Mefloquine targets the Plasmodium falciparum 80S ribosome to inhibit protein synthesis.
ABSTRACT: Malaria control is heavily dependent on chemotherapeutic agents for disease prevention and drug treatment. Defining the mechanism of action for licensed drugs, for which no target is characterized, is critical to the development of their second-generation derivatives to improve drug potency towards inhibition of their molecular targets. Mefloquine is a widely used antimalarial without a known mode of action. Here, we demonstrate that mefloquine is a protein synthesis inhibitor. We solved a 3.2?Å cryo-electron microscopy structure of the Plasmodium falciparum 80S ribosome with the (+)-mefloquine enantiomer bound to the ribosome GTPase-associated centre. Mutagenesis of mefloquine-binding residues generates parasites with increased resistance, confirming the parasite-killing mechanism. Furthermore, structure-guided derivatives with an altered piperidine group, predicted to improve binding, show enhanced parasiticidal effect. These data reveal one possible mode of action for mefloquine and demonstrate the vast potential of cryo-electron microscopy to guide the development of mefloquine derivatives to inhibit parasite protein synthesis.
Project description:The cestode E. multilocularis causes the disease alveolar echinococcosis (AE) in humans. The continuously proliferating metacestode (larval stage) of the parasite infects mostly the liver and exhibits tumor-like growth. Current chemotherapeutical treatment options rely on benzimidazoles, which are rarely curative and have to be applied daily and life-long. This can result in considerable hepatotoxicity and thus treatment discontinuation. Therefore, novel drugs against AE are urgently needed. The anti-malarial mefloquine was previously shown to be active against E. multilocularis metacestodes in vitro, and in mice infected by intraperitoneal inoculation of metacestodes when administered at 100?mg/kg by oral gavage twice a week for 12 weeks. In the present study, the same dosage regime was applied in mice infected via oral uptake of eggs representing the natural route of infection. After 12 weeks of treatment, the presence of parasite lesions was assessed in a liver squeeze chamber and by PCR, and a significantly reduced parasite load was found in mefloquine-treated animals. Assessment of mefloquine plasma concentrations by HPLC and modeling using a two-compartment pharmacokinetic model with first-order absorption showed that >90% of the expected steady-state levels (Cmin 1.15?mg/L, Cmax 2.63?mg/L) were reached. These levels are close to concentrations achieved in humans during long-term weekly dosage of 250?mg (dose applied for malaria prophylaxis). In vitro structure-activity relationship analysis of mefloquine and ten derivatives revealed that none of the derivatives exhibited stronger activities than mefloquine. Activity was only observed, when the 2-piperidylmethanol group of mefloquine was replaced by an amino group-containing residue and when the trifluoromethyl residue on position 8 of the quinoline structure was present. This is in line with the anti-malarial activity of mefloquine and it implies that the mode of action in E. multilocularis might be similar to the one against malaria.
Project description:The antifungal pharmacopeia is critically small, particularly in light of the recent emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens, such as Candida auris Here, we report that derivatives of the antimalarial drug mefloquine have broad-spectrum antifungal activity against pathogenic yeasts and molds. In addition, the mefloquine derivatives have activity against clinical isolates that are resistant to one or more of the three classes of antifungal drugs currently used to treat invasive fungal infections, indicating that they have a novel mechanism of action. Importantly, the in vitro toxicity profiles obtained using human cell lines indicated that the toxicity profiles of the mefloquine derivatives are very similar to those of the parent mefloquine, despite being up to 64-fold more active against fungal cells. In addition to direct antifungal activity, subinhibitory concentrations of the mefloquine derivatives inhibited the expression of virulence traits, including filamentation in Candida albicans and capsule formation/melanization in Cryptococcus neoformans Mode/mechanism-of-action experiments indicated that the mefloquine derivatives interfere with both mitochondrial and vacuolar function as part of a multitarget mechanism of action. The broad-spectrum scope of activity, blood-brain barrier penetration, and large number of previously synthesized analogs available combine to support the further optimization and development of the antifungal activity of this general class of drug-like molecules.
