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C8-Linked Pyrrolobenzodiazepine Monomers with Inverted Building Blocks Show Selective Activity against Multidrug Resistant Gram-Positive Bacteria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Paolo Andriollo, Charlotte K. Hind, Pietro Picconi, Kazi Nahar, Shirin Jamshidi, Amrit Varsha, Melanie Clifford, J. Mark Sutton, Miraz Rahman

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158–174
Number of pages17
JournalACS Infectious Disease
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2017
Accepted/In press27 Aug 2017
E-pub ahead of print20 Dec 2017
Published9 Feb 2018


King's Authors


Antimicrobial resistance has become a major global concern. Development of novel antimicrobial agents for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens is an urgent priority. Pyrrolobenzodiazepines (PBDs) are a promising class of antibacterial agents initially discovered and isolated from natural sources. Recently, C8-linked PBD biaryl conjugates have been shown to be active against some MDR Gram-positive strains. To explore the role of building block orientations on antibacterial activity and obtain structure activity relationship (SAR) information, four novel structures were synthesized in which the building blocks of previously reported compounds were inverted, and their antibacterial activity was studied. The compounds showed minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) in the range of 0.125–32 μg/mL against MDR Gram-positive strains with a bactericidal mode of action. The results showed that a single inversion of amide bonds reduces the activity while the double inversion restores the activity against MDR pathogens. All inverted compounds did not stabilize DNA and lacked eukaryotic toxicity. The compounds inhibit DNA gyrase in vitro, and the most potent compound was equally active against both wild-type and mutant DNA gyrase in a biochemical assay. The observed activity of the compounds against methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains with equivalent gyrase mutations is consistent with gyrase inhibition being the mechanism of action in vivo, although this has not been definitively confirmed in whole cells. This conclusion is supported by a molecular modeling study showing interaction of the compounds with wild-type and mutant gyrases. This study provides important SAR information about this new class of antibacterial agents.

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