group leder: Dr. Abraham

Recent Submissions

  • Bioactive Compounds Produced by Hypoxylon fragiforme against Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms.

    Yuyama, Kamila Tomoko; Chepkirui, Clara; Wendt, Lucile; Fortkamp, Diana; Stadler, Marc; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-12-12)
    Treating infections organized in biofilms is a challenge due to the resistance of the pathogens against antibiotics and host immune cells. Many fungi grow in a wet environment, favorable for the growth of bacterial biofilms, and we speculated that fungi possess some strategies to control these bacterial biofilms. A fungus identified as Hypoxylon fragiforme, was collected in the Harz Mountains, Germany, and its mycelial culture was fermented in different culture media for 67 days to test its biological potential against bacterial biofilms. Sclerin, sclerin diacid and its 3-methyl monoester (methyl 1-(5-hydroxy-6-carboxylic-2,3,4-trimethylphenyl) propionate) are here described for the first time from this fungus. Sclerin and its diacid interfered with the biofilm formation of the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, inhibiting 86% and 80% of the biofilm at 256 μg mL-1, respectively, but not killing the bacterium. Interestingly, the monomethylester of sclerin diacid was inactive. Although these compounds did not possess any activity against a pre-formed biofilm, they prevented its formation at subtoxic concentrations. Furthermore, sclerin and its diacid displayed a high specificity against Staphylococcus aureus, indicating a good strategy against pathogenic biofilms when combined with antibiotics.
  • Fumitremorgins and Relatives - from Tremorgenic Compounds to Valuable Anti-Cancer Drugs.

    Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Hemholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-07-24)
    Fumitremorgins are mycotoxins but can also inhibit cancer cells and reverse their drug resistance.
  • Arvoredol?An unusual chlorinated and biofilm inhibiting polyketide from a marine Penicillium sp. of the Brazilian coast

    Scopel, Marina; Mothes, Beatriz; Lerner, Clea B.; Henriques, Am?lia T.; Macedo, Alexandre J.; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7., 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06)
  • Combining Biofilm-Controlling Compounds and Antibiotics as a Promising New Way to Control Biofilm Infections.

    Estrela, Andréia Bergamo; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-05-11)
    Many bacteria grow on surfaces forming biofilms. In this structure, they are well protected and often high dosages of antibiotics cannot clear infectious biofilms. The formation and stabilization of biofilms are mediated by diffusible autoinducers (e.g. N-acyl homoserine lactones, small peptides, furanosyl borate diester). Metabolites interfering with this process have been identified in plants, animals and microbes, and synthetic analogues are known. Additionally, this seems to be not the only way to control biofilms. Enzymes capable of cleaving essential components of the biofilm matrix, e.g. polysaccharides or extracellular DNA, and thus weakening the biofilm architecture have been identified. Bacteria also have mechanisms to dissolve their biofilms and return to planktonic lifestyle. Only a few compounds responsible for the signalling of these processes are known, but they may open a completely novel line of biofilm control. All these approaches lead to the destruction of the biofilm but not the killing of the pathogens. Therefore, a combination of biofilm-destroying compounds and antibiotics to handle biofilm infections is proposed. In this article, different approaches to combine biofilm-controlling compounds and antibiotics to fight biofilm infections are discussed, as well as the balance between biofilm formation and virulence.
  • Fungal Metabolites for the Control of Biofilm Infections

    Estrela, Andréia; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-08-12)
  • Coprinuslactone protects the edible mushroom Coprinus comatus against biofilm infections by blocking both quorum-sensing and MurA.

