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  • The role of Culex territans mosquitoes in the transmission of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to amphibian hosts
    Reinhold, Joanna M.; Halbert, Ella; Roark, Megan; Smith, Sierra N.; Stroh, Katherine M.; Siler, Cameron D.; McLeod, David S.; Lahondère, Chloé (2023-11-16)
    Background Mosquitoes are the deadliest organisms in the world, killing an estimated 750,000 people per year due to the pathogens they can transmit. Mosquitoes also pose a major threat to other vertebrate animals. Culex territans is a mosquito species found in temperate zones worldwide that feeds almost exclusively on amphibians and can transmit parasites; however, little is known about its ability to transmit other pathogens, including fungi. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a topical pathogenic fungus that spreads through contact. With amphibian populations around the world experiencing mass die-offs and extinctions due to this pathogen, it is critical to study all potential modes of transmission. Because Cx. territans mosquitoes are in contact with their hosts for long periods of time while blood-feeding, we hypothesize that they can transmit and pick up Bd. Methods In this study, we first assessed Cx. territans ability to transfer the fungus from an infected surface to a clean one under laboratory conditions. We also conducted a surveillance study of Bd infections in frogs and mosquitoes in the field (Mountain Lake Biological station, VA, USA). In parallel, we determined Cx. territans host preference via blood meal analysis of field caught mosquitoes. Results We found that this mosquito species can carry the fungus to an uninfected surface, implying that they may have the ability to transmit Bd to their amphibian hosts. We also found that Cx. territans feed primarily on green frogs (Rana clamitans) and bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and that the prevalence of Bd within the frog population at our field site varied between years. Conclusions This study provides critical insights into understanding the role of amphibian-biting mosquitoes in transmitting pathogens, which can be applied to disease ecology of susceptible amphibian populations worldwide.
  • Sex-differences in proteasome-dependent K48-polyubiquitin signaling in the amygdala are developmentally regulated in rats
    Farrell, Kayla; Auerbach, Aubrey; Liu, Catherine; Martin, Kiley; Pareno, Myasia; Ray, W. Keith; Helm, Richard F.; Biase, Fernando; Jarome, Timothy J. (2023-11-10)
    Background Sex differences have been observed in several brain regions for the molecular mechanisms involved in baseline (resting) and memory-related processes. The ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) is a major protein degradation pathway in cells. Sex differences have been observed in lysine-48 (K48)-polyubiquitination, the canonical degradation mark of the UPS, both at baseline and during fear memory formation within the amygdala. Here, we investigated when, how, and why these baseline sex differences arise and whether both sexes require the K48-polyubiquitin mark for memory formation in the amygdala. Methods We used a combination of molecular, biochemical and proteomic approaches to examine global and protein-specific K48-polyubiquitination and DNA methylation levels at a major ubiquitin coding gene (Uba52) at baseline in the amygdala of male and female rats before and after puberty to determine if sex differences were developmentally regulated. We then used behavioral and genetic approaches to test the necessity of K48-polyubiquitination in the amygdala for fear memory formation. Results We observed developmentally regulated baseline differences in Uba52 methylation and total K48-polyubiquitination, with sexual maturity altering levels specifically in female rats. K48-polyubiquitination at specific proteins changed across development in both male and female rats, but sex differences were present regardless of age. Lastly, we found that genetic inhibition of K48-polyubiquitination in the amygdala of female, but not male, rats impaired fear memory formation. Conclusions These results suggest that K48-polyubiquitination differentially targets proteins in the amygdala in a sex-specific manner regardless of age. However, sexual maturity is important in the developmental regulation of K48-polyubiquitination levels in female rats. Consistent with these data, K48-polyubiquitin signaling in the amygdala is selectively required to form fear memories in female rats. Together, these data indicate that sex-differences in baseline K48-polyubiquitination within the amygdala are developmentally regulated, which could have important implications for better understanding sex-differences in molecular mechanisms involved in processes relevant to anxiety-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Large Iodine Variability in Retail Cows' Milk in the U.S.: A Follow-Up Study among Different Retail Outlets
    Roseland, Janet M.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Vinyard, Bryan T.; Todorov, Todor; Ershow, Abby G.; Pehrsson, Pamela R. (MDPI, 2023-07-08)
    In a previous study, large variability in iodine content was found among samples of store brand retail milk at a single time point in a sampling taken from 24 nationwide U.S. locations for the USDA FoodData Central database, but the sampling plan was not designed to detect differences among locations. This follow-up study was carried out to evaluate iodine levels in retail milk across the U.S. over time. Milk samples (2% fat) were collected bimonthly in fourteen locations for one year and analyzed in duplicate. Control materials were used to support accuracy of results and ensure precision across analytical batches. The overall mean and standard error (SE) for iodine concentration were 82.5 (7.0) µg/240 mL serving, which was comparable to the previous national mean [85.0 (5.5) µg/240 mL]. A similar wide range among individual samples was detected (27.9–282 µg/240 mL). For some locations, the mean iodine concentration differed significantly from others, and differed from the national average by amounts ranging from −47 µg to +37 µg per serving. The between-sample range within location was large for some (up to 229 µg/serving) and minimal for others (as little as 13.2 µg/serving). These findings suggest iodine intake from some retail milk supplies could be over- or underestimated relative to the national average, even if the national average is suitable for population-wide intake estimates.
