Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis that threatens our ability to treat bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Of the 10 million cases of tuberculosis in 2017, approximately 19% of new cases and 43% of previously treated cases were caused by strains of M. tuberculosis resistant to at least one frontline antibiotic. There is a clear need for new therapies that target these genetically resistant strains. Here, we report the discovery of a new series of antimycobacterial compounds, 4-amino-thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines, that potently inhibit the growth of M. tuberculosis. To elucidate the mechanism by which these compounds inhibit M. tuberculosis, we selected for mutants resistant to a representative 4-amino-thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine and sequenced these strains to identify the mutations that confer resistance. We isolated a total of 12 resistant mutants, each of which harbored a nonsynonymous mutation in the gene qcrB, which encodes a subunit of the electron transport chain (ETC) enzyme cytochrome bc1 oxidoreductase, leading us to hypothesize that 4-amino-thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines target this enzyme complex. We found that addition of 4-amino-thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines to M. tuberculosis cultures resulted in a decrease in ATP levels, supporting our model that these compounds inhibit the M. tuberculosis ETC. Furthermore, 4-amino-thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines had enhanced activity against a mutant of M. tuberculosis deficient in cytochrome bd oxidase, which is a hallmark of cytochrome bc1 inhibitors. Therefore, 4-aminothieno[ 2,3-d]pyrimidines represent a novel series of QcrB inhibitors that build on the growing number of chemical scaffolds that are able to inhibit the mycobacterial cytochrome bc1 complex.
- Drug discovery
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis