head of the department: Prof. Müller

Recent Submissions

  • Self-resistance guided genome mining uncovers new topoisomerase inhibitors from myxobacteria.

    Panter, Fabian; Krug, Daniel; Baumann, Sascha; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institute für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-06-07)
    There is astounding discrepancy between the genome-inscribed production capacity and the set of known secondary metabolite classes from many microorganisms as detected under laboratory cultivation conditions. Genome-mining techniques are meant to fill this gap, but in order to favor discovery of structurally novel as well as bioactive compounds it is crucial to amend genomics-based strategies with selective filtering principles. In this study, we followed a self-resistance guided approach aiming at the discovery of inhibitors of topoisomerase, known as valid target in both cancer and antibiotic therapy. A common host self-defense mechanism against such inhibitors in bacteria is mediated by so-called pentapeptide repeat proteins (PRP). Genes encoding the biosynthetic machinery for production of an alleged topoisomerase inhibitor were found on the basis of their collocation adjacent to a predicted PRP in the genome of the myxobacterium
  • A fluorescence anisotropy assay to discover and characterize ligands targeting the maytansine site of tubulin.

    Menchon, Grégory; Prota, Andrea E; Lucena-Agell, Daniel; Bucher, Pascal; Jansen, Rolf; Irschik, Herbert; Müller, Rolf; Paterson, Ian; Díaz, J Fernando; Altmann, Karl-Heinz; Steinmetz, Michel O; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-05-29)
    Microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) like taxol and vinblastine are among the most successful chemotherapeutic drugs against cancer. Here, we describe a fluorescence anisotropy-based assay that specifically probes for ligands targeting the recently discovered maytansine site of tubulin. Using this assay, we have determined the dissociation constants of known maytansine site ligands, including the pharmacologically active degradation product of the clinical antibody-drug conjugate trastuzumab emtansine. In addition, we discovered that the two natural products spongistatin-1 and disorazole Z with established cellular potency bind to the maytansine site on β-tubulin. The high-resolution crystal structures of spongistatin-1 and disorazole Z in complex with tubulin allowed the definition of an additional sub-site adjacent to the pocket shared by all maytansine-site ligands, which could be exploitable as a distinct, separate target site for small molecules. Our study provides a basis for the discovery and development of next-generation MTAs for the treatment of cancer.
  • Discovery of recombinases enables genome mining of cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters in Burkholderiales species.

    Wang, Xue; Zhou, Haibo; Chen, Hanna; Jing, Xiaoshu; Zheng, Wentao; Li, Ruijuan; Sun, Tao; Liu, Jiaqi; Fu, Jun; Huo, Liujie; Li, Yue-Zhong; Shen, Yuemao; Ding, Xiaoming; Müller, Rolf; Bian, Xiaoying; Zhang, Youming; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institute für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-05-01)
    Bacterial genomes encode numerous cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) that represent a largely untapped source of drugs or pesticides. Mining of the cryptic products is limited by the unavailability of streamlined genetic tools in native producers. Precise genome engineering using bacteriophage recombinases is particularly useful for genome mining. However, recombinases are usually host-specific. The genome-guided discovery of novel recombinases and their transient expression could boost cryptic BGC mining. Herein, we reported a genetic system employing Red recombinases from Burkholderiales strain DSM 7029 for efficient genome engineering in several Burkholderiales species that currently lack effective genetic tools. Using specialized recombinases-assisted in situ insertion of functional promoters, we successfully mined five cryptic nonribosomal peptide synthetase/polyketide synthase BGCs, two of which were silent. Two classes of lipopeptides, glidopeptins and rhizomides, were identified through extensive spectroscopic characterization. This recombinase expression strategy offers utility within other bacteria species, allowing bioprospecting for potentially scalable discovery of novel metabolites with attractive bioactivities.
  • Acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 regulates endothelial cell migration by shifting the phospholipid composition.