  • A large screen identifies beta-lactam antibiotics which can be repurposed to target the syphilis agent
    Hayes, Kathryn A.; Dressler, Jules M.; Norris, Steven J.; Edmondson, Diane G.; Jutras, Brandon L. (Springer Nature, 2023)
    Syphilis, caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum (hereafter called T. pallidum), is re-emerging as a worldwide sexually transmitted infection. A single intramuscular dose of benzathine penicillin G is the preferred syphilis treatment option. Both supply shortage concerns and the potential for acquired antibiotic resistance further the need to broaden the repertoire of syphilis therapeutics. We reasoned that other β-lactams may be equally or more effective at targeting the disease-causing agent, Treponema pallidum, but have yet to be discovered due to a previous lack of a continuous in vitro culture system. Recent technical advances with respect to in vitro T. pallidum propagation allowed us to conduct a high-throughput screen of almost 100 β-lactams. Using several molecular and cellular approaches that we developed or adapted, we identified and confirmed the efficacy of several β-lactams that were similar to or outperformed the current standard, benzathine penicillin G. These options are either currently used to treat bacterial infections or are synthetic derivatives of naturally occurring compounds. Our studies not only identified additional potential therapeutics in the resolution of syphilis, but provide techniques to study the complex biology of T. pallidum— a spirochete that has plagued human health for centuries.
  • The structural analysis of the periplasmic domain of Sinorhizobium meliloti chemoreceptor McpZ reveals a novel fold and suggests a complex mechanism of transmembrane signaling
    Salar, Safoura; Ball, Nicolas E.; Baaziz, Hiba; Nix, Jay C.; Sobe, Richard C.; Compton, K. Karl; Zhulin, Igor B.; Brown, Anne M.; Scharf, Birgit E.; Schubot, Florian D. (Wiley, 2023-05)
    Chemotaxis is a fundamental process whereby bacteria seek out nutrient sources and avoid harmful chemicals. For the symbiotic soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti, the chemotaxis system also plays an essential role in the interaction with its legume host. The chemotactic signaling cascade is initiated through interactions of an attractant or repellent compound with chemoreceptors or methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs). S. meliloti possesses eight chemoreceptors to mediate chemotaxis. Six of these receptors are transmembrane proteins with periplasmic ligand-binding domains (LBDs). The specific functions of McpW and McpZ are still unknown. Here, we report the crystal structure of the periplasmic domain of McpZ (McpZPD) at 2.7 angstrom resolution. McpZPD assumes a novel fold consisting of three concatenated four-helix bundle modules. Through phylogenetic analyses, we discovered that this helical tri-modular domain fold arose within the Rhizobiaceae family and is still evolving rapidly. The structure, offering a rare view of a ligand-free dimeric MCP-LBD, reveals a novel dimerization interface. Molecular dynamics calculations suggest ligand binding will induce conformational changes that result in large horizontal helix movements within the membrane-proximal domains of the McpZPD dimer that are accompanied by a 5 angstrom vertical shift of the terminal helix toward the inner cell membrane. These results suggest a mechanism of transmembrane signaling for this family of MCPs that entails both piston-type and scissoring movements. The predicted movements terminate in a conformation that closely mirrors those observed in related ligand-bound MCP-LBDs.
