• 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.
    • Applying a Chemogeographic Strategy for Natural Product Discovery from the Marine Cyanobacterium .

      Leber, Christopher A; Naman, C Benjamin; Keller, Lena; Almaliti, Jehad; Caro-Diaz, Eduardo J E; Glukhov, Evgenia; Joseph, Valsamma; Sajeevan, T P; Reyes, Andres Joshua; Biggs, Jason S; et al. (MDPI, 2020-10-14)
      The tropical marine cyanobacterium Moorena bouillonii occupies a large geographic range across the Indian and Western Tropical Pacific Oceans and is a prolific producer of structurally unique and biologically active natural products. An ensemble of computational approaches, including the creation of the ORCA (Objective Relational Comparative Analysis) pipeline for flexible MS1 feature detection and multivariate analyses, were used to analyze various M. bouillonii samples. The observed chemogeographic patterns suggested the production of regionally specific natural products by M. bouillonii. Analyzing the drivers of these chemogeographic patterns allowed for the identification, targeted isolation, and structure elucidation of a regionally specific natural product, doscadenamide A (1). Analyses of MS2 fragmentation patterns further revealed this natural product to be part of an extensive family of herein annotated, proposed natural structural analogs (doscadenamides B-J, 2-10); the ensemble of structures reflect a combinatorial biosynthesis using nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) and polyketide synthase (PKS) components. Compound 1 displayed synergistic in vitro cancer cell cytotoxicity when administered with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). These discoveries illustrate the utility in leveraging chemogeographic patterns for prioritizing natural product discovery efforts.
    • Drug Administration Routes Impact the Metabolism of a Synthetic Cannabinoid in the Zebrafish Larvae Model.

      Park, Yu Mi; Meyer, Markus R; Müller, Rolf; Herrmann, Jennifer; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-09-29)
      Zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae have gained attention as a valid model to study in vivo drug metabolism and to predict human metabolism. The microinjection of compounds, oligonucleotides, or pathogens into zebrafish embryos at an early developmental stage is a well-established technique. Here, we investigated the metabolism of zebrafish larvae after microinjection of methyl 2-(1-(5-fluoropentyl)-1H-pyrrolo[2,3-b]pyridine-3-carboxamido)-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (7'N-5F-ADB) as a representative of recently introduced synthetic cannabinoids. Results were compared to human urine data and data from the in vitro HepaRG model and the metabolic pathway of 7'N-5F-ADB were reconstructed. Out of 27 metabolites detected in human urine samples, 19 and 15 metabolites were present in zebrafish larvae and HepaRG cells, respectively. The route of administration to zebrafish larvae had a major impact and we found a high number of metabolites when 7'N-5F-ADB was microinjected into the caudal vein, heart ventricle, or hindbrain. We further studied the spatial distribution of the parent compound and its metabolites by mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) of treated zebrafish larvae to demonstrate the discrepancy in metabolite profiles among larvae exposed through different administration routes. In conclusion, zebrafish larvae represent a superb model for studying drug metabolism, and when combined with MSI, the optimal administration route can be determined based on in vivo drug distribution.
    • Amidochelocardin Overcomes Resistance Mechanisms Exerted on Tetracyclines and Natural Chelocardin.

      Hennessen, Fabienne; Miethke, Marcus; Zaburannyi, Nestor; Loose, Maria; Lukežič, Tadeja; Bernecker, Steffen; Hüttel, Stephan; Jansen, Rolf; Schmiedel, Judith; Fritzenwanker, Moritz; et al. (MDPI, 2020-09-18)
      The reassessment of known but neglected natural compounds is a vital strategy for providing novel lead structures urgently needed to overcome antimicrobial resistance. Scaffolds with resistance-breaking properties represent the most promising candidates for a successful translation into future therapeutics. Our study focuses on chelocardin, a member of the atypical tetracyclines, and its bioengineered derivative amidochelocardin, both showing broad-spectrum antibacterial activity within the ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) panel. Further lead development of chelocardins requires extensive biological and chemical profiling to achieve favorable pharmaceutical properties and efficacy. This study shows that both molecules possess resistance-breaking properties enabling the escape from most common tetracycline resistance mechanisms. Further, we show that these compounds are potent candidates for treatment of urinary tract infections due to their in vitro activity against a large panel of multidrug-resistant uropathogenic clinical isolates. In addition, the mechanism of resistance to natural chelocardin was identified as relying on efflux processes, both in the chelocardin producer Amycolatopsis sulphurea and in the pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae. Resistance development in Klebsiella led primarily to mutations in ramR, causing increased expression of the acrAB-tolC efflux pump. Most importantly, amidochelocardin overcomes this resistance mechanism, revealing not only the improved activity profile but also superior resistance-breaking properties of this novel antibacterial compound.
    • Natural Products Impacting DNA Methyltransferases and Histone Deacetylases.

