Bacteria have developed cell-to-cell communication mechanisms, termed quorum sensing (QS), which regulate bacterial gene expression in a cell population-dependent manner. Autoinducer-2 (AI-2), a class of QS signaling molecules derived from (4S)-4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione (DPD), has been identified in both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Despite considerable interest in the AI-2 QS system, the biomolecular communication used by distinct bacterial species still remains shrouded. Herein we report the synthesis and evaluation of a new class of DPD analogs, C4-alkoxy-5-hydroxy-2,3-pentanediones, termed C4-alkoxy-HPDs. Remarkably, two of the analogs were more potent QS agonists than the natural ligand, DPD, in Vibrio harveyi. The findings presented extend insights into ligand-receptor recognition/signaling in the AI-2 mediated QS system.
Modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) has been shown to be suitable for the generation of experimental vaccines against cancer and infectious diseases, eliciting strong humoral and cellular immune responses. In viral vectored vaccines, strong recombinant antigen expression and timing of expression influence the quantity and quality of the immune response. Screening of synthetic and native poxvirus promoters for strong protein expression in vitro and potent immune responses in vivo led to the identification of the MVA13.5L promoter, a unique and novel naturally occurring tandem promoter in MVA composed of two 44 nucleotide long repeated motifs, each containing an early promoter element. The MVA13.5L gene is highly conserved across orthopoxviruses, yet its function is unknown. The unique structure of its promoter is not found for any other gene in the MVA genome and is also conserved in other orthopoxviruses. Comparison of the MVA13.5L promoter activity with synthetic poxviral promoters revealed that the MVA13.5L promoter produced higher levels of protein early during infection in HeLa cells and particularly in MDBK cells, a cell line in which MVA replication stops at an early stage before the expression of late genes. Finally, a recombinant antigen expressed under the control of this novel promoter induced high antibody titers and increased CD8 T cell responses in homologous prime-boost immunization compared to commonly used promoters. In particular, the recombinant antigen specific CD8 T cell responses dominated over the immunodominant B8R vector-specific responses after three vaccinations and even more during the memory phase. These results have identified the native MVA13.5L promoter as a new potent promoter for use in MVA vectored preventive and therapeutic vaccines.
Iron plays a crucial role in metabolism as a key component of catalytic and redox cofactors, such as heme or iron-sulfur clusters in enzymes and electron-transporting or regulatory proteins. Limitation of iron availability by the host is also one of the mechanisms involved in immunity. Pathogens must regulate their protein expression according to the iron concentration in their environment and optimize their metabolic pathways in cases of limitation through the availability of respective cofactors. Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted pathogen of humans, requires high iron levels for optimal growth. It is an anaerobe that possesses hydrogenosomes, mitochondrion-related organelles that harbor pathways of energy metabolism and iron-sulfur cluster assembly. We analyzed the proteomes of hydrogenosomes obtained from cells cultivated under iron-rich and iron-deficient conditions employing two-dimensional peptide separation combining IEF and nano-HPLC with quantitative MALDI-MS/MS. We identified 179 proteins, of which 58 were differentially expressed. Iron deficiency led to the upregulation of proteins involved in iron-sulfur cluster assembly and the downregulation of enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Interestingly, iron affected the expression of only some of multiple protein paralogues, whereas the expression of others was iron independent. This finding indicates a stringent regulation of differentially expressed multiple gene copies in response to changes in the availability of exogenous iron.
Simultaneous activation of signaling pathways requires dynamic assembly of higher-order protein complexes at the cytoplasmic domains of membrane-associated receptors in a stimulus-specific manner. Here, using the paradigm of cellular activation through cytokine and innate immune receptors, we demonstrate the proof-of-principle application of small molecule probes for the dissection of receptor-proximal signaling processes, such as activation of the transcription factor NF- B and the protein kinase p38.
NF-kB pathway; Toll-like-receptor; Selective inhibitor; Innate immunity; Tumor Necrosis Factor
Multivalency is a common principle in the recognition of cellular receptors, and multivalent agonists and antagonists have played a major role in understanding mammalian cell receptor biology. The study of bacterial cell receptors using similar approaches, however, has lagged behind. Herein we describe our efforts toward the development of a dendrimer-based multivalent probe for studying AI-2 quorum sensing receptors. From these studies, we have discovered a chemical probe specific for Lsr-type AI-2 quorum sensing receptors with the potential for enabling the identification of new bacterial species that utilize AI-2 as a quorum sensing signaling molecule.
