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Small-molecule histone methyltransferase inhibitors display rapid antimalarial activity against all blood stage forms in Plasmodium falciparum

Abstract : Epigenetic factors such as histone methylation control the develop-mental progression of malaria parasites during the complex life cycle in the human host. We investigated Plasmodium falciparum his-tone lysine methyltransferases as a potential target class for the development of novel antimalarials. We synthesized a compound library based upon a known specific inhibitor (BIX-01294) of the human G9a histone methyltransferase. Two compounds, BIX-01294 and its derivative TM2-115, inhibited P. falciparum 3D7 parasites in culture with IC 50 values of ∼100 nM, values at least 22-fold more potent than their apparent IC 50 toward two human cell lines and one mouse cell line. These compounds irreversibly arrested parasite growth at all stages of the intraerythrocytic life cycle. Decrease in parasite viability (>40%) was seen after a 3-h incubation with 1 µM BIX-01294 and resulted in complete parasite killing after a 12-h incubation. Additionally, mice with patent Plasmodium berghei ANKA strain infection treated with a single dose (40 mg/kg) of TM2-115 had 18-fold reduced parasitemia the following day. Impor-tantly, treatment of P. falciparum parasites in culture with BIX-01294 or TM2-115 resulted in significant reductions in histone H3K4me3 levels in a concentration-dependent and exposure time-dependent manner. Together, these results suggest that BIX-01294 and TM2-115 inhibit malaria parasite histone methyltransferases, resulting in rapid and irreversible parasite death. Our data position histone lysine methyltransferases as a previously unrecognized target class, and BIX-01294 as a promising lead compound, in a presently unexploited avenue for antimalarial drug discovery targeting mul-tiple life-cycle stages.
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Nicholas Malmquist, Thomas Moss, Salah Mecheri, Matthew Fuchter, Artur Scherf. Small-molecule histone methyltransferase inhibitors display rapid antimalarial activity against all blood stage forms in Plasmodium falciparum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2012, 109 (41), pp.16708-16713. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1205414109⟩. ⟨pasteur-01103641⟩

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