Generation of quinolone antimalarials targeting the Plasmodium falciparum mitochondrial respiratory chain for the treatment and prophylaxis of malaria.
ABSTRACT: There is an urgent need for new antimalarial drugs with novel mechanisms of action to deliver effective control and eradication programs. Parasite resistance to all existing antimalarial classes, including the artemisinins, has been reported during their clinical use. A failure to generate new antimalarials with novel mechanisms of action that circumvent the current resistance challenges will contribute to a resurgence in the disease which would represent a global health emergency. Here we present a unique generation of quinolone lead antimalarials with a dual mechanism of action against two respiratory enzymes, NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (Plasmodium falciparum NDH2) and cytochrome bc(1). Inhibitor specificity for the two enzymes can be controlled subtly by manipulation of the privileged quinolone core at the 2 or 3 position. Inhibitors display potent (nanomolar) activity against both parasite enzymes and against multidrug-resistant P. falciparum parasites as evidenced by rapid and selective depolarization of the parasite mitochondrial membrane potential, leading to a disruption of pyrimidine metabolism and parasite death. Several analogs also display activity against liver-stage parasites (Plasmodium cynomolgi) as well as transmission-blocking properties. Lead optimized molecules also display potent oral antimalarial activity in the Plasmodium berghei mouse malaria model associated with favorable pharmacokinetic features that are aligned with a single-dose treatment. The ease and low cost of synthesis of these inhibitors fulfill the target product profile for the generation of a potent, safe, and inexpensive drug with the potential for eventual clinical deployment in the control and eradication of falciparum malaria.
Project description:With renewed calls for malaria eradication, next-generation antimalarials need be active against drug-resistant parasites and efficacious against both liver- and blood-stage infections. We screened a natural product library to identify inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum blood- and liver-stage proliferation. Cladosporin, a fungal secondary metabolite whose target and mechanism of action are not known for any species, was identified as having potent, nanomolar, antiparasitic activity against both blood and liver stages. Using postgenomic methods, including a yeast deletion strains collection, we show that cladosporin specifically inhibits protein synthesis by directly targeting P. falciparum cytosolic lysyl-tRNA synthetase. Further, cladosporin is >100-fold more potent against parasite lysyl-tRNA synthetase relative to the human enzyme, which is conferred by the identity of two amino acids within the enzyme active site. Our data indicate that lysyl-tRNA synthetase is an attractive, druggable, antimalarial target that can be selectively inhibited.
Project description:The historical antimalarial compound endochin served as a structural lead for optimization. Endochin-like quinolones (ELQ) were prepared by a novel chemical route and assessed for in vitro activity against multidrug resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum and against malaria infections in mice. Here we describe the pathway to discovery of a potent class of orally active antimalarial 4(1H)-quinolone-3-diarylethers. The initial prototype, ELQ-233, exhibited low nanomolar IC50 values against all tested strains including clinical isolates harboring resistance to atovaquone. ELQ-271 represented the next critical step in the iterative optimization process, as it was stable to metabolism and highly effective in vivo. Continued analoging revealed that the substitution pattern on the benzenoid ring of the quinolone core significantly influenced reactivity with the host enzyme. This finding led to the rational design of highly selective ELQs with outstanding oral efficacy against murine malaria that is superior to established antimalarials chloroquine and atovaquone.
Project description:The goal for developing new antimalarial drugs is to find a molecule that can target multiple stages of the parasite's life cycle, thus impacting prevention, treatment, and transmission of the disease. The 4(1H)-quinolone-3-diarylethers are selective potent inhibitors of the parasite's mitochondrial cytochrome bc1 complex. These compounds are highly active against the human malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. They target both the liver and blood stages of the parasite as well as the forms that are crucial for disease transmission, that is, the gametocytes, the zygote, the ookinete, and the oocyst. Selected as a preclinical candidate, ELQ-300 has good oral bioavailability at efficacious doses in mice, is metabolically stable, and is highly active in blocking transmission in rodent models of malaria. Given its predicted low dose in patients and its predicted long half-life, ELQ-300 has potential as a new drug for the treatment, prevention, and, ultimately, eradication of human malaria.
