A strategy for discovery of novel broad-spectrum antibacterials using a high-throughput Streptococcus pneumoniae transcription/translation screen

J Biomol Screen. 2004 Feb;9(1):3-11. doi: 10.1177/1087057103260876.


The authors report the development of a high-throughput screen for inhibitors of Streptococcus pneumoniae transcription and translation (TT) using a luciferase reporter, and the secondary assays used to determine the biochemical spectrum of activity and bacterial specificity. More than 220,000 compounds were screened in mixtures of 10 compounds per well, with 10,000 picks selected for further study. False-positive hits from inhibition of luciferase activity were an extremely common artifact. After filtering luciferase inhibitors and several known classes of antibiotics, approximately 50 hits remained. These compounds were examined for their ability to inhibit Escherichia coli TT, uncoupled S. pneumoniae translation or transcription, rabbit reticulocyte translation, and in vitro toxicity in human and bacterial cells. One of these compounds had the desired profile of broad-spectrum biochemical activity in bacteria and selectivity versus mammalian biochemical and whole-cell assays.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Luciferases