• Differential regulation of AMP-activated protein kinase in healthy and cancer cells explains why V-ATPase inhibition selectively kills cancer cells.

      Bartel, Karin; Müller, Rolf; von Schwarzenberg, Karin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Society for biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2019-10-11)
      The cellular energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a metabolic hub regulating various pathways involved in tumor metabolism. Here, we report that vacuolar H+-ATPase (V-ATPase) inhibition differentially affects regulation of AMPK in tumor and non-tumor cells and that this differential regulation contributes to the selectivity of V-ATPase inhibitors for tumor cells. In non-malignant cells, the V-ATPase inhibitor archazolid increased phosphorylation and lysosomal localization of AMPK. We noted that AMPK localization has a pro-survival role, as AMPK silencing decreased cellular growth rates. In contrast, in cancer cells, we found that AMPK is constitutively active and that archazolid does not affect its phosphorylation and localization. Moreover, V-ATPase-independent AMPK induction in the tumor cells protected them from archazolid-induced cytotoxicity, further underlining the role of AMPK as a pro-survival mediator. These observations indicate that AMPK regulation is uncoupled from V-ATPase activity in cancer cells and that this makes them more susceptible to cell death induction by V-ATPase inhibitors. In both tumor and healthy cells, V-ATPase inhibition induced a distinct metabolic regulatory cascade downstream of AMPK, affecting ATP and NADPH levels, glucose uptake, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. We could attribute the pro-survival effects to AMPK's ability to maintain redox homeostasis by inhibiting ROS production and maintaining NADPH levels. In summary, the results of our work indicate that V-ATPase inhibition has differential effects on AMPK-mediated metabolic regulation in cancer and healthy cells and explain the tumor-specific cytotoxicity of V-ATPase inhibition.
    • Direct cloning and heterologous expression of the salinomycin biosynthetic gene cluster from Streptomyces albus DSM41398 in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2).

      Yin, Jia; Hoffmann, Michael; Bian, Xiaoying; Tu, Qiang; Yan, Fu; Xia, Liqiu; Ding, Xuezhi; Stewart, A Francis; Müller, Rolf; Fu, Jun; et al. (2015)
      Linear plus linear homologous recombination-mediated recombineering (LLHR) is ideal for obtaining natural product biosynthetic gene clusters from pre-digested bacterial genomic DNA in one or two steps of recombineering. The natural product salinomycin has a potent and selective activity against cancer stem cells and is therefore a potential anti-cancer drug. Herein, we separately isolated three fragments of the salinomycin gene cluster (salO-orf18) from Streptomyces albus (S. albus) DSM41398 using LLHR and assembled them into intact gene cluster (106 kb) by Red/ET and expressed it in the heterologous host Streptomyces coelicolor (S. coelicolor) A3(2). We are the first to report a large genomic region from a Gram-positive strain has been cloned using LLHR. The successful reconstitution and heterologous expression of the salinomycin gene cluster offer an attractive system for studying the function of the individual genes and identifying novel and potential analogues of complex natural products in the recipient strain.
    • Discovery of Novel Latency-Associated Nuclear Antigen Inhibitors as Antiviral Agents Against Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus.

      Kirsch, Philine; Jakob, Valentin; Elgaher, Walid A M; Walt, Christine; Oberhausen, Kevin; Schulz, Thomas F; Empting, Martin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.;HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-01-24)
      With the aim to develop novel antiviral agents against Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV), we are targeting the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA). This protein plays an important role in viral genome maintenance during latent infection. LANA has the ability to tether the viral genome to the host nucleosomes and, thus, ensures latent persistence of the viral genome in the host cells. By inhibition of the LANA-DNA interaction, we seek to eliminate or reduce the load of the viral DNA in the host. To achieve this goal, we screened our in-house library using a dedicated fluorescence polarization (FP)-based competition assay, which allows for the quantification of LANA-DNA-interaction inhibition by small organic molecules. We successfully identified three different compound classes capable of disrupting this protein-nucleic acid interaction. We characterized these compounds by IC50 dose-response evaluation and confirmed the compound-LANA interaction using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy. Furthermore, two of the three hit scaffolds showed only marginal cytotoxicity in two human cell lines. Finally, we conducted STD-NMR competition experiments with our new hit compounds and a previously described fragment-sized inhibitor. Based on these results, future compound linking approaches could serve as a promising strategy for further optimization studies in order to generate highly potent KSHV inhibitors.
    • Discovery of recombinases enables genome mining of cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters in Burkholderiales species.