    Glatzel, Daniel K; Koeberle, Andreas; Pein, Helmut; Löser, Konstantin; Stark, Anna; Keksel, Nelli; Werz, Oliver; Müller, Rolf; Bischoff, Iris; Fürst, Robert; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institute für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-02)
    The enzyme acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) plays a crucial role in fatty acid metabolism. In recent years, ACC has been recognized as a promising drug target for treating different diseases. However, the role of ACC in vascular endothelial cells (ECs) has been neglected so far. To characterize the role of ACC, we used the ACC inhibitor, soraphen A, as a chemical tool, and also a gene silencing approach. We found that ACC1 was the predominant isoform in human umbilical vein ECs as well as in human microvascular ECs and that soraphen A reduced the levels of malonyl-CoA. We revealed that ACC inhibition shifted the lipid composition of EC membranes. Accordingly, membrane fluidity, filopodia formation, and migratory capacity were reduced. The antimigratory action of soraphen A depended on an increase in the cellular proportion of PUFAs and, most importantly, on a decreased level of phosphatidylglycerol. Our study provides a causal link between ACC, membrane lipid composition, and cell migration in ECs. Soraphen A represents a useful chemical tool to investigate the role of fatty acid metabolism in ECs and ACC inhibition offers a new and valuable therapeutic perspective for the treatment of EC migration-related diseases.
  • Correlating chemical diversity with taxonomic distance for discovery of natural products in myxobacteria.

    Hoffmann, Thomas; Krug, Daniel; Bozkurt, Nisa; Duddela, Srikanth; Jansen, Rolf; Garcia, Ronald; Gerth, Klaus; Steinmetz, Heinrich; Müller, Rolf; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus 8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-02-23)
    Some bacterial clades are important sources of novel bioactive natural products. Estimating the magnitude of chemical diversity available from such a resource is complicated by issues including cultivability, isolation bias and limited analytical data sets. Here we perform a systematic metabolite survey of ~2300 bacterial strains of the order Myxococcales, a well-established source of natural products, using mass spectrometry. Our analysis encompasses both known and previously unidentified metabolites detected under laboratory cultivation conditions, thereby enabling large-scale comparison of production profiles in relation to myxobacterial taxonomy. We find a correlation between taxonomic distance and the production of distinct secondary metabolite families, further supporting the idea that the chances of discovering novel metabolites are greater by examining strains from new genera rather than additional representatives within the same genus. In addition, we report the discovery and structure elucidation of rowithocin, a myxobacterial secondary metabolite featuring an uncommon phosphorylated polyketide scaffold.
  • Draft Genome Sequence and Annotation of the Obligate Bacterial Endosymbiont Caedibacter taeniospiralis, Causative Agent of the Killer Phenotype in Paramecium tetraurelia.

    Zaburannyi, Nestor; Grosser, Katrin; Gasparoni, Gilles; Müller, Rolf; Schrallhammer, Martina; Simon, Martin; Helmholtz Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2018-01-18)
    Caedibacter taeniospiralis is an obligate endosymbiont living in the cytoplasm of Paramecium tetraureliaC. taeniospiralis causes the so-called killer trait, eliminating intraspecific competitors of its host when released into the medium by the concerted action of the unusual protein structure R-body (refractile body) in addition to an as-yet-unknown toxin.
  • ExoCET: exonuclease in vitro assembly combined with RecET recombination for highly efficient direct DNA cloning from complex genomes.

