Imai Y, Meyer KJ, Iinishi A, Favre-Godal Q, Green R, Manuse S, Caboni M, Mori M, Niles S, Ghiglieri M, Honrao C, Ma X, Guo J, Guo JJ, Makriyannis A, Linares-Otoya L, Böhringer N, Wuisan ZG, Kaur H, Wu R, Mateus A, Mateus A, Typas A, Savitski MM, Espinoza JL, O'Rourke A, Nelson KE, Hiller S, Noinaj N, Schäberle TF, D'Onofrio A, Lewis K

A new antibiotic selectively kills Gram-negative pathogens.

Nature. 2019-12-01; 576.7787: 459-464.

The current need for novel antibiotics is especially acute for drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens. These microorganisms have a highly restrictive permeability barrier, which limits the penetration of most compounds. As a result, the last class of antibiotics that acted against Gram-negative bacteria was developed in the 1960s. We reason that useful compounds can be found in bacteria that share similar requirements for antibiotics with humans, and focus on Photorhabdus symbionts of entomopathogenic nematode microbiomes. Here we report a new antibiotic that we name darobactin, which was obtained using a screen of Photorhabdus isolates. Darobactin is coded by a silent operon with little production under laboratory conditions, and is ribosomally synthesized. Darobactin has an unusual structure with two fused rings that form post-translationally. The compound is active against important Gram-negative pathogens both in vitro and in animal models of infection. Mutants that are resistant to darobactin map to BamA, an essential chaperone and translocator that folds outer membrane proteins. Our study suggests that bacterial symbionts of animals contain antibiotics that are particularly suitable for development into therapeutics.

PMID: 31747680