Recent Submissions

  • Biosynthesis of Cittilins, Unusual Ribosomally Synthesized and Post-translationally Modified Peptides from Myxococcus xanthus

    Hug, Joachim J.; Dastbaz, Jan; Adam, Sebastian; Revermann, Ole; Koehnke, Jesko; Krug, Daniel; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-07-08)
    Cittilins are secondary metabolites from myxobacteria comprised of three l-tyrosines and one l-isoleucine forming a bicyclic tetrapeptide scaffold with biaryl and aryl-oxygen-aryl ether bonds. Here we reveal that cittilins belong to the ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide (RiPP) family of natural products, for which only the crocagins have been reported from myxobacteria. A 27 amino acid precursor peptide harbors a C-terminal four amino acid core peptide, which is enzymatically modified and finally exported to yield cittilins. The small biosynthetic gene cluster responsible for cittilin biosynthesis also encodes a cytochrome P450 enzyme and a methyltransferase, whereas a gene encoding a prolyl endopeptidase for the cleavage of the precursor peptide is located outside of the cittilin biosynthetic gene cluster. We confirm the roles of the biosynthetic genes responsible for the formation of cittilins using targeted gene inactivation and heterologous expression in Streptomyces ssp. We also report first steps toward the biochemical characterization of the proposed biosynthetic pathway in vitro. An investigation of the cellular uptake properties of cittilin A connected it to a potential biological function as an inhibitor of the prokaryotic carbon storage regulator A (CsrA).
  • How to Study the Metabolism of New Psychoactive Substances for the Purpose of Toxicological Screenings-A Follow-Up Study Comparing Pooled Human Liver S9, HepaRG Cells, and Zebrafish Larvae.

    Wagmann, Lea; Frankenfeld, Fabian; Park, Yu Mi; Herrmann, Jennifer; Fischmann, Svenja; Westphal, Folker; Müller, Rolf; Flockerzi, Veit; Meyer, Markus R; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-07-17)
    The new psychoactive substances (NPS) market continues to be very dynamic. A large number of compounds belonging to diverse chemical groups continue to emerge. This makes their detection in biological samples challenging for clinical and forensic toxicologists. Knowledge of the metabolic fate of NPS is crucial for developing comprehensive screening procedures. As human studies are not feasible due to ethical concerns, the current study aimed to compare the NPS' metabolic pattern in incubations with pooled human liver S9 fraction (pHLS9), human liver HepaRG cells, and zebrafish larvae. The latter model was recently shown to be a promising preclinical surrogate for human hepatic metabolism of a synthetic cannabinoid. However, studies concerning other NPS classes are still missing and therefore an amphetamine-based N-methoxybenzyl (NBOMe) compound, a synthetic cathinone, a pyrrolidinophenone analog, a lysergamide, as well as another synthetic cannabinoid were included in the current study. Liquid chromatography coupled to Orbitrap-based high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry was used to analyze metabolic data. Zebrafish larvae were found to produce the highest number of phase I but also phase II metabolites (79 metabolites in total), followed by HepaRG cells (66 metabolites). Incubations with pHLS9 produced the least metabolites (57 metabolites). Furthermore, the involvement of monooxygenases and esterases in the metabolic phase I transformations of 4F-MDMB-BINACA was elucidated using single-enzyme incubations. Several cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozymes were shown to contribute, and CYP3A5 was involved in all CYP-catalyzed reactions, while amide and ester hydrolysis were catalyzed by the human carboxylesterase (hCES) isoforms hCES1b and/or hCES1c. Finally, metabolites were compared to those present in human biosamples if data were available. Overall, the metabolic patterns in HepaRG cells provided the worst overlap with that in human biosamples. Zebrafish larvae experiments agreed best with data found in human plasma and urine analysis. The current study underlines the potential of zebrafish larvae as a tool for elucidating the toxicokinetics of NPS in the future.
  • Comparative Target Analysis of Chlorinated Biphenyl Antimicrobials Highlights MenG as a Molecular Target of Triclocarban.

