• Antiviral drug discovery: broad-spectrum drugs from nature.

      Martinez, J P; Sasse, F; Brönstrup, M; Diez, J; Meyerhans, A; Helmholtz Centre for infection research (HZI), Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-01)
      Covering: up to April 2014. The development of drugs with broad-spectrum antiviral activities is a long pursued goal in drug discovery. It has been shown that blocking co-opted host-factors abrogates the replication of many viruses, yet the development of such host-targeting drugs has been met with scepticism mainly due to toxicity issues and poor translation to in vivo models. With the advent of new and more powerful screening assays and prediction tools, the idea of a drug that can efficiently treat a wide range of viral infections by blocking specific host functions has re-bloomed. Here we critically review the state-of-the-art in broad-spectrum antiviral drug discovery. We discuss putative targets and treatment strategies, with particular focus on natural products as promising starting points for antiviral lead development.
    • 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.
    • Olfaction, taste and chemoreception: scientific evidence replaces "Essays in biopoetry".

      Appendino, Giovanni; Brönstrup, Mark; Kubanek, Julia M; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
    • Target identification by image analysis.

      Fetz, V; Prochnow, H; Brönstrup, Mark; Sasse, F; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Covering: 1997 to the end of 2015Each biologically active compound induces phenotypic changes in target cells that are characteristic for its mode of action. These phenotypic alterations can be directly observed under the microscope or made visible by labelling structural elements or selected proteins of the cells with dyes. A comparison of the cellular phenotype induced by a compound of interest with the phenotypes of reference compounds with known cellular targets allows predicting its mode of action. While this approach has been successfully applied to the characterization of natural products based on a visual inspection of images, recent studies used automated microscopy and analysis software to increase speed and to reduce subjective interpretation. In this review, we give a general outline of the workflow for manual and automated image analysis, and we highlight natural products whose bacterial and eucaryotic targets could be identified through such approaches.