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Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2006 Apr 15;16(8):2283-92. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Specific inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum thioredoxin reductase as potential antimalarial agents.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy, University of Michigan, 428 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1065, USA.


Plasmodium falciparum thioredoxin reductase (PfTrxR: NADPH+Trx(S)2+H+<-->NADP++Trx(SH)2) is a high Mr flavin-dependent TrxR that reduces thioredoxin (Trx) via a CysXXXXCys pair located penultimately to the C-terminal Gly. In this respect, PfTrxR differs significantly from its human counterpart which bears a Cys-Sec redox pair at the same position. PfTrxR is essentially involved in antioxidant defense and redox regulation of the parasite and has been previously validated by knock-out studies as a potential drug target for malaria chemotherapy. Moreover, human TrxR is present in most cancer cells at levels tenfold higher than in normal cells. Here we report the discovery of a series of potent inhibitors of PfTrxR. The three most promising inhibitors, 3(IC50(PfTrxR)=2 microM and IC50(hTrxR)=50 microM), 7(IC50(PfTrxR)=2 microM and IC50(hTrxR)=140 microM), and 11(IC50(PfTrxR)=0.5 microM and IC50(hTrxR)=4 microM) were selective for the parasite enzyme. Detailed mechanistic characterization of the effects of these compounds on the PfTrxR-catalyzed reaction showed clear uncompetitive inhibition with respect to both substrate and cofactor. For the most specific PfTrxR inhibitor 7, an alkylation mechanism study based on a thiol conjugation model was performed. Furthermore, all three compounds were active in the lower micromolar range on the chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum strain K1 in vitro.

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