Recent Submissions

  • Myxobakterielle Naturstofffabriken

    Krug, Daniel; Garcia, Ronald; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2020-02-01)
    Myxococcus xanthus is a prime example of soil-living myxobacteria featuring a complex lifestyle, including coordinated movement through swarming, predatory feeding on other microorganisms, and the formation of multicellular fruiting bodies. Due to its biosynthetic capabilities for secondary metabolite production and its applicability as biotechno-logical chassis organism for heterologous expression, Myxococcus stands out as a biochemical factory for bioactive molecules with future applications, not only in human therap
  • Identification and Heterologous Expression of the Albucidin Gene Cluster from the Marine Strain Subsp. NRRL B-24108.

    Myronovskyi, Maksym; Rosenkränzer, Birgit; Stierhof, Marc; Petzke, Lutz; Seiser, Tobias; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-02-10)
    Herbicides with new modes of action and safer toxicological and environmental profiles are needed to manage the evolution of weeds that are resistant to commercial herbicides. The unparalleled structural diversity of natural products makes these compounds a promising source for new herbicides. In 2009, a novel nucleoside phytotoxin, albucidin, with broad activity against grass and broadleaf weeds was isolated from a strain of Streptomyces albus subsp. chlorinus NRRL B-24108. Here, we report the identification and heterologous expression of the previously uncharacterized albucidin gene cluster. Through a series of gene inactivation experiments, a minimal set of albucidin biosynthetic genes was determined. Based on gene annotation and sequence homology, a model for albucidin biosynthesis was suggested. The presented results enable the construction of producer strains for a sustainable supply of albucidin for biological activity studies.
  • Diversity and Bioactive Potential of Actinobacteria from Unexplored Regions of Western Ghats, India.

    Siddharth, Saket; Vittal, Ravishankar Rai; Wink, Joachim; Steinert, Michael; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-02-07)
    The search for novel bioactive metabolites continues to be of much importance around the world for pharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial applications. Actinobacteria constitute one of the extremely interesting groups of microorganisms widely used as important biological contributors for a wide range of novel secondary metabolites. This study focused on the assessment of antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of crude extracts of actinobacterial strains. Western Ghats of India represents unique regions of biologically diverse areas called "hot spots". A total of 32 isolates were obtained from soil samples of different forest locations of Bisle Ghat and Virjapet situated in Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. The isolates were identified as species of Streptomyces, Nocardiopsis, and Nocardioides by cultural, morphological, and molecular studies. Based on preliminary screening, seven isolates were chosen for metabolites extraction and to determine antimicrobial activity qualitatively (disc diffusion method) and quantitatively (micro dilution method) and scavenging activity against DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) and ABTS(2,2'-Azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radicals. Crude extracts of all seven isolates exhibited fairly strong antibacterial activity towards MRSA strains (MRSA ATCC 33591, MRSA ATCC NR-46071, and MRSA ATCC 46171) with MIC varying from 15.62 to 125 μg/mL, whereas showed less inhibition potential towards Gram-negative bacteria Salmonella typhi (ATCC 25241) and Escherichia coli (ATCC 11775) with MIC of 125-500 μg/mL. The isolates namely S1A, SS5, SCA35, and SCA 11 inhibited Fusariummoniliforme (MTCC 6576) to a maximum extent with MIC ranging from 62.5 to 250 μg/mL. Crude extract of SCA 11 and SCA 13 exhibited potent scavenging activities against DPPH and ABTS radicals. The results from this study suggest that actinobacterial strains of Western Ghats are an excellent source of natural antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds. Further research investigations on purification, recovery, and structural characterization of the active compounds are to be carried out.
  • The glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper mediates statin-induced muscle damage.

