- Choby JE, Mike LA, Mashruwala AA, Dutter BF, Dunman PM, Sulikowski GA, Boyd JM, Skaar EP. A Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Iron-Sulfur Cluster Assembly Uncovers a Link between Virulence Regulation and Metabolism in Staphylococcus aureus. Cell chemical biology. 2016 Oct 19. PMID: 27773628 [PubMed].
The rising problem of antimicrobial resistance in Staphylococcus aureus necessitates the discovery of novel therapeutic targets for small-molecule intervention. A major obstacle of drug discovery is identifying the target of molecules selected from high-throughput phenotypic assays. Here, we show that the toxicity of a small molecule termed '882 is dependent on the constitutive activity of the S. aureus virulence regulator SaeRS, uncovering a link between virulence factor production and energy generation. A series of genetic, physiological, and biochemical analyses reveal that '882 inhibits iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster assembly most likely through inhibition of the Suf complex, which synthesizes Fe-S clusters. In support of this, '882 supplementation results in decreased activity of the Fe-S cluster-dependent enzyme aconitase. Further information regarding the effects of '882 has deepened our understanding of virulence regulation and demonstrates the potential for small-molecule modulation of Fe-S cluster assembly in S. aureus and other pathogens.