• Flotillin-mediated membrane fluidity controls peptidoglycan synthesis and MreB movement.

      Zielińska, Aleksandra; Savietto, Abigail; de Sousa Borges, Anabela; Martinez, Denis; Berbon, Melanie; Roelofsen, Joël R; Hartman, Alwin M; de Boer, Rinse; Van der Klei, Ida J; Hirsch, Anna Kh; et al. (eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd., 2020-07-14)
      Every living cell is enclosed by a flexible membrane made of molecules known as phospholipids, which protects the cell from harmful chemicals and other threats. In bacteria and some other organisms, a rigid structure known as the cell wall sits just outside of the membrane and determines the cell’s shape. There are several proteins in the membrane of bacteria that allow the cell to grow by assembling new pieces of the cell wall. To ensure these proteins expand the cell wall at the right locations, another protein known as MreB moves and organizes them to the appropriate place in the membrane and controls their activity. Previous studies have found that another class of proteins called flotillins are involved in arranging proteins and phospholipid molecules within membranes. Bacteria lacking these proteins do not grow properly and are unable to maintain their normal shape. However, the precise role of the flotillins remained unclear. Here, Zielińska, Savietto et al. used microscopy approaches to study flotillins in a bacterium known as Bacillus subtilis. The experiments found that, in the presence of flotillins, MreB moved around the membrane more quickly (suggesting it was more active) than when no flotillins were present. Similar results were observed when bacterial cells lacking flotillins were treated with a chemical that made membranes more ‘fluid’ – that is, made it easier for the molecules within the membrane to travel around. Further experiments found that flotillins allowed the phospholipid molecules within an artificial membrane to move around more freely, which increases the fluidity of the membrane. These findings suggest that flotillins make the membranes of bacterial cells more fluid to help cells expand their walls and perform several other processes. Understanding how bacteria control the components of their membranes will further our understanding of how many currently available antibiotics work and may potentially lead to the design of new antibiotics in the future.
    • Evaluation of Bacterial RNA Polymerase Inhibitors in a -Based Wound Infection Model in SKH1 Mice.

      Haupenthal, Jörg; Kautz, Yannik; Elgaher, Walid A M; Pätzold, Linda; Röhrig, Teresa; Laschke, Matthias W; Tschernig, Thomas; Hirsch, Anna K H; Molodtsov, Vadim; Murakami, Katsuhiko S; et al. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-09-21)
      Chronic wounds infected with pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus represent a worldwide health concern, especially in patients with a compromised immune system. As antimicrobial resistance has become an immense global problem, novel antibiotics are urgently needed. One strategy to overcome this threatening situation is the search for drugs targeting novel binding sites on essential and validated enzymes such as the bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP). In this work, we describe the establishment of an in vivo wound infection model based on the pathogen S. aureus and hairless Crl:SKH1-Hrhr (SKH1) mice. The model proved to be a valuable preclinical tool to study selected RNAP inhibitors after topical application. While rifampicin showed a reduction in the loss of body weight induced by the bacteria, an acceleration of wound healing kinetics, and a reduced number of colony forming units in the wound, the ureidothiophene-2-carboxylic acid 1 was inactive under in vivo conditions, probably due to strong plasma protein binding. The cocrystal structure of compound 1 with RNAP, that we hereby also present, will be of great value for applying appropriate structural modifications to further optimize the compound, especially in terms of plasma protein binding.
    • Micro-rheological properties of lung homogenates correlate with infection severity in a mouse model of Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection.

