• KSHV-specific antivirals targeting the protein-DNA interaction of the latency-associated nuclear antigen.

      Berwanger, Aylin; Empting, Martin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Future Science Group, 2021-05-26)
      The Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is an oncogenic human herpesviruses that is responsible for cancer, especially in immunosuppressed people, such as patients with AIDS. So far, there are no KSHV-specifc antiviral agents available. In this review, we provide an overview on one particular target-centered approach toward novel anti-KSHV drugs focusing on interfering with the molecular functions of the latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA). This review focuses on attempts to interfere with the LANA-DNA interaction mediated by the C-terminal domain. We describe the drug discovery approaches chosen for this endeavor as well as molecular structures that were identified in this innovative concept toward novel and KSHV-specific antiherpesviral agents.
    • Lipid-DNAs as Solubilizers of mTHPC.

      Liu, Yun; de Vries, Jan Willem; Liu, Qing; Hartman, Alwin M; Wieland, Gerhard D; Wieczorek, Sebastian; Börner, Hans G; Wiehe, Arno; Buhler, Eric; Stuart, Marc C A; et al. (2018-01-19)
      Hydrophobic drug candidates require innovative formulation agents. We designed and synthesized lipid-DNA polymers containing varying numbers of hydrophobic alkyl chains. The hydrophobicity of these amphiphiles is easily tunable by introducing a defined number of alkyl chain-modified nucleotides during standard solid-phase synthesis of DNA using an automated DNA synthesizer. We observed that the resulting self-assembled micelles solubilize the poorly water-soluble drug, meta-tetra-hydroxyphenyl-chlorin (mTHPC) used in photodynamic therapy (PDT) with high loading concentrations and loading capacities. A cell viability study showed that mTHPC-loaded micelles exhibit good biocompatibility without irradiation, and high PDT efficacy upon irradiation. Lipid-DNAs provide a novel class of drug-delivery vehicle, and hybridization of DNA offers a potentially facile route for further functionalization of the drug-delivery system with, for instance, targeting or imaging moieties.
    • Low-Dimensional Metal-Organic Coordination Structures on Graphene.

      Li, Jun; Solianyk, Leonid; Schmidt, Nico; Baker, Brian; Gottardi, Stefano; Moreno Lopez, Juan Carlos; Enache, Mihaela; Monjas, Leticia; van der Vlag, Ramon; Havenith, Remco W A; et al. (American Society of Chemistry, 2019-05-23)
      We report the formation of one- and two-dimensional metal-organic coordination structures from para-hexaphenyl-dicarbonitrile (NC-Ph6-CN) molecules and Cu atoms on graphene epitaxially grown on Ir(111). By varying the stoichiometry between the NC-Ph6-CN molecules and Cu atoms, the dimensionality of the metal-organic coordination structures could be tuned: for a 3:2 ratio, a two-dimensional hexagonal porous network based on threefold Cu coordination was observed, while for a 1:1 ratio, one-dimensional chains based on twofold Cu coordination were formed. The formation of metal-ligand bonds was supported by imaging the Cu atoms within the metal-organic coordination structures with scanning tunneling microscopy. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy measurements demonstrated that the electronic properties of NC-Ph6-CN molecules and Cu atoms were different between the two-dimensional porous network and one-dimensional molecular chains.
    • Mastering the Gram-negative bacterial barrier - Chemical approaches to increase bacterial bioavailability of antibiotics.

      Ropponen, Henni-Karoliina; Richter, Robert; Hirsch, Anna K H; Lehr, Claus Michael; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Elsevier, 2021-03-08)
      To win the battle against resistant, pathogenic bacteria, novel classes of anti-infectives and targets are urgently needed. Bacterial uptake, distribution, metabolic and efflux pathways of antibiotics in Gram-negative bacteria determine what we here refer to as bacterial bioavailability. Understanding these mechanisms from a chemical perspective is essential for anti-infective activity and hence, drug discovery as well as drug delivery. A systematic and critical discussion of in bacterio, in vitro and in silico assays reveals that a sufficiently accurate holistic approach is still missing. We expect new findings based on Gram-negative bacterial bioavailability to guide future anti-infective research.
    • Metabolic stability optimization and metabolite identification of 2,5-thiophene amide 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 inhibitors.

