Doctor of Philosophy, Friedrich Schiller Univ Jena (2012)
Vordiplom, Justus Liebig Universitat (2005)
Diplom, Friedrich Schiller Univ Jena (2008)
The formation of glutathione (GSH) conjugates, best known from the detoxification of xenobiotics, is a widespread strategy to incorporate sulfur into biomolecules. The biosynthesis of gliotoxin, a virulence factor of the human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, involves attachment of two GSH molecules and their sequential decomposition to yield two reactive thiol groups. The degradation of the GSH moieties requires the activity of the Cys-Gly carboxypeptidase GliJ, for which we describe the X-ray structure here. The enzyme forms a homodimer with each monomer comprising one active site. Two metal ions are present per proteolytic center, thus assigning GliJ to the diverse family of dinuclear metallohydrolases. Depending on availability, Zn(2+), Fe(2+), Fe(3+), Mn(2+), Cu(2+), Co(2+), or Ni(2+) ions are accepted as cofactors. Despite this high metal promiscuity, a preference for zinc versus iron and manganese was noted. Mutagenesis experiments revealed details of metal coordination, and molecular modeling delivered insights into substrate recognition and processing by GliJ. The latter results suggest a reaction mechanism in which the two scissile peptide bonds of one gliotoxin precursor molecule are hydrolyzed sequentially and in a given order.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acschembio.6b00847
View details for PubMedID 28525266
Sulfur plays a critical role for the development and maintenance of life on earth, which is reflected by the wealth of primary metabolites, macromolecules, and cofactors bearing this element. Whereas a large body of knowledge has existed for sulfur trafficking in primary metabolism, the secondary metabolism involving sulfur has long been neglected. Yet, diverse sulfur functionalities have a major impact on the biological activities of natural products. Recent research at the genetic, biochemical, and chemical levels has unearthed a broad range of enzymes, sulfur shuttles, and chemical mechanisms for generating carbon-sulfur bonds. This Review will give the first systematic overview on enzymes catalyzing the formation of organosulfur natural products.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.chemrev.6b00697
View details for Web of Science ID 000400321700007
View details for PubMedID 28418240
Gliotoxin (GT) is the most important epidithiodioxopiperazine (ETP)-type fungal toxin. GT was originally isolated from Trichoderma species as an antibiotic substance involved in biological control of plant pathogenic fungi. A few isolates of GT-producing Trichoderma virens are commercially marketed for biological control and widely used in agriculture. Furthermore, GT is long known as an immunosuppressive agent and also reported to have anti-tumour properties. However, recent publications suggest that GT is a virulence determinant of the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. This compound is thus important on several counts - it has medicinal properties, is a pathogenicity determinant, is a potential diagnostic marker and is important in biological crop protection. The present article addresses this paradox and the ecological role of GT. We discuss the function of GT as defence molecule, the role in aspergillosis and suggest solutions for safe application of Trichoderma-based biofungicides.
