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1.  VNI Cures Acute and Chronic Experimental Chagas Disease 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(3):504-511.
Chagas disease is a deadly infection caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. Afflicting approximately 8 million people in Latin America, Chagas disease is now becoming a serious global health problem proliferating beyond the traditional geographical borders, mainly because of human and vector migration. Because the disease is endemic in low-resource areas, industrial drug development has been lethargic. The chronic form remains incurable, there are no vaccines, and 2 existing drugs for the acute form are toxic and have low efficacy. Here we report the efficacy of a small molecule, VNI, including evidence of its effectiveness against chronic Chagas disease. VNI is a potent experimental inhibitor of T. cruzi sterol 14α-demethylase. Nontoxic and highly selective, VNI displays promising pharmacokinetics and administered orally to mice at 25 mg/kg for 30 days cures, with 100% cure rate and 100% survival, the acute and chronic T. cruzi infection.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit042
PMCID: PMC3698996  PMID: 23372180
Chagas disease; Trypanosoma cruzi; sterol biosynthesis; sterol 14alpha-demethylase (CYP51); inhibition; drug discovery; VNI
2.  In Vitro and In Vivo Studies of the Antiparasitic Activity of Sterol 14α-Demethylase (CYP51) Inhibitor VNI against Drug-Resistant Strains of Trypanosoma cruzi 
Chagas disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide, and yet, as it has historically been known as a disease of the poor, it remains highly neglected. Two currently available drugs exhibit severe toxicity and low effectiveness, especially in the chronic phase, while new drug discovery has been halted for years as a result of a lack of interest from pharmaceutical companies. Although attempts to repurpose the antifungal drugs posaconazole and ravuconazole (inhibitors of fungal sterol 14α-demethylase [CYP51]) are finally in progress, development of cheaper and more efficient, preferably Trypanosoma cruzi-specific, chemotherapies would be highly advantageous. We have recently reported that the experimental T. cruzi CYP51 inhibitor VNI cures with 100% survival and 100% parasitological clearance both acute and chronic murine infections with the Tulahuen strain of T. cruzi. In this work, we further explored the potential of VNI by assaying nitro-derivative-resistant T. cruzi strains, Y and Colombiana, in highly stringent protocols of acute infection. The data show high antiparasitic efficacy of VNI and its derivative (VNI/VNF) against both forms of T. cruzi that are relevant for mammalian host infection (bloodstream and amastigotes), with the in vivo potency, at 25 mg/kg twice a day (b.i.d.), similar to that of benznidazole (100 mg/kg/day). Transmission electron microscopy and reverse mutation tests were performed to explore cellular ultrastructural and mutagenic aspects of VNI, respectively. No mutagenic potential could be seen by the Ames test at up to 3.5 μM, and the main ultrastructural damage induced by VNI in T. cruzi was related to Golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum organization, with membrane blebs presenting an autophagic phenotype. Thus, these preliminary studies confirm VNI as a very promising trypanocidal drug candidate for Chagas disease therapy.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00070-13
PMCID: PMC3754355  PMID: 23774435
3.  Unusual properties of the cytochrome P450 superfamily 
During the early years of cytochrome P450 research, a picture of conserved properties arose from studies of mammalian forms of these monooxygenases. They included the protohaem prosthetic group, the cysteine residue that coordinates to the haem iron and the reduced CO difference spectrum. Alternatively, the most variable feature of P450s was the enzymatic activities, which led to the conclusion that there are a large number of these enzymes, most of which have yet to be discovered. More recently, studies of these enzymes in other eukaryotes and in prokaryotes have led to the discovery of unexpected P450 properties. Many are variations of the original properties, whereas others are difficult to explain because of their unique nature relative to the rest of the known members of the superfamily. These novel properties expand our appreciation of the broad view of P450 structure and function, and generate curiosity concerning the evolution of P450s. In some cases, structural properties, previously not found in P450s, can lead to enzymatic activities impacting the biological function of organisms containing these enzymes; whereas, in other cases, the biological reason for the variations are not easily understood. Herein, we present particularly interesting examples in detail rather than cataloguing them all.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0434
