Crystal structure of the new investigational drug candidate VT-1598 in complex with Aspergillus fumigatus sterol 14α-demethylase provides insights into its broad-spectrum Antifungal Activity

Tatiana Y. Hargrove, Edward P. Garvey, William J. Hoekstra, Christopher M. Yates, Zdzislaw Wawrzak, Girish Rachakonda, Fernando Villalta, Galina I. Lepesheva*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Within the past few decades, the incidence and complexity of human fungal infections have increased, and therefore, the need for safer and more efficient, broad-spectrum antifungal agents is high. In the study described here, we characterized the new tetrazole-based drug candidate VT-1598 as an inhibitor of sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51B) from the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. VT-1598 displayed a high affinity of binding to the enzyme in solution (dissociation constant, 13 ± 1 nM) and in the reconstituted enzymatic reaction was revealed to have an inhibitory potency stronger than the potencies of all other simultaneously tested antifungal drugs, including fluconazole, voriconazole, ketoconazole, and posaconazole. The X-ray structure of the VT-1598/A. fumigatus CYP51 complex was determined and depicts the distinctive binding mode of the inhibitor in the enzyme active site, suggesting the molecular basis of the improved drug potency and broad-spectrum antifungal activity. These data show the formation of an optimized hydrogen bond between the phenoxymethyl oxygen of VT-1598 and the imidazole ring nitrogen of His374, the CYP51 residue that is highly conserved across fungal pathogens and fungus specific. Comparative structural analysis of A. fumigatus CYP51/voriconazole and Candida albicans CYP51/VT-1161 complexes supports the role of H bonding in fungal CYP51/inhibitor complexes and emphasizes the importance of an optimal distance between this interaction and the inhibitor-heme iron interaction. Cellular experiments using two A. fumigatus strains (strains 32820 and 1022) displayed a direct correlation between the effects of the drugs on CYP51B activity and fungal growth inhibition, indicating the noteworthy anti-A. fumigatus potency of VT-1598 and confirming its promise as a broad-spectrum antifungal agent.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere00570-17
    JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
    Volume61
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jul 2017

    Keywords

    • Aspergillus fumigatus
    • Fungal infections
    • Inhibition
    • Sterol 14α-demethylase (CYP51)
    • VT-1598
    • X-ray structure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pharmacology
    • Pharmacology (medical)
    • Infectious Diseases

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