Oritavancin is a semisynthetic derivative of the glycopeptide antibiotic chloroeremomycin with activity against Gram-positive pathogens, including vancomycin-resistant staphylococciand enterococci. Compared to vancomycin, oritavancin is characterized by the presence of two additional residues; a hydrophobic 4' -chlorobiphenylmethyl moiety and a 4-epi-vancosamine substituent, which is also present in chloroeremomycin. Here we show that oritavancin and its des-N-methylleucyl variant (des-oritavancin) effectively inhibit lipid I- and lipid II-consuming peptidoglycan biosynthesis reactions in vitro. Contrary to vancomycin, binding affinity of oritavancin to the cell wall precursor lipid II appears to involve, in addition to the D-Ala-D-Ala terminus, other species-specific binding sites of the lipid II molecule, i.e. the crossbridge and D-iso-glutamine in position 2 of the lipid II stem peptide, both characteristic for a number of Gram-positive pathogens, including staphylococci and enterococci. Using purified lipid II and modified lipid II variants, we studied the impact of these modifications on the binding of oritavancin and compared it to vancomycin, chloroeremomycin and des-oritavancin. Analysis of binding parameters revealed that additional intramolecular interactions of oritavancin with the peptidoglycan precursor appear to compensate for the loss of a crucial hydrogen bond in vancomycin-resistant strains, resulting in anenhanced binding affinity.Augmenting previous findings, we show that predominantly amidation of the lipid II stem peptide accounts for increased binding of oritavancin to modified intermediates ending in D-Ala-D-Lac.Corroborating our conclusions we further provide biochemical evidence for the phenomenon of antagonistic effects of mecA and vanA resistance determinants in S. aureus, thus partially explaining the low frequency of methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) acquiring high level vancomycin resistance.
Fungi and bacteria compete with an arsenal of secreted molecules for their ecological niche. This repertoire represents a rich and inexhaustible source for antibiotics and fungicides. Antimicrobial peptides are an emerging class of fungal defense molecules that are promising candidates for pharmaceutical applications. Based on a co-cultivation system, we studied the interaction of the coprophilous basidiomycete Coprinopsis cinerea with different bacterial species and identified a novel defensin, copsin. The polypeptide was recombinantly produced in Pichia pastoris and the 3D structure was solved by NMR. The cysteine stabilized ?/?-fold with a unique disulfide connectivity and an N-terminal pyroglutamate rendered copsin extremely stable against high temperatures and protease digestion. Copsin was bactericidal against a diversity of Gram positive bacteria, including human pathogens such as Enterococcus faecium and Listeria monocytogenes. Characterization of the antibacterial activity revealed that copsin bound specifically to the peptidoglycan precursor lipid II and therefore interfered with the cell wall biosynthesis. In particular, and unlike lantibiotics and other defensins, the third position of the lipid II pentapeptide is essential for effective copsin binding. The unique structural properties of copsin make it a possible scaffold for new antibiotics.
Conserved clusters of genes encoding DsrE and TusA homologs occur in many archaeal and bacterial sulfur oxidizers. TusA has a well documented function as a sulfurtransferase in tRNA modification and molybdenum cofactor biosynthesis in Escherichia coli, and DsrE is an active site subunit of the DsrEFH complex that is essential for sulfur trafficking in the phototrophic sulfur-oxidizing Allochromatium vinosum. In the acidothermophilic sulfur (S(0))- and tetrathionate (S4O6(2-))-oxidizing Metallosphaera cuprina Ar-4, a dsrE3A-dsrE2B-tusA arrangement is situated immediately between genes encoding dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase and a heterodisulfide reductase-like complex. In this study, the biochemical features and sulfur transferring abilities of the DsrE2B, DsrE3A, and TusA proteins were investigated. DsrE3A and TusA proved to react with tetrathionate but not with NaSH, glutathione persulfide, polysulfide, thiosulfate, or sulfite. The products were identified as protein-Cys-S-thiosulfonates. DsrE3A was also able to cleave the thiosulfate group from TusA-Cys(18)-S-thiosulfonate. DsrE2B did not react with any of the sulfur compounds tested. DsrE3A and TusA interacted physically with each other and formed a heterocomplex. The cysteine residue (Cys(18)) of TusA is crucial for this interaction. The single cysteine mutants DsrE3A-C(93)S and DsrE3A-C(101)S retained the ability to transfer the thiosulfonate group to TusA. TusA-C(18)S neither reacted with tetrathionate nor was it loaded with thiosulfate with DsrE3A-Cys-S-thiosulfonate as the donor. The transfer of thiosulfate, mediated by a DsrE-like protein and TusA, is unprecedented not only in M. cuprina but also in other sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes. The results of this study provide new knowledge on oxidative microbial sulfur metabolism.
Representing a physiological "Achilles' heel", the cell wall precursor lipid II (LII) is a prime target for various classes of antibiotics. Over the years LII-binding agents have been recognized as promising candidates and templates in the search for new antibacterial compounds to complement or replace existing drugs. To elucidate the molecular structural basis underlying LII functional mechanism and to better understand if and how lantibiotic binding alters the molecular behavior of LII, we performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of phospholipid membrane-embedded LII in the absence and presence of the LII-binding lantibiotic nisin. In a series of 2×4 independent, unbiased 100ns MD simulations we sampled the conformational dynamics of nine LII as well as nine LII-nisin complexes embedded in an aqueous 150mM NaCl/POPC phospholipid membrane environment. We found that nisin binding to LII induces a reduction of LII mobility and flexibility, an outward shift of the LII pentapeptide, an inward movement of the LII disaccharide section, and an overall deeper insertion of the LII tail group into the membrane. The latter effect might indicate an initial step in adopting a stabilizing, scaffold-like structure in the process of nisin-induced membrane leakage. At the same time nisin conformation and LII interaction remain similar to the 1WCO LII-nisin NMR solution structure.
A small peptide called PSM-mec is encoded on the type II, III and VIII SCCmec cassettes present in the genomes of nosocomial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains. This peptide is excreted by agr-positive strains, which represent about 89% of the strains of our collection and can be identified by the presence of delta toxin in mass spectrometry. The presence of the peptide in the MALDI-TOF MS spectra of whole cells was proved by a knock-down experiment employing a clone that expressed antisense RNA to psm-mec. Furthermore, evaluation of a collection of clinical agr-positive MRSA and MSSA isolates and type strains showed that, using a detection window of m/z 2411-2419, the PSM-mec is detected by mass spectrometry of whole cells with a sensitivity of 0.95 and a specificity of 1, thereby enabling rapid identification of a subgroup of MRSA with a method that is used during routine identification procedures.
Intracellular Chlamydiaceae do not need to resist osmotic challenges and a functional cell wall was not detected in these pathogens. Nevertheless, a recent study revealed evidence for circular peptidoglycan-like structures in Chlamydiaceae and penicillin inhibits cytokinesis, a phenomenon known as the chlamydial anomaly. Here, by characterizing a cell wall precursor-processing enzyme, we provide insights into the mechanisms underlying this mystery. We show that AmiA from Chlamydia pneumoniae separates daughter cells in an Escherichia coli amidase mutant. Contrary to homologues from free-living bacteria, chlamydial AmiA uses lipid II as a substrate and has dual activity, acting as an amidase and a carboxypeptidase. The latter function is penicillin sensitive and assigned to a penicillin-binding protein motif. Consistent with the lack of a regulatory domain in AmiA, chlamydial CPn0902, annotated as NlpD, is a carboxypeptidase, rather than an amidase activator, which is the case for E. coli NlpD. Functional conservation of AmiA implicates a role in cytokinesis and host response modulation.
