• Targeting actin inhibits repair of doxorubicin-induced DNA damage: a novel therapeutic approach for combination therapy.

      Pfitzer, Lisa; Moser, Christina; Gegenfurtner, Florian; Arner, Anja; Foerster, Florian; Atzberger, Carina; Zisis, Themistoklis; Kubisch-Dohmen, Rebekka; Busse, Johanna; Smith, Rebecca; et al. (Springer-Nature, 2019-04-03)
      Severe side effects often restrict clinical application of the widely used chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin. In order to decrease required substance concentrations, new concepts for successful combination therapy are needed. Since doxorubicin causes DNA damage, combination with compounds that modulate DNA repair could be a promising strategy. Very recently, a role of nuclear actin for DNA damage repair has been proposed, making actin a potential target for cancer therapy in combination with DNA-damaging therapeutics. This is of special interest, since actin-binding compounds have not yet found their way into clinics. We find that low-dose combination treatment of doxorubicin with the actin polymerizer chondramide B (ChB) synergistically inhibits tumor growth in vivo. On the cellular level we demonstrate that actin binders inhibit distinctive double strand break (DSB) repair pathways. Actin manipulation impairs the recruitment of replication factor A (RPA) to the site of damage, a process crucial for homologous recombination. In addition, actin binders reduce autophosphorylation of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) during nonhomologous end joining. Our findings substantiate a direct involvement of actin in nuclear DSB repair pathways, and propose actin as a therapeutic target for combination therapy with DNA-damaging agents such as doxorubicin.
    • Targeting the actin cytoskeleton: selective antitumor action via trapping PKCɛ.

      Foerster, F; Braig, S; Moser, C; Kubisch, R; Busse, J; Wagner, E; Schmoeckel, E; Mayr, D; Schmitt, S; Huettel, S; et al. (2014)
      Targeting the actin cytoskeleton (CSK) of cancer cells offers a valuable strategy in cancer therapy. There are a number of natural compounds that interfere with the actin CSK, but the mode of their cytotoxic action and, moreover, their tumor-specific mechanisms are quite elusive. We used the myxobacterial compound Chondramide as a tool to first elucidate the mechanisms of cytotoxicity of actin targeting in breast cancer cells (MCF7, MDA-MB-231). Chondramide inhibits cellular actin filament dynamics shown by a fluorescence-based analysis (fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP)) and leads to apoptosis characterized by phosphatidylserine exposure, release of cytochrome C from mitochondria and finally activation of caspases. Chondramide enhances the occurrence of mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) by affecting known MPT modulators: Hexokinase II bound to the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) translocated from the outer mitochondrial membrane to the cytosol and the proapoptotic protein Bad were recruited to the mitochondria. Importantly, protein kinase C-ɛ (PKCɛ), a prosurvival kinase possessing an actin-binding site and known to regulate the hexokinase/VDAC interaction as well as Bad phosphorylation was identified as the link between actin CSK and apoptosis induction. PKCɛ, which was found overexpressed in breast cancer cells, accumulated in actin bundles induced by Chondramide and lost its activity. Our second goal was to characterize the potential tumor-specific action of actin-binding agents. As the nontumor breast epithelial cell line MCF-10A in fact shows resistance to Chondramide-induced apoptosis and notably express low level of PKCɛ, we suggest that trapping PKCɛ via Chondramide-induced actin hyperpolymerization displays tumor cell specificity. Our work provides a link between targeting the ubiquitously occurring actin CSK and selective inhibition of pro-tumorigenic PKCɛ, thus setting the stage for actin-stabilizing agents as innovative cancer drugs. This is moreover supported by the in vivo efficacy of Chondramide triggered by abrogation of PKCɛ signaling shown in a xenograft breast cancer model.
    • Targeting V-ATPase in primary human monocytes by archazolid potently represses the classical secretion of cytokines due to accumulation at the endoplasmic reticulum.

