Squalene Synthase As a Target for Chagas Disease Therapeutics

Na Shang, Qian Li, Tzu Ping Ko, Hsiu Chien Chan, Jikun Li, Yingying Zheng, Chun Hsiang Huang, Feifei Ren, Chun Chi Chen, Zhen Zhu, Melina Galizzi, Zhu Hong Li, Carlos A. Rodrigues-Poveda, Dolores Gonzalez-Pacanowska, Phercyles Veiga-Santos, Tecia Maria Ulisses de Carvalho, Wanderley de Souza, Julio A. Urbina, Andrew H.J. Wang, Roberto DocampoKai Li, Yi Liang Liu, Eric Oldfield, Rey Ting Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trypanosomatid parasites are the causative agents of many neglected tropical diseases and there is currently considerable interest in targeting endogenous sterol biosynthesis in these organisms as a route to the development of novel anti-infective drugs. Here, we report the first x-ray crystallographic structures of the enzyme squalene synthase (SQS) from a trypanosomatid parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. We obtained five structures of T. cruzi SQS and eight structures of human SQS with four classes of inhibitors: the substrate-analog S-thiolo-farnesyl diphosphate, the quinuclidines E5700 and ER119884, several lipophilic bisphosphonates, and the thiocyanate WC-9, with the structures of the two very potent quinuclidines suggesting strategies for selective inhibitor development. We also show that the lipophilic bisphosphonates have low nM activity against T. cruzi and inhibit endogenous sterol biosynthesis and that E5700 acts synergistically with the azole drug, posaconazole. The determination of the structures of trypanosomatid and human SQS enzymes with a diverse set of inhibitors active in cells provides insights into SQS inhibition, of interest in the context of the development of drugs against Chagas disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1004114
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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