Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a target for drug development against Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, parasites that cause serious tropical diseases and for which therapies are inadequate. We adopted a structure-based approach to the design of novel PTR1 inhibitors based on three molecular scaffolds. A series of compounds, most newly synthesized, were identified as inhibitors with PTR1-species specific properties explained by structural differences between the T. brucei and L. major enzymes. The most potent inhibitors target T. brucei PTR1, and two compounds displayed antiparasite activity against the bloodstream form of the parasite. PTR1 contributes to antifolate drug resistance by providing a molecular bypass of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) inhibition. Therefore, combining PTR1 and DHFR inhibitors might improve therapeutic efficacy. We tested two new compounds with known DHFR inhibitors. A synergistic effect was observed for one particular combination highlighting the potential of such an approach for treatment of African sleeping sickness.
Trypanosomatid parasitic protozoans of the genus Leishmania are autotrophic for both folate and unconjugated pteridines. Leishmania salvage these metabolites from their mammalian hosts and insect vectors through multiple transporters. Within the parasite, folates are reduced by a bifunctional DHFR (dihydrofolate reductase)-TS (thymidylate synthase) and by a novel PTR1 (pteridine reductase 1), which reduces both folates and unconjugated pteridines. PTR1 can act as a metabolic bypass of DHFR inhibition, reducing the effectiveness of existing antifolate drugs. Leishmania possess a reduced set of folate-dependent metabolic reactions and can salvage many of the key products of folate metabolism from their hosts. For example, they lack purine synthesis, which normally requires 10-formyltetrahydrofolate, and instead rely on a network of purine salvage enzymes. Leishmania elaborate at least three pathways for the synthesis of the key metabolite 5,10-methylene-tetrahydrofolate, required for the synthesis of thymidylate, and for 10-formyltetrahydrofolate, whose presumptive function is for methionyl-tRNAMet formylation required for mitochondrial protein synthesis. Genetic studies have shown that the synthesis of methionine using 5-methyltetrahydrofolate is dispensable, as is the activity of the glycine cleavage complex, probably due to redundancy with serine hydroxymethyltransferase. Although not always essential, the loss of several folate metabolic enzymes results in attenuation or loss of virulence in animal models, and a null DHFR-TS mutant has been used to induce protective immunity. The folate metabolic pathway provides numerous opportunities for targeted chemotherapy, with strong potential for ‘repurposing’ of compounds developed originally for treatment of human cancers or other infectious agents.
Leishmania parasites are pteridine auxotrophs that use an NADPH-dependent pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) and NADH-dependent quinonoid dihydropteridine reductase (QDPR) to salvage and maintain intracellular pools of tetrahydrobiopterin (H4B). However, the African trypanosome lacks a credible candidate QDPR in its genome despite maintaining apparent QDPR activity. Here we provide evidence that the NADH-dependent activity previously reported by others is an assay artifact. Using an HPLC-based enzyme assay, we demonstrate that there is an NADPH-dependent QDPR activity associated with both TbPTR1 and LmPTR1. The kinetic properties of recombinant PTR1s are reported at physiological pH and ionic strength and compared with LmQDPR. Specificity constants (kcat/Km) for LmPTR1 are similar with dihydrobiopterin (H2B) and quinonoid dihydrobiopterin (qH2B) as substrates and about 20-fold lower than LmQDPR with qH2B. In contrast, TbPTR1 shows a 10-fold higher kcat/Km for H2B over qH2B. Analysis of Trypanosoma brucei isolated from infected rats revealed that H4B (430 nm, 98% of total biopterin) was the predominant intracellular pterin, consistent with a dual role in the salvage and regeneration of H4B. Gene knock-out experiments confirmed this: PTR1-nulls could only be obtained from lines overexpressing LmQDPR with H4B as a medium supplement. These cells grew normally with H4B, which spontaneously oxidizes to qH2B, but were unable to survive in the absence of pterin or with either biopterin or H2B in the medium. These findings establish that PTR1 has an essential and dual role in pterin metabolism in African trypanosomes and underline its potential as a drug target.
