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1.  Trypanothione Reductase: A Viable Chemotherapeutic Target for Antitrypanosomal and Antileishmanial Drug Design 
Drug Target Insights  2007;2:129-146.
Trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis are two debilitating disease groups caused by parasites of Trypanosoma and Leishmania spp. and affecting millions of people worldwide. A brief outline of the potential targets for rational drug design against these diseases are presented, with an emphasis placed on the enzyme trypanothione reductase. Trypanothione reductase was identified as unique to parasites and proposed to be an effective target against trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis. The biochemical basis of selecting this enzyme as a target, with reference to the simile and contrast to human analogous enzyme glutathione reductase, and the structural aspects of its active site are presented. The process of designing selective inhibitors for the enzyme trypanothione reductase has been discussed. An overview of the different chemical classes of inhibitors of trypanothione reductase with their inhibitory activities against the parasites and their prospects as future chemotherapeutic agents are briefly revealed.
PMCID: PMC3155241  PMID: 21901070
Trypanothione; glutathione; Chagas disease; sleeping sickness; rational drug design
2.  Leishmania Trypanothione Synthetase-Amidase Structure Reveals a Basis for Regulation of Conflicting Synthetic and Hydrolytic Activities*S⃞ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2008;283(25):17672-17680.
The bifunctional trypanothione synthetase-amidase catalyzes biosynthesis and hydrolysis of the glutathione-spermidine adduct trypanothione, the principal intracellular thiol-redox metabolite in parasitic trypanosomatids. These parasites are unique with regard to their reliance on trypanothione to determine intracellular thiol-redox balance in defense against oxidative and chemical stress and to regulate polyamine levels. Enzymes involved in trypanothione biosynthesis provide essential biological activities, and those absent from humans or for which orthologues are sufficiently distinct are attractive targets to underpin anti-parasitic drug discovery. The structure of Leishmania major trypanothione synthetase-amidase, determined in three crystal forms, reveals two catalytic domains. The N-terminal domain, a cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolase/peptidase amidase, is a papain-like cysteine protease, and the C-terminal synthetase domain displays an ATP-grasp family fold common to C:N ligases. Modeling of substrates into each active site provides insight into the specificity and reactivity of this unusual enzyme, which is able to catalyze four reactions. The domain orientation is distinct from that observed in a related bacterial glutathionylspermidine synthetase. In trypanothione synthetase-amidase, the interactions formed by the C terminus, binding in and restricting access to the amidase active site, suggest that the balance of ligation and hydrolytic activity is directly influenced by the alignment of the domains with respect to each other and implicate conformational changes with amidase activity. The potential inhibitory role of the C terminus provides a mechanism to control relative levels of the critical metabolites, trypanothione, glutathionylspermidine, and spermidine in Leishmania.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M801850200
PMCID: PMC2427367  PMID: 18420578
3.  A gold-containing drug against parasitic polyamine metabolism: the X-ray structure of trypanothione reductase from Leishmania infantum in complex with auranofin reveals a dual mechanism of enzyme inhibition 
Amino Acids  2011;42(2-3):803-811.
