The Enterococcus faecalis fsr quorum sensing (QS) involves an 11-residue cyclic peptide named gelatinase biosynthesis-activating pheromone (GBAP) that autoinduces two pathogenicity-related extracellular proteases in a cell density-dependent fashion. To identify anti-pathogenic agents that target fsr QS signaling, peptide antagonists of GBAP were created by our unique drug design approach based on reverse alanine scanning. First of all, a receptor-binding scaffold (RBS), [Ala(4,5,6,8,9,11)]Z-GBAP, was created, in which all amino acids within the ring region of GBAP, except for two essential aromatic residues were substituted to alanine. Next, the substituted alanine residues were changed back to the original amino acid one by one, permitting selection of those peptide combinations exhibiting increased antagonist activity. After three cycles of this reverse alanine scan, [Ala(5,9,11)]Z-GBAP was obtained as a maximally reverted peptide (MRP) holding the strongest antagonist activity. Then, the 5th residue in MRP, which is one of critical residues to determine agonist-antagonist activity, was further modified by substituting with different types of amino acids including unnatural amino acids. As a result, [Tyr(Bzl)(5), Ala(9,11)]Z-GBAP, named ZBzl-YAA5911, showed the strongest antagonist activity [IC(50) = 26.2 nM and Kd against GBAP receptor (FsrC) = 39.4 nM]. In vivo efficacy of this peptide was assessed with an aphakic rabbit endophthalmitis model. ZBzl-YAA5911 suppressed the translocation of E. faecalis from the aqueous humor into the vitreous cavity by more than one order of magnitude and significantly reduced retinal damage. We propose that ZBzl-YAA5911 or its derivatives would be useful as anti-infective agents to attenuate virulence expression in this opportunistic pathogen.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Invasive infection by the Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is controlled by a four gene operon, agr that encodes a quorum sensing system for the regulation of virulence. While agr has been well studied in S. aureus, the contribution of agr homologues and analogues in other Gram-positive pathogens is just beginning to be understood. Intriguingly, other significant human pathogens, including Clostridium perfringens, Listeria monocytogenes, and Enterococcus faecalis contain agr or analogues linked to virulence. Moreover, other significant human Gram-positive pathogens use peptide based quorum sensing systems to establish or maintain infection. The potential for commonality in aspects of these signaling systems across different species raises the prospect of identifying therapeutics that could target multiple pathogens. Here, we review the status of research into these agr homologues, analogues, and other peptide based quorum sensing systems in Gram-positive pathogens as well as the potential for identifying common pathways and signaling mechanisms for therapeutic discovery.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Almost a century on from the discovery of penicillin, the war against bacterial infection still rages compounded by the emergence of strains resistant to virtually every clinically approved antibiotic and the dearth of new antibacterial agents entering the clinic. Consequently there is renewed interest in drugs which attenuate virulence rather than bacterial growth. Since the metaphors of warfare are often used to describe the battle between pathogen and host, we will describe in such a context, the molecular communication (quorum sensing) mechanisms used by bacteria to co-ordinate virulence at the population level. Recent progress in exploiting this information through the design of anti-virulence deception strategies that disrupt quorum sensing through signal molecule inactivation, inhibition of signal molecule biosynthesis or the blockade of signal transduction and their advantages and disadvantages are considered.
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