• Characterization of biphenyl dioxygenase sequences and activities encoded by the metagenomes of highly polychlorobiphenyl-contaminated soils.

      Standfuss-Gabisch, Christine; Al-Halbouni, Djamila; Hofer, Bernd; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012-04)
      Total extracted DNA from two heavily polychlorobiphenyl-contaminated soils was analyzed with respect to biphenyl dioxygenase sequences and activities. This was done by PCR amplification and cloning of a DNA segment encoding the active site of the enzyme. The translated sequences obtained fell into three similarity clusters (I to III). Sequence identities were high within but moderate or low between the clusters. Members of clusters I and II showed high sequence similarities with well-known biphenyl dioxygenases. Cluster III showed low (43%) sequence identity with a biphenyl dioxygenase from Rhodococcus jostii RHA1. Amplicons from the three clusters were used to reconstitute and express complete biphenyl dioxygenase operons. In most cases, the resulting hybrid dioxygenases were detected in cell extracts of the recombinant hosts. At least 83% of these enzymes were catalytically active. Several amino acid exchanges were identified that critically affected activity. Chlorobiphenyl turnover by the enzymes containing the prototype sequences of clusters I and II was characterized with 10 congeners that were major, minor, or not constituents of the contaminated soils. No direct correlations were observed between on-site concentrations and rates of productive dioxygenations of these chlorobiphenyls. The prototype enzymes displayed markedly different substrate and product ranges. The cluster II dioxygenase possessed a broader substrate spectrum toward the assayed congeners, whereas the cluster I enzyme was superior in the attack of ortho-chlorinated aromatic rings. These results demonstrate the feasibility of the applied approach to functionally characterize dioxygenase activities of soil metagenomes via amplification of incomplete genes.
    • 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.
    • Multiple antibody targets on herpes B glycoproteins B and D identified by screening sera of infected rhesus macaques with peptide microarrays.

      Hotop, Sven-Kevin; Abd El Wahed, Ahmed; Beutling, Ulrike; Jentsch, Dieter; Motzkus, Dirk; Frank, Ronald; Hunsmann, Gerhard; Stahl-Hennig, Christiane; Fritz, Hans-Joachim; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014)
      Herpes B virus (or Herpesvirus simiae or Macacine herpesvirus 1) is endemic in many populations of macaques, both in the wild and in captivity. The virus elicits only mild clinical symptoms (if any) in monkeys, but can be transmitted by various routes, most commonly via bites, to humans where it causes viral encephalitis with a high mortality rate. Hence, herpes B constitutes a considerable occupational hazard for animal caretakers, veterinarians and laboratory personnel. Efforts are therefore being made to reduce the risk of zoonotic infection and to improve prognosis after accidental exposure. Among the measures envisaged are serological surveillance of monkey colonies and specific diagnosis of herpes B zoonosis against a background of antibodies recognizing the closely related human herpes simplex virus (HSV). 422 pentadecapeptides covering, in an overlapping fashion, the entire amino acid sequences of herpes B proteins gB and gD were synthesized and immobilized on glass slides. Antibodies present in monkey sera that bind to subsets of the peptide collection were detected by microserological techniques. With 42 different rhesus macaque sera, 114 individual responses to 18 different antibody target regions (ATRs) were recorded, 17 of which had not been described earlier. This finding may pave the way for a peptide-based, herpes B specific serological diagnostic test.