Rbiotics

RNA antibiotics
A Digital Approach to Novel RNA Antibiotics to fight diseases

Conventional antibiotics generally work against a broad spectrum of bacterial pathogens. This promotes the development of antibiotic resistance and damages our protective microbiota, which can have unwanted effects on our health. New antibiotics are therefore needed that can directly target individual pathogens, leaving beneficial bacteria unharmed. In a multidisciplinary approach, our team is researching antibiotics based on RNA-like molecules, so-called peptide nucleic acids (PNA), which can be used to specifically attack individual bacterial strains. These RNA antibiotics can be modified through simple chemical means to achieve effectiveness against emerging pathogens. In order to automate this process, we are creating a digital platform using high-throughput processes and machine learning, that will enable researchers to specifically design drug molecules against a variety of dangerous pathogens.

Strategy and conditions

Peptide nucleic acids are RNA-like molecules that bind to messenger RNA through complementary base pairing and can inhibit the production of proteins. This approach has already been confirmed to be effective in preclinical studies, but there are many open questions, for instance about the rules for programming such RNA antibiotics, mechanisms of resistance development, and possible toxicity to host cells and non-targeted members of the microbiome. We are pursuing a combination of transcriptome analysis and machine learning to understand the effects of PNAs on bacterial pathogens and to identify effective PNA candidates.

Aims of the research project

The goal of our research is to establish effective PNA candidates for important clinical pathogens. Towards this purpose, we will characterize the molecular basis of PNA activity and resistance development through the systematic analysis of high-throughput data. The knowledge we gain from these studies will form the basis for future logic design of RNA antibiotics to use against multi-drug resistant pathogens and editing the microbiome.

PNA coupling
Expected benefits for society

The development of programmable antibiotics will have major implications for the treatment of infection: as only the particular strain targeted is affected, issues of resistance development in other bacteria can be avoided. Additionally, this approach will avoid harming our natural commensal bacteria. This strategy could also be used to target specific functions of bacteria, for instance so that resistant bacteria become sensitive to conventional antibiotics, or pathogens no longer express toxins. Since certain bacterial pathogens are also associated with tumorigenesis, RNA antibiotics could also be of interest for cancer treatment or prophylaxis in the future.

Team

Prof. Dr. Jörg Vogel
Project Management

Universität Würzburg
Medizinische Fakultät
Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie

Dr. Franziska Faber
Project Management

Universität Würzburg
Medizinische Fakultät
Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie

Jun. Prof. Dr. Lars Barquist
Project Management

Universität Würzburg
Medizinische Fakultät
Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie

