Characterization of an Antibacterial Agent Targeting Ferrous Iron Transport Protein FeoB against Staphylococcus aureus and Gram-Positive Bacteria

Minhye Shin, Yerin Jin, Jinsub Park, Daye Mun, Soo Rin Kim, Shelley M. Payne, Kyoung Heon Kim, Younghoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains has become a serious clinical problem. Iron is absolutely required for the bacterial growth, virulence associated with colonization, and survival from the host immune system. The FeoB protein is a major iron permease in bacterial ferrous iron transport systems (Feo) that has been shown to play a crucial role in virulence of some pathogenic bacteria. However, FeoB is still uncharacterized in Gram-positive pathogens, and its effects on S. aureus pathogenesis are unknown. In this study, we identified a novel inhibitor, GW3965·HCl, that targets FeoB in S. aureus. The molecule effectively inhibited FeoB in vitro enzyme activity, bacterial growth, and virulence factor expression. Genome-editing and metabolomic analyses revealed that GW3965·HCl inhibited FeoB function and affected the associated mechanisms with reduced iron availability in S. aureus. Gentamicin resistance and Caenorhabditis elegans infection assays further demonstrated the power of GW3965·HCl as a safe and efficient antibacterial agent. In addition to S. aureus, GW3965·HCl also presented its effectiveness on inhibition of the FeoB activity and growth of Gram-positive bacteria. This novel inhibitor will provide new insight for developing a next-generation antibacterial therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-149
Number of pages14
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank S.O. Yang at the National Instrumentation Center for Environmental Management (NICEM) for conducting GC-MS analysis. This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program (NRF-2019R1I1A1A01058125) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). K.H.K. acknowledges the grant and facility supports from the Midcareer Researcher Program (2020R1A2B5B02002631) from NRF and the Institute of Biomedical Science and Food Safety at the Food Safety Hall, Korea University, respectively.

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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