Nutrient Stress Small-Molecule Screening Platform for Escherichia coli

Methods Mol Biol. 2018:1787:1-18. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7847-2_1.


Clinically approved antibiotics target a narrow spectrum of cellular processes, namely cell wall synthesis, DNA replication, and protein synthesis. Numerous screens have been designed to identify inhibitors that target one of these cellular processes. Indeed, this narrow range of drug mechanisms and a reliance on chemical classes discovered many decades ago are thought to be principally responsible for the current crisis of antibiotic drug resistance. Seeking to expand the target base of antibacterial drug discovery, we developed a nutrient stress screening platform that identifies inhibitors of the growth of in Escherichia coli under nutrient limitation. Under nutrient stress, bacteria require an expanded biosynthetic capacity that includes the synthesis of amino acids, vitamins, and nucleobases. Growing evidence suggests that these processes may be indispensable to certain pathogens and at particular sites of infection. Indeed, more than 100 biosynthetic enzymes become indispensable to E. coli grown under nutrient stress in vitro. The screening platform described here puts a focus on these novel targets for new antibiotics and prioritizes growth inhibitory compounds that can be suppressed by individual nutrients and pools thereof.

Keywords: Antibacterials; Growth inhibition; Nutrient stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Small Molecule Libraries*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Small Molecule Libraries

Grants and funding