Fluoromethylketone-Fragment Conjugates Designed as Covalent Modifiers of EcDsbA are Atypical Substrates

ChemMedChem. 2024 May 14:e202300684. doi: 10.1002/cmdc.202300684. Online ahead of print.


Disulfide bond protein A (DsbA) is an oxidoreductase enzyme that catalyzes the formation of disulfide bonds in Gram-negative bacteria. In Escherichia coli, DsbA (EcDsbA) is essential for bacterial virulence, thus inhibitors have the potential to act as antivirulence agents. A fragment-based screen was conducted against EcDsbA and herein we describe the development of a series of compounds based on a phenylthiophene hit identified from the screen. A novel thiol reactive and "clickable" ethynylfluoromethylketone was designed for reaction with azide-functionalized fragments to enable rapid and versatile attachment to a range of fragments. The resulting fluoromethylketone conjugates showed selectivity for reaction with the active site thiol of EcDsbA, however unexpectedly, turnover of the covalent adduct was observed. A mechanism for this turnover was investigated and proposed which may have wider ramifications for covalent reactions with dithiol-disulfide oxidoreducatases.

Keywords: Enzymes; Inhibitors; NMR spectroscopy; Protein Structure.