Enzyme Kinetics; Gene Knockout; Parasite Metabolism; Pterin; Trypanosome; Biopterin; Leishmania; Pteridine Reductase; Quinonoid Pteridine Reductase; Substrate Inhibition
Activity of the pterin- and folate-salvaging enzymes pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) and dihydrofolate reductase–thymidylate synthetase (DHFR-TS) is commonly measured as a decrease in absorbance at 340 nm, corresponding to oxidation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH). Although this assay has been adequate to study the biology of these enzymes, it is not amenable to support any degree of routine inhibitor assessment because its restricted linearity is incompatible with enhanced throughput microtiter plate screening. In this article, we report the development and validation of a nonenzymatically coupled screening assay in which the product of the enzymatic reaction reduces cytochrome c, causing an increase in absorbance at 550 nm. We demonstrate this assay to be robust and accurate, and we describe its utility in supporting a structure-based design, small-molecule inhibitor campaign against Trypanosoma brucei PTR1 and DHFR-TS.
Drug discovery; Screening; Pteridine reductase; Dihydrofolate reductase
The protozoan parasite Leishmania resists the antifolate methotrexate (MTX) by amplifying the R locus dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase ( dhfr-ts ) gene, the H locus ptr1 pterin reductase gene, and finally by mutation in a common folate/MTX transporter. Amplification of dhfr-ts has never been observed in Leishmania tarentolae MTX resistant mutants while ptr1 amplification is common. We have selected a L.tarentolae ptr1 null mutant for MTX resistance and observed dhfr-ts amplification in this mutant demonstrating that once a preferred resistance mechanism is unavailable, a second one will take over. By introducing the ptr1 gene at the R locus and the dhfr-ts gene at the H locus by gene targeting, we investigated the role of the resistance gene and the locus on the rate of gene amplification. Transfection studies indicated that ptr1 gave higher levels of MTX resistance than dhfr-ts. Consistent with this, when ptr1 was present as part of either the H locus or the R locus it was invariably amplified, while dhfr-ts was only amplified when ptr1 was inactivated. When dhfr-ts was present in a ptr1 null background on both the H locus and the R locus, amplification from the H locus was more frequent suggesting that both the gene and the locus are determining the frequency of gene amplification in Leishmania.
Genetic studies indicate that the enzyme pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) is essential for the survival of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Herein, we describe the development and optimisation of a novel series of PTR1 inhibitors, based on benzo[d]imidazol-2-amine derivatives. Data are reported on 33 compounds. This series was initially discovered by a virtual screening campaign (J. Med. Chem., 2009, 52, 4454). The inhibitors adopted an alternative binding mode to those of the natural ligands, biopterin and dihydrobiopterin, and classical inhibitors, such as methotrexate. Using both rational medicinal chemistry and structure-based approaches, we were able to derive compounds with potent activity against T. brucei PTR1 (=7 nm), which had high selectivity over both human and T. brucei dihydrofolate reductase. Unfortunately, these compounds displayed weak activity against the parasites. Kinetic studies and analysis indicate that the main reason for the lack of cell potency is due to the compounds having insufficient potency against the enzyme, which can be seen from the low Km to Ki ratio (Km=25 nm and Ki=2.3 nm, respectively).
antiprotozoal agents; drug discovery; pteridine reductase; structure-based drug design; Trypanosoma brucei
Leishmania must survive oxidative stress, but lack many classical antioxidant enzymes and rely heavily on trypanothione-dependent pathways. We used forward genetic screens to recover loci mediating oxidant resistance via overexpression in Leishmania major, which identified pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1). Comparisons of isogenic lines showed ptr1- null mutants were 18-fold more sensitive to H2O2 than PTR1-overproducing lines, and significant 3-5 fold differences were seen with a broad panel of oxidant-inducing agents. The toxicities of simple nitric oxide generators and other drug classes (except antifolates) were unaffected by PTR1 levels. H2O2 susceptibility could be modulated by exogenous biopterin but not folate, in a PTR1-but not dihydrofolate reductase-dependent manner, implicating H4B metabolism specifically. Neither H2O2 consumption, nor the level of intracellular oxidative stress, was affected by PTR1 levels. Coupled with the fact that reduced pteridines are at least 100-fold less abundant than cellular thiols), these data argue strongly that reduced pteridines act through a mechanism other than scavenging. The ability of unconjugated pteridines to counter oxidative stress has implications to infectivity and response to chemotherapy. Since the intracellular pteridine levels of Leishmania can be readily manipulated, these organisms offer a powerful setting for the dissection of pteridine-dependent oxidant susceptibility in higher eukaryotes.
