Progress in the search for ricin A chain and shiga toxin inhibitors



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Ricin and Shiga toxin type 1 are potent cytotoxins known as ribosome inhibition proteins, abbreviated RIPs. Proteins of this family shut down protein synthesis by removing a critical adenine in the conserved stem-loop structure of 28S rRNA. Due to its exquisite cytotoxicity, the plant toxin ricin has been used as a biological warfare agent. Although great achievement has been made on ricin research, including catalytic mechanism and structure analysis, there is still no specific treatment available for ricin exposure. In addition, ricin A chain inhibitors may also be useful against the homologous bacterial proteins shiga toxins, which are responsible for dysentery, and diseases related to food poisoning, including hemolytic uremic syndrome. Previous study on RTA inhibitor search has provided a number of substrate analog inhibitors, all of which, however, are weaker inhibitors. Therefore, the goal of this work is to improve the binding affinity of known inhibitors and to discovery new scaffolds for inhibitor discovery and development. In this work, multiple approaches were employed for this purpose, including optimizing known inhibitors and searching new inhibitors by Virtual Drug Screening (VDS) and High Throughput Screening (HTS). A number of new RTA inhibitors were discovered by these strategies, which provide a variety of pharmacophores for RTA inhibitor design, and also added a new line of evidence for VDS as an advanced technology for drug discovery and development.