Metallochaperone UreG serves as a new target for design of urease inhibitor: A novel strategy for development of antimicrobials

Xinming Yang, Mohamad Koohi-Moghadam, Runming Wang, Yuen Yan Chang, Patrick C.Y. Woo, Junwen Wang, Hongyan Li, Hongzhe Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Urease as a potential target of antimicrobial drugs has received considerable attention given its versatile roles in microbial infection. Development of effective urease inhibitors, however, is a significant challenge due to the deeply buried active site and highly specific substrate of a bacterial urease. Conventionally, urease inhibitors are designed by either targeting the active site or mimicking substrate of urease, which is not efficient. Up to now, only one effective inhibitor—acetohydroxamic acid (AHA)—is clinically available, but it has adverse side effects. Herein, we demonstrate that a clinically used drug, colloidal bismuth subcitrate, utilizes an unusual way to inhibit urease activity, i.e., disruption of urease maturation process via functional perturbation of a metallochaperone, UreG. Similar phenomena were also observed in various pathogenic bacteria, suggesting that UreG may serve as a general target for design of new types of urease inhibitors. Using Helicobacter pylori UreG as a showcase, by virtual screening combined with experimental validation, we show that two compounds targeting UreG also efficiently inhibited urease activity with inhibitory concentration (IC)50values of micromolar level, resulting in attenuated virulence of the pathogen. We further demonstrate the efficacy of the compounds in a mammalian cell infection model. This study opens up a new opportunity for the design of more effective urease inhibitors and clearly indicates that metallochaperones involved in the maturation of important microbial metalloenzymes serve as new targets for devising a new type of antimicrobial drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2003887
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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