FtsZ protein determines the point of cell division in bacteria by polymerizing into fibers that form the Z-ring, or the site of cell division. Cinnamaldehyde has previously been shown to have bactericidal effects while being non-toxic to humans. The authors studied the effect of cinnamaldehyde on FtsZ protein binding. To show that cinnamaldehyde inhibited the GTPase activity of FtsZ, a light-scattering assay and GTP hydrolysis assay were used. Electron microscopy of FtsZ showed that cinnamaldehyde inhibited the formation of protofibrils, which inhibited the formation of Z rings, and resulted in longer cells, as was shown in E. coli cell. Additionally, the binding of cinnamaldehyde to FtsZ was shown through favorable enzyme kinetics, epitope mapping of cinnamaldehyde, and in silico molecular modeling of binding.
As explained in the paper, compounds targeting FtsZ have the potential to be very useful as antibiotic agents with a new mode of action. Cinnamaldehyde can also inhibit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other antibiotic resistant bacteria, so it could be used as a last resort against infections. Therefore, this research is very relevant to today’s scientific research. The experimental approach is also sound, in my opinion, because they use multiple assays/approaches for measuring each aspect of the FtsZ/cinnamaldehyde interaction the paper was focused on.
Future research in this area should include compounds that are stable in air, since cinnamaldehyde can be oxidized to cinnamic acid, which does not have the same bactericidal properties; this would be prohibitive to developing cinnamaldehyde as a useful antibacterial agent. However, since the authors of this study explored the binding site structure of cinnamaldehyde, similar drugs could be designed that would bind to FtsZ to block polymerization. Cinnamaldehyde could be a good starting point for future research.
Domadia, Prerna, et al. “Inhibition of Bacterial Cell Division Protein FtsZ by Cinnamaldehyde.” Biochemical Pharmacology 74. (2007): 831-340. ScienceDirect. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.