MDL 62,879 (formerly GE 2270 A) is a novel antibiotic active against Gram-positive bacteria by inhibiting protein synthesis. MDL 62,879 is not active against Gram-negative bacteria, but inhibits cell-free protein synthesis in extracts from Escherichia coli, and shows a high binding affinity for its elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu). We prepared ribosomes and protein-synthesis elongation factors from three sources: E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, and a strain of B. subtilis selected for resistance to MDL 62,879 (strain G1674). Homologous and heterologous reconstituted systems were used to compare the effects of MDL 62,879 and of efrotomycin, an EF-Tu inhibitor of the kirromycin class, which is inactive against both B. subtilis and E. coli. We showed that in cell-free protein synthesis: (a) E. coli was sensitive to both MDL 62,879 and efrotomycin; (b) B. subtilis was sensitive to MDL 62,879, but not to efrotomycin; (c) B. subtilis G1674 was resistant to both antibiotics. In the E. coli system and in the system from wild-type B. subtilis, inhibition by MDL 62,879 was reversed upon addition of purified EF-Tu from B. subtilis G1674. This demonstrates that the antibiotic acts by inhibition of EF-Tu. In contrast, extracts from B. subtilis failed to restore activity in an efrotomycin-inhibited E. coli system. Dominance or resistance to MDL 62,879 and of sensitivity to efrotomycin in heterologous cell-free protein synthesis confirms that inhibition of EF-Tu by the two antibiotics is mediated by different mechanisms of action.
- © 1992 The Biochemical Society, London