    Wang, Hailong; Li, Zhen; Jia, Ruonan; Yin, Jia; Li, Aiying; Xia, Liqiu; Yin, Yulong; Müller, Rolf; Fu, Jun; Stewart, A Francis; Zhang, Youming; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-12-12)
    The exponentially increasing volumes of DNA sequence data highlight the need for new DNA cloning methods to explore the new information. Here, we describe 'ExoCET' (Exonuclease Combined with RecET recombination) to directly clone any chosen region from bacterial and mammalian genomes with nucleotide precision into operational plasmids. ExoCET combines in vitro exonuclease and annealing with the remarkable capacity of full length RecET homologous recombination (HR) to retrieve specified regions from genomic DNA preparations. Using T4 polymerase (T4pol) as the in vitro exonuclease for ExoCET, we directly cloned large regions (>50 kb) from bacterial and mammalian genomes, including DNA isolated from blood. Employing RecET HR or Cas9 cleavage in vitro, the directly cloned region can be chosen with nucleotide precision to position, for example, a gene into an expression vector without the need for further subcloning. In addition to its utility for bioprospecting in bacterial genomes, ExoCET presents straightforward access to mammalian genomes for various applications such as region-specific DNA sequencing that retains haplotype phasing, the rapid construction of optimal, haplotypic, isogenic targeting constructs or a new way to genotype that presents advantages over Southern blotting or polymerase chain reaction. The direct cloning capacities of ExoCET present new freedoms in recombinant DNA technology.
  • Inactivation of SACE_3446, a TetR family transcriptional regulator, stimulates erythromycin production in Saccharopolyspora erythraea.

    Wu, Hang; Wang, Yansheng; Yuan, Li; Mao, Yongrong; Wang, Weiwei; Zhu, Lin; Wu, Panpan; Fu, Chengzhang; Müller, Rolf; Weaver, David T; Zhang, Lixin; Zhang, Buchang; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1,66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2016-03)
    Erythromycin A is a widely used antibiotic produced by Saccharopolyspora erythraea; however, its biosynthetic cluster lacks a regulatory gene, limiting the yield enhancement via regulation engineering of S. erythraea. Herein, six TetR family transcriptional regulators (TFRs) belonging to three genomic context types were individually inactivated in S. erythraea A226, and one of them, SACE_3446, was proved to play a negative role in regulating erythromycin biosynthesis. EMSA and qRT-PCR analysis revealed that SACE_3446 covering intact N-terminal DNA binding domain specifically bound to the promoter regions of erythromycin biosynthetic gene eryAI, the resistant gene ermE and the adjacent gene SACE_3447 (encoding a long-chain fatty-acid CoA ligase), and repressed their transcription. Furthermore, we explored the interaction relationships of SACE_3446 and previously identified TFRs (SACE_3986 and SACE_7301) associated with erythromycin production. Given demonstrated relatively independent regulation mode of SACE_3446 and SACE_3986 in erythromycin biosynthesis, we individually and concomitantly inactivated them in an industrial S. erythraea WB. Compared with WB, the WBΔ3446 and WBΔ3446Δ3986 mutants respectively displayed 36% and 65% yield enhancement of erythromycin A, following significantly elevated transcription of eryAI and ermE. When cultured in a 5 L fermentor, erythromycin A of WBΔ3446 and WBΔ3446Δ3986 successively reached 4095 mg/L and 4670 mg/L with 23% and 41% production improvement relative to WB. The strategy reported here will be useful to improve antibiotics production in other industrial actinomycete.
  • First Bispecific Inhibitors of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Kinase and the NF-κB Activity As Novel Anticancer Agents.

    Hamed, Mostafa M; Darwish, Sarah S; Herrmann, Jennifer; Abadi, Ashraf H; Engel, Matthias; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1,66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-04-13)
    The activation of the NF-κB transcription factor is a major adaptive response induced upon treatment with EGFR kinase inhibitors, leading to the emergence of resistance in nonsmall cell lung cancer and other tumor types. To suppress this survival mechanism, we developed new thiourea quinazoline derivatives that are dual inhibitors of both EGFR kinase and the NF-κB activity. Optimization of the hit compound, identified in a NF-κB reporter gene assay, led to compound 9b, exhibiting a cellular IC50 for NF-κB inhibition of 0.3 μM while retaining a potent EGFR kinase inhibition (IC50 = 60 nM). The dual inhibitors showed a higher potency than gefitinib to inhibit cell growth of EGFR-overexpressing tumor cell lines in vitro and in a xenograft model in vivo, while no signs of toxicity were observed. An investigation of the molecular mechanism of NF-κB suppression revealed that the dual inhibitors depleted the transcriptional coactivator CREB-binding protein from the NF-κB complex in the nucleus.
  • Sonogashira diversification of unprotected halotryptophans, halotryptophan containing tripeptides; and generation of a new to nature bromo-natural product and its diversification in water.

