• Biocompatible bacteria-derived vesicles show inherent antimicrobial activity.

      Schulz, Eilien; Goes, Adriely; Garcia, Ronald; Panter, Fabian; Koch, Marcus; Müller, Rolf; Fuhrmann, Kathrin; Fuhrmann, Gregor; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2018-11-28)
      Up to 25,000 people die each year from resistant infections in Europe alone, with increasing incidence. It is estimated that a continued rise in bacterial resistance by 2050 would lead up to 10 million annual deaths worldwide, exceeding the incidence of cancer deaths. Although the design of new antibiotics is still one way to tackle the problem, pharmaceutical companies investigate far less into new drugs than 30 years ago. Incorporation of antibiotics into nanoparticle drug carriers ("nanoantibiotics") is currently investigated as a promising strategy to make existing antibiotics regain antimicrobial strength and overcome certain types of microbial drug resistance. Many of these synthetic systems enhance the antimicrobial effect of drugs by protecting antibiotics from degradation and reducing their side effects. Nevertheless, they often cannot selectively target pathogenic bacteria and - due to their synthetic origin - may induce side-effects themselves. In this work, we present the characterisation of naturally derived outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) as biocompatible and inherently antibiotic drug carriers. We isolated OMVs from two representative strains of myxobacteria, Cystobacter velatus Cbv34 and Sorangiineae species strain SBSr073, a bacterial order with the ability of lysing other bacterial strains and currently investigated as sources of new secondary metabolites. We investigated the myxobacterias' inherent antibacterial properties after isolation by differential centrifugation and purification by size-exclusion chromatography. OMVs have an average size range of 145-194 nm. We characterised their morphology by electron cryomicroscopy and found that OMVs are biocompatible with epithelial cells and differentiated macrophages. They showed a low endotoxin activity comparable to those of control samples, indicating a low acute inflammatory potential. In addition, OMVs showed inherent stability under different storage conditions, including 4 °C, -20 °C, -80 °C and freeze-drying. OMV uptake in Gram-negative model bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) showed similar to better incorporation than liposome controls, indicating the OMVs may interact with model bacteria via membrane fusion. Bacterial uptake correlated with antimicrobial activity of OMVs as measured by growth inhibition of E. coli. OMVs from Cbv34 inhibited growth of E. coli to a comparable extent as the clinically established antibiotic gentamicin. Liquid-chromatography coupled mass spectrometry analyses revealed the presence of cystobactamids in OMVs, inhibitors of bacterial topoisomerase currently studied to treat different Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens. This work, may serve as an important basis for further evaluation of OMVs derived from myxobacteria as novel therapeutic delivery systems against bacterial infections.
    • The Biofilm Inhibitor Carolacton Enters Gram-Negative Cells: Studies Using a TolC-Deficient Strain of Escherichia coli.

      Donner, Jannik; Reck, Michael; Bunk, Boyke; Jarek, Michael; App, Constantin Benjamin; Meier-Kolthoff, Jan P; Overmann, Jörg; Müller, Rolf; Kirschning, Andreas; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; et al. (2017-11-01)
      The myxobacterial secondary metabolite carolacton inhibits growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae and kills biofilm cells of the caries- and endocarditis-associated pathogen Streptococcus mutans at nanomolar concentrations. Here, we studied the response to carolacton of an Escherichia coli strain that lacked the outer membrane protein TolC. Whole-genome sequencing of the laboratory E. coli strain TolC revealed the integration of an insertion element, IS5, at the tolC locus and a close phylogenetic relationship to the ancient E. coli K-12. We demonstrated via transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) and determination of MIC values that carolacton penetrates the phospholipid bilayer of the Gram-negative cell envelope and inhibits growth of E. coli TolC at similar concentrations as for streptococci. This inhibition is completely lost for a C-9 (R) epimer of carolacton, a derivative with an inverted stereocenter at carbon atom 9 [(S) → (R)] as the sole difference from the native molecule, which is also inactive in S. pneumoniae and S. mutans, suggesting a specific interaction of native carolacton with a conserved cellular target present in bacterial phyla as distantly related as Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. The efflux pump inhibitor (EPI) phenylalanine arginine β-naphthylamide (PAβN), which specifically inhibits AcrAB-TolC, renders E. coli susceptible to carolacton. Our data indicate that carolacton has potential for use in antimicrobial chemotherapy against Gram-negative bacteria, as a single drug or in combination with EPIs. Strain E. coli TolC has been deposited at the DSMZ; together with the associated RNA-seq data and MIC values, it can be used as a reference during future screenings for novel bioactive compounds. IMPORTANCE The emergence of pathogens resistant against most or all of the antibiotics currently used in human therapy is a global threat, and therefore the search for antimicrobials with novel targets and modes of action is of utmost importance. The myxobacterial secondary metabolite carolacton had previously been shown to inhibit biofilm formation and growth of streptococci. Here, we investigated if carolacton could act against Gram-negative bacteria, which are difficult targets because of their double-layered cytoplasmic envelope. We found that the model organism Escherichia coli is susceptible to carolacton, similar to the Gram-positive Streptococcus pneumoniae, if its multidrug efflux system AcrAB-TolC is either inactivated genetically, by disruption of the tolC gene, or physiologically by coadministering an efflux pump inhibitor. A carolacton epimer that has a different steric configuration at carbon atom 9 is completely inactive, suggesting that carolacton may interact with the same molecular target in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
    • Biosynthesis of Branched Alkoxy Groups: Iterative Methyl Group Alkylation by a Cobalamin-Dependent Radical SAM Enzyme.

      Wang, Yuanyou; Schnell, Bastien; Baumann, Sascha; Müller, Rolf; Begley, Tadhg P; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut füt Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-02-08)
      The biosynthesis of branched alkoxy groups, such as the unique t-butyl group found in a variety of natural products, is still poorly understood. Recently, cystobactamids were isolated and identified from Cystobacter sp as novel antibacterials. These metabolites contain an isopropyl group proposed to be formed using CysS, a cobalamin-dependent radical S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) methyltransferase. Here, we reconstitute the CysS-catalyzed reaction, on p-aminobenzoate thioester substrates, and demonstrate that it not only catalyzes sequential methylations of a methyl group to form ethyl and isopropyl groups but remarkably also sec-butyl and t-butyl groups. To our knowledge, this is the first in vitro reconstitution of a cobalamin-dependent radical SAM enzyme catalyzing the conversion of a methyl group to a t-butyl group.
    • 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).
    • Biosynthesis of magnetic nanostructures in a foreign organism by transfer of bacterial magnetosome gene clusters.

      Kolinko, Isabel; Lohße, Anna; Borg, Sarah; Raschdorf, Oliver; Jogler, Christian; Tu, Qiang; Pósfai, Mihály; Tompa, Eva; Plitzko, Jürgen M; Brachmann, Andreas; et al. (2014-03)
      The synthetic production of monodisperse single magnetic domain nanoparticles at ambient temperature is challenging. In nature, magnetosomes--membrane-bound magnetic nanocrystals with unprecedented magnetic properties--can be biomineralized by magnetotactic bacteria. However, these microbes are difficult to handle. Expression of the underlying biosynthetic pathway from these fastidious microorganisms within other organisms could therefore greatly expand their nanotechnological and biomedical applications. So far, this has been hindered by the structural and genetic complexity of the magnetosome organelle and insufficient knowledge of the biosynthetic functions involved. Here, we show that the ability to biomineralize highly ordered magnetic nanostructures can be transferred to a foreign recipient. Expression of a minimal set of genes from the magnetotactic bacterium Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense resulted in magnetosome biosynthesis within the photosynthetic model organism Rhodospirillum rubrum. Our findings will enable the sustainable production of tailored magnetic nanostructures in biotechnologically relevant hosts and represent a step towards the endogenous magnetization of various organisms by synthetic biology.
    • Biosynthesis of methyl-proline containing griselimycins, natural products with anti-tuberculosis activity.

