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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2001 Nov;45(11):3182-8.

Identification and characterization of new inhibitors of the Escherichia coli MurA enzyme.

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The R. W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Raritan, New Jersey 08869, USA.


The bacterial enzyme MurA catalyzes the transfer of enolpyruvate from phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to uridine diphospho-N-acetylglucosamine (UNAG), which is the first committed step of bacterial cell wall biosynthesis. From high-throughput screening of a chemical library, three novel inhibitors of the Escherichia coli MurA enzyme were identified: the cyclic disulfide RWJ-3981, the purine analog RWJ-140998, and the pyrazolopyrimidine RWJ-110192. When MurA was preincubated with inhibitor, followed by addition of UNAG and PEP, the 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)s) were 0.2 to 0.9 microM, compared to 8.8 microM for the known MurA inhibitor, fosfomycin. The three compounds exhibited MICs of 4 to 32 microg/ml against Staphylococcus aureus; however, the inhibition of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis in addition to peptidoglycan synthesis by all three inhibitors indicated that antibacterial activity was not due specifically to MurA inhibition. The presence of UNAG during the MurA and inhibitor preincubation lowered the IC(50) at least fivefold, suggesting that, like fosfomycin, the three compounds may interact with the enzyme in a specific fashion that is enhanced by UNAG. Ultrafiltration and mass spectrometry experiments suggested that the compounds were tightly, but not covalently, associated with MurA. Molecular modeling studies demonstrated that the compounds could fit into the site occupied by fosfomycin; exposure of MurA to each compound reduced the labeling of MurA by tritiated fosfomycin. Taken together, the evidence indicates that these inhibitors may bind noncovalently to the MurA enzyme, at or near the site where fosfomycin binds.

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