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1.  In Vitro and In Vivo Evaluation of 28DAP010, a Novel Diamidine for Treatment of Second-Stage African Sleeping Sickness 
African sleeping sickness is a neglected tropical disease transmitted by tsetse flies. New and better drugs are still needed especially for its second stage, which is fatal if untreated. 28DAP010, a dipyridylbenzene analogue of DB829, is the second simple diamidine found to cure mice with central nervous system infections by a parenteral route of administration. 28DAP010 showed efficacy similar to that of DB829 in dose-response studies in mouse models of first- and second-stage African sleeping sickness. The in vitro time to kill, determined by microcalorimetry, and the parasite clearance time in mice were shorter for 28DAP010 than for DB829. No cross-resistance was observed between 28DAP010 and pentamidine on the tested Trypanosoma brucei gambiense isolates from melarsoprol-refractory patients. 28DAP010 is the second promising preclinical candidate among the diamidines for the treatment of second-stage African sleeping sickness.
PMCID: PMC4136055  PMID: 24867978
2.  Discovery of new G-quadruplex binding chemotypes 
We report here on the discovery and preliminary evaluation of a novel non-macrocyclic low molecular weight quadruplex-stabilizing chemotype. The lead compounds, based on a furan core, show high G-quadruplex stabilisation and selectivity as well as potent in vitro anti-proliferative activity.
PMCID: PMC3901018  PMID: 24302123
3.  CYP1A1 and CYP1B1-mediated biotransformation of the antitrypanosomal methamidoxime prodrug DB844 forms novel metabolites through intramolecular rearrangement 
Journal of pharmaceutical sciences  2013;103(1):10.1002/jps.23765.
DB844 (CPD-594-12), N-methoxy-6-{5-[4-(N-methoxyamidino)phenyl]-furan-2-yl}-nicotinamidine, is an oral prodrug that has shown promising efficacy in both mouse and monkey models of second stage human African trypanosomiasis. However, gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity was observed with high doses in a vervet monkey safety study. In the current study, we compared the metabolism of DB844 by hepatic and extrahepatic cytochrome P450s to determine if differences in metabolite formation underlie the observed GI toxicity. DB844 undergoes sequential O-demethylation and N-dehydroxylation in the liver to form the active compound DB820 (CPD-593-12). However, extrahepatic CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 produced two new metabolites, MX and MY. Accurate mass and collision-induced dissociation mass spectrometry analyses of the metabolites supported proposed structures of MX and MY. In addition, MY was confirmed with a synthetic standard and detection of nitric oxide release when DB844 was incubated with CYP1A1. Taken altogether, we propose that MX is formed by insertion of an oxygen into the amidine C=N to form an oxaziridine, which is followed by intramolecular rearrangement of the adjacent O-methyl group and subsequent release of nitric oxide. The resulting imine ester, MX, is further hydrolyzed to form MY. These findings may contribute to furthering the understanding of toxicities associated with benzamidoxime- and benzmethamidoxime-containing molecules.
PMCID: PMC3865069  PMID: 24186380
CYP1A1; CYP1B1; cytochrome P450; intramolecular rearrangement; drug metabolism; prodrugs; human African trypanosomiasis; metabolite identification; nitric oxide
4.  Green Fluorescent Diamidines as Diagnostic Probes for Trypanosomes 
Light-emitting diode (LED) fluorescence microscopy offers potential benefits in the diagnosis of human African trypanosomiasis and in other aspects of diseases management, such as detection of drug-resistant strains. To advance such approaches, reliable and specific fluorescent markers to stain parasites in human fluids are needed. Here we describe a series of novel green fluorescent diamidines and their suitability as probes with which to stain trypanosomes.
PMCID: PMC3957857  PMID: 24366732
5.  Design of DNA Minor Groove Binding Diamidines that Recognize GC base pair Sequences: A Dimeric-Hinge Interaction Motif 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2007;129(44):10.1021/ja074560a.
