Periodontitis is a widespread and costly disease that is primarily manifest in the oral cavity but is also associated with systemic diseases such as atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although several organisms have been identified as periodontal pathogens, a recent study suggests that Porphyromonas gingivalis may be a "keystone" pathogen that disrupts host-microbe homeostasis by inducing populational changes in the biofilm that contribute to inflammation. Thus, preventing P. gingivalis colonization of the oral cavity may not only limit periodontitis and have a positive impact on severe systemic diseases, improving the health status of a significant portion of the adult population. The ideal niche for P. gingivalis is the subgingival pocket, but prior to colonizing this niche, P. gingivali associates with streptococci in the supragingival biofilm. This interaction is an ideal target for therapeutic intervention since it represents one of the first events that promotes colonization of the oral cavity by P. gingivalis. The basic science discoveries that form the foundation for this proposal arise from our previous work showing that the association of P. gingivalis with streptococci is driven by a protein-protein interaction. Our mechanistic characterization of this interaction led to the development of a peptide (designated BAR) that potently inhibits P. gingivalis colonization of the oral cavity. However, peptides are not ideal therapeutic agents due to their high cost of production and susceptibility to degradation. This application addresses these shortcomings using a structure-based approach to design and synthesize non-peptide mimetics of BAR.
The first Aim will apply our knowledge of the structure and mechanism of action of BAR to design and chemically synthesize inexpensive peptidomimetic inhibitors of P. gingivalis colonization using an innovative synthetic approach called click chemistry.
The second Aim of this study will assess the biologic activity of the compounds to identify lead compounds that potently inhibit P. gingivalis adherence to streptococci and the formation of P. gingivalis biofilms. The most active lead compounds will subsequently be tested in Aim 3 for inhibition of P. gingivalis virulence using an animal model of periodontitis. Thus, our prior mechanistic studies uniquely position us to design and develop new potential treatments for periodontitis and its systemic sequelae by specifically targeting P. gingivalis colonization of the oral cavity. The inherent stability and low toxicity of click chemistry products may also facilitat the rapid formulation of compounds in a mouth rinse, varnish, or toothpaste that will be suitable for clinical testing.

Public Health Relevance

Periodontitis is a common oral disease that is present in up to 40% of the adult population in the United States. Annual expenditures for treatment and prevention of periodontitis exceed $15 billion. Although periodontitis is primarily manifest in the oral cavity, it is also associated with systemic illnesses such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. An important recent study suggests that Porphyromonas gingivalis may be a keystone pathogen that induces populational changes in the oral biofilm that contribute to inflammation. Thus, limiting P. gingivalis colonization of the oral cavity may have positive impact periodontal health and on other systemic illnesses associates with periodontitis. This multidisciplinary study will use molecular modeling and protein structural information to design and synthesize compounds that specifically target the periodontal pathogen P. gingivalis and block its colonization of the oral cavity. These compounds represent new potential therapies that may control or prevent periodontitis and the systemic illnesses associated with this disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MOSS-F (02))
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Lunsford, Dwayne
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University of Louisville
Schools of Dentistry
United States
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Patil, Pravin C; Tan, Jinlian; Demuth, Donald R et al. (2016) 1,2,3-Triazole-based inhibitors of Porphyromonas gingivalis adherence to oral streptococci and biofilm formation. Bioorg Med Chem 24:5410-5417
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