Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 9;11(1):14180. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92964-9.
High resistance towards traditional antibiotics has urged the development of new, natural therapeutics against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Prenylated (iso)flavonoids, present mainly in the Fabaceae, can serve as promising candidates. Herein, the anti-MRSA properties of 23 prenylated (iso)flavonoids were assessed in-vitro. The di-prenylated (iso)flavonoids, glabrol (flavanone) and 6,8-diprenyl genistein (isoflavone), together with the mono-prenylated, 4'-O-methyl glabridin (isoflavan), were the most active anti-MRSA compounds (Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MIC) ≤ 10 µg/mL, 30 µM). The in-house activity data was complemented with literature data to yield an extended, curated dataset of 67 molecules for the development of robust in-silico prediction models. A QSAR model having a good fit (R2adj 0.61), low average prediction errors and a good predictive power (Q2) for the training (4% and Q2LOO 0.57, respectively) and the test set (5% and Q2test 0.75, respectively) was obtained. Furthermore, the model predicted well the activity of an external validation set (on average 5% prediction errors), as well as the level of activity (low, moderate, high) of prenylated (iso)flavonoids against other Gram-positive bacteria. For the first time, the importance of formal charge, besides hydrophobic volume and hydrogen-bonding, in the anti-MRSA activity was highlighted, thereby suggesting potentially different modes of action of the different prenylated (iso)flavonoids.