Gene knockout and knockdown methods were used to examine essentiality of pteridine reductase (PTR1) in pterin metabolism in the African trypanosome. Attempts to generate PTR1 null mutants in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei proved unsuccessful; despite integration of drug selectable markers at the target locus, the gene for PTR1 was either retained at the same locus or elsewhere in the genome. However, RNA interference (RNAi) resulted in complete knockdown of endogenous protein after 48 h, followed by cell death after 4 days. This lethal phenotype was reversed by expression of enzymatically active Leishmania major PTR1 in RNAi lines (oeRNAi) or by addition of tetrahydrobiopterin to cultures. Loss of PTR1 was associated with gross morphological changes due to a defect in cytokinesis, resulting in cells with multiple nuclei and kinetoplasts, as well as multiple detached flagella. Electron microscopy also revealed increased numbers of glycosomes, while immunofluorescence microscopy showed increased and more diffuse staining for glycosomal matrix enzymes, indicative of mis-localisation to the cytosol. Mis-localisation was confirmed by digitonin fractionation experiments. RNAi cell lines were markedly less virulent than wild-type parasites in mice and virulence was restored in the oeRNAi line. Thus, PTR1 may be a drug target for human African trypanosomiasis.
The protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani is the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis. The enzyme pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) of L. donovani acts as a metabolic bypass for drugs targeting dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR); therefore, for successful antifolate chemotherapy to be developed against Leishmania, it must target both enzyme activities. Leishmania cells overexpressing PTR1 tagged at the N-terminal with green fluorescent protein were established to screen for proprietary dihydropyrimidone (DHPM) derivatives of DHFR specificity synthesised in our laboratory. A cell-permeable molecule with impressive antileishmanial in vitro and in vivo oral activity was identified. Structure activity relationship based on homology model drawn on our recombinant enzyme established the highly selective inhibition of the enzyme by this analogue. It was seen that the leishmanicidal effect of this analogue is triggered by programmed cell death mediated by the loss of plasma membrane integrity as detected by binding of annexin V and propidium iodide (PI), loss of mitochondrial membrane potential culminating in cell cycle arrest at the sub-G0/G1 phase and oligonucleosomal DNA fragmentation. Hence, this DHPM analogue [(4-fluoro-phenyl)-6-methyl-2-thioxo-1, 2, 3, 4-tetrahydropyrimidine-5-carboxylic acid ethyl ester] is a potent antileishmanial agent that merits further pharmacological investigation.
Pteridine metabolic pathway is unusual features of Leishmania, which is necessary for the growth of parasite. Leishmania has evolved a complex and versatile pteridine salvage network which has the ability of scavenging a wide area of the conjugated and unconjugated pteridines especially folate and biopterin. In this study, we focus on the inhibition of ptr1 gene expression.
L. major ptr1 gene was cloned into pcDNA3 and digested using KpnI and BamHI. The gene was subcloned so that antisense will transcribe and called pcDNA-rPTR. Leishmania major was cultured and late logarithmic-phase promastigotes were harvested. The promastigotes were divided into two groups. One group was transfected with 50 µg of pcDNA-rPTR, whereas the other group was transfected with pcDNA3. Transfected cells were cultured and plated onto semi-solid media. Mouse pritonean macrophages were transfected using pcDNA-rPTR–tansfected promastigotes. Western blotting was performed on mouse transfected pritonean macrophages and extracts from transfected promastigotes of L. major using a L. major ptr1 antibody raised in rabbits.
The PTR1 protein was not expressed in pcDNA-rPTR– tansfected promastigotes and mouse macrophage transfected with pcDNA-rPTR– tansfected promastigotes.
This approach might be used to study the pteridine salvage pathway in Leishmania or to assess the possibility of using gene expression inhibition in the treatment of leishmaniasis.