    Macsics, Robert; Hackl, Mathias W; Fetzer, Christian; Mostert, Dietrich; Bender, Jennifer; Layer, Franziska; Sieber, Stephan A; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2020-08-03)
    Triclocarban (TCC), a formerly used disinfectant, kills bacteria via an unknown mechanism of action. A structural hallmark is its N,N'-diaryl urea motif, which is also present in other antibiotics, including the recently reported small molecule PK150. We show here that, like PK150, TCC exhibits an inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus menaquinone metabolism via inhibition of the biosynthesis protein demethylmenaquinone methyltransferase (MenG). However, the activity spectrum (MIC90) of TCC across a broad range of multidrug-resistant staphylococcus and enterococcus strains was much narrower than that of PK150. Accordingly, TCC did not cause an overactivation of signal peptidase SpsB, a hallmark of the PK150 mode of action. Furthermore, we were able to rule out inhibition of FabI, a confirmed target of the diaryl ether antibiotic triclosan (TCS). Differences in the target profiles of TCC and TCS were further investigated by proteomic analysis, showing complex but rather distinct changes in the protein expression profile of S. aureus Downregulation of the arginine deiminase pathway provided additional evidence for an effect on bacterial energy metabolism by TCC.IMPORTANCE TCC's widespread use as an antimicrobial agent has made it a ubiquitous environmental pollutant despite its withdrawal due to ecological and toxicological concerns. With its antibacterial mechanism of action still being unknown, we undertook a comparative target analysis between TCC, PK150 (a recently discovered antibacterial compound with structural resemblance to TCC), and TCS (another widely employed chlorinated biphenyl antimicrobial) in the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus We show that there are distinct differences in each compound's mode of action, but also identify a shared target between TCC and PK150, the interference with menaquinone metabolism by inhibition of MenG. The prevailing differences, however, which also manifest in a remarkably better broad-spectrum activity of PK150, suggest that even high levels of TCC or TCS resistance observed by continuous environmental exposure may not affect the potential of PK150 or related N,N'-diaryl urea compounds as new antibiotic drug candidates against multidrug-resistant infections.
  • ClbR Is the Key Transcriptional Activator of Colibactin Gene Expression in Escherichia coli.

    Wallenstein, Alexander; Rehm, Nadine; Brinkmann, Marina; Selle, Martina; Bossuet-Greif, Nadège; Sauer, Daniel; Bunk, Boyke; Spröer, Cathrin; Wami, Haleluya Tesfaye; Homburg, Stefan; et al. (ASM, 2020-07-15)
    Colibactin is a nonribosomal peptide/polyketide hybrid natural product expressed by different members of the Enterobacteriaceae which can be correlated with induction of DNA double-strand breaks and interference with cell cycle progression in eukaryotes. Regulatory features of colibactin expression are only incompletely understood. We used Escherichia coli strain M1/5 as a model to investigate regulation of expression of the colibactin determinant at the transcriptional level and to characterize regulatory elements located within the colibactin pathogenicity island itself. We measured clbR transcription in vitro and observed that cultivation in defined minimal media led to increased colibactin expression relative to rich media. Transcription of clbR directly responds to iron availability. We also characterized structural DNA elements inside the colibactin determinant involved in ClbR-dependent regulation, i.e., ClbR binding sites and a variable number of tandem repeats located upstream of clbR We investigated the impact of clbR overexpression or deletion at the transcriptome and proteome levels. Moreover, we compared global gene regulation under these conditions with that occurring upon overexpression or deletion of clbQ, which affects the flux of colibactin production. Combining the results of the transcriptome and proteome analyses with indirect measurements of colibactin levels by cell culture assays and an approximate quantification of colibactin via the second product of colibactin cleavage from precolibactin, N-myristoyl-d-asparagine, we demonstrate that the variable number of tandem repeats plays a significant regulatory role in colibactin expression. We identify ClbR as the only transcriptional activator known so far that is specific and essential for efficient regulation of colibactin production.IMPORTANCE The nonribosomal peptide/polyketide hybrid colibactin can be considered a bacterial virulence factor involved in extraintestinal infection and also a procarcinogen. Nevertheless, and despite its genotoxic effect, colibactin expression can also inhibit bacterial or tumor growth and correlates with probiotic anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Although the biological function of this natural compound has been studied extensively, our understanding of the regulation of colibactin expression is still far from complete. We investigated in detail the role of regulatory elements involved in colibactin expression and in the growth conditions that promote colibactin expression. In this way, our data shed light on the regulatory mechanisms involved in colibactin expression and may support the expression and purification of this interesting nonribosomal peptide/polyketide hybrid for further molecular characterization.
  • Identification of a Biosynthetic Gene Cluster Responsible for the Production of a New Pyrrolopyrimidine Natural Product-Huimycin.

