• Biochemical and NMR analyses of an SF3b155-p14-U2AF-RNA interaction network involved in branch point definition during pre-mRNA splicing.

      Spadaccini, Roberta; Reidt, Ulrich; Dybkov, Olexandr; Will, Cindy; Frank, Ronald; Stier, Gunter; Corsini, Lorenzo; Wahl, Markus C; Lührmann, Reinhard; Sattler, Michael; et al. (2006-03)
      The p14 subunit of the essential splicing factor 3b (SF3b) can be cross-linked to the branch-point adenosine of pre-mRNA introns within the spliceosome. p14 stably interacts with the SF3b subunit SF3b155, which also binds the 65-kDa subunit of U2 auxiliary splicing factor (U2AF65). We combined biochemical and NMR techniques to study the conformation of p14 either alone or complexed with SF3b155 fragments, as well as an interaction network involving p14, SF3b155, U2AF65, and U2 snRNA/pre-mRNA. p14 comprises a canonical RNA recognition motif (RRM) with an additional C-terminal helix (alphaC) and a beta hairpin insertion. SF3b155 binds to the beta-sheet surface of p14, thereby occupying the canonical RNA-binding site of the p14 RRM. The minimal region of SF3b155 interacting with p14 (i.e., residues 381-424) consists of four alpha-helices, which are partially preformed in isolation. Helices alpha2 and alpha3 (residues 401-415) constitute the core p14-binding epitope. Regions of SF3b155 binding to p14 and U2AF65 are nonoverlapping. This allows for a simultaneous interaction of SF3b155 with both proteins, which may support the stable association of U2 snRNP with the pre-mRNA. p14-RNA interactions are modulated by SF3b155 and the RNA-binding site of the p14-SF3b155 complex involves the noncanonical beta hairpin insertion of the p14 RRM, consistent with the beta-sheet surface being occupied by the helical SF3b155 peptide and p14 helix alphaC. Our data suggest that p14 lacks inherent specificity for recognizing the branch point, but that some specificity may be achieved by scaffolding interactions involving other components of SF3b.
    • Biosynthesis of methyl-proline containing griselimycins, natural products with anti-tuberculosis activity.

      Lukat, Peer; Katsuyama, Yohei; Wenzel, Silke; Binz, Tina; König, Claudia; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Brönstrup, Mark; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-11-01)
      Griselimycins (GMs) are depsidecapeptides with superb anti-tuberculosis activity. They contain up to three (2S,4R)-4-methyl-prolines (4-MePro), of which one blocks oxidative degradation and increases metabolic stability in animal models. The natural congener with this substitution is only a minor component in fermentation cultures. We showed that this product can be significantly increased by feeding the reaction with 4-MePro and we investigated the molecular basis of 4-MePro biosynthesis and incorporation. We identified the GM biosynthetic gene cluster as encoding a nonribosomal peptide synthetase and a sub-operon for 4-MePro formation. Using heterologous expression, gene inactivation, and in vitro experiments, we showed that 4-MePro is generated by leucine hydroxylation, oxidation to an aldehyde, and ring closure with subsequent reduction. The crystal structures of the leucine hydroxylase GriE have been determined in complex with substrates and products, providing insight into the stereospecificity of the reaction.
    • Characteristics, chemical compositions and biological activities of propolis from Al-Bahah, Saudi Arabia.

      Elnakady, Yasser A; Rushdi, Ahmed I; Franke, Raimo; Abutaha, Nael; Ebaid, Hossam; Baabbad, Mohannad; Omar, Mohamed O M; Al Ghamdi, Ahmad A; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-02-06)
      Propolis has been used to treat several diseases since ancient times, and is an important source of bioactive natural compounds and drug derivatives. These properties have kept the interest of investigators around the world, leading to the investigation of the chemical and biological properties and application of propolis. In this report, the chemical constituents that are responsible for the anticancer activities of propolis were analyzed. The propolis was sourced from Al-Baha in the southern part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Standard protocols for chemical fractionation and bioactivity-guided chemical analysis were used to identify the bio-active ethyl acetate fraction. The extraction was performed in methanol and then analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The major compounds are triterpenoids, with a relative concentration of 74.0%; steroids, with a relative concentration of 9.8%; and diterpenoids, with a relative concentration of 7.9%. The biological activity was characterized using different approaches and cell-based assays. Propolis was found to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner through apoptosis. Immunofluorescence staining with anti-α-tubulin antibodies and cell cycle analysis indicated that tubulin and/or microtubules are the cellular targets of the L-acetate fraction. This study demonstrates the importance of Saudi propolis as anti-cancer drug candidates.
    • 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.
    • The CLU-files: disentanglement of a mystery.

      Rohne, Philipp; Prochnow, Hans; Koch-Brandt, Claudia; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunshweig, Germany. (2016-02)
      The multifaceted protein clusterin (CLU) has been challenging researchers for more than 35 years. The characterization of CLU as a molecular chaperone was one of the major breakthroughs in CLU research. Today, secretory clusterin (sCLU), also known as apolipoprotein J (apoJ), is considered one of the most important extracellular chaperones ever found. It is involved in a broad range of physiological and pathophysiological functions, where it exerts a cytoprotective role. Descriptions of various forms of intracellular CLU have led to further and even contradictory functions. To untangle the current state of knowledge of CLU, this review will combine old views in the field, with new discoveries to highlight the nature and function of this fascinating protein(s). In this review, we further describe the expression and subcellular location of various CLU forms. Moreover, we discuss recent insights into the structure of CLU and assess how structural properties as well as the redox environment determine the chaperone activity of CLU. Eventually, the review connects the biochemistry and molecular cell biology of CLU with medical aspects, to formulate a hypothesis of a CLU function in health and disease.
    • Coprinuslactone protects the edible mushroom Coprinus comatus against biofilm infections by blocking both quorum-sensing and MurA.

      de Carvalho, Maira P; Gulotta, Giuseppe; do Amaral, Matheus W; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Sasse, Florenz; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-10-03)
      Pathogens embedded in biofilms are involved in many infections and are very difficult to treat with antibiotics because of higher resistance compared to planktonic cells. Therefore, new approaches for their control are urgently needed. One way to search for biofilm dispersing compounds is to look at defense strategies of organisms exposed to wet environments, which makes them prone to biofilm infections. It is reasonable to assume that mushrooms have developed mechanisms to control biofilms on their sporocarps (fruiting bodies). A preliminary screening for biofilms on sporocarps revealed several species with few or no bacteria on their sporocarps. From the edible mushroom Coprinus comatus where no bacteria on the sporocarp could be detected (3R,4S)-2-methylene-3,4-dihydroxypentanoic acid 1,4-lactone, named coprinuslactone, was isolated. Coprinuslactone interfered with quorum-sensing and dispersed biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, where it also reduced the formation of the pathogenicity factors pyocyanin and rhamnolipid B. Coprinuslactone also damaged Staphylococcus aureus cells in biofilms at subtoxic concentrations. Furthermore, it inhibited UDP-N-acetylglucosamine enolpyruvyl transferase (MurA), essential for bacterial cell wall synthesis. These two modes of action ensure the inhibition of a broad spectrum of pathogens on the fruiting body but may also be useful for future clinical applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Cytotoxic and antivascular 1-methyl-4-(3-fluoro-4-methoxyphenyl)-5-(halophenyl)-imidazoles.

      Biersack, Bernhard; Muthukumar, Yazh; Schobert, Rainer; Sasse, Florenz (2011-11-01)
      A series of 1-methyl-4,5-diphenylimidazoles 6 with various patterns of m-halogen substitution at the 5-phenyl ring were tested for cytotoxicity in cancer and nonmalignant cell lines and for their capacity to prevent tube formation in HUVEC cultures. Unlike the monofluoro and difluoro derivatives 6a and 6e, the monobromo and diiodo analogs 6c and 6h were strongly cytotoxic and inhibited the polymerization of tubulin and the tube formation by HUVEC. The dibromo derivative 6g displayed a unique selectivity for KB-3-1 cervix and PC-3 prostate cancer cells. It also inhibited the tube formation by HUVEC and the polymerization of tubulin which is indicative of its potential antiangiogenic activity in solid tumors.
    • Detection and Investigation of Eagle Effect Resistance to Vancomycin in With an ATP-Bioluminescence Assay.

      Jarrad, Angie M; Blaskovich, Mark A T; Prasetyoputri, Anggia; Karoli, Tomislav; Hansford, Karl A; Cooper, Matthew A; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      Vancomycin was bactericidal against Clostridium difficile at eightfold the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) using a traditional minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) assay. However, at higher concentrations up to 64 × MIC, vancomycin displayed a paradoxical “more-drug-kills-less” Eagle effect against C. difficile. To overcome challenges associated with performing the labor-intensive agar-based MBC method under anaerobic growth conditions, we investigated an alternative more convenient ATP-bioluminescence assay to assess the Eagle effect in C. difficile. The commercial BacTiter-GloTM assay is a homogenous method to determine bacterial viability based on quantification of bacterial ATP as a marker for metabolic activity. The ATP-bioluminescence assay was advantageous over the traditional MBC-type assay in detecting the Eagle effect because it reduced assay time and was simple to perform; measurement of viability could be performed in less than 10 min outside of the anaerobic chamber. Using this method, we found C. difficile survived clinically relevant, high concentrations of vancomycin (up to 2048 μg/mL). In contrast, C. difficile did not survive high concentrations of metronidazole or fidaxomicin. The Eagle effect was also detected for telavancin, but not for teicoplanin, dalbavancin, oritavancin, or ramoplanin. All four pathogenic strains of C. difficile tested consistently displayed Eagle effect resistance to vancomycin, but not metronidazole or fidaxomicin. These results suggest that Eagle effect resistance to vancomycin in C. difficile could be more prevalent than previously appreciated, with potential clinical implications. The ATP-Bioluminescence assay can thus be used as an alternative to the agar-based MBC assay to characterize the Eagle effect against a variety of antibiotics, at a wide-range of concentrations, with much greater throughput. This may facilitate improved understanding of Eagle effect resistance and promote further research to understand potential clinical relevance.
    • 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.
    • Differential magnesium implant corrosion coat formation and contribution to bone bonding.

      Rahim, Muhammad Imran; Weizbauer, Andreas; Evertz, Florian; Hoffmann, Andrea; Rohde, M; Glasmacher, Birgit; Windhagen, Henning; Gross, Gerhard; Seitz, Jan-Marten; Mueller, Peter P; et al. (2017)
      Magnesium alloys are presently under investigation as promising biodegradable implant materials with osteoconductive properties. To study the molecular mechanisms involved, the potential contribution of soluble magnesium corrosion products to the stimulation of osteoblastic cell differentiation was examined. However, no evidence for the stimulation of osteoblast differentiation could be obtained when cultured mesenchymal precursor cells were differentiated in the presence of metallic magnesium or in cell culture medium containing elevated magnesium ion levels. Similarly, in soft tissue no bone induction by metallic magnesium or by the corrosion product magnesium hydroxide could be observed in a mouse model. Motivated by the comparatively rapid accumulation solid corrosion products physicochemical processes were examined as an alternative mechanism to explain the stimulation of bone growth by magnesium-based implants. During exposure to physiological solutions a structured corrosion coat formed on magnesium whereby the elements calcium and phosphate were enriched in the outermost layer which could play a role in the established biocompatible behavior of magnesium implants. When magnesium pins were inserted into avital bones, corrosion lead to increases in the pull out force, suggesting that the expanding corrosion layer was interlocking with the surrounding bone. Since mechanical stress is a well-established inducer of bone growth, volume increases caused by the rapid accumulation of corrosion products and the resulting force development could be a key mechanism and provide an explanation for the observed stimulatory effects of magnesium-based implants in hard tissue. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 105A: 697-709, 2017.
    • The disabled 1 phosphotyrosine-binding domain binds to the internalization signals of transmembrane glycoproteins and to phospholipids.

      Howell, B W; Lanier, L M; Frank, R; Gertler, F B; Cooper, J A; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA (1999-07)
      Disabled gene products are important for nervous system development in drosophila and mammals. In mice, the Dab1 protein is thought to function downstream of the extracellular protein Reln during neuronal positioning. The structures of Dab proteins suggest that they mediate protein-protein or protein-membrane docking functions. Here we show that the amino-terminal phosphotyrosine-binding (PTB) domain of Dab1 binds to the transmembrane glycoproteins of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and low-density lipoprotein receptor families and the cytoplasmic signaling protein Ship. Dab1 associates with the APP cytoplasmic domain in transfected cells and is coexpressed with APP in hippocampal neurons. Screening of a set of altered peptide sequences showed that the sequence GYXNPXY present in APP family members is an optimal binding sequence, with approximately 0.5 microM affinity. Unlike other PTB domains, the Dab1 PTB does not bind to tyrosine-phosphorylated peptide ligands. The PTB domain also binds specifically to phospholipid bilayers containing phosphatidylinositol 4P (PtdIns4P) or PtdIns4,5P2 in a manner that does not interfere with protein binding. We propose that the PTB domain permits Dab1 to bind specifically to transmembrane proteins containing an NPXY internalization signal.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • EU-OPENSCREEN-chemical tools for the study of plant biology and resistance mechanisms.

      Meiners, Torsten; Stechmann, Bahne; Frank, Ronald; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-10)
      EU-OPENSCREEN is an academic research infrastructure initiative in Europe for enabling researchers in all life sciences to take advantage of chemical biology approaches to their projects. In a collaborative effort of national networks in 16 European countries, EU-OPENSCREEN will develop novel chemical compounds with external users to address questions in, among other fields, systems and network biology (directed and selective perturbation of signalling pathways), structural biology (compound-target interactions at atomic resolution), pharmacology (early drug discovery and toxicology) and plant biology (response of wild or crop plants to environmental and agricultural substances). EU-OPENSCREEN supports all stages of a tool development project, including assay adaptation, high-throughput screening and chemical optimisation of the 'hit' compounds. All tool compounds and data will be made available to the scientific community. EU-OPENSCREEN integrates high-capacity screening platforms throughout Europe, which share a rationally selected compound collection comprising up to 300,000 (commercial and proprietary compounds collected from European chemists). By testing systematically this chemical collection in hundreds of assays originating from very different biological themes, the screening process generates enormous amounts of information about the biological activities of the substances and thereby steadily enriches our understanding of how and where they act.
    • Evaluation of the inflammatory potential of implant materials in a mouse model by bioluminescent imaging of intravenously injected bone marrow cells.

      Rais, Bushra; Köster, Mario; Rahim, Muhammad Imran; Pils, Marina; Seitz, Jan-Marten; Hauser, Hansjörg; Wirth, Dagmar; Mueller, Peter P; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-09)
      To evaluate the inflammatory potential of implants a bioluminescent imaging assay was developed using luciferase-expressing bone marrow cells that were injected into the blood circulation of wild-type mice. After subcutaneous implantation of titanium discs as an example for a clinically established biocompatible material, the luminosity was modest. Similarly, low luminosity signals were generated by pure magnesium implants that were used to represent metallic alloys that are presently under investigation as novel degradable implant materials. Increased luminosity was observed in response to degradable polymeric PLGA implants. Surgical wounds induced a basic luminescent response even in the absence of an implant. However, the material-independent response to injury could be minimized using injectable microparticle suspensions. In parallel with the resorption of biodegradable microparticles, the signal induced by PLGA declined faster when compared to non-degradable polystyrene suspensions. By using an interferon type I inducible Mx2 promoter construct to drive luciferase gene expression, the highest luminosity was observed in response to bacteria, indicating that the system could also be employed to monitor implant infections. Overall, labeled bone marrow cells yielded specific, well-defined localized signals that correlated with the inflammatory responses to implants. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 104A: 2149-2158, 2016.
    • 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
    • Expansion of functional personalized cells with specific transgene combinations.

      Lipps, Christoph; Klein, Franziska; Wahlicht, Tom; Seiffert, Virginia; Butueva, Milada; Zauers, Jeannette; Truschel, Theresa; Luckner, Martin; Köster, Mario; MacLeod, Roderick; et al. (Springer Nature, 2018-03-08)
      Fundamental research and drug development for personalized medicine necessitates cell cultures from defined genetic backgrounds. However, providing sufficient numbers of authentic cells from individuals poses a challenge. Here, we present a new strategy for rapid cell expansion that overcomes current limitations. Using a small gene library, we expanded primary cells from different tissues, donors, and species. Cell-type-specific regimens that allow the reproducible creation of cell lines were identified. In depth characterization of a series of endothelial and hepatocytic cell lines confirmed phenotypic stability and functionality. Applying this technology enables rapid, efficient, and reliable production of unlimited numbers of personalized cells. As such, these cell systems support mechanistic studies, epidemiological research, and tailored drug development.
    • 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.