It has been suggested that compounds affecting glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) biosynthesis in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei should be trypanocidal. We describe cell-permeable analogues of a GPI intermediate that are toxic to this parasite but not to human cells. These analogues are metabolized by the T. brucei GPI pathway, but not by the human pathway. Closely related nonmetabolizable analogues have no trypanocidal activity. This represents the first direct chemical validation of the GPI biosynthetic pathway as a drug target against African human sleeping sickness. The results should stimulate further inhibitor design and synthesis and encourage the search for inhibitors in natural product and synthetic compound libraries.
- Inositol acyltransferase