• 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.
    • Genome Analysis of the Fruiting Body-Forming Myxobacterium Chondromyces crocatus Reveals High Potential for Natural Product Biosynthesis.

      Zaburannyi, Nestor; Bunk, Boyke; Maier, Josef; Overmann, Jörg; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarland University, Campus C2.3, D-66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2016)
      Here, we report the complete genome sequence of the type strain of the myxobacterial genus Chondromyces, Chondromyces crocatus Cm c5. It presents one of the largest prokaryotic genomes featuring a single circular chromosome and no plasmids. Analysis revealed an enlarged set of tRNA genes, along with reduced pressure on preferred codon usage compared to that of other bacterial genomes. The large coding capacity and the plethora of encoded secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters are in line with the capability of Cm c5 to produce an arsenal of antibacterial, antifungal, and cytotoxic compounds. Known pathways of the ajudazol, chondramide, chondrochloren, crocacin, crocapeptin, and thuggacin compound families are complemented by many more natural compound biosynthetic gene clusters in the chromosome. Whole-genome comparison of the fruiting-body-forming type strain (Cm c5, DSM 14714) to an accustomed laboratory strain which has lost this ability (nonfruiting phenotype, Cm c5 fr-) revealed genetic changes in three loci. In addition to the low synteny found with the closest sequenced representative of the same family, Sorangium cellulosum, extensive genetic information duplication and broad application of eukaryotic-type signal transduction systems are hallmarks of this 11.3-Mbp prokaryotic genome.
    • 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.
    • Growth Medium-Dependent Glycine Incorporation into the Peptidoglycan of Caulobacter crescentus.

      Takacs, Constantin N; Hocking, Jason; Cabeen, Matthew T; Bui, Nhat Khai; Poggio, Sebastian; Vollmer, Waldemar; Jacobs-Wagner, Christine; Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America. (2013)
      The peptidoglycan (PG) is a macromolecular component of the bacterial cell wall that maintains the shape and integrity of the cell. The PG of , unlike that of many other Gram-negative bacteria, has repeatedly been shown to contain significant amounts of glycine. This compositional peculiarity has been deemed an intrinsic characteristic of this species. By performing a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analysis of the PG by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry (MS), we show here that glycine incorporation into the PG depends on the presence of exogenous glycine in the growth medium. High levels of glycine were detected at the fifth position of the peptide side chains of PG isolated from cells grown in the complex laboratory medium PYE or in defined medium (M2G) supplemented with casamino acids or glycine alone. In contrast, glycine incorporation was undetectable when cells were grown in M2G medium lacking glycine. Remarkably, glycine incorporation into peptidoglycan occurred even in the presence of low millimolar to sub-millimolar concentrations of free glycine. High glycine content in the PG had no obvious effects on growth rates, mode of PG incorporation or cell morphology. Hence, the PG is able to retain its physiological functions in cell growth and morphogenesis despite significant alterations in its composition, in what we deem to be unprecedented plasticity.
    • 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.
    • A high-affinity fluorescence probe for copper(II) ions and its application in fluorescence lifetime correlation spectroscopy.

      Grüter, Andreas; Hoffmann, Michael; Müller, Rolf; Wohland, Thorsten; Jung, Gregor; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Springer, 2019-04-26)
      Copper is one of the most important transition metals in many organisms where it catalyzes a manifold of different processes. As a result of copper's redox activity, organisms have to avoid unbound ions, and a dysfunctional copper homeostasis may lead to multifarious pathological processes in cells with very severe ramifications for the affected organisms. In many neurodegenerative diseases, however, the exact role of copper ions is still not completely clarified. In this work, a high-affinity and highly selective copper probe molecule, based on the naturally occurring tetrapeptide DAHK is synthesized. The sensor (log KD = - 12.8 ± 0.1) is tagged with a fluorescent BODIPY dye whose fluorescence lifetime distinctly decreases from 5.8 ns ± 0.2 ns to 0.4 ns ± 0.1 ns on binding to copper(II) cations. It is shown by using fluorescence lifetime correlation spectroscopy that the concentration of both probe and probe-copper complex can be simultaneously measured even at nanomolar concentration levels. This work presents a possible starting point for a new type of probe and method for future in vivo studies to further reveal the exact role of copper ions in organisms. Graphical abstract.
    • Homologous bd oxidases share the same architecture but differ in mechanism.

      Theßeling, Alexander; Rasmussen, Tim; Burschel, Sabrina; Wohlwend, Daniel; Kägi, Jan; Müller, Rolf; Böttcher, Bettina; Friedrich, Thorsten; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Nature Publication group, 2019-11-13)
      Cytochrome bd oxidases are terminal reductases of bacterial and archaeal respiratory chains. The enzyme couples the oxidation of ubiquinol or menaquinol with the reduction of dioxygen to water, thus contributing to the generation of the protonmotive force. Here, we determine the structure of the Escherichia coli bd oxidase treated with the specific inhibitor aurachin by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The major subunits CydA and CydB are related by a pseudo two fold symmetry. The heme b and d cofactors are found in CydA, while ubiquinone-8 is bound at the homologous positions in CydB to stabilize its structure. The architecture of the E. coli enzyme is highly similar to that of Geobacillus thermodenitrificans, however, the positions of heme b595 and d are interchanged, and a common oxygen channel is blocked by a fourth subunit and substituted by a more narrow, alternative channel. Thus, with the same overall fold, the homologous enzymes exhibit a different mechanism.
    • 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.