      Wang, Xue; Zhou, Haibo; Chen, Hanna; Jing, Xiaoshu; Zheng, Wentao; Li, Ruijuan; Sun, Tao; Liu, Jiaqi; Fu, Jun; Huo, Liujie; et al. (2018-05-01)
      Bacterial genomes encode numerous cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) that represent a largely untapped source of drugs or pesticides. Mining of the cryptic products is limited by the unavailability of streamlined genetic tools in native producers. Precise genome engineering using bacteriophage recombinases is particularly useful for genome mining. However, recombinases are usually host-specific. The genome-guided discovery of novel recombinases and their transient expression could boost cryptic BGC mining. Herein, we reported a genetic system employing Red recombinases from Burkholderiales strain DSM 7029 for efficient genome engineering in several Burkholderiales species that currently lack effective genetic tools. Using specialized recombinases-assisted in situ insertion of functional promoters, we successfully mined five cryptic nonribosomal peptide synthetase/polyketide synthase BGCs, two of which were silent. Two classes of lipopeptides, glidopeptins and rhizomides, were identified through extensive spectroscopic characterization. This recombinase expression strategy offers utility within other bacteria species, allowing bioprospecting for potentially scalable discovery of novel metabolites with attractive bioactivities.
    • Draft Genome Sequence and Annotation of the Obligate Bacterial Endosymbiont Caedibacter taeniospiralis, Causative Agent of the Killer Phenotype in Paramecium tetraurelia.

      Zaburannyi, Nestor; Grosser, Katrin; Gasparoni, Gilles; Müller, Rolf; Schrallhammer, Martina; Simon, Martin; Helmholtz Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-01-18)
      Caedibacter taeniospiralis is an obligate endosymbiont living in the cytoplasm of Paramecium tetraureliaC. taeniospiralis causes the so-called killer trait, eliminating intraspecific competitors of its host when released into the medium by the concerted action of the unusual protein structure R-body (refractile body) in addition to an as-yet-unknown toxin.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Effects of Halide Ions on the Carbamidocyclophane Biosynthesis in Nostoc sp. CAVN2.

      Preisitsch, Michael; Heiden, Stefan E; Beerbaum, Monika; Niedermeyer, Timo H J; Schneefeld, Marie; Herrmann, Jennifer; Kumpfmüller, Jana; Thürmer, Andrea; Neidhardt, Inga; Wiesner, Christoph; et al. (2016)
      In this study, the influence of halide ions on [7.7]paracyclophane biosynthesis in the cyanobacterium Nostoc sp. CAVN2 was investigated. In contrast to KI and KF, supplementation of the culture medium with KCl or KBr resulted not only in an increase of growth but also in an up-regulation of carbamidocyclophane production. LC-MS analysis indicated the presence of chlorinated, brominated, but also non-halogenated derivatives. In addition to 22 known cylindrocyclophanes and carbamidocyclophanes, 27 putative congeners have been detected. Nine compounds, carbamidocyclophanes M-U, were isolated, and their structural elucidation by 1D and 2D NMR experiments in combination with HRMS and ECD analysis revealed that they are brominated analogues of chlorinated carbamidocyclophanes. Quantification of the carbamidocyclophanes showed that chloride is the preferably utilized halide, but incorporation is reduced in the presence of bromide. Evaluation of the antibacterial activity of 30 [7.7]paracyclophanes and related derivatives against selected pathogenic Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria exhibited remarkable effects especially against methicillin- and vancomycin-resistant staphylococci and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. For deeper insights into the mechanisms of biosynthesis, the carbamidocyclophane biosynthetic gene cluster in Nostoc sp. CAVN2 was studied. The gene putatively coding for the carbamoyltransferase has been identified. Based on bioinformatic analyses, a possible biosynthetic assembly is discussed.
    • Elevated free cholesterol in a p62 overexpression model of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

