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1.  Two Master Switch Regulators Trigger A40926 Biosynthesis in Nonomuraea sp. Strain ATCC 39727 
Journal of Bacteriology  2015;197(15):2536-2544.
The actinomycete Nonomuraea sp. strain ATCC 39727 produces the glycopeptide A40926, the precursor of dalbavancin. Biosynthesis of A40926 is encoded by the dbv gene cluster, which contains 37 protein-coding sequences that participate in antibiotic biosynthesis, regulation, immunity, and export. In addition to the positive regulatory protein Dbv4, the A40926-biosynthetic gene cluster encodes two additional putative regulators, Dbv3 and Dbv6. Independent mutations in these genes, combined with bioassays and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analyses, demonstrated that Dbv3 and Dbv4 are both required for antibiotic production, while inactivation of dbv6 had no effect. In addition, overexpression of dbv3 led to higher levels of A40926 production. Transcriptional and quantitative reverse transcription (RT)-PCR analyses showed that Dbv4 is essential for the transcription of two operons, dbv14-dbv8 and dbv30-dbv35, while Dbv3 positively controls the expression of four monocistronic transcription units (dbv4, dbv29, dbv36, and dbv37) and of six operons (dbv2-dbv1, dbv14-dbv8, dbv17-dbv15, dbv21-dbv20, dbv24-dbv28, and dbv30-dbv35). We propose a complex and coordinated model of regulation in which Dbv3 directly or indirectly activates transcription of dbv4 and controls biosynthesis of 4-hydroxyphenylglycine and the heptapeptide backbone, A40926 export, and some tailoring reactions (mannosylation and hexose oxidation), while Dbv4 directly regulates biosynthesis of 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine and other tailoring reactions, including the four cross-links, halogenation, glycosylation, and acylation.
IMPORTANCE This report expands knowledge of the regulatory mechanisms used to control the biosynthesis of the glycopeptide antibiotic A40926 in the actinomycete Nonomuraea sp. strain ATCC 39727. A40926 is the precursor of dalbavancin, approved for treatment of skin infections by Gram-positive bacteria. Therefore, understanding the regulation of its biosynthesis is also of industrial importance. So far, the regulatory mechanisms used to control two other similar glycopeptides (balhimycin and teicoplanin) have been elucidated, and beyond a common step, different clusters seem to have devised different strategies to control glycopeptide production. Thus, our work provides one more example of the pitfalls of deducing regulatory roles from bioinformatic analyses only, even when analyzing gene clusters directing the synthesis of structurally related compounds.
PMCID: PMC4518825  PMID: 25986904
2.  Novel Mechanism of Glycopeptide Resistance in the A40926 Producer Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727▿  
In glycopeptide-resistant enterococci and staphylococci, high-level resistance is achieved by replacing the C-terminal d-alanyl-d-alanine of lipid II with d-alanyl-d-lactate, thus reducing glycopeptide affinity for cell wall targets. Reorganization of the cell wall in these organisms is directed by the vanHAX gene cluster. Similar self-resistance mechanisms have been reported for glycopeptide-producing actinomycetes. We investigated glycopeptide resistance in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727, the producer of the glycopeptide A40926, which is the precursor of the semisynthetic antibiotic dalbavancin, which is currently in phase III clinical trials. The MIC of Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 toward A40926 during vegetative growth was 4 μg/ml, but this increased to ca. 20 μg/ml during A40926 production. vanHAX gene clusters were not detected in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 by Southern hybridization or by PCR with degenerate primers. However, the dbv gene cluster for A40926 production contains a gene, vanY (ORF7), potentially encoding an enzyme capable of removing the terminal d-Ala residue of pentapeptide peptidoglycan precursors. Analysis of UDP-linked peptidoglycan precursors in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 revealed the predominant presence of the tetrapeptide UDP-MurNAc-l-Ala-d-Glu-meso-Dap-d-Ala and only traces of the pentapeptide UDP-MurNAc-l-Ala-d-Glu-meso-Dap-d-Ala-d-Ala. This suggested a novel mechanism of glycopeptide resistance in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 that was based on the d,d-carboxypeptidase activity of vanY. Consistent with this, a vanY-null mutant of Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 demonstrated a reduced level of glycopeptide resistance, without affecting A40926 productivity. Heterologous expression of vanY in a sensitive Streptomyces species, Streptomyces venezuelae, resulted in higher levels of glycopeptide resistance.
PMCID: PMC2876364  PMID: 20308385
3.  Streptomyces spp. as efficient expression system for a d,d-peptidase/d,d-carboxypeptidase involved in glycopeptide antibiotic resistance 
BMC Biotechnology  2013;13:24.
VanYn, encoded by the dbv7 gene (also known as vanYn) of the biosynthetic cluster devoted to A40926 production, is a novel protein involved in the mechanism of self-resistance in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727. This filamentous actinomycete is an uncommon microorganism, difficult-to-handle but biotechnologically valuable since it produces the glycopeptide antibiotic A40926, which is the precursor of the second-generation dalbavancin in phase III of clinical development. In order to investigate VanYn role in glycopeptide resistance in the producer actinomycete an appropriate host-vector expression system is required.
The cloning strategy of vanYn gene (G-C ratio 73.3%) in the expression vector pIJ86 yielded a recombinant protein with a tag encoding for a histidine hexamer added at the C-terminus (C-His6-vanYn) or at the N-terminus (N-His6-vanYn). These plasmids were used to transform three Streptomyces spp., which are genetically-treatable high G-C content Gram-positive bacteria taxonomically related to the homologous producer Nonomuraea sp.. Highest yield of protein expression and purification (12 mg of protein per liter of culture at 3 L bioreactor-scale) was achieved in Streptomyces venezuelae ATCC 10595, that is a fast growing streptomyces susceptible to glycopeptides. VanYn is a transmembrane protein which was easily detached and recovered from the cell wall fraction. Purified C-His6-VanYn showed d,d-carboxypeptidase and d,d-dipeptidase activities on synthetic analogs of bacterial peptidoglycan (PG) precursors. C-His6-VanYn over-expression conferred glycopeptide resistance to S. venezuelae. On the contrary, the addition of His6-tag at the N-terminus of the protein abolished its biological activity either in vitro or in vivo assays.
Heterologous expression of vanYn from Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 in S. venezuelae was successfully achieved and conferred the host an increased level of glycopeptide resistance. Cellular localization of recombinant VanYn together with its enzymatic activity as a d,d-peptidase/d,d-carboxypeptidase agree with its role in removing the last d-Ala from the pentapeptide PG precursors and reprogramming cell wall biosynthesis, as previously reported in glycopeptide resistant pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3610138  PMID: 23497129
Streptomyces; Heterologous protein production; d,d-carboxypeptidases; Glycopeptide production; Glycopeptide resistance; Dalbavancin
4.  Relationship between Glycopeptide Production and Resistance in the Actinomycete Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 
Glycopeptides and β-lactams inhibit bacterial peptidoglycan synthesis in Gram-positive bacteria; resistance to these antibiotics is studied intensively in enterococci and staphylococci because of their relevance to infectious disease. Much less is known about antibiotic resistance in glycopeptide-producing actinomycetes that are likely to represent the evolutionary source of resistance determinants found in bacterial pathogens. Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727, the producer of A40926 (the precursor for the semisynthetic dalbavancin), does not harbor the canonical vanHAX genes. Consequently, we investigated the role of the β-lactam-sensitive d,d-peptidase/d,d-carboxypeptidase encoded by vanYn, the only van-like gene found in the A40926 biosynthetic gene cluster, in conferring immunity to the antibiotic in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727. Taking advantage of the tools developed recently to genetically manipulate this uncommon actinomycete, we varied vanYn gene dosage and expressed vanHatAatXat from the teicoplanin producer Actinoplanes teichomyceticus in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727. Knocking out vanYn, complementing a vanYn mutant, or duplicating vanYn had no effect on growth but influenced antibiotic resistance and, in the cases of complementation and duplication, antibiotic production. Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 was found to be resistant to penicillins, but its glycopeptide resistance was diminished in the presence of penicillin G, which inhibits VanYn activity. The heterologous expression of vanHatAatXat increased A40926 resistance in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 but did not increase antibiotic production, indicating that the level of antibiotic production is not directly determined by the level of resistance. The vanYn-based self-resistance in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 resembles the glycopeptide resistance mechanism described recently in mutants of Enterococcus faecium selected in vitro for high-level resistance to glycopeptides and penicillins.
PMCID: PMC4135873  PMID: 24957828
5.  Old and New Glycopeptide Antibiotics: Action and Resistance 
Antibiotics  2014;3(4):572-594.
Glycopeptides are considered antibiotics of last resort for the treatment of life-threatening infections caused by relevant Gram-positive human pathogens, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus spp. and Clostridium difficile. The emergence of glycopeptide-resistant clinical isolates, first among enterococci and then in staphylococci, has prompted research for second generation glycopeptides and a flurry of activity aimed at understanding resistance mechanisms and their evolution. Glycopeptides are glycosylated non-ribosomal peptides produced by a diverse group of soil actinomycetes. They target Gram-positive bacteria by binding to the acyl-d-alanyl-d-alanine (d-Ala-d-Ala) terminus of the growing peptidoglycan on the outer surface of the cytoplasmatic membrane. Glycopeptide-resistant organisms avoid such a fate by replacing the d-Ala-d-Ala terminus with d-alanyl-d-lactate (d-Ala-d-Lac) or d-alanyl-d-serine (d-Ala-d-Ser), thus markedly reducing antibiotic affinity for the cellular target. Resistance has manifested itself in enterococci and staphylococci largely through the expression of genes (named van) encoding proteins that reprogram cell wall biosynthesis and, thus, evade the action of the antibiotic. These resistance mechanisms were most likely co-opted from the glycopeptide producing actinomycetes, which use them to avoid suicide during antibiotic production, rather than being orchestrated by pathogen bacteria upon continued treatment. van-like gene clusters, similar to those described in enterococci, were in fact identified in many glycopeptide-producing actinomycetes, such as Actinoplanes teichomyceticus, which produces teicoplanin, and Streptomyces toyocaensis, which produces the A47934 glycopeptide. In this paper, we describe the natural and semi-synthetic glycopeptide antibiotics currently used as last resort drugs for Gram-positive infections and compare the van gene-based strategies of glycopeptide resistance among the pathogens and the producing actinomycetes. Particular attention is given to the strategy of immunity recently described in Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727. Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727 is the producer of A40926, which is the natural precursor of the second generation semi-synthetic glycopeptide dalbavancin, very recently approved for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections. A thorough understanding of glycopeptide immunity in this producing microorganism may be particularly relevant to predict and eventually control the evolution of resistance that might arise following introduction of dalbavancin and other second generation glycopeptides into clinics.
