Organofluorines represent a rapidly expanding proportion of molecules used in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, agrochemicals, and materials. Despite the prevalence of fluorine in synthetic compounds, the known biological scope is limited to a single pathway that produces fluoroacetate. Here, we demonstrate that this pathway can be exploited as a source of fluorinated building blocks for introduction of fluorine into natural product scaffolds. Specifically, we have constructed pathways involving two polyketide synthase systems and show that fluoroacetate can be used to incorporate fluorine into the polyketide backbone in vitro. We further show that fluorine can be introduced site-selectively and introduced into polyketide products in vivo. These results highlight the prospects for the production of complex fluorinated natural products using synthetic biology.
Ketoreductase (KR) domains from modular polyketide synthases catalyze reduction of 2-methyl-3-ketoacyl-ACP substrates and in certain cases epimerization of the 2-methyl group as well. The structural and mechanistic basis of epimerization is poorly understood, and only a small number of such KRs been studied. We have studied three recombinant KR domains with putative epimerase activity – NysKR1 from module 1 of the nystatin PKS whose stereospecificity can be predicted from both protein sequence and product structure, RifKR7 from module 7 of the rifamycin PKS whose stereospecificity cannot be predicted from protein sequence, and RifKR10 from module 10 of the rifamycin PKS whose specificity is unclear from both sequence and structure. Each KR was individually incubated with NADPH and (2R)- or (2RS)-2-methyl-3-ketopentanoyl-ACP generated enzymatically in situ or via chemo-enzymatic synthesis, respectively. Chiral GC-MS analysis revealed that each KR stereospecifically produced the corresponding (2S,3S)-2-methyl-3-hydroxypentanoyl-ACP in which the 2-methyl substituent had undergone KR-catalyzed epimerization. Thus, our results have led to the identification of a prototypical set of KR domains that generate (2S,3S)-2-methyl-3-hydroxyacyl products in the course of polyketide biosynthesis.
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder caused by intolerance to dietary gluten. The interleukin (IL)-17 and IL-22 function as innate regulators of mucosal integrity. Impaired but not well-understood kinetics of the IL-17/22 secretion was described in celiac patients. Here, the IL-17 and IL-22-producing intestinal cells were studied upon their in vitro stimulation with mitogens in class II major histocompatibility complex-defined, gluten-sensitive rhesus macaques. Pediatric biopsies were collected from distal duodenum during the stages of disease remission and relapse. Regardless of dietary gluten content, IL-17 and IL-22-producing cells consisted of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes as well as of lineage-negative (Lin−) cells. Upon introduction of dietary gluten, capability of intestinal T cells to secrete IL-17/22 started to decline (p < 0.05), which was paralleled with gradual disruption of epithelial integrity. These data indicate that IL-17/22-producing cells play an important role in maintenance of intestinal mucosa in gluten-sensitive primates.
Celiac disease; Th17; Rhesus; Tissue transglutaminase; Autoimmunity
Acyltransferase (AT) domains of modular polyketide synthases exercise tight control over the choice of α-carboxyacyl-CoA substrates, but the mechanistic basis for this specificity is unknown. We show that whereas the specificity for the electrophilic malonyl or methylmalonyl component is primarily expressed in the first half-reaction (formation of the acyl enzyme intermediate), the second half-reaction shows comparable specificity for the acyl carrier protein that carries the nucleophilic pantetheine arm. We also show that currently used approaches for engineering AT domain specificity work mainly by degrading specificity for the natural substrate rather than by enhancing specificity for alternative substrates.
