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PLoS Pathog. 2007 Sep 14;3(9):1229-39.

Inhibitors of pathogen intercellular signals as selective anti-infective compounds.

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Department of Surgery, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Long-term antibiotic use generates pan-resistant super pathogens. Anti-infective compounds that selectively disrupt virulence pathways without affecting cell viability may be used to efficiently combat infections caused by these pathogens. A candidate target pathway is quorum sensing (QS), which many bacterial pathogens use to coordinately regulate virulence determinants. The Pseudomonas aeruginosa MvfR-dependent QS regulatory pathway controls the expression of key virulence genes; and is activated via the extracellular signals 4-hydroxy-2-heptylquinoline (HHQ) and 3,4-dihydroxy-2-heptylquinoline (PQS), whose syntheses depend on anthranilic acid (AA), the primary precursor of 4-hydroxy-2-alkylquinolines (HAQs). Here, we identified halogenated AA analogs that specifically inhibited HAQ biosynthesis and disrupted MvfR-dependent gene expression. These compounds restricted P. aeruginosa systemic dissemination and mortality in mice, without perturbing bacterial viability, and inhibited osmoprotection, a widespread bacterial function. These compounds provide a starting point for the design and development of selective anti-infectives that restrict human P. aeruginosa pathogenesis, and possibly other clinically significant pathogens.

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