The classical model of DNA minor groove binding compounds is that they should have a crescent shape that closely fits the helical twist of the groove. Several compounds with relatively linear shape and large dihedral twist, however, have been found recently to bind strongly to the minor groove. These observations raise the question of how far the curvature requirement could be relaxed. As an initial step in experimental analysis of this question, a linear triphenyl diamidine, DB1111 and a series of nitrogen tricyclic analogues were prepared. The goal with the heterocycles is to design GC binding selectivity into heterocyclic compounds that can get into cells and exert biological effects. The compounds have a zero radius of curvature from amidine carbon to amidine carbon but a significant dihedral twist across the tricyclic and amidine-ring junctions. They would not be expected to bind well to the DNA minor groove by shape-matching criteria. Detailed DNaseI footprinting studies of the sequence specificity of this set of diamidines indicated that a pyrimidine heterocyclic derivative, DB1242, has remarkable binding specificity for a GC rich sequence, -GCTCG-. It binds to the GC sequence more strongly than to the usual AT recognition sequences for curved minor groove agents. Other similar derivatives did not exhibit the GC specificity. Biosensor-surface plasmon resonance and isothermal titration calorimetry experiments indicate that DB1242 binds to the GC sequence as a highly cooperative stacked dimer. Circular dichroism results indicate that the compound binds in the minor groove. Molecular modeling studies support a minor groove complex and provide an inter-compound and compound-DNA hydrogen bonding rational for the unusual GC binding specificity and the requirement for a pyrimidine heterocycle. This compound represents a new direction in development of DNA sequence specific agents and it is the first non-polyamide, synthetic compound to specifically recognize a DNA sequence with a majority of GC base pairs.
PMCID: PMC3865524  PMID: 17935330
6.  Heterocyclic Dications as a New Class of Telomeric G-Quadruplex Targeting Agents 
Current pharmaceutical design  2012;18(14):1934-1947.
Small molecules that can induce and stabilize G-quadruplex DNA structures represent a novel approach for anti-cancer and anti-parasitic therapy and extensive efforts have been directed towards discovering lead compounds that are capable of stabilizing quadruplexes. The purpose of this study is to explore conformational modifications in a series of heterocyclic dications to discover structural motifs that can selectively bind and stabilize specific G-quadruplexes, such as those present in the human telomere. The G-quadruplex has various potential recognition sites for small molecules; however, the primary interaction site of most of these ligands is the terminal tetrads. Similar to duplex-DNA groove recognition, quadruplex groove recognition by small molecules offers the potential for enhanced selectivity that can be developed into a viable therapeutic strategy. The compounds investigated were selected based on preliminary studies with DB832, a bifuryl-phenyl diamidine with a unique telomere interaction. This compound provides a paradigm that can help in understanding the optimum compound-DNA interactions that lead to quadruplex groove recognition. DNA recognition by the DB832 derivatives was investigated by biophysical experiments such as thermal melting, circular dichroism, mass spectrometry and NMR. Biological studies were also performed to complement the biophysical data. The results suggest a complex binding mechanism which involves the recognition of grooves for some ligands as well as stacking at the terminal tetrads of the human telomeric G-quadruplex for most of the ligands. These molecules represent an excellent starting point for further SAR analysis for diverse modes of quadruplex recognition and subsequent structure optimization for drug development.
PMCID: PMC3865530  PMID: 22380518
Heterocyclic dications; Telomere; Telomerase; G-quadruplex; Circular dichroism; Nuclear magnetic resonance; Groove binding; Dimer
7.  Novel linear triaryl guanidines, N-substituted guanidines and potential prodrugs as antiprotozoal agents 
European journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;43(12):10.1016/j.ejmech.2008.02.008.