    de Carvalho, Maira P; Gulotta, Giuseppe; do Amaral, Matheus W; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Sasse, Florenz; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-10-03)
    Pathogens embedded in biofilms are involved in many infections and are very difficult to treat with antibiotics because of higher resistance compared to planktonic cells. Therefore, new approaches for their control are urgently needed. One way to search for biofilm dispersing compounds is to look at defense strategies of organisms exposed to wet environments, which makes them prone to biofilm infections. It is reasonable to assume that mushrooms have developed mechanisms to control biofilms on their sporocarps (fruiting bodies). A preliminary screening for biofilms on sporocarps revealed several species with few or no bacteria on their sporocarps. From the edible mushroom Coprinus comatus where no bacteria on the sporocarp could be detected (3R,4S)-2-methylene-3,4-dihydroxypentanoic acid 1,4-lactone, named coprinuslactone, was isolated. Coprinuslactone interfered with quorum-sensing and dispersed biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, where it also reduced the formation of the pathogenicity factors pyocyanin and rhamnolipid B. Coprinuslactone also damaged Staphylococcus aureus cells in biofilms at subtoxic concentrations. Furthermore, it inhibited UDP-N-acetylglucosamine enolpyruvyl transferase (MurA), essential for bacterial cell wall synthesis. These two modes of action ensure the inhibition of a broad spectrum of pathogens on the fruiting body but may also be useful for future clinical applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • Diversity and Activity of Bacterial Biofilm Communities Growing on Hexachlorocyclohexane

    Gebreil, Ahmed Shawky; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-08-03)
  • cis-2-Alkenoic acids as promising drugs for the control of biofilm infections.

    Yuyama, Kamila Tomoko; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-05-06)
    Microbes attached to surfaces and form biofilms where they are difficult to eradicate. Here they are embedded in a complex matrix of polymers and are much less sensitive against antibiotics or the immune system.
  • Going beyond the Control of Quorum-Sensing to Combat Biofilm Infections.

    Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
    Most bacteria attach to surfaces where they form a biofilm, cells embedded in a complex matrix of polymers. Cells in biofilms are much better protected against noxious agents than free-living cells. As a consequence it is very difficult to control pathogens with antibiotics in biofilm infections and novel targets are urgently needed. One approach aims at the communication between cells to form and to maintain a biofilm, a process called quorum-sensing. Water soluble small-sized molecules mediate this process and a number of antagonists of these compounds have been found. In this review natural compounds and synthetic drugs which do not interfere with the classical quorum-sensing compounds are discussed. For some of these compounds the targets are still not known, but others interfere with the formation of exopolysaccharides, virulence factors, or cell wall synthesis or they start an internal program of biofilm dispersal. Some of their targets are more conserved among pathogens than the receptors for quorum sensing autoinducers mediating quorum-sensing, enabling a broader application of the drug. The broad spectrum of mechanisms, the diversity of bioactive compounds, their activity against several targets, and the conservation of some targets among bacterial pathogens are promising aspects for several clinical applications of this type of biofilm-controlling compound in the future.
  • Secondary Metabolites Control the Associated Bacterial Communities of Saprophytic Basidiomycotina Fungi.

    de Carvalho, Maira Peres; Türck, Patrick; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research (HZI), Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
    Fungi grow under humid conditions and are, therefore, prone to biofilm infections. A 16S rRNA fingerprint analysis was performed on 49 sporocarps of Basidiomycotina in order to determine whether they are able to control these biofilms. Ninety-five bacterial phylotypes, comprising 4 phyla and 10 families, were identified. While ectomycorrhizal fungi harbored the highest bacterial diversity, saprophytic fungi showed little or no association with bacteria. Seven fungal species were screened for antimicrobial and antibiofilm activities. Biofilm formation and bacterial growth was inhibited by extracts obtained from saprophytic fungi, which confirmed the hypothesis that many fungi modulate biofilm colonization on their sporocarps.
  • Release of Periplasmic Nucleotidase Induced by Human Antimicrobial Peptide in E. coli Causes Accumulation of the Immunomodulator Adenosine.

