Drug target selection for Trypanosoma cruzi metabolism by metabolic control analysis and kinetic modeling

Emma Saavedra, Zabdi González-chávez, Rafael Moreno-sánchez, Paul A.m. Michels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the search for therapeutic targets in the intermediary metabolism of trypanosomatids the gene essentiality criterion as determined by using knock-out and knock-down genetic strategies is commonly applied. As most of the evaluated enzymes/transporters have turned out to be essential for parasite survival, additional criteria and approaches are clearly required for suitable drug target prioritization. The fundamentals of Metabolic Control Analysis (MCA; an approach in the study of control and regulation of metabolism) and kinetic modeling of metabolic pathways (a bottom-up systems biology approach) allow quantification of the degree of control that each enzyme exerts on the pathway flux (flux control coefficient) and metabolic intermediate concentrations (concentration control coefficient). MCA studies have demonstrated that metabolic pathways usually have two or three enzymes with the highest control of flux; their inhibition has more negative effects on the pathway function than inhibition of enzymes exerting low flux control. Therefore, the enzymes with the highest pathway control are the most convenient targets for therapeutic intervention. In this review, the fundamentals of MCA as well as experimental strategies to determine the flux control coefficients and metabolic modeling are analyzed. MCA and kinetic modeling have been applied to trypanothione metabolism in Trypanosoma cruzi and the model predictions subsequently validated in vivo. The results showed that three out of ten enzyme reactions analyzed in the T. cruzi anti-oxidant metabolism were the most controlling enzymes. Hence, MCA and metabolic modeling allow a further step in target prioritization for drug development against trypanosomatids and other parasites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6652-6671
Number of pages20
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2019


  • Metabolic control analysis
  • drug target
  • flux-control coefficient
  • systems biology
  • metabolic modeling
  • kinetic modeling
  • trypanothione
  • glycolysis


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