PMCID: PMC4790382  PMID: 27025757
glycopeptides; resistance; van genes; Nonomuraea sp. ATCC 39727; dalbavancin
6.  Endogenous sex hormones and breast density in young women 
Breast density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and reflects epithelial and stromal content. Breast tissue is particularly sensitive to hormonal stimuli before it fully differentiates following the first full-term pregnancy. Few studies have examined associations between sex hormones and breast density among young women.
We conducted cross-sectional study among 180 women aged 25-29 years old who participated in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children 2006 Follow-up Study. Eighty-five percent of participants attended a clinic visit during their luteal phase of menstrual cycle. Magnetic resonance imaging measured the percentage of dense breast volume (%DBV), absolute dense breast volume (ADBV), and absolute nondense breast volume (ANDBV). Multiple-linear mixed-effect regression models were used to evaluate the association of sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) with %DBV, ADBV, and ANDBV.
Testosterone was significantly positively associated with %DBV and ADBV. The multivariable geometric mean of %DBV and ADBV across testosterone quartiles increased from 16.5% to 20.3% and from 68.6cm3 to 82.3cm3, respectively (Ptrend ≤ 0.03). There was no association of %DBV or ADBV with estrogens, progesterone, non-SHBG bound testosterone or SHBG (Ptrend ≥ 0.27). Neither sex hormones nor SHBG was associated with ANDBV except progesterone; however, the progesterone result was nonsignificant in analysis restricted to women in the luteal phase.
These findings suggest a modest positive association between testosterone and breast density in young women.
Hormonal influences at critical periods may contribute to morphological differences in the breast associated with breast cancer risk later in life.
PMCID: PMC4323882  PMID: 25371447
estradiol; non-SHBG bound estradiol; progesterone; testosterone; non-SHBG bound testosterone; SHBG; breast density; absolute dense breast volume; non-dense breast volume; young women
7.  Biosynthesis of Chloro-β-Hydroxytyrosine, a Nonproteinogenic Amino Acid of the Peptidic Backbone of Glycopeptide Antibiotics 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(18):6093-6100.
The role of the putative P450 monooxygenase OxyD and the chlorination time point in the biosynthesis of the glycopeptide antibiotic balhimycin produced by Amycolatopsis balhimycina were analyzed. The oxyD gene is located directly downstream of the bhp (perhydrolase) and bpsD (nonribosomal peptide synthetase D) genes, which are involved in the synthesis of the balhimycin building block β-hydroxytyrosine (β-HT). Reverse transcriptase experiments revealed that bhp, bpsD, and oxyD form an operon. oxyD was inactivated by an in-frame deletion, and the resulting mutant was unable to produce an active compound. Balhimycin production could be restored (i) by complementation with an oxyD gene, (ii) in cross-feeding studies using A. balhimycina JR1 (a null mutant with a block in the biosynthesis pathway of the building blocks hydroxy- and dihydroxyphenylglycine) as an excretor of the missing precursor, and (iii) by supplementation of β-HT in the growth medium. These data demonstrated an essential role of OxyD in the formation pathway of this amino acid. Liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry analysis indicated the biosynthesis of completely chlorinated balhimycin by the oxyD mutant when culture filtrates were supplemented with nonchlorinated β-HT. In contrast, supplementation with 3-chloro-β-HT did not restore balhimycin production. These results indicated that the chlorination time point was later than the stage of free β-HT, most likely during heptapeptide synthesis.
PMCID: PMC515157  PMID: 15342578
8.  Differential proteomic analysis highlights metabolic strategies associated with balhimycin production in Amycolatopsis balhimycina chemostat cultivations 
Proteomics was recently used to reveal enzymes whose expression is associated with the production of the glycopeptide antibiotic balhimycin in Amycolatopsis balhimycina batch cultivations. Combining chemostat fermentation technology, where cells proliferate with constant parameters in a highly reproducible steady-state, and differential proteomics, the relationships between physiological status and metabolic pathways during antibiotic producing and non-producing conditions could be highlighted.
Two minimal defined media, one with low Pi (0.6 mM; LP) and proficient glucose (12 g/l) concentrations and the other one with high Pi (1.8 mM) and limiting (6 g/l; LG) glucose concentrations, were developed to promote and repress antibiotic production, respectively, in A. balhimycina chemostat cultivations. Applying the same dilution rate (0.03 h-1), both LG and LP chemostat cultivations showed a stable steady-state where biomass production yield coefficients, calculated on glucose consumption, were 0.38 ± 0.02 and 0.33 ± 0.02 g/g (biomass dry weight/glucose), respectively. Notably, balhimycin was detected only in LP, where quantitative RT-PCR revealed upregulation of selected bal genes, devoted to balhimycin biosynthesis, and of phoP, phoR, pstS and phoD, known to be associated to Pi limitation stress response. 2D-Differential Gel Electrophoresis (DIGE) and protein identification, performed by mass spectrometry and computer-assisted 2 D reference-map matching, demonstrated a differential expression for proteins involved in many metabolic pathways or cellular processes, including central carbon and phosphate metabolism. Interestingly, proteins playing a key role in generation of primary metabolism intermediates and cofactors required for balhimycin biosynthesis were upregulated in LP. Finally, a bioinformatic approach showed PHO box-like regulatory elements in the upstream regions of nine differentially expressed genes, among which two were tested by electrophoresis mobility shift assays (EMSA).