      Lukat, Peer; Katsuyama, Yohei; Wenzel, Silke; Binz, Tina; König, Claudia; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Brönstrup, Mark; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-11-01)
      Griselimycins (GMs) are depsidecapeptides with superb anti-tuberculosis activity. They contain up to three (2S,4R)-4-methyl-prolines (4-MePro), of which one blocks oxidative degradation and increases metabolic stability in animal models. The natural congener with this substitution is only a minor component in fermentation cultures. We showed that this product can be significantly increased by feeding the reaction with 4-MePro and we investigated the molecular basis of 4-MePro biosynthesis and incorporation. We identified the GM biosynthetic gene cluster as encoding a nonribosomal peptide synthetase and a sub-operon for 4-MePro formation. Using heterologous expression, gene inactivation, and in vitro experiments, we showed that 4-MePro is generated by leucine hydroxylation, oxidation to an aldehyde, and ring closure with subsequent reduction. The crystal structures of the leucine hydroxylase GriE have been determined in complex with substrates and products, providing insight into the stereospecificity of the reaction.
    • Biosynthesis of Oxytetracycline by Streptomyces rimosus:
Past, Present and Future Directions in the Development
of Tetracycline Antibiotics.

      Petković, Hrvoje; Lukežič, Tadeja; Šušković, Jagoda; Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-03)
      Natural tetracycline (TC) antibiotics were the first major class of therapeutics to earn the distinction of 'broad-spectrum antibiotics' and they have been used since the 1940s against a wide range of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, mycoplasmas, intracellular chlamydiae, rickettsiae and protozoan parasites. The second generation of semisynthetic tetracyclines, such as minocycline and doxycycline, with improved antimicrobial potency, were introduced during the 1960s. Despite emerging resistance to TCs erupting during the 1980s, it was not until 2006, more than four decades later, that a third--generation TC, named tigecycline, was launched. In addition, two TC analogues, omadacycline and eravacycline, developed via (semi)synthetic and fully synthetic routes, respectively, are at present under clinical evaluation. Interestingly, despite very productive early work on the isolation of a Streptomyces aureofaciens mutant strain that produced 6-demethyl-7-chlortetracycline, the key intermediate in the production of second- and third-generation TCs, biosynthetic approaches in TC development have not been productive for more than 50 years. Relatively slow and tedious molecular biology approaches for the genetic manipulation of TC-producing actinobacteria, as well as an insufficient understanding of the enzymatic mechanisms involved in TC biosynthesis have significantly contributed to the low success of such biosynthetic engineering efforts. However, new opportunities in TC drug development have arisen thanks to a significant progress in the development of affordable and versatile biosynthetic engineering and synthetic biology approaches, and, importantly, to a much deeper understanding of TC biosynthesis, mostly gained over the last two decades.
    • A central hydrophobic E1 region controls the pH range of hepatitis C virus membrane fusion and susceptibility to fusion inhibitors.

      Banda, Dominic H; Perin, Paula M; Brown, Richard J P; Todt, Daniel; Solodenko, Wladimir; Hoffmeyer, Patrick; Kumar Sahu, Kamlesh; Houghton, Michael; Meuleman, Philip; Müller, Rolf; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-06-01)
    • Chemical synthesis of tripeptide thioesters for the biotechnological incorporation into the myxobacterial secondary metabolite argyrin via mutasynthesis.

