Fluorinated sterols are suicide inhibitors of ergosterol biosynthesis and growth in trypanosoma brucei

David J. Leaver, Presheet Patkar, Ujjal K. Singha, Matthew B. Miller, Brad A. Haubrich, Minu Chaudhuri, W. David Nes

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Trypanosoma brucei, the causal agent for sleeping sickness, depends on ergosterol for growth. Here, we describe the effects of a mechanism-based inhibitor, 26-fluorolanosterol (26FL), which converts in vivo to a fluorinated substrate of the sterol C24-methyltransferase essential for sterol methylation and function of ergosterol, and missing from the human host. 26FL showed potent inhibition of ergosterol biosynthesis and growth of procyclic and bloodstream forms while having no effect on cholesterol biosynthesis or growth of human epithelial kidney cells. During exposure of cloned TbSMT to 26-fluorocholesta- 5,7,24-trienol, the enzyme is gradually killed as a consequence of the covalent binding of the intermediate C25 cation to the active site (kcat/kinact = 0.26 min-1/0.24 min-1; partition ratio of 1.08), whereas 26FL is non-productively bound. These results demonstrate that poisoning of ergosterol biosynthesis by a 26-fluorinated Δ24-sterol is a promising strategy for developing a new treatment for trypanosomiasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1374-1383
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 22 2015


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