Structural basis for specific inhibition of salicylate synthase from Mycobacterium abscessus

Eur J Med Chem. 2024 Feb 5:265:116073. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2023.116073. Epub 2023 Dec 20.


Blocking iron uptake and metabolism has been emerging as a promising therapeutic strategy for the development of novel antimicrobial compounds. Like all mycobacteria, M. abscessus (Mab) has evolved several countermeasures to scavenge iron from host carrier proteins, including the production of siderophores, which play a crucial role in these processes. In this study, we solved, for the first time, the crystal structure of Mab-SaS, the first enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of siderophores. Moreover, we screened a small, focused library and identified a compound exhibiting a potent inhibitory effect against Mab-SaS (IC50 ≈ 2 μM). Its binding mode was investigated by means of Induced Fit Docking simulations, performed on the crystal structure presented herein. Furthermore, cytotoxicity data and pharmacokinetic predictions revealed the safety and drug-likeness of this class of compounds. Finally, the crystallographic data were used to optimize the model for future virtual screening campaigns. Taken together, the findings of our study pave the way for the identification of potent Mab-SaS inhibitors, based on both established and unexplored chemotypes.

Keywords: Chorismate; Crystal structure; Cystic fibrosis; Inhibition; Mycobacterium abscessus; Non-tuberculous mycobacteria; Salicylate synthase; Siderophores.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous* / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium abscessus*
  • Salicylates / pharmacology
  • Siderophores / pharmacology


  • Salicylates
  • Siderophores
  • Iron