    Corr, M J; Sharma, S V; Pubill-Ulldemolins, C; Bown, R T; Poirot, P; Smith, D R M; Cartmell, C; Abou Fayad, A; Goss, R J M; Hel,holtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-03-01)
    The blending together of synthetic chemistry with natural product biosynthesis represents a potentially powerful approach to synthesis; to enable this, further synthetic tools and methodologies are needed. To this end, we have explored the first Sonogashira cross-coupling to halotryptophans in water. Broad reaction scope is demonstrated and we have explored the limits of the scope of the reaction. We have demonstrated this methodology to work excellently in the modification of model tripeptides. Furthermore, through precursor directed biosynthesis, we have generated for the first time a new to nature brominated natural product bromo-cystargamide, and demonstrated the applicability of our reaction conditions to modify this novel metabolite.
  • Covalent Lectin Inhibition and Application in Bacterial Biofilm Imaging.

    Wagner, Stefanie; Hauck, Dirk; Hoffmann, Michael; Sommer, Roman; Joachim, Ines; Müller, Rolf; Imberty, Anne; Varrot, Annabelle; Titz, Alexander; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forchung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-09-28)
    Biofilm formation by pathogenic bacteria is a hallmark of chronic infections. In many cases, lectins play key roles in establishing biofilms. The pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa often exhibiting various drug resistances employs its lectins LecA and LecB as virulence factors and biofilm building blocks. Therefore, inhibition of the function of these proteins is thought to have potential in developing "pathoblockers" preventing biofilm formation and virulence. A covalent lectin inhibitor specific to a carbohydrate binding site is described for the first time. Its application in the LecA-specific in vitro imaging of biofilms formed by P. aeruginosa is also reported.
  • The natural product carolacton inhibits folate-dependent C1 metabolism by targeting FolD/MTHFD.

    Fu, Chengzhang; Sikandar, Asfandyar; Donner, Jannik; Zaburannyi, Nestor; Herrmann, Jennifer; Reck, Michael; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Koehnke, Jesko; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11-16)
    The natural product carolacton is a macrolide keto-carboxylic acid produced by the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum, and was originally described as an antibacterial compound. Here we show that carolacton targets FolD, a key enzyme from the folate-dependent C1 metabolism. We characterize the interaction between bacterial FolD and carolacton biophysically, structurally and biochemically. Carolacton binds FolD with nanomolar affinity, and the crystal structure of the FolD-carolacton complex reveals the mode of binding. We show that the human FolD orthologs, MTHFD1 and MTHFD2, are also inhibited in the low nM range, and that micromolar concentrations of carolacton inhibit the growth of cancer cell lines. As mitochondrial MTHFD2 is known to be upregulated in cancer cells, it may be possible to use carolacton as an inhibitor tool compound to assess MTHFD2 as an anti-cancer target.
  • Biosynthesis of methyl-proline containing griselimycins, natural products with anti-tuberculosis activity.

    Lukat, Peer; Katsuyama, Yohei; Wenzel, Silke; Binz, Tina; König, Claudia; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Brönstrup, Mark; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-11-01)
    Griselimycins (GMs) are depsidecapeptides with superb anti-tuberculosis activity. They contain up to three (2S,4R)-4-methyl-prolines (4-MePro), of which one blocks oxidative degradation and increases metabolic stability in animal models. The natural congener with this substitution is only a minor component in fermentation cultures. We showed that this product can be significantly increased by feeding the reaction with 4-MePro and we investigated the molecular basis of 4-MePro biosynthesis and incorporation. We identified the GM biosynthetic gene cluster as encoding a nonribosomal peptide synthetase and a sub-operon for 4-MePro formation. Using heterologous expression, gene inactivation, and in vitro experiments, we showed that 4-MePro is generated by leucine hydroxylation, oxidation to an aldehyde, and ring closure with subsequent reduction. The crystal structures of the leucine hydroxylase GriE have been determined in complex with substrates and products, providing insight into the stereospecificity of the reaction.
  • The Biofilm Inhibitor Carolacton Enters Gram-Negative Cells: Studies Using a TolC-Deficient Strain of Escherichia coli.

