• The Biofilm Inhibitor Carolacton Enters Gram-Negative Cells: Studies Using a TolC-Deficient Strain of Escherichia coli.

      Donner, Jannik; Reck, Michael; Bunk, Boyke; Jarek, Michael; App, Constantin Benjamin; Meier-Kolthoff, Jan P; Overmann, Jörg; Müller, Rolf; Kirschning, Andreas; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; et al. (2017-11-01)
      The myxobacterial secondary metabolite carolacton inhibits growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae and kills biofilm cells of the caries- and endocarditis-associated pathogen Streptococcus mutans at nanomolar concentrations. Here, we studied the response to carolacton of an Escherichia coli strain that lacked the outer membrane protein TolC. Whole-genome sequencing of the laboratory E. coli strain TolC revealed the integration of an insertion element, IS5, at the tolC locus and a close phylogenetic relationship to the ancient E. coli K-12. We demonstrated via transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) and determination of MIC values that carolacton penetrates the phospholipid bilayer of the Gram-negative cell envelope and inhibits growth of E. coli TolC at similar concentrations as for streptococci. This inhibition is completely lost for a C-9 (R) epimer of carolacton, a derivative with an inverted stereocenter at carbon atom 9 [(S) → (R)] as the sole difference from the native molecule, which is also inactive in S. pneumoniae and S. mutans, suggesting a specific interaction of native carolacton with a conserved cellular target present in bacterial phyla as distantly related as Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. The efflux pump inhibitor (EPI) phenylalanine arginine β-naphthylamide (PAβN), which specifically inhibits AcrAB-TolC, renders E. coli susceptible to carolacton. Our data indicate that carolacton has potential for use in antimicrobial chemotherapy against Gram-negative bacteria, as a single drug or in combination with EPIs. Strain E. coli TolC has been deposited at the DSMZ; together with the associated RNA-seq data and MIC values, it can be used as a reference during future screenings for novel bioactive compounds. IMPORTANCE The emergence of pathogens resistant against most or all of the antibiotics currently used in human therapy is a global threat, and therefore the search for antimicrobials with novel targets and modes of action is of utmost importance. The myxobacterial secondary metabolite carolacton had previously been shown to inhibit biofilm formation and growth of streptococci. Here, we investigated if carolacton could act against Gram-negative bacteria, which are difficult targets because of their double-layered cytoplasmic envelope. We found that the model organism Escherichia coli is susceptible to carolacton, similar to the Gram-positive Streptococcus pneumoniae, if its multidrug efflux system AcrAB-TolC is either inactivated genetically, by disruption of the tolC gene, or physiologically by coadministering an efflux pump inhibitor. A carolacton epimer that has a different steric configuration at carbon atom 9 is completely inactive, suggesting that carolacton may interact with the same molecular target in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
    • The natural product carolacton inhibits folate-dependent C1 metabolism by targeting FolD/MTHFD.

      Fu, Chengzhang; Sikandar, Asfandyar; Donner, Jannik; Zaburannyi, Nestor; Herrmann, Jennifer; Reck, Michael; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Koehnke, Jesko; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11-16)
      The natural product carolacton is a macrolide keto-carboxylic acid produced by the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum, and was originally described as an antibacterial compound. Here we show that carolacton targets FolD, a key enzyme from the folate-dependent C1 metabolism. We characterize the interaction between bacterial FolD and carolacton biophysically, structurally and biochemically. Carolacton binds FolD with nanomolar affinity, and the crystal structure of the FolD-carolacton complex reveals the mode of binding. We show that the human FolD orthologs, MTHFD1 and MTHFD2, are also inhibited in the low nM range, and that micromolar concentrations of carolacton inhibit the growth of cancer cell lines. As mitochondrial MTHFD2 is known to be upregulated in cancer cells, it may be possible to use carolacton as an inhibitor tool compound to assess MTHFD2 as an anti-cancer target.