Human skin fatty acids are a potent aspect of our innate defenses, giving surface protection against potentially invasive organisms. They provide an important parameter in determining the ecology of the skin microflora, and alterations can lead to increased colonization by pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus. Harnessing skin fatty acids may also give a new avenue of exploration in the generation of control measures against drug-resistant organisms. Despite their importance, the mechanism(s) whereby skin fatty acids kill bacteria has remained largely elusive. Here, we describe an analysis of the bactericidal effects of the major human skin fatty acid cis-6-hexadecenoic acid (C6H) on the human commensal and pathogen S. aureus. Several C6H concentration-dependent mechanisms were found. At high concentrations, C6H swiftly kills cells associated with a general loss of membrane integrity. However, C6H still kills at lower concentrations, acting through disruption of the proton motive force, an increase in membrane fluidity, and its effects on electron transfer. The design of analogues with altered bactericidal effects has begun to determine the structural constraints on activity and paves the way for the rational design of new antistaphylococcal agents.
Short antimicrobial peptides rich in arginine (R) and tryptophan (W) interact with membranes. To learn how this interaction leads to bacterial death, we characterized the effects of the minimal pharmacophore RWRWRW-NH2. A ruthenium-substituted derivative of this peptide localized to the membrane in vivo, and the peptide also integrated readily into mixed phospholipid bilayers that resemble Gram-positive membranes. Proteome and Western blot analyses showed that integration of the peptide caused delocalization of peripheral membrane proteins essential for respiration and cell-wall biosynthesis, limiting cellular energy and undermining cell-wall integrity. This delocalization phenomenon also was observed with the cyclic peptide gramicidin S, indicating the generality of the mechanism. Exogenous glutamate increases tolerance to the peptide, indicating that osmotic destabilization also contributes to antibacterial efficacy. Bacillus subtilis responds to peptide stress by releasing osmoprotective amino acids, in part via mechanosensitive channels. This response is triggered by membrane-targeting bacteriolytic peptides of different structural classes as well as by hypoosmotic conditions.
The formation of periplasmic sulfur globules is an intermediate step during the oxidation of reduced sulfur compounds in various sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms. The mechanism of how this sulfur is activated and crosses the cytoplasmic membrane for further oxidation to sulfite by the dissimilatory reductase DsrAB is incompletely understood, but it has been well documented that the pathway involves sulfur trafficking mediated by sulfur-carrying proteins. So far sulfur transfer from DsrEFH to DsrC has been established. Persulfurated DsrC very probably serves as a direct substrate for DsrAB. Here, we introduce further important players in oxidative sulfur metabolism; the proteins Rhd_2599, TusA, and DsrE2 are strictly conserved in the Chromatiaceae, Chlorobiaceae, and Acidithiobacillaceae families of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and are linked to genes encoding complexes involved in sulfur oxidation (Dsr or Hdr) in the latter two. Here we show via relative quantitative real-time PCR and microarray analysis an increase of mRNA levels under sulfur-oxidizing conditions for rhd_2599, tusA, and dsrE2 in Allochromatium vinosum. Transcriptomic patterns for the three genes match those of major genes for the sulfur-oxidizing machinery rather than those involved in biosynthesis of sulfur-containing biomolecules. TusA appears to be one of the major proteins in A. vinosum. A rhd_2599-tusA-dsrE2-deficient mutant strain, although not viable in liquid culture, was clearly sulfur oxidation negative upon growth on solid media containing sulfide. Rhd_2599, TusA, and DsrE2 bind sulfur atoms via conserved cysteine residues, and experimental evidence is provided for the transfer of sulfur between these proteins as well as to DsrEFH and DsrC.
The lantibiotic NAI-107 is active against Gram-positive bacteria including vancomycin-resistant enterococci and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. To identify the molecular basis of its potency, we studied the mode of action in a series of whole cell and in vitro assays and analyzed structural features by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The lantibiotic efficiently interfered with late stages of cell wall biosynthesis and induced accumulation of the soluble peptidoglycan precursor UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid-pentapeptide (UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide) in the cytoplasm. Using membrane preparations and a complete cascade of purified, recombinant late stage peptidoglycan biosynthetic enzymes (MraY, MurG, FemX, PBP2) and their respective purified substrates, we showed that NAI-107 forms complexes with bactoprenol-pyrophosphate-coupled precursors of the bacterial cell wall. Titration experiments indicate that first a 1:1 stoichiometric complex occurs, which then transforms into a 2:1 (peptide: lipid II) complex, when excess peptide is added. Furthermore, lipid II and related molecules obviously could not serve as anchor molecules for the formation of defined and stable nisin-like pores, however, slow membrane depolarization was observed after NAI-107 treatment, which could contribute to killing of the bacterial cell.
Within the framework of our genome-based program to discover new antibiotic lipopeptides from Pseudomonads, brabantamides A-C were isolated from plant-associated Pseudomonas sp. SH-C52. Brabantamides A-C displayed moderate to high in vitro activities against Gram-positive bacterial pathogens. Their shared structure is unique in that they contain a 5,5-bicyclic carbamate scaffold. Here, the biosynthesis of brabantamide A (SB-253514) was studied by a combination of bioinformatics, feeding experiments with isotopically labelled precursors and in vivo and in vitro functional analysis of enzymes encoded in the biosynthetic pathway. The studies resulted in the deduction of all biosynthetic building blocks of brabantamide A and revealed an unusual feature of this metabolite: its biosynthesis occurs via an initially formed linear di-lipopeptide that is subsequently rearranged by a novel FAD-dependent Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenase.
For intracellular Chlamydiaceae, there is no need to withstand osmotic challenges, and a functional cell wall has not been detected in these pathogens so far. Nevertheless, penicillin inhibits cell division in Chlamydiaceae resulting in enlarged aberrant bodies, a phenomenon known as chlamydial anomaly. D-alanine is a unique and essential component in the biosynthesis of bacterial cell walls. In free-living bacteria like Escherichia coli, penicillin-binding proteins such as monofunctional transpeptidases PBP2 and PBP3, the putative targets of penicillin in Chlamydiaceae, cross-link adjacent peptidoglycan strands via meso-diaminopimelic acid and D-Ala-D-Ala moieties of pentapeptide side chains. In the absence of genes coding for alanine racemase Alr and DadX homologs, the source of D-Ala and thus the presence of substrates for PBP2 and PBP3 activity in Chlamydiaceae has puzzled researchers for years. Interestingly, Chlamydiaceae genomes encode GlyA, a serine hydroxymethyltransferase that has been shown to exhibit slow racemization of D- and L-alanine as a side reaction in E. coli. We show that GlyA from Chlamydia pneumoniae can serve as a source of D-Ala. GlyA partially reversed the D-Ala auxotrophic phenotype of an E. coli racemase double mutant. Moreover, purified chlamydial GlyA had racemase activity on L-Ala in vitro and was inhibited by D-cycloserine, identifying GlyA, besides D-Ala ligase MurC/Ddl, as an additional target of this competitive inhibitor in Chlamydiaceae. Proof of D-Ala biosynthesis in Chlamydiaceae helps to clarify the structure of cell wall precursor lipid II and the role of chlamydial penicillin-binding proteins in the development of non-dividing aberrant chlamydial bodies and persistence in the presence of penicillin.
The 3 end of rsbU, encoding the positive regulator of the stress factor sigma B, was identified as a hot spot for spontaneous IS256 insertion in Staphylococcus aureus SA137/93G. Interestingly, subinhibitory concentrations of chloramphenicol in combination with heat stress, as well as linezolid and spectinomycin at physiological temperatures, selected for such rsbU::IS256 insertion mutants. In consequence of the inactivation of rsbU, the IS256 transposition frequency was increased 4-fold in S. aureus HG001.
