Novel Noncompetitive Type Three Secretion System ATPase Inhibitors Shut Down Shigella Effector Secretion

Document Type


Author ORCID Identifier

Dominic S. Mattock Nicholas E. Dickenson

Journal/Book Title


Publication Date



American Chemical Society

Award Number

NIH R15 AI124108







First Page


Last Page


Referenced by

Hardy, K. D., & Dickenson, N. E. (2022). Phosphomimetic Tyrosine Mutations in Spa47 Inhibit Type Three Secretion ATPase Activity and Shigella Virulence Phenotype. Pathogens (Basel, Switzerland), 11(2), 202.


Shigella is the causative agent of bacillary dysentery and is responsible for an estimated 165 million infections and 600,000 deaths annually. Like many Gram-negative pathogens, Shigella relies on a type three secretion system (T3SS) to initiate and sustain infection by directly injecting effector proteins into host cells. Protein secretion through the needle-like injectisome and overall Shigella virulence rely on the T3SS ATPase Spa47, making it a likely means for T3SS regulation and an attractive target for therapeutic small molecule inhibitors. Here, we utilize a recently solved 2.15 Å crystal structure of Spa47 to computationally screen 7.6 million drug-like compounds for candidates which avoid the highly conserved active site by targeting a distal, but critical, interface between adjacent protomers of the Spa47 homohexamer. Ten of the top inhibitor candidates were characterized, identifying novel Spa47 inhibitors that reduce in vitro ATPase activity by as much as 87.9 ± 10.5% with IC50's as low as 25 ± 20 μM and reduce in vivo Shigella T3SS protein secretion by as much as 94.7 ± 3.0%. Kinetic analyses show that the inhibitors operate through a noncompetitive mechanism that likely supports the inhibitors' low cytotoxicity, as they avoid off-target ATPases involved in either Shigella or mammalian cell metabolism. Interestingly, the inhibitors display nearly identical inhibition profiles for Spa47 and the T3SS ATPases EscN from E. coli and FliI from Salmonella. Together, the results of this study provide much-needed insight into T3SS ATPase inhibition mechanisms and a strong platform for developing broadly effective cross-pathogen T3SS ATPase inhibitors.