Send to

Choose Destination
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2017 Sep 22;61(10). pii: e00939-17. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00939-17. Print 2017 Oct.

Benzoxazoles, Phthalazinones, and Arylurea-Based Compounds with IMP Dehydrogenase-Independent Antibacterial Activity against Francisella tularensis.

Author information

Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.
Department of Chemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.
Tuberculosis Research Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.
Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA


Francisella tularensis is the causative agent of tularemia and a potential biowarfare agent. The virulence of F. tularensis is decreased by deletion of guaB, the gene encoding IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH), suggesting that this enzyme is a target for antibacterial design. Here we report that F. tularensis growth is blocked by inhibitors of bacterial IMPDHs. Seventeen compounds from two different frameworks, designated the D and Q series, display antibacterial activities with MICs of <1 μM. These compounds are also active against intracellular infections. Surprisingly, antibacterial activity does not correlate with IMPDH inhibition. In addition, the presence of guanine does not affect the antibacterial activity of most compounds, nor does the deletion of guaB These observations suggest that antibacterial activity derives from inhibition of another target(s). Moreover, D compounds display antibacterial activity only against F. tularensis, suggesting the presence of a unique target or uptake mechanism. A ΔguaB mutant resistant to compound D73 contained a missense mutation (Gly45Cys) in nuoB, which encodes a subunit of bacterial complex I. Overexpression of the nuoB mutant conferred resistance to D73 in both wild-type and ΔguaB strains. This strain was not resistant to Q compounds, suggesting that a different off-target mechanism operates for these compounds. Several Q compounds are also effective against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in which a second target has also been implicated, in addition to IMPDH. The fortuitous presence of multiple targets with overlapping structure-activity relationships presents an intriguing opportunity for the development of robust antibiotics that may avoid the emergence of resistance.


Francisella tularensis; IMP dehydrogenase; complex I

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center