• Phosphonate as Stable Zinc-binding Group for Inhibitors of Clostridial Collagenase H (ColH) as Pathoblocker Agents.

      Voos, Katrin; Schönauer, Esther; Alhayek, Alaa; Haupenthal, Jörg; Andreas, Anastasia; Müller, Rolf; Hartmann, Rolf W; Brandstetter, Hans; Hirsch, Anna K H; Ducho, Christian; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-01-27)
      Microbial infections are a significant threat to public health and resistances are on the rise, so new antibiotics with novel modes of action are urgently needed. The extracellular zinc metalloprotease collagenase H (ColH) from Clostridium histolyticum is a virulence factor that catalyzes tissue damage, leading to improved host invasion and colonisation. Besides the major role of ColH in pathogenicity, its extracellular localisation makes it a highly attractive target for the development of new antivirulence agents. Previously, we had found that a highly selective and potent thiol prodrug (with a hydrolytically cleavable thiocarbamate unit) provided efficient ColH inhibition. We now report the synthesis and biological evaluation of a range of zinc-binding group (ZBG) variants of this thiol-derived inhibitor, with the mercapto unit being replaced by other zinc ligands. Among these, an analogue with a phosphonate motif as ZBG showed promising activity against ColH, an improved selectivity profile, and significantly higher stability than the thiol reference compound, thus making it an attractive candidate for future drug development.
    • Identification of a 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase (DXS) mutant with improved crystallographic properties.

      Gierse, Robin M; Reddem, Eswar R; Alhayek, Alaa; Baitinger, Dominik; Hamid, Zhoor; Jakobi, Harald; Laber, Bernd; Lange, Gudrun; Hirsch, Anna K H; Groves, Matthew R; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-01-05)
      In this report, we describe a truncated Deinococcus radiodurans 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase (DXS) protein that retains enzymatic activity, while slowing protein degradation and showing improved crystallization properties. With modern drug-design approaches relying heavily on the elucidation of atomic interactions of potential new drugs with their targets, the need for co-crystal structures with the compounds of interest is high. DXS itself is a promising drug target, as it catalyzes the first reaction in the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP)-pathway for the biosynthesis of the universal precursors of terpenes, which are essential secondary metabolites. In contrast to many bacteria and pathogens, which employ the MEP pathway, mammals use the distinct mevalonate-pathway for the biosynthesis of these precursors, which makes all enzymes of the MEP-pathway potential new targets for the development of anti-infectives. However, crystallization of DXS has proven to be challenging: while the first X-ray structures from Escherichia coli and D. radiodurans were solved in 2004, since then only two additions have been made in 2019 that were obtained under anoxic conditions. The presented site of truncation can potentially also be transferred to other homologues, opening up the possibility for the determination of crystal structures from pathogenic species, which until now could not be crystallized. This manuscript also provides a further example that truncation of a variable region of a protein can lead to improved structural data.
    • Crystalline sponges as a sensitive and fast method for metabolite identification: Application to gemfibrozil and its phase I and II metabolites

      Rosenberger, Lara; Von Essen, Carolina; Khutia, Anupam; Kühn, Clemens; Urbahns, Klaus; Georgi, Katrin; Hartmann, Rolf W.; Badolo, Lassina; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 2020-07-01)
      Understanding the metabolism of new drug candidates is important during drug discovery and development, as circulating metabolites may contribute to efficacy or cause safety issues. In the early phase of drug discovery, human in vitro systems are used to investigate human relevant metabolism. Though conventional techniques are limited in their ability to provide complete molecular structures of metabolites (liquid chromatography mass spectrometry) or require a larger amount of material not available from in vitro incubation (nuclear magnetic resonance), we here report for the first time the use of the crystalline sponge method to identify phase I and phase II metabolites generated from in vitro liver microsomes or S9 fractions. Gemfibrozil was used as a test compound. Metabolites generated from incubation with microsomes or S9 fractions, were fractionated using online fraction collection. After chromatographic purification and fractionation of the generated metabolites, single crystal X-ray diffraction of crystalline sponges was used to identify the structure of gemfibrozil metabolites. This technique allowed for complete structure elucidation of 5'-CH2OH gemfibrozil (M1), 4'-OH gemfibrozil (M2), 5'-COOH gemfibrozil (M3), and the acyl glucuronide of gemfibrozil, 1-O-β-glucuronide (M4), the first acyl glucuronide available in the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre. Our study shows that when optimal soaking is possible, crystalline sponges technology is a sensitive (nanogram amount) and fast (few days) method that can be applied early in drug discovery to identify the structure of pure metabolites from in vitro incubations. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Complete structure elucidation of human metabolites plays a critical role in early drug discovery. Low amounts of material (nanogram) are only available at this stage and insufficient for nuclear magnetic resonance analysis. The crystalline sponge method has the potential to close this gap, as demonstrated in this study.
    • Directing Drugs to Bugs: Antibiotic-Carbohydrate Conjugates Targeting Biofilm-Associated Lectins of Pseudomonas aeruginosa .

      Meiers, Joscha; Zahorska, Eva; Röhrig, Teresa; Hauck, Dirk; Wagner, Stefanie; Titz, Alexander; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (ACS, 2020-10-02)
      Chronic infections by Pseudomonas aeruginosa are characterized by biofilm formation, which effectively enhances resistance toward antibiotics. Biofilm-specific antibiotic delivery could locally increase drug concentration to break antimicrobial resistance and reduce the drug's peripheral side effects. Two extracellular P. aeruginosa lectins, LecA and LecB, are essential structural components for biofilm formation and thus render a possible anchor for biofilm-targeted drug delivery. The standard-of-care drug ciprofloxacin suffers from severe systemic side effects and was therefore chosen for this approach. We synthesized several ciprofloxacin-carbohydrate conjugates and established a structure-activity relationship. Conjugation of ciprofloxacin to lectin probes enabled biofilm accumulation in vitro, reduced the antibiotic's cytotoxicity, but also reduced its antibiotic activity against planktonic cells due to a reduced cell permeability and on target activity. This work defines the starting point for new biofilm/lectin-targeted drugs to modulate antibiotic properties and ultimately break antimicrobial resistance.
    • 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.