Marine anti-malarial isonitriles : a synthetic and computational study

Adendorff, Matthew Ralph (2010) Marine anti-malarial isonitriles : a synthetic and computational study. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The development of Plasmodium falciparum malarial resistance to the current armoury of anti-malarial drugs requires the development of new treatments to help combat this disease. The marine environment is a well established source of potential pharmaceuticals. Of interest to us are isonitrile, isocyanate and isothiocyanate compounds isolated from marine sponges and molluscs which have exhibited nano-molar anti-plasmodial activities. Through quantitative structure-activity relation studies (QSAR), a literature precedent exists for a pseudoreceptor model from which a pharmacophore for the design of novel anti-malarial agents was proposed. The current theory suggests that these marine compounds exert their inhibitory action through interfering with the heme detoxification pathway in P. falciparum. We propose that the computational methods used to draw detailed conclusions about the mode of action of these marine compounds were inadequate. This thesis addresses this problem using contemporary computational methodologies and seeks to propose a more robust method for the rational design of new anti-malarial drug compounds that inhibit heme polymerization to hemozoin. In order to investigate the interactions of the marine compounds with their heme targets, a series of modern computational procedures were formulated, validated and then applied to theoretical systems. The validations of these algorithms, before their application to the marine compound-heme systems, were achieved through two case studies. The first was used to investigate the applicability of the statistical docking algorithm AutoDock to be used for the exploration of conformational space around the heme target. A theoretical P. falciparum 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase (PfDXR) enzyme model, constructed by the Biochemistry Department at Rhodes University, provided the ideal model to validate the AutoDock program. The protein model was accordingly subjected to rigorous docking simulations with over 30 different ligand molecules using the AutoDock algorithm which allowed for the docking algorithm’s limitations to be ascertained and improved upon. This investigation facilitated the successful validation of the protein model, which can now be used for the rational design of new PfDXR-inhibiting anti-plasmodial compounds, as well as enabling us to propose an improvement of the docking algorithm for application to the heme systems. The second case study was used to investigate the applicability of an ab initio molecular dynamics algorithm for simulation of bond breaking/forming events between the marine compounds and their heme target. This validation involved the exploration of intermolecular interactions in a naturally occurring nonoligomeric zipper using the Car-Parrinello Molecular Dynamics (CPMD) method. This study allowed us to propose a model for the intermolecular forces responsible for zipper self-assembly and showcased the CPMD method’s abilities to simulate and predict bond forming/breaking events. Data from the computational analyses suggested that the interactions between marine isonitriles, isocyanates and isothiocyanates occur through bond-less electrostatic attractions rather than through formal intermolecular bonds as had been previously suggested. Accordingly, a simple bicyclic tertiary isonitrile (5.14) was synthesized using Kitano et al’s relatively underutilized isonitrile synthetic method for the conversion of tertiary alcohols to their corresponding isonitriles. This compound’s potential for heme detoxification inhibition was then explored in vitro via the pyridine-hemochrome assay. The assay data suggested that the synthesized isonitrile was capable of inhibiting heme polymerization in a similar fashion to the known inhibitor chloroquine. Attempts to synthesize tricyclic analogues of 5.14 were unsuccessful and highlighted the limitation of Kitano et al’s isonitrile synthetic methodology.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Isocyanides, Isocyanates, Marine pharmacology, Malaria, Chemotherapy, Antimalarials, Drug development
Subjects:Q Science > QD Chemistry > QD241 Organic chemistry > QD415 Biochemistry
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Chemistry
Supervisors:Davies-Coleman, Michael Trevor
ID Code:2062
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:07 Oct 2011 07:00
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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