      Murgia, Xabier; Kany, Andreas M; Herr, Christian; Ho, Duy-Khiet; de Rossi, Chiara; Bals, Robert; Lehr, Claus-Michael; Hirsch, Anna K H; Hartmann, Rolf W; Empting, Martin; et al. (Nature publishing group (NPG), 2020-10-05)
      Lung infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa pose a serious threat to patients suffering from, among others, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or bronchiectasis, often leading to life-threatening complications. The establishment of a chronic infection is substantially related to communication between bacteria via quorum-sensing networks. In this study, we aimed to assess the role of quorum-sensing signaling molecules of the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) and to investigate the viscoelastic properties of lung tissue homogenates of PA-infected mice in a prolonged acute murine infection model. Therefore, a murine infection model was successfully established via intra-tracheal infection with alginate-supplemented Pseudomonas aeruginosa NH57388A. Rheological properties of lung homogenates were analyzed with multiple particle tracking (MPT) and quorum-sensing molecules were quantified with LC-MS/MS. Statistical analysis of bacterial load and quorum-sensing molecules showed a strong correlation between these biomarkers in infected lungs. This was accompanied by noticeable changes in the consistency of lung homogenates with increasing infection severity. Furthermore, viscoelastic properties of the lung homogenates strongly correlated with bacterial load and quorum sensing molecules. Considering the strong correlation between the viscoelasticity of lung homogenates and the aforementioned biomarkers, the viscoelastic properties of infected lungs might serve as reliable new biomarker for the evaluation of the severity of P. aeruginosa infections in murine models.
    • Synthetic studies of cystobactamids as antibiotics and bacterial imaging carriers lead to compounds with high: In vivo efficacy

      Testolin, Giambattista; Cirnski, Katarina; Rox, Katharina; Prochnow, Hans; Fetz, Verena; Grandclaudon, Charlotte; Mollner, Tim; Baiyoumy, Alain; Ritter, Antje; Leitner, Christian; et al. (RSC, 2020-01-01)
      There is an alarming scarcity of novel chemical matter with bioactivity against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. Cystobactamids, recently discovered natural products from myxobacteria, are an exception to this trend. Their unusual chemical structure, composed of oligomeric para-aminobenzoic acid moieties, is associated with a high antibiotic activity through the inhibition of gyrase. In this study, structural determinants of cystobactamid's antibacterial potency were defined at five positions, which were varied using three different synthetic routes to the cystobactamid scaffold. The potency against Acinetobacter baumannii could be increased ten-fold to an MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) of 0.06 μg mL−1, and the previously identified spectrum gap of Klebsiella pneumoniae could be closed compared to the natural products (MIC of 0.5 μg mL−1). Proteolytic degradation of cystobactamids by the resistance factor AlbD was prevented by an amide-triazole replacement. Conjugation of cystobactamid's N-terminal tetrapeptide to a Bodipy moiety induced the selective localization of the fluorophore for bacterial imaging purposes. Finally, a first in vivo proof of concept was obtained in an E. coli infection mouse model, where derivative 22 led to the reduction of bacterial loads (cfu, colony-forming units) in muscle, lung and kidneys by five orders of magnitude compared to vehicle-treated mice. These findings qualify cystobactamids as highly promising lead structures against infections caused by Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial pathogens.
    • Finding New Molecular Targets of Familiar Natural Products Using In Silico Target Prediction.

      Mayr, Fabian; Möller, Gabriele; Garscha, Ulrike; Fischer, Jana; Rodríguez Castaño, Patricia; Inderbinen, Silvia G; Temml, Veronika; Waltenberger, Birgit; Schwaiger, Stefan; Hartmann, Rolf W; et al. (MDPI, 2020-09-26)
      Natural products comprise a rich reservoir for innovative drug leads and are a constant source of bioactive compounds. To find pharmacological targets for new or already known natural products using modern computer-aided methods is a current endeavor in drug discovery. Nature's treasures, however, could be used more effectively. Yet, reliable pipelines for the large-scale target prediction of natural products are still rare. We developed an in silico workflow consisting of four independent, stand-alone target prediction tools and evaluated its performance on dihydrochalcones (DHCs)-a well-known class of natural products. Thereby, we revealed four previously unreported protein targets for DHCs, namely 5-lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase-1, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 3, and aldo-keto reductase 1C3. Moreover, we provide a thorough strategy on how to perform computational target predictions and guidance on using the respective tools.
    • Protein-Templated Hit Identification through an Ugi Four-Component Reaction.

      Mancini, Federica; Unver, M Yagiz; Elgaher, Walid A M; Jumde, Varsha R; Alhayek, Alaa; Lukat, Peer; Herrmann, Jennifer; Witte, Martin D; Köck, Matthias; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-05-19)
    • A rapid synthesis of low-nanomolar divalent LecA inhibitors in four linear steps from d-galactose pentaacetate.

