Structure of dirithromycin bound to the bacterial ribosome suggests new ways for rational improvement of macrolides.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Antimicrob Agents Chemother (2019)


<p>Although macrolides are known as excellent antibacterials, their medical use has been significantly limited due to the spread of bacterial drug resistance. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new potent macrolides to combat the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens. One of the key steps in rational drug design is the identification of chemical groups that mediate drug binding to its target and their subsequent derivatization to strengthen drug-target interactions. In the case of macrolides, a few groups are known to be important for drug binding to the ribosome, such as desosamine. Search for the new chemical moieties improving the interactions of a macrolide with the 70S ribosome might be of crucial importance for the invention of new macrolides. For this purpose, here we studied a &quot;classic&quot; macrolide dirithromycin, which has extended (2-methoxyethoxy)-methyl side chain attached to the C9/C11 atoms of the macrolactone ring that can account for strong binding of dirithromycin to the 70S ribosome. By solving the crystal structure of the 70S ribosome in complex with dirithromycin, we found that its side chain interacts with the wall of the nascent peptide exit tunnel in an idiosyncratic fashion, its side chain forms lone pair-π stacking interaction with the aromatic imidazole ring of the His69 residue in ribosomal protein uL4. To our knowledge, the ability of this side chain to form contact in the macrolide binding pocket has not been reported previously and potentially can open new avenues for further exploration by medicinal chemists developing next-generation macrolide antibiotics active against resistant pathogens.</p>