Benzothiazinones kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis by blocking arabinan synthesis.
New drugs are required to counter the tuberculosis (TB) pandemic. Here, we describe the synthesis and characterization of 1,3-benzothiazin-4-ones (BTZs), a new class of antimycobacterial agents that kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vitro, ex vivo, and in mouse models of TB. Using genetics and biochemistry, we identified the enzyme decaprenylphosphoryl-beta-d-ribose 2'-epimerase as a major BTZ target. Inhibition of this enzymatic activity abolishes the formation of decaprenylphosphoryl arabinose, a key precursor that is required for the synthesis of the cell-wall arabinans, thus provoking cell lysis and bacterial death. The most advanced compound, BTZ043, is a candidate for inclusion in combination therapies for both drug-sensitive and extensively drug-resistant TB.