      Scherer, Olga; Steinmetz, Heinrich; Kaether, Christoph; Weinigel, Christina; Barz, Dagmar; Kleinert, Hartmut; Menche, Dirk; Müller, Rolf; Pergola, Carlo; Werz, Oliver; et al. (2014-10-15)
      The macrolide archazolid inhibits vacuolar-type H(+)-ATPase (V-ATPase), a proton-translocating enzyme involved in protein transport and pH regulation of cell organelles, and potently suppresses cancer cell growth at low nanomolar concentrations. In view of the growing link between inflammation and cancer, we investigated whether inhibition of V-ATPase by archazolid may affect primary human monocytes that can promote cancer by sustaining inflammation through the release of tumor-promoting cytokines. Human primary monocytes express V-ATPase, and archazolid (10-100nM) increases the vesicular pH in these cells. Archazolid (10nM) markedly reduced the release of pro-inflammatory (TNF-α, interleukin-6 and -8) but also of anti-inflammatory (interleukin-10) cytokines in monocytes stimulated with LPS, without affecting cell viability up to 1000nM. Of interest, secretion of interleukin-1β was increased by archazolid. Comparable effects were obtained by the V-ATPase inhibitors bafilomycin and apicularen. The phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and ERK-1/2, Akt, SAPK/JNK or of the inhibitor of NFκB (IκBα) as well as mRNA expression of IL-8 were not altered by archazolid in LPS-stimulated monocytes. Instead, archazolid caused endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response visualized by increased BiP expression and accumulation of IL-8 (and TNF-α) at the ER, indicating a perturbation of protein secretion. In conclusion, by interference with V-ATPase, archazolid significantly affects the secretion of cytokines due to accumulation at the ER which might be of relevance when using these agents for cancer therapy.
    • Thioholgamide A, a New Anti-Proliferative Anti-Tumor Agent, Modulates Macrophage Polarization and Metabolism.

      Dahlem, Charlotte; Siow, Wei Xiong; Lopatniuk, Maria; Tse, William K F; Kessler, Sonja M; Kirsch, Susanne H; Hoppstädter, Jessica; Vollmar, Angelika M; Müller, Rolf; Luzhetskyy, Andriy; et al. (MDPI, 2020-05-19)
      Natural products represent powerful tools searching for novel anticancer drugs. Thioholgamide A (thioA) is a ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide, which has been identified as a product of Streptomyces sp. MUSC 136T. In this study, we provide a comprehensive biological profile of thioA, elucidating its effects on different hallmarks of cancer in tumor cells as well as in macrophages as crucial players of the tumor microenvironment. In 2D and 3D in vitro cell culture models thioA showed potent anti-proliferative activities in cancer cells at nanomolar concentrations. Anti-proliferative actions were confirmed in vivo in zebrafish embryos. Cytotoxicity was only induced at several-fold higher concentrations, as assessed by live-cell microscopy and biochemical analyses. ThioA exhibited a potent modulation of cell metabolism by inhibiting oxidative phosphorylation, as determined in a live-cell metabolic assay platform. The metabolic modulation caused a repolarization of in vitro differentiated and polarized tumor-promoting human monocyte-derived macrophages: ThioA-treated macrophages showed an altered morphology and a modulated expression of genes and surface markers. Taken together, the metabolic regulator thioA revealed low activities in non-tumorigenic cells and an interesting anti-cancer profile by orchestrating different hallmarks of cancer, both in tumor cells as well as in macrophages as part of the tumor microenvironment.
    • Tools for studying the metabolism of new psychoactive substances for toxicological screening purposes - A comparative study using pooled human liver S9, HepaRG cells, and zebrafish larvae.