Project description:The human 80S ribosome is the cellular nucleoprotein nanomachine in charge of protein synthesis that is profoundly affected during cancer transformation by oncogenic proteins and provides cancerous proliferating cells with proteins and therefore biomass. Indeed, cancer is associated with an increase in ribosome biogenesis and mutations in several ribosomal proteins genes are found in ribosomopathies, which are congenital diseases that display an elevated risk of cancer. Ribosomes and their biogenesis therefore represent attractive anti-cancer targets and several strategies are being developed to identify efficient and specific drugs. Homoharringtonine (HHT) is the only direct ribosome inhibitor currently used in clinics for cancer treatments, although many classical chemotherapeutic drugs also appear to impact on protein synthesis. Here we review the role of the human ribosome as a medical target in cancer, and how functional and structural analysis combined with chemical synthesis of new inhibitors can synergize. The possible existence of oncoribosomes is also discussed. The emerging idea is that targeting the human ribosome could not only allow the interference with cancer cell addiction towards protein synthesis and possibly induce their death but may also be highly valuable to decrease the levels of oncogenic proteins that display a high turnover rate (MYC, MCL1). Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is an advanced method that allows the visualization of human ribosome complexes with factors and bound inhibitors to improve our understanding of their functioning mechanisms mode. Cryo-EM structures could greatly assist the foundation phase of a novel drug-design strategy. One goal would be to identify new specific and active molecules targeting the ribosome in cancer such as derivatives of cycloheximide, a well-known ribosome inhibitor.
Project description:Mefloquine is widely used in combination with artemisinin derivatives for the treatment of falciparum malaria. Mefloquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has been related to increased copy numbers of multidrug-resistant gene 1 (pfmdr1). We studied the ex vivo dynamics of pfmdr1 gene amplification in culture-adapted P. falciparum in relation to mefloquine resistance and parasite fitness. A Thai P. falciparum isolate (isolate TM036) was assessed by the use of multiple genetic markers as a single genotype. Resistance was selected by exposure to stepwise increasing concentrations of mefloquine up to 30 ng/ml in continuous culture. The pfmdr1 gene copy numbers increased as susceptibility to mefloquine declined (P = 0.03). No codon mutations at positions 86, 184, 1034, 1042, and 1246 in the pfmdr1 gene were detected. Two subclones of selected parasites (average copy numbers, 2.3 and 3.1, respectively) showed a fitness disadvantage when they were grown together with the original parasites containing a single pfmdr1 gene copy in the absence of mefloquine; the multiplication rates were 6.3% and 8.7% lower, respectively (P < 0.01). Modeling of the dynamics of the pfmdr1 copy numbers over time in relation to the relative fitness of the parasites suggested that net pfmdr1 gene amplification from one to two copies occurs once in every 10(8) parasites and that amplification from two to three copies occurs once in every 10(3) parasites. pfmdr1 gene amplification in P. falciparum is a frequent event and confers mefloquine resistance. Parasites with multiple copies of the pfmdr1 gene have decreased survival fitness in the absence of drug pressure.
Project description:Malaria inflicts an enormous burden on global human health. The emergence of parasite resistance to front-line drugs has prompted a renewed focus on the repositioning of clinically approved drugs as potential anti-malarial therapies. Antibiotics that inhibit protein translation are promising candidates for repositioning. We have solved the cryo-EM structure of the cytoplasmic ribosome from the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, in complex with emetine at 3.2 Å resolution. Emetine is an anti-protozoan drug used in the treatment of ameobiasis that also displays potent anti-malarial activity. Emetine interacts with the E-site of the ribosomal small subunit and shares a similar binding site with the antibiotic pactamycin, thereby delivering its therapeutic effect by blocking mRNA/tRNA translocation. As the first cryo-EM structure that visualizes an antibiotic bound to any ribosome at atomic resolution, this establishes cryo-EM as a powerful tool for screening and guiding the design of drugs that target parasite translation machinery.
Project description:We have prepared 23 new dehydroartemisinin (DART) trioxane derivatives (11 thiazoles, 2 oxadiazoles, and 10 carboxamides) and have screened them for in vitro activity in the Toxoplasma lytic cycle. Fifteen (65%) of the derivatives were noncytotoxic to host cells (TD(50) > or = 320 microM). Eight thiazole derivatives and two carboxamide derivatives displayed effective inhibition of Toxoplasma growth (IC(50) = 0.25-0.42 microM), comparable in potency to artemether (IC(50) = 0.31 microM) and >100 times more inhibitory than the currently employed front-line drug trimethoprim (IC(50) = 46 microM). The thiazoles as a group were more effective than the other derivatives at inhibiting growth of extracellular as well as intracellular parasites. Unexpectedly, two thiazole trioxanes (5 and 6) were parasiticidal; both inhibited parasite replication irreversibly after parasite exposure to 10 microM of drug for 24 h, whereas the standard trioxane drugs artemisinin and artemether were not parasiticidal. Some of the new derivatives of artemisinin described here represent effective anti-Toxoplasma trioxanes as well as molecular probes for elucidating the mechanism of action of the DART class of artemisinin derivatives.