      Zahorska, Eva; Kuhaudomlarp, Sakonwan; Minervini, Saverio; Yousaf, Sultaan; Lepsik, Martin; Kinsinger, Thorsten; Hirsch, Anna K H; Imberty, Anne; Titz, Alexander; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Royal Sciety of Chemistry, 2020-07-06)
      Chronic infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa are associated with the formation of bacterial biofilms. The tetrameric P. aeruginosa lectin LecA is a virulence factor and an anti-biofilm drug target. Increasing the overall binding affinity by multivalent presentation of binding epitopes can enhance the weak carbohydrate-ligand interactions. Low-nanomolar divalent LecA ligands/inhibitors with up to 260-fold valency-normalized potency boost and excellent selectivity over human galectin-1 were synthesized from d-galactose pentaacetate and benzaldehyde-based linkers in four linear steps.
    • Multitarget Therapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

      Gabr, Moustafa T; Yahiaoui, Samir; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Hindawi, 2020-01-19)
      No abstract available
    • Multitarget Therapeutic Strategies for Alzheimer's Disease: Review on Emerging Target Combinations.

      Maramai, Samuele; Benchekroun, Mohamed; Gabr, Moustafa T; Yahiaoui, Samir; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Hindawi, 2020-06-30)
      Neurodegenerative diseases represent nowadays one of the major health problems. Despite the efforts made to unveil the mechanism leading to neurodegeneration, it is still not entirely clear what triggers this phenomenon and what allows its progression. Nevertheless, it is accepted that neurodegeneration is a consequence of several detrimental processes, such as protein aggregation, oxidative stress, and neuroinflammation, finally resulting in the loss of neuronal functions. Starting from these evidences, there has been a wide search for novel agents able to address more than a single event at the same time, the so-called multitarget-directed ligands (MTDLs). These compounds originated from the combination of different pharmacophoric elements which endowed them with the ability to interfere with different enzymatic and/or receptor systems, or to exert neuroprotective effects by modulating proteins and metal homeostasis. MTDLs have been the focus of the latest strategies to discover a new treatment for Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is considered the most common form of dementia characterized by neurodegeneration and cognitive dysfunctions. This review is aimed at collecting the latest and most interesting target combinations for the treatment of AD, with a detailed discussion on new agents with favorable in vitro properties and on optimized structures that have already been assessed in vivo in animal models of dementia.
    • Optimized Inhibitors of MDM2 via an Attempted Protein-Templated Reductive Amination.

      van der Vlag, Ramon; Yagiz Unver, M; Felicetti, Tommaso; Twarda-Clapa, Aleksandra; Kassim, Fatima; Ermis, Cagdas; Neochoritis, Constantinos G; Musielak, Bogdan; Labuzek, Beata; Dömling, Alexander; et al. (Wiley, 2019-12-12)
      Innovative and efficient hit-identification techniques are required to accelerate drug discovery. Protein-templated fragment ligations represent a promising strategy in early drug discovery, enabling the target to assemble and select its binders from a pool of building blocks. Development of new protein-templated reactions to access a larger structural diversity and expansion of the variety of targets to demonstrate the scope of the technique are of prime interest for medicinal chemists. Herein, we present our attempts to use a protein-templated reductive amination to target protein-protein interactions (PPIs), a challenging class of drug targets. We address a flexible pocket, which is difficult to achieve by structure-based drug design. After careful analysis we did not find one of the possible products in the kinetic target-guided synthesis (KTGS) approach, however subsequent synthesis and biochemical evaluation of each library member demonstrated that all the obtained molecules inhibit MDM2. The most potent library member (Ki =0.095 μm) identified is almost as active as Nutlin-3, a potent inhibitor of the p53-MDM2 PPI.
    • -Aryl-3-mercaptosuccinimides as Antivirulence Agents Targeting Pseudomonas aeruginosa Elastase and Clostridium Collagenases.