In the two chemostat conditions, used to generate biomass for proteomic analysis, mycelia grew with the same rate and with similar glucose-biomass conversion efficiencies. Global gene expression analysis revealed a differential metabolic adaptation, highlighting strategies for energetic supply and biosynthesis of metabolic intermediates required for biomass production and, in LP, for balhimycin biosynthesis. These data, confirming a relationship between primary metabolism and antibiotic production, could be used to increase antibiotic yield both by rational genetic engineering and fermentation processes improvement.
PMCID: PMC3004843  PMID: 21110849
9.  Activation of Spinal α2-Adrenoceptors Using Diluted Bee Venom Stimulation Reduces Cold Allodynia in Neuropathic Pain Rats 
Cold allodynia is an important distinctive feature of neuropathic pain. The present study examined whether single or repetitive treatment of diluted bee venom (DBV) reduced cold allodynia in sciatic nerve chronic constriction injury (CCI) rats and whether these effects were mediated by spinal adrenergic receptors. Single injection of DBV (0.25 or 2.5 mg/kg) was performed into Zusanli acupoint 2 weeks post CCI, and repetitive DBV (0.25 mg/kg) was injected for 2 weeks beginning on day 15 after CCI surgery. Single treatment of DBV at a low dose (0.25 mg/kg) did not produce any anticold allodynic effect, while a high dose of DBV (2.5 mg/kg) significantly reduced cold allodynia. Moreover, this effect of high-dose DBV was completely blocked by intrathecal pretreatment of idazoxan (α2-adrenoceptor antagonist), but not prazosin (α1-adrenoceptor antagonist) or propranolol (nonselective β-adrenoceptor antagonist). In addition, coadministration of low-dose DBV (0.25 mg/kg) and intrathecal clonidine (α2-adrenoceptor agonist) synergically reduced cold allodynia. On the other hand, repetitive treatments of low-dose DBV showing no motor deficit remarkably suppressed cold allodynia from 7 days after DBV treatment. This effect was also reversed by intrathecal idazoxan injection. These findings demonstrated that single or repetitive stimulation of DBV could alleviate CCI-induced cold allodynia via activation of spinal α2-adrenoceptor.
PMCID: PMC3434467  PMID: 22969830
10.  Blockade of Adrenal Medulla-Derived Epinephrine Potentiates Bee Venom-Induced Antinociception in the Mouse Formalin Test: Involvement of Peripheral β-Adrenoceptors 
The injection of diluted bee venom (DBV) into an acupoint has been used traditionally in eastern medicine to treat a variety of inflammatory chronic pain conditions. We have previously shown that DBV had a potent antinociceptive efficacy in several rodent pain models. However, the peripheral mechanisms underlying DBV-induced antinociception remain unclear. The present study was designed to investigate the role of peripheral epinephrine on the DBV-induced antinociceptive effect in the mouse formalin assay. Adrenalectomy significantly enhanced the antinociceptive effect of DBV during the late phase of the formalin test, while chemical sympathectomy had no effect. Intraperitoneal injection of epinephrine blocked this adrenalectomy-induced enhancement of the DBV-induced antinociceptive effect. Moreover, injection of a phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) inhibitor enhanced the DBV-induced antinociceptive effect. Administration of nonselective β-adrenergic antagonists also significantly potentiated this DBV-induced antinociception, in a manner similar to adrenalectomy. These results demonstrate that the antinociceptive effect of DBV treatment can be significantly enhanced by modulation of adrenal medulla-derived epinephrine and this effect is mediated by peripheral β-adrenoceptors. Thus, DBV acupoint stimulation in combination with inhibition of peripheral β-adrenoceptors could be a potentially novel strategy for the management of inflammatory pain.
PMCID: PMC3781998  PMID: 24089621
11.  Repetitive Treatment with Diluted Bee Venom Attenuates the Induction of Below-Level Neuropathic Pain Behaviors in a Rat Spinal Cord Injury Model 
Toxins  2015;7(7):2571-2585.
The administration of diluted bee venom (DBV) into an acupuncture point has been utilized traditionally in Eastern medicine to treat chronic pain. We demonstrated previously that DBV has a potent anti-nociceptive efficacy in several rodent pain models. The present study was designed to examine the potential anti-nociceptive effect of repetitive DBV treatment in the development of below-level neuropathic pain in spinal cord injury (SCI) rats. DBV was applied into the Joksamli acupoint during the induction and maintenance phase following thoracic 13 (T13) spinal hemisection. We examined the effect of repetitive DBV stimulation on SCI-induced bilateral pain behaviors, glia expression and motor function recovery. Repetitive DBV stimulation during the induction period, but not the maintenance, suppressed pain behavior in the ipsilateral hind paw. Moreover, SCI-induced increase in spinal glia expression was also suppressed by repetitive DBV treatment in the ipsilateral dorsal spinal cord. Finally, DBV injection facilitated motor function recovery as indicated by the Basso–Beattie–Bresnahan rating score. These results indicate that the repetitive application of DBV during the induction phase not only decreased neuropathic pain behavior and glia expression, but also enhanced locomotor functional recovery after SCI. This study suggests that DBV acupuncture can be a potential clinical therapy for SCI management.
