Peptide inhibitors targeting the Neisseria gonorrhoeae pivotal anaerobic respiration factor AniA

Aleksandra E. Sikora, Robert H. Mills, Jacob V. Weber, Adel Hamza, Bryan W. Passow, Andrew Romaine, Zachary A. Williamson, Robert W. Reed, Ryszard A. Zielke, Konstantin V. Korotkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Neisseria gonorrhoeae causes the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea, which is highly prevalent worldwide and has a major impact on reproductive and neonatal health. The superbug status of N. gonorrhoeae necessitates the development of drugs with different mechanisms of action. Here, we focused on targeting the nitrite reductase AniA, which is a pivotal component of N. gonorrhoeae anaerobic respiration and biofilm formation. Our studies showed that gonococci expressing AniA containing the altered catalytic residues D137A and H280A failed to grow under anaerobic conditions, demonstrating that the nitrite reductase function is essential. To facilitate the pharmacological targeting of AniA, new crystal structures of AniA were refined to 1.90-Å and 2.35-Å resolutions, and a phage display approach with libraries expressing randomized linear dodecameric peptides or heptameric peptides flanked by a pair of cysteine residues was utilized. Biopanning experiments led to the identification of 29 unique peptides, with 1 of them, C7-3, being identified multiple times. Evaluation of their ability to interact with AniA using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and computational docking studies revealed that C7-3 was the most promising inhibitor, binding near the type 2 copper site of the enzyme, which is responsible for interaction with nitrite. Subsequent enzymatic assays and biolayer interferometry with a synthetic C7-3 and its derivatives, C7-3m1 and C7-3m2, demonstrated potent inhibition of AniA. Finally, the MIC50 value of C7-3 and C7-3m2 against anaerobically grown N. gonorrhoeae was 0.6 mM. We present the first peptide inhibitors of AniA, an enzyme that should be further exploited for antigonococcal drug development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00186
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


  • Anaerobic respiration
  • AniA
  • Biolayer interferometry
  • Crystal structure
  • Docking studies
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Nitrite reductase
  • Peptide inhibitors
  • Phage display

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Peptide inhibitors targeting the Neisseria gonorrhoeae pivotal anaerobic respiration factor AniA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this