PMCID: PMC3538423  PMID: 23297356
cytochrome P450; evolution; biodiversity; structure/function; unusual properties
4.  The Role of Ile87 of CYP158A2 in Oxidative Coupling Reaction 
Both CYP158A1 and CYP158A2 are able to catalyze an oxidative C-C coupling reaction producing biflaviolin or triflaviolin in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). The substrate-bound crystal structures of CYP158A2 and CYP158A1 reveal that the side chain of Ile87 in CYP158A2 points to the active site contacting the distal flaviolin molecule, however, the bulkier side chain of Lys90 in CYP158A1 (corresponding to Ile87 in CYP158A2) is toward the distal surface of the protein. These results suggest that these residues could be important in determining product regiospecificity. In order to explore the role of the two residues in catalysis, the reciprocal mutants, Ile87Lys and Lys90Ile, of CYP158A2 and CYP158A1, respectively, were generated and characterized. The mutant Ile87Lys enzyme forms two isomers of biflaviolin instead of three isomers of biflaviolin in wild-type CYP158A2. CYP158A1 containing the substitution of lysine with isoleucine has the same catalytic activity compared with the wild-type CYP158A1. The crystal structure of Ile87Lys showed that the BC loop in the mutant is in a very different orientation compared with the BC loop in both CYP158A1/A2 structures. These results shed light on the mechanism of the oxidative coupling reaction catalyzed by cytochrome P450.
doi:10.1016/j.abb.2011.12.007
PMCID: PMC3274592  PMID: 22203090
Cytochrome P450; Oxidative coupling reaction; CYP158A1; CYP158A2; Regiospecificity
5.  Organocatalytic, Enantioselective Synthesis of VNI: A Robust Therapeutic Development Platform for Chagas, a Neglected Tropical Disease 
Organic letters  2012;14(24):6322-6325.
VNI is a potent inhibitor of CYP51 and was recently shown to achieve parasitological cure of mice infected with T. cruzi in both acute and chronic stages of infection. T. cruzi is the causative parasite of Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease. The first enantioselective chemical synthesis of VNI (at a materials cost of less than $0.10/mg) is described. Furthermore, the key enantioselective step is performed at the 10 gram scale.
doi:10.1021/ol303092v
PMCID: PMC3528807  PMID: 23214987
6.  Moonlighting Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenases 
IUBMB life  2011;63(7):473-477.
Recently, cytochrome P450 170A1 (CYP170A1) has been found to be a bifunctional protein, which catalyzes both monooxygenase activity and terpene synthase activity by two distinct active sites in the well established P450 protein structure. Therefore, CYP170A1 is identified clearly as a moonlighting protein. The known activities of a small number of the 13,000 members of the P450 superfamily fall into two general classes; promiscuous enzymes that are not considered as moonlighting and forms that participate in biosynthesis of endogenous compounds, such as steroids, vitamins and play different roles in different tissues, sometimes being moonlighting enzymes. Here we review examples of moonlighting P450, which add to our understanding of the large cytochrome P450 superfamily.
doi:10.1002/iub.501
PMCID: PMC3122146  PMID: 21698750
7.  CONFORMATIONAL DYNAMICS IN THE F/G SEGMENT OF CYP51 FROM Mycobacterium tuberculosis MONITORED BY FRET 
A cysteine was introduced into the FG-loop (P187C) of CYP51 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MT) for selective labeling with BODIPY and fluorescence energy transfer (FRET) analysis. Forster radius for the BODIPY-heme pair was calculated assuming that the distance between the heme and Cys187 in solution corresponds to that in the crystal structure of ligand free MTCYP51. Interaction of MTCYP51 with azole inhibitors ketoconazole and fluconazole or the substrate analog estriol did not influence the fluorescence, but titration with the substrate lanosterol quenched BODIPY emission, the effect being proportional to the portion of substrate-bound MTCYP51. The detected changes correspond to ~10 Å decrease in the calculated distance between BODIPY-Cys187 and the heme. The results confirm 1) functional importance of conformational motions in the MTCYP51 F/G segment and 2) applicability of FRET to monitor them in solution.