A-74528 is a C-30 polyketide natural product that functions as an inhibitor of 2′,5′-oligoadenylate phosphodiesterase (2′-PDE), a key regulatory enzyme of the interferon pathway. Modulation of 2′-PDE represents a unique therapeutic approach to regulate viral infections. The gene cluster responsible for biosynthesis of A-74528 yields minute amounts of this natural product together with considerably larger quantities of a structurally dissimilar C-30 cytotoxic agent, fredericamycin. Through construction and analysis of a series of knockout mutants, we identified the necessary genes for A-74528 biosynthesis. Remarkably, the formation of six stereocenters and the regiospecific formation of six rings in A- 74528 appears to be catalyzed by only two tailoring enzymes, a cyclase and an oxygenase, in addition to the core polyketide synthase. The inferred pathway was genetically refactored in a heterologous host, Streptomyces coelicolor CH999, to produce 3 mg/L A-74528 in the absence of fredericamycin.
Whereas the role of mammalian thioredoxin (Trx) as an intracellular protein cofactor is widely appreciated, its function in the extracellular environment is not well understood. Only few extracellular targets of Trx-mediated thiol-disulfide exchange are known. For example, Trx activates extracellular transglutaminase 2 (TG2) via reduction of an intramolecular disulfide bond. Because hyperactive TG2 is thought to play a role in various diseases, understanding the biological role of extracellular Trx may provide critical insight into the pathogenesis of these disorders. Starting from a clinical-stage asymmetric disulfide lead, we have identified analogs with >100-fold specificity for Trx. Structure-activity relationship and computational docking model analyses have provided insights into the features important for enhancing potency and specificity. The most active compound identified had an IC50 below 0.1µM in cell culture, and may be appropriate for in vivo use to interrogate the role of extracellular Trx in health and disease.
Guadinomines are a recently discovered family of anti-infective compounds produced by Streptomyces sp. K01-0509 with a novel mode of action. With an IC50 of 14 nM, guadinomine B is the most potent known inhibitor of the Type III Secretion System (TTSS) of Gram-negative bacteria. TTSS activity is required for the virulence of many pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria including Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Yersinia spp., Chlamydia spp., Vibrio spp., and Pseudomonas spp. The guadinomine (gdn) biosynthetic gene cluster has been cloned and sequenced, and includes 26 open reading frames spanning 51.2 kb. It encodes a chimeric multimodular polyketide synthase – nonribosomal peptide synthetase, along with enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of the unusual aminomalonyl-ACP extender unit and the signature carbamoylated cyclic guanidine. Its identity was established by targeted disruption of the gene cluster, as well as by heterologous expression and analysis of key enzymes in the biosynthetic pathway. Identifying the guadinomine gene cluster provides critical insight into the biosynthesis of these scarce but potentially important natural products.
Polyketide natural products act as a broad range of therapeutics, including antibiotics, immunosuppressants and anti-cancer agents. This therapeutic diversity stems from the structural diversity of these small molecules, many of which are produced in an assembly line manner by modular polyketide synthases. The acyltransferase (AT) domains of these megasynthases are responsible for selection and incorporation of simple monomeric building blocks, and are thus responsible for a large amount of the resulting polyketide structural diversity. The substrate specificity of these domains is often targeted for engineering in the generation of novel, therapeutically active natural products. This review outlines recent developments that can be used in the successful engineering of these domains, including AT sequence and structural data, mechanistic insights and the production of a diverse pool of extender units. It also provides an overview of previous AT domain engineering attempts, and concludes with proposed engineering approaches that take advantage of current knowledge. These approaches may lead to successful production of biologically active ‘unnatural’ natural products.
polyketide; acyltransferase; antibiotics; enzyme engineering
Glioblastomas display variable phenotypes that include increased drug-resistance associated with enhanced migratory and anti-apoptotic characteristics. These shared characteristics contribute to failure of clinical treatment regimens. Identification of novel compounds that promote cell death and impair cellular motility is a logical strategy to develop more effective clinical protocols. We recently described the ability of the small molecule, KCC009, a tissue transglutaminase (TG2) inhibitor, to sensitize glioblastoma cells to chemotherapy. In the current study, we synthesized a series of related compounds that show variable ability to promote cell death and impair motility in glioblastomas, irrespective of their ability to inhibit TG2. Each compound has a 3-bromo-4,5-dihydroisoxazole component that presumably reacts with nucleophilic cysteine thiol residues in the active sites of proteins that have an affinity to the small molecule.