    Hoppstädter, Jessica; Valbuena Perez, Jenny Vanessa; Linnenberger, Rebecca; Dahlem, Charlotte; Legroux, Thierry M; Hecksteden, Anne; Tse, William K F; Flamini, Sara; Andreas, Anastasia; Herrmann, Jennifer; et al. (Wiley, 2020-02-06)
    Statins, the most prescribed class of drugs for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, can cause muscle-related adverse effects. It has been shown that the glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ) plays a key role in the anti-myogenic action of dexamethasone. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the role of GILZ in statin-induced myopathy. Statins induced GILZ expression in C2C12 cells, primary murine myoblasts/myotubes, primary human myoblasts, and in vivo in zebrafish embryos and human quadriceps femoris muscle. Gilz induction was mediated by FOXO3 activation and binding to the Gilz promoter, and could be reversed by the addition of geranylgeranyl, but not farnesyl, pyrophosphate. Atorvastatin decreased Akt phosphorylation and increased cleaved caspase-3 levels in myoblasts. This effect was reversed in myoblasts from GILZ knockout mice. Similarly, myofibers isolated from knockout animals were more resistant toward statin-induced cell death than their wild-type counterparts. Statins also impaired myoblast differentiation, and this effect was accompanied by GILZ induction. The in vivo relevance of our findings was supported by the observation that gilz overexpression in zebrafish embryos led to impaired embryonic muscle development. Taken together, our data point toward GILZ as an essential mediator of the molecular mechanisms leading to statin-induced muscle damage.
  • Benzanthric Acid, a Novel Metabolite From Del14 Expressing the Nybomycin Gene Cluster.

    Rodríguez Estévez, Marta; Gummerlich, Nils; Myronovskyi, Maksym; Zapp, Josef; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
    Streptomycetes constitute a diverse bacterial group able to produce a wide variety of secondary metabolites with potential applications in the pharmacy industry. However, the genes responsible for the biosynthesis of these compounds are very frequently inactive or expressed at very low levels under standard laboratory cultivation conditions. Therefore, the activation or upregulation of secondary metabolite biosynthesis genes is a crucial step for the discovery of new bioactive natural products. We have recently reported the discovery of the biosynthetic genes for the antibiotic nybomycin (nyb genes) in Streptomyces albus subsp. chlorinus. The nyb genes were expressed in the heterologous host Streptomyces albus Del14, which produces not only nybomycin, but also a novel compound. In this study, we describe the isolation, purification, and structure elucidation of the new substance named benzanthric acid.
  • 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.
  • Myxobacteria-Derived Outer Membrane Vesicles: Potential Applicability Against Intracellular Infections.

    Goes, Adriely; Lapuhs, Philipp; Kuhn, Thomas; Schulz, Eilien; Richter, Robert; Panter, Fabian; Dahlem, Charlotte; Koch, Marcus; Garcia, Ronald; Kiemer, Alexandra K; et al. (MDPI, 2020-01-12)
    In 2019, it was estimated that 2.5 million people die from lower tract respiratory infections annually. One of the main causes of these infections is Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can invade and survive within mammalian cells. S. aureus intracellular infections are difficult to treat because several classes of antibiotics are unable to permeate through the cell wall and reach the pathogen. This condition increases the need for new therapeutic avenues, able to deliver antibiotics efficiently. In this work, we obtained outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) derived from the myxobacteria Cystobacter velatus strain Cbv34 and Cystobacter ferrugineus strain Cbfe23, that are naturally antimicrobial, to target intracellular infections, and investigated how they can affect the viability of epithelial and macrophage cell lines. We evaluated by cytometric bead array whether they induce the expression of proinflammatory cytokines in blood immune cells. Using confocal laser scanning microscopy and flow cytometry, we also investigated their interaction and uptake into mammalian cells. Finally, we studied the effect of OMVs on planktonic and intracellular S. aureus. We found that while Cbv34 OMVs were not cytotoxic to cells at any concentration tested, Cbfe23 OMVs affected the viability of macrophages, leading to a 50% decrease at a concentration of 125,000 OMVs/cell. We observed only little to moderate stimulation of release of TNF-alpha, IL-8, IL-6 and IL-1beta by both OMVs. Cbfe23 OMVs have better interaction with the cells than Cbv34 OMVs, being taken up faster by them, but both seem to remain mostly on the cell surface after 24 h of incubation. This, however, did not impair their bacteriostatic activity against intracellular S. aureus. In this study, we provide an important basis for implementing OMVs in the treatment of intracellular infections.
  • 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.
  • The Translational Machinery of Human CD4 T Cells Is Poised for Activation and Controls the Switch from Quiescence to Metabolic Remodeling.

    Ricciardi, Sara; Manfrini, Nicola; Alfieri, Roberta; Calamita, Piera; Crosti, Maria Cristina; Gallo, Simone; Müller, Rolf; Pagani, Massimiliano; Abrignani, Sergio; Biffo, Stefano; et al. (Elsevier/ Cell Press, 2018-12-04)
    Naive T cells respond to T cell receptor (TCR) activation by leaving quiescence, remodeling metabolism, initiating expansion, and differentiating toward effector T cells. The molecular mechanisms coordinating the naive to effector transition are central to the functioning of the immune system, but remain elusive. Here, we discover that T cells fulfill this transitional process through translational control. Naive cells accumulate untranslated mRNAs encoding for glycolysis and fatty acid synthesis factors and possess a translational machinery poised for immediate protein synthesis. Upon TCR engagement, activation of the translational machinery leads to synthesis of GLUT1 protein to drive glucose entry. Subsequently, translation of ACC1 mRNA completes metabolic reprogramming toward an effector phenotype. Notably, inhibition of the eIF4F complex abrogates lymphocyte metabolic activation and differentiation, suggesting ACC1 to be a key regulatory node. Thus, our results demonstrate that translation is a direct mediator of T cell metabolism and indicate translation factors as targets for novel immunotherapeutic approaches.
  • The Alkylquinolone Repertoire of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is Linked to Structural Flexibility of the FabH-like 2-Heptyl-3-hydroxy-4(1H)-quinolone (PQS) Biosynthesis Enzyme PqsBC.

    Witzgall, Florian; Depke, Tobias; Hoffmann, Michael; Empting, Martin; Brönstrup, Mark; Müller, Rolf; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2018-07-16)
    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterial pathogen that causes life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. It produces a large armory of saturated and mono-unsaturated 2-alkyl-4(1H)-quinolones (AQs) and AQ N-oxides (AQNOs) that serve as signaling molecules to control the production of virulence factors and that are involved in membrane vesicle formation and iron chelation; furthermore, they also have, for example, antibiotic properties. It has been shown that the β-ketoacyl-acyl-carrier protein synthase III (FabH)-like heterodimeric enzyme PqsBC catalyzes the last step in the biosynthesis of the most abundant AQ congener, 2-heptyl-4(1H)-quinolone (HHQ), by condensing octanoyl-coenzyme A (CoA) with 2-aminobenzoylacetate (2-ABA), but the basis for the large number of other AQs/AQNOs produced by P. aeruginosa is not known. Here, we demonstrate that PqsBC uses different medium-chain acyl-CoAs to produce various saturated AQs/AQNOs and that it also biosynthesizes mono-unsaturated congeners. Further, we determined the structures of PqsBC in four different crystal forms at 1.5 to 2.7 Å resolution. Together with a previous report, the data reveal that PqsBC adopts open, intermediate, and closed conformations that alter the shape of the acyl-binding cavity and explain the promiscuity of PqsBC. The different conformations also allow us to propose a model for structural transitions that accompany the catalytic cycle of PqsBC that might have broader implications for other FabH-enzymes, for which such structural transitions have been postulated but have never been observed.
  • Chivosazole A Modulates Protein-Protein Interactions of Actin.

