61 Scopus citations


The malaria organism Plasmodium falciparum detoxifies heme released during degradation of host erythrocyte hemoglobin by sequestering it within the parasite digestive vacuole as a polymer called hemozoin. Antimalarial agents such as chloroquine appear to work by interrupting the heme polymerization process, but their efficacy has been impaired by the emergence of drug-resistant organisms. We report here the identification era new class of antimalarial compounds, hexadentate ethylenediamine-N,N'-bis[propyl(2- hydroxy-(R)-benzylimino)]metal(III) complexes [(R)-ENBPI-M(III)] and a corresponding ((R)-benzylamino)] analog [(R)-ENBPA-M(III)], a group of lipophilic monocationic leads amenable to metallopharmaceutical development. Racemic mixtures of Al(III), Fe(III), or Ga(III) but not In(III) (R)-ENBPI metallo-complexes killed intraerythrocytic malaria parasites in a stage- specific manner, the R = 4,6-dimethoxy-substituted ENBPI Fe(III) complex being most potent (IC50 ~1 μM). Inhibiting both chloroquine-sensitive and -resistant parasites, potency of these imino complexes correlated in a free metal-independent manner with their ability to inhibit heme polymerization in vitro. In contrast, the reduced (amine) 3-MeO-ENBPA Ga(III) complex (MR045) was found to be selectively toxic to chloroquine-resistant parasites in a verapamil-insensitive manner. In 21 independent recombinant progeny of a genetic cross, susceptibility to this agent mapped in perfect linkage with the chloroquine resistance phenotype suggesting that a locus for 3-MeO-ENBPA Ga(III) susceptibility was located on the same 36-kilobase segment of chromosome 7 as the chloroquine resistance determinant. These compounds may be useful as novel probes of chloroquine resistance mechanisms and for antimalarial drug development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6567-6572
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 7 1997


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