Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26040760
Open Biol. 2015 Jun;5(6):150015. doi: 10.1098/rsob.150015.
ThyX is an essential thymidylate synthase that is mechanistically and structurally unrelated to the functionally analogous human enzyme, thus providing means for selective inhibition of bacterial growth. To identify novel compounds with anti-bacterial activity against the human pathogenic bacterium Helicobacter pylori, based on our earlier biochemical and structural analyses, we designed a series of eighteen 2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinones (2-OH-1,4-NQs) that target HpThyX. Our lead-like molecules markedly inhibited the NADPH oxidation and 2′-deoxythymidine-5′-monophosphate-forming activities of HpThyX enzyme in vitro, with inhibitory constants in the low nanomolar range. The identification of non-cytotoxic and non-mitotoxic 2-OH-1,4-NQ inhibitors permitted testing their in vivo efficacy in a mouse model for H. pylori infections. Despite the widely assumed toxicity of naphthoquinones (NQs), we identified tight-binding ThyX inhibitors that were tolerated in mice and can be associated with a modest effect in reducing the number of colonizing bacteria. Our results thus provide proof-of-concept that targeting ThyX enzymes is a highly feasible strategy for the development of therapies against H. pylori and a high number of other ThyX-dependent pathogenic bacteria. We also demonstrate that chemical reactivity of NQs does not prevent their exploitation as anti-microbial compounds, particularly when mitotoxicity screening is used to prioritize these compounds for further experimentation.