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J Med Chem. 1988 Sep;31(9):1772-8.

Phosphinic acid inhibitors of D-alanyl-D-alanine ligase.

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  • 1Exploratory Chemistry Department, Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065.


We report the synthesis of a series of phosphinic acid dipeptide analogues, NH2CH(R1)PO(OH)CH2CH(R2)CO2H, related to DAla-DAla. The best of these compounds are potent, essentially irreversible inhibitors of DAla-DAla ligase, and their preferred stereochemistry was shown by chiral synthesis of (1(S)-aminoethyl)(2(R)-carboxy-1-n-propyl)phosphinic acid, 12b, and by X-ray crystallography of its derivative benzyl [1(S)-[(benzyloxycarbonyl)-amino]ethyl](2(R)-carbomethoxy-1-propyl) phosphinate, 13, to correspond to the stereochemical configuration of DAla-DAla at both centers. A mechanism for the inhibition of DAla-DAla ligase by these compounds is proposed to involve an ATP-dependent formation of phosphorylated inhibitor within the enzyme's active site. The antibacterial activities of these compounds are modest although their spectra include both Gram-positive and Gram-negative susceptible organisms. The best antibacterial activity was shown by (1(S)-aminoethyl) [2-carboxy-2(R)-(methylthio)-1-ethyl]phosphinic acid, 3e, whose MIC's range from 4-128 micrograms/mL on nine of a panel of 11 bacterial organisms. Combination of one of the more active phosphinic acids 12b with the alanine racemase inhibitor fluoro-D-alanine enhances the antibacterial spectrum of the latter on several strains of bacteria and inhibits fluoro-D-alanine's self-reversal, which normally occurs at concentrations several fold higher than its MIC level. This inhibition of fluoro-D-alanine self-reversal is consistent with an involvement of DAla-DAla ligase inhibition in the antibacterial activity of these compounds.

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