      Gargano, Emanuele M; Perspicace, Enrico; Hanke, Nina; Carotti, Angelo; Marchais-Oberwinkler, Sandrine; Hartmann, Rolf W; Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Saarland University, Campus C2.3, D-66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2014-11-24)
      17β-HSD2 is a promising new target for the treatment of osteoporosis. In this paper, a rational strategy to overcome the metabolic liability in the 2,5-thiophene amide class of 17β-HSD2 inhibitors is described, and the biological activity of the new inhibitors. Applying different strategies, as lowering the cLogP or modifying the structures of the molecules, compounds 27, 31 and 35 with strongly improved metabolic stability were obtained. For understanding biotransformation in the 2,5-thiophene amide class the main metabolic pathways of three properly selected compounds were elucidated.
    • 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.
    • Mild and Catalyst-Free Microwave-Assisted Synthesis of 4,6-Disubstituted 2-Methylthiopyrimidines – Exploiting Tetrazole as an Efficient Leaving Group

      Thomann, Andreas; Eberhard, Jens; Allegretta, Giuseppe; Empting, Martin; Hartmann, Rolf; Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS);Saarland University, Building A4.1, 66123 Saarbruecken, Germany.; Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Saarland University; Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Saarland University; Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Saarland University; Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Saarland University; et al. (2015-10-21)
    • Molecular basis of HHQ biosynthesis: molecular dynamics simulations, enzyme kinetic and surface plasmon resonance studies

      Steinbach, Anke; Maurer, Christine K; Weidel, Elisabeth; Henn, Claudia; Brengel, Christian; Hartmann, Rolf W; Negri, Matthias (2013-08-01)
      Abstract Background PQS (P seudomonas Quinolone Signal) and its precursor HHQ are signal molecules of the P. aeruginosa quorum sensing system. They explicate their role in mammalian pathogenicity by binding to the receptor PqsR that induces virulence factor production and biofilm formation. The enzyme PqsD catalyses the biosynthesis of HHQ. Results Enzyme kinetic analysis and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor experiments were used to determine mechanism and substrate order of the biosynthesis. Comparative analysis led to the identification of domains involved in functionality of PqsD. A kinetic cycle was set up and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to study the molecular bases of the kinetics of PqsD. Trajectory analysis, pocket volume measurements, binding energy estimations and decompositions ensured insights into the binding mode of the substrates anthraniloyl-CoA and β-ketodecanoic acid. Conclusions Enzyme kinetics and SPR experiments hint at a ping-pong mechanism for PqsD with ACoA as first substrate. Trajectory analysis of different PqsD complexes evidenced ligand-dependent induced-fit motions affecting the modified ACoA funnel access to the exposure of a secondary channel. A tunnel-network is formed in which Ser317 plays an important role by binding to both substrates. Mutagenesis experiments resulting in the inactive S317F mutant confirmed the importance of this residue. Two binding modes for β-ketodecanoic acid were identified with distinct catalytic mechanism preferences.
    • Molecular basis of HHQ biosynthesis: molecular dynamics simulations, enzyme kinetic and surface plasmon resonance studies.

      Steinbach, Anke; Maurer, Christine K; Weidel, Elisabeth; Henn, Claudia; Brengel, Christian; Hartmann, Rolf W; Negri, Matthias (2013)
      PQS (PseudomonasQuinolone Signal) and its precursor HHQ are signal molecules of the P. aeruginosa quorum sensing system. They explicate their role in mammalian pathogenicity by binding to the receptor PqsR that induces virulence factor production and biofilm formation. The enzyme PqsD catalyses the biosynthesis of HHQ.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • New insights into the bacterial RNA polymerase inhibitor CBR703 as a starting point for optimization as an anti-infective agent.