    Shuai, Hui; Myronovskyi, Maksym; Nadmid, Suvd; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-07-18)
    Pyrrolopyrimidines are an important class of natural products with a broad spectrum of biological activities, including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer or anti-inflammatory. Here, we present the identification of a biosynthetic gene cluster from the rare actinomycete strain Kutzneria albida DSM 43870, which leads to the production of huimycin, a new member of the pyrrolopyrimidine family of compounds. The huimycin gene cluster was successfully expressed in the heterologous host strain Streptomyces albus Del14. The compound was purified, and its structure was elucidated by means of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The minimal huimycin gene cluster was identified through sequence analysis and a series of gene deletion experiments. A model for huimycin biosynthesis is also proposed in this paper.
  • Identification of a Novel LysR-Type Transcriptional Regulator in Staphylococcus aureus That Is Crucial for Secondary Tissue Colonization during Metastatic Bloodstream Infection.

    Groma, Michaela; Horst, Sarah A; Das, Sudip; Huettel, Bruno; Klepsch, Maximilian; Rudel, Thomas; Medina, Eva; Fraunholz, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (ASM, 2020-08-25)
    Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of bacteremia that can lead to severe complications once the bacteria exit the bloodstream and establish infection in secondary organs. Despite its clinical relevance, little is known about the bacterial factors facilitating the development of these metastatic infections. Here, we used an S. aureus transposon mutant library coupled to transposon insertion sequencing (Tn-Seq) to identify genes that are critical for efficient bacterial colonization of secondary organs in a murine model of metastatic bloodstream infection. Our transposon screen identified a LysR-type transcriptional regulator (LTTR), which was required for efficient colonization of secondary organs such as the kidneys in infected mice. The critical role of LTTR in secondary organ colonization was confirmed using an isogenic mutant deficient in the expression of LTTR. To identify the set of genes controlled by LTTR, we used an S. aureus strain carrying the LTTR gene in an inducible expression plasmid. Gene expression analysis upon induction of LTTR showed increased transcription of genes involved in branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis, a methionine sulfoxide reductase, and a copper transporter as well as decreased transcription of genes coding for urease and components of pyrimidine nucleotides. Furthermore, we show that transcription of LTTR is repressed by glucose, is induced under microaerobic conditions, and required trace amounts of copper ions. Our data thus pinpoints LTTR as an important element that enables a rapid adaptation of S. aureus to the changing host microenvironment.IMPORTANCEStaphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen that can disseminate via the bloodstream and establish metastatic infections in distant organs. To achieve a better understanding of the bacterial factors facilitating the development of these metastatic infections, we used in this study a Staphylococcus aureus transposon mutant library in a murine model of intravenous infection, where bacteria first colonize the liver as the primary infection site and subsequently progress to secondary sites such as the kidney and bones. We identified a novel LysR-type transcriptional regulator (LTTR), which was specifically required by S. aureus for efficient colonization of secondary organs. We also determined the transcriptional activation as well as the regulon of LTTR, which suggests that this regulator is involved in the metabolic adaptation of S. aureus to the host microenvironment found in secondary infection sites.
  • Alpha-Toxin Limits Type 1 While Fostering Type 3 Immune Responses.

