### Recent Submissions

• #### Rapid access to RNA resonances by proton-detected solid-state NMR at >100 kHz MAS.

(2018-08-21)
Fast (4100 kHz) magic angle spinning solid-state NMR allows combining high-sensitive proton detection with the absence of an intrinsic molecular weight limit. Using this technique we observe for the first time narrow 1H RNA resonances and assign nucleotide spin systems with only 200 lg of uniformly 13C,15N-labelled RNA.
• #### Exchange of amino acids in the H1-haemagglutinin to H3 residues is required for efficient influenza A virus replication and pathology in Tmprss2 knock-out mice.

(2018-09-01)
The haemagglutinin (HA) of H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A virus (IAV) subtypes has to be activated by host proteases. Previous studies showed that H1N1 virus cannot replicate efficiently in Tmprss2/ knock-out mice whereas H3N2 viruses are able to replicate to the same levels in Tmprss2/ as in wild type (WT) mice. Here, we investigated the sequence requirements for the HA molecule that allow IAV to replicate efficiently in the absence of TMPRSS2. We showed that replacement of the H3 for the H1-loop sequence (amino acids 320 to 329, at the C-terminus of HA1) was not sufficient for equal levels of virus replication or severe pathology in Tmprss2/ knock-out mice compared to WT mice. However, exchange of a distant amino acid from H1 to H3 sequence (E31D) in addition to the HA-loop substitution resulted in virus replication in Tmprss2/ knockout mice that was comparable to WT mice. The higher virus replication and lung damage was associated with increased epithelial damage and higher mortality. Our results provide further evidence and insights into host proteases as a promising target for therapeutic intervention of IAV infections.
• #### Chronic Toxoplasma infection is associated with distinct alterations in the synaptic protein composition.

(2018-08-01)
Chronic infection with the neurotropic parasite Toxoplasma gondii has been implicated in the risk for several neuropsychiatric disorders. The mechanisms, by which the parasite may alter neural function and behavior of the host, are not yet understood completely. Here, a novel proteomic approach using mass spectrometry was employed to investigate the alterations in synaptic protein composition in a murine model of chronic toxoplasmosis. In a candidate-based strategy, immunoblot analysis and immunohistochemistry were applied to investigate the expression levels of key synaptic proteins in glutamatergic signaling. A comparison of the synaptosomal protein composition revealed distinct changes upon infection, with multiple proteins such as EAAT2, Shank3, AMPA receptor, and NMDA receptor subunits being downregulated, whereas inflammation-related proteins showed an upregulation. Treatment with the antiparasitic agent sulfadiazine strongly reduced tachyzoite levels and diminished neuroinflammatory mediators. However, in both conditions, a significant number of latent cysts persisted in the brain. Conversely, infection-related alterations of key synaptic protein levels could be partly reversed by the treatment. These results provide evidence for profound changes especially in synaptic protein composition in T. gondii-infected mice with a downregulation of pivotal components of glutamatergic neurotransmission. Our results suggest that the detected synaptic alterations are a consequence of the distinct neuroinflammatory milieu caused by the neurotropic parasite.

(2018-09-07)
• #### Fate of the UPR marker protein Kar2/Bip and autophagic processes in fed-batch cultures of secretory insulin precursor producing Pichia pastoris.

