mBio. 2022-06-28; 13.3: e0070022.

A Silent Operon of Photorhabdus luminescens Encodes a Prodrug Mimic of GTP

Shahsavari N, Wang B, Imai Y, Mori M, Son S, Liang L, Böhringer N, Manuse S, Gates MF, Morrissette M, Corsetti R, Espinoza JL, Dupont CL, Laub MT, Lewis K

PMID: 35575547


With the overmining of actinomycetes for compounds acting against Gram-negative pathogens, recent efforts to discover novel antibiotics have been focused on other groups of bacteria. Teixobactin, the first antibiotic without detectable resistance that binds lipid II, comes from an uncultured , a betaproteobacterium; odilorhabdins, from , are broad-spectrum inhibitors of protein synthesis, and darobactins from target BamA, the essential chaperone of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. and are symbionts of the nematode gut microbiome and attractive producers of secondary metabolites. Only small portions of their biosynthetic gene clusters (BGC) are expressed To access their silent operons, we first separated extracts from a small library of isolates into fractions, resulting in 200-fold concentrated material, and then screened them for antimicrobial activity. This resulted in a hit with selective activity against Escherichia coli, which we identified as a novel natural product antibiotic, 3'-amino 3'-deoxyguanosine (ADG). Mutants resistant to ADG mapped to and , kinases of guanosine. Biochemical analysis shows that ADG is a prodrug that is converted into an active ADG triphosphate (ADG-TP), a mimic of GTP. ADG incorporates into a growing RNA chain, interrupting transcription, and inhibits cell division, apparently by interfering with the GTPase activity of FtsZ. Gsk of the purine salvage pathway, which is the first kinase in the sequential phosphorylation of ADG, is restricted to E. coli and closely related species, explaining the selectivity of the compound. There are probably numerous targets of ADG-TP among GTP-dependent proteins. The discovery of ADG expands our knowledge of prodrugs, which are rare among natural compounds. Drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria have become the major problem driving the antimicrobial resistance crisis. Searching outside the overmined actinomycetes, we focused on , gut symbionts of enthomopathogenic nematodes that carry up to 40 biosynthetic gene clusters coding for secondary metabolites. Most of these are silent and do not express . To gain access to silent operons, we first fractionated supernatant from and then tested 200-fold concentrated material for activity. This resulted in the isolation of a novel antimicrobial, 3'-amino 3'-deoxyguanosine (ADG), active against E. coli. ADG is an analog of guanosine and is converted into an active ADG-TP in the cell. ADG-TP inhibits transcription and probably numerous other GTP-dependent targets, such as FtsZ. Natural product prodrugs have been uncommon; discovery of ADG broadens our knowledge of this type of antibiotic.