    Bonifacius, Agnes; Goldmann, Oliver; Floess, Stefan; Holtfreter, Silva; Robert, Philippe A; Nordengrün, Maria; Kruse, Friederike; Lochner, Matthias; Falk, Christine S; Schmitz, Ingo; et al. (Frontiers, 2020-08-07)
    Staphylococcus aureus can cause life-threatening diseases, and hospital- as well as community-associated antibiotic-resistant strains are an emerging global public health problem. Therefore, prophylactic vaccines or immune-based therapies are considered as alternative treatment opportunities. To develop such novel treatment approaches, a better understanding of the bacterial virulence and immune evasion mechanisms and their potential effects on immune-based therapies is essential. One important staphylococcal virulence factor is alpha-toxin, which is able to disrupt the epithelial barrier in order to establish infection. In addition, alpha-toxin has been reported to modulate other cell types including immune cells. Since CD4+ T cell-mediated immunity is required for protection against S. aureus infection, we were interested in the ability of alpha-toxin to directly modulate CD4+ T cells. To address this, murine naïve CD4+ T cells were differentiated in vitro into effector T cell subsets in the presence of alpha-toxin. Interestingly, alpha-toxin induced death of Th1-polarized cells, while cells polarized under Th17 conditions showed a high resistance toward increasing concentrations of this toxin. These effects could neither be explained by differential expression of the cellular alpha-toxin receptor ADAM10 nor by differential activation of caspases, but might result from an increased susceptibility of Th1 cells toward Ca2+-mediated activation-induced cell death. In accordance with the in vitro findings, an alpha-toxin-dependent decrease of Th1 and concomitant increase of Th17 cells was observed in vivo during S. aureus bacteremia. Interestingly, corresponding subsets of innate lymphoid cells and γδ T cells were similarly affected, suggesting a more general effect of alpha-toxin on the modulation of type 1 and type 3 immune responses. In conclusion, we have identified a novel alpha-toxin-dependent immunomodulatory strategy of S. aureus, which can directly act on CD4+ T cells and might be exploited for the development of novel immune-based therapeutic approaches to treat infections with antibiotic-resistant S. aureus strains.
  • The bottromycin epimerase BotH defines a group of atypical α/β-hydrolase-fold enzymes.

    Sikandar, Asfandyar; Franz, Laura; Adam, Sebastian; Santos-Aberturas, Javier; Horbal, Liliya; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; Truman, Andrew W; Kalinina, Olga V; Koehnke, Jesko; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2020-06-29)
    d-amino acids endow peptides with diverse, desirable properties, but the post-translational and site-specific epimerization of l-amino acids into their d-counterparts is rare and chemically challenging. Bottromycins are ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides that have overcome this challenge and feature a d-aspartate (d-Asp), which was proposed to arise spontaneously during biosynthesis. We have identified the highly unusual α/β-hydrolase (ABH) fold enzyme BotH as a peptide epimerase responsible for the post-translational epimerization of l-Asp to d-Asp during bottromycin biosynthesis. The biochemical characterization of BotH combined with the structures of BotH and the BotH–substrate complex allowed us to propose a mechanism for this reaction. Bioinformatic analyses of BotH homologs show that similar ABH enzymes are found in diverse biosynthetic gene clusters. This places BotH as the founding member of a group of atypical ABH enzymes that may be able to epimerize non-Asp stereocenters across different families of secondary metabolites.
  • The Natural Product Elegaphenone Potentiates Antibiotic Effects against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    Zhao, Weining; Cross, Ashley R; Crowe-McAuliffe, Caillan; Weigert-Munoz, Angela; Csatary, Erika E; Solinski, Amy E; Krysiak, Joanna; Goldberg, Joanna B; Wilson, Daniel N; Medina, Eva; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2019-05-16)
    Natural products represent a rich source of antibiotics that address versatile cellular targets. The deconvolution of their targets via chemical proteomics is often challenged by the introduction of large photocrosslinkers. Here we applied elegaphenone, a largely uncharacterized natural product antibiotic bearing a native benzophenone core scaffold, for affinity-based protein profiling (AfBPP) in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. This study utilizes the alkynylated natural product scaffold as a probe to uncover intriguing biological interactions with the transcriptional regulator AlgP. Furthermore, proteome profiling of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa AlgP transposon mutant provided unique insights into the mode of action. Elegaphenone enhanced the elimination of intracellular P. aeruginosa in macrophages exposed to sub-inhibitory concentrations of the fluoroquinolone antibiotic norfloxacin.
  • Dual-Seq reveals genome and transcriptome of Caedibacter taeniospiralis, obligate endosymbiont of Paramecium.

