Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC), a subgroup of extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC), causes colibacillosis in chickens and is reportedly implicated in urinary tract infections and meningitis in humans. A major limitation for the current ExPEC antibiotic therapy is the development of resistance, and antibacterial drugs that can circumvent this problem are critically needed. Here, we evaluated eight novel membrane-affecting anti-APEC small molecule growth inhibitors (GIs), identified in our previous study, against APEC infection in chickens. Among the GIs tested, GI-7 (the most effective), when administered orally (1 mg/kg of body weight), reduced the mortality (41.7%), severity of lesions (62.9%), and APEC load (2.6 log) in chickens. Furthermore, GI-7 administration at an optimized dose (60 mg/liter) in drinking water also reduced the mortality (14.7%), severity of lesions (29.5%), and APEC load (2.2 log) in chickens. The abundances of Lactobacillus and oleate were increased in the cecum and serum, respectively, of GI-7-treated chickens. Pharmacokinetic analysis revealed that GI-7 was readily absorbed with minimal accumulation in the tissues. Earlier, we showed that GI-7 induced membrane blebbing and increased membrane permeability in APEC, suggesting an effect on the APEC membrane. Consistent with this finding, the expression of genes essential for maintaining outer membrane (OM) integrity was downregulated in GI-7-treated APEC. Furthermore, decreased levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) transport (Lpt) proteins and LPS were observed in GI-7-treated APEC. However, the mechanism of action of GI-7 currently remains unknown and needs further investigation. Our studies suggest that GI-7 represents a promising novel lead compound that can be developed to treat APEC infection in chickens and related human ExPEC infections. IMPORTANCE APEC is a subgroup of ExPEC, and genetic similarities of APEC with human ExPECs, including uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) and neonatal meningitis E. coli (NMEC), have been reported. Our study identified a novel small molecule growth inhibitor, GI-7, effective in reducing APEC infection in chickens with an efficacy similar to that of the currently used antibiotic sulfadimethoxine, notably with an 8-times-lower dose. GI-7 affects the OM integrity and decreases the Lpt protein and LPS levels in APEC, an antibacterial mechanism that can overcome the antibiotic resistance problem. Overall, GI-7 represents a promising lead molecule/scaffold for the development of novel antibacterial therapies that could have profound implications for treating APEC infections in chickens, as well as human infections caused by ExPECs and other related Gram-negative bacteria. Further elucidation of the mechanism of action of GI-7 and identification of its target(s) in APEC will benefit future novel antibacterial development efforts.
|State||Published - Oct 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research in the Rajashekara laboratory was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (grants number 2015-68004-23131 and 2020-6701-31401), the Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) of The Ohio State University, and the Ohio State Innovation Foundation.
Copyright © 2021 Kathayat et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
- Lpt system
- Small molecule
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology (all)
- Microbiology (medical)
- Cell Biology
- Infectious Diseases