Dual mechanism of action of 5-Nitro-1,10-phenanthroline against mycobacterium tuberculosis

Saqib Kidwai, Chan Yong Park, Shradha Mawatwal, Prabhakar Tiwari, Myung Geun Jung, Tannu Priya Gosain, Pradeep Kumar, David Alland, Sandeep Kumar, Avinash Bajaj, Yun Kyung Hwang, Chang Sik Song, Rohan Dhiman, Ill Young Lee, Ramandeep Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


New chemotherapeutic agents with novel mechanisms of action are urgently required to combat the challenge imposed by the emergence of drug-resistant mycobacteria. In this study, a phenotypic whole-cell screen identified 5-nitro-1,10-phenanthroline (5NP) as a lead compound. 5NP-resistant isolates harbored mutations that were mapped to fbiB and were also resistant to the bicyclic nitroimidazole PA-824. Mechanistic studies confirmed that 5NP is activated in an F420-dependent manner, resulting in the formation of 1,10-phenanthroline and 1,10-phenanthrolin-5-amine as major metabolites in bacteria. Interestingly, 5NP also killed naturally resistant intracellular bacteria by inducing autophagy in macrophages. Structure-activity relationship studies revealed the essentiality of the nitro group for in vitro activity, and an analog, 3-methyl-6-nitro-1,10-phenanthroline, that had improved in vitro activity and in vivo efficacy in mice compared with that of 5NP was designed. These findings demonstrate that, in addition to a direct mechanism of action against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, 5NP also modulates the host machinery to kill intracellular pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00969-17
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


  • 10-phenanthroline
  • 5-nitro-1
  • Autophagy
  • F420 dependence
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Phenotypic screening


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