Pteridine reductase 1; Antisense; Leishmania; Gene regulation; Inhibition
The phenotypes of single- (SKO) and double-knockout (DKO) lines of dihydrofolate reductase–thymidylate synthase (DHFR–TS) of bloodstream Trypanosoma brucei were evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Growth of SKO in vitro is identical to wild-type (WT) cells, whereas DKO has an absolute requirement for thymidine. Removal of thymidine from the medium triggers growth arrest in S phase, associated with gross morphological changes, followed by cell death after 60 h. DKO is unable to infect mice, whereas the virulence of SKO is similar to WT. Normal growth and virulence could be restored by transfection of DKO with T. brucei DHFR–TS, but not with Escherichia coli TS. As pteridine reductase (PTR1) levels are unchanged in SKO and DKO cells, PTR1 is not able to compensate for loss of DHFR activity. Drugs such as raltitrexed or methotrexate with structural similarity to folic acid are up to 300-fold more potent inhibitors of WT cultured in a novel low-folate medium, unlike hydrophobic antifols such as trimetrexate or pyrimethamine. DKO trypanosomes show reduced sensitivity to these inhibitors ranging from twofold for trimetrexate to >10 000-fold for raltitrexed. These data demonstrate that DHFR–TS is essential for parasite survival and represents a promising target for drug discovery.
In the protozoan parasite Leishmania, drug resistance can be a complex phenomenon. Several metabolic pathways and membrane transporters are implicated in the resistance phenotype. To monitor the expression of these genes, we generated custom DNA microarrays with PCR fragments corresponding to 44 genes involved with drug resistance. Transcript profiling of arsenite and antimony resistant mutants with these arrays pinpointed a number of genes overexpressed in mutants, including the ABC transporter PGPA, the glutathione biosynthesis genes γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GSH1) and the glutathione synthetase (GSH2). Competitive hybridisations with total RNA derived from sensitive and methotrexate resistant cells revealed the overexpression of genes coding for dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR-TS), pteridine reductase (PTR1) and S-adenosylmethionine synthase (MAT2) and a down regulation of one gene of the folate transporter (FT) family. By labelling the DNA of sensitive and resistant parasites we could also detect several gene amplification events using DNA microarrays including the amplification of the S-adenosyl homocysteine hydrolase gene (SAHH). Alteration in gene expression detected by microarrays was validated by northern blot analysis, while Southern blots indicated that most genes overexpressed were also amplified, although other mechanisms were also present. The microarrays were useful in the study of resistant parasites to pinpoint several genes linked to drug resistance.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Trypanosoma and Leishmania species. These protozoa cause serious diseases for which current therapies are inadequate. High-resolution structures have been determined, using data between 1.6 and 1.1 Å resolution, of T. brucei PTR1 in complex with pemetrexed, trimetrexate, cyromazine and a 2,4-diaminopyrimidine derivative. The structures provide insight into the interactions formed by new molecular entities in the enzyme active site with ligands that represent lead compounds for structure-based inhibitor development and to support early-stage drug discovery.
The structure of L. donovani pteridine reductase has been targeted to assist in a program of structure-based inhibitor research. Crystals that diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution were obtained and the structure has been solved. Unfortunately, the active site is disordered and this crystal form is unsuitable for use in characterizing enzyme–ligand interactions.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, protozoa that are responsible for a range of serious diseases found in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. As part of a structure-based approach to inhibitor development, specifically targeting Leishmania species, well ordered crystals of L. donovani PTR1 were sought to support the characterization of complexes formed with inhibitors. An efficient system for recombinant protein production was prepared and the enzyme was purified and crystallized in an orthorhombic form with ammonium sulfate as the precipitant. Diffraction data were measured to 2.5 Å resolution and the structure was solved by molecular replacement. However, a sulfate occupies a phosphate-binding site used by NADPH and occludes cofactor binding. The nicotinamide moiety is a critical component of the active site and without it this part of the structure is disordered. The crystal form obtained under these conditions is therefore unsuitable for the characterization of inhibitor complexes.