(2018-08-09)
Secretory recombinant protein production with Pichia (syn. Komagataella) pastoris is commonly associated with the induction of an unfolded protein response (UPR) usually apparent through increased intracellular levels of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident chaperones such as Kar2/Bip. During methanol-induced secretory production of an insulin precursor (IP) under industrially relevant fed-batch conditions the initially high level of intracellular Kar2/Bip after batch growth on glycerol unexpectedly declined in the following methanol fed-batch phase misleadingly suggesting that IP production had a low impact on UPR activation. Analysis of the protein production independent level of Kar2/Bip revealed that high Kar2/Bip levels were reached in the exponential growth phase of glycerol batch cultures followed by a strong decline of Kar2/Bip during entry into stationary phase. Ultra-structural cell morphology studies revealed autophagic processes (e.g. ER phagy) at the end of the glycerol batch phase most likely responsible for the degradation of ER resident chaperones such as Kar2/Bip. The pre-induction level of Kar2/Bip did not affect the IP secretion efficiency in the subsequent methanol-induced IP production phase. During growth on methanol intracellular Kar2/Bip levels declined in IP producing and non-producing host cells. However, extracellular accumulation of Kar2/Bip was observed in IP-producing cultures but not in non-producing controls. Most importantly, the majority of the extracellular Kar2/Bip accumulated in the culture supernatant of IP producing cells as truncated protein (approx. 35 kDa). Rapid growth leads to higher basal levels of the major UPR marker protein Kar2/Bip independent of recombinant protein production. Entry into stationary phase or slower growth on poorer substrate, e.g. methanol, leads to a lower basal Kar2/Bip level. Methanol-induced secretory IP production elicits a strong UPR activation which counteracts the reduced UPR during slow growth on methanol. The major ER chaperone Kar2/Bip is found together with recombinant IP in the culture medium where full-length Kar2/Bip accumulates in addition to large amounts of truncated Kar2/Bip. Thus, for judging UPR activating properties of the produced protein it is important to additionally analyze the medium not only for intact Kar2/Bip but also for truncated versions of this UPR reporter protein.
• #### Crystal Structures of R-Type Bacteriocin Sheath and Tube Proteins CD1363 and CD1364 From in the Pre-assembled State.

(2018-01-01)
iffocins are high-molecular-weight phage tail-like bacteriocins (PTLBs) that some Clostridium difficile strains produce in response to SOS induction. Similar to the related R-type pyocins from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, R-type diffocins act as molecular puncture devices that specifically penetrate the cell envelope of other C. difficile strains to dissipate the membrane potential and kill the attacked bacterium. Thus, R-type diffocins constitute potential therapeutic agents to counter C. difficile-associated infections. PTLBs consist of rigid and contractile protein complexes. They are composed of a baseplate, receptor-binding tail fibers and an inner needle-like tube surrounded by a contractile sheath. In the mature particle, the sheath and tube structure form a complex network comprising up to 200 copies of a sheath and a tube protein each. Here, we report the crystal structures together with small angle X-ray scattering data of the sheath and tube proteins CD1363 (39 kDa) and CD1364 (16 kDa) from C. difficile strain CD630 in a monomeric pre-assembly form at 1.9 and 1.5 Å resolution, respectively. The tube protein CD1364 displays a compact fold and shares highest structural similarity with a tube protein from Bacillus subtilis but is remarkably different from that of the R-type pyocin from P. aeruginosa. The structure of the R-type diffocin sheath protein, on the other hand, is highly conserved. It contains two domains, whereas related members such as bacteriophage tail sheath proteins comprise up to four, indicating that R-type PTLBs may represent the minimal protein required for formation of a complete sheath structure. Comparison of CD1363 and CD1364 with structures of PTLBs and related assemblies suggests that several conformational changes are required to form complete assemblies. In the sheath, rearrangement of the flexible N- and C-terminus enables extensive interactions between the other subunits, whereas for the tube, such contacts are primarily established by mobile α-helices. Together, our results combined with information from structures of homologous assemblies allow constructing a preliminary model of the sheath and tube assembly from R-type diffocin.
• #### Chronic lung inflammation primes humoral immunity and augments antipneumococcal resistance.

