Identification of druggable small molecule antagonists of the Plasmodium falciparum hexose transporter PfHT and assessment of ligand access to the glucose permeation pathway via FLAG-mediated protein engineering

Monique R. Heitmeier, Richard C. Hresko, Rachel L. Edwards, Michael J. Prinsen, Ma Xenia G. Ilagan, Audrey R. Odom John, Paul W. Hruz

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Abstract

Although the Plasmodium falciparum hexose transporter PfHT has emerged as a promising target for anti-malarial therapy, previously identified small-molecule inhibitors have lacked promising drug-like structural features necessary for development as clinical therapeutics. Taking advantage of emerging insight into structure/function relationships in homologous facilitative hexose transporters and our novel high throughput screening platform, we investigated the ability of compounds satisfying Lipinksi rules for drug likeness to directly interact and inhibit PfHT. The Maybridge HitFinder chemical library was interrogated by searching for compounds that reduce intracellular glucose by >40% at 10 μM. Testing of initial hits via measurement of 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) uptake in PfHT over-expressing cell lines identified 6 structurally unique glucose transport inhibitors. WU-1 (3-(2,6-dichlorophenyl)-5-methyl-N-[2-(4-methylbenzenesulfonyl)ethyl]-1,2-oxazole-4-carboxamide) blocked 2-DG uptake (IC 50 = 5.8 ± 0.6 μM) with minimal effect on the human orthologue class I (GLUTs 1–4), class II (GLUT8) and class III (GLUT5) facilitative glucose transporters. WU-1 showed comparable potency in blocking 2-DG uptake in freed parasites and inhibiting parasite growth, with an IC 50 of 6.1 ± 0.8 μM and EC 50 of 5.5 ± 0.6 μM, respectively. WU-1 also directly competed for N-[2-[2-[2-[(N-biotinylcaproylamino)ethoxy)ethoxyl]-4-[2-(trifluoromethyl)-3H-diazirin-3-yl] benzoyl]-1,3-bis(mannopyranosyl-4-yloxy)-2-propylamine (ATB-BMPA) binding and inhibited the transport of D-glucose with an IC 50 of 5.9 ± 0.8 μM in liposomes containing purified PfHT. Kinetic analysis revealed that WU-1 acts as a non-competitive inhibitor of zero-trans D-fructose uptake. Decreased potency for WU-1 and the known endofacial ligand cytochalasin B was observed when PfHT was engineered to contain an N-terminal FLAG tag. This modification resulted in a concomitant increase in affinity for 4,6-O-ethylidene-α-D-glucose, an exofacially directed transport antagonist, but did not alter the K m for 2-DG. Taken together, these data are consistent with a model in which WU-1 binds preferentially to the transporter in an inward open conformation and support the feasibility of developing potent and selective PfHT antagonists as a novel class of anti-malarial drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0216457
JournalPloS one
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019

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