Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Steven Van Lanen

Second Advisor

Dr. Jürgen Rohr


The increase in antibiotic resistance of many bacterial strains including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) due to over- and misuse of antibiotics is a serious medical and economical problem. Therefore discovery and development of new antibiotics are urgently needed. Two projects were undertaken to address the need for new anti-tuberculosis antibiotics.

1. Discovery of new chemical entities. A-102395, a new nucleoside inhibitor of bacterial MraY (translocase I, EC that is essential for bacterial survival, was isolated from the culture broth of Amycolatopsis sp. SANK 60206 in 2007. Although A-102395 is a potent inhibitor of translocase I with IC50 of 11 nM, it contradictingly does not have any antibiotic activity. A-102395 is a derivative of capuramycin with a unique aromatic side chain. A semisynthetic derivative of capuramycin is currently in clinical trials as an anti-tuberculosis antibiotic, suggesting potential for using A-102395 as a starting point for antibiotic discovery. The biosynthetic gene cluster of A-102395 was identified, including 35 putative open reading frames responsible for biosynthesis and resistance. A series of gene inactivation abolished the A-102395 production, indicating those genes within the cluster are essential for A-102395 biosynthesis. Functional characterization of Cpr17, which has sequence similarity to aminoglycoside phosphotransferases, revealed that it functions as a phosphotransferase conferring self-resistance by using GTP as phosphate donor. Furthermore the enzyme is characterized by low substrate specificity, as Cpr17 was capable of modifying a large series of natural or semi-synthesized analogues of capuramycins. A series of organism-specific high-throughput screening models for potential antibacterial agents targeting on bacterial cell wall synthesis have been established, including Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. For this screen ten enzymes were successfully used to reconstitute cell wall biosynthesis in vitro. This screening is expected to allow us to identify the targets of novel antibiotics rapidly and in a cost-efficient manner.

2. Rediscovering old antibiotics. As part of our long term goal of discovering and developing novel anti-tuberculosis antibiotics, four novel actinomycins were isolated from the scale-up fermentation of Streptomyces sp. Gö-GS12, and their structures were characterized using mass spectrometry and 1D and 2D NMR. Their antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative strains were determined, as well as their cytotoxicity.