PMCID: PMC4516929  PMID: 26184310
bee venom; spinal cord injury; mechanical allodynia; thermal hyperalgesia; glia; acupuncture
12.  Molecular ordering at electrified interfaces: Template and potential effects 
A combination of cyclic voltammetry and in situ scanning tunneling microscopy was employed to examine the adsorption and phase transition of 1,1’-dibenzyl-4,4’-bipyridinium molecules (abbreviated as DBV2+) on a chloride-modified Cu(111) electrode surface. The cyclic voltammogram (CV) of the Cu(111) electrode exposed to a mixture of 10 mM HCl and 0.1 mM DBVCl2 shows three distinguishable pairs of current waves P1/P’1, P2/P’2, and P3/P’3 which are assigned to two reversible electron transfer steps, representing the reduction of the dicationic DBV2+ to the corresponding radical monocationic DBV+• (P1/P’1) and then to the uncharged DBV0 (P3/P’3) species, respectively, as well as the chloride desorption/readsorption processes (P2/P’2). At positive potentials (i.e., above P1) the DBV2+ molecules spontaneously adsorb and form a highly ordered phase on the c(p × √3)-precovered Cl/Cu(111) electrode surface. A key element of this DBV2+ adlayer is an assembly of two individual DBV2+ species which, lined up, forms a so-called “herring-bone” structure. Upon lowering the electrode potential the first electron transfer step (at P1) causes a phase transition from the DBV2+-related herring-bone phase to the so-called "alternating stripe" pattern built up by the DBV+• species following a nucleation and growth mechanism. Comparison of both observed structures with those found earlier at different electrode potentials on a c(2 × 2)Cl-precovered Cu(100) electrode surface enables a clear assessment of the relative importance of adsorbate–substrate and adsorbate–adsorbate interactions, i.e., template vs self-assembly effects, in the structure formation process of DBV cations on these modified Cu electrode surfaces.
PMCID: PMC4187076  PMID: 25298791
cyclic voltammogram; scanning tunneling microscopy; self-assembly; template effect; viologen
13.  Height, adiposity and body fat distribution and breast density in young women 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2012;14(4):R107.
Breast density is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer, but determinants of breast density in young women remain largely unknown.
Associations of height, adiposity and body fat distribution with percentage dense breast volume (%DBV) and absolute dense breast volume (ADBV) were evaluated in a cross-sectional study of 174 healthy women, 25 to 29 years old. Adiposity and body fat distribution were measured by anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), while %DBV and ADBV were measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Associations were evaluated using linear mixed-effects models. All tests of statistical significance are two-sided.
Height was significantly positively associated with %DBV but not ADBV; for each standard deviation (SD) increase in height, %DBV increased by 18.7% in adjusted models. In contrast, all measures of adiposity and body fat distribution were significantly inversely associated with %DBV; a SD increase in body mass index (BMI), percentage fat mass, waist circumference and the android:gynoid fat mass ratio (A:G ratio) was each associated significantly with a 44.4 to 47.0% decrease in %DBV after adjustment for childhood BMI and other covariates. Although associations were weaker than for %DBV, all measures of adiposity and body fat distribution also were significantly inversely associated with ADBV before adjustment for childhood BMI. After adjustment for childhood BMI, however, only the DXA measures of percentage fat mass and A:G ratio remained significant; a SD increase in each was associated with a 13.8 to 19.6% decrease in ADBV. In mutually adjusted analysis, the percentage fat mass and the A:G ratio remained significantly inversely associated with %DBV, but only the A:G ratio was significantly associated with ADBV; a SD increase in the A:G ratio was associated with an 18.5% decrease in ADBV.
Total adiposity and body fat distribution are independently inversely associated with %DBV, whereas in mutually adjusted analysis only body fat distribution (A:G ratio) remained significantly inversely associated with ADBV in young women. Research is needed to identify biological mechanisms underlying these associations.
PMCID: PMC3680938  PMID: 22800711
14.  Adolescent endogenous sex hormones and breast density in early adulthood 
During adolescence the breasts undergo rapid growth and development under the influence of sex hormones. Although the hormonal etiology of breast cancer is hypothesized, it remains unknown whether adolescent sex hormones are associated with adult breast density, which is a strong risk factor for breast cancer.
Percentage of dense breast volume (%DBV) was measured in 2006 by magnetic resonance imaging in 177 women aged 25–29 years who had participated in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children from 1988 to 1997. They had sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) measured in serum collected on one to five occasions between 8 and 17 years of age. Multivariable linear mixed-effect regression models were used to evaluate the associations of adolescent sex hormones and SHBG with %DBV.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and SHBG measured in premenarche serum samples were significantly positively associated with %DBV (all Ptrend ≤0.03) but not when measured in postmenarche samples (all Ptrend ≥0.42). The multivariable geometric mean of %DBV across quartiles of premenarcheal DHEAS and SHBG increased from 16.7 to 22.1 % and from 14.1 to 24.3 %, respectively. Estrogens, progesterone, androstenedione, and testosterone in pre- or postmenarche serum samples were not associated with %DBV (all Ptrend ≥0.16).
Our results suggest that higher premenarcheal DHEAS and SHBG levels are associated with higher %DBV in young women. Whether this association translates into an increased risk of breast cancer later in life is currently unknown.
