Domain-Targeted Metabolomics Delineates the Heterocycle Assembly Steps of Colibactin Biosynthesis.
ABSTRACT: 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:Although Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) has been used therapeutically for over a century, the determinants of its probiotic properties remain elusive. EcN produces two siderophore-microcins (Mcc) responsible for an antagonistic activity against other Enterobacteriaceae. EcN also synthesizes the genotoxin colibactin encoded by the pks island. Colibactin is a virulence factor and a putative pro-carcinogenic compound. Therefore, we aimed to decouple the antagonistic activity of EcN from its genotoxic activity. We demonstrated that the pks-encoded ClbP, the peptidase that activates colibactin, is required for the antagonistic activity of EcN. The analysis of a series of ClbP mutants revealed that this activity is linked to the transmembrane helices of ClbP and not the periplasmic peptidase domain, indicating the transmembrane domain is involved in some aspect of Mcc biosynthesis or secretion. A single amino acid substitution in ClbP inactivates the genotoxic activity but maintains the antagonistic activity. In an in vivo salmonellosis model, this point mutant reduced the clinical signs and the fecal shedding of Salmonella similarly to the wild type strain, whereas the clbP deletion mutant could neither protect nor outcompete the pathogen. The ClbP-dependent antibacterial effect was also observed in vitro with other E. coli strains that carry both a truncated form of the Mcc gene cluster and the pks island. In such strains, siderophore-Mcc synthesis also required the glucosyltransferase IroB involved in salmochelin production. This interplay between colibactin, salmochelin, and siderophore-Mcc biosynthetic pathways suggests that these genomic islands were co-selected and played a role in the evolution of E. coli from phylogroup B2. This co-evolution observed in EcN illustrates the fine margin between pathogenicity and probiotic activity, and the need to address both the effectiveness and safety of probiotics. Decoupling the antagonistic from the genotoxic activity by specifically inactivating ClbP peptidase domain opens the way to the safe use of EcN.
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:Colibactins are genotoxic secondary metabolites produced in select Enterobacteriaceae, which induce downstream DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in human cell lines and are thought to promote the formation of colorectal tumors. Although key structural and functional features of colibactins have been elucidated, the full molecular mechanisms regulating these phenotypes remain unknown. Here, we demonstrate that free model colibactins induce DSBs in human cell cultures and do not require delivery by host bacteria. Through domain-targeted editing, we demonstrate that a subset of native colibactins generated from observed module skipping in the nonribosomal peptide synthetase-polyketide synthase (NRPS-PKS) biosynthetic assembly line share DNA alkylation phenotypes with the model colibactins in vitro. However, module skipping eliminates the strong DNA interstrand cross-links formed by the wild-type pathway in cell culture. This product diversification during the modular NRPS-PKS biosynthesis produces a family of metabolites with varying observed mechanisms of action (DNA alkylation versus cross-linking) in cell culture. The presence of membranes separating human cells from model colibactins attenuated genotoxicity, suggesting that membrane diffusion limits colibactin activity and could account for the reported bacterium-human cell-to-cell contact phenotype. Additionally, extracellular supplementation of the colibactin resistance protein ClbS was able to intercept colibactins in an Escherichia coli-human cell transient infection model. Our studies demonstrate that free model colibactins recapitulate cellular phenotypes associated with module-skipped products in the native colibactin pathway and define specific protein domains that are required for efficient DNA interstrand cross-linking in the native pathway.
Project description:The pks genomic island of Escherichia coli encodes polyketide (PK) and nonribosomal peptide (NRP) synthases that allow assembly of a putative hybrid PK-NRP compound named colibactin that induces DNA double-strand breaks in eukaryotic cells. The pks-encoded machinery harbors an atypical essential protein, ClbP. ClbP crystal structure and mutagenesis experiments revealed a serine-active site and original structural features compatible with peptidase activity, which was detected by biochemical assays. Ten ClbP homologs were identified in silico in NRP genomic islands of closely and distantly related bacterial species. All tested ClbP homologs were able to complement a clbP-deficient E. coli mutant. ClbP is therefore a prototype of a new subfamily of extracytoplasmic peptidases probably involved in the maturation of NRP compounds. Such peptidases will be powerful tools for the manipulation of NRP biosynthetic pathways.
