Discovery of a small molecule that blocks wall teichoic acid biosynthesis in Staphylococcus aureus.
ABSTRACT: Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria contain bactoprenol-dependent biosynthetic pathways expressing non-essential cell surface polysaccharides that function as virulence factors. Although these polymers are not required for bacterial viability in vitro, genes in many of the biosynthetic pathways are conditionally essential: they cannot be deleted except in strains incapable of initiating polymer synthesis. We report a cell-based, pathway-specific strategy to screen for small molecule inhibitors of conditionally essential enzymes. The screen identifies molecules that prevent the growth of a wildtype bacterial strain but do not affect the growth of a mutant strain incapable of initiating polymer synthesis. We have applied this approach to discover inhibitors of wall teichoic acid (WTA) biosynthesis in Staphylococcus aureus. WTAs are anionic cell surface polysaccharides required for host colonization that have been suggested as targets for new antimicrobials. We have identified a small molecule, 7-chloro-N,N-diethyl-3-(phenylsulfonyl)-[1,2,3]triazolo[1,5-a]quinolin-5-amine (1835F03), that inhibits the growth of a panel of S. aureus strains (MIC = 1-3 microg mL(-1)), including clinical methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates. Using a combination of biochemistry and genetics, we have identified the molecular target as TarG, the transmembrane component of the ABC transporter that exports WTAs to the cell surface. We also show that preventing the completion of WTA biosynthesis once it has been initiated triggers growth arrest. The discovery of 1835F03 validates our chemical genetics strategy for identifying inhibitors of conditionally essential enzymes, and the strategy should be applicable to many other bactoprenol-dependent biosynthetic pathways in the pursuit of novel antibacterials and probes of bacterial stress responses.
Project description:The LytR-CpsA-Psr (LCP) proteins are thought to transfer bactoprenol-linked biosynthetic intermediates of wall teichoic acid (WTA) to the peptidoglycan of Gram-positive bacteria. In Bacillus subtilis, mutants lacking all three LCP enzymes do not deposit WTA in the envelope, while Staphylococcus aureus ?lcp mutants display impaired growth and reduced levels of envelope phosphate. We show here that the S. aureus ?lcp mutant synthesized WTA yet released ribitol phosphate polymers into the extracellular medium. Further, ?lcp mutant staphylococci no longer restricted the deposition of LysM-type murein hydrolases to cell division sites, which was associated with defects in cell shape and increased autolysis. Mutations in S. aureus WTA synthesis genes (tagB, tarF, or tarJ2) inhibit growth, which is attributed to the depletion of bactoprenol, an essential component of peptidoglycan synthesis (lipid II). The growth defect of S. aureus tagB and tarFJ mutants was alleviated by inhibition of WTA synthesis with tunicamycin, whereas the growth defect of the ?lcp mutant was not relieved by tunicamycin treatment or by mutation of tagO, whose product catalyzes the first committed step of WTA synthesis. Further, sortase A-mediated anchoring of proteins to peptidoglycan, which also involves bactoprenol and lipid II, was not impaired in the ?lcp mutant. We propose a model whereby the S. aureus ?lcp mutant, defective in tethering WTA to the cell wall, cleaves WTA synthesis intermediates, releasing ribitol phosphate into the medium and recycling bactoprenol for peptidoglycan synthesis.
Project description:Resistance to every family of clinically used antibiotics has emerged, and there is a pressing need to explore unique antibacterial targets. Wall teichoic acids (WTAs) are anionic polymers that coat the cell walls of many Gram-positive bacteria. Because WTAs play an essential role in Staphylococcus aureus colonization and infection, the enzymes involved in WTA biosynthesis are proposed to be targets for antibiotic development. To facilitate the discovery of WTA inhibitors, we have reconstituted the intracellular steps of S. aureus WTA biosynthesis. We show that two intracellular steps in the biosynthetic pathway are different from what was proposed. The work reported here lays the foundation for the discovery and characterization of inhibitors of WTA biosynthetic enzymes to assess their potential for treating bacterial infections.