    Pirritano, Marcello; Zaburannyi, Nestor; Grosser, Katrin; Gasparoni, Gilles; Müller, Rolf; Simon, Martin; Schrallhammer, Martina; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (NPG, 2020-06-16)
    Interest in host-symbiont interactions is continuously increasing, not only due to the growing recognition of the importance of microbiomes. Starting with the detection and description of novel symbionts, attention moves to the molecular consequences and innovations of symbioses. However, molecular analysis requires genomic data which is difficult to obtain from obligate intracellular and uncultivated bacteria. We report the identification of the Caedibacter genome, an obligate symbiont of the ciliate Paramecium. The infection does not only confer the host with the ability to kill other cells but also renders them immune against this effect. We obtained the C. taeniospiralis genome and transcriptome by dual-Seq of DNA and RNA from infected paramecia. Comparison of codon usage and expression level indicates that genes necessary for a specific trait of this symbiosis, i.e. the delivery of an unknown toxin, result from horizontal gene transfer hinting to the relevance of DNA transfer for acquiring new characters. Prediction of secreted proteins of Caedibacter as major agents of contact with the host implies, next to several toxin candidates, a rather uncharacterized secretome which appears to be highly adapted to this symbiosis. Our data provides new insights into the molecular establishment and evolution of this obligate symbiosis and for the pathway characterization of toxicity and immunity.
  • A combination of genetics and microbiota influences the severity of the obesity phenotype in diet-induced obesity.

    Smoczek, Margarethe; Vital, Marius; Wedekind, Dirk; Basic, Marijana; Zschemisch, Nils-Holger; Pieper, Dietmar H; Siebert, Anja; Bleich, Andre; Buettner, Manuela; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (NPG, 2020-04-09)
    Obesity has emerged as a major global health problem and is associated with various diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases. The inbred C57BL/6 mouse strain is often used for various experimental investigations, such as metabolic research. However, over time, genetically distinguishable C57BL/6 substrains have evolved. The manifestation of genetic alterations has resulted in behavioral and metabolic differences. In this study, a comparison of diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6JHanZtm, C57BL/6NCrl and C57BL/6 J mice revealed several metabolic and immunological differences such as blood glucose level and cytokine expression, respectively, among these C57BL/6 substrains. For example, C57BL/6NCrl mice developed the most pronounced adiposity, whereas C57BL/6 J mice showed the highest impairment in glucose tolerance. Moreover, our results indicated that the immunological phenotype depends on the intestinal microbiota, as the cell subset composition of the colon was similar in obese ex-GF B6NRjB6JHanZtm and obese B6JHanZtm mice. Phenotypic differences between C57BL/6 substrains are caused by a complex combination of genetic and microbial alterations. Therefore, in performing metabolic research, considering substrain-specific characteristics, which can influence the course of study, is important. Moreover, for unbiased comparison of data, the entire strain name should be shared with the scientific community.
  • A shift of dynamic equilibrium between the KIT active and inactive states causes drug resistance.