      Simon, Yvette; Kessler, Sonja M; Gemperlein, Katja; Bohle, Rainer M; Müller, Rolf; Haybaeck, Johannes; Kiemer, Alexandra K; Department of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Biology, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2014-12-21)
      To characterize how insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) mRNA binding protein p62/IMP2-2 promotes steatohepatitis in the absence of dietary cholesterol.
    • An endothelial cell line infected by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) allows the investigation of Kaposi's sarcoma and the validation of novel viral inhibitors in vitro and in vivo.

      Dubich, Tatyana; Lieske, Anna; Santag, Susann; Beauclair, Guillaume; Rückert, Jessica; Herrmann, Jennifer; Gorges, Jan; Büsche, Guntram; Kazmaier, Uli; Hauser, Hansjörg; et al. (2019-01-04)
      Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a tumor of endothelial origin predominantly affecting immunosuppressed individuals. Up to date, vaccines and targeted therapies are not available. Screening and identification of anti-viral compounds are compromised by the lack of scalable cell culture systems reflecting properties of virus-transformed cells in patients. Further, the strict specificity of the virus for humans limits the development of in vivo models. In this study, we exploited a conditionally immortalized human endothelial cell line for establishment of in vitro 2D and 3D KSHV latency models and the generation of KS-like xenograft tumors in mice. Importantly, the invasive properties and tumor formation could be completely reverted by purging KSHV from the cells, confirming that tumor formation is dependent on the continued presence of KSHV, rather than being a consequence of irreversible transformation of the infected cells. Upon testing a library of 260 natural metabolites, we selected the compounds that induced viral loss or reduced the invasiveness of infected cells in 2D and 3D endothelial cell culture systems. The efficacy of selected compounds against KSHV-induced tumor formation was verified in the xenograft model. Together, this study shows that the combined use of anti-viral and anti-tumor assays based on the same cell line is predictive for tumor reduction in vivo and therefore allows faithful selection of novel drug candidates against Kaposi's sarcoma. KEY MESSAGES: Novel 2D, 3D, and xenograft mouse models mimic the consequences of KSHV infection. KSHV-induced tumorigenesis can be reverted upon purging the cells from the virus. A 3D invasiveness assay is predictive for tumor reduction in vivo. Chondramid B, epothilone B, and pretubulysin D diminish KS-like lesions in vivo.
    • ExoCET: exonuclease in vitro assembly combined with RecET recombination for highly efficient direct DNA cloning from complex genomes.

      Wang, Hailong; Li, Zhen; Jia, Ruonan; Yin, Jia; Li, Aiying; Xia, Liqiu; Yin, Yulong; Müller, Rolf; Fu, Jun; Stewart, A Francis; et al. (2017-12-12)
      The exponentially increasing volumes of DNA sequence data highlight the need for new DNA cloning methods to explore the new information. Here, we describe 'ExoCET' (Exonuclease Combined with RecET recombination) to directly clone any chosen region from bacterial and mammalian genomes with nucleotide precision into operational plasmids. ExoCET combines in vitro exonuclease and annealing with the remarkable capacity of full length RecET homologous recombination (HR) to retrieve specified regions from genomic DNA preparations. Using T4 polymerase (T4pol) as the in vitro exonuclease for ExoCET, we directly cloned large regions (>50 kb) from bacterial and mammalian genomes, including DNA isolated from blood. Employing RecET HR or Cas9 cleavage in vitro, the directly cloned region can be chosen with nucleotide precision to position, for example, a gene into an expression vector without the need for further subcloning. In addition to its utility for bioprospecting in bacterial genomes, ExoCET presents straightforward access to mammalian genomes for various applications such as region-specific DNA sequencing that retains haplotype phasing, the rapid construction of optimal, haplotypic, isogenic targeting constructs or a new way to genotype that presents advantages over Southern blotting or polymerase chain reaction. The direct cloning capacities of ExoCET present new freedoms in recombinant DNA technology.
    • ExoCET: exonuclease in vitro assembly combined with RecET recombination for highly efficient direct DNA cloning from complex genomes. (Erratum)