Cationic and amphiphilic peptides are widely distributed in eukaryotic organisms and constitute a first line of host defense against invading pathogens. Some of these host defense peptides (HDPs) combine specific antibiotic activities with modulation of immune responses. Moreover, they are active against bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics and show only modest resistance development under in vitro selection pressure. Based on these features, HDPs and particularly defensins are considered a promising source of novel anti-infective agents. This review summarizes the current knowledge about defensins from different kingdoms and discusses their potential for therapeutic application.
Pestalone (1) is a prominent marine natural product first isolated by M. Cueto et al. in 2001 from a co-fermentation of a marine fungus with a marine bacterium. For more than 10 years, 1 had been considered as a promising new antibiotic compound, the reported MIC against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) being 37 ng/mL. After overcoming the limited availability of 1 by total synthesis (N. Slavov et al., 2010) we performed new biological tests, which did not confirm the expected degree of antibiotic activity. The observed activity of pestalone against different MRSA strains was 3-10 ?g/mL, as determined independently in two laboratories. A number of synthetic derivatives of 1 including pestalachloride A and other isoindolinones (formed from 1 by reaction with amines) did not exhibit higher activities as compared to 1 against MRSA and a series of plant pathogens.
Many lantibiotics use the membrane bound cell wall precursor Lipid II as a specific target for killing Gram-positive bacteria. Binding of Lipid II usually impedes cell wall biosynthesis, however, some elongated lantibiotics such as nisin, use Lipid II also as a docking molecule for pore formation in bacterial membranes. Although the unique nisin pore formation can be analyzed in Lipid II-doped vesicles, mechanistic details remain elusive. We used optical sectioning microscopy to directly visualize the interaction of fluorescently labeled nisin with membranes of giant unilamellar vesicles containing Lipid II and its various bactoprenol precursors. We quantitatively analyzed the binding and permeation capacity of nisin when applied at nanomolar concentrations. Specific interactions with Lipid I, Lipid II and bactoprenol-diphosphate (C55-PP), but not bactoprenol-phosphate (C55-P), resulted in the formation of large molecular aggregates. For Lipid II, we demonstrated the presence of both nisin and Lipid II in these aggregates. Membrane permeation induced by nisin was observed in the presence of Lipid I and Lipid II, but not in the presence of C55-PP. Notably, the size of the C55-PP-nisin aggregates was significantly smaller than that of the aggregates formed with Lipid I and Lipid II. We conclude that the membrane permeation capacity of nisin is determined by the size of the bactoprenol-containing aggregates in the membrane. Notably, transmitted light images indicated that the formation of large aggregates led to a pinch-off of small vesicles, a mechanism, which probably limits the growth of aggregates and induces membrane leakage.
Nosocomial infections involving epidemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains are a serious problem in many countries. In order to analyze outbreaks, the infectious isolates have to be typed; however, most molecular methods are expensive or labor-intensive. Here, we evaluated matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) of cell extracts for the molecular characterization of S. aureus strains. The peak patterns of 401 MRSA and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) strains, including clinical and laboratory strains, were analyzed. Database searches indicated the peptides that were represented by the corresponding peaks in the spectra. The identities of the peptides were confirmed by the sequencing of mutants, the expression of antisense RNA fragments that resulted in the knockdown of the peptide of interest and the concomitant loss of the signal, or tandem MALDI-TOF MS (MALDI-TOF/TOF MS). It was shown that the signals derive mainly from stress proteins and ribosomal proteins. Peak shifts that differentiate the main S. aureus clonal complexes CC5, CC22, CC8, CC45, CC30, and CC1 correlate to point mutations in the respective genes. Retrospective typing of an MRSA outbreak showed that it is possible to differentiate unrelated MSSA, MRSA, and borderline resistant S. aureus (BORSA) strains isolated from health care workers. In conclusion, this method allows for the detection of the epidemic lineages of S. aureus during species identification by MALDI-TOF MS analysis.
Three new aromatic acids, named lahorenoic acids A (1), B (2), and C (3), have been isolated along with the known compounds phenazine-1-carboxylic acid (4), 2-hydroxyphenazine-1-carboxylic acid (5), 2-hydroxyphenazine (6), 2,8-dihydroxyphenazine (7), cyclo-Pro-Tyr (8), cyclo-Pro-Val (9), cyclo-Pro-Met (10), and WLIP (11) and characterized from the biocontrol strain Pseudomonas aurantiaca PB-St2. The structures of these compounds were deduced by 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic and mass spectral data interpretation. Compounds 2, 4, and 7 showed moderate antibacterial activity against mycobacteria and other Gram-positive bacteria, while 4 was also found to exhibit cytotoxic and antifungal properties.
This review presents recommended nomenclature for the biosynthesis of ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs), a rapidly growing class of natural products. The current knowledge regarding the biosynthesis of the >20 distinct compound classes is also reviewed, and commonalities are discussed.
Obligate Wolbachia endobacteria have a reduced genome and retained genes are hypothesized to be crucial for survival. Although intracellular bacteria do not need a stress-bearing peptidoglycan cell wall, Wolbachia encode proteins necessary to synthesize the peptidoglycan precursor lipid II. The activity of the enzymes catalyzing the last two steps of this pathway was previously shown, and Wolbachia are sensitive to inhibition of lipid II synthesis. A puzzling characteristic of Wolbachia is the lack of genes for l-amino acid racemases essential for lipid II synthesis. Transcription analysis showed the expression of a possible alternative racemase metC, and recombinant Wolbachia MetC indeed had racemase activity that may substitute for the absent l-Ala racemase. However, enzymes needed to form mature peptidoglycan are absent and the function of Wolbachia lipid II is unknown. Inhibition of lipid II biosynthesis resulted in enlargement of Wolbachia cells and redistribution of Wolbachia peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein, demonstrating that lipid II is required for coordinated cell division and may interact with the lipoprotein. We conclude that lipid II is essential for Wolbachia cell division and that this function is potentially conserved in the Gram-negative bacteria.
Many natural broad-spectrum cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) possess a general mode of action that is dependent on lipophilicity and charge. Modulating the lipophilicity of AMPs by the addition of a fatty acid has been an effective strategy to increase the lytic activity and can further broaden the spectrum of AMPs. However, lipophilic modifications that narrow the spectrum of activity and exclusively direct peptides to fungi are less common. Here, we show that short peptide sequences can be targeted to fungi with structured lipophilic biomolecules, such as vitamin E and cholesterol. The conjugates were active against Aspergillus fumigatus, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Candida albicans but not against bacteria and were observed to cause membrane perturbation by transmission electron microscopy and in membrane permeability studies. However, for C. albicans, selected compounds were effective without the perturbation of the cell membrane, and synergism was seen with a vitamin E conjugate and amphotericin B. Moreover, in combination with ?-cyclodextrin, antibacterial activity emerged in selected compounds. Biocompatibility for selected active compounds was tested in vitro and in vivo using toxicity assays on erythrocytes, macrophages, and mice. In vitro cytotoxicity experiments led to selective toxicity ratios (50% lethal concentration/MIC) of up to 64 for highly active antifungal compounds, and no in vivo murine toxicity was seen. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of the conjugated lipophilic structure and suggest that the modulation of other biologically relevant peptides with hydrophobic moieties, such as cholesterol and vitamin E, generate compounds with unique bioactivity.
