Zinc ion-dependent β-lactamases (MBLs) catalyze the hydrolysis of almost all β-lactam antibiotics and resist the action of clinically available β-lactamase inhibitors. We report how application of in silico fragment-based molecular design employing thiol-mediated metal anchorage leads to potent MBL inhibitors. The new inhibitors manifest potent inhibition of clinically important B1 subfamily MBLs, including the widespread NDM-1, IMP-1, and VIM-2 enzymes; with lower potency, some of them also inhibit clinically relevant Class A and D serine-β-lactamases. The inhibitors show selectivity for bacterial MBL enzymes compared to that for human MBL fold nucleases. Cocrystallization of one inhibitor, which shows potentiation of Meropenem activity against MBL-expressing Enterobacteriaceae, with VIM-2 reveals an unexpected binding mode, involving interactions with residues from conserved active site bordering loops.

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