      Wang, Hailong; Li, Zhen; Jia, Ruonan; Yin, Jia; Li, Aiying; Xia, Liqiu; Yin, Yulong; Müller, Rolf; Fu, Jun; Stewart, A Francis; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2018-03-16)
      The exponentially increasing volumes of DNA sequence data highlight the need for new DNA cloning methods to explore the new information. Here, we describe ‘ExoCET’ (Exonuclease Combined with RecET recombination) to directly clone any chosen region from bacterial and mammalian genomes with nucleotide precision into operational plasmids. ExoCET combines in vitro exonuclease and annealing with the remarkable capacity of full length RecET homologous recombination (HR) to retrieve specified regions from genomic DNA preparations. Using T4 polymerase (T4pol) as the in vitro exonuclease for ExoCET, we directly cloned large regions (>50 kb) from bacterial and mammalian genomes, including DNA isolated from blood. Employing RecET HR or Cas9 cleavage in vitro, the directly cloned region can be chosen with nucleotide precision to position, for example, a gene into an expression vector without the need for further subcloning. In addition to its utility for bioprospecting in bacterial genomes, ExoCET presents straightforward access to mammalian genomes for various applications such as region-specific DNA sequencing that retains haplotype phasing, the rapid construction of optimal, haplotypic, isogenic targeting constructs or a new way to genotype that presents advantages over Southern blotting or polymerase chain reaction. The direct cloning capacities of ExoCET present new freedoms in recombinant DNA technology.
    • Extracellular-regulated kinase 2 is activated by the enhancement of hinge flexibility.

      Sours, Kevin M; Xiao, Yao; Ahn, Natalie G; Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. (2014-05-01)
      Protein motions underlie conformational and entropic contributions to enzyme catalysis; however, relatively little is known about the ways in which this occurs. Studies of the mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK2 (extracellular-regulated protein kinase 2) by hydrogen-exchange mass spectrometry suggest that activation enhances backbone flexibility at the linker between N- and C-terminal domains while altering nucleotide binding mode. Here, we address the hypothesis that enhanced backbone flexibility within the hinge region facilitates kinase activation. We show that hinge mutations enhancing flexibility promote changes in the nucleotide binding mode consistent with domain movement, without requiring phosphorylation. They also lead to the activation of monophosphorylated ERK2, a form that is normally inactive. The hinge mutations bypass the need for pTyr but not pThr, suggesting that Tyr phosphorylation controls hinge motions. In agreement, monophosphorylation of pTyr enhances both hinge flexibility and nucleotide binding mode, measured by hydrogen-exchange mass spectrometry. Our findings demonstrate that regulated protein motions underlie kinase activation. Our working model is that constraints to domain movement in ERK2 are overcome by phosphorylation at pTyr, which increases hinge dynamics to promote the active conformation of the catalytic site.
    • Fatty acid elongation in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

      Kessler, Sonja M; Simon, Yvette; Gemperlein, Katja; Gianmoena, Kathrin; Cadenas, Cristina; Zimmer, Vincent; Pokorny, Juliane; Barghash, Ahmad; Helms, Volkhard; van Rooijen, Nico; et al. (2014)
      Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) represents a risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and is characterized by quantitative and qualitative changes in hepatic lipids. Since elongation of fatty acids from C16 to C18 has recently been reported to promote both hepatic lipid accumulation and inflammation we aimed to investigate whether a frequently used mouse NASH model reflects this clinically relevant feature and whether C16 to C18 elongation can be observed in HCC development. Feeding mice a methionine and choline deficient diet to model NASH not only increased total hepatic fatty acids and cholesterol, but also distinctly elevated the C18/C16 ratio, which was not changed in a model of simple steatosis (ob/ob mice). Depletion of Kupffer cells abrogated both quantitative and qualitative methionine-and-choline deficient (MCD)-induced alterations in hepatic lipids. Interestingly, mimicking inflammatory events in early hepatocarcinogenesis by diethylnitrosamine-induced carcinogenesis (48 h) increased hepatic lipids and the C18/C16 ratio. Analyses of human liver samples from patients with NASH or NASH-related HCC showed an elevated expression of the elongase ELOVL6, which is responsible for the elongation of C16 fatty acids. Taken together, our findings suggest a detrimental role of an altered fatty acid pattern in the progression of NASH-related liver disease.
    • Fatty acid-related phylogeny of myxobacteria as an approach to discover polyunsaturated omega-3/6 Fatty acids.