    Donner, Jannik; Reck, Michael; Bunk, Boyke; Jarek, Michael; App, Constantin Benjamin; Meier-Kolthoff, Jan P; Overmann, Jörg; Müller, Rolf; Kirschning, Andreas; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr, 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-11-01)
    The myxobacterial secondary metabolite carolacton inhibits growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae and kills biofilm cells of the caries- and endocarditis-associated pathogen Streptococcus mutans at nanomolar concentrations. Here, we studied the response to carolacton of an Escherichia coli strain that lacked the outer membrane protein TolC. Whole-genome sequencing of the laboratory E. coli strain TolC revealed the integration of an insertion element, IS5, at the tolC locus and a close phylogenetic relationship to the ancient E. coli K-12. We demonstrated via transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) and determination of MIC values that carolacton penetrates the phospholipid bilayer of the Gram-negative cell envelope and inhibits growth of E. coli TolC at similar concentrations as for streptococci. This inhibition is completely lost for a C-9 (R) epimer of carolacton, a derivative with an inverted stereocenter at carbon atom 9 [(S) → (R)] as the sole difference from the native molecule, which is also inactive in S. pneumoniae and S. mutans, suggesting a specific interaction of native carolacton with a conserved cellular target present in bacterial phyla as distantly related as Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. The efflux pump inhibitor (EPI) phenylalanine arginine β-naphthylamide (PAβN), which specifically inhibits AcrAB-TolC, renders E. coli susceptible to carolacton. Our data indicate that carolacton has potential for use in antimicrobial chemotherapy against Gram-negative bacteria, as a single drug or in combination with EPIs. Strain E. coli TolC has been deposited at the DSMZ; together with the associated RNA-seq data and MIC values, it can be used as a reference during future screenings for novel bioactive compounds. IMPORTANCE The emergence of pathogens resistant against most or all of the antibiotics currently used in human therapy is a global threat, and therefore the search for antimicrobials with novel targets and modes of action is of utmost importance. The myxobacterial secondary metabolite carolacton had previously been shown to inhibit biofilm formation and growth of streptococci. Here, we investigated if carolacton could act against Gram-negative bacteria, which are difficult targets because of their double-layered cytoplasmic envelope. We found that the model organism Escherichia coli is susceptible to carolacton, similar to the Gram-positive Streptococcus pneumoniae, if its multidrug efflux system AcrAB-TolC is either inactivated genetically, by disruption of the tolC gene, or physiologically by coadministering an efflux pump inhibitor. A carolacton epimer that has a different steric configuration at carbon atom 9 is completely inactive, suggesting that carolacton may interact with the same molecular target in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
  • Linoleic and palmitoleic acid block streptokinase-mediated plasminogen activation and reduce severity of invasive group A streptococcal infection

    Rox, Katharina; Jansen, Rolf; Loof, Torsten G.; Gillen, Christine M.; Bernecker, Steffen; Walker, Mark J.; Chhatwal, Gursharan Singh; Müller, Rolf; Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland,Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-09-18)
    In contrast to mild infections of Group A Streptococcus (GAS) invasive infections of GAS still pose a serious health hazard: GAS disseminates from sterile sites into the blood stream or deep tissues and causes sepsis or necrotizing fasciitis. In this case antibiotics do not provide an effective cure as the bacteria are capable to hide from them very quickly. Therefore, new remedies are urgently needed. Starting from a myxobacterial natural products screening campaign, we identified two fatty acids isolated from myxobacteria, linoleic and palmitoleic acid, specifically blocking streptokinase-mediated activation of plasminogen and thereby preventing streptococci from hijacking the host’s plasminogen/plasmin system. This activity is not inherited by other fatty acids such as oleic acid and is not attributable to the killing of streptococci. Moreover, both fatty acids are superior in their inhibitory properties compared to two clinically used drugs (tranexamic or ε-amino caproic acid) as they show 500–1000 fold lower IC50 values. Using a humanized plasminogen mouse model mimicking the clinical situation of a local GAS infection that becomes systemic, we demonstrate that these fatty acids ameliorate invasive GAS infection significantly. Consequently, linoleic and palmitoleic acid are possible new options to combat GAS invasive diseases.
  • Optimization of the biotechnological production of a novel class of anti-MRSA antibiotics from Chitinophaga sancti.

    Beckmann, Amelie; Hüttel, Stephan; Schmitt, Viktoria; Müller, Rolf; Stadler, Marc; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-17)
    Recently, the discovery of the elansolids, a group of macrolides, was reported. The molecules show activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as well as other gram-positive organisms. This fact renders those substances a promising starting point for future chemical development. The active atropisomers A1/A2 are formed by macrolactonization of the biosynthesis product A3 but are prone to ring opening and subsequent formation of several unwanted side products. Recently it could be shown that addition of different nucleophiles to culture extracts of Chitinophaga sancti enable the formation of new stable elansolid derivatives. Furthermore, addition of such a nucleophile directly into the culture led exclusively to formation of a single active elansolid derivative. Due to low product yields, methods for production of gram amounts of these molecules have to be established to enable further development of this promising compound class.
  • V-ATPase inhibition increases cancer cell stiffness and blocks membrane related Ras signaling - a new option for HCC therapy.

    Bartel, Karin; Winzi, Maria; Ulrich, Melanie; Koeberle, Andreas; Menche, Dirk; Werz, Oliver; Müller, Rolf; Guck, Jochen; Vollmar, Angelika M; von Schwarzenberg, Karin; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-02-07)
    Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most frequent cancer worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer-related death. However, therapy options are limited leaving an urgent need to develop new strategies. Currently, targeting cancer cell lipid and cholesterol metabolism is gaining interest especially regarding HCC. High cholesterol levels support proliferation, membrane-related mitogenic signaling and increase cell softness, leading to tumor progression, malignancy and invasive potential. However, effective ways to target cholesterol metabolism for cancer therapy are still missing. The V-ATPase inhibitor archazolid was recently shown to interfere with cholesterol metabolism. In our study, we report a novel therapeutic potential of V-ATPase inhibition in HCC by altering the mechanical phenotype of cancer cells leading to reduced proliferative signaling. Archazolid causes cellular depletion of free cholesterol leading to an increase in cell stiffness and membrane polarity of cancer cells, while hepatocytes remain unaffected. The altered membrane composition decreases membrane fluidity and leads to an inhibition of membrane-related Ras signaling resulting decreased proliferation in vitro and in vivo. V-ATPase inhibition represents a novel link between cell biophysical properties and proliferative signaling selectively in malignant HCC cells, providing the basis for an attractive and innovative strategy against HCC.
  • Biosynthesis of Oxytetracycline by Streptomyces rimosus:
Past, Present and Future Directions in the Development
of Tetracycline Antibiotics.

