Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30948644
Link to DOI – 10.1073/pnas.1817757116
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 Apr; 116(17): 8481-8486
Despite the availability of antibiotics and vaccines, Neisseria meningitidis remains a major cause of meningitis and sepsis in humans. Due to its extracellular lifestyle, bacterial adhesion to host cells constitutes an attractive therapeutic target. Here, we present a high-throughput microscopy-based approach that allowed the identification of compounds able to decrease type IV pilus-mediated interaction of bacteria with endothelial cells in the absence of bacterial or host cell toxicity. Compounds specifically inhibit the PilF ATPase enzymatic activity that powers type IV pilus extension but remain inefficient on the ATPase that promotes pilus retraction, thus leading to rapid pilus disappearance from the bacterial surface and loss of pili-mediated functions. Structure activity relationship of the most active compound identifies specific moieties required for the activity of this compound and highlights its specificity. This study therefore provides compounds targeting pilus biogenesis, thereby inhibiting bacterial adhesion, and paves the way for a novel therapeutic option for meningococcal infections.