doi:10.1016/j.abb.2007.05.017
PMCID: PMC3042880  PMID: 17585868
Cytochrome P450; sterol 14α-demethylase; ligand binding; conformational changes; FRET
8.  CYP51 structures and structure-based development of novel, pathogen-specific inhibitory scaffolds 
CYP51 (sterol 14α-demethylase) is a cytochrome P450 enzyme essential for sterol biosynthesis and the primary target for clinical and agricultural antifungal azoles. The azoles that are currently in clinical use for systemic fungal infections represent modifications of two basic scaffolds, ketoconazole and fluconazole, all of them being selected based on their antiparasitic activity in cellular experiments. By studying direct inhibition of CYP51 activity across phylogeny including human pathogens Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania infantum, we identified three novel protozoa-specific inhibitory scaffolds, their inhibitory potency correlating well with antiprotozoan activity. VNI scaffold (carboxamide containing β-phenyl-imidazoles) is the most promising among them: killing T. cruzi amastigotes at low nanomolar concentration, it is also easy to synthesize and nontoxic. Oral administration of VNI (up to 400 mg/kg) neither leads to mortality nor reveals significant side effects up to 48 h post treatment using an experimental mouse model of acute toxicity. Trypanosomatidae CYP51 crystal structures determined in the ligand-free state and complexed with several azole inhibitors as well as a substrate analog revealed high rigidity of the CYP51 substrate binding cavity, which must be essential for the enzyme strict substrate specificity and functional conservation. Explaining profound potency of the VNI inhibitory scaffold, the structures also outline guidelines for its further development. First steps of the VNI scaffold optimization have been undertaken; the results presented here support the notion that CYP51 structure-based rational design of more efficient, pathogen-specific inhibitors represents a highly promising direction.
PMCID: PMC3596085  PMID: 23504044
Sterol 14α-demethylase; CYP51; Inhibition; Crystal structure
9.  Novel sterol metabolic network of Trypanosoma brucei procyclic and bloodstream forms 
The Biochemical journal  2012;443(1):267-277.
Trypanosoma brucei is the protozoan parasite that causes African trypanosomiasis, a neglected disease of people and animals. Co-metabolite analysis, labelling studies using [methyl-2H3]-methionine and substrate/product specificities of the cloned 24-SMT (sterol C24-methyltransferase) and 14-SDM (sterol C14-demethylase) from T. brucei afforded an uncommon sterol metabolic network that proceeds from lanosterol and 31-norlanosterol to ETO [ergosta-5,7,25(27)-trien-3β-ol], 24-DTO [dimethyl ergosta-5,7,25(27)-trienol] and ergosterol [ergosta-5,7,22(23)-trienol]. To assess the possible carbon sources of ergosterol biosynthesis, specifically 13C-labelled specimens of lanosterol, acetate, leucine and glucose were administered to T. brucei and the 13C distributions found were in accord with the operation of the acetate–mevalonate pathway, with leucine as an alternative precursor, to ergostenols in either the insect or bloodstream form. In searching for metabolic signatures of procyclic cells, we observed that the 13C-labelling treatments induce fluctuations between the acetyl-CoA (mitochondrial) and sterol (cytosolic) synthetic pathways detected by the progressive increase in 13C-ergosterol production (control <[2-13C]leucine<[2-13C]acetate<[1-13C]glucose) and corresponding depletion of cholesta-5,7,24-trienol. We conclude that anabolic fluxes originating in mitochondrial metabolism constitute a flexible part of sterol synthesis that is further fluctuated in the cytosol, yielding distinct sterol profiles in relation to cell demands on growth.
doi:10.1042/BJ20111849
PMCID: PMC3491665  PMID: 22176028
[1-13C]glucose; ergosterol biosynthesis; sterol C24-methyltransferase; sterol C14-demethylase; Trypanosoma brucei; trypanosome
10.  Targeting Trypanosoma cruzi Sterol 14α-Demethylase (CYP51) 
Advances in parasitology  2011;75:65-87.
