Polypharmacology Approaches against the Pseudomonas aeruginosa MvfR Regulon and Their Application in Blocking Virulence and Antibiotic Tolerance

ACS Chem Biol. 2017 May 19;12(5):1435-1443. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.6b01139. Epub 2017 Apr 12.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important nosocomial pathogen that is frequently recalcitrant to available antibiotics, underlining the urgent need for alternative therapeutic options against this pathogen. Targeting virulence functions is a promising alternative strategy as it is expected to generate less-selective resistance to treatment compared to antibiotics. Capitalizing on our nonligand-based benzamide-benzimidazole (BB) core structure compounds reported to efficiently block the activity of the P. aeruginosa multiple virulence factor regulator MvfR, here we report the first class of inhibitors shown to interfere with PqsBC enzyme activity, responsible for the synthesis of the MvfR activating ligands HHQ and PQS, and the first to target simultaneously MvfR and PqsBC activity. The use of these compounds reveals that inhibiting PqsBC is sufficient to block P. aeruginosa's acute virulence functions, as the synthesis of MvfR ligands is inhibited. Our results show that MvfR remains the best target of this QS pathway, as we show that antagonists of this target block both acute and persistence-related functions. The structural properties of the compounds reported in this study provide several insights that are instrumental for the design of improved MvfR regulon inhibitors against both acute and persistent P. aeruginosa infections. Moreover, the data presented offer the possibility of a polypharmacology approach of simultaneous silencing two targets in the same pathway. Such a combined antivirulence strategy holds promise in increasing therapeutic efficacy and providing alternatives in the event of a single target's resistance development.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Tolerance
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Polypharmacology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / drug therapy
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / enzymology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • Regulon / drug effects*
  • Virulence / drug effects
  • Virulence Factors


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Virulence Factors