      Garcia, Ronald; Pistorius, Dominik; Stadler, Marc; Müller, Rolf (2011-04)
      In an analysis of 47 aerobic myxobacterial strains, representing 19 genera in suborders Cystobacterineae, Nannocystineae, Sorangiineae, and a novel isolate, "Aetherobacter" SBSr008, an enormously diverse array of fatty acids (FAs) was found. The distribution of straight-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and branched-chain fatty acids (BCFAs) supports the reported clustering of strains in the phylogenetic tree based on 16S rRNA genes. This finding additionally allows the prediction and assignment of the novel isolate SBSr008 into its corresponding taxon. Sorangiineae predominantly contains larger amounts of SCFA (57 to 84%) than BCFA. On the other hand, Cystobacterineae exhibit significant BCFA content (53 to 90%), with the exception of the genus Stigmatella. In Nannocystineae, the ratio of BCFA and SCFA seems dependent on the taxonomic clade. Myxobacteria could also be identified and classified by using their specific and predominant FAs as biomarkers. Nannocystineae is remarkably unique among the suborders for its absence of hydroxy FAs. After the identification of arachidonic (AA) FA in Phaselicystidaceae, eight additional polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) belonging to the omega-6 and omega-3 families were discovered. Here we present a comprehensive report of FAs found in aerobic myxobacteria. Gliding bacteria belonging to Flexibacter and Herpetosiphon were chosen for comparative analysis to determine their FA profiles in relation to the myxobacteria.
    • First Bispecific Inhibitors of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Kinase and the NF-κB Activity As Novel Anticancer Agents.

      Hamed, Mostafa M; Darwish, Sarah S; Herrmann, Jennifer; Abadi, Ashraf H; Engel, Matthias; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1,66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-04-13)
      The activation of the NF-κB transcription factor is a major adaptive response induced upon treatment with EGFR kinase inhibitors, leading to the emergence of resistance in nonsmall cell lung cancer and other tumor types. To suppress this survival mechanism, we developed new thiourea quinazoline derivatives that are dual inhibitors of both EGFR kinase and the NF-κB activity. Optimization of the hit compound, identified in a NF-κB reporter gene assay, led to compound 9b, exhibiting a cellular IC50 for NF-κB inhibition of 0.3 μM while retaining a potent EGFR kinase inhibition (IC50 = 60 nM). The dual inhibitors showed a higher potency than gefitinib to inhibit cell growth of EGFR-overexpressing tumor cell lines in vitro and in a xenograft model in vivo, while no signs of toxicity were observed. An investigation of the molecular mechanism of NF-κB suppression revealed that the dual inhibitors depleted the transcriptional coactivator CREB-binding protein from the NF-κB complex in the nucleus.
    • A fluorescence anisotropy assay to discover and characterize ligands targeting the maytansine site of tubulin.