  • Key Factors Regulating the Interdomain Dynamics May Contribute to the Assembly of ASC
    Li, Tongtong; Gil Pineda, Laura I.; Stevens, Amy O.; He, Yi (MDPI, 2023-05-31)
    The canonical ASC domains, PYD and CARD, are interconnected by a lengthy, semi-flexible linker. The molecular basis and purpose of ASC’s highly dynamic feature remain elusive. In this study, all-atom molecular dynamics simulations were utilized to examine the role of the linker and the interdomain dynamics of the ASC monomer. As revealed in the principal component analysis (PCA), the flexible linker enables interdomain dynamics and rotation. The stumbling between domains is partially attributed to the helical portion of N-terminal residues in the linker. Additionally, the linker exhibits a certain structural preference due to the turn-type structural inclination of the N-terminal and the presence of several prolines on the linker. Such structural preferences lead to the unavailability of regions for PYD type I interactions to CARDs, as evidenced by the CARD spatial restraint analysis. In conclusion, the semi-flexible linker introduces functionally relevant interdomain dynamics, potentially enhancing PYD self-assembly and the subsequent assembly of the inflammasome complex.
  • Iodine in foods and dietary supplements: A collaborative database developed by NIH, FDA and USDA
    Pehrsson, Pamela R.; Roseland, Janet M.; Patterson, Kristine Y.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Spungen, Judith H.; Andrews, Karen W.; Gusev, Pavel A.; Gahche, Jaime J.; Haggans, Carol J.; Merkel, Joyce M.; Ershow, Abby G. (Academic Press, 2022-06)
    Data on the iodine content of foods and dietary supplements are needed to develop general population intake estimates and identify major contributors to intake. Samples of seafood, dairy products, eggs, baked products, salts, tap water, other foods and beverages, and dietary supplements were collected according to established sampling plans of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Samples were assayed for iodine content using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry with rigorous quality control measures. The food data were released through a collaboration of USDA, FDA, and the Office of Dietary Supplements-National Institutes of Health (ODS-NIH) as the USDA, FDA, and ODS-NIH Database for the Iodine Content of Common Foods at Iodine data for dietary supplements are available in the ODS-USDA Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database and the ODS Dietary Supplement Label Database. Data from the iodine databases linked to national dietary survey data can provide needed information to monitor iodine status and develop dietary guidance for the general U.S. population and vulnerable subgroups. This iodine information is critical for dietary guidance development, especially for those at risk for iodine deficiency (i.e., women of reproductive age and young children).
  • Multi-Glycomic Characterization of Fiber from AOAC Methods Defines the Carbohydrate Structures
    Couture, Garret; Luthria, Devanand L.; Chen, Ye; Bacalzo Jr, Nikita P.; Tareq, Fakir S.; Harnly, James; Phillips, Katherine M.; Pehrsson, Pamela R.; McKillop, Kyle; Fukagawa, Naomi K.; Lebrilla, Carlito B. (American Chemical Society, 2022-11)
    Dietary fiber has long been known to be an essential component of a healthy diet, and recent investigations into the gut microbiome-health paradigm have identified fiber as a prime determinant in this interaction. Further, fiber is now known to impact the gut microbiome in a structure-specific manner, conferring differential bioactivities to these specific structures. However, current analytical methods for food carbohydrate analysis do not capture this important structural information. To address this need, we utilized rapid-throughput LC-MS methods to develop a novel analytical pipeline to determine the structural composition of soluble and insoluble fiber fractions from two AOAC methods (991.43 and 2017.16) at the total monosaccharide, glycosidic linkage, and free saccharide level. Two foods were chosen for this proof-of-concept study: oats and potato starch. For oats, both AOAC methods gave similar results. Insoluble fiber was found to be comprised of linkages corresponding to beta-glucan, arabinoxylan, xyloglucan, and mannan, while soluble fiber was found to be mostly beta-glucan, with small amounts of arabinogalactan. For raw potato starch, each AOAC method gave markedly different results in the soluble fiber fractions. These observed differences are attributable to the resistant starch content of potato starch and the different starch digestion conditions used in each method. Together, these tools are a means to obtain the complex structures present within dietary fiber while retaining "classical" determinations such as soluble and insoluble fiber. These efforts will provide an analytical framework to connect gravimetric fiber determinations with their constituent structures to better inform gut microbiome and clinical nutrition studies.
