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EMBO J. 2001 Jul 2;20(13):3322-32.

Specificity of GlcNAc-PI de-N-acetylase of GPI biosynthesis and synthesis of parasite-specific suicide substrate inhibitors.

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Division of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Microbiology, The School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH, UK.


The substrate specificities of Trypanosoma brucei and human (HeLa) GlcNAc-PI de-N-acetylases were determined using 24 substrate analogues. The results show the following. (i) The de-N-acetylases show little specificity for the lipid moiety of GlcNAc-PI. (ii) The 3'-OH group of the GlcNAc residue is essential for substrate recognition whereas the 6'-OH group is dispensable and the 4'-OH, while not required for recognition, cannot be epimerized or substituted. (iii) The parasite enzyme can act on analogues containing betaGlcNAc or aromatic N-acyl groups, whereas the human enzyme cannot. (iv) Three GlcNR-PI analogues are de-N-acetylase inhibitors, one of which is a suicide inhibitor. (v) The suicide inhibitor most likely forms a carbamate or thiocarbamate ester to an active site hydroxy-amino acid or Cys or residue such that inhibition is reversed by certain nucleophiles. These and previous results were used to design two potent (IC50 = 8 nM) parasite-specific suicide substrate inhibitors. These are potential lead compounds for the development of anti-protozoan parasite drugs.

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