The worldwide spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has lent urgency to the search for antibiotics with new modes of action that are devoid of preexisting cross-resistances. We previously described a unique class of acyldepsipeptides (ADEPs) that exerts prominent antibacterial activity against Gram-positive pathogens including streptococci, enterococci, as well as multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Here, we report that ADEP prevents cell division in Gram-positive bacteria and induces strong filamentation of rod-shaped Bacillus subtilis and swelling of coccoid S. aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. It emerged that ADEP treatment inhibits septum formation at the stage of Z-ring assembly, and that central cell division proteins delocalize from midcell positions. Using in vivo and in vitro studies, we show that the inhibition of Z-ring formation is a consequence of the proteolytic degradation of the essential cell division protein FtsZ. ADEP switches the bacterial ClpP peptidase from a regulated to an uncontrolled protease, and it turned out that FtsZ is particularly prone to degradation by the ADEP-ClpP complex. By preventing cell division, ADEP inhibits a vital cellular process of bacteria that is not targeted by any therapeutically applied antibiotic so far. Their unique multifaceted mechanism of action and antibacterial potency makes them promising lead structures for future antibiotic development.
MraY translocase catalyzes the first committed membrane-bound step of bacterial peptidoglycan synthesis leading to the formation of lipid I. The essential membrane protein therefore has a high potential as target for drug screening approaches to develop antibiotics against gram-positive as well as gram-negative bacteria. However, the production of large integral membrane proteins in conventional cellular expression systems is still very challenging. Cell-free expression technologies have been optimized in recent times for the production of membrane proteins in the presence of detergents (D-CF), lipids (L-CF), or as precipitates (P-CF). We report the development of preparative scale production protocols for the MraY homologues of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis in all three cell-free expression modes followed by their subsequent quality evaluation. Although both proteins can be cell-free produced at comparable high levels, their requirements for optimal expression conditions differ markedly. B. subtilus MraY was stably folded in all three expression modes and showed highest translocase activities after P-CF production followed by defined treatment with detergents. In contrast, the E. coli MraY appears to be unstable after post- or cotranslational solubilization in detergent micelles. Expression kinetics and reducing conditions were identified as optimization parameters for the quality improvement of E. coli MraY. Most remarkably, in contrast to B. subtilis MraY the E. coli MraY has to be stabilized by lipids and only the production in the L-CF mode in the presence of preformed liposomes resulted in stable and translocase active protein samples.
In rod-shaped bacteria, the bacterial actin ortholog MreB is considered to organize the incorporation of cell wall precursors into the side-wall, whereas the tubulin homologue FtsZ is known to tether incorporation of cell wall building blocks at the developing septum. For intracellular bacteria, there is no need to compensate osmotic pressure by means of a cell wall, and peptidoglycan has not been reliably detected in Chlamydiaceae. Surprisingly, a nearly complete pathway for the biosynthesis of the cell wall building block lipid II has been found in the genomes of Chlamydiaceae. In a previous study, we discussed the hypothesis that conservation of lipid II biosynthesis in cell wall-lacking bacteria may reflect the intimate molecular linkage of cell wall biosynthesis and cell division and thus an essential role of the precursor in cell division. Here, we investigate why spherical-shaped chlamydiae harbor MreB which is almost exclusively found in elongated bacteria (i.e. rods, vibrios, spirilla) whereas they lack the otherwise essential division protein FtsZ. We demonstrate that chlamydial MreB polymerizes in vitro and that polymerization is not inhibited by the blocking agent A22. As observed for MreB from Bacillus subtilis, chlamydial MreB does not require ATP for polymerization but is capable of ATP hydrolysis in phosphate release assays. Co-pelleting and bacterial two-hybrid experiments indicate that MreB from Chlamydophila (Chlamydia) pneumoniae interacts with MurF, MraY and MurG, three key components in lipid II biosynthesis. In addition, MreB polymerization is improved in the presence of MurF. Our findings suggest that MreB is involved in tethering biosynthesis of lipid II and as such may be necessary for maintaining a functional divisome machinery in Chlamydiaceae.
Defensins are small basic amphiphilic peptides (up to 5 kDa) that have been shown to be important effector molecules of the innate immune system of animals, plants and fungi. In addition to immune modulatory functions, they have potent direct antimicrobial activity against a broad spectrum of bacteria, fungi and/or viruses, which makes them promising lead compounds for the development of next-generation antiinfectives. The mode of antibiotic action of defensins was long thought to result from electrostatic interaction between the positively charged defensins and negatively charged microbial membranes, followed by unspecific membrane permeabilization or pore-formation. Microbial membranes are more negatively charged than human membranes, which may explain to some extent the specificity of defensin action against microbes and associated low toxicity for the host. However, research during the past decade has demonstrated that defensin activities can be much more targeted and that microbe-specific lipid receptors are involved in the killing activity of various defensins. In this respect, human, fungal and invertebrate defensins have been shown to bind to and sequester the bacterial cell wall building block lipid II, thereby specifically inhibiting cell wall biosynthesis. Moreover, plant and insect defensins were found to interact with fungal sphingolipid receptors, resulting in fungal cell death. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the mode of action and structure of defensins from different kingdoms, with specific emphasis on their interaction with microbial lipid receptors.
Lantibiotics are small peptide antibiotics that contain the characteristic thioether amino acids lanthionine and methyllanthionine. As ribosomally synthesized peptides, lantibiotics possess biosynthetic gene clusters which contain the structural gene (lanA) as well as the other genes which are involved in lantibiotic modification (lanM, lanB, lanC, lanP), regulation (lanR, lanK), export (lanT(P)) and immunity (lanEFG). The lantibiotic mersacidin is produced by Bacillus sp. HIL Y-85,54728, which is not naturally competent.
Lipopeptides (LPs) are a structurally diverse class of amphipathic natural products that were in the past mainly known for their surfactant properties. However, the recent discovery of their antimicrobial and cytotoxic bioactivities have fueled and renewed the interest in this compound class. Propelled by the antimicrobial potential of this compound class, in this study a range of six underinvestigated LPs from Pseudomonads were examined with respect to their antibiotic activities towards bacteria. The assays revealed that only the glycosylated lipodipeptide SB-253514, produced by Pseudomonas strain SH-C52, showed significant antibacterial activity. Since the bioactivity of LPs is commonly attributed to membrane interactions, we analyzed the molecular interactions between the LPs and bacteria-like lipid model membranes in more detail via complementary biophysical approaches. Application of the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) showed that all LPs possess a high binding affinity towards the model membranes. Despite their similar membrane affinity, monolayer studies displayed different tendencies of LPs to incorporate into the membrane. The degree of membrane incorporation could be correlated with specific structural features of the investigated LPs, such as distance between the peptidic macrocycle and the fatty acid, but did not fully reflect their respective antibacterial activity. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) experiments further demonstrated that SB-253514 showed no membrane permeabilization effects at inhibitory concentrations. Collectively, these results suggests that the antibacterial activity of SB-253514 cannot be explained by an unspecific detergent-like mechanism generally proposed for amphiphilic molecules but instead appears to occur via a defined structural target.
The marine-derived fungus Coniothyrium cereale was isolated from the green alga Enteromorpha sp. and found to produce the new phenalenone derivatives 1-7 as well as the known compounds lactone 8, (-) sclerodin (9), lamellicolic anhydride (10), (-) scleroderolide (11), and (-) sclerodione (12). The structures of these closely related compounds were established from extensive spectroscopic investigations on the basis of one and two dimensional NMR spectroscopic studies ((1)H, (13)C, COSY, NOESY, HSQC and HMBC) as well as mass spectrometric analysis (LC/MS, HREIMS and HRESIMS), UV and IR spectra. Compounds 5 and 11 showed the same antimicrobial activity toward Staphylococcus aureus SG 511 with an MIC value of 24 ?M. The presence of a diketo-lactone ring as in compounds 5 and 11 was found to be essential for this activity. In agar diffusion assays with Mycobacterium phlei considerable inhibition zones were observed for compounds 2, 4 and 7. Compounds 1, 5 and 9 showed potent inhibition of human leukocyte elastase (HLE) with IC(50) values of 7.2, 13.3 and 10.9 ?M, respectively.
