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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Jun;55(6):2670-8. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00776-10. Epub 2011 Mar 28.

Novel inhibitors of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence factor LasB: a potential therapeutic approach for the attenuation of virulence mechanisms in pseudomonal infection.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Queen's University of Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT97BL, Northern Ireland.


Pseudomonas elastase (LasB), a metalloprotease virulence factor, is known to play a pivotal role in pseudomonal infection. LasB is secreted at the site of infection, where it exerts a proteolytic action that spans from broad tissue destruction to subtle action on components of the host immune system. The former enhances invasiveness by liberating nutrients for continued growth, while the latter exerts an immunomodulatory effect, manipulating the normal immune response. In addition to the extracellular effects of secreted LasB, it also acts within the bacterial cell to trigger the intracellular pathway that initiates growth as a bacterial biofilm. The key role of LasB in pseudomonal virulence makes it a potential target for the development of an inhibitor as an antimicrobial agent. The concept of inhibition of virulence is a recently established antimicrobial strategy, and such agents have been termed "second-generation" antibiotics. This approach holds promise in that it seeks to attenuate virulence processes without bactericidal action and, hence, without selection pressure for the emergence of resistant strains. A potent inhibitor of LasB, N-mercaptoacetyl-Phe-Tyr-amide (K(i) = 41 nM) has been developed, and its ability to block these virulence processes has been assessed. It has been demonstrated that thes compound can completely block the action of LasB on protein targets that are instrumental in biofilm formation and immunomodulation. The novel LasB inhibitor has also been employed in bacterial-cell-based assays, to reduce the growth of pseudomonal biofilms, and to eradicate biofilm completely when used in combination with conventional antibiotics.

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