The pathogen Salmonella enterica is a leading cause of infection worldwide. Nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS) serovars typically cause inflammatory diarrhea in healthy individuals, and can cause bacteremia in immunocompromised patients, children, and the elderly. Management of NTS infection poses a challenge because antibiotic treatment prolongs fecal shedding of the pathogen and is thus not recommended for most patients. In recent years, the emergence of antibiotic resistance in NTS has also become a major issue. Thus, new therapeutic strategies to target NTS are needed. Here, we evaluated whether six siderophore-β-lactam conjugates based on enterobactin (Ent) and salmochelin S4 (digulcosylated Ent, DGE) provide antimicrobial activity against the two highly prevalent NTS serovars Typhimurium and Enteritidis by targeting the siderophore receptors FepA and/or IroN. The conjugates showed 10- to 1000-fold lower minimum inhibitory concentrations against both serovars Typhimurium and Enteritidis compared to the parent antibiotics under iron limitation and were recognized and transported by FepA and/or IroN. NTS treated with the Ent/DGE-β-lactam conjugates exhibited aberrant cellular morphologies suggesting inhibition of penicillin-binding proteins, and the conjugates selectively killed NTS in coculture with Staphylococcus aureus. Lastly, the DGE-based conjugates proved to be effective at inhibiting growth of NTS in the presence of the Ent-sequestering protein lipocalin-2. This work describes the successful use of siderophore-antibiotic conjugates against NTS and highlights the opportunity for narrowing the activity spectrum of antibiotics by using Ent and DGE to target enteric bacterial pathogens.
Keywords: Salmonella; enterobactin; salmochelin; siderophore conjugates; β-lactam antibiotic.