Non-typhoidal salmonellosis is one of the most significant food-borne diseases in the U.S. and globally. We recently used high-throughput genetic screening to identify the Salmonella fra locus, whose mutation causes extreme attenuation of fitness in mice. We then determined that the fra locus encodes five genes involved with the uptake and utilization of fructose-asparagine (F-Asn): fraR, fraB, fraD, fraA, and fraE. The fra locus is found only in the non-typhoidal Salmonella serovars, a few Citrobacter and Klebsiella isolates, and a few species of Clostridium. Thus, targeting the products of this locus in Salmonella with novel antimicrobials is expected to leave the normal microbiota largely intact. Our characterization of the mechanism of attenuation revealed that mutations in fraB cause an accumulation of the FraB substrate ? 6-phosphofructose-asparate (6-P-F-Asp) ? that is toxic to cells. We propose high-throughput screening (HTS) with three different assays to identify small molecule inhibitors of FraB, a deglycase that converts 6-P-F-Asp to aspartate and glucose-6-P (Glc-6-P). One assay utilizes purified FraB enzyme in a spectrophotometric assay, while another is a growth-based assay utilizing a live-attenuated Salmonella and a ?fra control. We tested the biochemical and cell-based assays at the ICCB-Longwood facility at Harvard, and found them to be simple and robust with Z' ?0.9 and ?0.8, respectively. We propose to identify FraB inhibitors using these two assays to screen up to 500,000 compounds at the ICCB-Longwood facility. In the third assay, we will use in silico structure-based virtual screening of ~250,000 compounds from the NCI database. The hits from both of the ICCB-Longwood screens and the computational screens will be tested again at our home institution. A second independent confirmation will utilize a mass spectrometry-based assay to directly measure build-up of 6-P-F-Asp, the substrate of FraB, in live cells. Hits will be characterized further with regard to their IC50, IC90, Ki, and specificity. Computational chemistry will be employed to better understand the chemical profile of FraB inhibitors, and facilitate quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) studies. Moreover, to gain a structural basis for the potency of hits, we will use X-ray crystallography to determine the atomic-resolution structure of FraB with and without select inhibitors. Successful completion of these aims is expected to facilitate hit identification and characterization, key pre-requisites for lead optimization and advancement to a much needed narrow-spectrum therapeutic for non-typhoidal salmonellosis. Narrow-spectrum antibiotics will have two key advantages: (i) limit the side effects caused by disruption of the normal microbiota, and (ii) avoid selecting for antimicrobial resistance among the normal microbiota. We envision a future cocktail of species-specific drugs that could be used to treat cases of human diarrhea without disruption of the healthy microbiota. A drug that ultimately results from the hits identified in this proposal would be one component of this cocktail.

Public Health Relevance

Non-typhoidal salmonellosis is a serious threat in the United States and globally. Because Salmonella cells lacking the FraB deglycase of the fructose-asparagine (F-Asn) utilization pathway accumulate a toxic intermediate during F-Asn metabolism, FraB is a valid and exploitable drug target. Our objectives in this proposal are to identify and characterize potent inhibitors of FraB, and provide a foundation for our long-term goal of developing a novel therapeutic for non-typhoidal salmonellosis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Alexander, William A
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Ohio State University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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