      Siebert, David C B; Sommer, Roman; Pogorevc, Domen; Hoffmann, Michael; Wenzel, Silke C; Müller, Rolf; Titz, Alexander; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Beilstein Institut, 2019-01-01)
      The argyrins are secondary metabolites from myxobacteria with antibiotic activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Studying their structure-activity relationship is hampered by the complexity of the chemical total synthesis. Mutasynthesis is a promising approach where simpler and fully synthetic intermediates of the natural product's biosynthesis can be biotechnologically incorporated. Here, we report the synthesis of a series of tripeptide thioesters as mutasynthons containing the native sequence with a dehydroalanine (Dha) Michael acceptor attached to a sarcosine (Sar) and derivatives. Chemical synthesis of the native sequence ᴅ-Ala-Dha-Sar thioester required revision of the sequential peptide synthesis into a convergent strategy where the thioester with sarcosine was formed before coupling to the Dha-containing dipeptide.
    • Chivosazole A Modulates Protein-Protein Interactions of Actin.

      Wang, Shuaijun; Gegenfurtner, Florian A; Crevenna, Alvaro H; Ziegenhain, Christoph; Kliesmete, Zane; Enard, Wolfgang; Müller, Rolf; Vollmar, Angelika M; Schneider, Sabine; Zahler, Stefan; et al. (American Society for Chemistry, 2019-07-26)
      Actin is a protein of central importance for many cellular key processes. It is regulated by local interactions with a large number of actin binding proteins (ABPs). Various compounds are known to either increase or decrease the polymerization dynamics of actin. However, no actin binding compound has been developed for clinical applications yet because of selectivity issues. We provide a crystal structure of the natural product chivosazole A (ChivoA) bound to actin and show that-in addition to inhibiting nucleation, polymerization, and severing of F-actin filaments-it selectively modulates binding of ABPs to G-actin: Although unphysiological actin dimers are induced by ChivoA, interaction with gelsolin, profilin, cofilin, and thymosin-β4 is inhibited. Moreover, ChivoA causes transcriptional effects differing from latrunculin B, an actin binder with a different binding site. Our data show that ChivoA and related compounds could serve as scaffolds for the development of actin binding molecules selectively targeting specific actin functions.
    • 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.
    • Clinical Resistome Screening of 1,110 Escherichia coli Isolates Efficiently Recovers Diagnostically Relevant Antibiotic Resistance Biomarkers and Potential Novel Resistance Mechanisms.

      Volz, Carsten; Ramoni, Jonas; Beisken, Stephan; Galata, Valentina; Keller, Andreas; Plum, Achim; Posch, Andreas E; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Multidrug-resistant pathogens represent one of the biggest global healthcare challenges. Molecular diagnostics can guide effective antibiotics therapy but relies on validated, predictive biomarkers. Here we present a novel, universally applicable workflow for rapid identification of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) biomarkers from clinical Escherichia coli isolates and quantitatively evaluate the potential to recover causal biomarkers for observed resistance phenotypes. For this, a metagenomic plasmid library from 1,110 clinical E. coli isolates was created and used for high-throughput screening to identify biomarker candidates against Tobramycin (TOB), Ciprofloxacin (CIP), and Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX). Identified candidates were further validated in vitro and also evaluated in silico for their diagnostic performance based on matched genotype-phenotype data. AMR biomarkers recovered by the metagenomics screening approach mechanistically explained 77% of observed resistance phenotypes for Tobramycin, 76% for Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole, and 20% Ciprofloxacin. Sensitivity for Ciprofloxacin resistance detection could be improved to 97% by complementing results with AMR biomarkers that are undiscoverable due to intrinsic limitations of the workflow. Additionally, when combined in a multiplex diagnostic in silico panel, the identified AMR biomarkers reached promising positive and negative predictive values of up to 97 and 99%, respectively. Finally, we demonstrate that the developed workflow can be used to identify potential novel resistance mechanisms.
    • A combination of genetics and microbiota influences the severity of the obesity phenotype in diet-induced obesity.