Alkynyl- and azido-tagged 3-oxo-C12-acylhomoserine lactone probes have been synthesized to examine their potential utility as probes for discovering the mammalian protein target of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa autoinducer, 3-oxo-C12-acylhomoserine lactone. Although such substitutions are commonly believed to be quite conservative, from these studies, we have uncovered a drastic difference in activity between the alkynyl- and azido-modified compounds, and provide an example where such structural modification has proved to be much less than conservative.
Acylhomoserine lactones; Click chemistry; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Quorum sensing
Despite significant progress and notable successes in tumor therapy, malignant disease remains an extremely difficult problem in today's health care setting. There is, however, an increasing application of new therapies targeting proteins specifically upregulated on tumor cells. These innovative therapeutic approaches are aimed at molecules that contribute to malignant development and progression but spare normal tissues. The CUB Domain Containing Protein 1 (CDCP1) is such a tumor-associated protein and thus, a potential candidate for targeted cancer immunotherapy. Herein, we describe the generation of function-blocking human antibodies against CDCP1 that were obtained from human scFv phage display libraries using subtractive panning protocols on CDCP1 expressing cancer cells and immunopurified CDCP1 protein. One of the isolated anti-CDCP1 antibodies, namely C20Fc, efficiently blocked experimental metastasis of human carcinoma cells, including HeLa cells stably transfected with CDCP1 and prostate carcinoma cells PC-hi/diss naturally expressing CDCP1, in both chick embryo and mouse model systems. The C20Fc antibody also reduced colony formation of CDCP1 expressing cells in a soft agar assay for anchorage-independent cell growth. Specific targeting of CDCP1 by C20Fc mediated the delivery of a toxin-conjugated antibody complex, thus, providing evidence for antibody internalization and specific killing of CDCP1-positive tumor cells. Our findings indicate a functional role for CDCP1 in human cancer and underscore the therapeutic potential of function-blocking anti-CDCP1 antibodies targeting both primary and metastatic carcinoma cells.
Immunotherapy; CDCP-1; metastasis; human antibodies; carcinoma
Quorum sensing (QS) systems have been proposed in a wide variety of bacteria. The AI-2-based QS system represents the most studied of these proposed interspecies systems, and has been shown to regulate diverse functions such as bioluminescence, expression of virulence factors, and biofilm formation. As such, the development of modulatory compounds, both agonists and antagonists, is of great interest for the study of unknown AI-2 based QS systems and the potential treatment of bacterial infections. The fimbrolide class of natural products has exhibited excellent inhibitory activity against AI-2-based QS, and as such may be considered the “gold-standard” of AI-2 inhibitors. Thus, we sought to include a fimbrolide as a control compound for our recently developed alkyl-DPD panel of AI-2 modulators. Herein, we present a revised synthesis of a commonly studied fimbrolide, as well as a direct comparison between the fimbrolide and alkyl-DPD analogs. We demonstrate that our alkyl-DPD analogs are more potent inhibitors of QS in both Vibrio harveyi and Salmonella typhimurium, the two organisms with defined AI-2 systems, and in doing so, call into question the widely accepted use of fimbrolide-derived compounds as the “gold standard” of AI-2 inhibition.
In Nature, bacteria rarely exist as single, isolated entities, but rather as communities comprised of many other species including higher host organisms. To survive in these competitive environments, microorganisms have developed elaborate tactics such as the formation of biofilms and the production of antimicrobial toxins. Recently, it was discovered that the Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen, produces an antibiotic, 3-(1-hydroxydecylidene)-5-(2-hydroxyethyl)pyrrolidine-2,4-dione (C12-TA), derived from one of its quorum sensing molecules. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the expanded spectrum of C12-TA antibacterial activity against microbial competitors encountered by P. aeruginosa in Nature as well as significant human pathogens. The mechanism of action of C12-TA was also elucidated and C12-TA was found to dissipate both the membrane potential and pH gradient of Gram-positive bacteria, correlating well with cell death. Notably, in stark contrast to its parent molecule 3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL), neither activation of cellular stress pathways nor cytotoxicity was observed in human cells treated with C12-TA. Our results suggest that the QS machinery of P. aeruginosa has evolved for a dual-function, both to signal others of the same species, and also to defend against both host immunity and competing bacteria. Because of the broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, established mode of action, lack of rapid resistance development, and tolerance by human cells, the C12-TA scaffold may also serve as a new lead compound for the development of antimicrobial therapeutics.
The Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen, uses acylhomoserine lactone-based quorum sensing systems to control its pathogenicity. One of its quorum sensing factors, N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone, has been shown not only to mediate bacterial quorum sensing but also to exert cytotoxic effects on mammalian cells. The monoclonal antibody RS2-1G9 generated against a 3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone analogue hapten was able to protect murine bone marrow-derived macrophages from the cytotoxic effects and also prevented the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38. These data demonstrate that an immunopharmacotherapeutic approach to combat P. aeruginosa infections might be a viable therapeutic option as the monoclonal antibody RS2-1G9 can readily sequester bacterial N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone molecules, thus interfering with their biological effects in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems.
Tumor targeting peptides are promising vehicles for site-directed cancer therapy. Pep42, a cyclic 13-mer oligopeptide that specifically binds to glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) and internalized into cancer cells, represents an excellent vehicle for tumor cell-specific chemotherapy. Here, we report the synthesis and evaluation of Pep42-prodrug conjugates that contain a cathepsin B-cleavable linker, resulting in the traceless release of drug inside the cancer cells.
Quorum sensing (QS) is the process through which bacteria communicate utilizing small diffusible molecules termed autoinducers. It has been demonstrated that QS controls a plethora of microbial processes including the expression of virulence factors. Here, we report an immunopharmacotherapeutic approach for the attenuation of QS in the Gram-positive human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. An anti-autoinducer monoclonal antibody, AP4-24 H11, was elicited against a rationally-designed hapten, and efficiently inhibited QS in vitro through the sequestration of the autoinducing peptide (AIP)-4 produced by S. aureus RN4850. Importantly, AP4-24H11 suppressed S. aureus pathogenicity in an abscess formation mouse model in vivo and provided complete protection against a lethal S. aureus challenge. These findings provide a strong foundation for further investigations of using immunopharmacotherapy for the treatment of bacterial infections in which QS controls the expression of virulence factors.
Major obstacles in the development of new therapeutic anticancer drugs are the low bioavailability of hydrophilic substances as well as the nonspecific toxicity towards healthy tissues. As such cell-targeting oligopeptides have emerged as attractive drug delivery vehicles for a variety of different types of cargo. The recently identified peptide Pep42 binds to the glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), which is overexpressed on the cell surface of human cancer cells and internalizes into these cells. Herein, we demonstrate how Pep42 can be utilized as a carrier for different types of cytotoxic drugs to specifically target human cancer cell lines in vitro in a strictly GRP78-dependent manner. Furthermore, the mechanism of internalization of Pep42 was elucidated and found to involve clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Pep42 subsequently co-localizes within the lysosomal compartment. Importantly, we also provide evidence that Pep42 conjugated quantum dots have the ability to selectively enrich in tumor tissue in a xenograft mouse model. Our results suggest that the highly specific GRP78-Pep42 interaction can be utilized for the generation of Pep42-drug conjugates as a powerful anticancer drug delivery system that could substantially enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy by increasing the drug-tumor specificity; thus, minimizing the adverse side effects associated with conventional cancer therapeutics.
Drug delivery; tumor targeting; GRP78; heat shock protein; cyclic peptide
A large number of Gram-negative bacteria employ N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) as signaling molecules in quorum sensing, which is a population density-dependent mechanism to coordinate gene expression. Antibody RS2-1G9 was elicited against a lactam mimetic of the N-acyl homoserine lactone and represents the only reported monoclonal antibody that recognizes the naturally-occuring N-acyl homoserine lactone with high affinity. Due to its high cross-reactivity, RS2-1G9 showed remarkable inhibition of quorum sensing signaling in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common opportunistic pathogen in humans. The crystal structure of Fab RS2-1G9 in complex with a lactam analog revealed complete encapsulation of the polar lactam moiety in the antibody combining site. This mode of recognition provides an elegant immunological solution for tight binding to an aliphatic, lipid-like ligand with a small head group lacking typical haptenic features, such as aromaticity or charge, which are often incorporated into hapten design to generate high-affinity antibodies. The ability of RS2-1G9 to discriminate between closely-related AHLs is conferred by six hydrogen bonds to the ligand. Conversely, cross-reactivity of RS2-1G9 towards the lactone is likely to originate from conservation of these hydrogen bonds as well as an additional hydrogen bond to the oxygen of the lactone ring. A short and narrow tunnel exiting at the protein surface harbors a portion of the acyl chain and would not allow for entry of the head group. The crystal structure of the antibody without its cognate lactam or lactone ligands revealed a considerably altered antibody combining site with a closed binding pocket, suggestive of an induced fit mechanism for ligand binding. Curiously, a completely buried ethylene glycol molecule mimics the lactam ring and, thus, serves as a surrogate ligand. The detailed structural delineation of this quorum-quenching antibody will now aid in further development of an antibody-based therapy against bacterial pathogens by interference with quorum sensing.
