Hydrophobic substituents on isatin derivatives enhance their inhibition against bacterial peptidoglycan glycosyltransferase activity

Yong Wang, Wing Lam Cheong, Zhiguang Liang, Lok Yan So, Kin Fai Chan, Pui Kin So, Yu Wai Chen, Wing Leung Wong, Kwok Yin Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Moenomycin A, the well-known natural product inhibitor of peptidoglycan glycosyltransferase (PGT), is a large amphiphilic molecule of molecular mass of 1583 g/mol and its bioavailablity as a drug is relatively poor. In searching for small-molecule ligands with high inhibition ability targeting the enzyme, we found that the addition of hydrophobic groups to an isatin-based inhibitor of bacterial PGT significantly improves its inhibition against the enzyme, as well as its antibacterial activity. The improvement in enzymatic inhibition can be attributed to a better binding of the small molecule inhibitor to the hydrophobic region of the membrane-bound bacterial cell wall synthesis enzyme and the plasma membrane. In the present study, a total of 20 new amphiphilic compounds were systematically designed and the relationship between molecular hydrophobicity and the antibacterial activity by targeting at PGT was demonstrated. The in vitro lipid II transglycosylation inhibitory effects (IC50) against E. coli PBP1b and MICs of the compounds were investigated. Optimized results including MIC values of 6 μg/mL for MSSA, MRSA, B. subtilis and 12 μg/mL for E. coli were obtained with an isatin derivative 5m which has a molecular mass of 335 g/mol.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103710
JournalBioorganic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Antimicrobial
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Inhibitors
  • Peptidoglycan glycosyltransferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry

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