Three oyster defensin variants (Cg-Defh1, Cg-Defh2, and Cg-Defm) were produced as recombinant peptides and characterized in terms of activities and mechanism of action. In agreement with their spectrum of activity almost specifically directed against Gram-positive bacteria, oyster defensins were shown here to be specific inhibitors of a bacterial biosynthesis pathway rather than mere membrane-active agents. Indeed, at lethal concentrations, the three defensins did not compromise Staphylococcus aureus membrane integrity but inhibited the cell wall biosynthesis as indicated by the accumulation of the UDP-N-acetylmuramyl-pentapeptide cell wall precursor. In addition, a combination of antagonization assays, thin layer chromatography, and surface plasmon resonance measurements showed that oyster defensins bind almost irreversibly to the lipid II peptidoglycan precursor, thereby inhibiting the cell wall biosynthesis. To our knowledge, this is the first detailed analysis of the mechanism of action of antibacterial defensins produced by invertebrates. Interestingly, the three defensins, which were chosen as representative of the oyster defensin molecular diversity, bound differentially to lipid II. This correlated with their differential antibacterial activities. From our experimental data and the analysis of oyster defensin sequence diversity, we propose that oyster defensin activity results from selective forces that have conserved residues involved in lipid II binding and diversified residues at the surface of oyster defensins that could improve electrostatic interactions with the bacterial membranes.
Host defense peptides such as defensins are components of innate immunity and have retained antibiotic activity throughout evolution. Their activity is thought to be due to amphipathic structures, which enable binding and disruption of microbial cytoplasmic membranes. Contrary to this, we show that plectasin, a fungal defensin, acts by directly binding the bacterial cell-wall precursor Lipid II. A wide range of genetic and biochemical approaches identify cell-wall biosynthesis as the pathway targeted by plectasin. In vitro assays for cell-wall synthesis identified Lipid II as the specific cellular target. Consistently, binding studies confirmed the formation of an equimolar stoichiometric complex between Lipid II and plectasin. Furthermore, key residues in plectasin involved in complex formation were identified using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and computational modeling.
Human beta-defensin 3 (hBD3) is a highly charged (+11) cationic host defense peptide, produced by epithelial cells and neutrophils. hBD3 retains antimicrobial activity against a broad range of pathogens, including multiresistant Staphylococcus aureus, even under high-salt conditions. Whereas antimicrobial host defense peptides are assumed to act by permeabilizing cell membranes, the transcriptional response pattern of hBD3-treated staphylococcal cells resembled that of vancomycin-treated cells (V. Sass, U. Pag, A. Tossi, G. Bierbaum, and H. G. Sahl, Int. J. Med. Microbiol. 298:619-633, 2008) and suggested that inhibition of cell wall biosynthesis is a major component of the killing process. hBD3-treated cells, inspected by transmission electron microscopy, showed localized protrusions of cytoplasmic contents, and analysis of the intracellular pool of nucleotide-activated cell wall precursors demonstrated accumulation of the final soluble precursor, UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide. Accumulation is typically induced by antibiotics that inhibit membrane-bound steps of cell wall biosynthesis and also demonstrates that hBD3 does not impair the biosynthetic capacity of cells and does not cause gross leakage of small cytoplasmic compounds. In in vitro assays of individual membrane-associated cell wall biosynthesis reactions (MraY, MurG, FemX, and penicillin-binding protein 2 [PBP2]), hBD3 inhibited those enzymes which use the bactoprenol-bound cell wall building block lipid II as a substrate; quantitative analysis suggested that hBD3 may stoichiometrically bind to lipid II. We report that binding of hBD3 to defined, lipid II-rich sites of cell wall biosynthesis may lead to perturbation of the biosynthesis machinery, resulting in localized lesions in the cell wall as demonstrated by electron microscopy. The lesions may then allow for osmotic rupture of cells when defensins are tested under low-salt conditions.
Bacterial cell wall biosynthesis represents an antibiotic target pathway for therapeutic intervention. An increasing number of natural antibiotic compounds have been demonstrated to inhibit the membrane-associated steps of cell wall biosynthesis by targeting bactoprenol-mediated precursor cycling, particularly at the stage of the completed building block Lipid II. These antibiotic compounds belong to various chemical classes including glycopeptides, lipopeptides and lipodepsipeptides, and lantibiotics and other antimicrobial peptides. The clinical success of vancomycin in the treatment of multiresistant Gram-positive bacteria has stimulated further development of glycopeptide antibiotics and research of other Lipid II-binding compounds. The state-of-the-art in the targeting of cell wall precursors is summarized in this review.
Bacterial cell wall biosynthesis represents the target pathway for penicillin, the first antibiotic that was clinically applied on a large scale. Penicillin, by means of its beta-lactam ring, inhibits a number of enzymes which participate in inserting monomeric cell wall building blocks into the cell wall polymer and which have been termed penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs). Ever since the introduction of penicillin, hundreds of beta-lactam antibiotics have been developed and details of their molecular activities elaborated. Meanwhile, various additional classes of antibiotics have been described, which inhibit the same pathway, yet use target molecules others than the PBPs. Such classes include the glycopeptide antibiotics, lipopeptide and lipodepsipeptide antibiotics, the lantibiotics and various other natural product antibiotics with comparatively complex structures. They usually target the membrane-bound steps of the biosynthesis pathway and the highly conserved lipid-bound intermediates of the building block such as lipid II, which represents a particular "Achilles heel" for antibiotic attack. With in-depth analysis of the activity of more recently identified inhibitors and with the availability of novel techniques for studying prokaryotic cell biology, new insights were obtained into the molecular organisation of the cell wall biosynthesis machinery and its interconnections with other vital cellular processes such as cell division. This, in turn, provides hints for new targets to be exploited and for the development of novel cell wall biosynthesis inhibitors.
Cell division and cell wall biosynthesis in prokaryotes are driven by partially overlapping multiprotein machineries whose activities are tightly controlled and co-ordinated. So far, a number of protein components have been identified and acknowledged as essential for both fundamental cellular processes. Genes for enzymes of both machineries have been found in the genomes of the cell wall-less genera Chlamydia and Wolbachia, raising questions as to the functionality of the lipid II biosynthesis pathway and reasons for its conservation. We provide evidence on three levels that the lipid II biosynthesis pathway is indeed functional and essential in both genera: (i) fosfomycin, an inhibitor of MurA, catalysing the initial reaction in lipid II biosynthesis, has a detrimental effect on growth of Wolbachia cells; (ii) isolated cytoplasmic membranes from Wolbachia synthesize lipid II ex vivo; and (iii) recombinant MraY and MurG from Chlamydia and Wolbachia exhibit in vitro activity, synthesizing lipid I and lipid II respectively. We discuss the hypothesis that the necessity for maintaining lipid II biosynthesis in cell wall-lacking bacteria reflects an essential role of the precursor in prokaryotic cell division. Our results also indicate that the lipid II pathway may be exploited as an antibacterial target for chlamydial and filarial infections.
Lantibiotics are small microbial peptide antibiotics that are characterized by the presence of the thioether amino acids lanthionine and methyllanthionine. Lantibiotics possess structural genes which encode inactive prepeptides. During maturation, the prepeptide undergoes posttranslational modifications including the introduction of rare amino acids as lanthionine and methyllanthione as well as the proteolytic removal of the leader. The structural gene (lanA) as well as the other genes which are involved in lantibiotic modification (lanM, lanB, lanC, lanP), regulation (lanR, lanK), export (lanT(P)) and immunity (lanEFG) are organized in biosynthetic gene clusters.