antifolates; pteridine reductase; Leishmania; pterins; Trypanosoma
We have tested the hypothesis that 2,4-diamino-6-hydroxymethyl-pteridine (DAP), 2,4-diaminopteroic acid (DAPA), and 2,4 diamino-N10-methyl-pteroic acid (DAMPA) could be converted into aminopterin (from DAP and DAPA) and methotrexate (from DAMPA), both of which are potent inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase, a proven drug target for Plasmodium falciparum. DAP, DAPA, and DAMPA inhibited parasite growth in the micromolar range; DAMPA was the most active, with 50% inhibitory concentrations in vitro of 446 ng/ml against the antifolate-sensitive strain and 812 ng/ml against the highly resistant strain under physiological folate conditions. DAMPA potentiates the activity of the sulfone dapsone, an inhibitor of dihydropteroate synthase, but not that of chlorcycloguanil, a known inhibitor of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Experiments with a Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain dependent upon the P. falciparum DHFR enzyme showed that DHFR is a target of DAMPA in that system. We hypothesize that DAMPA is converted to methotrexate by the parasite dihydrofolate synthase, which explains the synergy of DAMPA with dapsone but not with chlorcycloguanil. This de novo synthesis will not occur in the host, since it lacks the complete folate pathway. If this hypothesis holds true, the de novo synthesis of the toxic compounds could be used as a framework for the search for novel potent antimalarial antifolates.
The enzyme pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) is a potential target for new compounds to treat human African trypanosomiasis. A virtual screening campaign for fragments inhibiting PTR1 was carried out. Two novel chemical series were identified containing aminobenzothiazole and aminobenzimidazole scaffolds, respectively. One of the hits (2-amino-6-chloro-benzimidazole) was subjected to crystal structure analysis and a high resolution crystal structure in complex with PTR1 was obtained, confirming the predicted binding mode. However, the crystal structures of two analogues (2-amino-benzimidazole and 1-(3,4-dichloro-benzyl)-2-amino-benzimidazole) in complex with PTR1 revealed two alternative binding modes. In these complexes, previously unobserved protein movements and water-mediated protein−ligand contacts occurred, which prohibited a correct prediction of the binding modes. On the basis of the alternative binding mode of 1-(3,4-dichloro-benzyl)-2-amino-benzimidazole, derivatives were designed and selective PTR1 inhibitors with low nanomolar potency and favorable physicochemical properties were obtained.
Protozoa related to Trypanosome family including Leishmania, synthesize enzymes to escape from drug therapy. One of them is PTR1 that its enzymatic activity is similar to dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Dihydrofolate reductase - thymidylate synthase has a major role in DNA synthesis, if it is inhibited, the result would be the death of parasite. Since PTR1 activity is similar to DHFR, causes the decrease of inhibition effect of drug. The aim of this study was inhibition of Iranian L. major PTR1 expression with mRNA antisense in prokaryotic system as an approach to appear of the drugs therapeutic effects more.
PTR1 gene was ligated to pACYCDuet-1 and pcDNA3 plasmids as sense and antisense plasmids, respectively. Simultaneously transfer of sense and antisense plasmids was done in E. coli strain M15. SDS-PAGE and western blot analysis were carried out to analyze the expression.
Sense and antisense plasmids were prepared and confirmed by restriction analysis and PCR then simultaneously transfer of them was done. SDS-PAGE and western blot analysis showed PTR1 gene was inhibited by mRNA antisense in bacterial cells.
Expression of PTR1 gene in sense plasmid was inhibited successfully by antisense plasmid.
PTR1; Leishmania major; Antisense plasmid; Dihydrofolate reductase; Expression
Type II dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) is a plasmid-encoded enzyme that confers resistance to bacterial DHFR-targeted antifolate drugs. It forms a symmetric homotetramer with a central pore which functions as the active site. Its unusual structure, which results in a promiscuous binding surface that accommodates either the Dihydrofolate (DHF) substrate or the NADPH cofactor, has constituted a significant limitation to efforts to understand its substrate specificity and reaction mechanism. We describe here the first structure of a ternary R67 DHFR•DHF•NADP+ catalytic complex, resolved to1.26 Å. This structure provides the first clear picture of how this enzyme, which lacks the active site carboxyl residue that is ubiquitous in Type I DHFRs, is able to function. In the catalytic complex, the polar backbone atoms of two symmetry-related I68 residues provide recognition motifs that interact with the carboxamide on the nicotinamide ring, and the N3-O4 amide function on the pteridine. This set of interactions orients the aromatic rings of substrate and cofactor in a relative endo geometry in which the reactive centers are held in close proximity. Additionally, a central, hydrogen-bonded network consisting of two pairs of Y69-Q67-Q67′-Y69′ residues provides an unusually tight interface, which appears to serve as a “molecular clamp” holding the substrates in place in an orientation conducive to hydride transfer. In addition to providing the first clear insight regarding how this extremely unusual enzyme is able to function, the structure of the ternary complex provides general insights into how a mutationally-challenged enzyme, i.e., an enzyme whose evolution is restricted to four-residues-at-a-time active site mutations, overcomes this fundamental limitation.
