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1.  Assessment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Pantothenate Kinase Vulnerability through Target Knockdown and Mechanistically Diverse Inhibitors 
Pantothenate kinase (PanK) catalyzes the phosphorylation of pantothenate, the first committed and rate-limiting step toward coenzyme A (CoA) biosynthesis. In our earlier reports, we had established that the type I isoform encoded by the coaA gene is an essential pantothenate kinase in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and this vital information was then exploited to screen large libraries for identification of mechanistically different classes of PanK inhibitors. The present report summarizes the synthesis and expansion efforts to understand the structure-activity relationships leading to the optimization of enzyme inhibition along with antimycobacterial activity. Additionally, we report the progression of two distinct classes of inhibitors, the triazoles, which are ATP competitors, and the biaryl acetic acids, with a mixed mode of inhibition. Cocrystallization studies provided evidence of these inhibitors binding to the enzyme. This was further substantiated with the biaryl acids having MIC against the wild-type M. tuberculosis strain and the subsequent establishment of a target link with an upshift in MIC in a strain overexpressing PanK. On the other hand, the ATP competitors had cellular activity only in a M. tuberculosis knockdown strain with reduced PanK expression levels. Additionally, in vitro and in vivo survival kinetic studies performed with a M. tuberculosis PanK (MtPanK) knockdown strain indicated that the target levels have to be significantly reduced to bring in growth inhibition. The dual approaches employed here thus established the poor vulnerability of PanK in M. tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC4068421  PMID: 24687493
2.  1,4-Azaindole, a Potential Drug Candidate for Treatment of Tuberculosis 
New therapeutic strategies against multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Mycobacterium tuberculosis are urgently required to combat the global tuberculosis (TB) threat. Toward this end, we previously reported the identification of 1,4-azaindoles, a promising class of compounds with potent antitubercular activity through noncovalent inhibition of decaprenylphosphoryl-β-d-ribose 2′-epimerase (DprE1). Further, this series was optimized to improve its physicochemical properties and pharmacokinetics in mice. Here, we describe the short-listing of a potential clinical candidate, compound 2, that has potent cellular activity, drug-like properties, efficacy in mouse and rat chronic TB infection models, and minimal in vitro safety risks. We also demonstrate that the compounds, including compound 2, have no antagonistic activity with other anti-TB drugs. Moreover, compound 2 shows synergy with PA824 and TMC207 in vitro, and the synergy effect is translated in vivo with TMC207. The series is predicted to have a low clearance in humans, and the predicted human dose for compound 2 is ≤1 g/day. Altogether, our data suggest that a 1,4-azaindole (compound 2) is a promising candidate for the development of a novel anti-TB drug.
PMCID: PMC4135869  PMID: 24957839
3.  In Vitro and In Vivo Efficacy of β-Lactams against Replicating and Slowly Growing/Nonreplicating Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Beta-lactams, in combination with beta-lactamase inhibitors, are reported to have activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria growing in broth, as well as inside the human macrophage. We tested representative beta-lactams belonging to 3 different classes for activity against replicating M. tuberculosis in broth and nonreplicating M. tuberculosis under hypoxia, as well as against streptomycin-starved M. tuberculosis strain 18b (ss18b) in the presence or absence of clavulanate. Most of the combinations showed bactericidal activity against replicating M. tuberculosis, with up to 200-fold improvement in potency in the presence of clavulanate. None of the combinations, including those containing meropenem, imipenem, and faropenem, killed M. tuberculosis under hypoxia. However, faropenem- and meropenem-containing combinations killed strain ss18b moderately. We tested the bactericidal activities of meropenem-clavulanate and amoxicillin-clavulanate combinations in the acute and chronic aerosol infection models of tuberculosis in BALB/c mice. Based on pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic indexes reported for beta-lactams against other bacterial pathogens, a cumulative percentage of a 24-h period that the drug concentration exceeds the MIC under steady-state pharmacokinetic conditions (%TMIC) of 20 to 40% was achieved in mice using a suitable dosing regimen. Both combinations showed marginal reduction in lung CFU compared to the late controls in the acute model, whereas both were inactive in the chronic model.
