Quorum-sensing (QS) is a regulatory mechanism in bacterial communication, important for pathogenesis control. The search for small molecules active as quorum-sensing inhibitors (QSI) that can synergize with antibiotics is considered a good strategy to counteract the problem of antibiotic resistance. Here the antimicrobial labdane diterpenoids sclareol (1) and manool (2) extracted from Salvia tingitana were considered as potential QSI against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Only sclareol showed synergistic activity with clindamycin. The quantification of these compounds by LC-MS analysis in the organs and in the calli of S. tingitana showed that sclareol is most abundant in the flower spikes and is produced by calli, while manool is the major labdane of the roots, and is abundant also in the leaves. Other metabolites of the roots were abietane diterpenoids, common in Salvia species, and pentacyclic triterpenoids, bearing a γ-lactone moiety, previously undescribed in Salvia. Docking simulations suggested that 1 and 2 bind to key residues, involved in direct interactions with DNA. They may prevent accessory gene regulator A (AgrA) binding to DNA or AgrA activation upon phosphorylation, to suppress virulence factor expression. The antimicrobial activity of these two compounds probably achieves preventing upregulation of the accessory gene regulator (agr)-regulated genes.
Keywords: Salvia tingitana; callus; manool; molecular docking; pentacyclic triterpenoids; quorum sensing inhibitors; sclareol.