Divergent biosynthesis yields a cytotoxic aminomalonate-containing precolibactin.
ABSTRACT: Colibactin is an as-yet-uncharacterized genotoxic secondary metabolite produced by human gut bacteria. Here we report the biosynthetic discovery of two new precolibactin molecules from Escherichia coli, including precolibactin-886, which uniquely incorporates the highly sought genotoxicity-associated aminomalonate building block into its unprecedented macrocyclic structure. This work provides new insights into the biosynthetic logic and mode of action of this colorectal-cancer-linked microbial chemical.
Project description:The clb gene cluster encodes the biosynthesis of metabolites known as precolibactins and colibactins. The clb pathway is found in gut commensal Escherichia coli, and clb metabolites are thought to initiate colorectal cancer via DNA crosslinking. Here we report confirmation of the structural assignment of the complex clb product precolibactin 886 via a biomimetic synthetic pathway. We show that an ?-ketoimine linear precursor undergoes spontaneous cyclization to precolibactin 886 on HPLC purification. Studies of this ?-ketoimine and the related ?-dicarbonyl revealed that these compounds are unexpectedly susceptible to nucleophilic cleavage under mildly basic conditions. This cleavage pathway forms other known clb metabolites or biosynthetic intermediates and explains the difficulties in isolating fully mature biosynthetic products. This cleavage also accounts for a recently identified colibactin-adenine adduct. The colibactin peptidase ClbP deacylates synthetic precolibactin 886 to form a non-genotoxic pyridone, which suggests precolibactin 886 lies off the path of the major biosynthetic route.
Project description:Colibactin is an assumed human gut bacterial genotoxin, whose biosynthesis is linked to the clb genomic island that has a widespread distribution in pathogenic and commensal human enterobacteria. Colibactin-producing gut microbes promote colon tumour formation and enhance the progression of colorectal cancer via cellular senescence and death induced by DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs); however, the chemical basis that contributes to the pathogenesis at the molecular level has not been fully characterized. Here, we report the discovery of colibactin-645, a macrocyclic colibactin metabolite that recapitulates the previously assumed genotoxicity and cytotoxicity. Colibactin-645 shows strong DNA DSB activity in vitro and in human cell cultures via a unique copper-mediated oxidative mechanism. We also delineate a complete biosynthetic model for colibactin-645, which highlights a unique fate of the aminomalonate-building monomer in forming the C-terminal 5-hydroxy-4-oxazolecarboxylic acid moiety through the activities of both the polyketide synthase ClbO and the amidase ClbL. This work thus provides a molecular basis for colibactin's DNA DSB activity and facilitates further mechanistic study of colibactin-related colorectal cancer incidence and prevention.
Project description:Colibactin represents a structurally undefined class of bacterial genotoxin inducing DNA damage and genomic instability in mammalian cells, thus promoting tumour development and exacerbating lymphopenia in animal models. The colibactin biosynthetic gene cluster (clb) has been known for ten years and it encodes a hybrid nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS)/polyketide synthase (PKS) assembly line. Nevertheless, the final chemical product(s) remain unknown. Previously, we and others reported several colibactin pathway-related metabolites including N-myristoyl-d-asparagine (1) as part of a prodrug precursor that is cleaved from the putative precolibactin to form active colibactin by the peptidase ClbP. Herein, we report two new colibactin pathway-related metabolites (2 and 3) isolated from a clbP mutant of the probiotic E. coli Nissle 1917 strain. Their structures were established by HRMS and NMR. Compound 2 shows an additional 4-aminopenatanoic acid moiety with respect to 1, while 3 is characterized by the presence of an unusual 7-methyl-4-azaspiro[2.4]hept-6-en-5-one residue. Moreover, we propose the biosynthetic pathway towards both intermediates on the basis of extensive gene inactivation and feeding experiments. The identification of 2 and 3 provides further insight into colibactin biosynthesis including the involvement and formation of a rare 1-aminocyclopropanecarboxylic acid unit. Thus, our work establishes additional steps of the pathway forming the bacterial genotoxin colibactin.