      Smoczek, Margarethe; Vital, Marius; Wedekind, Dirk; Basic, Marijana; Zschemisch, Nils-Holger; Pieper, Dietmar H; Siebert, Anja; Bleich, Andre; Buettner, Manuela; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (NPG, 2020-04-09)
      Obesity has emerged as a major global health problem and is associated with various diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases. The inbred C57BL/6 mouse strain is often used for various experimental investigations, such as metabolic research. However, over time, genetically distinguishable C57BL/6 substrains have evolved. The manifestation of genetic alterations has resulted in behavioral and metabolic differences. In this study, a comparison of diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6JHanZtm, C57BL/6NCrl and C57BL/6 J mice revealed several metabolic and immunological differences such as blood glucose level and cytokine expression, respectively, among these C57BL/6 substrains. For example, C57BL/6NCrl mice developed the most pronounced adiposity, whereas C57BL/6 J mice showed the highest impairment in glucose tolerance. Moreover, our results indicated that the immunological phenotype depends on the intestinal microbiota, as the cell subset composition of the colon was similar in obese ex-GF B6NRjB6JHanZtm and obese B6JHanZtm mice. Phenotypic differences between C57BL/6 substrains are caused by a complex combination of genetic and microbial alterations. Therefore, in performing metabolic research, considering substrain-specific characteristics, which can influence the course of study, is important. Moreover, for unbiased comparison of data, the entire strain name should be shared with the scientific community.
    • 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.
    • Concepts and Methods to Access Novel Antibiotics from Actinomycetes.

      Hug, Joachim J; Bader, Chantal D; Remškar, Maja; Cirnski, Katarina; Müller, Rolf (MPDI, 2018-05-22)
      Actinomycetes have been proven to be an excellent source of secondary metabolites for more than half a century. Exhibiting various bioactivities, they provide valuable approved drugs in clinical use. Most microorganisms are still untapped in terms of their capacity to produce secondary metabolites, since only a small fraction can be cultured in the laboratory. Thus, improving cultivation techniques to extend the range of secondary metabolite producers accessible under laboratory conditions is an important first step in prospecting underexplored sources for the isolation of novel antibiotics. Currently uncultured actinobacteria can be made available by bioprospecting extreme or simply habitats other than soil. Furthermore, bioinformatic analysis of genomes reveals most producers to harbour many more biosynthetic gene clusters than compounds identified from any single strain, which translates into a silent biosynthetic potential of the microbial world for the production of yet unknown natural products. This review covers discovery strategies and innovative methods recently employed to access the untapped reservoir of natural products. The focus is the order of actinomycetes although most approaches are similarly applicable to other microbes. Advanced cultivation methods, genomics- and metagenomics-based approaches, as well as modern metabolomics-inspired methods are highlighted to emphasise the interplay of different disciplines to improve access to novel natural products.
    • Connecting lysosomes and mitochondria - a novel role for lipid metabolism in cancer cell death.

      Bartel, Karin; Pein, Helmut; Popper, Bastian; Schmitt, Sabine; Janaki-Raman, Sudha; Schulze, Almut; Lengauer, Florian; Koeberle, Andreas; Werz, Oliver; Zischka, Hans; et al. (BMC, 2019-07-29)
      BACKGROUND: The understanding of lysosomes has been expanded in recent research way beyond their view as cellular trash can. Lysosomes are pivotal in regulating metabolism, endocytosis and autophagy and are implicated in cancer. Recently it was discovered that the lysosomal V-ATPase, which is known to induce apoptosis, interferes with lipid metabolism in cancer, yet the interplay between these organelles is poorly understood. METHODS: LC-MS/MS analysis was performed to investigate lipid distribution in cells. Cell survival and signaling pathways were analyzed by means of cell biological methods (qPCR, Western Blot, flow cytometry, CellTiter-Blue). Mitochondrial structure was analyzed by confocal imaging and electron microscopy, their function was determined by flow cytometry and seahorse measurements. RESULTS: Our data reveal that interfering with lysosomal function changes composition and subcellular localization of triacylglycerids accompanied by an upregulation of PGC1α and PPARα expression, master regulators of energy and lipid metabolism. Furthermore, cardiolipin content is reduced driving mitochondria into fission, accompanied by a loss of membrane potential and reduction in oxidative capacity, which leads to a deregulation in cellular ROS and induction of mitochondria-driven apoptosis. Additionally, cells undergo a metabolic shift to glutamine dependency, correlated with the fission phenotype and sensitivity to lysosomal inhibition, most prominent in Ras mutated cells. CONCLUSION: This study sheds mechanistic light on a largely uninvestigated triangle between lysosomes, lipid metabolism and mitochondrial function. Insight into this organelle crosstalk increases our understanding of mitochondria-driven cell death. Our findings furthermore provide a first hint on a connection of Ras pathway mutations and sensitivity towards lysosomal inhibitors.
    • 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.
    • Correlating chemical diversity with taxonomic distance for discovery of natural products in myxobacteria.