Clinical trials registration Identifier, NCT00458588 April 9, 2007; NCT00000459 October 27, 1999
PMCID: PMC4468804  PMID: 26041651
15.  Self-Resistance and Cell Wall Composition in the Glycopeptide Producer Amycolatopsis balhimycina▿ 
The prevailing resistance mechanism against glycopeptides in Gram-positive pathogens involves reprogramming the biosynthesis of peptidoglycan precursors, resulting in d-alanyl-d-lactate depsipeptide termini. Amycolatopsis balhimycina produces the vancomycin-like glycopeptide balhimycin and therefore has to protect itself from the action of the glycopeptide. We studied the roles of the accessory resistance gene orthologs vanYb, vnlRb, and vnlSb, which are part of the balhimycin biosynthetic gene cluster (represented by the subscript “b”). The VanYb carboxypeptidase cleaved the terminal d-Ala from peptidoglycan precursors, and its heterologous expression enhanced glycopeptide resistance in Streptomyces coelicolor. The VanRS-like two component system VnlRSb was not involved in glycopeptide resistance or in the expression of the vanHAX glycopeptide resistance genes. Mature A. balhimycina peptidoglycan contained mainly tri- and tetrapeptides, with only traces of the d-Ala-d-Ala-ending pentapeptides that are binding sites for the antibiotic produced. The structure of the peptidoglycan precursor is consistent with the presence of vanHAX genes, which were identified outside the balhimycin synthesis cluster. Both wild-type and non-antibiotic-producing mutant strains synthesized peptidoglycan precursors ending mainly with d-Lac, indicating constitutive synthesis of a resistant cell wall. A. balhimycina could provide a model for an ancestral glycopeptide producer with constitutively expressed resistance genes.
PMCID: PMC3165290  PMID: 21690280
16.  Overproduction of Ristomycin A by Activation of a Silent Gene Cluster in Amycolatopsis japonicum MG417-CF17 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(10):6185-6196.
The emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria within the last decades is one reason for the urgent need for new antibacterial agents. A strategy to discover new anti-infective compounds is the evaluation of the genetic capacity of secondary metabolite producers and the activation of cryptic gene clusters (genome mining). One genus known for its potential to synthesize medically important products is Amycolatopsis. However, Amycolatopsis japonicum does not produce an antibiotic under standard laboratory conditions. In contrast to most Amycolatopsis strains, A. japonicum is genetically tractable with different methods. In order to activate a possible silent glycopeptide cluster, we introduced a gene encoding the transcriptional activator of balhimycin biosynthesis, the bbr gene from Amycolatopsis balhimycina (bbrAba), into A. japonicum. This resulted in the production of an antibiotically active compound. Following whole-genome sequencing of A. japonicum, 29 cryptic gene clusters were identified by genome mining. One of these gene clusters is a putative glycopeptide biosynthesis gene cluster. Using bioinformatic tools, ristomycin (syn. ristocetin), a type III glycopeptide, which has antibacterial activity and which is used for the diagnosis of von Willebrand disease and Bernard-Soulier syndrome, was deduced as a possible product of the gene cluster. Chemical analyses by high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS), tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS), and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy confirmed the in silico prediction that the recombinant A. japonicum/pRM4-bbrAba synthesizes ristomycin A.
PMCID: PMC4187939  PMID: 25114137
17.  A40926, a new glycopeptide antibiotic with anti-Neisseria activity. 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1987;31(12):1961-1966.
In the course of a search for glycopeptide antibiotics having novel biological properties, we isolated A40926. Produced by an actinomycete of the genus Actinomadura, A40926 is a complex of four main factors which contain a fatty acid as part of a glycolipid attached to the peptide backbone. Its activity was, in most respects, similar to that of other glycopeptides, such as vancomycin and teicoplanin. However, in addition to inhibiting gram-positive bacteria, A40926 was very active against Neisseria gonorrhoeae. A40926 was rapidly bactericidal for N. gonorrhoeae clinical isolates at concentrations equal to or slightly higher than the MIC. In mice, levels in serum were higher and more prolonged than those of an equivalent subcutaneous dose of teicoplanin. These properties suggest that A40926 may have potential in the therapy of gonorrhea.
PMCID: PMC175835  PMID: 2964225
18.  The VanRS Homologous Two-Component System VnlRSAb of the Glycopeptide Producer Amycolatopsis balhimycina Activates Transcription of the vanHAXSc Genes in Streptomyces coelicolor, but not in A. balhimycina 
Microbial Drug Resistance  2016;22(6):499-509.
In enterococci and in Streptomyces coelicolor, a glycopeptide nonproducer, the glycopeptide resistance genes vanHAX are colocalized with vanRS. The two-component system (TCS) VanRS activates vanHAX transcription upon sensing the presence of glycopeptides. Amycolatopsis balhimycina, the producer of the vancomycin-like glycopeptide balhimycin, also possesses vanHAXAb genes. The genes for the VanRS-like TCS VnlRSAb, together with the carboxypeptidase gene vanYAb, are part of the balhimycin biosynthetic gene cluster, which is located 2 Mb separate from the vanHAXAb. The deletion of vnlRSAb did not affect glycopeptide resistance or balhimycin production. In the A. balhimycina vnlRAb deletion mutant, the vanHAXAb genes were expressed at the same level as in the wild type, and peptidoglycan (PG) analyses proved the synthesis of resistant PG precursors. Whereas vanHAXAb expression in A. balhimycina does not depend on VnlRAb, a VnlRAb-depending regulation of vanYAb was demonstrated by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and RNA-seq analyses. Although VnlRAb does not regulate the vanHAXAb genes in A. balhimycina, its heterologous expression in the glycopeptide-sensitive S. coelicolor ΔvanRSSc deletion mutant restored glycopeptide resistance. VnlRAb activates the vanHAXSc genes even in the absence of VanS. In addition, expression of vnlRAb increases actinorhodin production and influences morphological differentiation in S. coelicolor.
