• In vivo and in vitro reconstitution of unique key steps in cystobactamid antibiotic biosynthesis.

      Groß, Sebastian; Schnell, Bastien; Haack, Patrick A; Auerbach, David; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Nature Research, 2021-03-16)
      Cystobactamids are myxobacteria-derived topoisomerase inhibitors with potent anti-Gram-negative activity. They are formed by a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) and consist of tailored para-aminobenzoic acids, connected by a unique α-methoxy-L-isoasparagine or a β-methoxy-L-asparagine linker moiety. We describe the heterologous expression of the cystobactamid biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) in Myxococcus xanthus. Targeted gene deletions produce several unnatural cystobactamids. Using in vitro experiments, we reconstitute the key biosynthetic steps of linker formation and shuttling via CysB to the NRPS. The biosynthetic logic involves a previously uncharacterized bifunctional domain found in the stand-alone NRPS module CysH, albicidin biosynthesis and numerous BGCs of unknown natural products. This domain performs either an aminomutase (AM) or an amide dehydratase (DH) type of reaction, depending on the activity of CysJ which hydroxylates CysH-bound L-asparagine. Furthermore, CysQ O-methylates hydroxyl-L-(iso)asparagine only in the presence of the AMDH domain. Taken together, these findings provide direct evidence for unique steps in cystobactamid biosynthesis.
    • Natural products in drug discovery: advances and opportunities.

      Atanasov, Atanas G; Zotchev, Sergey B; Dirsch, Verena M; Supuran, Claudiu T; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2021-01-28)
      Natural products and their structural analogues have historically made a major contribution to pharmacotherapy, especially for cancer and infectious diseases. Nevertheless, natural products also present challenges for drug discovery, such as technical barriers to screening, isolation, characterization and optimization, which contributed to a decline in their pursuit by the pharmaceutical industry from the 1990s onwards. In recent years, several technological and scientific developments - including improved analytical tools, genome mining and engineering strategies, and microbial culturing advances - are addressing such challenges and opening up new opportunities. Consequently, interest in natural products as drug leads is being revitalized, particularly for tackling antimicrobial resistance. Here, we summarize recent technological developments that are enabling natural product-based drug discovery, highlight selected applications and discuss key opportunities.
    • Expanding the Scope of Detectable Microbial Natural Products by Complementary Analytical Methods and Cultivation Systems.

      Bader, Chantal D; Haack, Patrick A; Panter, Fabian; Krug, Daniel; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2021-01-15)
      Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are universally produced by prokaryotes and play important roles in symbiotic and pathogenic interactions. They often contain DNA, but a mechanism for its incorporation is lacking. Here, we show that Dinoroseobacter shibae, a dinoflagellate symbiont, constitutively secretes OMVs containing DNA. Time-lapse microscopy captured instances of multiple OMV production at the septum during cell division. DNA from the vesicle lumen was up to 22-fold enriched for the region around the terminus of replication (ter). The peak of coverage was located at dif, a conserved 28-bp palindromic sequence required for binding of the site-specific tyrosine recombinases XerC/XerD. These enzymes are activated at the last stage of cell division immediately prior to septum formation when they are bound by the divisome protein FtsK. We suggest that overreplicated regions around the terminus have been repaired by the FtsK-dif-XerC/XerD molecular machinery. The vesicle proteome was clearly dominated by outer membrane and periplasmic proteins. Some of the most abundant vesicle membrane proteins were predicted to be required for direct interaction with peptidoglycan during cell division (LysM, Tol-Pal, Spol, lytic murein transglycosylase). OMVs were 15-fold enriched for the saturated fatty acid 16:00. We hypothesize that constitutive OMV secretion in D. shibae is coupled to cell division. The footprint of the FtsK-dif-XerC/XerD molecular machinery suggests a novel potentially highly conserved route for incorporation of DNA into OMVs. Clearing the division site from small DNA fragments might be an important function of vesicles produced during exponential growth under optimal conditions.IMPORTANCE Gram-negative bacteria continually form vesicles from their outer membrane (outer membrane vesicles [OMVs]) during normal growth. OMVs frequently contain DNA, and it is unclear how DNA can be shuffled from the cytoplasm to the OMVs. We studied OMV cargo in Dinoroseobacter shibae, a symbiont of dinoflagellates, using microscopy and a multi-omics approach. We found that vesicles formed during undisturbed exponential growth contain DNA which is enriched for genes around the replication terminus, specifically, the binding site for an enzyme complex that is activated at the last stage of cell division. We suggest that the enriched genes are the result of overreplication which is repaired by their excision and excretion via membrane vesicles to clear the divisome from waste DNA.
    • Kibdelosporangium persicum sp. nov., a new member of the Actinomycetes from a hot desert in Iran.