Auranofin is a gold(I)-containing drug in clinical use as an antiarthritic agent. Recent studies showed that auranofin manifests interesting antiparasitic actions very likely arising from inhibition of parasitic enzymes involved in the control of the redox metabolism. Trypanothione reductase is a key enzyme of Leishmania infantum polyamine-dependent redox metabolism, and a validated target for antileishmanial drugs. As trypanothione reductase contains a dithiol motif at its active site and gold(I) compounds are known to be highly thiophilic, we explored whether auranofin might behave as an effective enzyme inhibitor and as a potential antileishmanial agent. Notably, enzymatic assays revealed that auranofin causes indeed a pronounced enzyme inhibition. To gain a deeper insight into the molecular basis of enzyme inhibition, crystals of the auranofin-bound enzyme, in the presence of NADPH, were prepared, and the X-ray crystal structure of the auranofin–trypanothione reductase–NADPH complex was solved at 3.5 Å resolution. In spite of the rather low resolution, these data were of sufficient quality as to identify the presence of the gold center and of the thiosugar of auranofin, and to locate them within the overall protein structure. Gold binds to the two active site cysteine residues of TR, i.e. Cys52 and Cys57, while the thiosugar moiety of auranofin binds to the trypanothione binding site; thus auranofin appears to inhibit TR through a dual mechanism. Auranofin kills the promastigote stage of L. infantum at micromolar concentration; these findings will contribute to the design of new drugs against leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0997-9
PMCID: PMC3266496  PMID: 21833767
Gold; Auranofin; Leishmania; Trypanothione reductase
4.  Comparative structural, kinetic and inhibitor studies of Trypanosoma brucei trypanothione reductase with T. cruzi☆ 
As part of a drug discovery programme to discover new treatments for human African trypanosomiasis, recombinant trypanothione reductase from Trypanosoma brucei has been expressed, purified and characterized. The crystal structure was solved by molecular replacement to a resolution of 2.3 Å and found to be nearly identical to the T. cruzi enzyme (root mean square deviation 0.6 Å over 482 Cα atoms). Kinetically, the Km for trypanothione disulphide for the T. brucei enzyme was 4.4-fold lower than for T. cruzi measured by either direct (NADPH oxidation) or DTNB-coupled assay. The Km for NADPH for the T. brucei enzyme was found to be 0.77 μM using an NADPH-regenerating system coupled to reduction of DTNB. Both enzymes were assayed for inhibition at their respective S = Km values for trypanothione disulphide using a range of chemotypes, including CNS-active drugs such as clomipramine, trifluoperazine, thioridazine and citalopram. The relative IC50 values for the two enzymes were found to vary by no more than 3-fold. Thus trypanothione reductases from these species are highly similar in all aspects, indicating that they may be used interchangeably for structure-based inhibitor design and high-throughput screening.
doi:10.1016/j.molbiopara.2009.09.002
PMCID: PMC2789240  PMID: 19747949
TryR, trypanothione reductase; T(S)2, trypanothione disulphide; DTNB, 5,5′-dithio-bis(2-nitrobenzoic acid); HAT, human African trypanosomiasis; Trypanothione metabolism; Trypanosome; Thiol; Enzymology; Drug discovery
5.  Transgenic Biosynthesis of Trypanothione Protects Escherichia coli from Radiation-Induced Toxicity 
Radiation research  2010;174(3):290-296.
Trypanothione is a unique diglutathionyl-spermidine conjugate found in abundance in trypanosomes but not in other eukaryotes. Because trypanothione is a naturally occurring polyamine thiol reminiscent of the synthetic drug amifostine, it may be a useful protector against radiation and oxidative stress. For these reasons we hypothesized that trypanothione might serve as a radioprotective agent when produced in bacteria. To accomplish this objective, the trypanothione synthetase and reductase genes from T. cruzi were introduced into E. coli and their expression was verified by qPCR and immunoblotting. Trypanothione synthesis in bacteria, detected by HPLC, resulted in decreased intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species as determined by H2DCFDA oxidation. Moreover, E. coli genomic DNA was protected from radiation-induced DNA damage by 4.6-fold in the presence of trypanothione compared to control bacteria. Concordantly, the transgenic E. coli expressing trypanothione were 4.3-fold more resistant to killing by 137Cs γ radiation compared to E. coli devoid of trypanothione expression. Thus we have shown for the first time that E. coli can be genetically engineered to express the trypanothione biosynthetic pathway and produce trypanothione, which results in their radioresistance. These results warrant further research to explore the possibility of developing trypanothione as a novel radioprotective agent.
doi:10.1667/RR2235.1
PMCID: PMC2942016  PMID: 20726720
6.  Improved Tricyclic Inhibitors of Trypanothione Reductase by Screening and Chemical Synthesis 
Chemmedchem  2009;4(8):1333-1340.
Trypanothione reductase (TryR) is a key validated enzyme in the trypanothione-based redox metabolism of pathogenic trypanosomes and leishmania parasites. This system is absent in humans, being replaced with glutathione and glutathione reductase, and as such offers a target for selective inhibition. As part of a program to discover antiparasitic drugs, the LOPAC1280 library of 1266 compounds was screened against TryR and the top hits evaluated against glutathione reductase and T. brucei parasites. The top hits included a number of known tricyclic neuroleptic drugs along with other new scaffolds for TryR. Three novel druglike hits were identified and SAR studies on one of these using information from the tricyclic neuroleptic agents led to the discovery of a competitive inhibitor (Ki=330 nm) with an improved potency against T. brucei (EC50=775 nm).
doi:10.1002/cmdc.200900097
PMCID: PMC2929371  PMID: 19557801
drug discovery; inhibitors; oxidoreductases; trypanosoma brucei; trypanothione reductase
7.  The Synthesis and Inhibitory Activity of Dethiotrypanothione and Analogues Against Trypanothione Reductase 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2007;72(10):3689-3693.
