The increasing incidence of antimalarial drug resistance to the first-line artemisinin combination therapies underpins an urgent need for new antimalarial drugs, ideally with a novel mode of action. The recently developed 2-aminomethylphenol, JPC-3210, (MMV 892646) is an erythrocytic schizonticide with potent in vitro antimalarial activity against multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum lines, low cytotoxicity, potent in vivo efficacy against murine malaria, and favorable preclinical pharmacokinetics including a lengthy plasma elimination half-life. To investigate the impact of JPC-3210 on biochemical pathways within P. falciparum-infected red blood cells, we have applied a "multi-omics" workflow based on high resolution orbitrap mass spectrometry combined with biochemical approaches. Metabolomics, peptidomics and hemoglobin fractionation analyses revealed a perturbation in hemoglobin metabolism following JPC-3210 exposure. The metabolomics data demonstrated a specific depletion of short hemoglobin-derived peptides, peptidomics analysis revealed a depletion of longer hemoglobin-derived peptides, and the hemoglobin fractionation assay demonstrated decreases in hemoglobin, heme and hemozoin levels. To further elucidate the mechanism responsible for inhibition of hemoglobin metabolism, we used in vitro β-hematin polymerization assays and showed JPC-3210 to be an intermediate inhibitor of β-hematin polymerization, about 10-fold less potent then the quinoline antimalarials, such as chloroquine and mefloquine. Further, quantitative proteomics analysis showed that JPC-3210 treatment results in a distinct proteomic signature compared with other known antimalarials. While JPC-3210 clustered closely with mefloquine in the metabolomics and proteomics analyses, a key differentiating signature for JPC-3210 was the significant enrichment of parasite proteins involved in regulation of translation. These studies revealed that the mode of action for JPC-3210 involves inhibition of the hemoglobin digestion pathway and elevation of regulators of protein translation. Importantly, JPC-3210 demonstrated rapid parasite killing kinetics compared with other quinolones, suggesting that JPC-3210 warrants further investigation as a potentially long acting partner drug for malaria treatment.
Keywords: 2-aminomethylphenol; Metabolomics; antimalarial drug discovery; drug targets; malaria; metabolites; mode of action; peptidomics; proteomics.
© 2020 Birrell et al.