    Estrela, Andreia Bergamo; Türck, Patrick; Stutz, Elaine; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015)
    Previous work by our group described that human β-defensin-2 induces accumulation of extracellular adenosine (Ado) in E. coli cultures through a non-lytic mechanism causing severe plasmolysis. Here, we investigate the presence of AMP as a direct precursor and the involvement of a bacterial enzyme in the generation of extracellular Ado by treated bacteria. Following hBD-2 treatment, metabolites were quantified in the supernatants using targeted HPLC-MS/MS analysis. Microbial growth was monitored by optical density and cell viability was determined by colony forming units counts. Phosphatase activity was measured using chromogenic substrate pNPP. The results demonstrate that defensin-treated E. coli strain W releases AMP in the extracellular space, where it is converted to Ado by a bacterial soluble factor. An increase in phosphatase activity in the supernatant was observed after peptide treatment, similar to the effect of sucrose-induced osmotic stress, suggesting that the periplasmic 5'nucleotidase (5'-NT) is released following the plasmolysis event triggered by the peptide. Ado accumulation was enhanced in the presence of Co2+ ion and inhibited by EDTA, further supporting the involvement of a metallo-phosphatase such as 5'-NT in extracellular AMP conversion into Ado. The comparative analysis of hBD-induced Ado accumulation in different E. coli strains and in Pseudomonas aeruginosa revealed that the response is not correlated to the peptide's effect on cell viability, but indicates it might be dependent on the subcellular distribution of the nucleotidase. Taken together, these data shed light on a yet undescribed mechanism of host-microbial interaction: a human antimicrobial peptide inducing selective release of a bacterial enzyme (E. coli 5'-NT), leading to the formation of a potent immunomodulator metabolite (Ado).
  • A rapid method for breath analysis in cystic fibrosis patients.

    Kramer, R; Sauer-Heilborn, A; Welte, T; Guzman, C A; Höfle, M G; Abraham, W-R; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstraße 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-04)
    For easy handling and speed of lung diseases diagnostics, approaches based on volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including those emitted by pathogenic microorganisms, are considered but currently require considerable sampling efforts. We tested whether easy-to-handle and fast detection of lung infections is possible using solid-phase microextraction (SPME) of 100 ml of exhaled breath. An analytical procedure for the detection of VOCs from the headspace of epithelial lung cells infected with four human pathogens was developed. The feasibility of this method was tested in a cystic fibrosis (CF) outpatient clinic in vivo. Exhaled breath was extracted by SPME and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The compositions of VOCs released in the infection model were characteristic for all individual pathogens tested. Exhaled breath of CF patients allowed clear distinction of CF patients and controls by their VOC compositions using multivariate analyses. Interestingly, the major specific VOCs detected in the exhaled breath of infected CF patients in vivo differed from those monitored during bacterial in vitro growth. SPME extraction of VOCs from 100 ml of human breath allowed the distinction between CF patients and healthy probands. Our results highlight the importance of assessing the entire pattern of VOCs instead of selected biomarkers for diagnostic purposes, as well as the need to use clinical samples to identify reliable biomarkers. This study provides the proof-of-concept for the approach using the composition of exhaled VOCs in human breath for the rapid identification of infectious agents in patients with lower respiratory tract infections.
  • Different implants have different biofilm communities-lessons for implant optimization

    Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Dept. of chemical microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for infection research, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, 2014-12-09)
  • Applications and impacts of stable isotope probing for analysis of microbial interactions.

    Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; group of Chemical microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-06)
    Probing the interactions between microbes and their environment with stable isotopes became a powerful technique over the last years. While quadruple mass spectrometry or isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) require at least 300,000 bacterial cells, analysis at the single-cell level is possible with secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) or Raman microspectrometry. While SIMS needs enrichments of more than 0.1 and Raman microscopy of more than 25 at.-%, IRMS can deal with 0.0001 at.-%. To find out who eats what, one has to discern between the different species in a community. Several methods have been introduced to discern between the different taxa in microbial communities, e.g., by using fatty acids as biomarkers, density centrifugation of DNA/RNA, or fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with phylogenetic probes. While the biomarker approach can be coupled with the high sensitivity of the IRMS, the DNA approach gives in general a better phylogenetic resolution of the metabolic active microbes. A combination of both is the separation via coupling of FISH-probes to magnetic beads or fluorescent assisted cell sorting (FACS) of stained cells leading to fractions which can be analyzed by IRMS. Applying these techniques over a time course can reveal the metabolic kinetics and food webs. In this review, the different methods are presented with examples and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. An outlook on the combination of the various techniques and their applications in microbial ecology is given.
  • Stabile Isotope erlauben Einblicke in Bakteriengemeinschaften

    Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Chemische Mikrobiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany (2013-09-25)
  • Human β-Defensin 2 Induces Extracellular Accumulation of Adenosine in Escherichia coli.