(2017-07-10)
Airway epithelial cells (AECs) display remarkable plasticity in response to infectious stimuli and their functional adaptations are critical for antimicrobial immunity. However, the roles of AECs and humoral mediators to host defense in non-communicable lung inflammation remain elusive. We dissected pulmonary defense against Streptococcus pneumoniae in hosts with pre-existing inflammatory conditions (SPC-HAxTCR-HA mice). Lung tissue transcriptomics and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) proteomics revealed an induction of humoral defense mechanisms in inflamed lungs. Accordingly, besides antibacterial proteins and complement components being overrepresented in inflamed lungs, elevated polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR)-expression in AECs correlated with increased secretory immunoglobulin (SIg) transport. Consequently, opsonization assays revealed augmented pneumococcal coverage by SIgs present in the BALF of SPC-HAxTCR-HA mice, which was associated with enhanced antipneumococcal resistance. These findings emphasize the immunologic potential of AECs as well as their central role in providing antibacterial protection and put forward pIgR as potential target for therapeutic manipulation in infection-prone individuals.
• #### Recent developments in the isolation, biological function, biosynthesis, and synthesis of phenazine natural products.

(2017-11-15)
Phenazines are natural products which are produced by bacteria or by archaeal Methanosarcina species. The tricyclic ring system enables redox processes, which producing organisms use for oxidation of NADH or for the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), giving them advantages over other microorganisms. In this review we summarize the progress in the field since 2005 regarding the isolation of new phenazine natural products, new insights in their biological function, and particularly the now almost completely understood biosynthesis. The review is complemented by a description of new synthetic methods and total syntheses of phenazines.
• #### Single domain antibodies for the knockdown of cytosolic and nuclear proteins.

(2017-05-01)
Single domain antibodies (sdAbs) from camels or sharks comprise only the variable heavy chain domain. Human sdAbs comprise the variable domain of the heavy chain (VH) or light chain (VL) and can be selected from human antibodies. SdAbs are stable, nonaggregating molecules in vitro and in vivo compared to complete antibodies and scFv fragments. They are excellent novel inhibitors of cytosolic/nuclear proteins because they are correctly folded inside the cytosol in contrast to scFv fragments. SdAbs are unique because of their excellent specificity and possibility to target posttranslational modifications such as phosphorylation sites, conformers or interaction regions of proteins that cannot be targeted with genetic knockout techniques and are impossible to knockdown with RNAi. The number of inhibiting cytosolic/nuclear sdAbs is increasing and usage of synthetic single pot single domain antibody libraries will boost the generation of these fascinating molecules without the need of immunization. The most frequently selected antigenic epitopes belong to viral and oncogenic proteins, followed by toxins, proteins of the nervous system as well as plant- and drosophila proteins. It is now possible to select functional sdAbs against virtually every cytosolic/nuclear protein and desired epitope. The development of new endosomal escape protein domains and cell-penetrating peptides for efficient transfection broaden the application of inhibiting sdAbs. Last but not least, the generation of relatively new cell-specific nanoparticles such as polymersomes and polyplexes carrying cytosolic/nuclear sdAb-DNA or -protein will pave the way to apply cytosolic/nuclear sdAbs for inhibition of viral infection and cancer in the clinic.

• #### The zlog value as a basis for the standardization of laboratory results

(2017-01-26)
Abstract Background: With regard to the German E-Health Law of 2016, the German Society for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (DGKL) has been invited to develop a standard procedure for the storage and transmission of laboratory results. We suggest the commonly used z-transformation. Methods: This method evaluates by how many standard deviations (SDs) a given result deviates from the mean of the respective reference population. We confirm with real data that laboratory results of healthy individuals can be adjusted to a normal distribution by logarithmic transformation. Results: Thus, knowing the lower and upper reference limits LL and UL, one can transform any result x into a zlog value using the following equation: \eqalign{ {\rm{zlog}} = & {\rm{(log(x)}}-{\rm{(log(LL)}} + {\rm{log(UL))/2)\cdot3}}{\rm{.92/(log(UL)}} \cr -{\bf{ }}{\rm{log(LL))}} \cr} The result can easily be interpreted, as its reference interval (RI) is –1.96 to +1.96 by default, and very low or high results yield zlog values around –5 and +5, respectively. For intuitive data presentation, the zlog values may be transformed into a continuous color scale, e.g. from blue via white to orange. Using the inverse function, any zlog value can then be translated into the theoretical result of an analytical method with another RI: (1) $${\rm{x}} = {\rm{L}}{{\rm{L}}^{0.5 - {\rm{zlog}}/3.92}} \cdot {\rm{U}}{{\rm{L}}^{0.5 + {\rm{zlog}}/3.92}}$$ Conclusions: Our standardization proposal can easily be put into practice and may effectively contribute to data quality and patient safety in the frame of the German E-health law. We suggest for the future that laboratories should provide the zlog value in addition to the original result, and that the data transmission protocols (e.g. HL7, LDT) should contain a special field for this additional value.
• #### Mass-spectrometric profiling of cerebrospinal fluid reveals metabolite biomarkers for CNS involvement in varicella zoster virus reactivation.

