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Antimalarial activity of novel 4-cyano-3-methylisoquinoline inhibitors against Plasmodium falciparum: design, synthesis and biological evaluation.

Buskes MJ, Harvey KL, Richards BJ, Kalhor R, Christoff RM, Gardhi CK, Littler DR, Cope ED, Prinz B, Weiss GE, O'Brien NJ, Crabb BS, Deady LW, Gilson PR, Abbott BM

  • Journal Organic & biomolecular chemistry

  • Published 07 Feb 2018

  • Volume 14

  • ISSUE 20

  • Pagination 4617-39

  • DOI 10.1039/c5ob02517f


Central to malaria pathogenesis is the invasion of human red blood cells by Plasmodium falciparum parasites. Following each cycle of intracellular development and replication, parasites activate a cellular program to egress from their current host cell and invade a new one. The orchestration of this process critically relies upon numerous organised phospho-signaling cascades, which are mediated by a number of central kinases. Parasite kinases are emerging as novel antimalarial targets as they have diverged sufficiently from their mammalian counterparts to allow selectable therapeutic action. Parasite protein kinase A (PfPKA) is highly expressed late in the cell cycle of the parasite blood stage and has been shown to phosphorylate a critical invasion protein, Apical Membrane Antigen 1. This enzyme could therefore be a valuable drug target so we have repurposed a substituted 4-cyano-3-methylisoquinoline that has been shown to inhibit rat PKA with the goal of targeting PfPKA. We synthesised a novel series of compounds and, although many potently inhibit the growth of chloroquine sensitive and resistant strains of P. falciparum, they were found to have minimal activity against PfPKA, indicating that they likely have another target important to parasite cytokinesis and invasion.