Project description:Wall teichoic acids (WTAs) are anionic polymers that play key roles in bacterial cell shape, cell division, envelope integrity, biofilm formation, and pathogenesis. B. subtilis W23 and S. aureus both make polyribitol-phosphate (RboP) WTAs and contain similar sets of biosynthetic genes. We use in vitro reconstitution combined with genetics to show that the pathways for WTA biosynthesis in B. subtilis W23 and S. aureus are different. S. aureus requires a glycerol-phosphate primase called TarF in order to make RboP-WTAs; B. subtilis W23 contains a TarF homolog, but this enzyme makes glycerol-phosphate polymers and is not involved in RboP-WTA synthesis. Instead, B. subtilis TarK functions in place of TarF to prime the WTA intermediate for chain extension by TarL. This work highlights the enzymatic diversity of the poorly characterized family of phosphotransferases involved in WTA biosynthesis in Gram-positive organisms.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus contains two distinct teichoic acid (TA) polymers, lipoteichoic acid (LTA) and wall teichoic acid (WTA), which are proposed to play redundant roles in regulating cell division. To gain insight into the underlying biology of S. aureus TAs, we used a small molecule inhibitor to screen a highly saturated transposon library for cellular factors that become essential when WTA is depleted. We constructed an interaction network connecting WTAs with genes involved in LTA synthesis, peptidoglycan synthesis, surface protein display, and D-alanine cell envelope modifications. Although LTAs and WTAs are synthetically lethal, we report that they do not have the same synthetic interactions with other cell envelope genes. For example, D-alanylation, a tailoring modification of both WTAs and LTAs, becomes essential when the former, but not the latter, are removed. Therefore, D-alanine-tailored LTAs are required for survival when WTAs are absent. Examination of terminal phenotoypes led to the unexpected discovery that cells lacking both LTAs and WTAs lose their ability to form Z rings and can no longer divide. We have concluded that the presence of either LTAs or WTAs on the cell surface is required for initiation of S. aureus cell division, but these polymers act as part of distinct cellular networks.
Project description:The cell envelopes of many Gram-positive bacteria contain wall teichoic acids (WTAs). Staphylococcus aureus WTAs are composed of ribitol phosphate (RboP) or glycerol phosphate (GroP) backbones substituted with D-alanine and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) or N-acetyl-D-galactosamine (GalNAc). Two WTA glycosyltransferases, TarM and TarS, are responsible for modifying the RboP WTA with ?-GlcNAc and ?-GlcNAc, respectively. We recently reported that purified human serum anti-WTA IgG specifically recognizes ?-GlcNAc of the staphylococcal RboP WTA and then facilitates complement C3 deposition and opsonophagocytosis of S. aureus laboratory strains. This prompted us to examine whether anti-WTA IgG can induce C3 deposition on a diverse set of clinical S. aureus isolates. To this end, we compared anti-WTA IgG-mediated C3 deposition and opsonophagocytosis abilities using 13 different staphylococcal strains. Of note, the majority of S. aureus strains tested was recognized by anti-WTA IgG, resulting in C3 deposition and opsonophagocytosis. A minority of strains was not recognized by anti-WTA IgG, which correlated with either extensive capsule production or an alteration in the WTA glycosylation pattern. Our results demonstrate that the presence of WTAs with TarS-mediated glycosylation with ?-GlcNAc in clinically isolated S. aureus strains is an important factor for induction of anti-WTA IgG-mediated C3 deposition and opsonophagocytosis.
Project description:Wall teichoic acids (WTAs) are phosphate-rich, sugar-based polymers attached to the cell walls of most Gram-positive bacteria. In Staphylococcus aureus, these anionic polymers regulate cell division, protect cells from osmotic stress, mediate host colonization, and mask enzymatically susceptible peptidoglycan bonds. Although WTAs are not required for survival in vitro, blocking the pathway at a late stage of synthesis is lethal. We recently discovered a novel antibiotic, targocil, that inhibits a late acting step in the WTA pathway. Its target is TarG, the transmembrane component of the ABC transporter (TarGH) that exports WTAs to the cell surface. We examined here the effects of targocil on S. aureus using transmission electron microscopy and gene expression profiling. We report that targocil treatment leads to multicellular clusters containing swollen cells displaying evidence of osmotic stress, strongly induces the cell wall stress stimulon, and reduces the expression of key virulence genes, including dltABCD and capsule genes. We conclude that WTA inhibitors that act at a late stage of the biosynthetic pathway may be useful as antibiotics, and we present evidence that they could be particularly useful in combination with beta-lactams.
Project description:Surface carbohydrate moieties are essential for bacterial communication, phage-bacteria and host-pathogen interaction. Most Staphylococcus aureus produce polyribitolphosphate type Wall teichoic acids (WTAs) substituted with ?- and/or ?-O-linked N-acetyl-glucosamine (?-/?-O-GlcNAc) residues. GlcNAc modifications have attracted particular interest, as they were shown to govern staphylococcal adhesion to host cells, to promote phage susceptibility conferring beta-lactam resistance and are an important target for antimicrobial agents and vaccines. However, there is a lack of rapid, reliable, and convenient methods to detect and quantify these sugar residues. Whole cell Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy could meet these demands and was employed to analyse WTAs and WTA glycosylation in S. aureus. Using S. aureus mutants, we found that a complete loss of WTA expression resulted in strong FTIR spectral perturbations mainly related to carbohydrates and phosphorus-containing molecules. We could demonstrate that ?- or ?-O-GlcNAc WTA substituents can be clearly differentiated by chemometrically assisted FTIR spectroscopy. Our results suggest that whole cell FTIR spectroscopy represents a powerful and reliable method for large scale analysis of WTA glycosylation, thus opening up a complete new range of options for deciphering the staphylococcal pathogenesis related glycocode.
Project description:Wall teichoic acids (WTAs) are phosphate-rich, sugar-based polymers attached to the cell walls of most Gram-positive bacteria. In Staphylococcus aureus, these anionic polymers regulate cell division, protect cells from osmotic stress, mediate host colonization, and mask enzymatically susceptible peptidoglycan bonds. Although WTAs are not required for survival in vitro, blocking the pathway at a late stage of synthesis is lethal. We recently discovered a novel antibiotic, targocil, that inhibits a late acting step in the WTA pathway. Its target is TarG, the transmembrane component of the ABC transporter (TarGH) that exports WTAs to the cell surface. Here we examine the effects of targocil on S. aureus using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and gene expression profiling. We report that targocil treatment leads to multicellular clusters containing swollen cells displaying evidence of osmotic stress, strongly induces the cell wall stress stimulon, and reduces the expression of key virulence genes, including dltABCD and capsule genes. We conclude that WTA inhibitors that act at a late stage of the biosynthetic pathway may be useful as antibiotics, and we present evidence that they could be particularly useful in combination with beta-lactams. Growth conditions for microarray analysis-For transcriptional profiling, an overnight S. aureus SH1000 culture was diluted (2% (v/v) into 20 mL TSB medium in a 50 mL Erlenmeyer flask and grown at 37 Â°C with shaking at 200 rpm. For the targocil treatment experiments, S. aureus was grown to an OD600 ~0.4 and challenged with 8x MIC of targocil dissolved in DMSO) for 30 min. Simultaneously, an equal amount of DMSO (final concentration 2% (v/v)) was added to the control culture, which was incubated along with the treated cultures. After 30 min, 5 mL aliquots were collected from control and treated cultures and used for toatl RNA preparation.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus peptidoglycan (PG) is densely functionalized with anionic polymers called wall teichoic acids (WTAs). These polymers contain three tailoring modifications: d-alanylation, ?-O-GlcNAcylation, and ?-O-GlcNAcylation. Here we describe the discovery and biochemical characterization of a unique glycosyltransferase, TarS, that attaches ?-O-GlcNAc (?-O-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine) residues to S. aureus WTAs. We report that methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is sensitized to ?-lactams upon tarS deletion. Unlike strains completely lacking WTAs, which are also sensitive to ?-lactams, ?tarS strains have no growth or cell division defects. Because neither ?-O-GlcNAc nor ?-O-Glucose modifications can confer resistance, the resistance phenotype requires a highly specific chemical modification of the WTA backbone, ?-O-GlcNAc residues. These data suggest ?-O-GlcNAcylated WTAs scaffold factors required for MRSA resistance. The ?-O-GlcNAc transferase identified here, TarS, is a unique target for antimicrobials that sensitize MRSA to ?-lactams.
Project description:Methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus depends on the production of mecA, which encodes penicillin-binding protein 2A (PBP2A), an acquired peptidoglycan transpeptidase (TP) with reduced susceptibility to ?-lactam antibiotics. PBP2A cross-links nascent peptidoglycan when the native TPs are inhibited by ?-lactams. Although mecA expression is essential for ?-lactam resistance, it is not sufficient. Here we show that blocking the expression of wall teichoic acids (WTAs) by inhibiting the first enzyme in the pathway, TarO, sensitizes methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains to ?-lactams even though the ?-lactam-resistant transpeptidase, PBP2A, is still expressed. The dramatic synergy between TarO inhibitors and ?-lactams is noteworthy not simply because strategies to overcome MRSA are desperately needed but because neither TarO nor the activities of the native TPs are essential in MRSA strains. The "synthetic lethality" of inhibiting TarO and the native TPs suggests a functional connection between ongoing WTA expression and peptidoglycan assembly in S. aureus. Indeed, transmission electron microscopy shows that S. aureus cells blocked in WTA synthesis have extensive defects in septation and cell separation, indicating dysregulated cell wall assembly and degradation. Our studies imply that WTAs play a fundamental role in S. aureus cell division and raise the possibility that synthetic lethal compound combinations may have therapeutic utility for overcoming antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.