A series of triaryl guanidines and N-substituted guanidines designed to target the minor groove of DNA were synthesized and evaluated as antiprotozoal agents. Selected carbamate prodrugs of these guanidines were assayed for their oral efficacy. The linear triaryl bis-guanidines 6a,b were prepared from their corresponding diamines 4a,b through the intermediate BOC protected bis-guanidines 5a,b followed by acid catalyzed deprotection. The N-substituted guanidino analogues 9c–f were obtained in three steps starting by reacting the diamines 4a,b with ethyl iso-thiocyanatoformate to give the carbamoyl thioureas 7a,b. Subsequent condensation of 7a,b with various amines in the presence of EDCI provided the carbamoyl N-substituted guanidine intermediates 8a–f which can also be regarded as potential prodrugs for the guanidino derivatives. Compounds 9c–f were obtained via the base catalyzed decarbamoylation of 8a–f. The DNA binding affinities for the target dicationic bis-guanidines were assessed by ΔTm values. In vitro antiprotozoal screening of the new compounds showed that derivatives 6a, 9c and 9e possess high to moderate activity against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r.) and Plasmodium falciparum (P.f.). While the prodrugs did not yield cures upon oral administration in the antitrypanosomal STIB900 mouse model, compounds 8a and 8c prolonged the survival of the treated mice.
PMCID: PMC3815585  PMID: 18455271
Antiprotozoan; Bis-guanidines; DNA binding; Triaryl guanidines
8.  Microscopic Rearrangement of Bound Minor Groove Binders Detected by NMR 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2012;116(19):5620-5627.
Thermodynamic and structural studies are commonly utilized to optimize small molecules for specific DNA interactions and thus, a significant amount of binding data is available. However, the dynamic processes that are involved in minor groove complex formation and maintenance are not fully understood. To help define the processes involved, we have conducted 1D and 2D NMR in conjunction with biosensor-SPR experiments with a variety of compounds and symmetric, as well as asymmetric, AT tract DNA sequences. Surprisingly, the NMR data clearly show exchange between equivalent binding sites for strongly binding compounds like netropsin and DB921 (Ka > 108 M−1) that does not involve dissociation off the DNA. A quantitative analysis of the data revealed that these bound exchange rates are indeed much faster than the macroscopic dissociation rates which were independently determined by biosensor-SPR. Additionally, we could show the existence of at least two 1:1 compound DNA complexes at the same site for the interaction of these compounds with an asymmetric DNA sequence. To explain this behavior we introduced a model in which the ligand is rapidly flipping between two orientations while in close association with the DNA. The ligand reorientation will contribute favorably to the binding entropy. As the potential of minor groove binders to form more than a single complex with asymmetric, as well as symmetric, duplexes is widely unknown, the consequences for binding thermodynamics and compound design are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3637426  PMID: 22530735
Small molecule-DNA interactions; Kinetics; Thermodynamics; NMR; SPR
9.  Synthesis and activity of azaterphenyl diamidines against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and Plasmodium falciparum 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2009;17(18):10.1016/j.bmc.2009.07.080.
A series of azaterphenyl diamidines has been synthesized and evaluated for in vitro antiprotozoal activity against both Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T. b. r.) and Plasmodium falciparum (P. f.) and in vivo efficacy in the STIB900 acute mouse model for T. b. r. Six of the 13 compounds showed IC50 values less than 7 nM against T. b. r. Twelve of those exhibited IC50 values less than 6 nM against P. f. and six of those showed IC50 values ≤0.6 nM, which are more than 25-fold as potent as furamidine. Moreover, two of them showed more than 40-fold selectivity for P. f. versus T. b. r. Three compounds 15b, 19d and 19e exhibited in vivo efficacy against T. b. r. much superior to furamidine, and equivalent to or better than azafuramidine. The antiparasitic activity of these diamidines depends on the ring nitrogen atom(s) location relative to the amidine groups and generally correlates with DNA binding affinity.
