Understanding the basis of bacterial persistence in latent infections is critical for eradication of tuberculosis. Analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis mRNA expression in an in vitro model of non-replicating persistence indicated that the bacilli require electron transport chain components and ATP synthesis for survival. Additionally, low μM concentrations of aminoalkoxydiphenylmethane derivatives inhibited both the aerobic growth and survival of non-replicating, persistent M. tuberculosis. Metabolic labelling studies and quantification of cellular menaquinone levels suggested that menaquinone synthesis, and consequently electron transport, is the target of the aminoalkoxydiphenylmethane derivatives. This hypothesis is strongly supported by the observations that treatment with these compounds inhibits oxygen consumption and that supplementation of growth medium with exogenous menaquinone rescued both growth and oxygen consumption of treated bacilli. In vitro assays indicate that the aminoalkoxydiphenylmethane derivatives specifically inhibit MenA, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of menaquinone. Thus, the results provide insight into the physiology of mycobacterial persistence and a basis for the development of novel drugs that enhance eradication of persistent bacilli and latent tuberculosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology