• Exploring the permeation of fluoroquinolone metalloantibiotics across outer membrane porins by combining molecular dynamics simulations and a porin-mimetic in vitro model.

      Sousa, Carla F; Coimbra, João T S; Richter, Robert; Morais-Cabral, João H; Ramos, Maria J; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Fernandes, Pedro A; Gameiro, Paula; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-12-08)
      The misuse and overuse of fluoroquinolones in recent years have triggered alarming levels of resistance to these antibiotics. Porin channels are crucial for the permeation of fluoroquinolones across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and modifications in porin expression are an important mechanism of bacterial resistance. One possible strategy to overcome this problem is the development of ternary copper complexes with fluoroquinolones. Compared to fluoroquinolones, these metalloantibiotics present a larger partition to the lipid bilayer and a more favorable permeation, by passive diffusion, across bacteriomimetic phospholipid-based model membranes. To rule out the porin-dependent pathway for the metalloantibiotics, we explored the permeation through OmpF (one of the most abundant porins present in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria) using a multi-component approach. X-ray studies of OmpF porin crystals soaked with a ciprofloxacin ternary copper complex did not show a well-defined binding site for the compound. Molecular dynamics simulations showed that the translocation of the metalloantibiotic through this porin is less favorable than that of free fluoroquinolone, as it presented a much larger free energy barrier to cross the narrow constriction region of the pore. Lastly, permeability studies of different fluoroquinolones and their respective copper complexes using a porin-mimetic in vitro model corroborated the lower rate of permeation for the metalloantibiotics relative to the free antibiotics. Our results support a porin-independent mechanism for the influx of the metalloantibiotics into the bacterial cell. This finding brings additional support to the potential application of these metalloantibiotics in the fight against resistant infections and as an alternative to fluoroquinolones.
    • Extracellular vesicles as novel assay tools to study cellular interactions of anti-infective compounds - A perspective.

      Richter, Robert; Lehr, Claus-Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-04-20)
      Sudden outbreaks of novel infectious diseases and the persistent evolution of antimicrobial resistant pathogens make it necessary to develop specific tools to quickly understand pathogen-cell interactions and to study appropriate drug delivery strategies. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are cell-specific biogenic transport systems, which are gaining more and more popularity as either diagnostic markers or drug delivery systems. Apart from that, there are emerging possibilities for EVs as tools to study drug penetration, drug-membrane interactions as well as pathogen-membrane interactions. However, it appears that the potential of EVs for such applications has not been fully exploited yet. Considering the vast variety of cells that can be involved in an infection, vesicle-based analytical methods are just emerging and the number of reported applications is still relatively small. Aim of this review is to discuss the current state of the art of EV-based assays, especially in the context of antimicrobial research and therapy, and to present some new perspectives for a more exhaustive and creative exploration in the future.
    • A hydrogel-based assay for the fast prediction of antibiotic accumulation in Gram-negative bacteria.

      Richter, Robert; Kamal, Mohamed A M; García-Rivera, Mariel A; Kaspar, Jerome; Junk, Maximilian; Elgaher, Walid A M; Srikakulam, Sanjay Kumar; Gress, Alexander; Beckmann, Anja; Grißmer, Alexander; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-11-02)
      The pipeline of antibiotics has been for decades on an alarmingly low level. Considering the steadily emerging antibiotic resistance, novel tools are needed for early and easy identification of effective anti-infective compounds. In Gram-negative bacteria, the uptake of anti-infectives is especially limited. We here present a surprisingly simple in vitro model of the Gram-negative bacterial envelope, based on 20% (w/v) potato starch gel, printed on polycarbonate 96-well filter membranes. Rapid permeability measurements across this polysaccharide hydrogel allowed to correctly predict either high or low accumulation for all 16 tested anti-infectives in living Escherichia coli. Freeze-fracture TEM supports that the macromolecular network structure of the starch hydrogel may represent a useful surrogate of the Gram-negative bacterial envelope. A random forest analysis of in vitro data revealed molecular mass, minimum projection area, and rigidity as the most critical physicochemical parameters for hydrogel permeability, in agreement with reported structural features needed for uptake into Gram-negative bacteria. Correlating our dataset of 27 antibiotics from different structural classes to reported MIC values of nine clinically relevant pathogens allowed to distinguish active from nonactive compounds based on their low in vitro permeability specifically for Gram-negatives. The model may help to identify poorly permeable antimicrobial candidates before testing them on living bacteria.
    • Mastering the Gram-negative bacterial barrier - Chemical approaches to increase bacterial bioavailability of antibiotics.

      Ropponen, Henni-Karoliina; Richter, Robert; Hirsch, Anna K H; Lehr, Claus Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-03-08)
      To win the battle against resistant, pathogenic bacteria, novel classes of anti-infectives and targets are urgently needed. Bacterial uptake, distribution, metabolic and efflux pathways of antibiotics in Gram-negative bacteria determine what we here refer to as bacterial bioavailability. Understanding these mechanisms from a chemical perspective is essential for anti-infective activity and hence, drug discovery as well as drug delivery. A systematic and critical discussion of in bacterio, in vitro and in silico assays reveals that a sufficiently accurate holistic approach is still missing. We expect new findings based on Gram-negative bacterial bioavailability to guide future anti-infective research.