PMCID: PMC3813006  PMID: 19699098
Diamidines; Antiprotozoal agents; DNA binding affinity; Azaterphenyl
10.  Safety, Pharmacokinetic, and Efficacy Studies of Oral DB868 in a First Stage Vervet Monkey Model of Human African Trypanosomiasis 
There are no oral drugs for human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, sleeping sickness). A successful oral drug would have the potential to reduce or eliminate the need for patient hospitalization, thus reducing healthcare costs of HAT. The development of oral medications is a key objective of the Consortium for Parasitic Drug Development (CPDD). In this study, we investigated the safety, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of a new orally administered CPDD diamidine prodrug, 2,5-bis[5-(N-methoxyamidino)-2-pyridyl]furan (DB868; CPD-007-10), in the vervet monkey model of first stage HAT. DB868 was well tolerated at a dose up to 30 mg/kg/day for 10 days, a cumulative dose of 300 mg/kg. Mean plasma levels of biomarkers indicative of liver injury (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase) were not significantly altered by drug administration. In addition, no kidney-mediated alterations in creatinine and urea concentrations were detected. Pharmacokinetic analysis of plasma confirmed that DB868 was orally available and was converted to the active compound DB829 in both uninfected and infected monkeys. Treatment of infected monkeys with DB868 began 7 days post-infection. In the infected monkeys, DB829 attained a median Cmax (dosing regimen) that was 12-fold (3 mg/kg/day for 7 days), 15-fold (10 mg/kg/day for 7 days), and 31-fold (20 mg/kg/day for 5 days) greater than the IC50 (14 nmol/L) against T. b. rhodesiense STIB900. DB868 cured all infected monkeys, even at the lowest dose tested. In conclusion, oral DB868 cured monkeys with first stage HAT at a cumulative dose 14-fold lower than the maximum tolerated dose and should be considered a lead preclinical candidate in efforts to develop a safe, short course (5–7 days), oral regimen for first stage HAT.
Author Summary
Development of orally administered medicines for human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) would potentially reduce the need for patient hospitalization, thus lowering healthcare costs. In this study, we investigated the potential of a novel diamidine prodrug, DB868 (CPD-007-10), as an oral treatment for first stage HAT. When administered to uninfected monkeys by oral gavage, DB868 was well tolerated up to a maximum dose of 30 mg/kg/day for 10 days (cumulative dose [CD] = 300 mg/kg). DB868 was absorbed into the systemic circulation and was converted to the active compound DB829 in concentrations that were potentially therapeutic for blood trypanosomes. Subsequently, DB868 was evaluated for efficacy in the first stage vervet monkey model of HAT in which treatment was initiated at 7 days post-infection with T. b. rhodesiense KETRI 2537. All infected monkeys were cured, even at the lowest of the three dose regimens tested: 3 mg/kg/day for 7 days (CD = 21 mg/kg), 10 mg/kg/day for 7 days (CD = 70 mg/kg) and 20 mg/kg/day for 5 days (CD = 100 mg/kg). DB868 conversion to DB829 was comparable between uninfected and infected monkeys. In view of its favourable safety and oral efficacy profile, we conclude that DB868 is a suitable candidate for development as a new treatment for first stage HAT.
PMCID: PMC3674995  PMID: 23755309
11.  Targeting the DNA-binding activity of the human ERG transcription factor using new heterocyclic dithiophene diamidines 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(1):125-138.
Direct modulation of gene expression by targeting oncogenic transcription factors is a new area of research for cancer treatment. ERG, an ETS-family transcription factor, is commonly over-expressed or translocated in leukaemia and prostate carcinoma. In this work, we selected the di-(thiophene-phenyl-amidine) compound DB1255 as an ERG/DNA binding inhibitor using a screening test of synthetic inhibitors of the ERG/DNA interaction followed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) validation. Spectrometry, footprint and biosensor-surface plasmon resonance analyses of the DB1255/DNA interaction evidenced sequence selectivity and groove binding as dimer. Additional EMSA evidenced the precise DNA-binding sequence required for optimal DB1255/DNA binding and thus for an efficient ERG/DNA complex inhibition. We further highlighted the structure activity relationships from comparison with derivatives. In cellulo luciferase assay confirmed this modulation both with the constructed optimal sequences and the Osteopontin promoter known to be regulated by ERG and which ERG-binding site was protected from DNaseI digestion on binding of DB1255. These data showed for the first time the ERG/DNA complex modulation, both in vitro and in cells, by a heterocyclic diamidine that specifically targets a portion of the ERG DNA recognition site.
PMCID: PMC3592449  PMID: 23093599
12.  Water-Mediated Binding of Agents that Target the DNA Minor Groove 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2011;133(26):10171-10183.
