Genomic studies and experiments with permeability-deficient strains have revealed a variety of biological targets that can be engaged to kill Gram-negative bacteria. However, the formidable outer membrane and promiscuous efflux pumps of these pathogens prevent many candidate antibiotics from reaching these targets. One such promising target is the enzyme FabI, which catalyzes the rate-determining step in bacterial fatty acid biosynthesis. Notably, FabI inhibitors have advanced to clinical trials for Staphylococcus aureus infections but not for infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we synthesize a suite of FabI inhibitors whose structures fit permeation rules for Gram-negative bacteria and leverage activity against a challenging panel of Gram-negative clinical isolates as a filter for advancement. The compound to emerge, called fabimycin, has impressive activity against >200 clinical isolates of Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumannii, and does not kill commensal bacteria. X-ray structures of fabimycin in complex with FabI provide molecular insights into the inhibition. Fabimycin demonstrates activity in multiple mouse models of infection caused by Gram-negative bacteria, including a challenging urinary tract infection model. Fabimycin has translational promise, and its discovery provides additional evidence that antibiotics can be systematically modified to accumulate in Gram-negative bacteria and kill these problematic pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)