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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58765. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058765. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Protein interactions in genome maintenance as novel antibacterial targets.

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Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.


Antibacterial compounds typically act by directly inhibiting essential bacterial enzyme activities. Although this general mechanism of action has fueled traditional antibiotic discovery efforts for decades, new antibiotic development has not kept pace with the emergence of drug resistant bacterial strains. These limitations have severely restricted the therapeutic tools available for treating bacterial infections. Here we test an alternative antibacterial lead-compound identification strategy in which essential protein-protein interactions are targeted rather than enzymatic activities. Bacterial single-stranded DNA-binding proteins (SSBs) form conserved protein interaction "hubs" that are essential for recruiting many DNA replication, recombination, and repair proteins to SSB/DNA nucleoprotein substrates. Three small molecules that block SSB/protein interactions are shown to have antibacterial activity against diverse bacterial species. Consistent with a model in which the compounds target multiple SSB/protein interactions, treatment of Bacillus subtilis cultures with the compounds leads to rapid inhibition of DNA replication and recombination, and ultimately to cell death. The compounds also have unanticipated effects on protein synthesis that could be due to a previously unknown role for SSB/protein interactions in translation or to off-target effects. Our results highlight the potential of targeting protein-protein interactions, particularly those that mediate genome maintenance, as a powerful approach for identifying new antibacterial compounds.

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