(2018-01-17)
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) reactivation spans the spectrum from uncomplicated segmental herpes zoster to life-threatening disseminated CNS infection. Moreover, in the absence of a small animal model for this human pathogen, studies of pathogenesis at the organismal level depend on analysis of human biosamples. Changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) metabolites may reflect critical aspects of host responses and end-organ damage in neuroinfection and neuroinflammation. We therefore applied a targeted metabolomics screen of CSF to three clinically distinct forms of VZV reactivation and infectious and non-infectious disease controls in order to identify biomarkers for CNS involvement in VZV reactivation.
• #### The interferon-stimulated gene product oligoadenylate synthetase-like protein enhances replication of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and interacts with the KSHV ORF20 protein.

(2018-03)
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is one of the few oncogenic human viruses known to date. Its large genome encodes more than 85 proteins and includes both unique viral proteins as well as proteins conserved amongst herpesviruses. KSHV ORF20 is a member of the herpesviral core UL24 family, but the function of ORF20 and its role in the viral life cycle is not well understood. ORF20 encodes three largely uncharacterized isoforms, which we found were localized predominantly in the nuclei and nucleoli. Quantitative affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry (q-AP-MS) identified numerous specific interacting partners of ORF20, including ribosomal proteins and the interferon-stimulated gene product (ISG) oligoadenylate synthetase-like protein (OASL). Both endogenous and transiently transfected OASL co-immunoprecipitated with ORF20, and this interaction was conserved among all ORF20 isoforms and multiple ORF20 homologs of the UL24 family in other herpesviruses. Characterization of OASL interacting partners by q-AP-MS identified a very similar interactome to that of ORF20. Both ORF20 and OASL copurified with 40S and 60S ribosomal subunits, and when they were co-expressed, they associated with polysomes. Although ORF20 did not have a global effect on translation, ORF20 enhanced RIG-I induced expression of endogenous OASL in an IRF3-dependent but IFNAR-independent manner. OASL has been characterized as an ISG with antiviral activity against some viruses, but its role for gammaherpesviruses was unknown. We show that OASL and ORF20 mRNA expression were induced early after reactivation of latently infected HuARLT-rKSHV.219 cells. Intriguingly, we found that OASL enhanced infection of KSHV. During infection with a KSHV ORF20stop mutant, however, OASL-dependent enhancement of infectivity was lost. Our data have characterized the interaction of ORF20 with OASL and suggest ORF20 usurps the function of OASL to benefit KSHV infection.
• #### The invasin D protein fromYersinia pseudotuberculosisselectively binds the Fab region of host antibodies and affects colonization of the intestine.

(2018-03-13)
Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a Gram-negative bacterium and zoonotic pathogen responsible for a wide range of diseases, ranging from mild diarrhea, enterocolitis, lymphatic adenitis to persistent local inflammation. TheY. pseudotuberculosisinvasin D (InvD) molecule belongs to the invasin (InvA)-type autotransporter proteins, but its structure and function remain unknown. In this study, we present the first crystal structure of InvD, analyzed its expression and function in a murine infection model, and identified its target molecule in the host. We found that InvD is induced at 37°C and expressed in vivo2-4 days after infection, indicating that InvD is a virulence factor. During infection, InvD was expressed in all parts of the intestinal tract, but not in deeper lymphoid tissues. The crystal structure of the C-terminal adhesion domain of InvD revealed a distinct Ig-related fold, that, apart from the canonical β-sheets, comprises various modifications of and insertions into the Ig-core structure. We identified the Fab fragment of host-derived IgG/IgA antibodies as the target of the adhesion domain. Phage display panning and flow cytometry data further revealed that InvD exhibits a preferential binding specificity toward antibodies with VH3/VK1 variable domains and that it is specifically recruited to a subset of B cells. This finding suggests that InvD modulates Ig functions in the intestine and affects direct interactions with a subset of cell surface-exposed B-cell receptors. In summary, our results provide extensive insights into the structure of InvD and its specific interaction with the target molecule in the host.
• #### Biosynthesis of Violacein, Structure and Function of l-Tryptophan Oxidase VioA from Chromobacterium violaceum.

