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#35103473   2022/02/01 To Up

Discovery of Small-Molecule VapC1 Nuclease Inhibitors by Virtual Screening and Scaffold Hopping from an Atomic Structure Revealing Protein-Protein Interactions with a Native VapB1 Inhibitor.

Nontypeable (NTHi) are clinically important Gram-negative bacteria that are responsible for various human mucosal diseases, including otitis media (OM). Recurrent OM caused by NTHi is common, and infections that recur less than 2 weeks following antimicrobial therapy are largely attributable to the recurrence of the same strain of bacteria. Toxin-antitoxin (TA) modules encoded by bacteria enable rapid responses to environmental stresses and are thought to facilitate growth arrest, persistence, and tolerance to antibiotics. The locus of NTHi encodes a type II TA system, comprising the ribonuclease toxin VapC1 and its cognate antitoxin VapB1. The activity of VapC1 has been linked to the survival of NTHi during antibiotic treatment both and . Therefore, inhibitors of VapC1 might serve as adjuvants to antibiotics, preventing NTHi from entering growth arrest and surviving; however, none have been reported to date. A truncated VapB1 peptide from a crystal structure of the VapBC-1 complex was used to generate pharmacophore queries to facilitate a scaffold hopping approach for the identification of small-molecule VapC1 inhibitors. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences small-molecule library was virtually screened using the shape-based method rapid overlay of chemical structures (ROCS), and the top-ranking hits were docked into the VapB1 binding pocket of VapC1. Two hundred virtual screening hits with the best docking scores were selected and tested in a biochemical VapC1 activity assay, which confirmed eight compounds as VapC1 inhibitors. An additional 60 compounds were selected with structural similarities to the confirmed VapC1 inhibitors, of which 20 inhibited VapC1 activity. Intracellular target engagement of five inhibitors was indicated by the destabilization of VapC1 within bacterial cells from a cellular thermal shift assay; however, no impact on bacterial growth was observed. Thus, this virtual screening and scaffold hopping approach enabled the discovery of VapC1 ribonuclease inhibitors that might serve as starting points for preclinical development.
Hongmao Sun, Nathan P Coussens, Carina Danchik, Leah M Wachsmuth, Mark J Henderson, Samarjit Patnaik, Matthew D Hall, Ashley L Molinaro, Dayle A Daines, Min Shen

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