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ACS Infect Dis. 2015 Oct 9;1(10):460-8. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.5b00055. Epub 2015 Aug 11.

Cell-Based High-Throughput Screening Identifies Rifapentine as an Inhibitor of Amyloid and Biofilm Formation in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University , Stanford, California 94305, United States.


Escherichia coli assemble functional amyloid fibers termed curli that contribute to bacterial adhesion, biofilm formation, and host pathogenesis. We developed a cell-based high-throughput screen to identify inhibitors of curli-mediated adhesion in the laboratory strain MC4100 and curli-associated biofilm formation in the uropathogenic E. coli clinical isolate UTI89. Inhibitors of biofilm formation can operate through many mechanisms, and such inhibitors could hold therapeutic value in preventing and treating urinary tract infections. The curli-specific screen allows the identification of compounds that inhibit either curli expression, curli biogenesis, or adhesion by normally produced curli. In screening the NIH Clinical Collection of 446 compounds, we identified rifapentine as a potent inhibitor in both of these screens. Rifapentine is an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis that targets RNA polymerase, but prevents curli-dependent adhesion and biofilm formation in E. coli at concentrations below those that affect viability. Rifapentine inhibits curli production and prevents biofilm formation on plastic, on agar, and at the air-liquid interface by inhibiting curli gene transcription. Comparisons with a cephalosporin antibiotic further revealed that curli production is not affected by standard antibiotic treatment and cell killing pressure. Thus, we reveal a new role independent of killing activity for rifapentine as an inhibitor of curli and curli-mediated biofilm formation.


adhesion; biofilm; biofilm inhibitor; curli; functional amyloid; uropathogenic E. coli

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