      Akone, Sergi Herve; Ntie-Kang, Fidele; Stuhldreier, Fabian; Ewonkem, Monique Bassomo; Noah, Alexandre Mboene; Mouelle, Simon Eitel Misse; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2020-08-13)
      Epigenetics refers to heritable changes in gene expression and chromatin structure without change in a DNA sequence. Several epigenetic modifications and respective regulators have been reported. These include DNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, histone post-translational modifications, and non-coding RNAs. Emerging evidence has revealed that epigenetic dysregulations are involved in a wide range of diseases including cancers. Therefore, the reversible nature of epigenetic modifications concerning activation or inhibition of enzymes involved could be promising targets and useful tools for the elucidation of cellular and biological phenomena. In this review, emphasis is laid on natural products that inhibit DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) making them promising candidates for the development of lead structures for anticancer-drugs targeting epigenetic modifications. However, most of the natural products targeting HDAC and/or DNMT lack isoform selectivity, which is important for determining their potential use as therapeutic agents. Nevertheless, the structures presented in this review offer the well-founded basis that screening and chemical modifications of natural products will in future provide not only leads to the identification of more specific inhibitors with fewer side effects, but also important features for the elucidation of HDAC and DNMT function with respect to cancer treatment.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • -Aryl-3-mercaptosuccinimides as Antivirulence Agents Targeting Pseudomonas aeruginosa Elastase and Clostridium Collagenases.

      Konstantinović, Jelena; Yahiaoui, Samir; Alhayek, Alaa; Haupenthal, Jörg; Schönauer, Esther; Andreas, Anastasia; Kany, Andreas M; Müller, Rolf; Koehnke, Jesko; Berger, Fabian K; et al. (ACS, 2020-06-17)
      In light of the global antimicrobial-resistance crisis, there is an urgent need for novel bacterial targets and antibiotics with novel modes of action. It has been shown that Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase (LasB) and Clostridium histolyticum (Hathewaya histolytica) collagenase (ColH) play a significant role in the infection process and thereby represent promising antivirulence targets. Here, we report novel N-aryl-3-mercaptosuccinimide inhibitors that target both LasB and ColH, displaying potent activities in vitro and high selectivity for the bacterial over human metalloproteases. Additionally, the inhibitors demonstrate no signs of cytotoxicity against selected human cell lines and in a zebrafish embryo toxicity model. Furthermore, the most active ColH inhibitor shows a significant reduction of collagen degradation in an ex vivo pig-skin model.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Protein-Templated Hit Identification through an Ugi Four-Component Reaction.

      Mancini, Federica; Unver, M Yagiz; Elgaher, Walid A M; Jumde, Varsha R; Alhayek, Alaa; Lukat, Peer; Herrmann, Jennifer; Witte, Martin D; Köck, Matthias; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-05-19)
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Novel 2-Substituted ­Analogues of (-)-Pentenomycin i

      Zisopoulou, Stavroula A.; Bousis, Spyridon; Haupenthal, Jörg; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; Hirsch, Anna K.H.; Komiotis, Dimitri; Gallos, John K.; Stathakis, Christos I.; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Thieme, 2020-03-17)
      A library of novel 2-substituted derivatives of the antibiotic natural product pentenomycin I is presented. The new collection of analogues is divided in two main classes, 2-alkynyl- and 2-aryl- derivatives, which are accessed by the appropriate type of palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reaction of the 2-iodo-protected pentenomycin I with suitable nucleophiles. The new derivatives were tested for their activity against certain types of bacteria and one of them, compound 8h, was found to exhibit significant inhibitory activity against several Gram-positive bacteria but also displayed cytotoxic activity against eukaryotic cell lines.
    • 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.