Project description:We present the design, synthesis, characterization and biological evaluation of new ferrocenyl and ruthenocenyl derivatives of the organic antimalarial mefloquine, a drug also known for its antischistosomal activity. The two metallocenyl derivatives prepared (3 and 4) demonstrated comparable activity to mefloquine against adult-stage Schistosoma mansoni in vitro. Importantly, both compounds were found to have lower toxicity in all cell lines than mefloquine itself. Administration of a 200 mg kg-1 oral dose of 3 and 4 to S. mansoni-infected mice did not significantly reduce worm burden, contrary to mefloquine.
Project description:Malaria is a mosquito borne infectious disease caused by protozoa of genus Plasmodium. There are five species of Plasmodium that are found to infect humans. Plasmodium falciparum can cause severe malaria leading to higher morbidity and mortality of malaria than the other four species. Antimalarial resistance is the major obstacle to control malaria. Mefloquine was used in combination with Artesunate for uncomplicated P. falciparum in South East Asia and it has developed and established mefloquine resistance in this region. Here, gel-enhanced liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (GeLC-MS/MS)-based proteomics and label-free quantification were used to explore the protein profiles of mefloquine-sensitive and -induced resistant P. falciparum. A Thai P. falciparum isolate (S066) was used as a model in this research. Our data revealed for the first time that 69 proteins exhibited at least 2-fold differences in their expression levels between the two parasite lines. Of these, 36 were up-regulated and 33 were down-regulated in the mefloquine-resistant line compared with the mefloquine-sensitive line. These findings are consistent with those of past studies, where the multidrug resistance protein Pgh1 showed an up-regulation pattern consistent with that expected from its average 3-copy pfmdr1 gene number. Pgh1 and eight other up-regulated proteins (i.e., histo-aspartyl protease protein, exportin 1, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3 subunit 8, peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase, serine rich protein homologue, exported protein 1, ATP synthase beta chain and phospholipid scramblase 1) were further validated for their expression levels using reverse transcriptase quantitative real-time PCR. The data support the up-regulation status in the mefloquine-resistant parasite line of all the candidate genes referred to above. Therefore, GeLC-MS/MS-based proteomics combined with label-free quantification is a reliable approach for exploring mefloquine resistance biomarkers in P. falciparum. Identification of these proteins leads to better understanding of mefloquine resistant mechanisms in malaria parasites.
Project description:Drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major public health problem. An elevated pfmdr1 gene copy number (CN) is known to decrease parasite sensitivity to the commonly used antimalarial mefloquine (MFQ). To understand the relationship between pfmdr1 CN and mefloquine resistance, we evaluated pfmdr1 transcript levels in three P. falciparum strains with different CNs in the presence and absence of MFQ. Parasite strains with multiple pfmdr1 gene copies exhibited higher relative transcript levels than single-copy parasites, and MFQ induced pfmdr1 expression above the levels without treatment in all three strains evaluated. Concomitant morphology analyses of the sampled cultures revealed that MFQ treatment of synchronized ring-stage parasites induced a delay in parasite maturation through the intraerythrocytic cycle. pfmdr1 expression peaks in the ring stage, and MFQ could be causing increased transcription by delaying parasite maturation. However, pretreatment with mefloquine did not affect the artemisinin in vitro half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC(50)). These results suggest that MFQ-induced increases in pfmdr1 expression are the direct result of the maturation delay at the ring stage but that this change in expression does not affect the antimalarial activity of artemisinin.
Project description:Peroxidic antimalarial agents including the sequiterpene artemisinins and the synthetic 1,2,4-trioxolanes function via initial intraparasitic reduction of an endoperoxide bond. By chemically coupling this reduction to release of a tethered drug species it is possible to confer two distinct pharmacological effects in a parasite-selective fashion, both in vitro and in vivo. Here we demonstrate the trioxolane-mediated delivery of the antimalarial agent mefloquine in a mouse malaria model. Selective partitioning of the trioxolane-mefloquine conjugate in parasitized erythrocytes, combined with effective exclusion of the conjugate from brain significantly reduced brain exposure as compared to mice directly administered mefloquine. These studies suggest the potential of trioxolane-mediated drug delivery to mitigate off-target effects of existing drugs, including the adverse neuropsychiatric effects of mefloquine use in therapeutic and chemoprophylactic settings.