AC2P20 selectively kills Mycobacterium tuberculosis at acidic pH by depleting free thiols†
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) senses and adapts to host immune cues as part of its pathogenesis. One environmental cue sensed by Mtb is the acidic pH of its host niche in the macrophage phagosome. Disrupting the ability of Mtb to sense and adapt to acidic pH has the potential to reduce survival of Mtb in macrophages. Previously, a high throughput screen of a ∼220 000 compound small molecule library was conducted to discover chemical probes that inhibit Mtb growth at acidic pH. The screen discovered chemical probes that kill Mtb at pH 5.7 but are inactive at pH 7.0. In this study, AC2P20 was prioritized for continued study to test the hypothesis that it was targeting Mtb pathways associated with pH-driven adaptation. RNAseq transcriptional profiling studies showed AC2P20 modulates expression of genes associated with redox homeostasis. Gene enrichment analysis revealed that the AC2P20 transcriptional profile had significant overlap with a previously characterized pH-selective inhibitor, AC2P36. Like AC2P36, we show that AC2P20 kills Mtb by selectively depleting free thiols at acidic pH. Mass spectrometry studies show the formation of a disulfide bond between AC2P20 and reduced glutathione, supporting a mechanism where AC2P20 is able to deplete intracellular thiols and dysregulate redox homeostasis. The observation of two independent molecules targeting free thiols to kill Mtb at acidic pH further supports that Mtb has restricted redox homeostasis and sensitivity to thiol-oxidative stress at acidic pH.