There are at least two obvious features that must be considered upon targeting specific metabolic pathways/enzymes for drug development: the pathway must be essential and the enzyme must allow the design of pharmacologically useful inhibitors. Here, we describe Trypanosoma cruzi sterol 14α-demethylase as a promising target for anti-Chagasic chemotherapy. The use of anti-fungal azoles, which block sterol biosynthesis and therefore membrane formation in fungi, against the protozoan parasite has turned out to be highly successful: a broad spectrum anti-fungal drug, the triazole compound posaconazole, is now entering phase II clinical trials for treatment of Chagas disease. This review summarizes comparative information on anti-fungal azoles and novel inhibitory scaffolds selective for Trypanosomatidae sterol 14α-demethylase through the lens of recent structure/functional characterization of the target enzyme. We believe our studies open wide opportunities for rational design of novel, pathogen-specific and therefore more potent and efficient anti-trypanosomal drugs.
doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-385863-4.00004-6
PMCID: PMC3488290  PMID: 21820552
11.  Sterol 14α-Demethylase Cytochrome P450 (CYP51), a P450 in all Biological Kingdoms 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2006;1770(3):467-477.
Summary
The CYP51 family is an intriguing subject for fundamental P450 structure/function studies and is also an important clinical drug target. This review updates information on the variety of the CYP51 family members, including their physiological roles, natural substrates and substrate preferences, and catalytic properties in vitro. We present experimental support for the notion that specific conserved regions in the P450 sequences represent a CYP51 signature. Two possible roles of CYP51 in P450 evolution are discussed and the major approaches for CYP51 inhibition are summarized.
doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2006.07.018
PMCID: PMC2324071  PMID: 16963187
sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51); sterol biosynthesis; substrate preferences; catalytic activity; inhibition
12.  Sterol 14alpha-Demethylase (CYP51) as a Therapeutic Target for Human Trypanosomiasis and Leishmaniasis 
Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry  2011;11(16):2060-2071.
Pathogenic protozoa threaten lives of several hundred million people throughout the world and are responsible for large numbers of deaths globally. The parasites are transmitted to humans by insect vectors, more than a hundred of infected mammalian species forming reservoir. With human migrations, HIV-coinfections, and blood bank contamination the diseases are now spreading beyond the endemic tropical countries, being found in all parts of the world including the USA, Canada and Europe. In spite of the widely appreciated magnitude of this health problem, current treatment for sleeping sickness (Trypanosoma brucei), Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) and leishmaniasis (Leishmania spp.) remains unsatisfactory. The drugs are decades old, their efficacy and safety profiles are unacceptable. This review describes sterol 14α-demethylase, an essential enzyme in sterol biosynthesis in eukaryotes and clinical target for antifungal azoles, as a promising target for antiprotozoan chemotherapy. While several antifungal azoles have been proven active against Trypanosomatidae and are under consideration as antiprotozoan agents, crystal structures of sterol 14α-demethylases from three protozoan pathogens, Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania infantum provide the basis for the development of new, highly potent and pathogen-specific drugs with rationally optimized pharmacological properties.
PMCID: PMC3391166  PMID: 21619513
Antiprotozoan chemotherapy; crystal structure; enzyme inhibitors; leishmaniasis; sterol 14alpha-demethylase (CYP51); sterol biosynthesis; trypanosomiasis
13.  CYP51 structures and structure-based development of novel, pathogen-specific inhibitory scaffolds 
Graphical abstract
Highlights
► CYP51s (sterol 14alpha-demethylases) are efficient drug target enzymes. ► CYP51s have a highly rigid substrate binding cavity. ► CYP51 structure-based development of a new inhibitory scaffold is described.
CYP51 (sterol 14α-demethylase) is a cytochrome P450 enzyme essential for sterol biosynthesis and the primary target for clinical and agricultural antifungal azoles. The azoles that are currently in clinical use for systemic fungal infections represent modifications of two basic scaffolds, ketoconazole and fluconazole, all of them being selected based on their antiparasitic activity in cellular experiments. By studying direct inhibition of CYP51 activity across phylogeny including human pathogens Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania infantum, we identified three novel protozoa-specific inhibitory scaffolds, their inhibitory potency correlating well with antiprotozoan activity. VNI scaffold (carboxamide containing β-phenyl-imidazoles) is the most promising among them: killing T. cruzi amastigotes at low nanomolar concentration, it is also easy to synthesize and nontoxic. Oral administration of VNI (up to 400 mg/kg) neither leads to mortality nor reveals significant side effects up to 48 h post treatment using an experimental mouse model of acute toxicity. Trypanosomatidae CYP51 crystal structures determined in the ligand-free state and complexed with several azole inhibitors as well as a substrate analog revealed high rigidity of the CYP51 substrate binding cavity, which must be essential for the enzyme strict substrate specificity and functional conservation. Explaining profound potency of the VNI inhibitory scaffold, the structures also outline guidelines for its further development. First steps of the VNI scaffold optimization have been undertaken; the results presented here support the notion that CYP51 structure-based rational design of more efficient, pathogen-specific inhibitors represents a highly promising direction.
