marine products. In order to test the efficiency of this prototype pipeline for discovery, 248 rarely-grown organisms were isolated and analysed, some extracts demonstrated interesting biochemical properties and are currently undergoing further analysis. EMBRIC has established an overarching and operational structure to facilitate the integration of the multidisciplinary value chains of services to access such resources whilst enabling critical mass to focus on problem resolution.
    • Firefly Bioluminescence-Based Detection of ATP

      Jarrad, Angie M,; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (CSIRO Publishing, 2019-06-04)
      Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescence is a powerful light-producing phenomenon that occurs in nature in a variety of organisms, with ATP bioluminescence of fireflies one of the most well-known examples. The firefly ATP bioluminescence reaction has been adapted to the laboratory with a wide range of applications that include monitoring cellular processes, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and the detection of bacterial contamination of environmental surfaces. ATP bioluminescence occurs through a multistep reaction between firefly luciferase, ATP, magnesium salt, and oxygen (Scheme 1).[1] As a simplified overview, luciferyl adenylate 2 is first formed from luciferin 1 and Mg2+-ATP. The luciferyl adenylate 2 is then oxidised with molecular oxygen to form a dioxetanone cyclic peroxide intermediate 3. Following intramolecular conversion to produce electronically excited states of oxyluciferin, the dioxetanone is decarboxylated. Finally, the return of excited oxyluciferin to the ground state 5 results in emission of visible light. For more detailed insights into the reaction mechanism, including alternative reactions and different tautomers of oxyluciferin at varying pH values, readers are referred to additional literature.
    • Species-Specific Conservation of Linear Antigenic Sites on Vaccinia Virus A27 Protein Homologs of Orthopoxviruses.

      Ahsendorf, Henrike P; Gan, Li L; Eltom, Kamal H; Abd El Wahed, Ahmed; Hotop, Sven-Kevin; Roper, Rachel L; Beutling, Ulrike; Broenstrup, Mark; Stahl-Hennig, Christiane; Hoelzle, Ludwig E; et al. (MPDI, 2019-05-29)
      The vaccinia virus (VACV) A27 protein and its homologs, which are found in a large number of members of the genus Orthopoxvirus (OPXV), are targets of viral neutralization by host antibodies. We have mapped six binding sites (epitopes #1A: aa 32-39, #1B: aa 28-33, #1C: aa 26-31, #1D: 28-34, #4: aa 9-14, and #5: aa 68-71) of A27 specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) using peptide arrays. MAbs recognizing epitopes #1A-D and #4 neutralized VACV Elstree in a complement dependent way (50% plaque-reduction: 12.5-200 µg/mL). Fusion of VACV at low pH was blocked through inhibition of epitope #1A. To determine the sequence variability of the six antigenic sites, 391 sequences of A27 protein homologs available were compared. Epitopes #4 and #5 were conserved among most of the OPXVs, while the sequential epitope complex #1A-D was more variable and, therefore, responsible for species-specific epitope characteristics. The accurate and reliable mapping of defined epitopes on immuno-protective proteins such as the A27 of VACV enables phylogenetic studies and insights into OPXV evolution as well as to pave the way to the development of safer vaccines and chemical or biological antivirals.
    • New geldanamycin derivatives with anti Hsp properties by mutasynthesis.

      Hermane, Jekaterina; Eichner, Simone; Mancuso, Lena; Schröder, Benjamin; Sasse, Florenz; Zeilinger, Carsten; Kirschning, Andreas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019-05-29)
      Mutasynthetic supplementation of the AHBA blocked mutant strain of S. hygroscopicus, the geldanamycin producer, with 21 aromatic and heteroaromatic amino acids provided new nonquinoid geldanamycin derivatives. Large scale (5 L) fermentation provided four new derivatives in sufficient quantity for full structural characterisation. Among these, the first thiophene derivative of reblastatin showed strong antiproliferative activity towards several human cancer cell lines. Additionally, inhibitory effects on human heat shock protein Hsp90α and bacterial heat shock protein from H. pylori HpHtpG were observed, revealing strong displacement properties for labelled ATP and demonstrating that the ATP-binding site of Hsps is the target site for the new geldanamycin derivatives.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Diagnosing Zika virus infection against a background of other flaviviruses: Studies in high resolution serological analysis.

      Hansen, Sören; Hotop, Sven-Kevin; Faye, Oumar; Ndiaye, Oumar; Böhlken-Fascher, Susanne; Pessôa, Rodrigo; Hufert, Frank; Stahl-Hennig, Christiane; Frank, Ronald; Czerny, Claus-Peter; et al. (Springer-Nature, 2019-03-06)
      BACKGROUND: Antibody-mediated targeting of regulatory T cell receptors such as CTLA-4 enhances antitumor immune responses against several cancer entities including malignant melanoma. Yet, therapeutic success in patients remains variable underscoring the need for novel combinatorial approaches. METHODS: Here we established a vaccination strategy that combines engagement of the nucleic acid-sensing pattern recognition receptor RIG-I, antigen and CTLA-4 blockade. We used in vitro transcribed 5'-triphosphorylated RNA (3pRNA) to therapeutically target the RIG-I pathway. We performed in vitro functional analysis in bone-marrow derived dendritic cells and investigated RIG-I-enhanced vaccines in different murine melanoma models. FINDINGS: We found that protein vaccination together with RIG-I ligation via 3pRNA strongly synergizes with CTLA-4 blockade to induce expansion and activation of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells that translates into potent antitumor immunity. RIG-I-induced cross-priming of cytotoxic T cells as well as antitumor immunity were dependent on the host adapter protein MAVS and type I interferon (IFN-I) signaling and were mediated by dendritic cells. INTERPRETATION: Overall, our data demonstrate the potency of a novel combinatorial vaccination strategy combining RIG-I-driven immunization with CTLA-4 blockade to prevent and treat experimental melanoma. FUND: German Research Foundation (SFB 1335, SFB 1371), EMBO, Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation, German Cancer Aid, European Hematology Association, DKMS Foundation for Giving Life, Dres. Carl Maximilian and Carl Manfred Bayer-Foundation.
    • Single-cell phenotypic characterization of Staphylococcus aureus with fluorescent triazole urea activity-based probes.

      Chen, Linhai; Keller, Laura J; Cordasco, Edward A; Bogyo, Matthew; Lentz, Christian S; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-02-15)
      Phenotypically distinct cellular (sub)populations are clinically relevant for virulence and antibiotic resistance of a bacterial pathogen, but functionally different cells are usually indistinguishable from each other. Here, we introduce fluorescent activity-based probes as chemical tools for single-cell phenotypic characterization of enzyme activity levels in Staphylococcus aureus. We screened a 1,2,3-triazole urea library to identify selective inhibitors of fluorophosphonate-binding serine hydrolases and lipases in S. aureus and synthesized target-selective activity-based probes. Molecular imaging and activity-based protein profiling studies with these probes revealed a dynamic network within this enzyme family involving compensatory regulation of specific family members and exposed single-cell phenotypic heterogeneity. We propose chemical probe labeling of enzymatic activities as a generalizable method for phenotyping of bacterial cells at the population and single-cell level.