      Richter, Lilian H J; Herrmann, Jennifer; Andreas, Anastasia; Park, Yu Mi; Wagmann, Lea; Flockerzi, Veit; Müller, Rolf; Meyer, Markus R; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-05-01)
      New psychoactive substances (NPS) are an emerging topic amongst abused compounds. New varieties appear constantly on the market, without any knowledge about their toxicodynamic and/or -kinetic properties and knowledge of their metabolism is crucial for the development of analytical methods employed for their detection. Controlled human studies would of course be best suited but due to ethical reasons and lack of preclinical safety data, they are usually not available. Often, in vitro models are used to evaluate similarities to human in vivo hepatic phase I and II metabolism and systems explored include primary human hepatocytes, pooled human S9 fraction, and HepaRG, a human hepatic cell line. All these in vitro models have considerable limitations and drug distribution, reabsorption, enterohepatic circulation, and renal elimination cannot be studied. In the recent years, zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae (embryos) were discussed as a potential in vivo model to overcome these limitations. To date, no studies demonstrating its suitability for studying NPS metabolism in the context of analytical toxicology are available. The aim of this study was to elucidate whether zebrafish larvae can serve as a surrogate for human hepatic metabolism of NPS to develop toxicological screening procedures. Here, we used methyl 2-(1-(5-fluoropentyl)-1H-pyrrolo[2,3-b]pyridine-3-carboxamido)-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (7'N-5F-ADB), a new synthetic cannabinoid, whose human metabolism was recently described in the literature, as a model compound to evaluate zebrafish larvae as a new tool for metabolism studies. Different conditions for zebrafish larvae and HepaRG protocols were tested. As zebrafish larvae and HepaRG cell incubations provided the highest number of metabolites and the most authentic spectrum of human metabolites. The most suitable larvae protocol was the incubation via medium and the analysis of the extracted zebrafish larvae. The zebrafish larvae model might be a promising preclinical surrogate for human hepatic metabolism of NPS.
    • Toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of the fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine.

      Gampfer, Tanja M; Wagmann, Lea; Park, Yu Mi; Cannaert, Annelies; Herrmann, Jennifer; Fischmann, Svenja; Westphal, Folker; Müller, Rolf; Stove, Christophe P; Meyer, Markus R; et al. (Springer Nature, 2020-04-05)
      The two fentanyl homologs cyclopropanoyl-1-benzyl-4´-fluoro-4-anilinopiperidine (4F-Cy-BAP) and furanoyl-1-benzyl-4-anilinopiperidine (Fu-BAP) have recently been seized as new psychoactive substances (NPS) on the drugs of abuse market. As their toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic characteristics are completely unknown, this study focused on elucidating their in vitro metabolic stability in pooled human liver S9 fraction (pHLS9), their qualitative in vitro (pHLS9), and in vivo (zebrafish larvae) metabolism, and their in vitro isozyme mapping using recombinant expressed isoenzymes. Their maximum-tolerated concentration (MTC) in zebrafish larvae was studied from 0.01 to 100 µM. Their µ-opioid receptor (MOR) activity was analyzed in engineered human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 T cells. In total, seven phase I and one phase II metabolites of 4F-Cy-BAP and 15 phase I and four phase II metabolites of Fu-BAP were tentatively identified by means of liquid chromatography high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry, with the majority detected in zebrafish larvae. N-Dealkylation, N-deacylation, hydroxylation, and N-oxidation were the most abundant metabolic reactions and the corresponding metabolites are expected to be promising analytical targets for toxicological analysis. Isozyme mapping revealed the main involvement of CYP3A4 in the phase I metabolism of 4F-Cy-BAP and in terms of Fu-BAP additionally CYP2D6. Therefore, drug-drug interactions by CYP3A4 inhibition may cause elevated drug levels and unwanted adverse effects. MTC experiments revealed malformations and changes in the behavior of larvae after exposure to 100 µM Fu-BAP. Both substances were only able to produce a weak activation of MOR and although toxic effects based on MOR activation seem unlikely, activity at other receptors cannot be excluded
    • Transient Hepatic Overexpression of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 2 Induces Free Cholesterol and Lipid Droplet Formation.