Trypanothione reductase (TR) catalyzes the NADPH-dependent reduction of trypanothione disulfide (1). TR plays a central role in the trypanosomatid parasite’s defense against oxidative stress and has emerged as a promising target for antitrypanosomal drugs. We describe the synthesis and activity of dethiotrypanothione and analogues (2–4) as inhibitors of T. cruzi TR. The syntheses of these macrocycles feature ring-closing olefin metathesis (RCM) reactions catalyzed by ruthenium catalyst 17. Derivative 4 is our most potent inhibitor with a Ki = 16 μM.
doi:10.1021/jo062597s
PMCID: PMC2528058  PMID: 17439174
8.  Enzymes of the antioxidant network as novel determiners of Trypanosoma cruzi virulence 
International journal for parasitology  2009;39(13):1455-1464.
Virulence of Trypanosoma cruzi depends on a variety of genetic and biochemical factors. It has been proposed that components of the parasites' antioxidant system may play a key part in this process by pre-adapting the pathogen to the oxidative environment encountered during host cell invasion. Using several isolates (10 strains) belonging to the two major phylogenetic lineages (T. cruzi-I and T. cruzi-II), we investigated whether there was an association between virulence (ranging from highly aggressive to attenuated isolates at the parasitemia and histopathological level) and the antioxidant enzyme content. Antibodies raised against trypanothione synthetase (TcTS), ascorbate peroxidase (TcAPX), mitochondrial and cytosolic tryparedoxin peroxidases (TcMPX and TcCPX) and trypanothione reductase (TcTR) were used to evaluate the antioxidant enzyme levels in epimastigote and metacyclic trypomastigote forms in the T. cruzi strains. Levels of TcCPX, TcMPX and TcTS were shown to increase during differentiation from the non-infective epimastigote to the infective metacyclic trypomastigote stage in all parasite strains examined. Peroxiredoxins were found to be present at higher levels in the metacyclic infective forms of the virulent isolates compared with the attenuated strains. Additionally, an increased resistance of epimastigotes from virulent T. cruzi populations to hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite challenge was observed. In mouse infection models, a direct correlation was found between protein levels of TcCPX, TcMPX and TcTS, and the parasitemia elicited by the different isolates studied (Pearson's coefficient: 0.617, 0.771, 0.499; respectively, P < 0.01). No correlation with parasitemia was found for TcAPX and TcTR proteins in any of the strains analyzed. Our data support that enzymes of the parasite antioxidant armamentarium at the onset of infection represent new virulence factors involved in the establishment of disease.
doi:10.1016/j.ijpara.2009.05.010
PMCID: PMC3909716  PMID: 19505468
Trypanosoma cruzi; Infection; Antioxidant network; Virulence factors
9.  Extrachromosomal, homologous expression of trypanothione reductase and its complementary mRNA in Trypanosoma cruzi. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(15):2942-2949.
Trypanothione reductase (TR), a flavoprotein oxidoreductase present in trypanosomatids but absent in human cells, is regarded as a potential target for the chemotherapy of several tropical parasitic diseases caused by trypanosomes and leishmanias. We investigated the possibility of modulating intracellular TR levels in Trypanosoma cruzi by generating transgenic lines that extrachromosomally overexpress either sense or antisense TR mRNA. Cells overexpressing the sense construct showed a 4-10-fold increase in levels of TR mRNA, protein and enzyme activity. In contrast, recombinant T.cruzi harbouring the antisense construct showed no significant difference in TR protein or catalytic activity when compared with control cells. Although increased levels of TR mRNA were detected in some of the antisense cells neither upregulation nor amplification of the endogenous trypanothione reductase gene (tryA) was observed. Instead, a proportion of plasmid molecules was found rearranged and, as a result, contained the tryA sequence in the sense orientation. Plasmid rescue experiments and sequence analysis of rearranged plasmids revealed that this specific gene inversion event was associated with the deletion of small regions of flanking DNA.
PMCID: PMC146039  PMID: 8760878
10.  Trypanothione S-transferase activity in a trypanosomatid ribosomal elongation factor 1B 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2004;279(26):27246-27256.