Crystal Structure; hapten complex; quorum sensing; quorum quenching; N-acyl homoserine lactone
Cocaine is a powerful and addictive stimulant whose abuse remains a prevalent health and societal crisis. Unfortunately, no pharmacological therapies exist and therefore alternative protein-based therapies have been examined. One such approach is immunopharmacotherapy, wherein antibodies are utilized to either bind or hydrolyze cocaine thereby blocking it from exerting its euphoric effect. Towards this end, antibodies capable of binding and hydrolyzing cocaine were identified by phage display from a biased single chain antibody library generated from the spleens of mice previously immunized with a cocaine phosphonate transition state analog hapten. Two classes of antibodies emerged based on sequence homology and mode of action. Alanine scanning mutagenesis and kinetic analysis revealed that residues H97, H99, and L96 are crucial for antibodies 3F5 and 3H9 to accelerate the hydrolysis of cocaine. Antibodies 3F1 through 3F4, which are similar to our previously identified 3A6 class of antibodies, catalyze hydrolysis through transition state stabilization by tyrosine or histidine residues H50 and L94. Mutation of either one or both tyrosines to histidine conferred hydrolytic activity on previously inactive antibody 3F4. Mutational analysis of residue H50 of antibody 3F3 resulted in a glutamine mutant with a rate enhancement three times greater than wildtype. A double mutant, containing glutamineH50 and lysineH52, showed a ten-fold rate enhancement over wildtype. These results indicate the power of initial selection of catalytic antibodies from a biased antibody library in both rapid generation and screening of mutants for improved catalysis.
cocaine; catalytic antibodies; phage display; immunopharmacotherapy; structure based design
Invasive Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) can enter epithelial cells wherein they mediate formation of plasma membrane bleb-niches for intracellular compartmentalization. This phenotype, and capacity for intracellular replication, requires the ADP-ribosyltransferase (ADPr) activity of ExoS, a PA type III secretion system (T3SS) effector protein. Thus, PA T3SS mutants lack these capacities and instead traffic to perinuclear vacuoles. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the T3SS, via the ADPr activity of ExoS, allows PA to evade acidic vacuoles that otherwise suppress its intracellular viability. The acidification state of bacteria-occupied vacuoles within infected corneal epithelial cells was studied using LysoTracker to visualize acidic, lysosomal vacuoles. Steady state analysis showed that within cells wild-type PAO1 localized to both membrane bleb-niches and vacuoles, while both exsA (transcriptional activator) and popB (effector translocation) T3SS mutants were only found in vacuoles. The acidification state of occupied vacuoles suggested a relationship with ExoS expression, i.e. vacuoles occupied by the exsA mutant (unable to express ExoS) were more often acidified than either popB mutant or wild-type PAO1 occupied vacuoles (p < 0.001). An exoS-gfp reporter construct pJNE05 confirmed that high exoS transcriptional output coincided with low occupation of acidified vacuoles, and vice versa, for both popB mutants and wild-type bacteria. Complementation of a triple effector null mutant of PAO1 with exoS (pUCPexoS) reduced the number of acidified bacteria-occupied vacuoles per cell; pUCPexoSE381D which lacks ADPr activity did not. The H+-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin rescued intracellular replication to wild-type levels for exsA mutants, showing its viability is suppressed by vacuolar acidification. Taken together, the data show that the mechanism by which ExoS ADPr activity allows intracellular replication by PA involves suppression of vacuolar acidification. They also show that variability in ExoS expression by wild-type PA inside cells can differentially influence the fate of individual intracellular bacteria, even within the same cell.
