Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Research Publications

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    Synthesis and structure-activity relationships of teixobactin
    Karas, JA ; Chen, F ; Schneider-Futschik, EK ; Kang, Z ; Hussein, M ; Swarbrick, J ; Hoyer, D ; Giltrap, AM ; Payne, RJ ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (WILEY, 2019-12-02)
    The discovery of antibiotics has led to the effective treatment of bacterial infections that were otherwise fatal and has had a transformative effect on modern medicine. Teixobactin is an unusual depsipeptide natural product that was recently discovered from a previously unculturable soil bacterium and found to possess potent antibacterial activity against several Gram positive pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci. One of the key features of teixobactin as an antibiotic lead is that resistance could not be generated in a laboratory setting. This is proposed to be a result of a mechanism of action that involves binding to essential cell wall synthesis building blocks, lipid II and lipid III. Since the initial isolation report in 2015, significant efforts have been made to understand its unique mechanism of action, develop efficient synthetic routes for its production, and thus enable the generation of analogues for structure-activity relationship studies and optimization of its pharmacological properties. Our review provides a comprehensive treatise on the progress in understanding teixobactin chemistry, structure-activity relationships, and mechanisms of antibacterial activity. Teixobactin represents an exciting starting point for the development of new antibiotics that can be used to combat multidrug-resistant bacterial ("superbug") infections.
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    The impact of backbone N-methylation on the structure-activity relationship of Leu(10)-teixobactin
    Velkov, T ; Swarbrick, JD ; Hussein, MH ; Schneider-Futschik, EK ; Hoyer, D ; Li, J ; Karas, JA (WILEY, 2019-08-06)
    Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to global human health; therefore, new anti-infective therapeutics are required. The cyclic depsi-peptide teixobactin exhibits potent antimicrobial activity against several Gram-positive pathogens. To study the natural product's mechanism of action and improve its pharmacological properties, efficient chemical methods for preparing teixobactin analogues are required to expedite structure-activity relationship studies. Described herein is a synthetic route that enables rapid access to analogues. Furthermore, our new N-methylated analogues highlight that hydrogen bonding along the N-terminal tail is likely to be important for antimicrobial activity.
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    Allosteric folding correction of F508del and rare CFTR mutants by elexacaftor-tezacaftor-ivacaftor (Trikafta) combination
    Veit, G ; Roldan, A ; Hancock, MA ; Da Fonte, DF ; Xu, H ; Hussein, M ; Frenkiel, S ; Matouk, E ; Velkov, T ; Lukacs, GL (AMER SOC CLINICAL INVESTIGATION INC, 2020-09-17)
    Based on its clinical benefits, Trikafta - the combination of folding correctors VX-661 (tezacaftor), VX-445 (elexacaftor), and the gating potentiator VX-770 (ivacaftor) - was FDA approved for treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) carrying deletion of phenylalanine at position 508 (F508del) of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) on at least 1 allele. Neither the mechanism of action of VX-445 nor the susceptibility of rare CF folding mutants to Trikafta are known. Here, we show that, in human bronchial epithelial cells, VX-445 synergistically restores F508del-CFTR processing in combination with type I or II correctors that target the nucleotide binding domain 1 (NBD1) membrane spanning domains (MSDs) interface and NBD2, respectively, consistent with a type III corrector mechanism. This inference was supported by the VX-445 binding to and unfolding suppression of the isolated F508del-NBD1 of CFTR. The VX-661 plus VX-445 treatment restored F508del-CFTR chloride channel function in the presence of VX-770 to approximately 62% of WT CFTR in homozygous nasal epithelia. Substantial rescue of rare misprocessing mutations (S13F, R31C, G85E, E92K, V520F, M1101K, and N1303K), confined to MSD1, MSD2, NBD1, and NBD2 of CFTR, was also observed in airway epithelia, suggesting an allosteric correction mechanism and the possible application of Trikafta for patients with rare misfolding mutants of CFTR.
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    Polymyxin B combinations with FDA-approved non-antibiotic phenothiazine drugs targeting multi-drug resistance of Gram-negative pathogens
    Hussein, M ; Hu, X ; Paulin, OKA ; Crawford, S ; Zhou, QT ; Baker, M ; Schneider-Futschik, EK ; Zhu, Y ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (ELSEVIER, 2020-01-01)
    The status quo for combating uprising antibacterial resistance is to employ synergistic combinations of antibiotics. Nevertheless, the currently available combination therapies are fast becoming untenable. Combining antibiotics with various FDA-approved non-antibiotic drugs has emerged as a novel strategy against otherwise untreatable multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogens. The apex of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of antibacterial synergy of the combination of polymyxin B with the phenothiazines against the MDR Gram-negative pathogens Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The synergistic antibacterial effects were tested using checkerboard and static time-kill assays. Electron microscopy (EM) and untargeted metabolomics were used to ascertain the mechanism(s) of the antibacterial synergy. The combination of polymyxin B and the phenothiazines showed synergistic antibacterial activity in checkerboard and static time-kill assays at clinically relevant concentrations against both polymyxin-susceptible and polymyxin-resistant isolates. EM revealed that the polymyxin B-prochlorperazine combination resulted in greater damage to the bacterial cell compared to each drug monotherapy. In metabolomics, at 0.5 h, polymyxin B monotherapy and the combination (to a greatest extent) disorganised the bacterial cell envelope as manifested by a major perturbation in bacterial membrane lipids (glycerophospholipids and fatty acids), peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis. At the late time exposure (4 h), the aforementioned effects (except LPS biosynthesis) perpetuated mainly with the combination therapy, indicating the disorganising bacterial membrane biogenesis is potentially behind the mechanisms of antibacterial synergy. In conclusion, the study highlights the potential usefulness of the combination of polymyxin B with phenothiazines for the treatment of polymyxin-resistant Gram-negative infections (e.g. CNS infections).
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    The Antimicrobial Activity of Cannabinoids
    Karas, JA ; Wong, LJM ; Paulin, OKA ; Mazeh, AC ; Hussein, MH ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (MDPI AG, 2020-07-13)
    A post-antibiotic world is fast becoming a reality, given the rapid emergence of pathogens that are resistant to current drugs. Therefore, there is an urgent need to discover new classes of potent antimicrobial agents with novel modes of action. Cannabis sativa is an herbaceous plant that has been used for millennia for medicinal and recreational purposes. Its bioactivity is largely due to a class of compounds known as cannabinoids. Recently, these natural products and their analogs have been screened for their antimicrobial properties, in the quest to discover new anti-infective agents. This paper seeks to review the research to date on cannabinoids in this context, including an analysis of structure–activity relationships. It is hoped that it will stimulate further interest in this important issue.
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    The Killing Mechanism of Teixobactin against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: an Untargeted Metabolomics Study
    Hussein, M ; Karas, JA ; Schneider-Futschik, EK ; Chen, F ; Swarbrick, J ; Paulin, OKA ; Hoyer, D ; Baker, M ; Zhu, Y ; Li, J ; Velkov, T ; Lloyd, KG (American Society for Microbiology, 2020)
    Antibiotics have served humankind through their use in modern medicine as effective treatments for otherwise fatal bacterial infections. Teixobactin is a first member of newly discovered natural antibiotics that was recently identified from a hitherto-unculturable soil bacterium, Eleftheria terrae, and recognized as a potent antibacterial agent against various Gram-positive bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. The most distinctive characteristic of teixobactin as an effective antibiotic is that teixobactin resistance could not be evolved in a laboratory setting. It is purported that teixobactin’s “resistance-resistant” mechanism of action includes binding to the essential bacterial cell wall synthesis building blocks lipid II and lipid III. In the present study, metabolomics was used to investigate the potential metabolic pathways involved in the mechanisms of antibacterial activity of the synthetic teixobactin analogue Leu10-teixobactin against a MRSA strain, S. aureus ATCC 700699. The metabolomes of S. aureus ATCC 700699 cells 1, 3, and 6 h following treatment with Leu10-teixobactin (0.5 μg/ml, i.e., 0.5× MIC) were compared to those of the untreated controls. Leu10-teixobactin significantly perturbed bacterial membrane lipids (glycerophospholipids and fatty acids), peptidoglycan (lipid I and II) metabolism, and cell wall teichoic acid (lipid