Thursday, March 25, 2010

Methionine Aminopeptidases from Mycobacterium tuberculosis as Novel Antimycobacterial Targets ..

Suspecting that a particular protein in tuberculosis was likely to be vital to the bacteria's survival, Johns Hopkins scientists screened 175,000 small chemical compounds and identified a potent class of compounds that selectively slows down this protein's activity and, in a test tube, blocks TB growth, demonstrating that the protein is indeed a vulnerable target.
This class of chemical compounds attacks TB by inhibiting methionine aminopeptidase (MetAP), an essential enzyme found in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans, and that clearly has been conserved throughout evolution because of its important task of ensuring the proper manufacture of proteins.

Methionine aminopeptidase (MetAP) is a metalloprotease that removes the N-terminal methionine during protein synthesis. To assess the importance of the two MetAPs in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, researchers overexpressed and purified each of the MetAPs to near homogeneity and showed that both were active as MetAP enzymes in vitro. 
Researchers screened a library of 175,000 compounds against MtMetAP1c and identified 2,3-dichloro-1,4-naphthoquinone class of compounds as inhibitors of both MtMetAPs. It was found that the MtMetAP inhibitors were active against replicating and aged nongrowing M. tuberculosis. Overexpression of either MtMetAP1a or MtMetAP1c in M. tuberculosis conferred resistance of bacterial cells to the inhibitors. As per the claim by the researchers, knockdown of MtMetAP1a, but not MtMetAP1c, resulted in decreased viability of M. tuberculosis and they conclude  that MtMetAP1a is a promising target for developing antituberculosis agents.
The scientists cautioned that although the MetAP inhibitors prevent TB growth in test tubes, they have a long way to go before being declared safe and effective to treat TB patients...
"Judging from potency, a MetAP inhibibitor alone probably won't wipe out TB," Liu says. "TB is so hard to treat that the standard therapy involves a cocktail of multiple drugs; no single compound is powerful enough. Our hope is that someday an inhibitor of MetAP will become a new component to enhance the existing therapy."
Ref : Jun O. Liu, Chemistry & Biology, Volume 17, Issue 1, 29 January 2010, Pages 86-97

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