SUMMARY
Trypanothione is a thiol unique to the Kinetoplastida and has been shown to be a vital component of their antioxidant defences. However, little is known as to the role of trypanothione in xenobiotic metabolism. A trypanothione S-transferase activity was detected in extracts of Leishmania major, L. infantum, L. tarentolae, Trypanosoma brucei and Crithidia fasciculata, but not Trypanosoma cruzi. No glutathione S-transferase activity was detected in any of these parasites. Trypanothione S-transferase was purified from C. fasciculata and shown to be a hexadecameric complex of three subunits with a relative molecular mass of 650,000. This enzyme complex was specific for the thiols trypanothione and glutathionylspermidine, and only used 1-chloro-2,4- dinitrobenzene from a range of glutathione S-transferases substrates. Peptide sequencing revealed that the three components were the alpha, beta and gamma subunits of ribosomal eukaryotic elongation factor 1B (eEF1B). Partial dissociation of the complex suggested that the S-transferase activity was associated with the gamma subunit. Moreover, Cibacron blue was found to be a tight-binding inhibitor and reactive blue 4 an irreversible time-dependent inhibitor that covalently modified only the gamma subunit. The rate of inactivation by reactive blue 4 was increased more than 600-fold in the presence of trypanothione and Cibacron blue protected the enzyme from inactivation by 1-chloro-2,4- dinitrobenzene, confirming that these dyes interact with the active site region. Two eEF1Bγ genes were cloned from C. fasciculata but recombinant C. fasciculata eEF1Bγ had no S-transferase activity, suggesting that eEF1Bγ is unstable in the absence of the other subunits.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M311039200
PMCID: PMC3428924  PMID: 15073172
11.  Methylglyoxal metabolism in trypanosomes and leishmania 
Methylglyoxal is a toxic by-product of glycolysis and other metabolic pathways. In mammalian cells, the principal route for detoxification of this reactive metabolite is via the glutathione-dependent glyoxalase pathway forming d-lactate, involving lactoylglutathione lyase (GLO1; EC 4.4.1.5) and hydroxyacylglutathione hydrolase (GLO2; EC 3.2.1.6). In contrast, the equivalent enzymes in the trypanosomatid parasites Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania spp. show >200-fold selectivity for glutathionylspermidine and trypanothione over glutathione and are therefore sensu stricto lactoylglutathionylspermidine lyases (EC 4.4.1.-) and hydroxyacylglutathionylspermidine hydrolases (EC 3.2.1.-). The unique substrate specificity of the parasite glyoxalase enzymes can be directly attributed to their unusual active site architecture. The African trypanosome differs from these parasites in that it lacks GLO1 and converts methylglyoxal to l-lactate rather than d-lactate. Since Trypanosoma brucei is the most sensitive of the trypanosomatids to methylglyoxal toxicity, the absence of a complete and functional glyoxalase pathway in these parasites is perplexing. Alternative routes of methylglyoxal detoxification in T. brucei are discussed along with the potential of exploiting trypanosomatid glyoxalase enzymes as targets for anti-parasitic chemotherapy.
doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2011.02.001
PMCID: PMC3107426  PMID: 21310261
GLO1, glyoxalase I; GLO2, glyoxalase II; T[SH]2, trypanothione, N1,N8-bis(glutathionyl)spermidine; GSH, glutathione; LADH, lactaldehyde dehydrogenase; Trypanosoma; Leishmania; Methylglyoxal; Glyoxalase; Trypanothione; Drug discovery
12.  Dissecting the Catalytic Mechanism of Trypanosoma brucei Trypanothione Synthetase by Kinetic Analysis and Computational Modeling* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(33):23751-23764.
Background: Trypanothione synthetase catalyzes the conjugation of spermidine with two GSH molecules to form trypanothione.
Results: The kinetic parameters were measured under in vivo-like conditions. A mathematical model was developed describing the entire kinetic profile.
Conclusion: Trypanothione synthetase is affected by substrate and product inhibition.
Significance: The combined kinetic and modeling approaches provided a so far unprecedented insight in the mechanism of this parasite-specific enzyme.