  • Soap application alters mosquito-host interactions
    VanderGiessen, Morgen; Tallon, Anaïs K.; Damico, Bryn; Lahondère, Chloé; Vinauger, Clément (Cell Press, 2023-05)
    To find nutrients, mosquitoes use volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants and animal hosts. These resources overlap in their chemical composition, and an important layer of information resides in VOCs’ relative abundance in the headspace of each resource. In addition, a large majority of the human species regularly uses personal care products such as soaps and perfumes, which add plant-related VOCs to their olfactory signature. Using headspace sampling and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we quantified how human odor is modified by soap application. We showed that soaps alter mosquito host selection, with some soaps increasing the attractiveness of the host and some soaps reducing it. Analytical methods revealed the main chemicals associated with these changes. These results provide proof-of-concept that data on host-soap valences can be reverse-engineered to produce chemical blends for artificial baits or mosquito repellents, and evince the impact of personal care products on host selection processes.
  • Leveraging a Fluorescent Fatty Acid Probe to Discover Cell-Permeable Inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum Glycerolipid Biosynthesis
    Dapper, Christie; Liu, Jiapeng; Klemba, Michael (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-10)
    The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on fatty acid scavenging to supply this essential precursor of lipid synthesis during its asexual replication cycle in human erythrocytes. This dependence on host fatty acids represents a potential vulnerability that can be exploited to develop new anti-malarial therapies. A sensitive and quantitative fluorescence-based approach is presented for characterizing fatty acid acquisition and lipid biosynthesis by asexually replicating, intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum. We show that a BODIPY-containing, green-fluorescent fatty acid analog is efficiently and rapidly incorporated into parasite neutral lipids and phospholipids. Prelabeling with a red-fluorescent ceramide analog permits normalization and enables reliable quantitation of glycerolipid labeling. Inhibition of lipid labeling by competition with natural fatty acids and by acyl-coenzyme A synthetase and diacylglycerol acyltransferase inhibitors demonstrates that the fluorescent fatty acid probe is acquired, activated, and transferred to lipids through physiologically-relevant pathways. To assess its utility in discovering small molecules that block parasite lipid biosynthesis, the lipid labeling assay was used to screen a panel of mammalian lipase inhibitors and a selection of compounds from the "Malaria Box" anti-malarial collection. Several compounds were identified that inhibited the incorporation of the fluorescent fatty acid probe into lipids in cultured parasites at low micromolar concentrations. Two contrasting profiles of suppression of neutral lipid and phospholipid synthesis were observed, which implies the inhibition of distinct pathways. IMPORTANCE The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on fatty acid scavenging to supply this essential precursor of lipid synthesis during its asexual replication cycle in human erythrocytes. This dependence on host fatty acids represents a potential vulnerability that can be exploited to develop new anti-malarial therapies. The quantitative experimental approach described here provides a platform for simultaneously interrogating multiple facets of lipid metabolism- fatty acid uptake, fatty acyl-CoA synthesis, and neutral lipid and phospholipid biosynthesis- and of identifying cell-permeable inhibitors that are active in situ.
  • Discovery of Two Inhibitors of the Type IV Pilus Assembly ATPase PilB as Potential Antivirulence Compounds
    Dye, Keane J.; Vogelaar, Nancy J.; O'Hara, Megan; Sobrado, Pablo; Santos, Webster; Carlier, Paul R.; Yang, Zhaomin (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-12)
    Many bacterial pathogens use their type IV pilus (T4P) to facilitate and maintain an infection in a human host. Small-molecule inhibitors of the production or assembly of the T4P are promising for the treatment and prevention of infections by these bacteria, especially in our fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. With the pressing antibiotic resistance pandemic, antivirulence has been increasingly explored as an alternative strategy against bacterial infections. The bacterial type IV pilus (T4P) is a well-documented virulence factor and an attractive target for small molecules for antivirulence purposes. The PilB ATPase is essential for T4P biogenesis because it catalyzes the assembly of monomeric pilins into the polymeric pilus filament. Here, we describe the identification of two PilB inhibitors by a high-throughput screen (HTS) in vitro and their validation as effective inhibitors of T4P assembly in vivo. We used Chloracidobacterium thermophilum PilB as a model enzyme to optimize an ATPase assay for the HTS. From a library of 2,320 compounds, benserazide and levodopa, two approved drugs for Parkinson's disease, were identified and confirmed biochemically to be PilB inhibitors. We demonstrate that both compounds inhibited the T4P-dependent motility of the bacteria Myxoccocus xanthus and Acinetobacter nosocomialis. Additionally, benserazide and levodopa were shown to inhibit A. nosocomialis biofilm formation, a T4P-dependent process. Using M. xanthus as a model, we showed that both compounds inhibited T4P assembly in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that these two compounds are effective against the PilB protein in