In the last 80 years, secondary metabolites of bacterial origin have been harnessed for the treatment of bacterial infections. As such, they have enabled the immense progress of modern medicine, although bacterial resistance represents an increasingly worrisome issue. While antibiotics have-by definition-an inhibitory effect of bacterial growth, this does not exclude additional antiviral properties.
We showed that antibiotics belonging to the class of aminoglycosides are potent inhibitors of phage infection, in addition to being well-known inhibitors of bacterial protein synthesis. The exact mechanism of action remains to be determined, but several lines of evidence indicate that aminoglycosides block an early stage of the phage life cycle, between genome injection and replication. Interestingly, acetylation of the aminoglycoside antibiotic apramycin abolishes its antibacterial effect, but maintains its antiviral properties, suggesting a potential decoupling between these two key features. Altogether, this work demonstrates the antiviral functions of a major antibiotic class and suggests the existence of a largely untapped reservoir of prokaryotic antiphage metabolites.
This webinar was sponsored by Phage Futures Europe 2021. Register here for their upcoming translational phage therapy conference, Nov 23-24, in Brussels, Belgium.