2-aminoimidazoles collapse mycobacterial proton motive force and block the electron transport chain.

2-aminoimidazoles collapse mycobacterial proton motive force and block the electron transport chain.

Publication date: Feb 06, 2019

There is an urgent need to develop new drugs against tuberculosis. In particular, it is critical to target drug tolerant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis), responsible, in part, for the lengthy antibiotic regimen required for treatment. We previously postulated that the presence of in vivo biofilm-like communities of M. tuberculosis could contribute to this drug tolerance. Consistent with this hypothesis, certain 2-aminoimidazole (2-AIs) molecules with anti-biofilm activity were shown to revert mycobacterial drug tolerance in an in vitro M. tuberculosis biofilm model. While exploring their mechanism of action, it was serendipitously observed that these 2-AI molecules also potentiated β-lactam antibiotics by affecting mycobacterial protein secretion and lipid export. As these two bacterial processes are energy-dependent, herein it was evaluated if 2-AI compounds affect mycobacterial bioenergetics. At low concentrations, 2B8, the lead 2-AI compound, collapsed both components of the proton motive force, similar to other cationic amphiphiles. Interestingly, however, the minimum inhibitory concentration of 2B8 against M. tuberculosis correlated with a higher drug concentration determined to interfere with the mycobacterial electron transport chain. Collectively, this study elucidates the mechanism of action of 2-AIs against M. tuberculosis, providing a tool to better understand mycobacterial bioenergetics and develop compounds with improved anti-mycobacterial activity.

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Jeon, A.B., Ackart, D.F., Li, W., Jackson, M., Melander, R.J., Melander, C., Abramovitch, R.B., Chicco, A.J., Basaraba, R.J., and Obreg’on-Henao, A. 2-aminoimidazoles collapse mycobacterial proton motive force and block the electron transport chain. 04735. 2019 Sci Rep (9):1.



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