Inhibition of P. aeruginosa c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase RocR and swarming motility by a benzoisothiazolinone derivative†
Various important cellular processes in bacteria are controlled by c-di-GMP, such as motility, biofilm formation and virulence factors production. C-di-GMP is synthesized from two molecules of GTP by diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) and its actions are terminated by EAL or HD-GYP domain phosphodiesterases (PDEs), which hydrolyze c-di-GMP to linear pGpG or GMP. Thus far the majority of efforts have been dedicated to the development of inhibitors of DGCs but not PDEs. This is probably because the old view was that inhibiting any c-di-GMP PDE would lead to biofilm formation, an undesirable phenotype. Recent data however suggest that some PDEs only change the localized (not global) concentration of c-di-GMP to increase bacterial virulence and do not affect biofilm formation. A challenge therefore is to be able to develop selective PDE inhibitors that inhibit virulence-associated PDEs but not inhibit PDEs that regulate bacterial biofilm formation. Using high throughput docking experiments to screen a library of 250 000 commercially available compounds against E. coli YahA (also called PdeL), a benzoisothiazolinone derivative was found to bind to the c-di-GMP binding site of YahA with favorable energetics. Paradoxically the in silico identified inhibitor (a benzoisothiazolinone derivative) did not inhibit the hydrolysis of c-di-GMP by YahA, the model PDE that was used in the docking, but instead inhibited RocR, which is a PDE from the opportunistic pathogen P. aeruginosa (PA). RocR promotes bacterial virulence but not biofilm dispersal, making it an ideal PDE to target for anti-virulence purposes. This newly identified RocR ligand displayed some selectivity and did not inhibit other P. aeruginosa PDEs, such as DipA, PvrR and PA4108. DipA, PvrR and PA4108 are key enzymes that reduce global c-di-GMP concentration and promote biofilm dispersal; therefore the identification of an inhibitor of a PA PDE, such as RocR, that does not inhibit major PDEs that modulate global c-di-GMP is an important step towards the development of selective c-di-GMP PDEs that could have interesting biomedical applications. The identified RocR ligand could also inhibit P. aeruginosa (PAO1) swarming but not swimming or biofilm formation. Rhamnolipid production was decreased, explaining the inhibition of swarming.