In Vitro Combination Studies of Benzothiazinone Lead Compound BTZ043 against Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Benzothiazinones (BTZ) are a new class of drug candidates to combat tuberculosis that inhibit decaprenyl-phosphoribose epimerase (DprE1), an essential enzyme involved in arabinan biosynthesis. Using the checkerboard method and cell viability assays, we have studied the interaction profiles of BTZ043, the current lead compound, with several antituberculosis drugs or drug candidates against Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain H37Rv, namely, rifampin, isoniazid, ethambutol, TMC207, PA-824, moxifloxacin, meropenem with or without clavulanate, and SQ-109. No antagonism was found between BTZ043 and the tested compounds, and most of the interactions were purely additive. Data from two different approaches clearly indicate that BTZ043 acts synergistically with TMC207, with a fractional inhibitory concentration index of 0.5. TMC207 at a quarter of the MIC (20 ng/ml) used in combination with BTZ043 (1/4 MIC, 0.375 ng/ml) had a stronger bactericidal effect on M. tuberculosis than TMC207 alone at a concentration of 80 ng/ml. This synergy was not observed when the combination was tested on a BTZ-resistant M. tuberculosis mutant, suggesting that DprE1 inhibition is the basis for the interaction. This finding excludes the possibility of synergy occurring through an off-target mechanism. We therefore hypothesize that sub-MICs of BTZ043 weaken the bacterial cell wall and allow improved penetration of TMC207 to its target. Synergy between two new antimycobacterial compounds, such as TMC207 and BTZ043, with novel targets, offers an attractive foundation for a new tuberculosis regimen.