Blueprint for antimicrobial hit discovery targeting metabolic networks.

Shen Y, Liu J, Estiu G, Isin B, Ahn YY, Lee DS, Barabási AL, Kapatral V, Wiest O, Oltvai ZN.

Advances in genome analysis, network biology, and computational chemistry have the potential to revolutionize drug discovery by combining system-level identification of drug targets with the atomistic modeling of small molecules capable of modulating their activity. To demonstrate the effectiveness of such a discovery pipeline, we deduced common antibiotic targets in Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus by identifying shared tissue-specific or uniformly essential metabolic reactions in their metabolic networks. We then predicted through virtual screening dozens of potential inhibitors for several enzymes of these reactions and showed experimentally that a subset of these inhibited both enzyme activities in vitro and bacterial cell viability. This blueprint is applicable for any sequenced organism with high-quality metabolic reconstruction and suggests a general strategy for strain-specific antiinfective therapy.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jan 19;107(3):1082-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909181107. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Comparative genomics reveal extensive transposon-mediated genomic plasticity and diversity among potential effector proteins within the genus Coxiella.

Beare PA1, Unsworth N, Andoh M, Voth DE, Omsland A, Gilk SD, Williams KP, Sobral BW, Kupko JJ 3rd, Porcella SF, Samuel JE, Heinzen RA.

Genetically distinct isolates of Coxiella burnetii, the cause of human Q fever, display different phenotypes with respect to in vitro infectivity/cytopathology and pathogenicity for laboratory animals. Moreover, correlations between C. burnetii genomic groups and human disease presentation (acute versus chronic) have been described, suggesting that isolates have distinct virulence characteristics. To provide a more-complete understanding of C. burnetii's genetic diversity, evolution, and pathogenic potential, we deciphered the whole-genome sequences of the K (Q154) and G (Q212) human chronic endocarditis isolates and the naturally attenuated Dugway (5J108-111) rodent isolate. Cross-genome comparisons that included the previously sequenced Nine Mile (NM) reference isolate (RSA493) revealed both novel gene content and disparate collections of pseudogenes that may contribute to isolate virulence and other phenotypes. While C. burnetii genomes are highly syntenous, recombination between abundant insertion sequence (IS) elements has resulted in genome plasticity manifested as chromosomal rearrangement of syntenic blocks and DNA insertions/deletions. The numerous IS elements, genomic rearrangements, and pseudogenes of C. burnetii isolates are consistent with genome structures of other bacterial pathogens that have recently emerged from nonpathogens with expanded niches. The observation that the attenuated Dugway isolate has the largest genome with the fewest pseudogenes and IS elements suggests that this isolate's lineage is at an earlier stage of pathoadaptation than the NM, K, and G lineages.

Infect Immun. 2009 Feb;77(2):642-56. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01141-08. Epub 2008 Dec 1.

FlhD/FlhC is a regulator of anaerobic respiration and the Entner-Doudoroff pathway through induction of the methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein Aer.

Prüss BM, Campbell JW, Van Dyk TK, Zhu C, Kogan Y, Matsumura P.

The regulation by two transcriptional activators of flagellar expression (FlhD and FlhC) and the chemotaxis methyl-accepting protein Aer was studied with glass slide DNA microarrays. An flhD::Kan insertion and an aer deletion were independently introduced into two Escherichia coli K-12 strains, and the effects upon gene regulation were investigated. Altogether, the flhD::Kan insertion altered the expression of 29 operons of known function. Among them was Aer, which in turn regulated a subset of these operons, namely, the ones involved in anaerobic respiration and the Entner-Doudoroff pathway. In addition, FlhD/FlhC repressed enzymes involved in aerobic respiration and regulated many other metabolic enzymes and transporters in an Aer-independent manner. Expression of 12 genes of uncharacterized function was also affected. FlhD increased gltBD, gcvTHP, and ompT expression. The regulation of half of these genes was subsequently confirmed with reporter gene fusions, enzyme assays, and real-time PCR. Growth phenotypes of flhD and flhC mutants were determined with Phenotype MicroArrays and correlated with gene expression.

J Bacteriol. 2003 Jan; 185(2): 534–543.
doi:  10.1128/JB.185.2.534-543.2003