III) biosynthesis as early as after 1 h of treatment, reflecting an initial activity on the cell envelope. Concordant with its time-dependent antibacterial killing action, Leu10-teixobactin caused more perturbations in the levels of key intermediates in pathways of amino-sugar and nucleotide-sugar metabolism and their downstream peptidoglycan and teichoic acid biosynthesis at 3 and 6 h. Significant perturbations in arginine metabolism and the interrelated tricarboxylic acid cycle, histidine metabolism, pantothenate, and coenzyme A biosynthesis were also observed at 3 and 6 h. To conclude, this is the first study to provide novel metabolomics mechanistic information, which lends support to the development of teixobactin as an antibacterial drug for the treatment of multidrug-resistant Gram-positive infections
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    Lipidomic Analysis of the Outer Membrane Vesicles from Paired Polymyxin-Susceptible and -Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae Clinical Isolates
    Jasim, R ; Han, M-L ; Zhu, Y ; Hu, X ; Hussein, MH ; Lin, Y-W ; Zhou, QT ; Dong, CYD ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (MDPI, 2018-08-01)
    Gram-negative bacteria produce outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) as delivery vehicles for nefarious bacterial cargo such as virulence factors, which are antibiotic resistance determinants. This study aimed to investigate the impact of polymyxin B treatment on the OMV lipidome from paired polymyxin-susceptible and -resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates. K. pneumoniae ATCC 700721 was employed as a reference strain in addition to two clinical strains, K. pneumoniae FADDI-KP069 and K. pneumoniae BM3. Polymyxin B treatment of the polymyxin-susceptible strains resulted in a marked reduction in the glycerophospholipid, fatty acid, lysoglycerophosphate and sphingolipid content of their OMVs. Conversely, the polymyxin-resistant strains expressed OMVs richer in all of these lipid species, both intrinsically and increasingly under polymyxin treatment. The average diameter of the OMVs derived from the K. pneumoniae ATCC 700721 polymyxin-susceptible isolate, measured by dynamic light scattering measurements, was ~90.6 nm, whereas the average diameter of the OMVs isolated from the paired polymyxin-resistant isolate was ~141 nm. Polymyxin B treatment (2 mg/L) of the K. pneumoniae ATCC 700721 cells resulted in the production of OMVs with a larger average particle size in both the susceptible (average diameter ~124 nm) and resistant (average diameter ~154 nm) strains. In light of the above, we hypothesize that outer membrane remodelling associated with polymyxin resistance in K. pneumoniae may involve fortifying the membrane structure with increased glycerophospholipids, fatty acids, lysoglycerophosphates and sphingolipids. Putatively, these changes serve to make the outer membrane and OMVs more impervious to polymyxin attack.
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    Mechanistic Insights From Global Metabolomics Studies into Synergistic Bactericidal Effect of a Polymyxin B Combination With Tamoxifen Against Cystic Fibrosis MDR Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    Hussein, M ; Han, M-L ; Zhu, Y ; Schneider-Futschik, EK ; Hu, X ; Zhou, QT ; Lin, Y-W ; Anderson, D ; Creek, DJ ; Hoyer, D ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2018-01-01)
    Polymyxins are amongst the most important antibiotics in modern medicine, in recent times their clinical utility has been overshadowed by nosocomial outbreaks of polymyxin resistant MDR Gram-negative 'superbugs'. An effective strategy to surmount polymyxin resistance is combination therapy with FDA-approved non-antibiotic drugs. Herein we used untargeted metabolomics to investigate the mechanism(s) of synergy between polymyxin B and the selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) tamoxifen against a polymyxin-resistant MDR cystic fibrosis (CF) Pseudomonas aeruginosa FADDI-PA006 isolate (polymyxin B MIC=8 mg/L , it is an MDR polymyxin resistant P. aeruginosa isolated from the lungs of a CF patient). The metabolome of FADDI-PA006 was profiled at 15 min, 1 and 4 h following treatment with polymyxin B (2 mg/L), tamoxifen (8 mg/L) either as monotherapy or in combination. At 15 min, the combination treatment induced a marked decrease in lipids, primarily fatty acid and glycerophospholipid metabolites that are involved in the biosynthesis of bacterial membranes. In line with the polymyxin-resistant status of this strain, at 1 h, both polymyxin B and tamoxifen monotherapies produced little effect on bacterial metabolism. In contrast to the combination which induced extensive reduction (≥ 1.0-log2-fold, p ≤ 0.05; FDR ≤ 0.05) in the levels of essential intermediates involved in cell envelope biosynthesis. Overall, these novel findings demonstrate that the primary mechanisms underlying the synergistic bactericidal effect of the combination against the polymyxin-resistant P. aeruginosa CF isolate FADDI-PA006 involves a disruption of the cell envelope biogenesis and an inhibition of aminoarabinose LPS modifications that confer polymyxin resistance.