    Estrela, Andreia Bergamo; Rohde, Manfred; Gutierrez, Maximiliano Gabriel; Molinari, Gabriella; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Chemical Microbiology. (2013-09)
    Human β-defensins are host defense peptides performing antimicrobial as well as immunomodulatory functions. The present study investigated whether treatment of Escherichia coli with human β-defensin 2 could generate extracellular molecules of relevance for immune regulation. Mass spectrometry analysis of bacterial supernatants detected the accumulation of purine nucleosides triggered by β-defensin 2 treatment. Other cationic antimicrobial peptides tested presented variable outcomes with regard to extracellular adenosine accumulation; human β-defensin 2 was the most efficient at inducing this response. Structural and biochemical evidence indicated that a mechanism other than plain lysis was involved in the observed phenomenon. By use of isotope ((13)C) labeling, extracellular adenosine was found to be derived from preexistent RNA, and a direct interaction between the peptide and bacterial nucleic acid was documented for the first time for β-defensin 2. Taken together, the data suggest that defensin activity on a bacterial target may alter local levels of adenosine, a well-known immunomodulator influencing inflammatory processes.
  • Cauliform bacteria lacking phospholipids from an abyssal hydrothermal vent: proposal of Glycocaulis abyssi gen. nov., sp. nov., belonging to the family Hyphomonadaceae.

    Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Lünsdorf, Heinrich; Vancanneyt, Marc; Smit, John; Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. wolf-rainer.abraham@helmholtz-hzi.de (2013-06)
    Cauliform bacteria are prosthecate bacteria often specialized for oligotrophic environments. A polyphasic approach, comprising 16S rRNA gene sequencing, lipid analysis and salt tolerance characterizations, was used to clarify the taxonomy of one isolate, strain MCS 33(T), obtained from above the hot water plume of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent near Vancouver island, Canada. Cells contained no detectable phospholipids or sulpholipids, but did contain 1,2-di-O-acyl-3-O-α-D-glucopyranosylglycerol, 1,2-di-O-acyl-3-O-α-D-glucopyranuronosylglycerol and the novel lipid 1,2-di-O-acyl-3-[O-α-D-glucopyranuronosyl]glycerol-6'-N-glycine. It is assumed that the various glucoronosyl lipids are replacing, at least partially, the phospholipids in their various tasks in the cell cycle. The G+C content of the genomic DNA of strain MCS 33(T) was 62.8 mol%, and Q10 was the predominant respiratory ubiquinone. The 16S rRNA gene sequence of this chemoheterotrophic, aerobic, moderately halophilic strain showed only a low similarity of 94.4% to that of Oceanicaulis alexandrii C116-18(T), and both strains also differed based on their lipids. Although the novel strain was isolated from seawater sampled near a hydrothermal vent, its optimum temperature for growth was 30 °C. The main cellular fatty acids were C18:1ω7c, C18:0 and the unknown fatty acid ECL 11.798, and the main hydroxy fatty acid was C12:0 3-OH. The strain is proposed to represent a novel species of a new genus, Glycocaulis abyssi gen. nov., sp. nov. The type strain of the type species is MCS 33(T) (=LMG 27140(T)=CCUG 62981(T)).
  • Dipeptide cis-cyclo(Leucyl-Tyrosyl) produced by sponge associated Penicillium sp. F37 inhibits biofilm formation of the pathogenic Staphylococcus epidermidis.