PMCID: PMC5036315  PMID: 27420548
19.  Pharmacokinetics of A40926 in rats after single intravenous and subcutaneous doses. 
A40926 is a new glycopeptide antibiotic with unique activity against Neisseria gonorrhoeae and high and prolonged levels in mouse blood (B. P. Goldstein, E. Selva, L. Gastaldo, M. Berti, R. Pallanza, F. Ripamonti, P. Ferrari, M. Denaro, V. Arioli, and G. Cassani, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother., 31:1961-1966, 1987). We studied the pharmacokinetics of A40926 in rats after single intravenous and subcutaneous 10-mg/kg (body weight) doses. Concentrations in plasma and urine were determined by microbiological assay. After intravenous administration, high concentrations of A40926, ranging from 132 mg/liter at 3 min to 0.7 mg/liter at 96 h, were found in plasma. Concentrations declined with a three-exponential decay correlated with a prolonged, biphasic distribution and a slow elimination (terminal half-life, 61.22 h). After completion of the distribution, the compound was widely distributed to the extravascular space. The rate-limiting step in the elimination of A40926 from the body appears to be the slow return from the deep compartment into the central one. A40926 was rapidly absorbed from the injection site after subcutaneous administration, and its availability was close to 90%. The percentage of the dose excreted in urine in 120 h was 35.9%.
PMCID: PMC172143  PMID: 3364946
20.  Dietary Energy Density is Positively Associated with Breast Density among Young Women 
Breast density is an established predictor of breast cancer risk, and there is considerable interest in associations of modifiable lifestyle factors, such as diet, with breast density.
To determine if dietary energy density (ED) is associated with percent dense breast volume (%DBV) and absolute dense breast volume (ADBV) in young women.
A cross-sectional analysis was conducted with women who participated in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children Follow-Up Study (DISC06). %DBV and ADBV were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Diet was assessed by three 24-hour recalls. Dietary ED (kcal/g) was calculated using three methods: (1) food only, (2) food and caloric beverages, and (3) food and all beverages.
172 women (25–29 years) who were enrolled in the DISC06 study. Subjects who reported breast augmentation or reduction surgery or were pregnant or lactating within three months before breast density assessment were excluded.
Main outcome measures
ADBV and %DBV.
Statistical analyses performed
Multivariable linear mixed effects models were used. Final models were adjusted for race, smoking status, education, parity, duration of sex hormone use, whole body percent fat, childhood BMI z-score, and energy from beverages.
After adjustment, each 1 kcal/g unit increase in food-only ED was associated with a 25.9% (95% confidence interval = 6.2 to 56.8%) increase in %DBV (p=0.01). Childhood BMI z-score modified the association between food-only ED and %DBV such that a significant positive association was observed only in women who were heavier as children. Food-only ED was not associated with ADBV in all women, but a borderline significant positive association was observed in women who had higher childhood BMI z-scores.
This is the first report to suggest a potential role for dietary ED in breast density; the effects of long-term exposure to high ED diets on breast cancer risk remain unknown.
PMCID: PMC4344841  PMID: 25300225
Premenopausal Women; Breast Density; Breast Cancer; Dietary Energy Density; Diet
21.  Rosuvastatin Reduces Blood Viscosity in Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome 
Korean Circulation Journal  2016;46(2):147-153.
Background and Objectives
Wall shear stress contributes to atherosclerosis progression and plaque rupture. There are limited studies for statin as a major contributing factor on whole blood viscosity (WBV) in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). This study investigates the effect of statin on WBV in ACS patients.
Subjects and Methods
We prospectively enrolled 189 consecutive patients (mean age, 61.3±10.9 years; 132 males; ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, n=52; non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, n=84; unstable angina n=53). Patients were divided into two groups (group I: previous use of statins for at least 3 months, n=51; group II: statin-naïve patients, n=138). Blood viscosities at shear rates of 1 s-1 (diastolic blood viscosity; DBV) and 300 s-1 (systolic blood viscosity; SBV) were measured at baseline and one month after statin treatment. Rosuvastatin was administered to patients after enrollment (mean daily dose, 16.2±4.9 mg).
Baseline WBV was significantly higher in group II ([SBV: group I vs group II, 40.8±5.9 mP vs. 44.2±7.4 mP, p=0.003], [DBV: 262.2±67.8 mP vs. 296.9±76.0 mP, p=0.002]). WBV in group II was significantly lower one month after statin treatment ([SBV: 42.0±4.7 mP, p=0.012, DBV: 281.4±52.6 mP, p=0.044]). However, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level was not associated with WBV in both baseline (SBV: R2=0.074, p=0.326; DBV: R2=0.073, p=0.337) and after one month follow up (SBV: R2=0.104, p=0.265; DBV: R2=0.112, p=0.232).
Previous statin medication is an important determinant in lowering WBV in patients with ACS. However, one month of rosuvastatin decreased WBV in statin-naïve ACS patients.
PMCID: PMC4805558  PMID: 27014344
Blood viscosity; Rheology; Acute coronary syndrome; Rosuvastatin
22.  Pharmacophore-based virtual screening versus docking-based virtual screening: a benchmark comparison against eight targets 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2009;30(12):1694-1708.
