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New chemotherapeutic agents are urgently required to combat the global spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The mycobacterial enoyl reductase InhA is one of the few clinically validated targets in tuberculosis drug discovery. We report the identification of a new class of direct InhA inhibitors, the 4-hydroxy-2-pyridones, using phenotypic high-throughput whole-cell screening. This class of orally active compounds showed potent bactericidal activity against common isoniazid-resistant TB clinical isolates. Biophysical studies revealed that 4-hydroxy-2-pyridones bound specifically to InhA in an NADH (reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide)–dependent manner and blocked the enoyl substrate–binding pocket. The lead compound NITD-916 directly blocked InhA in a dose-dependent manner and showed in vivo efficacy in acute and established mouse models of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Collectively, our structural and biochemical data open up new avenues for rational structure-guided optimization of the 4-hydroxy-2-pyridone class of compounds for the treatment of MDR-TB.
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