Inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum methionine aminopeptidase 1b possess antimalarial activity

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Sep 26;103(39):14548-53. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0604101103. Epub 2006 Sep 18.


With >1 million deaths annually, mostly among children in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria poses one of the most critical challenges in medicine today. Although introduction of the artemisinin class of antimalarial drugs has offered a temporary solution to the problem of drug resistance, new antimalarial drugs are needed to ensure effective control of the disease in the future. Herein, we have investigated members of the methionine aminopeptidase family as potential antimalarial targets. The Plasmodium falciparum methionine aminopeptidase 1b (PfMetAP1b), one of four MetAP proteins encoded in the P. falciparum genome, was cloned, overexpressed, purified, and used to screen a 175,000-compound library for inhibitors. A family of structurally related inhibitors containing a 2-(2-pyridinyl)-pyrimidine core was identified. Structure/activity studies led to the identification of a potent PfMetAP1b inhibitor, XC11, with an IC(50) of 112 nM. XC11 was highly selective for PfMetAP1b and did not exhibit significant cytotoxicity against primary human fibroblasts. Most importantly, XC11 inhibited the proliferation of P. falciparum strains 3D7 [chloroquine (CQ)-sensitive] and Dd2 (multidrug-resistant) in vitro and is active in mouse malaria models for both CQ-sensitive and CQ-resistant strains. These results suggest that PfMetAP1b is a promising target and XC11 is an important lead compound for the development of novel antimalarial drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aminopeptidases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Aminopeptidases / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / chemistry
  • Antimalarials / metabolism*
  • Antimalarials / pharmacology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • Fibroblasts / parasitology
  • Genome, Protozoan / genetics
  • Humans
  • Methionyl Aminopeptidases
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Parasites / drug effects
  • Parasites / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / enzymology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Pyridines / metabolism
  • Pyrimidines / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity / drug effects


  • Antimalarials
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Pyridines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Aminopeptidases
  • Methionyl Aminopeptidases