      Konstantinović, Jelena; Yahiaoui, Samir; Alhayek, Alaa; Haupenthal, Jörg; Schönauer, Esther; Andreas, Anastasia; Kany, Andreas M; Müller, Rolf; Koehnke, Jesko; Berger, Fabian K; et al. (ACS, 2020-06-17)
      In light of the global antimicrobial-resistance crisis, there is an urgent need for novel bacterial targets and antibiotics with novel modes of action. It has been shown that Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase (LasB) and Clostridium histolyticum (Hathewaya histolytica) collagenase (ColH) play a significant role in the infection process and thereby represent promising antivirulence targets. Here, we report novel N-aryl-3-mercaptosuccinimide inhibitors that target both LasB and ColH, displaying potent activities in vitro and high selectivity for the bacterial over human metalloproteases. Additionally, the inhibitors demonstrate no signs of cytotoxicity against selected human cell lines and in a zebrafish embryo toxicity model. Furthermore, the most active ColH inhibitor shows a significant reduction of collagen degradation in an ex vivo pig-skin model.
    • Novel Compounds Targeting the RNA-Binding Protein HuR. Structure-Based Design, Synthesis, and Interaction Studies.

      Della Volpe, Serena; Nasti, Rita; Queirolo, Michele; Unver, M Yagiz; Jumde, Varsha K; Dömling, Alexander; Vasile, Francesca; Potenza, Donatella; Ambrosio, Francesca Alessandra; Costa, Giosué; et al. (ACS, 2019-01-21)
      The key role of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in regulating post-transcriptional processes and their involvement in several pathologies (i.e., cancer and neurodegeneration) have highlighted their potential as therapeutic targets. In this scenario, Embryonic Lethal Abnormal Vision (ELAV) or Hu proteins and their complexes with target mRNAs have been gaining growing attention. Compounds able to modulate the complex stability could constitute an innovative pharmacological strategy for the treatment of numerous diseases. Nevertheless, medicinal-chemistry efforts aimed at developing such compounds are still at an early stage. As part of our ongoing research in this field, we hereby present the rational design and synthesis of structurally novel HuR ligands, potentially acting as HuR-RNA interferers. The following assessment of the structural features of their interaction with HuR, combining saturation-transfer difference NMR and in silico studies, provides a guide for further research on the development of new effective interfering compounds of the HuR-RNA complex.
    • Novel 15-Lipoxygenase-1 Inhibitor Protects Macrophages from Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Cytotoxicity.

      Guo, Hao; Verhoek, Iris C; Prins, Gerian G H; van der Vlag, Ramon; van der Wouden, Petra E; van Merkerk, Ronald; Quax, Wim J; Olinga, Peter; Hirsch, Anna K H; Dekker, Frank J; et al. (ACS, 2019-04-19)
      Various mechanisms for regulated cell death include the formation of oxidative mediators such as lipid peroxides and nitric oxide (NO). In this respect, 15-lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1) is a key enzyme that catalyzes the formation of lipid peroxides. The actions of these peroxides are interconnected with nuclear factor-κB signaling and NO production. Inhibition of 15-LOX-1 holds promise to interfere with regulated cell death in inflammatory conditions. In this study, a novel potent 15-LOX-1 inhibitor, 9c (i472), was developed and structure-activity relationships were explored. In vitro, this inhibitor protected cells from lipopolysaccharide-induced cell death, inhibiting NO formation and lipid peroxidation. Thus, we provide a novel 15-LOX-1 inhibitor that inhibits cellular NO production and lipid peroxidation, which set the stage for further exploration of these mechanisms.
    • Concepts and Core Principles of Fragment-Based Drug Design.

      Kirsch, Philine; Hartman, Alwin M; Hirsch, Anna K H; Empting, Martin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (MDPI, 2019-11-26)
      In this review, a general introduction to fragment-based drug design and the underlying concepts is given. General considerations and methodologies ranging from library selection/construction over biophysical screening and evaluation methods to in-depth hit qualification and subsequent optimization strategies are discussed. These principles can be generally applied to most classes of drug targets. The examples given for fragment growing, merging, and linking strategies at the end of the review are set in the fields of enzyme-inhibitor design and macromolecule-macromolecule interaction inhibition. Building upon the foundation of fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) and its methodologies, we also highlight a few new trends in FBDD.
    • Non-active site mutants of HIV-1 protease influence resistance and sensitisation towards protease inhibitors.

