WARF: P07106US

Novel Antimicrobial Compounds


James Keck, Douglas Bernstein

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method for identifying novel, broad spectrum antibiotic compounds.
OVERVIEWIn bacteria, single-stranded DNA binding proteins (SSBs) form essential intermolecular complexes with other DNA replication, recombination and repair proteins. Many, if not all of these interactions are mediated by a short peptide sequence that is highly conserved among bacterial SSBs, but not found in eukaryotic SSBs. If this SSB interaction sequence is mutated or deleted, bacterial viability is drastically reduced.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a method for identifying potential antibiotic compounds that block the association of bacterial SSB with a target protein. The inventors determined—for the first time—the high-resolution structure of the E. coli SSB segment bound to Exonuclease I, a target protein. They used this structure to develop a rapid fluorescence polarization method for measuring SSB-Exonuclease I binding in solution. This method was then used to identify small molecules that inhibit the interaction between bacterial SSB and its target proteins.

Because of the importance of protein interactions with SSB for bacterial viability and the high conservation of the SSB protein binding sequence across bacterial species, these molecules have potent broad spectrum antibacterial properties. Because the SSB peptide sequence is not found in human and other eukaryotic SSBs, these small molecules are also likely to be non-toxic to human cell lines. Together, these features make these compounds excellent candidates for novel, broad spectrum antibiotics.
  • Novel, broad spectrum antibiotics
  • Can be easily adapted for high throughput screening
  • Because the highly conserved SSB segment is not found in eukaryotes, compounds identified using this method should not affect eukaryotic SSB function.
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Rafael Diaz at or 608-960-9847.
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These include the Small Molecule Screening Facility at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station, which provides consulting and laboratory services for developing formulations and studying solubility, stability and more; the Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility; the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research, which provides UW–Madison with a complete translational research facility; and the innovative, interdisciplinary Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, home to the private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research and its public twin, WID, part of the university's graduate school. The highly qualified experts at these facilities are ready to work with you to create a library of candidates for drug development.