• Mimetics of Sialyl Lewis<SUP>x</SUP>: The Pre-Organization of the Carboxylic Acid is Essential for Binding to Selectins

      Titz, Alexander; Ernst, Beat; Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Campus C 2.3, D-66123, Saarbrücken, Germany (2014-12-05)
    • A Biophysical Study with Carbohydrate Derivatives Explains the Molecular Basis of Monosaccharide Selectivity of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa Lectin LecB.

      Sommer, Roman; Exner, Thomas E; Titz, Alexander; Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Campus C 2.3, D-66123, Saarbrücken, Germany; Department of Chemistry and Graduate School Chemical Biology, University of Konstanz, D-78457, Konstanz, Germany. (2014)
      The rise of resistances against antibiotics in bacteria is a major threat for public health and demands the development of novel antibacterial therapies. Infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa are a severe problem for hospitalized patients and for patients suffering from cystic fibrosis. These bacteria can form biofilms and thereby increase their resistance towards antibiotics. The bacterial lectin LecB was shown to be necessary for biofilm formation and the inhibition with its carbohydrate ligands resulted in reduced amounts of biofilm. The natural ligands for LecB are glycosides of d-mannose and l-fucose, the latter displaying an unusual strong affinity. Interestingly, although mannosides are much weaker ligands for LecB, they do form an additional hydrogen bond with the protein in the crystal structure. To analyze the individual contributions of the methyl group in fucosides and the hydroxymethyl group in mannosides to the binding, we designed and synthesized derivatives of these saccharides. We report glycomimetic inhibitors that dissect the individual interactions of their saccharide precursors with LecB and give insight into the biophysics of binding by LecB. Furthermore, theoretical calculations supported by experimental thermodynamic data suggest a perturbed hydrogen bonding network for mannose derivatives as molecular basis for the selectivity of LecB for fucosides. Knowledge gained on the mode of interaction of LecB with its ligands at ambient conditions will be useful for future drug design.
    • Caenorhabditis elegans N-glycan core beta-galactoside confers sensitivity towards nematotoxic fungal galectin CGL2.

      Butschi, Alex; Titz, Alexander; Wälti, Martin A; Olieric, Vincent; Paschinger, Katharina; Nöbauer, Katharina; Guo, Xiaoqiang; Seeberger, Peter H; Wilson, Iain B H; Aebi, Markus; et al. (2010-01)
      The physiological role of fungal galectins has remained elusive. Here, we show that feeding of a mushroom galectin, Coprinopsis cinerea CGL2, to Caenorhabditis elegans inhibited development and reproduction and ultimately resulted in killing of this nematode. The lack of toxicity of a carbohydrate-binding defective CGL2 variant and the resistance of a C. elegans mutant defective in GDP-fucose biosynthesis suggested that CGL2-mediated nematotoxicity depends on the interaction between the galectin and a fucose-containing glycoconjugate. A screen for CGL2-resistant worm mutants identified this glycoconjugate as a Galbeta1,4Fucalpha1,6 modification of C. elegans N-glycan cores. Analysis of N-glycan structures in wild type and CGL2-resistant nematodes confirmed this finding and allowed the identification of a novel putative glycosyltransferase required for the biosynthesis of this glycoepitope. The X-ray crystal structure of a complex between CGL2 and the Galbeta1,4Fucalpha1,6GlcNAc trisaccharide at 1.5 A resolution revealed the biophysical basis for this interaction. Our results suggest that fungal galectins play a role in the defense of fungi against predators by binding to specific glycoconjugates of these organisms.
    • Methylated glycans as conserved targets of animal and fungal innate defense.

      Wohlschlager, Therese; Butschi, Alex; Grassi, Paola; Sutov, Grigorij; Gauss, Robert; Hauck, Dirk; Schmieder, Stefanie S; Knobel, Martin; Titz, Alexander; Dell, Anne; et al. (2014-07-08)
      Effector proteins of innate immune systems recognize specific non-self epitopes. Tectonins are a family of β-propeller lectins conserved from bacteria to mammals that have been shown to bind bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We present experimental evidence that two Tectonins of fungal and animal origin have a specificity for O-methylated glycans. We show that Tectonin 2 of the mushroom Laccaria bicolor (Lb-Tec2) agglutinates Gram-negative bacteria and exerts toxicity toward the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, suggesting a role in fungal defense against bacteria and nematodes. Biochemical and genetic analysis of these interactions revealed that both bacterial agglutination and nematotoxicity of Lb-Tec2 depend on the recognition of methylated glycans, namely O-methylated mannose and fucose residues, as part of bacterial LPS and nematode cell-surface glycans. In addition, a C. elegans gene, termed samt-1, coding for a candidate membrane transport protein for the presumptive donor substrate of glycan methylation, S-adenosyl-methionine, from the cytoplasm to the Golgi was identified. Intriguingly, limulus lectin L6, a structurally related antibacterial protein of the Japanese horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus, showed properties identical to the mushroom lectin. These results suggest that O-methylated glycans constitute a conserved target of the fungal and animal innate immune system. The broad phylogenetic distribution of O-methylated glycans increases the spectrum of potential antagonists recognized by Tectonins, rendering this conserved protein family a universal defense armor.