Reaction hijacking inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum asparagine tRNA synthetase.
Journal:Nature communications, Volume: 15, Issue: 1
Malaria poses an enormous threat to human health. With ever increasing resistance to currently deployed drugs, breakthrough compounds with novel mechanisms of action are urgently needed. Here, we explore pyrimidine-based sulfonamides as a new low molecular weight inhibitor class with drug-like physical parameters and a synthetically accessible scaffold. We show that the exemplar, OSM-S-106, has potent activity against parasite cultures, low mammalian cell toxicity and low propensity for resistance development. In vitro evolution of resistance using a slow ramp-up approach pointed to the Plasmodium falciparum cytoplasmic asparaginyl-tRNA synthetase (PfAsnRS) as the target, consistent with our finding that OSM-S-106 inhibits protein translation and activates the amino acid starvation response. Targeted mass spectrometry confirms that OSM-S-106 is a pro-inhibitor and that inhibition of PfAsnRS occurs via enzyme-mediated production of an Asn-OSM-S-106 adduct. Human AsnRS is much less susceptible to this reaction hijacking mechanism. X-ray crystallographic studies of human AsnRS in complex with inhibitor adducts and docking of pro-inhibitors into a model of Asn-tRNA-bound PfAsnRS provide insights into the structure-activity relationship and the selectivity mechanism.