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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Jul;55(7):3357-62. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01483-10. Epub 2011 May 2.

The antibiotic dehydrophos is converted to a toxic pyruvate analog by peptide bond cleavage in Salmonella enterica.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


The metabolic processing of dehydrophos, a broad-spectrum peptide antibiotic containing an unusual vinyl-phosphonate moiety, was examined by using a panel of Salmonella enterica mutants deficient in peptide uptake and catabolism. Dehydrophos bioactivity is lost in opp tpp double mutants, demonstrating a requirement for uptake via nonspecific oligopeptide permeases. Dehydrophos bioactivity is also abolished in a quadruple Salmonella mutant lacking the genes encoding peptidases A, B, D, and N, showing that hydrolysis of the peptide bond is required for activity. (31)P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to assess the fate of dehydrophos following in vitro digestion of the antibiotic with purified PepA. The results suggest that the initial product of peptidase processing is 1-aminovinyl-phosphonate O-methyl ester. This phosphonate analogue of dehydroalanine undergoes rearrangement to the more stable imine, followed by spontaneous hydrolysis to yield O-methyl-acetylphosphonate, a structural analogue of pyruvate. This compound is a known inhibitor of pyruvate dehydrogenase and pyruvate oxidase and is probably the active species responsible for dehydrophos bioactivity.

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