vivo. The potency of benserazide and levodopa as PilB inhibitors both in vitro and in vivo demonstrate potentials of the HTS and its two hits here for the development of anti-T4P chemotherapeutics.IMPORTANCE Many bacterial pathogens use their type IV pilus (T4P) to facilitate and maintain an infection in a human host. Small-molecule inhibitors of the production or assembly of the T4P are promising for the treatment and prevention of infections by these bacteria, especially in our fight against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Here, we report the development and implementation of a method to identify anti-T4P chemicals from compound libraries by high-throughput screen. This led to the identification and validation of two T4P inhibitors both in the test tubes and in bacteria. The discovery and validation pipeline reported here as well as the confirmation of two anti-T4P inhibitors provide new venues and leads for the development of chemotherapeutics against antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Nitrogen transformation processes catalyzed by manure microbiomes in earthen pit and concrete storages on commercial dairy farms
    Khairunisa, Bela H.; Loganathan, Usha; Ogejo, Jactone A.; Mukhopadhyay, Biswarup (2023-04-11)
    Storing manure is an essential aspect of nutrient management on dairy farms. It presents the opportunity to use manure efficiently as a fertilizer in crop and pasture production. Typically, the manure storages are constructed as earthen, concrete, or steel-based structures. However, storing manure can potentially emit aerial pollutants to the atmosphere, including nitrogen and greenhouse gases, through microbial and physicochemical processes. We have characterized the composition of the microbiome in two manure storage structures, a clay-lined earthen pit and an aboveground concrete storage tank, on commercial dairy farms, to discern the nitrogen transformation processes, and thereby, inform the development of mitigation practices to preserve the value of manure. First, we analyzed the 16S rRNA-V4 amplicons generated from manure samples collected from several locations and depths (0.3, 1.2, and 2.1–2.75 m below the surface) of the storages, identifying a set of Amplicon Sequence Variant (ASVs) and quantifying their abundances. Then, we inferred the respective metabolic capabilities. These results showed that the manure microbiome composition was more complex and exhibited more location-to-location variation in the earthen pit than in the concrete tank. Further, the inlet and a location with hard surface crust in the earthen pit had unique consortia. The microbiomes in both storages had the potential to generate ammonia but lacked the organisms for oxidizing it to gaseous compounds. However, the microbial conversion of nitrate to gaseous N2, NO, and N2O via denitrification and to stable ammonia via dissimilatory nitrite reduction seemed possible; minor quantities of nitrate was present in manure, potentially originating from oxidative processes occurring on the barn floor. The nitrate-transformation linked ASVs were more prevalent at the near-surface locations and all depths of the inlet. Anammox bacteria and archaeal or bacterial autotrophic nitrifiers were not detected in either storage. Hydrogenotrophic Methanocorpusculum species were the primary methanogens or methane producers, exhibiting higher abundance in the earthen pit. These findings suggested that microbial activities were not the main drivers for nitrogen loss from manure storage, and commonly reported losses are associated with the physicochemical processes. Finally, the microbiomes of stored manure had the potential to emit greenhouse gases such as NO, N2O, and methane.
  • Quantitative Bottom-Up Glycomic Analysis of Polysaccharides in Food Matrices Using Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry
    Bacalzo, Nikita P.; Couture, Garret; Chen, Ye; Castillo, Juan J.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Fukagawa, Naomi K.; Lebrilla, Carlito B. (American Chemical Society, 2022-12)
    Carbohydrates are the most abundant biomolecules in nature, and specifically, polysaccharides are present in almost all plants and fungi. Due to their compositional diversity, polysaccharide analysis remains challenging. Compared to other biomolecules, high-throughput analysis for carbohydrates has yet to be developed. To address this gap in analytical science, we have developed a multiplexed, high-throughput, and quantitative approach for polysaccharide analysis in foods. Specifically, polysaccharides were depolymerized using a nonenzymatic chemical digestion process followed by oligosaccharide fingerprinting using high performance liquid chromatography-quadru-pole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC-QTOF-MS). Both label-free relative quantitation and absolute quantitation were done based on the abundances of oligosaccharides produced. Method validation included evaluating recovery for a range of polysaccharide standards and a breakfast cereal standard reference material. Nine polysaccharides (starch, cellulose, beta-glucan, mannan, galactan, arabinan, xylan, xyloglucan, chitin) were successfully quantitated with sufficient accuracy (5-25% bias) and high reproducibility (2- 15% CV). Additionally, the method was used to identify and quantitate polysaccharides from a diverse sample set of food samples. Absolute concentrations of nine polysaccharides from apples and onions were obtained using an external calibration curve, where varietal differences were observed in some of the samples. The methodology developed in this study will provide complementary polysaccharide-level information to deepen our understanding of the interactions of dietary polysaccharides, gut microbial community, and human health.