      Safaei, Nasim; Nouioui, Imen; Mast, Yvonne; Zaburannyi, Nestor; Rohde, Manfred; Schumann, Peter; Müller, Rolf; Wink, Joachim; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany.;HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Microbiology Society, 2021-01-11)
      Isolate 4NS15T was isolated from a neglected arid habitat in Kerman, Iran. The strain showed 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity values of 98.9 % to the type strains of Kibdelosporangium aridum subsp. aridum, Kibdelosporangium phytohabitans and Kibdelosporangium philippinense and 98.6 % to the type strain K. aridum subsp. largum, respectively. Genome-based phylogenetic analysis revealed that isolate 4NS15T is closely related to Kibdelosporangium aridum subsp. aridum DSM 43828T. The digital DNA-DNA hybridization value between the genome sequences of 4NS15T and strain DSM 43828T is 29.8 %. Strain 4NS15T produces long chains of spores without a sporangium-like structure which can be distinguished from other Kibdelosporangium species. Isolate 4NS15T has a genome size of 10.35 Mbp with a G+C content of 68.1 mol%. Whole-cell hydrolysates of isolate 4NS15T are rich in meso-diaminopimelic acid and cell-wall sugars such as arabinose, galactose, glucose and ribose. Major fatty acids (>10 %) are C16 : 0, iso-C16 : 0 and iso-C15 : 0. The phospholipid profile contains diphosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylhydroxyethanolamine, aminolipid and glycoaminolipid. The predominant menaquinone is MK-9(H4). Based on its phenotypic and genotypic characteristics, isolate 4NS15T (NCCB 100701=CIP 111705=DSM 110728) merits recognition as representing a novel species of the genus Kibdelosporangium, for which the name Kibdelosporangium persicum sp. nov. is proposed.
    • Heterologous expression of the atypical tetracycline chelocardin reveals the full set of genes required for its biosynthesis.

      Lukežič, Tadeja; Pikl, Špela; Zaburannyi, Nestor; Remškar, Maja; Petković, Hrvoje; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (BMC (part of Springer), 2020-12-19)
      Background: Chelocardin (CHD) exhibits a broad-spectrum antibiotic activity and showed promising results in a small phase II clinical study conducted on patients with urinary tract infections. Importantly, CHD was shown to be active also against tetracycline-resistant Gram-negative pathogens, which is gaining even more importance in today’s antibiotic crisis. We have demonstrated that modifications of CHD through genetic engineering of its producer, the actinomycete Amycolatopsis sulphurea, are not only possible but yielded even more potent antibiotics than CHD itself, like 2-carboxamido-2-deacetyl-chelocardin (CD-CHD), which is currently in preclinical evaluation. A. sulphurea is difficult to genetically manipulate and therefore manipulation of the chd biosynthetic gene cluster in a genetically amenable heterologous host would be of high importance for further drug-discovery efforts. Results: We report heterologous expression of the CHD biosynthetic gene cluster in the model organism Streptomyces albus del14 strain. Unexpectedly, we found that the originally defined CHD gene cluster fails to provide all genes required for CHD formation, including an additional cyclase and two regulatory genes. Overexpression of the putative pathway-specific streptomyces antibiotic regulatory protein chdB in A. sulphurea resulted in an increase of both, CHD and CD-CHD production. Applying a metabolic-engineering approach, it was also possible to generate the potent CHD analogue, CD-CHD in S. albus. Finally, an additional yield increase was achieved in S. albus del14 by in-trans overexpression of the chdR exporter gene, which provides resistance to CHD and CDCHD. Conclusions: We identified previously unknown genes in the CHD cluster, which were shown to be essential for chelocardin biosynthesis by expression of the full biosynthetic gene cluster in S. albus as heterologous host. When comparing to oxytetracycline biosynthesis, we observed that the CHD gene cluster contains additional enzymes not found in gene clusters encoding the biosynthesis of typical tetracyclines (such as oxytetracycline). This finding probably explains the different chemistries and modes of action, which make CHD/CD-CHD valuable lead structures for clinical candidates. Even though the CHD genes are derived from a rare actinomycete A. sulphurea, the yield of CHD in the heterologous host was very good. The corrected nucleotide sequence of the CHD gene cluster now contains allgene products required for the production of CHD in a genetically amenable heterologous host, thus opening new possibilities towards production of novel and potent tetracycline analogues with a new mode of action.
    • Corallopyronin A for short-course anti-wolbachial, macrofilaricidal treatment of filarial infections.