Small molecule complexes with DNA that incorporate linking water molecules are rare, and the DB921-DNA complex has provided a unique and well-defined system for analysis of water-mediated binding in the context of a DNA complex. DB921 has a benzimidazole–biphenyl system with terminal amidines that results in a linear conformation that does not possess the appropriate radius of curvature to match the minor groove shape and represents a new paradigm that does not fit the classical model of minor groove interactions. To better understand the role of the bound water molecule observed in the X-ray crystal structure of the DB921 complex, synthetic modifications have been made in the DB921 structure and the interactions of the new compounds with DNA AT sites have been evaluated with an array of methods including DNase I footprinting, biosensor-surface plasmon resonance, isothermal titration microcalorimetry, and circular dichroism. The interaction of a key compound, which has the amidine at the phenyl shifted from the para position in DB921 to the meta position, has also been examined by X-ray crystallography. The detailed structural, thermodynamic and kinetic results provide valuable new information for incorporation of water molecules in the design of new lead scaffolds for targeting DNA in chemical biology and therapeutic applications.
PMCID: PMC3165004  PMID: 21627167
13.  Facile construction of substituted pyrimido[4,5-d]pyrimidones by transformation of enaminouracil 
Journal of Advanced Research  2012;4(2):115-121.
The reaction of 6-amino-1,3-dimethylpyrimidine-2,4(1H,3H)-dione (1) as a binucleophile with primary aromatic or heterocyclic amines and formaldehyde or aromatic (heterocyclic) aldehydes in a molar ratio (1:1:2) gave the pyrimido[4,5-d]pyrimidin-2,4-dione ring systems 2–5. Treatment of 1 with diamines and formalin in molar ratio (2:1:4) gave the bis-pyrimido[4,5-d]pyrimidin-2,4-diones 6–8. Furthermore, substituted pyrimido[4,5-d]pyrimidin-2,4-diones with uracil derivative 11 or spiro indole 16 were synthesized. Synthesis of pyrimido[4,5-d]pyrimidin-2,4-diones with different substitution at C-5 and C-7 was achieved to give 13 and 18, respectively.
PMCID: PMC4265671
Uracil; Annulation; Double Mannich reaction; Aldimine; Ketimine
14.  Dicationic phenyl-2, 2′-bichalcophenes and analogues as antiprotozoal agents 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2010;19(2):978-984.
A series of phenyl-2, 2′-bichalcophene diamidines 1a-h were synthesized from the corresponding dinitriles either via a direct reaction with LiN(TMS)2, followed by deprotection with ethanolic HCl or through the bis-O-acetoxyamidoxime followed by hydrogenation in acetic acid and EtOH over Pd-C. These diamidines show a wide range of DNA affinities as judged from their ΔTm values which are remarkably sensitive to replacement of a furan unit with a thiophene one. These differences are explained in terms of the effect of subtle changes in geometry of the diamidines on binding efficacy. Five of the eight compounds were highly active (below 6 nM IC50) in vitro against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T. b. r.) and four gave IC50values less than 7 nM against Plasmodium falciparum (P. f.). Only one of the compounds was as effective as reference compounds in the T. b. r. mouse model for the acute phase of African trypanosomiasis.
PMCID: PMC3064985  PMID: 21194955
diamidines; bichalcophenes; Antiprotozoal agents; Stille coupling; Heck coupling
15.  DNA Minor Groove Induced Dimerization of Heterocyclic Cations: Compound Structure, Binding Affinity and Specificity for a TTAA Site 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;402(5):847-864.
With the increasing number and variations of genome sequences available control of gene expression with synthetic, cell permeable molecules is within reach. The variety of sequence-specific-binding agents is, however, still quite limited. Many minor groove binding agents selectivity recognize AT over GC sequences but have less ability to distinguish among different AT sequences. The goal with this paper is to develop compounds that can bind selectively to different AT sequences. A number of studies indicate that AATT and TTAA sequences have significantly different physical and interaction properties and different requirements for minor groove recognition. Although it has been difficult to get minor groove binding at TTAA, DB293, a phenyl-furan-benzimidazole-diamidine, was found to bind as a strong, cooperative dimer at TTAA but with no selectivity over AATT. In order to improve selectivity, modifications were made to each unit of DB293. Binding affinities and stoichiometries obtained from biosensor-surface plasmon resonance experiments show that DB1003, a furan-furan-benzimidazole diamidine binds strongly to TTAA as a dimer and has selectivity (KTTAA/KAATT = 6). CD and DNAse I footprinting studies confirmed the preference of this compound for TTAA. In summary (i) a favorable stacking surface provided by the pi system, (ii) H-bond donors to interact with TA base pairs at the floor of the groove provided by a benzimidazole (or indole) –NH and amidines, and (iii) appropriate curvature of the dimer complex to match the curvature of the minor groove play important roles in differentiating the TTAA and AATT minor grooves.