Project description:The increasing spread of drug-resistant malaria strains underscores the need for new antimalarial agents with novel modes of action (MOAs). Here, we describe a compound representative of a new class of antimalarials. This molecule, ACT-213615, potently inhibits in vitro erythrocytic growth of all tested Plasmodium falciparum strains, irrespective of their drug resistance properties, with IC(50) values in the low single-digit nanomolar range. Like the clinically used artemisinins, the compound equally and very rapidly affects all three asexual erythrocytic parasite stages. In contrast, microarray studies suggest that the MOA of ACT-213615 is different from that of the artemisinins and other known antimalarials. ACT-213615 is orally bioavailable in mice, exhibits activity in the murine P. berghei model and efficacy comparable to that of the reference drug chloroquine in the recently established P. falciparum SCID mouse model.ACT-213615 represents a new class of potent antimalarials that merits further investigation for its clinical potential. Histone deacetylase (HDACs) inhibitors are being intensively pursued as potential new antimalarial drugs, and are also emerging as valuable tools for investigating transcriptional control in malaria parasites. In this study, the genome-wide transcriptional effects of three structurally related hydroxamate HDAC inhibitors were profiled in Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal of the malaria parasite species that infects humans. Trophozoite-stage P. falciparum cells were treated with ACT-213615 for increasing amount of time at IC50 concentration and cells were harvested in parralled with DMSO treated controls for microarray-based transcriptional profiling.
Project description:Malaria is a protozoal parasitic disease that is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas and causes more than 800,000 deaths per year. The continuing emergence of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum drives the ongoing need for the development of new and effective antimalarial drugs. Our previous work has explored the preliminary structural optimization of 4(1H)-quinolone ester derivatives, a new series of antimalarials related to the endochins. Herein, we report the lead optimization of 4(1H)-quinolones with a focus on improving both antimalarial potency and bioavailability. These studies led to the development of orally efficacious antimalarials including quinolone analogue 20g, a promising candidate for further optimization.
Project description:This historical review covers antimalarials developed in China, which include artemisinin, artemether, artesunate, and dihydroartemisinin, as well as other synthetic drugs such as piperaquine, pyronaridine, benflumetol (lumefantrine), and naphthoquine. The curative effects of these antimalarials in the treatment of falciparum malaria, including chloroquine-resistant strain, are especially discussed. Following the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), different combinations of artemisinin, or its derivative, along with another antimalarial drug were orally used to treat Plasmodium falciparum infections. The recrudescence rates were low, gametocyte carriers lessened, and the curative rate increased remarkably. The combination therapy effectively deferred the emergence of drug resistance in the parasite. The regulation "The guidelines and regimens for the use of antimalarial drugs in China" was issued to guide rational application and standardize malaria treatment in the country. As the recommended first-line drug to treat falciparum malaria in the world, ACT was adopted in the regulation. In response to the global initiative of malaria eradication proposed by the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Chinese government has set a target to eliminate malaria by 2020.
Project description:Phosphoethanolamine methyltransferases (PMTs) catalyze the three-step methylation of phosphoethanolamine to form phosphocholine, a critical step in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine in a select number of eukaryotes including human malaria parasites, nematodes and plants. Genetic studies in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum have shown that the methyltransferase PfPMT plays a critical function in parasite development and differentiation. The presence of PMT orthologs in other malaria parasites that infect humans and their absence in mammals make them ideal targets for the development of selective antimalarials with broad specificity against different Plasmodium species. Here we describe the X-ray structures and biochemical properties of PMT orthologs from Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium knowlesi and show that both enzymes are inhibited by amodiaquine and NSC158011, two drugs with potent antimalarial activity. Metabolic studies in a yeast mutant that relies on PkPMT or PvPMT for survival demonstrated that these compounds inhibit phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis from ethanolamine. Our structural and functional data provide insights into the mechanism of catalysis and inhibition of PMT enzymes and set the stage for a better design of more specific and selective antimalarial drugs.
Project description:Malaria is a global health problem that causes significant mortality and morbidity, with more than 1 million deaths per year caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Most antimalarial drugs face decreased efficacy due to the emergence of resistant parasites, which necessitates the discovery of new drugs. To identify new antimalarials, we developed an automated 384-well plate screening assay using P. falciparum parasites that stably express cytoplasmic firefly luciferase. After initial optimization, we tested two different types of compound libraries: known bioactive collections (Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds [LOPAC] and the library from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [NINDS]) and a library of uncharacterized compounds (ChemBridge). A total of 12,320 compounds were screened at 5.5 microM. Selecting only compounds that reduced parasite growth by 85% resulted in 33 hits from the combined bioactive collection and 130 hits from the ChemBridge library. Fifteen novel drug-like compounds from the bioactive collection were found to be active against P. falciparum. Twelve new chemical scaffolds were found from the ChemBridge hits, the most potent of which was a series based on the 1,4-naphthoquinone scaffold, which is structurally similar to the FDA-approved antimalarial atovaquone. However, in contrast to atovaquone, which acts to inhibit the bc(1) complex and block the electron transport chain in parasite mitochondria, we have determined that our new 1,4-napthoquinones act in a novel, non-bc(1)-dependent mechanism and remain potent against atovaquone- and chloroquine-resistant parasites. Ultimately, this study may provide new probes to understand the molecular details of the malaria life cycle and to identify new antimalarials.
Project description:Antimalarial compounds with dual therapeutic and transmission-blocking activity are desired as high-value partners for combination therapies. Here, we report the identification and characterization of hexahydroquinolines (HHQs) that show low nanomolar potency against both pathogenic and transmissible intra-erythrocytic forms of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This activity translates into potent transmission-blocking potential, as shown by in vitro male gamete formation assays and reduced oocyst infection and prevalence in Anopheles mosquitoes. In vivo studies illustrated the ability of lead HHQs to suppress Plasmodium berghei blood-stage parasite proliferation. Resistance selection studies, confirmed by CRISPR-Cas9-based gene editing, identified the digestive vacuole membrane-spanning transporter PfMDR1 (P. falciparum multidrug resistance gene-1) as a determinant of parasite resistance to HHQs. Haemoglobin and haem fractionation assays suggest a mode of action that results in reduced haemozoin levels and might involve inhibition of host haemoglobin uptake into intra-erythrocytic parasites. Furthermore, parasites resistant to HHQs displayed increased susceptibility to several first-line antimalarial drugs, including lumefantrine, confirming that HHQs have a different mode of action to other antimalarials drugs for which PfMDR1 is known to confer resistance. This work evokes therapeutic strategies that combine opposing selective pressures on this parasite transporter as an approach to countering the emergence and transmission of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum malaria.
Project description:Aminopyrazoles are a new class of antimalarial compounds identified in a cellular antiparasitic screen with potent activity against Plasmodium falciparum asexual and sexual stage parasites. To investigate their unknown mechanism of action and thus identify their target, we cultured parasites in the presence of a representative member of the aminopyrazole series, GNF-Pf4492, to select for resistance. Whole genome sequencing of three resistant lines showed that each had acquired independent mutations in a P-type cation-transporter ATPase, PfATP4 (PF3D7_1211900), a protein implicated as the novel Plasmodium spp. target of another, structurally unrelated, class of antimalarials called the spiroindolones and characterized as an important sodium transporter of the cell. Similarly to the spiroindolones, GNF-Pf4492 blocks parasite transmission to mosquitoes and disrupts intracellular sodium homeostasis. Our data demonstrate that PfATP4 plays a critical role in cellular processes, can be inhibited by two distinct antimalarial pharmacophores, and supports the recent observations that PfATP4 is a critical antimalarial target.