      Menchon, Grégory; Prota, Andrea E; Lucena-Agell, Daniel; Bucher, Pascal; Jansen, Rolf; Irschik, Herbert; Müller, Rolf; Paterson, Ian; Díaz, J Fernando; Altmann, Karl-Heinz; et al. (2018-05-29)
      Microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) like taxol and vinblastine are among the most successful chemotherapeutic drugs against cancer. Here, we describe a fluorescence anisotropy-based assay that specifically probes for ligands targeting the recently discovered maytansine site of tubulin. Using this assay, we have determined the dissociation constants of known maytansine site ligands, including the pharmacologically active degradation product of the clinical antibody-drug conjugate trastuzumab emtansine. In addition, we discovered that the two natural products spongistatin-1 and disorazole Z with established cellular potency bind to the maytansine site on β-tubulin. The high-resolution crystal structures of spongistatin-1 and disorazole Z in complex with tubulin allowed the definition of an additional sub-site adjacent to the pocket shared by all maytansine-site ligands, which could be exploitable as a distinct, separate target site for small molecules. Our study provides a basis for the discovery and development of next-generation MTAs for the treatment of cancer.
    • Foxp3+ regulatory T cells are required for recovery from severe sepsis.

      Kühlhorn, Franziska; Rath, Matthias; Schmoeckel, Katrin; Cziupka, Katharina; Nguyen, Huu Hung; Hildebrandt, Petra; Hünig, Thomas; Sparwasser, Tim; Huehn, Jochen; Pötschke, Christian; et al. (2013)
      The role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in bacterial sepsis remains controversial because antibody-mediated depletion experiments gave conflicting results. We employed DEREG mice (DEpletion of REGulatory T cells) and a caecal ligation and puncture model to elucidate the role of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs in sepsis. In DEREG mice natural Tregs can be visualized easily and selectively depleted by diphtheria toxin because the animals express the diphtheria toxin receptor and enhanced green fluorescent protein as a fusion protein under the control of the foxp3 locus. We confirmed rapid Treg-activation and an increased ratio of Tregs to Teffs in sepsis. Nevertheless, 24 h after sepsis induction, Treg-depleted and control mice showed equally strong inflammation, immune cell immigration into the peritoneum and bacterial dissemination. During the first 36 h of disease survival was not influenced by Treg-depletion. Later, however, only Treg-competent animals recovered from the insult. We conclude that the suppressive capacity of Tregs is not sufficient to control overwhelming inflammation and early mortality, but is a prerequisite for the recovery from severe sepsis.
    • Future Directions of Marine Myxobacterial Natural Product Discovery Inferred from Metagenomics.

      Garcia, Ronald; La Clair, James J; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus 8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-08-29)
      Over the last two decades, halophilic (organisms that thrive at high salt concentrations) and halotolerant (organisms that have adapted to high salt concentrations) myxobacteria emerged as an important source of structurally diverse secondary metabolites from the marine environment. This review explores the advance of metagenomics analysis and 16S rRNA gene phylogeny of the cultured and uncultured myxobacteria from marine and other salt-environments up to July 2018. The diversity of novel groups of myxobacteria in these environments appears unprecedented, especially in the
    • Genetic engineering and heterologous expression of the disorazol biosynthetic gene cluster via Red/ET recombineering.

      Tu, Qiang; Herrmann, Jennifer; Hu, Shengbiao; Raju, Ritesh; Bian, Xiaoying; Zhang, Youming; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS),Saarland 9 University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2016)
      Disorazol, a macrocyclic polykitide produced by the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum So ce12 and it is reported to have potential cytotoxic activity towards several cancer cell lines, including multi-drug resistant cells. The disorazol biosynthetic gene cluster (dis) from Sorangium cellulosum (So ce12) was identified by transposon mutagenesis and cloned in a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library. The 58-kb dis core gene cluster was reconstituted from BACs via Red/ET recombineering and expressed in Myxococcus xanthus DK1622. For the first time ever, a myxobacterial trans-AT polyketide synthase has been expressed heterologously in this study. Expression in M. xanthus allowed us to optimize the yield of several biosynthetic products using promoter engineering. The insertion of an artificial synthetic promoter upstream of the disD gene encoding a discrete acyl transferase (AT), together with an oxidoreductase (Or), resulted in 7-fold increase in disorazol production. The successful reconstitution and expression of the genetic sequences encoding for these promising cytotoxic compounds will allow combinatorial biosynthesis to generate novel disorazol derivatives for further bioactivity evaluation.