R67 DHFR; Dihydrofolate Reductase; X-ray crystallography; ternary complex; Type II DHFR
Trimetrexate, a highly lipid-soluble quinazoline antifolate now undergoing trials as an anticancer agent, was found to be a potent inhibitor of the dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) isolated from Toxoplasma gondii. The concentration required for 50% inhibition of protozoal DHFR was 1.4 nM. As an inhibitor of this enzyme, trimetrexate was almost 600-fold (amount of antifolate required to inhibit catalytic reaction by 50%) and 750-fold (inhibition constant) more potent than pyrimethamine, the DHFR inhibitor currently used to treat toxoplasma infection. When the protozoan was incubated with 1 microM trimetrexate, the drug rapidly reached high intracellular concentrations. Since toxoplasma organisms lack a transmembrane transport system for physiologic folates, host toxicity can be prevented by co-administration of the reduced folate, leucovorin, without reversing the antiprotozoal effect. The effectiveness of trimetrexate against toxoplasma was demonstrated both in vitro and vivo. Proliferation of toxoplasma in murine macrophages in vitro was completely inhibited by exposure of these cells to 10(-7) M trimetrexate for 18 h. When used alone, trimetrexate was able to extend the survival of T. gondii-infected mice.
In this study we utilized the concept of rational drug design to identify novel compounds with optimal selectivity, efficacy and safety, which would bind to the target enzyme pteridine reductase 1 (PTR1) in Leishmania parasites. Twelve compounds afforded from Baylis-Hillman chemistry were docked by using the QUANTUM program into the active site of Leishmania donovani PTR1 homology model. The biological activity for these compounds was estimated in green fluorescent protein-transfected L. donovani promastigotes, and the most potential analogue was further investigated in intracellular amastigotes. Structure-activity relationship based on homology model drawn on our recombinant enzyme was substantiated by recombinant enzyme inhibition assay and growth of the cell culture. Flow cytometry results indicated that 7-(4-chlorobenzyl)-3-methyl-4-(4-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)-3,4,6,7,8,9-hexahydro-pyrimido[1,2-a]pyrimidin-2-one (compound 7) was 10 times more active on L. donovani amastigotes (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] = 3 μM) than on promastigotes (IC50 = 29 μM). Compound 7 exhibited a Ki value of 0.72 μM in a recombinant enzyme inhibition assay. We discovered that novel pyrimido[1,2-a]pyrimidin-2-one systems generated from the allyl amines afforded from the Baylis-Hillman acetates could have potential as a valuable pharmacological tool against the neglected disease visceral leishmaniasis.
Experimental studies about Leishmania resistance to metal and antifolates have pointed out that gene amplification is one of the main mechanisms of drug detoxification. Amplified genes code for adenosine triphosphate-dependent transporters (multidrug resistance and P-glycoproteins P), enzymes involved in trypanothione pathway, particularly gamma glutamyl cysteine synthase, and others involved in folates metabolism, such as dihydrofolate reductase and pterine reductase. The aim of this study was to detect and quantify the amplification of these genes in clinical strains of visceral leishmaniasis agents: Leishmania infantum, L. donovani, and L. archibaldi. Relative quantification experiments by means of real-time polymerase chain reaction showed that multidrug resistance gene amplification is the more frequent event. For P-glycoproteins P and dihydrofolate reductase genes, level of amplification was comparable to the level observed after in vitro selection of resistant clones. Gene amplification is therefore a common phenomenon in wild strains concurring to Leishmania genomic plasticity. This finding, which corroborates results of experimental studies, supports a better understanding of metal resistance selection and spreading in endemic areas.
Resistance to antifolates in Bacillus subtilis strains results from the presence of an antifolate resistance mutation (afo). Strains which are thyA+afo are unconditionally resistant to antifolates. The conditional resistance of thyA afo strains is hypothesized to be due to the thyB+ gene product (thymidylate synthetase B) having a high Km for the folate substrate, thus leading to thymineless death in the presence of antifolates. An alternative model for conditional antifolate resistance was shown to be incorrect by analysis of folate metabolism in methotrexate-treated cells. Genetic analysis and studies of the response of afo+ cells to methotrexate suggested that most, if not all, B. subtilis thymine-requiring mutants are afo. Analysis of dihydrofolate reductase from afo cells did not reveal an obvious mechanism for antifolate resistance in those cells.
MTA (LY231514), a multi-targeted antifolate, is a classical antifolate undergoing intracellular polyglutamation. Polyglutamated MTA is a potent thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor and inhibits other folate-dependent enzymes, including dihydrofolate reductase and glycinamide ribonucleotide formyl transferase. Multifocal antifolates may overcome antifolate resistance, but it is not known whether the anti-tumour activity of MTA depends on its TS inhibition, its primary locus of action, or whether other loci contribute. MTA was examined in three phase I trials using different schedules: a 10-min i.v. infusion given once every 3 weeks, once weekly for 4 weeks every 6 weeks or daily for 5 days every 3 weeks. Dose-limiting toxicities were neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. Other consistently seen side-effects, which were manageable, included mucositis, skin rashes and transient elevations of transaminases. Toxicity was highly schedule dependent: the recommended dose for the 3-weekly schedule (600 mg m(-2)) was 30 times that for the daily x 5 schedule (4 mg m(-2)day(-1)). The 3-weekly dosing schedule was chosen for phase II evaluation. Phase II trials are underway to investigate the activity and toxicity of MTA in several tumour types, including colorectal, pancreas, breast, bladder and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) Further phase I trials will investigate MTA in combination with other agents, including gemcitabine, cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil and folate. Preliminary phase II trials results are encouraging; responses were seen in colorectal, pancreas, NSCLC and breast cancer.
The catechin epigallocatechin gallate, one of the main constituents of green tea, showed strong antibiotic activity against 18 isolates of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (MIC range, 4 to 256 μg/ml). In elucidating its mechanism of action, we have shown that epigallocatechin gallate is an efficient inhibitor of S. maltophilia dihydrofolate reductase, a strategic enzyme that is considered an attractive target for the development of antibacterial agents. The inhibition of S. maltophilia dihydrofolate reductase by this tea compound was studied and compared with the mechanism of a nonclassical antifolate compound, trimethoprim. Investigation of dihydrofolate reductase was undertaken with both a trimethoprim-susceptible S. maltophilia isolate and an isolate with a high level of resistance. The enzymes were purified using ammonium sulfate precipitation, gel filtration, and methotrexate affinity chromatography. The two isolates showed similar levels of dihydrofolate reductase expression and similar substrate kinetics. However, the dihydrofolate reductase from the trimethoprim-resistant isolate demonstrated decreased susceptibility to inhibition by trimethoprim and epigallocatechin gallate. As with other antifolates, the action of epigallocatechin gallate was synergistic with that of sulfamethoxazole, a drug that blocks folic acid metabolism in bacteria, and the inhibition of bacterial growth was attenuated by including leucovorin in the growth medium. We conclude that the mechanism of action of epigallocatechin gallate on S. maltophilia is related to its antifolate activity.
Selection for methotrexate resistance in Leishmania spp. is often associated with amplification of the H locus short-chain dehydrogenase-reductase gene ptr1 as part of extrachromosomal elements. Extensive sequences are always coamplified and often contain inverted duplications, most likely formed by the annealing of inverted repeats present at the H locus. By gene targeting mediated by homologous recombination, several repeated sequences were introduced in the vicinity of ptr1. Selection for methotrexate resistance in these transfectants led to ptr1 amplification as part of small circles with direct or inverted duplications whether the integrated sequences consisted of direct or inverted repeats. Hence, for a region to he amplified in L. tarentolae during drug selection, a drug resistance gene is required and must be flanked by (any) homologous repeated sequences. The distance between these repeats and their orientation will determine the length of the amplicon and whether it contains direct or inverted duplications.