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1.  From On-Target to Off-Target Activity: Identification and Optimisation of Trypanosoma brucei GSK3 Inhibitors and Their Characterisation as Anti-Trypanosoma brucei Drug Discovery Lead Molecules 
Chemmedchem  2013;8(7):1127-1137.
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is a life-threatening disease with approximately 30 000–40 000 new cases each year. Trypanosoma brucei protein kinase GSK3 short (TbGSK3) is required for parasite growth and survival. Herein we report a screen of a focused kinase library against T. brucei GSK3. From this we identified a series of several highly ligand-efficient TbGSK3 inhibitors. Following the hit validation process, we optimised a series of diaminothiazoles, identifying low-nanomolar inhibitors of TbGSK3 that are potent in vitro inhibitors of T. brucei proliferation. We show that the TbGSK3 pharmacophore overlaps with that of one or more additional molecular targets.
doi:10.1002/cmdc.201300072
PMCID: PMC3728731  PMID: 23776181
antiprotozoal agents; GSK3; medicinal chemistry; protein kinases; Trypanosoma brucei
2.  IspE Inhibitors Identified by a Combination of In Silico and In Vitro High-Throughput Screening 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35792.
CDP-ME kinase (IspE) contributes to the non-mevalonate or deoxy-xylulose phosphate (DOXP) pathway for isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis found in many species of bacteria and apicomplexan parasites. IspE has been shown to be essential by genetic methods and since it is absent from humans it constitutes a promising target for antimicrobial drug development. Using in silico screening directed against the substrate binding site and in vitro high-throughput screening directed against both, the substrate and co-factor binding sites, non-substrate-like IspE inhibitors have been discovered and structure-activity relationships were derived. The best inhibitors in each series have high ligand efficiencies and favourable physico-chemical properties rendering them promising starting points for drug discovery. Putative binding modes of the ligands were suggested which are consistent with established structure-activity relationships. The applied screening methods were complementary in discovering hit compounds, and a comparison of both approaches highlights their strengths and weaknesses. It is noteworthy that compounds identified by virtual screening methods provided the controls for the biochemical screens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035792
PMCID: PMC3340893  PMID: 22563402
3.  Nuclear DBF-2-related Kinases Are Essential Regulators of Cytokinesis in Bloodstream Stage Trypanosoma brucei* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(20):15356-15368.
Nuclear DBF-2-related (NDR) kinases are essential regulators of cell cycle progression, growth, and development in many organisms and are activated by the binding of an Mps One Binder (MOB) protein partner, autophosphorylation, and phosphorylation by an upstream STE20 family kinase. In the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis, the NDR kinase, PK50, is expressed in proliferative life cycle stages and was shown to complement a yeast NDR kinase mutant cell line. However, the function of PK50 and a second NDR kinase, PK53, in T. brucei has not been determined to date, although trypanosome MOB1 is known to be essential for cytokinesis, suggesting the NDR kinases may also be involved in this process. Here, we show that specific depletion of PK50 or PK53 from bloodstream stage trypanosomes resulted in the rapid accumulation of cells with two nuclei and two kinetoplasts, indicating that cytokinesis was specifically inhibited. This led to a deregulation of the cell cycle and cell death and provides genetic validation of these kinases as potential novel drug targets for human African trypanosomiasis. Recombinant active PK50 and PK53 were produced and biochemically characterized. Both enzymes autophosphorylated, were able to trans-phosphorylate generic kinase substrates in vitro, and were active in the absence of phosphorylation by an upstream kinase. Additionally, both enzymes were active in the absence of MOB1 binding, which was also demonstrated to likely be a feature of the kinases in vivo. Biochemical characterization of recombinant PK50 and PK53 has revealed key kinetic differences between them, and the identification of in vitro peptide substrates in this study paves the way for high throughput inhibitor screening of these kinases.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M109.074591
PMCID: PMC2865264  PMID: 20231285
Phosphorylation/Kinases/Serine-Threonine; Signal Transduction/Protein Kinases/Serine/Threonine; Cell Division; Enzyme Kinetics; Parasitology; RNA Interference (RNAi); Trypanosoma brucei; Cytokinesis; Drug Target; NDR Kinase
4.  Chemical Proteomic Analysis Reveals the Drugability of the Kinome of Trypanosoma brucei 
ACS Chemical Biology  2012;7(11):1858-1865.
The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of African sleeping sickness, and there is an urgent unmet need for improved treatments. Parasite protein kinases are attractive drug targets, provided that the host and parasite kinomes are sufficiently divergent to allow specific inhibition to be achieved. Current drug discovery efforts are hampered by the fact that comprehensive assay panels for parasite targets have not yet been developed. Here, we employ a kinase-focused chemoproteomics strategy that enables the simultaneous profiling of kinase inhibitor potencies against more than 50 endogenously expressed T. brucei kinases in parasite cell extracts. The data reveal that T. brucei kinases are sensitive to typical kinase inhibitors with nanomolar potency and demonstrate the potential for the development of species-specific inhibitors.
doi:10.1021/cb300326z
PMCID: PMC3621575  PMID: 22908928

Results 1-4 (4)