Targeting pathogen metabolism without collateral damage to the host

Jurgen R Haanstra, Albert Gerding, Amalia M. Dolga, Freek J.H. Sorgdrager, Manon Buist-Homan, Francois du Toit, Klaas Nico Faber, Hermann-Georg Holzhutter, Balazs Szoor, Keith Matthews, Jacky L. Snoep, Hans V. Westerhoff, Barbara M. Bakker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The development of drugs that can inactivate disease-causing cells (e.g. cancer cells or parasites) without causing collateral damage to healthy or to host cells is complicated by the fact that many proteins are very similar between organisms. Nevertheless, due to subtle, quantitative differences between the biochemical reaction networks of target cell and host, a drug can limit the flux of the same essential process in one organism more than in another. We identified precise criteria for this ‘network-based’ drug selectivity, which can serve as an alternative or additive to structural differences. We combined computational and experimental approaches to compare energy metabolism in the causative agent of sleeping sickness, Trypanosoma brucei, with that of human erythrocytes, and identified glucose transport and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase as the most selective antiparasitic targets. Computational predictions were validated experimentally in a novel parasite-erythrocytes co-culture system. Glucose-transport inhibitors killed trypanosomes without killing erythrocytes, neurons or liver cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number40406
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Early online date13 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Biochemical networks
  • Bioenergetics
  • System analysis
  • Target identification

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