      Bastys, Tomas; Gapsys, Vytautas; Walter, Hauke; Heger, Eva; Doncheva, Nadezhda T; Kaiser, Rolf; de Groot, Bert L; Kalinina, Olga V; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (BMC, 2020-05-19)
      Background: HIV-1 can develop resistance to antiretroviral drugs, mainly through mutations within the target regions of the drugs. In HIV-1 protease, a majority of resistance-associated mutations that develop in response to therapy with protease inhibitors are found in the protease's active site that serves also as a binding pocket for the protease inhibitors, thus directly impacting the protease-inhibitor interactions. Some resistance-associated mutations, however, are found in more distant regions, and the exact mechanisms how these mutations affect protease-inhibitor interactions are unclear. Furthermore, some of these mutations, e.g. N88S and L76V, do not only induce resistance to the currently administered drugs, but contrarily induce sensitivity towards other drugs. In this study, mutations N88S and L76V, along with three other resistance-associated mutations, M46I, I50L, and I84V, are analysed by means of molecular dynamics simulations to investigate their role in complexes of the protease with different inhibitors and in different background sequence contexts. Results: Using these simulations for alchemical calculations to estimate the effects of mutations M46I, I50L, I84V, N88S, and L76V on binding free energies shows they are in general in line with the mutations' effect on [Formula: see text] values. For the primary mutation L76V, however, the presence of a background mutation M46I in our analysis influences whether the unfavourable effect of L76V on inhibitor binding is sufficient to outweigh the accompanying reduction in catalytic activity of the protease. Finally, we show that L76V and N88S changes the hydrogen bond stability of these residues with residues D30/K45 and D30/T31/T74, respectively. Conclusions: We demonstrate that estimating the effect of both binding pocket and distant mutations on inhibitor binding free energy using alchemical calculations can reproduce their effect on the experimentally measured [Formula: see text] values. We show that distant site mutations L76V and N88S affect the hydrogen bond network in the protease's active site, which offers an explanation for the indirect effect of these mutations on inhibitor binding. This work thus provides valuable insights on interplay between primary and background mutations and mechanisms how they affect inhibitor binding.
    • Discovery of Small-Molecule Stabilizers of 14-3-3 Protein-Protein Interactions via Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry.

      Hartman, Alwin M; Elgaher, Walid A M; Hertrich, Nathalie; Andrei, Sebastian A; Ottmann, Christian; Hirsch, Anna K H; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-02-28)
      Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) play an important role in numerous biological processes such as cell-cycle regulation and multiple diseases. The family of 14-3-3 proteins is an attractive target as they serve as binding partner to various proteins and are therefore capable of regulating their biological activities. Discovering small-molecule modulators, in particular stabilizers, of such complexes via traditional screening approaches is a challenging task. Herein, we pioneered the first application of dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC) to a PPI target, to find modulators of 14-3-3 proteins. Evaluation of the amplified hits from the DCC experiments for their binding affinity via surface plasmon resonance (SPR), revealed that the low-micromolar (KD 15-16 μM) acylhydrazones are 14-3-3/synaptopodin PPI stabilizers. Thus, DCC appears to be ideally suited for the discovery of not only modulators but even the more elusive stabilizers of notoriously challenging PPIs.
    • Potential Dental Biofilm Inhibitors: Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry Affords Sugar-Based Molecules that Target Bacterial Glucosyltransferase.

      Hartman, Alwin M; Jumde, Varsha R; Elgaher, Walid A M; Te Poele, Evelien M; Dijkhuizen, Lubbert; Hirsch, Anna K H; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-06-16)
      We applied dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC) to find novel ligands of the bacterial virulence factor glucosyltransferase (GTF) 180. GTFs are the major producers of extracellular polysaccharides, which are important factors in the initiation and development of cariogenic dental biofilms. Following a structure-based strategy, we designed a series of 36 glucose- and maltose-based acylhydrazones as substrate mimics. Synthesis of the required mono- and disaccharide-based aldehydes set the stage for DCC experiments. Analysis of the dynamic combinatorial libraries (DCLs) by UPLC-MS revealed major amplification of four compounds in the presence of GTF180. Moreover, we found that derivatives of the glucose-acceptor maltose at the C1-hydroxy group act as glucose-donors and are cleaved by GTF180. The synthesized hits display medium to low binding affinity (KD values of 0.4-10.0 mm) according to surface plasmon resonance. In addition, they were investigated for inhibitory activity in GTF-activity assays. The early-stage DCC study reveals that careful design of DCLs opens up easy access to a broad class of novel compounds that can be developed further as potential inhibitors.
    • Hit-to-lead optimization of a latency-associated nuclear antigen inhibitor against Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infections.