    Srikakulam, Sanjay K; Bastys, Tomas; Kalinina, Olga V; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley, 2020-06-12)
    Integrative bioinformatics is an emerging field in the big data era, offering a steadily increasing number of algorithms and analysis tools. However, for researchers in experimental life sciences it is often difficult to follow and properly apply the bioinformatical methods in order to unravel the complexity and systemic effects of omics data. Here, we present an integrative bioinformatics pipeline to decipher crucial biological insights from global transcriptome profiling data to validate innovative therapeutics. It is available as a web application for an interactive and simplified analysis without the need for programming skills or deep bioinformatics background. The approach was applied to an ex vivo cardiac model treated with natural anti-fibrotic compounds and we obtained new mechanistic insights into their anti-fibrotic action and molecular interplay with miRNAs in cardiac fibrosis. Several gene pathways associated with proliferation, extracellular matrix processes and wound healing were altered, and we could identify micro (mi) RNA-21-5p and miRNA-223-3p as key molecular components related to the anti-fibrotic treatment. Importantly, our pipeline is not restricted to a specific cell type or disease and can be broadly applied to better understand the unprecedented level of complexity in big data research.
  • Disruption of Coronin 1 Signaling in T Cells Promotes Allograft Tolerance while Maintaining Anti-Pathogen Immunity.

    Jayachandran, Rajesh; Gumienny, Aleksandra; Bolinger, Beatrice; Ruehl, Sebastian; Lang, Mathias Jakob; Fucile, Geoffrey; Mazumder, Saumyabrata; Tchang, Vincent; Woischnig, Anne-Kathrin; Stiess, Michael; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2019-01-02)
    The ability of the immune system to discriminate self from non-self is essential for eradicating microbial pathogens but is also responsible for allograft rejection. Whether it is possible to selectively suppress alloresponses while maintaining anti-pathogen immunity remains unknown. We found that mice deficient in coronin 1, a regulator of naive T cell homeostasis, fully retained allografts while maintaining T cell-specific responses against microbial pathogens. Mechanistically, coronin 1-deficiency increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) concentrations to suppress allo-specific T cell responses. Costimulation induced on microbe-infected antigen presenting cells was able to overcome cAMP-mediated immunosuppression to maintain anti-pathogen immunity. In vivo pharmacological modulation of this pathway or a prior transfer of coronin 1-deficient T cells actively suppressed allograft rejection. These results define a coronin 1-dependent regulatory axis in T cells important for allograft rejection and suggest that modulation of this pathway may be a promising approach to achieve long-term acceptance of mismatched allografts.
  • Human microbial metabolite mimicry as a strategy to expand the chemical space of potential drugs.

    Li, Hao; Ranhotra, Harmit S; Mani, Sridhar; Dvořák, Zdeněk; Sokol, Harry; Müller, Rolf; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-06-17)
    he concept of small-molecule mimicry even of weak microbial metabolites present in rodents and humans, as a means to expand drug repertoires, is new. Hitherto, there are few proof-of-concept papers demonstrating utility of this concept. More recently, papers demonstrating mimicry of intestinal microbial metabolites could expand the drug repertoire for diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We opine that, as more functional metabolite-receptor pairings are discovered, small-molecule metabolite mimicry could be a significant effort in drug discovery.
  • 2-Hydroxysorangiadenosine: Structure and Biosynthesis of a Myxobacterial Sesquiterpene-Nucleoside.