This study was conducted to compare the efficiencies of two virtual screening approaches, pharmacophore-based virtual screening (PBVS) and docking-based virtual screening (DBVS) methods.
All virtual screens were performed on two data sets of small molecules with both actives and decoys against eight structurally diverse protein targets, namely angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), acetylcholinesterase (AChE), androgen receptor (AR), D-alanyl-D-alanine carboxypeptidase (DacA), dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), estrogen receptors α (ERα), HIV-1 protease (HIV-pr), and thymidine kinase (TK). Each pharmacophore model was constructed based on several X-ray structures of protein-ligand complexes. Virtual screens were performed using four screening standards, the program Catalyst for PBVS and three docking programs (DOCK, GOLD and Glide) for DBVS.
Of the sixteen sets of virtual screens (one target versus two testing databases), the enrichment factors of fourteen cases using the PBVS method were higher than those using DBVS methods. The average hit rates over the eight targets at 2% and 5% of the highest ranks of the entire databases for PBVS are much higher than those for DBVS.
The PBVS method outperformed DBVS methods in retrieving actives from the databases in our tested targets, and is a powerful method in drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC4007494  PMID: 19935678
pharmacophore; docking; LigandScout; enrichment; hit rate
23.  A Sequence-Independent Strategy for Amplification and Characterisation of Episomal Badnavirus Sequences Reveals Three Previously Uncharacterised Yam Badnaviruses 
Viruses  2016;8(7):188.
Yam (Dioscorea spp.) plants are potentially hosts to a diverse range of badnavirus species (genus Badnavirus, family Caulimoviridae), but their detection is complicated by the existence of integrated badnavirus sequences in some yam genomes. To date, only two badnavirus genomes have been characterised, namely, Dioscorea bacilliform AL virus (DBALV) and Dioscorea bacilliform SN virus (DBSNV). A further 10 tentative species in yam have been described based on their partial reverse transcriptase (RT)-ribonuclease H (RNaseH) sequences, generically referred to here as Dioscorea bacilliform viruses (DBVs). Further characterisation of DBV species is necessary to determine which represent episomal viruses and which are only present as integrated badnavirus sequences in some yam genomes. In this study, a sequence-independent multiply-primed rolling circle amplification (RCA) method was evaluated for selective amplification of episomal DBV genomes. This resulted in the identification and characterisation of nine complete genomic sequences (7.4–7.7 kbp) of existing and previously undescribed DBV phylogenetic groups from Dioscorea alata and Dioscorea rotundata accessions. These new yam badnavirus genomes expand our understanding of the diversity and genomic organisation of DBVs, and assist the development of improved diagnostic tools. Our findings also suggest that mixed badnavirus infections occur relatively often in West African yam germplasm.
PMCID: PMC4974523  PMID: 27399761
yam; Dioscorea spp.; badnavirus; endogenous pararetrovirus; episomal badnavirus; diagnostics; rolling circle amplification; Sub-Saharan Africa
24.  Novel Hybrid Virtual Screening Protocol Based on Molecular Docking and Structure-Based Pharmacophore for Discovery of Methionyl-tRNA Synthetase Inhibitors as Antibacterial Agents 
Methione tRNA synthetase (MetRS) is an essential enzyme involved in protein biosynthesis in all living organisms and is a potential antibacterial target. In the current study, the structure-based pharmacophore (SBP)-guided method has been suggested to generate a comprehensive pharmacophore of MetRS based on fourteen crystal structures of MetRS-inhibitor complexes. In this investigation, a hybrid protocol of a virtual screening method, comprised of pharmacophore model-based virtual screening (PBVS), rigid and flexible docking-based virtual screenings (DBVS), is used for retrieving new MetRS inhibitors from commercially available chemical databases. This hybrid virtual screening approach was then applied to screen the Specs (202,408 compounds) database, a structurally diverse chemical database. Fifteen hit compounds were selected from the final hits and shifted to experimental studies. These results may provide important information for further research of novel MetRS inhibitors as antibacterial agents.
PMCID: PMC3742241  PMID: 23839093
pharmacophore; molecular docking; methionyl-tRNA synthetase; virtual screening
25.  Validation of Oxygen Extraction Fraction Measurement by qBOLD Technique 
Measurement of brain tissue oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) in both baseline and functionally activated states can provide important information on brain functioning in health and disease. The recently proposed quantitative BOLD (qBOLD) technique is MRI-based and provides a regional in vivo OEF measurement (He and Yablonskiy, MRM 2007, 57:115–126). It is based on a previously developed analytical BOLD model and incorporates prior knowledge about the brain tissue composition including the contributions from grey matter, white matter, cerebrospinal fluid, interstitial fluid and intravascular blood. The qBOLD model also allows for the separation of contributions to the BOLD signal from OEF and the deoxyhemoglobin containing blood volume (DBV). The objective of this study is to validate OEF measurements provided by the qBOLD approach. To this end we use a rat model and compare qBOLD OEF measurements against direct measurements of the blood oxygenation level obtained from venous blood drawn directly from the superior sagittal sinus. The cerebral venous oxygenation level of the rat was manipulated by utilizing different anestheisa methods. The study demonstrates a very good agreement between qBOLD approach and direct measurements.
PMCID: PMC2812065  PMID: 18816808
OEF; BOLD; qBOLD; brain metabolism; brain hemodynamics; fMRI

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