3,4-dimethoxyphenyl bis-benzimidazole, a novel DNA topoisomerase inhibitor that preferentially targets Escherichia coli topoisomerase I

Sandhya Bansal, Devapriya Sinha, Manish Singh, Bokun Cheng, Yuk Ching Tse-Dinh, Vibha Tandon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objectives: Antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is a serious clinical problem. Novel targets are needed to combat increasing drug resistance in Escherichia coli. Our objective is to demonstrate that 2-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-5-[5-(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)-1H-benzimidazol-2yl]-1H-benzimidazole (DMA) inhibits E. coli DNA topoisomerase I more strongly than human topoisomerase I. In addition, DMA is non-toxic to mammalian cells at antibiotic dosage level. Methods: In the present study, we have established DMA as an antibacterial compound by determining MICs, post-antibiotic effects (PAEs) and MBCs for different standard as well as clinical strains of E. coli. We have described the differential catalytic inhibitory mechanism of bis-benzimidazole, DMA, for human and E. coli topoisomerase I and topoisomerase II by performing different assays, including relaxation assays, cleavage-religation assays, DNA unwinding assays, ethidium bromide displacement assays, decatenation assays and DNA gyrase supercoiling assays. Results: DMA significantly inhibited bacterial growth at a very low concentration, but did not affect human cell viability at higher concentrations. Activity assays showed that it preferentially targeted E. coli topoisomerase I over human topoisomerase I, topoisomerase II and gyrase. Cleavage-religation assays confirmed DMA as a poison inhibitor of E. coli topoisomerase I. This study illuminates new properties of DMA, which may be further modified to develop an efficient topoisomerase inhibitor that is selective towards bacterial topoisomerase I. Conclusions: This is the first report of a bis-benzimidazole acting as an E. coli topoisomerase I inhibitor. DMA is a safe, non-cytotoxic molecule to human cells at concentrations that are needed for antibacterial activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdks322
Pages (from-to)2882-2891
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • DMA
  • Hoechst 33342
  • MBCs
  • MICs
  • PAEs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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