Publications
  • Antibiotikaresistenzen: Mit Grundlagenforschung und Datenvernetzung gegen die globale Herausforderung
    Kaltenhauser U, Hauser A
    Biotechnologie in Bayern 2022; München, bioM
  • Identification of Antimotilins, Novel Inhibitors of Helicobacter pylori Flagellar Motility That Inhibit Stomach Colonization in a Mouse Model
    Suerbaum S, Coombs N, Patel L, Pscheniza D, Rox K, Falk C, Gruber AD, Kershaw O, Chhatwal P, Brönstrup M, Bilitewski U, Josenhans C
    mbio 2022; 13(2): e0375521
  • Efficacy of Vancomycin and Meropenem in Central Nervous System Infections in Children and Adults: Current Update
    Schneider F, Gessner A, El-Najjar N
    Antibiotics (Basel) 2022; 11(2): 173
  • On microbial syringes: Advances in our understanding of type III secretion systems in bacterial pathogenesis
    Hornef MW, Jantsch J
    Phys Life Rev 2021; 39: 96-98
  • High Na(+) Environments Impair Phagocyte Oxidase-Dependent Antibacterial Activity of Neutrophils
    Krampert L, Bauer K, Ebner S, Neubert P, Ossner T, Weigert A, Schatz V, Toelge M, Schroder A, Herrmann M, Schnare M, Dorhoi A, Jantsch J
    Front Immunol 2021; 12: 712948
  • Sfaira accelerates data and model reuse in single cell genomics
    Fischer DS, Dony L, König M, Moeed A, Zappia L, Heumos L, Tritschler S, Holmberg O, Aliee H, Theis FJ
    Genome Biol 2021; 22(1): 248
  • Salt Transiently Inhibits Mitochondrial Energetics in Mononuclear Phagocytes
    Geisberger S, Bartolomaeus H, Neubert P, Willebrand R, Zasada C, Bartolomaeus T, McParland V, Swinnen D, Geuzens A, Maifeld A, Krampert L, Vogl M, Mähler A, Wilck N, Marko L, Tilic E, Forslund SK, Binger KJ, Stegbauer J, Dechend R, Kleinewietfeld M, Jantsch J, Kempa S, Müller DN
    Circulation 2021; 144: 144-158
  • Small RNA mediated gradual control of lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis affects antibiotic resistance in Helicobacter pylori
    Pernitzsch SR, Alzheimer M, Bremer BU, Robbe-Saule M, de Reuse H, Sharma CM
    Nature Communications 2021; 12(1): 4433
  • Sodium and its manifold impact on our immune system
    Jobin K, Müller DN, Jantsch J, Kurts C
    Trends Immunol 2021; 42(6): 469-479
  • Inflammasomes in dendritic cells: Friend or foe?
    Hatscher L, Amon L, Heger L, Dudziak D
    Immunol Lett 2021; 234: 16-32
  • Global RNA profiles show target selectivity and physiological effects of peptide-delivered antisense antibiotics
    Popella L, Jung J, Popova K, Durica-Mitić S, Barquist L, Vogel J
    Nucleic Acids Res 2021; 49(8): 4705-4724
  • Select hyperactivating NLRP3 ligands enhance the TH1- and TH17-inducing potential of human type 2 conventional dendritic cells
    Hatscher L, Lehmann CHK, Purbojo A, Onderka C, Liang C, Hartmann A, Cesnjevar R, Bruns H, Gross O, Nimmerjahn F, Ivanović-Burmazović I, Kunz M, Heger L, Dudziak D
    Science Signaling 2021; 14(680): eabe1757
  • Evolved to vary: genome and epigenome variation in the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori
    Ailloud F, Estibariz I und Suerbaum S
    FEMS Microbiol Rev 2021; 45(1): fuaa042
  • A Repeat-Associated Small RNA Controls the Major Virulence Factors of Helicobacter pylori.
    Eisenbart SK, Alzheimer M, Pernitzsch SR, Dietrich S, Stahl S, Sharma CM
    Molecular Cell 2020; 80(2): 210-226.e7
  • Human Fcγ-receptor IIb modulates pathogen-specific versus self-reactive antibody responses in lyme arthritis
    Danzer H, Glaesner J, Baerenwaldt A, Reitinger C, Lux A, Heger L, Dudziak D, Harrer T, Gessner A, Nimmerjahn F
    Elife 2020; 9: e55319
  • Harnessing the Complete Repertoire of Conventional Dendritic Cell Functions for Cancer Immunotherapy
    Amon L, Hatscher L, Heger L, Dudziak D, Lehmann CHK
    Pharmaceutics 2020; 12(7): 663
  • Proton Motive Force Disruptors Block Bacterial Competence and Horizontal Gene Transfer.