  • Comprehensive oligosaccharide profiling of commercial almond milk, soy milk, and soy flour
    Huang, Yu-Ping; Paviani, Bruna; Fukagawa, Naomi K.; Phillips, Katherine M.; Barile, Daniela (Elsevier, 2023-05)
    Oligosaccharides are known for several bioactivities on health, however, in sensitive individuals, can cause in- testinal discomfort. This study aimed to investigate the oligosaccharide profiles in selected plant-based food products. A quantification method based on high-performance anion-exchange chromatography-pulsed amper- ometric detection was developed, validated, and used to measure major oligosaccharides. Additional low- abundant oligosaccharides and glycosides were characterized by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spec- trometry and glycosidases. The summed concentration of raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose ranged from 0.12-0.19 mg/g in almond milk, 3.6-6.4 mg/g in soy milk, and 74-77 and 4.8-57 mg/g in defatted and full-fat soy four. Over 80 different oligosaccharides were characterized. Novel compounds, 2,3-butanediol glycosides, were identified in almond milk. Low-abundant oligosaccharides represented 25 %, 6 %, and 10 % of total OS in almond milk, soy milk, and soy flour, respectively. The data here are useful to estimate oligosaccharide con- sumption from dietary intake and facilitate further studies on their bioactivity.
  • Cripowellins Pause Plasmodium falciparum Intraerythrocytic Development at the Ring Stage
    Butler, Joshua H.; Painter, Heather J.; Bremers, Emily K.; Krai, Priscilla; Llinás, Manuel; Cassera, Maria B. (MDPI, 2023-03-13)
    Cripowellins from Crinum erubescens are known pesticidal and have potent antiplasmodial activity. To gain mechanistic insights to this class of natural products, studies to determine the timing of action of cripowellins within the asexual intraerythrocytic cycle of Plasmodium falciparum were performed and led to the observation that this class of natural products induced reversible cytostasis in the ring stage within the first 24 h of treatment. The transcriptional program necessary for P. falciparum to progress through the asexual intraerythrocytic life cycle is well characterized. Whole transcriptome abundance analysis showed that cripowellin B “pauses” the transcriptional program necessary to progress through the intraerythrocytic life cycle coinciding with the lack of morphological progression of drug treated parasites. In addition, cripowellin B-treated parasites re-enter transcriptional progression after treatment was removed. This study highlights the use of cripowellins as chemical probes to reveal new aspects of cell cycle progression of the asexual ring stage of P. falciparum which could be leveraged for the generation of future antimalarial therapeutics.
  • Sphingosine Kinase 2 Inhibitors: Rigid Aliphatic Tail Derivatives Deliver Potent and Selective Analogues
    Pashikanti, Srinath; Foster, Daniel J.; Kharel, Yugesh; Brown, Anne M.; Bevan, David R.; Lynch, Kevin R.; Santos, Webster L. (American Chemical Society, 2022-10-19)
    Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a pleiotropic signaling molecule that interacts with five native G-protein coupled receptors (S1P1-5) to regulate cell growth, survival, and proliferation. S1P has been implicated in a variety of pathologies including cancer, kidney fibrosis, and multiple sclerosis. As key mediators in the synthesis of S1P, sphingosine kinase (SphK) isoforms 1 and 2 have attracted attention as viable targets for pharmacologic intervention. In this report, we describe the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2) inhibitors with a focus on systematically introducing rigid structures in the aliphatic lipid tail present in existing SphK2 inhibitors. Experimental as well as molecular modeling studies suggest that conformationally restricted "lipophilic tail" analogues bearing a bulky terminal moiety or an internal phenyl ring are useful to complement the "J"-shaped sphingosine binding pocket of SphK2. We identified 14c (SLP9101555) as a potent SphK2 inhibitor (Ki= 90 nM) with 200-fold selectivity over SphK1. Molecular docking studies indicated key interactions: the cyclohexyl ring binding in the cleft deep in the pocket, a trifluoromethyl group fitting in a small side cavity, and a hydrogen bond between the guanidino group and Asp308 (amino acid numbering refers to human SphK2 (isoform c) orthologue). In vitro studies using U937 human histiocytic lymphoma cells showed marked decreases in extracellular S1P levels in response to our SphK2 inhibitors. Administration of 14c (dose: 5 mg/kg) to mice resulted in a sustained increase of circulating S1P levels, suggesting target engagement.