(2016)
Violacein is a natural purple pigment of Chromobacterium violaceum with potential medical applications as antimicrobial, antiviral, and anticancer drugs. The initial step of violacein biosynthesis is the oxidative conversion of l-tryptophan into the corresponding α-imine catalyzed by the flavoenzyme l-tryptophan oxidase (VioA). A substrate-related (3-(1H-indol-3-yl)-2-methylpropanoic acid) and a product-related (2-(1H-indol-3-ylmethyl)prop-2-enoic acid) competitive VioA inhibitor was synthesized for subsequent kinetic and x-ray crystallographic investigations. Structures of the binary VioA·FADH2 and of the ternary VioA·FADH2·2-(1H-indol-3-ylmethyl)prop-2-enoic acid complex were resolved. VioA forms a "loosely associated" homodimer as indicated by small-angle x-ray scattering experiments. VioA belongs to the glutathione reductase family 2 of FAD-dependent oxidoreductases according to the structurally conserved cofactor binding domain. The substrate-binding domain of VioA is mainly responsible for the specific recognition of l-tryptophan. Other canonical amino acids were efficiently discriminated with a minor conversion of l-phenylalanine. Furthermore, 7-aza-tryptophan, 1-methyl-tryptophan, 5-methyl-tryptophan, and 5-fluoro-tryptophan were efficient substrates of VioA. The ternary product-related VioA structure indicated involvement of protein domain movement during enzyme catalysis. Extensive structure-based mutagenesis in combination with enzyme kinetics (using l-tryptophan and substrate analogs) identified Arg(64), Lys(269), and Tyr(309) as key catalytic residues of VioA. An increased enzyme activity of protein variant H163A in the presence of l-phenylalanine indicated a functional role of His(163) in substrate binding. The combined structural and mutational analyses lead to the detailed understanding of VioA substrate recognition. Related strategies for the in vivo synthesis of novel violacein derivatives are discussed.
• #### Structure of the Dispase Autolysis-inducing Protein from Streptomyces mobaraensis and Glutamine Cross-linking Sites for Transglutaminase.

(2016)
Transglutaminase from Streptomyces mobaraensis (MTG) is an important enzyme for cross-linking and modifying proteins. An intrinsic substrate of MTG is the dispase autolysis-inducing protein (DAIP). The amino acid sequence of DAIP contains 5 potential glutamines and 10 lysines for MTG-mediated cross-linking. The aim of the study was to determine the structure and glutamine cross-linking sites of the first physiological MTG substrate. A production procedure was established in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3) to obtain high yields of recombinant DAIP. DAIP variants were prepared by replacing four of five glutamines for asparagines in various combinations via site-directed mutagenesis. Incorporation of biotin cadaverine revealed a preference of MTG for the DAIP glutamines in the order of Gln-39 ≫ Gln-298 > Gln-345 ∼ Gln-65 ≫ Gln-144. In the structure of DAIP the preferred glutamines do cluster at the top of the seven-bladed β-propeller. This suggests a targeted cross-linking of DAIP by MTG that may occur after self-assembly in the bacterial cell wall. Based on our biochemical and structural data of the first physiological MTG substrate, we further provide novel insight into determinants of MTG-mediated modification, specificity, and efficiency.
• #### Human antibody responses against non-covalently cell wall-bound Staphylococcus aureus proteins.