In pathogenic trypanosomes, trypanothione synthetase (TryS) catalyzes the synthesis of both glutathionylspermidine (Gsp) and trypanothione (bis(glutathionyl)spermidine (T(SH)2)). Here we present a thorough kinetic analysis of Trypanosoma brucei TryS in a newly developed phosphate buffer system at pH 7.0 and 37 °C, mimicking the physiological environment of the enzyme in the cytosol of bloodstream parasites. Under these conditions, TryS displays Km values for GSH, ATP, spermidine, and Gsp of 34, 18, 687, and 32 μm, respectively, as well as Ki values for GSH and T(SH)2 of 1 mm and 360 μm, respectively. As Gsp hydrolysis has a Km value of 5.6 mm, the in vivo amidase activity is probably negligible. To obtain deeper insight in the molecular mechanism of TryS, we have formulated alternative kinetic models, with elementary reaction steps represented by linear kinetic equations. The model parameters were fitted to the extensive matrix of steady-state data obtained for different substrate/product combinations under the in vivo-like conditions. The best model describes the full kinetic profile and is able to predict time course data that were not used for fitting. This system's biology approach to enzyme kinetics led us to conclude that (i) TryS follows a ter-reactant mechanism, (ii) the intermediate Gsp dissociates from the enzyme between the two catalytic steps, and (iii) T(SH)2 inhibits the enzyme by remaining bound at its product site and, as does the inhibitory GSH, by binding to the activated enzyme complex. The newly detected concerted substrate and product inhibition suggests that TryS activity is tightly regulated.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M113.483289
PMCID: PMC3745322  PMID: 23814051
Enzyme Kinetics; Glutathione; Mathematical Modeling; Thiol; Trypanosoma brucei; Glutathionylspermidine
13.  Dissecting the essentiality of the bifunctional trypanothione synthetase-amidase in Trypanosoma brucei using chemical and genetic methods 
Molecular Microbiology  2009;74(3):529-540.
The bifunctional trypanothione synthetase-amidase (TRYS) comprises two structurally distinct catalytic domains for synthesis and hydrolysis of trypanothione (N1,N8-bis(glutathionyl)spermidine). This unique dithiol plays a pivotal role in thiol-redox homeostasis and in defence against chemical and oxidative stress in trypanosomatids. A tetracycline-dependent conditional double knockout of TRYS (cDKO) was generated in bloodstream Trypanosoma brucei. Culture of cDKO parasites without tetracycline induction resulted in loss of trypanothione and accumulation of glutathione, followed by growth inhibition and cell lysis after 6 days. In the absence of inducer, cDKO cells were unable to infect mice, confirming that this enzyme is essential for virulence in vivo as well as in vitro. To establish whether both enzymatic functions were essential, an amidase-dead mutant cDKO line was generated. In the presence of inducer, this line showed decreased growth in vitro and decreased virulence in vivo, indicating that the amidase function is not absolutely required for viability. The druggability of TRYS was assessed using a potent small molecule inhibitor developed in our laboratory. Growth inhibition correlated in rank order cDKO, single KO, wild-type and overexpressing lines and produced the predicted biochemical phenotype. The synthetase function of TRYS is thus unequivocally validated as a drug target by both chemical and genetic methods.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06761.x
PMCID: PMC2784880  PMID: 19558432
14.  High-Throughput Screening Affords Novel and Selective Trypanothione Reductase Inhibitors with Anti-Trypanosomal Activity 
Trypanothione reductase (TR), an enzyme that buffers oxidative stress in trypanosomatid parasites, was screened against commercial libraries containing approximately 134,500 compounds. After secondary screening, four chemotypes were identified as screening positives with selectivity for TR over human glutathione reductase. Thirteen compounds from these four chemotypes were purchased, and their in vitro activity against TR and Trypanosoma brucei are described.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2006.12.016
PMCID: PMC3428910  PMID: 17197182
15.  Synthesis and Evaluation of 1-(1-(Benzo[b]thiophen-2-yl)cyclohexyl)piperidine (BTCP) Analogues as Inhibitors of Trypanothione Reductase 
Chemmedchem  2009;4(8):1341-1353.
