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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Nov 1996; 40(11): 2610–2617.
PMCID: PMC163585

Species selectivity of new siderophore-drug conjugates that use specific iron uptake for entry into bacteria.


Siderophores selectively bind ferric iron and are involved in receptor-specific iron transport into bacteria. Several types of siderophores were synthesized, and growth-promoting or inhibitory activities when they were conjugated to carbacephalosporin, erythromycylamine, or nalidixic acid were investigated. Overall, 11 types of siderophores and 21 drug conjugates were tested against seven different bacterial species: Escherichia coli, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Pasteurella multocida, Pasteurella haemolytica, Streptococcus suis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus epidermidis. In some species, the inhibitory activities of the drug conjugates were associated with the ability of the bacteria to use the siderophore portion of the molecules for growth promotion in disc diffusion tests (0.04 mumol of conjugate or siderophore per disc). E. coli used catechol-based siderophore portions as well as hydroxamate-based tri-delta-OH-N-OH-delta-N-acetyl-L-ornithine ferric iron ligands for growth under iron-restricted conditions achieved by supplemental ethylenediamine di (O-hydroxyphenylacetic acid) (100 micrograms/ml) and was sensitive to carbacephalosporin conjugated to these siderophore types (up to a 34-mm-diameter inhibition zone). B. bronchiseptica used desferrioxamine B and an isocyanurate-based or trihydroxamate in addition to catechol-based siderophore portions for promotion but was not inhibited by beta-lactam conjugates partly because of the presence of beta-lactamase. P. multocida and P. haemolytica did not use any of the synthetic siderophores for growth promotion, and the inhibitory activities of some conjugates seemed partly linked to their ability to withhold iron from these bacteria, since individual siderophore portions showed some antibacterial effects. Individual siderophores did not promote S. suis growth in restrictive conditions, but the type of ferric iron ligands attached to beta-lactams affected inhibitory activities. The antibacterial activities of the intracellular-acting agents erythromycylamine and nalidixic acid were reduced or lost, even against S. aureus and S. epidermidis, when the agents were conjugated to siderophores. Conjugate-resistant E. coli mutants showed the absence of some iron-regulated outer membrane proteins in gel electrophoresis profiles and in specific phage or colicin sensitivity tests, implying that the drugs used outer membrane receptors of ferric complexes to get into cells.

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Selected References

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