Liquid cultures of the basidiomycetous fungus Gloeophyllum striatum were employed to study the biodegradation of pradofloxacin, a new veterinary fluoroquinolone antibiotic carrying a CN group at position C-8. After 16 days of incubation, metabolites were purified by micro-preparative high-performance liquid chromatography. Four metabolites could be identified by co-chromatography with chemically synthesized standards. The chemical structures of three compounds were resolved by 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy plus infrared spectroscopy in one case. All metabolites were confirmed by high resolution mass spectrometry-derived molecular formulae. They comprised compounds in which the carboxyl group or the fluorine atom had been exchanged for a hydroxyl group. Furthermore, replacement of the CN group and the intact amine moiety by a hydroxyl group as well as degradation of the amine substituent were observed. The chemical structure of a catechol-type fluoroquinolone metabolite (F-5) could be fully defined for the first time. The latter initiated a hypothetical degradation sequence providing a unique metabolite, F-13, which consisted of the cyclopropyl-substituted pyridone ring still carrying C-7 and C-8 of pradofloxacin, now linked by a double bond and substituted by a hydroxyl and the CN group, respectively. Most likely, all reactions were hydroxyl radical-driven. Metabolite F-13 proves fungal cleavage of the aromatic fluoroquinolone core for the first time. Hence, two decades after the emergence of the notion of the non-biodegradability of fluoroquinolones, fungal degradation of all key structural elements has been proven.
Keywords: fluoroquinolone, pradofloxacin, fungal degradation, Gloeophyllum striatum, aromatic ring cleavage, metabolites