Putative phosphodiesterase inhibitors as potential new chemotherapies against African Trypanosomiasis

Gould, Matthew K. (2009) Putative phosphodiesterase inhibitors as potential new chemotherapies against African Trypanosomiasis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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African trypanosomiasis is a disease caused by the Kinetoplastida parasites Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and T. b. gambiense. The distribution of the disease is split geographically with T. b. rhodesiense found in eastern sub-Saharan Africa and T. b. gambiense in the west of the continent. Current treatment for this fatal disease is wholly unsatisfactory with problems such as extreme toxicity, affordability and the emergence of resistance. The case for the generation of new potential chemotherapies is compelling and urgent.
Phosphodiesterase (PDE) enzymes degrade the secondary signalling molecule cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) to AMP by hydrolysis, thereby modulating and regulating the signal transduction to the effector proteins. The phosphodiesterase enzymes in the PDEB family in T. brucei were shown to be essential to the host-infective bloodstream forms and validated as good drug targets using RNA-interference (Zoraghi, R. and Seebeck, T., 2002; Oberholzer, M., 2007). Prompted by these findings, two series of putative trypanosomal PDE inhibitors, from different sources, were thoroughly assessed in this project for their anti-trypanosomal activity and their intracellular effects on the trypanosome.
The whole-cell in vitro efficacy for each compound, against T. brucei wildtype and the drug-resistant strain TbAT1 knockout, was established by the standard resazurin reduction assay. 25 compounds from Series 1 had EC50 values below 0.5 µM, with 7 under 100 nM and the most active having an EC50 value of 5.8 ± 3.4 nM. For the much smaller Series 2 (GJS Compounds), the most active compound was GJS-128 with an EC50 value of 79.4 ± 10.3 nM. This demonstrates that a number of compounds from both series have potent in vitro activity against trypanosomes that is better than or equal to the current chemotherapeutic compound diminazene, and some Series 1 compounds are on a par with pentamidine and melarsoprol. No major cross-resistance was displayed by the TbAT1 knockout strain to either Series 1 or the GJS series. Similarly, a panel of Series 1 compounds tested against the B48 strain (resistant to pentamidine and melaminophenyl arsenical drugs), and also against Trypanosoma equiperdum wildtype and diminazene resistant (PBR) strains, showed no major cross-resistance displayed by the other resistant strains. This suggests that there would also be little or no cross-resistance from refractory strains in the field, and also that the compounds are active against multiple Trypanosoma species. A small panel of Series 1 compounds were also tested for efficacy against trypanosomes in infected mice. 4 daily doses of 20 mg/kg bodyweight of Compound 48 significantly reduced parasitaemia by approximately 60% compared to untreated controls, however higher concentrations were not tolerated by the mice so a cure could not be demonstrated.
A high-throughput method for monitoring the speed of action of test compounds on trypanosomes in real time was developed, based on the fluorescence of propidium iodide when bound with DNA. Optimisation of the protocol to 96-well plates and low cell densities provided higher resolution and accurate traces of the lysis of trypanosomes in a cell suspension compared to previously used methods, as well as a greatly increased capacity. The propidium iodide assay could also be converted to provide end-point EC50 values that were directly comparable to those established by the standard resazurin reduction assay.
The majority of Series 1 compounds did not increase the intracellular concentration of cAMP on incubation with bloodstream form trypanosomes; those that did only induced a minor elevation of the intracellular concentration of the signalling molecule. Since genetic disruption to phosphodiesterase enzymes resulted in large increases in cAMP levels (Oberholzer, M. et al, 2007; Zoraghi, R. and Seebeck, T., 2002), the lack of increase in cAMP by the Series 1 compounds strongly suggest that they do not sufficiently inhibit the PDEs in live trypanosomes and kill the cells via an alternative pathway.
In contrast, incubation with the GJS compounds did result in significant increases in intracellular cAMP concentration with the most active being GJS-128 recording an approximately 3-fold increase in cAMP over 3 hours at just 30 nM. The concentrations that begin to increase cAMP level are consistent with the EC50 values for trypanosomes cultured in vitro (this study), and is also in line with inhibition data of recombinant TbrPDEB enzymes (work conducted by Dr. Herrmann Tenor, ALTANA Pharma, and Prof. Thomas Seebeck, University of Bern). This gives a clear and consistent link between the cause of cAMP rise (inhibition of PDEB by GJS compounds) and the effect of that concentration increase on bloodstream form trypanosomes (cell death), demonstrating that the GJS series are inhibitors of trypanosomal PDEs and chemically validate PDEs as drug targets for potential new chemotherapies against African trypanosomiasis.
The effect of PDE inhibition on the physiology of the bloodstream form trypanosomes was also investigated. Flow cytometry analysis and the assessment of DNA configuration by fluorescence microscopy after DAPI staining determined that PDE inhibition by GJS-128 resulted in a precise block of the cell cycle in cytokinesis. The replicating trypanosome synthesized and segregated its DNA into two nuclei and kinetoplasts as normal and proceeded to initiate the physical separation of mother and daughter cells. The cleavage furrow between the old and new flagella progressed normally until the point of abscission, at which point division was halted with only a small section of plasma membrane connecting the two almost separated cells. Both cells appeared viable and underwent subsequent rounds of DNA replication, segregation and attempted physical separation that was always blocked near completion. This indicates cAMP signalling plays an important role in the correct physical separation of the replicating bloodstream form trypanosomes.
A trypanosome cell line resistant to GJS-128 was developed by chemical mutagenesis and continuous culture with gradually increasing, but sub-lethal concentrations of the PDE inhibitor. This cell line, termed R0.8, was >15-fold less sensitive to GJS-128 and displayed significant cross-resistance to the other GJS compounds, as well as to stable, membrane permeable cAMP analogues. The mode of resistance was investigated by comparing the cAMP profile of the R0.8 and parental wildtype strains on incubation with GJS-128. No major differences were observed suggesting that both the adenylyl cyclase and phosphodiesterase activities remained unchanged in the PDE inhibitor-resistant strain. In support of this, the sequencing of TbrPDEB1 and TbrPDEB2 in both strains, while uncovering the loss of heterozygosity in the R0.8 line, revealed no mutations that would impact on enzyme function or inhibitor binding in the resistant cell line. These data strongly suggest that the adaptation resulting in resistance to PDE inhibitors is located in the effector proteins downstream of the PDEs and adenylyl cyclases in the cAMP signalling pathway.
Identifying a compound that inhibits phosphodiesterases in trypanosomes and elevates cAMP concentrations, along with the generation of a PDE inhibitor-resistant cell line will allow more detailed examination of all aspects of the cAMP signalling pathway in T. brucei and across the Kinetoplastida. Phosphodiesterases have also been demonstrated to be chemically inhibitable in trypanosomes and could prove to be the target of a new generation of chemotherapies against African trypanosomiasis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: trypanosoma, kinetoplastida, phosphodiesterase, PDE, cAMP, chemotherapy, trypanosomiasis, cell cycle, drug screening,cAMP signalling, adenylyl cyclase, AC, PKA
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Supervisor's Name: De Koning, Dr. Harry P.
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mr Matthew K. Gould
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-1410
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:39
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1410

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