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J Am Chem Soc. 2008 Apr 9;130(14):4914-24. doi: 10.1021/ja711126e. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Cyclic peptide inhibitors of staphylococcal virulence prepared by Fmoc-based thiolactone peptide synthesis.

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The Laboratory of Synthetic Protein Chemistry, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10065, USA.


Virulence factor production in Staphylococcus aureus is largely under the control of the accessory gene regulator (agr) quorum sensing system. There are four agr groups, all of which exhibit bacterial interference: each agr type synthesizes a cyclic autoinducing peptide (AIP) with a distinct sequence that activates its cognate AgrC receptor and inhibits activation of others. To better understand inhibitory AIP-AgrC interactions, we aimed to identify the minimal molecular determinants required to inhibit both non-cognate and cognate receptors. This minimization of the AIP pharmacophore also may have therapeutic relevance as the use of native AIPs to block virulence of non-cognate agr strains can prevent the establishment of an infection in vivo. We synthesized and evaluated the inhibitory activities of 10 AIP derivatives based on a truncated AIP analogue that inhibits all four agr types. To carry out the rapid, parallel synthesis of these peptides, we employed a new linker for Fmoc-based thioester peptide synthesis. Our results identify key structural elements that are necessary for AgrC inhibition and reveal key differences between non-cognate and cognate inhibitory requirements.

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