Using bacterial genomes and essential genes for the development of new antibiotics

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Abstract

The shrinking antibiotic development pipeline together with the global increase in antibiotic resistant infections requires that new molecules with antimicrobial activity are developed. Traditional empirical screening approaches of natural and non-natural compounds have identified the majority of antibiotics that are currently available, however this approach has produced relatively few new antibiotics over the last few decades. The vast amount of bacterial genome sequence information that has become available since the sequencing of the first bacterial genome more than 20 years ago holds potential for contributing to the discovery of novel antimicrobial compounds. Comparative genomic approaches can identify genes that are highly conserved within and between bacterial species, and thus may represent genes that participate in key bacterial processes. Whole genome mutagenesis studies can also identify genes necessary for bacterial growth and survival under different environmental conditions, making them attractive targets for the development of novel inhibitory compounds. In addition, transcriptomic and proteomic approaches can be used to characterize RNA and protein levels on a cellular scale, providing information on bacterial physiology that can be applied to antibiotic target identification. Finally, bacterial genomes can be mined to identify biosynthetic pathways that produce many intrinsic antimicrobial compounds and peptides. In this review, we provide an overview of past and current efforts aimed at using bacterial genomic data in the discovery and development of novel antibiotics.

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