• The AibR-isovaleryl coenzyme A regulator and its DNA binding site - a model for the regulation of alternative de novo isovaleryl coenzyme A biosynthesis in Myxococcus xanthus.

      Bock, Tobias; Volz, Carsten; Hering, Vanessa; Scrima, Andrea; Müller, Rolf; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Hel,holtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-12-09)
      Isovaleryl coenzyme A (IV-CoA) is an important building block of iso-fatty acids. In myxobacteria, IV-CoA is essential for the formation of signaling molecules involved in fruiting body formation. Leucine degradation is the common source of IV-CoA, but a second, de novo biosynthetic route to IV-CoA termed AIB (alternative IV-CoA biosynthesis) was recently discovered in M. xanthus The AIB-operon contains the TetR-like transcriptional regulator AibR, which we characterize in this study. We demonstrate that IV-CoA binds AibR with micromolar affinity and show by gelshift experiments that AibR interacts with the promoter region of the AIB-operon once IV-CoA is present. We identify an 18-bp near-perfect palindromic repeat as containing the AibR operator and provide evidence that AibR also controls an additional genomic locus coding for a putative acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase. To elucidate atomic details, we determined crystal structures of AibR in the apo, the IV-CoA- and the IV-CoA-DNA-bound state to 1.7 Å, 2.35 Å and 2.92 Å, respectively. IV-CoA induces partial unfolding of an α-helix, which allows sequence-specific interactions between AibR and its operator. This study provides insights into AibR-mediated regulation and shows that AibR functions in an unusual TetR-like manner by blocking transcription not in the ligand-free but in the effector-bound state.
    • An ambruticin-sensing complex modulates Myxococcus xanthus development and mediates myxobacterial interspecies communication.

      Marcos-Torres, Francisco Javier; Volz, Carsten; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Nature Pulishing Group, 2020-11-04)
      Starvation induces cell aggregation in the soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus, followed by formation of fruiting bodies packed with myxospores. Sporulation in the absence of fruiting bodies can be artificially induced by high concentrations of glycerol through unclear mechanisms. Here, we show that a compound (ambruticin VS-3) produced by a different myxobacterium, Sorangium cellulosum, affects the development of M. xanthus in a similar manner. Both glycerol (at millimolar levels) and ambruticin VS-3 (at nanomolar concentrations) inhibit M. xanthus fruiting body formation under starvation, and induce sporulation in the presence of nutrients. The response is mediated in M. xanthus by three hybrid histidine kinases (AskA, AskB, AskC) that form complexes interacting with two major developmental regulators (MrpC, FruA). In addition, AskB binds directly to the mrpC promoter in vitro. Thus, our work indicates that the AskABC-dependent regulatory pathway mediates the responses to ambruticin VS-3 and glycerol. We hypothesize that production of ambruticin VS-3 may allow S. sorangium to outcompete M. xanthus under both starvation and growth conditions in soil.
    • Clinical Resistome Screening of 1,110 Escherichia coli Isolates Efficiently Recovers Diagnostically Relevant Antibiotic Resistance Biomarkers and Potential Novel Resistance Mechanisms.

      Volz, Carsten; Ramoni, Jonas; Beisken, Stephan; Galata, Valentina; Keller, Andreas; Plum, Achim; Posch, Andreas E; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Multidrug-resistant pathogens represent one of the biggest global healthcare challenges. Molecular diagnostics can guide effective antibiotics therapy but relies on validated, predictive biomarkers. Here we present a novel, universally applicable workflow for rapid identification of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) biomarkers from clinical Escherichia coli isolates and quantitatively evaluate the potential to recover causal biomarkers for observed resistance phenotypes. For this, a metagenomic plasmid library from 1,110 clinical E. coli isolates was created and used for high-throughput screening to identify biomarker candidates against Tobramycin (TOB), Ciprofloxacin (CIP), and Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX). Identified candidates were further validated in vitro and also evaluated in silico for their diagnostic performance based on matched genotype-phenotype data. AMR biomarkers recovered by the metagenomics screening approach mechanistically explained 77% of observed resistance phenotypes for Tobramycin, 76% for Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole, and 20% Ciprofloxacin. Sensitivity for Ciprofloxacin resistance detection could be improved to 97% by complementing results with AMR biomarkers that are undiscoverable due to intrinsic limitations of the workflow. Additionally, when combined in a multiplex diagnostic in silico panel, the identified AMR biomarkers reached promising positive and negative predictive values of up to 97 and 99%, respectively. Finally, we demonstrate that the developed workflow can be used to identify potential novel resistance mechanisms.
    • Leben und Überleben im Boden

      Volz, Carsten; Krug, Daniel; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-12-07)
      Myxobacteria - survivalists in soil. Myxobacteria like Myxococccus xanthus are soil-living microorganisms featuring a complex lifestyle, including movement by coordinated swarming on surfaces, predatory feeding on other microorganisms, and the formation of multicellular fruiting bodies when unfavorable environmental conditions are encountered. Bioinformatic analysis of the large myxobacterial genomes has enabled fascinating insights into the molecular basis for the biosynthesis of complex secondary metabolite structures by myxobacteria, and has set the stage for the discovery of novel natural products. Moreover, well-characterized myxobacteria like M. xanthus increasingly play a role as “biochemical factories” for the biotechnological production of bioactive molecules using synthetic biology approaches
    • miRMaster 2.0: multi-species non-coding RNA sequencing analyses at scale.

      Fehlmann, Tobias; Kern, Fabian; Laham, Omar; Backes, Christina; Solomon, Jeffrey; Hirsch, Pascal; Volz, Carsten; Müller, Rolf; Keller, Andreas; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Oxford University Press, 2021-04-19)
      Analyzing all features of small non-coding RNA sequencing data can be demanding and challenging. To facilitate this process, we developed miRMaster. After the analysis of over 125 000 human samples and 1.5 trillion human small RNA reads over 4 years, we present miRMaster 2 with a wide range of updates and new features. We extended our reference data sets so that miRMaster 2 now supports the analysis of eight species (e.g. human, mouse, chicken, dog, cow) and 10 non-coding RNA classes (e.g. microRNAs, piRNAs, tRNAs, rRNAs, circRNAs). We also incorporated new downstream analysis modules such as batch effect analysis or sample embeddings using UMAP, and updated annotation data bases included by default (miRBase, Ensembl, GtRNAdb). To accommodate the increasing popularity of single cell small-RNA sequencing data, we incorporated a module for unique molecular identifier (UMI) processing. Further, the output tables and graphics have been improved based on user feedback and new output formats that emerged in the community are now supported (e.g. miRGFF3). Finally, we integrated differential expression analysis with the miRNA enrichment analysis tool miEAA. miRMaster is freely available at https://www.ccb.uni-saarland.de/mirmaster2.