In biofilms, the bacterial community optimizes the strategies to sense the environment and to communicate from cell to cell. A key player in the development of a bacterial biofilm is the second messenger c-di-GMP, whose intracellular levels are modulated by the opposite activity of diguanylate cyclases and phosphodiesterases. Given the huge impact of bacterial biofilms on human health, understanding the molecular details of c-di-GMP metabolism represents a critical step in the development of novel therapeutic approaches against biofilms. In this study, we present a detailed biochemical characterization of two c-di-GMP phosphodiesterases of the HD-GYP subtype from the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, namely PA4781 and PA4108. Upstream of the catalytic HD-GYP domain, PA4781 contains a REC domain typical of two-component systems, while PA4108 contains an uncharacterized domain of unknown function. Our findings shed light on the activity and catalytic mechanism of these phosphodiesterases. We show that both enzymes hydrolyse c-di-GMP in a two-step reaction via the linear intermediate pGpG and that they produce GMP in vitro at a surprisingly low rate. In addition, our data indicate that the non-phosphorylated REC domain of PA4781 prevents accessibility of c-di-GMP to the active site. Both PA4108 and phosphorylated PA4781 are also capable to use pGpG as an alternative substrate and to hydrolyse it into GMP; the affinity of PA4781 for pGpG is one order of magnitude higher than that for c-di-GMP. These results suggest that these enzymes may not work (primarily) as genuine phosphodiesterases. Moreover, the unexpected affinity of PA4781 for pGpG may indicate that pGpG could also act as a signal molecule in its own right, thus further widening the c-di-GMP-related signalling scenario.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic human pathogen that can establish bacterial communication by synchronizing the behavior of individual cells in a molecular phenomenon known as “quorum sensing”. Through an elusive mechanism involving gene products of the pqs operon, the PqsE enzyme is absolutely required for the synthesis of extracellular phenazines, including the toxic blue pigment pyocyanin, effectively allowing cells to achieve full-fledged virulence. Despite several functional and structural attempts at deciphering the role of this relevant enzymatic drug target, no molecular function has yet been ascribed to PqsE. In the present study, we report a series of alanine scanning experiments aimed at altering the biological function of PqsE, allowing us to uncover key amino acid positions involved in the molecular function of this enzyme. We use sequence analysis and structural overlays with members of homologous folds to pinpoint critical positions located in the vicinity of the ligand binding cleft and surrounding environment, revealing the importance of a unique C-terminal α-helical motif in the molecular function of PqsE. Our results suggest that the active site of the enzyme involves residues that extend further into the hydrophobic core of the protein, advocating for a lid-like movement of the two terminal helices. This information should help design virtual libraries of PqsE inhibitors, providing means to counter P. aeruginosa virulence acquisition and helping to reduce nosocomial infections.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen is known to synthesize rhamnolipid and polyhydroxyalkanoic acid (PHA) of which the acyl-group precursors (e.g., (R)-3-hydroxydecanoic acid) are provided through RhlA and PhaG enzyme, respectively, which have 57% gene sequence homology. The inhibitory effect of three 2-bromo-fatty acids of 2-bromohexanoic acid (2-BrHA), 2-bromooctanoic acid (2-BrOA) and 2-bromodecanoic acid (2-BrDA) was compared to get an insight into the biochemical nature of their probable dual inhibition against the two enzymes. The 2-bromo-compounds were found to inhibit rhamnolipid and PHA synthesis simultaneously in alkyl-chain-length dependent manner at several millimolar concentrations. The separate and dual inhibition of the RhlA and PhaG pathway by the 2-bromo-compounds in the wild-type cells was verified by investigating their inhibitory effects on the rhamnolipid and PHA synthesis in P. aeruginosa ΔphaG and ΔrhlA mutants. Unexpectedly, the order of inhibition strength was found 2-BrHA (≥90% at 2 mM) > 2-BrOA > 2-BrDA, equally for all of the rhamnolipids and PHA synthesis, swarming motility and biofilm formation. We suggest that the novel strongest inhibitor 2-BrHA could be potentially exploited to control the rhamnolipid-associated group behaviors of this pathogen as well as for its utilization as a lead compound in screening for antimicrobial agents based on new antimicrobial targets.