Shutting Down Shigella Secretion: Characterizing Small Molecule Type Three Secretion System ATPase Inhibitors

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NIH 1R15AI124108-01A1







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Many important human pathogens rely on one or more type three secretion systems (T3SS) to inject bacterial effector proteins directly into the host cell cytoplasm. Protein secretion through the needle-like type three secretion apparatus (T3SA) is essential for pathogen virulence and relies on a highly-conserved ATPase at the base of the apparatus, making it an attractive target for anti-infective therapeutics. Here, we leveraged the ability to purify an active oligomeric Shigella T3SS ATPase to provide kinetic analyses of three T3SS ATPase inhibitors of Spa47. In agreement with in silico docking simulations, the inhibitors displayed non-competitive inhibition profiles and efficiently reduced Spa47 ATPase activity with IC50s as low as 52 ± 3 μM. Two of the inhibitors functioned well in vivo, nearly abolishing effector protein secretion without significantly affecting Shigella growth phenotype or HeLa cell viability. Furthermore, characterization of Spa47 complexes in vitro and Shigella T3SA formation in vivo showed that the inhibitors do not function through disruption of Spa47 oligomers or by preventing T3SA formation. Together, these findings suggest that inhibitors targeting Spa47 may be an effective means of combating Shigella infection by shutting down type three secretion without preventing presentation of the highly antigenic T3SA tip proteins that aid in clearing the infection and developing pan- Shigella immunological memory. In summary, this is the first report of Shigella T3SS ATPase inhibitors and one of only a small number of studies characterizing T3SS ATPase inhibition in general. The work presented here provides much-needed insight into T3SS ATPase inhibition mechanisms and provides a strong platform for developing and evaluating non-antibiotic therapeutics targeting Spa47 and other T3SS ATPases.


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