Background. Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), a leading cause of urinary tract and invasive infections worldwide, is rapidly acquiring multidrug resistance, hastening the need for selective new anti-infective agents. Here we demonstrate the molecular target of DU011, our previously discovered potent, nontoxic, small-molecule inhibitor of UPEC polysaccharide capsule biogenesis and virulence. Methods. Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis and a target-overexpression drug-suppressor screen were used to localize the putative inhibitor target. A thermal shift assay quantified interactions between the target protein and the inhibitor, and a novel DNase protection assay measured chemical inhibition of protein-DNA interactions. Virulence of a regulatory target mutant was assessed in a murine sepsis model. Results. MprA, a MarR family transcriptional repressor, was identified as the putative target of the DU011 inhibitor. Thermal shift measurements indicated the formation of a stable DU011-MprA complex, and DU011 abrogated MprA binding to its DNA promoter site. Knockout of mprA had effects similar to that of DU011 treatment of wild-type bacteria: a loss of encapsulation and complete attenuation in a murine sepsis model, without any negative change in antibiotic resistance. Conclusions. MprA regulates UPEC polysaccharide encapsulation, is essential for UPEC virulence, and can be targeted without inducing antibiotic resistance.
- E. Coli
- multidrug efflux pumps
- polysaccharide capsule
- small-molecule capsule inhibitor