      Hoffmann, Thomas; Krug, Daniel; Bozkurt, Nisa; Duddela, Srikanth; Jansen, Rolf; Garcia, Ronald; Gerth, Klaus; Steinmetz, Heinrich; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus 8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-02-23)
      Some bacterial clades are important sources of novel bioactive natural products. Estimating the magnitude of chemical diversity available from such a resource is complicated by issues including cultivability, isolation bias and limited analytical data sets. Here we perform a systematic metabolite survey of ~2300 bacterial strains of the order Myxococcales, a well-established source of natural products, using mass spectrometry. Our analysis encompasses both known and previously unidentified metabolites detected under laboratory cultivation conditions, thereby enabling large-scale comparison of production profiles in relation to myxobacterial taxonomy. We find a correlation between taxonomic distance and the production of distinct secondary metabolite families, further supporting the idea that the chances of discovering novel metabolites are greater by examining strains from new genera rather than additional representatives within the same genus. In addition, we report the discovery and structure elucidation of rowithocin, a myxobacterial secondary metabolite featuring an uncommon phosphorylated polyketide scaffold.
    • Covalent Lectin Inhibition and Application in Bacterial Biofilm Imaging.

      Wagner, Stefanie; Hauck, Dirk; Hoffmann, Michael; Sommer, Roman; Joachim, Ines; Müller, Rolf; Imberty, Anne; Varrot, Annabelle; Titz, Alexander; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forchung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-09-28)
      Biofilm formation by pathogenic bacteria is a hallmark of chronic infections. In many cases, lectins play key roles in establishing biofilms. The pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa often exhibiting various drug resistances employs its lectins LecA and LecB as virulence factors and biofilm building blocks. Therefore, inhibition of the function of these proteins is thought to have potential in developing "pathoblockers" preventing biofilm formation and virulence. A covalent lectin inhibitor specific to a carbohydrate binding site is described for the first time. Its application in the LecA-specific in vitro imaging of biofilms formed by P. aeruginosa is also reported.
    • Crystal Structure of the HMG-CoA Synthase MvaS from the Gram-Negative Bacterium Myxococcus xanthus.

      Bock, Tobias; Kasten, Janin; Müller, Rolf; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-01)
      A critical step in bacterial isoprenoid production is the synthesis of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) catalyzed by HMG-CoA synthase (HMGCS). In myxobacteria, this enzyme is also involved in a recently discovered alternative and acetyl-CoA-dependent isovaleryl CoA biosynthesis pathway. Here we present crystal structures of MvaS, the HMGCS from Myxococcus xanthus, in complex with CoA and acetylated active site Cys115, with the second substrate acetoacetyl CoA and with the product of the condensation reaction, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA. With these structures, we show that MvaS uses the common HMGCS enzymatic mechanism and provide evidence that dimerization plays a role in the formation and stability of the active site. Overall, MvaS shows features typical of the eukaryotic HMGCS and exhibits differences from homologues from Gram-positive bacteria. This study provides insights into myxobacterial alternative isovaleryl CoA biosynthesis and thereby extends the toolbox for the biotechnological production of renewable fuel and chemicals.