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ACS Chem Biol. 2012 May 18;7(5):879-91. doi: 10.1021/cb300018x. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Small-molecule inhibitors of bacterial AddAB and RecBCD helicase-nuclease DNA repair enzymes.

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  • 1Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


The AddAB and RecBCD helicase-nucleases are related enzymes prevalent among bacteria but not eukaryotes and are instrumental in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks and in genetic recombination. Although these enzymes have been extensively studied both genetically and biochemically, inhibitors specific for this class of enzymes have not been reported. We developed a high-throughput screen based on the ability of phage T4 gene 2 mutants to grow in Escherichia coli only if the host RecBCD enzyme, or a related helicase-nuclease, is inhibited or genetically inactivated. We optimized this screen for use in 1536-well plates and screened 326,100 small molecules in the NIH molecular libraries sample collection for inhibitors of the Helicobacter pylori AddAB enzyme expressed in an E. coli recBCD deletion strain. Secondary screening used assays with cells expressing AddAB or RecBCD and a viability assay that measured the effect of compounds on cell growth without phage infection. From this screening campaign, 12 compounds exhibiting efficacy and selectivity were tested for inhibition of purified AddAB and RecBCD helicase and nuclease activities and in cell-based assays for recombination; seven were active in the 0.1-50 μM range in one or another assay. Compounds structurally related to two of these were similarly tested, and three were active in the 0.1-50 μM range. These compounds should be useful in further enzymatic, genetic, and physiological studies of these enzymes, both purified and in cells. They may also lead to useful antibacterial agents, since this class of enzymes is needed for successful bacterial infection of mammals.

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