We have designed and chemically synthesized an artificial beta-defensin based on a minimal template derived from the comparative analysis of over 80 naturally occurring sequences. This molecule has the disulfide-bridged beta-sheet core structure of natural beta-defensins and shows a robust salt-sensitive antimicrobial activity against bacteria and yeast, as well as a chemotactic activity against immature dendritic cells. An SAR (structure-activity relationship) study using two truncated fragments or a Cys-->Ser point-mutated analogue, from which one or two of the three disulfide bridges were absent, indicated that altering the structure resulted in a different type of membrane interaction and a switch to different modes of action towards both microbial and host cells, and that covalent dimerization could favour antimicrobial activity. Comparison of the structural, aggregational and biological activities of the artificial defensin with those of three human beta-defensins and their primate orthologues provided useful information on how their mode of action may relate to specific structural features.
Understanding how pathogens respond to antimicrobial peptides, and how this compares to currently available antibiotics, is crucial for optimizing antimicrobial therapy. Staphylococcus aureus has several known resistance mechanisms against human cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs). Gene expression changes in S. aureus strain Newman exposed to linear CAMPs were analyzed by DNA microarray. Three antimicrobial peptides were used in the analysis, two are derived from frog, temporin L and dermaseptin K4-S4(1-16), and the ovispirin-1 is obtained from sheep.
Chitosan, an aminopolysaccharide biopolymer, has a unique chemical structure as a linear polycation with a high charge density, reactive hydroxyl and amino groups as well as extensive hydrogen bonding. It displays excellent biocompatibility, physical stability and processability. The term chitosan describes a heterogeneous group of polymers combining a group of physicochemical and biological characteristics, which allow for a wide scope of applications that are both fascinating and as yet uncharted. The increased awareness of the potentials and industrial value of this biopolymer lead to its utilization in many applications of technical interest, and increasingly in the biomedical arena. Although not primarily used as an antimicrobial agent, its utility as an ingredient in both food and pharmaceutical formulations lately gained more interest, when a scientific understanding of at least some of the pharmacological activities of this versatile carbohydrate began to evolve. However, understanding the various factors that affect its antimicrobial activity has become a key issue for a better usage and a more efficient optimization of chitosan formulations. Moreover, the use of chitosan in antimicrobial systems should be based on sufficient knowledge of the complex mechanisms of its antimicrobial mode of action, which in turn would help to arrive at an appreciation of its entire antimicrobial potential.
The bactericidal, cell membrane-targeting lipopeptide antibiotic daptomycin (DAP) is an important agent in treating invasive Staphylococcus aureus infections. However, there have been numerous recent reports of development of daptomycin resistance (DAP-R) during therapy with this agent. The mechanisms of DAP-R in S. aureus appear to be quite diverse. DAP-R strains often exhibit progressive accumulation of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the multipeptide resistance factor gene (mprF) and the yycFG components of the yycFGHI operon. Both loci are involved in key cell membrane (CM) events, with mprF being responsible for the synthesis and outer CM translocation of the positively charged phospholipid, lysyl-phosphotidylglycerol (L-PG), while the yyc operon is involved in the generalized response to stressors such as antimicrobials. In addition, other perturbations of the CM have been identified in DAP-R strains, including extremes in CM order, resistance to CM depolarization and permeabilization, and reduced surface binding of DAP. Moreover, modifications of the cell wall (CW) appear to also contribute to DAP-R, including enhanced expression of the dlt operon (involved in d-alanylation of CW teichoic acids) and progressive CW thickening.
A series of small synthetic arginine and tryptophan containing peptides was prepared and analyzed for their antibacterial activity. The effect of N-terminal substitution with metallocenoyl groups such as ferrocene (FcCO) and ruthenocene (RcCO) was investigated. Antibacterial activity in different media, growth inhibition, and killing kinetics of the most active peptides were determined. The toxicity of selected derivatives was determined against erythrocytes and three human cancer cell lines. It was shown that the replacement of an N-terminal arginine residue with a metallocenoyl moiety modulates the activity of WRWRW-peptides against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. MIC values of 2-6 µM for RcCO-W(RW)(2) and 1-11 µM for (RW)(3) were determined. Interestingly, W(RW)(2)-peptides derivatized with ferrocene were significantly less active than those derivatized with ruthenocene which have similar structural but different electronic properties, suggesting a major influence of the latter. The high activities observed for the RcCO-W(RW)(2)- and (RW)(3)-peptides led to an investigation of the origin of activity of these peptides using several important activity-related parameters. Firstly, killing kinetics of the RcCO-W(RW)(2)-peptide versus killing kinetics of the (RW)(3) derivative showed faster reduction of the colony forming units for the RcCO-W(RW)(2)-peptide, although MIC values indicated higher activity for the (RW)(3)-peptide. This was confirmed by growth inhibition studies. Secondly, hemolysis studies revealed that both peptides did not lead to significant destruction of erythrocytes, even up to 500 µg/mL for (RW)(3) and 250 µg/mL for RcCO-W(RW)(2). In addition, toxicity against three human cancer cell lines (HepG2, HT29, MCF7) showed that the (RW)(3)-peptide had an IC(50) value of ~140 µM and the RcW(RW)(2) one of ~90 µM, indicating a potentially interesting therapeutic window. Both the killing kinetics and growth inhibition studies presented in this work point to a membrane-based mode of action for these two peptides, each having different kinetic parameters.
The nonantibiotic small molecule cyslabdan, a labdan-type diterpene produced by Streptomyces sp. K04-0144, markedly potentiated the activity of the ?-lactam drug imipenem against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). To study the mechanism of action of cyslabdan, the proteins that bind to cyslabdan were investigated in an MRSA lysate, which led to the identification of FemA, which is involved in the synthesis of the pentaglycine interpeptide bridge of the peptidoglycan of MRSA. Furthermore, binding assay of cyslabdan to FemB and FemX with the function similar to FemA revealed that cyslabdan had an affinity for FemB but not FemX. In an enzyme-based assay, cyslabdan inhibited FemA activity, where as did not affected FemX and FemB activities. Nonglycyl and monoglycyl murein monomers were accumulated by cyslabdan in the peptidoglycan of MRSA cell walls. These findings indicated that cyslabdan primarily inhibits FemA, thereby suppressing pentaglycine interpeptide bridge synthesis. This protein is a key factor in the determination of ?-lactam resistance in MRSA, and our findings provide a new strategy for combating MRSA.
Innate immunity is triggered by a variety of bacterial molecules, resulting in both protective and potentially harmful pro-inflammatory responses. Further, innate immunity also provides a mechanism for the maintenance of homeostasis between the host immune system and symbiotic or non-pathogenic microorganisms. However, the bacterial factors that mediate these protective effects have been incompletely defined. Here, it was demonstrated that the lantiobiotic nisin Z is able to modulate host immune responses and mediate protective host immunity. Nisin Z induced the secretion of the chemokines MCP-1, IL-8 and Gro-?, and significantly reduced TNF-? induction in response to bacterial LPS in human PBMC. The results correlated with the ability of nisin Z to confer protection against both the Gram-positive organism Staphylococcus aureus, and the Gram-negatives Salmonella enterica sv. Typhimurium and Escherichia coli in murine challenge models. Mechanistic studies revealed that nisin Z modulates host immunity through similar mechanisms as natural host defense peptides, engaging multiple signal transduction pathways and growth factor receptors. The results presented herein demonstrate that, in addition to nisin Z, other bacterial cationic peptides and, in particular, the lantibiotics, could represent a new class of secreted bacterial molecule with immunomodulatory activities.
