Halogenated indoles eradicate bacterial persister cells and biofilms

Jin Hyung Lee, Yong Guy Kim, Giyeon Gwon, Thomas K. Wood, Jintae Lee

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64 Scopus citations


The emergence of antibiotic resistance has necessitated new therapeutic approaches to combat recalcitrant bacterial infections. Persister cells, often found in biofilms, are metabolically dormant, and thus, are highly tolerant to all traditional antibiotics and represent a major drug resistance mechanism. In the present study, 36 diverse indole derivatives were investigated with the aim of identifying novel compounds that inhibit persisters and biofilm formation by Gram-negative Escherichia coli and Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus. 5-Iodoindole and other halogenated indoles, 4-fluoroindole, 7-chloroindole, and 7-bromoindole, eradicated persister formation by E. coli and S. aureus, and 5-iodoindole most potently inhibited biofilm formation by the two bacteria. Unlike other antibiotics, 5-iodoindole did not induce persister cell formation, and 5-iodoindole inhibited the production of the immune-evasive carotenoid staphyloxanthin in S. aureus; hence, 5-iodoindole diminished the production of virulence factors in this strain. These results demonstrate halogenated indoles are potentially useful for controlling bacterial antibiotic resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123
JournalAMB Express
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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