A library of antimicrobial compounds that could fight bacterial infections resistant to present therapies is reported online this week in Nature Chemical Biology.
Many small molecules naturally produced by bacteria can serve as antimicrobial agents, and the identification of the enzymes that make these compounds can make it much easier to make large quantities of the compounds or ― if the enzymes are used in a slightly different way ― can yield highly related compounds that may still be effective drugs.
Tsung-Lin Li and colleagues investigate an enzyme needed to make a glycopeptide antibiotic similar to teicoplanin and vancomycin. By gaining insights into the steps used by the enzyme to alter the glycopeptide substrate, the authors are able to create a library of new compounds, some of which show good antimicrobial activity in cellular assays and in mice.
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