Our studies focused on the effects of the compound, ERW1227B. Treatment of glioblastoma cells with ERW1227B was associated with both down-regulation of the PI-3 kinase/Akt pathway, which enhanced cell death; as well as disruption of focal adhesive complexes and intracellular actin fibers, which impaired cellular mobility. Bioassays as well as time-lapse photography of glioblastoma cells treated with ERW1227B showed cell death and rapid loss of cellular motility. Mice studies with in vivo glioblastoma models demonstrated the ability of ERW1227B to sensitize tumor cells to cell death after treatment with either chemotherapy or radiation. The above findings identify ERW1227B as a potential novel therapeutic agent in the treatment of glioblastomas.
Focal adhesive complexes; Glioblastomas; ERW1227B; Cell death; Drug-resistance; Cellular motility
Meningiomas are common intracranial tumors that occur in extra-axial locations, most often over the cerebral convexities or along the skull-base. Although often histologically benign these tumors frequently present challenging clinical problems. Primary clinical management of patients with symptomatic tumors is surgical resection. Radiation treatment may arrest growth or delay recurrence of these tumors, however, meningioma cells are generally resistant to apoptosis after treatment with radiation. Tumor cells are known to alter their expression of proteins that interact in the ECM to provide signals important in tumor progression. One such protein, fibronectin, is expressed in elevated levels in the ECM in a number of tumors including meningiomas. We recently reported that levels of both extracellular fibronectin and tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG2) were increased in glioblastomas. We examined the expression of fibronectin and its association TG2 in meningiomas. Both fibronectin and TG2 were strongly expressed in all meningiomas studied. TG2 activity was markedly elevated in meningiomas, and TG2 was found to co-localize with fibronectin. Treatment of meningiomas with the small molecule TG2 inhibitor, KCC009, inhibited the binding of TG2 to fibronectin and blocked disposition of linear strands of fibronectin in the ECM. KCC009 treatment promoted apoptosis and enhanced radiation sensitivity both in cultured IOMM-Lee meningioma cells and in meningioma tumor explants. These findings support a potential protective role for TG2 in meningiomas.
Brain tumor; Cell death; tissue transglutaminase inhibitor; Radiation
The macrolide antibiotic erythromycin A and its semisynthetic analogues have been among the most useful antibacterial agents for the treatment of infectious diseases. Using a recently developed chemical genetic strategy for precursor-directed biosynthesis and colony bioassay of 6-deoxyerythromycin D analogues, we identified a new class of alkynyl- and alkenyl-substituted macrolides with activity comparable to that of the natural product. Further analysis revealed a marked and unexpected dependence of antibiotic activity on the size and degree of unsaturation of the precursor. Based on these leads, we also report the precursor-directed biosynthesis of 15-propargyl erythromycin A, a novel antibiotic that is not only as potent as erythromycin A with respect to its ability to inhibit bacterial growth and cell-free ribosomal protein biosynthesis, but also harbors an orthogonal functional group that is capable of facile chemical modification.
New tools are needed for managing celiac sprue, a lifelong immune disease of the small intestine. Ongoing drug trials are also prompting a search for noninvasive biomarkers of gluten-induced intestinal change. We have synthesized and characterized noninflammatory gluten peptide analogs in which key Gln residues are replaced by Asn or His. Like their proinflammatory counterparts, these biomarkers are resistant to gastrointestinal proteases, susceptible to glutenases, and permeable across enterocyte barriers. Unlike gluten peptides, however, they are not appreciably recognized by transglutaminase, HLA-DQ2, or disease-specific T cells. In vitro and animal studies show that the biomarkers can detect intestinal permeability changes as well as glutenase-catalyzed gastric detoxification of gluten. Accordingly, controlled clinical studies are warranted to evaluate the use of these peptides as probes for abnormal intestinal permeability in celiac patients and for glutenase efficacy in clinical trials and practice.