View details for DOI 10.1111/1462-2920.13080
View details for Web of Science ID 000374648500003
View details for PubMedID 26443473
A systematic series of anion receptors based on bidentate halogen bonding by halo-triazoles and -triazoliums is presented. The influence of the halogen bond donor atom, the electron-withdrawing group, and the linker group that bridges the two donor moieties is investigated. Additionally, a comparison with hydrogen bond-based analogues is provided. A new, efficient synthetic approach to introduce different halogens into the heterocycles is established using silver(I)-triazolylidenes, which are converted to the corresponding halo-1,2,3-triazoliums with different halogens. Comprehensive nuclear magnetic resonance binding studies supported by isothermal titration calorimetry studies were performed with different halides and oxo-anions to evaluate the influence of key parameters of the halogen bond donor, namely, polarization of the halogen and the bond angle to the anion. The results show a larger anion affinity in the case of more charge-dense halides as well as a general preference of the receptors to bind oxo-anions, in particular sulfate, over halides.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.joc.5b00028
View details for PubMedID 25671504
The Aspergillus fumigatus nonribosomal peptide synthetase FtpA is among the few of this species whose natural product has remained unknown. Both FtpA adenylation domains were characterized in vitro. Fumaric acid was identified as preferred substrate of the first and both l-tyrosine and l-phenylalanine as preferred substrates of the second adenylation domain. Genetically engineered A. fumigatus strains expressed either ftpA or the regulator gene ftpR, encoded in the same cluster of genes, under the control of the doxycycline-inducible tetracycline-induced transcriptional activation (tet-on) cassette. These strains produced fumaryl-l-tyrosine and fumaryl-l-phenylalanine which were identified by liquid chromatography and high-resolution mass spectrometry. Modeling of the first adenylation domain in silico provided insight into the structural requirements to bind fumaric acid as peptide synthetase substrate. This work adds aromatic fumaric acid amides to the secondary metabolome of the important human pathogen A. fumigatus which was previously not known as a producer of these compounds.
View details for DOI 10.1128/AEM.03268-14
View details for Web of Science ID 000349547200006
View details for PubMedID 25527545
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4325157
Verticillium hemipterigenum (anamorph Torrubiella hemipterigena) is an entomopathogenic fungus and produces a broad range of secondary metabolites. Here, we present the draft genome sequence of the fungus, including gene structure and functional annotation. Genes were predicted incorporating RNA-Seq data and functionally annotated to provide the basis for further genome studies.
View details for DOI 10.1128/genomeA.01439-14
View details for PubMedID 25614560
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4319583
CD4(+) T cells orchestrate immune responses against fungi, such as Aspergillus fumigatus, a major fungal pathogen in humans. The complexity of the fungal genome and lifestyle questions the existence of one or a few immune-dominant Ags and complicates systematic screening for immunogenic Ags useful for immunotherapy or diagnostics. In this study, we used a recently developed flow cytometric assay for the direct ex vivo characterization of A. fumigatus-specific CD4(+) T cells for rapid identification of physiological T cell targets in healthy donors. We show that the T cell response is primarily directed against metabolically active A. fumigatus morphotypes and is stronger against membrane protein fractions compared with cell wall or cytosolic proteins. Further analysis of 15 selected single A. fumigatus proteins revealed a highly diverse reactivity pattern that was donor and protein dependent. Importantly, the parallel assessment of T cell frequency, phenotype, and function allowed us to differentiate between proteins that elicit strong memory T cell responses in vivo versus Ags that induce T cell exhaustion or no reactivity in vivo. The regulatory T cell (Treg) response mirrors the conventional T cell response in terms of numbers and target specificity. Thus, our data reveal that the fungal T cell immunome is complex, but the ex vivo characterization of reactive T cells allows us to classify Ags and to predict potential immunogenic targets. A. fumigatus-specific conventional T cell responses are counterbalanced by a strong Treg response, suggesting that Treg-depletion strategies may be helpful in improving antifungal immunity.
View details for DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.1400776
View details for PubMedID 25172488
Gliotoxin (1), a virulence factor of the human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, is the prototype of epipoly(thiodioxopiperazine) (ETP) toxins. Here we report the discovery and functional analysis of two methyl transferases (MTs) that play crucial roles for ETP toxicity. Genome comparisons, knockouts, and in vitro enzyme studies identified a new S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent S-MT (TmtA) that is, surprisingly, encoded outside the gli gene cluster. We found that TmtA irreversibly inactivates ETP by S-alkylation and that this detoxification strategy appears to be not only limited to ETP producers. Furthermore, we unveiled that GliN functions as a freestanding amide N-MT. GliN-mediated amide methylation confers stability to ETP, damping the spontaneous formation of tri- and tetrasulfides. In addition, enzymatic N-alkylation constitutes the last step in gliotoxin biosynthesis and is a prerequisite for the cytotoxicity of the molecule. Thus, these specialized alkylating enzymes have dramatic and fully opposed effects: complete activation or inactivation of the toxin.