PMCID: PMC3716166  PMID: 23507276
4.  Genetic and chemical knockdown: a complementary strategy for evaluating an anti-infective target 
The equity of a drug target is principally evaluated by its genetic vulnerability with tools ranging from antisense- and microRNA-driven knockdowns to induced expression of the target protein. In order to upgrade the process of antibacterial target identification and discern its most effective type of inhibition, an in silico toolbox that evaluates its genetic and chemical vulnerability leading either to stasis or cidal outcome was constructed and validated. By precise simulation and careful experimentation using enolpyruvyl shikimate-3-phosphate synthase and its specific inhibitor glyphosate, it was shown that genetic knockdown is distinct from chemical knockdown. It was also observed that depending on the particular mechanism of inhibition, viz competitive, uncompetitive, and noncompetitive, the antimicrobial potency of an inhibitor could be orders of magnitude different. Susceptibility of Escherichia coli to glyphosate and the lack of it in Mycobacterium tuberculosis could be predicted by the in silico platform. Finally, as predicted and simulated in the in silico platform, the translation of growth inhibition to a cidal effect was able to be demonstrated experimentally by altering the carbon source from sorbitol to glucose.
PMCID: PMC3572760  PMID: 23413046
knockdown; inhibition; in silico; vulnerability
5.  A kinetic platform for in silico modeling of the metabolic dynamics in Escherichia coli 
A prerequisite for a successful design and discovery of an antibacterial drug is the identification of essential targets as well as potent inhibitors that adversely affect the survival of bacteria. In order to understand how intracellular perturbations occur due to inhibition of essential metabolic pathways, we have built, through the use of ordinary differential equations, a mathematical model of 8 major Escherichia coli pathways.
Individual in vitro enzyme kinetic parameters published in the literature were used to build the network of pathways in such a way that the flux distribution matched that reported from whole cells. Gene regulation at the transcription level as well as feedback regulation of enzyme activity was incorporated as reported in the literature. The unknown kinetic parameters were estimated by trial and error through simulations by observing network stability. Metabolites, whose biosynthetic pathways were not represented in this platform, were provided at a fixed concentration. Unutilized products were maintained at a fixed concentration by removing excess quantities from the platform. This approach enabled us to achieve steady state levels of all the metabolites in the cell. The output of various simulations correlated well with those previously published.
Such a virtual platform can be exploited for target identification through assessment of their vulnerability, desirable mode of target enzyme inhibition, and metabolite profiling to ascribe mechanism of action following a specific target inhibition. Vulnerability of targets in the biosynthetic pathway of coenzyme A was evaluated using this platform. In addition, we also report the utility of this platform in understanding the impact of a physiologically relevant carbon source, glucose versus acetate, on metabolite profiles of bacterial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3170011  PMID: 21918631
antibacterial drug; mathematical model; kinetic platform; metabolic dynamics; Escherichia coli
6.  Screen for Inhibitors of the Coupled Transglycosylase-Transpeptidase of Peptidoglycan Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli 
Class A high-molecular-weight penicillin-binding protein 1a (PBP1a) and PBP1b of Escherichia coli have both transglycosylase (TG) and transpeptidase (TP) activity. These enzymes are difficult to assay, since their substrates are difficult to prepare. We show the activity of PBP1a or PBP1b can be measured in membranes by cloning the PBP into an E. coli ponB::Spcr strain. Using this assay, we show that PBP1a is ∼10-fold more sensitive to penicillin than PBP1b and that the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of moenomycin, a TG inhibitor, is ∼10-fold higher in the PBP transformants than in wild-type membranes; this increase in IC50 in transformants can be used to test the specificity of test compounds for inhibition of the TG. Alternatively, the coupled TG-TP activity of PBP1b can be directly measured in a two-step microplate assay. In the first step, radiolabeled lipid II, the TG substrate, was made in membranes of the E. coli ponB::Spcr strain by incubation with the peptidoglycan sugar precursors. In the second step, the TG-TP activity was assayed by adding a source of PBP1b to the membranes. The coupled TG-TP activity converts lipid II to cross-linked peptidoglycan, which was specifically captured by wheat germ agglutinin-coated scintillation proximity beads in the presence of 0.2% Sarkosyl (B. Chandrakala et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 48:30-40, 2004). The TG-TP assay was inhibited by penicillin and moenomycin as expected. Surprisingly, tunicamycin and nisin also inhibited the assay, and paper chromatography analysis revealed that both inhibited the transglycosylase. The assay can be used to screen for novel antibacterial agents.
PMCID: PMC1426922  PMID: 16569861

Results 1-6 (6)