Thirty two analogues of phencyclidine were synthesised and tested as inhibitors of trypanothione reductase (TryR), a potential drug target in trypanosome and leishmania parasites. The lead compound BTCP (1, 1-(1-benzo[b]thiophen-2-yl-cyclohexyl) piperidine) was found to be a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme (Ki=1 μm) and biologically active against bloodstream T. brucei (EC50=10 μm), but with poor selectivity against mammalian MRC5 cells (EC50=29 μm). Analogues with improved enzymatic and biological activity were obtained. The structure–activity relationships of this novel series are discussed.
doi:10.1002/cmdc.200900098
PMCID: PMC2929374  PMID: 19557802
BTCP; inhibitors; medicinal chemistry; trypanosoma brucei; trypanothione reductase
16.  Dihydroquinazolines as a Novel Class of Trypanosoma brucei Trypanothione Reductase Inhibitors: Discovery, Synthesis, and Characterization of their Binding Mode by Protein Crystallography 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2011;54(19):6514-6530.
Trypanothione reductase (TryR) is a genetically validated drug target in the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis. Here we report the discovery, synthesis, and development of a novel series of TryR inhibitors based on a 3,4-dihydroquinazoline scaffold. In addition, a high resolution crystal structure of TryR, alone and in complex with substrates and inhibitors from this series, is presented. This represents the first report of a high resolution complex between a noncovalent ligand and this enzyme. Structural studies revealed that upon ligand binding the enzyme undergoes a conformational change to create a new subpocket which is occupied by an aryl group on the ligand. Therefore, the inhibitor, in effect, creates its own small binding pocket within the otherwise large, solvent exposed active site. The TryR–ligand structure was subsequently used to guide the synthesis of inhibitors, including analogues that challenged the induced subpocket. This resulted in the development of inhibitors with improved potency against both TryR and T. brucei parasites in a whole cell assay.
doi:10.1021/jm200312v
PMCID: PMC3188286  PMID: 21851087
17.  Enzymatic Inhibitory Activity and Trypanocidal Effects of Extracts and Compounds from Siphoneugena densiflora O. Berg and Vitex polygama Cham 
Hexanic, methanolic, and hydroalcoholic extracts, and 34 isolated compounds from Vitex polygama Cham. (Lamiaceae, formely Verbenaceae) and Siphoneugena densiflora O. Berg (Myrtaceae) were screened for their trypanocidal effects on bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma cruzi and T. brucei, as well as for their enzymatic inhibitory activities on glycosomal glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gGAPDH) and trypanothione reductase (TR) enzymes from T. cruzi and adeninephosphoribosyl transferase (APRT) enzyme from Leishmania tarentolae. In general, polar extracts displayed strong effects and some of the tested compounds have shown good results in comparison to positive controls of the bioassays.
PMCID: PMC3428908  PMID: 18669023
Myrtaceae; Trypanosoma; Leishmania
18.  Antitumor Quinol PMX464 Is a Cytocidal Anti-trypanosomal Inhibitor Targeting Trypanothione Metabolism* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(10):8523-8533.
Better drugs are urgently needed for the treatment of African sleeping sickness. We tested a series of promising anticancer agents belonging to the 4-substituted 4-hydroxycyclohexa-2,5-dienones class (“quinols”) and identified several with potent trypanocidal activity (EC50 < 100 nm). In mammalian cells, quinols are proposed to inhibit the thioredoxin/thioredoxin reductase system, which is absent from trypanosomes. Studies with the prototypical 4-benzothiazole-substituted quinol, PMX464, established that PMX464 is rapidly cytocidal, similar to the arsenical drug, melarsen oxide. Cell lysis by PMX464 was accelerated by addition of sublethal concentrations of glucose oxidase implicating oxidant defenses in the mechanism of action. Whole cells treated with PMX464 showed a loss of trypanothione (T(SH)2), a unique dithiol in trypanosomes, and tryparedoxin peroxidase (TryP), a 2-Cys peroxiredoxin similar to mammalian thioredoxin peroxidase. Enzyme assays revealed that T(SH)2, TryP, and a glutathione peroxidase-like tryparedoxin-dependent peroxidase were inhibited in time- and concentration-dependent manners. The inhibitory activities of various quinol analogues against these targets showed a good correlation with growth inhibition of Trypanosoma brucei. The monothiols glutathione and l-cysteine bound in a 2:1 ratio with PMX464 with Kd values of 6 and 27 μm, respectively, whereas T(SH)2 bound more tightly in a 1:1 ratio with a Kd value of 430 nm. Overexpression of trypanothione synthetase in T. brucei decreased sensitivity to PMX464 indicating that the key metabolite T(SH)2 is a target for quinols. Thus, the quinol pharmacophore represents a novel lead structure for the development of a new drug against African sleeping sickness.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.214833
PMCID: PMC3048735  PMID: 21212280
Drug Action; Metabolism; Peroxidase; Thiol; Trypanosome; Quinol; Trypanothione; Tryparedoxin Peroxidase
19.  Chemical Validation of Trypanothione Synthetase 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;284(52):36137-36145.
