A Computational Methodology to Overcome the Challenges Associated With the Search for Specific Enzyme Targets to Develop Drugs Against Leishmania major

Bioinform Biol Insights. 2017 Jun 12;11:1177932217712471. doi: 10.1177/1177932217712471. eCollection 2017.


We present an approach for detecting enzymes that are specific of Leishmania major compared with Homo sapiens and provide targets that may assist research in drug development. This approach is based on traditional techniques of sequence homology comparison by similarity search and Markov modeling; it integrates the characterization of enzymatic functionality, secondary and tertiary protein structures, protein domain architecture, and metabolic environment. From 67 enzymes represented by 42 enzymatic activities classified by AnEnPi (Analogous Enzymes Pipeline) as specific for L major compared with H sapiens, only 40 (23 Enzyme Commission [EC] numbers) could actually be considered as strictly specific of L major and 27 enzymes (19 EC numbers) were disregarded for having ambiguous homologies or analogies with H sapiens. Among the 40 strictly specific enzymes, we identified sterol 24-C-methyltransferase, pyruvate phosphate dikinase, trypanothione synthetase, and RNA-editing ligase as 4 essential enzymes for L major that may serve as targets for drug development.

Keywords: AnEnPi; Leishmaniasis; genomics; metabolism; sequence homology; specific enzymes.