Clinical use of 2-deoxystreptamine aminoglycoside antibiotics, which target the bacterial ribosome, is compromised by adverse effects related to limited drug selectivity. Here we present a series of 4',6'-O-acetal and 4'-O-ether modifications on glucopyranosyl ring I of aminoglycosides. Chemical modifications were guided by measuring interactions between the compounds synthesized and ribosomes harbouring single point mutations in the drug-binding site, resulting in aminoglycosides that interact poorly with the drug-binding pocket of eukaryotic mitochondrial or cytosolic ribosomes. Yet, these compounds largely retain their inhibitory activity for bacterial ribosomes and show antibacterial activity. Our data indicate that 4'-O-substituted aminoglycosides possess increased selectivity towards bacterial ribosomes and little activity for any of the human drug-binding pockets.
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