Artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites have emerged and have been spreading, posing a significant public health challenge. Antimalarial drugs with novel mechanisms of action are therefore urgently needed. In this report, we exploit a “selective starvation” strategy by inhibiting Plasmodium falciparum hexose transporter 1 (PfHT1), the sole hexose transporter in P. falciparum, over human glucose transporter 1 (hGLUT1), providing an alternative approach to fight against multidrug-resistant malaria parasites. The crystal structure of hGLUT3, which shares 80% sequence similarity with hGLUT1, was resolved in complex with C3361, a moderate PfHT1-specific inhibitor, at 2.3-Å resolution. Structural comparison between the present hGLUT3-C3361 and our previously reported PfHT1-C3361 confirmed the unique inhibitor binding-induced pocket in PfHT1. We then designed small molecules to simultaneously block the orthosteric and allosteric pockets of PfHT1. Through extensive structure–activity relationship studies, the TH-PF series was identified to selectively inhibit PfHT1 over hGLUT1 and potent against multiple strains of the blood-stage P. falciparum. Our findings shed light on the next-generation chemotherapeutics with a paradigm-shifting structure-based design strategy to simultaneously target the orthosteric and allosteric sites of a transporter.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jan 19 2021|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Hexose transporter | antimalarial | resistance | structure-based drug design | simultaneous orthosteric–allosteric inhibition