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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 24;278(43):41734-41. Epub 2003 Jul 29.

Aurintricarboxylic acid blocks in vitro and in vivo activity of YopH, an essential virulent factor of Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Yersinia are causative agents in human diseases ranging from gastrointestinal syndromes to Bubonic Plague. There is increasing risk of misuse of infectious agents, such as Yersinia pestis, as weapons of terror as well as instruments of warfare for mass destruction. YopH is an essential virulence factor whose protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) activity is required for Yersinia pathogenicity. Consequently, there is considerable interest in developing potent and selective YopH inhibitors as novel anti-plague agents. We have screened a library of 720 structurally diverse commercially available carboxylic acids and identified 26 YopH inhibitors with IC50 values below 100 mum. The most potent and specific YopH inhibitor is aurintricarboxylic acid (ATA), which exhibits a Ki value of 5 nm for YopH and displays 6-120-fold selectivity in favor of YopH against a panel of mammalian PTPs. To determine whether ATA can block the activity of YopH in a cellular context, we have examined the effect of ATA on T-cell signaling in human Jurkat cells transfected with YopH. We show that YopH severely decreases the T-cell receptor-induced cellular tyrosine phosphorylation, ERK1/2 activity, and interleukin-2 transcriptional activity. We demonstrate that ATA can effectively block the inhibitory activity of YopH and restore normal T-cell function. These results provide a proof-of-concept for the hypothesis that small molecule inhibitors that selectively target YopH may be therapeutically useful. In addition, it is expected that potent and selective YopH inhibitors, such as ATA, should be useful reagents to delineate YopH's cellular targets in plague and other pathogenic conditions caused by Yersinia infection.

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