Chemical Exploration of a Highly Selective Scaffold with Activity against Intracellular .

Microbiology spectrum, Volume: 10, Issue: 3
June 29, 2022
Samuel Njikan S, Sara Ahmed S, Alyssa Manning A, Divya Awasthi D, Yulia Ovechkina Y, Sultan Chowdhury S, Arielle Butts A, Tanya Parish T

We previously identified a phenylthiourea series with activity against intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis using a high-throughput, high-content assay. We conducted a catalog structure-activity relationship study with a collection of 35 analogs. We identified several thiourea derivatives with excellent potency against intracellular bacteria and good selectivity over eukaryotic cells. Compounds had much lower activity against extracellular bacteria, which was not increased by using cholesterol as the sole carbon source. Compounds were equally active against strains with mutations in QcrB or MmpL3, thereby excluding common, promiscuous targets as the mode of action. The phenylthiourea series represents a good starting point for further exploration to develop novel antitubercular agents. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is responsible for the highest number of deaths from a bacterial pathogen, with >1.5 million in 2020. M. tuberculosis is a sophisticated pathogen that can replicate inside immune cells. There is an urgent need for new drugs to combat M. tuberculosis and to shorten therapy from 6 to 24 months. We have identified a series of molecules that inhibit the growth of M. tuberculosis inside macrophages; we tested a number of derivatives to link structural features to biological activity. The compounds are likely to have novel mechanism of action and so could be developed as new agents for drug-resistant tuberculosis.