Zinc regulates the activity of kinase-phosphatase pair (BasPrkC/BasPrpC) in Bacillus anthracis
Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, has a dormant stage in its life cycle known as the endospore. When conditions become favorable, spores germinate and transform into vegetative bacteria. In inhalational anthrax, the most fatal manifestation of the disease, spores enter the organism through the respiratory tract and germinate in phagosomes of alveolar macrophages. Germinated cells can then produce toxins and establish infection. Thus, germination is a crucial step for the initiation of pathogenesis. B. anthracis spore germination is activated by a wide variety of amino acids and purine nucleosides. Inosine and l-alanine are the two most potent nutrient germinants in vitro. Recent studies have shown that germination can be hindered by isomers or structural analogues of germinants. 6-Thioguanosine (6-TG), a guanosine analogue, is able to inhibit germination and prevent B. anthracis toxin-mediated necrosis in murine macrophages. In this study, we screened 46 different nucleoside analogues as activators or inhibitors of B. anthracis spore germination in vitro. These compounds were also tested for their ability to protect the macrophage cell line J774a.1 from B. anthracis cytotoxicity. Structure-activity relationship analysis of activators and inhibitors clarified the binding mechanisms of nucleosides to B. anthracis spores. In contrast, no structure-activity relationships were apparent for compounds that protected macrophages from B. anthracis-mediated killing. However, multiple inhibitors additively protected macrophages from B. anthracis.