First-In-Class Inhibitor of Ribosomal RNA Synthesis with Antimicrobial Activity against Staphylococcus aureus

Xiao Yang, Ming Jing Luo, Apple C.M. Yeung, Peter J. Lewis, Paul K.S. Chan, Margaret Ip, Cong Ma

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We report the discovery of the first bacterial ribosomal RNA (rRNA) synthesis inhibitor that has specific antimicrobial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). A pharmacophore model was constructed on the basis of the protein-protein interaction between essential bacterial rRNA transcription factors NusB and NusE and employed for an in silico screen to identify potential leads. One compound, (E)-2-{[(3-ethynylphenyl)imino]methyl}-4-nitrophenol (MC4), demonstrated antimicrobial activity against a panel of S. aureus strains, including MRSA, without significant toxicity to mammalian cells. MC4 resulted in a decrease in the rRNA level in bacteria, and the target specificity of MC4 was confirmed at the molecular level. Results obtained from this work validated the bacterial rRNA transcription machinery as a novel antimicrobial target. This approach may be extended to other factors in rRNA transcription, and MC4 could be applied as a chemical probe to dissect the relationship among MRSA infection, MRSA growth rate, and rRNA synthesis, in addition to its therapeutic potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5049-5052
Number of pages4
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

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