Model Colibactins Exhibit Human Cell Genotoxicity in the Absence of Host Bacteria.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:Certain commensal and pathogenic bacteria produce colibactin, a small-molecule genotoxin that causes interstrand cross-links in host cell DNA. Although colibactin alkylates DNA, the molecular basis for cross-link formation is unclear. Here, we report that the colibactin biosynthetic enzyme ClbL is an amide bond-forming enzyme that links aminoketone and ?-keto thioester substrates in vitro and in vivo. The substrate specificity of ClbL strongly supports a role for this enzyme in terminating the colibactin NRPS-PKS assembly line and incorporating two electrophilic cyclopropane warheads into the final natural product scaffold. This proposed transformation was supported by the detection of a colibactin-derived cross-linked DNA adduct. Overall, this work provides a biosynthetic explanation for colibactin's DNA cross-linking activity and paves the way for further study of its chemical structure and biological roles.
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:Colibactins are genotoxic secondary metabolites whose biosynthesis is encoded in the clb gene cluster harbored by certain strains of gut commensal Escherichia coli. Using synthetic colibactin analogues, we previously provided evidence that colibactins alkylate DNA by addition of a nucleotide to an electrophilic cyclopropane intermediate. However, natural colibactin-nucleobase adducts have not been identified, to the best of our knowledge. Here we present the first identification of such adducts, derived from treatment of pUC19 DNA with clb + E. coli. Previous biosynthetic studies established cysteine and methionine as building blocks in colibactin biosynthesis; accordingly, we used cysteine (? cysE) and methionine (? metA) auxotrophic strains cultured in media supplemented with l-[U-13C]Cys or l-[U-13C]Met to facilitate the identification of nucleobases bound to colibactins. Using MS2 and MS3 analysis, in conjunction with the known oxidative instability of colibactin cyclopropane-opened products, we were able to characterize adenine adducts derived from cyclopropane ring opening. This study provides the first reported detection of nucleobase adducts derived from clb + E. coli and lends support to our earlier model suggesting DNA alkylation by addition of a nucleotide to an electrophilic cyclopropane.
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: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: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:Colibactin is a genotoxic gut microbiome metabolite long suspected of playing an etiological role in colorectal cancer. Evidence suggests that colibactin forms DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs) in eukaryotic cells and activates ICL repair pathways, leading to the production of ICL-dependent DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Here we show that colibactin ICLs can evolve directly to DNA DSBs. Using the topology of supercoiled plasmid DNA as a proxy for alkylation adduct stability, we find that colibactin-derived ICLs are unstable toward depurination and elimination of the 3' phosphate. This ICL degradation pathway leads progressively to single strand breaks (SSBs) and subsequently DSBs. The spontaneous conversion of ICLs to DSBs is consistent with the finding that nonhomologous end joining repair-deficient cells are sensitized to colibactin-producing bacteria. The results herein refine our understanding of colibactin-derived DNA damage and underscore the complexities underlying the DSB phenotype.
Project description:Modular nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) and polyketide synthase (PKS) enzymatic assembly lines are large and dynamic protein machines that generally effect a linear sequence of catalytic cycles. Here, we report the heterologous reconstitution and comprehensive characterization of two hybrid NRPS-PKS assembly lines that defy many standard rules of assembly line biosynthesis to generate a large combinatorial library of cyclic lipodepsipeptide protease inhibitors called thalassospiramides. We generate a series of precise domain-inactivating mutations in thalassospiramide assembly lines, and present evidence for an unprecedented biosynthetic model that invokes intermodule substrate activation and tailoring, module skipping and pass-back chain extension, whereby the ability to pass the growing chain back to a preceding module is flexible and substrate driven. Expanding bidirectional intermodule domain interactions could represent a viable mechanism for generating chemical diversity without increasing the size of biosynthetic assembly lines and challenges our understanding of the potential elasticity of multimodular megaenzymes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Colibactin is a nonribosomal peptide-polyketide synthesized by multi-enzyme complexes encoded by the pks gene cluster. Colibactin-producing Escherichia coli have been demonstrated to induce host DNA damage and promote colorectal cancer (CRC) development. In Taiwan, the occurrence of pyogenic liver abscess (PLA) has been suggested to correlate with an increasing risk of CRC, and Klebsiella pneumoniae is the predominant PLA pathogen in Taiwan.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>At the asn tRNA loci of the newly sequenced K. pneumoniae 1084 genome, we identified a 208-kb genomic island, KPHPI208, of which a module identical to the E. coli pks colibactin gene cluster was recognized. KPHPI208 consists of eight modules, including the colibactin module and the modules predicted to be involved in integration, conjugation, yersiniabactin production, microcin production, and unknown functions. Transient infection of BALB/c normal liver cells with K. pneumoniae 1084 increased the phosphorylation of histone H2AX, indicating the induction of host DNA damage. Colibactin was required for the genotoxicity of K. pneumoniae 1084, as it was diminished by deletion of clbA gene and restored to the wild type level by trans-complementation with a clbA coding plasmid. Besides, BALB/c mice infected with K. pneumoniae 1084 exhibited enhanced DNA damage in the liver parenchymal cells when compared to the isogenic clbA deletion mutant. By PCR detection, the prevalence of pks-positive K. pneumoniae in Taiwan is 25.6%, which is higher than that reported in Europe (3.5%), and is significantly correlated with K1 type, which predominantly accounted for PLA in Taiwan.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our knowledge regarding how bacteria contribute to carcinogenesis has just begun. The identification of genotoxic K. pneumoniae and its genetic components will facilitate future studies to elucidate the molecular basis underlying the link between K. pneumoniae, PLA, and CRC.