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PLoS One. 2009 Jul 30;4(7):e6443. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006443.

New antibiotic molecules: bypassing the membrane barrier of gram negative bacteria increases the activity of peptide deformylase inhibitors.

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UMR-MD1, Transporteurs Membranaires, Chimiorésistance et Drug-Design, Facultés de Médecine et de Pharmacie, IFR 88, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.



Multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria have become a major concern in hospitals worldwide and urgently require the development of new antibacterial molecules. Peptide deformylase is an intracellular target now well-recognized for the design of new antibiotics. The bacterial susceptibility to such a cytoplasmic target primarily depends on the capacity of the compound to reach and accumulate in the cytosol.


To determine the respective involvement of penetration (influx) and pumping out (efflux) mechanisms to peptide deformylase inhibitors (PDF-I) activity, the potency of various series was determined using various genetic contexts (efflux overproducers or efflux-deleted strains) and membrane permeabilizers. Depending on the structure of the tested molecules, two behaviors could be observed: (i) for actinonin the first PDF-I characterized, the AcrAB efflux system was the main parameter involved in the bacterial susceptibility, and (ii), for the latest PDF-Is such as the derivatives of 2-(5-bromo-1H-indol-3-yl)-N-hydroxyacetamide, the penetration through the membrane was a important limiting step.


Our results clearly show that the bacterial membrane plays a key role in modulating the antibacterial activity of PDF-Is. The bacterial susceptibility for these new antibacterial molecules can be improved by two unrelated ways in MDR strains: by collapsing the Acr efflux activity or by increasing the uptake rate through the bacterial membrane. The efficiency of the second method is associated with the nature of the compound.

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