One of the most striking features of complex polyketides is the presence of numerous methyl- and hydroxyl-bearing stereogenic centers. In order to investigate the biochemical basis for the control of polyketide stereochemistry and to establish the timing and mechanism of the epimerization at methyl-bearing centers, a series of incubations was carried out using reconstituted components from a variety of modular polyketide synthases. In all cases the stereochemistry of the product was directly correlated with the intrinsic stereospecificity of the ketoreductase domain, independent of the particular chain elongation domains that were used, thereby establishing that methyl group epimerization, when it does occur, takes place after ketosynthase-catalyzed chain elongation. The finding that there were only minor differences in the rates of product formation observed for parallel incubations using an epimerizing ketoreductase domain and the non-epimerizing ketoreductase domain supports the proposal that the epimerization is catalyzed by the ketoreductase domain itself.
Techniques that can effectively separate protein–peptide complexes from free peptides have shown great value in MHC–peptide binding studies. However, most of the available techniques are limited to measuring the binding of a single peptide to MHC molecule. As antigen presentation in vivo involves both endogenous ligands and exogenous antigens, the deconvolution of multiple binding events necessitates the implementation of a more powerful technique. Here we show that capillary electrophoresis coupled to fluorescence detection (CE-FL) can resolve multiple MHC peptide binding events owing to its superior resolution and the ability to simultaneously monitor multiple emission channels. We utilized CE-FL to investigate competition and displacement of endogenous peptides by an immunogenic gluten peptide for binding to HLA-DQ2. Remarkably, this immunogenic peptide could displace CLIP peptides from the DQ2 binding site at neutral but not acidic pH. This unusual ability of the gluten peptide supports a direct loading mechanism of antigen presentation in extracellular environment, a property that could explain the antigenicity of dietary gluten in celiac disease.
protein-peptide interactions; multiple ligands; antigen presentation; electrophoresis; fluorescence
Since their discovery, polyketide synthases have been attractive targets of biosynthetic engineering to make “unnatural” natural products. Although combinatorial biosynthesis has made encouraging advances over the past two decades, the field remains in its infancy. In this enzyme-centric perspective, we discuss the scientific and technological challenges that could accelerate the adoption of combinatorial biosynthesis as a method of choice for the preparation of encoded libraries of bioactive small molecules. Borrowing a page from the protein structure prediction community, we propose a periodic challenge program to vet the most promising methods in the field, and to foster the collective development of useful tools and algorithms.
Bacterial aromatic polyketides that include many antibiotic and antitumor therapeutics are biosynthesized by the type II polyketide synthase (PKS), which consists of 5 – 10 stand-alone enzymatic domains. Hedamycin, an antitumor antibiotic polyketide, is uniquely primed with a hexadienyl group generated by a type I PKS followed by coupling to a downstream type II PKS to biosynthesize a 24-carbon polyketide, whose C9 position is reduced by hedamycin type II ketoreductase (hedKR). HedKR is homologous to the actinorhodin KR (actKR), for which we have conducted extensive structural studies previously. How hedKR can accommodate a longer polyketide substrate than the actKR, and the molecular basis of its regio- and stereospecificities, is not well understood. Here we present a detailed study of hedKR that sheds light on its specificity. Sequence alignment of KRs predicts that hedKR is less active than actKR, with significant differences in substrate/inhibitor recognition. In vitro and in vivo assays of hedKR confirmed this hypothesis. The hedKR crystal structure further provides the molecular basis for the observed differences between hedKR and actKR in the recognition of substrates and inhibitors. Instead of the 94-PGG-96 motif observed in actKR, hedKR has the 92-NGG-94 motif, leading to S-dominant stereospecificity, whose molecular basis can be explained by the crystal structure. Together with mutations, assay results, docking simulations, and the hedKR crystal structure, a model for the observed regio- and stereospecificities is presented herein that elucidates how different type II KRs recognize substrates with different chain lengths, yet precisely reduce only the C9-carbonyl group. The molecular features of hedKR important for regio- and stereospecificities can potentially be applied to biosynthesize new polyketides via protein engineering that rationally controls polyketide ketoreduction.
