Journal of medicinal chemistry

Peptides of 2-aminopimelic acid: antibacterial agents that inhibit diaminopimelic acid biosynthesis.

PMID 3079832


Succinyl-CoA:tetrahydrodipicolinate-N-succinyltransferase is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of diaminopimelic acid (DAP), a component of the cell wall peptidoglycan of nearly all bacteria. This enzyme converts the cyclic precursor tetrahydrodipicolinic acid (THDPA) to a succinylated acyclic product. L-2-Aminopimelic acid (L-1), an acyclic analogue of THDPA, was found to be a good substrate for this enzyme and was shown to cause a buildup of THDPA in a cell-free enzyme system but was devoid of antibacterial activity. Incorporation of 1 into a di- or tripeptide yielded derivatives that exhibited antibacterial activity against a range of Gram-negative organisms. Of the five peptide derivatives tested, (L-2-aminopimelyl)-L-alanine (6) was the most potent. These peptides were shown to inhibit DAP production in intact resting cells. High levels (30 mM) of 2-aminopimelic acid were achieved in the cytoplasm of bacteria as a result of efficient uptake of the peptide derivatives through specific peptide transport systems followed, presumably, by cleavage by intracellular peptidases. Finally, the antibacterial activity of these peptides could be reversed by DAP or a DAP-containing peptide. These results demonstrate that the peptides containing L-2-aminopimelic acid exert their antibacterial action by inhibition of diaminopimelic acid biosynthesis.