Calcium dependent protein kinase 1 (CDPK1) is an essential Ser/Thr kinase that controls invasion and egress by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The Gly gatekeeper of CDPK1 makes it exquisitely sensitive to inhibition by small molecule 1H-pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine-4-amine (PP) compounds that are bulky ATP mimetics. Here we rationally designed, synthesized, and tested a series of novel PP analogs that were evaluated for inhibition of CDPK1 enzyme activity in vitro and parasite growth in cell culture. Optimal substitution on the PP scaffold included 2-pyridyl ethers directed into the hydrophobic pocket and small carbocyclic rings accessing the ribose-binding pocket. Further optimization of the series led to identification of the lead compound 3a that displayed excellent potency, selectivity, safety profile, and efficacy in vivo. The results of these studies provide a foundation for further work to optimize CDPK1 inhibitors for the treatment of acute and chronic toxoplasmosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6144-6163
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 11 2020


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