Targeting histone deacetylase inhibitors for anti-malarial therapy
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It is now clear that histone acetylation plays key roles in regulating gene transcription in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, the acetylated form inducing gene expression while deacetylation silences genes. Recent studies have identified roles for histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and/or histone deacetylases (HDACs) in a number of parasites including Entamoeba histolytica, Toxoplasma gondii, Schistosoma mansoni, Cryptosporidium sp., Leishmania donovani, Neospora caninum, and Plasmodium falciparum. Here we survey fairly limited efforts to date in profiling antimalarial activities of HDAC inhibitors, showing that such compounds are potent inhibitors of the growth of P. falciparum in vitro and in vivo. Most of the compounds evaluated so far have borne a zinc-binding hydroxamate group that tends to be metabolized in vivo, and thus new zinc-binding groups need to be incorporated into second generation inhibitors in order to mask the catalytic zinc in the active site of HDACs. Also the development of compounds that are selective for parasitic HDACs over mammalian HDACs is still in relative infancy and it will take some time to derive antiparasitic HDAC inhibitor compounds with minimal toxicity for the host and acceptable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles for human treatment. Nevertheless, results to date suggest that HDAC inhibitor development represents a promising new approach to the potential treatment of parasitic infections, including those induced by malaria protozoa, and may offer new therapeutic targets within increasingly drug-resistant malarial parasites.
Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry