• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Unprecedented deoxygenation at C-7 of the ansamitocin core during mutasynthetic biotransformations.

      Knobloch, Tobias; Dräger, Gerald; Collisi, Wera; Sasse, Florenz; Kirschning, Andreas; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012)
      We describe the unprecedented formation of six ansamitocin derivatives that are deoxygenated at C-7 of the ansamitocin core, obtained during fermentation experiments by employing a variety of Actinosynnema pretiosum mutants and mutasynthetic approaches. We suggest that the formation of these derivatives is based on elimination at C-7/C-8 followed by reduction(s) of the intermediate enone. In bioactivity tests, only ansamitocin derivatives bearing an ester side chain at C-3 showed strong antiproliferative activity.
    • 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.
    • Use of Single-Frequency Impedance Spectroscopy to Characterize the Growth Dynamics of Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

      van Duuren, Jozef B J H; Müsken, Mathias; Karge, Bianka; Tomasch, Jürgen; Wittmann, Christoph; Häussler, Susanne; Brönstrup, Mark (2017-07-12)
      Impedance spectroscopy has been applied in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cytometry as a label-free method for the investigation of adherent cells. In this paper, its use for characterizing the growth dynamics of P. aeruginosa biofilms is described and compared to crystal violet staining and confocal microscopy. The method allows monitoring the growth of biofilm-forming P. aeruginosa in a continuous and label-free manner over a period of 72 h in a 96 well plate format. Impedance curves obtained for P. aeruginosa PA14 wild type and mutant strains with a transposon insertion in pqsA and pelA genes exhibited distinct phases. We propose that the slope of the declining curve following a maximum at ca. 35-40 h is a measure of biofilm formation. Transplant experiments with P. aeruginosa biofilms and paraffin suggest that the impedance also reflects pellicle formation at the liquid-air interface, a barely considered contributor to impedance. Finally, the impairment of biofilm formation upon treatment of cultures with L-arginine and with ciprofloxacin, tobramycin and meropenem was studied by single frequency impedance spectroscopy. We suggest that these findings qualify impedance spectroscopy as an additional technique to characterize biofilm formation and its modulation by small molecule drugs.
    • 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.
    • What Makes Umbilical Cord Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Superior Immunomodulators When Compared to Bone Marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells?

      Bárcia, R N; Santos, J M; Filipe, M; Teixeira, M; Martins, J P; Almeida, J; Água-Doce, A; Almeida, S C P; Varela, A; Pohl, S; et al. (2015)
      MSCs derived from the umbilical cord tissue, termed UCX, were investigated for their immunomodulatory properties and compared to bone marrow-derived MSCs (BM-MSCs), the gold-standard in immunotherapy. Immunogenicity and immunosuppression were assessed by mixed lymphocyte reactions, suppression of lymphocyte proliferation and induction of regulatory T cells. Results showed that UCX were less immunogenic and showed higher immunosuppression activity than BM-MSCs. Further, UCX did not need prior activation or priming to exert their immunomodulatory effects. This was further corroborated in vivo in a model of acute inflammation. To elucidate the potency differences observed between UCX and BM-MSCs, gene expression related to immune modulation was analysed in both cell types. Several gene expression profile differences were found between UCX and BM-MSCs, namely decreased expression of HLA-DRA, HO-1, IGFBP1, 4 and 6, ILR1, IL6R and PTGES and increased expression of CD200, CD273, CD274, IL1B, IL-8, LIF and TGFB2. The latter were confirmed at the protein expression level. Overall, these results show that UCX seem to be naturally more potent immunosuppressors and less immunogenic than BM-MSCs. We propose that these differences may be due to increased levels of immunomodulatory surface proteins such as CD200, CD273, CD274 and cytokines such as IL1β, IL-8, LIF and TGFβ2.
    • 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
    • xCELLanalyzer: A Framework for the Analysis of Cellular Impedance Measurements for Mode of Action Discovery

      Franke, Raimo; Hinkelmann, Bettina; Fetz, Verena; Stradal, Theresia; Sasse, Florenz; Klawonn, Frank; Brönstrup, Mark; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Sage, 2019-01-25)
      Mode of action (MoA) identification of bioactive compounds is very often a challenging and time-consuming task. We used a label-free kinetic profiling method based on an impedance readout to monitor the time-dependent cellular response profiles for the interaction of bioactive natural products and other small molecules with mammalian cells. Such approaches have been rarely used so far due to the lack of data mining tools to properly capture the characteristics of the impedance curves. We developed a data analysis pipeline for the xCELLigence Real-Time Cell Analysis detection platform to process the data, assess and score their reproducibility, and provide rank-based MoA predictions for a reference set of 60 bioactive compounds. The method can reveal additional, previously unknown targets, as exemplified by the identification of tubulin-destabilizing activities of the RNA synthesis inhibitor actinomycin D and the effects on DNA replication of vioprolide A. The data analysis pipeline is based on the statistical programming language R and is available to the scientific community through a GitHub repository.