      Kessler, Sonja M; Laggai, Stephan; Van Wonterg, Elien; Gemperlein, Katja; Müller, Rolf; Haybaeck, Johannes; Vandenbroucke, Roosmarijn E; Ogris, Manfred; Libert, Claude; Kiemer, Alexandra K; et al. (2016)
      Although insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) has been reported to be overexpressed in steatosis and steatohepatitis, a causal role of IGF2 in steatosis development remains elusive. Aim of our study was to decipher the role of IGF2 in steatosis development. Hydrodynamic gene delivery of an Igf2 plasmid used for transient Igf2 overexpression employing codon-optimized plasmid DNA resulted in a strong induction of hepatic Igf2 expression. The exogenously delivered Igf2 had no influence on endogenous Igf2 expression. The downstream kinase AKT was activated in Igf2 animals. Decreased ALT levels mirrored the cytoprotective effect of IGF2. Serum cholesterol was increased and sulfo-phospho-vanillin colorimetric assay confirmed lipid accumulation in Igf2-livers while no signs of inflammation were observed. Interestingly, hepatic cholesterol and phospholipids, determined by thin layer chromatography, and free cholesterol by filipin staining, were specifically increased. Lipid droplet (LD) size was not changed, but their number was significantly elevated. Furthermore, free cholesterol, which can be stored in LDs and has been reported to be critical for steatosis progression, was elevated in Igf2 overexpressing mice. Accordingly, Hmgcr/HmgCoAR was upregulated. To have a closer look at de novo lipid synthesis we investigated expression of the lipogenic transcription factor SREBF1 and its target genes. SREBF1 was induced and also SREBF1 target genes were slightly upregulated. Interestingly, the expression of Cpt1a, which is responsible for mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation, was induced. Hepatic IGF2 expression induces a fatty liver, characterized by increased cholesterol and phospholipids leading to accumulation of LDs. We therefore suggest a causal role for IGF2 in hepatic lipid accumulation.
    • The Translational Machinery of Human CD4 T Cells Is Poised for Activation and Controls the Switch from Quiescence to Metabolic Remodeling.

      Ricciardi, Sara; Manfrini, Nicola; Alfieri, Roberta; Calamita, Piera; Crosti, Maria Cristina; Gallo, Simone; Müller, Rolf; Pagani, Massimiliano; Abrignani, Sergio; Biffo, Stefano; et al. (Elsevier/ Cell Press, 2018-12-04)
      Naive T cells respond to T cell receptor (TCR) activation by leaving quiescence, remodeling metabolism, initiating expansion, and differentiating toward effector T cells. The molecular mechanisms coordinating the naive to effector transition are central to the functioning of the immune system, but remain elusive. Here, we discover that T cells fulfill this transitional process through translational control. Naive cells accumulate untranslated mRNAs encoding for glycolysis and fatty acid synthesis factors and possess a translational machinery poised for immediate protein synthesis. Upon TCR engagement, activation of the translational machinery leads to synthesis of GLUT1 protein to drive glucose entry. Subsequently, translation of ACC1 mRNA completes metabolic reprogramming toward an effector phenotype. Notably, inhibition of the eIF4F complex abrogates lymphocyte metabolic activation and differentiation, suggesting ACC1 to be a key regulatory node. Thus, our results demonstrate that translation is a direct mediator of T cell metabolism and indicate translation factors as targets for novel immunotherapeutic approaches.
    • V-ATPase inhibition increases cancer cell stiffness and blocks membrane related Ras signaling - a new option for HCC therapy.

