• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Antibacterial activity of xylose-derived LpxC inhibitors - Synthesis, biological evaluation and molecular docking studies.

      Dreger, Alexander; Hoff, Katharina; Agoglitta, Oriana; Hotop, Sven-Kevin; Brönstrup, Mark; Heisig, Peter; Kirchmair, Johannes; Holl, Ralph; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-12-31)
      LpxC inhibitors represent a promising class of novel antibiotics selectively combating Gram-negative bacteria. In chiral pool syntheses starting from D- and L-xylose, a series of four 2r,3c,4t-configured C-furanosidic LpxC inhibitors was obtained. The synthesized hydroxamic acids were tested for antibacterial and LpxC inhibitory activity, the acquired biological data were compared with those of previously synthesized C-furanosides, and molecular docking studies were performed to rationalize the observed structure-activity relationships. Additionally, bacterial uptake and susceptibility to efflux pump systems were investigated for the most promising stereoisomers.
    • Tailored Cofactor Traps for the Detection of Hemithioacetal-Forming Pyridoxal Kinases.

      Hübner, Ines; Dienemann, Jan-Niklas; Friederich, Julia; Schneider, Sabine; Sieber, Stephan A; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Society for Chemistry (ACS), 2020-12-03)
      Pyridoxal kinases (PLK) are crucial enzymes for the biosynthesis of pyridoxal phosphate, an important cofactor in a plethora of enzymatic reactions. The evolution of these enzymes resulted in different catalytic designs. In addition to the active site, the importance of a cysteine, embedded within a distant flexible lid region, was recently demonstrated. This cysteine forms a hemithioacetal with the pyridoxal aldehyde and is essential for catalysis. Despite the prevalence of these enzymes in various organisms, no tools were yet available to study the relevance of this lid residue. Here, we introduce pyridoxal probes, each equipped with an electrophilic trapping group in place of the aldehyde to target PLK reactive lid cysteines as a mimic of hemithioacetal formation. The addition of alkyne handles placed at two different positions within the pyridoxal structure facilitates enrichment of PLKs from living cells. Interestingly, depending on the position, the probes displayed a preference for either Gram-positive or Gram-negative PLK enrichment. By applying the cofactor traps, we were able to validate not only previously investigated Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis PLKs but also Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa PLKs, unravelling a crucial role of the lid cysteine for catalysis. Overall, our tailored probes facilitated a reliable readout of lid cysteine containing PLKs, qualifying them as chemical tools for mining further diverse proteomes for this important enzyme class.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The Peptide Chain Release Factor Methyltransferase PrmC Influences the Pseudomonas aeruginosa 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.