PMCID: PMC2988403  PMID: 20713062
TTAA; Sequence-recognition; DNA; Biosensor-SPR; Cooperative dimer
Synthetic communications  2011;41(3):319-330.
Symmetrical and unsymmetrical bithiophene-substituted heterocycles bearing carbonitriles including imidazo[1,2-a]pyridine, benzimidazole, and pyridine derivatives have been synthesized via different synthetic protocols. The bithiophene bis-imidazo[1,2-a]pyridine derivatives 3a,b were achieved in three steps starting from 2-acetyl-5-bromothiophene. Suzuki coupling reaction of 2a with 5-formylthiophen-2-ylboronic acid forms the formyl derivative 5, which by condensation with 3,4-diaminobenzonitrile in the presence of sodium bisulfite furnishes the unsymmetrical bithiophene derivative 6. The bis-benzimidazole derivative 8 was obtained via hexabutylditin-mediated homocoupling of 5-bromothiophene-2-carboxaldehyde, while the benzimidazole derivatives 12a,b were prepared via the formyl derivatives 11a,b, a product of Velsmier formylation reaction of 10a,b. Two synthetic protocols for the aryl/hetaryl-2,2′-bithiophene derivative 14 have also been presented. In addition, the guanyl hydrazones of bithiophenes, 16 and 17, were prepared from bis(tri-n-butylstannyl)-2,2′-bithiophene through a Stille coupling reaction followed by a condensation step.
PMCID: PMC3086213  PMID: 21546984
Bithiophene; formylation; Heck coupling; Stille coupling; Suzuki coupling
17.  Induced topological changes in DNA complexes: influence of DNA sequences and small molecule structures 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(10):4265-4274.
Heterocyclic diamidines are compounds with antiparasitic properties that target the minor groove of kinetoplast DNA. The mechanism of action of these compounds is unknown, but topological changes to DNA structures are likely to be involved. In this study, we have developed a polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis-based screening method to determine topological effects of heterocyclic diamidines on four minor groove target sequences: AAAAA, TTTAA, AAATT and ATATA. The AAAAA and AAATT sequences have the largest intrinsic bend, whereas the TTTAA and ATATA sequences are relatively straight. The changes caused by binding of the compounds are sequence dependent, but generally the topological effects on AAAAA and AAATT are similar as are the effects on TTTAA and ATATA. A total of 13 compounds with a variety of structural differences were evaluated for topological changes to DNA. All compounds decrease the mobility of the ATATA sequence that is consistent with decreased minor groove width and bending of the relatively straight DNA into the minor groove. Similar, but generally smaller, effects are seen with TTTAA. The intrinsically bent AAAAA and AAATT sequences, which have more narrow minor grooves, have smaller mobility changes on binding that are consistent with increased or decreased bending depending on compound structure.
PMCID: PMC3105405  PMID: 21266485
18.  New Treatment Option for Second-Stage African Sleeping Sickness: In Vitro and In Vivo Efficacy of Aza Analogs of DB289 ▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2009;53(10):4185-4192.