      Zhu, Weixing; Haupenthal, Jörg; Groh, Matthias; Fountain, Michelle; Hartmann, Rolf W (2014-07)
      CBR703 was reported to inhibit bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) and biofilm formation, considering it to be a good candidate for further optimization. While synthesized derivatives of CBR703 did not result in more-active RNAP inhibitors, we observed promising antibacterial activities. These again correlated with a significant cytotoxicity toward mammalian cells. Furthermore, we suspect the promising effects on biofilm formation to be artifacts. Consequently, this class of compounds can be considered unattractive as antibacterial agents.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Optimization of anti-virulence PqsR antagonists regarding aqueous solubility and biological properties resulting in new insights in structure-activity relationships.

      Lu, Cenbin; Kirsch, Benjamin; Maurer, Christine K; de Jong, Johannes C; Braunshausen, Andrea; Steinbach, Anke; Hartmann, Rolf W; Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland Campus, Geb. C2.3 Universität des Saarlandes, D-66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2014-05-22)
      Increasing antibiotic resistance urgently requires novel therapeutic options to combat bacterial infections. The anti-virulence therapy selectively intervening with pathogenicity without affecting bacterial viability is such a strategy to overcome resistance. We consider the virulence regulator PqsR as an attractive target in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and recently discovered the first PqsR antagonists, which, however, suffered from poor aqueous solubility. In this work, the antagonists were structurally modified to become more soluble, and their structure-activity as well as structure-property relationships were studied. A novel promising compound with improved solubility and enhanced anti-virulence activity was discovered (IC50: 3.8 μM, pyocyanin). Our findings emphasize the crucial role of substituents at the 3-position and the carbonyl group at the 4-position for ligand-receptor interactions, and illuminate the way for further optimization of PqsR antagonists as anti-virulence agents.
    • 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.
    • Overcoming the unexpected functional inversion of a PqsR antagonist in Pseudomonas aeruginosa: an in vivo potent antivirulence agent targeting pqs quorum sensing.

      Lu, Cenbin; Maurer, Christine K; Kirsch, Benjamin; Steinbach, Anke; Hartmann, Rolf W; Division of Drug design and optimization. Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland & Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, Saarland University. (2014-01-20)
      The virulence regulator PqsR of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is considered as an attractive target for attenuating the bacterial pathogenicity without eliciting resistance. However, despite efforts and desires, no promising PqsR antagonist has been discovered thus far. Now, a surprising functionality change of a highly affine PqsR antagonist in P. aeruginosa is revealed, which is mediated by a bacterial signal molecule synthase and responsible for low cellular potency. Blockade of the susceptible position led to the discovery of the first antivirulence compound that is potent in vivo and targets PqsR, thus providing a proof of concept for this novel antivirulence therapy.
    • Phage Display on the Anti-infective Target 1-Deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate Synthase Leads to an Acceptor-Substrate Competitive Peptidic Inhibitor.

      Marcozzi, Alessio; Masini, Tiziana; Zhu, Di; Pesce, Diego; Illarionov, Boris; Fischer, Markus; Herrmann, Andreas; Hirsch, Anna Katharina Herta; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-01-04)
      Enzymes of the 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol-4-phosphate pathway for the biosynthesis of isoprenoid precursors are validated drug targets. By performing phage display on 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase (DXS), which catalyzes the first step of this pathway, we discovered several peptide hits and recognized false-positive hits. The enriched peptide binder P12 emerged as a substrate (d-glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate)-competitive inhibitor of Deinococcus radiodurans DXS. The results indicate possible overlap of the cofactor- and acceptor-substrate-binding pockets and provide inspiration for the design of inhibitors of DXS with a unique and novel mechanism of inhibition.