      Schiefer, Andrea; Hübner, Marc P; Krome, Anna; Lämmer, Christine; Ehrens, Alexandra; Aden, Tilman; Koschel, Marianne; Neufeld, Helene; Chaverra-Muñoz, Lillibeth; Jansen, Rolf; et al. (PLOS, 2020-12-07)
      Current efforts to eliminate the neglected tropical diseases onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, caused by the filarial nematodes Onchocerca volvulus and Wuchereria bancrofti or Brugia spp., respectively, are hampered by lack of a short-course macrofilaricidal-adult-worm killing-treatment. Anti-wolbachial antibiotics, e.g. doxycycline, target the essential Wolbachia endosymbionts of filariae and are a safe prototype adult-worm-sterilizing and macrofilaricidal regimen, in contrast to standard treatments with ivermectin or diethylcarbamazine, which mainly target the microfilariae. However, treatment regimens of 4-5 weeks necessary for doxycycline and contraindications limit its use. Therefore, we tested the preclinical anti-Wolbachia drug candidate Corallopyronin A (CorA) for in vivo efficacy during initial and chronic filarial infections in the Litomosoides sigmodontis rodent model. CorA treatment for 14 days beginning immediately after infection cleared >90% of Wolbachia endosymbionts from filariae and prevented development into adult worms. CorA treatment of patently infected microfilaremic gerbils for 14 days with 30 mg/kg twice a day (BID) achieved a sustained reduction of >99% of Wolbachia endosymbionts from adult filariae and microfilariae, followed by complete inhibition of filarial embryogenesis resulting in clearance of microfilariae. Combined treatment of CorA and albendazole, a drug currently co-administered during mass drug administrations and previously shown to enhance efficacy of anti-Wolbachia drugs, achieved microfilarial clearance after 7 days of treatment at a lower BID dose of 10 mg/kg CorA, a Human Equivalent Dose of 1.4 mg/kg. Importantly, this combination led to a significant reduction in the adult worm burden, which has not yet been published with other anti-Wolbachia candidates tested in this model. In summary, CorA is a preclinical candidate for filariasis, which significantly reduces treatment times required to achieve sustained Wolbachia depletion, clearance of microfilariae, and inhibition of embryogenesis. In combination with albendazole, CorA is robustly macrofilaricidal after 7 days of treatment and fulfills the Target Product Profile for a macrofilaricidal drug.
    • 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
    • Ribosome-Targeting Antibiotics Impair T Cell Effector Function and Ameliorate Autoimmunity by Blocking Mitochondrial Protein Synthesis.

      Almeida, Luís; Dhillon-LaBrooy, Ayesha; Castro, Carla N; Adossa, Nigatu; Carriche, Guilhermina M; Guderian, Melanie; Lippens, Saskia; Dennerlein, Sven; Hesse, Christina; Lambrecht, Bart N; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-11-24)
      While antibiotics are intended to specifically target bacteria, most are known to affect host cell physiology. In addition, some antibiotic classes are reported as immunosuppressive for reasons that remain unclear. Here, we show that Linezolid, a ribosomal-targeting antibiotic (RAbo), effectively blocked the course of a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease. Linezolid and other RAbos were strong inhibitors of T helper-17 cell effector function in vitro, showing that this effect was independent of their antibiotic activity. Perturbing mitochondrial translation in differentiating T cells, either with RAbos or through the inhibition of mitochondrial elongation factor G1 (mEF-G1) progressively compromised the integrity of the electron transport chain. Ultimately, this led to deficient oxidative phosphorylation, diminishing nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide concentrations and impairing cytokine production in differentiating T cells. In accordance, mice lacking mEF-G1 in T cells were protected from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, demonstrating that this pathway is crucial in maintaining T cell function and pathogenicity.
    • The antibiotic sorangicin A inhibits promoter DNA unwinding in a rifampicin-resistant RNA polymerase.

