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J Biomol Screen. 2011 Jul;16(6):637-46. doi: 10.1177/1087057111403927. Epub 2011 May 18.

Screening for mevalonate biosynthetic pathway inhibitors using sensitized bacterial strains.

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  • 1Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland.


A simple, optical density-based assay for inhibitors of the mevalonate-dependent pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis was developed. The assay uses pathway-sensitized Staphylococcus aureus strains and is fully compatible with high-density screening in a 1536-well format. S. aureus strains were constructed in which genes required for mevalonate-dependent isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) synthesis were regulated by an isopropyl-β-D-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG)-inducible promoter. Inhibitors of the target enzymes displayed greater antibacterial potency in media containing low concentrations of IPTG, and therefore less induction of mevalonate pathway genes, than in media with high IPTG conditions. This differential growth phenotype was exploited to bias the cell-based screening hits toward specific inhibitors of mevalonate-dependent IPP biosynthesis. Screens were run against strains engineered for regulation of the enzymes HMG-CoA synthase (MvaS) and mevalonate kinase (mvaK1), mevalonate diphosphate decarboxylase (mvaD), and phosphomevalonate kinase (mvaK2). The latter three enzymes are regulated as an operon. These assays resulted in the discovery of potent antibacterial hits that were progressed to an active hit-to-lead program. The example presented here demonstrates that a cell sensitization strategy can be successfully applied to a 1.3-million compound high-throughput screen in a high-density 1536-well format.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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