Targeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis Persistence through Inhibition of the Trehalose Catalytic Shift

Karishma Kalera, Rachel Liu, Juhyeon Lim, Rasangi Pathirage, Daniel H. Swanson, Ulysses G. Johnson, Alicyn I. Stothard, Jae Jin Lee, Anne W. Poston, Peter J. Woodruff, Donald R. Ronning, Hyungjin Eoh, Benjamin M. Swarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is the leading cause of death worldwide by infectious disease. Treatment of Mtb infection requires a six-month course of multiple antibiotics, an extremely challenging regimen necessitated by Mtb’s ability to form drug-tolerant persister cells. Mtb persister formation is dependent on the trehalose catalytic shift, a stress-responsive metabolic remodeling mechanism in which the disaccharide trehalose is liberated from cell surface glycolipids and repurposed as an internal carbon source to meet energy and redox demands. Here, using a biofilm-persister model, metabolomics, and cryo-electron microscopy (EM), we found that azidodeoxy- and aminodeoxy-d-trehalose analogues block the Mtb trehalose catalytic shift through inhibition of trehalose synthase TreS (Rv0126), which catalyzes the isomerization of trehalose to maltose. Out of a focused eight-member compound panel constructed by chemoenzymatic synthesis, the natural product 2-trehalosamine exhibited the highest potency and significantly potentiated first- and second-line TB drugs in broth culture and macrophage infection assays. We also report the first structure of TreS bound to a substrate analogue inhibitor, obtained via cryo-EM, which revealed conformational changes likely essential for catalysis and inhibitor binding that can potentially be exploited for future therapeutic development. Our results demonstrate that inhibition of the trehalose catalytic shift is a viable strategy to target Mtb persisters and advance trehalose analogues as tools and potential adjunctive therapeutics for investigating and targeting mycobacterial persistence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1391-1404
Number of pages14
JournalACS infectious diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 12 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Targeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis Persistence through Inhibition of the Trehalose Catalytic Shift'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this