• Bioorganic Investigation of Quaternary Ammonium Compounds: Probing Antibacterial Activity and Resistance Development with Diverse Polyamine Scaffolds

      Wuest, William M.; Andrade, Rodrigo B.; Valentine, Ann M.; Kohli, Rahul M. (Temple University. Libraries, 2017)
      Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) have long served as lead disinfectants in residential, industrial, and hospital settings. Their simple yet effective amphiphilic nature makes them an ideal class of compounds through which to explore antibacterial activity. We have developed novel multiQAC scaffolds through simple and cost-efficient syntheses, yielding hundreds of diverse compounds strategically designed to examine various aspects of antibacterial and anti-biofilm activity, as well as toxicity. Many of these bis-, tris-, and tetraQACs display antibacterial activity 10 to 100 times greater than conventional monoQACs, and are among the most potent biofilm eradicators to date. Through analyzing their activity against several strains, we have uncovered and provided further evidence for key tenets of amphiphilic QAC bioactivity: a balance of hydrophobic side chains with cationic head groups generates optimal antibacterial activity, though toxicity to eukaryotic cells needs to be mitigated. Given their ubiquitous nature and chemical robustness, the overuse of QACs has led to the development of QAC resistance genes that are spreading throughout the microbial world at an alarming rate. These resistant strains, when found in bacterial biofilms, are able to persist in the presence of lead commercial QAC disinfectants, warranting the development of next-generation biocides. Several of our scaffolds were designed with QAC resistance machinery in mind; thus, we utilized these compounds not only as antibacterial agents but also as chemical probes to better understand and characterize QAC-resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Our findings support previous postulations that triscationic QACs would retain potency against QAC-resistant strains. Furthermore, we have identified monocationic and aromatic moieties, as well as conformational rigidity, as being more prone to recognition by the resistance machinery. Using our chemical toolbox comprised of QACs of various charge state and scaffold, we explored both the mechanism and scope of QAC-resistance by examining their structure-resistance relationship. Our holistic findings have allowed us to better understand the dynamics of this system towards the design and development of next-generation QACs that will: (1) allow us to better probe the resistance machinery, and (2) remain efficacious against a variety of microbial pathogens.