Tuberculosis disease is currently a global health emergency, causing the most deaths worldwide due a single infectious agent. Eradication of TB is hampered by lack of an effective vaccine and poor treatment options. During infection, host-derived cues such as hypoxia and starvation induce Mycobacterium tuberculosis to halt replication and become dormant, which leads to tolerance to front-line antibiotics used in the TB treatment. This dormant phenotype causes delayed clearance of M. tuberculosis, therefore a long treatment time is required for stable cure without relapse. Poor patient compliance increases the emergence of drug resistant strains, posing yet another challenge for the eradication of TB. There is dire need for novel compounds targeting not only drug-resistant, but also dormant bacteria so as to effectively eliminate drug-resistant strains and also shorten treatment time. This requires compounds with novel modes of action and novel drug screening approaches which focus on dormant M. tuberculosis. In the current work a method was optimized which induces the dormant phenotype of M. tuberculosis in vitro allowing large scale screening of compounds against these tolerant bacteria. The high chemical diversity of marine natural products was explored to increase the chances of finding novel compounds with novel mechanisms of action. Additionally, gold-complexed scaffolds were examined for their putative ability to inhibit topoisomerase 1, which is a highly conserved and essential protein of mycobacteria, not currently targeted in classical treatment regimens. Several marine natural products were identified with selective bactericidal activity against dormant bacteria, emphasizing the powerful tool that was developed for drug screening. Moreover, the gold-complexes were also bactericidal against not only replicating and dormant bacilli, but also mycobacteria resistant to front-line TB drugs. Compounds characterized in this study represent a promising starting point for the development of novel TB therapeutics and discovery of new conditionally essential pathways of dormant bacteria.


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Graduation Date





Rohde, Kyle


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences









Release Date

June 2023

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)