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Discovery of small-molecule inhibitors of multidrug-resistance plasmid maintenance using a high-throughput screening approach.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2020-11-11)
Katelyn E Zulauf, James E Kirby
ABSTRACT

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are multidrug-resistant pathogens for which new treatments are desperately needed. Carbapenemases and other types of antibiotic resistance genes are carried almost exclusively on large, low-copy-number plasmids (pCRE). Accordingly, small molecules that efficiently evict pCRE plasmids should restore much-needed treatment options. We therefore designed a high-throughput screen to identify such compounds. A synthetic plasmid was constructed containing the plasmid replication machinery from a representative Escherichia coli CRE isolate as well as a fluorescent reporter gene to easily monitor plasmid maintenance. The synthetic plasmid was then introduced into an E. coli K12 tolC host. We used this screening strain to test a library of over 12,000 known bioactive agents for molecules that selectively reduce plasmid levels relative to effects on bacterial growth. From 366 screen hits we further validated the antiplasmid activity of kasugamycin, an aminoglycoside; CGS 15943, a nucleoside analog; and Ro 90-7501, a bibenzimidazole. All three compounds exhibited significant antiplasmid activity including up to complete suppression of plasmid replication and/or plasmid eviction in multiple orthogonal readouts and potentiated activity of the carbapenem, meropenem, against a strain carrying the large, pCRE plasmid from which we constructed the synthetic screening plasmid. Additionally, we found kasugamycin and CGS 15943 blocked plasmid replication, respectively, by inhibiting expression or function of the plasmid replication initiation protein, RepE. In summary, we validated our approach to identify compounds that alter plasmid maintenance, confer resensitization to antimicrobials, and have specific mechanisms of action.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
Acridine Orange hydrochloride solution, 10 mg/mL in H2O
Sigma-Aldrich
CGS-15943, solid