    Scopel, Marina; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Henriques, Amélia T; Macedo, Alexandre J; Faculdade de Farmácia, Departamento de Produção de Matéria-Prima, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Ipiranga, 2752, 90610-000 Porto Alegre, Brazil. (2013-02-01)
    Infections associated to microbial biofilms are involved in 80% of human infections and became a challenge concerning public health. Infections related to Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms are presently commonly associated to medical devices, increasing treatment costs for this type of infection. Alternatives to eliminate this kind of disease have been employed in screening programs using diverse marine-derived fungi source of bioactive compounds capable to combat biofilm formation. In this work was isolated the dipeptide cis-cyclo(Leucyl-Tyrosyl) from a sponge associated Penicillium sp. possessing a remarkable inhibition up to 85% of biofilm formation without interfering with bacterial growth, confirmed by scanning electron microscopy. This is the first demonstration that cis-cyclo(Leucyl-Tyrosyl) is able to specifically inhibit biofilm formation adding another aspect to the broad spectrum of bioactivities of cyclic dipeptides.
  • Three stages of a biofilm community developing at the liquid-liquid interface between polychlorinated biphenyls and water.

    Macedo, Alexandre José; Kuhlicke, Ute; Neu, Thomas R; Timmis, Kenneth N; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; GBF-National Research Center for Biotechnology, Environmental Microbiology, Mascheroder Weg 1, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2005-11)
    Soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) was used as an inoculum to grow a complex biofilm community on PCB oil (Aroclor 1242) on a substratum (Permanox). The biofilm was monitored for 31 days by confocal laser scanning microscopy, community fingerprinting using single-strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP), amplicons of the 16S rRNA genes, and chemical analyses of the PCB congeners. SSCP analysis of the young biofilm revealed a rather diverse microbial community with species of the genera Herbaspirillum and Bradyrhizobium as dominant members. The biofilm developing on the PCB droplets displayed pronounced stages of PCB degradation and biofilm development not described before from pure-culture experiments. The first step was the colonization of the substratum while the PCB oil was hardly populated. When a certain density of bacteria was reached on the Permanox, the PCB was colonized, but soon the degradation of the congeners was markedly reduced and many cells were damaged, as seen by LIVE/DEAD staining. Finally, the biofilm formed aggregates and invaded the PCB oil, showing lower numbers of damaged cells than before and a dramatic increase in PCB degradation. This sequence of biofilm formation is understood as a maturation process prior to PCB oil colonization. This is followed by a thin biofilm on the PCB droplet, an aggregation process forming pockets in the PCB, and finally an invasion of the biofilm into the PCB oil. Only the mature biofilm showed degradation of pentachlorinated PCB congeners, which may be reductively dechlorinated and the resulting trichlorobiphenyls then aerobically metabolized.
  • Antimicrobial and biofilm inhibiting diketopiperazines.

    de Carvalho, M P; Abraham, W-R; Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Chemical Microbiology, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. wolf-rainer.abraham@helmholtz-hzi.de. (2012-07-01)
    Diketopiperazines are the smallest cyclic peptides known. 90% of Gram-negative bacteria produce diketopiperazines and they have also been isolated from Gram-positive bacteria, fungi and higher organisms. Biosynthesis of cyclodipeptides can be achieved by dedicated nonribosomal peptide synthetases or by a novel type of synthetases named cyclopeptide synthases. Since the first report in 1924 a large number of bioactive diketopiperazines was discovered spanning activities as antitumor, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiprion, antihyperglycemic or glycosidase inhibitor agents. As infections are of increasing concern for human health and resistances against existing antibiotics are growing this review focuses on the antimicrobial activities of diketopiperazines. The antibiotic bicyclomycin is a diketopiperazine and structure activity studies revealed the unique nature of this compound which was finally developed for clinical applications. The antimicrobial activities of a number of other diketopiperazines along with structure activity relationships are discussed. Here a special focus is on the activity-toxicity problem of many compounds setting tight limitations to their application as drugs. Not only these classical antimicrobial activities but also proposed action in modulating bacterial communication as a new target to control biofilms will be evaluated. Pathogens organized in biofilms are difficult to eradicate because of the increase of their tolerance for antibiotics for several orders. Diketopiperazines were reported to modulate LuxR-mediated quorum-sensing systems of bacteria, and they are considered to influence cell-cell signaling offering alternative ways of biofilm control by interfering with microbial communication. Concluding the review we will finally discuss the potential of diketopiperazines in the clinic to erase biofilm infections.

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