In the search for new therapeutics for the treatment of human African trypanosomiasis, many potential drug targets in Trypanosoma brucei have been validated by genetic means, but very few have been chemically validated. Trypanothione synthetase (TryS; EC 6.3.1.9; spermidine/glutathionylspermidine:glutathione ligase (ADP-forming)) is one such target. To identify novel inhibitors of T. brucei TryS, we developed an in vitro enzyme assay, which was amenable to high throughput screening. The subsequent screen of a diverse compound library resulted in the identification of three novel series of TryS inhibitors. Further chemical exploration resulted in leads with nanomolar potency, which displayed mixed, uncompetitive, and allosteric-type inhibition with respect to spermidine, ATP, and glutathione, respectively. Representatives of all three series inhibited growth of bloodstream T. brucei in vitro. Exposure to one of our lead compounds (DDD86243; 2 × EC50 for 72 h) decreased intracellular trypanothione levels to <10% of wild type. In addition, there was a corresponding 5-fold increase in the precursor metabolite, glutathione, providing strong evidence that DDD86243 was acting on target to inhibit TryS. This was confirmed with wild-type, TryS single knock-out, and TryS-overexpressing cell lines showing expected changes in potency to DDD86243. Taken together, these data provide initial chemical validation of TryS as a drug target in T. brucei.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M109.045336
PMCID: PMC2794729  PMID: 19828449
20.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the glyoxalase II from Leishmania infantum  
A glyoxalase II from L. infantum was cloned, purified and crystallized and its structure was solved by X-ray crystallography.
In trypanosomatids, trypanothione replaces glutathione in all glutathione-dependent processes. Of the two enzymes involved in the glyoxalase pathway, glyoxalase I and glyoxalase II, the latter shows absolute specificity towards trypanothione thioester, making this enzyme an excellent model to understand the molecular basis of trypanothione binding. Cloned glyoxalase II from Leishmania infantum was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, purified and crystallized. Crystals belong to space group C2221 (unit-cell parameters a = 65.6, b = 88.3, c = 85.2 Å) and diffract beyond 2.15 Å using synchrotron radiation. The structure was solved by molecular replacement using the human glyoxalase II structure as a search model. These results, together with future detailed kinetic characterization using lactoyltrypanothione, should shed light on the evolutionary selection of trypanothione instead of glutathione by trypano­somatids.
doi:10.1107/S1744309106027539
PMCID: PMC2242913  PMID: 16880563
Leishmania infantum; glyoxalase II; trypanothione
21.  ATP-dependent ligases in trypanothione biosynthesis – kinetics of catalysis and inhibition by phosphinic acid pseudopeptides 
The Febs Journal  2008;275(21):5408-5421.
Glutathionylspermidine is an intermediate formed in the biosynthesis of trypanothione, an essential metabolite in defence against chemical and oxidative stress in the Kinetoplastida. The kinetic mechanism for glutathionylspermidine synthetase (EC 6.3.1.8) from Crithidia fasciculata (CfGspS) obeys a rapid equilibrium random ter-ter model with kinetic constants KGSH = 609 μm, KSpd = 157 μm and KATP = 215 μm. Phosphonate and phosphinate analogues of glutathionylspermidine, previously shown to be potent inhibitors of GspS from Escherichia coli, are equally potent against CfGspS. The tetrahedral phosphonate acts as a simple ground state analogue of glutathione (GSH) (Ki ∼ 156 μm), whereas the phosphinate behaves as a stable mimic of the postulated unstable tetrahedral intermediate. Kinetic studies showed that the phosphinate behaves as a slow-binding bisubstrate inhibitor [competitive with respect to GSH and spermidine (Spd)] with rate constants k3 (on rate) = 6.98 × 104 m−1·s−1 and k4 (off rate) = 1.3 × 10−3 s−1, providing a dissociation constant Ki = 18.6 nm. The phosphinate analogue also inhibited recombinant trypanothione synthetase (EC 6.3.1.9) from C. fasciculata, Leishmania major, Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma brucei with Kiapp values 20–40-fold greater than that of CfGspS. This phosphinate analogue remains the most potent enzyme inhibitor identified to date, and represents a good starting point for drug discovery for trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2008.06670.x
PMCID: PMC2702004  PMID: 18959765
drug discovery; enzyme mechanism; glutathionylspermidine synthetase; slow-binding inhibition; trypanothione synthetase
22.  Discovery of 2-iminobenzimidazoles as a new class of trypanothione reductase inhibitor by high-throughput screening 
A high-throughput screening campaign of a library of 100,000 lead-like compounds identified 2-iminobenzimidazoles as a novel class of trypanothione reductase inhibitors. These 2-iminobenzimidazoles display potent trypanocidal activity against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, do not inhibit closely related human glutathione reductase and have low cytotoxicity against mammalian cells.
