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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2010 May;54(5):1988-99. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01598-09. Epub 2010 Feb 22.

Discovery and characterization of inhibitors of Pseudomonas aeruginosa type III secretion.

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Microbiotix, Inc., Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


The type III secretion system (T3SS) is a clinically important virulence mechanism in Pseudomonas aeruginosa that secretes and translocates up to four protein toxin effectors into human cells, facilitating the establishment and dissemination of infections. To discover inhibitors of this important virulence mechanism, we developed two cellular reporter assays and applied them to a library of 80,000 compounds. The primary screen was based on the dependence of the transcription of T3SS operons on the T3SS-mediated secretion of a negative regulator and consisted of a transcriptional fusion of the Photorhabdus luminescens luxCDABE operon to the P. aeruginosa exoT effector gene. Secondary assays included direct measurements of the T3SS-mediated secretion of a P. aeruginosa ExoS effector-beta-lactamase fusion protein as well as the detection of the secretion of native ExoS by the sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis of culture supernatants. Five inhibitors in three chemical classes were demonstrated to inhibit type III secretion selectively with minimal cytotoxicity and with no effects on bacterial growth or on the type II-mediated secretion of elastase. These inhibitors also block the T3SS-mediated secretion of a YopE effector-beta-lactamase fusion protein from an attenuated Yersinia pestis strain. The most promising of the inhibitors is a phenoxyacetamide that also blocks the T3SS-mediated translocation of effectors into mammalian cells in culture. Preliminary studies of structure-activity relationships in this phenoxyacetamide series demonstrated a strict requirement for the R-enantiomer at its stereocenter and indicated tolerance for a variety of substituents on one of its two aromatic rings.

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