Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 295–305 | Cite as

First virtual screening and experimental validation of inhibitors targeting GES-5 carbapenemase

  • Francesca SpyrakisEmail author
  • Pierangelo Bellio
  • Antonio Quotadamo
  • Pasquale Linciano
  • Paolo Benedetti
  • Giulia D’Arrigo
  • Massimo Baroni
  • Laura Cendron
  • Giuseppe Celenza
  • Donatella TondiEmail author


The worldwide spread of beta-lactamases with hydrolytic activity extended to last resort carbapenems is aggravating the antibiotic resistance problem and endangers the successful antimicrobial treatment of clinically relevant pathogens. As recently highlighted by the World Health Organization, new strategies to contain antimicrobial resistance are urgently needed. Class A carbapenemases include members of the KPC, GES and SFC families. These enzymes have the ability to hydrolyse penicillins, cephalosporins and carbapenems, while also being less susceptible to available beta-lactam inhibitors, such as clavulanic acid. The KPC family is the most prevalent. It is mostly found on plasmids in Klebsiella pneumoniae, meaning that great amounts of attention, in terms of inhibitor design and structural biology, have been dedicated to it, whereas no efforts have yet been dedicated to GES-type enzymes, despite their ability to rapidly and horizontally disseminate. We herein report the first in silico screening against GES-5, which is the most dangerous GES-type beta-lactamase, using a library of 800K commercially available candidates that all share drug-like properties, such as their MW, logP, rotatable bonds and HBA/HBD atoms. The best screening results were filtered to enrich the number of different chemotypes, and then submitted to molecular docking. The 34 most promising candidates were selected for in vitro validation in biochemical assays against recombinant GES-5. Six hits acted as inhibitors, in the high micromolar range, towards GES-5 and led to the identification of the first, novel chemotypes with inhibitory activity against this clinically relevant carbapenemase.


Antibiotic resistance GES-5 Guyana extended-spectrum-lactamase Carbapenemases Virtual screening Docking In vitro inhibition 



We kindly acknowledge Molecular Discovery Ltd for providing the FLAP software and for supporting GD. We thank Prof. Sergei Vakulenko (University of Notre Dame du Lac, Indiana, USA) for the generous gift of the blaGES-5 gene, k cloned in pet24a(+), and Dr. Dale J.M. Lawson for critically reading the manuscript.


The project was funded by a Fondo di Ricerca di Ateneo (Grant No. FAR2014) UNIMORE grant to Donatella Tondi.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17803 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Drug Science and TechnologyUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical SciencesUniversity of L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Life SciencesUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Chemistry, Biology and BiotechnologyUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  5. 5.Consortium for Computational Molecular and Materials Sciences (CMS)PerugiaItaly
  6. 6.Molecular Discovery LimitedBorehamwoodUK
  7. 7.Department of BiologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly

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