The multi-target aspect of an MmpL3 inhibitor: the BM212 series of compounds bind EthR2, a transcriptional regulator of ethionamide activation

Alice R Moorey, Alejandro Cabanillas, Sarah M Batt, Sonja Ghidelli-Disse, Beatriz Urones, Olalla Sanz, Joel Lelievre, Marcus Bantscheff, Liam R Cox, Gurdyal S Besra

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Abstract

The emergence of drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) ensures that drug discovery efforts remain at the forefront of TB research. There are multiple different experimental approaches that can be employed in the discovery of anti-TB agents. Notably, inhibitors of MmpL3 are numerous and structurally diverse in Mtb and have been discovered through the generation of spontaneous resistant mutants and subsequent whole genome sequencing studies. However, this approach is not always reliable and can lead to incorrect target assignment and requires orthogonal confirmatory approaches. In fact, many of these inhibitors have also been shown to act as multi-target agents, with secondary targets in Mtb, as well as in other non-MmpL3-containing pathogens. Herein, we have investigated further the cellular targets of the MmpL3-inhibitor BM212 and a number of BM212 analogues. To determine the alternative targets of BM212, which may have been masked by MmpL3 mutations, we have applied a combination of chemo-proteomic profiling using bead-immobilised BM212 derivatives and protein extracts, along with whole-cell and biochemical assays. The study identified EthR2 (Rv0078) as a protein that binds BM212 analogues. We further demonstrated binding of BM212 to EthR2 through an in vitro tryptophan fluorescence assay, which showed significant quenching of tryptophan fluorescence upon addition of BM212. Our studies have demonstrated the value of revisiting drugs with ambiguous targets, such as MmpL3, in an attempt to find alternative targets and the study of off-target effects to understand more precisely target engagement of new hits emerging from drug screening campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100068
Number of pages12
JournalThe Cell Surface
Volume7
Early online date23 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • MmpL3
  • EthR2
  • EthA2
  • BM212

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