    Okoth, Dorothy A; Hug, Joachim J; Garcia, Ronald; Spröer, Cathrin; Overmann, Jörg; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-06-09)
    Myxobacteria represent an under-investigated source for biologically active natural products featuring intriguing structural moieties with potential applications, e.g., in the pharmaceutical industry. Sorangiadenosine and the here-discovered 2-hydroxysorangiadenosine are myxobacterial sesquiterpene-nucleosides with an unusual structural moiety, a bicyclic eudesmane-type sesquiterpene. As the biosynthesis of these rare terpene-nucleoside hybrid natural products remains elusive, we investigated secondary metabolomes and genomes of several 2-hydroxysorangiadenosine-producing myxobacteria. We report the isolation and full structure elucidation of 2-hydroxysorangiadenosine and its cytotoxic and antibiotic activities and propose a biosynthetic pathway in the myxobacterium Vitiosangium cumulatum MCy10943T.
  • SphereCon-a method for precise estimation of residue relative solvent accessible area from limited structural information.

    Gress, Alexander; Kalinina, Olga V; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Oxford Academic, 2020-03-10)
    Motivation: In proteins, solvent accessibility of individual residues is a factor contributing to their importance for protein function and stability. Hence one might wish to calculate solvent accessibility in order to predict the impact of mutations, their pathogenicity and for other biomedical applications. A direct computation of solvent accessibility is only possible if all atoms of a protein three-dimensional structure are reliably resolved. Results: We present SphereCon, a new precise measure that can estimate residue relative solvent accessibility (RSA) from limited data. The measure is based on calculating the volume of intersection of a sphere with a cone cut out in the direction opposite of the residue with surrounding atoms. We propose a method for estimating the position and volume of residue atoms in cases when they are not known from the structure, or when the structural data are unreliable or missing. We show that in cases of reliable input structures, SphereCon correlates almost perfectly with the directly computed RSA, and outperforms other previously suggested indirect methods. Moreover, SphereCon is the only measure that yields accurate results when the identities of amino acids are unknown. A significant novel feature of SphereCon is that it can estimate RSA from inter-residue distance and contact matrices, without any information about the actual atom coordinates.
  • Thioholgamide A, a New Anti-Proliferative Anti-Tumor Agent, Modulates Macrophage Polarization and Metabolism.

    Dahlem, Charlotte; Siow, Wei Xiong; Lopatniuk, Maria; Tse, William K F; Kessler, Sonja M; Kirsch, Susanne H; Hoppstädter, Jessica; Vollmar, Angelika M; Müller, Rolf; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; et al. (MDPI, 2020-05-19)
    Natural products represent powerful tools searching for novel anticancer drugs. Thioholgamide A (thioA) is a ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide, which has been identified as a product of Streptomyces sp. MUSC 136T. In this study, we provide a comprehensive biological profile of thioA, elucidating its effects on different hallmarks of cancer in tumor cells as well as in macrophages as crucial players of the tumor microenvironment. In 2D and 3D in vitro cell culture models thioA showed potent anti-proliferative activities in cancer cells at nanomolar concentrations. Anti-proliferative actions were confirmed in vivo in zebrafish embryos. Cytotoxicity was only induced at several-fold higher concentrations, as assessed by live-cell microscopy and biochemical analyses. ThioA exhibited a potent modulation of cell metabolism by inhibiting oxidative phosphorylation, as determined in a live-cell metabolic assay platform. The metabolic modulation caused a repolarization of in vitro differentiated and polarized tumor-promoting human monocyte-derived macrophages: ThioA-treated macrophages showed an altered morphology and a modulated expression of genes and surface markers. Taken together, the metabolic regulator thioA revealed low activities in non-tumorigenic cells and an interesting anti-cancer profile by orchestrating different hallmarks of cancer, both in tumor cells as well as in macrophages as part of the tumor microenvironment.
  • Squalenyl Hydrogen Sulfate Nanoparticles for Simultaneous Delivery of Tobramycin and an Alkylquinolone Quorum Sensing Inhibitor Enable the Eradication of P. aeruginosa Biofilm Infections.