    Petković, Hrvoje; Lukežič, Tadeja; Šušković, Jagoda; Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-03)
    Natural tetracycline (TC) antibiotics were the first major class of therapeutics to earn the distinction of 'broad-spectrum antibiotics' and they have been used since the 1940s against a wide range of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, mycoplasmas, intracellular chlamydiae, rickettsiae and protozoan parasites. The second generation of semisynthetic tetracyclines, such as minocycline and doxycycline, with improved antimicrobial potency, were introduced during the 1960s. Despite emerging resistance to TCs erupting during the 1980s, it was not until 2006, more than four decades later, that a third--generation TC, named tigecycline, was launched. In addition, two TC analogues, omadacycline and eravacycline, developed via (semi)synthetic and fully synthetic routes, respectively, are at present under clinical evaluation. Interestingly, despite very productive early work on the isolation of a Streptomyces aureofaciens mutant strain that produced 6-demethyl-7-chlortetracycline, the key intermediate in the production of second- and third-generation TCs, biosynthetic approaches in TC development have not been productive for more than 50 years. Relatively slow and tedious molecular biology approaches for the genetic manipulation of TC-producing actinobacteria, as well as an insufficient understanding of the enzymatic mechanisms involved in TC biosynthesis have significantly contributed to the low success of such biosynthetic engineering efforts. However, new opportunities in TC drug development have arisen thanks to a significant progress in the development of affordable and versatile biosynthetic engineering and synthetic biology approaches, and, importantly, to a much deeper understanding of TC biosynthesis, mostly gained over the last two decades.
  • Modulation of actin dynamics as potential macrophage subtype-targeting anti-tumour strategy.

    Pergola, Carlo; Schubert, Katrin; Pace, Simona; Ziereisen, Jana; Nikels, Felix; Scherer, Olga; Hüttel, Stephan; Zahler, Stefan; Vollmar, Angelika M; Weinigel, Christina; Rummler, Silke; Müller, Rolf; Raasch, Martin; Mosig, Alexander; Koeberle, Andreas; Werz, Oliver; Helmholtz Institut für pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (2017-01-30)
    Tumour-associated macrophages mainly comprise immunosuppressive M2 phenotypes that promote tumour progression besides anti-tumoural M1 subsets. Selective depletion or reprogramming of M2 may represent an innovative anti-cancer strategy. The actin cytoskeleton is central for cellular homeostasis and is targeted for anti-cancer chemotherapy. Here, we show that targeting G-actin nucleation using chondramide A (ChA) predominantly depletes human M2 while promoting the tumour-suppressive M1 phenotype. ChA reduced the viability of M2, with minor effects on M1, but increased tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α release from M1. Interestingly, ChA caused rapid disruption of dynamic F-actin filaments and polymerization of G-actin, followed by reduction of cell size, binucleation and cell division, without cellular collapse. In M1, but not in M2, ChA caused marked activation of SAPK/JNK and NFκB, with slight or no effects on Akt, STAT-1/-3, ERK-1/2, and p38 MAPK, seemingly accounting for the better survival of M1 and TNFα secretion. In a microfluidically-supported human tumour biochip model, circulating ChA-treated M1 markedly reduced tumour cell viability through enhanced release of TNFα. Together, ChA may cause an anti-tumoural microenvironment by depletion of M2 and activation of M1, suggesting induction of G-actin nucleation as potential strategy to target tumour-associated macrophages in addition to neoplastic cells.
  • Crystal Structure of the HMG-CoA Synthase MvaS from the Gram-Negative Bacterium Myxococcus xanthus.

    Bock, Tobias; Kasten, Janin; Müller, Rolf; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-07-01)
    A critical step in bacterial isoprenoid production is the synthesis of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) catalyzed by HMG-CoA synthase (HMGCS). In myxobacteria, this enzyme is also involved in a recently discovered alternative and acetyl-CoA-dependent isovaleryl CoA biosynthesis pathway. Here we present crystal structures of MvaS, the HMGCS from Myxococcus xanthus, in complex with CoA and acetylated active site Cys115, with the second substrate acetoacetyl CoA and with the product of the condensation reaction, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA. With these structures, we show that MvaS uses the common HMGCS enzymatic mechanism and provide evidence that dimerization plays a role in the formation and stability of the active site. Overall, MvaS shows features typical of the eukaryotic HMGCS and exhibits differences from homologues from Gram-positive bacteria. This study provides insights into myxobacterial alternative isovaleryl CoA biosynthesis and thereby extends the toolbox for the biotechnological production of renewable fuel and chemicals.

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