Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major human pathogen, causing around 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year. By optimizing a resazurin-based assay to detect S. pneumoniae growth in 384-well microplates, we developed a new high-throughput screening (HTS) system for the discovery of antipneumococcal molecules, which was unsuccessful using conventional absorbance measurements. Before applying our protocol to a large-scale screen, we validated the system through a pilot screen targeting about 7,800 bioactive molecules using three different S. pneumoniae serotypes. Primary screenings of a further 27,000 synthetic small molecules facilitated the identification of 3-acyl-2-phenylamino-1,4-dihydropquinolin-4-one (APDQ) derivatives that inhibited growth of S. pneumoniae with MIC90 values <1 μM (0.03-0.81 μM). Five selected APDQ derivatives were also active against Staphylococcus aureus but neither Klebsiella pneumoniae nor Pseudomonas aeruginosa, suggesting that APDQ may act specifically against Gram-positive bacteria. Our results both validated and demonstrated the utility of the resazurin-based HTS system for the identification of new antipneumococcal molecules. Moreover, the identified new antipneumococcal molecules in this study may have potential to be further developed as new antibiotics.
Keywords: Streptococcus pneumoniae; antipneumococcals; high-throughput screening; resazurin.