Antimicrobial peptides are a new class of antibiotics that are promising for pharmaceutical applications because they have retained efficacy throughout evolution. One class of antimicrobial peptides are the defensins, which have been found in different species. Here we describe a new fungal defensin, eurocin. Eurocin acts against a range of Gram-positive human pathogens but not against Gram-negative bacteria. Eurocin consists of 42 amino acids, forming a cysteine-stabilized ?/?-fold. The thermal denaturation data point shows the disulfide bridges being responsible for the stability of the fold. Eurocin does not form pores in cell membranes at physiologically relevant concentrations; it does, however, lead to limited leakage of a fluorophore from small unilamellar vesicles. Eurocin interacts with detergent micelles, and it inhibits the synthesis of cell walls by binding equimolarly to the cell wall precursor lipid II.
Plant defensins represent a major innate immune protein superfamily that displays strong inhibitory effects on filamentous fungi. The total number of plant defensins in a conifer species is unknown since there are no sequenced conifer genomes published, however the genomes of several angiosperm species provide an insight on the diversity of plant defensins. Here we report the identification of five new defensin-encoding genes from the Picea glauca genome and the characterization of two of their gene products, named PgD5 and endopiceasin.
It is held as a paradigm that ribosomally synthesized peptides and proteins contain only l-amino acids. We demonstrate a ribosomal origin of the marine sponge-derived polytheonamides, exceptionally potent, giant natural-product toxins. Isolation of the biosynthetic genes from the sponge metagenome revealed a bacterial gene architecture. Only six candidate enzymes were identified for 48 posttranslational modifications, including 18 epimerizations and 17 methylations of nonactivated carbon centers. Three enzymes were functionally validated, which showed that a radical S-adenosylmethionine enzyme is responsible for the unidirectional epimerization of multiple and different amino acids. Collectively, these complex alterations create toxins that function as unimolecular minimalistic ion channels with near-femtomolar activity. This study broadens the biosynthetic scope of ribosomal systems and creates new opportunities for peptide and protein bioengineering.
Nanodiscs (NDs) enable the analysis of membrane proteins (MP) in natural lipid bilayer environments. In combination with cell-free (CF) expression, they could be used for the co-translational insertion of MPs into defined membranes. This new approach allows the characterization of MPs without detergent contact and it could help to identify effects of particular lipids on catalytic activities. Association of MPs with different ND types, quality of the resulting MP/ND complexes as well as optimization parameters are still poorly analyzed. This study describes procedures to systematically improve CF expression protocols for the production of high quality MP/ND complexes. In order to reveal target dependent variations, the co-translational ND complex formation with the bacterial proton pump proteorhodopsin (PR), with the small multidrug resistance transporters SugE and EmrE, as well as with the Escherichia coli MraY translocase was studied. Parameters which modulate the efficiency of MP/ND complex formation have been identified and in particular effects of different lipid compositions of the ND membranes have been analyzed. Recorded force distance pattern as well as characteristic photocycle dynamics indicated the integration of functionally folded PR into NDs. Efficient complex formation of the E. coli MraY translocase was dependent on the ND size and on the lipid composition of the ND membranes. Active MraY protein could only be obtained with ND containing anionic lipids, thus providing new details for the in vitro analysis of this pharmaceutically important protein.
Mersacidin, gallidermin, and nisin are lantibiotics, antimicrobial peptides containing lanthionine. They show potent antibacterial activity. All three interfere with cell wall biosynthesis by binding lipid II, but they display different levels of interaction with the cytoplasmic membrane. On one end of the spectrum, mersacidin interferes with cell wall biosynthesis by binding lipid II without integrating into bacterial membranes. On the other end of the spectrum, nisin readily integrates into membranes, where it forms large pores. It destroys the membrane potential and causes leakage of nutrients and ions. Gallidermin, in an intermediate position, also readily integrates into membranes. However, pore formation occurs only in some bacteria and depends on membrane composition. In this study, we investigated the impact of nisin, gallidermin, and mersacidin on cell wall integrity, membrane pore formation, and membrane depolarization in Bacillus subtilis. The impact of the lantibiotics on the cell envelope was correlated to the proteomic response they elicit in B. subtilis. By drawing on a proteomic response library, including other envelope-targeting antibiotics such as bacitracin, vancomycin, gramicidin S, or valinomycin, YtrE could be identified as the most reliable marker protein for interfering with membrane-bound steps of cell wall biosynthesis. NadE and PspA were identified as markers for antibiotics interacting with the cytoplasmic membrane.
Wall teichoic acid (WTA) or related polyanionic cell wall glycopolymers are produced by most gram-positive bacterial species and have been implicated in various cellular functions. WTA and the proton gradient across bacterial membranes are known to control the activity of autolysins but the molecular details of these interactions are poorly understood. We demonstrate that WTA contributes substantially to the proton-binding capacity of Staphylococcus aureus cell walls and controls autolysis largely via the major autolysin AtlA whose activity is known to decline at acidic pH values. Compounds that increase or decrease the activity of the respiratory chain, a main source of protons in the cell wall, modulated autolysis rates in WTA-producing cells but did not affect the augmented autolytic activity observed in a WTA-deficient mutant. We propose that WTA represents a cation-exchanger like mesh in the gram-positive cell envelopes that is required for creating a locally acidified milieu to govern the pH-dependent activity of autolysins.
While the importance of sulfur transfer reactions is well established for a number of biosynthetic pathways, evidence has only started to emerge that sulfurtransferases may also be major players in sulfur-based microbial energy metabolism. Among the first organisms studied in this regard is the phototrophic purple sulfur bacterium Allochromatium vinosum. During the oxidation of reduced sulfur species to sulfate this Gammaproteobacterium accumulates sulfur globules. Low molecular weight organic persulfides have been proposed as carrier molecules transferring sulfur from the periplasmic sulfur globules into the cytoplasm where it is further oxidized via the "Dsr" (dissimilatory sulfite reductase) proteins. We have suggested earlier that the heterohexameric protein DsrEFH is the direct or indirect acceptor for persulfidic sulfur imported into the cytoplasm. This proposal originated from the structural similarity of DsrEFH with the established sulfurtransferase TusBCD from E. coli. As part of a system for tRNA modification TusBCD transfers sulfur to TusE, a homolog of another crucial component of the A. vinosum Dsr system, namely DsrC. Here we show that neither DsrEFH nor DsrC have the ability to mobilize sulfane sulfur directly from low molecular weight thiols like thiosulfate or glutathione persulfide. However, we demonstrate that DsrEFH binds sulfur specifically to the conserved cysteine residue DsrE-Cys78 in vitro. Sulfur atoms bound to cysteines in DsrH and DsrF were not detected. DsrC was exclusively persulfurated at DsrC-Cys111 in the penultimate position of the protein. Most importantly, we show that persulfurated DsrEFH indeed serves as an effective sulfur donor for DsrC in vitro. The active site cysteines Cys78 of DsrE and Cys20 of DsrH furthermore proved to be essential for sulfur oxidation in vivo supporting the notion that DsrEFH and DsrC are part of a sulfur relay system that transfers sulfur from a persulfurated carrier molecule to the dissimilatory sulfite reductase DsrAB.