      Bartel, Karin; Winzi, Maria; Ulrich, Melanie; Koeberle, Andreas; Menche, Dirk; Werz, Oliver; Müller, Rolf; Guck, Jochen; Vollmar, Angelika M; von Schwarzenberg, Karin; et al. (2017-02-07)
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most frequent cancer worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer-related death. However, therapy options are limited leaving an urgent need to develop new strategies. Currently, targeting cancer cell lipid and cholesterol metabolism is gaining interest especially regarding HCC. High cholesterol levels support proliferation, membrane-related mitogenic signaling and increase cell softness, leading to tumor progression, malignancy and invasive potential. However, effective ways to target cholesterol metabolism for cancer therapy are still missing. The V-ATPase inhibitor archazolid was recently shown to interfere with cholesterol metabolism. In our study, we report a novel therapeutic potential of V-ATPase inhibition in HCC by altering the mechanical phenotype of cancer cells leading to reduced proliferative signaling. Archazolid causes cellular depletion of free cholesterol leading to an increase in cell stiffness and membrane polarity of cancer cells, while hepatocytes remain unaffected. The altered membrane composition decreases membrane fluidity and leads to an inhibition of membrane-related Ras signaling resulting decreased proliferation in vitro and in vivo. V-ATPase inhibition represents a novel link between cell biophysical properties and proliferative signaling selectively in malignant HCC cells, providing the basis for an attractive and innovative strategy against HCC.
    • The V-ATPase-inhibitor archazolid abrogates tumor metastasis via inhibition of endocytic activation of the Rho-GTPase Rac1.

      Wiedmann, Romina M; von Schwarzenberg, Karin; Palamidessi, Andrea; Schreiner, Laura; Kubisch, Rebekka; Liebl, Johanna; Schempp, Christina; Trauner, Dirk; Vereb, Gyorgy; Zahler, Stefan; et al. (2012-11-15)
      The abundance of the multimeric vacuolar ATP-dependent proton pump, V-ATPase, on the plasma membrane of tumor cells correlates with the invasiveness of the tumor cell, suggesting the involvement of V-ATPase in tumor metastasis. V-ATPase is hypothesized to create a proton efflux leading to an acidic pericellular microenvironment that promotes the activity of proinvasive proteases. An alternative, not yet explored possibility is that V-ATPase regulates the signaling machinery responsible for tumor cell migration. Here, we show that pharmacologic or genetic reduction of V-ATPase activity significantly reduces migration of invasive tumor cells in vitro. Importantly, the V-ATPase inhibitor archazolid abrogates tumor dissemination in a syngeneic mouse 4T1 breast tumor metastasis model. Pretreatment of cancer cells with archazolid impairs directional motility by preventing spatially restricted, leading edge localization of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as well as of phosphorylated Akt. Archazolid treatment or silencing of V-ATPase inhibited Rac1 activation, as well as Rac1-dependent dorsal and peripheral ruffles by inhibiting Rab5-mediated endocytotic/exocytotic trafficking of Rac1. The results indicate that archazolid effectively decreases metastatic dissemination of breast tumors by impairing the trafficking and spatially restricted activation of EGFR and Rho-GTPase Rac1, which are pivotal for directed movement of cells. Thus, our data reveals a novel mechanism underlying the role of V-ATPase in tumor dissemination.
    • The vacuolar-type ATPase inhibitor archazolid increases tumor cell adhesion to endothelial cells by accumulating extracellular collagen.

      Luong, Betty; Schwenk, Rebecca; Bräutigam, Jacqueline; Müller, Rolf; Menche, Dirk; Bischoff, Iris; Fürst, Robert; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      The vacuolar-type H+-ATPase (v-ATPase) is the major proton pump that acidifies intracellular compartments of eukaryotic cells. Since the inhibition of v-ATPase resulted in anti-tumor and anti-metastatic effects in different tumor models, this enzyme has emerged as promising strategy against cancer. Here, we used the well-established v-ATPase inhibitor archazolid, a natural product first isolated from the myxobacterium Archangium gephyra, to study the consequences of v-ATPase inhibition in endothelial cells (ECs), in particular on the interaction between ECs and cancer cells, which has been neglected so far. Human endothelial cells treated with archazolid showed an increased adhesion of tumor cells, whereas the transendothelial migration of tumor cells was reduced. The adhesion process was independent from the EC adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, E-selectin and N-cadherin. Instead, the adhesion was mediated by β1-integrins expressed on tumor cells, as blocking of the integrin β1 subunit reversed this process. Tumor cells preferentially adhered to the β1-integrin ligand collagen and archazolid led to an increase in the amount of collagen on the surface of ECs. The accumulation of collagen was accompanied by a strong decrease of the expression and activity of the protease cathepsin B. Overexpression of cathepsin B in ECs prevented the capability of archazolid to increase the adhesion of tumor cells onto ECs. Our study demonstrates that the inhibition of v-ATPase by archazolid induces a pro-adhesive phenotype in endothelial cells that promotes their interaction with cancer cells, whereas the transmigration of tumor cells was reduced. These findings further support archazolid as a promising anti-metastatic compound.
    • Vitiosangium cumulatum gen. nov., sp. nov. and Vitiosangium subalbum sp. nov., novel soil myxobacteria from Nepal , and emended descriptions of genus Archangium and Angiococcus, and of Cystobacteraceae family.