View details for DOI 10.1021/ja5033106
View details for Web of Science ID 000340737900022
View details for PubMedID 25062268
Nature provides a rich source of compounds with diverse chemical structures and biological activities, among them, sulfur-containing metabolites from bacteria and fungi. Some of these compounds bear a disulfide moiety that is indispensable for their bioactivity. Specialized oxidoreductases such as GliT, HlmI, and DepH catalyze the formation of this disulfide bridge in the virulence factor gliotoxin, the antibiotic holomycin, and the anticancer drug romidepsin, respectively. We have examined all three enzymes by X-ray crystallography and activity assays. Despite their differently sized substrate binding clefts and hence, their diverse substrate preferences, a unifying reaction mechanism is proposed based on the obtained crystal structures and further supported by mutagenesis experiments.
View details for DOI 10.1002/anie.201309302
View details for Web of Science ID 000330908600035
View details for PubMedID 24446392
Enzyme quartet: Isolation of the first sulfur-bearing intermediate of the gliotoxin pathway in Aspergillus fumigatus and successful in?vitro conversion of the bisglutathione adduct into an intact epidithiodiketopiperazine by a four-enzyme cascade (including glutamyltransferase GliK and dipeptidase GliJ) revealed an outstanding adaptation of a primary metabolic pathway into natural product biosynthesis that is widespread in fungi.
View details for DOI 10.1002/anie.201305059
View details for Web of Science ID 000328812600029
View details for PubMedID 24039048
The synthesis of amphiphilic star-shaped poly(?-caprolactone)-block-poly(oligo(ethylene glycol)methacrylate)s ([PCL(18)-b-POEGMA](4)) and poly(?-caprolactone)-block-poly(oligo(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline)methacrylate)s ([PCL(18)-b-POEtOxMA](4)) is presented. Unimolecular behavior in aqueous systems is observed with the tendency to form loose aggregates for both hydrophilic shell types. The comparison of OEGMA and OEtOxMA reveals that the molar mass of the macromonomer in the hydrophilic shell rather than the mere length is the crucial factor to form an efficiently stabilizing hydrophilic shell. A hydrophilic/lipophilic balance of 0.8 is shown to stabilize unimolecular micelles in water. An extensive in vitro biological evaluation shows neither blood nor cytotoxicity. The applicability of the polymers as drug delivery systems was proven by the encapsulation of the anticancer drug doxorubicin, whose cytotoxic effect was retarded in comparison to the free drug.
View details for DOI 10.1021/bm400091n
View details for Web of Science ID 000323143700012
View details for PubMedID 23789879
Natural products play important roles not only in the environment but also as useful compounds in various applications like in medicine or plant protection. An enormous number of such compounds have derived from microorganisms colonizing various habitats. Traditionally, new isolates of bacteria or fungi have been screened for their potential to produce biologically active compounds. In the post genomic era, however, there is a growing number of novel methods based on genetic engineering to obtain new metabolites. In this review, we summarize the recent progress made in the development of novel promising approaches for natural product discovery in fungi using genome mining, activation of silent gene clusters, heterologous expression of biosynthesis genes, exchange of enzyme modules as well as redesign of metabolic flux.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.06.027
View details for Web of Science ID 000313738700011
View details for PubMedID 22820338
The CCAAT box is a frequent element of eukaryotic promoters, and its specific recognition by the conserved heterotrimeric CCAAT-binding complex (CBC) constitutes a key step in promoter organization and regulation of transcription. Here, we report the crystal structures of the CBC from Aspergillus nidulans in the absence and in complex with double-stranded DNA at 1.8 Å resolution. The histone-like subunits HapC and HapE induce nucleosome-like DNA bending by interacting with the sugar-phosphate backbone. Minor groove sensing and widening by subunit HapB tightly anchor the CBC to the CCAAT box, as shown by structural and biochemical data. Furthermore, crucial interactions of the DNA duplex with subunit HapB provide an explanation for the sequence specificity of the CBC. The herein-described mode of transcription factor binding answers the question of how histone proteins gained sequence specificity for the CCAAT box.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.str.2012.07.012
