Investigating Novel IspE Inhibitors of the MEP Pathway in Mycobacterium

Seoung Ryoung Choi, Prabagaran Narayanasamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a recent effort to mitigate harm from human pathogens, many biosynthetic pathways have been extensively evaluated for their ability to inhibit pathogen growth and to determine drug targets. One of the important products/targets of such pathways is isopentenyl diphosphate. Isopentenyl diphosphate is the universal precursor of isoprenoids, which are essential for the normal functioning of microorganisms. In general, two biosynthetic pathways lead to the formation of isopentenyl diphosphate: (1) the mevalonate pathway in animals; and (2) the non-mevalonate or methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) in many bacteria, and some protozoa and plants. Because the MEP pathway is not found in mammalian cells, it is considered an attractive target for the development of antimicrobials against a variety of human pathogens, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb). In the MEP pathway, 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-c-methyl-d-erythritol kinase (IspE) phosphorylates 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol (CDPME) to form 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 2-phosphate (CDPME2P). A virtual high-throughput screening against 15 million compounds was carried out by docking IspE protein. We identified an active heterotricyclic compound which showed enzymatic activity; namely, IC50 of 6 µg/mL against M.tb IspE and a MIC of 12 µg/mL against M.tb (H37Rv). Hence, we designed and synthesized similar new heterotricyclic compounds and tested them against mycobacterium, observing a MIC of 5 µg/mL against M. avium. This study will provide the critical insight necessary for developing novel antimicrobials that target the MEP pathways in pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • IspE inhibitor
  • carboline
  • minimum inhibitory concentration
  • pathogens
  • synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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