doi:10.1016/j.ijpddr.2012.06.001
PMCID: PMC3596085  PMID: 23504044
Sterol 14α-demethylase; CYP51; Inhibition; Crystal structure
14.  Structural basis for conservation in the CYP51 family 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2010;1814(1):88-93.
Sterol 14α-demethylases (14DM) comprise the CYP51 cytochrome P450 genome family. The 14DM reaction is essential for the biosynthesis of sterols which are necessary for production of cellular membranes. This is the most widely distributed P450, being present in all biological kingdoms. From one kingdom to another the primary amino acid sequence identity usually ranges between 30-20%. In this minireview we describe the conservation of specific amino acids and the various CYP51 orthologs and indicate the roles that they may play in the structure/function of this monooxygenase. The prediction of the roles of different amino acids in 14DM is based on high resolution tertiary structures of these enzymes which set the stage for detailed understanding of the 14α-demethylase reaction and its selective, phyla-specific inhibition which is crucial for the design of potent inhibitors for treatment of infection by pathogenic microbes.
doi:10.1016/j.bbapap.2010.06.006
PMCID: PMC2962772  PMID: 20547249
cytochrome P450; sterol 14α-demethylase; CYP51; crystal structure
15.  Structural Analysis of Cytochrome P450 105N1 Involved in the Biosynthesis of the Zincophore, Coelibactin 
Coelibactin is a putative non-ribosomally synthesized peptide with predicted zincophore activity and which has been implicated in antibiotic regulation in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). The coelibactin biosynthetic pathway contains a stereo- and regio-specific monooxygenation step catalyzed by a cytochrome P450 enzyme (CYP105N1). We have determined the X-ray crystal structure of CYP105N1 at 2.9 Å and analyzed it in the context of the bacterial CYP105 family as a whole. The crystal structure reveals a channel between the α-helical domain and the β-sheet domain exposing the heme pocket and the long helix I to the solvent. This wide-open conformation of CYP105N1 may be related to the bulky substrate coelibactin. The ligand-free CYP105N1 structure has enough room in the substrate access channel to allow the coelibactin to enter into the active site. Analysis of typical siderophore ligands suggests that CYP105N1 may produce derivatives of coelibactin, which would then be able to chelate the zinc divalent cation.
doi:10.3390/ijms13078500
PMCID: PMC3430247  PMID: 22942716
cytochrome P450; CYP105N1; siderophore; Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2); zinc chelation
16.  The Structural Basis for Substrate Anchoring, Active Site Selectivity, and Product Formation by P450 PikC from Streptomyces venezuelae 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;281(36):26289-26297.
