Bacterial proteases, untapped antimicrobial drug targets
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Bacterial proteases are an extensive collection of enzymes that have vital roles in cell viability, stress response and pathogenicity. Although their perturbation clearly offers the potential for antimicrobial drug development, both as traditional antibiotics and anti-virulence drugs, they are not yet the target of any clinically used therapeutics. Here we describe the potential for and recent progress in the development of compounds targeting bacterial proteases with a focus on AAA+ family proteolytic complexes and signal peptidases (SPs). Caseinolytic protease (ClpP) belongs to the AAA+ family of proteases, a group of multimeric barrel-shaped complexes whose activity is tightly regulated by associated AAA+ ATPases. The opportunity for chemical perturbation of these complexes is demonstrated by compounds targeting ClpP for inhibition, activation or perturbation of its associated ATPase. Meanwhile, SPs are also a proven antibiotic target. Responsible for the cleavage of targeting peptides during protein secretion, both type I and type II SPs have been successfully targeted by chemical inhibitors. As the threat of pan-antibiotic resistance continues to grow, these and other bacterial proteases offer an arsenal of novel antibiotic targets ripe for development.
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