Antiapicoplast and gametocytocidal screening to identify the mechanisms of action of compounds within the malaria box.
ABSTRACT: Malaria remains a significant infectious disease that causes millions of clinical cases and >800,000 deaths per year. The Malaria Box is a collection of 400 commercially available chemical entities that have antimalarial activity. The collection contains 200 drug-like compounds, based on their oral absorption and the presence of known toxicophores, and 200 probe-like compounds, which are intended to represent a broad structural diversity. These compounds have confirmed activities against the asexual intraerythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum and low cytotoxicities, but their mechanisms of action and their activities in other stages of the parasite's life cycle remain to be determined. The apicoplast is considered to be a promising source of malaria-specific targets, and its main function during intraerythrocytic stages is to provide the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate, which can be used for phenotype-based screens to identify compounds targeting this organelle. We screened 400 compounds from the Malaria Box using apicoplast-targeting phenotypic assays to identify their potential mechanisms of action. We identified one compound that specifically targeted the apicoplast. Further analyses indicated that the molecular target of this compound may differ from those of the current antiapicoplast drugs, such as fosmidomycin. Moreover, in our efforts to elucidate the mechanisms of action of compounds from the Malaria Box, we evaluated their activities against other stages of the life cycle of the parasite. Gametocytes are the transmission stage of the malaria parasite and are recognized as a priority target in efforts to eradicate malaria. We identified 12 compounds that were active against gametocytes with 50% inhibitory concentration values of <1 ?M.
Project description:The malaria parasite harbors a relict plastid called the apicoplast and its discovery opened a new avenue for drug discovery and development due to its unusual, nonmammalian metabolism. The apicoplast is essential during the asexual intraerythrocytic and hepatic stages of the parasite, and there is strong evidence supporting its essential metabolic role during the mosquito stages of the parasite. Supply of the isoprenoid building blocks isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) is the essential metabolic function of the apicoplast during the asexual intraerythrocytic stages. However, the metabolic role of the apicoplast during gametocyte development, the malaria stages transmitted to the mosquito, remains unknown. In this study, we showed that production of IPP for isoprenoid biosynthesis is the essential metabolic function of the apicoplast during gametocytogenesis, by obtaining normal gametocytes lacking the apicoplast when supplemented with IPP. When IPP supplementation was removed early in gametocytogenesis, developmental defects were observed, supporting the essential role of isoprenoids for normal gametocytogenesis. Furthermore, mosquitoes infected with gametocytes lacking the apicoplast developed fewer and smaller oocysts that failed to produce sporozoites. This finding further supports the essential role of the apicoplast in establishing a successful infection in the mosquito vector. Our study supports isoprenoid biosynthesis as a valid drug target for development of malaria transmission-blocking inhibitors.
Project description:Ribosome-targeting antibiotics exert their antimalarial activity on the apicoplast of the malaria parasite, an organelle of prokaryote origin having essential metabolic functions. These antibiotics typically cause a delayed-death phenotype, which manifests in parasite killing during the second replication cycle following administration. As an exception, treatment with the antibiotic thiostrepton results in an immediate killing. We recently demonstrated that thiostrepton and its derivatives interfere with the eukaryotic proteasome, a multimeric protease complex that is important for the degradation of ubiquitinated proteins. Here, we report that the thiostrepton-based compounds are active against chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant Plasmodium falciparum, where they rapidly eliminate parasites before DNA replication. The minor parasite fraction that escapes the fast killing of the first replication cycle is arrested in the schizont stage of the following cycle, displaying a delayed-death phenotype. Thiostrepton further exhibits gametocytocidal activity by eliminating gametocytes, the sexual precursor cells that are crucial for parasite transmission to the mosquito. Compound treatment results in an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins in the blood stages, indicating an effect on the parasite proteasome. In accordance with these findings, expression profiling revealed that the proteasome is present in the nucleus and cytoplasm of trophozoites, schizonts, and gametocytes. In conclusion, thiostrepton derivatives represent promising candidates for malaria therapy by dually acting on two independent targets, the parasite proteasome and the apicoplast, with the capacity to eliminate both intraerythrocytic asexual and transmission stages of the parasite.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes, specifically mature stages, are the only stage in man transmissible to the mosquito vector responsible for malaria transmission. Anti-malarial drugs capable of killing these forms are considered essential for the eradication of malaria. The comprehensive profiling of in vitro activity of anti-malarial compounds against both early (I-III) and late (IV-V) stage P. falciparum gametocytes, along with the high throughput screening (HTS) outcomes from the MMV malaria box are described.<h4>Method</h4>Two anti-gametocyte HTS assays based on confocal fluorescence microscopy, utilizing both a gametocyte specific protein (pfs16-Luc-GFP) and a viability marker (MitoTracker Red CM-H2XRos) (MTR), were used for the measurement of anti-gametocytocidal activity. This combination provided a direct observation of gametocyte number per assay well, whilst defining the viability of each gametocyte imaged.<h4>Results</h4>IC50 values were obtained for 36 current anti-malarial compounds for activities against asexual, early and late stage gametocytes. The MMV malaria box was screened and actives progressed for IC50 evaluation. Seven % of the "drug-like" and 21% of the "probe-like" compounds from the MMV malaria box demonstrated equivalent activity against both asexual and late stage gametocytes.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The assays described were shown to selectively identify compounds with gametocytocidal activity and have been demonstrated suitable for HTS with the capability of screening in the order of 20,000 compounds per screening campaign, two to three times per seven-day week.