The antischistosomal potential of GSK-J4, an H3K27 demethylase inhibitor: insights from molecular modeling, transcriptomics and in vitro assays

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Background: Schistosomiasis chemotherapy is largely based on praziquantel (PZQ). Although PZQ is very safe and tolerable, it does not prevent reinfection and emerging resistance is a primary concern. Recent studies have shown that the targeting of epigenetic machinery in Schistosoma mansoni may result in severe alterations in parasite development, leading to death. This new route for drug discovery in schistosomiasis has focused on classes of histone deacetylases (HDACs) and histone acetyltransferases (HATs) as epigenetic drug targets. Schistosoma histone demethy-lases also seem to be important in the transition of cercariae into schistosomula, as well as sexual diferentiation in adult worms. Methods: The Target-Pathogen database and molecular docking assays were used to prioritize the druggability of S. mansoni histone demethylases. The transcription profle of Smp_03400 was re-analyzed using available databases. The efect of GSK-J4 inhibitor in schistosomula and adult worms’ motility/viability/oviposition was assessed by in vitro assays. Ultrastructural analysis was performed on adult worms exposed to GSK-J4 by scanning electron microscopy, while internal structures and muscle fber integrity was investigated by confocal microscopy after Langeron's carmine or phalloidin staining. Results: The present evaluation of the potential druggability of 14 annotated S. mansoni demethylase enzymes identifed the S. mansoni ortholog of human KDM6A/UTX (Smp_034000) as the most suitable druggable target. In silico analysis and molecular modeling indicated the potential for cofactor displacement by the chemical probe GSK-J4. Our re-analysis of transcriptomic data revealed that Smp_034000 expression peaks at 24 h in newly transformed schisto somula and 5-week-old adult worms. Moreover, this gene was highly expressed in the testes of mature male worms compared to the rest of the parasite body. In in vitro schistosome cultures, treatment with GSK-J4 produced strikingefects on schistosomula mortality and adult worm motility and mortality, as well as egg oviposition, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Unexpectedly, western blot assays did not demonstrate overall modulation of H3K27me3 levels in response to GSK-J4. Confocal and scanning electron microscopy revealed the loss of original features in muscle fibers and alterations in cell-cell contact following GSK-J4 treatment. Conclusions GSK-J4 presents promising potential for antischistosomal control; however, the underlying mechanisms warrant further investigation.
Lobo-Silva J, Cabral FJ., Amaral MS, Miyasato PA, Freitas RP, Pereira ASA, et al. The antischistosomal potential of GSK-J4, an H3K27 demethylase inhibitor: insights from molecular modeling, transcriptomics and in vitro assays. Parasit. Vectors.. 2020 Mar;13:140. doi:10.1186/s13071-020-4000-z.
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