Project description:Colibactin is a genotoxic hybrid nonribosomal peptide/polyketide secondary metabolite produced by various pathogenic and probiotic bacteria residing in the human gut. The presence of colibactin metabolites has been correlated to colorectal cancer formation in several studies. The specific function of many gene products in the colibactin gene cluster can be predicted. However, the role of ClbQ, a type II editing thioesterase, has not been established. The importance of ClbQ has been demonstrated by genetic deletions that abolish colibactin cytotoxic activity, and recent studies suggest an atypical role in releasing pathway intermediates from the assembly line. Here we report the 2.0 Å crystal structure and biochemical characterization of ClbQ. Our data reveal that ClbQ exhibits greater catalytic efficiency toward acyl-thioester substrates as compared to precolibactin intermediates and does not discriminate among carrier proteins. Cyclized pyridone-containing colibactins, which are off-pathway derivatives, are not viable substrates for ClbQ, while linear precursors are, supporting a role of ClbQ in facilitating the promiscuous off-loading of premature precolibactin metabolites and novel insights into colibactin biosynthesis.
Project description:Modular polyketide synthases (PKSs) and nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) comprise giant multidomain enzymes responsible for the "assembly line" biosynthesis of many genetically encoded small molecules. Site-directed mutagenesis, protein biochemical, and structural studies have focused on elucidating the catalytic mechanisms of individual multidomain proteins and protein domains within these megasynthases. However, probing their functions at the cellular level typically has invoked the complete deletion (or overexpression) of multidomain-encoding genes or combinations of genes and comparing those mutants with a control pathway. Here we describe a "domain-targeted" metabolomic strategy that combines genome editing with pathway analysis to probe the functions of individual PKS and NRPS catalytic domains at the cellular metabolic level. We apply the approach to the bacterial colibactin pathway, a genotoxic NRPS-PKS hybrid pathway found in certain Escherichia coli. The pathway produces precolibactins, which are converted to colibactins by a dedicated peptidase, ClbP. Domain-targeted metabolomics enabled the characterization of "multidomain signatures", or functional readouts of NRPS-PKS domain contributions to the pathway-dependent metabolome. These multidomain signatures provided experimental support for individual domain contributions to colibactin biosynthesis and delineated the assembly line timing events of colibactin heterocycle formation. The analysis also led to the structural characterization of two reactive precolibactin metabolites. We demonstrate the fate of these reactive intermediates in the presence and absence of ClbP, which dictates the formation of distinct product groups resulting from alternative cyclization cascades. In the presence of the peptidase, the reactive intermediates are converted to a known genotoxic scaffold, providing metabolic support of our mechanistic model for colibactin-induced genotoxicity. Domain-targeted metabolomics could be more widely used to characterize NRPS-PKS pathways with unprecedented genetic and metabolic precision.
Project description:Secondary metabolites produced by nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) or polyketide synthase (PKS) pathways are chemical mediators of microbial interactions in diverse environments. However, little is known about their distribution, evolution, and functional roles in bacterial symbionts associated with animals. A prominent example is colibactin, a largely unknown family of secondary metabolites produced by Escherichia coli via a hybrid NRPS-PKS biosynthetic pathway that inflicts DNA damage upon eukaryotic cells and contributes to colorectal cancer and tumor formation in the mammalian gut. Thus far, homologs of this pathway have only been found in closely related Enterobacteriaceae, while a divergent variant of this gene cluster was recently discovered in a marine alphaproteobacterial Pseudovibrio strain. Herein, we sequenced the genome of Frischella perrara PEB0191, a bacterial gut symbiont of honey bees and identified a homologous colibactin biosynthetic pathway related to those found in Enterobacteriaceae. We show that the colibactin genomic island (GI) has conserved gene synteny and biosynthetic module architecture across F. perrara, Enterobacteriaceae, and the Pseudovibrio strain. Comparative metabolomics analyses of F. perrara and E. coli further reveal that these two bacteria produce related colibactin pathway-dependent metabolites. Finally, we demonstrate that F. perrara, like E. coli, causes DNA damage in eukaryotic cells in vitro in a colibactin pathway-dependent manner. Together, these results support that divergent variants of the colibactin biosynthetic pathway are widely distributed among bacterial symbionts, producing related secondary metabolites and likely endowing its producer with functional capabilities important for diverse symbiotic associations.