      Kirsch, Philine; Stein, Saskia C; Berwanger, Aylin; Rinkes, Julia; Jakob, Valentin; Schulz, Thomas F; Empting, Martin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-06-28)
      The Latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) plays a central role for the latent persistence of the Kaposi's Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV) in the human host and helps to establish lifelong infections. Herein, we report our efforts towards hit-to-lead generation starting from a previously discovered LANA-DNA inhibitor. By tethering the viral genome to the host nucleosomes, LANA ensures the segregation and persistence of the viral DNA during mitosis. LANA is also required for the replication of the latent viral episome during the S phase of the cell cycle. We aim to inhibit the interaction between LANA and the viral genome to prevent the latent persistence of KSHV in the host organism. Medicinal chemistry-driven optimization studies and structure-activity-relationship investigation led to the discovery of an improved LANA inhibitor. The functional activity of our compounds was evaluated using a fluorescence polarization (FP)-based interaction inhibition assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Even though a crystal structure of the ligand protein complex was not available, we successfully conducted hit optimization toward a low micromolar protein-nucleic acid-interaction inhibitor. Additionally, we applied STD-NMR studies to corroborate target binding and to gain insights into the binding orientation of our most potent inhibitor, providing opportunities for further rational design of more efficient LANA-targeting anti KSHV agents in future studies.
    • Rapid Discovery of Aspartyl Protease Inhibitors Using an Anchoring Approach.

      Konstantinidou, Markella; Magari, Francesca; Sutanto, Fandi; Haupenthal, Jörg; Jumde, Varsha R; Ünver, M Yagiz; Heine, Andreas; Camacho, Carlos Jamie; Hirsch, Anna K H; Klebe, Gerhard; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-03-18)
      Pharmacophore searches that include anchors, fragments contributing above average to receptor binding, combined with one-step syntheses are a powerful approach for the fast discovery of novel bioactive molecules. Here, we are presenting a pipeline for the rapid and efficient discovery of aspartyl protease inhibitors. First, we hypothesized that hydrazine could be a multi-valent warhead to interact with the active site Asp carboxylic acids. We incorporated the hydrazine anchor in a multicomponent reaction and created a large virtual library of hydrazine derivatives synthetically accessible in one-step. Next, we performed anchor-based pharmacophore screening of the libraries and resynthesized top-ranked compounds. The inhibitory potency of the molecules was finally assessed by an enzyme activity assay and the binding mode confirmed by several soaked crystal structures supporting the validity of the hypothesis and approach. The herein reported pipeline of tools will be of general value for the rapid generation of receptor binders beyond Asp proteases.
    • Squalenyl Hydrogen Sulfate Nanoparticles for Simultaneous Delivery of Tobramycin and an Alkylquinolone Quorum Sensing Inhibitor Enable the Eradication of P. aeruginosa Biofilm Infections.

      Ho, Duy-Khiet; Murgia, Xabier; de Rossi, Chiara; Christmann, Rebekka; Hüfner de Mello Martins, Antonio G; Koch, Marcus; Andreas, Anastasia; Herrmann, Jennifer; Müller, Rolf; Empting, Martin; et al. (Wiley, 2020-04-03)
      Elimination of pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections is challenging to accomplish with antibiotic therapies, mainly due to resistance mechanisms. Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSIs) interfering with biofilm formation can thus complement antibiotics. For simultaneous and improved delivery of both active agents to the infection sites, self-assembling nanoparticles of a newly synthesized squalenyl hydrogen sulfate (SqNPs) were prepared. These nanocarriers allowed for remarkably high loading capacities of hydrophilic antibiotic tobramycin (Tob) and a novel lipophilic QSI at 30 % and circa 10 %, respectively. The drug-loaded SqNPs showed improved biofilm penetration and enhanced efficacy in relevant biological barriers (mucin/human tracheal mucus, biofilm), leading to complete eradication of PA biofilms at circa 16-fold lower Tob concentration than Tob alone. This study offers a viable therapy optimization and invigorates the research and development of QSIs for clinical use.