Ectopic suicide inhibition of thioredoxin glutathione reductase

Ilaria Silvestri, Haining Lyu, Francesca Fata, Paul R. Banta, Benedetta Mattei, Rodolfo Ippoliti, Andrea Bellelli, Giuseppina Pitari, Matteo Ardini, Valentina Petukhova, Gregory R.J. Thatcher, Pavel A. Petukhov, David L. Williams, Francesco Angelucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Selective suicide inhibitors represent a seductively attractive approach for inactivation of therapeutically relevant enzymes since they are generally devoid of off-target toxicity in vivo. While most suicide inhibitors are converted to reactive species at enzyme active sites, theoretically bioactivation can also occur in ectopic (secondary) sites that have no known function. Here, we report an example of such an “ectopic suicide inhibition”, an unprecedented bioactivation mechanism of a suicide inhibitor carried out by a non-catalytic site of thioredoxin glutathione reductase (TGR). TGR is a promising drug target to treat schistosomiasis, a devastating human parasitic disease. Utilizing hits selected from a high throughput screening campaign, time-resolved X-ray crystallography, molecular dynamics, mass spectrometry, molecular modeling, protein mutagenesis and functional studies, we find that 2-naphtholmethylamino derivatives bound to this novel ectopic site of Schistosoma mansoni (Sm)TGR are transformed to covalent modifiers and react with its mobile selenocysteine-containing C-terminal arm. In particular, one 2-naphtholmethylamino compound is able to specifically induce the pro-oxidant activity in the inhibited enzyme. Since some 2-naphtholmethylamino analogues show worm killing activity and the ectopic site is not conserved in human orthologues, a general approach to development of novel and selective anti-parasitic therapeutics against schistosoma is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-211
Number of pages12
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Quinone methide
  • Redox metabolism
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Secondary site
  • Suicide inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Ectopic suicide inhibition of thioredoxin glutathione reductase'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this