Cell-based assay to identify inhibitors of the Hfq-sRNA regulatory pathway

Shaima A. El-Mowafi, John N. Alumasa, Sarah E. Ades, Kenneth C. Keiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Noncoding small RNAs (sRNAs) act in conjunction with the RNA chaperone Hfq to regulate gene expression in bacteria. Because Hfq is required for virulence in several bacterial pathogens, the Hfq-sRNA system is an attractive target for antibiotic development. A reporter strain in which the expression of yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) is controlled by Hfq-sRNA was engineered to identify inhibitors of this system. A reporter that is targeted by Hfq in conjunction with the RybB sRNA was used in a genetic screen to identify inhibitors from a library of cyclic peptides produced in Escherichia coli using split-intein circular ligation of peptides and proteins (SICLOPPS), an intein-based technology. One cyclic peptide identified in this screen, RI20, inhibited Hfq-mediated repression of gene expression in conjunction with both RybB and an unrelated sRNA, MicF. Gel mobility shift assays showed that RI20 inhibited binding of Hfq to RybB and MicF with similar Ki values. These data suggest that RI20 inhibits Hfq activity by blocking interactions with sRNAs and provide a paradigm for inhibiting virulence genes in Gram-negative pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5500-5509
Number of pages10
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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