The pikromycin (Pik)/methymycin biosynthetic pathway of Streptomyces venezuelae represents a valuable system for dissecting the fundamental mechanisms of modular polyketide biosynthesis, aminodeoxysugar assembly, glycosyltransfer, and hydroxylation leading to the production of a series of macrolide antibiotics, including the natural ketolides narbomycin and pikromycin. In this study, we describe four x-ray crystal structures and allied functional studies for PikC, the remarkable P450 monooxygenase responsible for production of a number of related macrolide products from the Pik pathway. The results provide important new insights into the structural basis for the C10/C12, and C12/C14 hydroxylation patterns for the 12- (YC-17) and 14-membered ring (narbomycin) macrolides, respectively. This includes two different ligand-free structures in an asymmetric unit (resolution 2.1 Å) and two co-crystal structures with bound endogenous substrates YC-17 (resolution 2.35 Å) or narbomycin (resolution 1.7 Å). A central feature of the enzyme-substrate interaction involves anchoring of the desosamine residue in two alternative binding pockets based on a series of distinct amino acid residues that form a salt bridge and a hydrogen bonding network with the deoxysugar C3′ dimethylamino group. Functional significance of the salt bridge was corroborated by site-directed mutagenesis that revealed a key role for E94 in YC-17 binding, and E85 for narbomycin binding. Taken together, the x-ray structure analysis, site-directed mutagenesis and corresponding product distribution studies reveal that PikC substrate tolerance, and product diversity result from a combination of alternative anchoring modes, rather than an induced fit mechanism.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M605478200
PMCID: PMC2939096  PMID: 16825192
17.  Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) CYP102 Protein, a Novel Fatty Acid Hydroxylase Encoded as a Heme Domain without an N-Terminal Redox Partner▿  
The gene from Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) encoding CYP102B1, a recently discovered CYP102 subfamily which exists solely as a single P450 heme domain, has been cloned, expressed in Escherichia coli, purified, characterized, and compared to its fusion protein family members. Purified reconstitution metabolism experiments with spinach ferredoxin, ferredoxin reductase, and NADPH revealed differences in the regio- and stereoselective metabolism of arachidonic acid compared to that of CYP102A1, exclusively producing 11,12-epoxyeicosa-5,8,14-trienoic acid in addition to the shared metabolites 18-hydroxy arachidonic acid and 14,15-epoxyeicosa-5,8,11-trienoic acid. Consequently, in order to elucidate the physiological function of CYP102B1, transposon mutagenesis was used to generate an S. coelicolor A3(2) strain lacking CYP102B1 activity and the phenotype was assessed.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03000-09
PMCID: PMC2838009  PMID: 20097805
18.  Indomethacin Amides as a Novel Molecular Scaffold for Targeting Trypanosoma cruzi Sterol 14α-Demethylase 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(9):2846-2853.
Trypanosoma cruzi (TC) causes Chagas disease, which in its chronic stage remains incurable. We have shown recently that specific inhibition of TC sterol 14α-demethylase (TCCYP51) with imidazole derivatives is effective in killing both extracellular and intracellular human stages of TC. An alternative set of TCCYP51 inhibitors has been identified using optical high throughput screening followed by web-database search for similar structures. The best TCCYP51 inhibitor from this search was found to have structural similarity to a class of cyclooxygenase-2-selective inhibitors, the indomethacin-amides. A number of indomethacin-amides were found to bind to TCCYP51, inhibit its activity in vitro and produce strong antiparasitic effects in the cultured TC cells. Analysis of TC sterol composition indicated that the mode of action of the compounds is by inhibition of sterol biosynthesis in the parasite.
doi:10.1021/jm801643b
PMCID: PMC2744100  PMID: 19354253
19.  Aromatase is phosphorylated in situ at Serine-118 
Phosphorylation of the cytochrome P450 aromatase has been proposed as a switch to rapidly modulate enzymatic activity and estrogen biosynthesis. Herein, we demonstrate that aromatase serine-118 is a potential phosphorylation site in mammalian cells. The amino acid context surrounding S118 is highly conserved among diverse animal species and suggests that an AGC-like kinase may phosphorylate aromatase. Mutation of S118 to Ala blocked phosphorylation. Mutation of S118 to either Ala or Asp destabilized aromatase, indicating an important structural role for S118. The phosphomimetic S118D mutant showed decreased specific enzymatic activity, decreased Vmax, and increased Km, while the S118A phospho-inhibiting mutant showed opposite effects. Our findings suggest that phosphorylation of S118 may decrease aromatase activity, presenting a mechanism whereby kinase signaling may modulate estrogen production and hormone balance.
doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2008.09.001
PMCID: PMC2856845  PMID: 18822378
aromatase; phosphorylation; estrogen synthase; post-translational modification
20.  The First Virally Encoded Cytochrome P450▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(16):8266-8269.
The genome sequence of the giant virus Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus revealed the presence of two putative cytochrome P450 (CYP) genes. The product of one of the two predicted CYP genes (YP_143162) showed low-level homology to sterol 14-demethylase (CYP51) and contained a C-terminal polypeptide domain of unknown function. YP_143162 expression (without an N-terminal membrane binding domain) in Escherichia coli yields a CYP protein which gives a reduced CO difference maximum at 448 nm and was formally demonstrated as the first viral cytochrome P450. Analysis of binding of lipid and sterol substrates indicated no perturbation in CYP heme environment, and an absence of activity was seen when 14-methyl sterols were used as a substrate. The function of the CYP protein and its C-terminal domain remain unknown.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00289-09
PMCID: PMC2715754  PMID: 19515774
21.  CYP51: A Major Drug Target in the Cytochrome P450 Superfamily 
Lipids  2008;43(12):1117-1125.
The cytochrome P540 (CYP) superfamily currently includes about 9,000 proteins forming more than 800 families. The enzymes catalyze monooxygenation of a vast array of compounds and play essentially two roles. They provide biodefense (detoxification of xenobiotics, antibiotic production) and participate in biosynthesis of important endogenous molecules, particularly steroids. Based on these two roles, sterol 14|*alpha*|-demethylases (CYP51) belong to the second group of P450s. The CYP51 family, however, is very special as its members preserve strict functional conservation in enzyme activity in all biological kingdoms. At amino acid identity across the kingdoms as low as 25–30%, they all catalyze essentially the same three-step reaction of oxidative removal of the 14|*alpha*|-methyl group from the lanostane frame. This reaction is the required step in sterol biosynthesis of pathogenic microbes. We have shown that specific inhibition of protozoan CYP51 can potentially provide treatment for human trypanosomiases. Three sets of CYP51 inhibitors tested in vitro and in trypanosomal cells in this study include azoles [best results being 50% cell growth inhibition at <1 and at 1.3 µM for Trypanosoma cruzi (TC) and Trypanosoma brucei (TB), respectively], non-azole compounds (50% TC cell growth inhibition at 5 µM) and substrate analogs of the 14|*alpha*|-demethylase reaction. 32-Methylene cyclopropyl lanost-7-enol exhibited selectivity toward TC with 50% cell growth inhibition at 3 µM.
doi:10.1007/s11745-008-3225-y
PMCID: PMC2715142  PMID: 18769951
Cytochrome P450 (CYP51); Sterol biosynthesis; Sterol 14α-demethylase; Enzymatic activity; Inhibition; Sleeping sickness; Chagas disease; Antifungal agents; Antitrypanosomal drugs
22.  The Ferrous-Oxy Complex of Human Aromatase 
In this communication, we document the self-assembly of heterologously expressed truncated human aromatase (CYP19) into nanometer scale phospholipids bilayers (Nanodiscs). The resulting P450 CYP19 preparation is stable, and can tightly associate the substrate androstenedione to form a nearly complete high-spin ferric protein. Ferrous CYP19 in Nanodiscs was mixed anaerobically in a rapid-scan stopped-flow with atmospheric dioxygen and the formation of the ferrous-oxy complex observed. First order decay of the oxy-complex to release superoxide and regenerate the ferric enzyme was monitored kinetically. Surprisingly, the ferrous-oxy complex of aromatase is more stable that of hepatic CYP3A4, opening the path to precisely determine the biochemical and biophysical properties of the reaction cycle intermediates in this important human drug target.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.05.011
PMCID: PMC2478517  PMID: 18482580
23.  The T8590C Polymorphism of CYP4A11 and 20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic Acid in Essential Hypertension 
Hypertension  2008;51(3):767-772.
