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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    Structure of micelle bound cationic peptides by NMR spectroscopy using a lanthanide shift reagent
    Swarbrick, JD ; Karas, JA ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2020-03-07)
    [Tm(DPA)3]3- was used to generate multiple, paramagnetic nuclear Overhauser effect NMR spectra of cationic peptides when weakly bound to a lipopolysaccharide micelle. Increased spectral resolution combined with a marked increase in the number of distance restraints yielded high resolution structures of polymyxin and MSI-594 in the liposaccharide bound state.
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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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    Sputum Active Polymyxin Lipopeptides: Activity against Cystic Fibrosis Pseudomonas aeruginosa Isolates and Their Interactions with Sputum Biomolecules
    Schneider-Futschik, EK ; Paulin, OKA ; Hoyer, D ; Roberts, KD ; Ziogas, J ; Baker, MA ; Karas, J ; Li, J ; Velkov, T (AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2018-05-01)
    The mucoid biofilm mode of growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa ( P. aeruginosa) in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients makes eradication of infections with antibiotic therapy very difficult. The lipopeptide antibiotics polymyxin B and colistin are currently the last-resort therapies for infections caused by multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa. In the present study, we investigated the antibacterial activity of a series of polymyxin lipopeptides (polymyxin B, colistin, FADDI-003, octapeptin A3, and polymyxin A2) against a panel of polymyxin-susceptible and polymyxin-resistant P. aeruginosa cystic fibrosis isolates grown under planktonic or biofilm conditions in artificial sputum and their interactions with sputum component biomolecules. In sputum media under planktonic conditions, the lipopeptides FADDI-003 and octapeptin A3 displayed very promising activity against the polymyxin-resistant isolate FADDI-PA066 (polymyxin B minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) = 32 mg/L), while retaining their activity against the polymyxin-sensitive strains FADDI-PA021 (polymyxin B MIC = 1 mg/L) and FADDI-PA020 (polymyxin B MIC = 2 mg/L). Polymyxin A2 was only effective against the polymyxin-sensitive isolates. However, under biofilm growth conditions, the hydrophobic lipopeptide FADDI-003 was inactive compared to the more hydrophilic lipopeptides, octapeptin A3, polymyxin A2, polymyxin B, and colistin. Transmission electron micrographs revealed octapeptin A3 caused reduction in the cell numbers in biofilm as well as biofilm disruption/"antibiofilm" activity. We therefore assessed the interactions of the lipopeptides with the component sputum biomolecules, mucin, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), surfactant, F-actin, lipopolysaccharide, and phospholipids. We observed the general trend that sputum biomolecules reduce lipopeptide antibacterial activity. Collectively, our data suggests that, in the airways, lipopeptide binding to component sputum biomolecules may reduce antibacterial efficacy and is dependent on the physicochemical properties of the lipopeptide.