Empedopeptin is a natural lipodepsipeptide antibiotic with potent antibacterial activity against multiresistant Gram-positive bacteria including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae in vitro and in animal models of bacterial infection. Here, we describe its so far elusive mechanism of antibacterial action. Empedopeptin selectively interferes with late stages of cell wall biosynthesis in intact bacterial cells as demonstrated by inhibition of N-acetylglucosamine incorporation into polymeric cell wall and the accumulation of the ultimate soluble peptidoglycan precursor UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid-pentapeptide in the cytoplasm. Using membrane preparations and the complete cascade of purified, recombinant late stage peptidoglycan biosynthetic enzymes and their respective purified substrates, we show that empedopeptin forms complexes with undecaprenyl pyrophosphate containing peptidoglycan precursors. The primary physiological target of empedopeptin is undecaprenyl pyrophosphate-N-acetylmuramic acid(pentapeptide)-N-acetylglucosamine (lipid II), which is readily accessible at the outside of the cell and which forms a complex with the antibiotic in a 1:2 molar stoichiometry. Lipid II is bound in a region that involves at least the pyrophosphate group, the first sugar, and the proximal parts of stem peptide and undecaprenyl chain. Undecaprenyl pyrophosphate and also teichoic acid precursors are bound with lower affinity and constitute additional targets. Calcium ions are crucial for the antibacterial activity of empedopeptin as they promote stronger interaction with its targets and with negatively charged phospholipids in the membrane. Based on the high structural similarity of empedopeptin to the tripropeptins and plusbacins, we propose this mechanism of action for the whole compound class.
Lantibiotics are a unique group within the antimicrobial peptides characterized by the presence of thioether amino acids (lanthionine and methyllanthionine). These peptides are produced by and primarily act on Gram-positive bacteria exerting multiple activities at the cytoplasmic membrane of susceptible strains. Previously, the cell wall precursor lipid II was identified as the molecular target for the prototype lantibiotic nisin. Binding and sequestration of lipid II blocks the incorporation of the central cell wall precursor into the growing peptidoglycan network, thereby inhibiting the formation of a functional cell wall. Additionally, nisin combines this activity with a unique target-mediated pore formation, using lipid II as a docking molecule. The interaction with the pyrophosphate moiety of lipid II is crucial for nisin binding. We show that, besides binding to lipid II, nisin interacts with the lipid intermediates lipid III (undecaprenol-pyrophosphate-N-acetyl-glucosamine) and lipid IV (undecaprenol-pyrophosphate-N-acetyl-glucosamine-N-acetyl-mannosamine) of the wall teichoic acid (WTA) biosynthesis pathway. Binding of nisin to the precursors was observed at a stoichiometry of 2:1. The specific interaction with WTA precursors further promoted target-mediated pore formation in artificial lipid bilayers. Specific interactions with lipid III and lipid IV could also be demonstrated for related type A lantibiotics, for example, gallidermin, containing the conserved lipid-II-binding motif.
Ring A of nukacin ISK-1, which is also present in different type-A(II) lantibiotics, resembles a lipid II-binding motif (TxS/TxD/EC, x denotes undefined residues) similar to that present in mersacidin (type-B lantibiotics), which suggests that nukacin ISK-1 binds to lipid II as a docking molecule. Results from our experiments on peptidoglycan precursor (UDP-MurNAc-pp) accumulation and peptide antagonism assays clearly indicated that nukacin ISK-1 inhibits cell-wall biosynthesis, accumulating lipid II precursor inside the cell, and the peptide activity can be repressed by lipid I and lipid II. Interaction analysis of nukacin ISK-1 and different ring A variants with lipid II revealed that nukacin ISK-1 and nukacin D13E (a more active variant) have a high affinity (K(D) = 0.17 and 0.19 ?M, respectively) for lipid II, whereas nukacin D13A (a less active variant) showed a lower affinity, and nukacin C14S (a negative variant lacking the ring A structure) exhibited no interaction. Therefore, on the basis of the structural similarity and positional significance of the amino acids in this region, we concluded that nukacin ISK-1 binds lipid II via its ring A region and may lead to the inhibition of cell-wall biosynthesis.
The peptidoglycan of Staphylococcus aureus is characterized by a high degree of crosslinking and almost completely lacks free carboxyl groups, due to amidation of the D-glutamic acid in the stem peptide. Amidation of peptidoglycan has been proposed to play a decisive role in polymerization of cell wall building blocks, correlating with the crosslinking of neighboring peptidoglycan stem peptides. Mutants with a reduced degree of amidation are less viable and show increased susceptibility to methicillin. We identified the enzymes catalyzing the formation of D-glutamine in position 2 of the stem peptide. We provide biochemical evidence that the reaction is catalyzed by a glutamine amidotransferase-like protein and a Mur ligase homologue, encoded by SA1707 and SA1708, respectively. Both proteins, for which we propose the designation GatD and MurT, are required for amidation and appear to form a physically stable bi-enzyme complex. To investigate the reaction in vitro we purified recombinant GatD and MurT His-tag fusion proteins and their potential substrates, i.e. UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide, as well as the membrane-bound cell wall precursors lipid I, lipid II and lipid II-Gly?. In vitro amidation occurred with all bactoprenol-bound intermediates, suggesting that in vivo lipid II and/or lipid II-Gly? may be substrates for GatD/MurT. Inactivation of the GatD active site abolished lipid II amidation. Both, murT and gatD are organized in an operon and are essential genes of S. aureus. BLAST analysis revealed the presence of homologous transcriptional units in a number of gram-positive pathogens, e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Streptococcus pneumonia and Clostridium perfringens, all known to have a D-iso-glutamine containing PG. A less negatively charged PG reduces susceptibility towards defensins and may play a general role in innate immune signaling.
Accumulation of amyloid-? peptides (A?) in the brain is a common pathological feature of Alzheimer disease (AD). Aggregates of A? are neurotoxic and appear to be critically involved in the neurodegeneration during AD pathogenesis. Accumulation of A? could be caused by increased production, as indicated by several mutations in the amyloid precursor protein or the ?-secretase components presenilin-1 and presenilin-2 that cause familial early-onset AD. However, recent data also indicate a decreased clearance rate of A? in AD brains. We recently demonstrated that A? undergoes phosphorylation by extracellular or cell surface-localized protein kinase A, leading to increased aggregation. Here, we provide evidence that phosphorylation of monomeric A? at Ser-8 also decreases its clearance by microglial cells. By using mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that phosphorylation at Ser-8 inhibited the proteolytic degradation of monomeric A? by the insulin-degrading enzyme, a major A?-degrading enzyme released from microglial cells. Phosphorylation also decreased the degradation of A? by the angiotensin-converting enzyme. In contrast, A? degradation by plasmin was largely unaffected by phosphorylation. Thus, phosphorylation of A? could play a dual role in A? metabolism. It decreases its proteolytic clearance and also promotes its aggregation. The inhibition of extracellular A? phosphorylation, stimulation of protease expression and/or their proteolytic activity could be explored to promote A? degradation in AD therapy or prevention.
The activity of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that contain a large proportion of histidine residues (pK(a) ? 6) depends on the physiological pH environment. Advantages of these AMPs include high activity in slightly acidic areas of the human body and relatively low toxicity in other areas. Also, many AMPs are highly active in a multivalent form, but this often increases toxicity. Here we designed pH dependent amphiphilic compounds consisting of multiple ultrashort histidine lipopeptides on a triazacyclophane scaffold, which showed high activity toward Aspergillus fumigatus and Cryptococcus neoformans at acidic pH, yet remained nontoxic. In vivo, treatment with a myristic acid conjugated trivalent histidine-histidine dipeptide resulted in 55% survival of mice (n = 9) in an otherwise lethal murine lung Aspergillus infection model. Fungal burden was assessed and showed completely sterile lungs in 80% of the mice (n = 5). At pH 5.5 and 7.5, differing peptide-membrane interactions and peptide nanostructures were observed. This study underscores the potential of unique AMPs to become the next generation of clinical antimicrobial therapy.
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