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The emergence and perseverance of drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) ensures that drug discovery efforts remain at the forefront of tuberculosis research. There are numerous different approaches that can be employed to lead to the discovery of anti-tubercular agents. In this work, we endeavored to optimize the anthraquinone chemical scaffold of a known drug, rhein, converting it from a compound with negligible activity against Mtb, to a series of compounds with potent activity. Two compounds exhibited low toxicity and good liver microsome stability and were further progressed in attempts to identify the biological target. Whole genome sequencing of resistant isolates revealed inactivating mutations in a monoglyceride lipase. Over-expression trials and an enzyme assay confirmed that the designed compounds are prodrugs, activated by the monoglyceride lipase. We propose that rhein is the active moiety of the novel compounds, which requires chemical modifications to enable access to the cell through the extensive cell wall structure. This work demonstrates that re-engineering of existing antimicrobial agents is a valid method in the development of new anti-tubercular compounds.
Bibliographical note© 2020 The Author(s).
- Drug discovery
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MICA: Addressing the burgeoning problem of tuberculosis: Exploiting phenotypic hits to identify new protein targets for drug discovery
1/04/18 → 31/03/22
Project: Research Councils