Tuberculosis causes nearly two million deaths per year world-wide. In addition multidrug-resistant mycobacterial strains rapidly emerge so novel therapeutic approaches are needed. Recently, several promising mycobacterial target molecules were identified, which are involved in bacterial or host cell signalling e.g. the serine/threonine protein kinases, PknB and PknG, NAD kinase and the NAD synthetase. Here we describe some early efforts in the development of novel signal transduction inhibitory anti-mycobacterial drugs using a multiple target approach, with special emphasis on the kinase inhibitory field. Initially, we are using the Nested Chemical Library™ (NCL) technology and pharmacophore modelling. A hit-finding library, consisting of ∼19000 small molecules with a bias for prototypic kinase inhibitors from our NCL library and commercial sources was virtually screened against these validated target molecules. Protein structures for the virtual screening were taken from the published three dimensional crystal structures of the enzymes. The hits from the virtual screening were subsequently tested in enzymatic assay systems. Potent hits were then tested for biological activity in macrophages, infected with mycobacteria. The final goal of this exercise is not only to identify potent antimycobacterial substances, but also a common pharmacophore for the mycobacterial target PknG in combination with PknB, NAD kinase and/or NAD synthetase. This common pharmacophore still needs to be a unique pharmacophore for the mycobacterial target proteins over human off-targets. Such a pharmacophore might then drive the optimization of a completely new profile of an antibiotic agent with activity against latent mycobacteria and resistance mycobacterial strains.
Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, PknA, PknB, PknG, NAD kinase, NAD synthetase