  • An olive-derived elenolic acid stimulates hormone release from L-cells and exerts potent beneficial metabolic effects in obese diabetic mice
    Wang, Yao; Wu, Yajun; Wang, Aiping; Wang, Aihua; Alkhalidy, Hana; Helm, Richard; Zhang, Shijun; Ma, Hongguang; Zhang, Yan; Gilbert, Elizabeth R.; Xu, Bin; Liu, Dongmin (Frontiers, 2022-11-01)
    Insulin resistance and progressive decline in functional β-cell mass are two key factors for developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), which is largely driven by overweight and obesity, a significant obstacle for effective metabolic control in many patients with T2D. Thus, agents that simultaneously ameliorate obesity and act on multiple pathophysiological components could be more effective for treating T2D. Here, we report that elenolic acid (EA), a phytochemical, is such a dual-action agent. we show that EA dose-dependently stimulates GLP-1 secretion in mouse clonal L-cells and isolated mouse ileum crypts. In addition, EA induces L-cells to secrete peptide YY (PYY). EA induces a rapid increase in intracellular [Ca2+]i and the production of inositol trisphosphate in L-cells, indicating that EA activates phospholipase C (PLC)-mediated signaling. Consistently, inhibition of (PLC) or Gαq ablates EA-stimulated increase of [Ca2+]i and GLP-1 secretion. In vivo, a single dose of EA acutely stimulates GLP-1 and PYY secretion in mice, accompanied with an improved glucose tolerance and insulin levels. Oral administration of EA at a dose of 50 mg/kg/day for 2 weeks normalized the fasting blood glucose and restored glucose tolerance in high-fat diet-induced obese (DIO) mice to levels that were comparable to chow-fed mice. In addition, EA suppresses appetite, reduces food intake, promotes weight loss, and reverses perturbated metabolic variables in obese mice. These results suggest that EA could be a dual-action agent as an alternative or adjuvant treatment for both T2D and obesity.
  • Kinetic and Structural Characterization of a Flavin-Dependent Putrescine N-Hydroxylase from Acinetobacter baumannii
    Lyons, Noah S.; Bogner, Alexandra N.; Tanner, John J.; Sobrado, Pablo (American Chemical Society, 2022-11-15)
    Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen that causes nosocomial infections, especially among immunocompromised individuals. The rise of multidrug resistant strains of A. baumannii has limited the use of standard antibiotics, highlighting a need for new drugs that exploit novel mechanisms of pathogenicity. Disrupting iron acquisition by inhibiting the biosynthesis of iron-chelating molecules (siderophores) secreted by the pathogen is a potential strategy for developing new antibiotics. Here we investigated FbsI, an N-hydroxylating monooxygenase involved in the biosynthesis of fimsbactin A, the major siderophore produced by A. baumannii. FbsI was characterized using steady-state and transient-state kinetics, spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, and small-angle X-ray scattering. FbsI was found to catalyze the N-hydroxylation of the aliphatic diamines putrescine and cadaverine. Maximum coupling of the reductive and oxidative half-reactions occurs with putrescine, suggesting it is the preferred (in vivo) substrate. FbsI uses both NADPH and NADH as the reducing cofactor with a slight preference for NADPH. The crystal structure of FbsI complexed with NADP+was determined at 2.2 Å resolution. The structure exhibits the protein fold characteristic of Class B flavin-dependent monooxygenases. FbsI is most similar in 3D structure to the cadaverine N-hydroxylases DesB and DfoA. Small-angle X-ray scattering shows that FbsI forms a tetramer in solution like the N-hydroxylating monooxygenases of the SidA/IucD/PvdA family. A model of putrescine docked into the active site provides insight into substrate recognition. A mechanism for the catalytic cycle is proposed where dehydration of the C4a-hydroxyflavin intermediate is partially rate-limiting, and the hydroxylated putrescine product is released before NADP+
  • Effect of methanogenic substrates on coenzyme F420-dependent N5,N10-methylene-H4MPT dehydrogenase, N5,N10-methenyl-H4MPT cyclohydrolase and F420-reducing hydrogenase activities in Methanosarcina barkeri
    Mukhopadhyay, Biswarup; Purwantini, Endang; Daniels, Lacy (1993)