African sleeping sickness is a fatal parasitic disease, and all drugs currently in use for treatment have strong liabilities. It is essential to find new, effective, and less toxic drugs, ideally with oral application, to control the disease. In this study, the aromatic diamidine DB75 (furamidine) and two aza analogs, DB820 and DB829 (CPD-0801), as well as their methoxyamidine prodrugs and amidoxime metabolites, were evaluated against African trypanosomes. The active parent diamidines showed similar in vitro profiles against different Trypanosoma brucei strains, melarsoprol- and pentamidine-resistant lines, and a P2 transporter knockout strain (AT1KO), with DB75 as the most trypanocidal molecule. In the T. b. rhodesiense strain STIB900 acute mouse model, the aza analogs DB820 and DB829 demonstrated activities superior to that of DB75. The aza prodrugs DB844 and DB868, as well as two metabolites of DB844, were orally more potent in the T. b. brucei strain GVR35 mouse central nervous system (CNS) model than DB289 (pafuramidine maleate). Unexpectedly, the parent diamidine DB829 showed high activity in the mouse CNS model by the intraperitoneal route. In conclusion, DB868 with oral and DB829 with parenteral application are potential candidates for further development of a second-stage African sleeping sickness drug.
PMCID: PMC2764217  PMID: 19620327
19.  Diphenyl Furans and Aza Analogs: Effects of Structural Modification on In Vitro Activity, DNA Binding, and Accumulation and Distribution in Trypanosomes▿  
Human African trypanosomiasis is a devastating disease with only a few treatment options, including pentamidine. Diamidine compounds such as pentamidine, DB75, and DB820 are potent antitrypanosomal compounds. Previous investigations have shown that diamidines accumulate to high concentrations in trypanosomes. However, the mechanism of action of this class of compounds remains unknown. A long-hypothesized mechanism of action has been binding to DNA and interference with DNA-associated enzymes. The fluorescent diamidines, DB75 and DB820, have been shown to localize not only in the DNA-containing nucleus and kinetoplast of trypanosomes but also to the acidocalcisomes. Here we investigate two series of analogs of DB75 and DB820 with various levels of in vitro antitrypanosomal activity to determine whether any correlation exists between trypanosome accumulation, distribution, and in vitro activity. Despite wide ranges of in vitro antitrypanosomal activity, all of the compounds investigated accumulated to millimolar concentrations in trypanosomes over a period of 8 h. Interestingly, some of the less potent compounds accumulated to concentrations much higher than those of more potent compounds. All of the compounds were localized to the DNA-containing nucleus and/or kinetoplast, and many were also found in the acidocalcisomes. Accumulation in the nucleus and kinetoplast should be important to the mechanism of action of these compounds. The acidocalcisomes may also play a role in the mechanism of action of these compounds. This investigation suggests that the extent of accumulation alone is not responsible for killing trypanosomes and that organelle-specific accumulation may not predict in vitro activity.
PMCID: PMC1932548  PMID: 17517831
20.  Accumulation and Intracellular Distribution of Antitrypanosomal Diamidine Compounds DB75 and DB820 in African Trypanosomes 
The aromatic diamidine pentamidine has long been used to treat early-stage human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). Two analogs of pentamidine, DB75 and DB820, have been shown to be more potent and less toxic than pentamidine in murine models of trypanosomiasis. The diphenyl furan diamidine, DB75, is the active metabolite of the prodrug DB289, which is currently in phase III clinical trials as a new orally active candidate drug to treat first-stage HAT. The new aza analog, DB820, is the active diamidine of the prodrug DB844, currently undergoing preclinical evaluation as a new candidate to treat HAT of the central nervous system. The exact mechanisms of antitrypanosomal activity of aromatic dications remain poorly understood, with multiple mechanisms hypothesized. Pentamidine is known to be actively transported into trypanosomes and binds to DNA within the nucleus and kinetoplast. A long-hypothesized mechanism of action has been that DNA binding ultimately leads to interference with DNA-associated enzymes. Both DB75 and DB820 are intensely fluorescent, which provides an important tool for determining the kinetics of accumulation and intracellular distribution in trypanosomes. We show in the current study that DB75 and DB820 rapidly accumulate and strongly concentrate within trypanosomes, with intracellular concentrations over 15,000-fold higher than mouse plasma concentrations. Both compounds initially accumulate in the DNA-containing nucleus and kinetoplast, but at later time points, they concentrate in non-DNA-containing cytoplasmic organelles. Analyses of the kinetics of uptake and intracellular distribution are necessary to begin to define antitrypanosomal mechanisms of action of DB75, DB820, and other aromatic diamidines.
PMCID: PMC1479144  PMID: 16723581

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