Promises and Challenges of the Type Three Secretion System Injectisome as an Antivirulence Target
EcoSal Plus. 2019 Feb; 8(2): 10.1128/ecosalplus.ESP-0032-2018. doi: 10.1128/ecosalplus.ESP-0032-2018 | PMCID: PMC6367940
Antibiotic resistance is a major public health threat that has stimulated the scientific community to search for nontraditional therapeutic targets. Because virulence, but not the growth, of many Gram-negative bacterial pathogens depends on the multicomponent type three secretion system injectisome (T3SSi), the T3SSi has been an attractive target for identifying small molecules, peptides, and monoclonal antibodies that inhibit its function to render the pathogen avirulent. While many small-molecule lead compounds have been identified in whole-cell-based high-throughput screens (HTSs), only a few protein targets of these compounds are known; such knowledge is an important step to developing more potent and specific inhibitors. Evaluation of the efficacy of compounds in animal studies is ongoing. Some efforts involving the development of antibodies and vaccines that target the T3SSi are further along and include an antibody that is currently in phase II clinical trials. Continued research into these antivirulence therapies, used alone or in combination with traditional antibiotics, requires combined efforts from both pharmaceutical companies and academic labs.