    Domenech A, Brochado AR, Sender V, Hentrich K, Henriques-Normark B, Typas A and Veening JW
    Cell Host Microbe 2020; 27(4): 544-555.e3
  • A Novel Rapid Sample Preparation Method for MALDI-TOF MS Permits Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Lato Species and Isolate Differentiation
    Neumann-Cip AC, Fingerle V, Margos G, Straubinger RK, Overzier E, Ulrich S, Wieser A
    Front Microbiol 2020; 11: 690
  • An RNA biology perspective on species-specific programmable RNA antibiotics
    Vogel, Jörg
    Mol Microbiol 2020; 113(3): 550-559
  • A three-dimensional intestinal tissue model reveals factors and small regulatory RNAs important for colonization with Campylobacter jejuni.
    Alzheimer M, Svensson SL, König F, Schweinlin M, Metzger M, Walles H, Sharma CM
    PLoS Pathogens 2020; 16(2): e1008304
  • Precursors for Nonlymphoid-Tissue Treg Cells Reside in Secondary Lymphoid Organs and Are Programmed by the Transcription Factor BATF.
    Delacher M, Imbusch CD, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Mallm JP, Bauer K, Simon M, Riegel D, Rendeiro AF, Bittner S, Sanderink L, Pant A, Schmidleithner L, Braband KL, Echtenachter B, Fischer A, Giunchiglia V, Hoffmann P, Edinger M, Bock C, Rehli M, Brors B, Schmidl C, Feuerer M
    Immunity 2020; 52(2): 295-312.e11
  • A decade of advances in transposon-insertion sequencing
    Cain AK, Barquist L, Goodman AL, Paulsen IT, Parkhill J
    Nat Rev Genet 2020; 9: 526-540
  • HIF1A and NFAT5 coordinate Na+-boosted antibacterial defense via enhanced autophagy and autolysosomal targeting
    Neubert P, Weichselbaum A, Reitinger C, Schatz V, Schröder A, Ferdinand JR, Simon M, Bär AL, Brochhausen C, Gerlach RG, Tomiuk S, Hammer K, Wagner S, van Zandbergen G, Binger KJ, Müller DN, Kitada K, Clatworthy MR, Kurts C, Titze J, Abdullah Z, Jantsch J
    Autophagy 2019; 15(11): 1899-1916
  • Deep learning: new computational modelling techniques for genomics
    Eraslan G, Avsec Ž, Gagneur J, Theis FJ
    Nat Rev Genet 2019; 20(7): 389-403
  • Community assessment to advance computational prediction of cancer drug combinations in a pharmacogenomic screen
    Menden MP, Wang D, Mason MJ, Szalai B, Bulusu KC, Guan Y, Yu T, Kang J, Jeon M, Wolfinger R, Nguyen T, Zaslavskiy M, AstraZeneca-Sanger Drug Combination DREAM Consortium, Jang IS, Ghazoui Z, Ahsen ME, Vogel R, Neto EC, Norman T, Tang EKY, Garnett MJ, Veroli GYD, Fawell S, Stolovitzky G, Guinney J, Dry JR, Saez-Rodriguez J
    Nat Commun 2019; 10(1): 2674
  • Microbial networks in SPRING – Semi-parametric rank-based correlation and partial correlation estimation for quantitative microbiome data
    Yoon G, Gaynanova I, Müller CL
    Frontiers in Genetics 2019; 10: 516
  • Within-host evolution of Helicobacter pylori shaped by niche-specific adaptation, intragastric migrations and selective sweeps
    Ailloud F, Didelot X, Woltemate S, Pfaffinger G, Overmann, J, Bader RC, Schulz C, Malfertheiner P, Suerbaum S
    Nat Commun 2019; 10(1): 2273
  • Rbpj expression in regulatory T cells is critical for restraining TH2 responses
    Delacher M, Schmidl C, Herzig Y, Breloer M, Hartmann W, Brunk F, Kägebein D, Träger U, Hofer AC, Bittner S, Weichenhan D, Imbusch CD, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Hielscher T, Breiling A, Federico G, Gröne, HJ, Schmid RM, Rehli M, Abramson J, Feuerer M
    Nat Commun 2019; 10(1): 1621
  • Limitation of TCA Cycle Intermediates Represents an Oxygen-Independent Nutritional Antibacterial Effector Mechanism of Macrophages
    Hayek I, Fischer F, Schulze-Luehrmann J, Dettmer K, Sobotta K, Schatz V, Kohl L, Boden K, Lang R, Oefner PJ, Wirtz S, Jantsch J, Lührmann A
    Cell Rep 2019; 26(13): 3502-3510.e6
Associated Institutes

Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Medizinische Fakultät
Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie