The evolution of antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus aureus showed that there is no long-lasting remedy against this pathogen. The limited number of antibacterial classes and the common occurrence of cross-resistance within and between classes reinforce the urgent need to discover new compounds targeting novel cellular functions not yet targeted by currently used drugs. One of the experimental approaches used to discover novel antibacterials and their in vitro targets is natural product screening. Three known pentacyclic triterpenoids were isolated for the first time from the bark of Callicarpa farinosa Roxb. (Verbenaceae) and identified as α-amyrin [3β-hydroxy-urs-12-en-3-ol], betulinic acid [3β-hydroxy-20(29)-lupaene-28-oic acid], and betulinaldehyde [3β-hydroxy-20(29)-lupen-28-al]. These compounds exhibited antimicrobial activities against reference and clinical strains of methicillin-resistant (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA), with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) ranging from 2 to 512 μg/mL. From the genome-wide transcriptomic analysis to elucidate the antimicrobial effects of these compounds, multiple novel cellular targets in cell division, two-component system, ABC transporters, fatty acid biosynthesis, peptidoglycan biosynthesis, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, ribosomes and β-lactam resistance pathways are affected, resulting in destabilization of the bacterial cell membrane, halt in protein synthesis, and inhibition of cell growth that eventually lead to cell death. The novel targets in these essential pathways could be further explored in the development of therapeutic compounds for the treatment of S. aureus infections and help mitigate resistance development due to target alterations.
Chung, P. Y., Chung, L. Y., & Navaratnam, P. (2014). Potential targets by pentacyclic triterpenoids from Callicarpa farinosa against methicillin-resistant and sensitive Staphylococcus aureus. Fitoterapia, 94(April 2014), 48-54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fitote.2014.01.026