Targeting bacterial nickel transport with aspergillomarasmine A suppresses virulence-associated Ni-dependent enzymes Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractMicrobial Ni2+ homeostasis underpins the virulence of several clinical pathogens. Ni2+ is an essential cofactor in urease and [NiFe]-hydrogenases involved in colonization and persistence. Many microbes produce metallophores to sequester metals necessary for their metabolism and starve competing neighboring organisms. The fungal metallophore aspergillomarasmine A (AMA) shows narrow specificity for Zn2+, Ni2+, and Co2+. Here, we show that this specificity allows AMA to block the uptake of Ni2+ and attenuate bacterial Ni-dependent enzymes, offering a potential strategy for reducing virulence. Bacterial exposure to AMA perturbs H2 metabolism, ureolysis, struvite crystallization, and biofilm formation and shows efficacy in a Galleria mellonella animal infection model. The inhibition of Ni-dependent enzymes was aided by Zn2+, which complexes with AMA and competes with the native nickelophore for the uptake of Ni2+. Biochemical analyses demonstrated high-affinity binding of AMA-metal complexes to NikA, the periplasmic substrate-binding protein of the Ni2+ uptake system. Structural examination of NikA in complex with Ni-AMA revealed that the coordination geometry of Ni-AMA mimics the native ligand, Ni-(l-His)2, providing a structural basis for binding AMA-metal complexes. Structure-activity relationship studies of AMA identified regions of the molecule that improve NikA affinity and offer potential routes for further developing this compound as an anti-virulence agent.


  • Sychantha, David
  • Chen, Xuefei
  • Koteva, Kalinka
  • Prehna, Gerd
  • Wright, Gerard

publication date

  • May 13, 2024