doi:10.1016/j.bmcl.2006.11.090
PMCID: PMC3428904  PMID: 17194585
Tropical diseases; Trypanosomiasis therapeutics; Trypanothione reductase inhibitors; High-throughput screening; Medicinal chemistry; Imino benzimidazoles
23.  PTR1-dependent synthesis of tetrahydrobiopterin contributes to oxidant susceptibility in the trypanosomatid protozoan parasite Leishmania major 
Current genetics  2009;55(3):287-299.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00294-009-0244-z
PMCID: PMC2759280  PMID: 19396443
24.  Leishmanicidal, trypanocidal, and cytotoxic activities of endophytic fungi associated with bioactive plants in Brazil 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2010;41(2):420-430.
One hundred and twenty-one isolates of endophytic fungi were recovered from leaves of the bioactive Brazilian plant species Ageratum myriadenia , Palicourea tetraphylla , Piptadenia adiantoides, and Trixis vauthieri. All fungal isolates were cultivated in liquid media and crude extracts were obtained with ethyl acetate. The crude extracts were tested in bioassay panels using Leishmania amazonensis , Trypanosoma cruzi, the enzyme trypanothione reductase (TryR) from Trypanosoma cruzi, and three human cancer cell lines. Thirty-three extracts (27.2%) exhibited at least one biological activity. Seventeen extracts (14%) were cytotoxic against one or more human cancer cell line with the IC50 values ranged of >0.2 to 25 µg/mL. Twenty-four extracts (19.8%) inhibited the activity of TryR, and three showed ability to inhibit the growth of T. cruzi above 60% and their IC50 values ranged among 1 to 10 µg/mL. Eleven extracts (9%) were able to inhibit the growth of L. amazonensis and showed with IC50 values ranged among 4.6 to 24.4 µg/mL. The endophytic fungi were identified as belonging to the genera Alternaria , Arthrinium , Cochliobolus , Colletotrichum , Penicillium , Fusarium, and Gibberella. An interesting result was obtained for the bioactive isolates UFMGCB 508, 537, 899 and 903, which were related to fungi associated with medicinal plants native to Asia, Australia, Africa, and Polynesia. These results indicate that bioactive plants living in Brazilian ecosystems are a potential host of endophytic fungi able to produce bioactive prototype molecules for drug development against neglected tropical diseases.
doi:10.1590/S1517-838220100002000024
PMCID: PMC3768680  PMID: 24031513
Endophytic fungi; human tumoral cell; Leishmania; secondary metabolites; Trypanosoma cruzi
25.  Investigation of Trypanothione Reductase as a Drug Target in Trypanosoma brucei 
Chemmedchem  2009;4(12):2060-2069.
There is an urgent need for new drugs for the treatment of tropical parasitic diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis, which is caused by Trypanosoma brucei. The enzyme trypanothione reductase (TryR) is a potential drug target within these organisms. Herein we report the screening of a 62000 compound library against T. brucei TryR. Further work was undertaken to optimise potency and selectivity of two novel-compound series arising from the enzymatic and whole parasite screens and mammalian cell counterscreens. Both of these series, containing either a quinoline or pyrimidinopyrazine scaffold, yielded low micromolar inhibitors of the enzyme and growth of the parasite. The challenges of inhibiting TryR with druglike molecules is discussed.
doi:10.1002/cmdc.200900262
PMCID: PMC2855869  PMID: 19924760
human African trypanosomiasis; pyrimidopyridazines; quinolines; trypanosoma brucei; trypanothione reductase

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