      Awal, Ram Prasad; Garcia, Ronald; Gemperlein, Katja; Wink, Joachim; Kunwar, Bikram; Parajuli, Niranjan; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institue für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS), Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-01-28)
      Bacterial strains designated MCy10943T and MCy10944T were isolated in 2014 from dried Nepalese soil samples collected in 2013 from Phukot, Kalikot, Western Nepal and Godawari, Lalitpur, Central Nepal. The novel organisms showed typical myxobacterial growth characteristics which include swarming colony and fruiting body formation on solid surfaces, and a predatory ability to lyse microorganisms. The strains were aerobic, mesophilic, chemoheterotrophic and showed resistance to various antibiotics. The major cellular fatty acids common to both organisms were C17:0 2-OH, iso-C15:0, C16:1 and iso-C17:0. The G + C content of the genomic DNA was 72-75 mol %. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the strains belong to the family Cystobacteraceae, suborder Cystobacterineae, order Myxococcales. The 16S rRNA gene sequences of both strains showed 97-98 % similarity to Archangium gephyra DSM 2261T, Cystobacter violaceus DSM 14727T, and 96.7-97 % to Cystobacter fuscus DSM 2262T and Angiococcus disciformis DSM 52716T. Polyphasic taxonomic characterisation suggested that strains MCy10943T and MCy10944T represent two distinct species of a novel genus, for which the names Vitiosangium cumulatum and Vitiosangium subalbum are proposed. The type strain of Vitiosangium cumulatum is MCy10943T (=DSM 102952T =NCCB 100600T) while for Vitiosangium subalbum is MCy10944T (=DSM 102953T =NCCB 100601T). In addition, the genera Archangium and Angiococcus, and the family Cystobacteraceae is herewith emended.
    • Watching DNA replication inhibitors in action: Exploiting time-lapse microfluidic microscopy as a tool for target-drug interaction studies in Mycobacterium .

      Trojanowski, Damian; Kołodziej, Marta; Hołówka, Joanna; Müller, Rolf; Zakrzewska-Czerwińska, Jolanta; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Society of microbiology, 2019-08-05)
      Spreading resistance to antibiotics and the emergence of multidrug-resistant strains have become frequent in many bacterial species, including mycobacteria - a causative agents of severe diseases and have profound impacts on global health. Here, we used a system of microfluidics, fluorescence microscopy and target-tagged fluorescent reporter strains of Mycobacterium smegmatis to perform real-time monitoring of replisome and chromosome dynamics following the addition of replication-altering drugs (novobiocin, nalidixic acid and griselimycin) at the single-cell level. We found that novobiocin stalled replication forks and caused relaxation of the nucleoid, nalidixic acid triggered rapid replisome collapse and compaction of the nucleoid, while griselimycin caused replisome instability with subsequent over-initiation of chromosome replication and over-relaxation of the nucleoid. In addition to study target-drug interactions, our system also enabled to observe how the tested antibiotics affected the physiology of mycobacterial cells (i.e., growth, chromosome segregation, etc.).