An agonist of the MscL channel affects multiple bacterial species and increases membrane permeability and potency of common antibiotics

Robin Wray, Nadia Herrera, Irene Iscla, Junmei Wang, Paul Blount

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The bacterial MscL channel normally functions as an emergency release valve discharging cytoplasmic solutes upon osmotic stress. The channel opens and passes molecules up to 30 Å and its pore is the largest of any gated channel. Opening the MscL pore inappropriately is detrimental to the bacterial cell, suggesting MscL as a potential novel drug target. A small-molecule compound, 011A, has been shown to increase sensitivity of the Escherichia coli MscL channel, slow growth, and even decrease viability of quiescent cultures. The mscL gene is highly conserved and found in the vast majority of bacterial species, including pathogens. Here, we test the hypothesis that 011A can influence the growth and viability of other bacterial species, specifically Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium smegmatis, in a MscL-dependent manner. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the 011A compound can increase potency of other antibiotics, presumably by permeabilizing the membrane and allowing easier access of the antibiotic into the cytoplasm. Thus, MscL activators have potential as novel broad-spectrum antibiotics or adjuvants that work with antibiotics to selectively allow passage across bacterial membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-905
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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