    Ho, Duy-Khiet; Murgia, Xabier; de Rossi, Chiara; Christmann, Rebekka; Hüfner de Mello Martins, Antonio G; Koch, Marcus; Andreas, Anastasia; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; Empting, Martin; et al. (Wiley, 2020-04-03)
    Elimination of pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections is challenging to accomplish with antibiotic therapies, mainly due to resistance mechanisms. Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSIs) interfering with biofilm formation can thus complement antibiotics. For simultaneous and improved delivery of both active agents to the infection sites, self-assembling nanoparticles of a newly synthesized squalenyl hydrogen sulfate (SqNPs) were prepared. These nanocarriers allowed for remarkably high loading capacities of hydrophilic antibiotic tobramycin (Tob) and a novel lipophilic QSI at 30 % and circa 10 %, respectively. The drug-loaded SqNPs showed improved biofilm penetration and enhanced efficacy in relevant biological barriers (mucin/human tracheal mucus, biofilm), leading to complete eradication of PA biofilms at circa 16-fold lower Tob concentration than Tob alone. This study offers a viable therapy optimization and invigorates the research and development of QSIs for clinical use.
  • Nonocarbolines A-E, -Carboline Antibiotics Produced by the Rare Actinobacterium sp. from Indonesia.

    Primahana, Gian; Risdian, Chandra; Mozef, Tjandrawati; Sudarman, Enge; Köck, Matthias; Wink, Joachim; Stadler, Marc; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-03-17)
    During the course of our ongoing screening for novel biologically active secondary metabolites, the rare Actinobacterium, Nonomuraea sp. 1808210CR was found to produce five unprecedented β-carboline derivatives, nonocarbolines A-E (1-5). Their structures were elucidated from high-resolution mass spectrometry, 1D and 2D nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and the absolute configuration of 4 was determined by using the modified Mosher method. Nonocarboline B (2) displayed moderate antifungal activity against Mucor hiemalis, while nonocarboline D (4) exhibited significant cytotoxic activity against the human lung carcinoma cell line A-549 with the IC50 value of 1.7 µM.
  • Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of the fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine.

    Gampfer, Tanja M; Wagmann, Lea; Park, Yu Mi; Cannaert, Annelies; Herrmann, Jennifer; Fischmann, Svenja; Westphal, Folker; Müller, Rolf; Stove, Christophe P; Meyer, Markus R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-04-05)
    The two fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine (4F-Cy-BAP) and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine (Fu-BAP) have recently been seized as new psychoactive substances (NPS) on the drugs of abuse market. As their toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic characteristics are completely unknown, this study focused on elucidating their in vitro metabolic stability in pooled human liver S9 fraction (pHLS9), their qualitative in vitro (pHLS9), and in vivo (zebrafish larvae) metabolism, and their in vitro isozyme mapping using recombinant expressed isoenzymes. Their maximum-tolerated concentration (MTC) in zebrafish larvae was studied from 0.01 to 100 µM. Their µ-opioid receptor (MOR) activity was analyzed in engineered human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 T cells. In total, seven phase I and one phase II metabolites of 4F-Cy-BAP and 15 phase I and four phase II metabolites of Fu-BAP were tentatively identified by means of liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry, with the majority detected in zebrafish larvae. N-Dealkylation, N-deacylation, hydroxylation, and N-oxidation were the most abundant metabolic reactions and the corresponding metabolites are expected to be promising analytical targets for toxicological analysis. Isozyme mapping revealed the main involvement of CYP3A4 in the phase I metabolism of 4F-Cy-BAP and in terms of Fu-BAP additionally CYP2D6. Therefore, drug-drug interactions by CYP3A4 inhibition may cause elevated drug levels and unwanted adverse effects. MTC experiments revealed malformations and changes in the behavior of larvae after exposure to 100 µM Fu-BAP. Both substances were only able to produce a weak activation of MOR and although toxic effects based on MOR activation seem unlikely, activity at other receptors cannot be excluded

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