PloS one

Similarities between exogenously- and endogenously-induced envelope stress: the effects of a new antibacterial molecule, TPI1609-10.

PMID 23071502


Antibiotics with novel and/or multiple targets are highly desirable in the face of the steady rise of clinical antibiotic resistance. We have screened and identified small molecules, typified by the compound TPI1609-10 (aka SM10), with antibiotic activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. SM10 was screened in vitro to bind branched Holliday junction intermediates of homologous recombination and tyrosine recombinase-mediated recombination; thus, the cellular targets of the small molecules were expected to include the RuvABC Holliday junction resolvasome and the XerCD complex involved in proper segregation of replicated chromosomes to daughter cells. SM10 indeed induces DNA damage and filamentation in E. coli. However, SM10 also induces envelope stress and causes increased production of intracellular reactive oxygen species. In addition, SM10 has similar effects to endogenously-induced envelope stress via overproducing outer membrane proteins (OmpC and OmpF), which also induces the SOS response, chromosome fragmentation, and production of reactive oxygen species. The synergy between SM10, and cerulenin, a fatty acid synthesis inhibitor, together with the SM10 hypersensitivity of cpx and rpoE mutants, further support that SM10's mode of action damages membrane damage. The lethality of SM10 treatment and of OmpC overproduction are observed in both aerobically- and anaerobically-grown cells, and is accompanied by substantial DNA damage even anaerobically. Thus, only some DNA damage is due to reactive oxygen. We propose that membrane depolarization and the potential reduction in intracellular pH, leading to abasic site formation, cause a substantial amount of the DNA damage associated with both SM10 treatment and endogenous envelope stress. While it is difficult to completely exclude effects related to envelope damage as the sources of DNA damage, trapping intermediates associated with DNA repair and chromosome segregation pathways remains very likely. Thus SM10 may have distinct but synergistic modes of action.