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Keywords:

  • dinitrophenyl;
  • glycosylation;
  • Helicobacter pylori;
  • metabolism;
  • Staudinger ligation

Abstract

Due to the increased prevalence of bacterial strains that are resistant to existing antibiotics, there is an urgent need for new antibacterial strategies. Bacterial glycans are an attractive target for new treatments, as they are frequently linked to pathogenesis and contain distinctive structures that are absent in humans. We set out to develop a novel targeting strategy based on surface glycans present on the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori (Hp). In this study, metabolic labeling of bacterial glycans with an azide-containing sugar allowed selective delivery of immune stimulants to azide-covered Hp. We established that Hp's surface glycans are labeled by treatment with the metabolic substrate peracetylated N-azidoacetylglucosamine (Ac4GlcNAz). By contrast, mammalian cells treated with Ac4GlcNAz exhibited no incorporation of the chemical label within extracellular glycans. We further demonstrated that the Staudinger ligation between azides and phosphines proceeds under acidic conditions with only a small loss of efficiency. We then targeted azide-covered Hp with phosphines conjugated to the immune stimulant 2,4-dinitrophenyl (DNP), a compound capable of directing a host immune response against these cells. Finally, we report that immune effector cells catalyze selective damage in vitro to DNP-covered Hp in the presence of anti-DNP antibodies. The technology reported herein represents a novel strategy to target Hp based on its glycans.