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Bacterial energy metabolism is now recognized as a critical factor for the efficacy of antibiotics. The F-type ATPase/ATP synthase (FOF1) is a central player in cellular bioenergetics of bacteria and eukaryotes, and its potential as a selective antibiotic target has been confirmed by the success of bedaquiline in combatting multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Venturicidin macrolides were initially identified for their antifungal properties and were found to specifically inhibit FOF1 of eukaryotes and bacteria. Venturicidins alone are not effective antibacterials but recently were found to have adjuvant activity, potentiating the efficacy of aminoglycoside antibiotics against several species of resistant bacteria. Here we discovered more complex effects of venturicidins on the ATPase activity of FOF1 in bacterial membranes from Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Our major finding is that higher concentrations of venturicidin induce time- and ATP-dependent decoupling of F1-ATPase activity from the venturicidin-inhibited, proton-transporting FO complex. This dysregulated ATPase activity is likely to be a key factor in the depletion of cellular ATP induced by venturicidins in prior studies with P. aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Further studies of how this functional decoupling occurs could guide development of new antibiotics and/or adjuvants that target the F-type ATPase/ATP synthase.


Yakov M Milgrom, Thomas M Duncan. Complex effects of macrolide venturicidins on bacterial F-ATPases likely contribute to their action as antibiotic adjuvants. Scientific reports. 2021 Jul 01;11(1):13631

PMID: 34211053

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