View details for Web of Science ID 000309787900019
View details for PubMedID 22902862
Gliotoxin (GT) is the prototype of the epidithiodioxopiperazine (ETP)-type fungal toxins. GT plays a critical role in the pathobiology of Aspergillus fumigatus. It modulates the immune response and induces apoptosis in different cell types. The toxicity has been attributed to the unusual intramolecular disulfide bridge, which is the functional motif of all ETPs. Because of the extraordinary structure and activity of GT, this fungal metabolite has been the subject of many investigations. The biosynthesis of GT involves unprecedented reactions catalysed by recently discovered enzymes. Here, we summarize the recent progress in elucidating the GT biosynthetic pathway and its role in virulence.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00253-011-3689-1
View details for Web of Science ID 000299120100002
View details for PubMedID 22094977
Gliotoxin is a virulence factor of the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus , the leading cause of invasive aspergillosis. Its toxicity is mediated by the unusual transannular disulfide bridge of the epidithiodiketopiperazine (ETP) scaffold. Here we disclose the critical role of a specialized glutathione S-transferase (GST), GliG, in enzymatic sulfurization. Furthermore, we show that bishydroxylation of the diketopiperazine by the oxygenase GliC is a prerequisite for glutathione adduct formation. This is the first report of the involvement of a GST in enzymatic C-S bond formation in microbial secondary metabolism.
View details for DOI 10.1021/ja201311d
View details for Web of Science ID 000294740000002
View details for PubMedID 21749092
Gliotoxin (1), the infamous representative of the group of epipolythiodioxopiperazines (ETPs), is a virulence factor of the human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. The unique redox-sensitive transannular disulfide bridge is critical for deleterious effects caused by redox cycling and protein conjugation in the host. Through a combination of genetic, biochemical, and chemical analyses, we found that 1 results from GliT-mediated oxidation of the corresponding dithiol. In vitro studies using purified GliT demonstrate that the FAD-dependent, homodimeric enzyme utilizes molecular oxygen as terminal electron acceptor with concomitant formation of H(2)O(2). In analogy to the thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase superfamily, a model for dithiol-disulfide exchange involving the conserved CxxC motif is proposed. Notably, while all studied disulfide oxidases invariably form intra- or interchenar disulfide bonds in peptides, GliT is the first studied enzyme producing an epidithio bond. Furthermore, through sensitivity assays using wild type, Delta gliT mutant, and complemented strain, we found that GliT confers resistance to the producing organism. A phylogenetic study revealed that GliT falls into a clade of yet fully uncharacterized fungal gene products deduced from putative ETP biosynthesis gene loci. GliT thus not only represents the prototype of ETP-forming enzymes in eukaryotes but also delineates a novel mechanism for self-resistance.
View details for DOI 10.1021/ja103262m
View details for Web of Science ID 000280227700049
View details for PubMedID 20593880
The heterotrimeric CCAAT-binding complex is evolutionary conserved in eukaryotic organisms. The corresponding Aspergillus nidulans CCAAT-binding factor (AnCF) consists of the subunits HapB, HapC and HapE. All of the three subunits are necessary for DNA binding. Here, we demonstrate that AnCF senses the redox status of the cell via oxidative modification of thiol groups within the histone fold motif of HapC. Mutational and in vitro interaction analyses revealed that two of these cysteine residues are indispensable for stable HapC/HapE subcomplex formation and high-affinity DNA binding of AnCF. Oxidized HapC is unable to participate in AnCF assembly and localizes in the cytoplasm, but can be recycled by the thioredoxin system in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, deletion of the hapC gene led to an impaired oxidative stress response. Therefore, the central transcription factor AnCF is regulated at the post-transcriptional level by the redox status of the cell serving for a coordinated activation and deactivation of antioxidative defense mechanisms including the specific transcriptional activator NapA, production of enzymes such as catalase, thioredoxin or peroxiredoxin, and maintenance of a distinct glutathione homeostasis. The underlying fine-tuned mechanism very likely represents a general feature of the CCAAT-binding complexes in eukaryotes.
View details for DOI 10.1093/nar/gkp1091
View details for Web of Science ID 000275270500012
View details for PubMedID 19965775
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2831313
Penicillins and cephalosporins are beta-lactam antibiotics. The formation of hydrophobic penicillins has been reported in fungi only, notably Penicillium chrysogenum and Aspergillus (Emericella) nidulans, whereas the hydrophilic cephalosporins are produced by both fungi, e.g., Acremonium chrysogenum (cephalosporin C), and bacteria. The producing bacteria include Gram-negatives and Gram-positives, e.g., Streptomyces clavuligerus (cephamycin C) and Lysobacter lactamgenus (cephabacins), respectively. The evolutionary origin of beta-lactam biosynthesis genes has been the subject of discussion for many years, and two main hypotheses have been proposed: (i) horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from bacteria to fungi or (ii) vertical decent. There are strong arguments in favour of HGT, e.g., unlike most other fungal genes, beta-lactam biosynthesis genes are clustered and some of these genes lack introns. In contrast to S. clavuligerus, all regulators of fungal beta-lactam biosynthesis genes represent wide-domain regulators that are not part of the gene cluster. If bacterial regulators were co-transferred with the gene cluster from bacteria to fungi, most likely they would have been non-functional in eukaryotes and lost during evolution. Recently, the penicillin biosynthesis gene aatB was discovered, which is not part of the penicillin biosynthesis gene cluster and is even located on a different chromosome. The aatB gene is regulated by the same regulators AnCF and AnBH1 as the penicillin biosynthesis gene aatA (penDE). Data suggest that aatA and aatB are paralogues derived by duplication of a common ancestor gene. This data supports a model in which part of the beta-lactam biosynthesis gene cluster was transferred to some fungi, i.e., the acvA and ipnA gene without a regulatory gene. We propose that during the assembly of aatA and acvA-ipnA into a single gene cluster, recruitment of transcriptional regulators occurred along with acquisition of the duplicated aatA ancestor gene and its cis-acting sites.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.09.011
View details for Web of Science ID 000272730000018
View details for PubMedID 19863978
The final step of penicillin biosynthesis in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans is catalysed by isopenicillin N acyltransferase encoded by the aatA gene. Because there is no bacterial homologue, its evolutionary origin remained obscure. As shown here,disruption of aatA still enabled penicillin production. Genome mining led to the discovery of the aatB gene(AN6775.3) which has a similar structure and expression pattern as aatA. Disruption of aatB resulted in a reduced penicillin titre. Surface plasmon resonance analysis and Northern blot analysis indicated that the promoters of both aatA and aatB are bound and regulated by the same transcription factors AnCF and AnBH1f. In contrast to aatA, aatB does not encode a peroxisomal targeting signal (PTS1). Overexpression of a mutated aatB(PTS1) gene in an aatA-disruption strain(leading to peroxisomal localization of AatB)increased the penicillin titre more than overexpression of the wild-type aatB. Homologues of aatA are exclusively part of the penicillin biosynthesis gene cluster,whereas aatB homologues also exist in non-producing fungi. Our findings suggest that aatB is a paralogue of aatA. They extend the model of evolution of the penicillin biosynthesis gene cluster by recruitment of a biosynthesis gene and its cis-regulatory sites upon gene duplication.
View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06422.x
View details for Web of Science ID 000259526100014
View details for PubMedID 18942174