Project description:Various forms of cancer have been linked to the carcinogenic activities of microorganisms(1-3). The virulent gene island polyketide synthase (pks) produces the secondary metabolite colibactin, a genotoxic molecule(s) causing double-stranded DNA breaks(4) and enhanced colorectal cancer development(5,6). Colibactin biosynthesis involves a prodrug resistance strategy where an N-terminal prodrug scaffold (precolibactin) is assembled, transported into the periplasm and cleaved to release the mature product(7-10). Here, we show that ClbM, a multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) transporter, is a key component involved in colibactin activity and transport. Disruption of clbM attenuated pks+ E. coli-induced DNA damage in vitro and significantly decreased the DNA damage response in gnotobiotic Il10(-/-) mice. Colonization experiments performed in mice or zebrafish animal models indicate that clbM is not implicated in E. coli niche establishment. The X-ray structure of ClbM shows a structural motif common to the recently described MATE family. The 12-transmembrane ClbM is characterized as a cation-coupled antiporter, and residues important to the cation-binding site are identified. Our data identify ClbM as a precolibactin transporter and provide the first structure of a MATE transporter with a defined and specific biological function.
Project description:The gut bacterial genotoxin colibactin is linked to the development of colorectal cancer. In the final stages of colibactin's biosynthesis, an inactive precursor (precolibactin) undergoes proteolytic cleavage by ClbP, an unusual inner-membrane-bound periplasmic peptidase, to generate the active genotoxin. This enzyme presents an opportunity to monitor and modulate colibactin biosynthesis, but its active form has not been studied in vitro and limited tools exist to measure its activity. Here, we describe the in vitro biochemical characterization of catalytically active, full-length ClbP. We elucidate its substrate preferences and use this information to develop a fluorogenic activity probe. This tool will enable the discovery of ClbP inhibitors and streamline identification of colibactin-producing bacteria.
Project description:Despite containing an ?-amino acid, the versatile cofactor S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is not a known building block for nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) assembly lines. Here we report an unusual NRPS module from colibactin biosynthesis that uses SAM for amide bond formation and subsequent cyclopropanation. Our findings showcase a new use for SAM and reveal a novel biosynthetic route to a functional group that likely mediates colibactin's genotoxicity.
Project description:Certain commensal Escherichia coli contain the clb biosynthetic gene cluster that codes for small molecule prodrugs known as precolibactins. Precolibactins are converted to colibactins by N-deacylation; the latter are postulated to be genotoxic and to contribute to colorectal cancer formation. Though advances toward elucidating (pre)colibactin biosynthesis have been made, the functions and mechanisms of several clb gene products remain poorly understood. Here we report the 2.1 Å X-ray structure and molecular function of ClbS, a gene product that confers resistance to colibactin toxicity in host bacteria and which has been shown to be important for bacterial viability. The structure harbors a potential colibactin binding site and shares similarity to known hydrolases. In vitro studies using a synthetic colibactin analog and ClbS or an active site residue mutant reveal cyclopropane hydrolase activity that converts the electrophilic cyclopropane of the colibactins into an innocuous hydrolysis product. As the cyclopropane has been shown to be essential for genotoxic effects in vitro, this ClbS-catalyzed ring-opening provides a means for the bacteria to circumvent self-induced genotoxicity. Our study provides a molecular-level view of the first reported cyclopropane hydrolase and support for a specific mechanistic role of this enzyme in colibactin resistance.