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ACS Med Chem Lett. 2010;1(6):268-272.

Identification of a Natural Product Antagonist against the Botulinum Neurotoxin Light Chain Protease.

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Departments of Chemistry and Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037.


Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the etiological agents responsible for botulism, a disease characterized by peripheral neuromuscular blockade and a characteristic flaccid paralysis of humans. BoNTs are the most lethal known poisons affecting humans and has been recognized as a potential bioterrorist threat. Current treatments for botulinum poisoning are predominately prophylactic in nature relying on passive immunization with antitoxins. Inhibition of the BoNT light chain metalloprotease (LC) has emerged as a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of botulism that may provide an effective post-exposure remedy. A high-throughput screening effort against the light chain of BoNT serotype A (LC/A) was conducted with the John Hopkins Clinical Compound Library comprised of over 1,500 existing drugs. Lomofungin, a natural product first isolated in the late 1960's, was identified as an inhibitor of LC/A, displaying classical noncompetitive inhibition kinetics with a K(i) of 6.7 ± 0.7 µM. Inhibitor combination studies reveal that lomofungin binding is nonmutually exclusive (synergistic). The inhibition profile of lomofungin has been delineated by the use of both an active site inhibitor, 2,4-dichlorocinnamic hydroxamate, and a noncompetitive inhibitor d-chicoric acid; the mechanistic implications of these observations are discussed. Lastly, cellular efficacy was investigated using a rat primary cell model which demonstrated that lomofungin can protect against SNAP-25 cleavage, the intracellular protein target of LC/A.

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