Massively parallel combination screen reveals small molecule sensitization of antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology

Antibiotic resistance, especially in multidrug-resistant ESKAPE pathogens, remains a worldwide problem. Combination antimicrobial therapies may be an important strategy to overcome resistance and broaden the spectrum of existing antibiotics. However, this strategy is limited by the ability to efficiently screen large combinatorial chemical spaces. Here, we deployed a high-throughput combinatorial screening platform, DropArray, to evaluate the interactions of over 30,000 compounds with up to 22 antibiotics and 6 strains of Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens, totaling to over 1.3 million unique strain-antibiotic-compound combinations. In this dataset, compounds more frequently exhibited synergy with known antibiotics than single-agent activity. We identified a compound, P2-56, and developed a more potent analog, P2-56-3, which potentiated rifampin (RIF) activity against and . Using phenotypic assays, we showed P2-56-3 disrupts the outer membrane of . To identify pathways involved in the mechanism of synergy between P2-56-3 and RIF, we performed genetic screens in . CRISPRi-induced partial depletion of lipooligosaccharide transport genes (-, ) resulted in hypersensitivity to P2-56-3/RIF treatment, demonstrating the genetic dependency of P2-56-3 activity and RIF sensitization on genes in Consistent with outer membrane homeostasis being an important determinant of P2-56-3/RIF tolerance, knockout of maintenance of lipid asymmetry complex genes and overexpression of certain resistance-nodulation-division efflux pumps - a phenotype associated with multidrug-resistance - resulted in hypersensitivity to P2-56-3. These findings demonstrate the immense scale of phenotypic antibiotic combination screens using DropArray and the potential for such approaches to discover new small molecule synergies against multidrug-resistant ESKAPE strains.

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bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology
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