(2018-02-19)
Human antibody responses to pathogens, like Staphylococcus aureus, are important indicators for in vivo expression and immunogenicity of particular bacterial components. Accordingly, comparing the antibody responses to S. aureus components may serve to predict their potential applicability as antigens for vaccination. The present study was aimed at assessing immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses elicited by non-covalently cell surface-bound proteins of S. aureus, which thus far received relatively little attention. To this end, we applied plasma samples from patients with the genetic blistering disease epidermolysis bullosa (EB) and healthy S. aureus carriers. Of note, wounds of EB patients are highly colonized with S. aureus and accordingly these patients are more seriously exposed to staphylococcal antigens than healthy individuals. Ten non-covalently cell surface-bound proteins of S. aureus, namely Atl, Eap, Efb, EMP, IsaA, LukG, LukH, SA0710, Sle1 and SsaA2, were selected by bioinformatics and biochemical approaches. These antigens were recombinantly expressed, purified and tested for specific IgG responses using human plasma. We show that high exposure of EB patients to S. aureus is mirrored by elevated IgG levels against all tested non-covalently cell wall-bound staphylococcal antigens. This implies that these S. aureus cell surface proteins are prime targets for the human immune system.
• #### Sweep Dynamics (SD) plots: Computational identification of selective sweeps to monitor the adaptation of influenza A viruses.

(2018-01-10)
Monitoring changes in influenza A virus genomes is crucial to understand its rapid evolution and adaptation to changing conditions e.g. establishment within novel host species. Selective sweeps represent a rapid mode of adaptation and are typically observed in human influenza A viruses. We describe Sweep Dynamics (SD) plots, a computational method combining phylogenetic algorithms with statistical techniques to characterize the molecular adaptation of rapidly evolving viruses from longitudinal sequence data. SD plots facilitate the identification of selective sweeps, the time periods in which these occurred and associated changes providing a selective advantage to the virus. We studied the past genome-wide adaptation of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza A (pH1N1) and seasonal H3N2 influenza A (sH3N2) viruses. The pH1N1 influenza virus showed simultaneous amino acid changes in various proteins, particularly in seasons of high pH1N1 activity. Partially, these changes resulted in functional alterations facilitating sustained human-to-human transmission. In the evolution of sH3N2 influenza viruses, we detected changes characterizing vaccine strains, which were occasionally revealed in selective sweeps one season prior to the WHO recommendation. Taken together, SD plots allow monitoring and characterizing the adaptive evolution of influenza A viruses by identifying selective sweeps and their associated signatures. - - all data is published on GitHub: https://github.com/hzi-bifo/SDplots/tree/v1.0.0
• #### Discovery of LRE1 as a specific and allosteric inhibitor of soluble adenylyl cyclase.

(2016)
The prototypical second messenger cAMP regulates a wide variety of physiological processes. It can simultaneously mediate diverse functions by acting locally in independently regulated microdomains. In mammalian cells, two types of adenylyl cyclase generate cAMP: G-protein-regulated transmembrane adenylyl cyclases and bicarbonate-, calcium- and ATP-regulated soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC). Because each type of cyclase regulates distinct microdomains, methods to distinguish between them are needed to understand cAMP signaling. We developed a mass-spectrometry-based adenylyl cyclase assay, which we used to identify a new sAC-specific inhibitor, LRE1. LRE1 bound to the bicarbonate activator binding site and inhibited sAC via a unique allosteric mechanism. LRE1 prevented sAC-dependent processes in cellular and physiological systems, and it will facilitate exploration of the therapeutic potential of sAC inhibition.
• #### Staphylococcal serine protease-like proteins are pacemakers of allergic airway reactions to Staphylococcus aureus.

(2017-02)
A substantial subgroup of asthmatic patients have "nonallergic" or idiopathic asthma, which often takes a severe course and is difficult to treat. The cause might be allergic reactions to the gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, a frequent colonizer of the upper airways. However, the driving allergens of S aureus have remained elusive.