The increasing emergence of antibiotic resistance necessitates the development of anti-infectives with novel modes of action. Targeting bacterial virulence is considered a promising approach to develop novel antibiotics with reduced selection pressure. The extracellular collagenase elastase (LasB) plays a pivotal role in the infection process of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and therefore represents an attractive antivirulence target. Mercaptoacetamide-based thiols have been reported to inhibit LasB as well as collagenases from clostridia and bacillus species. The present work provides an insight into the structure-activity relationship (SAR) of these fragment-like LasB inhibitors, demonstrating an inverse activity profile compared to similar inhibitors of clostridial collagenase H (ColH). An X-ray cocrystal structure is presented, revealing distinct binding of two compounds to the active site of LasB, which unexpectedly maintains an open conformation. We further demonstrate in vivo efficacy in a Galleria mellonella infection model and high selectivity of the LasB inhibitors toward human matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).
Keywords: Galleria mellonella; LasB; antibiotic resistance; antivirulence agent; binding mode; elastase; selectivity.