A role for a deficit in transport actions of 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE) in hypertension is supported by the following: (1) diminished renal 20-HETE in Dahl-S rats; (2) altered salt- and furosemide-induced 20-HETE responses in salt-sensitive hypertensive subjects; and (3) increased population risk for hypertension in C allele carriers of the T8590C polymorphism of CYP4A11, which encodes an enzyme with reduced catalytic activity. We determined T8590C genotypes in 32 hypertensive subjects, 25 of whom were phenotyped for salt sensitivity of blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. Urine 20-HETE was lowest in insulin-resistant, salt-sensitive subjects (F=5.56; P<0.02). Genotypes were 13 TT, 2 CC, and 17 CT. C allele frequency was 32.8% (blacks: 38.9%; whites: 25.0%). C carriers (CC+CT) and TT subjects were similarly distributed among salt- and insulin-sensitivity phenotypes. C carriers had higher diastolic blood pressures and aldosterone:renin and waist:hip ratios but lower furosemide-induced fractional excretions of Na and K than TT. The T8590C genotype did not relate to sodium balance or pressure natriuresis. However, C carriers, compared with TT, had diminished 20-HETE responses to salt loading after adjustment for serum insulin concentration and resetting of the negative relationship between serum insulin and urine 20-HETE to a 1-μg/h lower level of 20-HETE. The effect of C was insulin independent and equipotent to 18 μU/mL of insulin (Δ20-HETE=2.84-0.054×insulin-0.98×C; r2=0.53; F=11.1; P<0.001). Hence, genetic (T8590C) and environmental (insulin) factors impair 20-HETE responses to salt in human hypertension. We propose that genotype analyses with sufficient homozygous CC will establish definitive relationships among 20-HETE, salt sensitivity of blood pressure, and insulin resistance.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.107.102921
PMCID: PMC2365894  PMID: 18227405
hypertension; obesity; arachidonic acid; cytochrome P450; insulin; insulin resistance
24.  Sterol 14α-demethylase as a potential target for antitrypanosomal therapy: enzyme inhibition and parasite cell growth 
Chemistry & biology  2007;14(11):1283-1293.
Summary
Sterol 14α-demethylases (CYP51) serve as primary targets for antifungal drugs and specific inhibition of CYP51s in protozoan parasites Trypanosoma brucei (TB) and Trypanosoma cruzi (TC) might provide an effective treatment strategy for human trypanosomiases. Primary inhibitor selection is based initially on the cytochrome P450 spectral response to ligand binding. Ligands which demonstrate strongest binding parameters were examined as inhibitors of reconstituted TB and TC CYP51 activity in vitro. Direct correlation between potency of the compounds as CYP51 inhibitors and their antiparasitic effect in TB and TC cells implies essential requirements for endogenous sterol production in both trypanosomes and suggests a novel lead structure with a defined region most promising for further modifications. The approach developed here can be used for further large-scale search for new CYP51 inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2007.10.011
PMCID: PMC2324070  PMID: 18022567
25.  Small-Molecule Scaffolds for CYP51 Inhibitors Identified by High-Throughput Screening and Defined by X-Ray Crystallography▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2007;51(11):3915-3923.
Sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51), a major checkpoint in membrane sterol biosynthesis, is a key target for fungal antibiotic therapy. We sought small organic molecules for lead candidate CYP51 inhibitors. The changes in CYP51 spectral properties following ligand binding make CYP51 a convenient target for high-throughput screening technologies. These changes are characteristic of either substrate binding (type I) or inhibitor binding (type II) in the active site. We screened a library of 20,000 organic molecules against Mycobacterium tuberculosis CYP51 (CYP51Mt), examined the top type I and type II binding hits for their inhibitory effects on M. tuberculosis in broth culture, and analyzed them spectrally for their ability to discriminate between CYP51Mt and two reference M. tuberculosis CYP proteins, CYP130 and CYP125. We determined the binding mode for one of the top type II hits, α-ethyl-N-4-pyridinyl-benzeneacetamide (EPBA), by solving the X-ray structure of the CYP51Mt-EPBA complex to a resolution of 1.53 Å. EPBA binds coordinately to the heme iron in the CYP51Mt active site through a lone pair of nitrogen electrons and also through hydrogen bonds with residues H259 and Y76, which are invariable in the CYP51 family, and hydrophobic interactions in a phylum- and/or substrate-specific cavity of CYP51. We also identified a second compound with structural and binding properties similar to those of EPBA, 2-(benzo[d]-2,1,3-thiadiazole-4-sulfonyl)-2-amino-2-phenyl-N-(pyridinyl-4)-acetamide (BSPPA). The congruence between the geometries of EPBA and BSPPA and the CYP51 binding site singles out EPBA and BSPPA as lead candidate CYP51 inhibitors with optimization potential for efficient discrimination between host and pathogen enzymes.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00311-07
PMCID: PMC2151439  PMID: 17846131

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