Project description:Klebsiella pneumoniae is the most common pathogen of community-acquired meningitis in Taiwan. However, the lack of a physiologically relevant meningitis model for K. pneumoniae has impeded research into its pathogenesis mechanism. Based on the core genome MLST analyses, the hypervirulent K1 K. pneumoniae strains, which are etiologically implicated in adult meningitis, mostly belong to a single clonal complex, CC23. Some K1 CC23 K. pneumoniae strains carry a gene cluster responsible for colibactin production. Colibactin is a small genotoxic molecule biosynthesized by an NRPS-PKS complex, which is encoded by genes located on the pks island. Compared to other hypervirulent K. pneumoniae which primarily infect the liver, the colibactin-producing (pks+) K1 CC23 strains had significant tropism toward the brain of BALB/c mice. We aimed in this study to develop a physiologically relevant meningitis model with the use of pks+ K1 CC23 K. pneumoniae. Acute meningitis was successfully induced in adult BALB/c male mice through orogastric, intranasal, and intravenous inoculation of pks+ K1 CC23 K. pneumoniae. Besides the typical symptoms of bacterial meningitis, severe DNA damages, and caspase 3-independent cell death were elicited by the colibactin-producing K1 CC23 K. pneumoniae strain. The deletion of clbA, which abolished the production of colibactin, substantially hindered K. pneumoniae hypervirulence in the key pathogenic steps toward the development of meningitis. Our findings collectively demonstrated that colibactin was necessary but not sufficient for the meningeal tropism of pks+ K1 CC23 K. pneumoniae, and the mouse model established in this study can be applied to identify other virulence factors participating in the development of this life-threatening disease.
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: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:Colibactins are hybrid polyketide-nonribosomal peptides produced by Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and other Enterobacteriaceae harboring the pks genomic island. These genotoxic metabolites are produced by pks-encoded peptide-polyketide synthases as inactive prodrugs called precolibactins, which are then converted to colibactins by deacylation for DNA-damaging effects. Colibactins are bona fide virulence factors and are suspected of promoting colorectal carcinogenesis when produced by intestinal E. coli Natural active colibactins have not been isolated, and how they induce DNA damage in the eukaryotic host cell is poorly characterized. Here, we show that DNA strands are cross-linked covalently when exposed to enterobacteria producing colibactins. DNA cross-linking is abrogated in a clbP mutant unable to deacetylate precolibactins or by adding the colibactin self-resistance protein ClbS, confirming the involvement of the mature forms of colibactins. A similar DNA-damaging mechanism is observed in cellulo, where interstrand cross-links are detected in the genomic DNA of cultured human cells exposed to colibactin-producing bacteria. The intoxicated cells exhibit replication stress, activation of ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related kinase (ATR), and recruitment of the DNA cross-link repair Fanconi anemia protein D2 (FANCD2) protein. In contrast, inhibition of ATR or knockdown of FANCD2 reduces the survival of cells exposed to colibactin-producing bacteria. These findings demonstrate that DNA interstrand cross-linking is the critical mechanism of colibactin-induced DNA damage in infected cells.IMPORTANCE Colorectal cancer is the third-most-common cause of cancer death. In addition to known risk factors such as high-fat diets and alcohol consumption, genotoxic intestinal Escherichia coli bacteria producing colibactin are proposed to play a role in colon cancer development. Here, by using transient infections with genotoxic E. coli, we showed that colibactins directly generate DNA cross-links in cellulo Such lesions are converted into double-strand breaks during the repair response. DNA cross-links, akin to those induced by metabolites of alcohol and high-fat diets and by widely used anticancer drugs, are both severely mutagenic and profoundly cytotoxic lesions. This finding of a direct induction of DNA cross-links by a bacterium should facilitate delineating the role of E. coli in colon cancer and engineering new anticancer agents.
Project description:Precolibactins and colibactins represent a family of natural products that are encoded by the clb gene cluster and are produced by certain commensal, extraintestinal, and probiotic E. coli. clb+ E. coli induce megalocytosis and DNA double-strand breaks in eukaryotic cells, but paradoxically, this gene cluster is found in the probiotic Nissle 1917. Evidence suggests precolibactins are converted to genotoxic colibactins by colibactin peptidase (ClbP)-mediated cleavage of an N-acyl-d-Asn side chain, and all isolation efforts have employed ?clbP strains to facilitate accumulation of precolibactins. It was hypothesized that colibactins form unsaturated imines that alkylate DNA by cyclopropane ring opening (2 ? 3). However, as no colibactins have been isolated, this hypothesis has not been tested experimentally. Additionally, precolibactins A-C (7-9) contain a pyridone that cannot generate the unsaturated imines that form the basis of this hypothesis. To resolve this, we prepared 13 synthetic colibactin derivatives and evaluated their DNA binding and alkylation activity. We show that unsaturated imines, but not the corresponding pyridone derivatives, potently alkylate DNA. The imine, unsaturated lactam, and cyclopropane are essential for efficient DNA alkylation. A cationic residue enhances activity. These studies suggest that precolibactins containing a pyridone are not responsible for the genotoxicity of the clb cluster. Instead, we propose that these are off-pathway fermentation products produced by a facile double cyclodehydration route that manifests in the absence of viable ClbP. The results presented herein provide a foundation to begin to connect metabolite structure with the disparate phenotypes associated with clb+ E. coli.
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.