Rediscovery of PF-3845 as a new chemical scaffold inhibiting phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The Journal of biological chemistry, Volume: 296
January 8, 2021
Heng Wang H, Min Xu M, Curtis A Engelhart CA, Xi Zhang X, Baohua Yan B, Miaomiao Pan M, Yuanyuan Xu Y, Shilong Fan S, Renhe Liu R, Lan Xu L, Lan Hua L, Dirk Schnappinger D, Shawn Chen S

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) remains the deadliest pathogenic bacteria worldwide. The search for new antibiotics to treat drug-sensitive as well as drug-resistant tuberculosis has become a priority. The essential enzyme phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase (PheRS) is an antibacterial drug target because of the large differences between bacterial and human PheRS counterparts. In a high-throughput screening of 2148 bioactive compounds, PF-3845, which is a known inhibitor of human fatty acid amide hydrolase, was identified inhibiting Mtb PheRS at K ∼ 0.73 ± 0.06 μM. The inhibition mechanism was studied with enzyme kinetics, protein structural modeling, and crystallography, in comparison to a PheRS inhibitor of the noted phenyl-thiazolylurea-sulfonamide class. The 2.3-Å crystal structure of Mtb PheRS in complex with PF-3845 revealed its novel binding mode, in which a trifluoromethyl-pyridinylphenyl group occupies the phenylalanine pocket, whereas a piperidine-piperazine urea group binds into the ATP pocket through an interaction network enforced by a sulfate ion. It represents the first non-nucleoside bisubstrate competitive inhibitor of bacterial PheRS. PF-3845 inhibits the in vitro growth of Mtb H37Rv at ∼24 μM, and the potency of PF-3845 increased against an engineered strain Mtb pheS-FDAS, suggesting on target activity in mycobacterial whole cells. PF-3845 does not inhibit human cytoplasmic or mitochondrial PheRS in biochemical assay, which can be explained from the crystal structures. Further medicinal chemistry efforts focused on the piperidine-piperazine urea moiety may result in the identification of a selective antibacterial lead compound.