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Science. 2001 Aug 24;293(5534):1484-7.

Selective cleavage of D-Ala-D-Lac by small molecules: re-sensitizing resistant bacteria to vancomycin.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Pathogenic enterococci are becoming resistant to currently available antibiotics, including vancomycin, the drug of last resort for Gram-positive infections. Enterococci pose a significant public health threat, not least because of the risk of transferring vancomycin resistance to the ubiquitous Staphylococcus aureus. Vancomycin resistance is manifested by cell wall peptidoglycan precursors with altered termini that cannot bind the antibiotic. Small molecules with well-oriented nucleophile-electrophile assembly and complementary chirality to the peptidoglycan termini were identified as catalytic and selective cleavers of the peptidoglycan precursor depsipeptide. These molecules were tested in combination with vancomycin and were found to re-sensitize vancomycin-resistant bacteria to the antibiotic.

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