    Wang, Shuaijun; Gegenfurtner, Florian A; Crevenna, Alvaro H; Ziegenhain, Christoph; Kliesmete, Zane; Enard, Wolfgang; Müller, Rolf; Vollmar, Angelika M; Schneider, Sabine; Zahler, Stefan; et al. (American Society for Chemistry, 2019-07-26)
    Actin is a protein of central importance for many cellular key processes. It is regulated by local interactions with a large number of actin binding proteins (ABPs). Various compounds are known to either increase or decrease the polymerization dynamics of actin. However, no actin binding compound has been developed for clinical applications yet because of selectivity issues. We provide a crystal structure of the natural product chivosazole A (ChivoA) bound to actin and show that-in addition to inhibiting nucleation, polymerization, and severing of F-actin filaments-it selectively modulates binding of ABPs to G-actin: Although unphysiological actin dimers are induced by ChivoA, interaction with gelsolin, profilin, cofilin, and thymosin-β4 is inhibited. Moreover, ChivoA causes transcriptional effects differing from latrunculin B, an actin binder with a different binding site. Our data show that ChivoA and related compounds could serve as scaffolds for the development of actin binding molecules selectively targeting specific actin functions.
  • Synthetic and Biologic Studies on New Urea and Triazole Containing Cystobactamid Derivatives.

    Kirschning, Andreas; Planke, Therese; Cirnski, Katarina; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-12-13)
    he cystobactamids belong to the group of arene-based oligoamides that effectively inhibit bacterial type IIa topoisomerases. Cystobactamid 861-2 is the most active member of these antibiotics. Most amide bonds present in the cystobactamids link benzoic acids with anilines and it was found that some of these amide bonds undergo chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis, especially the one linking ring C with ring D. This work reports on the chemical synthesis and biological evaluation of thirteen new cystobactamids that still contain the methoxyaspartate hinge unit. However, we exchanged selected amide bonds either by the urea or the triazole groups and modified ring A in the latter case. While hydrolytic stability could be improved with these structural substitutes, the high antibacterial potency of cystobactamid 861-2 could only be preserved in selected cases. This includes derivatives, in which the urea group is positioned between rings A and B and where the triazole is found between rings C and D.
  • The Cytotoxic Natural Product Vioprolide A Targets Nucleolar Protein 14, Which Is Essential for Ribosome Biogenesis.

    Kirsch, Volker C; Orgler, Christina; Braig, Simone; Jeremias, Irmela; Auerbach, David; Müller, Rolf; Vollmar, Angelika M; Sieber, Stephan A; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-01-20)
    Novel targets are needed for treatment of devastating diseases such as cancer. For decades, natural products have guided innovative therapies by addressing diverse pathways. Inspired by the potent cytotoxic bioactivity of myxobacterial vioprolides A-D, we performed in-depth studies on their mode of action. Based on its prominent potency against human acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells, we conducted thermal proteome profiling (TPP) and deciphered the target proteins of the most active derivative vioprolide A (VioA) in Jurkat cells. Nucleolar protein 14 (NOP14), which is essential in ribosome biogenesis, was confirmed as a specific target of VioA by a suite of proteomic and biological follow-up experiments. Given its activity against ALL cells compared to healthy lymphocytes, VioA exhibits unique therapeutic potential for anticancer therapy through a novel mode of action
  • Structures of lipoprotein signal peptidase II from Staphylococcus aureus complexed with antibiotics globomycin and myxovirescin.

    Olatunji, Samir; Yu, Xiaoxiao; Bailey, Jonathan; Huang, Chia-Ying; Zapotoczna, Marta; Bowen, Katherine; Remškar, Maja; Müller, Rolf; Scanlan, Eoin M; Geoghegan, Joan A; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2020-01-09)
    Antimicrobial resistance is a major global threat that calls for new antibiotics. Globomycin and myxovirescin are two natural antibiotics that target the lipoprotein-processing enzyme, LspA, thereby compromising the integrity of the bacterial cell envelope. As part of a project aimed at understanding their mechanism of action and for drug development, we provide high-resolution crystal structures of the enzyme from the human pathogen methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) complexed with globomycin and with myxovirescin. Our results reveal an instance of convergent evolution. The two antibiotics possess different molecular structures. Yet, they appear to inhibit identically as non-cleavable tetrahedral intermediate analogs. Remarkably, the two antibiotics superpose along nineteen contiguous atoms that interact similarly with LspA. This 19-atom motif recapitulates a part of the substrate lipoprotein in its proposed binding mode. Incorporating this motif into a scaffold with suitable pharmacokinetic properties should enable the development of effective antibiotics with built-in resistance hardiness.
  • Semisynthesis and biological evaluation of amidochelocardin derivatives as broad-spectrum antibiotics.

    Grandclaudon, Charlotte; Birudukota, N V Suryanarayana; Elgaher, Walid A M; Jumde, Ravindra P; Yahiaoui, Samir; Arisetti, Nanaji; Hennessen, Fabienne; Hüttel, Stephan; Stadler, Marc; Herrmann, Jennifer; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-12-20)
    To address the global challenge of emerging antimicrobial resistance, the hitherto most successful strategy to new antibiotics has been the optimization of validated natural products; most of these efforts rely on semisynthesis. Herein, we report the semisynthetic modification of amidochelocardin, an atypical tetracycline obtained via genetic engineering of the chelocardin producer strain. We report modifications at C4, C7, C10 and C11 by the application of methylation, acylation, electrophilic substitution, and oxidative C-C coupling reactions. The antibacterial activity of the reaction products was tested against a panel of Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens. The emerging structure-activity relationships (SARs) revealed that positions C7 and C10 are favorable anchor points for the semisynthesis of optimized derivatives. The observed SAR was different from that known for tetracyclines, which underlines the pronounced differences between the two compound classes.
  • Engineering of Streptomyces lividans for heterologous expression of secondary metabolite gene clusters.

    Ahmed, Yousra; Rebets, Yuriy; Estévez, Marta Rodríguez; Zapp, Josef; Myronovskyi, Maksym; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (BioMed Central (BMC), 2020-01-09)
    BACKGROUND: Heterologous expression of secondary metabolite gene clusters is used to achieve increased production of desired compounds, activate cryptic gene clusters, manipulate clusters from genetically unamenable strains, obtain natural products from uncultivable species, create new unnatural pathways, etc. Several Streptomyces species are genetically engineered for use as hosts for heterologous expression of gene clusters. S. lividans TK24 is one of the most studied and genetically tractable actinobacteria, which remain untapped. It was therefore important to generate S. lividans chassis strains with clean metabolic backgrounds. RESULTS: In this study, we generated a set of S. lividans chassis strains by deleting endogenous gene clusters and introducing additional φC31 attB loci for site-specific integration of foreign DNA. In addition to the simplified metabolic background, the engineered S. lividans strains had better growth characteristics than the parental strain in liquid production medium. The utility of the developed strains was validated by expressing four secondary metabolite gene clusters responsible for the production of different classes of natural products. Engineered strains were found to be superior to the parental strain in production of heterologous natural products. Furthermore, S. lividans-based strains were better producers of amino acid-based natural products than other tested common hosts. Expression of a Streptomyces albus subsp. chlorinus NRRL B-24108 genomic library in the modified S. lividans ΔYA9 and S. albus Del14 strains resulted in the production of 7 potentially new compounds, only one of which was produced in both strains. CONCLUSION: The constructed S. lividans-based strains are a great complement to the panel of heterologous hosts for actinobacterial secondary metabolite gene expression. The expansion of the number of such engineered strains will contribute to an increased success rate in isolation of new natural products originating from the expression of genomic and metagenomic libraries, thus raising the chance to obtain novel biologically active compounds.
  • Chemical synthesis of tripeptide thioesters for the biotechnological incorporation into the myxobacterial secondary metabolite argyrin via mutasynthesis.