      Lilic, Mirjana; Chen, James; Boyaci, Hande; Braffman, Nathaniel; Hubin, Elizabeth A; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; Mooney, Rachel; Landick, Robert; Darst, Seth A; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-11-16)
      Rifampicin (Rif) is a first-line therapeutic used to treat the infectious disease tuberculosis (TB), which is caused by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). The emergence of Rif-resistant (RifR) Mtb presents a need for new antibiotics. Rif targets the enzyme RNA polymerase (RNAP). Sorangicin A (Sor) is an unrelated inhibitor that binds in the Rif-binding pocket of RNAP. Sor inhibits a subset of RifR RNAPs, including the most prevalent clinical RifR RNAP substitution found in Mtb infected patients (S456>L of the β subunit). Here, we present structural and biochemical data demonstrating that Sor inhibits the wild-type Mtb RNAP by a similar mechanism as Rif: by preventing the translocation of very short RNAs. By contrast, Sor inhibits the RifR S456L enzyme at an earlier step, preventing the transition of a partially unwound promoter DNA intermediate to the fully opened DNA and blocking the template-strand DNA from reaching the active site in the RNAP catalytic center. By defining template-strand blocking as a mechanism for inhibition, we provide a mechanistic drug target in RNAP. Our finding that Sor inhibits the wild-type and mutant RNAPs through different mechanisms prompts future considerations for designing antibiotics against resistant targets. Also, we show that Sor has a better pharmacokinetic profile than Rif, making it a suitable starting molecule to design drugs to be used for the treatment of TB patients with comorbidities who require multiple medications.
    • Supercritical Fluid Extraction Enhances Discovery of Secondary Metabolites from Myxobacteria.

      Bader, Chantal D; Neuber, Markus; Panter, Fabian; Krug, Daniel; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Chemical Society, 2020-11-10)
      Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is widely used for the isolation of natural products from plants, but its application in efforts to identify structurally and physicochemically often dissimilar microbial natural products is limited to date. In this study, we evaluated the impact of SFE on the extractability of myxobacterial secondary metabolites, aiming to improve the prospects of discovering novel natural products. We investigated the influence of different co-solvents on the extraction efficiency of secondary metabolites from three myxobacterial strains and the antimicrobial activity profiles of the corresponding extracts. For each known secondary metabolite, we found extraction conditions using SFE leading to superior yields in the extracts compared to conventional solvent extraction. Compounds with a logP higher than 3 showed the best extraction efficiency using 20% EtOAc as a co-solvent, whereas compounds with logP values lower than 3 were better extractable using more polar co-solvents such as MeOH. Extracts generated with SFE showed increased antimicrobial activities including the presence of activities not explained by known myxobacterial secondary metabolites, highlighting the advantage of SFE for bioactivity-guided isolation. Moreover, non-targeted metabolomics analysis revealed a group of chlorinated metabolites produced by the well-studied model myxobacterium Myxococcus xanthus DK1622, which were not accessible previously due to their low concentration in conventional extracts. The enriched SF extracts were used for isolation and subsequent structure elucidation of chloroxanthic acid A as the founding member of a novel secondary metabolite family. Our findings encourage the increased utilization of SFE as a part of future screening workflows of microbial natural products.
    • 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.
    • Metabolic Profiling to Determine Bactericidal or Bacteriostatic Effects of New Natural Products using Isothermal Microcalorimetry.

      Cirnski, Katarina; Coetzee, Janetta; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MyJove Corporation, 2020-10-29)
      Due to the global threat of rising antimicrobial resistance, novel antibiotics are urgently needed. We investigate natural products from Myxobacteria as an innovative source of such new compounds. One bottleneck in the process is typically the elucidation of their mode-of-action. We recently established isothermal microcalorimetry as part of a routine profiling pipeline. This technology allows for investigating the effect of antibiotic exposure on the total bacterial metabolic response, including processes that are decoupled from biomass formation. Importantly, bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects are easily distinguishable without any user intervention during the measurements. However, isothermal microcalorimetry is a rather new approach and applying this method to different bacterial species usually requires pre-evaluation of suitable measurement conditions. There are some reference thermograms available of certain bacteria, greatly facilitating interpretation of results. As the pool of reference data is steadily growing, we expect the methodology to have increasing impact in the future and expect it to allow for in-depth fingerprint analyses enabling the differentiation of antibiotic classes.
    • 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).