Discovery of Lipophilic Bisphosphonates That Target Bacterial Cell Wall and Quinone Biosynthesis

Satish R. Malwal, Lu Chen, Hunter Hicks, Fiona Qu, Weidong Liu, Alli Shillo, Wen Xuan Law, Jianan Zhang, Neal Chandnani, Xu Han, Yingying Zheng, Chun Chi Chen, Rey Ting Guo, Ahmed Abdelkhalek, Mohamed N. Seleem, Eric Oldfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report that alkyl-substituted bisphosphonates have activity against Bacillus anthracis Sterne (0.40 μg/mL), Mycobacterium smegmatis (1.4 μg/mL), Bacillus subtilis (1.0 μg/mL), and Staphylococcus aureus (13 μg/mL). In many cases, there is no effect of serum binding, as well as low activity against a human embryonic kidney cell line. Targeting of isoprenoid biosynthesis is involved with 74 having IC50 values of ∼100 nM against heptaprenyl diphosphate synthase and 200 nM against farnesyl diphosphate synthase. B. subtilis growth inhibition was rescued by addition of farnesyl diphosphate, menaquinone-4 (MK-4), or undecaprenyl phosphate (UP), and the combination of MK-4 and UP resulted in a 25× increase in ED50, indicating targeting of both quinone and cell wall biosynthesis. Clostridioides difficile was inhibited by 74, and since this organism does not synthesize quinones, cell wall biosynthesis is the likely target. We also solved three X-ray structures of inhibitors bound to octaprenyl diphosphate and/or undecaprenyl diphosphate synthases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2564-2581
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 14 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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