The pentadecaketide fredericamycin has the longest carbon chain backbone among polycyclic aromatic polyketide antibiotics whose biosynthetic genes have been sequenced. This backbone is synthesized by the bimodular fdm polyketide synthase (PKS). The initiation module is thought to synthesize a C6 intermediate that is then transferred onto the elongation PKS module, which extends it into a C30 poly-β-ketoacyl product. Here we demonstrate that the bimodular fdm PKS as well as its elongation module alone synthesize undecaketides and dodecaketides. Thus, unlike other homologues, the fdm ketosynthase – chain length factor (KS-CLF) heterodimer does not exclusively control the backbone length of its natural product. Using sequence- and structure-based approaches, 48 multiple mutants of the CLF were engineered and analyzed. Unexpectedly, the I134F mutant was unable to turn over, but could initiate and at least partially elongate the polyketide chain. This unprecedented mutant suggests that the KS-CLF heterodimer harbors an as yet uncharacterized chain termination mechanism. Together, our findings reveal fundamental mechanistic differences between the fdm PKS and its well-studied homologues.
The 1.51 Å resolution X-ray crystal structure of the trans-acyltransferase (AT) from the “AT-less” disorazole synthase (DSZS), and its acetate complex at 1.35 Å resolution, are reported. Separately, comprehensive alanine scanning mutagenesis of one of its acyl carrier protein substrates (ACP1 from DSZS) led to the identification of a conserved Asp45 residue on the ACP, which contributes to the substrate specificity of this unusual enzyme. Together, these experimental findings were used to derive a model for the selective association of the DSZS AT and its ACP substrate. Towards the goal of structurally characterizing the AT-ACP interface, a strategy was developed for covalently cross-linking active site Ser→Cys mutant of the DSZS AT to its ACP substrate, and for purifying the resulting AT-ACP complex to homogeneity. The S86C DSZS AT mutant was found to be functional, albeit with a 200-fold lower transacylation efficiency than its wild-type counterpart. Our findings provide new insights as well as new opportunities for high-resolution analysis of an important protein-protein interface in polyketide synthases.
Celiac sprue is an inflammatory disease of the small intestine caused by dietary gluten and treated by adherence to a lifelong gluten-free diet. The recent identification of immunodominant gluten peptides, the discovery of their cogent properties, and the elucidation of the mechanisms by which they engender immunopathology in genetically-susceptible individuals have advanced our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this complex disease, enabling the rational design of new therapeutic strategies. The most clinically advanced of these is oral enzyme therapy, in which enzymes capable of proteolyzing gluten (i.e. glutenases) are delivered to the alimentary tract of a celiac sprue patient to detoxify ingested gluten in situ. In this chapter, we discuss the key challenges for discovery and preclinical development of oral enzyme therapies for celiac sprue. Methods for lead identification, assay development, gram-scale production and formulation, and lead optimization for next-generation proteases are described and critically assessed.
Coeliac disease is a widespread, lifelong disorder for which dietary control represents the only accepted form of therapy. There is an unmet need for non-dietary therapies to treat this condition. Most ongoing and emerging drug discovery programmes are based on the understanding that coeliac disease is caused by an inappropriate T-cell-mediated immune response to dietary gluten proteins. Recent genome-wide association studies lend further support to this pathogenic model. The central role of human leukocyte antigen genes has been validated, and a number of new risk loci have been identified, most of which are related to the biology of T cells and antigen-presenting cells. Here we review the status of potential non-dietary therapies under consideration for coeliac disease. We conclude that future development of novel therapies will be aided by the identification of new, preferably non-invasive, surrogate markers for coeliac disease activity.
Coeliac disease; gluten; T cell; HLA; transglutaminase; drug; therapy
The polyketide antibiotic frenolicin B harbors a biosynthetically intriguing benzoisochromanequinone core, and has been shown to exhibit promising antiparasitic activity against Eimeria tenella. To facilitate further exploration of its chemistry and biology, we constructed a biosynthetic route to frenolicin B in the heterologous host Streptomyces coelicolor CH999, despite the absence of key enzymes in the identified frenolicin gene cluster. Together with our understanding of the underlying polyketide biosynthetic pathway, this heterologous production system was exploited to produce analogs modified at the C15 position. Both the natural product and these analogs inhibited the growth of Toxoplasma gondii in a manner that reveals sensitivity to the length of the C15 substituent. The ability to construct a functional biosynthetic pathway, despite a lack of genetic information, illustrates the feasibility of a modular approach to engineering medicinally relevant polyketide products.
Inhibitors of human transglutaminase 2 (TG2) are anticipated to be useful in the therapy of a variety of diseases including celiac sprue as well as certain CNS disorders and cancers. A class of 3-acylidene-2-oxoindoles was identified as potent reversible inhibitors of human TG2. Structure-activity relationship analysis of a lead compound led to the generation of several potent, competitive inhibitors. Analogues with significant non-competitive character were also identified, suggesting that the compounds bind at one or more allosteric regulatory sites on this multidomain enzyme. The most active compounds had Ki values below 1.0 µM in two different kinetic assays for human TG2, and may therefore be suitable for investigations into the role of TG2 in physiology and disease in animals.
transglutaminase 2; oxoindole; celiac sprue; structure-activity relationships; allostery
Macrolide antibacterial agents inhibit parasite proliferation by targeting the apicoplast ribosome. Motivated by the long-term goal of identifying antiparasitic macrolides that lack antibacterial activity, we have systematically analyzed the structure-activity relationships among erythromycin analogues and have also investigated the mechanism of action of selected compounds. Two lead compounds, N-benzyl-azithromycin (11) and N-phenylpropyl-azithromycin (30), were identified with significantly higher antiparasitic activity and lower antibacterial activity than erythromycin or azithromycin. Molecular modeling based on the co-crystal structure of azithromycin bound to the bacterial ribosome suggested that a substituent at the N-9 position of desmethyl-azithromycin could improve selectivity due to species-specific interactions with the ribosomal L22 protein. Like other macrolides, these lead compounds display a strong “delayed death phenotype”; however, their early effects on T. gondii replication are more pronounced.
Transglutaminase 2 (TG2) is an allosterically regulated enzyme with transamidating, deamidating and cell signaling activities. It is thought to catalyze sequence-specific deamidation of dietary gluten peptides in the small intestines of celiac disease patients. Because this modification has profound consequences for disease pathogenesis, there is considerable interest in the design of small molecule TG2 inhibitors. Although many classes of TG2 inhibitors have been reported, thus far an animal model for screening them to identify promising celiac drug candidates has remained elusive. Using intraperitoneal administration of the toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) ligand, polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly(I∶C)), we induced rapid TG2 activation in the mouse small intestine. Dose dependence was observed in the activation of TG2 as well as the associated villous atrophy, gross clinical response, and rise in serum concentration of the IL-15/IL-15R complex. TG2 activity was most pronounced in the upper small intestine. No evidence of TG2 activation was observed in the lung mucosa, nor were TLR7/8 ligands able to elicit an analogous response. Introduction of ERW1041E, a small molecule TG2 inhibitor, in this mouse model resulted in TG2 inhibition in the small intestine. TG2 inhibition had no effect on villous atrophy, suggesting that activation of this enzyme is a consequence, rather than a cause, of poly(I∶C) induced enteropathy. Consistent with this finding, administration of poly(I∶C) to TG2 knockout mice also induced villous atrophy. Our findings pave the way for pharmacological evaluation of small molecule TG2 inhibitors as drug candidates for celiac disease.