    Siebert, David C B; Sommer, Roman; Pogorevc, Domen; Hoffmann, Michael; Wenzel, Silke C; Müller, Rolf; Titz, Alexander; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Beilstein Institut, 2019-01-01)
    The argyrins are secondary metabolites from myxobacteria with antibiotic activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Studying their structure-activity relationship is hampered by the complexity of the chemical total synthesis. Mutasynthesis is a promising approach where simpler and fully synthetic intermediates of the natural product's biosynthesis can be biotechnologically incorporated. Here, we report the synthesis of a series of tripeptide thioesters as mutasynthons containing the native sequence with a dehydroalanine (Dha) Michael acceptor attached to a sarcosine (Sar) and derivatives. Chemical synthesis of the native sequence ᴅ-Ala-Dha-Sar thioester required revision of the sequential peptide synthesis into a convergent strategy where the thioester with sarcosine was formed before coupling to the Dha-containing dipeptide.
  • Search for hits and early leads from soil bacteria to combat infectious diseases.

    Herrmann, Jennifer; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Open Learning on Enteric Pathogens, 2018-02-22)
  • The nuclear export inhibitor aminoratjadone is a potent effector in extracellular-targeted drug conjugates.

    Klahn, Philipp; Fetz, Verena; Ritter, Antje; Collisi, Wera; Hinkelmann, Bettina; Arnold, Tatjana; Tegge, Werner; Rox, Katharina; Hüttel, Stephan; Mohr, Kathrin I; et al. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019-05-28)
    The concept of targeted drug conjugates has been successfully translated to clinical practice in oncology. Whereas the majority of cytotoxic effectors in drug conjugates are directed against either DNA or tubulin, our study aimed to validate nuclear export inhibition as a novel effector principle in drug conjugates. For this purpose, a semisynthetic route starting from the natural product ratjadone A, a potent nuclear export inhibitor, has been developed. The biological evaluation of ratjadones functionalized at the 16-position revealed that oxo- and amino-analogues had very high potencies against cancer cell lines (e.g. 16R-aminoratjadone 16 with IC50 = 260 pM against MCF-7 cells, or 19-oxoratjadone 14 with IC50 = 100 pM against A-549 cells). Mechanistically, the conjugates retained a nuclear export inhibitory activity through binding CRM1. To demonstrate a proof-of-principle for cellular targeting, folate- and luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH)-based carrier molecules were synthesized and coupled to aminoratjadones as well as fluorescein for cellular efficacy and imaging studies, respectively. The Trojan-Horse conjugates selectively addressed receptor-positive cell lines and were highly potent inhibitors of their proliferation. For example, the folate conjugate FA-7-Val-Cit-pABA-16R-aminoratjadone had an IC50 of 34.3 nM, and the LHRH conjugate d-Orn-Gose-Val-Cit-pABA-16R-aminoratjadone had an IC50 of 12.8 nM. The results demonstrate that nuclear export inhibition is a promising mode-of-action for extracellular-targeted drug conjugate payloads.
  • Setting Our Sights on Infectious Diseases.

    De Rycker, Manu; Horn, David; Aldridge, Bree; Amewu, Richard K; Barry, Clifton E; Buckner, Frederick S; Cook, Sarah; Ferguson, Michael A J; Gobeau, Nathalie; Herrmann, Jennifer; et al. (American Society for Chemistry, 2019-12-06)
    In May 2019, the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR) at the University of Dundee, UK, held an international conference with the aim of discussing some key questions around discovering new medicines for infectious diseases and a particular focus on diseases affecting Low and Middle Income Countries. There is an urgent need for new drugs to treat most infectious diseases. We were keen to see if there were lessons that we could learn across different disease areas and between the preclinical and clinical phases with the aim of exploring how we can improve and speed up the drug discovery, translational, and clinical development processes. We started with an introductory session on the current situation and then worked backward from clinical development to combination therapy, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) studies, drug discovery pathways, and new starting points and targets. This Viewpoint aims to capture some of the learnings.

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