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Bioorg Med Chem. 2007 Jul 1;15(13):4336-50. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

Carbonic anhydrases as targets for medicinal chemistry.

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Università degli Studi di Firenze, Laboratorio di Chimica Bioinorganica, Rm. 188, Via della Lastruccia 3, I-50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy.


Carbonic anhydrases (CAs, EC are zinc enzymes acting as efficient catalysts for the reversible hydration of carbon dioxide to bicarbonate. 16 different alpha-CA isoforms were isolated in mammals, where they play crucial physiological roles. Some of them are cytosolic (CA I, CA II, CA III, CA VII, CA XIII), others are membrane-bound (CA IV, CA IX, CA XII, CA XIV and CA XV), CA VA and CA VB are mitochondrial, and CA VI is secreted in saliva and milk. Three acatalytic forms are also known, the CA related proteins (CARP), CARP VIII, CARP X and CARP XI. Representatives of the beta-delta-CA family are highly abundant in plants, diatoms, eubacteria and archaea. The catalytic mechanism of the alpha-CAs is understood in detail: the active site consists of a Zn(II) ion co-ordinated by three histidine residues and a water molecule/hydroxide ion. The latter is the active species, acting as a potent nucleophile. For beta- and gamma-CAs, the zinc hydroxide mechanism is valid too, although at least some beta-class enzymes do not have water directly coordinated to the metal ion. CAs are inhibited primarily by two classes of compounds: the metal complexing anions and the sulfonamides/sulfamates/sulfamides possessing the general formula RXSO(2)NH(2) (R=aryl; hetaryl; perhaloalkyl; X=nothing, O or NH). Several important physiological and physio-pathological functions are played by CAs present in organisms all over the phylogenetic tree, related to respiration and transport of CO(2)/bicarbonate between metabolizing tissues and the lungs, pH and CO(2) homeostasis, electrolyte secretion in a variety of tissues/organs, biosynthetic reactions, such as the gluconeogenesis and ureagenesis among others (in animals), CO(2) fixation (in plants and algae), etc. The presence of these ubiquitous enzymes in so many tissues and in so different isoforms represents an attractive goal for the design of inhibitors with biomedical applications. Indeed, CA inhibitors are clinically used as antiglaucoma drugs, some other compounds being developed as antitumour agents/diagnostic tools for tumours, antiobesity agents, anticonvulsants and antimicrobials/antifungals (inhibitors targeting alpha- or beta-CAs from pathogenic organisms such as Helicobacter pylori, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Plasmodium falciparum, Candida albicans, etc.).

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