    We measured F420-dependent N5,N10-methylenetetrahydro-methanopterin dehydrogenase, N5, N10-methenyltetrahydro-methanopterin cyclohydrolase, and F420-reducing hydrogenase levels in Methanosarcina barkeri grown on various substrates. Variation in dehydrogenase levels during growth on a specific substrate was usually <3-fold, and much less for cyclohydrolase. H2−CO2-, methanol-, and H2−CO2+ methanol-grown cells had roughly equivalent levels of dehydrogenase and cyclohydrolase. In acetate-grown cells cyclohydrolase level was lowered 2 to 3-fold and dehydrogenase 10 to 80-fold; this was not due to repression by acetate, since, if cultures growing on acetate were supplemented with methanol or H2−CO2, dehydrogenase levels increased 14 to 19-fold, and cyclohydrolase levels by 3 to 4-fold. Compared to H2−CO2- or methanol-grown cells, acetate-or H2−CO2 + methanol-grown cells had lower levels of and less growth phase-dependent variation in hydrogenase activity. Our data are consistent with the following hypotheses: 1. M. barkeri oxidizes methanol via a portion of the CO2-reduction pathway operated in the reverse direction. 2. When steps from CO2 to CH3-S-CoM in the CO2-reduction pathway (in either direction) are not used for methanogenesis, hydrogenase activity is lowered.
  • A Reduced F420-Dependent Nitrite Reductase in an Anaerobic Methanotrophic Archaeon
    Heryakusuma, Christian; Susanti, Dwi; Yu, Hang; Li, Zhou; Purwantini, Endang; Hettich, Robert L.; Orphan, Victoria J.; Mukhopadhyay, Biswarup (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-06-13)
    Anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME), which oxidize methane in marine sediments through syntrophic associations with sulfate-reducing bacteria, carry homologs of coenzyme F420-dependent sulfite reductase (Fsr) of Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, a hyperthermophilic methanogen from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. M. jannaschii Fsr (MjFsr) and ANME-Fsr belong to two phylogenetically distinct groups, FsrI and FsrII, respectively. MjFsrI reduces sulfite to sulfide with reduced F420 (F420H2), protecting methyl coenzyme M reductase (Mcr), an essential enzyme for methanogens, from sulfite inhibition. However, the function of FsrIIs in ANME, which also rely on Mcr and live in sulfidic environments, is unknown. We have determined the catalytic properties of FsrII from a member of ANME-2c. Since ANME remain to be isolated, we expressed ANME2c-FsrII in a closely related methanogen, Methanosarcina acetivorans. Purified recombinant FsrII contained siroheme, indicating that the methanogen, which lacks a native sulfite reductase, produced this coenzyme. Unexpectedly, FsrII could not reduce sulfite or thiosulfate with F420H2. Instead, it acted as an F420H2-dependent nitrite reductase (FNiR) with physiologically relevant Km values (nitrite, 5 μM; F420H2, 14 μM). From kinetic, thermodynamic, and structural analyses, we hypothesize that in FNiR, F420H2- derived electrons are delivered at the oxyanion reduction site at a redox potential that is suitable for reducing nitrite (E09 [standard potential], 1440 mV) but not sulfite (E09, 2116 mV). These findings and the known nitrite sensitivity of Mcr suggest that FNiR may protect nondenitrifying ANME from nitrite toxicity. Remarkably, by reorganizing the reductant processing system, Fsr transforms two analogous oxyanions in two distinct archaeal lineages with different physiologies and ecologies. IMPORTANCE Coenzyme F420-dependent sulfite reductase (Fsr) protects methanogenic archaea inhabiting deep-sea hydrothermal vents from the inactivation of methyl coenzyme M reductase (Mcr), one of their essential energy production enzymes. Anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) that oxidize methane and rely on Mcr, carry Fsr homologs that form a distinct clade. We show that a member of this clade from ANME-2c functions as F420-dependent nitrite reductase (FNiR) and lacks Fsr activity. This specialization arose from a distinct feature of the reductant processing system and not the substrate recognition element. We hypothesize FNiR may protect ANME Mcr from inactivation by nitrite. This is an example of functional specialization within a protein family that is induced by changes in electron transfer modules to fit an ecological need.