• A New PqsR Inverse Agonist Potentiates Tobramycin Efficacy to Eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms

      Schütz, Christian; Ho, Duy‐Khiet; Hamed, Mostafa Mohamed; Abdelsamie, Ahmed Saad; Röhrig, Teresa; Herr, Christian; Kany, Andreas Martin; Rox, Katharina; Schmelz, Stefan; Siebenbürger, Lorenz; et al. (Wiley and Sons Inc., 2021-03-18)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infections can be notoriously difficult to treat and are often accompanied by the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Quorum sensing inhibitors (QSI) acting on PqsR (MvfR) – a crucial transcriptional regulator serving major functions in PA virulence – can enhance antibiotic efficacy and eventually prevent the AMR. An integrated drug discovery campaign including design, medicinal chemistry‐driven hit‐to‐lead optimization and in‐depth biological profiling of a new QSI generation is reported. The QSI possess excellent activity in inhibiting pyocyanin production and PqsR reporter‐gene with IC50 values as low as 200 and 11 × 10−9 m, respectively. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) as well as safety pharmacology studies especially highlight the promising translational properties of the lead QSI for pulmonary applications. Moreover, target engagement of the lead QSI is shown in a PA mucoid lung infection mouse model. Beyond that, a significant synergistic effect of a QSI‐tobramycin (Tob) combination against PA biofilms using a tailor‐made squalene‐derived nanoparticle (NP) formulation, which enhance the minimum biofilm eradicating concentration (MBEC) of Tob more than 32‐fold is demonstrated. The novel lead QSI and the accompanying NP formulation highlight the potential of adjunctive pathoblocker‐mediated therapy against PA infections opening up avenues for preclinical development.
    • Enhancing glycan stabilityviasite-selective fluorination: modulating substrate orientation by molecular design

      Axer, Alexander; Jumde, Ravindra P.; Adam, Sebastian; Faust, Andreas; Schäfers, Michael; Fobker, Manfred; Koehnke, Jesko; Hirsch, Anna K.H.; Gilmour, Ryan; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Royal Chemistry Society (RCS), 2021-01-28)
      ingle site OH → F substitution at the termini of maltotetraose leads to significantly improved hydrolytic stability towards α-amylase and α-glucosidase relative to the natural compound. To explore the effect of molecular editing, selectively modified oligosaccharides were preparedviaa convergent α-selective strategy. Incubation experiments in purified α-amylase and α-glucosidase, and in human and murine blood serum, provide insight into the influence of fluorine on the hydrolytic stability of these clinically important scaffolds. Enhancements ofca. 1 order of magnitude result from these subtle single point mutations. Modification at the monosaccharide furthest from the probable enzymatic cleavage termini leads to the greatest improvement in stability. In the case of α-amylase, docking studies revealed that retentive C2-fluorination at the reducing end inverts the orientation in which the substrate is bound. A co-crystal structure of human α-amylase revealed maltose units bound at the active-site. In view of the evolving popularity of C(sp3)-F bioisosteres in medicinal chemistry, and the importance of maltodextrins in bacterial imaging, this discovery begins to reconcile the information-rich nature of carbohydrates with their intrinsic hydrolytic vulnerabilities. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2020.
    • 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.
    • François Diederich - In Memoriam*.

      Hof, Fraser; Hirsch, Anna K H; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2020-12-14)
      François Diederich - In Memoriam. In this Guest Editorial, Fraser Hof and Anna K. H. Hirsch help us remember the life and scientific legacy of Prof. François Diederich, a beloved mentor and inspiration to many, as well as an extraordinary scientist who made significant impacts in remarkably diverse areas.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • -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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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)
    • 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.
    • 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.