Development of tag-free photoprobes for studies aimed at identifying the target of novel Group A Streptococcus antivirulence agents
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We previously reported the identification and development of novel inhibitors of streptokinase (SK) expression by Group A Streptococcus (GAS), originating from a high throughput cell-based phenotypic screen. Although phenotypic screening is well-suited to identifying compounds that exert desired biological effects in potentially novel ways, it requires follow-up experiments to determine the macromolecular target(s) of active compounds. We therefore designed and synthesized several classes of chemical probes for target identification studies, guided by previously established structure-activity relationships. The probes were designed to first irreversibly photolabel target proteins in the intact bacteria, followed by cell lysis and click ligation with fluorescent tags to allow for visualization on SDS-PAGE gels. This stepwise, 'tag-free' approach allows for a significant reduction in molecular weight and polar surface area compared to full-length fluorescent or biotinylated probes, potentially enhancing membrane permeability and the maintenance of activity. Of the seven probes produced, the three most biologically active were employed in preliminary target identification trials. Despite the potent activity of these probes, specific labeling events were not conclusively observed due to a considerable degree of nonspecific protein binding. Nevertheless, the successful synthesis of potent biologically active probe molecules will serve as a starting point for initiating more sensitive methods of probe-based target identification.
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