Edema factor (EF) toxin of Bacillus anthracis (NIAID category A), and several other toxins from NIAID category B Biodefense target bacteria are adenylyl cyclases or adenylyl cyclase agonists that catalyze the conversion of ATP to 3,5-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). We previously identified compound 1 (3-[(9-oxo-9H-fluorene-1-carbonyl)-amino]-benzoic acid), that inhibits EF activity in cultured mammalian cells, and reduces diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) at an oral dosage of 15?g/mouse. Here, molecular docking was used to predict improvements in potency and solubility of new derivatives of compound 1 in inhibiting edema toxin (ET)-catalyzed stimulation of cyclic AMP production in murine monocyte-macrophage cells (RAW 264.7). Structure-activity relationship (SAR) analysis of the bioassay results for 22 compounds indicated positions important for activity. Several derivatives demonstrated superior pharmacological properties compared to our initial lead compound, and are promising candidates to treat anthrax infections and diarrheal diseases induced by toxin-producing bacteria.
Inhalational anthrax, a zoonotic disease caused by the inhalation of Bacillus anthracis spores, has a ?50% fatality rate even when treated with antibiotics. Pathogenesis is dependent on the activity of two toxic noncovalent complexes: edema toxin (EdTx) and lethal toxin (LeTx). Protective antigen (PA), an essential component of both complexes, binds with high affinity to the major receptor mediating the lethality of anthrax toxin in vivo, capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2). Certain antibodies against PA have been shown to protect against anthrax in vivo. As an alternative to anti-PA antibodies, we produced a fusion of the extracellular domain of human CMG2 and human IgG Fc, using both transient and stable tobacco plant expression systems. Optimized expression led to the CMG2-Fc fusion protein being produced at high levels: 730 mg/kg fresh leaf weight in Nicotiana benthamiana and 65 mg/kg in N. tabacum. CMG2-Fc, purified from tobacco plants, fully protected rabbits against a lethal challenge with B. anthracis spores at a dose of 2 mg/kg body weight administered at the time of challenge. Treatment with CMG2-Fc did not interfere with the development of the animals own immunity to anthrax, as treated animals that survived an initial challenge also survived a rechallenge 30 days later. The glycosylation of the Fc (or lack thereof) had no significant effect on the protective potency of CMG2-Fc in rabbits or on its serum half-life, which was about 5 days. Significantly, CMG2-Fc effectively neutralized, in vitro, LeTx-containing mutant forms of PA that were not neutralized by anti-PA monoclonal antibodies.
Successful treatment of inhalation anthrax, pneumonic plague and tularemia can be achieved with fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin, and initiation of treatment is most effective when administered as soon as possible following exposure. Bacillus anthracis Ames, Yersinia pestis CO92, and Francisella tularensis SCHU S4 have equivalent susceptibility in vitro to ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin (minimal inhibitory concentration is 0.03 ?g/ml); however, limited information is available regarding in vivo susceptibility of these infectious agents to the fluoroquinolone antibiotics in small animal models. Mice, guinea pig, and rabbit models have been developed to evaluate the protective efficacy of antibiotic therapy against these life-threatening infections. Our results indicated that doses of ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin required to protect mice against inhalation anthrax were approximately 18-fold higher than the doses of levofloxacin required to protect against pneumonic plague and tularemia. Further, the critical period following aerosol exposure of mice to either B. anthracis spores or Y. pestis was 24 h, while mice challenged with F. tularensis could be effectively protected when treatment was delayed for as long as 72 h postchallenge. In addition, it was apparent that prolonged antibiotic treatment was important in the effective treatment of inhalation anthrax in mice, but short-term treatment of mice with pneumonic plague or tularemia infections were usually successful. These results provide effective antibiotic dosages in mice, guinea pigs, and rabbits and lay the foundation for the development and evaluation of combinational treatment modalities.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) produces the ADP-ribosyltransferase toxin known as heat-labile enterotoxin (LT). In addition to the toxic effect of LT resulting in increases of cyclic AMP (cAMP) and disturbance of cellular metabolic processes, this toxin promotes bacterial adherence to intestinal epithelial cells (A. M. Johnson, R. S. Kaushik, D. H. Francis, J. M. Fleckenstein, and P. R. Hardwidge, J. Bacteriol. 191:178-186, 2009). Therefore, we hypothesized that the identification of a compound that inhibits the activity of the toxin would have a suppressive effect on the ETEC colonization capabilities. Using in vivo and in vitro approaches, we present evidence demonstrating that a fluorenone-based compound, DC5, which inhibits the accumulation of cAMP in intoxicated cultured cells, significantly decreases the colonization abilities of adenylyl cyclase toxin-producing bacteria, such as ETEC. These findings established that DC5 is a potent inhibitor both of toxin-induced cAMP accumulation and of ETEC adherence to epithelial cells. Thus, DC5 may be a promising compound for treatment of diarrhea caused by ETEC and other adenylyl cyclase toxin-producing bacteria.
Pneumonia is a serious problem worldwide. We recently demonstrated that innate defense mechanisms of the lung are highly inducible against pneumococcal pneumonia. To determine the breadth of protection conferred by stimulation of lung mucosal innate immunity, and to identify cells and signaling pathways activated by this treatment, mice were treated with an aerosolized bacterial lysate, then challenged with lethal doses of bacterial and fungal pathogens. Mice were highly protected against a broad array of Gram-positive, Gram-negative, and class A bioterror bacterial pathogens, and the fungal pathogen, Aspergillus fumigatus. Protection was associated with rapid pathogen killing within the lungs, and this effect was recapitulated in vitro using a respiratory epithelial cell line. Gene expression analysis of lung tissue showed marked activation of NF-kappaB, type I and II IFN, and antifungal Card9-Bcl10-Malt1 pathways. Cytokines were the most strongly induced genes, but the inflammatory cytokines TNF and IL-6 were not required for protection. Lung-expressed antimicrobial peptides were also highly up-regulated. Taken together, stimulated innate resistance appears to occur through the activation of multiple host defense signaling pathways in lung epithelial cells, inducing rapid pathogen killing, and conferring broad protection against virulent bacterial and fungal pathogens. Augmentation of innate antimicrobial defenses of the lungs might have therapeutic value for protection of patients with neutropenia or impaired adaptive immunity against opportunistic pneumonia, and for defense of immunocompetent subjects against a bioterror threat or epidemic respiratory infection.
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