The majority of bacterial proteins are dispensable for growth in the laboratory but nevertheless have important physiological roles. There are no systematic approaches to identify cell-permeable small-molecule inhibitors of these proteins. We demonstrate a strategy to identify such inhibitors that exploits synthetic lethal relationships both for small-molecule discovery and for target identification. Applying this strategy in Staphylococcus aureus, we have identified a compound that inhibits DltB, a component of the teichoic acid D-alanylation machinery that has been implicated in virulence. This D-alanylation inhibitor sensitizes S. aureus to aminoglycosides and cationic peptides and is lethal in combination with a wall teichoic acid inhibitor. We conclude that DltB is a druggable target in the D-alanylation pathway. More broadly, the work described demonstrates a systematic method to identify biologically active inhibitors of major bacterial processes that can be adapted to numerous organisms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology