A series of N α-acyl (alkyl)- and N α-alkoxycarbonyl-derivatives of l- and d-ornithine were prepared, characterized, and analyzed for their potency toward the bacterial enzyme N α-acetyl-l-ornithine deacetylase (ArgE). ArgE catalyzes the conversion of N α-acetyl-l-ornithine to l-ornithine in the fifth step of the biosynthetic pathway for arginine, a necessary step for bacterial growth. Most of the compounds tested provided IC50 values in the μM range toward ArgE, indicating that they are moderately strong inhibitors. N α-chloroacetyl-l-ornithine (1g) was the best inhibitor tested toward ArgE providing an IC50 value of 85 μM while N α-trifluoroacetyl-l-ornithine (1f), N α-ethoxycarbonyl-l-ornithine (2b), and N α-acetyl-d-ornithine (1a) weakly inhibited ArgE activity providing IC50 values between 200 and 410 μM. Weak inhibitory potency toward Bacillus subtilis-168 for N α-acetyl-d-ornithine (1a) and N α-fluoro- (1f), N α-chloro- (1g), N α-dichloro- (1h), and N α-trichloroacetyl-ornithine (1i) was also observed. These data correlate well with the IC50 values determined for ArgE, suggesting that these compounds might be capable of getting across the cell membrane and that ArgE is likely the bacterial enzymatic target.
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