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Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy

Identification and evaluation of twin-arginine translocase inhibitors.


PMID 23006747

Abstract

The twin-arginine translocase (TAT) in some bacterial pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia pseudomallei, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, contributes to pathogenesis by translocating extracellular virulence determinants across the inner membrane into the periplasm, thereby allowing access to the Xcp (type II) secretory system for further export in Gram-negative organisms, or directly to the outside surface of the cell, as in M. tuberculosis. TAT-mediated secretion appreciably contributes to virulence in both animal and plant models of bacterial infection. Consequently, TAT function is an attractive target for small-molecular-weight compounds that alone or in conjunction with extant antimicrobial agents could become novel therapeutics. The TAT-transported hemolytic phospholipase C (PlcH) of P. aeruginosa and its multiple orthologs produced by the above pathogens can be detected by an accurate and reproducible colorimetric assay using a synthetic substrate that detects phospholipase C activity. Such an assay could be an effective indicator of TAT function. Using carefully constructed recombinant strains to precisely control the expression of PlcH, we developed a high-throughput screening (HTS) assay to evaluate, in duplicate, >80,000 small-molecular-weight compounds as possible TAT inhibitors. Based on additional TAT-related functional assays, purified PlcH protein inhibition experiments, and repeat experiments of the initial screening assay, 39 compounds were selected from the 122 initial hits. Finally, to evaluate candidate inhibitors for TAT specificity, we developed a TAT titration assay that determines whether inhibition of TAT-mediated secretion can be overcome by increasing the levels of TAT expression. The compounds N-phenyl maleimide and Bay 11-7082 appear to directly affect TAT function based on this approach.

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