Send to

Choose Destination
ACS Infect Dis. 2018 Mar 9;4(3):349-359. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00122. Epub 2018 Jan 8.

Inhibitors of LexA Autoproteolysis and the Bacterial SOS Response Discovered by an Academic-Industry Partnership.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics , University of Pennsylvania , 3610 Hamilton Walk , Philadelphia , Pennsylvania 19104 , United States.
Screening, Profiling, and Mechanistic Biology , GlaxoSmithKline , 1250 S. Collegeville Road , Collegeville , Pennsylvania 19426 , United States.
Discovery Partnerships with Academia , GlaxoSmithKline , 1250 S. Collegeville Road , Collegeville , Pennsylvania 19426 , United States.


The RecA/LexA axis of the bacterial DNA damage (SOS) response is a promising, yet nontraditional, drug target. The SOS response is initiated upon genotoxic stress, when RecA, a DNA damage sensor, induces LexA, the SOS repressor, to undergo autoproteolysis, thereby derepressing downstream genes that can mediate DNA repair and accelerate mutagenesis. As genetic inhibition of the SOS response sensitizes bacteria to DNA damaging antibiotics and decreases acquired resistance, inhibitors of the RecA/LexA axis could potentiate our current antibiotic arsenal. Compounds targeting RecA, which has many mammalian homologues, have been reported; however, small-molecules targeting LexA autoproteolysis, a reaction unique to the prokaryotic SOS response, have remained elusive. Here, we describe the logistics and accomplishments of an academic-industry partnership formed to pursue inhibitors against the RecA/LexA axis. A novel fluorescence polarization assay reporting on RecA-induced self-cleavage of LexA enabled the screening of 1.8 million compounds. Follow-up studies on select leads show distinct activity patterns in orthogonal assays, including several with activity in cell-based assays reporting on SOS activation. Mechanistic assays demonstrate that we have identified first-in-class small molecules that specifically target the LexA autoproteolysis step in SOS activation. Our efforts establish a realistic example for navigating academic-industry partnerships in pursuit of anti-infective drugs and offer starting points for dedicated lead optimization of SOS inhibitors that could act as adjuvants for current antibiotics.


LexA; RecA; SOS response; antimicrobial resistance; antivirulence; high-throughput screening

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center